Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Mr. Monk and the New Lieutenant (Mr. Monk #19) by Hy Conrad

An all-new story starring Adrian Monk by Edgar® Award–nominated Monk screenwriter and coexecutive producer Hy Conrad.

It’s compulsive, page-turning fun.

Monk and Natalie have finally settled into a new office routine. Now they just need to work things out with their neighbors—a print shop run by hippies whose music leaks through the walls, driving Monk nuts. But the detectives soon have a more serious conflict to deal with: Captain Stottlemeyer’s new lieutenant, A.J. Cartledge—a man of limited skills whom Monk finds insufferable.

Even the presence of Lieutenant Cartledge won’t keep Monk and Natalie from attending the funeral of Judge Oberlin, and it’s a good thing. In typical fashion, Monk examines the body in the casket—and finds evidence of poison. The judge was murdered.

While there are no traces of the poison at the judge’s house, Monk detects that there had been an intruder. The next rainy day, when Captain Stottlemeyer begins to show the same symptoms, Monk deduces that there’s a diabolical killer at work, someone who wanted both the judge and the captain dead.  Monk and Natalie turn to the captain’s ex-lieutenant in Summit, New Jersey for help, but even that might not be enough to solve this crime. With his friend in danger and an enemy close, Monk will have to put his reservations aside to crack the case in time.

As a fan of the television show, it has delighted me to see the series continued on through literature.  I've enjoyed spending the last few books with Hy Conrad and his brilliant storytelling abilities.  It's bittersweet to think that the series is finally coming to an end (if the rumors are true), but I truly have enjoyed this ride.  

That being said, I want to tip my hat to Hy for going out in true Monk fashion!  This book was true to the character.  I enjoyed his quirkiness and I certainly enjoyed the mystery and the subplots at play.  It was yet another thrilling addition to the world of Monk.  

I'm sad to see the author end their run at this series.  With any luck, someone else will pick up where they leave off.  But if they don't, it certainly has been one heck of a fun ride! 

Rating: 4.5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: The Book Stops Here (Bibliophile #8) by Kate Carlisle

You never know what treasures can be found in someone’s attic. Unfortunately for bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright, some of them are worth killing for.…

Brooklyn Wainwright is thrilled to be appearing on the San Francisco edition of the hit TV show This Old Attic as a rare-book expert and appraiser. Her first subject is a very valuable first-edition copy of the classic children’s story The Secret Garden, which is owned by a flower vendor named Vera.

Once she hears what her book is worth, Vera is eager to have Brooklyn recondition it for resale. But after the episode airs, a furious man viciously accosts Brooklyn, claiming that Vera found the first edition at his garage sale, and he wants it back—or else. Brooklyn is relieved that she’s put The Secret Garden in a safe place, but Randolph Rayburn, the handsome host of This Old Attic, is terrified by the man’s threats. He confides in Brooklyn that he fears he is being stalked. He doesn't know who might have targeted him, or why.

In the days that follow, several violent incidents occur on the set, and Brooklyn is almost killed, leaving both her and her security expert boyfriend, Derek, shaken. Is someone after Brooklyn and the book? Or has Randolph’s stalker become more desperate? And then Brooklyn visits Vera’s flower shop…and discovers her dead. Is the murderer one of the two obvious suspects, or is something more sinister—even bizarre—going on? Brooklyn had better find the clever killer soon or more than her chance at prime time may be canceled…permanently.

One of the things that I enjoy about this series is the author's ability to create a story where the victim of the crime at hand is given the chance to be known.  She takes time to introduce the victim and give you the opportunity to get to know them.  For me, that creates an investment in discovering who committed the murder and throws me right in to the middle of the story and the subsequent investigation.  The author does just that in The Book Stops Here. 

Another thing about this book that I just loved was the whole concept of finding an item at a garage sale that was worth a relatively small fortune.  It's something we all hope for but few are able to discover.  And the fact that it led to the eventual demise of the person who discovered it - brilliant!  Of course the investigation is exciting, even though the outcome wasn't all that surprising.  

This series is always so exciting. The books are well written and Brooklyn is such an extraordinary character.  Her next adventure should be a lot of fun!  

Rating: 4.5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: One Foot in the Grape (Cypress Cove #1) by Carlene O'Neil

In California wine country, the town of Cypress Cove may seem peaceful. But someone’s about to pop their cork…

After losing her job as a photojournalist, Penny Lively is trying to get her life back in focus. Inheriting the family winery from her late aunt may be the fresh start she needs. Thankfully she’s got her niece Hayley and her handsome winery manager Connor to help. But the person in need of more urgent assistance is Antonia Martinelli, the owner of the neighboring winery, who has her own barrel full of problems. Someone’s spoiling her wine, and with the upcoming Autumn Festival, she needs Penny’s nose for clues to sniff out the culprit.

But Penny’s search for answers sours after the body of a staff member is found in a grape crusher. Since Hayley was the last to see him alive, she’s the prime suspect in the case. Now Penny must hurry to find the real killer before Hayley withers on the vine. 

Hi, I’m Penny Lively, owner of Joyeux Winery. Joyeux is a smaller winery in comparison to several of our neighbors, but enjoys a great reputation. As it happens, I’ve also managed to gain a reputation for my knack for finding bodies. I don’t know if knack is the right word…Connor would call it a gift, but the statement would be said under his breath and likely dripping with sarcasm. Connor’s my winery manager. My manager and nothing more. Yup, nothing more. He’s the best manager on the central California coast and I’m lucky to have him in that capacity, which is why I’ve stifled any urges I might have for him in any other capacity…

Where was I? Right. So after a long career as an investigative photojournalist, I came home to the winery I’d inherited. I’d been worried small town life would be too slow. Instead, I’ve been back less than a year and so far I’ve managed to find more bodies than I did in an entire career investigating situations where one might reasonably expect to find bodies. The local police can’t decide what to do with me, but it’s not like I’m asking for this. Although, I have to admit, once I’m involved I’m not about to walk away. Either the police manage to get it wrong, or someone I care about is a suspect and asks for my help. The first time it happened, my neighbor, Antonia Martinelli, thought someone was sabotaging her winery. She didn’t want to go to the police because she thought one of her children might be involved. Simple, right?  Nobody mentioned murder. They never really do.

Between running the winery and running just ahead of whatever mess I’m no doubt in, I stay pretty busy. Connor does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to the winery, so I have free time on my hands. I spend most of it with my camera, a holdover from my last profession. My focus is on the landscape now, and this is a part of the country where it’s easy to find inspiration. The winery is beautiful, vineyards stretched across rolling hills in tones of bronze and umber, and just a short drive from Monterey Bay, Pebble Beach and the fabulous town of Cypress Cove.

That’s another thing; murder just shouldn’t happen somewhere so beautiful. The mean streets of Los Angeles? Sure. The underbelly of Chicago? Who’s surprised? Nobody. Here, when you find a body set against such beauty, it seems so much more shocking, vicious, and wrong. There’s a Latin saying, “It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one's present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason.” After what I’ve just been through I would include finding a body in your neighbor’s crusher. Just saying.

A winery as a setting and a protagonist that's quirky and spontaneous?  I'm one-hundred percent sold!  One Foot in the Grape is a wonderful debut book that I personally feel will be a spectacular and fun series.  

It's told in a first person point of view with Penny, our protagonist, at the helm.  It's funny, entertaining and of course, full of wine references left and right. It's a smart story with rich descriptive words that leave you feeling as if you've been transformed right in to the middle of this beautiful setting.  And the mystery is unique and leaves you scratching your head until the very end.  

I absolutely loved this book. Everything about it.  Penny, Antonia - the entire cast of characters.  The vineyards, the humor and most of all, the wine :)  Having read this story, I can honestly tell you that this series is quickly going to become a favorite of mine.  I can just feel it.  

Rating: 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

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Release Day Blitz & Giveaway; Summer Fire: Love When It's Hot

Summer Fire: Love When It's Hot
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 26, 2015

20 ALL NEW Contemporary Romance stories by New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Bestselling authors.


Love when it’s hot? So do we. Especially when we’re writing about gritty alphas, angsty bad boys, sizzling attraction, and unrequited passion. So loosen your buttons, turn the fan to oscillate and join us for this steamy, groundbreaking bundle of summer tales that are hot hot hot. 

Sizzle Spies - Gennita Low

Lola and Jake, fall hard for each other. Is their love strong enough for one assignment that would risk everything? 

Sinful - R.J. Lewis

Two different people from two different worlds find their lives colliding in the most sinful way. 

Summer Storm - L. Wilder

VP Guardrail's life has always been his MC club. It's up to him to fix a wrong, but he wasn't expecting Allie to take him by storm. 

A Season in Gemini - Victoria Danann

The first time sexy biker, Brant Fornight, saw Garland St. Germaine, he knew she was going to turn him inside out. And she did. 

Solstice Burn - Kym Grosso

Love and temptation flare in a tropical paradise. When Chase rescues Penny, she learns to embrace her inner fantasies. 

Sun Burnt - Cat Miller

Kesslyn inherits a ranch, but the city girl is unsure she's up for the challenge. Can her sexy foreman rope her into staying forever? 

Big Girls Don’t Cry - Mimi Barbour

He’s everything she’s ever wanted in a man. And she’s nothing like the girl she wants to be. Something’s gotta change… 

Killer  - Clarissa Wild

Secrets could kill you. He murdered her husband. She’s the prime suspect seeking justice. Only one of them can win. 

Rodeo Romance - Teresa Gabelman

Jake McCabe had one rule. Never date a client. Trisha Summers had a new rule. Never date a man again. Rules were meant to be broken. 

Irish Kisses - Helen Scott Taylor

Ten years ago he said he loved her, then he left and broke her heart. Now he's back, and he wants her again, but can she trust him? 

Sweet Surrender - Victoria James

Cade showing up on her doorstep is not what Julia wants-but this bad-boy is back and ready to convince her that this time is forever… 

Husband for a Week - Mona Risk

A Sicilian vendetta, a fake husband, and a matchmaking grandmother complicate Jonathan and Isabella’s lives. Can love conquer all? 

A Man for Hire - Patrice Wilton

Jordon's ex-boyfriend is bringing home a bride. To save face she hires a hot guy for the weekend. Sparks fly--can this be love? 

My Mile-High Mistake - Linda Barlow

Six years ago, she yearned for her sexy, forbidden high school teacher. Now she can't resist his temptation at 35,000 feet. 

Heat Lightning - Joan Reeves

Her husband found her, claimed her, rescued her. His touch makes her throb. Her body knows him, but she remembers nothing about him. 

Tan Lines and Salty Kisses - Danielle Jamie

Becca and Parker have a second chance at summer romance. The spark is hotter than a Georgia July. Can it withstand news of his secret? 

Someone Exactly Like You - Terri Marie

Cameron Barron's plan was solid. A few lies, a disguise, and an apology to Chastity Newberry… What could possibly go wrong? 

His Promise - Lorhainne Eckhart

A love they thought would last forever. A promise forgotten. Until one summer night. 

Summer Rhythm - Brandy L Rivers

Doug never could resist Chloe. She always runs. Will this time be different or is their summer rhythm destined to repeat. 

Anchor  - Nicole Blanchard

I thought it was a weekend from hell, until he showed me a little piece of heaven. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: Fillet of Murder (Deep Fried #1) by Linda Reilly


Talia Marby serves up delectable English deep fried fare in the heart of the Berkshires—but she soon discovers there’s something fishy going on…

Sometimes in this life, you have to fish or cut bait. After walking away from a miserable job and an even worse boyfriend, Talia Marby has no regrets. She’s returned to her hometown and is happy to help her dear friend Bea Lambert by working at Lambert’s Fish & Chips, a cornerstone of a charming shopping plaza designed to resemble an old English village.

But not all the shop owners are charming. Phil Turnbull has been pestering Bea to sign a petition against a new store opening up, and his constant badgering is enough to make her want to boil him in oil. When Talia and Bea stumble upon Turnbull murdered in his shop, the police suspect Bea. Now it’s up to Talia to fish around for clues and hook the real killer before her friend has to trade serving food for serving time…

Includes delicious recipes!

When I began writing Fillet of Murder, which features a fish and chips eatery in the Berkshires, I wanted readers to like my people . . . maybe even find a few of them quirky. Isn’t that one of the things we love about cozy characters? Since I grew up in the region where the series takes place, I scrolled my mind backward (way, way backward) to my younger days, to some of the wonderful “characters” I was lucky enough to know.

I was seventeen when I first got a summer job at an old-style restaurant called The Willows (long gone, I’m afraid). The owner, Gladys, was a generous soul and one of the best cooks I’ve ever known. Throughout that entire summer I flipped burgers, made sub sandwiches, and washed a never-ending stream of dirty dishes and pans. I even scrubbed clam shells for the soon-to-be steamed clams, never realizing they were still alive until one of them snapped shut and sent my heart into overdrive!

That summer left me with so many treasured memories. I can still recall how appreciated Gladys made me feel after working long, hot hours in a kitchen cooled only by a table fan. She overpaid me and over-praised me—she was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.

Those are the days I thought back to when I first began writing the Deep Fried series. I wanted Talia Marby, my main character, to have those same warm recollections of her first summer job. So I created Bea Lambert.

As characters go, Bea is one of my favorites. Picture a petite, sixtyish woman with springy black curls, leaf green eyes, and a darling British accent. Originally from the UK, her speech is populated with words like “luvvy” and “bloke” and “wanker.” Bea is the co-owner, with her hubby, of Lambert’s Fish & Chips—an eatery located in a cobblestoned shopping plaza designed to resemble an old English village.

Talia was a teenager when she got her first job at Lambert’s. Troubled by a rift between her mom and dad, she bonded with the childless Bea, and Lambert’s became her refuge. Even when she wasn’t working, Talia could often be found mulling over homework at one of the tables at the back of the restaurant. Bea couldn’t have loved Talia more if she’d been her own daughter.

Talia learned the fish and chips biz that summer, never dreaming she’d return there more than fifteen years later to help out Bea in a pinch. What she also never imagined was murder, right there in that charming plaza. When Bea is accused of murdering a fellow shopkeeper, Talia dives right in to rescue her friend from a certain stint in the pokey.

Looking back, I realize that Bea and Gladys didn’t have all that much in common. Not unless you counted their many kindnesses, their overwhelming generosity, and their love for humankind.

Were you ever lucky enough to have a Bea or a Gladys in your life? Do you have a story you’d like to share about your first summer job?

Since this is the first book in the new series, I feel a little pros and cons list is in order :) 

What I Liked: 

The Characters
Talia and Bea are WONDERFUL!  They play off of each other beautifully and have formed a tremendously admirable friendship. The kind that we all wish we could have.  Their supporting cast of characters are a fantastic addition as well.  

The Setting
Naturally, who wouldn't love a shopping center that's poised to look like an Old English village?  There's a certain kind of charm to a place like that, and it's embodied perfectly in this story. 

The Food
Ahhhhhhhhhh the recipes they include! One of my favorite things about cozies - they include delicious recipes that give you the chance to feel even closer to the characters that you've grown to love and admire.  

The Mystery
I love the puns that could be inserted here to describe the mystery.  I'll refrain for the sake of anyone reading this, but I truly enjoyed following these ladies on their quest to discover the culprit of the murder.  It left me guessing until the reveal and I was actually surprised at how it unfolded.  

What I Didn't Like: 

Honestly?  There wasn't anything that I didn't like. And I truly mean that.  This book was wonderful! 

This is a well written, very good mystery with characters that are easily likeable.  I'm thrilled to have been able to read and review it, and am eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.  

Rating: 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own. 

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: Some Like It Witchy (A Wishcraft Mystery #5) by Heather Blake

Wishcrafter Darcy Merriweather can charm desires into reality, but as the national bestselling Wishcraft mysteries continue, she won’t be able to magically avoid trouble when death holds an open house….

The Enchanted Village is abuzz when the old Tavistock house finally goes up for sale. Darcy’s friend Curecrafter Cherise Goodwin is hoping she will have the winning bid on the home, but Darcy can’t shake the feeling that something bad is about to happen—and her magical instincts are usually right.

Sure enough, while Darcy and Cherise are looking at the property, they discover real estate agent Raina Gallagher stone-cold dead on the floor. Clutched in her hand is a gemstone amulet and, on the wall above her, a large red A. While Raina had no shortage of enemies, there’s also a dark legend about the house itself. To track down the killer, Darcy must unlock the secrets of both the deceased and the estate—and she’ll need to act fast, because revenge is a deal that never closes. 

One of the taglines for my Wishcraft books, featuring loveable Wishcrafter Darcy Merriweather, is “Where there’s a witch, there’s a way.”

Which (witch?) is so true of the whole series, actually.

The phrase, however, started me thinking about witchy-type powers. Darcy can grant wishes. Others Crafters can disappear into thin air, bake a mean cupcake, grow amazing flowers, craft a spell...

But what power would I want?

There’s something to be said about invisibility. Think of the conversations you could overhear, the hilarious pranks you could pull.

Or maybe telepathy. Knowing what others are thinking. On second thought, cross that off—there are some things I probably don’t want to know.

Ooh, flying. That could be...amazing. Broomstick optional.

Oh, oh! Or maybe unlimited free shopping? Groceries, clothes, tile and drywall (can you tell we’ve been renovating our bathroom?).

All pretty good options, but ultimately I think I’d choose teleportation. Only being a blink or a twitch away from another destination holds a lot of appeal. Especially when stuck in a traffic jam.

What would you choose for your witchy power?

Heather Blake (aka Heather Webber) is the author of the Wishcraft mysteries, the Magic Potion mysteries, the Nina Quinn mysteries, and the Lucy Valentine novels, and has been twice nominated for an Agatha Award. She's a total homebody who loves to be close to her family, read, watch reality TV (especially cooking competition shows), drink too much coffee, crochet, bake (mostly cookies), and occasionally leave the house to travel to the beautiful mountains in the northeast. Heather grew up in a suburb of Boston, but currently she lives in the Cincinnati area with her family and is hard at work on her next book.

Yet another wonderful trip to the Enchanted Village with Darcy and friends! This magical addition to the series proves just how enchanting Ms. Blake's imagination must be.  She has gifted us with a brilliantly written mystery and has incorporated the paranormal beautifully into the plot.

This book made me laugh, and it certainly left me with the need for more as it wraps up with some unanswered/unresolved issues.  And of course, the main twist in the plot - the murder mystery.  It was creatively done, and had me scratching my head when the murderer was revealed.

I love these books. I love everything about them and my only suggestion - that they get written faster! :)

Rating: 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.

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