Load Up (Lark Davis Mysteries) by Annabelle Hunter
Load Up has the best murder victim ever! Who hasn’t wanted to kill their HOA President? And Gerald is worse than most. The only person he recently argued with is single mother Lark Davis over the spacing of her fairy garden from her house. Lark is just beginning a relationship with hunky Detective Bracken Wilson when both the murder investigation and their relationship start moving at light speed.
Load Up is a humorous cozy mystery with a lot of romance, gossip, and motives floating around the neighborhood. And what a neighborhood it is! The local coffee shop is owned by a successful drag queen who is totally beloved by Lark’s seven-year-old daughter, Hailey. There is a town blog that seems to know what has occurred before even the people involved have processed the events. The romance between ditzy Lark and the Detective is slow-moving and sweet. The swearing is kept to a minimum with Snickerdoodles and Fudge substituting in for the real words. This book would be great for young teens and up. Overall, Load Up is a great fun-filled way to spend a lazy afternoon and is highly recommended. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for a free copy of the book!
Too many suspects can be as bad as no suspects at all…
Lark Davis, horse trainer and reluctant amateur sleuth, is sure that her crime-solving days are behind her. At least that’s what she told her grandmother. However, when her Homeowners Association President and owner of the local hardware store is found dead the day after she had a public fight with him, Lark is back in the last place she wants to be — the middle of a murder case.
But this is Barrow Bay, and things are never as they seem. Gerald Pratchett had a list of enemies a mile long, and each one had a very real reason for wanting to see him gone. When the police get overwhelmed with too many suspects, including herself, Lark realizes that it is up to her to bring his killer to justice.
Nothing can stop Lark from finding out the truth — and getting her man.
About the Annabelle Hunter
Annabelle Hunter is a stay-at-home mom and an avid fan of classic mystery shows and dressage. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, and too many animals. Visit her Amazon Author Page here.
Vince Ramsey is a forensic expert and a Ritual Investigator in Israel. He is called in to investigate a mass murder in Masada. A dozen townspeople were viciously mauled to death. The location was also the site of a similar scene two thousand years previously. Did the death have a religious connection with the defunct gnostic Christian group, the Basilideans? How does the old amulet found by Vince at the scene relate to the current murders? Vince gets the help of a member of the Israeli Museum Collections Department, April Fulton. Together, they pursue clues leading to dark secrets and hidden history.
Realm of the Unknown is an exciting thrill ride through Europe and history at an equally fast pace. If you loved the DaVinci Code, you will also love this engrossing novel. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author for a copy in exchange for my honest review. After a mass murder in Israel, a renowned investigator from the Ministry—Vince Ramsey—is called in. Some experts at the scene believe only something supernatural could be responsible for such an atrocity. Ramsey finds an artifact that leads him to the Antiquities Authority. There, he teams up with historical specialist April Fulton. Together they learn the artifact is linked to an ancient secret society founded by a famous Greek philosopher. Only it’s much more sinister than they could have ever imagined. Being hunted down at every turn of their journey by ruthless assassins, they race to discover the truth—and finally encounter the diabolical villain controlling a powerful force only spoken about in the Book of Revelation.
“A riveting thriller exploring the end of the world…”
McPike’s 6th action/adventure blockbuster TREASURE FEVER: The Hunt for El Dorado will be released in 2020.
His last adventure SHIPWRECK ISLAND was based on a real 19th century New Zealand shipwreck that mysteriously crashed and went missing–along with its legendary gold cargo. Readers’ Favorite gave it 5-stars, calling it, “a grand adventure with outstanding characters . . . filled with action and more action.”
McPike’s previous mystery/thriller THE EMERALD CAVE was the grand finale in the acclaimed Ramsey trilogy six years in the making. The book reveals hidden secrets about the Grail and where it might be hidden today. The prior book in the series THE LOST PROPHET was the winner of multiple literary awards, including the Pacific Book Award for Christian Mystery/Thrillers and the Beverly Hills Book Award for Religion fiction. His 700-page debut smash-hit FINAL OUTCOME won the silver medal from Readers’ Favorite for the Christian/fantasy genre and was nominated by the publisher (50 out of 1,000 books) for the 17th EVVY Awards.
McPike’s favorite authors growing up were Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, and David Morrell. He’s traveled the world; from Switzerland to Aruba to New Zealand. In 1997 he won the Ponderosa Lion’s Club Spelling Bee Championship and a year later was recognized with an Honorable Mention for the William Saroyan San Joaquin Valley Writing Contest. He lives near Yosemite where he enjoys the great outdoors and wonderful local cuisine. Readers can reach him at email@example.com
It’s about time that the British Library Crime Classics had a challenger from across the pond. American Mystery Classics is republishing Dread Journey from 1945. It is an excellent example of an American golden-age mystery. It begins with a murder on a luxurious train speeding across the US with a large cast of suspects. Sounds familiar, right? But this ride is more a character-driven psychological study than the plot with the shocking twist at the end familiar to Christie readers.
If you like golden-age classic mysteries, you will enjoy Dread Journey. It feels like stepping into the past in atmosphere and setting. Yet it’s topical underlying plot of starlets doing anything for fame still seems relevant in today’s post-Weinstein world. 4 stars!
Thanks to American Mystery Classics and NetGalley for granting my wish for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Death by Proxy: A DIY Diva Mystery by Paula Darnell
Pets and Cozies
Cozy mystery authors face a bit of a dilemma when writing their books because these novels have a completely different vibe than hard-boiled, noir, gory, or forensic-oriented mysteries do. Like other books in the mystery genre, the crime in a cozy is almost always a murder. (There are a few exceptions; recently I read a cozy that centered around a kidnapping, but that’s rare.) At the same time, the author has the task of creating a setting that feels homey and a protagonist whom readers like. Casting the main character as a pet parent as well as an amateur sleuth adds to the coziness in these books and can often provide a touch of humor, too.
Roles of dogs and cats in cozy mysteries include such over-the-top portrayals as paranormal pets and pets as story narrators. However, I suspect that many, if not most, of the pet characters that appear in cozy mysteries are based on their authors’ own pets. That’s certainly the case for my DIY Diva cozy mysteries, in which Bear, Laurel McMillan’s lovable chocolate Labrador retriever, is a member of the family. In Death by Proxy, Laurel’s boyfriend Wes even tells Bear that he will “always be part of our family,” right after the curious dog runs to the newly engaged couple while Wes is still on bended knee.
Bear’s been with Laurel right from the beginning of the DIY Diva series. In fact, the first words in the first book, Death by Association, were “Bear, no,” as Laurel held the eager Lab back from chasing a bunny as she took him for his daily walk. Bear acts like a real dog because he’s inspired by two of my own dogs: Teddy Bear, a yellow Labrador retriever and Rocky Boy, a Pyrador (half Lab and half Great Pyrenees). Bear’s daily walks, love of treats, dancing for dinner, nudging Laurel when she works too long at the computer, chasing the neighbor’s cat, guilt tripping her when she leaves him home alone, and many more canine antics all come from real life. Several readers have commented that Bear and his antics seem authentic and lifelike, which has been very gratifying to me.
Rocky Boymodeling a reversible dog scarf. Instructions for making the scarf appear in the first DIY Diva mystery Death by Association, which also includes four dog treat recipes and instructions for making a no-sew dog bed.
I’ve included a couple of extras for dog lovers in Death by Proxy, too: a tuna-rice dog treat recipe and project instructions for making a dog’s bow tie.
About Death by Proxy
Death by Proxy: A DIY Diva Mystery Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series Cozy Cat Press (November 2019) Print Length ~220 Pages
With preparations for her upcoming wedding to handsome Wes Wesson, a Center City police lieutenant, on track and her DIY Bridal Crafts class at Hawkeye Haven’s community center wrapped up, DIY Diva Laurel McMillan looks forward to a calm pre-nuptial week to finalize her wedding plans. There’s only one problem: the week turns out to be anything but calm. Laurel and Wes narrowly escape being run down in the parking lot of their favorite restaurant. Laurel’s bridal shower is interrupted by a mysterious stranger who sends Laurel’s lovable chocolate Labrador retriever Bear into a frenzy, and when Laurel and Wes go to meet Lisa, their real estate agent, at a house she promised to show them, they discover Lisa’s sister’s body floating in the pool. Strangely, Lisa seems more concerned with selling houses than she does with her sister’s death. After Lisa’s mother inadvertently reveals family secrets, Laurel wonders whether Lisa could have killed her own sister. Will the mayhem and murder stop before Laurel discovers the key to the killer’s game plan?
About Paula Darnell
An instructor at five colleges over the years, Paula Darnell most often taught the dreaded first-year English composition classes, but she’s also been happy to teach some fun classes, such as fashion design, sewing, and jewelry making. Paula has a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Like Laurel, the main character in Death by Association, Paula enjoys all kinds of arts and crafts. Some of her memorable projects include making a hat and a cape to wear to Royal Ascot, sewing wedding gowns for both her daughters, exhibiting her textile and mixed-media artwork in juried art shows, and having one of her jewelry projects accepted for inclusion in Leather Jewelry, published by Lark Books. She sells some of her jewelry and hair accessories in her Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/PaulaDJewelry.
Paula’s interest in DIY craft projects and fashion led to her writing hundreds of articles for print and online national publications.
Living in a guard-gated community governed by a homeowners’ association gave Paula the idea for the setting of Death byAssociation. She finds that residing in an HOA community can be both a blessing and a curse. A Happy-New-Year greeting from her community association called on residents to “start the new year by reviewing your Rules and Regulations booklet,” something unlikely to top anyone’s list of New Year’s resolutions.
Paula lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband Gary and their 110-pound dog Rocky, whose favorite pastime is lurking in the kitchen, hoping for a handout.
Riley Wolfe has a problem. He is just too good at what he does. And what is that you ask? Riley is a cold-blooded master thief. When he sees a $15 billion Iranian diamond is coming to an American museum, he decides to steal it. Even with state-of-the-art electronic security, retired special forces guards and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards watching? Riley’s up for the challenge. As he says, “Think that’s crazy? Suicidal? Impossible? It is. Think it can’t be done?” Just Watch Me.
This book was created by the author of the Dexter books, and it shows. Riley is just as ruthless and probably less moral than serial killer Dexter. However, I enjoyed my time inside his head. There is no other character like him in fiction today. But if you must love the “hero” in your thrillers, especially those written in a first-person tense, Just Watch Me is probably not for you. But for anyone looking for a different type of narrator or who enjoys a good heist story, like me, this book is fantastic and compulsively readable. 4.5 stars! I can’t wait to see this made into an Ocean’s Eleven-type movie!
Thanks to Dutton Books, NetGalley, and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Secrets and Lies: A Claire Callahan Mystery by P.H. Turner
Your first Claire Callahan mystery, Unspeakable Grudges, had a serial killer at its center. Secrets and Lies has a completely green killer. What made you change your focus?
The urge to murder lies coiled within all of us. What prompts a person to let the serpent loose is a vast and fascinating territory. The serial killer, Clint, was seeking redemption. In Secrets and Lies, Jesse kills because his personal code demands it. He must protect the women.
I’m not surprised that you used to write for broadcast news. I can see your fluidity with writing in your prose. Do you think that was a good training ground for a future fiction writer? Did you frequently write news stories about crime?
Absolutely. Writing is like practicing the piano. The more you do it, the better you become. Stringing words together to create meaning and pack an emotional punch well comes after writing hundreds of pages that went into the shredder. I begin writing for an early morning news show; many of these shows air at 4:00 a.m. and are devoted to agriculture news and lots of local weather. I wrote about corn smut, detasseling corn, and corn worms. Things I knew nothing about. I learned how to research and write a story.
The more proficient you become, the more important stories you are assigned. I talked with a man who was convicted of a brutal murder. He was smart and charismatic. I was chilled when I realized a woman stranded on the highway might feel comfortable if he stopped and offered help.
You have stated your admiration for Margaret Atwood previously. What do you think of her new novel, The Testaments?
Atwood’s powerful, crisp style and intricate plotting move the book along. Atwood uses three narrators, women who must come to terms with who they are, what they believe, how they will react when their beliefs are challenged. Atwood’s descriptions of Aunt Lydia’s reflecting on her life choices were beautifully written. The Testaments is classic Atwood. She surprised me at every turn.
Where do you do most of your writing? Do you have an indoor and an outdoor space you prefer?
I have a dedicated office where I write every day. My adorable mutt Chet snoozes under my desk.
You have written about rodeo riding and Navajo reservations. How do you research such diverse topics? Do you use Google, do library research, interview people, or do something else?
I produced a couple of rodeos for television, so life experience helped me to describe Clint’s bull riding.
I’ve traveled and photographed the spectacular scenery of the Navajo Nation. When I was writing the trilogy, I went to Flagstaff and Tuba City and photographed for the first time, the Blue Canyon and Moenkopi Wash.
One of the aspects of the Navajo I appreciate is their aspiration to live in hozho. Being “in hozho” is to be in harmony and one with and a part of the world around you.
You belong to both the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Which is better for aspiring or beginning writers?
Both have given me invaluable opportunities to learn more about my craft. Sisters in Crime offers online webinars, social media groups, and face-to-face gatherings at national and regional conferences. MWA hosts e-mail lists on yahoo groups, with threads concerning contracts, publicity, agents, self-publishing, and other business questions. I highly recommend them both.
What’s next for Claire Callahan and P.H. Turner?
Claire’s working on solving the murder of a well-known director found murdered in the college theater.
I love a thriller with a female PI. Claire works for an attorney’s office. She is tasked with trying to protect a murdered man’s heir and prevent the police from arresting her for her father’s murder. By all accounts, Morgan Tutweiler deserved to be murdered so there is no shortage of suspects. Secrets and Lies is a whydunit rather than a whodunit with a Columbo-style plot where you know the murderer’s identity from the beginning. It is a fast-paced thriller where everyone is hiding something. It will appeal to thriller lovers. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escapes Book Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a copy of the book!
About Secrets and Lies
Secrets and Lies: A Claire Callahan Mystery Private Investigator Mystery 2nd in Series Summit Peak Publishing (September 23, 2019) Paperback: 270 pages ISBN-10: 1695142470 ISBN-13: 978-1695142473 Digital ASIN: B07Y8QPRZ6
Shot to death in his home, Morgan Tutwiler leaves behind a multimillion-dollar business and a daughter who hasn’t spoken to him in years. And she isn’t alone in wanting him dead. Plenty of people wanted the most hated man in Denver dead in P. H. Turner’s latest novel in the Claire Callahan series.
Reminiscent of the finest gumshoe storytelling, Secrets and Lies, would not be complete without Turner’s signature quirky characters and inventive plot.
About P.H. Turner
P.H. Turner writes mystery and suspense novels set in the mountains and canyons of the West where she grew up and spent most of her working life. Pat worked in broadcast journalism on both coasts, the Midwest, and the Rocky Mountains. With roots to a Texas farm homesteaded in the 1850s, she’s returned to live within miles of the old farm.
Pat is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.
A beer bottle thrown carelessly at the windshield of a passing car sends the vehicle careening off the road, and the lives of high school seniors Denny Ford, his foster sister Jen McKnatt, and her sometimes boyfriend Brody Erwin, spinning out of control.
Over the next several days as the three experience increasingly bizarre, frightening, and seemingly unrelated events, they are forced to examine the ramifications of their actions and how their lives have been irrevocably altered.
What they’ve done can never be undone.
After all, it only takes one bottle toss to turn their world cockeyed forever.
Praise for Howard Odentz
“A simmering psychological thriller bolstered by a dynamic narrative voice and a few unexpected twists.” —Kirkus Reviews on What We Kill
“This author has a real knack for the weird and the wonderful.” —TheMostSublime.com
Author and playwright Howard Odentz is a lifelong resident of the gray area between Western Massachusetts and North Central Connecticut. His love of the region is evident in his writing as he often incorporates the foothills of the Berkshires and the small towns of the Bay and Nutmeg states into his work.
In addition to The Dead (A Lot) Series, he has written the horror novel Bloody Bloody Apple, the short story collection Little Killers A to Z, and a couple of horror-themed, musical comedies produced for the stage.
Brewed Awakening (A Coffeehouse Mystery) by Cleo Coyle
I have read almost all of the Coffeehouse Mysteries. Brewed Awakening is my favorite so far. Using an innovative plot device like amnesia refreshes the series because Claire is thrust back to the beginning. She only remembers what happened ten years ago when she was recently divorced with an eleven-year-old daughter working in her ex-mother-in-law’s coffee shop. Imagine her surprise when the daughter is magically an adult and everyone, including herself, looks older than she remembers. She doesn’t even recognize the love of her life, Mike, who recently asked for her hand in marriage.
Claire is on camera as a witness to an heiress’ abduction. The shock has made her lose her recent memories. Can a miracle doctor help her memories return?
Brewed Awakening combines the best of a cozy mystery’s character focus with a thriller’s pace and plotline. It results in an innovative story that elevates what is achievable within the cozy mystery genre. It is highly recommended! 5 stars!
Thanks to the author, NetGalley and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for a Brewed Awakening Prize Package including a copy of the book!
From Cleo Coyle, the New York Times bestselling author of Shot in the Dark and Dead Cold Brew, comes a delicious new entry in the “fun and gripping” (The Huffington Post) Coffeehouse Mysteries.
When coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi awakens on a bench in Washington Square Park, she has no idea she’s been missing for the past week, or that her friends and family have been frantic with worry. Now that she’s back, everyone is overjoyed, including a handsome NYPD detective who claims to be her fiancé. But to Mike Quinn’s crushing distress, Clare doesn’t remember him, or much of anything about the last decade of her life.
Clare’s missing memory is tied to a crime she witnessed. An acquaintance of Clare’s elegant employer–and fellow member of an exclusive Gotham circle known as “The Ladies Who Brunch”–invited Clare to her posh hotel to sample gourmet wedding cakes. The pair took a stroll after their indulgent tasting and, according to security camera footage, a masked figure snatched the hotel heiress at gunpoint with Clare looking on. Did the kidnapper take Clare, too? The camera went dark, just like Clare’s memory. Soon authorities grow suspicious. Is Clare really a victim? Or merely acting like one? Evidence is mounting that she set the woman up.
To clear her name, Clare must find a way to reclaim her memories and rescue the heiress before this high-stakes crime ends in tragedy. Otherwise, instead of walking down the aisle, Clare may find herself perp-walking to prison as an accomplice to kidnapping and murder.
About Cleo Coyle
CLEO COYLE is the pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. CLEO COYLE grew up in a small town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After earning scholarships to study writing at Carnegie Mellon and American Universities, she began her career as a cub reporter for The New York Times. Now an author of popular fiction and New York Times bestselling media tie-in writer, Cleo lives and works in New York City, where she collaborates with her husband (also a bestselling author) to pen the Coffeehouse Mysteries for Penguin. Together Cleo and her husband also write The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries under the name Alice Kimberly. When not haunting coffeehouses, hunting ghosts, or rescuing stray cats, Cleo and Marc are bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for NBC, Lucasfilm, Disney, Fox, Imagine, and MGM. In their spare time, they cook like crazy and drink a lot of java. You can learn more about Cleo, her husband, and the books they write by visiting www.CoffeehouseMystery.com.
In the first in a new thriller series, Thin Ice, Beth Rivers is a popular thriller writer, who has just escaped a crazed fan. During her escape, she was injured and her stalker vanished. To avoid him, Beth moves to remote Benedict, Alaska. When a local woman is killed, Beth wonders if her stalker has beat her to town—and is still intent on having Beth all to himself.
Most of the residents of Benedict have secrets. After becoming a reporter for the town’s newspaper, Beth starts assisting the local police in unraveling some local crimes and misdemeanors. While the minor crimes are mostly solved by the book’s conclusion, the principal plot of Beth’s abduction and escape is not.
My number one pet peeve is cliffhangers to major plot points left hanging at the end of the book. Unfortunately, Thin Ice has that issue to an extent not seen since the television series Dallas in the 1980s. Ugh, I really enjoyed the scenic rural Alaskan setting but hated the conclusion. You may feel differently, especially if you are reading this book after the next book in the series has come out so you can read the ending in the next book. 3 stars.
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
No Way to Die: A Ming Dynasty Mystery by P.A. De Voe
Author Guest Post
I am often asked about how I write. That is, where do I get my ideas and what’s my process?
I write Chinese historical mysteries set in the early Ming Dynasty (late 1300s and early 1400s), so the first thing I do is read through various Imperial China legal cases to get an idea of what was going on and how the court dealt with the problem. I am usually looking for a case that would highlight a particularly interesting cultural/legal element. For example, how the severity of punishment for a crime depended on the person who committed the crime as well as who his victim was. That is, was the perpetrator and victim of the same social status, what was their gender. Also, when a crime is committed, it’s not just an offence against one person, it’s a breakdown in the moral order, and therefore involves the whole community. This essential concept of a disrupted moral order lays behind early Chinese law and creates interesting dilemmas in developing a story.
The next thing I do is decide what the crime is and who’s the criminal. I need to think about gender, position in his/her family, and social class; why they broke the law; and who else would be held responsible for that person’s crime. In No Way to Die, the second book in A Ming Dynasty Mystery series, a stranger is found murdered.
Of course, the protagonists are critical to a successful tale. They add dimension and texture to the story. A Ming Dynasty Mystery series has two main characters, a male and a female. I needed two because Imperial China was a highly gendered world. There was a strict division between the sexes. I needed characters who could get around as they investigated the crime. After some thought and research, I found the perfect duo: Shu-chang, a male teacher in a small clan school and Xiang-hua, a young, female women’s doctor. Shu-chang could move easily through wine houses and public spaces. Xiang-hua, as a women’s doctor, had access to the world of women, which would be closed to the teacher. By working together, this intrepid duo come together to find the murderer and bring the moral order back in balance.
But—as important as the two main characters are, they can’t carry the whole story by themselves. Secondary characters are also needed to populate their world. They shouldn’t be stick figures, but should also have interesting personalities. They can be used to create dilemmas which fill out the story as well as complicate the story line. Red herrings and real clues are more easily spread throughout the mystery once all of these secondary characters are established.
Finally, I start plotting the mystery. I plot, outline, in order to have a road map for my story. Once I’ve completed my outline, I start writing. As with any road map, I still have flexibility to make changes, to delete a scene or even a character, to add a scene or chapter.
About No Way To Die
No Way to Die: A Ming Dynasty Mystery Historical Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series Drum Tower Press, LLC (April 18, 2019) Paperback: 210 pages ISBN-10: 1942667116 ISBN-13: 978-1942667117 Digital ASIN: B07PWJ715D
Through mystery and intrigue, No Way To Die transports the reader into the complex and engaging world of early Ming China.
When a peddler finds a partially mutilated body of a stranger, the unlikely duo of a young scholar and a local women’s doctor once more join forces to discover who killed him and why. In probing the highly gendered world of early Ming China, unanticipated questions surface, complicating their investigation.
As their case rapidly transitions into the unexpected, they find all roads leading away from the victim, forcing them to consider alternate routes. Was the death the result of inexorable bad karma and beyond their purview, or merely the result of mortal foul play? Was the murdered man the intended victim? If not, who was and why? The investigation leads to a growing list of potential suspects: a lustful herbalist, an unscrupulous neighbor, a vengeful farmer, a jealous husband, a scorned wife, and a band of thieves. Who is innocent and who is the culprit? To solve the murder and bring peace to the victim’s spirit, the duo must untangle the truth and do it before the murderer strikes again.
About P.A. De Voe
P.A. De Voe is an anthropologist with a PhD in Asian studies and a specialty in China. She has authored several stories featuring the early Ming Dynasty: The Mei-hua Trilogy: Hidden, Warned, and Trapped; the A Ming Dynasty Mystery series with Deadly Relations and No Way to Die; Lotus Shoes, a Mei-hua short story; and a collection of short stories: Judge Lu’s Case Files, stories of Crime & Mystery in Imperial China. Warned won a Silver Falchion Award for Best International Mystery; Trapped was a finalist for an Agatha Award and for a Silver Falchion Award. Her short story, The Immortality Mushroom, (a Judge Lu story) was in the Anthony Award-winning anthology Murder Under the Oaks edited by Art Taylor.
I have found my future retirement community in Fairhope Alaska. While there are a lot of deaths at Harbor Village, that is a boon for a cozy mystery fan such as me. I want to be Cleo Mack. She has such an exciting life even though her job helping retired people may be a bit stressful at times. In this book, there is a Murder at the Arts and Crafts Festival.
I love the Harbor Village staff and residents. It feels like returning home for the holidays when reading the latest entry, the third, in the series. If you love cozy mysteries with eccentric characters and ingenious plotting, you should read Murder at the Arts and Crafts Festival. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Death on the Danube: A New Year’s Murder in Budapest (Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series) by Jennifer S. Alderson
Lana is having a horrid decade. She is fired from her dream investigative journalist job after her confidential informant refuses to testify in the lawsuit against her paper. Her husband of nine years informs her that he is divorcing her by text. Her current kayak tour guide job hasn’t paid her in two months. So, there is really nothing holding her back from accepting her landlady Dotty’s tour guide job offer. Being a tour guide in exotic Budapest Hungary for six days in return for forgiveness of her two months of unpaid rent and credit for one month going forward? It’s almost time for the new year to begin so getting away from her problems in old-world Budapest sounds perfect.
Unfortunately, Lana’s tour group has the snobby Helen and her henpecked husband, Tom, for her to contend with. And what is the story between the other tour guide Carl and guest Jess? Dotty’s friend Sally has just announced her and Carl’s engagement so why does Carl look so unhappy? When Carl ends up dead and a guest is suspected by the police, Lana decides to use her investigative skills to uncover the real killer.
I love travel memoirs like Eat, Pray, Love so I snapped this book up. There are great descriptions of Budapest along with a character-driven cozy mystery within Death on the Danube. I enjoyed Lana’s determination to push past any obstacles in her way. Dotty’s Christmas dog sweaters make me want to crochet something creative for my dogs (I bought a couple online instead). Overall, I’m looking forward to the next in the Travel can be Murder series so I can revisit Dotty and Lana. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escapes Book Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the prize package giveaway below!
Who knew a New Year’s trip to Budapest could be so deadly? The tour must go on – even with a killer in their midst…
Recent divorcee Lana Hansen needs a break. Her luck has run sour for going on a decade, ever since she got fired from her favorite job as an investigative reporter. When her fresh start in Seattle doesn’t work out as planned, Lana ends up unemployed and penniless on Christmas Eve.
Dotty Thompson, her landlord and the owner of Wanderlust Tours, is also in a tight spot after one of her tour guides ends up in the hospital, leaving her a guide short on Christmas Day.
When Dotty offers her a job leading the tour group through Budapest, Hungary, Lana jumps at the chance. It’s the perfect way to ring in the new year and pay her rent!
What starts off as the adventure of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare when Carl, her fellow tour guide, is found floating in the Danube River. Was it murder or accidental death? Suspects abound when Lana discovers almost everyone on the tour had a bone to pick with Carl.
But Dotty insists the tour must go on, so Lana finds herself trapped with nine murder suspects. When another guest turns up dead, Lana has to figure out who the killer is before she too ends up floating in the Danube…
Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.
Feel-good stories about friendship, travel, and celebrating new experiences. Coming soon: Books 2 and 3 in the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series!
About Jennifer S. Alderson
Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before settling in the Netherlands. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.
Jennifer’s love of travel, art, and culture inspires her award-winning mystery series—the Zelda Richardson Mysteries and Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mysteries—and standalone stories.
No one would wish their worst enemy to Have a Deadly New Year. However, for the employees of the Country Seat restaurant and the reunited members of a 1990s band, it looks to be a dangerous holiday season!
Angie and Felicia own a small farm-to-fork restaurant. Felicia has a college connection to the recently reunited band Postal Mutiny. When she works out a deal to cater one meal for the band at the remote ski vacation house of the lead singer in return for a week of free lodging, it sounds like a win-win. However, the band’s constant fighting results in one member being “drumsticked” in the chest. When the sheriff is called away to search for a missing child, Angie steps in to solve the crime.
Angie, Felicia, and the other restaurant folks in Have a Deadly New Year feel like long-lost friends already. This is the first book in this series that I’ve read but it won’t be my last. The characters act realistically and feel genuine. The mystery was good too. 4 stars for this engaging book.
One more thing. Just a call out to the dedication to band members everywhere—you were the first friends I had who practiced mindfulness before it was even named that. Thank you for all the great life lessons.
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
In the Heart of Windy Pines Holly Tierney-Bedord
Publication date: November 24th 2019
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery
From the author of Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women comes a new novella featuring characters from Murder at Mistletoe Manor, Carnage at the Christmas Party, and The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club!
Klarinda Snow is the innkeeper of Mistletoe Manor in beautiful, remote, Windy Pines, Idaho, where she brings her unique brand of hospitality to the tiny mountain town.
When she finds her inn unexpectedly fully booked on a snowy Tuesday night in November, it brings back memories of a tragedy years before. Before she knows what hit her, she and her trusty team of employees (Myrtle, Pierre, and her new night manager, Josephine), have found themselves back at the task of solving another mystery at Mistletoe Manor!
While this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novella, if you plan to read the books in the Windy Pines Mystery series or The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, it’s highly recommended you read those first, as this book contains spoilers that could affect your ability to enjoy them.
In all his life, the man in the Mercedes had never had a car break down on him. Plenty of other catastrophes had befallen him, but a failing automobile was a problem he had no experience with. Lately, however, his life had been full of firsts.
Just as the three-year-old Mercedes-Benz GLS he was driving began slowing and lurching like some old junker, a series of four small, weathered, peeling billboards, each lit up in the failing twilight by a single yellow bulb, came into view.
You’re just two miles from a good night’s sleep!
Stay with us at Mistletoe Manor!@Holly
Best dinner in town is at Mistletoe Manor!
Take your next right to Mistletoe Manor. Closed Mondays.
“It’s a… Tuesday!” he decided. Funny how the days ran together now that he was retired.
He put on his blinker and veered off the highway onto Pine Lookout Road. It was a narrow road and only the center of it had been plowed. It swooped down a bit and then rounded a corner, and then went up, up, up. It would have been plenty for any vehicle to take, but his malfunctioning automobile was hardly having it. It sputtered and lurched even more violently. A low guardrail and the chunks of snow and ice on the side of the road were all that separated him from the steeply cascading mountainside on his right. His hands gripped the steering wheel in white-knuckled fear, as he pressed the gas pedal to the floor.
“Come on, you can make it,” he told his vehicle, just as it shot ahead and began behaving normally again. “Thank you. You’ve got this,” he told it, in the same tone he’d used years ago when his kids were little and they were playing soccer or field hockey. “Good job, good job. Keep it up.”
Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of over twenty novels and novellas including Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women. Her books feature quirky, flawed characters and the kind of crazy scenarios that could only happen to someone you probably know. Count on her stories to have unexpected twists and turns, dark secrets, and lots of laughs.
Holly is also an artist and miniaturist, creator of the mid-century dollhouse restoration blog flipthisminihouse.com, and the author of several non-fiction books about creating miniatures.
She lives in Madison, Wisconsin. When she’s not writing or decorating her real house or mini houses, she’s traveling. Visit her website at www.hollytierneybedord.com where you can connect to her blogs and subscribe to her newsletter.
Will the woman he left behind a decade ago be His Salvation?
Seth McCullough left behind his high school sweetheart, Krista Chancellor, determined to keep her safe. Running from his own demons, Seth joined the military, hoping for a new start.
Ten years later, after experiencing psychological and physical trauma, Seth takes a trip to Mexico for rest and relaxation. Waking up one morning confused, bloody, and linked to multiple high profile murders, Seth is sure he’s lost what little sanity he has left. Determined to find answers, Seth reaches out to the only person he ever trusted, his old flame, Krista.
Now, Krista and Seth find themselves embroiled in an agenda too terrifying to comprehend. Not sure who to trust, and looking for answers, will the woman he left behind over a decade ago be His Salvation, or his ruin?
PLEASE NOTE: This is the second edition. It has extensive rewrites and has been re-edited.
About the Author
Michelle King lives in the Pacific Northwest with her four quirky and beautiful children. She loves coffee, Superman, rollercoasters, and has an addiction to chapstick.
She works as a registered nurse and in her spare time writes novels. As a multi-genre author, she has written in the categories of romance suspense, young adult, women’s fiction, and literary fiction. She has won four literary awards.
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be presenting a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner at the top to see the other stops on the tour.
What happens to Mean Girls and Pretty Little Liars when they grow up? They become concerned about their Reputation.
“Good reputations land jobs, find you a spouse, earn you the right friends. But have a bad reputation—well. Here come the whispers. Here come the slammed doors. So it makes sense to preserve a good name, sure. But how far would you go to preserve your reputation—especially when you fear you’re about to be exposed? Would you work on a good cover story? Would you lie? Would you kill?”—from Reputation
Kit, Lynn, Laura, and Raina have a complicated relationship. One is Insta-curating her life to show perfection where little really lies. One is envious of another. Another is having an affair with someone else’s husband. When the college where they all work is hacked and their email exposed, they all scramble to conceal their secrets from each other. However, when one person is murdered, everything is exposed for all to see.
Reputation is an engrossing read. The story of the secrets that people have behind their heavily curated facade is compelling. It is truly difficult to stop reading because you want to see the author’s next sleight of hand twist, of which there are many. While the book dragged a bit in the middle—it is rather long for a domestic thriller—the surprising conclusion is well worth the time spent. If you liked the author’s previous work or just domestic thrillers in general, you will enjoy this book. 4 stars!
Thanks to Dutton Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.