Two Bites Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery) by Debra H. Goldstein
It’s all about the characters, baby, in Two Bites Too Many (and yes I did just reference an old Puff Daddy/Diddy hip-hop song from 1997.)
Maybelle is the protective Southern mama of twins, Sarah and Emily. Emily is denied a business loan at the small town local bank. Maybelle brings recently rich Sarah with her to complain to the bank’s manager, Lance, about the loan denial. When Lance is found dead on his desk a few moments later by Maybelle, she is suspect number one. What can Sarah do but find the real murderer to save her mother from a long prison term?
The small town of Wheaton Alabama, near Birmingham, is so well described that you feel like you traveled there. It’s an even more southern version of Mayberry.
But truly the characters are the stars here. Sarah is finally recovering from her divorce with the help of her Siamese cat RahRah’s inheritance and her job running an animal parade. Sarah quickly learns why there is a joke about the difficulties of herding cats. Emily is trying to rebuild her restaurant after a catastrophic fire. However, Maybelle is my favorite. She uses her southern charm to cover an unladylike amount of spunk and determination. Slap her or her children and draw back a stump—figuratively of course.
The mystery itself was rather easy to solve. However, Two Bites Too Many allows its readers to fall into a completely different, tightly-bound family for a few hours. And who doesn’t want to do that? Highly recommended for cozy fans. There are cats, dogs, an animal parade, and small town southern charm in abundance here plus recipes at the end. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for one print copy at the bottom of this page!
Far from a domestic goddess, Sarah Blair would rather catch bad guys than slave over a hot stove. But when a dangerous murder boils over in Wheaton, Alabama, catching the killer means leaving her comfort zone . . .
Things are finally looking up for Sarah Blair following her unsavory divorce. Settled into a cozy carriage house with her sassy Siamese cat, RahRah, she has somehow managed to hang on to her modest law firm receptionist job and—if befriending flea-bitten strays at the local animal shelter counts—lead a thriving social life. For once, Sarah almost has it together more than her enterprising twin, Emily, a professional chef whose efforts to open a gourmet restaurant have hit a real dead end.
When the president of the town bank and city council is murdered after icing Emily’s business plans, all eyes are on the one person who left the scene with blood on her hands—the twins sharp-tongued mother, Maybelle. Determined to get her mom off the hook ASAP, Sarah must collect the ingredients of a deadly crime to bring the true culprit to justice. But as neighbors turn against her family, can she pare down the suspects before another victim lands on the chopping block?
Includes quick and easy recipes!
About Debra H. Goldstein
Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Two Bites Too Many, as well as One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should HavePlayed Poker and IPPY Award-winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra serves on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and is president of the Southeast Chapter of MWA and past president of SinC’s Guppy Chapter.
Mittens is a typical cat. He has a healthy obsession with boxes and shampoo caps. His girlfriend, Fiona, thinks he is romantic when he suggests her coming up to his cat condo to rub their faces on an old sock together. He suspects his (human) mother is hanging out with her “sketchy raccoon gang friends”. Mittens helpfully suggests boyfriends for her on an online dating website, “How about Jeff? He owns a seafood shop! Great catch! LOL.” His best friend, tomcat and playa Stumpy, may be involved with a catnip trafficking ring. Overall, Mittens is just your typical house kitty…who texts.
While only occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, Texts from Mittens is cute. Many of Mittens’ obsessions will be familiar to cat owners. Garfield fans will recognize Mittens disbelief at the absurdity of roommate, and “filthy hound” Earl, who carries sticks for no reason. This book would make a good gift for the “crazy cat lady” in your life. 4 stars!
Thank you to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.
Bailey, Aiden, and the rest of the village of Harvest Ohio return in Toxic Toffee, the fourth in the Amish Candy Shop cozy mystery series.
It’s a week before Easter when the village’s self-appointed marketer, Margot, convinces chocolatier Bailey to make a six foot toffee bunny for the town square. Margot had also arranged for Stephen Raber to bring several rabbits to form a petting zoo. Stephen has a pet bunny named Puff that he treats like a child. When Stephen drops dead on the square, most assume it was his weak heart. However, the coroner determines he was poisoned by a piece of toffee that contained Lily of the Valley. When Stephen’s son Eli asks for Bailey to investigate, he also drops off Puff. How can she refuse either request?
It always seems like I’m catching up with old friends when I’m reading a book in this series. In Toxic Toffee, Bailey reaches even deeper into Amish culture by attending a quilting circle, talking to a matchmaker, and discovering how people who leave the faith survive in the modern world.
The mystery was great. The murderer’s identity was a complete surprise to me. Overall, another great book in an excellent series. 4.5 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
It’s just a matter of rebranding. Repeat several times, “I’m not a Crazy Cat Lady. I’m a Cat Enthusiast.”
A humorous graphic look at what it means to be in love with your cat(s). The book is filled with cute illustrations and witty You Know You’re a Crazy Cat Lady When asides. There are also useful quizzes such as when your cat should get their own Instagram page, how to select your cat’s name, and how to make the perfect cat toy using common household objects. There are wise sayings regarding cats like “it’s not drinking alone when the cats are home.”
It’s nice to know that even in the Netherlands there are still crazy cat ladies. Crazy Cat Lady is the perfect gift for a cat owner—crazy or not. All owners will see themselves and their cats in these pages. 4 stars!
Thanks to Workman Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
With over 95.5 million domestic cats in the US alone, there is a real need for cat owners to learn the Secret Language of Cats.
The author is a cat-lover with five cats of her own. She is also a phonetician at a Swedish university. This gives her the exact skills necessary to determine what cats are saying. There are three different types of cat sounds: murmurs like purrs and trilling, meows, and defensive sounds such as growling and snarling. The book provides a look at what each sound means by looking at when it is used by real cats.
If you love and own cats, the Secret Language of Cats verifies what you already thought your cat was saying. It is a good weapon against a spouse or friend that doubts your interpretation of your cat’s sounds.
The book would be a perfect gift for the cat fancier in your life. Though the phonetic symbols were somewhat confusing, the author provided a website, meowsic.info, that has videos of the author’s cats making the sounds. It is fun to see if the interpretations in the book match what you see with your own furry children. 3 stars.
Thanks to Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising is a short book filled with luscious cat photos and poems written by extremely upset cats.
Cats have a four stage plan for their uprising: recognize, resist, revolt and rebuild. Each stage has a chapter filled with at least ten poems and an equal amount of cat photos. Most of the photos relate directly to their neighboring poem. The photos are, of course, cute. The poems have the snarky feeling that I get off my cats right after I have fed them.
Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising is the perfect gift for the cat person in your life. If you want to scare a first-time cat owner, this would also be a good pick. I think this book is only funny to those who are allowed to live in their house by their furry and purry master. 4 stars!
Thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Probable Claws continues the 18th century tale from the previous book along with a modern day mystery.
Harry, her Corgi Tucker, fat cat Pewter and even tempered cat Mrs. Murphy are hunting a killer again in the 27th entry in the long-running series. When a motorcycler shoots Harry’s architect, Gary, dead right next to her, she decides to investigate. In alternating chapters, the story of slave holders in early Virginia is also told.
The animals always have the best lines in this series. This one is no exception. Pewter has an ongoing feud with a “dinosaur spider”. New Irish Wolfhound puppy, Pirate, is perplexed by Pewter’s dislike of anything that doesn’t bow down at her feet.
I liked the modern story best. In the 1780s story, there were a multitude of characters and French history to wade through. If I lived in Virginia, it would have been more interesting. The modern plot had a few surprising twists and the killer wasn’t easy to determine even though the clues were fairly presented. Probable Claws is recommended to both cozy mystery and historical mystery fans. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Bantam Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Kate owns a yoga studio. Michael, her live-in boyfriend, owns a pet store. Together they are renovating the house they live in that Kate inherited in Seattle.
After not getting the engagement ring she was expecting, Kate asks Michael why they aren’t moving forward in their relationship. Michael tells Kate that he is already married to Gabriella who is still living in his hometown in Oregon. He insists that it is a sham marriage to get her a green card but agrees to ask her for a divorce. Kate, Michael and their dog go to Oregon though Kate has not forgiven Michael for his deception. Michael stays with his sister Shannon. Kate stays with her best friend Rene with husband Sam, 3 month old twin daughters and two labradoodle puppies.
Kate, Michael and their 100 pound German Shepherd, Bella, confront Gabriella, who is reluctant to speak to Michael. During a doggy beach run the next day, Bella finds Gabriella dead. Kate and Rene have solved four murders in the past two years. To clear Michael’s name, they begin investigating the crime.
Kate, Rene and Shannon are delightful characters. Each have their own quirks and personalities. Kate and her dog Bella suffer from pogonophobia, the irrational fear of beards. Bella also has a stomach disorder, which is how Kate and Michael met. Shannon is a hoot and is the perfect person to have at Michael’s back. Rene is the perfect partner in detection. Even though she calls herself Watson to Kate’s Sherlock, she can hold her own when interrogating suspects or investigating clues.
Overall, Pre-meditated Murder is a good choice for cozy mystery fans. It would especially appeal to dog fans. The yoga is minimized and all terms are explained so even readers that are not into yoga will enjoy this book. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.
Thanks to the publisher, Midnight Ink, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Catakism is the faith of all humans who bow to their cat rulers. All cat owners, not just crazy cat ladies, will see much that is familiar in this pun-filled book. Broken down into chapters like The Book of Knead and The Book of Cat Posts, Catakism explains why cats are cool and how we are compelled to serve them.
While not laugh-out-loud funny, there are many parts readers will be driven to share with other cat owners at home, at work and on the Internet. The puns get to be a bit much by the end but the cat photographs are funny and gorgeous. While ostensively a book worshipping cats, the author does highlight some of the silliness of cat ownership. Some examples are extensive purr-aphernia and “kitty litter cakes” (Google it!). Overall, this is a great gift for cat lovers and those living with them. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Skyhorse Publishing, and NetGalley for a review copy.