Tag Archives: cozy

Book Review: DEAD SILENT by Amy Beth Arkawy

Publisher: Cozy Cat Press  

Published: April 18, 2013        

Format: Paperback (218 pages)      

ISBN: 9781939816047            

Series: An Eliza Gordon Mystery

Origin: Recommendation

***Though others provide the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Goodship, NY is a lovely town for tourists in summertime and of those many whom revisit or establish a yearly routine of showing up.  With the many new visitors, Goodship goes through some growth spurts and some are not all good.  In fact, a new addition to the town ends up very dead and a gossip website about the many residents of this town may very well lead to this inevitable ending.

However, life in this small town will go on throughout all seasons and all seasons seem to have one thing in common.  Everyone eats soup at Soup Opera and this eatery owned by a former Soap star, Eliza Gordon, becomes the very polestar of gossip, bad behavior, innuendo, and sleuthing. 

Eliza Gordon does like having her fingers on the pulse of her adopted home of Goodship, but she isn’t the one pulling the strings behind an evil website called The Goodship Grapevine.  In fact, this site’s mission doesn’t just seem to be about old-fashioned gossip but is rather about the utter destruction of the townspeople, and while this site becomes everyone’s focus, the newest radio star runs a close second.   This man is not loved, liked, or even well tolerated.  Even Eliza’s best friend and radio D. J. /part owner, Midge, despises this man. 

The shock jock in question around the town is Paul Hackett, and it’s not only is radio personality that is questionable.  Midge’s brother suspects his wife of having an affair with this man, and Midge is the one who has suggested as much to him.   This guy seems to always be around the women and especially around young ladies who love the famed.  This eatery owner does wonder what the newly minted Grapevine website and the newest radio star have in common beyond the town of Goodship. Although, Eliza doesn’t just have sleuthing on her mind these days.

Her prodigal brother-in-law, Jonas, has returned home to the family estate.  

This home is in the same place she’s living and although this sprawling estate can still provide the privacy she needs, this living arrangement has stirred up a need to leave it and a curiosity about her dearly departed husband’s younger brother who bears a striking resemblance to her man.   It’s been so disturbing to her that she actively tries to avoid the man.  Meanwhile, Eliza is still in therapy to get over the death of her husband and move into a budding relationship with Goodship’s Police Chief, Tom Santini.  However, even her relationship with Tom is skewed toward her husband.  Tom was her husband’s best friend.  Despite her history as a Soap star, Eliza’s personal life was usually tidy, in order, and happily without much drama.  However, these days the only order her life seems to have is keeping herself busy at the eatery, but even Soup Opera was founded with and established with her husband, Eddie.

This former Soap star’s life is about make a turn that could lead to her murder.  Once the most despised radio host is murdered inside her best friend’s radio station and haunting flyers appear to tell everyone about The Quiet, it all seems indicative that there is something more sinister happening that goes much beyond the murder, and it could be infecting the town’s youngest adults.  Even if these two events are much unrelated, which they do seem to be, it spells trouble for Goodship and even more trouble for our soup designer sleuth.     

My Take:

Amy Beth Arkawy’s DEAD SILENT, is a twisty tale of mystery that will have you worried about The Quiet and about murder, while you turn pages hoping everyone will still be standing at the end!

Eliza Gordon is a widow whose grieving has stabilized into a steady ache with fewer tears but a cloak of sorrow remains.  However, her widowhood has also sprawled out into a wanting for change in life without the loss of her memories or the betrayal of them.  Given all this, her natural curiosity for crime solving tends to get in the way of real life’s changes, but a murder does provide refuge for her mind around a whodunit to give her some much-needed space to stop using therapy as a way to delay these changes.

I’m hooked on this series and look forward to the next Eliza Gordon mystery!

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Book Review: KNEADING TO DIE by Liz Mugavero

Publisher: Kensington

Published: May 07, 2013

Format: 304 pages

ISBN: 9780758284785  

Series: Pawsitively Organic Mysteries

Origin: Publisher 

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Kristan “Stan” Connor is trying to turn a few bad things into a few good things, but she finds the bad just seems to follow her.  

She had loved her job at Warner Insurance, a job she lost due to the company president’s indiscretion that had been, um, uncovered.  She was in the public relations arena, but no spin in the world could cover-up the unrecoverable.  Rather than admonish himself, he excused Stan from her job.  

However, this work issue has come between her and her boyfriend, Richard Ruse.  

She met Richard at Warner, and he is still a VP in sales at the company.  However, Richard makes his thoughts on her move away from the city and other public relations jobs to Frog Ledge consistently known.  To him, this decision was foolhardy and a complete mistake.  Even on her move in day, his help is disgruntled, at best, and he wants her to move back to the city because of the public row they just witnessed between two women—at a new neighbor’s home—as if the same thing or worse wouldn’t happen in the city?  

After a brief disagreement, Richard leaves to meet a friend from Warner for drinks before they leave for the conference.  Well, actually, it was the same conference that Stan’s former job dictated that she attend too, and this was a point that Richard didn’t miss an opportunity to point out.

Truth was, the tension was so bad with him around that his leaving wasn’t all that sad.

After meeting a few friendly neighbors, Stan had the misfortune to meet the less welcoming party of one, who doubles as the town vet and acts like a drill sergeant, Dr. Carole Morganwick. 

This woman accuses Stan of not properly taking care of her cat, Nutty, because she didn’t already make an appointment with her.  Never you mind that Stan was fresh into this town and  her boxes were yet to be unpacked.  Dr. Morganwick ordered Stan to visit her with Nutty in the morning, stressing that because it was just a getting to know the animal appointment that she’d squeeze her in before the first scheduled patient. Normally, Stan’s mouth would have opened with some unpleasantness of her own, but she did her best to keep her words at bay and accepted the appointment.  

After all, what if Nutty got sick and she needed this vet’s assistance later?  For the sake of her feline charge, Stan could take this order and do what was told, um, asked of her.  More of the bad had visited her in her new home, but Stan was still determined to turn it around.  

In the morning, Stan and Nutty arrived at the office even before the receptionist, and this is where all of Stan’s new problems begin.

It wasn’t easy to find the vet down on the floor with a stick in her neck while covered in kibble, but it wasn’t an easy talk with the state police, who treated her like the suspect, either.  In fact, this woman trooper’s insinuations and warnings couldn’t have been missed.

This newbie wasn’t taking the rap.

Stan’s life depends on her ability to clear her name before someone clears Stan’s schedule permanently and sentences town animals to death.  

My Take:

In KNEADING TO DIE by Liz Mugavero, this author makes a successful and compelling foray into the cozy mystery market with a read you can’t put down!

Stan (Kristan) Conner is a smart, financial savvy woman who reaches a turning point in life. With time on her hands to think about what she wants and the ability to find it,  Stan’s burning desire to find this murderer accelerates, once town animals turn up sick.  I took an immediate liking to this sleuth; she will remind you of any number of real people that you could know.  Her love of animals is endearing, while her caring personality translates to mankind too, but her desire to find her niche in a changed environment is something we all can relate to.    

KNEADING TO DIE by Liz Mugavero is a great read that will teach you about Southern animal rescue groups, traditional and holistic animal health, and new thoughts about  animal kibble to ponder while you await the next book of this new series! 

Book Review: LUCKY STIFF by Annelise Ryan

Publisher: Kensington

Published: March 05, 2013

Format: 384 pages

ISBN: 9780758272751  

Series: Mattie Winston Mysteries

Origin: Publisher 

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Death Investigator, Mattie Winston, arrives on scene to find she knew this victim from her former career.

More than once, she helped heal this paraplegic man only to find herself bent over his burnt body, collecting evidence in an arson and murder investigation of her former patient, Jack Allen.  

She hadn’t left her last career to help the living due to burnout or the need for a change, she left her career as an operating room nurse because of her former husband.  He is a surgeon in the same hospital, the same OR, who liked to play with their female coworkers while she and he were married.  

Taking in the scene with detective Hurley—a man who she wants and who seems to want her but each has a job that must keep them apart—Mattie learns that Jack Allen had recently struck it big in the local casino, and his jackpot wasn’t kept in a bank.  In fact, it was kept in this burnt out home. Making matters worse, many people knew of his winnings and the large sums of house money leads to an assumption of motive.         

Jack Allen’s open wallet policy only serves to multiply suspects to include neighbors, friends, and a girlfriend—just to start.  However, their suspect list grows to include casino workers, drinking buddies, caregivers, family, and everyone who had been in contact with Jack Allen, since he won the money.  As if this one case isn’t enough to keep the police and medical examiner’s office busy, a floater turns up and something that should have been an easy case turns into something more sinister.  

Meanwhile, Mattie meets up with her ex—who is involved with their real estate agent when Hurley gives her an electrifying kiss, and she’s about to gamble with her future, when her boss becomes suspicious about Mattie and Hurley.

My Take:

In LUCKY STIFF, Annelise Ryan successfully blends mystery, autopsies, and romantic notions into a cozy that you can’t put down!    

Mattie Winston delves deep into death and investigates crime, but she still finds time for the romance she can’t have and the ex she can’t seem to rid herself of.  Mattie’s humor is a way to deal with her increasingly complicated life and competing desires, but she is finding her way through life one disaster at a time. 

A standalone novel, LUCKY STIFF by Annelise Ryan will have you learn crime scene investigation, medical examination, and investigation principles, while keeping you wrapped in her characters personal lives. I’m sure you’ll want to catch this author’s other Mattie Winston titles including, FROZEN STIFF (Kensington 2012), SCARED STIFF (Kensington 2011), and WORKING STIFF (Kensington 2010).

Book Review: GETTING SKINNY by Monique Domovitch

Publisher: Carina Press

Published: February 4, 2013

Format: ebook (222 pages)

File Size: 442 KB  

Series: A Chef Landry Mystery

Origin: Publisher through NetGalley, (eGalley) 

***Though the publisher provides the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Chef Nicky Landry is high on life. Her new restaurant is open—it’s a collaborative effort with her best friend and fellow chef, Toni.   Also, tonight is their first ever event!  

Even more special is that this party is for her soon-to-be fiancé, Rob.  Although the engagement is not official, yet, his muffled conversation with whoever is on the phone involves the word ring, and he’s been awfully secretive too.   This night had to be perfect; it would change the rest of her life.  

However, Nicky is having much trouble keeping her head out of the clouds. Without advance warning, different scenarios of how he is going to propose tease and taunt her, sending her into a lovesick trance.

If it wasn’t for the staff and Toni, everything wouldn’t be coming together and speaking of falling apart, Nicky’s weight problems are losing her wardrobe choices faster than she can afford new clothes. The constant testing of recipes and ingredients has expanded her waistline even more. Tonight’s outfit features strategically placed pins and a full body slimmer, of sorts.  However, breathing does seem to present a problem.  Well, between her outfit and her frazzled nerves, this is one night that not eating won’t be a problem.     

Meanwhile, the event starts out perfect, but ends in heartbreak, as Nicky overhears a conversation in which Rob’s cheating is exposed. And she is called fat. 

Stunned, as Rob tries to sweet-talk his way out of his mess, she wonders why she never saw this manipulative side to the man before.  Despite his proffered confession that the sex didn’t mean anything to him and neither did the girl and that it was Nicky he loved, she told him to pack his stuff and go.

Toni shows up at the right time, brings enough alcohol to have Nicky pass out, and cleans the kitchen.

Hours passed before Nicky returns home.

Anger assaults her as she discovers Rob’s things still around her house.  Is he that sure that she will take him back?  He has another think coming.  She.  Is. Done. With. Him.  Nicky lets her miniature pooch outside for her nightly pee-pee and finds her former boyfriend’s lifeless eyes staring back at her.  It’s her knife sticking out of his chest! 

Now, the police suspect Nicky of murder, and she’s out to clear herself. 

However, running an eatery, discovering another body, hiring a criminal attorney—one she can’t afford, and uncovering a drug ring all do have some slimming benefits, providing she can stay alive to enjoy them.

 

My Take:

GETTING SKINNY by Monique Domovitch is a laugh out loud cozy with some deadly ingredients!

I enjoyed getting to know Chef Nicky Landry and found her a formidable sleuth.  She finds clues, reaches wrong decisions, and considers everyone a murder suspect, but she gets does it all right in the end and solves the mystery in the most unexpected way. If you’re looking for fun, mystery, excitement, and great food, you’ll enjoy GETTING SKINNY, and you will look forward to the next Chef Nicky Landry mystery!

In GETTING SKINNY, Monique Domovitch includes recipes for a flavorful mix of enjoyment, and since even I wasn’t able to mess these up, I know you’ll do fine.   

Book Review: EASTER BUNNY MURDER by Leslie Meier

Publisher: Kensington

Published: January 29, 2013

Format: 304 pages

ISBN: 9780758229359  

Series: A Lucy Stone Mystery

Origin: Publisher 

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Lucy Stone loves spring, and she’s looking forward to the annual Easter egg hunt with her grandson.  Although, this year, something here just feels off.  

No attendants greet them, but people followed the instructions from the past and didn’t block the entrance. Usually, Tinker Cove is abuzz about the annual event, but she’s heard some rumors that she’s brushed off as just that—until she stands outside the gates of VV’s plush estate, which wasn’t so much plush anymore.   In years gone by, Lucy’s marveled at the grounds, but this year, the expansive greens and wondrous beds look beaten, weathered, and worn.  

As the crowd grows waiting for the event to begin, Lucy’s still trying to understand what is happening to the grounds.  

Soon, the butler was coming to the gate and the Easter Bunny walked out the front door, dropping eggs along the way.  The kids became excited and the parents couldn’t wait for their little bundles to scoop up their prizes, looking too cute in their attire.  That is until the Easter Bunny did something unexpected.  

The Easter Bunny collapsed just beyond the gate. It wasn’t planned, cute, or even funny.

Stunned people gained the senses and began to sooth their crying children, wondering if these kids were scarred for life after witnessing the real death of the Easter Bunny.  Would Easter ever be the same?  With the bunny head removed, Lucy knew immediately who lie lifeless on the ground.  This year’s Easter Bunny had been Van Vorst Duff, VV’s grandson.

Now, the questions shuffled through Lucy’s mind.  Did someone want to kill a hapless Easter Bunny, whomever was in the suit, or did someone want to kill Van?  Why?   

Lucy Stone finally remembered she was the press and grabbed her camera, taking shots as the ambulance arrived.  She knew they sent an ambulance but they needed the coroner’s wagon instead.  

It had probably been the shock that had Lucy thinking murder because Van’s death had been labeled natural causes.   Sadly, his death at a young age has Lucy thinking about wills for her and her husband, but he wants nothing to do with the subject.  It’s not that they had much to leave their children, but Lucy thought things should be left at least tidy for them in the end.  

Anyway, Van’s death was still a headline story and became a bigger one once his ex, Maxine, walks into the Pennysaver office with her story.  

According to Maxine, Victoria, her husband, and their attorney are abusive toward the elderly VV and steal from her estate.   They also killed Van!  Although Maxine had no proof about their part in Van’s death, she does present a good case of elder abuse going on at the estate.

Lucy is determined to get into the estate and becomes the hired help.  

This story becomes even more bizarre when friends and family are kept away from VV and the few seconds Lucy did see the elderly woman only gave confirmation to the elder abuse claim. However, once Maxine comes into the mansion, a family dust-up ensues.  She not only states her claims of abuse in front everyone, but she doesn’t hold back on her murder accusation either.

When Maxine is dead, Lucy is sure this was murder!  

 

My Take:

Leslie Meier does it again with the EASTER BUNNY MURDER!  Knee deep in another death or two, Lucy Stone still pulls you into her story while you gather the clues along with her, wondering if this road leads to a dead-end or another murder.  You’ll stay up late just to find out! 

Lucy is my kind of sleuth.  She’s a wife, mother, employee, and a snoop with a nose for a story and eye for detail.  These attributes fit her profession well, but they can lead her headfirst into danger as everyone is not always who they seem to be.  Her town is small but lively except for those who are dead, of course. 

EASTER BUNNY MURDER by Leslie Meier is a standalone novel and is available for preorder! However, you’ll want to hunt for clues in this author’s other titles including: CHOCOLATE COVERED MURDER (Kensington 2012), BACK TO SCHOOL MURDER (Kensington 2012), TIPPY TOE MURDER (Kensington 2012), ENGLISH TEA MURDER (Kensington 2011), CHRISTMAS COOKIE MURDER (Kensington 2011), WEDDING DAY MURDER (Kensington 2011), and more!  

IMITATION OF DEATH

by: Cheryl Crane              

Publisher: Kensington  

Published: August 28, 2012        

Format: Hardcover (304 pages)      

ISBN: 9780758258885            

Series: A Nikki Harper Mystery      

Origin: Publisher

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Famous television writer and producer, Abe Bernard, lives next door in the newly built French Regency mansion with his 2nd wife, Ginny Bernard, and Abe’s son Eddie. Abe’s ex-wife, Melinda–still brandishing the Bernard last name, lives in a cottage, in back of the main house and on the same property.

The Bernard’s living arrangement isn’t all that unusual in the Hollywood circles and it was never the main problem with this neighbor.

The main problem is Abe’s and Melinda’s son, Eddie Bernard. He’s addicted to booze and drugs and has been in and out of rehab. Eddie has never done much to earn his keep and his hot temper and DUIs keep the police busy. However, the whole neighborhood can tell you when he’s out of rehab because the party starts and never stops. The loud music and voices rise over the fence setting everyone’s nerves on edge, again.  

Soon, Nikki Harper and her famous mother, Victoria Bordeaux, are up and moving toward the sound of gunfire.

Jorge Delgado, Victoria’s gardener and Nikki’s old friend, and Eddie Bernard are squaring off, but since Eddie has a weapon at his side this fight could be lethal. Melinda tries talking sense into her son’s drug fueled temper while Nikki tries to get Jorge out of firing range. It isn’t until early the next morning that the gravity of what had transpired over at the Bernard’s comes back to hurt them.

Ina Delgado, Jorge’s mother and Victoria’s housekeeper, makes a gruesome discovery and the murder weapon causes as much fright as the body. 

My Take:

IMITATION OF DEATH by Cheryl Crane is a mystery that will keep you in engaged.

Nikki Harper is a breath of fresh air. Cheryl Crane plants her amateur sleuth inside Beverly Hills with the Hollywood elite, where no one is who they seem to be and where every secret has a price, and she puts Nikki into a crime with an intimate connection. This author’s characters, although famous, carry the same human faults and frailties as the rest of us.

IMITATION OF DEATH is standalone novel, but you’ll want to read another Nikki Harper mystery titled THE BAD ALWAYS DIE TWICE (Kensington 2011).

DEATH OF A NEIGHBORHOOD WITCH

by: Laura Levine              

Publisher: Kensington  

Published: August 28, 2012        

Format: Hardcover (304 pages)      

ISBN: 9780758238498            

Series: Jaine Austen Mystery      

Origin: Publisher

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Killer!  Yes, Prozac is a killer.  

Jaine Austen’s frisky feline, Prozac, started out as an attacker of cutie faced pumpkins and ended up a stone cold murderer, of sorts.  This kitty stared down an aged parakeet until it keeled over.  

This wasn’t just any bird, it was the longtime companion to Jaine’s longtime neighborhood’s witch, Cryptessa Muldoone.   Cryptessa is a former not-so-hot, flash in the pan, actress whose only claim to fame was one season of “I Married A Zombie”.

To keep Cryptessa at bay, Jaine tries to make amends by holding a small funeral for Van Helsing the parakeet, burying the bird, and planting petunias.   Later, still worried about the woman, Jaine pays her wacky neighbor another visit and begins to feel sad for her.  This woman’s only remaining companion is a stuffed bat named Bela, an original prop from her short-lived television show, and a maid who Cryptessa believes steals her soda.  

Jaine’s outlook is looking up between a battle of parents over a horrid holiday decoration, and Halloween candy bars.  A handsome man with beautiful eyes and a cleft on his chin invites Jaine to his housewarming.  Peter Connor is the newest neighbor in the area and he’s someone Jaine wants to know better.   However, at the Peter’s home, Jaine loses her temper with Cryptessa—over non-homemade brownies and a quick match of tug-of-war—and neither woman wins the battle. The brownies fly away landing on the homeowner’s carpet, and Jaine’s love life stays flat, until he invites her to a Halloween party.

Determined to have Peter’s second impression much better than his first, Jaine accepts the invite and chooses a costume that will speed his heart rate, but that’s not the costume she lands.  Her frienemy, Lance, made a furry switch and while Peter loved the choice he thought she made, all doesn’t end well.

Cryptessa winds up murdered, and Jaine’s furry costume puts her right on the suspect list.  

My Take:

DEATH OF A NEIGHBORHOOD WITCH by Laura Levine is a laugh-out-loud mystery!  

Laura Levine creates an amateur sleuth who can tell it like it is in Jaine Austen then combines her with humor and death while she builds a fantastic cast of quirky characters around the trick-or-treat holiday.   In Cryptessa, you’ll meet your worst nightmarish neighbor and you’ll wonder how she managed to evade murder for so long. Oh!  I almost forgot to tell you that there are some guest appearances by Lana Turner.  No.  Lana Turner isn’t the one you maybe thinking of.     

Although DEATH OF A NEIGHBORHOOD WITCH is a standalone novel, you’ll want to catch up on the other Jaine Austen mysteries including: PAMPERED TO DEATH (Kensington 2011), KILLING BRIDEZILLA (Kensington 2008), LAST WRITES (Kensington 2003), until Jaine’s next mystery arrives.

NOWHERE TO RUN

by: Nancy Bush              

Publisher: Zebra (Kensington)  

Published: July 31, 2012        

Format: Paperback (384 pages)      

ISBN: 9780420125016                  

Origin: Publisher

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Liv Dugan’s life has been surrounded by mystery since childhood.  

Her mother committed suicide with Liv in the next room and her baby brother sleeping upstairs.  Her parents had a tumultuous relationship, but still in current day, her father resents Liv for having told the police about it.  However much harassment the police gave him over it, they really didn’t suspect her father.  They insisted that there was a mystery man in Deborah Dugan’s life who the police believe was connected to the dead woman found near the family home.  

The mystery of her mother’s death and life intensifies, when a law office contacts Liv.  

They have a packet for her and they’ve been directed to give to provide it, when she turned a certain age, by her deceased mother.  Once the envelope is received, her questions multiply. It contains information about Liv’s natural parents, but the need to find them was never something Liv developed. Despite how Liv struggled to forget the images of finding her mother hanging and the havoc it created in her family life, Liv must face the memories and the questions that have haunted her for years.  Why did her mother want her to have this now or at all? Who is this angry-faced mystery man in the picture with her mother—the one who was trying to take the camera?    

Liv visits her brother, Hague, and things go from bad to worse, when her he calls the stranger “zombie man”. That name was the same name he used with the police questioned her special needs brother after Deborah’s suicide.  Although they dismissed it as a childhood story, Liv never forgot it, and to hear him say it present day, she knows her mother didn’t commit suicide.  

Meanwhile, her brother is more connected to their father while Liv’s relationship with him and his next wife has always been strained, and their accidental meeting at her brother’s place goes as she would have expected.   Her father demands she stop stirring everyone up about a suicide that happen years ago, but Liv is more determined to find out what happened and refuses to back down.

Later, she finds out that one of the two people she speaks to at work will be let go by the end of the week.  

The boss’s son is a product of a bitter divorce and he’s the pawn they each use to make each other miserable.  She is trying to duck out of an uncomfortable conversation that he’s initiated by saying he’d like to keep a relationship with her after he leaves.  His disappointment at Liv reaction of wanting to be just friends shows, but Liv excuses herself for lunch.

She’s late returning and is expecting to be read the riot act, but finds the carnage of a mass shooting instead. Her usual paranoia drove her to believe this was all connected to her, her mother’s death, and the “zombie man”.  

Instead of calling the police, Liv listens to her inner voice.  She runs out, dashes home, and packs a bag.

While she sat in a coffee shop, two policemen enter.  Liv panics.  Quickly, she exits the shop then Liv jumps inside the first car she finds, pulls the gun she’d brought for protection, and begins ordering the man to drive.  

Not knowing where to go the only thing Liv knows is that she can’t stay here . . . 

My Take:

In NOWHERE TO RUN by Nancy Bush, you’ll find a captivating read!  Nancy Bush does an excellent job of building tension into a suspenseful, complex thriller.  

From the outset, I felt compassion for Liv Dugan.  Her childhood trauma left her a damaged young woman who still fights the overwhelming emotions of the young child who found her mother.  This tragedy leads to a fear of the police because the detective didn’t know how to handle a child differently than an adult interrogation.  Moreover, her father’s bitterness cut her to the quick during this time.  

Although NOWHERE TO RUN is a standalone novel, you’ll want to read some of Nancy Bush’s other titles such as HUSH (Zebra 2011), BLIND SPOT (Zebra 2010), and UNSEEN (Zebra 2009) until NOWHERE TO HIDE releases in August 2012! 

DEATH MAKES THE CUT

by: Janice Hamrick              

Publisher: Minotaur Books  

Published: July 17, 2012        

Format: Hardcover (336 pages)      

ISBN: 9781250005540            

Series: A Jocelyn Shore Mystery  

Origin: Publisher through Netgalley (eGalley)

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

A single memory played over in her mind as she stared at the body of her mentor, fellow history teacher, tennis coach and friend, Fred Argus.

It all started the day before school. Jocelyn Shore readied her classroom for this year’s group until a loud voice thundered.  In an almost empty building the sound bounced and pinged off surfaces and thwarted attempts to find its source, but Jocelyn was on the hunt to do exactly that. This voice box belonged to one angry parent who came onto the school grounds seeming dead set on an argument, and Jocelyn feared this man’s anger radiated altercation.  Despite several misguided turns, this teacher found the source.  Poor coach Fred wore a panicked look as the bully, disguised as a parent, oozed a venomous rage, and soon Jocelyn was looking into the face of a man who seemed almost ready to pounce.  

Now, she was almost sure the stress from this incident was what killed coach Fred; at least she was until Detective Gallagher started claiming murder and makes a display out of finding drugs in the coach’s filing cabinet.

Determined to clear the name of  her mentor and friend, Jocelyn starts talking to staff, students, and teachers about Fred’s last day and any potential problems he faced.  Soon this history teacher realizes there are some not-so-nice personalities right under her nose.  From the lazy principal, a couple of mean drama teachers, and the wannabe tennis coach, Jocelyn finds more than enough people who could have wanted Coach Fred out-of-the-way, and many of these staffers might just even had other motives.  However, would anyone of these folks kill him?

What about the drugs?  She knew they didn’t belong to the coach, but he did confiscate them from somebody.  Did they have a teen dealer in their midst?  Was she asking all the wrong questions to all the wrong people?   

Jocelyn Shore knew she had shaken a few trees but she wasn’t prepared to be a victim. Someone had just assaulted her and she could have fared much worse, if screaming kids on a movie set hadn’t interrupted this attack.  

Now, this teacher was scared.  

The viciousness of her attack made it personal and for the first time, Jocelyn realized someone wanted her out-of-the-way.   Would death have been their preferable route for her too?  

Moreover, why was the handsome detective in her hospital room until three in the morning?


My Take:

DEATH MAKES THE CUT by Janice Hamrick is a winner! 

Janice Hamrick’s award-winning style mixes cozy with fun and romance to create a mystery that keeps the reader engaged while she creates an amateur sleuth in Jocelyn Shore who is witty, sassy, tenacious, and endearing.  

Although Jocelyn does finds it easy to not find lasting love, her natural inclination to uncover a clue is like a hound dog on a scent.  Once she’s onto something there is no deterrent.   Well, almost none.  She does manage to get sidelined once she becomes the killer’s next target. Who could blame her? It easy to chase someone when they’re not chasing you, but this woman is no forever shrinking violet. Jocelyn will gather herself together and come back full power to hunt down the culprit. Once they get in her business, it’s personal for Jocelyn too.       

DEATH MAKES THE CUT is a standalone novel, although you’ll want to read about Jocelyn’s début in DEATH ON TOUR (Minotaur Books April 2011) until the next Jocelyn Shore mystery releases. 

GOING ORGANIC CAN KILL YOU

by: Staci McLaughlin              

Publisher: Kensington  

Published: July 3, 2012        

Format: Paperback (311 pages)      

ISBN: 9780758275004            

Series: Blossom Valley Mysteries      

Origin: Publisher

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Extensive unemployment, empty back accounts, and a mournful mother had brought Dana Lewis back to Blossom Valley, but she never expected the black bunting of murder to drape her small town.

It all started once Dana rejoins her widowed mother and sister at the family home . . .  

Dana’s under contract to make up promotional brochures for the O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa.  Her mother’s relationship with the owner, Esther O’Connell, is the reason Dana was given this job, but she hopes it will be her skills that will keep her employed.  Dana needs this job, especially with mother’s defensiveness about the house payment notice.  After going through her savings to survive a job drought, Dana’s only hope to help her mother is to see her role at the spa expand.  Not to mention, this marketing consultant wants to help the owner achieve success. Esther’s life circumstances touches Dana’s heart.  Like her mother, Esther is recently a widow, in tough times, and she’s poured everything into growing the business. 

Everyone on the farm realizes this spa could be an enormous opportunity for all of Blossom Valley.  Without a real tourist trade, Blossom Valley was feeling the steep effects of this recession, but future guests would mean more dollars for the whole town. This first group of spa residents includes a few Hollywood types and a film crew and if everything goes well word-of-mouth alone could make O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa a premier destination.  

It didn’t take long before things went bad—real bad. 

A producer, Maxwell Mendelsohn, is murdered and the bad press hits the wires quick.   Poor Esther was reeling from thoughts of losing everything, until the reservations started flying in faster than they could book them. Apparently, someone semi-famous being murdered on the property had an endearing morbid effect on people instead of a fleeing fearful one.  Although the film crew left, minus their producer, many of the guests stayed on but who did kill the man?

In between chasing wayward pigs, setting up cricket races, collecting eggs, serving food she wouldn’t eat, Dana is working on a blog, a website, promotions, and solving a crime which brings her an assault before she stumbles onto another body.  

My Take:

GOING ORGANIC CAN KILL YOU by Staci McLaughlin is a surefire hit for cozy readers.  

This author’s sleuth, Dana Lewis, combines humor with deadly determination to find out the whodunit, and Staci McLaughlin gives Dana’s family and a full ranging cast of characters their own quirks and personalities too.   You’ll get know some of the Blossom Valley residents, spa staff, and visitors all while trying to solve the crime along with Dana.  

With tips ranging from growing Arugula to treating poison oak, the back of the book comes loaded with extras including a sneak peek of Dana’s next mystery—with family ties.