Category Archives: ARC

Review: A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones

A Bad Day for Sunshine

Darynda Jones

Sunshine Vicram Series, Book 1

Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by St. Martin’s Press

Sheriff Sunshine Vicram finds her cup o’ joe more than half full when the small village of Del Sol, New Mexico, becomes the center of national attention for a kidnapper on the loose.

Del Sol, New Mexico is known for three things: its fry-an-egg-on-the-cement summers, its strong cups of coffee—and a nationwide manhunt? Del Sol native Sunshine Vicram has returned to town as the elected sheriff–an election her adorably meddlesome parents entered her in–and she expects her biggest crime wave to involve an elderly flasher named Doug. But a teenage girl is missing, a kidnapper is on the loose, and all of it’s reminding Sunny why she left Del Sol in the first place. Add to that trouble at her daughter’s new school and a kidnapped prized rooster named Puff Daddy, and Sunshine has her hands full.

Enter sexy almost-old-flame Levi Ravinder and a hunky US Marshall, both elevens on a scale of one to blazing inferno, and the normally savvy sheriff is quickly in over her head. Now it’s up to Sunshine to juggle a few good hunky men, a not-so-nice kidnapping miscreant, and Doug the ever-pesky flasher. And they said coming home would be drama-free.

 

 

 

 

4.5 Stars

 

Whether it be contemporary or paranormal, Darynda Jones knows how to engage her readers, entertain them and have them laughing before they even know what’s going on with the story. A Bad Day for Sunshine is a fantastic beginning to what I am sure will be another winning series for Ms. Jones.

When anything and everything can possibly go wrong on your first day of your new job…….

Sunshine Vicram is my new favorite female lead character. She’s sassy and smart with a job she didn’t even apply for. I love that her mind wanders and she still harbors a crush on the one she shouldn’t. The love for her family shines through all that she does. Her strength and confidence are something truly remarkable. Sunshine’s dedication to her job is a whole different level of loyalty. Sun’s daughter, Auri shares the narrative of this story as well and you can’t help but to fall in love with them both. I love the relationship that the mother and daughter share. You don’t realize what a big part of the book it is until you realize it is.

A Bad Day for Sunshine is a laugh out loud, jaw dropping, gasping, suspenseful yet endearing read. Ms. Jones gives her reader nothing short of pure entertainment with this newest title. If you enjoyed the Charlie Davison series, you will love Sunshine too.

 

 

Review: Dead in the Doorway by Diane Kelly

Dead in the Doorway

Diane Kelly

A House-Flipper Mystery, Book 2

Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 31st 2020 by St. Martin’s Press

Dead in the Doorway is the second in a delightful cozy series from Diane Kelly set in Nashville—where the real estate market is to die for.

A HOUSE WITH GOOD BONES. . .

Whitney Whitaker has scored the perfect piece of real estate: a ramshackle white Colonial at the top of a hill with views of downtown Nashville. What more could a self-taught home-improvement maven and occasional house-flipper ask for? Ideally, the property of Whitney’s dreams would not have come with a dead body blocking the entrance to the foyer. But Whitney, always quick to take heavy-duty matters into her own hands, also happens to be a skilled amateur sleuth. So that helps.

AND SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET.

Who is this older woman—and how did her corpse end up at the bottom of the staircase of this locked, unoccupied house? That is what Whitney, along with the support of her wood-working cousin Buck, Detective Collin Flynn, and, of course, feline partner-in-crime Sawdust, intends to find out. Her friendly-neighbor investigation takes a sharp turn, however, when Whitney discovers that the house’s former owner was a gourmet baker whose secret recipe for peach pie was to die for—perhaps literally. Now it’s up to Whitney to learn the truth about what happened before she loses this killer real-estate deal . . . and the killer comes knocking at her door.

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

Dead in the Doorway is a fast paced cozy read embedded with humor and wit. Diane Kelly thoroughly entertains her readers with fantastic main characters, a solid plot and a peach pie to die for.

 

Whitney Whitaker is a busy woman. Property manager, Carpenter and flips houses on the side. She is a lady that knows how to get things done, has a good head on her shoulders and is genuine to the core. I enjoyed her relationship with her Uncle Buck. The back and forth banter between the two is comical and entertaining. They are a solid team and it shows. The chapters from the cats, Sawdust, point of view are priceless. That is a wonderful addition to the story, as Sawdust is in tow Whitney quite a bit. The flip house neighbors were a lively bunch that kept the story interesting. Another enjoyment of the story was seeing the house come together. Ms. Kelly balances the details of the restoration of the house without going overboard, yet has a reader interested in the outcome of not only the mystery of what this house is gonna look like at the end.

 

Dead in the Doorway takes the saying this pie is to die for to a whole new meaning. Diane Kelly has wrapped home improvement, some delectable eats, a little bit of romance and a well spun mystery into an enjoyable and entertaining cozy read. Whitney is a wonderful lead character. She’s smart and funny and adds so much personality to the story. Ms. Kelly twisted the story well as I had no clue who had done it yet should have known from the clues she is giving us. Dead in the Doorway was much more enjoyable than I expected and I give my highest props to the Author for her enjoyable tail.

 

 

Review: Dead on the Vine by Elle Brooke

Dead on the Vine 

Elle Brooke White

A Finn Family Farm Mystery, Book 1 

Hardcover
Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

Perfect for fans of B. B. Haywood and Peg Cochran, Ellie B. White’s whimsical series debut is full of farm fun, complete with a helpful teacup pig.

Reluctant farmer Charlotte Finn needs the help of the livestock to sleuth a mysterious death.

Charlotte Finn never wanted to inherit the family’s produce farm–much less plow a heap of money into it. Her plan is to hammer a great big FOR SALE sign into the farm’s fallow furrows–but Charlotte’s sunny hopes of a quick sale succumb to a killing frost when she finds a dead body entwined supine in the tomato vines. The poor man, it seems, was run through…with a pitchfork?

Now, Charlotte is stuck with running the farm in the midst of a murder investigation. Charlotte’s knowledge of farming is smaller than her bank balance, so she relies on caretakers Joe and Alice Wong and their farmhands. Can she trust them? She doesn’t know them. There’s also farmer Samuel Brown, who still carries a childhood grudge. But the case gets personal when Charlotte learns that the victim might have been her own kin–and seeds of suspicion grow into a fertile field of suspects.

Charlotte turns to the farm’s teacup pig to help root out the killer. Soon, the goats, geese, and horse join in, but will Charlotte harvest a murderer–or buy the farm?

 

 

 

 

 

3.5 Stars 

 

A charming and fun beginning to a new cozy mystery series.

 

Inheriting the family farm is not the ideal plan that Charlotte had in mind. She has it in her mind to sell but when a dead body is found amongst the vines that leaves her stuck on the farm for longer than she would like.  Being new in town and not knowing who to trust, Charlotte sets her mind to some old fashion sleuthing to get to the bottom of this.

As Dead on the Vine begins to unravel the laughs just begin. Charlotte and her unlikely yet extremely helpful band of friends are a hoot and then some. This is truly a laugh out loud read. I love how the townsfolk come together To help and the personality of this town really starts to stand out.

Author Elle Brooke did a fantastic job with the story. The characters are bubbling with personality, the mystery will have you guessing and guessing again. I love the personal touches to the personalities of the animals within the story. I found that to be unique and added something special to the story.

 

Review: The Body in the Apartment by Judi Lynn

The Body in the Apartment
Judi Lynn
A Jazzi Zanders Mystery Series, Book 4
Paperback, 256 pages
Expected publication: March 17th 2020 by Lyrical Press
The charming homes of River Bluffs, Indiana, make perfect projects for house-flipper Jazzi Zanders. Less charming is her hothead brother-in-law, who’s a bit of a fixer-upper himself.
But could he also be a murderer? Jazzi married her gorgeous contractor Ansel—not his family. But somehow she keeps living with them. So she’s delighted to help Ansel’s brother Radley move out of their home and into his own place, in the same building as his work supervisor, Donovan. But when Donovan is shot and his apartment ransacked following an argument with Ansel and Radley’s older brother Bain, their sibling becomes a suspect—especially after his missing gun turns up as the murder weapon.Told not to leave town by Detective Gaff, big brother moves in with . . . Jazzi and Ansel. Now Jazzi needs to prove Bain’s no killer, not only to keep him out of jail—but to get him out of their house. What was the killer looking for in Donovan’s apartment? And what will happen to the next person who gets in the way?

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

A lighthearted and fun cozy mystery with extremely likable characters. The Body in the Apartment is my first forte into Judi Lynn’s writing and is very far from my last.

 

Jazzi is an awesome character, who can do just about anything. Not only can she hang drywall with the best of them, this woman can cook just about anything. She has a strong body and a strong mind yet cares above and beyond what friendship is and her sense of compassion is something that can’t be topped. Jazzi is one of those people that if she makes you a friend, you have become family. Even if that family drives her crazy, her loyalty is unwavering.

 

The Body in the Apartment finds House flipper Jazzi, her husband Ansel, and her cousin Jared In the middle of restoring a beautiful Victorian house while helping Ansel’s brother get a new start on his life when they stumble upon a murder that happens moments before. Getting mixed up in a murder is not something new to this trio but for me the way they go about it is exceptionally entertaining. Nothing like family drama to keep things interesting. What I found unique about this book was how the local cop enlisted Jazzi help and compassion with those that may be delicate to interview. This trio of characters along with their family and friends are extremely close and very nosy. Everyone seemed to know what was going on with everyone yet always seemed to help or support in any way they could.

 

The Body in the Apartment is a drama filled yet well written mystery with a good plot that keeps you thinking. I loved that Jazzi is always feeding everyone. You can definitely tell food is her thing and she loves sharing that with everyone. This book takes us from a gutted out it out house, to neighborhoods people have to be careful visiting to getting tangled with ex cons and making wedding cake. Ms. Lynn Has readers all over the place with this book and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

Review: Death on the Page by Essie Lang

Death on the Page

Essie Lang

A Castle Bookshop Mystery, Book 2

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: March 10th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

I will admit when I read the description of this book and the setting was a bookstore within a castle I knew I had to read it. What reader doesn’t love a bookstore? Add in the fabulous setting of the castle you had me from the get go. Now when you add a compelling Plot that involves a true crime writer getting murdered inside said castle and you have more than peaked my interest.

 

The second installment of the Castle Bookshop Mystery, Death on the Page is an interesting and enjoyable read. Shelby Cox, co owner of the Thousand Island book stores and has the nose of a sleuth, host a signing for crime writer Savannah Page,  and she get more than her pages worth when the lady of the hour ends up murder inside the glorious castle. Shelby don’t necessarily want to help, yet she can’t seem to keep herself away from this binding murder.

 

Essie Lang knows how to catch her readers attention in more ways than one. The setting draws you into a beautiful place, the well-developed characters make the company fun and entertaining and then she gives you a plot that is well paced and keeps you attention fully in the book. Shelby and her aunt Edie are together. Shelby is a natural at sleuthing and entertaining while she does it. This is my first read by Miss Lang and I will tell you I was highly impressed.

 

 

 

Review: Revenge is Sweet by Kaye George

Revenge Is Sweet

Kaye George

Vintage Sweets Mysteries, Book 1

Kindle Edition, 205 pages
Expected publication: March 10th 2020 by Lyrical Press

In the picturesque tourist town of Fredericksburg, Texas, Tally Holt has opened a new candy store with a vintage twist . . .but there’s no sugar-coating a nasty case of murder . . .

Tally Holt has poured her heart, soul, and bank account into Tally’s Olde Tyme Sweets, specializing in her grandmother’s delicious recipes. Tally’s homemade Mallomars, Twinkies, fudges, and taffy are a hit with visiting tourists—and with Yolanda Bella, the flamboyant owner of Bella’s Baskets next door. But both shops encounter a sour surprise when local handyman Gene Faust is found dead in Tally’s kitchen, stabbed with Yolanda’s scissors.

The mayor’s adopted son, Gene was a handsome Casanova with a bad habit of borrowing money from the women he wooed. It’s a sticky situation for Yolanda, who was one of his marks. There are plenty of other likely culprits among Fredericksburg’s female population, and even among Gene’s family. But unless Tally can figure out who finally had their fill of Gene’s sweet-talking ways, Yolanda—and both their fledgling businesses—may be destined for a bitter end . . .

 

 

 

 

 

3 Stars

 

From the sweets of the old time candy store to Nigel, the main coon cat, to the way the mystery unfolded, Revenge is Sweet is a promising start to this new series.

Kaye George will definitely make your mouth water with all the wonderful confections that Tally Holt creates. She will also get your mind churning with mystery that is contained within Revenge is Sweet. Tally and Yolanda are a trip together. You can tell they are still finding their way, but they both have potential. With that said, there are many Aspects of the story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I love this little town. The descriptions of the confections are truly mouthwatering. There’s a lot of personality lying just under the surface that I felt needs to pop out a little bit more. Like the characters I mentioned above I feel this series has a lot of potential. We just had it for you shortcomings along the way. Revenge is Sweet is a good start to what could be a pretty awesome and yummy series.

 

Review: Lavender Blue Murder by Laura Childs

Lavender Blue Murder

Laura Childs

A Tea Shop Mystery, Book 21

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: March 3rd 2020 by Berkley

Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier Drayton Conneley are guests at a bird hunt styled in the precise manner of an English shooting party. Which means elevenses (sloe gin fizzes), gun loaders, the drawing of pegs, fine looking bird dogs, and shooting costumes of tweed, herringbone, and suede.

But as gunshots explode like a riff of Black Cat firecrackers, another shot sounds too close for comfort to Theodosia and Drayton. Intrigued but worried, Theodosia wanders into the neighbor’s lavender field where she discovers their host, Reginald Doyle, bleeding to death.

His wife, Meredith, is beside herself with grief and begs Theodosia and Drayton to stay the night. But Theodosia awakens at 2:00A.M. to find smoke in her room and the house on fire. As the fire department screams in and the investigating sheriff returns, Meredith again pleads with Theodosia for help.

As Theodosia investigates, fingers are pointed, secrets are uncovered, Reginald’s daughter-in-law goes missing presumed drowned, and Meredith is determined to find answers via a séance. All the while Theodosia worries if she’s made a mistake in inviting a prime suspect to her upscale Lavender Lady Tea.

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

Theodosia was an interesting character that is thoroughly enjoyable. She has personality for days and is easily able to capture the reader’s attention. She has heart and spunk. She has a keen eye and has learned how to ask the right questions. Theodosia is not your average southern lady. And I truly love that about her. She has charm and elegance yet isn’t afraid to jump in and get dirty when she has to.

Lavender Blue Murder was a fun and entertaining mystery. From the opening pages of the shooting party, to two crazy tragedies happening within hours, to the formalities followed when serving tea, to the lavish tea parties themselves and A tea shop owner solving a murder mystery. Laura Childs has something amazing going on with this series. From the British traditions of hunting and shooting and the tea services, to the lavish descriptions of Charleston, one could easily feel like they are visiting a very different place and not reading the pages of a book.

As with any long running series a reader can expect to see bonds between characters. I loved Theodosia, Drayton and Haley. You can tell by their interactions that they go way beyond employee and boss. The friendship they Cher is a highlight of the book. They are fun characters thus making fun times. I Love that I came in at book number 21 in the series and didn’t feel like I missed anything didn’t get a recap of 20 other books in the process.

Lavender Blue Murder is my first adventure into Laura Child’s Tea Shop mysteries and will not be my last. With more than a helping of Southern charm, a well plotted mystery and a cast of characters that keep everything interesting.

Review: Pies before Guys by Kirsten Weiss

Pies Before Guys
Kirsten Weiss
A Pie Town Mystery, Book 4
Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: February 25th 2020 by Kensington

 

Val’s crime-solving club digs into a piping hot new case!

A poetry slam at a bakery? Why not! Even though Pie Town proprietor Val Harris would rather be spending time with her newfound half-brother, she knows her employee, Abril, is beyond excited to be hosting the event. Especially since it stars the apple pie of Abril’s eye, poet and professor Michael Starke. But the evening ends on a sour note when Professor Starke is found murdered mere moments after being accused of plagiarism.

Just like that, Pie Town is at the center of another criminal inquiry. At Abril’s request—and much to Detective Carmichael’s consternation—Val and Charlene decide to investigate Starke’s death. But the case is as tough as an overworked crust and the Baker Street Bakers are only coming up with scraps. If they don’t pinch the cultured killer soon, Pie Town’s reputation could crumble.

 

 

 

3.5 Stars

 

If the title doesn’t get you the story will.

 

Do poetry and pies go together? Well maybe if the poetry was a little bit better and we didn’t end up with a murder on the plate. Val and her lovely and delicious pic shop host a poetry slam that gives readers a not your typical cozy.

 

Val and Charlene are coworkers and friends and have this thing for solving crime. Charlene is an instigator and likes to have fun with people. Val has a way of going along with what Charlene suggests. These two get themselves into trouble easier than they can make a pie. And when you think they can’t get any deeper into the crust, yes they just did. They are over the top and hysterical to boot.

 

Pies Before Guys is a laughter out loud, jaw dropping, outside the norm of cozy mystery. It did take me a bit to really get into the story but the comical content sure than made up for it. Kristen Weiss twisted this mystery right and I was shocked when the who done it was revealed. Pies before Guys is an enjoyable read.

 

Review: Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut by Sarah Graves

Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut

Sarah Graves

A Death by Chocolate Mystery, Book 3

Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: February 25th 2020 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
When a pirate festival blows into their small town, bakeshop owners Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree and her best friend Ellie White expect they’ll be busy baking up a storm, but instead they find themselves marooned in a new murder investigation after someone kills a well-known food writer and TV personality . . .

Everything is shipshape at Jake and Ellie’s new waterfront bakery, The Chocolate Moose, especially now that the annual Pirate Festival is dropping anchor in their quaint island village of Eastport, Maine. Jake and Ellie are ready for the bounty of tourists sure to flood their shop. But their plans quickly sink when the body of celebrity foodie, Henry Hadlyme, is discovered in the Moose’s basement.

Jake and Ellie are horrified, but their shock turns to dismay when Jake is pegged for the murder. Now, to clear Jake’s name and save the shop, Jake and Ellie must swashbuckle down and figure out who among Henry’s numerous enemies scuttled him in the cellar. Was it a long-ago jilted sweetheart’s vengeful relative? His long-suffering personal assistant? Or perhaps some bitter-as-dark-chocolate unknown enemy, now aboard the mysterious ship lurking in Eastport’s harbor?

Alas, dead men tell no tales, so Jake and Ellie will have to get to the bottom of the case on their own and find the real killer before anyone else is forced to walk the plank . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 4 Stars

Sarah Graves kept me guessing until the end.

Jake and Ellie are quite the pair. Not only can they bake the goodness of good, they are quirky and fun. The pair seem to have no problem finding themselves in the deepests of troubles. When a TV foodie makes his way into their sweet little town, Jake has no issue standing up for her fellow townspeople when Henry starts talking trash about the food of their town during the pirate festival. When the body of this not so nice food he turns up in the basement of the girls shop, The Moose, the trouble these two get into so well just started up all over again.

Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut is the third book of the Death by Chocolate mysteries and my first read of the series. Sarah Graves grabs readers attention with a well written story, a twisting, keep you guessing plot and fantastic characters. I liked how the author weaved in Jake’s background for new readers without overdoing it for already established readers of the series. Ms. Graves keeps a fast pace and a good bit of adventure within the unwinding of this twisted mystery. From the quaint setting of the town, to the wonderful and charismatic characters and all the yummy goodness described within the pages it’s a good read no matter how you look at it. This is new to me Author got a new fan with Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut.

 

ARC Review: Vlad by Patricia Rasey

 

Vlad 

Patricia Rasey

Son of Sangue Series, Book 8

ebook
Expected publication: February 24th 2020 by Patricia A. Rasey

Vlad Tepes, king of the vampires, has a problem on his hands. His brother is taking out humans at an alarming rate and drawing unwanted attention, threatening exposure for their entire race. Vlad needs to stop Mircea before that happens, even if it means taking his head. In his mission to hunt Mircea down, Vlad encounters a stunning special agent who’s out to stop a killer—namely his brother. Vlad’s inability to hypnotize her presents an entirely new dilemma, putting the beautiful law officer in harm’s way.

Special Agent Janelle Ferrari chases bad guys for a living, with a little help from her strange gift of psychic visions. That is until a sinfully sexy man, claiming to be the ancient, blood-drinking Romanian ruler steps into her office. Plunged into a secret society of vampires and a mounting war between immortal brothers, Janelle’s visions suddenly go quiet, leaving her vulnerable and placing her in the crosshairs of the killer she’s determined to take down.

Vlad and Janelle must join forces to stop the psychotic vampire before more humans perish. But when Janelle becomes next on Mircea’s hit list, will Vlad be able to protect the woman who’s captured his long-dead heart?