Review: When the Grits Hit the Fan

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When the Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day (Country Store #3)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Buried in the depths of winter in southern Indiana,  it’s been months since diner owner Robbie Jordan has found herself in the middle of a murder.  All of that changes when she finds a local professor dead, frozen beneath the ice in the middle of Crooked Lake.  When Robbie’s friend Lou falls under suspicion, Robbie can’t help but investigate.  With a town full of people who hated the victim, several suspects who have seemingly airtight alibis, puzzling objects found in the walls during remodeling and an intruder who keeps breaking into the  hidden tunnel under Robbie’s diner, Robbie’s sleuthing skills are put to the test. Can she find a killer with a perfect recipe for murder?

Out of the three books in this series, this one is my favorite. The series has finally hit its stride, showcasing the flavor of southern Indiana with a picturesque setting, colorful characters and an absorbing plot that pulls you right into the wonderful world of South Lick. Picture it: the snow gently falling on the rolling hills, the small town diner serving delicious food with a heaping side of gossip, and the warmth of friends and family – it’s all so inviting that it’s easy to get comfortable. And that’s what I like most about cozy mysteries, how comfortable you are sinking into them, and the Country Store series is an excellent example; it’s a great place to spend a few hours, even if there is a murderer on the loose. Throw in a victim that you love to hate (let’s face it, it’s always satisfying when a thoroughly disagreeable character is the victim, isn’t it?) and no shortage of suspects, each with their own good motive for murder, plus hidden tunnels, puzzling objects found in the walls during remodeling and an action packed ending and you have the perfect recipe for a great cozy mystery.

When the Grits Hit the Fan will be released on March 28, 2017.

Thank you to Kensington Books and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book. I was not compensated, and this is my honest and unsolicited review.
Series:Country Store #3
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher:Kensington Books
Publication Date: 28 Mar 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN:9781617739293
ASIN: B01GBAIXGK
Genre:Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)
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Join me in celebrating The Swap with an Author Q&A and Giveaway!

The Swap by Nancy Boyarsky has finally been released, I read the advance copy last year and loved it.  I’ve been impatiently awaiting the release date ever since, and now everyone can enjoy it!

The author, Nancy Boyarsky, has done a wonderful little Q&A, don’t miss it!  And to celebrate the release , I’ve got an autographed copy to give away to one lucky winner (US residents only) and details can be found at the bottom of the page. Contest is open from February 7, 2017 until February 21, 2017. Enter to win today!

My review:

When Brad Graves is transferred to London temporarily, wife Nicole comes along in an attempt to save her failing marriage. After arranging a house swap with the Lowrys, Nicole and Brad settle in at their temporary home. Soon after, strange things happen and Nicole begins to feel like her life is in danger. After reporting several terrifying incidents to the police, who are sympathetic but disbelieving, and when the Lowrys don’t show up at her LA condo, Nicole begins to investigate on her own and finds herself being drawn deeper and deeper into trouble.

The Swap is the debut novel by the author and I wasn’t sure what to expect as I sat down to read it. Once I started it, it was hard to put it down! I read about half of this one evening and then couldn’t sleep all night because I was so busy thinking about what was going to happen. I loved the premise of a house swap gone wrong, and there was a mystery on almost every page. Who can Nicole trust? Who is behind the attacks and what do they want? What happened to the Lowrys? And the one question that wasn’t answered, who broke in to her condo in L.A.?

This was the kind of thriller that raises the hair on the back of your neck, and it’s all too easy to feel Nicole’s fear as she’s stalked, threatened and accosted by thugs, her anguish over her crumbling marriage, and her betrayal, anger and sadness towards Brad. On the other hand, there were a few times when I wanted to reach in the book and give Nicole a good, hard shake and tell her to wake up. Seriously, girl, your intuition is waaay off! The spectacular conclusion was the perfect way to end the book, a little romance and a lot of action. What more can you ask for?

The Swap is an excellent 5 star thriller that will keep you turning pages – and looking over your shoulder – right to the very last page.

The Swap is available  at book retailers or online at  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Author and  Q&A

bf60141f0dd9656ae499ed0830238e99The Swap: A Mystery is Nancy Boyarsky’s first novel. She has been a writer and editor for her entire working career. She coauthored Backroom Politics, a New York Times notable book, with her husband, Bill Boyarsky. She has written several textbooks on the justice system and articles for newspapers and magazines. In addition to her writing career, she was communications director for political affairs for ARCO. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley with a major in English literature. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and now lives in Los Angeles.

What made you decide to have The Swap set in London? Did you consider any other locations?
London is my favorite of all cities. My husband and I go there almost every year. I wanted to have a mystery built around the concept of an innocent abroad, and London seemed the perfect setting.

How did you do your research for The Swap? Did you go to London?
My husband and I swapped houses with a London couple a number of years ago. The house in Chiswick is the house we stayed in, although I made it more sinister for the sake of the plot. We also took a tour up the west coast of Scotland to the Isle of Skye, a journey I included in the book when Nicole goes (much against her will) along that same route. On the way to Skye, we stayed at a wonderful hotel called the Isle of Eriska. The hotel is an old manor house dating back to the late 19th century. I put that in the book as well. Other research, like train schedules, money conversion from pounds to swiss francs, etc.,I looked up on the web. Finally, I had a editor friend who’d spend many years living in London check it over mistakes I’d made in describing London. She was very helpful.

Which of your characters is your favorite?
My heroine, Nicole Graves. Why? I like the way she acts on her instincts without hesitation. She’s very brave. I admire those qualities. I myself am much more cautious, although I am just as curious about people and their lives as she is.

What scene did you find was the most difficult to write?
I don’t think any were harder or easier than others. It’s tough for me to get the first draft written. Then, reading it over, it’s painful to see how much work remains to be done fixing plot glitches and refining my writing. That said, I do love rewriting. I used to attend the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. One of their sayings is: “There’s no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.” That’s absolutely true, at least for me.

What’s next for Nicole?
My publisher is releasing the next installment of Nicole’s story, The Bequest, in August. It takes place in L.A. When one of Nicole’s coworkers is murdered and leaves her a fortune of unknown origin, she’s caught in the crosshairs of a media feeding frenzy and the murderer. There’s also a hot romance.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A cat. I have three. Muriel Spark in A Far Cry From Kensington, my favorite of her books, gave this advice to a character who wanted to write but was having trouble concentrating. “If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, especially some piece of writing, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work, the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle placidly under the desk-lamp. . . .The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquillity of the cat will gradually come to affect you so that all the excitable qualities that impede your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. The effect of a cat on your concentration is remarkable, very mysterious.”

What lessons did you learn from writing your first book that you’ll apply to writing future books?
Don’t rush it. Sometimes the story seems to write itself; other times, it’s a long, difficult slog, like I’m experiencing with my third book. Either way, if you keep at it, you’ll eventually finish the story and have the challenge and pleasure of going back for the rewrite.

What are your influences/inspirations for writing?
I’ve always loved to read, and I majored in English literature in college. I’ve wanted to write a novel as long as I can remember but had no idea how to begin. I have spent most of my career as a writer and editor of nonfiction articles and, later, in corporate communications. Only when I took a mystery writing class at UCLA Extension did I learn how to set up the plot for a mystery novel. And then I had it!

What’s the most rewarding aspect of being an author?
Holding the first copy of that book with my name on it is an enormous thrill. It’s hard to beat that. Being a published author gives me an audience for my stories, which is very important to me. And, finally, I love reading reviews from readers. Thank heavens that most of them have been kind.

 What’s the best way for readers to contact you?
My email is nboyarsky@roadrunner.com. My Facebook author page is under Nancy Boyarsky.

Book Giveaway

One lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive a signed copy of The Swap!  Entering is free and easy, click on the graphic below to enter.  Good luck!

To enter: Click on the giveaway image below.  and Rafflecopter will give you 3 ways to enter.  Each option will give you one entry, and you can enter up to 3 times a day!

Giveaway is open to US residents only
Winner will be chosen at random
Contest is open from February 7, 2017 to February 21, 2017
No purchase necessary
give-away

New release! Murder Go Round

30340954After a “Storage Wars” type auction, Aunt Ibby and Lee bid on a locker full of boxes after Aunt Ibby thinks she sees some promising items. After winning the locker and hauling the contents home, they discover several historical items – and a mystery!

Isn’t that a cute cover?  I’m a sucker for cozies with a cat on the cover, and I love how it shows O’Ryan in the act of knocking over the Statue of Liberty.  And that carousel horse!  Just beautiful. (read the rest of my review)

Murder Go Round is available at book retailers or online at  Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

Review: Third Time’s a Crime

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Third Time’s a Crime by Diana Orgain

Third Time’s a Crime is reality TV in book form, except in Cold Case at the Castle, the drama wasn’t scripted! Set at an old mansion that had operated as a boys home many years in the past, ex-cop Georgia and the nine other contestants are tasked with solving the murder of a girl who disappeared decades ago, to solve the mystery first. But when an employee at the castle is found dead, and another contestant is murdered after he was voted off the show, Georgia knows all the murders are tied together and the killer is still very close to the scene. Can she find a cold blooded killer at the castle before she’s the next victim?

This was recommended to me by a friend, who sent me a copy of the book. (Thanks, Joann!) This was the first book I’ve read in the Love or Money series, and I really enjoyed it. I don’t care for reality shows, so I skipped over a lot of the backstabbing/partnering/cheating sort of reality tv shtick. But at the heart of it, this was an excellent plot, lots of action and suspense with plenty of misdirections and a hint of is-it-or-isn’t-it-paranormal to keep you guessing. The satisfying ending tied everything up nicely, and although the book can be read as a standalone, it will definitely suck you right into the series.

I loved the crumbling old mansion setting, very well described and so vivid I felt like it was real. I eagerly followed along as the contestants combed the mansion and gardens, and I loved the dumbwaiter scene (I’ve always wanted to do that!) Combined with the animated characters (especially Bert!) the entire story was dimensional, exciting and totally engrossing.

Overall, Third Time’s a Crime is an excellent mystery, and can be read as a standalone or even an entry into the series. I definitely recommend it for cozy mystery and reality tv fans.

Third Time’s A Crime is available at book retailers or online at  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Series: Love Or Money Mystery
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: Jan 03, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePUB
ISBN: 9780425271704
ASIN: B01E4WAFHW
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Juggling Kittens

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Juggling Kittens by Matt Coleman

Spencer wasn’t the type of kid who would have teachers lined up asking about im. He was a weird, effeminate kid who made bad grades and rarely paid attention. He had blonde highlights and wore vests with fur. But he also wore a typically blank expression and once got a pen cap stuck between his front two teeth. This particular cocktail of traits made him a target for bullies but invisible to anyone who might defend him. And that anyone was me. He was invisible until he disappeared and then suddenly he was all I could see. Plastered across my mind like a million missing flyers no one would ever hang.

Set in small town Ruddy Creek, Arkansas just after 9/11 Ellis Mazer is newly hired to teach English to bored 7th graders at a small public school in Arkansas. After one of his students, a poor and friendless boy named Spencer, stops coming to school, Ellis tries to contact him at his home and discovers that no one knows where he is. Coming on the heels of the disappearance of a young girl, a disappearance Spencer’s father is implicated in, Ellis becomes concerned and worried and begins to search for Spencer, determined not to let him slip through the cracks.

When I saw the title Juggling Kittens, I was intrigued. When I read the first chapter, I was hooked! I loved the easy writing style, the suspenseful plot and the quick pace, all blended together to create an starkly realistic tale from a great new voice in the crime fiction genre.

This was one of those plots that will stick with me for awhile,  revolving around the disappearance of two children in rural Arkansas and one teacher’s quest for the truth.  It touches on that primal fear that everyone has, the horror of children in danger.  Fueled by that primal fear and that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when faced with all the possibilities, you can’t help but race through the book to find out what happens next.   The colorful characters really brought the story alive, creating a true to life world that could be anywhere in America. Along with the excellent plot, the story blends social commentary about America right after 9/11, from the atmosphere of worry and fear to the educational system to the often bleak existence of life in rural Arkansas. As the story unwinds, you see Ellis change from idealistic to disillusioned as he confronts several new realities.

I have to say, at first, I wasn’t satisfied with the ending, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was the point. Just like in the real world, life ain’t fair in Ruddy Creek. You have to take it as it comes.

Intense, darkly funny and unforgettable, Juggling Kittens is an exceptional debut mystery and Matt Coleman is an author to watch. Recommended!

Thank you to the author for a copy of the book, in  exchange for my honest review.

Juggling Kittens is available at book retailers or online at Amazon

Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Pandamoon Publishing
Publication Date: Oct 4, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN:9781945502064
ASIN: B01LWCQ1FD
Genre:Mystery/Suspense
Reviewer:Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Dead Wrong

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Dead Wrong by Helen H. Durrant

At Hobfield, a troubled housing estate in northern England, a bag of severed fingers are found in a bag on the playground. Soon after, the butchered remains of two bodies are found in a field next to Hobfield. DI Calladine and partner DS Ruth Bayless are put in charge of the investigation. With few clues, reticent residents and a brutal killer on the loose, Calladine and Bayless rush to track down the killer before more bodies are found.

I’ve read the later books in this series, and grabbed this one to see how it all began and right from the grisly first chapter you’re thrust into the action. A killer appears to be “taking out the trash” one thug at a time at the run-down housing estate notorious for drugs and desperate people. Calladine’s gut instinct tells him there’s more to this than just someone trying to get rid of the bad apples, and slowly reveals the back story to the killer’s motives. It made for a riveting plot and I loved the plot twist at the end and the action-packed conclusion was definitely one of those can’t-read-fast-enough endings.

In addition to the fast paced plot, the characters are realistic and interesting. Calladine, a fine detective grapples with his inability to commit to his relationships and the care of his mother, in a nursing home due to advanced dementia. He is, of course, overwhelmed by everything on his plate, and DS Bayliss does a great job as a sidekick to keep him on an even keel.

Overall, Dead Wrong is a grisly, gripping and unflinching crime thriller and a great start to the Calladine & Bayliss series. I definitely recommend it to Brit Crime fans, or anyone who enjoys a good police procedural.

Dead Wrong is available at book retailers or online at Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble

Series:Calladine & Bayliss #1
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Joffee Books
Publication Date: July 3, 2015
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePUB
ISBN: 9781523358601
ASIN: B010Y7641M
Genre:Police Procedural
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

TBR Tuesday – January24, 2017

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My first TBR Tuesday post of 2017!  I’m a little behind, can you tell?

Anyway, in a bid to get myself up to date on my reviews, I’ve put a stop to reading.  It’s killing me.  It really is.  I have a ton of awesome books screaming for me to crack them open and devour them.  But at least I’ve only got a few back reviews left before I can start getting behind again.  My main problem is that I’ve gotten out of the blogging habit, not for lack of interest, but mostly because of lack of motivation.  I think it’s just the winter doldrums, this has been slowly building since Thanksgiving. Sigh

. So, my dear blogging friends, I apologize for being absent for the last month or so.  I promise I will get caught up on all of your amazing reviews and add a few of my own.

31305593This was the kind of thriller that raises the hair on the back of your neck…

The big news is that I will soon have my very first author Q&A and  book giveaway for The Swap (read my review here),  which will be released in just 2 weeks!  On February 7th, the giveaway will start, I will have one autographed copy  for a lucky random winner, and it will be super easy to enter.  Mark your calendars!

So, on to the TBR list (which is growing exponentially every day.)  These are the top 3 I plan to start next.  The Right Side looks to be an awesome read, A Will to Die is the latest in one of my favorite series, The Cliff Knowes Mystery series, and I won a copy of The Memory Box from Fictionphile a few weeks ago.  Three great reads, how am I going to decide which on to read first?

33012969
LeAnne Hogan went to Afghanistan as a rising star in the military, and came back a much lesser person, mentally and physically.
33802700
San Diego is renowned for its sunny weather and beautiful beaches, but it has its dark side. It is the location of one of the largest mass suicides in American history.
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What would you do if you Googled yourself and discovered something shocking?

Review: Death at the Dog

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Death at the Dog by Joanna Cannan

How can a man be murdered in a room full of people, with no one witnessing the act?

It’s evening at the lounge of the local pub and squire Matthew Scaife is ensconced in his usual seat, nodding off after a few pints. One by one, the regulars show up, a few local couples, including Scaife’s sons, Edward and Mark and author Crescy Hardwick, who is bitter over being thrown out of her cottage by Scaife. At the end of the evening, Edward goes to wake Scaife and realizes he’s dead and a local doctor called in to attend insists on an autopsy. When evidence of murder is found, Scotland Yard is called in and Inspector Guy Northeast arrives to investigate. All the circumstantial evidence points to Crescy, who was heard to threaten Scaife’s life but despite motive and means, no opportunity can be found. Did Crescy kill Scaife? If not, who did?

Death at the Dog is the second British Library Classic I’ve read in the last few weeks, and a classic mystery, a man killed in a room full of people and no one witnessed the murder. This was one of those plots where you know how it’s done, even before the detective realizes it, but you’re completely in the dark about whodunit and why and the surprise ending was very entertaining.

I enjoyed the portrayal of life in wartime Britain as it happened; not just the war effort and its toll on the citizens but also the mundanity of life in wartime, from blackout shutters to petrol shortages to the village’s upheaval from refugees fleeing the London bombings. It’s an authentic snapshot of life in rural war-torn England. The colorful cast of characters really helped bring the story to life.

Death at the Dog is a superb vintage mystery from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Fans of Agatha Christie or Josephine Tey will appreciate and enjoy this well written mystery, and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys a well crafted mystery.

Thank you to Endeavour Press and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book in return for my honest review

Series: Inspector Guy Northeast #2
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher:Endeavour Press
Publication Date: Dec 28, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN:9781542346184
ASIN: B01MZ4J3EX
Genre:Classic Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Catnip

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Catnip by Valerie Tate

What can go wrong when an elderly matriarch leaves the family fortune to her cat? Just about everything, including ‘catnapping’ and murder!

CATNIP is a mystery set in the picturesque town of Dunbarton, Ontario, and tells the story of what befalls the dysfunctional Dunbar family, and the chaos that ensues, when the matriarch of the clan leaves the family fortune to her cat.

That formidable feline proves to be more than a match for the humans in his life, until one fateful night when, caught unawares, he is stuffed in a sack and carried away.

A nosy neighbor with a nasty, suspicious mind points the finger of suspicion at the Dunbars and Christopher Mallory, the young attorney who is the trustee of the estate, and under the terms of the will, they face losing everything.

When a murder occurs, Christopher finds himself confronting a ruthless killer who would do anything to conceal his or her identity, including to kill again.-Via Goodreads

I’ve read the third book in this series, so I picked up Catnip to see how the series started, and I wasn’t disappointed. I liked that there was two separate mysteries combined in one plot, the catnapping of Marmalade and a murder. The first part of the book was concerned with setting the scene, introducing the characters, and laying the foundation of the plot, and then the lead-up to the catnapping had me on pins and needles, sure the dastardly event would happen on the next page. I thought it was a pretty effective way to really grab hold of a reader! Although the ending was a tiny bit implausible, it was exciting and satisfying and tied everything up nicely.

Note: No animals are harmed in this story

I have to say; at the beginning of the book the Dunbars were a petulant and shallow bunch, but the author did a great job redeeming them. I liked that they gained a lot of dimension by the end of the story, evolving into realistic and likable group that you want to visit again and again. Marmalade is the true star of the show, of course. He’s definitely star material!

Overall, this is a delightful and well written cozy mystery debut, and I definitely recommend it for fans looking to get wrapped up in a new world.

Catnip is available at book retailers or online at Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Series: The Dunbarton Mysteries #1
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher:Red Cottage Books
Publication Date:July 11, 2014
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN:9781500413170
ASIN: B00LR10HH2
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Dead to Begin With

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Dead to Begin With by Vivian Conroy

See this and all of my reviews at Mystereity Reviews

Coming home can be murder.
Vicky Simmons is looking for the simple life. She’s ready to trade in London for a slower pace by opening a British Country Gift Shop in her old hometown on the coast of Maine. Little does she know a few old faces are back in Glen Cove, including unrequited teenage crush Michael Danning—having taken over the local Gazette and looking better than ever.

All is looking rosy until Vicky finds herself face-to-face with a dead body and Michael is the prime suspect. When the sheriff links the motive for murder to the unsolved disappearance of a teenage girl twenty years ago, Vicky must turn amateur sleuth. She’ll stop at nothing to save Michael…and unmask the real killer!-Via Goodreads

A good start to a new series, and while it started off slow, I’m glad I stuck with it. Once the story got going, it was hard to put down and by the time I wound my way up to the exciting ending, I was hooked. The plot blended an old disappearance with a new murder, and the many plot twists kept me on my toes, there were so many suspects that were more suspicious than the actual culprit. I admit, I didn’t know who the killer was until a few pages before Vicky figured it all out, but the clues were all there. Well done!

The cute setting of Glen Cove sounds like the sort of quaint New England small town familiar to anyone who has ever watched Murder, She Wrote. In fact, I kept waiting for Jessica Fletcher to ride down the street on her bike! The colorful cast of characters added a lot of charm to the story, especially Cash. I thought his character evolved the most during the story, and that gave him more dimension than the other characters.

I have say, the one thing that brought down my enjoyment of the book was Vicky’s mom, Claire. The plot and the characters added enough drama to keep the book interesting without the unnecessary distraction of a harping mother. She just didn’t add any value to the story for me.

Overall, Dead to Begin With is a charming, entertaining and absorbing cozy mystery and a great start to a new series. I’ll definitely keep this on my list of series to watch, and I recommend it for cozy mystery fans, who will find a lot to like.

Thank you to Harper Collins/HQ Digital for an advance copy in return for my honest review

Dead to Begin With is available for Kindle at Amazon or at Barnes & Noble

Series:Country Gift Shop Cozy #1
Rating:★★★½ 3.5 stars
Publisher: Harper Collins/HQ Digital
Publication Date:Jan 13, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/ePUB
ISBN:9780008239183
ASIN: B01N0TBEZO
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: The Courtyard Corpse: A Cassie Hall Concierge Mystery

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The Courtyard Corpse: A Cassie Hall Concierge Mystery by Sherry Lodge

Cassie Hall, a concierge at the exclusive Parkstone luxury apartment building in Bethesda, MD, is thrilled when golf superstar Kip Ace and his wife, Bunny move into the building. Not long after, Cassie finds Kip in the Parkstone’s Crabapple Courtyard – dead! With The Parkstone in a 24 hour lockdown while police investigate, restless residents and her job on the line, Cassie sets out to find a killer

I really enjoyed this charming cozy, it was a great weekend read. With a fast-paced plot full of misdirections that had me glued to the book, it was one of those great stories where you change your idea of whodunit with each chapter. With likable characters and a comfortable atmosphere, it was easy to get locked into The Parkstone with all the other residents. I got a real kick out of Mrs. Canterbury, and Cassie is an engaging main character, determined, stubborn and resourceful. I liked that the characters had enough of an introduction to give you a good idea of who they are, but leaving a few questions to be (hopefully) answered in later books.

The Courtyard Corpse is a great start to a new series, and definitely one I’ll keep on my watch list. Cozy mystery fans will find a great new world to enjoy at The Parkstone, and a perfect weekend read.

The Courtyard Corpse is available at book retailers or online at Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Series:Cassie Hall Concierge #1
Publisher: Cozy Cat Press
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publication Date: March 12, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN: 9781946063137
ASIN: B06XJQW23W
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: The Dead Key

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The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley

It’s 1998, and for years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved, its secrets only speculated on by the outside world.

Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold Cleveland’s largest bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees, and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault’s safe-deposit boxes were lost.

In the years since, Cleveland’s wealthy businessmen kept the truth buried in the abandoned high-rise. The ransacked offices and forgotten safe-deposit boxes remain locked in time, until young engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey. What begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as Iris unravels the bank’s sordid past. With each haunting revelation, Iris follows the looming shadow of the past deeper into the vault—and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.-via Goodreads

Although a great premise and an interesting story, I just didn’t connect with it. I really liked Beatrice’s story, set in the late 70s, but the present day storyline bogged things down. As it was, I waded through the first 1/3 of the book and felt it had already gone on too long, but by 2/3 of the way in, I was pretty much over it and flipped through to the end of the book to read the ending, which didn’t tie up a whole lot and was unsatisfying.

Overall, it was worth a read, thrilling with lots of suspense. But I just couldn’t get into it for some reason. I’d say if you’re a reader with more patience than I have, and you enjoy a taut mystery, then you’ll enjoy this book.

The Dead Key is available at book retailers or online at Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Rating:★★★✰✰ 3 stars
Publisher:Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: March 1, 2015
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN:9781477820872
ASIN:B00LWE0QZM
Genre:Mystery/Suspense
Reviewer:Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Fatal Dose

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Fatal Dose by Russell Atkinson

We think someone’s been tampering with our machines. We just can’t figure out how.”
“Sabotage, then. So these machines don’t work any more?”
“Oh they work all right,” Vogel sighed.
“Then what’s the problem?
“They work too well. They’ve been killing patients. They’ve been beaming 100 times the radiation they’re supposed to.

PI Cliff Knowles, a former FBI special agent, is hired by Xlectrix to investigate several incidents with their latest cancer radiation machine, the Lilac 4. After several patients receive an overdose of radiation, including two who later died, the company is concerned that someone has done the impossible and figured out how to hack the machines – which were engineered to be tamper-proof. When his investigation leads to threats on his life, Cliff finds himself in a race against time to track down a vindictive and sadistic man bent on revenge.

Fatal Dose is a great read, with a chilling plot that touches on a primal fear everyone can relate to; being very sick, very scared, and the vulnerability of being at the mercy of a machine – or, even more frightening, having your child at the mercy of a machine. Eek!

The exciting plot had several cases seemingly unconnected to each other that were woven seamlessly in the story; the shooting of a police officer, a bank robbery, a Jewish center bombing, and the x-ray machine sabotage. I love watching the cases unfold; although there’s a lot going on, it’s very easy to follow and the quick pace keeps the story moving right up to the  exciting and grimly satisfying ending.

Having already read Behead Me, a later book in this series, I liked seeing how Cliff and future wife Ellen first met, and their geocaching adventure with Ellen’s niece, Ashley added a fun and heartwarming moment lightened the book considerably. Very cute!

Overall, Fatal Dose is a chilling and terrifyingly realistic thriller that will stay with you for a very long time. This is a must read series for fans of thrillers and procedurals, and especially geo-cachers.

Fatal Dose is available at book retailers or online at Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Series:Cliff Knowles #3
Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publication Date: Sept 13, 2013
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN: 9781492723080
ASIN:B00F70SZXW
Genre:Thriller/Procedural
Reviewer:Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Purr M for Murder

purr-book

Purr M for Murder by T.C. LoTempio

Sydney and her sister Kat run Friendly Paws, an animal shelter in Deer Park, North Carolina. The shelter has run into financial difficulties, so Sydney and Kat team up with a local coffee shop to host a Cat Cafe, all to benefit the shelter and to get some of the cats adopted. The only problem is that one of the townspeople, an influential property owner named Trowbridge Littleton, is determined to shut the Cat Cafe and the animal shelter down. Determined to change his mind, Sydney and Kat show up at his shop and discover him dead on the floor. Under suspicion and intent on saving the animal shelter from being closed, the sisters team up to find a killer.

Purr M for Murder is a cute and entertaining debut in a new series, there was a lot to like about it. The twisty and engaging plot kept me turning pages, and Toby the cat made for one adorable sleuthing sidekick. Likable characters, a quick pace, and a fantastic ending, complete with a big plot twist and an action-packed conclusion, all combined to make a thoroughly delightful and enjoyable story.

And I loved the cat cafe idea (this should be done everywhere, along with a doggy diner!)

Overall, Purr M for Murder is a fantastic start to a new series and will appeal to cat fanatics and cozy mystery fans looking to curl up with a purr-fectly charming tale.

Purr M for Murder is available at book retailers or online at  Amazon   |  Barnes & Noble

Thank you to Crooked Lane Books and Netgalley for providing an advance copy of this book in return for my honest review.

Series: Cat Rescue #1
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: Mar. 14, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN: 9781683310921
ASIN: B01N6P3WYP
Genre:Cozy Mystery
Reviewer:Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Kiss & Tell

Kiss & Tell Luke MurphyKiss & Tell by Luke Murphy

Tense, gritty, and thrilling!

With the death of her father…

Officer Charlene Taylor has received her dream promotion—working Homicide with the LAPD. Her first case is the high-profile murder of Ken Anderson, a playboy UCLA professor with a haunted past. A mafia kingpin, billionaire tycoon, cheated wife and jaded lover are only a few on a long list of suspects, all with motive and opportunity.

…all hope of reconciliation is lost.

Not only does she feel the pressure from media and her boss to solve her first case, but Charlene must also deal with her father’s murderer, the “Celebrity Slayer,” a serial killer who enjoys baiting her with his knowledge of her life and routines.

Can a rookie detective work two high-profile cases and still keep her sanity? -via Goodreads

I really enjoyed the taut atmosphere of the book. The fast paced plot with all the twists and turns cranked up the tension with each page, and didn’t let up for a second, whipping through twists and turns that kept me just a little unsure, a little on edge. Well done!

The multi-faceted plot wound together several crimes. From the murder of a well-connected UCLA professor from a powerful family to The Celebrity Slayer, a vicious serial killer working his way through Hollywood’s B list actresses that may tie in to the murder of Charlene’s father, a retired LAPD detective turned PI who was pursuing his own Celebrity Stalker case. With so much going on in the book, is was deftly plotted in a clear, organized way, very easy to follow and definitely a white-knuckle thrill ride. I have to say, the UCLA professor case was the most interesting to me, almost a locked room mystery because the suspects were apparent, but difficult to prove and with its own plot twist. And that alone would’ve made for a great book, but the Celebrity Slayer plot led up to an excellent surprise ending that kept me on the edge of my seat! Definitely one of those conclusions that I couldn’t read fast enough.

Newly promoted to Homicide Detective, Charlene is a little thorny, a little vulnerable and very stubborn, but you just have to root for her. Although a tough, tenacious and diligent detective, she battles her own demons; her inability to work through her issues with her recently murdered father, a drinking problem and commitment issues with her boyfriend.

Overall, Kiss & Tell is an exceptional thriller and police procedural and I don’t hesitate to recommend it to crime fiction fans.

Kiss & Tell is available at book retailers or online at Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review

Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Imajin Books
Publication Date: July 15, 2015
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN:9781772230895
ASIN: B0104ZI59I
Genre:Thriller/Procedural
Reviewer:Mystereity Reviews

New Cozy Mystery Release!

32608498Dead and Breakfast (Merry Ghost Inn #1) by Kate Kingsbury

Starting over after a messy divorce, Melanie buys a B&B with her grandmother, Liza, in Sully’s Landing, Oregon. It’s been vacant for years and needs some updating, and while stripping wallpaper in an upstairs bedroom, Melanie and Liza find a hidden door that opens onto a startling sight – a skeleton, dressed only in a nightgown! With only a few weeks until they open, and the police busy with another case, Liza and Melanie start investigating to find a killer before their B&B dream goes up in smoke.

I love a brand new series. There’s nothing better than the promise of finding a new world to lose yourself in, and Dead & Breakfast is definitely a great new world to get lost in. A beautiful location in Oregon, a big old house set right on the beach, haunted by a laughing ghost, and real skeletons in the closet. This is the recipe for a great book, so I was eager to dive in.

A very promising start to a new cozy series and I can’t wait to come back to Sully’s Landing and find out more about the giggling ghost!

See my full review

Dead and Breakfast is available at book retailers or online at  Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

 

New Release!

30268360

The Healing Art of Essential Oils by Kac Young

Kac Young obviously knows her oils and she explains them well, breaking down each essential oil’s properties and usage. The explanation of the various ways to use essential oils (diffuser, inhaler, on the skin, etc) Very well researched and easy to understand, the book guides you through how to purchase quality oils, how to blend them and the best uses for each oil. There are so many useful tips in here, from how to blend the fragrances, to how to use essential oils to cure common ailments and even recipes for everyday products. Since it’s cold/flu season, I plan on utilizing the recipes to clean and sanitize the air in my home, plus household cleaners and hand sanitizers that are all natural. I really want to try the anti-aging serum (have you seen how much they cost at the store? Much cheaper to make it myself, and with all natural ingredients!) I really enjoyed the history of the use of essential oils,  it just proves that for common ailments, the best medicine are the tried and true remedies that have been around for hundreds, if not  thousands, of years.

See my full review

The Healing Art of Essential Oils is available at book retailers or online at Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Review: Earthbound Wings

32494098Earthbound Wings by ReGina Welling

Waking up in strange places has become stock in trade for earthbound angel, Adriel. This time she has landed right in the middle of a crime scene where some guy who looks like a superhero wannabe gives her a hard time about her performance. The Powers That Be keep sending her on jobs without explanation and now she has to rescue her own guardian angel from the clutches of evil.-Via Goodreads

Another great adventure for Adriel and her friends, beginning with the very first page! First introduced in the excellent Psychic Seasons series, Adriel is adapting to a new existence on Earth, guiding guardian angels and combating darkness. When she lands in an alley right after a woman is killed, she has no choice but to team up with Leith, a man with apparent magical abilities who is bent on saving souls. Leith was a complex characters, I liked that you’re never quite convinced that he is who he says he is. The three fairies were a hoot, and I loved the carnival between worlds! The gripping plot led up to a thrilling ending that kept me on the edge of my seat! I can’t wait for the next book to come out to see what Adriel does next!

Combining action, mystery and a hint of romance into only 159 pages, Earthbound Wings is a satisfying read in a great series and I definitely recommend it to readers who enjoy a light mystery, captivating adventure and great characters.

Series: Earthbound #2
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publication Date:Oct 6, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN:9781539396055
ASIN:B01LY42Z5L
Genre:Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Mystereity Reviews

Review: Dye Hard

29859804
Dye Hard by Morgana Best

Obnoxious ghost hunters descend on Cressida Upthorpe’s boarding house, convinced it must a source of paranormal activity given that three murders have occurred there in a short space of time.
After one of the ghost hunters is murdered with poisoned hair dye, Sibyl does her best to keep well away from the investigation, that is, until Cressida almost falls victim. With the bumbling detectives back in town and on the scene, Sibyl races to solve the murder before the body count rises.
-Via Goodreads

I really enjoyed this one, it was one of those books where I tried to read it slower to savor it, but it was so good I had to read it all the way through in one sitting. The great plot, involving another poisoning at Cressida’s boarding house kept me guessing, and and I liked the just-a-wee-bit sardonic view of ghost hunter shows (which I love, but can’t help but view sardonically.) There were so many misdirections and red herrings that I changed my opinion on whodunit several times, and the ending was very satisfying. I may have uttered a soft yaaay but I’ll never admit to it publicly.

I love all the characters, but it’s Mr. Buttons and his eccentricities that I love the most. I laughed out loud about the dog agility course, it was hilarious! And Cressida’s paintings! I confess, I’d probably buy one, probably the shipwreck. Who wouldn’t? Sibyl had a great idea there.

Overall, Dye Hard was fun and enjoyable, and a great addition to the series. I definitely recommend it for any cozy mystery fan.

Dye Hard is available at book retailers or online at Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble

Series:Australian Amateur Sleuth #3
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Cozy Mysteries Books
Publication Date: Apr 7, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePUB
ISBN:9781530957170
ASIN: B01E0DML22
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Mystereity Reviews

Review: Prose and Cons

29763534Prose and Cons by Amanda Flower

I love this cute cozy series set in a small town near Niagara Falls. Being a WNY ex-pat, the setting is so familiar; a quaint town with its little shops, a wine festival, and of course, small town secrets.

In Prose and Cons, Violet and her grandmother are preparing for a Poe-try reading at Charming Books, complete with period costumes, to be held by the shop’s writers group, The Red Inkers, during the wine festival in Cascade Springs. When Anastasia, one of the Red Inkers, is found dead in the shop, Violet uncovers the secret Anastasia was hiding and starts investigating, with the help of the magic tree at Charming Books.

This was a great read, every bit as good as the first. I love the world the author has created, with a colorful bunch of lovable characters and a magical bookshop, where the books choose you. I’d love to visit!

The well-crafted plot had a truly puzzling mystery and an exciting surprise ending that had me on the edge of my seat! I loved the novel manner of death, it’s not one I see in mysteries very often, and made the plot that much more complex. Along with the mystery, Violet also meets a stranger who changes her life, and I look forward to seeing how that plays out in later books.

Overall, Prose and Cons and the Magical Bookshop series will cast its spell over any cozy mystery fan and is a welcome way to spend a few hours wrapped in its enchanting world.

Prose and Cons is available at book retailers or online at Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

Series:Magical Bookshop #2
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Berkely
Publication Date: Dec. 06, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePub
ISBN: 9780451477453
ASIN: B01CZCW300
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer:  Mystereity Reviews