Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review: Gone but Knot Forgotten by Mary Marks (Quilting Mystery #3)


First of all, I apologize for it having been so long since I've posted! Life has gotten very crazy lately and I haven't been getting through my TBR list nearly as quickly as I'd like. Now onto the review :)  

This is the 3rd in Mary Marks' Quilting Mysteries. I haven't (yet) read the other two and in fact, I hadn't even heard of this author before, but I'll certainly keep an eye out for her now. This book does perfectly well as a standalone, although there are some character subplots that would probably be better understood if you'd read the books in order. 

This is a cozy and there are some quilting tips as well. I'm not a quilter and don't really have any interest in it, but there's just a hint of quilting talk and I did not mind it. In fact, at least in this particular story, it helped with the mystery and was enjoyable to read about. 

The main character, Martha, is in her 50's. Even though I am only 32 (and most of the time won't admit to being more than 29) I still found myself easily able to relate to her and her life. She is a fun character with a very clearly defined personality and her friends are interesting and entertaining as well. 

Martha is surprised to learn that an old high school friend has not only passed away, but also made her the executor to her will. She hadn't seen Harriet in 15 years, but when the police seem to be doing little to investigate the real cause of her death, not to mention basically accuse Harriet of a major crime, Martha takes it upon herself to solve the mystery and make sure her friend's name and reputation remain clean. 

There are a few mysteries and many subplots going on throughout this book, which definitely add to the enjoyment and excitement. There are a couple of slower parts, but not many. The ending is definitely unpredictable, but perhaps a bit too much so, as the murderer ends up being someone that is only briefly mentioned before they are revealed. 

Overall, I give this book 4.5/5 stars, would definitely recommend it, and I intend to go back and read the earlier books in this series as well! For more information about the book or the author, you can visit the author's website.Gone but Knot Forgotten is available on Amazon and B&N.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review: Awake by Natasha Preston


This is a YA novel. It's definitely not a cozy, but there is plenty of mystery and suspense in it, as well as some romance. I'd probably classify it as more of a thriller. As far as I can tell it's a standalone. 

Scarlett, the main character, is 15 but has a unique situation, which is that she has no memories whatsoever of the first 4 years of her life. One day in school she meets Noah, a new student, and is immediately drawn to him. They begin a relationship and she confesses to him about her lack of memory. To her surprise and delight, he is super supportive and as their relationship progresses, he offers to help her try and regain her memory. 

It's kind of hard to provide an analysis of this book without giving away any spoilers, but I'm going to try! Scarlett does end up getting her memories back and there are much bigger things going on than she had ever imagined. Noah is a big part of the story as well and may not be everything he seems to be.  

Though this book is over 300 pages long, I never felt like it was dragging. The author did an amazing job of keeping up a fast pace throughout. This is definitely a dark and somewhat creepy book, but it is YA appropriate and is not graphic or gruesome. It was slightly frustrating in the beginning to know that there was clearly something going on but have no clue what the heck it was yet. It's probably not something that many people would be able to correctly guess, either; but it is fun to try. 

There were a massive amount of typos and grammatical errors throughout, but since this was an ARC, I'm going to assume that it had not been fully edited yet and not take off points for it. My biggest complaints would be that after taking about 250 pages to build up the story and get to the end, the ending did not take up very many pages and felt rushed. Also, some of the characters' reactions to certain situations did not seem realistic at all. 

With everything that goes on in this story, everything should not have been able to be basically all settled and resolved quickly and then more or less forgotten about. The ending definitely needed to be more drawn out and more realistic for the reactions to things that happened. 

All in all, it is a great story with lots of suspense and intrigue and I give it a 4 out of 5 and would recommend reading it. If you'd like to learn more about the author and/or the book, you can visit the author's website. Awake is available on iBooks, B&N, and Amazon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: The Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman


I was absolutely thrilled when I saw this title available on Netgalley and got accepted to review it! There are very few male authors that I read. I'm not sure why, I just seem to have a clear preference for women authors. However, Jonathan Kellerman is one of the rare exceptions! I've been a huge fan of his Alex Delaware series for probably close to 15 years now and have read most of his standalones as well. 

Anyway, I do want to state upfront that there is nothing cozy about this book. This is a fast paced, psychological thriller and does contain elements that people may find disturbing. But if you can handle it, it's well worth it!

Grace Blades had an extremely difficult childhood. Luckily, her situation turned out well in the end and she is now a highly successful psychologist. One night, she has a random sexual encounter with a man at an upscale bar. She does not intend to ever see him again, but is surprised and a bit shaken when she realizes the next day that he is her new patient. He is shocked as well, but doesn't want to talk with anyone but her. However, he doesn't really end up talking at all. He gets nervous and ultimately bolts, but he does hint that a member of his family may be a murderer. 

Grace does not hear from him after that, but a few days later gets a call from a detective. The man has turned up dead. He had given a false name to Grace, and neither she nor the cops even know who he is, let alone what his story is or which member of his family he was afraid of. She ends up realizing that he was in fact someone from her past, a past she does not want anyone to find out about and/or expose. 

I don't want to give any spoilers, so I'll just say that this sets her on a course to solve the mystery of who he is, who he was afraid of, and who killed him. It is a heck of a ride filled with lots of suspense and danger. Jonathan Kellerman truly is a master of the psychological thriller. This book is extremely fast paced, from beginning to end, and all of the clues are very carefully placed throughout. Not only that, but everything is connected absolutely perfectly, down to the most minute details, which is highly impressive! The ending, while a bit abrupt, is also highly satisfying. I hope to see Grace Blades again. 

I absolutely loved this book and would definitely give it 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone! To learn more about the author and/or his books, you can visit his website.  You can find The Murderer's Daughter is available at multiple venues, including Amazon and B&N.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: Killer Run by Lynn Cahoon (Tourist Trap Mystery #5)


Killer Run is the 5th book in the Tourist Trap mysteries. I have not read any of the previous books and I can say that this book can easily function as a standalone with no issues. One of the reasons it can function so well as a standalone is the fact that the book focuses more on details about the characters and locations than it does the actual mystery. 

The main character, Jill, is the owner of a Coffee & Book store and has agreed to sponsor a 5k race. Naturally, during the race a body is discovered. The plot definitely has promise and the characters and setting are enjoyable to read about, just not to the extent that they overshadow the mystery.  For a book that's not horribly long (under 200 pages) I'd expect the author to really get into the "meat" of the mystery within the first 25 pages, at most. Unfortunately, the mystery does not really get going until around 40 pages, maybe even closer to 50.  

Then once it does get going, it's pretty predictable and there are still a whole lot of unrelated things going on in the characters' lives that have nothing to do with the mystery. I don't mind a couple of subplots here and there, but I really don't need in depth detail about vacation plans, Jill's boyfriend's ex-girlfriends, and really unrelated things that don't add to the mystery in any way. If it was the first book in the series, I'd expect a bit more detail and getting to know the characters' personalities. But by the 5th book there should not be this amount of "fluff." 

I give this book a 3 out of 5 and would say if you're looking for a great mystery, you should probably look elsewhere. But if you're looking for a light, easy read about the lives and goings on of a bunch of characters and the place they live, you may very well really enjoy this book. 

For more information about the author and/or her books, you can visit the author's website. Killer Run is available on Amazon and B&N in eBook, Paperback, and Audio-book formats.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: Drape Expectations by Karen Rose Smith (Caprice De Luca Mystery #4)

Drape Expectations (Caprice De Luca Mystery, #4) 

I received a review copy of this book through Netgalley. I have not read any of the previous books in this series, but this book stands quite well on its own and I didn't feel I was missing anything by not having read the previous books. 

Caprice De Luca is a home stager and became friends with Rock-star Ace Richland when she staged his house. He asks Caprice to stage his girlfriend Alanna's house and even though Alanna rubs Caprice the wrong way, she agrees. Naturally, during this process Alanna ends up murdered. Ace is one of the prime suspects so Caprice vows to solve the murder so that she can clear her friends name. 

This was a great read. Caprice had a very well defined personality and is a very strong female character. It was also enjoyable to read about her family and friends and there were a few subplots going on throughout the book as well. There was also more than one mystery to solve. 

There were plenty of suspects and plenty of red herrings. However, there weren't that many clues about the person that actually was the murderer until just before it was revealed that they were the murderer. There was basically one major clue which was easy to figure out and then just a few pages later it's confirmed who the murderer is. I would have loved to have had a few more clues about the murderer sprinkled throughout so that it would be doable to figure it out a bit earlier on, and that final clue could have been a little less obvious also. Other than that, it was a really good book! 

One thing I really liked was that there are multiple pets in this book and a few of the characters, including Caprice, are major animal lovers. It was very heart warming to read about Caprice's interactions with her animals. Also the book was well edited and had some tasty sounding recipes in the back too, which is always a nice bonus. 

I give this book 4 stars and would definitely read this series and/or this author again. For more information about the author and/or the books, you can check out her website. You can find Drape Expectations for sale on Amazon, B&N, and iTunes, in both eBook and paperback formats.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Review: Who is Mr. Plutin by Rebecca Strong

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of the cover, but I'm very glad that I didn't judge a book by its cover in this case, as the writing is really good! This book is very fast paced, which I love! I was literally hooked from page one, which happens very, very rarely for me. Right off the bat the main character, Vika, wakes up and discovers she's in a place she's never seen before and, even worse, is suddenly wearing a wedding ring.

She quickly finds out that she is no longer in New York, where she grew up and went to bed last night, she's in Russia, married, and pregnant! Her parents look similar to the parents she remembers, but their personalities couldn't be more different and she has no memory at all of her husband or her friends.

She spends the rest of the book trying to figure out what the heck is going on and gets more than she bargained for. Amidst a web of deception and lies, she truly has no clue who she can or can't trust and almost everyone in her life is hiding something. This was a great read and I could hardly put it down from the first page to the last! There were massive amounts of mystery, suspense, and humor and I loved it all.

There were a few (minor) downsides though. First, this book is in definite need of editing. There were numerous typos and grammatical errors throughout; the most cringe-worthy being where waste was used where it should have been waist. Granted, I did receive a copy through Netgalley, so I am going to assume (hope) that this was not the final, edited version.

Secondly, there were a lot of really long, hard to pronounce Russian names and words. When I read I basically read aloud to myself in my head and it throws me off when there are a ton of words that I can't even begin to pronounce. Absolutely a very minor thing, but still, it threw me off my rhythm a bit. Lastly, it ended with a cliffhanger. I don't much care for cliffhangers, although I am very glad to know that this will not be a standalone book.

Without deducting anything for the typos, I'd give this book a 4.5. I'd never heard of the author before, but I'll be keeping a lookout for her in the future. If you'd like to learn more about the author and/or the book, you can visit Rebecca Strong's website. Who is Mr. Plutin is on sale at many retailers, including Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and Smashwords.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: Killer Jam by Karen MacInerney (#1 Dewberry Farm Mysteries)


I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via Netgalley.  This is the first in a brand new series. I had never read anything else by this author before reading this book, but I certainly will now! 

It did not take me long at all to become completely engrossed in this novel. There is a perfect balance with enough detail to make you feel like you are truly right there beside the characters, living the mystery along with them, but not giving so much detail that it becomes droll or overshadows the mystery. 

The main character is Lucy Resnick, who has recently realized her life's dream of purchasing the farm that her grandparents owned when Lucy was little. She's trying to make a living off of the land and just as she begins to feel like it could work, she's informed that the woman she bought the land from, Nettie Kocurek, has retained the mineral rights to the land (which Lucy was not made aware of) and has ordered a company to start drilling for oil! Things are made even worse when Nettie is found murdered at the Founder's Day Parade and Lucy becomes the prime suspect. Determined to clear her name, she begins her own investigation and ends up solving more than one mystery in the process.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story from beginning to end. There were multiple suspects who all had good motives to want Nettie dead. Figuring out whodunnit was no piece of cake, but there were certainly enough clues sprinkled along the way that it was very doable to solve before Lucy did. There were a couple of sub-plots that added to the suspense and danger as well. 

All of the characters had very clearly defined personalities, learning about the town of Buttercup was interesting, and the book was also very well edited. Oh and if that's not enough, there are some delicious sounding recipes in the back of the book too ;)

I'm pleased to give this book 5 stars; it truly deserves every one of them. I cannot wait to be back in Buttercup with Lucy and her friends again for the next mystery! 

To learn more about the author and/or her books, you can visit her website. Killer Jam goes on sale tomorrow, July 28th, on Amazon. It's available for Kindle, in paperback, and as an audiobook.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Blog Tour and Review: Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes by J.A. Lang

I'm honored and thrilled to be participating in this blog tour. Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes is the second book in the Chef Maurice series. My review of the first book, Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle, was one of my first posts on this blog and the only book to receive a 5 star review from me thus far!

The cozy mystery series that started it all for me was the Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton, which also happens to be set in the Cotswolds. If you are a lover of M.C. Beaton, I believe you'll love J.A. Lang as well. Even though this was only the second book, it already felt like reconnecting with old friends, which is how a great read should feel, especially when it's a cozy.

In Wrath, Chef Maurice and his good friend Arthur are members of a newly formed Wine Appreciation Club and are invited to a wine tasting/dinner at the home of Sir William Burton-Trent. Much to everyone's surprise, before dinner can be served Sir William is found dead in his basement. As in the first book, PC Lucy is called in to investigate, but Chef Maurice, with the reluctant help of Arthur, end up doing some sleuthing of their own and ultimately Chef Maurice solves the mystery. 

There were two minor cons to this book; one was that, though it is a short read at 169 pages, it took about 30 pages to really get going. For a book of its length, I expected it to get into the action quickly and maintain that pace throughout the entire book. Secondly, the first book was really jam packed with laugh out loud humor. There was absolutely the same sense of humor in this book too, but not nearly as much of it. Obviously when you are writing or reading a series, not every book is going to be absolute perfection, plus every person has their own unique tastes and what I find less enjoyable, others may find more enjoyable.

I will say, once the investigation got going, the pace and the humor did pick up considerably and the last half of the book was noticeably better than the first half and I had trouble putting it down. There was a cute sub-plot involving Patrick and PC Lucy that added enjoyment without taking over the mystery. There were also some really fun elements to this particular plot, including hidden staircases, family secrets, and of course, lots of wine!

I admit, I guessed wrong as to who the murderer was. There were plenty of clues, but also a lot of red herrings! The red herrings definitely threw me off, but I did not mind. I enjoyed being surprised at who the culprit was at the end and I thought the ending was extremely well done.

 I give this book a 4 out of 5 and would definitely recommend it. If you'd like to learn more about J.A. Lang and/or her books, you can visit her website at Also, from now through July 30th, you can join her newsletter for a chance to win a signed copy of Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes ;)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Interview with Janet DeLee

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing off and on since I was nine years old. I wanted to be a full-time writer as an adult but it took me years to finally take a leap of faith, give up the day job, and commit to writing full-time. It was terrifying at first, but lining up with who I truly am feels wonderful.

Are any characters based on yourself or people you know?

The cat characters, Minnie and Sally, are somewhat similar to my pets, Maggie and Lucy, but let’s keep that our little secret because I don’t want to be sued.

Do you believe in the supernatural? Have you ever had a supernatural experience?

I believe that what we now call the supernatural will turn out to be quite physical and quantifiable. I think the indestructible energy of people is on a wavelength we can’t see, like radio waves or microwaves, but will eventually be discovered.

The new series I’ve started was conceived as a result of having some weird experiences; once at a French Quarter hotel in New Orleans, and another at a bed and breakfast in the Texas hill country, just to name a few. Ghosts sometimes act out around me. Why they get such a hoot out of rattling my cage I have no idea. This has been going on about fifteen years. Prior to that it was smooth sailing and I was blissfully unaware of any ghostly pranks or presences.

What made you decide to self-publish?

Because it took me so long to screw up the courage to take a leap of faith I knew if I faced a lot of rejection from publishers early on I might not be able to push on. Also, I liked the idea of owning the rights to my books, writing what I wanted when I wanted, and being my own boss. It’s my goal to be a best-selling, self-published author and join the growing ranks of other self-published authors who are achieving worldwide success.

What's the hardest thing about being self-published?

Getting comprehensive editing services at a price I can afford is tough. I can proof a book a hundred times and still miss something. It takes lots of eyes to find the errors and the costs really
add up. I cringe if I see errors missed after publishing but I’m determined to master it. The other equally difficult thing about being self-published is getting established by finding the
readers who would enjoy my stories. Thankfully, book blog reviewers have been enormously helpful with this. Blog reviewers are my heroes. I’m in awe of the contribution they are making in the world of literature.

What's the best thing about it?

Self-publishing is not only fostering a creative explosion, it’s creating a huge job market of related support industries, such as book editing, promotion, etc. Now that publishing is more accessible talented writers can get out into the world much faster. Book bloggers are on the cutting edge of discovering exciting new stories and writers. The new technology that allows self-publishing reduces the factors that limited the publishing industry for so long.

Do you write full time?

Yes. I tried for years to write after a long day at work and it was difficult and frustrating. Publish or perish, that’s now my motto.

Who's your favorite character to write and why?

I’m liking my new character, Lee Blanton. He is a nice guy, rugged and reasonably attractive, who survived a bad divorce and decided he had experienced his fair share of women and was through with romance. He didn’t realize what an irresistible challenge that is to women, and it’s fun to put him in situations where that is going on. As a vintage home restoration contractor he also has a problem with disruptive ghosts and there are all sorts of interesting reasons for that.

Vampires or werewolves?

Neither. I like ghosts, fewer limits as to what I can make them do.

If a genie granted you three wishes, what would you wish for?

1. That every book I write will find the reader who will benefit from it the most.

2. That every person with a dormant dream will find the courage to pursue it.

3. That I could have a jetpack to tool around in whenever I go to Italy.

What does your writing process look like?

My left brain prefers to write an outline on a laptop, but my right brain finds this too confining and wants lots of room to spread out. The right brain doesn’t want to be confined to an outline or
linear order, but the left brain shudders at the thought of no structure and doing things out of order. The compromise they worked out is this: both sides collaborate on an outline with the right brain writing one sentence scenes, recording each on a single post-it note. The left brain then sticks the notes on a big empty wall, organizing them into a logical, sequential flow of chapters
until an outline is created.

When it’s time to flesh out the scenes in each chapter the laptop will be used if the left brain agrees to let the right brain write the scenes in whatever order it feels like on a given day. The left brain then takes the copy and lines it up into the proper chapters. The right brain is happy to use the laptop once the editing begins, but the left brain keeps a sharp lookout to ensure that if any spontaneous material shows up it continues to forward the story. This method allows both sides of my brain to do what they do best and work together in harmony.

Which authors inspire you?

Thomas Wolfe, Martha Beck, Anita Moorjani, Frances Mayes, Mark Twain (he will be the first person I look up after I die), Agatha Christie, Henry James, and Fannie Flagg.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Never give up. Don’t listen to naysayers. Resist the impulse to tell your friends and family what you are doing, because they may be doubtful and advise you to play it safe and stay with the herd.
And if you do tell them, don’t let their comments or attitudes make you so doubtful that you betray yourself. Hang on!

BE YOURSELF. Do not write what you think is selling. Write what you would like to read and what is inside of you that must come out. Trust that you can find the readers who are looking for the
stories you want to tell. Trust that the more you write the better you will get. Give your readers everything you’ve got.

Is there anything else you'd like us to know?

My mission as a writer is to inspire my readers to pursue dormant dreams that they have kept hidden away for years.

You can connect with Janet at:

Review: Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts by Janet DeLee

Books like this are one of the main reasons I started this blog. It amazes me the number of blogs that don't accept requests from self-published authors. In doing so, they miss out on rare gems such as this! Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts isn't a cozy exactly, although it is a really light, relaxing read. It does have mystery, but it's also really inspirational and motivational. Although it ultimately is a ghost story, it's not done in a scary or horror-like way. There are parts that might give you goosebumps, but I wouldn't call it scary. Plus, the mystery is solved in a very heart-warming, emotional way. I don't want to give away too much so it's hard to go too in depth without revealing any spoilers ;)

I probably would put this book more in the women's fiction or inspirational genre versus the mystery category, but I really enjoyed it regardless. This was one of those books that got me hooked from the start and I had trouble putting it down. The story is told from different character's points of view for different chapters. That particular writing style doesn't always work, but in this book it works well. It really provides an in-depth view of the characters and their different personalities.

Ginny Lawther starts a group for people that have a goal they'd like to attain. Hilda, Lydia, Jerry, and Lee become members of the group. The five of them discuss what goals they are all working towards, and help motivate each other and keep each other on track to attain their goal. There are multiple goals in my life that I'd like to attain and some of the exercises the characters did in the book I think I'll try for myself.

My only criticism would be that I would have loved to have more focus on the mystery and have more mystery or suspense elements throughout the book instead of the majority of the mystery being concentrated towards the end.

There were two minor typos that I caught (one said off where it should have said of) but overall it was edited very well. Other than that, it was a great read and I'd love to see these characters again in other books! I'd give this book a 4.5 out of 5 and would definitely recommend it!

Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. If you'd like to learn more about Janet DeLee and/or her books, you can check out her Goodreads and her Amazon Author page.