Saturday, May 27, 2017

Book Review: The Art of Murder by Elaine Viets

Title: The Art of Murder
 Series:Book 15 A Dead-End Job Mystery
 Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
  Format: Paperback
 Source: Received for review from Publisher 
 Rating: 5 out of 5
 Reviewed by: Tina

The art world is a happening place--but a brush with death shouldn't be in the picture. Unfortunately, that's just what happens to Helen Hawthorne and her friend Margery. While touring gorgeous Bonnet House, a mansion turned museum, they note an up-and-coming artist in a painting class.

 When they later see her deadly end, Helen is hired to canvas the crime scene--undercover, of course. Sketchy suspects lurk in the victim's past. Was the promising painter killed by her jealous husband? Her best friend? A rival using her artful wiles? With her husband, Phil, busy setting a trap for a gold thief, it's up to Helen to paint this killer into a corner...

My Review

Author Elaine Viets penned a mystery that came alive in my mind. I'm a big fan of art. The history and aptsmophere for the historic Bonnet House with the art class with a possible killer lurking was very inspiring. Helen, Margery and Phil were very likeable and hilarous characters.

The thrills and suspense had me not wanting to put this book down. The Art of Murder was very fast paced with a most gruesome murder.This is a new favorite cozy mystery for me and the best I have read this year so far.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Book Review/Giveaway: Killer Characters by Ellery Adams

 Title: Killer Characters
 Series:Book 8 Books by the Bay Mystery
 Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
 Format: Paperback
 Source: Received for review from Publisher
 Rating: 5 out of 5
 Reviewed by: Tina

 Synopsis from

Restaurant owner and aspiring novelist Olivia Limoges is happily enjoying her new marriage. Sadly, the same doesn’t hold true for Laurel, a fellow Bayside Book Writer. While struggling with a demanding job, twin boys, and a terminally ill mother-in-law, Laurel learns that her perfect marriage is mostly fictional.

 When she catches her husband fooling around with his mother’s hospice nurse, she issues impassioned threats that will later come back to haunt her. After the nurse meets a deadly denouement, Chief Rawlings is forced to take Laurel into custody.

 While Olivia protests the arrest, the rest of the Bayside Book Writers become a group divided, with Rawlings and Harris on one side and Olivia and Millay on the other. Now the women must race against the clock to prove that Laurel’s not the sort for murder before her story ends in tragedy…

My Review

Killer Characters had me hooked from the first chapter. Ellery pens relatable, real-life characters that make you care. The plot was outstanding and filled with drama for this last book in this series. 

This was the first book I read in the series and it being the last I don't regret reading it. It was heart felt and suspenseful. Get some tissues handy you will need them.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Q and A with author Peg Cochran (Author of Dead and Berried)

A Cozy Girl Reads is celebrating the new May release of Dead and Berried, Book 3 in the Cranberry Cove Mysteries From Berkley Prime Crime. The book is defineately on my TBR list. Be sure to click our amazon link below to purchase.

 Where do you get your ideas?
 The truth is, I don’t know! I start with the smallest grain of an idea and it snowballs from there and by the time I start writing the book, I’ve forgotten what part of it was the original spark for the story. I do remember the spark for the Cranberry Cove series though—I had this sudden vision of a body floating up in a flooded cranberry bog and it took off from there.

 Do you have any writing rituals?
 Short answer: no. I don’t have to light a special candle or play special music. As a matter of fact, I prefer no music at all. I have a full-time day job and need to use whatever spare time I can scrounge up to meet my deadlines so I’ve learned to write whenever/wherever!

 What kind of research did you do for your Cranberry Cove series?
 There is a cranberry farm in South Haven, Michigan, about an hour from us. I was able to watch a harvest. It was a beautiful day and the blue sky combined with the brilliant red of the cranberries made a gorgeous picture. The owner was very helpful in answering my questions except for one. He had no idea what to say when I asked him what they’d do if a body floated up when they flooded the bog!

 Regular books or ebooks?
 Both. I prefer to read non-fiction in book format because I often skip around and don’t read chapters in order. And if it’s a book on writing, I might want to reread bits or underline them. Fiction I read almost exclusively on my Kindle because it’s easier for me to see—I can make the type bigger and my case has a built-in book light. Of course I could put a brighter bulb in the lamp by the sofa where I like to sit (okay, lie down) and read! That would probably help a lot.

 What are you reading right now?
 I’m about one third of the way through Behind Her Eyes (and will probably be finished by the time you read this) and I just finished The Girl Before. And before that it was a woman’s fiction book Silver Girl.

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Book Review/Giveaway: Death in Dark Blue by Julia Buckley

Title: Death in Dark Blue
 Series:Book 2 A Writers Apprentice Mystery
  Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
 Format: Paperback
Source: Received for review from Publisher
 Rating: 3 out of 5
 Reviewed by: Tina

 Synopsis from

In the quaint town of Blue Lake, Indiana, Lena London is settling into her dream job, but someone is making her life a nightmare… Things are beginning to go right for Lena. She’s got a new job assisting suspense novelist and friend, Camilla Graham. She lives rent-free in Camilla’s beautiful, Gothic house.

 She even has a handsome new boyfriend, Sam West. After being under attack by the media and his neighbors, Sam has recently been cleared of suspicion for murder. Journalists and townsfolk alike are remorseful, and one blogger would even like to apologize to him in person. But when she’s found dead behind Sam’s house, Lena must dodge paparazzi as she unravels the many mysteries that threaten to darken the skies of her little town and her newfound love with Sam.

My Review

Death in Dark Blue was filled heartfelt romance and love. Lena's love of writing shines through when recieving Advanced Reader Copies of her' and Camilla's first book the Salsburg Train but   the writing theme was written as an afterthought to me unlike the first book in the series which I missed.

 Author Julia Buckley captured Crime, intrigue and suspense with every page. The plot was slow-moving but steady and the plot twist at the end of this story has me wanting to read the next book in the series.  


Comment below with your email below to win Death in Dark Blue by Julia Buckley  in the comments.

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 The giveaway closes May 14 12:00 AM EST Entries will not be counted after May 14 12:00 AM EST. The winner is chosen by Random.Org and will be announced on the blog and Facebook Page and notified by email

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Book Review:Occult and Battery by Lena Gregory

 Title: Occult And Battery
 Series: A Bay Island Psychic Mystery
 Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
 Format: Paperback Source: Received for review from Publisher
 Rating: 5 out of 5
 Reviewed by: Marlene

Cass Donovan uses her skills as a former psychiatrist to get away with pretending to be psychic, but she’s not about to let anyone get away with murder... The outlook is not so good for Cass’s psychic shop, Mystical Musings. With winter winds discouraging tourists from riding the ferry from Long Island to Bay Island, Cass hopes to draw in more customers by hosting a murder mystery weekend, complete with a séance, in a supposedly haunted mansion.

 But Cass begins to lose her spirit when her ex-husband shows up, along with his fiancée—Cass’s ex-best friend. Then after one of the guests is found dead, a blizzard blows in, trapping everyone inside with a murderer. Now Cass must divine who did the deed before her reputation and her livelihood fade away.

Marlene's Review

This chapter in Cass Donovan's story did not dissappoint. I found the story to be cleverly crafted and dramatically infused. I always love when history and the supernatural intermingle. With the history of the mansion and Cass' own old ghosts coming to haunt her it was truly a great read. Cass doesn't disappoint herself, I love a strong female lead.

 She is quite determined and stubborn. It is a good thing she has her side kicks Bee and Stephanie to help her along. The three of them surely makes for a dynamic team of amature slueths. On the other side are her antagonists, and there is no shortage there.

I felt a mixture of empathy and loathing for the ones on her suspect list. There was a few taht seemed to be a victim of circumstance but when the truth came out the responsible do not deserve empathy. Looking forward to Cass' next story.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Maple Sugaring and Mud Season--Oh My! Author Guest Post By B.B. Haywood

Maple Sugaring and Mud Season—Oh My! It Must be March in New England by B.B. Haywood, author of Town in a Maple Madness, available everywhere on April 4, 2017

 What would a big stack of Maine blueberry pancakes be without fresh maple syrup poured over the top? We’re talking real maple syrup, not the type of artificial “pancake syrup” you find in grocery stores. That’s made from flavored corn syrup, and it’s not maple syrup! But what’s the difference between the two, and how is maple syrup made, anyway?

 You’ll find out in the pages of Town in a Maple Madness, the eighth book in the Candy Holliday Murder Mystery series, due out April 4th. As we once again join the friendly and busy villagers of the coastal community of Cape Willington, Maine, it’s late March, which means it’s maple sugaring season. But it’s also the time of year when snow and ice are starting to melt, which means it’s mud season.

 Two big events, one sweet, one not so sweet, and they both play a prominent role in our story. Cape Willington has two “sugar shacks”—one at Crawford’s Berry Farm, owned by Neil Crawford, and the other at Sugar Hill Farm, owned by Hutch and Ginny Milbright. As the story opens, both sugar shacks are in full operation, with their evaporators fired up and boiling sap, releasing sweet-smelling steam.

 As readers will find out, maple syrup comes from the sap of sugar maple trees, and it’s produced in the northeastern United States and in Canada, where sugar maples grow. Maine is one of the largest producers of maple syrup, and in the fictional village of Cape Willington, maple sugaring is the primary activity in early spring, before the strawberries, blueberries, and pumpkins take over in the summer and fall.

 The sap begins to flow in late February, when the daytime temperatures rise above freezing but night-time temperatures fall below freezing. The season can last anywhere from just a few days to several weeks, and it ends when the tree buds begin to open. The length of maple sugaring season differs from year to year, depending on the weather and air temperatures.

 The sugar maple trees are tapped with one tap every spring (unless someone is tapping them illegally, which happens occasionally in New England). Traditionally, the sap runs into buckets attached to the trees, but typically today, the taps are connected by plastic tubing that drains into one central container, creating of network of tubing that’s not unlike a giant spider web strung between the trees.

 It’s not uncommon to drive down a rural dirt lane in New England and see the tubing connected to tree after tree all the way down the road. It’s always an exciting time, because it’s one of the first signs that spring is on the way. After the syrup is collected, it’s transported to a sugar shack, usually by tractor and cart, where it’s placed into an evaporator and boiled to remove water.

 It takes, on average, about 43 gallons of raw sap to create one gallon of maple syrup. As you can imagine, that takes a lot of time and effort, but the flavorful result it well worth it! Once boiled, the syrup is graded from light to dark. Light syrup is the mildest, while dark has the strongest flavor. Of course, maple sugaring season is also mud season, which means getting to those tapped trees, or getting anywhere on a dirt or back road, can be a tricky proposition.

 Drivers in Maine and New England try to avoid as much as possible those muddy back roads (which are everywhere in rural New England) in the spring, but when they have to drive on them, they drive as fast as possible so as not to get stuck, since the mud can become like quicksand. So beware if you’re driving in Cape Willington in March! Just drive fast, hold on to the steering wheel as tightly as you can, and hope for the best!

 As all these natural events are taking place, the townspeople of Cape Willington are preparing for their first annual Maple Madness Weekend. A number of family-fun events are planned, including a Maple Marshmallow Roast in Town Park and a maple scavenger hunt. The villagers are also opening a “pop-up” pancake restaurant, where they’ll serve hot pancakes covered in fresh maple syrup all weekend long.

But in the middle of the festivities, disaster strikes, as the body of one of the town’s most well-known residents is found floating in the English River, his hands and feet tied up and a mortal wound in his back. Who did it? That’s what blueberry farmer Candy Holliday, her father Henry “Doc” Holliday, local strawberry farmer Neil Crawford and his dog Random, and Candy’s best friend Maggie (Tremont) Wolfsburger, along with her new husband, Herr Georg Wolfsburger, and the other villagers have to find out. All the answers will be revealed in Town in a Maple Madness, so be sure to pick up a copy. Your taste buds will thank you!

 COOKING TIP Did you know you can use maple syrup to replace regular sugar in baking recipes? The simple rule is, three quarters’ cup of maple syrup equals one cup of sugar. In Town in a Maple Madness, we have included several recipes with maple syrup as an ingredient, including Black Forest Bakery Chocolate Maple Brownies, Maple Banana Bread, Maple-glazed Carrots, and Maple Drop Cookies. Enjoy!

 Town in a Maple Madness will be published on April 4, 2017, by Berkeley Prime Crime, and available in both print and as an eBook. Other titles in the New York Times bestselling series include Town in a Cinnamon Toast (Book 7), Town in a Sweet Pickle (Book 6), Town in a Strawberry Swirl (Book 5), Town in a Pumpkin Bash (Book 4), Town in a Wild Moose Chase (Book 3), Town in a Lobster Stew (Book 2), and Town in a Blueberry Jam (Book 1). Large print editions of the books and an audiobook of Town in a Blueberry Jam are also available. For more information on the series, visit END

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Book Review/Giveaway: The Last Chance Olive Ranch by Susan Wittig Albert

Title: A Last Chance Olive Ranch
 Series: Book 25 China Bayles Mysteries
 Author: Susan Wittig Albert
 Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
 Format: paperback
 Source: Received for review from Publisher
 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 Reviewed by Tina

Max Mantel, the killer McQuaid put away years ago, has busted out of Huntsville Prison and appears to be headed for Pecan Springs. McQuaid knows there’s only one way to stop the vengeful convict—set a trap with himself as bait.
China wants to stay by her husband’s side and keep him from harm. But McQuaid  insists that she get out of town and go to the Last Chance Olive Ranch, where she’s agreed to teach a workshop on herbs.
When China and her best friend arrive at the ranch, she learns the owner, Maddie Haskell, has her own troubles. She inherited the ranch and olive oil business from the late matriarch, Eliza Butler, but Eliza’s nephew is contesting the will. 
While China throws herself into helping Maddie, McQuaid’s plan backfires when Mantel executes a countermove he never saw coming. Now McQuaid’s life is not the only one at stake—and this time may really be his last chance...

Marlene's Review

China and Ruby don't disappoint. China although always reluctant to use her education and skills always saves the day. I truly understand why China is reluctant to leave that knowledge and the memories of what it was used for and settle for a life more positive and enjoyable. Ruby on the other hand is up to her old habits but this time it may end up different. 

There was more focus on McQuaid, China's husband, in this story then I head read previously, I enjoyed that a great deal. His story line was quite action packed. I liked how a horrific case from his past was brought to the present and how it was dealt with. While China's was more drama and tugged at your heart strings for the character's involved.

On a whole the two story lines kept a good pace and had you rooting for the main characters to come out on top. It was a great predator/prey story.

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Comment below with your email below to win one of a hardcover copy of The Last Chance Olive Ranch by Susan Wittig Albert in the comments.

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