Exploring the Mysteries of the Mind

Tag: cozy mystery (Page 1 of 4)

September Rad Reads

Just 2 book reviews for you this time, folks! Partly because I read a couple of duds these last few weeks, and also I’ve been spending some of my reading time on writing the next Judith Anderson C.o.P. on the Scene book.

The first draft is real close to done!! Yippee! Then I can start editing, which is my favorite part of the process.

(Oh, and I put together another boxed set from the Marcia and Buddy series. See below! You can preorder on Amazon or get it elsewhere now. Don’t ask how I ended up with different release dates…long story.)

So without further ado, here are those reviews! Enjoy, Kass

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A Sticky Inheritance, A Maple Syrup Mystery, Book 1, by Emily James ~ Free on KU or $2.99

Again, full disclosure: I know this author, but I am recommending her books because they are terrific!

Nicole Fitzhenry-Dawes is a criminal lawyer in D.C. who travels to Fair Haven, Michigan to make arrangements for her favorite uncle’s funeral. Once there, she discovers two things. One, her Uncle Stan left her the maple farm where she had spent many a summer growing up, and two, his suicide might have been murder. Then she learns two more things—the local medical examiner is really attractive, and she enjoys running a maple farm a whole lot more than she ever liked being a lawyer.

I really love these characters. They are fully developed, three-dimensional people. I also really liked the premise of setting a mystery series on a maple syrup farm and in the nearby town. And there are plenty of twists and turns, a touch of romance, and dogs!

I have read this entire 13-book series, and loved every one of the stories. A Sticky Inheritance and this entire series gets 5 fingerprints.

Ghost Walking, A Maggie York Paranormal Mystery Book 1, by Ally Shields ~ $5.99

(Sorry, this one isn’t discounted — see below for whether it would probably be worth it for you. It was for me.)

Not believing won’t make the ghosts go away.

This book is a combo of two of my favorite things, a well-written police procedural (with a female cop) and a ghost story.

Maggie York is on medical leave because she almost died in the line of duty. Actually she did flatline and was revived, and that whole process somehow triggered a latent “gift”—she can now see ghosts.

She sets out to find her shooter, but a ghost (who witnessed the shooting) shows up and wants her to solve his murder first. And her butting into that case does not endear her to the sexy male cop who has taken her place on the homicide squad.

There’s a lot to like about this book. The pacing and character development are good, and the plot is complicated enough to be interesting (could have been more twists and turns, but there are a few surprises). But what I liked best was Maggie’s characterization. Her skepticism and reluctance to embrace her gift make her more realistic, as does her resistance to the appeal of the sexy cop.

Unfortunately, this first-in-series is not discounted, but if you like character-driven police procedurals and ghosts, it’s worth the price. (Or watch for it to go on sale.) I plan to read more of this series.

I give Ghost Walking 4 fingerprints!

And here’s the scoop on that new collection:

The Marcia Banks and Buddy Collection III, Books 8-10

Even small towns can harbor a killer!

In the third collection from this fun cozy series, service dog trainer, Marcia Banks and her four-legged best friend, Buddy sniff out killers and fraudsters.

An impulsive fiancé, a “Mob Killer” Roman candle, and a bison bull named Tarzan are a recipe for Independence Day mayhem for Jess Randall, owner of the Mayfair Diner.

Then Marcia stays with her friend Becky in Williston, Florida, while training a dog’s new veteran owner, and discovers that flea markets can hide dangerous secrets.

And when a charming newcomer sweeps sheltered Susanna Mayfair off her feet, Marcia pokes into the man’s past, and discovers a trail of broken hearts and outstanding warrants.

Save $4 compared to individual book prices!

AVAILABLE ON:  AMAZON (releases 9/22) ~ APPLE ~ NOOK ~ KOBO ~ GOOGLE PLAY

To Bark or Not To Bark is Live!!

Woot! Woot! We are live!!

Only $2.99 for a very short time after today’s release; then it goes up to $4.99. So grab your copy now.

To Bark or Not To Bark, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery, #12

Service dog trainer Marcia Banks tackles a locked room mystery in a haunted house, while training the recipient of her latest dog.

The border collie, Dolly has been trained to clear rooms for an agoraphobic Marine who was ambushed in a bombed-out building. But the phantom attackers in his psyche become the least of his troubles when Marcia finds his ex-wife’s corpse in his master bedroom, with the door bolted from the inside.

Was it suicide or murder? Marcia can’t see her client as a killer, but the local sheriff can.

Then the Marine reports hearing his ex calling for him to join her on the other side of the grave. Is his house really haunted, or is he hallucinating?

Bottom line: Marcia has lost a client to suicide before. She’s not going to lose another!

Available Now on:

AMAZON ~ APPLE ~ NOOK ~ KOBO  ~ GOOGLE PLAY

 

Enjoy!!  Kass

 

Kass’s Summer Rad Reads

How did it get to be July already? I hope you all are having a good summer.

Here’s some summer reading for you. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any good free or 99 cent books this past month, but two of these are $2.99 (or free on Kindle Unlimited).

Sugar and Vice, A Cupcake Truck Mystery #1, by Emily James ~ Free on KU or $2.99

Isabel Addington is hiding from an abusive husband and trying to make a living selling cupcakes from a food truck. But both her living and her life are in jeopardy when the old man whose 100th birthday party she’s catering drops dead.

I’m familiar with this author, and her ability to develop characters and settings is remarkable.

But I wasn’t completely enthralled with this protagonist at first. She’s got a hard shell, which of course she has come by honestly. And her situation requires that she move frequently, to stay one step ahead of her abusive husband, so what’s the point of making friends, right?

But I really liked the unusual premise of a cozy’s main character escaping abuse and felt a good bit of sympathy for her.

And as the story unfolds, the handsome local detective—who starts out convinced she is the murderer—along with his adorable young niece begin to worm their way past Isabel’s defenses.

I have read all five books in this series, totally enjoying the evolution of Isabel from closed-off and defensive to fiercely loyal and protective of those she loves. The series ended way sooner than I would’ve liked.

I give Sugar and Vice and the rest of the series 4½ fingerprints.

The Medium of Branden Bay, A Ghost Cozy Mystery, by Kelly Mason – $2.99, Free on KU

(Note: I’m not crazy about this cover; I think it makes the story seem frivolous, which it is not.)

I’m not a huge paranormal fan but I do love a good ghost story, and this one is very good indeed. Set in a lovely seaside town in southwest England, it has a touch of humor, some quirky characters, a likeable protagonist and the requisite cat.

Smarting from a relationship gone sour, Becky James moves to her grandmother’s old house for the proverbial fresh start. But she discovers she’s inherited more than the Beach House and Grandma’s love of baking—she can also see ghosts. And her house is full of them.

Soon she is caught up in trying to solve a murder and the disappearance of a young girl.

With some interesting twists, this fun story left me wanting to read more about Becky and Branden Bay.  Book 2 is patiently waiting for me on my kindle.

I give The Medium of Branden Bay 4 fingerprints!

Murder In the Meadow, A Never Too Late Mystery #1, by DonnaRae Menard ~ $5.99 (I think it’s worth it)

(Again, not crazy about the cover; but this book is traditionally published, so the publisher picked it.)

Grandmothers and inheritances seem to be a theme this month. Only in this book, the main character, Katelyn Took has inherited a dilapidated farm, seventeen cats, and an addled old woman she has never met before.

All Kate wants is to sell the place and get back to her own life, which is definitely not in the hometown she fled ten years ago. But there are a few complications. One, a stipulation in Gram’s will says she has to live on the farm until homes are found for all the cats. And two, it’s looking like Gram’s death in the meadow wasn’t an accident!

The plot is interesting, but the characters are the best part of this story. Some of them are quite quirky (especially the four-legged ones), but mostly they are very real. More than once I felt like I was sitting at the kitchen table with Kate and Ruth (the confused old lady) trying to figure out how to make ends meet.

I just finished reading an advance copy of Book 2 and it’s equally good. Murder on Eagle Drop Ridge releases July 21st.

I give Murder in the Meadow 4½ fingerprints.

(You can also order the paperback HERE and support your local bookstore!)

That’s it for now, folks! Don’t forget to preorder my new book, To Bark or Not To Bark.

 

 

 

A New Marcia and Buddy Cozy is Here: To Bark or Not To Bark

Doing my happy dance! This new story is now available to PREORDER ~ Releases on Saturday, July 16th!!

$2.99 during Preorder and for a very short time after release; then it goes up to $4.99 — so grab your copy now.

To Bark or Not To Bark, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery, #12

Service dog trainer Marcia Banks-Haines tackles a locked room mystery in a haunted house, while training the recipient of her latest dog.

The border collie, Dolly has been trained to clear rooms for an agoraphobic Marine who was ambushed in a bombed-out building. But the phantom attackers in his psyche become the least of his troubles when Marcia finds his ex-wife’s corpse in his master bedroom, with the door bolted from the inside.

Was it suicide or murder? Marcia can’t see her client as a killer, but the local sheriff can.

Then the Marine reports hearing his ex calling for him to join her on the other side of the grave. Is his house really haunted, or is he hallucinating?

Bottom line: Marcia has lost a client to suicide before. She’s not going to lose another!

PREORDER ON: AMAZON ~ APPLE ~ NOOK ~ KOBO  ~ GOOGLE PLAY

Enjoy!!  Kass

 

May Rad Reads

Hi,  Everyone! Sorry I didn’t get any book reviews posted in April. I’ve been up to my eyeballs in editing the next Marcia Banks and Buddy mystery.

Cover Reveal Coming Soon!!

But here are three books I’ve read recently that I think are worthwhile.

Murder on the Road, An Italian Village Mystery, Book 1, by Adriana Licio – free on KU, $2.99 to buy

The two best things about this book were the setting and the main character’s grandmother.

Travel-guide writer, Giò Brando has returned to her Italian hometown to lick her wounds after her relationship with a long-term boyfriend falls apart. Although she doesn’t do a lot of wound-licking…maybe because she gets caught up in a murder investigation right away.

Someone has been crushed in their car by a falling rock, and Giò is the first to find the body. Turns out the rock was intentionally dislodged and all the drivers who were near there that morning are on the suspect list. While the police are wading through them, Giò decides to do her own investigating. (Her relationship with the local police, for better or worse, is a bit unrealistic, but I tend to let that slide in cozies.)

The story is well-developed and I didn’t suspect the true culprit until near the end. The descriptions of the setting and the food are great, but I felt that the characters weren’t as fully developed as they could be. I had some trouble relating to them.

I think this was partly because the dialogue sometimes felt a bit stilted. The author is a native speaker of Italian, and her grasp of English (British-style) is excellent. But I’m thinking it’s harder to write natural sounding dialogue in something other than one’s first language.

I’ve now read Book 2 with the same reaction. Loved the story and the setting, but this time, I felt some of the other characters were better developed than Giò, especially her sister and the grandmother. The latter is my favorite kind of female character—an older, no-nonsense woman with a deep love for her family.

Murder On the Road gets 4 fingerprints.

Shades of Grayson: Scottish Ghost Castle Mysteries Prequel ($0.99) and Dark Night, Dead Knight, Book 1, by  Diane Lewis ~ Free on KU, $3.99 to buy

I had decided that I wouldn’t review these books; I don’t do negative reviews. I know how hard it is to write a good book, so I’m not going to dis someone else’s efforts.

Then I decided to lay it all out about this series and let you all decide for yourselves.

I read the 99-cent prequel novella, Shades of Grayson first, and enjoyed it.

Author Grayson Cleary attends a writers’ conference in Canada where he is on the short list for a prestigious award. Instead he wins the “prime suspect” award in a murder case. Helped by a blind writer and his seeing-eye poodle, his new girlfriend, and a ghost, Grayson attempts to clear his name and almost ends up a ghost himself.

I was prepared to give this story four, maybe four and a half fingerprints. It’s well written, the characters are well drawn, and the setting is realistically portrayed (I’ve been to a few of these conferences). Plus the plot has some interesting twists. A lot is packed into 160 some pages.

I liked it so much, I bought Book 1 in the series. In this story, Grayson is a supporting character, a resident at a permanent writers’ retreat at an old castle in Scotland. While this concept, a permanent writers’ retreat (I’d never heard of them and a quick internet search says they’re rare), was both intriguing and a bit of a credibility stretch, again the story is well written. The setting and characters are described in such a way that you feel like you are there with them, negotiating the labyrinth of stone hallways in the old castle and enjoying the fabulous view of the nearby loch.

The story has great twists and turns, plus a resident ghost (I love ghost stories, especially when the ghosts are friendly). I was planning on giving it at least 4 fingerprints, until I got to the ending.

Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that not all the questions of who, how and why were completely answered. The ending was semi-satisfying but left enough loose ends to make it a borderline cliffhanger.

I loathe cliffhangers, but I know some people like them, or at least don’t mind them. At first I wasn’t going to read Book 2, on principle. But the characters and especially the interesting setting lured me back and I’ve purchased Book 2.

I’ll give you an update after I’ve read it.

In the meantime, Grayson’s story gets 4 fingerprints.

And Dark Night, Dead Knight gets 3 ½. (If you don’t mind semi-cliffhangers, it’s a 4-fingerprint read.)

I’d suggest trying out the prequel to see if you like the writing, then decide from there about the other books.

Death in the Time of Ice, A People of the Wind Mystery, Book 1, by Kaye George ~ $0.99

This is a rather unusual mystery. Think Clan of the Cave Bear meets Nancy Drew.

Enga Dancing Flower is a young Neanderthal woman, wrongly accused of murdering her tribe’s leader, who was also her own foster mother.

For a while, the in-fighting in the tribe and between the remaining elders, plus their quest for food, which is getting scarcer as the Ice Age approaches, seem to take precedent over finding the Hama’s killer.

Things don’t drag, however, as the author does a good job of world-building, drawing the reader into the tribe’s story. And when Enga herself is accused of the murder and banished from the tribe, she becomes highly motivated to find out what really happened.

There are several interesting twists near the end, and a satisfying ending. My only complaints are the lack of an explanation of the motivation behind one character’s actions (part of a subplot) and some confusion about the timeline of the past (how old the various characters are in relation to Enga). But neither of these significantly impacted my enjoyment of the story.

I have downloaded the next book in the series to continue to follow Enga’s saga, and I understand that Book 3 is in the works. I recommend this story, nominated for Best Historical Mystery in the 2014 Agatha Awards, with 4 ½ fingerprints.

That’s it for this round, folks. Happy reading!

 

 

 

Rad Reads for Early Spring

You may think I’m jumping the gun here, calling it Spring, but I live in northern Florida, so our spring has actually started. We have truly beautiful weather for about 2 months; then it gets stinking hot (for 6 months)!

Okay, on to the book reviews in a moment, but first I wanted to give you all a heads up. I have Fatal Forty-Eight on Sale this week for just 99 cents, and I’ll have more bargains to tell you about this weekend.

So stay tuned!

Now for the rad reads…

Murder at the Marina, A Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery, Book 1, by Ellen Jacobson – Free

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this book. Let me start with the positives.

Mollie McGhie is hoping for diamonds for her wedding anniversary. Instead her hubs, Scooter, buys her a fixer-upper sailboat. This premise definitely caught my attention, since I was raised in a family of boaters. I spent many a weekend, as a preteen and teenager, hanging out at marinas.

And what married woman hasn’t gotten at least one disastrous present from her husband? (Like the ugly yellow robe mine bought me for Christmas one year.) Mollie’s internal reaction to the boat and her attempts to get her hubs to sell it add humor to the story.

Also, the mystery itself is very well crafted, and the book is well-written. (Only a few typos and one small inconsistency, which is in the subplot).

I did not suspect the person who ended up being the killer, and yet my first thought was that it made perfect sense. That’s the way it should be in a good mystery!

The mystery was what kept me reading, even though I was having trouble relating to this couple. And I struggled to pin down why that was. I’m a fairly visual person (as are 65% of the American population) and I just couldn’t visualize this couple.

So I went back and re-read the first two chapters. There are physical details about these two, and they are very artfully woven into the narrative of the story. So why did I have no internal image of them?

I realized it was because I couldn’t figure out how old they were. They’ve been married ten years, and there’s no mention of previous marriages. Yet, Scooter is “retired,” but only because his business partners forced him to sell out to them, and he made enough from the sale to live independently.

Most of the folks they hang out with at the marina are middle aged or older. But I had trouble visualizing a man called Scooter as middle aged.

Another factor in the “having trouble relating” category was the subplot of Molly competing for an investigative reporter position—at an online publication about alien abductions. Molly is even convinced that one of the women at the marina was a victim of such abductions, but that remains an aside and isn’t really developed.

I think maybe the author worked a little too hard to make the main characters quirky. But there are plenty of other more realistic yet quirky folks at the marina, including a Japanese bobtail cat that adopts Mollie—although she thinks it’s the other way around.

And having said all that, I’ve downloaded Book 2 in the series and plan to read it soon. There are 7 books total, so far—a nice satisfying number for those of us who like to get to know characters and visit them periodically, like old friends.

And the other books are reasonably priced.

I give this story 4 fingerprints!

 

Here Comes the Witch, A Main Street Witches Cozy, Book 1, by Ani Gonzalez – 99 cents (Free through KU)

When I started this book, I thought that I wasn’t going to like it. First, there was the cover. While lovely, I felt it implied a cutesy type of witch cozy, which isn’t usually my cup of tea.

Then there was the premise, which seemed a little over the top. Kat Ramos, a Manhattan jewelry designer, is looking for capital to start her own store when she agrees to an odd proposal. Liam Hagen has renovated his family’s ancestral home (which happens to be cursed) and he wants to sell it, but first he needs to break the curse, by marrying a descendant of the witch who cursed it in the first place.

That descendant is Kat, who agrees to a sham marriage followed by a quick divorce.

She thinks she’s entered the Twilight Zone when she arrives in Liam’s hometown of Banshee Creek. The whole town is haunted and is proud of it. They even have their own ghost-hunting group, which does a booming business.

I like my paranormal in small doses that are at least somewhat realistic, i.e., it could happen, maybe… This story seemed to be heaping the paranormal on.

But I do like a good ghost story. So I kept reading.

I’m so glad I did! The story is well written and the mystery around the ghost and the curse is intriguing, with some very nice twists and turns.

And I kinda fell in love with Kat and Liam as they (slight spoiler alert) are falling in love with each other.

Plus this series is very reasonably priced.

The author just released Book 7, a Valentine book with a wedding! And it is only $0.99, at the moment.

Four fingerprints for Here Comes the Witch.

The First Time I Died, A Garnet McGee Mystery, Book 1, by Jo Macgregor — $4.99 (and worth it)

This is one of the best written books I’ve read in a long time (excluding misterio press authors, of course 🙂 ) And the story concept is quite original, a new twist on the protagonist going home to find closure for old unresolved issues.

Graduate student Garnett McGee goes to her hometown for Christmas, and finds herself drawn into trying to solve the ten-year-old murder of her high school sweetheart. But after a near-death experience, she finds herself thinking thoughts and feeling feelings that are not her own, and having flashbacks to experiences she never had.

When she was brought back to life by the paramedics, apparently she didn’t come back alone.

This story is poignant at times, suspenseful at other times, and engaging throughout.

And kudos to Ms. Macgregor and her publisher for a practically flawless technical presentation. No typos, no grammatical errors. Quite refreshing.

I have read Book 2, and am looking forward to Book 3, which I have on my kindle but haven’t yet read. I’m saving it for a special occasion.

Five fingerprints for The First Time I Died.

That’s it for this time, Folks. Happy reading!!

Kass Lamb

Rad Reads for Winter

It’s that time of year when you just want to curl up near the fireplace, with a hot drink in one hand and a good book in the other.

For the hot drink, I recommend hot chocolate (dark; it’s good for you), with whipped cream.

For the book, here are a few suggestions!

Once Upon a Crime, A Waterfell Tweed Mystery #1, by Mona Marple – FREE this week ( normally a reasonable $2.99 to buy, or Free on KU)

If you like British village mysteries, this series is for you! Sandy Shaw is the village’s primary baker and bookseller, until the man who had just announced he’s going to open a rival bookstore turns up dead. Then she becomes the primary suspect.

This is a fun read, with a well-plotted mystery and a final twist I did not see coming. I give Once Upon a Crime 4 ½ fingerprints. I’ve deducted a half fingerprint because there are some typos. Not enough to be all that distracting, but I’m one of those people for whom typos jump off the page, so I did notice them.

Bound, The Witches of Doyle Cozy Mysteries #1, by Kirsten Weiss – FREE

Being a part of misterio press’s group of authors has certainly broadened my reading horizons. I had never cared much for paranormal stories, but Kirsten Weiss is such a pro at writing them that she has won me over.

Bound is Book 1 in a 10-book series about triplets who happen to be witches—the good kind. Each of the Bonheim sisters has their own type of magic, and Karin—the oldest of the three by a few minutes—senses the threads that tie things together.

But there’s something off about their hometown of Doyle—hikers disappear in the woods and some people seem cursed with bad luck—plus Karin discovers that she’s destined to become the next victim of a family curse. In order to survive, she must solve a murder and the mystery behind what has cursed her town and herself.

In Bound, and the rest of the series, the magic is believable (yes, I realize that is somewhat a contradiction in terms), the plots are twisty and the characters well-developed. I give Bound an enthusiastic 5 fingerprints.

Maids of Misfortune, A Victorian San Francisco Mystery #1, by M. Louisa Locke – FREE

Another subgenre I’ve learned to appreciate more through misterio press is historical mystery.  And M. Louisa Locke is a master storyteller.

In 1879, young widow Annie Fuller secretly supplements her income as a boardinghouse owner by giving domestic and business advice as Madam Sibyl, one of San Francisco’s most exclusive clairvoyants.

But when one of her clients dies—the police assume at his own hand—Annie suspects murder. Enter the victim’s lawyer, Nate Dawson, and sparks fly.

This series is full of great mysteries, seasoned with a sweet romance. And one of the things I like best about it is that each book highlights some social issue of the times; in this one it is the plight of housemaids in the 19th century.

Also, Locke’s books are meticulously written and proofread. I don’t recall finding a single error in any of them. So Maids of Misfortune and the entire series has earned 5 fingerprints in my book!

That’s it for this month’s suggestions. Enjoy these winter reads!

 

 

 

 

 

More Fall Rad Reads

I know I missed Halloween by a couple of days with this first one. But it’s not too late for a haunting short read, is it?

Scavenger Haunt: A Cassandra Sato Halloween Short Mystery ($0.99) ~ by Kelly Brakenhoff

Cassandra Sato, PhD, is finding babysitting two ten-year-old kids on a Halloween scavenger hunt a more difficult job than her regular gig as VP of Student Affairs at Morton College. Especially when one of them finds a lava rock that may have a curse attached to it. And ghosts are popping up in the most unlikely places!

This is well-written and has a nice story arch. All too often I find that short stories end too abruptly, but I did not feel that way with this one. There was a sense of closure.

I have read the first book in the series, which helped me to understand who the characters were, and their relationships to each other. The author tells me Book 1 will be discounted at some point after the first of the year, so I will keep you posted on that!

In the meantime, 4 fingerprints for Scavenger Haunt!

The Long Island Iced Tea Goodbye, a Career Crisis Café Mystery, Book 1 (FREE IN KU – $2.99 to buy) – by Emily Selby

The divorcée moving to a new place for a fresh start trope with a fun, exotic twist. Heather Hampton, a burned-out fashion journalist from New York, buys a café in New Zealand, where she plans to (1) try her hand at mixing exotic cocktails and (2) relax and have fun on the beach.

Just a couple of hitches. The cantankerous chef, Josephine, is part of the package deal and she doesn’t like the changes Heather wants to make. And on the first night after Heather arrives, someone poisons Josephine, making Heather the prime suspect for attempted murder.

Life would be pretty depressing if it weren’t for the feral cat who adopts Heather and the intriguing inspector assigned to the case.

I enjoyed the characters and loved learning a bit about “Kiwi” culture. I suspected the culprit was up to no good about midway, but I had the motives all wrong. I hope there will be more tidbits about New Zealand culture in the next book, and also I’m dying to find out if said intriguing inspector actually… no, I’ll stop there, so as not to spoil things.

Th writing is good but a word of warning about the formatting. It’s block paragraphs, not indented, which I found a bit distracting at first, but I got used to it.

I give The Long Island Iced Tea Goodbye 4 fingerprints!

The Accidental Alchemist, Book 1 – ($4.99, but well worth it) by Gigi Pandian

I scored a copy of this first-in-series when it was on sale for 99 cents. Had I known how good it was, I’d have totally been willing to pay full price.

We start with a likeable main character and a familiar trope, moving to a new city for a fresh start. But very little is familiar after that. It’s a “quirky” (as the author calls it) and sometimes downright fantastic story, and yet so well written that the reader suspends disbelief and goes along for the ride.

The past Zoe Faust is leaving behind is a centuries-long practice of alchemy. And her vow to lead a normal life is short-lived when she discovers a stowaway in her moving boxes, a sentient gargoyle who is slowly turning back into stone. He desperately needs Zoe to decipher the contents of an antique alchemy book that may hold the key to saving his life.

Zoe can’t resist his pleas, but a series of crimes and a threesome of teenagers soon complicate the situation. I’ll leave it at that so as not to spoil things, and only say that the story is complex yet quite readable.

I already have Book 2 on my Kindle, and I plan to devour the rest of the series in short order.

Five enthusiastic fingerprints for The Accidental Alchemist.

That’s it for this round, folks. More to come in December!

 

Delicious Deals and Rad Reads ~ Caturday Edition

The August edition of my new book review feature is great for foodies and cat lovers! Two out of three of this month’s books involve food, and they all have a cat in them.

Up first, another fantastic first-in-series by PD Workman, who is now very near the top of my favorite authors list. Boy, can this woman write!!

Gluten-Free Murder, An Auntie Clem’s Bakery Mystery #1, by PD Workman – FREE

All too often characters in cozies seem a tad two-dimensional. I mean, they’re usually interesting and relatable, but maybe not completely fleshed out.

Not so with Erin Price. She has come to the small town of Bald Eagle Falls to turn her late aunt’s tea shop into a gluten-free bakery. But things go south on opening day when her rival, the owner of the only other bakery in town, dies after eating one of Erin’s muffins.

Workman seamlessly weaves Erin’s back story as a foster child into the first few chapters until you feel like you’ve known her for years and are right there with her as she drags herself out of bed each morning to bake and then searches for clues in the afternoons.

She is soon joined in these endeavors by a young woman named Vic and a stray tabby kitten, both of whom worm their way into Erin’s heart.

This book ticks all the boxes for a cozy—small town setting, determined amateur sleuth with an interesting/somewhat different vocation, a cute animal, a human sidekick, and a police officer whom said sleuth isn’t sure is friend or foe.

But despite it being a cozy, the author isn’t afraid to tackle real-life issues and her climax scene will have you sitting on the edge of your seat.

A wholehearted five fingerprints for Gluten-Free Murder. Now I have to hurry up and read the other 15 books in the series, including her newest release Hot On the Trail Mix.

And PD Workman has three new releases in the Reg Rawlins Psychic Investigations series:
Skunk Man Swamp  and Magic Ain’t A Game came out in June and July, and Without Foresight will release on August 20.

Next up, a culinary cozy series with a twist—a main character who can’t cook!

One Taste Too Many, A Sarah Blair Mystery – by award-winning author, Debra H. Goldstein ~ Free for Kindle Unlimited, Only $1.99 to buy on Amazon; $6.99 Elsewhere

Sarah Blair can’t cook. But her twin sister is a gourmet chef, and Sarah is determined to help her when she’s accused of poisoning someone with her rhubarb crisp. Especially since the victim is Sarah’s ex-husband.

This is a fun story, with well-developed characters, tight writing and clear descriptions of settings that don’t slow down the pace. I could easily picture the large conference hall, with its many booths, and the stage where the cooking competition is held.

Oh, and did I mention there’s a cat? A feisty Siamese named RahRah, who becomes the focus of a custody battle.

I give this first-in-series four and a half fingerprints. The next book in the series is already waiting for me on my kindle, with two more after that, including the newly released Four Cuts Too Many.

And last but not least… You’ve heard of “sweet” romance, well this next story is a sweet mystery.

Fish Out of Water, A Seaside Bookshop Mystery #1 – by Emily Selby – FREE in Kindle Unlimited; $2.99 to buy

The main character of this series, Amelia Barry, is obviously intelligent; after all she’s an IT security consultant back in London. But she’s taken a break from that job, at her boss’s suggestion, after running amok in her communications with clients. She’s come to Leah-by-the Sea to visit her godmother who’s just bought an old bookshop there.

But she finds the house and bookshop empty, and a stray cat leads her to a corpse on the beach. Having not seen her godmother in many years, she worries that the dead woman might be her.

Although the author doesn’t say it in so many words, it quickly becomes apparent to the reader that Amelia is on the autism spectrum. She takes things literally, misses social cues, becomes easily overwhelmed, and doesn’t like to be touched.

I found her endearing, as does the local constable (who has a cute dimple when he smiles) and his talkative mother, Mrs. Webb, the B&B owner who takes Amelia in until things can “get sorted.”

There are plenty of interesting twists as Amelia and the constable sift through clues, often with the unwanted “help” of Mrs. Webb.

These delightful characters made this a fun read, and I’ve already downloaded the next book in the series, also reasonably priced at $2.99. Plus, her newest release in the series, Not the Only Pebble on the Beach, was $0.99 last time I checked. Grab it quick; it won’t stay that low.

I would love to give this book 5 fingerprints, but I am deducting one because it has a few too many errors. Not a huge number, but I’m one of those people for whom typos jump off the page. Also, it is formatted in a somewhat unusual way, with block paragraphs and spaces between. This was distracting at first, but I eventually got used to it.

Stay tuned! In September, I’ll be reviewing the delightful first-in-series, Undertaking Irene, by Pamela Burford.

 

One Flew Over the Chow-Chow’s Nest is Live!!

Woot!! The newest Marcia Banks and Buddy book is now live in ebook format.

Doing my happy dance!

Check it out!!!

One Flew Over the Chow-Chow’s Nest, Book #11

The world moves toward normal, but Marcia’s life is rarely “normal”…

When newly vaccinated Marcia Banks calls to finally schedule the human phase of training with her Air Force pilot client—the soon-to-be owner of a Chow-Husky service dog named Bear—she’s informed that the veteran has been in a private psychiatric hospital for months, with no one allowed to visit due to Covid.

Through her neighbor’s daughter, Sybil—a traveling nurse who has worked at the hospital—Marcia receives a message from the pilot implying he’s being held against his will. Should she believe him, or is he being paranoid?

Then suddenly he’s discharged, only to have his private plane crash in a fiery ball two days later. Convinced the crash is no coincidence, Marcia attempts to discover how her veteran client became the target of a murderer.

What she uncovers looks suspiciously like a scheme to defraud the Veterans’ Administration. But who is behind it…and did they sabotage her client’s plane? Or did the saboteur have a more personal motive?

And just how determined are they to silence Marcia and Sybil?

ONLY $2.99 for a few more days! Then it goes up to $4.99

AVAILABLE on:  AMAZON ~ APPLE ~ KOBO ~ NOOK ~ GOOGLE PLAY

And yes, I’m working on getting the paperback version out as well.

Also, working on putting together more collections and getting all the Buddy books out in audio eventually.

So stay tuned, Folks!!

 

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