Category Archives: Books

My Musing ~ Blessed Are Those Who Mourn by Kristi Belcamino

Blessed are Those Who MournBlessed are Those Who Mourn by Kristi Belcamino is the fourth book in the “Gabriella Giovanni” mystery series. Publisher: HarperCollins/Witness Impulse, September 2015

San Francisco Bay Area reporter Gabriella Giovanni has finally got it all together: a devoted and loving boyfriend, Detective Sean Donovan; a beautiful little girl with him; and her dream job as the cops’ reporter for the Bay Herald. But her success has been hard-won and has left her with debilitating paranoia. When a string of young co-eds starts to show up dead with suspicious Biblical verses left on their bodies–the same verses that the man she suspects kidnapped and murdered her sister twenty years ago had sent to her–she begins to question if the killer is trying to send her a message.

It is not until evil strikes Gabriella’s own family that her worst fears are confirmed. As the clock begins to tick, every passing hour means the difference between life and death to those Gabriella loves.

Kristi continues to amaze me with her latest foray into the mystery arena by crafting a nail-biting, adrenaline-rushing, and heart-pounding treatise that grabbed me immediately and never let go until that final moment of resolution. The fast-and frenzied pace, the non-stop action, the narrative, the emotional sense of being are all captured in the telling of this intensely riveting drama that all I could do was forego my usual nighttime activity and get to the end of this book because I simply had to know. This author knows how to tell a story that even after it’s all said and done, I continued to think about the aftermath and what happens next. I enjoyed the interloping of back history that gave me insight in Gabriella and enhanced this character driven tale. With a great cast of characters and engaging dialogue, Blessed Are Those Who Mourn is the best one thus far in this terrific series and I hope there are more adventures on the horizon with Gabriella and her friends.

My Musing ~ The Sound of Murder by Cindy Brown

The Sound of MurderThe Sound of Murder by Cindy Brown is the second book in the “Ivy Meadows” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, October 2015

All Ivy Meadows wants is to be an actor. And a private investigator. Plus she’d really like a pair of clean underwear, a place to stay since her apartment burned up, and to overcome her fear of singing in public. Also, she’d really like to knock the socks off the big New York producer who’s coming to Arizona to see her in the world premiere of “The Sound of Cabaret”—featuring singing nuns and Berlin burlesque—at Desert Magic Dinner Theater.

Ivy’s cast mates come through with singing lessons, a pair of granny pants, and a housesitting gig in a retirement community. And her P.I. uncle even assigns her a real case. But all is not raindrops on roses. During her investigation, Ivy clashes with the local posse, stumbles upon a firebug and a snoring pug, and finds herself smack in the sights of a serial senior-killer.

Ivy is an aspiring actress and part-time PI working for her uncle when she is handed her first case and stumbles upon something more sinister. The pacing was very comfortable making it easy to read and follow along in this amusing tale that was hard to put down. The mystery kept me glued to the pages and I enjoyed all facets as each clue got me closer to the killer’s identity with some red herrings meant to deter me from my suspicions. Ivy is a hoot as are the other quirky characters that she interacts with. This was a fun read that had me roaring with laughter with some of the antics that befalls Ivy. Bonus amusement in the title of the musical that that Ivy is performing in…”The Sound of Cabaret“ — too funny. A delightful read and I can’t wait to see what happens next in this amusingly entertaining series.

My Musing ~ Say Yes To The Death by Susan McBride

Say Yes to the DeathSay Yes To The Death by Susan McBride is the sixth book in the “Debutante Dropout” mystery series. Publisher: HarperCollins/Witness

Someone old, someone cruel

Debutante dropout Andrea Kendricks is beyond done with big hair, big gowns, and big egos—so being dragged to a high-society Texas wedding by her socialite mama, Cissy, gives her a bad case of déjà vu. As does running into her old prep-school bully, Olivia La Belle, the wedding planner, who’s graduated to berating people for a living on her reality TV show. But for all the times Andy wished her dead, nobody deserves Olivia’s fate: lying in a pool of blood, a cake knife in her throat—but did the angry baker do it?

Millicent Draper, the grandmotherly owner of Millie’s Cakes, swears she’s innocent, and Andy believes her. Unfortunately, the cops don’t. Though Andy’s fiancé, lawyer Brian Malone, is handling Millie’s case, she’s determined to spring Millie herself. But where to start? “La Belle from Hell” had enemies galore. Good thing Andy has a BFF who’s a reporter— and a blue-blood mother who likes to pull strings.

I like it. This was a fun and enjoyable read that I could not put down as I had to know what happens next. I love the pacing in this story, as it felt like Andy was racing against the clock to prove her friend’s innocence which ratcheted up the mystery that was afoot with intrigued and a bit of conspiracy. The author did a great job in the telling of this tale by providing sufficient suspects with viable motives that kept me following the clues until it was down to the one who could have only done the dastardly deed. I enjoyed getting to know Andy and her friends and I especially love the dialogue and interactions between Andy and Cissy. I love how the conclusion of this book which left us with new and exciting opportunities and I can’t wait to read the next book in this engagingly entertaining series.

My Musing ~ Pane and Suffering by Cheryl Hollon

Pane and SufferingPane and Suffering by Cheryl Hollon is the first book in the NEW “Webb’s Glass Shop” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, September 2015

To solve her father’s murder and save the family-owned glass shop, Savannah Webb must shatter a killer’s carefully constructed façade. . .

After Savannah’s father dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, she drops everything to return home to St. Petersburg, Florida, to settle his affairs–including the fate of the beloved, family-owned glass shop. Savannah intends to hand over ownership to her father’s trusted assistant and fellow glass expert, Hugh Trevor, but soon discovers the master craftsman also dead of an apparent heart attack.

As if the coincidence of the two deaths wasn’t suspicious enough, Savannah discovers a note her father left for her in his shop, warning her that she is in danger. With the local police unconvinced, it’s up to Savannah to piece together the encoded clues left behind by her father. And when her father’s apprentice is accused of the murders, Savannah is more desperate than ever to crack the case before the killer seizes a window of opportunity to cut her out of the picture.

I like it. With a cryptic message found after the death of her father and that of her “uncle,” Savannah begins an investigation using the skills she learned at her father’s hand to unspackle a killer who cunningly hides in plain sight. From the moment Savannah finds the message, this light drama takes off and the author takes us on an exciting ride as the crime and motives are explored by the clues planted and the potential suspects exposed as I watched it all played out. With a few surprising twists, the direction that pointed to the killer caught me a bit unaware until all the pieces of the puzzle stood out. The set-up of the mystery was good as it kept me reading on and I especially love the internal dialogue that Savannah has that adds to the telling of this enjoyable story. With a likable, a diversely quirky cast of characters and engaging conversations, this is a welcome addition to the cozy genre and I look forward to reading about Savannah and friends’ next adventures in “Shards of Murder.”

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

My Musing ~ The Bark Before Christmas by Laurien Berenson

The Bark Before ChristmasThe Bark Before Christmas by Laurien Berenson is the 18th book in the “Melanie Travis” canine mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, September 2015

Melanie Travis has her hands full with her two young sons, a part-time job, and a half dozen Poodles to her name. But even with the busy holiday season approaching, she still has time to sniff out a Christmastime killer. . .

There’s nothing lovelier than Christmas in Connecticut, but Melanie can scarcely find a moment to enjoy the festivities. With her youngest son approaching toddlerhood, she’s decided to return to her old job at Howard Academy, a posh private school attended by the children of Greenwich’s well-heeled gentry. Balancing work, motherhood, and the hectic dog show circuit takes some fancy footwork, especially when the headmaster taps her to be the chairman of the school’s Christmas Bazaar.

The Christmas Bazaar is Howard Academy’s biggest and most important fundraiser, so Melanie feels the pressure to make it a huge success. She even enlists her longsuffering sister-in-law Bertie to help with the Santa Claus and Pets Photo Booth. But everything goes awry when a prize show dog goes missing and Santa turns up dead. The dog’s owner is one of the school’s most perfectly pedigreed alums, and she enlists Melanie to help find the purloined pooch. But just as Melanie starts pawing at the truth, she digs up a sleighful of sinister secrets that leaves everyone feeling less than merry. . .

This was a very enjoyable drama where a missing dog and death occur during a holiday bazaar. Not to fear, Melanie is on the case as she traverses the show dog circuit to find the person responsible. Along the way the author presented a nicely executed tale with a slew of suspects that one by one led to the identity and apprehension of the killer. With a twist here and a turn there, the author knew how to keep me engrossed in all that was happening as Melanie got closer to her prey. I also liked how Melanie’s family life was interspersed with her amateur sleuthing and how they complemented each other giving me a well-rounded characterization of Melanie. Using the holiday season as the backdrop, this was a terrific read with engaging dialogue and a wonderful cast of characters and I look forward to more adventures with Melanie and her family and friends.