Category Archives: Books

The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan

The Whole Cat and CaboodleThe Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan is the first book in the new “Second Chance Cat” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, April 2014

Sarah Grayson is the happy proprietor of Second Chance, a charming shop in the oceanfront town of North Harbor, Maine. At the shop, she sells used items that she has lovingly refurbished and repurposed. But her favorite pet project so far has been adopting a stray cat she names Elvis.

Elvis has seen nine lives—and then some. The big black cat with a scar across his nose turned up at a local bar when the band was playing the King of Rock and Roll’s music and hopped in Sarah’s truck. Since then, he’s been her constant companion and the furry favorite of everyone who comes into the store.

But when Sarah’s elderly friend Maddie is found with the body of a dead man in her garden, the kindly old lady becomes the prime suspect in the murder. Even Sarah’s old high school flame, investigator Nick Elliot, seems convinced that Maddie was up to no good. So it’s up to Sarah and Elvis to clear her friend’s name and make sure the real murderer doesn’t get a second chance.

I love the comfortable tone in this light-hearted whodunit that flowed easily from chapter to chapter, quickly becoming a page-turner that I did not want to put down. This mystery had a few twists and turns where I thought I had it figured out until that “aha” moment when I knew exactly who the killer was and it was fun watching it all play out. The author did a great job in the presentation of this story pulling me in so that I’m rooting for Sarah and her merry band of sleuths whose age range from teens to the 70s. I like the camaraderie and the dialogue between this group and their interaction amongst the people of North Harbor. This was a wonderful read and I can’t wait for more adventures with Sarah and her friends in the next book in this delightfully charming new series.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

Death on Eat Street by J. J. Cook

Death on Eat StreetDeath on Eat Street by J. J. Cook is the first book in the new “Biscuit Bowl Food Truck” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, April 2014

Zoe Chase always wanted to own her own restaurant—but first, she’ll have to serve up a heaping helping of meals on wheels, with a side of mystery.

When she’s once again passed over for a promotion at work, Zoe decides to take the big leap and go for her dream. She quits, gives up her fancy digs, and buys a fixer-upper diner in a shady part of town. To keep above water during the renovation, she buys a used food truck to serve the downtown and waterfront of Mobile, Alabama.

Zoe starts to dish out classic Southern food—but her specialty is her deep-fried biscuit bowls that blow traditional bread bowls away.

After a promising start, things start to go downhill faster than a food truck without brakes. First, someone tries to rob the cash register. Next, Zoe is threatened by the owner of a competing food truck for taking their spot. And when the owner ends up dead inside Zoe’s rolling restaurant, Zoe and her sole employee, Ollie, find themselves hopping out of the frying pan into the fryer. They need to find the real killer, before both of them get burned.

This was a very enjoyable read that introduces Zoe Chase, our spunky heroine, who left her job to start out on her own with her food truck business and along the way, becomes entangle in a murder investigation when she finds a body in her truck. I loved how the author presented this story in a style that was easy to follow. The mystery was good as it quickly became a page-turner for me. Zoe is a lovable character with a heart of gold that cares for her friends and is surrounded by an eclectic cast of characters that includes Ollie, Miguel, Delia and her parents. I look forward to more adventures with Zoe and the gang in this wonderfully terrific new series.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

Bloom and Doom by Beverly Allen

Bloom and DoomBloom and Doom by Beverly Allen is the first book in the new “Bridal Bouquet Shop” mystery series. Publisher: Beverly Prime Crime, April 2014

As the co-owner of The Rose in Bloom, Audrey Bloom creates magnificent flower arrangements for brides to be. Though helping to plan a wedding can be stressful, it’s nothing compared to the groom turning up dead.

A designer of eye-catching bridal bouquets—many of them based on the Victorian meanings behind each flower—Audrey Bloom is used to celebrations that end with happily ever after. In fact, every couple she’s worked with is still together, living in wedded bliss. But her perfect record is about to be broken.

Her childhood friend Jenny Whitney has reeled in the most eligible bachelor in Ramble, Virginia, and she’s hired Audrey to design the bouquet. But before Jenny can walk down the aisle clutching her blend of anemone, scabious, and pussy willow (a floral disaster in Audrey’s mind), the groom is found dead—sprinkled with bits of a bouquet. This is bad for business—not to mention for Jenny, who has become the prime suspect. So Audrey decides to do a little digging herself, hoping she won’t be the next Ramble resident pushing up daisies.

We are introduced to Audrey and Liv, cousins and co-owners of The Rose in Bloom, a florist shop in small town America. All is good until a broken engagement ends up in murder. When her friend is jailed for the murder, Audrey believing in her innocence, starts looking into who else had a stronger motive and wanted him dead. This was a good read with a comfortable tone and an easy flow. The plot was well-defined and presented plenty of suspects to choose from with plenty of red herrings to keep me turning the pages to see if I honed in on the killer when their identity was revealed. One of the things I enjoyed in reading this light whodunit was how Audrey created bouquets for her customers. This is a great read and I look forward to the next book in this wonderfully charming series.

FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a digital ARC provided through NetGalley, in the hopes I would review it.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

Guidebook to Murder by Lynn Cahoon

Guidebook to MurderGuidebook to Murder by Lynn Cahoon is the first book in the new “Tourist Trap” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, April 2014

In the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store–Coffee, Books, and More–open and running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder?

When Jill’s elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily’s gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill–along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit–especially if it gets her closer to South Cove’s finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she’s on the case–and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently.

This was a good read and I love the author’s style, which was warm and friendly. The background setting also gave me a sense of calmness. The tone was comfortable and the pace had a steady flow to it, making it easy to follow the storyline and clues. The author did a great job in tantalizing me with suspects and scenarios that led me to believe I knew who was behind it all, and I was surprised at the revelation. Jill is a great character and I like her determination to find the killer, even when threatened. With a likable supporting cast, that includes her aunt Jackie and hunky Detective King and with engaging conversations, this was very enjoyable and I can’t wait to read the next book in this wonderfully appealing series.

FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a digital ARC provided through NetGalley, in the hopes I would review it.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

A Second Helping of Murder by Christine Wenger

A second helping of murderA Second Helping of Murder by Christine Wenger is the second book in the “Comfort Food” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, April 2014

Trixie Matkowski is warming up to running her family’s diner in the small town of Sandy Harbor in upstate New York. But the only thing more demanding than serving up piping-hot comfort food twenty-four hours a day is getting to the bottom of a double homicide.

Trixie fondly remembers summers as a child spent visiting the shores of Lake Ontario. Not much has changed—there are still vinyl booths at the Silver Bullet Diner, families eating home-cooked comfort food, and days of swimming in the lake.

But before Trixie can say “Order’s up,” someone’s summer is abruptly cut short. One of the cottage residents is found dead, and Trixie suspects the crime might be linked to an unsolved disappearance in the picturesque town’s past.

As Trixie works with Deputy Ty Brisco to solve both mysteries, their shocking discoveries will shake up the small town. And when word gets out that she’s on the case, Trixie’s in trouble—after all, the murderer won’t spare her life just because she makes a killer corned beef sandwich.

This very enjoyable whodunit was easy to follow with a delightfully charming cast of characters; engaging conversations and the comfort feeling of easy dining with family and friends. The mystery was good and hard to put down, as I had to know who was behind the murder. The author did a great job in keeping the suspense alive with plenty of suspects and it was fun narrowing down the list and waiting for the author to reveal if my choice was correct. A great read and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s cooking in the next book with Trixie and her friends.

The Cold Nowhere by Brian Freeman

The Cold NowhereThe Cold Nowhere by Brian Freeman is the 8th book in the “Jonathan Stride” suspense series. Publisher: Quercus, April 2014

Sixteen-year-old Catalina Mateo shows up unannounced one night in Detective Jonathan Stride’s home, dripping wet from a desperate plunge into the icy waters of Lake Superior. Her sodden clothes stained with blood, Cat spins a tale of a narrow escape from a shadowy pursuer.

Stride decides to trust this girl, but his judgment may be clouded by memories of Cat’s mother. Ten years earlier, Cat hid under the porch of her family home while her mother was brutally butchered by her ex-con father. Stride still blames himself for not preventing the slaughter.

But is Cat telling the truth? Stride’s police partner, Maggie Bei, doubts the homeless girl, who has been living rough on the streets of Duluth since her mother’s death—and now sleeps with a knife hidden under her pillow.

As Stride investigates Cat’s story, more violence trails in the teenager’s wake—and Maggie’s suspicions about her deepen. Now a single question haunts the void between them: Should Stride be afraid for—or of—this terribly damaged girl?

I’ve missed this series and I’m so happy that I can now enjoy it again. Stride is on the case when his past comes back and he’s determined to protect his young victim who has a stalker after her. With a connection to Serena’s case, the two are working together bringing back the dynamic duo that I loved so much. The author did a great job in keeping me in suspense with plenty of twists and turns at every corner in this fast-paced and action-filled drama. The tension, the emotions and of course a search for a killer was skillfully executed and I enjoyed every chapters as the story moved forward to a conclusion teeming with possibilities. This was a great read and I can’t wait for the next book with Stride and his friends.

Shorty Bones by Carolyn Haines

Shorty BonesShorty Bones by Carolyn Haines is the first short store in the “Sarah Booth Delaney” series. Publisher: Minotaur, April 2014

From award-winning author Carolyn Haines comes a charming story starring feisty Southern belle and private investigator Sarah Booth Delaney.

Sarah Booth just wants to help her fiancé recover from a leg wound in peace…Until, that is, an ex-porn star declares that she’s being stalked, and Sarah Booth suddenly finds herself in the midst of a wild case with no idea what to believe or whom to trust.

Sarah Booth and Tinkie take on a small case that ends with unexpected results. This delightfully entertaining and very enjoyable short story was a nice interlude to the next full-length Sarah Booth Delaney novel.