Category Archives: Books

books I’ve read – not all of them are listed here, only those I’ve done reviews of

Review ~ Inspector Specter by E.J. Copperman

Inspector SpecterInspector Specter by E.J. Copperman is the sixth book in the “Haunted Guesthouse” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, December 2014

Just when she thought she’d seen everything. . .

Detective Lieutenant Anita McElone is one of Harbor Haven’s finest. She’s also a hard-boiled ghost skeptic. So when she shows up on the doorstep of Alison Kerby’s Haunted Guesthouse to ask for supernatural help in solving the murder of her former partner, it’s hard to tell which woman is more flabbergasted. But McElone is dead serious, so Alison promises to help in any way she can—even asking her resident ghosts, Paul and Maxie, for help with the case.

As Paul’s spirit source reveals some troubling information about the deceased detective, Alison wrestles with what to tell McElone. First, though, she has to find her. . .because the lieutenant has suddenly disappeared.

I enjoy the camaraderie between the living and the ghosts and if it wasn’t for the ghost-like behavior, sometimes the ghosts feel like the living, especially in their actions. This was an enjoyable read and I liked in this light drama we had more insight into the person Lt. McElone is out of uniform. But best of all is the outcome of their association that is a bonus in this fast-paced whodunit. The plot of this mystery kept me engaged in all that was happening and the suspenseful nature propelled me towards a conclusion befitting all the characters. Boasting a great cast of characters, witty repartee and the backdrop of the NJ shore, this is a delightfully wonderful read and I look forward to more adventures with Alison and the gang.

Review ~ Changing Habits by Alice Loweecey

Changing HabitsChanging Habits by Alice Loweecey is a short story prequel to the “Giulia Driscoll” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, December 2014

The day Giulia Falcone jumped the wall—that’s code for leaving the convent—her sole possessions were the clothes on her back.

Four years later, she’s an official Private Investigator juggling a rash of church vessel thefts and her complete inability to find a wedding gown that doesn’t require her to steal a gold chalice for herself. She’s about to marry her boss despite all the advice about office romance.

Giulia is a champion multitasker. The Church is on her back to find the thief. Her all-natural co-worker is insisting she walk down the aisle to the soundtrack for The Sound of Music. Her fiancé’s relatives are overwhelming her with plans and advice and excitement. Piece of cake.

She can find the clue that unmasks the thief. She can keep an eye on the music. All she needs is a wedding gown for her own wedding. In four days. What could possibly go wrong?

I’ve been waiting for this short story that bridges the previous series and whet my appetite for the new series featuring Giulia Driscoll. Giulia is on the case while preparing for her upcoming wedding. This was a very enjoyable mystery and it was good to see the gang again. A must read for fans of this series.

Review ~ Death With All the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette

Death with All the TrimmingsDeath With All the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette is the fifth book in the “Key West Food Critic” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, December 2014

The only snow in Key West this Christmas is Hayley Snow, food critic for Key Zest magazine, who is not getting time off for the holiday…or time off from murder.

It may be Christmastime, but thoughts of peace on earth, good will toward men, don’t seem to extend to the restaurant biz. Hayley has been assigned to interview Edel Waugh, chef/owner of Key West’s hottest new restaurant. But off the record, Edel reveals someone’s sabotaging her kitchen and asks Hayley to investigate.

Things heat up fast when the restaurant is set on fire—and a body is discovered in the charred wreckage. Is someone out to destroy the chef’s business—or actually kill her? Amid holiday festivities like the lighted boat parade and visiting relatives who stir up mixed emotions, Hayley needs to smoke out an arsonist and a killer who may turn up the heat on her next.

I love when a book keeps me on edge and this one had me going right to the end. This fast paced and action-filled drama quickly became a page-turner, as I had to know what happens next. All the main characters had a role in this latest caper as Hayley’s search for the culprit hits a little bit closer to home. The author does a wonderful job in bringing Key West alive through her and Hayley’s eyes that puts me smack dab in the middle of all the action. This was a great read boasting great conversations, a lovable cast of characters, a feel-good atmosphere, and a warm and friendly place to visit and I can’t wait to see what Hayley and her friends next adventures are in this delightfully charming and entertaining series.

Review ~ Spell Booked by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Spell Booked by Joyce and Jim Lavene is the first book in the new “Retired Witches” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, December 2014

Once upon a time in Wilmington, North Carolina, three witches ran a curio shop named Smuggler’s Arcane. But as the years passed, their magical powers started to fade—leaving them no choice but to conjure up a retirement package.

Before they could blink their eyes or twitch their noses, Molly, Elsie, and Olivia somehow became eligible for AARP. But they can’t fly off to Boca Raton just yet. First they must give up their magic, recruit and train three new witches, and pass on their cherished spellbook.

They’ve barely begun to consider potential practitioners when Olivia winds up dead and their spellbook is stolen. To honor their friend and reclaim their spells, Molly and Elsie are about to go wand-to-wand with a dangerous young witch more powerful than the trio was in their prime. And this time they’re going to need more than magic up their sleeves.

I like it. This was a fun read with a great cast of characters that includes Elsie, Molly and Olivia to name a few. The pacing and flow of this story made it easy to follow the mystery which had some twists that enhanced the storytelling. I enjoyed the interactions between the three witches, and at times a few of their capers had me chuckling a bit. I enjoyed this story that boasted great conversations, a small town magical feel and a supporting cast that envelopes our main protagonists.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

Review ~ Geared for the Grave by Duffy Brown

Geared for the GraveGeared for the Grave by Duffy Brown is the first book in the “Cycle Path” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, December 2014

Mackinac Island is a peaceful summer resort town where everyone coasts through the streets on bicycles. But after someone sends a prominent local on her final ride, it’s up to one resourceful visitor to get things running again.

Hoping to shift her chances of a promotion in her favor, Evie Bloomfield heads to Mackinac Island to assist her boss’s father. Rudy Randolph has broken his leg and operating his bike shop, Rudy’s Rides, is too much to handle by himself. But Evie’s good turn only leads to more trouble.

After Evie’s arrival, wealthy resident Bunny Harrington dies in what looks like a freak bike accident. Upon closer inspection, Bunny’s brakes were tampered with, and now the prime suspect in her murder is also Bunny’s number one enemy: Rudy. So if Evie hopes to stay on her boss’s good side, she’ll need to steer Rudy clear of jail. Now she must quickly solve this mystery so she can put the brakes on the real killer’s plan.

What a delicious read that tickled my funny bone. This evenly-paced drama was a refreshing mystery executed in a style that pulled me in immediately for a nice ride that I did not want to get off. I laughed and laughed at the antics that Evie and Irma got involved in, all to clear a friend’s name. And adding Mother, what a perfect touch.  I know whenever I read a Duffy Brown mystery, she is going to delight my senses with a quirky cast of characters that includes the heroine of this light mystery and an unexpected sidekick that is so lovable, I wish the best for her. The witty banter, the small-town atmosphere and again this likable cast will keep me coming back to Mackinac Island for years to come.  A great read and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next for Evie and her friends.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

Review ~ Meow If It’s Murder by T. C. LoTempio

Meow If It's MurderMeow If It’s Murder by T. C. LoTempio is the first book in the new “Nick and Nora” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, December 2014

Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them.

Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too.

Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives.

I’m a fan of Nick and Nora from the Thin Man, so when I heard about this series, I was eager to read it and I totally loved this light-hearted and engagingly entertaining whodunit featuring new amateur sleuth Nora and Nick her feline companion. The premise of the mystery sparked a memory and I liked how the author took care to bring this story to a satisfying ending, despite another mystery lurking in the winds which I suspect will be a continuum subplot. I enjoyed the interactions Nora has with her BFF Chantel and the tall, dark and handsome detective, as well as Ollie who I hope we get to see more of in future stories. This was a great read and I can’t wait to read the next book in this wonderfully terrific series.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

Review ~ Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris

Tagged for DeathTagged for Death by Sherry Harris is the first book in the new “Sarah Winston Garage Sale” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, December 2014

Starting your life over at age thirty-eight isn’t easy, but that’s what Sarah Winston finds herself facing when her husband CJ runs off with a 19-year-old temptress named Tiffany. Sarah’s self-prescribed therapy happily involves hitting all the garage and tag sales in and around her small town of Ellington, Massachusetts. If only she could turn her love for bargain hunting into a full-time career.

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure
But after returning from a particularly successful day searching for yard sale treasures, Sarah finds a grisly surprise in one of her bags: a freshly bloodied shirt…that undoubtedly belongs to her ex, CJ, who now happens to be Ellington’s chief of police. If that’s not bad enough, it seems Tiffany has gone missing. Now it’s up to Sarah to prove that her cold-hearted ex is not a cold-blooded killer…

But finding that treasure can be murder.

This was a fun read that was both energetic and entertaining at the same time. I loved the plot setting and getting to know the main characters a bit better as the story moved forward. The author did a great job in keeping me tuned to the pages, especially that surprising twist that had me going “whoa” because I never saw that one coming. Well-played Sherry, well-played. With a friendly cast of characters, good conversations and a good story, this whodunit is a welcome addition to the cozy mystery genre and I look forward to reading The Longest Yard Sale, the next book in this pleasantly appealing series.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog