Category Archives: Reviews

Review of books

My Musing ~ Dead Storage by Mary Feliz

Dead Storage by Mary Feliz is the third book in the “Maggie McDonald” mystery series. Publisher: Lyrical Underground, coming July 18, 2017

As a professional organizer, Maggie McDonald brings order to messy situations. But when a good friend becomes a murder suspect, surviving the chaos is one tall task . . .

Despite a looming deadline, Maggie thinks she has what it takes to help friends Jason and Stephen unclutter their large Victorian in time for its scheduled renovation. But before she can fill a single bin with unused junk, Jason leaves for Texas on an emergency business trip, Stephen’s injured mastiff limps home—and Stephen himself lands in jail for murder. Someone killed the owner of a local Chinese restaurant and stuffed him in the freezer. Stephen, caught at the crime scene covered in blood, is the number one suspect. Now Maggie must devise a strategy to sort through secrets and set him free—before she’s tossed into permanent storage next . . .

When a friend become a prime suspect in a murder investigation, Maggie uses her organizational skills for decluttering the situation to clear his name.

The mystery in this book was nicely done with enough intrigue and curiosity as to how all will fare at the conclusion of this evenly-paced drama that was hard to put down. The author did a great job in providing a suspect pool that was so varied that it kept me guessing until I had that aha moment and knew who was behind it all. The narrative was visually descriptive keeping me immersed in all that was happening with all the characters who played pivotal roles that would eventually lead to the revelation and apprehension of the killer. I enjoyed the path that was taken to tell this story with an underlying message that added to this tale. Bonus to me was the organization tips at the beginning of each chapter, some of which I follow. This was a good read and I can’t wait to see what adventure awaits Maggie and her friends.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Blame by Jeff Abbott

Blame by Jeff Abbott, a thriller. Published by Grand Central Publishing, coming July 18, 2017

Sometimes the person you thought you knew best. . .

Turns out to be someone you never really knew at all.

The crash that killed him
Two years ago, Jane Norton crashed her car on a lonely road, killing her friend David and leaving her with amnesia. At first, everyone was sympathetic. Then they found Jane’s note: I wish we were dead together.

A girl to blame
From that day the town turned against her. But even now Jane is filled with questions: Why were they on that road? Why was she with David? Did she really want to die?

The secrets she should forget
Most of all, she must find out who has just written her an anonymous message: I know what really happened. I know what you don’t remember. . .

This fast-paced and riveting drama had me immersed and mesmerized with all that was going in this intense psychological novel that ratchetted up a steep notch keeping me in suspense until the last chapter was read. The author knew the way to pull me in with a narrative so gripping, I couldn’t put this book down. When I thought I had a finger on what was going on, the author changed direction with strategically placed twists and turns that gave me pause as I followed along with Jane on her journey of self-discovery where secrets were meant to stay buried, and someone was determined to keep it that way.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Death in D Minor by Alexia Gordon

Death in D Minor by Alexia Gordon is the second book in the “Gethsemane Brown” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, coming July 11, 2017

Gethsemane Brown, African-American classical musician and expatriate to an Irish village, solved a string of murders, led a school orchestra to victory in a major competition, and got used to living with a snarky ghost. She can rest easy over the Christmas holiday. Right? Wrong. The ghost has disappeared, her landlord’s about to sell her cottage to a hotel developer, and her brother-in-law is coming for a visit—with one day’s notice.

She scrambles to call her spectral roomie back from beyond and find a way to save the cottage from certain destruction. But real estate takes a backseat when her brother-in-law is accused of stealing a valuable antique. Gethsemane strikes a deal with a garda investigator to go undercover as a musician at a charity ball and snoop for evidence linking antiques to a forgery/theft ring in exchange for the investigator’s help clearing her brother-in-law. At the party, she accidentally conjures the ghost of an eighteenth-century sea captain, then ends up the prime suspect in the party host’s murder. With the captain’s help, she races to untangle a web of phony art and stolen antiques to exonerate herself and her brother-in-law. Then the killer targets her. Will she save herself and bring a thief and murderer to justice, or will her encore investigation become her swan song?

In the latest adventures with Gethsemane, murder is once again thrust upon her and with determination and a goal, she does what needs to be done to expose a killer who doesn’t not want to be identified. The author does a great job in keeping this multi-plot tale intriguing where everyone is suspect and one by one as each clue is presented, the field of suspects narrow and it is watching Gethsemane figured it out along with myself. The mystery was nicely done and I like that the narrative put me in the middle of all the action capturing the essence that is Ireland. The character of Eamon adds a touch that makes this engagingly appealing series more endearing.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ New Sins for Old Scores by T.J. O’Connor

New Sins for Old Scores by T.J. O’Connor is a murder with a paranormal twist novel. Publisher: Black Opal Books, May 2017

Murder, like history, often repeats itself. And, when it does, it’s the worst kind of murder.

Detective Richard Jax was never good at history–but, after years as a cop, he is about to get the lesson of his life. Ambushed and dying on a stakeout, he’s saved by Captain Patrick “Trick” McCall–the ghost of a World War II OSS agent. Trick has been waiting since 1944 for a chance to solve his own murder. Soon Jax is a suspect in a string of murders–murders linked to smuggling refugees out of the Middle East–a plot similar to the World War II OSS operation that brought scientists out of war-torn Europe. With the aid of a beautiful and intelligent historian, Dr. Alex Vouros, Jax and Trick unravel a seventy-year-old plot that began with Trick’s murder in 1944. Could the World War II mastermind, code named Harriet, be alive and up to old games? Is history repeating itself?

Together, Jax and Trick hunt for the link between their pasts–confronted by some of Washington’s elite and one provocative, alluring French Underground agent, Abrielle Chanoux. Somewhere in Trick’s memories is a traitor. That traitor killed him. That traitor is killing again. Who framed Jax and who wants Trick’s secret to remain secret? The answer may be, who doesn’t?

This was a fun book to read and I especially loved the short chapters that made it easier to follow the sequences told in this engaging drama. The past and present collide when Jax is saved by Trick, a WWII ghost who wants his murder solved. Between the two of them, they have provided me some enjoyment as they, especially Jax, learns to accept Trick into his life. As always, the author delivers a finely tuned mystery with great substance, that I wanted to relive this book again.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a copy of the book from the author.

My Musing ~ Death of a Bachelorette by Laura Levine

Death of a Bachelorette by Laura Levine is the 15th book in the Jaine Austen mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, June 2018

Freelance writer Jaine Austen thought working for a knock-off reality show in the tropics would be paradise. But when she and her kitty Prozac find themselves trapped between a dimwitted leading man, catty contestants, and a cold-blooded murderer, the splashy gig becomes one deadly nightmare. . .

Jaine’s life has been a royal pain since she started penning dialogue for Some Day My Prince Will Come—a cheesy dating show that features bachelorettes competing for the heart of Spencer Dalworth VII, a very distant heir to the British throne. As if fending off golf ball-sized bugs on a sweltering island wasn’t tough enough, Jaine must test her patience against an irritable production crew and fierce contestants who will do anything to get their prince. . .

But Jaine never expected murder to enter the script. When one of the finalists dies in a freak accident, it’s clear someone wanted the woman out of the race for good—and the police won’t allow a soul off the island until they seize the culprit. Terrified of existing another day without air conditioning and eager to return home, Jaine is throwing herself into the investigation. And she better pounce on clues quickly—or there won’t be any survivors left. . .

I know that once I open up a Jaine Austen book that I will be enjoying all that is happening with Jaine in the middle of all the action, especially the capers that seems to follow her no matter where she is and in this book, she is Tahiti where the accommodation is not what she expected and the contestants and crew are strange indeed, which all adds to the humor that takes place in this engagingly entertaining mystery. In addition to solving a murder, Jaine has to contend with a suitor and of course the daily deluge of emails from her parents and Lance. This is another great book with witty repartee and a cast that is delightfully charming, especially our feline companion. I can’t wait to read the next book in this hilariously humorous series.

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My Musing ~ Come High Water by Susan McBride

Come Helen High Water by Susan McBride is the fourth book in the “River Road” mystery series. Publisher: Witness Impulse, coming June 27, 2017

Spring has sprung, the river is rising, and when Luann Dupree, the head of River Bend’s Historical Society, vanishes into the night, everyone in town is convinced she’s run off with her Internet Romeo. But her lifelong friend, Sarah Biddle, is convinced Luann is the victim of foul play. No one believes her—not even her husband, the local sheriff, so she turns to Helen Evans for help.

As River Bend’s resident puzzle-solver, Helen’s tackled many a local mystery before. So she agrees to help Sarah, even though she’s not so sure herself that Luann is really in trouble. But as the town’s flood waters slowly recede, dead fish and muck aren’t the only things Helen finds. She begins to uncover town secrets, false identities. . .and the very real chance that Luann might not be discovered alive. . .

With an approaching flood on the rise, Helen is on the case when a woman goes missing and a neighbor’s husband is later found dead, perhaps murdered. Who is behind these two incidents? Well step inside Come Helen High Water and you’ll find a story filled with suspense, intrigue, trepidation and heartbreak as Helen looks for answers. The author did a great job in telling this story with visually descriptive narrative that pulled me in immediately from the impending flood, to Bernie who suffers from Alzheimer, to the happenings at the Historical Society, and to that surprising double twist at the end. This was a well-written drama and a terrific story in a series I enjoy reading.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.

My Musing ~ Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer is the sixth book in the “Liz Talbot” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, coming June 27, 2017

Private Investigators Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews have worked their share of domestic cases. So when Tammy Sue Lyerly hires them to find out what her husband is hiding, they expect to find something looney but harmless. After all, this is the guy who claims to have been a DEA agent, a champion bull rider, and a NASCAR driver. But when he turns up dead the morning after Liz and Nate deliver the incriminating photos, Tammy is the prime suspect.

Questioning the truth of Zeke Lyerly’s tall-tales, Liz and Nate race to uncover small town scandals, long buried secrets, and the victim’s tumultuous past to keep Tammy Sue out of jail and the case from going up in flames.

This is one of my favorite series and whenever I read the latest book, it feels like homecoming has arrived. Liz and Nate investigates a murder and with each step forward, their suspect list grows and it’s their tenacity that leads them to a killer.

The author has a way with the narrative that wrapped me up in a cocoon filled with southern charm and mayhem. Any book that makes me feel what the characters feel is a testament to the author’s ability to pull me in and create long-lasting moments to cherish.

The pacing fits the tempo of this enticingly intriguing tale where the mystery was executed nicely, keeping me in the throes of what was happening with the residents of Stella Maris, especially that tense moment when I couldn’t read fast enough to learn the outcome of the incident involving one of the duo. As always, I enjoy time spent with Liz’s parents who light up any scene they are featured in.

Boasting a superb cast of characters, engaging dialogue and a small-town atmosphere, this was one of the best book in this wonderfully endearing series.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Murder at the Puppy Fest by Laurien Berenson

Murder at the Puppy Fest by Laurien Berenson is the 20th book in the “Melanie Travis” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, coming June 27, 2017

Frolicking with dogs is Melanie Travis’s idea of heaven. So when she’s invited to be a “puppy wrangler” at a benefit for a local dog rescue, the last thing she expects is to be chasing after a tricky killer.

As a busy mom and pedigree Poodle owner, Melanie has little time to spare. Still, she doesn’t mind helping out at Puppy Fest, an annual fundraiser to benefit Puppy Posse, a local dog rescue organization. Considering the venue–Belle Haven mansion, owned by wealthy philanthropist Leo Brody–it’s shaping up to be the can’t-miss charity event of the summer. Unfortunately, when Melanie’s breeding background lands her in the doghouse with Jane, Leo’s snappy daughter who runs the rescue, Melanie finds herself simultaneously managing Puppy Fest and the millionaire’s hopelessly fractious family.

But once Puppy Fest kicks off, Leo is nowhere to be found–until Melanie discovers his current mistress crouching over his dead body. According to police, the father of nine’s severe nut allergy went into overdrive after he accidentally consumed a contaminated cookie. However, Libby, one of Leo’s children and a friend of Melanie’s Aunt Peg, believes someone deliberately put him down for good. And now, she’s begging a reluctant Melanie to unearth the secrets hidden by the Brody pack. But the closer Melanie gets to fetching answers, the higher the stakes become–and the more she realizes that she’s chasing a criminal who’s been groomed to win.

I always like my annual visit with Melanie and her friends and family. Murder is afoot and Melanie finds herself once again involved and it’s her interactions with humans and our furry friends that makes this book a delight to read.

I love the comfortable tone and the evenly paced tempo of this whodunit that grabbed my attention with the first sighting of “Bud.” The author did a great job in delivering a well-written mystery with plenty of suspects and enough clues to keep me glued to the pages as I had to know what happens next. The narrative was visually descriptive, putting me in the middle of all the action and I liked that when I thought I had a handle on the person behind the murder, the author changed the direction with some twists and turns, all to the betterment of this captivating story. I enjoyed my time with this story and look forward to the next one is this wonderfully appealing series.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Booked 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton

Booked 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton is the first book in the NEW “Sophie Kimball” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, coming June 27, 2017

Never judge a book by its cover. . .

Sophie “Phee” Kimball is not a cop. She’s a divorced, middle-aged mom who works as an account clerk for the police department in a small city in Minnesota. But her retired mother, Harriet Plunkett, is convinced Phee is the only one who can solve the mystery of a cursed book. According to Harriet, four members of her book club have already succumbed to the deadly curse. Harriet insists Phee catch the next plane to her retirement community in Sun City West, Arizona, to investigate.

Is her mother just bored and lonely? She does have a new pet—a long-haired chiweenie (half Chihuahua, half Dachshund)—for company and a host of pals (although that number is admittedly dwindling). Phee is certain that their book club selection isn’t cursed, but is somebody really knocking off the ladies? As Phee starts to uncover dark secrets hidden in plain sight under the blazing Arizona sun, she’ll need to read between the lines before it’s someone else’s final chapter. . .

This was such a fun book that I devoured all that was happening in a few sittings. I like the writing style of this book and the comfortable tone that made it easy and enjoyable read. The pacing set the tone to how well this whodunit was executed with narrative that was visually descriptive putting me in the middle of all the action. The mystery was staged perfectly giving me enough clues to follow and it was fun watch it all play out with the suspects until there was only one person left standing. . .the killer. I loved the camaraderie and interactions between Phee and her mother which amused me dearly. Boasting a wonderful cast of characters, engaging dialogue and a small town atmosphere, this was a delightfully charming addition to the cozy genre and I look forward to more exciting times with Phee and her friends.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher.