Sunday 27 December 2015

The Final Tap ( Living History Museum, #2 ) by Amanda Flower

The Final Tap (Living History Museum, #2)

March on Barton Farm can only mean one thing: maple sugar season. To combat the winter slump, resilient director Kelsey Cambridge organizes a Maple Sugar Festival, complete with school visits, pancake breakfasts, and tree tapping classes. Kelsey hires curmudgeonly maple sugar expert Dr. Conrad Beeson to teach the classes, despite misgivings over his unpleasant demeanor. It's a decision she ends up regretting when, before the first tree can be tapped for sap, Dr. Beeson turns up dead.

The maple sugar expert's death threatens to shut down not only the Maple Sugar Festival, but also Barton Farm itself. Kelsey must solve Dr. Beeson's murder to escape the increasingly sticky situation. (Summary via Goodreads)

I absolutely love this series. This is the second book in the Living History Museum series which takes place in my old stomping grounds of Ohio. I had fun learning about maple syrup and the little known fact that Ohio is the fifth largest syrup producer in the United States. And that it had an impact during the Civil War. I love history! I know this is why I can't put these books down. You have not only a great mystery and some romance but you have tons of history and suspense. This makes the perfect book.
In this book you have Kelsey mixed up in another murder at Barton Farm. It just so happens that the first Maple Sugar Festival is taking place at the same time and the lead instructor, Dr. Beeson is the victim. Kelsey is going to have a hard time with suspects because Dr. Beeson was not a very likable person. And one of her own staff is the prime suspect. She has a lot on her mind especially with Chase starting to inch his way to her heart. 
How is Kelsey going to narrow the large pool of suspects in time to save her employee? Or is everyone barking up the wrong tree and it was just a terrible accident? 
You will definitely be shocked to find the answers to these questions. I was totally wrong and loved the ending. If this is the first book you pick up in the series you will have no trouble catching up on the characters. They are very likable and down to earth. Book three can't get here quick enough. 
Thank you NetGalley and Midnight Ink for letting me read and review this ARC.

Review by Penny M.

Thursday 24 December 2015

Murder Fir Christmas (Christmas Tree Valley Mysteries #1) by Joyce & Jim Lavene

Murder Fir Christmas (Christmas Tree Valley Mysteries #1)

Down the mountain from Sweet Pepper, Tennessee is Christmas Tree Valley, a place filled with hundreds of Christmas tree farms where generations of growers have made people’s lives brighter. Yet even here in this quiet, postcard-perfect corner of the world, darkness and murder can still stalk the night. 
Federal Wildlife Agent Bonnie Tuttle has always had a special gift with wild animals. It was one of the reasons she decided to train with the wildlife agency. She’s spent the last ten years in Alabama working, but her mother needs her home and she’s back despite all the bad parts of her life she hoped to leave behind. 
Her first day home begins with a fire on the island in Sweet Pepper Lake and the death of Harvey Shelton, the wildlife agent she’s supposed to replace. Bonnie manages to rescue dozens of animals from the fire – including a wolf pup that was shot with the same bullet that killed Harvey. 
Now she’s hot on the trail of Harvey’s killer and trying to reintegrate the wolf back into the wild even though he seems to want to stay with her. Yet old memories persist in the small community where she grew up, and the killer now seems to believe that she has what he killed Harvey for. All she has to do is figure out what that is before it’s too late.  (summary via Goodreads)

I was so caught up into Murder Fir Christmas that when I clicked my Kindle to turn the page I was shocked to see that I was on the last page.  I truly loved this book and cannot wait for the next book in this new series.  

Ridng along with Federal Wildlife Agent Bonnie Tuttle as she gets re-aquainted with her home town in the middle of a snowstorm and the murder of the agent she is replacing  is a wild ride.  Bonnie has 10 years experience on the job so she has no trouble getting to work right away.  Although there is a lot going on you are able to follow along smoothly.  It is like everything blends together and you can just read the story without having to stop and think.  You truly feel like you are right there in Sweet Pepper Lake.

What can be said of Joyce and Jim Lavene that hasn't already been said ?  They have written so many good books and series that everything good has already been said.  The talent between them is unremarkable.  The gift they give to the reading community is a gift to be treasured.  Whether the book is written by Joyce alone, Jim alone or the two combined, you know you have a great book and will enjoy the story inside.  

** This was a hard review to write as Murder Fir Christmas was dedicated to Joyce.  She passed away on October 20, 2015.   She will be missed by all but if you have read any of her books, she lives within you.  Her writing leaves an impression on you that will always be there.  Her memory will live on with her great books.  I highly recommend reading Murder Fir Christmas and feel Joyce's spirit within the pages......

Review by Missi S.

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Fillet of Murder: A Deep Fried Mystery (Deep Fried Mystery #1) by Linda S. Reilly

Fillet of Murder: A Deep Fried Mystery

Talia Marby serves up delectable English deep fried fare in the heart of the Berkshires—but she soon discovers there’s something fishy going on…
Sometimes in this life, you have to fish or cut bait. After walking away from a miserable job and an even worse boyfriend, Talia Marby has no regrets. She’s returned to her hometown and is happy to help her dear friend Bea Lambert by working at Lambert’s Fish & Chips, a cornerstone of a charming shopping plaza designed to resemble an old English village.
But not all the shop owners are charming. Phil Turnbull has been pestering Bea to sign a petition against a new store opening up, and his constant badgering is enough to make her want to boil him in oil. When Talia and Bea stumble upon Turnbull murdered in his shop, the police suspect Bea. Now it’s up to Talia to fish around for clues and hook the real killer before her friend has to trade serving food for serving time.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Fillet of Murder should come with a warning...Warning - Do NOT attempt to consume a hot beverage while reading the ending of this novel !  I was so engrossed in the last several chapters that I left a fresh piping hot cup of coffee turn to iced coffee.  

This is not to say that the beginning or middle were not as catching because they were.  Going to work every day with Talia in the quaint little English village like shopping mall where she is helping her dear friends, Bea and Howie, in their Fish and Chips restaurant is very captivating.   You get to meet all of the other shop owners like Suzy who owns  Sage and Seaweed, Jill who owns Time for Tea, The Clock Shop owner Cliff, her old High School teacher Jim who owns the pottery shop as well at Phil Turnbull owner of the Lighting Store.

Phil is not liked by most especially when he is harrassing the other shop owners to sign a petition to stop a comic book store from opening in the mall.  After Bea says some harsh words and Phil is found murdered in the office of his shop, Talia starts her own little investigation as to who the real killer is.    

As Talia continues to work at the restaurant she also works at getting to know the other shop owners which lead her down some dark alleys and lots of secrets.  But will any of them lead her to the real killer and clear Bea's good name ?

Linda Reilly is amazing with her story telling talent !  I especially loved the ending and how everything came together....even some things you didn't see coming.  I highly recommend reading Fillet of Murder and watching for the next book in this series.

Review by Missi S.

Going Coastal (A Kate Matthews Mystery) by Jane DiLucchio

Going Coastal by Jane DiLucchio

A client dying on her massage table is traumatic enough for Kate Matthews, but when the police declare that death a murder, life becomes more painful for her as she is cast as the major suspect.

None of this is what Kate expected from her move to the peaceful town of Santa Barbara. After a near-fatal heart attack, an early retirement from her Los Angeles law firm, and a change in careers, Kate envisioned a quiet life with her wife, Alicia, and their grown children.

Since the client held a position on the California Coastal Commission, her death becomes a media event. Kate finds herself and her family sucked into the maelstrom. The former lawyer has all she can do to find the truth behind Celia's death without adding her own name to the body count.
  (summary via Goodreads)

I really enjoyed reading this book. I had a hard time putting it down during the holiday. The plot and characters flowed so well you were on another chapter before you realized it. That's ok, sleeping is overrated. LOL I loved how the author showed the relationship between Kate and Alicia as a loving married couple. Also how their families integrated and how they were able to deal with difficult situations. You will fall in love with these characters. Kate is a strong independent woman who has had to retire early from her law firm due to a mild heart attack. Now she is working as a part time masseuse. Then you have Alicia, Kate's wife who is a very busy real estate agent who is also a very strong women. Both of these incredible women have raised two great kids, Ben and Sarah. Ben actually helps his mom by making oils for each of her clients. Sarah is in law school planning to take her boards next year and is planning her wedding to David Silver who is also going to be a lawyer.
Since Kate had her heart attack Alicia has been trying to keep Kate's stress level low. You would think that being a masseuse would help but when Kate shows up to her Sunday clients house all hell breaks loose. Celia Tucker is on the Coastal Committee and described as a pain in the butt. When Kate goes to give her the massage Celia breaks out into hives and her airway closes. Kate immediately gives Celia her Epi shot but it doesn't help. Why didn't it work? The police detectives show up asking the same question and Kate ends up being the prime suspect. This also leads others members of the family down the rabbit hole putting even more stress on everyone. Kate begins pulling a few strings and with the help of her family and friends starts to investigate. She not only wants to clear her name, get her business, and find the real killer but she wants to be there for her wife and kids. She and Alicia have a wedding to help get under way while all of this is going on around them. Will they be able to pull all of this off before someone else gets hurt???
You will enjoy this mystery adventure, who done it. Not everyone is who they appear to be and money doesn't always keep secrets at bay!

Review by Penny M.

Thursday 10 December 2015

Santa Sleuth (Zoe Donovan Mystery Book 18) by Kathi Daley

Santa Sleuth (Zoe Donovan Mystery Book 18)

It's Christmas in Ashton Falls and the entire Zimmerman household is gearing up for their first Christmas as a newly formed family unit. While Zak is busy decking the halls, Zoe is busy tracking down a killer while still taking the time to make certain a little girls Christmas wish comes true. It's funny, it's family, it's a Zak and Zoe Christmas.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Another 5 star book from Kathi Daley. If you have not picked up one of her books yet you should. If you are looking for a great mystery full of surprises, romance, and family this is the book for you. 
Everything starts out so so for Zoe. She has to dress up as Santa for the Santa booth at the annual Christmas festival because Levi is MIA. She eventually gets settled after the suit she is wearing is stuffed with pillows to make her look the part. She begins to have little ones hop on her lap and start asking for Christmas wishes. One wish she hears brings tears to her eyes. She is determined to make this and others wishes come true. 
Everything changes in an instant, one minute she is leaving the festival and the next she wakes up in the hospital as a possible suspect in a murder that she can't remember. What a way to start Zak and Zoe's first Christmas married. Yikes! Zoe is now on a mission to find the killer and spend Christmas with her family at home and not from a cell. 
Make sure you hold on tight for this wild adventure. There are tons of twists and turns, suspects, secrets, special deliveries, and of course mystery to be had in this latest Zak and Zoe adventure. I loved it and can't wait till the next.

( Review by Penny M.)

Thursday 3 December 2015

Killer Transaction (Cindy York Mysteries Book 1) by Catherine Bruns

All struggling real estate agent Cindy York wants is the home listing that was promised to her. But her deceitful co-worker, Tiffany Roberts, has other ideas, and she always manages to get what she wants. Tired of being manipulated, Cindy tells her to back off—or else! But when Cindy stumbles upon Tiffany’s lifeless body, she suddenly finds herself front and center in a deadly investigation. Now everyone from her kids' classmates to her monstrous mother-in-law is sold on the idea that Cindy's guilty. Determined to find out who's trying to frame her, Cindy enlists the help of her best buddy, Jacques, to negotiate a slew of suspects, a host of clues, and an office full of cutthroat agents...before the next contract is out on her!  (summary via Amazon)

Cindy York is married to an amazing man, has 3 children, a great best friend, and a career.  Life should be good for Cindy.  Unfortunately it isn't.  She is having trouble selling houses because Tiffany, one of the other realtors in the agency keeps stealing her potential clients.  Her boss Donna will not do anything about it because she doesn't seem to like Cindy and she adores Tiffany   To make matters worse Cindy finds Tiffany's body after hours at the office.  Everyone hated Tiffany, especially Cindy but some how the investigation seems to be focused on Cindy even though she didn't do it. Cindy, with the help of her best friend, Jacques, try to figure out who hated Tiffany enough to want her dead and why they are framing Cindy.  As Cindy gets closer to finding out the truth, there is one piece of the puzzle that is missing.  Can she figure it out before its too late ?

Catherine Bruns is amazing.  Her writing is so intriguing and captivating, that I want more.  The way she lures you in and captures you is mind blowing. Not to mention the way everything comes together in the end will have you reading faster and faster and you will feel like you are right there.  I really want to tell you what happened in the end, who the killer was and why but I will leave it for you to enjoy and believe me..... You will thoroughly LOVE this book and author !!