Sunday 26 June 2016

Grilled For Murder (A Country Store Mystery) by Maddie Day

Grilled For Murder (A Country Store Mystery) by [Day, Maddie]

Robbie Jordan may have had reservations about the murder victim, but she still needs to turn up the heat on a killer if she wants to keep her new restaurant open for business…

In the charming small town of South Lick, Indiana, Robbie has transformed a rundown country store into the runaway hit Pans 'N Pancakes. But the most popular destination for miles around can also invite trouble. Erica Shermer may be the widow of handsome local lawyer Jim Shermer's brother, but she doesn't appear to be in mourning. At a homecoming party held in Robbie's store, Erica is alternately obnoxious and flirtatious--even batting her eyelashes at Jim. When Erica turns up dead in the store the next morning, apparently clobbered with cookware, the police suspect Robbie's friend Phil, who closed up after the party. To clear Phil and calm her customers, Robbie needs to step out from behind the counter and find the real killer in short order… (Summary via Amazon)

If you are anything like me when you read books, you "get" into the book.  And when I say "get" into the book, I mean you can actually see everything, feel everything, smell's like you are IN the book.  Maddie Day's Country Store Mystery series has that impact on me.  As I read the story I feel like I am right there....and it's such a nice setting to be in.

Grilled For Murder, Book two in this series, finds Pans 'N Pancake owner Robbie with a dead body in her country cookware store / restaurant. Erica Shermer has returned home to stay so her parents and sister hold a welcome home party for her at Pans 'N Pancakes to celebrate.  But the morning after the party when Robbie goes in to open up the restaurant she finds Erica dead on the floor near the pickle barrel and her front door window shattered.  After witnessing some of the goings on at the party and after, it is apparent that Erica wasn't liked by quite a few people.  But is one of them capable of murdering her ?  And why leave her in Robbie's restaurant ?

When Phil, Robbie's dessert maker and friend is taken in for questioning on the murder, Robbie jumps  
into high gear to prove his innocence not knowing she is putting herself in danger also.

How can she help solve the murder when everyone she comes into contact with seems to dislike Erica ?  Even her own parents said she was difficult.  But who would have wanted her dead and why ?  When the State Police are brought in to investigate the murder, Robbie finds herself unable to concentrate on anything else.  She needs to find out who murdered Erica in her store and soon.....before she becomes next on the murderer's list......

Review by Missi S.

Maddie Day is a pseudonym  for author Edith Maxwell.  Check out her website for all her great books.

Murder Most Malicious (A Lady and Lady's Maid Mystery) by Alyssa Maxwell

Murder Most Malicious (A Lady and Lady's Maid Mystery) by [Maxwell, Alyssa]

In post–World War I England, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady's maid, Eva Huntford, step outside of their social roles and put their lives at risk to apprehend a vicious killer. . .

December 1918: As a difficult year draws to a close, there is much to celebrate for nineteen-year-old Phoebe Renshaw and her three siblings at their beloved family estate of Foxwood Hall. The dreadful war is finally over; eldest daughter Julia's engagement to their houseguest, the Marquis of Allerton, appears imminent; and all have gathered to enjoy peace on earth, good will toward men.

But the peace of Foxwood Hall is shattered on the morning of Boxing Day, when the Marquis goes missing. Not entirely missing, however, as macabre evidence of foul play turns up in gift boxes given to lady's maid Eva Huntford and a handful of others. Having overheard her sister and the Marquis in a heated exchange the night before, Lady Phoebe takes a personal interest in solving the mystery.

As the local constable suspects a footman at Foxwood Hall, Phoebe and Eva follow the clues to a different conclusion. But both young women will need to think outside the box to wrap up this case--before a cornered killer lashes out with ill will toward them. (Summary via Amazon)

It's amazing how much work authors put into a book, a story.  As the reader we never realize it while we are reading it.  We just pick up the book and read it. We just read and enjoy the story.

I thoroughly enjoy all of Alyssa Maxwell's historical mystery books.  So much thought and research is put in them that you actually learn things while you read.

In Murder Most Malicious, Maxwell's first book in her A Lady and Lady's Maid mystery series, I felt like I was right there along side Phoebe and Eva as they gathered clues as to the whereabouts of the Marquis of Allerton, Lord Henry.

Lord Henry and Lady Julia, the oldest granddaughter of the Earl of Wroxly, are overheard arguing on Christmas night by Phoebe and a few servants.  The next morning Lord Henry is no where to be found.  Is Lady Julia to blame for his disappearance ?

When some of the Christmas boxes are opened the next day, Boxing Day, some of the receivers are "gifted" with something of Lord Henry's causing the police to be summoned.

While Constable Brannock and Inspector Perkins search the estate property of Foxwood Hall, Phoebe and Eva do their own investigating to prove the innocence of employed Footman George Vernon.

Who will solve the case first and at what cost ?

Review by Missi S.

Saturday 18 June 2016

The Dueling Pianos Murder by Kate Lucky

The Dueling Pianos Murder

A counterfeiter, a countess and a competitive eater... 
When one half of the Amazing Vroom Brothers floats to the top of a hot tub, piano tuner Sammy Young dives headfirst into finding who wanted the musical twin dead. With all the suspects sequestered in tiny Rooks Creek, the town’s crusty detective gives Sammy a green light to work the case. She uncovers stolen artifacts, a Vroom in a fur coat and a mysterious tattoo, but no solid leads to who silenced the music. As the roundup of suspects gets restless and pressure mounts to finger the killer and expose the true motive, Sammy and her tattoo-artist boyfriend rescue one suspect and concoct a plan to trap the real culprit. Will their craftiness snare the Vroom murderer or land Sammy in hot water? 

This is the second full-length cozy mystery novel in the Sammy Young Piano Tuner Mystery series. Be sure to check out book one - A Grand Murder.  (Summary via Goodreads)

This series is music to my ears!  The Dueling Pianos Murder is book two in A Sammy Young Piano Tuner Mystery. If you haven't read this series yet you are in for a treat. It is packed full of mystery,excitement, and even some romance. The characters are so much fun you will catch yourself laughing out loud. This book has some very unique characters, a counterfeiter, a competitive eater, and a countess.
Sammy is the town of Rooks Creek's piano tuner. She is smart, independent, and loves a good puzzle. She has been hired to tune the pianos of a new piano bar called Glissando. It is owned by Mr Marshall Chisterson who is so excited about his new business that Sammy can't get a word in edgewise. Once able to get to work on the pianos she becomes quickly acquainted with the opening night act, The Vroom Twins. Let's just say they leave a distinct impression that Sammy will never forget. YIKES! 

She is given tickets to opening night and of course her date is the hunky tattoo artist, Jack Thorton. They enjoy their evening until Sammy is invited to the after party. It is a party that she and Jack will not forget. A scream, a dead Vroom twin,a curse, and a list of suspects a mile long put them in the middle of the investigation. This one is one for the record books on weird! Will Sammy and Jack find the reason for the murder and the murderer before they stop the music forever???

I absolutely love this series with all the library humor and bantering between Sammy and Jack. Hold onto your seats while reading this one, you are in for a great read.

Review by Penny M.

Murder at Morningside by Sandra Bretting

Murder at Morningside

Hat designer Missy DuBois opened her shop, Crowning Glory, along Louisiana's Great River Road to cater to the sophisticated Southern bride. But bless her heart, who knew creating stylish wedding veils would lead to murder?

Hired to craft a veil for a socialite getting married at Morningside Plantation means Missy can bask in the height of antebellum atmosphere. But when the bride is found dead in a women's bathroom, Missy the milliner finds herself entangled in one unfashionable murder. With the list of suspects thicker than the sweltering Louisiana heat, including a gaggle of bridesmaids shedding nary a tear and a family with no shortage of enemies, it seems anyone at the mansion may have done away with the bride-to-be. While Missy has Southern charm to spare, she's going to need more than manners and a manicure to put a hat pin on this murderous affair . . .
  (Summary via Goodreads)

Murder at Morningside is the first book in a new series by Sandra Bretting. It is packed full of southern charm that is set in Louisiana. I think this series is one to watch! I loved it. Course I'm a southern gal at heart too. I suggest you sit back on your porch with a big old glass of sweet tea and enjoy.

Missy DuBois has opened a hat shop called Crowning Glory. She is dripping with southern charm and has landed a socialite wedding. She has designed a veil that would make any southern gal swoon as well as her friend who has designed a gorgeous dress. She loves the atmosphere at Morningside and is so excited to see the bride in her veil. Well that kinda goes down the toilet literally when the bride to be is found in the bathroom dead! 

Now Missy is in the middle of a murder investigation with more suspects than there are mosquitos in the Louisiana bayou! She is in luck though when an old friend, Lance shows up and is the detective on the case. She is determined to help but Lance would rather have her on the sidelines. Missy isn't going to let that happen and helps anyway. She finds out some interesting things about the family as well as the house that could have gotten the bride to be murdered.

I loved the characters in this book and look forward to their development throughout the series.

Review by Penny M.

Friday 10 June 2016

Death at a Fixer-Upper: A Home Sweet Home Mystery by Sarah T. Hobart

Death at a Fixer-Upper: A Home Sweet Home Mystery

In Sarah T. Hobart’s wickedly funny and fast-paced Home Sweet Home mystery series, small-town real estate agent Sam Turner discovers it’s bad for business when her clients keep dropping dead.

Newly armed with her real estate license, Sam Turner loves Arlinda, her quirky seaside hometown in Northern California. But life by the beach isn’t exactly a breeze: She and her teenage son, Max, are being evicted from their apartment, her long absent ex-husband unexpectedly resurfaces, and her possibly romantic relationship with sexy Chief of Police Bernie Aguilar is, well . . . complicated. All Sam wants is a quick and easy sale. What she gets instead is a killer headache—or three.

Sam’s trying to drum up interest in 13 Aster Lane, a rambling Victorian fixer-upper that’s more than a little neglected—and possibly haunted—so when a trio of offers arrive out of the blue, she can’t help thinking it’s too good to be true. But after a new client drops dead on the property, she fears she’s lost more than a commission. Before Sam’s out of house and home, she must unmask a killer targeting her clients, or the only property she’ll be moving will be plots—at the local cemetery.
  (Summary via Goodreads)

Death at a Fixer-Upper was a fun, fast paced adventure. It is full of humor, mystery, and intrigue. I couldn't stop reading, it was so much fun. I love Sarah's character Sam Turne. She is a strong woman trying to pull her life together.

Sam lives in the small seaside town of Arlinda in Northern California. She along with her teenage son, Max are going through a rough patch. They are being evicted from their apartment which is a struggle but then her ex-husband, who she hasn't seen in years shows up? WHY??? 

And to top everything off she is in a possible relationship with the hot Chief of Police, Bernie Aguilar. I'm sure you are asking yourself why that would be a problem, well let's just say it would be very complicated with some of her family. 

On the bright side she is trying to get things life back on track now that she has her real estate license. She is brand spankin new and looking to get some business her way. She is trying to get some interest in 13 Aster Lane which by the way should probably be torn down and is possible haunted. But she will leave that out of the flyer. She is shocked and excited when not one but three people are interested in the property. 

But poor Sam can't seem to catch a break when one of her clients dies on the property out of the blue? What is going on??? She has to find out before she or her other two clients start to drop like flies.

Review by Penny M.

Hearty Homestyle Murder (Darling Deli, #9) by Patti Benning

Hearty Homestyle Murder (Darling Deli, #9)

Hearty Homestyle Murder - Book 9 in The Darling Deli Series.

While Candice embarks upon her new adventure, Moira turns her focus back to the deli as they prepare for the County Fair, where she’ll be entering Darrin's delicious Vegetarian Gumbo in the soup competition. All is well, until the lead judge dies under mysterious circumstances. Suspicion falls on Moira and the deli once again, and as she and David investigate the evidence points to a very surprising culprit.
   (Summary via Goodreads)

A fun culinary cozy not to miss. Hearty Homestyle Murder: Book 9 in The Darling Deli Series is packed with adventure and mystery as well as yummy food. 

This book has Moira settling in with her daughter Candice's life and candy store. She is preparing for the county fair and the coveted soup competition. She is going to enter one of her employees recipes. She is excited to see who will win the little competition at the deli to go to the fair. She would really love to win this competition and be able to show off the ribbon and all the extra advertising. 

Once the winner is chosen they head to the fair where the unexpected happens. Uuuggghhhh! One of the judges gets sick on the soup they enter. This causes Moira to start second guessing herself and her staff???  Who or why would anyone want to cause harm to a judge and ultimately her business?

So much is going on in this great series that I can't wait for the next book. Maple Creek is never dull!

Review by Penny M.

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Author Interview with Jenna St. James

Jenna St. James is the author of 2 amazing books in the Ryli Sinclair cozy mystery series.  I have had the pleasure of reading both books, Picture Perfect Murder and Gilr's Night Out Murder and I LOVED them !!!  You can see both of my reviews on my blog.  I was very fortunate that she was able to fit into her schedule of writing and relaxing to grant me an interview.  If you have read the books or plan to, you will totally understand why I needed to know more about "Aunt Shirley". 

Picture Perfect Murder (A Ryli Sinclair Mystery Book 1) by [St. James, Jenna]

How and when did you start writing books?

For me, reading and writing go hand in hand. My earliest memory of this was the summer of my 4th grade year. My mother took my sister (who also loves to read and write) and me to a second-hand bookstore, and we came out with trash bags full of books to read for the summer. After reading a lot of books, I thought maybe I’d try my hand at writing. It was the early ‘80s, so I just had a notebook and pen…but I would write all day. I’ve never stopped. The best thing I ever did was go into court reporting years ago. My job as a stenographer really helped me hone my skills in proofing and editing.

Was it a challenge?

Scheduling. Juggling my real life as a reading and writing teacher and the responsibilities that go along with it, then also juggling a family life, is a challenge to dedicate the time and effort it takes to keep up with reading and writing. 

How long does it take to write 1 book?

Right now, since I’ve only written two and working on a third, it’s taking me about five months. And that’s from start to finish. My sister and I go over the design of the cover, I pretty much do the writing, proofing, editing…then I send it out to my sister and two other girls and they help me proofread.

Do you have a writing schedule?

Yes. I try as hard as I can to fit in writing between seven and nine in the evening, and then I get up at two thirty to read for thirty minutes. I go downstairs and write from three to five. I get the rest of the house up at five, and I get ready for my day. I do keep this schedule up even on the weekends. Of course, life does happen and sometimes the schedule isn’t kept…but this is what I strive for daily.

Did anyone help you?

The two biggest helps I have are my mom for moral and financial support (she insisted I start out publishing in paperback and not just in Kindle format, so she supplied my upfront costs so I could promote locally), and my sister who not only designs my covers but also helps me proofread and edit. I am known as the teacher that, “Has books will travel.”

Who is your mentor?

My fiancee helps with with the murder scenes. We will act them out to make sure they are plausible and everything from body positions to words spoken sound natural. My step-daughter loves to record these enactments on her phone. He also gives me ideas on unique ways to kill. 

How do you come up with the characters? Especially Aunt Shirley?

My character for Aunt Shirley is very loosely based off my grandmother. My eighty-nine-year-old grandma is intelligent and still enjoys life. However, she’s very “proper” (so much so she still calls me to chastise me for using curse words in my books)…but if I could take the smarts and fun and combine it with a crazy, never-thought-of career for her like private investigator, well, I like to think my grandma could be an Aunt Shirley. I take a little of the truth, and I flip it one hundred and eighty degrees and I get exactly what I want.

I have a new series I’m currently writing, the Sullivan Sisters Mystery, wherein I give my grandpa his turn. My grandfather served in WWII and was always larger than life to me. He could have a mouth on him (which would send my grandmother into fits), but he was always so loving and generous. He also loved John Wayne. There isn’t a John Wayne movie my sister and I can’t quote. So in my new series, I have a retired military “Gramps” who loves John Wayne and is currently dating a former trapeze artists and contortionist. Again, small truth, flip it one hundred and eighty degrees.

Girls' Night Out Murder (A Ryli Sinclair Mystery Book 2) by [St. James, Jenna]
Does your family read your books?

Yes. I’m very lucky that I come from a large family, and they are my biggest financial supporters...haha.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I also have a side business where I repurpose glassware. I can make chandeliers, lamps, “adult” nightlights, and hummingbird feeders out of wine and other bottles. I also love to paint wineglasses. I have a “craft” room dedicated to general crafts, hundreds of stamps, and papers of every kind…unfortunately they don’t get used as much as they should with the writing I’m currently doing.   

Do you like to read? If so what kind of books?

I love to read. I tell my students one of the best ways to be a better writer is to be an avid reader. It used to be I’d read anything I could get my hands on…but now that I’m focusing on a certain genre, I do tend to read other cozy or cozy-like books…mainly to look at other writing styles. However, growing up, I loved LaVyrle Spencer, Nora Roberts, Jude Deveraux, and Johanna Lindsey.

What, if any, books are you currently reading?

I just finished the latest Jana DeLeon (absolutely LOVE her Miss Fortune series). I say the latest because I read her Miss Fortune series over and over. I also have Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet E. still to read. It’s sitting on my bedside table ready to go with me on vacation.  

What question do you wish someone would ask you about your books that nobody has?

Do you plan on only writing murder mysteries? 
And my answer would be no. I’d like to branch out in a couple years and maybe write a tween or young adult series. I already have ideas formulating. 

Thank you Jenna for taking the time to chat.  I cannot wait for your next book...whatever that may be ! ! !

Interview by Missi S.

Sunday 5 June 2016

School Lunch is Murder (Sadie Sunshine Cozy Mystery #1) by Cheryl Zelenka

School Lunch is Murder (Sadie Sunshine Cozy Mystery #1)

Sadie Sunshine lives in Rogue Valley, a small picturesque city in the Pacific Northwest. Recently retired from teaching, she is called back to work by a friend on maternity leave. Her dogs Willow-Cake and Bosco-Bill are not happy about her decision to return to work, letting her know they prefer her at home playing in their garden. When Sadie discovers a dead body on her first day subbing at Fort Follyfield, several interesting suspects quickly emerge from the woodwork. 
Love triangles, secrets, and holistic remedies calling for poisonous plants push up like daisies while she wrestles with unhappy parents and a domineering PTA President. 

Sadie’s expert, yet self-taught knowledge of garden plants, leads her down a path of danger, murder, and intrigue. While helping her best friend, officer Dora Flores, she connects clues and motives only to reveal a very deadly RAT.  (Summary via Goodreads)

What a cute and easy read !!!  Okay so yeah there was a murder but the setting and the people were great !!

How can you not like a book where the main character's name is Sadie SUNSHINE ??   And she lives in a small town with 2 dogs that talk to each other, her best friend is the police investigator and lives down the street, and the setting is in an elementary school ?

Sadie comes out of early-retirement to subsitute teach for her friend, Mandy.  Mandy is going out on maternity leave for 2 months and begs Sadie to teach her 3rd grade class in her absence.  Sadie relunctantly accepts only to find the other 3rd grade teacher dead on her classroom floor on her first day back ! ! !

Not to be a gossiper but to help out her best friend, Dora, with solving the case, she listens to other teachers, the librarian, and the President of the PTA.  And not knowing it she schedules a meeting with the actually killer !!!  Will she be next ? Or will Dora get the SOS message in time ?

I am a HUGE fan of Joyce and Jim Lavene (may they RIP) and my favorite book is The Tell Tale Turtle.  This book reminds me of The Tell Tale Turtle with Willow-Cake and Bosco-Bill talking to each other......
I am now a huge fan of Cheryl Zelenka and cannot wait for the next Sadie Sunshine book.....which I really want to read after  I read the tease at the end of School Lunch is Murder.

I really think you will enjoy this book and believe me you will read it fast ! ! !  

Review by Missi S.

Friday 3 June 2016

Peaches and Creme Killer: Book 6 in The INNcredibly Sweet Series by Summer Prescott

Book 6 in The INNcredibly Sweet Series 

If you loved the Frosted Love series…you’ll love this 6th installment in the series that continues the adventures of Missy, Chas, and the rest of the gang. They’ve moved from Louisiana to the gorgeous seaside town of Calgon, Florida, and have picked up an interesting cast of characters along the way! 
Missy hits it off immediately with a talented pie maker from the Keys who comes to the Inn for her vacation. Everything goes awry, however, when something sets off the fire alarms at the Inn, causing significant damage and displacing the staff and guests. 
Chas has his hands full dealing with a body that was found under seriously bizarre circumstances, and when the identity of the killer is suspected, his position as Detective may be at stake. 
Hold on tight, this latest book in the INNcredibly Sweet series will take you on a wild ride!   (Summary via Amazon)

Wow! Peaches and Creme Killer book 6 in The INNcredibly Sweet Series was amazing! There is action, mystery, adventure, and of course murder in the small town of Calgon. The cast of characters in this series are so fun and exciting. 

Missy is busy making her wonderfully yummy cupcakes as well as preparing the Inn for a lot of different guests. One in particular is Marilyn Hayes from the Florida Keys who owns a pie shop and is looking for some rest and relaxation to get things in her life situated. Things don't quite go as planned especially when the fire alarm and sprinkler system goes off at the Inn. This causes all the guests to have to find other accommodations. Besides poor Missy, Chas is dog tired because he has a cold case going on that is colder than a freeze! Things seem to be getting really crazy and bizarre in Calgon. 

This was nonstop adventure and suspense. Lots and lots going on! Looking forward to book 7.

Review by Penny M.