Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Review: High Strung by Janice Peacock

Title: High Strung
Series: Glass Bead Mystery #1
Author: Janice Peacock
Publish Date: August 2015
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Source: Netgalley

About the Book: 
After inheriting a house in Seattle, Jax O'Connell is living the life of her dreams as a glass beadmaker and jewelry designer. When she gets an offer to display her work during a bead shop’s opening festivities, it's an opportunity Jax can't resist—even though Rosie Perez, the store's owner, is the surliest person Jax has ever met.

The weekend’s events become a tangled mess when a young beadmaker is found dead nearby and several oddball bead enthusiasts are suspects. Jax must string together the clues to clear her friend Tessa's name—and do it before the killer strikes again.

My Review: 
It’s always fun to read a cozy mystery with a new theme. It was fun to get involved in the world of bead making, working with high temperatures and glass. Not sure it is something I could ever do. I liked how the author worked in a lot of different aspects of glass beads, but didn’t go on and on about it either.

This book was balanced enough with the theme and the introduction of the new characters that I liked it better than some of the reviews I read prior to reading it. Jax is pretty spunky, but also a loving and caring person which puts her in the predicament of the houseguest and losing her cat. I enjoyed her as the sleuth and loved how she worked herself around the tough situations.

There is a lot that comes to light at the end of the book that makes me excited to read the next installment, which thanks to Netgalley is already to go in my queue.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

#TBT - Yoga Cozy Mysteries

Feeling like some yoga today, I thought I would share some previous book reviews of cozy mysteries with yoga as their theme. These books were a lot of fun, a great twist on yoga.

Kate owns Serenity Yoga in a cozy part of Seattle, Washington. Even though she’s struggling to keep things afloat, she loves the idea of her own business and what it can do to help people. When a homeless man, George, and his dog, Bella, show up outside her front door to sell daily papers, she’s not all that concerned until she notices the dog is very aggressive. While trying to help with finding another location for the dog, Kate gets know George and Bella which makes it even harder when she finds George dead and Bella without an owner. Taking Bella into her home so she doesn’t have to go to “jail”, Kate spends her time finding a home for Bella and solving the murder of George.

Title: Murder Strikes A Pose
Series: Downward Dog Mystery
Author: Tracy Weber
Publish Date: January 8, 2014
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Source: eARC from Netgalley via Publisher

Another cozy mystery centered around the Yoga theme. While very different from Down Dog Diary, this was definitely a “typical” cozy mystery and I very much enjoyed it.

Characters: Jake was a jerk from the beginning in my mind and I had to agree with everyone else, Why Alicia was even married to him? However, he did appear to treat her well and she never complained once about him. Even though George’s appearance in the book was short lived, I really did like the guy. His back story and why he ended up homeless was very interesting, as well as how Bella came to be in his possession.

Location and Setting: Seattle is not my first thought when I think of cozy, however, when you think of a small section of Seattle, there are plenty. This little cozy street of businesses and how they worked together, and potential for future books just amazed me.

Crime: Kate made a great sleuth and loved the fact that she drew on her previous relationships with those that could help her. This was a murder that I think I had figured out at one point, but then quickly dismissed it and looked for other options. Very well crafted.

Romance: Hot, hot, hot!! Rene was awesome to help this romance take hold. Go Rene!!

Take a drive northwest of the Twin Cities in Minnesota and in less than an hour we will have arrive at Gabriel’s Garden. A quick stop at the Breathe Yoga Studio with Maya on Mondays will sure to be a treat, but don’t be surprised if the group is not in the grove of yoga.
Maya has just become the keeper of the shaman diary after learning her long time friend Tum had passed away. Expecting the book to smell musty and old, when she put hers nose to it, she smells a wide range of wonderful smells. Maya doesn’t know a lot about the book other than Tum kept it hidden away and was very special to him. Soon after receiving the book, things begin to change and she doesn’t wonder if they have anything to do with the book.

Title: Down Dog Diary
Author: Sherry Roberts
Publish Date: October 2013
Publisher: Osmyrrah Pub
Source: eARC from Author

I received this book from the author for a honest review. Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I accepted to read the book based on its theme, Yoga. I was pleasantly surprised with the writing and storyline of the book.

Maya’s family reminded me a lot of Dharma’s (on Dharma and Greg old TV show), except Maya has a sister named Heart. Maya calls her parents by their names, Larry and Evie, instead of mom and dad. Maya has a niece named Sadie who absolutely thinks the world of Maya and Heart is always walking on eggshells to protect Sadie and her husband, David.

Maya takes a trip to Whispering Spirit to visit Tum’s place. She was able to visit with a lot of the townspeople, where she grew up and had great memories of Tum. It was very interesting to learn about the beliefs and rituals of these people here and how they still lived.

I loved the descriptions in the book of both Gabriel’s Garden and Whispering Spirit. Both cozy places with an alternative feel. The characters were very well developed. My favorite character is Jorn. While I wasn’t so sure about him in the beginning, he definitely had my liking by the end of the book.

This was not a “typical” cozy mystery. As I started reading, I was scrunching up my eyebrows in wonderment. However, it is definitely a cozy mystery and done very well. I liked the new fresh ideas and the way the story was told, not following a typical plot of a cozy mystery.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: To Hell in a Handbasket by Beth Groundwater

Title: To Hell in a Handbasket
Series: Claire Hanover Mystery #2
Author: Beth Groundwater
Publish Date: November 2012
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Source: Netgalley

About the Book: 
It’s snow accident when a young woman’s icy demise sends Claire’s vacation to hell in a handbasket

Skiing with her family in Breckenridge, Colorado, gift basket designer Claire Hanover hears a terrified scream cut the frigid mountain air. She is horror-stricken to find Stephanie Contino, the sister of her daughter’s boyfriend, dead on the slopes. While everyone else assumes the death was an accident, Claire is suspicious of the extra ski tracks that cross dangerously into Stephanie’s path. But the police are skeptical of foul play, even as more signs point to murder.

When incriminating clues put her daughter Judy in danger, Claire investigates and finds trouble around every mogul. Between interviewing a daredevil snowboarder and giving ski lessons to a drug boss, she uncovers a chilling conspiracy that could turn deadly for her family.

My Review: 
I do like Claire as a sleuth. She knows how to insert herself and kind of be pushy in a way. She’s able to use her gift baskets as a way to get herself into various situations more easily. I loved how she shared that a gift basket should touch all the senses. I often gift theme baskets and find this little tidbit helpful.

As far as the story, I enjoyed it well enough. At times it seemed to drag, but I loved the intensity of the book as she continued to uncover the conspiracy. She was also intent in keeping her daughter safe, as well as trying to convince her husband that she would be safe herself.

I loved all the unique characters she came in contact with, as well as the demeanor of the officer. It’s always fun to see how sleuths work around the law, but Claire is not dealing with the same detective or officer as most sleuths do throughout a series.

Overall, this was an enjoyable story, and I did enjoy A Basket of Trouble book #3 as well.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Freebie Friday Review: Tear Down and Die by Joanna Campbell Slan

I am always downloading free books for my Kindle and sooner or later I get a chance to read them. This book was a freebie (and currently is at the time of this posting). Being one of the better ones, I quickly devoured this book, and then bought the second book in the series. And for those that have read her Kiki Lowenstein series, I liked this one better.
Title: Tear Down and Die
Series: Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery #1
Author: Joanna Campbell Slan
Publish Date: December 2013
Publisher: Spot On Publishing
Source: Free on Amazon

About the Book:
A spin off from the Kiki Lowenstein Mysteries.

After her parents die within six months of each other and her son goes off to college, savvy entrepreneur Cara Mia Delgatto decides to construct a new life for herself. A road trip leads to her grandfather's home on the picturesque Treasure Coast of Florida, where she impulsively snaps up a "tear down," a building scheduled for the wrecking ball--only to discover it's already occupied by a fresh corpse. While Detective Lou Murray tries to nail the killer to the wall, Cara Mia enlists the help of two new friends to open a store specializing in one-of-a-kind, recycled, and repurposed items. But before she can get down to brass tacks, Cara Mia decides to help Lou figure out "whodunit," because she's been painted into the picture as one of the prime suspects. To make matters more complicated, tensions are building with Cooper Rivers, an old boyfriend. Cara Mia wonders whether her second chance at love will pan out--or if her carefully constructed fantasies will lead her to a new life behind bars.

My Review:
This is one of those books that at the first word I was sucked in and loved every minute of it. I had previously read a couple of the Kiki Lowenstein mysteries, but they didn’t suck me in like this one did. Halfway through this book, I quickly purchased book two and three of the series.

There is so much going on in many aspects of this book. From Cara’s personal life, trying to find a new start, to breaking down on the highway near her grandfather’s house, and everything that then goes on in the little town of Stuart, FL.

Cara makes two new friends and they are perfect for each other. Realizing that they can work together and give everything a second chance, they quickly become best of friends. Cara also is faced with her grandfather’s age and diabetes, as well as a former boyfriend and his fiance’.

This book definitely left me hanging and quickly wanting to pick up book number two. This series is a big hit on my list.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Book Review: Raisin the Dead by Karoline Barrett

Title: Raisin the Dead
Series: Bread and Batter #2
Author: Karoline Barrett
Publish Date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: InterMix
Source: Netgalley

About the Book:
While the rest of Destiny is focused on the arrival of an upper crust perfume mogul, Molly is more concerned about what’s on the front page of the newspaper: her mother. Library director Anne Tyler was photographed at the most romantic restaurant in town having a cozy dinner with library advisory board member Philip Baldeli. But there’s more for Molly to worry about after Philip is found dead a few days later.

When Detective Sean Corsino zeroes in on Anne as a person of interest in the case, it turns down the heat on his budding romance with Molly. But after he’s injured during the course of his investigation, Molly and Olivia must step in to sift through the clues and clear Anne’s name.

My Review:

Even though in the early pages of this book I was really struggling with the author’s writing particularly describing what was going on, the time of day, and how much time had passed, I absolutely loved this book. The description of how things were happening seemed to get better later in the book, but I what hooked me in were the characters and the small town of Destiny. I loved the visits from characters from larger towns who were struggling with the size of the town, but how they later fell in love with it themselves.

How the author was able to weave the mystery within the events happening in the town and the title of the book meaning something more than just what it obviously means. I definitely will read more of this author and this specific series. Glad I can go back to book one to catch up on how they got to this point in time, and sad that I will have to wait a while for another book to be released. I’m excited to see where all of the businesses and residents will grow from here.

Lately I have been reading later books in series and find I like the series much better than when I start at book one. I always seem to hate the complete set-up that has to exist in the first book. I might just make a habit of beginning a new series in this way.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

#TBT - Stick a Fork in It by Robin Allen

Title: Stick a Fork in It
Author: Robin Allen
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publish Date: July 8, 2012
Personal Rating: 3.5 stars

As a health inspector and former chef, Poppy Markham thought she’d seen it all—until she steps into Capital Punishment. The restaurant’s twisted concept—last meals of death row inmates—could be a hit only in outlandish Austin, Texas. But the macabre theme becomes all too real when co-owner Troy Sharpe is found dangling from a hangman’s noose in the cinder block dining room. Discovering that Troy was a hard-drinking jerk leads Poppy to the rub: if Troy had more enemies than a jail has bars, which one sent him to the land of rigor-mortised restaurateurs?

My Review:
What would be your last meal request? As one of the main ideas in the book besides the murder, this is just one of the humorous aspects of this book. I was able to receive this book through Netgalley and I chose it because it was a cozy mystery. This is one of the genres I wanted to read more of this year. I’m glad I requested this. It didn’t disappoint.

The author has all the makings of a great cozy mystery. A great sleuth, Poppy, who works for the county doing food inspections. A crazy mother-in-law who lives it up and wants Poppy to buy clothing with color. Somehow their shopping trip never does transpire. Poppy is also juggling an ex-boyfriend and a current boyfriend, and as with other cozies, this definitely provides for some interesting times. Then there are the neighbors, John With and John Without, a hilarious gay couple. She is staying with them due to renovations on her own home because of an incident in the first book. This book had a lot of characters, not too many to keep track of, but enough to add laughter and spice.

This is the second book in the series. The first book is a free download from Amazon right now. I will definitely go back and read that book in the near future. I think it will definitely fill in some of the gaps with history I didn’t understand with the relationships of the characters in this book.

I think the author has great series. The only thing that is disappointing to me is I have to wait for another book.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher Midnight Ink via Netgalley.

What to Read Next?
Another humorous cozy mystery series is Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Again, I am waiting for the next release in this series. Ugh!