Review & Giveaway: THE QUEEN OF SECOND CHANCES by D.M. Barr

Time for a change of pace. Instead of my usual fare (mysteries), as part of a blog tour organized by Providence Book Promotions, I recently dove into recently released sweet romance – The Queen of Second Chances.

About the Book

Carra’s memoir-writing class teaches seniors to resolve the regrets of their past. But to win over elder attorney Jay, will she follow her own advice? Carraway (Carra) Quinn is a free-spirited English major confronting an unreceptive job market. Desperate for cash, she reluctantly agrees to her realtor stepmother’s marketing scheme: infiltrate a local senior center as a recreational aide, ingratiate herself with the members, and convince them to sell their homes. Jay Prentiss is a straitlaced, overprotective elder attorney whose beloved but mentally fragile Nana attends that center. More creative than mercenary, Carra convinces Jay to finance innovations to the Center’s antiquated programming. Her ingenuity injects new enthusiasm among the seniors, inspiring them to confront and reverse the regrets of their past. An unlikely romance develops. But when Carra’s memoir-writing class prompts Jay’s Nana to skip town in search of a lost love, the two take off on a cross-country, soul-searching chase that will either deepen their relationship or tear them apart forever.

My Review

A fun read. I really liked Carra and could relate to her efforts to find her own way, despite the real pressures she faces to do what she knows would be wrong. Jay would seem to be an odd match for her – older and much more sophisticated – except once you get to know him, you can see how there might be potential. For one thing, they seem to both love puns, which add a light tone to their banter. As befitting any good romance, the attraction is mutual; then there a few misunderstandings and obstacles that threaten to derail their relationship… until the happy ending. Overall, an entertaining, very punny light escape.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance reader copy as a part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of this review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win $10 gift card from the author.

About the Author

By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, competitive trivia player and author groupie, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire.

My background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And I needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which I have no idea since they won’t friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy.

The main thing to remember about my work is that I am NOT one of my characters. For example, as a real estate broker, I’ve never played Bondage Bingo in one of my empty listings or offed anyone at my local diet clinic. And I haven’t run away from home in fear that my husband was planning to off me.

But that’s not to say that I haven’t wanted to…

Find the Author Online:

DMBarr.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @DMBarr
Twitter – @AuthorDMBarr
Facebook – @AuthorDMBarr
Instagram – @AuthorDMBarr

Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

Visit the tour page for an excerpt, author interviews, and more reviews.

Review & Giveaway: WITH NEIGHBORS LIKE THESE by Linda Lovely

As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime, I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance review copy of Linda Lovely’s latest release – With Neighbors Like These (An HOA Mystery)

About the Book

MANAGING AN HOA IS MURDER…

He championed shooting deer inside the HOA’s nature sanctuary. Now his corpse is posed curbside, cradling a trophy deer head. The theatrical murder panics residents, and Ted Welch asks Kylee Kane, retired Coast Guard investigator, to help his HOA management firm calm fears. Kylee agrees. Her own mother is getting death threats over her crusade to protect the deer.

HOA=DOA TERROR REIGNS…

When a belligerent owner in another HOA is murdered, terror reigns. The Sheriff’s Department blames Ted for letting HOA feuds spiral into homicide. Kylee discovers links between the victims and suspects a recently-pardoned general is next. Authorities and the arrogant general dismiss her warning. Can she foil the third act in the crafty killer’s death-as-theater game or will she be the next corpse on display?

My Review

Intrigue abounds in the world of Home Owners Associations, with all their rules and regulations and the self-appointed rule enforcers – real-life in deed-restricted developments, that is except for the puzzling and bizarre murders and attacks. With Ted’s business and Kylee’s mom at risk, the two team up to launch their own investigation. Ted and Kylee make a good pair, they complement each other in many ways, and I enjoyed watching them grow closer. The underlying plot was an interesting one, and unique. The author did a great job with the alternating narrative, giving us insight into the killer’s thinking without hinting at the killer’s identify. Overall, I found it to be a well-written, nicely paced mystery.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of this book. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card from the author.

About the Author

A journalism major in college, Linda Lovely has spent most of her career working in PR and advertising—an early introduction to penning fiction. With Neighbors Like These is Lovely’s ninth mystery/suspense novel. Whether she’s writing cozy mysteries, historical suspense or contemporary thrillers, her novels share one common element—smart, independent heroines. Humor and romance also sneak into every manuscript. Her work has earned nominations for a number of prestigious awards, ranging from RWA’s Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense to Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion for Best Cozy Mystery. A long-time member of Sisters in Crime and former chapter president, Lovely also belongs to International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For many years, she helped organize the Writers’ Police Academy. She lives on a lake in Upstate South Carolina with her husband, and enjoys swimming, tennis, gardening, long walks, and, of course, reading.

Catch up with the author:

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Visit the tour page at Partners in Crime for reviews, author interviews and more.

Review & Giveaway: DRAW AND ORDER by Cheryl Hollon

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to let you know about Draw and Order (A Paint & Shine Mystery) by Cheryl Hollon, which released last week.

About the Book

Appalachian artist and local guide Miranda Trent opens a new murder investigation after her Paint & Shine tour group discovers the remains of a missing hiker along an ancient trail . . .

For her latest excursion, Miranda is thrilled to take a close-knit group of rock climbers, the Risky Business Adventurers, up the challenging Battleship Rock Trail to paint and sample moonshine. But the outing is cut short when they discover a skeleton near the trailhead. Even more startling, the bones belong to Howard Cable, Miranda’s cousin…and a former classmate of the Risky Business group.

The sheriff chalks it up to a hiking accident, but Miranda isn’t convinced that Howard, an experienced woodsman, died within sight of a well-marked trail. So, with the help of Ranger Austin Morgan, Miranda sets out on her own investigation and discovers that the Risky Business group is keeping plenty of secrets. But is one of them hiding the truth about Howard’s death?

My Review

Miranda is an artist living in the process of establishing a distillery on the farm she inherited. She works hard to get what she wants, even in the face of setbacks. She seems to have a great relationship with her mom. Her new business – Paint & Shine – is the perfect way for her to combine her two loves – art and moonshine. And spend lots of time out on the trails with her art students. When her cousin’s body is found during one such outing, Miranda is eager to figure out what happened and, with Austin’s help, pursues her own investigatation, which has the added benefit of bringing them together more often. The plot unfolds at a steady pace, in the process exposing readers to a taste of life in rural Kentucky, its people, and its folklore. Sounds like a cool place to visit.

A well-written, enjoyable. cozy mystery.

FTC disclosure: I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for you chance to win a print copy of Draw and Order (US only) from the author.

About the Author

Cheryl Hollon now writes full-time after she left an engineering career of designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind her house in St. Petersburg, Florida, Cheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass, and painted glass artworks.

Visit her online at http://cherylhollon.com, on Facebook or on Twitter @CherylHollon.

Purchase Links: Amazon    B&N    Kobo     Google Play  IndieBound 

Visit the tour page for more reviews, guest posts, and more.

Review: THE BONE CODE by Kathy Reichs

This week marks the release of a new book from Kathy Reichs featuring my favorite forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan Novel. Of course, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to read an ARC of The Bone Code when it became available on Net Galley.

Description*

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs returns with her twentieth gripping novel featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, whose examinations, fifteen years apart, of unidentified bodies ignite a terrifying series of events.

On the way to hurricane-ravaged Isle of Palms, a barrier island off the South Carolina coast, Tempe receives a call from the Charleston coroner. The storm has tossed ashore a medical waste container. Inside are two decomposed bodies wrapped in plastic sheeting and bound with electrical wire. Tempe recognizes many of the details as identical to those of an unsolved case she handled in Quebec years earlier. With a growing sense of foreboding, she travels to Montreal to gather evidence.

Meanwhile, health authorities in South Carolina become increasingly alarmed as a human flesh-eating contagion spreads. So focused is Tempe on identifying the container victims that, initially, she doesn’t register how their murders and the pestilence may be related. But she does recognize one unsettling fact. Someone is protecting a dark secret—and willing to do anything to keep it hidden.

An absorbing look at the sinister uses to which genetics can be put, and featuring a cascade of ever-more-shocking revelations, The Bone Code is Temperance Brennan’s most astonishing case yet—one that gives new meaning to today’s headlines.

* Description as appears on Amazon.

My Review

Unlike the previous book in this series, the focus this time was mostly on the case and less on character development. The original, highly complex plot of this book features events spanning miles and years – and an investigation into what most would seem to be distinct cases, if it weren’t for Tempe’s gut telling her otherwise. True to form, she is like a dog with a bone and insists the two cases must be related. Sub- and side-plots, including a strange request from an elderly twin, add to the intrigue. Although it started out a bit slow, the pace picked up as the story built. Strange coincidences and unpredictable twists made for an interesting and enjoyable read.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This has not affected the content of this review.

Click here to read my review of A Conspiracy of Bones.

Review: THE LOST GREAT DANE by B.L. Blair

As part of a virtual tour organized by RABT Book Tours and PR, I recently read The Lost Great Dane by B.L.Blair. A novella-lengthy cozy mystery, it is the first in six tales in the Lost and Found Pets Mystery Series.

About the Book

The Lost Great Dane is the first novella in the Lost and Found Pets series. Alexandra Prescott is a licensed private investigator specializing in finding missing animals. Reuniting pet and owner is more than just a job.

While looking for a lost cat, Alex finds a weak and injured Great Dane. The dog has no collar, no tags, and no microchip. And the only person looking for him is a man who might have murdered his own wife.

Within 24 hours, Alex has a hunted dog, a cryptic message, and a hitman after her. She realizes the only way out of this mess is to solve the mystery of the lost Great Dane.

My Review

This is an enjoyable cozy mystery. Alex has found her niche in focusing her investigative skills on cases involving lost pets. She is observant and has good instincts. The mystery itself was interesting, though not truly riveting. It was interesting to follow her efforts as she puzzles through the clues and rooted out the truth. I also enjoyed seeing how she handled interactions with an old flame. And I really liked her relationship with her elderly neighbor.

Great light reading likely to please fans of the genre.

FTC disclosure: I received a review copy of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

B. L. Blair writes mystery/romance stories. Like most authors, she has been writing most of her life and has dozens of books started. She just needs the time to finish them.

She is the author of the Leah Norwood Mysteries and the Lost and Found Pets Mystery Novellas. She loves reading books, writing books, and traveling wherever and as often as time and money allows. She is currently working on her latest book set in Texas, where she lives with her family.

Contact Links

Purchase Links

Vist the tour page for additional reviews, guest posts, interviews and more.

Review: DEAD SPRINT by Caroline Fardig

I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Dead Sprint, the third book in the Ellie Matthews series by Caroline Fardig. A traditional/police procedural mystery, Dead Sprint released earlier this week.

Description

Criminalist Ellie Matthews has turned over a new leaf. For the first time in her life, she’s working on herself and putting the past behind her with the encouragement of the new man she’s seeing, FBI Agent Vic Manetti.

Her first attempt at competitive running is cut short when a woman is found dead along the trail. At first, the case seems to be open and shut. But when a gruesome photo of the victim goes viral, tagged with a chilling caption threatening more violence, Ellie must delve into the mind of a deranged killer to get to the truth.

Though Ellie’s relationship with Detective Nick Baxter has been strained to its breaking point, the two find themselves teaming up once again in a race to bring down the killer before he takes another life.

My Review

Ellie Matthews is a likable character. She takes on challenges and faces her personal struggles without flinching. At least, not much. And she is smart and gutsy. The mystery pulls you in early on, and the crisp writing holds your attention. As fitting the genre, as the story progresses, a myriad of suspects and motives emerge and the plot takes twists and turns en route to a satisfying resolution.

A great choice for fans of traditional mysteries – well written and fast paced from start to finish.

Note: Although this can definitely be read as a standalone, I suspect I might have to go back and read the first two for added insight into the evolution of Ellie’s relationships with both Nick and Vic.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book from the author. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About the Author

Caroline Fardig is the USA Today Bestselling Author of over a dozen mystery novels. Fardig’s BAD MEDICINE was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, coffeehouse owner, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Follow Caroline at:

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Review & Giveaway: THE HASIDIC REBBE’S SON by Joan Lipinsky Cochran

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read an advance review copy of The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son (A Becks Ruchinsky Mystery) by Joan Lipinsky Cochran.

About the Book

Boca Raton reporter Becks Ruchinsky is stunned when her son, Gabe, brings an ultra-Orthodox friend home from college and asks her to hide him. Six days later, his body is found floating in a canal. When police deem his death an accident, Becks launches her own inquiry—a journey that takes her from secretive Hasidic enclaves to the seedy underbelly of South Beach’s glitzy club scene—to find his killer. What she discovers jeopardizes her son’s life and challenges her religious conviction.

The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son is an intriguing and compulsively readable mystery that contrasts the beauty of Hasidic tradition with the unbending rules that may lead to desperation and murder.

This book is available on Amazon.

My Review

Becks is an independent-spirted, obstinate woman. Her natural curiousity and background in journalism lend to her pursuit of the truth regarding the young man’s death. She is unwilling to relent despite her husband’s opposition, which is but one of the issues in their troubled relationship. Her son, Gabe, suffers from Asperger’s, and the challenges he and his family face are highlighted as part of the story. At the same time, her investigation brings with it insights into the widely divergent levels of religious observance practiced by Jews in different communities, and an interesting glimpse into some of the unique aspects of the Hasidic world.

The story is both well-written and well-paced. The plot became increasingly complex as Becks gathered more and more information on Mennie’s family, friends, and overall background, with the resolution something of a surprise.

A good choice for readers who enjoy mysteries or Jewish fiction in general.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a digital copy of The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son from the author.

About the Author

Joan Lipinsky Cochran is a South Florida-based writer whose crime and mystery novels focus on subcultures of American Judaism. In her latest novel, The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son, her protagonist is compelled to explore the glitzy South Beach nightclub scene and the secretive world of Hasidic Judaism to find a killer. It is the second in The Becks Ruchinsky Mystery Series. The first, The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter, is the story of a woman whose world is upended – and life threatened – when she discovers her father was a member of the Jewish mafia.

Author Links

Review: WIN by Harlan Coben

Earlier this month, Harlan Coben’s latest mystery/thriller was released. A fan of the author’s earlier work, I was eager to read WIN and am happy to share my review with you today.

Description*

Over twenty years ago, the heiress Patricia Lockwood was abducted during a robbery of her family’s estate, then locked inside an isolated cabin for months. Patricia escaped, but so did her captors — and the items stolen from her family were never recovered. 

Until now. On the Upper West Side, a recluse is found murdered in his penthouse apartment, alongside two objects of note: a stolen Vermeer painting and a leather suitcase bearing the initials WHL3. For the first time in years, the authorities have a lead — not only on Patricia’s kidnapping, but also on another FBI cold case — with the suitcase and painting both pointing them toward one man.

Windsor Horne Lockwood III — or Win, as his few friends call him — doesn’t know how his suitcase and his family’s stolen painting ended up with a dead man. But his interest is piqued, especially when the FBI tells him that the man who kidnapped his cousin was also behind an act of domestic terrorism — and that the conspirators may still be at large. The two cases have baffled the FBI for decades, but Win has three things the FBI doesn’t: a personal connection to the case; an ungodly fortune; and his own unique brand of justice. 

* as appears on Amazon

My Review

In this novel, the story is told from the point of view of Win Lockwood, an enigmatic character who emerges from the shadows in several of this author’s Myron Bolitar novels, however whose backstory was never divulged. Win is a complex character – his violent nature and the liberties he takes in dispensing his idea of justice counter the traditional sense of what a good guy is. How can identify with a protagonist who has a thirst for violence, who leverages his wealth and social standing to get what he wants? Well, somehow as the story unfolds and we learn about his family and their past, and we view his actions on the backdrop of persons whose crimes and propensity for cruelty are truly unfathomable, our perspective shifts a bit. This book is all the multi-faceted Win – the good and the bad, the violent and the benevolent, and made for a fascinating read. The plot was fast-paced, with surprising twists and a healthy dose of tension that kept those pages turning.

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Review & Giveaway: THE INFLUENCER by Frankie Bow

As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read the most recent release from Frankie Bow – The Influencer, A Professor Molly Mystery. A nice choice for fans of cozy mysteries.

About the Book

In Which Professor Molly Learns There Is, In Fact, Such a Thing as Bad Publicity

It’s spring break. Donnie’s taken the baby to visit relatives on the mainland, and Professor Molly finally has time to catch up on the assessment paperwork she owes the Student Retention Office.

Molly’s new renter is a social media star seeking privacy in remote Mahina. The arrangement seems to be working out–until her celebrity renter disappears. Molly and her best friend Emma dutifully call in the Mahina PD and try to stay out of the way. But when fame creates its own reality distortion field, everyone has an angle and nothing is as it seems.

My Review

In this latest installment in the series, Professor Molly and best friend and partner-in-crime, Emma, are eager to help figure out what happened to a prominent social media influencer. Helped out by Pat and his new sidekick, Howdy, the team comes up with theories, which inevitable require revisions, as new details are revealed en route to the mystery’s revolution. The characters are well-defined, and include Molly’s old nemesis from the Student Retention Office. That said, I was at times distracted from the story by Emma’s frequent use of local dialect. The plot moved along at a steady pace, with just enough twists to keep curious readers on their toes.
Overall, this is a pleasant and well-written read for cozy mystery fans.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of The Influencer (Professor Molly Mysteries) by Frankie Bow. 

About the Author

AuthorPhoto

Like Professor Molly, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining. In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.

Author Links 

Purchase Links:
Amazon     B&N      Rakuten/Kobo      Angus & Robertson      Apple 

For more reviews, guest posts, and more, visit the tour page.

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: DEAD IN A DUMPSTER by B.L. Blair

As part of a blog tour organized by RABT Book Tours, I recently read Dead in a Dumpster by B.L. Blair. Although it’s not a new release, this was my first time reading anything by this author.

About the Book

When Leah Norwood finds the body of Isabel Meeks in the dumpster behind her store, she can’t believe the police consider her a suspect. Sure, she didn’t like Isabel, but then again, neither did anyone else. Isabel had a condescending attitude and a bad reputation. As manager of the antique store, Patina, she had made a lot of enemies.

There is Patina’s assistant manager, the handsome and charming Trent. Isabel was blackmailing him. There is Patina’s owner, the aloof and influential Anthony Thorpe. Isabel was smuggling drugs through his store. And there is the entire drug dealing Cantono family. Isabel had lost a box containing heroin from one of their shipments. That is just to name a few and didn’t even include the stranger who was seen arguing with Isabel just hours before her death.

The police have too many suspects and too many soft alibis. Leah needs to prove to the sexy new chief of police that she had nothing to do with Isabel’s death.

Leah loves a good mystery. Can she find the killer before the police arrest her for murder?

My Review

Leah Norwood runs a small shop in a quaint town. She is a likable character with a more than healthy dose of curiosity and some great friends. Ironically, she’s more afraid she’ll be accused of murder than she is of the “bad guys” in the story. The tone of the writing was light, with Leah telling you the story as if you are one of her friends. A friend who doesn’t mind when she repeats herself. The plot was interesting, well paced at start and toward the end, however this reader found the middle a bit longwinded. A pleasant first in what promises to be a nice cozy series.

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Read an Excerpt

It was a quarter to eight before I was finally ready to leave. I went to the bathroom, gathered up the trash, and headed out the door. The sleet was still falling, and I could feel the ice pellets hitting my head. I hurried over to the dumpster setting the trash down by the bin. I pulled back the large lid and propped it against the brick wall. As I reached down for the trash, I saw something out of the corner of my eye.

I looked into the dumpster and saw Isabel Meeks staring back at me. It took my brain a few moments to determine she wasn’t actually looking at me but sitting perfectly still, eyes wide open, a surprised look on her face, and a huge bloodstain on her chest. I had never seen a dead body outside of a funeral so I did what any rational, mature human being would do. I screamed. I then turned and ran as fast as I could back to the store. I fumbled with the lock a moment but finally managed to get the door open. I even disabled the alarm before stumbling to my chair. I sat there shaking and staring at the door trying to process the scene. An image of Isabel flashed into my head, and I bolted from my chair and to the bathroom where I promptly lost my lunch.

Still a little shaky and somewhat nauseated, I rinsed out my mouth and walked back to the chair. I don’t know why it took me so long, but it finally occurred to me that I probably needed to tell someone. So for the second time that day, I reached for my phone to call the police.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for you chance to win an Amazon gift card from the author.

About the Author

B. L. Blair writes mystery/romance stories. Like most authors, she has been writing most of her life and has dozens of books started. She just needs the time to finish them.

She is the author of the Leah Norwood Mysteries and the Lost and Found Pets Mystery Novellas. She loves reading books, writing books, and traveling wherever and as often as time and money allows. She is currently working on her latest book set in Texas, where she lives with her family.

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