Review: BRING HER HOME by David Bell

Last year I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Since She Went Away by David Bell, so I was quick to snap up a pre-release copy of the author’s latest book, Bring Her Home. Besides, it has such a lovely cover.

About the Book (from Amazon)

51unob9ncblJust a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family…

My Review

Bill Price is a first and foremost a father who is worried about his daughter. As a parent, I get that. Nonetheless, his character was hard to relate to at times. He is quick to make assumptions about people and events, without evidence and without taking time to consider all the possibilities. This leads him to act rashly, interfering at times with the police investigation. I really liked his sister, Paige, who comes to stay with him and offer moral support. She has good instincts, she is sensible, and helps balance out his somewhat erratic behavior.

The plot is intricate, with an abundance  twists and turns.  Although some of the twists were unexpected, I found a few to be quite predictable.  Some aspects of the story lacked credibility, nonetheless, the novel was definitely intriguing enough to hold my attention to the very end.  Like Bill, I had to know what had happened to Summer.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary ARC of this book from NetGalley.  This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Review & Giveaway: APPOINTMENT WITH ISIL by Joe Giordano

Italy Book Tours Logo in colour

As part of a blog tour organized by Italy Book Tours,  I recently read Appointment with ISIL a new thriller by Joe Giordano.

ApptwithISIL_cover.pngDescription

An Anthony Provati Literary Thriller 

This time, Anthony’s libido threatens his life. Anthony Provati flirts with Russian mob boss, Gorgon Malakhov’s mistress. The Russian deals in death. ISIL, the Islamic State in the Levant, wants the product. Russian Intelligence supplies the means, and an art theft funds the scheme.

ISIL’s targets are chilling. The chase across the Mediterranean is on. Can Anthony thwart ISIL? Will he survive?

My Review

Anthony is a piano player and a nice guy, but his better judgment goes out the window whenever he is confronted with a beautiful woman. He is ill-equipped to cope with the threats of a seasoned Russian mobster, and soon finds himself in the unlikely role of unofficial investigator as he tries to keep himself and the women he loves safe.  The course of events brings him in to the middle of conflicts between Italian, Colombian, Jewish, and Russian mobsters.

The author has created a somewhat disturbing scenario where Russian mobsters help ISIL prepare for a major terrorist attack.  Disturbing not because of the details, disturbing because it strikes home with respect to the threat from terror faced around the world today.  Anthony is not a spy or a government agent he happens on the details and does his best to pass the info on to the relevant authorities  with predicable and unpredictable results.  Spanning four continents and multiple cultures, Appointment with ISIL was an interesting read.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary ARC of this book. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of Appointment with ISIL.

About the Author

Joe GiordanoJoe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. He and his wife, Jane, have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas.

Joe’s stories have appeared in more than ninety magazines including The Monarch Review, The Saturday Evening Post, decomP, The Summerset Review, and Shenandoah. His novel, Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story, was published by Harvard Square Editions October 2015. His second novel, Appointment with ISIL, an Anthony Provati Thriller was recently released by HSE.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest

Review: HER IMAGINARY HUSBAND by Lia London

Looking to escape into a non-mystery book for a change of pace, I recently read “Her Imaginary Husband,” a sweet romantic comedy by Lia London.

ImaginaryHusbandDescription (from Amazon)

New teacher, Nikki Fallon, is trying to ward off the lecherous attention of Coach Carlin. She should
a) slap him silly.
b) report him for harassment. 
c) invent an imaginary husband.

Nikki opts for “C” and is not prepared for how the plan backfires! Sure, pretending you’re married to get rid of a jerk is fine, but what if a really nice guy comes along? How can she untangle the web of lies before true love passes her by?

My Review

Delightful, fun read. Nikki is a young and energetic teacher with a positive attitude, who manages to connect with her students.  She is also inexperienced, and not just with respect to teaching.  As a result,  Nikki digs herself into a hole with one spur of the moment lie.  A whopper.  Like in any good romance novel, the end is not a surprise  but the journey Nikki takes on the road to finding love made for an enjoyable, laugh out loud read.   This was my first time reading anything by this author; it won’t be the last.

Review & Giveaway: NO TURNING BACK by Tracy Buchanan

NO-TURNING-BACK-large-banner324

As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read No Turning Back – a thriller by Tracy Buchanan.

Description

NoTurningBackAnna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

My Review

A popular radio presenter in a coastal town in the UK, Anna reacts to an unexpected attack like a lion defending her cub. Instinct. Plain and simple. But the reactions of the people around her are not so simple. Anna soon becomes the target of unwanted attention from fans and detractors alike, as well as from someone claiming to be a serial killer.  The narrative mostly reflects Anna’s point of view, interspersed with first-person passages representing the killer’s thoughts. I found it to be an engaging read, with many twists as Anna learns more about local and family history.  Although the identity of the “Ophelia Killer” came as a surprise to me and the pieces fit together in the end, the killer and the killer’s motivation didn’t entirely mesh with my sense of the culprit’s character.  If you enjoy thrillers, you might want to add this to your TBR list.

Content advisory: This is not a “clean” read — it does include some strong language and graphic violence.

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 in any way. 

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win a print copy of No Turning Back.

TracyBuchananAbout the Author

Tracy Buchanan lives in the UK with her husband, their little girl and their one-eyed Jack Russell. Buchanan traveled extensively while working as a travel magazine editor and has always been drawn to the sea after spending her childhood holidays on the coast visiting family–a fascination that inspires her writing. She now dedicates her time to writing and procrastinating on Twitter.

Author Links

Purchase Links
Amazon  B&N   IndieBound

Review & Giveaway: UNCORKING A LIE by Nadine Nettmann

As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Free Virtual Book Tours,  I recently read Uncorking a Lie (A Sommelier Mystery) by Nadine Nettmann.

UNCORKING-A-LIEDescription

It was the kind of invitation Katie Stillwell had only dreamed about: a dinner party at the Sonoma mansion of famed wine collector Paul Rafferty to celebrate a rare bottle of wine. Everyone enjoys drinking the $19,000 wine, but Katie realizes it’s not the older vintage listed on the label. When she confides in Mr. Rafferty, he asks her to investigate, and she soon discovers the deception goes beyond money. As Katie falls deeper into the world of counterfeit wine, she learns everything is at stake―even her life.

My Review

Having read the first book in this series, I enjoyed getting reacquainted with Katie.  She is a dedicated wine lover, who seeks to advance to the highest level of sommelier accreditation.  And she is smart and determined in her pursuit of the truth about the wine and the suspicious death of a friend.  At the same time, she is impulsive and somewhat reckless.  The underlying plot is engaging, with multiple suspects and a plot that comes together nicely in the end.  A pleasant read, easily enjoyed by lovers of wine and mystery.

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 in any way. 

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win a print copy of Uncorking a Lie.

About the Author

Nadine Nettmann, a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, is always on the lookout for great wines and the stories behind them. She has traveled to wine regions around the world including Chile, South Africa, Spain, Germany, and every region in France. When she’s not visiting wine regions or dreaming up new mysteries, her travel articles have appeared in AAA Hawaii, New Mexico Journey, Modern Luxury Hawaii, and Inspirato. Nadine is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. She lives in California with her husband.

Author Links 

Purchase Links
Amazon  B&N 

Review & Giveaway: A GOOD DAY TO BUY by Sherry Harris

a-good-day-to-buy-large-banner448

As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Free Virtual Book Tours,  I recently had the pleasure of reading A Good Day to Buy,  the fourth book in the Sarah W. Garage Sale Mystery series by Sherry Harris.

Description

A-GOOD-DAY-TO-BUYHER BROTHER IS NO BARGAIN
When Sarah Winston’s estranged brother Luke shows up on her doorstep, asking her not to tell anyone he’s in town—especially her ex, the chief of police—the timing is strange, to say the least. Hours earlier, Sarah’s latest garage sale was taped off as a crime scene following the discovery of a murdered Vietnam vet and his gravely injured wife—her clients, the Spencers.

BUT IS HE A KILLER?
All Luke will tell Sarah is that he’s undercover, investigating a story. Before she can learn more, he vanishes as suddenly as he appeared. Rummaging through his things for a clue to his whereabouts, Sarah comes upon a list of veterans and realizes that to find her brother, she’ll have to figure out who killed Mr. Spencer. And all without telling her ex…

My Review

Sarah is an energetic and independent woman, and she is determined to figure out what happened to the home owner at the garage sale she ran that weekend.  With the unexpected appearance of her brother, she is torn between her loyalty to Luke and unanswered questions about his past, and present for that matter. I liked Sarah. She is relentless in her search for the truth – both regarding Mr. Spencer’s murder and Luke’s connection to him. Military service and veterans, and tales of base life lent a unique aspect to this otherwise typical cozy mystery.  It was an enjoyable read, with plenty of suspects, interesting plot twists and a satisfying resolution.

Note:  Although this is fourth in series, it can be read as a standalone. (I haven’t read the previous books.)

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 in any way. 

Giveaway

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Good Day to Buy from Sherry Harris.

About The Author

Agatha award nominated author, Sherry Harris, started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series.

Author Links:

Purchase Links:  Amazon  B&N   IndieBound

Review & Giveaways: DIAL P FOR POISON by Zara Keane

DIAL-P-FOR-POISON-large-banner448

As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read Dial P for Poison, a fun cozy mystery  by Zara Keane.

Description

1_Movie_Club_Mystery1000x1500Movies. Muffins. Murder.

Maggie Doyle moved to Ireland to escape her cheating ex and crumbling career in the San Francisco PD. When the most hated woman on Whisper Island is poisoned at her aunt’s Movie Theater Café, Maggie and her rock-hard muffins are hurled into the investigation.

With the help of her UFO-enthusiast friend, a nun, and a feral puppy, Maggie is determined to clear her aunt’s name. Can she catch the murderer before they strike again? Or will her terrible baking skills burn down the café first?

Cozy, quirky, and fun, this tongue-in-cheek mystery is a delicious introduction to the Movie Club Mysteries Series. Grab a cocktail and join Maggie as she takes her detective skills across the pond in Dial P For Poison.

My Review

Maggie is a fun character. She has traveled to Ireland for some emotional R&R only to find herself investigating a murder.  Once a cop, always a cop – even if she doesn’t have authority in the lovely Irish town.  She can’t sit by and let her aunt be accused of murder.  She is persistent and smart, and she’s confused about her feelings toward some of the locals she knew as a teen.  The plot is interesting, and the story unfolds at a steady pace with a touch of humor and romantic suspense thrown in for good measure.  All in all, a well-written and enjoyable cozy mystery.

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 in any way. 

Giveaways

Yes, that’s right. Two separate giveaways.

  1. For a chance to win a box of 4 paperback cozy mysteries, 1 signed copy of Zara Keane’s ‘Dial P For Poison’, and a $100 Amazon.com gift certificate, click here to enter the Movie Club Mysteries Launch Giveaway!
  2. Leave a comment on this blog post for a change to win an  e-copy (Amazon) of Dial P for Poison.

About the Author

zaraUSA Today bestselling author Zara Keane grew up in Dublin, Ireland, and spent her summers in a small town similar to the fictional Smuggler’s Cove, the setting of her new cozy mystery series.

She currently lives in Switzerland with her family. When she’s not writing or wrestling small people, she drinks far too much coffee, and tries – with occasional success – to resist the siren call of Swiss chocolate.

Author Links:

Review: DOUBLE WHAMMY by Gretchen Archer

I recently found a new series to add to my favorites list. Well, considering the first in Gretchen Archer’s A Davis Way Crime Caper series came out in 2013, it’s not really a new series – but it was new to me.

I started the series from the first book – Double Whammy.

Description (from Amazon)

51hbymnebmlDavis Way thinks she’s hit the jackpot when she lands a job as the fifth wheel on an elite security team at the fabulous Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. But once there, she runs straight into her ex-ex-husband, a rigged slot machine, her evil twin, and a trail of dead bodies. Davis learns the truth and it does not set her free—in fact, it lands her in the pokey. Buried under a mistaken identity, her hot streak runs cold until her landlord Bradley Cole steps in. Make that her landlord, lawyer, and love interest. With his help, Davis must win this high stakes game before her luck runs out.

My Review

I loved this book.  It was a fun read that necessitated I suppress my laughter so as not to disturb my husband’s sleep in the early hours of the morning.  The story is told from Davis’s point of view  with a great deal of candor.  She is smart, but she has made a lot of stupid moves in the past, and she knows it.  She gets herself into trouble. A lot. Still she somehow manages to come through unscathed.  And the author leveraged the casino setting to create  quirky characters and absurd situations.  The plot is interesting and the culprits remain a mystery until almost the end.  Is the storyline entirely believable? No. But that didn’t detract from my enjoyment one bit.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book free of charge. This has not affected the content of my review.

About the Series

The Davis Way Crime Caper series includes:

Review: TRUDY, MADLY, DEEPLY by Wendy Delaney

I recently curled up and read Trudy, Madly, Deeply, the first of Wendy Delaney’s Working Stiffs mysteries.  Released in 2015, it is the first book in what has blossomed into a four-book series.

TrulyDescription (from Amazon)

After human lie detector Charmaine Digby scores a job as the County Coroner’s new investigative assistant, the unthinkable happens—a doctor reports the suspicious death of Trudy, a family friend and one of several elderly patients at the hospital whose heart mysteriously stopped.

With no physical evidence of foul play, Char’s on the case, much to the irritation of Detective Steve Sixkiller, who doesn’t want her to stick her pretty nose for trouble in his investigation. But she’s a woman on a mission to uncover the truth, and she’d better keep her eyes open or the next body on the way to the morgue could be hers.

My Review

In this entertaining cozy mystery, a recent divorcee is starting over – in both her career and her personal life. Trudy is thrilled about landing a job at the Coroner’s office, and plans to put her lie detection skills to good use.  When she gets wind of a rash of suspicious deaths involving the elderly, she is relentless in her efforts to find out what’s happening.  Trudy is quick to jump to conclusions, but quick to change her mind when the evidence proves her wrong, again and again, until she figures out who is actually responsible. A fairly fast-paced plot, with elements of flirtation and budding romance, make this a fun and somewhat humorous read.

Review & Giveaway: OLD BONES NEVER DIE by Lesley A. Diehl

old-bones-never-die-large-banner448.jpg

As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Free Virtual Book Tours,  I recently had the pleasure of reading Old Bones Never Die,  the fifth book in the Eve Appel Mystery series.  It was my first time reading a book by this author; it probably won’t be the last.

Description

old-bones-never-dieJust before Walter Egret is killed in a hit-and-run, he phoned his half-brother Sammy to report that he’d unearthed their missing father’s pocket watch, along with a pile of human bones. The project is put on hold until it can be determined if the site is an Indian burial ground. Then the bones disappear.

Now Sammy and his brother’s three orphaned children want Eve Appel to go pro, applying her innate snoopiness to the trade of private investigator.

Eve already has her hands full with her two consignment stores. What is she going to do? Sammy and Walter are Miccosukee Indians, and Walter was employed as a backhoe operator on a construction site for a sportsmen’s resort. Was Walter’s death murder or an accident? If the bones belong to Sammy’s father, how did they get there? Delving into these mysteries, Eve is aided by her usual crew of friends and family. This adventure will not only up the stakes for Eve as an investigator, but it will also open her eyes to life possibilities she never imagined.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book. I found Eve to be likable, spunky and determined and she is surrounded by an amazingly diverse cast of family and friends, including an energetic and loving grandmother,  her Native American friends and romantic interest, to a Mafia mob boss, and a close friend who happens to be a police officer. And they all rally around to help her solve the case. It was a light, fast moving read, with enough suspense to keep you turning the pages. The solution to the mystery was not predictable (always a plus), and the story came to a satisfying solution. I also enjoyed the glimpse into Miccosukee heritage and the descriptions of  Southern Florida, with its swamps, weather and wildlife. And kudos to the author for the subtle education of readers regarding issues surrounding construction and Native American burial grounds.

Note: Although this book is part of a series, it can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone. This was my first time reading anything by this author.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of this blog tour.  This has not affected the content of my review in any way. 

Old Bones Don’t Die is available on Amazon.
(An excerpt appears near the end of this post.)

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win your choice of any one of the Eve Appel books (ebook) from the author.

About the Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.   

Connect with Lesley:

An Excerpt from Old Bones Never Die

Prologue
The morning air was cold, but once the sun rose over the levee, its heat penetrated the construction site and brought with it the humidity of south central Florida. The backhoe operator paused to remove his sweatshirt and push his thick, black hair away from his face, then moved the levers of the machine forward so that the mouth of the bucket opened, showing its large metal teeth. Another move of the lever lowered the bucket. The teeth bit into the black dirt of the Big Lake basin.

The operator felt the assessing gaze of the foreman, who stood at the side of the pit, his hardhat pushed back on his forehead. New to the job, Walter Egret was skilled, but he knew he’d been hired by the company against the foreman’s wishes. As a Miccosukee, his work would be scrutinized more closely than that of others employed by Coastal Development Company and its construction arm, Gator Way. The foreman’s constant surveillance bothered him, but not as much as the feeling that someone else watched him from the cover of the sabal palms that stood at the edge of the property. He’d felt a shadowy presence there for several days. It was probably nothing, but today he would take a walk over to the trees during his lunch break.

This land now being readied for a sportsman’s retreat had once belonged to his people, but legal maneuvering by slick lawyers deeded it away from the tribe into the developers’ hands. Walter didn’t like to think about that too much. Being a backhoe operator was a job, a way for him to support his three boys. He dumped the bucket of dirt and maneuvered the machine back to bite the earth again. This time the bucket picked up debris lighter colored than the soil. Probably some buried tree limbs, he thought, halting the rise of the bucket. Huh. Looked like bones from some animal, maybe a cow. Lotta bones.

Continue reading