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: 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

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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

Review: THE CUTAWAY by Christina Kovac

Change of pace today.  I recently had the pleasure of reading an ARC of The Cutaway by Christina Kovac – a very well written novel set in one of my favorite cities – Washington, D.C.

Description (from Amazon)

51aosxjiyulWhen brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

My Review

Wow. I really enjoyed this book. Virginia is a journalist and her curiosity and  determination to seek the truth are natural responses when faced with the perplexing circumstances of a young woman’s death. With an eye for detail, her first-person descriptions of scenes and atmosphere are vivid. You are there with her. Virginia  is idealistic; she wants to find the truth and see the guilty brought to justice.  She gains access to all the right people but their stories don’t mesh, leaving her uncertain whom she can trust. The plot was intricate and well developed, with an abundance of twists. Every time I thought I knew who the culprit was, some new tidbit of information came along casting doubt on my suspicions. And, another big plus, the storyline and its resolution were believable.  I’ll definitely be on the lookout for future books from this author.

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

Review: WHO WE ARE INSTEAD by Kyla Stone

As some people may have noticed I’ve been expanding my reading horizons lately.  Today’s book is neither mystery or romance. Who We are Instead is a coming of age novel about two sisters, difficult family relationships, and emotional scars.

Description (from Amazon)

whoinsteadTwenty-one-year-old Lena McKenna thought she escaped her past when she earned a photography scholarship to a top university. It’s been two years since she’s been home. Two years since she’s seen her troubled younger sister Lux or set foot in the house haunted by the memories of her dead mother.

Everything changes the day her father suffers a massive heart attack. Lena rushes home, only to discover that Lux has disappeared. Lena has no choice but to put her dreams on hold to find her sister and care for her dying father. Immersed in the memories of her childhood, she begins to uncover the long-buried secrets that broke her family. 

Eighteen-year-old Lux doesn’t want to remember. Nothing keeps the dark at bay, not her new drug-dealing boyfriend or her descent into reckless self-destruction. She’ll do anything to forget. Anything.

As their father’s condition worsens, Lux leaves a trail of devastation in her wake. Lena must choose: escape her past and leave her sister behind, or turn and face the demons threatening to destroy them both.

Who We Are Instead explores the volatile relationship between sisters and the way we blur the lines between loyalty and obligation, truth and deception, honor and betrayal.

My Review

This is a well-written, moving tale that provides a candid look at troubled family relationships.  The first-person narrative alternates between Lina and Lux’s point of view, providing insight into the differences in how they see things. Both Lena and Lux are struggling in their own ways as they face their father’s imminent death. They each remember different things from their childhood and have secrets they share with no0ne – not even each other. Lux uses substance abuse and ‘hook-ups’ to escape, she swears a lot, and lashes out at friends. Her stream of conscious style narrative highlights her mood swings and growing dependence on drugs. Lena wants to help her, but has no idea how to heal their relationship. As the story progresses, both characters learn about themselves and strive to heal their emotional scars.

The author takes on tough issues in this book – dysfunctional families, betrayal, drug abuse, and suicide. For this reason, although this book might be suitable for some mature YA readers, I am not sure I would recommend it for most teens.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

News FlashWho We Are Instead is on sale for $0.99 for limited time only!

Review: TELL ME NO LIES by Lynn Chandler Willis

I recently read  Tell Me No Lies – the first book in the Ava Logan mystery series by Lynn Chandler Willis.  As followers of this blog already know, I read a lot of mysteries and enjoy trying books by new authors (or who are at least new to me).  This was a great choice.

tellnoliesDescription (from Amazon)

Ava Logan, single mother and small business owner, lives deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, where poverty and pride reign. As publisher of the town newspaper, she’s busy balancing election season stories and a rash of ginseng thieves. And then the story gets personal. After her friend is murdered, Ava digs for the truth all the while juggling her two teenage children, her friend’s orphaned toddler, and her own muddied past. Faced with threats against those closest to her, Ava must find the killer before she, or someone she loves, ends up dead.

Review

An extremely enjoyable and well-written read. The first-person, conversational tone made me feel as if Ava was a friend of mine – telling me her story.  She is easy to identify with – a caring mother with a complicated past of her own that shapes her decision making.  You can feel her attachment to Ivy growing, and know she would do whatever she can help ensure the child’s safety and future well-being.  At the same time, her feelings of guilt over something in her past keep her from truly giving her heart to either of her love interests in the story. This mystery was well crafted; its intricate plot held lots of surprises and kept me guessing right to the end. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for future books in this series.

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

Review: BOOMER’S BUCKET LIST by Sue Pethick

I don’t quite know why but dogs on the cover seem to be tugging on my heartstrings and calling out to me lately.  Alright, I admit it. They always do. But lately even more than usual.  And the cover definitely factored into my decision to read Boomer’s Bucket List.

boomerDescription (from Amazon)

When her cuddly canine companion Boomer is diagnosed with a rare heart condition, Jennifer Westbrook decides to take a leave of absence from her busy PR job—and take Boomer on the greatest road trip of his life.

Charting a course from Chicago to California, Jennifer plans some pet-friendly pit stops for her four-legged friend, including a dog show, a fire hydrant museum, and a factory full of squeaky toys. But when she tries to sneak Boomer into a NASCAR press box—disguised as her seeing-eye dog—Jennifer’s cover is blown by a curious, but very cute reporter named Nathan Koslow.

Boomer takes an instant shine to Nathan, unlike the other men in Jennifer’s life. When the charming journalist asks to join them on their journey, she can’t say no. But when she learns that someone has created a website called “Boomer’s Bucket List”—and it’s gone totally viral—the trip takes a wildly unexpected turn for Jennifer, Nathan, and the dog who brought them together.

It almost seems as if Boomer’s last wish is that his two favorite humans fall madly, deeply, in love . . .

My Review

An enjoyable light romance featuring a loveable and furry matchmaker. Boomer is delightful. You can almost visualize his antics and expressions, and his antics will make you laugh. And Jennifer is truly devoted to her dog – not many dog owners would take time off from work to spend time with their dog. Nathan, the man Boomer seems to have chosen for Jennifer, is a good guy who is at a crossroads in his career. The road trip and budding relationship with Caroline cause him to reflect on his past actions and future goals.  Although the outcome is foreseeable, unlike most romance novels, the ending is bittersweet. Make sure you have a tissue on hand.

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

Boomer’s Bucket List is available from Amazon.

Review: MAGGIE DOVE’S DETECTIVE AGENCY by Susan Breen

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to tell you about Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency by Susan Breen.

Description

maggie-doves-detective-agency.jpgAfter catching the killer who shook her small Hudson River town, former Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove stumbled onto an exciting new career and found a way to take her mind off her own tragic past. Now, despite her best efforts to promote the agency, Maggie can’t seem to land any new cases—until Racine Stern, one of the village’s wealthiest residents, offers her a thousand dollars to convince her “evil” sister, Domino, to stay out of town.

While Maggie’s business partner thinks she’s crazy for turning down a potential client, she doesn’t want her agency to get a reputation for accommodating bizarre requests. However, Maggie is soon caught up in the family drama anyway. Racine may fear for her life—and her inheritance—but it’s Domino who takes the fall when she plunges to her death from a tower at Stern Manor. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Maggie’s investigation will test her faith—and her ability to survive.

My Review

In this enjoyable mystery, Maggie – a likeable 62 year old widow – takes her first case as a private detective. She is joined in her new venture by two not-so-silent, well meaning partners – although basically she is the one who does all the investigating. Her client’s family is a decidedly  unusual bunch, ranging from recluse to flamboyant.  Maggie is also a Sunday school teacher with a deep-rooted belief in Christianity, a faith that clearly colors the author’s treatment of the question of whether or not evil exists and the nature of witchcraft.  Although not clearly indicated in the book description, in my opinion,  this mystery with its religious undertones clearly falls under the category of Christian fiction. Nonetheless, the plot was unusual with a few nice twists, and the identify of the murderer surprised me.

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. 

About the Author

susan-breenSusan Breen is the author of The Fiction Classher debut novel that won the Washington Irving Book Award. Her stories and articles have appeared in many magazines, among them The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Compose, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer. She teaches at Gotham Writers in Manhattan; is on the faculty of the New York Pitch Conference, South Carolina Writers Workshop, and the Women’s National Book Association; and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters-in-Crime. Breen lives in a small village on the Hudson River with her husband, two dogs, and one cat. Her three children are flourishing elsewhere.

Webpagehttp://www.susanjbreen.com/about.htm

Purchase Links:   Amazon     B&N

Review & Giveaway: MICHELANGELO’S GHOST by Gigi Pandian

Italy Book Tours Logo in colour

Today, as part of a blog tour organized by Italy Book Tours,  I am happy to tell you about an adventure-filled mystery set in Italy –  Michelangelo’s Ghost by Gigi Pandian.

Description

untitledA lost work of art linking India to the Italian Renaissance. A killer hiding behind a centuries-old ghost story. And a hidden treasure in Italy’s macabre sculpture garden known as the Park of Monsters…

Filled with the unexpected twists, vivid historical details, and cross-cultural connections Pandian is known for, Michelangelo’s Ghost is the most fast-paced and spellbinding Jaya Jones novel to date.

When Jaya’s old professor dies under eerie circumstances shortly after discovering manuscripts that point to a treasure in Italy’s Park of Monsters, Jaya and her brother pick up the trail. From San Francisco to the heart of Italy, Jaya is haunted by a ghost story inexorably linked to the masterpieces of a long-dead artist and the deeds of a modern-day murderer. Untrustworthy colleagues, disappearing boyfriends, and old enemies—who can Jaya trust when the ghost wails?

My Review

Although the story takes place in modern day, be prepared to take a step back in history as the author takes you on a journey to Italy during the renaissance period.  Jaya is torn between the traditional role of a history professor and her love of adventure. She can’t resist the call of the past and the potential for making a major art history discovery.

I hadn’t read the previous books in this series, so I  enjoyed getting to know Jaya, her friends and the men in her life. I found it to be a well-written and even-paced read, with a surprising yet and logical resolution.

The author has done a fine job weaving a tale of fiction on the  backdrop of historical facts. Her descriptions of Bomarzo and the Park of Monsters  are vivid, making it another place to add to my to-be-visited list for Italy.

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. 

Giveaway

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway  – one grand prize winner will receive:

  • Signed copies of the first 3 books in the series
  • 6 book-themed recipe cards from the locations where each book is set (Italy, Scotland, India, France, and the US)
  • $20 gift certificate to the winner’s favorite bookstore

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. She spent her childhood being dragged around the world, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gigi writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and locked-room mystery short stories. Gigi’s debut novel, Artifact, was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a “Best of 2012” debut by Suspense Magazine. Her fiction has been awarded the Lefty Award and short-listed for Macavity and Agatha Awards. Sign up for her email newsletter at www.gigipandian.com/newsletter.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Review & Giveaway: TANGLED UP IN BREW by Joyce Tremel

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, it’s my turn to tell you about Tangled Up in Brew (A Brewing Trouble Mystery) by Joyce Tremel.

Description

TANGLED-UP-IN-BREW

BEER TODAY, GONE TOMORROW…

Brew pub owner Maxine “Max” O’Hara and her chef/boyfriend, Jake Lambert, are excited to be participating in the Three Rivers Brews and Burgers Festival. Max hopes to win the coveted Golden Stein for best craft beer—but even if she doesn’t, the festival will be great publicity for her Allegheny Brew House.

Or will it? When notoriously nasty food and beverage critic Reginald Mobley is drafted as a last-minute replacement judge, Max dreads a punishing review. Her fears are confirmed when Mobley literally spits out her beer, but things get even worse when the cranky critic drops dead right after trying one of Jake’s burgers. Now an ambitious new police detective is determined to pin Mobley’s murder on Max and Jake, who must pore over the clues to protect their freedom and reputations—and to find the self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner.

My Review

This was a fun read. Max and Jake are likeable characters, with nice chemistry between them. I liked the back story, how they met years ago and only recently became a couple. Even though I am not much of beer drinker, I found the tidbits of information on the brewing process interesting – the author included enough to give you an idea of how it works, but not so much as to make you want to skip ahead to get back to the story.  With a well-paced plot and the backdrop and characters typical of a cozy mystery, I found this to be a very enjoyable light read.

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. 

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win one of three print copies for Tangled Up in Brew.

About the Author

JOYCE-TREMELJoyce Tremel was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. She is a native Pittsburgher and lives in a suburb of the city with her husband and a spoiled cat.

Her debut mystery, To Brew Or Not To Brew, was nominated for the 2015 Reviewers’ Choice award for best amateur sleuth by RT Book Reviews. The second book in the series, Tangled Up In Brew was released in October 2016.

Author Links:

Purchase Links:   Amazon – B&N