Review & Giveaway: THE LIGHT CATCHER MURDERS by Jo Cassie McRae

As part of a virtual tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post introduces a new mystery author – Jo Cassie McRae – and her debut novel, The Light Catcher Murders.

About the Book

Kate Atherton’s idyllic retirement is going well…if you don’t count the two murders, the mysterious drone, and her photographer friend who manages to poke a hornet’s nest of criminal activity, that is.

Nestled in the scenic Texas Hill Country, the cozy town of Wheaton Creek seemed to Kate Atherton an idyllic place to escape the world’s harsh realities. And then there was the first murder.

Kate once enjoyed a long, successful career with a specialized, highly secret federal intelligence agency. Crises in both her personal and professional life drove her to early retirement and, ultimately, to Wheaton Creek, the perfect place for her and her former-military husband to escape what had come to feel like a world made up of wars, hatred, fear, and untimely death. And, at first, the escape was all Kate had hoped for. Then murder came to Wheaton Creek—a crime that a corrupt county sheriff seems determined to pin on Kate’s photographer friend, Lucy Celek.

Lucy’s work has been chosen to appear at a prestigious photography festival, a festival that could take her from amateur to professional standing. All goes well until the gallery displaying her work is broken into, and one of Lucy’s photographs is vandalized. A week later, the man Lucy suspected of destroying her photograph—a fellow photographer who was angry that his own work was not chosen by the festival committee—is murdered. Faced with a sheriff who shows little interest in expanding his list of suspects beyond Lucy, Kate feels she must dust off her puzzle-solving skills to find the real killer. Murder is just the beginning, though, as Kate’s amateur sleuthing begins to reveal a tangled web of crimes that go beyond anything she could have imagined.

My Review

Set in a small Texas town, this mystery introduces Kate Atherton, a retiree, and her husband (also retired). It soon becomes obvious that both have military training, though the exact nature of Kate’s past position remains a mystery in itself. But she definitely has skills. And she is willing to use those skills to find out who is behind the vandalism in the art gallery and who killed Lucy’s rival. Kate makes for an interesting and likable protagonist.

Photography is central to the story and the mystery touches lightly on ethical and legal questions regarding the growing use of cameras and drones in today’s world. The author does a nice job of presenting an interesting story. Although the pace felt slow at first, it did pick up as the story progressed. Some aspects of the plot resolution were somewhat predictable, however the identify of the culprit and motive was not.
A promising debut for a new author.

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

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card from the author.

About the Author

Jo Cassie McRae is a native Texan who has lived near Austin on the edge of the Texas Hill country for over 30 years.  In addition to writing, McRae loves to read, garden, and cook.  Like Kate Atherton (The Light Catcher Murders), McRae’s bookshelves overflow with history books, biographies, historical fiction, and mystery novels.  Unlike Kate, McRae does not have a mysterious, secret former career, having worked instead as a rather ordinary legal assistant at an Austin law firm.

Author Links:

Purchase Link – Amazon

Visit other stops on this tour for additional reviews and excerpts.

Review & Giveaway: SLIGHTLY MURDEROUS INTENT by Lisa Sideris

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the opportunity to read an advance copy of Slightly Murderous Intent. This new release by Lida Sideris is the fourth book in her Southern California Mystery series.

About the Book

There’s a shooter on the loose who keeps missing his target. But that doesn’t stop him from trying again…and again. It’s up to Corrie Locke, rookie lawyer and spunky sleuth, to find the gunman before he hits his mark, Assistant Deputy D.A. James Zachary, Corrie’s hunky and complicated frenemy.

When Corrie is stuck with more questions than answers, she enlists a team with various strengths, from weapons to cooking skills, to help her find the shooter. Her computer whiz boyfriend Michael is onboard. So is former security guard Veera. Toss in an over-the-hill informant and a couple of feuding celebrity chefs and Corrie’s got her very own A-Team. Okay, maybe it’s more like a B-Team.

Can Team Corrie hunt down the shooter before he scores a bulls-eye?

My Review

In this fun read, Corrie continues to vacillate between what should be a somewhat conventional job as a lawyer and her sense of adventure and aptitude for investigation.  As a witness to the would-be assassin’s initial attempt to kill a member of the D.A. Office’s team, it is only natural she would insert herself into the investigation. After all, the potential targets include people she cares about.

She is aided in her search for the truth by Michael, her amazingly supportive boyfriend, and her uniquely skilled co-worker, Veera. Together they manage to figure out who did it what and why – and keep their friends alive. Of course, it’s not that simple, they face a variety of hurdles, near misses, false leads, and twists along the way. Narrated in a light conversational tone, this well written, fast-paced mystery made for an entertaining 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

Enter the rafflecopter for your chance to win one of three copies of Slightly Murderous Intent: A Southern California Mystery from the author.

About the Author

Lida Sideris is an author, lawyer, and all-around book enthusiast. She writes soft-boiled mysteries and was a recipient of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America scholarship award. Slightly Murderous Intent is #4 in her Southern California Mystery series, published by Level Best Books. Lida lives in the northern tip of SoCal with her family, rescue dogs and a flock of uppity chickens.  To learn more, please visit: www.LidaSideris.com

Author Links

Purchase Link – Amazon 

Click here to visit the tour page for more reviews, guest posts, and more.

Review: NINJA SCHOOL MUM by Lizzie Chantree

Today’s post features an enjoyable read that combines humor, action and romance – Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree.

About the Book*

51gr2fqc2bol

Obsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite spy, who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.

*from the book’s Amazon webpage

My Review

Skye is a good mom – she’s just not your typical mom. Not at all. She has unique skills and a mysterious past. Her reasons for arriving in the country village emerge as the story develops, as does the nature of her former occupation and its impact on her relationships with others. For her son’s sake, she does everything in her power to move on and keep him safe. Over time, she forges a close friendship with Thea, another reclusive mom, and with Zack, who owns the cottage where she lives. All seems to be going well in what felt mostly like a romance, until a major plot twist turned the tables on this unsuspecting reader.

The author’s style was mostly light and enjoyable. Having read works by British other authors, I wasn’t surprised by the slightly longer-winded writing style and most of the slang was familiar to me or could be understood within context.

An enjoyable read that combines humor, action and romance.

Review: DON’T LOOK FOR ME by Wendy Walker

For a chance of pace, this post introduces someone new (at least new to me).  I was browsing the mystery selections on NetGalley when this thriller called out out to me.  Good choice. Well written and suspenseful thriller. And it just released today!

Description*

51hfleyizalIn Wendy Walker’s thrilling novel Don’t Look for Me, the greatest risk isn’t running away. It’s running out of time.

One night, Molly Clarke walked away from her life.
She doesn’t want to be found.
Or at least, that’s the story.
The car abandoned miles from home.
The note found at a nearby hotel.
The shattered family that couldn’t be put back together.
They called it a “walk away.”
It happens all the time.
Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over.
But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke?

*Description from Amazon

My Review

At the heart of this story is the troubled relationship between Molly and her daughter, Nicole.  The author skillfully alternates between the two women’s points of view – exposing their emotional underbellies and the chain of events that led to a rift in their family years earlier. But that’s the backstory. Now they each face a greater challenge.

Nicole is determined to find her mother and in the process puts herself at risk. It is through her eyes that the reader becomes acquainted with the townspeople and the pool of potential suspects. With each bit of information she uncovers, a new suspect comes into play.  Molly doesn’t know her captor’s name and only describes his appearance in general terms, thus giving the reader no clue as to his identity.  She is determined to get away, even if it means manipulating the emotions of his young child.

A clever plot with an abundance of twists made for a fast-moving, page turner  with an ending I didn’t see coming.  A well written and suspenseful thriller.

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

Review & Giveaway: CASTING CALL FOR A CORPSE by Heather Haven

CASTING-CALL-FOR-A-CORPSE-BANNER-2-184

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  today’s post introduces the Casting Call for a Corpse, a recent addition to the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries series by Heather Haven.  

About the Book

CASTING-CALL-FOR-A-CORPSEA DETECTIVE AGENCY WITH HEART.
AND A WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!

Super sleuth, Lee Alvarez, finds a dead man wearing a tuxedo in a friend’s bathtub during a soiree for San Francisco’s VIPs. And not just any friend, but an internationally acclaimed actress who recently came to live in San Francisco. And not just any bathtub, but a bathtub residing inside one of Alamo Square’s famed Painted Ladies, recently bought by said actress.

The police believe it’s the actress friend who done the man in. After all, it’s her house and her tub. And another man died under suspicious circumstances around her recently. Both romantic encounters, doncha know. The actress must be guilty.

Or is she?

For ace detective Lee Alvarez, the timing couldn’t be worse. She is supposed to go off in celebration of her 6-month wedding anniversary with her hunky hubby. Paris is calling!

Or is it?

Her long-time friend, plus her mother – She Who Must Be Obeyed – thinks she should stick around and find out who the real killer is. So Lee, family, handsome hubby, and Tugger, the cat, are on the job. But Lee’s nose is itching. Which means not one of the suspects is telling the truth.

Or not all of it. Lee soon uncovers threatening letters, sullen playwrights, dead bodies, and a criminal web of jewel thieves, all treading the boards of her friend’s latest musical. This is showbiz?

Author Haven pulls out all the stops in a cozy fan’s delight about a charming, and unconventional Palo Alto detective family who get their man or woman, as the case may be. Book Seven follows its tradition of the Bay Area’s favorite PI, who rolls over with all four paw in the air when it comes to her darn near perfect mother. But with the help of her computer geek brother and handsome hubby, Lee works to solve the case in time to celebrate her own 6-month wedding anniversary.

My Review

Told from the candid perspective of Lee Alvarez, the narrative has a natural, conversation feel to it, which soon made Lee seem like an old friend (even though I hadn’t read previous books in the series).   She is spunky and impulsive, a good friend and a loving wife, with a sense of humor.  And she is complemented by an interesting cast of family and friends.  

There was never a dull moment in this entertaining cozy mystery, which includes plenty of action,  a well balanced range of  twists and turns, and even a few laugh out loud moments. The 7th in a series – it can easily be enjoyed as a standalone.  I might have to go back and read the others when I get a chance. 

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

Giveaway

To celebrate the release, the author is giving a handmade, one of a kind purse (U.S. ONLY).  Click here to enter the rafflecopter. 

About the Author

Heather_115114102_stdHeather moved to the Bay Area and studied creative writing at Stanford University. Previously, several of her comedy acts and plays were performed in NYC. Her novels include the humorous Silicon Valley-based Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Manhattan-based Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, Love Can Be Murder Novellas, Snow Lake Romantic Suspense Series and standalone mystery noir, Murder under the Big Top, based upon her mother’s stint as a performer with Ringling Brothers’ Circus. There is also her anthology, Corliss and Other Award-Winning Stories. Her favorite protagonist is in Corliss, one of the featured short stories, but don’t tell anyone!

Author Links  

Purchase Link – Amazon 

Visit the tour page to check out the other stops on this tour for more reviews, interviews and guest  posts. 

Review: SAVE HER SOUL by Lisa Regan

This summer as I spent oodles of time at home reading,  I downloaded a review copy of Save Her Soul (Detective Josie Quinn Book 7) from Net Galley.  Of course, like other books in this series the cover is gorgeous.  And it’s a good read, too.

Description*

51grgnhqxlJosie flinches as she takes in the faded blue sports jacket wrapped around the girl they just pulled from the water. Josie knew someone who’d once owned that jacket. He had died in her arms five years ago.

Heavy rain pours on the small town of Denton causing the riverbanks to break and the body of a young girl to float quietly to the surface. With no crime scene to examine, the odds are against Detective Josie Quinn and her team. Mercifully, the victim’s body is perfectly preserved, right down to the baseball patch on the jacket she was wearing. Josie can’t hide her devastation—her dead ex-husband, Ray, owned one just like it.

Following the trail back to her high school, Josie identifies the girl as Beverly Urban, a troubled student rumored to have been dating Ray before she left town for good. It looks like a tragic accident until the autopsy reveals a bullet in her head and the heart-breaking secret she was keeping.

Josie visits the salon where Beverly’s mother used to work, believing she was at the heart of a terrible scandal around the time her daughter’s life was taken. With the Denton wives remaining tight-lipped, Josie’s only hope is a secret meet-up with a terrified woman willing to talk. But she is murdered moments before giving Josie crucial information. It’s clear that someone is prepared to keep on killing to stop the truth from getting out.

Digging deep into memories of her own past with Ray is the only advantage Josie has on this twisted killer… but at what cost?

* Description from Amazon book page for Save Her Soul

My Review

For Josie, this case is different. It is personal and brings with it no small amount of emotional upheaval for the seasoned detective.   Josie may not have been a fan of the victim when they were in high school, nonetheless she is determined to find out how she met such a terrible fate. Josie is very relatable and her recollections from years earlier provide insight into her character. The investigation takes off at a slow pace – with few immediate findings, however it builds in intensity as information is uncovered and events unfold, with unexpected discoveries keeping the detectives and the reader guessing at the truth.  An enjoyable read.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book via Net Galley. This has not affected the content of my review.

Review & Giveaway: VANGIE VALE AND THE LARCENOUS LAVA CAKE by R.L. Syme

VANGIE-VALE-AND-THE-LARCENOUS-LAVA-CAKE-BANNER-184

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book tours, today’s post introduces Vangie Vale and the Larcenous Lava Cake, the fourth book in The Matchbaker Mysteries  by R.L. Syme.

About the BVANGIE-VALE-AND-THE-LARCENOUS-LAVA-CAKEook

I never thought Edward would come back…

When the court case against my ex was finished, I thought we were finished, too. But it turns out, it was only the beginning.

The Larcenous Lava Cake is book four in The Matchbaker Mysteries, a new cozy culinary mystery series from USA Today Bestselling Author, R.L. Syme.

RECIPE INCLUDED: The Larcenous Lava Cake

My Review

I liked Vangie. She’s different. She is a part-time pastor and baker – definitely a unique combination in an amateur sleuth.  (I haven’t read the earlier books in the series so I was caught by surprise.) She’s a good person who has made mistakes in the past and is determined not to repeat them.  Especially  not with Edward.   His sudden appearance and the chain of events, including a murder, lead to Vangie’s involvement in an investigation that has more than its fair share of twists.   Although Vangie’s actions were sometimes ill-advised and the plot a bit far-fetched, the surprise twists kept the pages turning.

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

Giveaway

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win  full set of paperbacks of the Vangie Vale series, and a $100 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

R.L. Syme is a writer of sleuths worth loving and villains worth hating. Lover of fancy cheese, binge-watching, strawberries, and hope. A foodie and baker of yummy delights, Becca grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries passed on by her grandmother. A Tweeter and Pinner of things.

Author Links:R.LSyme

  • Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/rlsymeauthor/
  • Facebook Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BeccaNation/
  • Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rlsyme/
  • Twitter: @beck_a_tron
  • Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2xux8Ii
  • Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6878258.R_L_Syme

Purchase Link: Amazon 

Visit other stops on the tour for reviews, interviews, and more.

Review: DYING FOR A DATE by Cindy Sample

Today, I am happy to introduce you to a book I recently read as a I worked my way through my TBR list and escaped from all the unpleasant news around us. Dying for a Date is the first book in a humorous cozy mystery series by Cindy Sample.  The book was released years ago, but somehow I never got around to reading it before.

About the Book*

51uu-xljmlUnsure if she is looking for Mr. Right, or Mr. Every Other Saturday Night, newly divorced Laurel McKay reluctantly joins THE LOVE CLUB, a popular local dating service. Dressed to kill, she meets bachelor number one at a trendy restaurant. But the date is a bust, literally, when the guy decides Laurel is dessert, and she breaks his nose with her cell phone. It gets even worse when the man is found murdered the next morning, and Laurel has his blood on her clothes.

Despite her now being a person of interest to the police, Laurel bravely ventures out on date number two. When that unlucky bachelor disappears during dinner, Laurel’s only alibi is a bottle of Dom Perignon. The sexy investigating detective thinks she’s innocent and is worried she may be the next target. That’s more than enough motivation for Laurel to find a murderer determined to kill her social life–before dating becomes a dead end she can’t escape.

*Description from  Amazon

My Review

This first in series introduces Laurel McKay – a feisty though somewhat ditzy, divorced mother of two.  Her attempts to reenter the dating world land her in the less than enviable spot as a suspect when her dates start turning up dead.  The pages turned quickly as the plot unfolded, with Laurel attempting to solve the case and prove her innocence – much to the annoyance an exceedingly appealing detective. With Laurel enlisting her mother and her quirky friends to help crack the case, there were plot twists to keep you wondering whodunnit and laughable moments to make for a pleasant escape from reality.  If you enjoy romantic comedy mixed in with a cozy mystery, this book is a good choice for you.

Note: No promises – but this first book in an eight-book series was permafree on Amazon the last time I checked! 

Review and Giveaway: CATCHING THE COWBOY by Shanna Hatfield

Today’s post is a bit of a change in  pace. I find that a sweet romance make for a lovely break between all those mystery and suspense-filled reads. And so, as part of a blog tour marking the launch of Shanna Hatfield’s new Summer Creek series, I recently read Catching the Cowboy.

About the Book

Catching-the-Cowboy-scaledShe’s fresh out of jail . . .    He’s fresh out of luck.

Spoiled billionaire heiress Emery Brighton indulges in one mimosa too many, attempts to steal a horse, and winds up in jail. A sentence of community service leaves her at the mercy of strangers on a remote ranch near a small town in Oregon. Adjusting to country life is hard enough, but she has no idea how to handle her growing affection for a surly cowboy and his adorable daughter.

Steady and dependable as the day is long, rancher Hudson Cole just wants to raise his little girl and be left alone. When his grandmother invites a lawbreaker dressed in Louis Vuitton to Summer Creek Ranch, Hud is convinced Grammy has lost her ever-loving mind. Determined to detest Emery, he instead finds himself doing the one thing he vowed would never happen again: falling in love.

With one foot out the door, will love be enough to convince Emery to stay?

This sweet romance offers a funny, delightful happily ever after adventure in a quirky small town. Don’t miss out on a meandering goat named Ethel, meddling matchmakers, and a community that feels like home in a story filled with heart, humor, and hope.

About the Series

Summer Creek is one of those small towns—the kind brimming with quirky inhabitants, pets with personalities (like a meandering goat named Ethel), meddling matchmakers, tumbling-down old buildings, and dreams. So many dreams. These sweet, uplifting romances explore the ties that bind a community together when they unite for a common purpose and open their hearts to unexpected possibilities. Heart, humor, and hope weave through each story, touching the lives of those who call Summer Creek home.

Readers who love Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series and RaeAnne Thayne’s Haven Point series will enjoy coming home to Summer Creek.

The first three books in the series release this summer.

My Review

In this western romance, a very spoiled and very rich girl finds herself sentenced to do community service in the middle of nowhere with none of the creature comforts to which she is so accustomed.  She is also forced to live and work side to side with an ornery cowboy, his charming  daughter, and his good-hearted, generous grandmother.  Day by day, she learns the meaning of hard work, even if she sets a few fires in the process.

The cowboy is gorgeous (no surprise there, given the genre) and a good guy, who is reluctant to enter a relationship with any woman, never mind one as “problematic” as Emery.  However, Hudson’s opinion changes as her attitude and overall perspective on life is transformed by her experiences on the ranch and in the small town nearby.   Predictably, the attraction between Emily and Hudson is strong (it is a romance after all), and though acutely aware of it, both of them try to pretend they don’t have feelings for each other.

Overall, this is a well-written story with good character development that shows that when given the opportunity people can change.  A good choice for readers who prefer their romances to be sweet and clean.

Note: Although you may note that this book is categorized as Christian romance on Amazon, religious elements are minimal. Prayer and church are mentioned, however this is not a “preachy” read and is likely suitable for readers of other faiths as well.

FTC disclosure: I received a complimentary advanced reader copy of this book.  This has not affected the content of this review in any way.

Giveaway

Click here to enter the author’s giveaway: One (1) winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of Catching the Cowboy.

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen, one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.

Click here to follow the tour for additional reviews, excerpts and more.

Review: THE BOY FROM THE WOODS by Harlan Coben

I am definitely a fan of Harlan Coben’s books so I jumped at the opportunity to receive a review copy of The Boy from the Woods, which released early this year.

About the Book*

Thirty years ago, Wilde was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. Now an adult, he still doesn’t know where he comes from, and another child has gone missing.

51hja34aunlNo one seems to take Naomi Pine’s disappearance seriously, not even her father-with one exception. Hester Crimstein, a television criminal attorney, knows through her grandson that Naomi was relentlessly bullied at school. Hester asks Wilde-with whom she shares a tragic connection-to use his unique skills to help find Naomi.

Wilde can’t ignore an outcast in trouble, but in order to find Naomi he must venture back into the community where he has never fit in, a place where the powerful are protected even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it’s too late.

*Book description from Amazon.

My Review

This book features two strong main characters – Hester Crimstein and Wilde.  They are polar opposites. She a highly successful lawyer with a sharp wit and an equally sharp tongue. He is an enigmatic man of the shadows, who was found living on his own in the woods as a boy.  Their relationship is based on Wilde’s friendship with Hester’s son.

Not as engaging a thriller as his previous works, the pace was slow at first and a bit rushed toward the end.  True to form, there were twists and surprises along the way to the resolution. A resolution that was not entirely satisfying.  Loose ends remained.

It was a thought-provoking read. The author seems to use the intricate plot as a vehicle for exploring ethical dilemmas on multiple levels, specifically the integrity of the legal system and the media.  Can real and untampered evidence be easily discredited by the savvy PR teams of a slick politician?  Is it ever okay to just look the other way?

If you are expecting the feel of a Myron Bolitar tale, be forewarned.  This one is different.  Different, but still a good read.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an Advance Review Copy of this book. This has not affected the content of my review.