Review: SUMMER CAMP CULPRIT by C.K. Fyfe

For those of us who went to summer camp, it is easy to look back at those days through rose-colored glasses. Nostalgia for times gone by and sweet memories. But not all memories are sweet, as soon becomes apparent in Summer Camp Culprit, a romantic cozy mystery novella by C.K. Fyfe.

About the Book

Camp Starfall is closing. But that doesn’t mean the past is going with it.

Despite her misgivings, Lindsey returns to the campground she last left as a broken-hearted teen. She’s determined to spend Camp Starfall’s farewell weekend focusing on the good memories she has of her time as a camper. But fate has other plans.

Lindsey’s teenage sweetheart Tyler shows up, stirring up feelings in her that had long lain dormant. Too bad she doesn’t have time to dwell on him. Someone is breaking into the cabins, and if she doesn’t find the culprit, more than her heart will be at stake.

My Review

A visit to the summer camp she attended in her youth gives Lindsey the chance to reconnect with friends from her past, as well as get closure with respect to a painful memory from her last summer at the camp. I found it easy to identify with Lindsey and her misgivings. The story is sprinkled with a mixture of reminiscing, humor, and flashbacks to antics and events of the past. But something sinister is going on and Lindsey seizes on the opportunity to out the culprit, put her own demons to rest, and lay the foundation for new beginnings. This well written novella was ideal for a quick escape while travelling.

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

About the Author

C.K. Fyfe has always enjoyed a good mystery. Fyfe’s childhood love of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys led to a grown-up love of writing cozy mysteries with quirky, funny, and kindhearted characters. Fyfe lives in “The Wolverine State.” Much like wolverines, Fyfe’s villains have vicious dispositions, but the clever sleuths know how to tame their foes’ tempers.

Author Links

Review: LOVES BILLIONAIRES AND DOGS by Gina Robinson

In the mood for another feel-good romance? I sure was. Penned by an author new to me, this one didn’t disappoint. I’ll be adding the next in series to my TBR list.

Description*

Hot billionaire asks me for a fake relationship. ✓
He doesn’t recognize me as the runaway bride he helped escape in Vegas two years ago. What happens when he does…

Once upon a time in Vegas, I left my groom at the altar in a twenty-four-hour discount wedding chapel. And ran away with my bridal bouquet — the most adorable Corgi puppy you’ve ever seen.

In a nearby casino, a gorgeous stranger with blue-violet eyes helped me escape. An unforgettable stranger I’ve been thinking about nonstop for the past two years, but thought I’d never see again.

Until his handsome Aussie in a studded leather collar finds my little Corgi bitch in the park — irresistible, alone, and in heat…

*As appears on Amazon

My Review

Both main characters are likable and the banter between them entertaining. The narrative alternates between Shelby’s and Dex’s points of view – making clear their respective feelings and reservations as their relationship progress. And there are great dogs and humorous situations. Although there was perhaps a bit more detail on the mechanics of dog breeding than necessary, this was a quick, enjoyable read. Overall, a feel-good romance – as advertised – that makes for an enjoyable escape.

Review & Giveaway: THE SERAPHIM’S SONG by Barbara Casey

When I was given the opportunity to read an advance review copy of the The Seraphim’s Song, I was quick to snap it up, having read and enjoyed the first book in the series. This is the fifth book in Barbara Casey’s F.I.G. (Females of Intellectual Genius) Mystrey series which follows gifted teens on their advantures to explore unsolved mysteries.

About the Book

When a powerful key falls into the wrong hands and disaster begins to strike around the globe, the F.I.G.s must find the artifact and return it to its rightful home. With odds stacked against them, and only their unique intellectual gifts to rely on, they are in a race against time to save the world.

Join the F.I.G.s – females of intellectual genius – as they solve mysteries of historic proportions. Dara Roux with her mastery of foreign, ancient, and obsolete languages; Mackenzie Yarborough with her ability to solve complicated math formulations; and Jennifer Torres with her talents in musical composition and painting are all recent graduates of Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. As the F.I.G.s embark on their own journeys, Wood Rose will always be their home. And Carolina Lovell, the teacher who was tasked with supervising the F.I.G.s during their senior year, will always be like a big sister to the three girls.

Follow the F.I.G.s on adventures to different countries, as they explore some of history’s unsolved mysteries! Mysteries that can only be solved when the F.I.G.s work together and support each other.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $20 Amazon/B&N gift card from the author.

My Review

Caroline and the F.I.G.s are back, and the comraderie between the uniquely capable young women are the stronger than ever. This time they face the challenge of preventing widespread natural disasters and saving Caroline from a curse placed by an evil gypsy with a grudge against her mother. The background for The Seraphim’s Song is founded in the first book in the series, The Cadence of Gypsies, in which Caroline discovers that her biological mother is a gypsy with special powers. Like The Cadence of Gypies, this book is rich in gypsy folklore and legends, with a generous dose of supernatural/paranormal phenomena.

Although the Seraphim’s Song was a pleasant read, I felt that the author included more backstory from previous books than necessary, including details about the girls’ previous adventures that had no bearing on the plot of The Seraphim’s Song, slowing the pace down at times. That said, it makes a nice read for young adult fans of fantasy.

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

Note: You can read my review of The Cadence of Gypsies here.

About the Author

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2014, Barbara became a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in true crime and other cutting-edge adult nonfiction.

Review: OVERKILL by Sandra Brown

Whenever I spot an upcoming release for an author whose work I enjoy, I do my best to snag an ARC. As luck would have it, I was able to get a pre-release copy of Overkill by Sandra Brown via NetGalley. I have read and enjoyed several of her previous works. Besides, it has a lovely cover.

About the Book

Former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Zach Bridger hasn’t seen his ex-wife, Rebecca Pratt, for some time—not since their volatile marriage imploded—so he’s shocked to receive a life-altering call about her. Rebecca has been placed on life support after a violent assault, and he—despite their divorce—has medical power-of-attorney. Zach is asked to make an impossible choice: keep her on life support or take her off of it. Buckling under the weight of the responsibility and the glare of public scrutiny, Zach ultimately walks away, letting Rebecca’s parents have the final say.
 
Four years later, Rebecca’s attacker, Eban—the scion of a wealthy family in Atlanta—gets an early release from prison. The ludicrous miscarriage of justice reeks of favoritism, and Kate Lennon, a brilliant state prosecutor, is determined to put him back behind bars. Rebecca’s parents have kept her alive all these years, but if her condition were to change—if she were to die—Eban could be retried on a new charge: murder.
 
It isn’t lost on Zach that in order for Eban to be charged with Rebecca’s murder, Zach must actually be the one to kill her. He rejects Kate’s legal standpoint but can’t resist their ill-timed attraction to each other. Eban, having realized the jeopardy he’s in, plots to make certain that neither Zach nor Kate lives to see the death of Rebecca—and the end of his freedom. 

My Review

A former sports celebrity, Zach has fallen from grace in the public eye and adopted a hermit-like lifestyle when his past comes back to haunt him. He is tasked with making an impossible decision – whether or not to withdraw the life support that is keeping his ex-wife alive (technically anyway). A controversial issue for sure.

Zach is an okay guy who regrets events from his past, while Kate (the state prosecuter) is sharp and determined – but for this reader, not all that memorable. The sparks between them tended to dominate the story. Although the sexual tension enhanced the story, in my opinion, the explicit descriptions of their intimate physical interactions were gratuitous and, at times, a bit vulgar.

The main plot — what happened to Rebecca and how to see that justice would be served — held my interest. It had a fair share of twists — with an unexpected turn as the story neared its end. Not being able to guess how it would all turn out is always a plus in my eyes. Overall, an interesting and enjoyable read.

Content Advisory:  If you are offended by strong language and explicit graphic sex, this book is not for you.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book and have voluntarily chosen to share my honest review. 

Review: DEAD DROP by James L’Etoile

An accomplished writer, James L’Etoile has just released a new novel – Dead Drop. I was happy to have the opportunity to read an advance review copy of this suspense-filled read that highlights the issues surrounding illegal immigration.

About the Book

Hundreds go missing each year making the dangerous crossing over the border. What if you were one of them?

While investigating the deaths of undocumented migrants in the Arizona desert, Detective Nathan Parker finds a connection to the unsolved murder of his partner by a coyote on a human smuggling run. The new evidence lures Parker over the border in search of the truth, only to trap him in a strange and dangerous land. If he’s to survive, Parker must place his life in the hands of the very people he once pursued.

Border violence, border politics, and who is caught in the middle. The forces behind it might surprise you.

My Review

Nathan Parker is a detective with traditional views. If you want to enter the country, you have to do it the right (legal) way. It’s that simple. In pursuit of justice and the coyote who killed his partner, he takes on investigation of increasingly frequent body dumps just north of the border – presumably at the hands of the coyotes paid to smuggle them in. It was interesting to see how Nathan’s perspective changes as he is gets to know some of the would-be immigrants and becomes fully acquainted with the risks they take on their journery north. In this novel, the author shines light on complex issues, including human trafficking, and the plight of those in search of a better life, casting them in a more compassionate light without justifying their choice to cross the border illegally. An enlightening, fast-paced read.

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

About the Author

James L’Etoile uses his twenty-nine years behind bars as an influence in his novels, short stories, and screenplays. He is a former associate warden in a maximum-security prison, a hostage negotiator, facility captain, and director of California’s state parole system. He is a nationally recognized expert witness on prison and jail operations. He has been nominated for the Silver Falchion for Best Procedural Mystery, and The Bill Crider Award for short fiction. His published novels include: Black Label, At What Cost, Bury the Past, and Little River. Look for Dead Drop in the summer of 2022.

You can find out more at:

www.jamesletoile.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @crimewriter
Instagram – @authorjamesletoile
Twitter – @jamesletoile
Facebook – @AuthorJamesLetoile

Review: COLD, COLD BONES by Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs is one of my go-to authors and so I am always on the lookout for any additions to her series featuring Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist. Admittedly, a big deviation from my usual light mystery fare. Cold, Cold Bones is the 21st book in the series and I was lucky enough to recieve an advance review copy.

Description*

Winter has come to North Carolina and, with it, a drop in crime. Freed from a heavy work schedule, Tempe Brennan is content to dote on her daughter Katy, finally returned to civilian life from the army. But when mother and daughter meet at Tempe’s place one night, they find a box on the back porch. Inside: a very fresh human eyeball.

GPS coordinates etched into the eyeball lead to a Benedictine monastery where an equally macabre discovery awaits. Soon after, Tempe examines a mummified corpse in a state park, and her anxiety deepens.

There seems to be no pattern to the subsequent killings uncovered, except that each mimics in some way a homicide that a younger Tempe had been called in to analyze. Who or what is targeting her, and why?

Helping Tempe search for answers is detective Erskine “Skinny” Slidell, retired but still volunteering with the CMPD cold case unit—and still displaying his gallows humor. Also pulled into the mystery: Andrew Ryan, Tempe’s Montreal-based beau, now working as a private detective.

Could this elaborately staged skein of mayhem be the prelude to a twist that is even more shocking? Tempe is at a loss to establish the motive for what is going on…and then her daughter disappears.

*Description as appears on Amazon.

My Review

In this fast-paced novel, Temperance is tasked with connecting the dots between a series of new cases and cold cases she worked on in previous years. At first, she doesn’t make the connections. She is just haunted by a nagging feeling that her subconscious is trying to tell her something. It’s not just business. It’s personal, and the suspense and tension build when the killer begins targetting people close to Tempe. The plot creates an intricate puzzle – a puzzle with lots of pieces that don’t seem to fit together. That is, until they do. Kudos to the author for another suspense-filled tale.

Note: If you are offended by the use of profanity or graphic descriptions of violence, this book might not be for you.

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

Review: HER UNEXPECTED ROOMMATE by Laura Ann

Seeking a break from my usual reading diet of mystery and suspeense, I decided to check out the romance offerings on Amazon. And so, I downloaded the first book in a sweet romance series by Laura Ann.

Description*

Two halves, One house…
When dreams clash can these two find love in an old fixer-upper?


Genevieve Winters is finally seeing light at the end of a long, dark tunnel, when her sole living relative passes away. The situation leaves her alone in the world, but offers something she’s always dreamed of. The opportunity to open a bed and breakfast, turning her broken down inheritance into a place of light and laughter. Her dreams crash, however, when a handsome stranger shows up claiming he owns half of the seaside mansion and he’s not willing to sell.

Cooper James couldn’t believe his luck when his estranged grandfather left him a half ownership in home in Oregon. It was the perfect opportunity for Cooper to start fresh in a place where no one knew the mistakes of his past. His patience is tested when the other owner, a beautiful but angry woman, demands to open a bed and breakfast, a situation that would be in direct contrast to his hopes for a refuge in which to build a new life.

Can these two set aside their differences long enough to test the attraction simmering between them? Or will their fighting cost them everything?

*Description and cover as appear on Amazon.

My Review

In the mood for a light, fun read for a long plane ride, I spotted this sweet romance on Amazon and decided to give it a try. It provided a pleasant diversion for sure. Although the trope where two strangers inherit half-interest in the same property and ultimately fall in love is not an entirely new one, both Genevieve and Cooper were well-developed characters with interesting backstories. The back and forth between the two was amusing even if some aspects of the story lacked credibility. But that’s the beauty of fiction, anything goes.

And an added bonus – it was free on Amazon the last time I looked 🙂

Review: THE MATCH by Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben is one of my favorite authors when I am in search of mystery and suspense. I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy of The Match from the publisher via NetGalley. Today, I’d like to tell you a bit about the book, which released last week.

About the Book*

After months away, Wilde has returned to the Ramapo Mountains in the wake of a failed bid at domesticity that confirms what he’s known all along: He belongs on his own, free from the comforts and constraints of modern life.

Suddenly, a DNA match on an online ancestry database brings Wilde closer to his past than he’s ever dreamed, and finally gives Wilde the opening he needs to track down his father. But meeting the man brings up more questions than answers. So Wilde reaches out to his last, most desperate lead, a second cousin who disappears as quickly as he resurfaces, having experienced an epic fall from grace that can only be described as a waking nightmare.

Was his cousin’s downfall a long time coming? Or was he the victim of a conspiracy as cunning as it is complex? And how does it all connect to the man once known as The Stranger, a treacherous fugitive with a growing following whose mission and methods have only turned more dangerous with time?

*As per publisher’s description on Amazon

My Review

This book brings the return of Wilde, a unique character introduced earlier in the series – the boy who was found in the woods as a child. Now an adult, he has yet to find out who his parents are or how he ended up in the woods. In keeping with the times, Wilde submits his DNA to an online family search database, which generates two familial matches. One of the matches appears to be a cousin who reaches out to Wilde. He is in trouble and Wilde decides to try to help him. The result is a complicated story that exposes complex relationships and criminal activities, as well as some unique insights into the world of reality TV. Wilde and his mysterious background provided an intriguing basis for storyline, helping readers better understand Wilde’s behavior and lifestyle choices. I really enjoyed the book, although I must say that it was less fast-paced, with a slightly different feel than other books I have read by this author.

FTC disclosure: I received an ARC from the publisher and have voluntarily written this honest review.

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: SAVING LA FAMILIA by Donna Del Oro

This post introduces a recently released contemporary romantic suspense novel Saving La Familia by Donna Del Oro. An enjoyable read.  

About the Book

A romantic suspense comedy set in Silicon Valley, a young Latina teacher, Dina Salazar, is asked by her Mexican-born grandmother to rescue her cousins from a dangerous Mexican drug cartel. After all, her stern grandmother tells her, she is the “smart one” in the family. To do so, she has to recruit help from her hated ex-fiance. What’s a girl to do when “la familia” calls?

SAVING LA FAMILIA by Donna Del Oro is about a latina teacher who’s recruited by her Mexican-born grandmother to save her cousins from a dangerous Mexican drug cartel. It’s a romantic-suspense comedy with many “buen dichos”!

Excerpt

It took five years—six, counting my teaching credential— to work my way through college and, oh yeah, I lost my fiancé along the way—according to Mama and Abuelita, my only chance at happiness. Their idea of happiness meant you married young, spent the next twenty years changing diapers, cooking and cleaning for a man you seldom saw because he was working two or three jobs to pay for all the mouths you’d brought into the world… 

¡Gracias a Dios!

Horrors, in my opinion.

That was the world they knew, anyway, and they didn’t have the imagination to picture me in another, I suppose. I had another vision of the world. And myself. After all, I was Dina Salazar, not Dolores—the rambunctious little girl I used to be, saddled with what I thought to be a horrible name and all it implied. I was certain my family considered me the smirky smartass, the brazen wise-ass. No matter what, I was going to scratch and crawl my way into the American middle class, and if I lost whatever family status I had or whatever love came along, so be it. 

After all, according to them, I had una cabeza dura. Hard-headed. And they were right. 

Get the book: https://www.extasybooks.com/Saving-La-Familia or https://www.amazon.com/Saving-Familia-Donna-Del-Oro-ebook/dp/B09PN7K2S8/FREE for limited time only

My Review

I liked Dina. She is not your typical schoolteacher. She is spunky and determined, though a bit overly reckless at times. And very slow to forgive her ex-fiancé, who despite his past mistakes is a great catch. They make a good couple. Dina’s warm and caring family – with its mix of illegal and legal immigrants – highlights the complexities of what is probably a more common situation than many realize.

The romantic suspense side of things definitely dominated the storyline, with the adventure and action not coming to the forefront until more than half-way through the book when Dina, her family, and friends join forces to save her cousin who is hiding out in Mexico. I would like to have seen more of the suspense related to “saving la familia” building earlier. That said, I enjoyed this book.

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

Giveaway

Enter to win a $50 Amazon/BN GC a Rafflecopter giveaway.

About the Author

Donna Del Oro lives in Northern California with her husband and three cats. She taught high school and community college English classes for 30+ years and is now happily retired. When not doing research, writing novels, or reading voraciously, she travels and sings with the medal winning Sacramento Valley Chorus.

Donna is a member of Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime in addition to the Valleyrose chapter of the RWA. She has judged RITA entries and does developmental editing on the side. Two of her novels, Operation Familia and Born To Sing, have won national and international awards.

Contact Donna at:

Review: MURDER IS A FAMILY BUSINESS by Heather Haven

Every now and then I take a chance and download a book by an author who is new to me. I recently did just that and soon became a fan of The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries by Heather Haven, which starts with a fun read – Murder is a Family Business.

Description*

It’s a dismal day for the PI firm to the stars of Silicon Valley when their own star is huddled in a phone booth instead of tracking down stolen software. Sadly, ace detective Lee Alvarez is currently taking shelter from a deluge while surveilling some rat of a husband. This is way beneath her dignity!

Worse, she may be trapped with another rat. Something in there just moved.

But Lee’s luck just changed—that’s no drowned rat. It’s her thoroughly drenched, pathetically skinny, and terminally cute new BFF— an orange and white kitten tiny enough to fit in a pocket. Well, forget the surveillance.

When you catch on that this is the kind of mystery that starts with rescuing a kitten, you know you’re in good hands!

But Lee can’t forget the surveillance—she’s been assigned to the case by her formidable boss, the elegant Lila Alvarez (aka her mom), who’s doing a favor for an old friend. When she investigates why the rat hasn’t left his lair, she discovers the worst,— he has a few fresh holes in his chest.

She soon uncovers a criminal web of international proportions amid dark and harrowing dangers she never signed up for. But is she up to a near-death experience? Well! Is a kitten adorable?

*As appears on Amazon.

My Review

A fun cozy mystery. As a private investigator for her company’s family business, Lianna Alvarez is typically tasked with rooting out the culprits behind corporate espionage in Silicon Valley. Except her current case brings her face-to-face with a dead body. The story is told from Lianna’s point of view – the conversational style is candid and humorous. Lianna’s outlook is refreshing and the family interactions add punch. And, of course, the kitten is an adorable addition to the Alvarez clan. Although in some places the writing could have been more polished and with less fashion-oriented details, the plot was interesting with the requisite twists to be found in any mystery. All in all, I enjoyed it.