Release Spotlight & Giveaway: DEAD WEEK by Kelly Brankenhoff

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As part of  tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s spotlight shines on DEAD Week, A Cassandra Sato Mystery by Kelly Brankenhoff.

About the Book

Will Dead Week kill Cassandra’s career?

DEAD-WEEKVP of Student Affairs Cassandra Sato has a desk full of problems and it’s not even Thanksgiving break.

A student’s injury and a deaf advocacy project brings national media attention to underfunded Morton College.

Cassandra’s new boss talks to her dead husband. Cassandra’s mentor thinks he’s a superhero in a senior citizen’s body. And Cassandra, recently moved from Hawai’i, can’t crack the code of what to wear during November in Nebraska.

Is there more to the Vietnam-era story of a student’s death? Cassandra’s search for the long-buried truth stirs up the wrath of those who want to keep the past forgotten.

Giveaway

Click to enter a rafflecopter for your change to win one of 10 Kindle copies of Dead Week.

About the Author

KELLYBRAKENHOFF-2KELLY BRAKENHOFF is an American Sign Language Interpreter whose motivation for learning ASL began in high school when she wanted to converse with her deaf friends. Her first novel, Death by Dissertation, kicked off the Cassandra Sato Mystery Series. She also wrote Never Mind, first in a children’s picture book series featuring Duke the Deaf Dog. She serves on the Board of Editors for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf publication, VIEWs. The mother of four young adults and two dogs, Kelly and her husband call Nebraska home.

Her first mystery, Death by Dissertation, released April 22, 2019.

Author Links

Purchase Link – Amazon 

Review: REST IN PIECES by Katie Graykowski

Browsing the endless list of titles on my Kindle that I had yet to read, I came across a book that I downloaded a long time ago.  It’s not a new release, but Rest in Pieces by Katie Graykowski made for a fun diversion.

Description

restinpiecesMustang Ridges isn’t a town, a stripper, or some old western movie. She’s a feisty, single mom living in the small town of Lakeside, Texas where money does buy happiness and keeping up appearances is much more important than the truth. Six months ago on her thirtieth birthday, her husband decided that married life, fatherhood, and his job as the Lakeside Chief of Police weren’t as exciting as a permanent vacation to Grand Cayman with his mistress and a million dollars in diamonds he stole from the police evidence lockup.

Mustang is a pariah in a Lakeside full of piranha. But she refuses to leave—this is her home, and she figures that if she can’t join them, then she’ll beat them at their own game. With a little luck, some intimidation, and the help of her good friends Monica and Haley, Mustang presides over her own little slice of Lakeside, the Bee Creek Elementary Parent Teacher Organization.

All is quiet in Lakeside until Molly Miars, the kindergarten teacher, is found dead. According to the new police chief, she overdosed on heroin. That doesn’t explain why her head was the only body part to make it to her funeral. Mustang and her fellow PTOers don’t buy the heroin overdose for a second.

Vowing to do right by Molly, the PTO decides to investigate.

Quickly they find that Lakeside isn’t the quiet, sleepy town it appears to be. There is a dark side—money laundering and drug trafficking. When Mustang’s name turns up on a contract killer’s hit list, things go from bad to worse. Can she and the PTO stay alive long enough to find out who killed Molly Miars?

My Review

Mustang, Monica, and Haley (dare I say, partners in crime)  make for a unique team of sleuths. The three women are great friends and fellow members of the local Parent-Teacher Organization, with all of the associated drama. And they all knew the victim. They manage to find their way into some pretty far-fetched, yet humorous situations as they try to discover what happened to Molly. The story moved along at a nice pace, with enough twists to keep you wondering what might happen next and, of course, who the killer might be. Although Mustang succeeded in uncovering Molly’s killer, some of the questions raised were left unanswered, presumably to be addressed in the next book in the series.  It was a lively, enjoyable read.

Content advisory:  Although it didn’t bother me, this book does include slightly more graphic content and stronger language than the average cozy mystery. 

Review: MIND YOUR MANORS by CeeCee James

Today’s post features a book I recently read and enjoyed!

About the Book

MindManorsMeet Stella O’Neil, retired FBI agent Oscar O’Neil’s granddaughter. She’s got a lot on her plate, trying to figure out her crazy, stubborn family, the hidden secrets that caused her grandfather’s estrangement from her dad, and starting out as a realtor. Throw in a dead body found in what used to be the town’s “royalty” family’s manor, and she’s neck deep in a mystery.

She may be sweet, but she’s pretty stubborn herself.
As Stella’s curiosity leads her from one town resident to the next, a dramatic tale of family secrets starts to appear, but is she getting too close to the truth? A scary car chase in the dark has her nerves on edge, but she won’t give up until she finds out who the skeleton once was. She’s so close… but someone… maybe more than one person… will do anything to stop her.

A clean cozy mystery. No graphic violence, sex, or strong language.

My Review

Stella’s first assignment at Flaming Royalty has her visiting the three senior siblings who live in a creepy old mansion that needs to be readied for an Open House. They are bizarre, to say the least.  When Stella discovers a skeleton in the house,  she decides to investigate on her own, and as a relative newcomer, she becomes acquainted with the community and its history in the process. The pace picks up quickly with a series of suspicious incidents, and plot twists as the story unfolds.  This was a  very well written read, with vivid, yet concise descriptions, and memorable characters – an enjoyable page-turner that kept me up way past my bedtime.

Release Spotlight: OLD FRIENDS AND NEW, ANOTHER MURDER by Christa Nardi

Earlier this month brought the release of another great book from Christa Nardi – Old Friends and New, Another Murder – the third book in her successful Sheridan Hendley Mystery Series. Check it out.

oldfriendsAbout the Book

A touch of nostalgia, a murder, and good friends.
When a former colleague is implicated in his neighbor’s demise, Sheridan Hendley returns to Cold Creek to prove his innocence. Annoying as Max can be, she can’t imagine the quirky professor is capable of murder. Unfortunately, not everyone shares her opinion. Of course, it doesn’t help that Max threatened his neighbor in a public place soon before the man was murdered. Or that the victim’s drug shipments had a habit of turning up on Max’s doorstep.

The book is available on Amazon.

About the Author

Christa Nardi is an accomplished achristauthor of cozy mysteries. Christa’s background is in higher education and psychology, much as her protagonist, Sheridan Hendley in the Cold Creek mystery series. She has always loved mysteries – reading them, writing them, and solving them. Christa is a member of Sisters in Crime.

You can find Christa at:

Review: MURDER, CURLERS, AND CREAM by Arlene McFarlane

After a particularly stressful week, I was looking for something fun to read. After all, sometimes we all need to escape for a few hours.  And so I dove into Murder, Curlers, and Cream by Arlene McFarlane.  Its the first of four books in the Valentine Beaumont Mystery Series.

Descriptioncurlersandcream

Valentine Beaumont is a beautician with a problem. Not only has she got a meddling mother, a wacky staff, and a dying business, but now she’s got a dead client who was strangled while awaiting her facial.

With business the way it is, combing through this mystery may be the only way to save her salon. Until a second murder, an explosion, a kidnapping, death threats, and the hard-nosed Detective Romero complicate things. But Valentine will do anything to untangle the crime. That’s if she can keep her tools of the trade in her bag, keep herself alive, and avoid falling for the tough detective.

In the end, how hard can that be?

My Review

From the book’s opening sentence (“You wound a perm rod around a man’s what?”), two things became clear:  1) Valentine is a different kind of sleuth and  2) this would be an entertaining read.  And it was. I laughed a lot.  Valentine has a knack for improvising when she’s in a predicament.  Even though she is quite ditsy and does some stupid things, she is likeable.  She is a good person.  Even Detective Romero, the enigmatic hot detective, likes her – lending an element of romantic suspense to the story.  The murder mystery was laid out nicely, developing at a good pace, and the identity of the culprit was divulged only as the story neared its end.

If you’re looking for a serious literary read, look elsewhere.  If you’re looking for an  entertaining escape – this book is for you.

The book is available on Amazon.

About the Author

Arlene McFarlane is the USA Today bestselling author of the Murder, Curlers series. Previously an aesthetician, hairstylist, and owner of a full-service salon, Arlene now writes full-time. She’s also an accomplished pianist and makeover artist. When time allows, she plays publicly and posts makeovers on her website.

Spotlight: SOUTHERN HARM by Caroline Fardig

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to shine the spotlight on Caroline Fardig’s recent release, Southern Harm – the second book in her Southern B&B mystery series.   I have yet to read any of the books in this series, however this fan of her Java Jive series has added them to my TBR list.

About the Book

SOUTHERN-HARMA little Southern charm never killed anybody—until now—in an enchanting cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Southern Discomfort and the Java Jive novels.

After solving a murder at a local restaurant, Quinn Bellandini just wants to get back to her comfortable life running her grandfather’s B&B in Savannah, Georgia, with her sister, Delilah. But those plans get buried when Quinn and her new boyfriend, Tucker Heyward, dig up an old skeleton while doing some landscaping in his aunt Lela’s backyard. Before long, Lela becomes the prime suspect in the thirty-three-year-old unsolved murder of a high school homecoming queen.

Tucker is devastated. But Quinn’s conscience won’t let her risk an elderly woman spending her twilight years in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. And Delilah, bored by the quiet B&B biz, has been itching to do some more investigating of her own.

Soon they’re questioning a growing list of suspects, from nosy neighbors and snooty Savannah socialites to mild-mannered teachers and old high-school friends of the victim—including Quinn and Delilah’s own parents. But no one is safe from a killer who’s totally old school.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a digital copy of Southern Harm from the author.

About the Author

caroline-headshots-2015-10-06-0008CAROLINE FARDIG is the USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR of the Java Jive Mysteries series and the Lizzie Hart Mysteries series. Fardig’s BAD MEDICINE was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Social Media

Don’t miss Caroline Fardig’s thrilling Java Jive mysteries, which can be read together or separately:
DEATH BEFORE DECAF | MUG SHOT | A WHOLE LATTE MURDER | BREW OR DIE | MURDER OVER MOCHAS

Review & Giveaway: BOOKMARKED FOR MURDER by V.M. Burns

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read Bookmarked for Murder, the 5th book in the Mystery Bookshop series by V.M. Burns.

About the Book

Amateur sleuth Samantha Washington’s shopping trip to Chicago takes a deadly detour when a man is murdered on her bus . . .
 
BOOKMARKED FOR MURDERAfter some post-Christmas retail therapy in the Windy City, mystery bookshop owner and historical whodunit novelist Sam Washington is returning home to North Harbor, Michigan, on a chartered bus. With Nana Jo and her gal pals Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae from Shady Acres Retirement Village along for the ride, it’s a lively trip. But one passenger is not so lively—a gentleman Irma befriended is found dead in his seat after an unscheduled stop. The ladies immediately shift gears to find out who punched his ticket, while Sam slips into the driver’s seat to make sure Nana Jo and her crew steer clear of fatal conclusions . . .

My Review

When Sam (Samantha) joins her grandmother and her friends from the Shady Acres Retirement Home on a trip to the windy city,  a passenger is killed on the return trip.   With the help of her Nana Jo and the quirky residents of the retirement home,  Sam is determined to find out who killed the well-known author and why.

Sam is a likeable character and I identified with her ambition to write. Sam is also working on writing her own mystery, so you get another mystery as Sam works on her book at regular intervals.  Personally, I found the additional mystery somewhat distracting; I think it slowed the overall pace of the book.

Although this is the fifth book in the Mystery Bookshop series it can easily be enjoyed as a standalone.

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

Giveaway

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

About the Author

62CV.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of  Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com

Author Links:

Purchase Links – Amazon –  Barnes & Noble – IndieBound  – Books-A-Million –  Hudson BooksellersKobo

 

 

Review & Giveaway: THE WIPEOUT AFFAIR by Rachel Neuburger Reynolds

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of  The Wipeout Affair, the second book in the Red Frog Beach Mystery Series by Rachel Neuburger Reynolds.

About the Book

Ready to go back to the beach?
51tf2O1OGLL._SY346_Lexie Milano left her heart in Bocas del Toro, and the new and improved New Yorker makes the big choice to move to the laid-back Caribbean island permanently. Piña coladas, white sand beaches, and a little cabin of her own on the edge of the rainforest complete her picture of the perfect tropical future awaiting her. But if it looks too good to be true, it usually is. . . .

When the body of a beautiful wealthy local is found at an isolated surf camp, the owner calls on Lexie to help him figure out who did it in this delicious whodunit. Reluctant sleuth Lexie first turns to the police, but her sudden access to a treasure-trove of island secrets convinces her it’s time to solve another murder on her own.

Favorite characters from Drowning Lessons return to grace the pages of this comedic mystery, including Migs, the handsome photographer; Lloyd, the genius with the cryptic past; and Lexie’s new best friend, Detective LaGuardia. Between old friends, new associates, and the added potential of shark attacks, The Wipeout Affair will leave you laughing and guessing until the very end.

This is the second in the series but can be read as a stand alone novel.

My Review

Lexi has escaped her old life in New York in favor of a paradise-like island on the coast of Panama. She is only starting to put down roots and make friends when her friend Jazz turns up dead.  The prime suspect is one of her employers and someone she feels could not possibly be the culprit, so she takes it upon herself to prove his innocence.

Even though the identity of the murderer didn’t really surprise me, the story was nicely paced with a number of plot twists and suspenseful incidents.   The unusual location, surfer milieu, and somewhat quirky characters made for a book that is a good choice if you are looking for a light, entertaining read.

Note: I have not read the first book in this series.  Although this book can be read as a standalone, I suspect it might be best to read them in order.

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

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win one of 5 ebook copies of The Wipeout Affair.  Good luck!

About the Author

RACHEL-NEUBURGER-REYNOLDSRachel Neuburger Reynolds is the author of the Red Frog Beach Mystery Series. Book 1, Drowning Lessons, was released on May 21, 2019, and the second in the series, The Wipeout Affair, was released on October 17, 2019. She’s also working on a separate series, The Evelyn Bay Murder Mystery series, and has written book one The Death Of A Classic. If all goes as planned you’ll be reading this in 2020. This is the first of book of seven in the series. Two of her plays have been produced in recent years. The Silencer, a cautionary tale about the perils of online dating, premiered at the Edinburgh Festival, followed by a run in New York. Nepenthe, a one-woman show about the 1960’s Hollywood-fication of the Holocaust had its premiere in London, and she is currently in talks about a film adaptation in 2021. Previous to her life of putting pen to paper, she produced theatre in New York City for fifteen years. Though she bounces back and forth between London in New York my headquarters is in Crowhurst on the South Coast of the UK. Please check out more at RachelNeuburger.com

Author Links

Purchase Links:  Amazon – Kindle

Click here to visit the other stops on the tour for more reviews, guest posts and more.

Spotlight & Giveaway: A BAD HAIR DAY COOKBOOK by Nancy J. Cohen

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today the spotlight shines on  A Bad Hair Day Cookbook – a collection of recipes from  Nancy J. Cohen’s culinary cozy mystery series.

About the Book

Cookbook-eBook-coverAre you having a bad hair day? Whip out your whisk, snatch up your spoon, and prepare your palate. Inside the pages of this cookbook are recipes that will bring you good cheer.

Enjoy 160+ tasty recipes from Nancy J. Cohen’s popular Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series. Included in this cookbook are excerpts, cooking tips, and anecdotes written by hairstylist and savvy sleuth Marla Vail. From appetizers to desserts, Marla offers cooking tips and tricks along with commentary about the dishes she prepares for her family. Whether you’re a skilled cook or an eager novice, this cookbook will unravel the mystery of cooking. Put on your apron and plan to make some killer recipes. Bonuses Include:

  • Meet the Sleuth
  • Introduction by Marla Vail
  • Cooking Tips
  • Excerpts from Series Titles
  • Themed Menu Suggestions
  • “A Sabbath Dinner” by Nancy’s Mother

For Home Cooks, Food Lovers, Mystery Fans and Cookbook Collectors.

Purchase Links –  Amazon Kindle   Amazon Print   Apple Books    Nook    Kobo    Books2Read    BookBub   Goodreads

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win a lovely kitchen gift basket from the author.

About the Author

PubPinkNancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won a Readers’ Favorite gold medal, placed first in the Chanticleer International Book Awards and third in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy’s instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery, was nominated for an Agatha Award and won a gold medal at the President’s Book Awards from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys cooking, fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping.

Author Links

Guest Post & Giveaway: A LEGACY OF MURDER by Connie Berry

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to have Connie Berry as a guest on my blog today, as she celebrates the release of A Legacy of Murder, the second book  in the  Kate Hamilton Mystery series.


TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?  by Connie Berry

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The picture above is an unedited, unexpurgated photograph of the inside of my bathroom cabinet, jam-packed with items I need to start my day—toothbrush and toothpaste, make-up remover, hairspray, creams, serums, brushes, foundation, eye-liner, and lipstick. Lots of lipstick. Fifty-four tubes, to be precise. All of them red.

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? I’m a self-confessed over-purchaser of red lipstick, perpetually in search of that one perfect shade—not too light, not too dark, not too orangey nor too pinky. I probably own every shade of red lipstick ever created. I remember learning in my sophomore year of high school the principle of “diminishing returns:” the more you have a something, the less you want of it. Ice cream was the example back then, and I understood how the principle worked. So why doesn’t it work with red lipstick?

weasel.jpgAs a writer, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing as well. Writers depend upon words, but we can overuse them. Words we love. Words that weasel their way into our writing and lessen the impact. My own particular weasel words include: just, little, almost, nearly, too, about, a bit, seems, actually, like, and that. They scatter themselves so freely into my writing that I have to search for them later and weed them out. I read once that weasel words are used to make a statement seem more convincing or authoritative than it might actually be. [I used three weasel words in the previous sentence—see how insidious they are?] In reality, they accomplish the opposite.

Watson's Dictionary of Weasel WordsIn 2004 Don Watson published Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Clichés, Cant & Management Jargon (don’t get me started on management jargon). A wonderful tool for writers, but if you’re thinking about purchasing a copy, be warned that Amazon is now selling the hardcover for $124. Used copies go for $50 and up. I’d check your local library.

But it’s not just certain words we overuse. Sometimes writers use too many words, period. We overwrite. One of the most useful things I learned as an aspiring author was to make an outtakes file. For me, revision includes paring down, tightening up—eliminating everything, as Hank Phillippi Ryan says, that “isn’t the book.” That can be hard. Consigning superfluous words, sentences, even whole paragraphs to an outtakes file feels better than deleting them. And, who knows, I might just use those words again.

Do you buy too much of something? Shoes? Jeans? Books?
What about weasel words? Can you name yours?


About a Legacy of Murder

A-Legacy-of-Murder-CoverAmerican antique dealer Kate Hamilton’s Christmastime jaunt to a charming English village leads to an investigation of a missing ruby…and a chain of murders.

It’s Christmastime and antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is off to visit her daughter, Christine, in the quaint English village of Long Barston. Christine and her boyfriend, Tristan, work at stately-but-crumbling Finchley Hall. Touring the Elizabethan house and grounds, Kate is intrigued by the docent’s tales of the Finchley Hoard, and the strange deaths surrounding the renowned treasure trove. But next to a small lake, Kate spies the body of a young woman, killed by a garden spade.

Nearly blind Lady Barbara, who lives at Finchley with her loyal butler, Mugg, persuades Kate to take over the murdered woman’s work. Kate finds that a Burmese ruby has vanished from the legendary Blood-Red Ring, replaced by a lesser garnet. Were the theft and the woman’s death connected?

Kate learns that Lady Barbara’s son fled to Venezuela years before, suspected of murdering another young woman. The murder weapon belonged to an old gardener, who becomes the leading suspect. But is Lady Barbara’s son back to kill again? When another body is found, the clues point toward Christine. It’s up to Kate to clear her daughter’s name in Connie Berry’s second Kate Hamilton mystery, a treasure for fans of traditional British mysteries.

Giveaway

Enter the rafflecopter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card from the author.

About the Author

Author-Photo-By-Tree-Final-DaveLike her protagonist, Connie Berry was raised in the antiques trade. After teaching theology for twenty-five years, she took up writing mysteries featuring high-end antiques and the legacy of the past. Connie loves history, cute animals, travel with a hint of adventure, and all things British. She lives in Ohio with her husband and adorable dog, Millie.

Author Links:

Purchase:    Amazon    Barnes & Noble   Indiebound     Kobo

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