Review: HER SILENT CRY by Lisa Regan

This summer I got a lot of reading done. For a slight change of pace, I downloaded a review copy of Her Silent Cry (Detective Josie Quinn Book 6) from Net Galley.  After all, I couldn’t resist a thriller with such a beautiful cover.

Description

51xgehv2bpblRound and round she goes, blonde pigtails flying, her high-pitched giggle catching on the wind. But as the ride slows to a stop, her seat is suddenly empty. Little Lucy is gone…

When seven-year-old Lucy Ross is snatched from the carousel in Denton city park, Detective Josie Quinn joins the frantic search. She’s the one who finds Lucy’s sparkly butterfly backpack abandoned by the ticket booth, a note with a devastating message stuffed inside: answer your phone, or your sweet little darling will die…

The next day, Lucy’s parents are filled with hope when they pick up a call which they think is from their babysitter – but instead it’s a chilling male voice on the line. Josie races to the babysitter’s small apartment only to find her lifeless body in a tangle of sheets on her bed.

Josie is faced with the most high-stakes case of her career as each new phone call from someone connected to the family ends with the shocking discovery of another body. This twisted killer wants revenge, and he won’t stop until the Ross family are in pieces…

Something is telling Josie that Lucy’s parents aren’t giving her the whole truth, but digging deeper into their lives will force her to confront a life-changing secret of her own. Does Josie have what it takes to crack this case? She has no choice if she’s going to bring Lucy home alive…

Her Silent Cry is available on Amazon.

My Review

This police procedural/thriller was a page-turner. From the onset, you are invested – you want to know what happened to Lucy, who took her, and why.  Josie is strong, smart, and determined. She is quick to take charge and willing to do whatever needs to be done to find the missing child. The investigation points in one direction, only to then turn in another, and then veer off in yet another – without identifying the kidnapper and motive until almost the very end. Relatable characters and unexpected plot twists made for an engrossing read.

This was my first time reading anything by Lisa Regan;  it probably won’t me my last.    Although Her Silent Cry can be read as a standalone,  I may have to find time now to go back and read the rest of the series.

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: THE ORNERY GENE by Warren C. Embree

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As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours,  this city girl vicariously ventured into the world of ranching and rodeos by reading The Ornery Gene by Warren C. Embree.

About the Book

cover-embree-ornery-gene-SQWhen itinerant ranch hand Buck Ellison took a job with Sarah Watkins at her ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska, he thought he had found the place where he could park his pickup, leave the past behind, and never move again.

On a rainy July night, a dead body at the south end of Sarah’s ranch forces him to become a reluctant detective, digging into the business of cattle breeding for rodeos and digging up events from his past that are linked to the circumstances surrounding the murder of Sam Danielson.

Working with his boss Sarah, her nephew Travis Martin, and the cook Diane Gibbons, Buck unmasks the murderer, but at the cost of learning the reality of past events that he chooses to keep to himself.

Scroll down to the end of this post to read an excerpt!

My Review

This well written mystery is set against the backdrop of rural Nebraska and the world of cattle ranching and rodeos.

As the story progresses the personalities of the different characters emerge as events from the past are brought into focus.  Kind of like peeling off the skin of an onion – layer by layer.  This was particularly true with regard to Buck; each new twist in the story brought with it new information about his past.

I enjoyed the glimpse into life on a ranch. The descriptions of the region and the way of life were detailed enough to be vivid yet seamlessly woven into the story, without slowing the down the overall pace.  The mystery itself was unusual and, although not jam-packed with suspense,  the identify of the culprit came as a surprise.  I liked it.

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.

Giveaway

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

About the Author

Warren-EmbreeWarren Embree and his wife grew up in the Sandhills of Nebraska. He did both farm work and ranch work during those years, and he still keeps track of what goes on in the hills. After leaving the area, he pursued an academic career in English, Classical Languages, and Divinity. He lectured at a couple of institutions and preached at a few churches, and he now works in Lincoln as a data analyst for the University of Nebraska. His knowledge and love of the unique culture of the Sandhills, his education in languages and literature, and his analytical skills contribute to his story telling. He and his wife currently live in Nebraska and have 3 grown children.

Catch Up With Warren Embree On:  warrenembree.com, Goodreads, & Facebook!

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE
Wednesday, 9:15 p.m.

Sam Danielson slowed his pickup to a stop beside an old cattle chute, switched off the engine, rolled the window all the way down, and listened. He absentmindedly counted the cricket chirps for ten seconds, added forty to the number of chirps and calculated it to be about sixty-five degrees or so outside. A trick his dad had taught him. It was a little chilly for July in this part of the hills, but he had heard the low rumbling of thunder on the drive out. It smelled like rain; there was a storm moving from the northeast that was cooling things down. There could even be some ice in it. He checked his watch: nine-fifteen. Just past twilight. He opened the pickup door and took a deep breath. He reached over, grabbed the flashlight from the glove box, and slid out of the driver’s seat onto the soft sand.

Off in the distance, he heard a mama cow lowing. This was the life he had chosen, and he had never looked back. It hadn’t been easy working for, and then with, his dad. They had gone back and forth on the best way to select the bulls and broncos they supplied for “rough stock” events at the rodeos in the Sandhills of western Nebraska. There was only one way for Dad. “You don’t have the feel for how much the bull don’t want rode,” his dad would say. But Sam had gone to school and studied twentieth-century methods of livestock rearing. For his dad it was a way of life; for Sam it was a business. Sam liked the numbers. He liked to narrow the odds by more than just a feeling. He had tried to show his dad the value in breeding techniques and genetic tracking in estimating the probability that a particular bull would do well in the arena. His dad would just laugh it off. “Show me the ornery gene,” his dad would laugh. “I’ll have five bulls picked before you decide on one.” But Sam knew his would be a better one than the five. He could prove the temperament of a bull before anyone tried to ride it. He had never convinced his dad. The ornery gene had been elusive, but not the genetic makeup of the ornery bulls. He had been right, and he had a genetically identifiable line of stock to prove it.

During his travels from his ranch outside of Laramie, Wyoming, Sam had been made aware of a genetic curiosity in one of the cattle he purchased in Colorado in the spring. Being off in the records would end up being off in the genetic makeup of the calves. There never was just one gene that made the difference. It was a matter of multiple generations. He had traced the lines that looked the most promising, and closely followed the leaders in the industry. Discovering that curiosity had led him into this part of the Sandhills of Nebraska. Talking about it at the bar had got him into an argument with the old cowboy, and listening to the old man had brought him to this particular spot.

“You’ll find what you’re looking for out there,” the old cowboy had said. “Then you’ll know I was telling you the truth.” Danielson switched the flashlight on and scanned the area around the cattle chute. He had let himself be convinced that the old man knew a thing or two about cattle breeding. What had surprised Danielson most was that the old man had known about the science behind modern breeding at all. The old cowboy looked more like he’d been “rode hard and put up wet” as his dad would have said: a man who had spent a hard life out in the sun and the rain and the snow. Danielson expected someone like that to know less about biogenetics and more about old school solutions. Like his dad.

The excitement the old cowboy had shown assured Danielson it would be worth his time to find out if he was headed in the right direction. But as he looked around the area, all he saw was a dump site for old batteries, tires, cook stoves, windmill parts, cans, bed springs, and used up corral panels. He saw nothing that would explain the old cowboy’s intensity. Now he was more curious to find out how the old cowboy would explain the genetic anomaly that he was so passionate about. It was one of those things his dad would say shouldn’t make a whole lot of difference in his deciding on a bull. It probably wasn’t all that important to breeders either. But he was curious, and keeping careful records was important to the integrity of breeding livestock.

It was a necessary component in the breeding business and his business. He was hoping he could find some answers out here as he tried to piece together the puzzle. He was determined to take some time to track it down to the source and maybe be able to verify when and where the mistake was made.

He had tried to be low-key when he was asking questions, but the speed at which the old cowboy had raised his hackles this afternoon showed Danielson just how hard that was going to be. He had touched the wrong nerve on the first try. He wasn’t sure whether he had asked the wrong question or his question had been taken the wrong way. It took a couple of beers and a good bit of time getting the old man calmed down. When it finally got friendly again, the old cowboy had told him about the spot out here in the hills. He gave directions and said he’d meet him out there around nine that evening.

As he waited for the old cowboy to show up, Danielson kicked at a broken pitman, picked it up, and used it to move around some cans at the edge of the dump site. He wasn’t terribly interested in getting bitten by a rattlesnake or a rat. It was a half-hearted effort. He sniffed the air again and caught the scent of pine and cedar trees this time. The hills hadn’t changed much from when he was a kid except the cedar trees. They were becoming a weed out in the hills. He shoved a wooden box with the pitman, then threw the stick of wood back into the pile. It was altogether possible that the old cowboy had sent him out on a snipe hunt. It just as well be. There was nothing he’d seen so far that was tied to the cattle breeding. If it were here, it wasn’t something obvious. What galled him was that he could be looking right at it and still not see it. For that matter, there could be nothing to it.

A loud clap of thunder caused Danielson to look up at the sky. In the southwest the clouds were fast turning to an ugly black. He saw the lightning streak across the sky and started counting. He reached fifty-two and he heard the thunder again. The storm was only about ten miles away. He didn’t want to get caught in the storm, and he hadn’t found anything yet. It wouldn’t be the first time he had gone on a wild goose chase.

He walked over to the rear of the pickup, pulled out a can of chewing tobacco from his back pocket, and stuffed a pinch in the back of his cheek. He put the can back in his pocket and picked up an old spur that was in the pickup box. He turned it over in his hand as he walked over to the chute—just an old spur. The old cowboy had given it to him, along with some old rodeo flyers, claiming he’d known Danielson’s dad and had got it from him. His dad had never been a bull rider, so the spur didn’t belong to him. He didn’t know whether someone had given it to his dad or his dad had simply found it tearing down after one of the rodeos they had supplied the bulls and broncs for. It reminded him that he needed to go through his dad’s things, a clutter of boxes, something he’d put off for ten years after his dad died. He tossed the spur toward the pickup box but hit the fender instead, bouncing the spur at an odd angle forward of the pickup. He walked over toward the cattle chute and battery and pointed his flashlight in the direction the spur had bounced.

Danielson caught the flash of lightning in the corner of his eye, heard a pop from behind him, then felt a sledgehammer hit him in the middle of the back. The strength drained out of his legs. He felt a sharp pain spring out from where the hammer had hit that seemed to rush through his torso. His legs gave out and he hit the ground, knees first, and then fell on his face. The pain was now a hot, burning sensation from the place where the hammer had hit and his back felt wet. He thought he had been struck with lightning, cursing himself for miscalculating the distance of the storm. He tried to use his arms to push himself up, but he couldn’t gather the strength. He dropped back down. He could feel that his back was soaked, but it hadn’t started raining yet.

From off to his right, he heard something moving cans around. It wasn’t the wind. It was deliberate. No animal would do that either. A few moments later, he felt someone kick his side. He grunted involuntarily, and then tried to roll over. His legs were a dead weight. He twisted his face away from the pickup, but couldn’t see anything. “He shot me,” he whispered. He tried to raise himself with his arms, but was light-headed now. I can’t believe he shot me. A few moments later rain poured from the clouds, diluting the blood from his back and mingling it with the sand.

Excerpt from The Ornery Gene. All rights reserved.

Spotlight & Recipe: RISKY BISCUITS by Mary Lee Ashford

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As part of a blog tour  organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post introduces Risky Biscuits, A Sugar and Spice Mystery, the first book in a new culinary cozy series by Mary Lee Ashford.

About the Book

Risky-Biscuits-HighResFormer magazine editor “Sugar” Calloway’s life has taken a delicious twist since she launched a community cookbook publishing business with blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer. Now these amateur sleuths must solve a small-town murder—without getting burned . .

Sugar and Spice Cookbooks’ newest project is a fundraiser organized by the St. Ignatius Crack of Dawn Breakfast Club, famous for their all-you-can-eat biscuits and gravy events. But when a group member is found dead, Sugar and Spice’s priorities change from raising dough to figuring out who put murder on the menu.

The return of former badboy Nick Marchant has stirred the town’s gossips too. Add a few grudges and some old-fashioned greed over a land deal into the mix, and it’s a recipe for mayhem. And when someone serves up a second helping of murder, Sugar and Spice need to sift the guilty from the blameless, or their next breakfast may be their last . . .

* Includes delicious recipes! *

Scroll down for a recipe for Biscuits and Gravy from Mary Lee Ashford

About the Author

Mary Lee Ashford is a lifelong bibliophile, and avid reader, and supporter of public libraries. In addition to writing the Sugar & Spice mystery series for Kensington Books, she also writes as half of the writing team of Sparkle Abbey, author of the national bestselling Pampered Pets mystery series from Bell Bridge Books.

Mary-Lee-Ashford-PhotoPrior to publishing Mary Lee won first place in the Daphne du Maurier contest, sponsored by the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA, and was a finalist in Murder in the Grove’s mystery contest, as well as Killer Nashville’s Claymore Dagger contest.

She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime – Iowa and a current board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC internet group Guppies.

Mary Lee has a passionate interest in creativity and teaches a university level course in Creative Management to MPA candidates, as well as presenting workshops and blogging about creativity. She loves encouraging other writers and is a frequent presenter on a variety of topics at workshops, conferences, and writers’ groups.

In her day job, Mary Lee is a Deputy Chief Information Officer. She currently resides in the Midwest with her husband, Tim, and Sparkle, the rescue cat namesake of the Sparkle Abbey pseudonym. Her delights are reading and enjoying her family and especially her six grandchildren.

Author Links

Purchase Links:  Amazon    Barnes & Noble     Kobo    iBooks

Biscuits and Gravy Recipe from Mary Lee Ashford

 

“Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.” – a saying from Sugar’s Aunt Crickett

Making your own made-from-scratch biscuits are so easy. Some people prefer drop biscuits, especially if they are going to be covered with tasty gravy. A few ingredients stirred together, drop them by the spoonful and pop them in the oven. Here’s a very simple recipe with basic ingredients you may already have in your kitchen.

Biscuits

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
¾ cup whole milk

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
Cut the butter into the flour mixture either with a pastry cutter or a knife. You can also use a cheese shredder to get small pieces.
Add the milk and stir until the ingredients are combined. Be careful not to overwork the mixture.
If you’re going to cut the biscuits, transfer your dough to a well-floured surface and fold the dough over several times. Use more flour, if you need to, in order to keep the dough from being sticky. And then flatten to about one-inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter.
If you’d prefer to drop the biscuits, use a spoon to drop the biscuits onto the parchment paper. You may have to add a little more milk to keep the dough the right consistency for dropping, but don’t add too much.
Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Gravy

Ingredients:
1 lb. pork sausage
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk

Instructions:
Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook thoroughly, stirring frequently.
Stir in flour.
Gradually add milk.
Cook until the mixture bubbles and thickens, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn.
Reduce heat and simmer a couple of minutes.
Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Spoon over biscuits and eat.

For more biscuit recipes, check out the Risky Biscuits section on Mary Lee Ashford’s Pinterest page.  https://www.pinterest.com/maryleeashford/risky-biscuits-book-2/

 

 

Cozy Happenings – July 2019

And the Cozy Happenings feature is back after a brief hiatus.

This month’s  “Cozy Happenings” post highlights new releases from my author friends from recent months.  Hope it helps you find something great to read.

Recent and New Releases – Check’em Out!

July_donuts   July_kathi  July_Guilty   July_Blind  July_Malice   July_witch

Watch out for these cozy sales: 

Review: SOUTHERN SASS AND KILLER CRAVINGS by Kate Young

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read Southern Sass and Killer Cravings, a new paranormal cozy mystery by Kate Young.

Description

Life has always been sweet on Georgia’s Peach Cove Island, but a case of murder has Marygene Brown down in the pits . . .

Southern-Sass-and-Killer-CravingsFor generations, the women of the Brown family on Peach Cove Island have been known for their Southern sass and sweet homemade desserts at their beloved Peach Diner. Since their mother’s passing two years ago, Marygene has been stuck in Atlanta while her sister Jena Lynn has been running the family business. Now Marygene has left her husband and returned to her hometown, where she can almost feel Mama’s presence.

But all is not peachy back home. Marygene has barely tied on an apron when a diner regular drops dead at the counter. When it turns out the old man’s been poisoned, Jena Lynn is led away in handcuffs and the family eatery is closed. Now, to save her sister and the diner, Marygene must find the real killer. With some startling assistance from her Mama’s spirit, Marygene will be serving up a special order of just desserts . . .

Includes seven recipes from Marygene’s Kitchen!

My Review

In this first is a series set in small town Georgia, Marygene has returned to  Peach Cove to run the diner with her sister.  When Jena Lynn becomes the prime suspect in a murder case, Marygene can’t sit idly by.  Her attempts to investigate provide insights into complex family relationships, a painful past, and a hint at better days to come.  The whodunnit side of the plot had a fair share of twists, with her mother’s ghost making an appearance at both convenient and inconvenient times.  The paranormal aspect of the story was for the most part nicely done, however I would have preferred if the resolution of the story had been more down to earth, more realistic.  That said, it was a pleasant read overall.

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.

About the Author

Sassauthorpic2018Kate Young writes humorous southern mystery novels. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Guppy Chapter. Kate lives in a small town in Georgia with her husband, three kids, and a Shih Tzu. When she is not writing her own books, she’s reading or cooking.

Author Links

Purchase Links — Amazon  B&N  Kobo  Indie Bound   ibooks    BAM

Giveaway

Kate young is hosting A PRE-ORDER CONTEST with fabulous prizes! A Coach Bag with matching wristlet and $120 in gift cards plus autographed copies of the book!  Go to  https://www.kateyoungbooks.com/pre-order-contest.html to enter.

For a full list of stops on this tour, click here.

Release Spotlight & Giveaway: FAIR GAME by Annette Dashofy

FAIR-GAME-BANNER-184As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post shines the spotlight on a the latest Zoe Chambers Mystery from Annette Dashof  – Fair Game.

About the Book

FAIR-GAMEParamedic Zoe Chambers hoped a week at the Monongahela County Fair, showing her horse and manning the ambulance, would provide a much-needed diversion from recent events that continue to haunt her.

An old friend, a bossy nemesis, and a teenage crush from her 4-H days fail to offer the distraction she had in mind. But ever the caregiver, she soon bonds with a troubled teen and a grieving father.

Back in Vance Township, a missing woman turns up dead, leading Police Chief Pete Adams into a journey through her mysterious final hours. With each new clue, the tragic circumstances of her death grow increasingly muddied.

A cryptic phone call leads Pete to join Zoe for an evening at the fairgrounds where the annual school bus demolition derby concludes with a gruesome discovery and a new case that may or may not be connected to the first.

Pete’s quest for the motive behind two homicides—and Zoe’s stubborn determination to reunite a family—thrust them both onto a collision course with a violent and desperate felon.

About the Author

Dashofy-1559-534x800Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2014 and BRIDGES BURNED was nominated for the 2015 Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel.

Author Links:

Purchase Links:   AmazonAmazon Hardcover/PaperbackB&NKoboIndieBound

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway  for a chance to win one of five print copies of Fair Game (U.S only).

For a full list of stops on this tour, click here.

Release Spotlight: THE BODY IN THE WETLANDS by Judi Lynn

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post shines the spotlight on a new release from Judi Lynn – The Body in the Wetlands (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery).

About the Book

THE-BODY-IN-THE-WETLANDSHigh summer in River Bluffs, Indiana, is always sweltering and sweet. But the heat is really on when a decidedly dead body turns up in the neighborhood.

When established house flippers Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod donate a week’s worth of remodeling work to Jazzi’s sister Olivia, they’re expecting nothing more than back-breaking roofing work and cold beers at the end of each long, hot day. With Jazzi’s live-in boyfriend and partner Ansel on the team, it promises to be a quick break before starting their next big project—until Leo, an elderly neighbor of Olivia’s, unexpectedly goes missing . . .

When the friendly senior’s dog tugs Jazzi and the guys toward the wetlands beyond Olivia’s neighborhood, they stumble across a decomposing corpse—and a lot of questions. With Jazzi’s pal Detective Gaff along to investigate, Jazzi finds her hands full of a whole new mystery instead of the usual hammer and nails. And this time it will take some sophisticated sleuthing to track down the culprit of the deadly crime—before the killer turns on her next . . .

About the Author

JUDI-LYNNJudi Lynn received a Master’s Degree from Indiana University as an elementary school teacher after attending the IPFW campus. She taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades for six years before having her two daughters.  She loves gardening, cooking and trying new recipes.

Readers can visit her website at www.judithpostswritingmusings.com and her blog writingmusings.com.

Purchase Links

Amazon   B&N   Kobo   Google Play

Review: DRONE STRIKE by Joe Giordano

If you enjoy international intrigue and suspense, you will want to check out Drone Strike: An Anthony Provati Thriller (Appointment with ISIL Book 2) by Joe Giordano.  I had reviewed the first book in the series, and was glad when the author offered me a review copy of the sequel.

Description

Drone Strike, an Anthony Provati Thriller. Karim’s family is killed as ‘collateral damage’ by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq. The Islamic State in the Levant exploits his rage, recruiting him for a terrorist attack on the U.S., and only Anthony Provati can stop him. Drone Strike takes you on a fast-paced adventure across the Mediterranean, into Mexico, finally arriving in the States. Drone Strike explores the psychological realities that seduce Karim to commit an act of terror, includes a love story between Moslem Karim and Miriam, a Christian woman he defends in Turkey, and highlights the plight of Middle Eastern and Central American refugees.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book. As in Appointment with ISIL, the first book in the series,  the author has created a somewhat disturbing scenario that strikes home given the threat of terror faced around the world today. I enjoyed following the protagonist, Anthony Provati, as he again tries to thwart a terrorist attack.  He is the same loveable, flawed guy who finds it hard to resist the temptation of a beautiful woman.

But before Anthony makes his appearance, the reader is introduced to Karim and is given a glimpse into the events that contributed to his bitterness toward America.  He is a particularly well developed character; an internal debate rages within him, particularly after he meets a Syrian Christian woman who is seeking refuge in Europe.

Clearly, an impressive amount of research went into this book – both with respect to the diverse geographic destinations and the cultures and organizations involved.

An interesting and engrossing read. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it.

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

For my review of the first book in this series, click here.
The book is available on Amazon.

Review & Giveaway: BAD PICK by Linda Lovely

As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading Bad Pick, the third book in the Udderly Kidding cozy mystery series. A fun read.

About the Book

Bad-Pick-Linda-lovelyVegan Brie Hooker lives and works with her feisty Aunt Eva at Udderly Kidding Dairy, a hop, skip, and jump away from South Carolina’s Clemson University. Brie’s fun farm outreach attempt backfires when religious extremists decide goat yoga is a form of devil worship. Believing one of the zealots might be persuaded to see reason, Brie’s free-wheeling friend Mollye convinces her they should call on the young woman. Big mistake.

Picketers at Udderly’s gates soon become the least of Brie’s troubles. Not only is she accused of murder, she worries the death might actually be her fault. Danger mounts when an old family friend’s visit ensnares Brie in a high-stakes feud between a U.S. Supreme Court nominee and the woman determined to expose his secrets. In her personal life, Brie’s still torn between the town’s two most eligible bachelors. While she’s edging toward a decision, she must first survive a cunning killer adept at crafting murders that look like tragic accidents. Will Brie be another “accident” victim? Pay a visit to Udderly Kidding Dairy and find out!

My Review

Brie Hooker is back in a delightful new cozy mystery.  She is a great character. Warm, caring, and tolerant of others who do not share her vegan outlook on life.  When someone somehow poisons the food she has prepared for food critics,  Brie has to find out who did it – if only to prove her own innocence and protect the reputation of the business she is in the progress of launching.  She does so with the help of two good-natured and protective guys – best friends, both of whom she happens to be openly dating at the same time.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a nicely paced and entertaining read, with just the right balance of humor, romance, and mystery.  And I have to admit that yoga sounds like fun, though I’d probably ignore the instructor and just sit around playing with the goats.

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

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway  for a chance to win an Amazon Gift Card (hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Linda Lovely).

About the Author

linda-lovely-Small-Best-Doe-Laugh

Hundreds of mystery writers have met Linda Lovely at check-in for the annual Writers’ Police Academy, which she helps organize. Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and ad copy. She writes a blend of mystery and humor, chuckling as she plots to “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her. Quite satisfying plus there’s no need to pester relatives for bail. Her new Brie Hooker Mystery series offers good-natured salutes to both her vegan family doctor and her cheese-addicted kin. Bad Pick is her eighth published mystery novel. She served as president of her local Sisters in Crime chapter for five years and belongs to International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
lindalovely.com 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Purchase Links

For a full list of stops on this tour, click here.

Spotlight: DOGS AND MORE DOGS, ANOTHER MURDER by Christa Nardi

Just over a week ago,  Christa Nardi released the second book in her Sheridan Hendley Mystery Series – if you are a fan of cozy mysteries, you won’t want to miss it.  And if you’re a dog lover, even better.

Description

DogsDogs_ChristaAn abandoned house, an abundance of dogs. And a dead body or two.

Sheridan Hendley’s volunteer position at Pets and Paws takes a new turn when more than twenty malnourished dogs are found at a rundown house on the outskirts of town. When the body of an elderly woman is found amidst mountains of clutter in the house, a search of the property leads to startling revelations. And another body. While Herman Stoneham’s death is deemed natural causes, his wife’s is not. Where did all the dogs come from and who’s responsible for Justine’s untimely death? Are the two connected? With dogs and murder at stake, Sheridan can’t help but get involved in the investigation.

About the Author

Christa Nardi (pen name) is an accomplished writer and an avid reader. Her love of mysteries began with Nancy Drew and other teen mysteries, as well as Perry Mason and similar detective series on television. Her favorite authors have shifted from Carolyn Keene and Earl Stanley Gardner to more contemporary mystery and crime authors over time. Christa has authored the 5-book Cold Creek cozy mystery series with the new spinoff series featuring the protagonist, Sheridan Hendley, a professor and psychologist. When not reading or writing, Christa enjoys travel with her husband, and playing with three dogs and three grand-daughters.

Read an Excerpt

The holiday decorations were packed away, the house no longer festive. I’d procrastinated much longer than any other year and now even New Year’s was a memory. Married to State Police Detective Brett McMann and stepmom to his teenaged daughter, Maddie, about six months now, it was sad to put our first Christmas as a family behind us. Still, I was truly relieved the hustle and bustle was over. Juggling two families had been stressful, though time with my parents and sibs, Kaylie and Kevin, was good. Drinking my never empty coffee, I relished the quiet and uncluttered living area.

“Sheridan, can I go skating with Nedra and Willie? Miss Melina is taking us.”

“Is your room clean? And what time will you be home?” Melina and I both volunteered at the local dog shelter, and her daughter, Nedra was in Maddie’s eight grade class. Little did Maddie know, Melina had texted me already about taking them skating. She knew I was volunteering at Pets and Paws today and this would give Maddie something to do. Winter break is great for a few days and then it gets old.

“Yes, my room is clean. I’ll be home before dinner.”

“Okay. Let’s make sure you have everything and you’re ready when they get here to pick you up.”

I followed her to her room, Charlie and Bella padding behind us. Sometimes Maddie’s teen version of a clean room and mine didn’t quite look the same. At least on the surface, this time we were on the same page. Even Bella’s toys were all assembled in her bed.

“Heavy socks so you don’t get blisters? Extra layers or a coat? It can get cold out there with the wind.” The weather had been pretty mild for Virginia in January so far, with only a few nights of frost, and mostly in the 40s.

The eighth grader made a face. “Jeesh, I’m not a child. Besides extra layers make me look fat.”

“But you’ll be warm. What about the thermals? They’re thin and help retain heat and then you might get by without a jacket.”

“Okay. Okay. Can you get my skates?”

“On it. Skates, gloves, scarf and hat coming up.” I ignored her eye roll and gathered everything together as Melina pulled up.

“Hurry up. They’re here.” She bustled out of the room, grabbed everything and was out the door. I waved to Melina from the door.

Only a few more days and Maddie would be back at school and I’d be back to work at Millicent College teaching on Wednesdays and Fridays. I finished my coffee and cleaned up. After letting Charlie and Bella out, I headed for Pets and Paws.

Smiling, I remembered the way Mrs. Chantilly had all the dogs decked out in bells, bows, and bowties before Christmas. Pets and Paws was in an old colonial home. Mrs. Chantilly lived upstairs and the dogs were downstairs. With Luke’s help, she’d decorated the house, inside and out. She’d always reminded me of Mrs. Claus and for two weeks she dressed the part and bounced around with abundant enthusiasm. More than one of the dogs managed to destroy her holiday trappings around the place from time to time, but she took it in stride.

The house was on the news and people came from all over to view it. She’d go out and invite them in to see the rest of the decorations – and the dogs. Not unintentional by any means, she managed to get many dogs adopted.

I chuckled to myself, recalling when she’d tried singing traditional holiday songs. Unlike me, she had a beautiful voice. The problem was some of the dogs. They tried to sing, too, only the howling was not quite in tune. Sure enough, as I pulled up in front of the house I noticed the decorations were gone from Pets and Paws now, too.

Luke was moving boxes and grunted hello as I arrived. A high school student with some bad habits, like the stray and rescue dogs Mrs. Chantilly collected, Luke was a restoration project. His legal issues led to his “volunteering” at Pets and Paws. When he first started his community service there, he scowled a lot and made me nervous. He was still an entitled beachboy type.

He’d made some attitude adjustments in the past few months and I was glad to see it. I still didn’t quite trust him despite Mrs. Chantilly always singing his praises. Mrs. Chantilly met me at the door, grandmotherly, soft, and light, only without the Mrs. Claus attire. I also noted the bounce in her step was gone. Even though she had to be in her sixties, she always seemed to have energy and a happy face.

“Isn’t this weather just delightful? Sunny, not too, too cold. I heard it’s going to freeze tonight and maybe snow. Those abandoned dogs wouldn’t survive if that happened.”

Now used to her manner of speech, I simply asked, “What abandoned dogs?”

“Over at the Stoneham place of course, near Blake Buchanan’s. Have you ever been to his home? It is beautiful. A mansion fit for a king. His wife, Ava, studied interior decorating you know.”

“No, I didn’t know. Did they find dogs at the Stoneham’s?”

“That’s what I said. Nobody ever bothered the Stoneham’s for many years. Older couple and all, their children grown and gone, they kept to themselves. Justine and Herman didn’t live there when I was growing up here. Someone else did though. Never knew who they were.”

Mrs. Dora Chantilly had left Clover Hill after high school and she’d only returned when her grandmother died and left her the house, now Clover Hill Pets and Paws.  Her grandmother had taken in strays and the place was a mess. I was about to ask again about the dogs, and an SUV pulled up.

“Here they are with more of the dogs. Poor things. Luke and I already fed and bathed the first group Blake brought over. I’m sure glad you’re here to help.”

I followed her as she hurried to the car and greeted Blake Buchanan, former mayor of Clover Hill. He took her in his arms and then seemed to realize I was there. He and Mrs. Chantilly had been an item in high school and they renewed their friendship when she returned.

“Dora, we uncovered a mama and pups.” He shook his head. “One of them didn’t make it. Dane mix. Where’s Luke? Even malnourished, it’ll take two of us to get her and her pups inside.” Mrs. Chantilly rushed to open the door and see to the animals.

“Mr. Buchanan, can you fill me in? Mrs. Chantilly hasn’t had a chance yet.”

He smiled and his eyes twinkled. We both understood that sometimes she was a bit hard to follow. Almost like putting a puzzle together. Me, I prefer things to be in order when someone is telling me a story.

“Last night, I was sitting on the deck and my dog, Bridgit, showed up with a puppy, not in good shape. As soon as I took the pup, she darted in the direction of the Stoneham place. I called to my wife, put the pup in a blanket, and took off after her.”

He paused for effect.

“The house was dark but Bridgit stood at the front porch and dug to get further underneath. I knocked at the door and no one answered. I called Chief Peabody and then with my flashlight got a look at dogs huddled together from the cold under the porch. With help, we extracted six dogs and two more puppies and brought them here.”

He shuddered. “Such bad shape. Bridgit still wasn’t happy, but that was all we could do last night. Four of us have been on the property this morning. Brought four more dogs earlier. Butch and Bridgit, my best dogs, are helping us wade through it.”

“Huh? What do you mean ‘wade through it’ – is the house that much of a mess?”

“That’s a mild description. Stuff stacked on top of stuff on top of stuff, and the smell.” He shuddered again. “This mama and pups were in the kitchen. We could hear yelping from other parts of the house.”

“Here comes Luke. We need to get these dogs  inside. Sheridan, can you start some formula going? These pups are near starved to death. And we’ll have to keep them isolated until the vet can check them out.”

Luke lumbered up and his eyes about popped out as he looked from Blake to the Dane and pups. “Where are we going to put all these dogs?”

Mrs. Chantilly’s face fell. “Mama and pups in the house. The side room on the right is empty now with all the adoptions. We put the first bunch in the room on the left. You were just in the garage. Is there room in there? Grandpa used to work out there so I think there’s electric heat if we need it and a bathroom, too. Blake, how many more dogs?”

He pulled her close. “Remember, we need to keep these dogs separate from your other dogs. Let me check out the garage. We can always pull your car out. Work on getting them some food and water. Luke, come with me.”

They disappeared. I turned to Mrs. Chantilly, “You stay with them. I’ll go get water and start the bottles going.”

As I walked in to the house, I glanced down at the concrete floor, painted blue slate and sealed. At least if the dogs made a mess, there wouldn’t be any damage. It was about an hour later when we finished relocating the Pets and Paws residents to the larger back room. The two new mamas and pups were situated on one side of the kitchen. They’d been bathed and fed and each family rested on a palette.

That left space in the other side room for any smaller dogs that might come in. If the new arrivals were medium to large sized dogs we moved them to the unattached garage. They’d been fed and some had been bathed, now settled into crates. The heat was on and that at least took the chill off. Not exactly warm, but the dogs would all be out of the wind.

Blake hinted there still would be more dogs coming. With Mrs. Chantilly’s blessing, I sent an email out to all the volunteers with a short note about the dogs coming in and needing assistance if they were available. Whatever supplies were needed, starting with towels and blankets, I was confident Blake would take care of them.

Excerpt from Dogs and More Dogs, Another Murder ©2019 Christa Nardi