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Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery #2 by Heather Day Gilbert

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About the Book

Title: Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Series: An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery

Publisher: Lyrical Underground

Released: October 2019

Exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake is nervous about her new job at the White Pine Wolf Preserve, but it turns out that the care and feeding of wild carnivores may be the least dangerous part of the gig . . .
 
Pet-sitter Belinda Blake is no stranger to dealing with wild animals, but she’s wary when the owner of the Greenwich, Connecticut, preserve asks her to help out with her “fluffy darlings.” Her caution seems justified on her very first day, when she discovers a tour guide—dead, bloodied, and surrounded by wolves in the enclosure.

Was it death by predator or something more sinister? The body count rises, but something’s not adding up. As she gets to know the rescued wolves and wolf-dog hybrids better, Belinda realizes that her human colleagues are not above suspicion. With help from her own “pack”—her pregnant sister, Red the chauffeur/bodyguard, and hunky farmer Jonas—Belinda is hot on the killer’s tail, but if she doesn’t find him soon, he’ll do more than muzzle her to keep the truth from escaping.

 

My Review

Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Heather Day Gilbert was one of the most satisfying cozies I have read. It just hit my reading sweet spot. The characters and story will stay with me as will the fear and trepidation. If I could, I would pick up book three, and start reading immediately. Thoughts?
First, while you can read this as a stand-alone, it will flow better if you read the books in order.

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Secondly, this cozy was totally satisfying…from the first word to last. The mystery involved animals, it was believable, and it moved along at a good pace. I was both in awe of the wolves and terrified of them at the same time. There were several quirky characters, but this is the Greenwich area, non? Gilbert draws some characters in ways that will cause you to love them, others are written to be abhorred, but all are mysterious and possible schemers. Finding the killer before she/he finds Belinda eluded me.
Thirdly, we begin to see a pretty interesting love triangle develop. Where is book three?! Ah, Sigh!

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Fourthly, there were plenty of humorous lines to off-set the seriousness of the subject, keeping this fun novel well within the « cozy» parameters. Available Oct. 1st or you can pre-order.

I received an ARC complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. This did not affect my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars = Superb!

About the Author

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.” 7232683

Find Heather on Pinterest (heatherdgilbert), Instagram (@heatherdaygilbert), Twitter (@heatherdgilbert), and Facebook (heatherdaygilbert). You can find all her books at heatherdaygilbert.com.

BLOG, Favorite, Lyrical Underground, NetGalley

Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass, #1 An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery by Heather Gilbert

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ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE: Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass, #1 An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery

AUTHOR: Heather Gilbert

PUBLISHER: Kensington/Lyrical Underground

RELEASED: June 25, 2019

When exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake moves into a carriage house in tony Greenwich, Connecticut, she’s hoping to find some new clients. Instead she discovers a corpse in the garden—and a knack for solving murders . . .  
 
Pet-sitter Belinda Blake doesn’t rattle easily, but move-in day has been eventful, to say the least. The python in her care tried to slither to freedom—just as she met Stone Carrington V, her landlords’ disarmingly handsome son. With the constrictor back in its cage, she heads out to the garden, only to discover a designer shoe poking out of the boxwood hedge—attached to a woman’s dead body.

The victim, Margo Fenton, was a Carrington family friend, and no one in their circle seems above suspicion. Between client trips to Manhattan and visits to her family in upstate New York, Belinda begins to put the pieces together. But though she’s falling for Stone’s numerous charms, Belinda wonders if she’s cozying up to a killer. And soon, daily contact with a deadly reptile might be the least dangerous part of her life . . .

MY REVIEW

I love cozies. Cozies that meet the original definition as near as I can tell can be hard to come by, but Heather Gilbert’s newest had me smiling. Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass by Gilbert is a new favorite in this category. I don’t know that Greenwich is considered a “small town,” but the setting of a carriage house on the grounds of a mansion worked. The main character is an exotic pet-sitter. So no kittens or dogs. In this case, the snake Belinda is caring for plays an important role. Quirky characters? At least one, and Belinda is a little out-of-the-ordinary herself. Her other job is to review video games. How can she then hold Stone accountable for having a real job?
But what I especially liked was the fact there was no bad language nor scenes I was ashamed to read. Sure, there is hanky-panky somewhere behind the scenes. But if there were not, would there be any enemies or deaths?

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This was just a fun(when not scary) cozy. The action really started to snowball faster than I had expected, and a great tension ensues as Belinda searches for the killer before the killer finds her. I was surprised at the outcome. Also, forbidden romances add romantic tension and puzzle to the novel as well. I truly enjoyed this offering and I can’t wait to see what Belinda is up to in the next book, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.
Fave quotes:
“My mom would tell me to embrace myself and stop trying to be someone I’m not…’Why fit in when you can stand out?’ she’d say.”
“I extended my foot and gave his leg a little nudge with the toe of my Doc Martins, a reminder that we’d come for more than just drinks and lies.”

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“When money’s your god, everything else is a poor substitute.”
“…there were so many mixed signals coming from Stone, he could be a drunk referee.”
“Sometimes one forgot things when one was flying by the seat of one’s pants.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions for which I am solely responsible.

MY RATING

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Publisher’s 7232683Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.”

Find Heather on Pinterest (heatherdgilbert), Instagram (@heatherdaygilbert), Twitter (@heatherdgilbert), and Facebook (heatherdaygilbert). You can find all her books at heatherdaygilbert.com.

 

 

2018 Top Ten Books, Barbour, Bethany House, Celebrate Lit Tour, Lyrical Underground, NetGalley, Revell

MY 2018 TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR

Like others whose lists I have already seen, I had difficulty narrowing my list of books I’ve read this year (79) down to the ten most important not to miss. I must include the fact that a particularly good book may be missing just because I didn’t get around to reading it. One book that should probably be on my list, I read last year at this time. With a little creativity to include a few more than 10, here is my list. These are not in order of preference. You can’t ask that from most book lovers. (It can change daily.)

1. A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano. 36394907

This is a rather allegorical novel of a vine keeper who takes over the vineyard of a great vintner. It is the vintner’s daughter who alternately criticizes and pines over the mysterious vine keeper. A romance and allegory so great I knew as I was reading it this would top my list of great books for this year.

 

 

 

2. River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart. 36569429

In pre-Civil War times, a small town rallies around a particularly loving and caring slave, as a Caucasian young lady who owes him her life and much of her mindset, decides whether she will support slavery or freedom for all. Heartwarming, also heartbreaking, this novel makes the reader wonder about their own mettle faced with issues of this magnitude.

 

3. Mind Games by Nancy Mehl.                                38484891

Mehl presents such great romantic suspense, yet I always find her characters so believable. Like yes, this really could happen to the average person (nevermind said average person is an extraordinary FBI profiler). This whole book is terrific, I mean terrifying. Yet the ending blew me away and left me wanting more. You will have to read it to understand. This is not your ordinary cliffhanger.

 

4.  The Cumberland Bride, # 5 Daughters of the 36040943Mayflower Series, by Shannon McNear.

Thrills and chills of a small group traversing the dangerous Cumberland Gap during the turbulent time of Daniel Boone. A young woman of eligible age falls for the group’s half-Indian guide. As romantic as they come!

 

5. Nantucket Legacy Series by Suzanne Woods Fisher. This includes (1) Phoebe’s Light; (2) Minding the Light; and (3) The Light of Day.

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Wow! This series about the Quakers of Nantucket Island is a true treasure. Starting with the life of a lady destined to be a leader, “Great Mary,” we find out about her in each book through parts of her diary that are shared. Since each book is a split-time novel, we also learn about another person or person who lived a generation or more later. We see lives of the islanders intertwining, and both evil and good reaching down through later generations, depending upon whether the characters are truly following “the light.” A great historical about the times when whaling was a viable trade.

 

 

6. A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green.

Jocelyn Green does great historical research, yet like Laura Frantz and Michelle Griep, she presents it so well. I had never been in a French class or read a book that looked at Marie Antionette and Louis XVI with anything but disdain and 35069159the attitude “they had it coming.” There’s always another side. imagine my surprise to hear about the Jacobites in America, and the danger they posed to those who appeared loyal to the deposed French crown. I loved this book through and through. French history, Franco-American history, and the Whiskey Rebellion?! Learn on!!

 

7. A Tale of Two Hearts, #2 A Dickens Christmas, by Michelle Griep. 38746239

This is the story of a poor law clerk and an impoverished innkeeper’s daughter who conspire to pretend to be married in order to convince his uncle to leave the uncle’s vast holdings to the law clerk. As I wrote in my review, “Superior story, superior writing, superior read. Period.”

 

8. Catching Christmas, by Terri Blackstock.Catching-Christmas-210x300

I had never known Ms. Blackstock to write anything but Christian romance or romantic suspense. This departure from her usual is a Christmas Hallmark-like tale that has it all. Humor, poignancy, romance, stress, and the message of life’s ultimate meaning.

 

 

9. Shelter of the Most High, # 2 Cities of Refuge by Connilyn Cossette.36436246

Biblical fiction comes to life by a new-to-me author. #2  in The Cities of Refuge series, now I can’t wait to read the other two! A little gritty at first, not for the faint of heart, Cossette
honestly shows what it was like for the non-Jewish people serving other gods. This makes our own God so attractive, both for the protagonist and for the reader. Now I understand all the hype surrounding the name “Connilyn Cossette.”

10. TIE BETWEEN A Caffeine Conundrum by Angela Ruth Strong and The Spice of Life, #1 A Salty Tale by Debbie Viguie.

A) A Caffeine Conundrum-40945129

This is another great Christmas tale but so much more. In typical  Angela Ruth Strong-style, a ton of laughter, a quirky character or two, and some subtle Christian values to hang onto for real life.

 

B) The Spice of Life, #1 A Salty Tale by Debbie Viguie.42597854

The first in a new cozy/romantic suspense/thriller series sure to be even more exciting as it builds book by book. One of the protagonists reminds me strongly of Remington Steele, yay!! If I didn’t already like this one enough, I got to hear parts of it read out loud in person by the author, and parts hilariously acted out singlehandedly by another friend!

 

2018 Runners-Up:

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Thank you for checking out my list! Did you make one? I’d love to compare!

 

BLOG, Lyrical Underground, NetGalley

The Body in the Attic,#1 Jazzi Zanders Mysteries by Judi Lynn

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE: The Body in the Attic, #1 Jazzi Zanders Mysteries

AUTHOR: Judi Lynn

PUBLISHER, DATE: Lyrical Underground, November 2018

GENRE: Cozy

Welcome to River Bluffs, Indiana, a cozy small town populated with charming homes, close-knit families, and the occasional deadly secret . . .

House-flipper Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod have found their latest project. The property, formerly owned by the late Cal Juniper, is filled with debris that must be cleared before the real renovation begins. But a trip to the attic reveals something more disturbing than forgotten garbage—a skeleton wearing a locket and rings that Jazzi recognizes . . .

Tests confirm that the bones belong to Jazzi’s aunt Lynda, who everyone assumed moved to New York years ago after breaking up with Cal. Soon enough, the whole family is involved, sifting through memories and rumors as they try to piece together what really happened to Lynda—and the baby she gave up for adoption. In between investigating and remodeling, Jazzi is falling for the old house’s charms—and for her gorgeous contractor, Ansel. But with surprises lurking in every nook and cranny, a killer might be waiting to demolish her dreams for good . . .

 

MY REVIEW:

The Body in the Attic, the first Jazzi Zanders Mystery, was a surprisingly emotive cozy for me. Judy Lynn, the author, really causes me to care about the deaths (count ‘em- two) in the novel. I think this may be why The Body in the Attic stands out to me. Usually, the dead people are so odious everybody, including the reader, is glad they’re gone. In this case, I guess I felt real pain for those left behind.
Jazzi and her cousin Jerod are house flippers who find a certain body in the attic of the latest house they are fixing up. I love the love triangle that Ansel, their construction contractor, gets involved in, but it was weird.
For once I thought sure I knew who was guilty. But no, Lynn did a great job and I missed it by a mile.
Great snarky quote?
“…she chased dollar signs harder than greyhounds chase rabbits.”
I do need to add the caveat that I do not agree with all situations and language in the book, but I still enjoyed this new start to a series and look forward to the next.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions are my own and no positive review was required.

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

6308736Judi 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. Connect with Judi at her website, http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/.