ARC, Barbour, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, NetGalley, Purchase

Barking up the Wrong Tree by Janice Thompson Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Author: Janice Thompson

Genre:Christian Fiction / Mystery / Romance

Release date: January 1, 2023

Inquisitive, detail-oriented, Veterinarian Kristin Keller prides herself on winning over any dog. But has this self-proclaimed dog whisperer finally met her match in a Sheltie named Remington who has just won the Texas state agility course competition? The champion pooch is acting out of sorts—almost as if he is not the same dog. Has he, by chance, been switched out with another dog just before the next big competition? Kristin and the other Lone Star employees will do anything to help the Atkinson family figure out this mystery surrounding their beloved Remington.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Janice Thompson, who lives in the Houston area, writes romantic comedies, cozy mysteries, nonfiction devotionals, and musical comedies for the stage. She is the mother of four daughters and nine feisty grandchildren. When she’s not writing books or taking care of foster dogs you’ll find her in the kitchen, baking up specialty cakes and cookies.

More from Janice

Barking up the Tree is book three in the Gone to the Dog series. Kathleen Y’Barbo and I are writing six books, in total, and we’re very excited about this series. I happen to be in the dog rescue business. I’ve worked with multiple Houston-based dog rescues over the past five years and have been blessed to care for over fifty dogs in nearly every shape, size, and breed. I am always interested in dog-themed stories.

As a Texan I wanted to place this series in my neck of the woods. Kathleen and I settled on Brenham, Texas, a town not far from where we both live. It’s the home of Blue Bell ice cream (yum!) a favorite here in the Lone Star state. We created a large fictional cast of characters and placed them in a town we know and love.

Along with writing books I’m also a baker and run a baking blog (www.outoftheboxbaking.com). With that in mind I would love to share a recipe from the book. Enjoy!

Nanny’s Coconut Pecan Cake (aka Italian Cream Cake)

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 1 white cake mix
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut (flakes)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding (powder)

FOR THE FILLING/TOPPING:

  • Toasted coconut
  • Toasted chopped pecans

FOR THE FROSTING:

  • 1 cup (two sticks) salted butter (softened)
  • 1 block cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 rectangle Crisco (can omit if you prefer traditional cream cheese frosting)
  • 1 bag (7-8 cups) powdered sugar
  • Clear vanilla extract

Instructions

MAKING THE CAKE:

  • Combine all ingredients except nuts and coconut. Mix well.
  • Work in the nuts and coconut.
  • Grease and flour three 9” pans.
  • Divide batter between the three pans and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (approximately) until cake springs back to the touch.

MAKING THE ICING:

  • Bring ingredients to room temperature.
  • Mix butter and cream cheese until soft and creamy.
  • Add Crisco and continue to beat until incorporated. (You can leave out the Crisco if you prefer traditional cream cheese frosting.)
  • Add extract and then lower the speed of your mixer to add powdered sugar (more or less to desired consistency).

FILLING AND ICING THE CAKE

  • Level all three cakes.
  • Put one cake on your cake board and add a layer of cream cheese frosting.
  • Pipe a ring around the edge of the cake and add some toasted pecans and coconut.
  • Continue to stack and fill.
  • Turn the top cake upside down, so that it’s bottom up.
  • Ice the cake with a crumb coat and chill.
  • Once chilled, ice liberally with frosting.
  • Add chopped (toasted) pecans and coconut to the sides and top then pipe trim or rosettes to add further décor.

My Impressions

“Dogs weren’t the only ones who responded to love. People did too.”

In this third installment in the Gone to the Dogs Mysteries, Janice Thompson has accomplished exactly what she set out to do. Barking Up the Wrong Tree had me thoroughly engrossed in the mystery, loving the focus on the rescue dogs and the Lone Star Vet Clinic gang. I loved how Thompson highlighted her knowledge of dog shows, agility competitions, and the love between dogs and their devoted owners.

I was a bit surprised to find Dr. Kristin Keller to be the first person narrator. Somehow, I expected the series to continue to revolve mostly around Trina and Mari. We do get to see them, and quirky Grandma Peach figures into the equation as a side character.

Kristin’s family is having trouble releasing her to be her own person and allowing her to leave the family. Kristin is having trouble appreciating her family. How often we don’t appreciate our flawed, but more than adequate (actually blessed) backgrounds until someone close points out how much we’re taking for granted. Kristin also learns from Tyler and others how to truly give of herself to others.

We eventually see more of Mari and gain a deeper appreciation of this young vet tech. A real encourager and team player, Mari goes out of her way to help others. Hopefully, as the series progresses, she will come to understand that she can’t save every dog or person. Nor is that her responsibility.

Great twists are a tool Thompson wields well, and I found myself talking back to the book on more than one occasion.

I belly-laughed often. Barking Up the Wrong Tree is great medicine for a troubled soul! A few times I wondered if situations resolved themselves too simply, but then, this is a cozy (and zany) world!

I would highly recommend this book, read in order of its publication. Each book in the series builds on the next.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. I also bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! I absolutely loved the emphasis on a rescue dog effort and the vet clinic!! Few cozies really get into the dog business as much as this one and yet remain clean!!

Blog Posts

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 26

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 26

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 27

Remembrancy, January 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 28

For Him and My Family, January 28

Texas Book-aholic, January 29

deb’s Book Review, January 30

Mary Hake, January 30

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 31

Cover Lover Book Review, February 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 1

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, February 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 3

Pause for Tales, February 4

The Book Club Network, February 4

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 5

Blogging With Carol, February 6

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 7

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, February 7

Labor Not in Vain, February 8

Divine Perspective, February 8

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Janice is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/23cc8/barking-up-the-wrong-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Kindle, LibraryThing Early Readers, New-to-Me Author, Purchase

Death in the Cabbage Patch by RL Buck Review

About the Book

Title: Death in the Cabbage Patch

Series: The Cabbageville Mysteries

Author: RL Buck

Released: October 2022

When Autumn Bridges, the town coroner, meets Matt Cabbage in a near-collision on Main Street, they discover they have much in common. First, they’re next-door neighbors now that Matt owns The Cabbage Patch, his family’s ancestral estate. They’re also single parents of tween girls. And when screams herald the discovery of a corpse on Matt’s first night in the mansion, the two join forces to prove that neither Matt nor his uncle is guilty. The sleepy little town of Cabbageville, Texas, will never be the same.

This light-hearted and delightfully funny cozy mystery keeps you turning pages with its twists and surprises. The easy and clever dialog between Autumn and Matt sparkles in this first book of the Cabbageville Mystery series.

About the Author

R.L. Buck, the author of Death in the Cabbage Patch, A Cabbageville Mystery Book 1, is retired from a long career as a Renaissance trades-Jack. He lives in the Texas Panhandle with his two fur babies (Dak, the rat terrier, and Jackson, the silver poodle mix), neither of which can reach the kibbles bin. Both adore R.L. as the perfect housemate for his roles as Supreme Doler of the Food and Giver of Belly Rubs.

An avid reader and writer of mysteries, horror, fantasy, and SciFi for as long as he can remember, R.L. has written the second book in the Cabbageville Mystery series and started the third. He also has several other works in progress.

R.L. Buck writes clean and entertaining fiction informed by a Christian worldview without preaching or side-stepping themes many Christian writers tend to avoid. He prefers to call himself a Christian who writes rather than a Christian Writer: he displays his faith in his writing, but it is not the sole point of it.

My Impressions

“We do everything we can to protect our circle. Beyond that, if we’re so paranoid we forget to live our lives, what’s the use? You have to let go at some point, and you figure the Almighty’s better equipped to protect your loved ones than you are.”

With a title like Death in the Cabbage Patch, RL Buck had me intrigued in his first novel of his new cozy series, The Cabbageville Mysteries. I found it to be a fun, clean offering. The victim is someone so unlikeable, that we have a smorgasbord of possible suspects.

Buck creates relatable and realistic characters. I did feel like Matt and Autumn became a couple extremely fast. Sukie and Misty add some reason for their parents to spend more time together. It will be interesting to see how they figure into future books.

Buck also populates his novel with some interesting secondary characters. The pastor and Widow Carmichael with her surprising business are both memorable.

I’m sure we’ll see more of cousin Hedda, who is both Autumn’s friend and Matt’s cousin.

I’ll be looking for the next book in the series to see if the mystery can compare to this one.

I received a copy of the book from the author through Early Reviewers in Library Thing. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

ARC, BLOG, Kindle, NetGalley

Cheddar Late Than Dead by Linda Reilly

About the Book

Title: Cheddar Late Than Dead

Series: Grilled Cheese Mysteries

Author: Linda Reilly

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Release: January 31, 2023

The next in a delicious new culinary cozy series featuring a grilled cheese eatery owner who must solve murders in her small town before someone is cheddar off dead

Winter in Balsam Dell is a snowy affair, and to add in some cheer after the holidays Carly’s former classmate Klarissa Taddeo is hosting her extravagant bridal shower at the historic Balsam Dell inn. That is, until a double-booking throws some mold in the cheese and leaves Klarissa scrambling. With the venue moved to the maid of honor’s family mansion and Carly rinding to create a new delicious treat it seems the group is going to pull off the shower without a hitch.

That is, until a rowdy band of groomsmen crashes the event. Klarissa is furious with her groom-to-be and when a loud argument ensues, everyone is shocked by what they hear. When the groom is later found dead at the bottom of the stairs, his drink spiked with a hefty dose of poison, Carly must put her nose to the rind and save Klarissa from being suspect #1.

Because you know what they say: it’s always the (almost) wife.

About the Author

Armed with a degree in Criminal Justice, Linda Reilly once contemplated a career in law enforcement. But life took a twist, and instead she found her niche in real estate closings and title examinations, where the dusty tomes in the Registry of Deeds enticed her into solving mysteries of a different sort. A dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, Linda lives in southern New Hampshire with her husband and her rescue cat. A member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Cat Writers’ Association, she loves solving mysteries of the cozy type. When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard, she can usually be found prowling the shelves of a local bookstore or library. Visit her on the web at lindasreilly.com

My Impressions

I am always on the lookout for clean cozies! Let me tell you about Cheddar Late Than Dead by Linda Reilly. First, while third in the series, I jumped into this one without reading Reilly’s others and still caught on quickly.

I enjoyed the idea of a grilled cheese restaurant, a unique-to-me setting. I loved the special recipe idea Carly has as a centerpiece for the book. Unfortunately for my taste, Carly was able to be gone too often from her restaurant as her capable staff takes over. I prefer a cozy where the sleuth does not take lots of time off from her work to pursue the crime.

I like the thread involving Valerie. She sounds like a gem, a great find for the restaurant as well as a really sweet person. She will be a welcome addition to Carly’s “support group,” so to speak.

I did think the sudden attitude changes following the revealing of the perpetrator were a bit unrealistic. Too many people suddenly changed their tunes.

Read Cheddar Late Than Dead for yourself and let me know what you think. I read an ARC through NetGalley, but you can pre-order your copy, due January 31, 2023, here:

https://www.amazon.com/Cheddar-Late-Grilled-Cheese-Mysteries/dp/1728238382

I received a copy of the book from NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Barbour, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, NetGalley, Purchase

The Dog Days of Summer by Kathleen Y’Barbo Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Dog Days of Summer

Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo

Genre: Christian/Mystery/Romance Fiction

Release date: October, 2022

Trina Potter, Nashville country music star, buys a ranch near her hometown in Brenham, Texas, to help her niece open a rescue facility for dogs. Her presence in town stirs up some old high school rivalries—and romance. Finding property to buy is a challenge, convincing her mother to move there with her is daunting, and navigating a string of strange accidents is perplexing. Sometimes Trina feels like she’s purchased her own three ring circus instead of a beautiful piece of land. But her first priority will be figuring out who wants Second Chance Ranch shut down before they even have the grand opening.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and bestselling author of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Women Former Students (Aggie Women), Texas Historical Society, Novelists Inc., and American Christian Fiction Writers. She would also be a member of the Daughters of the American Republic, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a few others if she would just remember to fill out the paperwork that Great Aunt Mary Beth has sent her more than once.

When she’s not spinning modern day tales about her wacky Southern relatives, Kathleen inserts an ancestor or two into her historical and mystery novels as well. Recent book releases include bestselling The Pirate Bride set in 1700s New Orleans and Galveston, its sequel The Alamo Bride set in 1836 Texas, which feature a few well-placed folks from history and a family tale of adventure on the high seas and on the coast of Texas. She also writes (mostly) relative-free cozy mystery novels for Guideposts Books.

Kathleen and her hero in combat boots husband have their own surprise love story that unfolded on social media a few years back. They make their home just north of Houston, Texas and are the parents and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and one very adorable Londoner.

More from Kathleen

Do you love dogs…or cats…or both…? I’m firmly in the “both” category. Since childhood I’ve always lived in homes that had at least one or the other, usually several of each. With every dog or cat comes at least one good story. One of my favorites is the tale of Bandit, the inspiration for the cover of my cozy mystery DOG DAYS OF SUMMER.

Once upon a time there was a black and white dog named Bandit. He was an English Springer Spaniel by birth but was completely convinced he was human. Bandit loved his people—three growing boys and a baby girl—even more than he loved popcorn and playing keep away (his version of catch). After many years, Bandit’s people grew up and he grew old. Toward the end of his very long and pampered life, he was plagued by the unwanted and yet much appreciated friendship of an ornery orange striped cat named Baby and a snooty pedigreed feline named Fifi.

Everyone loved Bandit…except the territorial squirrel who lived in a tree in our back yard in Southeast Texas. From the moment Bandit joined the family, the furry fellow was determined to rid himself and his back yard of the trespassing canine. The squirrel’s favorite tactic was to tease Bandit until the dog chased him up a tree. Once treed, the crafty critter would run around the trunk just out of Bandit’s reach. Once the squirrel tired of this, it would retreat to a limb. There, the battle of the backyard beasts would commence again but with the squirrel lobbing pinecones and the dog trying to catch them.

While every good story has a beginning, middle and end, unfortunately at the end of this one there was no winner in the dog vs. squirrel wars. A job transfer led us to Houston where squirrels were in abundance in our new neighborhood but none of them were nearly as much fun as the one Bandit left behind. The last time I spoke with the owners of our old house, they told the funniest story: they loved their new home, but there was this squirrel in the back yard that kept throwing pinecones at everyone.

In DOG DAYS OF SUMMER, I tell the story of another Texas back yard. This one is located in Brenham, Texas, and it is about to become a very special place for some very special dogs named Patsy and Cline. Have I mentioned these dogs belong to a country singer named Trina who has a mother named Mama Peach who happens to own a cat named Hector that dislikes almost everyone and can open doors? Then there’s the problem of the next door neighbor and his penchant to forget to close the lid on his grill when he’s cooking? Did I mention that Patsy and Cline enjoy nothing more than whatever they happen to find on an unguarded grill? While the two furry scoundrels are rounding up trouble next door, there is even more trouble happening at the building site for Second Chance Ranch Dog Rescue on the other side of the property. Apparently not everyone is happy about the new neighbors. The mystery is who that person might be. While you’ve got to read DOG DAYS OF SUMMER to find out, I can give you one hint: it’s not the squirrel!

I’ve told you mine; now tell me your favorite dog or cat story. I can’t wait to read them.

Do you love dogs…or cats…or both…? I’m firmly in the “both” category. Since childhood I’ve always lived in homes that had at least one or the other, usually several of each. With every dog or cat comes at least one good story. One of my favorites is the tale of Bandit, the inspiration for the cover of my cozy mystery DOG DAYS OF SUMMER.

Once upon a time there was a black and white dog named Bandit. He was an English Springer Spaniel by birth but was completely convinced he was human. Bandit loved his people—three growing boys and a baby girl—even more than he loved popcorn and playing keep away (his version of catch). After many years, Bandit’s people grew up and he grew old. Toward the end of his very long and pampered life, he was plagued by the unwanted and yet much appreciated friendship of an ornery orange striped cat named Baby and a snooty pedigreed feline named Fifi.

Everyone loved Bandit…except the territorial squirrel who lived in a tree in our back yard in Southeast Texas. From the moment Bandit joined the family, the furry fellow was determined to rid himself and his back yard of the trespassing canine. The squirrel’s favorite tactic was to tease Bandit until the dog chased him up a tree. Once treed, the crafty critter would run around the trunk just out of Bandit’s reach. Once the squirrel tired of this, it would retreat to a limb. There, the battle of the backyard beasts would commence again but with the squirrel lobbing pinecones and the dog trying to catch them.

While every good story has a beginning, middle and end, unfortunately at the end of this one there was no winner in the dog vs. squirrel wars. A job transfer led us to Houston where squirrels were in abundance in our new neighborhood but none of them were nearly as much fun as the one Bandit left behind. The last time I spoke with the owners of our old house, they told the funniest story: they loved their new home, but there was this squirrel in the back yard that kept throwing pinecones at everyone.

In DOG DAYS OF SUMMER, I tell the story of another Texas back yard. This one is located in Brenham, Texas, and it is about to become a very special place for some very special dogs named Patsy and Cline. Have I mentioned these dogs belong to a country singer named Trina who has a mother named Mama Peach who happens to own a cat named Hector that dislikes almost everyone and can open doors? Then there’s the problem of the next door neighbor and his penchant to forget to close the lid on his grill when he’s cooking? Did I mention that Patsy and Cline enjoy nothing more than whatever they happen to find on an unguarded grill? While the two furry scoundrels are rounding up trouble next door, there is even more trouble happening at the building site for Second Chance Ranch Dog Rescue on the other side of the property. Apparently not everyone is happy about the new neighbors. The mystery is who that person might be. While you’ve got to read DOG DAYS OF SUMMER to find out, I can give you one hint: it’s not the squirrel!

I’ve told you mine; now tell me your favorite dog or cat story. I can’t wait to read them.

My Impressions

I am already looking forward to the next book in this series. This is a fun cozy dog rescue series. In the Dog Days of Summer by Kathleen Y’Barbo, we find ourselves back in small town Brenham, Texas. Mari Evans, vet tech and pet rescuer, shares the spotlight with her famous aunt Trina, who must decide which of her two worlds to live in. If, in fact, she and Mari can stay alive.

I liked the fact that there are really two heroines in this novel, one older than the other. I find that refreshing. I appreciated the choices that Trina has to make and the difficulty those decisions could cause.

I loved Wyatt Chastain. He is a patient man, the voice of reason, has a good people sense, possesses a sharp wit, and seems rather laid back. He has learned how to deal with life’s difficult circumstances calmly.

Mama Peach. What can I say? She, along with her cat, Hector, add humor, warmth, and eccentricity to the novel. You’ll want to keep reading just to discover what those two are up to next!

Y’Barbo throws out several red herrings until I was unsure who the perpetrator is. She produces a satisfying conclusion with a few twists I didn’t see coming. Next book in the series, please!

I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. Plus I bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! I am really enjoying this series!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 28

Texas Book-aholic, October 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 29

Blogging With Carol, October 29

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, October 30 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, October 30

Inklings and notions, October 31

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 1

Lily’s Book Reviews, November 1

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 2

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 3

Remembrancy, November 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 4

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 4

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 5

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 6

Boondock Ramblings, November 6

Labor Not in Vain, November 7

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, November 7

Pause for Tales, November 8

Mary Hake, November 8

For Him and My Family, November 9

Divine Perspective, November 9

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, November 10

The Book Club Network, November 10

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-gift card and a print copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/2244a/dog-days-of-summer-celebration-tour-giveaway

Barbour, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, NetGalley, Purchase

Off the Chain by Jan Thompson Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Off the Chain

Author: Janice Thompson

Genre: Christian Fiction / Mystery

Release date: July 1, 2022

The Town of Brenham, Texas, Has Gone to the Dogs!

Curl up with your pup and sink into a delightful small-town mystery as riddles and rescues stack up in book one of a new cozy mystery series.

Marigold Evans’ first attempt at rescuing an abandoned pooch lands her in a drainage pipe in Brenham Texas. . .and almost in jail, until Parker Jenson comes to her rescue. Then a bad day only gets worse as the Lone Star Vet Clinic, where they both work, is vandalized and the list of suspects starts to climb. With the help of her fellow employees, Marigold sets out to simultaneously solve the crime, rehab the rescued dog, and help more dogs in crisis. But why would anyone continue to work against all their good efforts?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

I thoroughly enjoyed Off the Chain by Jan Thompson. This first in a new series by Barbour, (each cozy mystery written by a different author) is a smashing success in my book. Here’s why:

Faith. I didn’t have to worry about bad language. While I love cozies, what I read is limited because of either bad language or inappropriate bedroom scenes, neither of which are present in this book, nor do I expect them in this series. This is a book and series where faith is very real part of story. There are many mentions of prayers for specific needs, and God’s answers. “Just pray about it, Marigold. God’s got an answer for you.”– I love this advice from one friend of Mari’s. As one radio counselor recently reminded her audience, ‘Instead of taking problems to everyone else, take them to God. He’s the One with the answers!’

Friends. I loved the group of vet clinic workers who actually are friends and supportive of each other. You can see that they will make a great character base in the little town (another must of a cozy) of Brenham.

Hilarity. Another cozy must-have. This one has it in spades. While situations may be ridiculous, that doesn’t stop the genuine laughter from erupting often. Score again.

Animals. Specifically, rescue dogs. And they are a main focus of the story, not just a sideline or afterthought. If you are a dog lover, this book just became irresistible for you(It will actually hook you on the first page).

Romance, loss, and an eccentric grandma. These all feature well into our novel and help round it out to be the great experience it is! Don’t miss this one!

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit via NetGalley, plus I bought my own ebook. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! I can’t wait for the next in this great dog rescue cozy series!

About the Author

Janice Thompson, who lives in the Houston area, writes romantic comedies, cozy mysteries, nonfiction devotionals, and musical comedies for the stage. She is the mother of four daughters and nine feisty grandchildren. When she’s not writing books or taking care of foster dogs you’ll find her in the kitchen, baking up specialty cakes and cookies.

More from Janice

Dogs, dogs, and more dogs! My world is full of dogs. If you follow me on social media you’re probably overwhelmed with dog photos, but I simply can’t help myself. I’m in love with pooches of all shapes and sizes.

My fascination with dogs began when I was six years old and I got my first pup, Spunky. He was a mixed breed terrier. From that day until now I’ve had the pleasure of owning many, many pups—some purebreds, some street dogs that needed a safe place to stay, some elderly with chronic or acute health issues. I can’t get enough. They offer unconditional love, after all!

A few years back I was asked to foster for a local rescue, My Chi and Me. The rest, as they say, is history. For a quick glimpse at some photos, follow this link. You’ll see that I’m mostly enamored with small dogs. (Hey, I live in a tiny townhome and have limited space!) That said, I’m always willing to take on one more.

My most recent rescue ventures landed me squarely in the middle of a book idea: Why not use a dog story as the basis for a cozy mystery? My editor at Barbour Publishing wanted something dog-themed and I was happy to oblige. That’s where the idea for Off the Chain (and the whole Gone with the Dogsseries) came from—a simple idea involving dogs and crime.

I took the opportunity to focus solely on rescue dogs as the idea developed. These days (especially post-Covid) the need for homes for these pups is great. I linked arms with my BFF, Kathleen Y’Barbo, and together we set our series in Brenham Texas, not far from our stomping ground in the Woodlands. I felt strongly that we should merge two separate dog worlds: rescue and veterinary. (Hey, Brenham is close to A&M and they know a thing or two about veterinary training!)

Thus, the Gone with the Dogs series was born. And writing the first book, (Off the Chain), was a blast! I hyper-focused on one primary point of view character, a vet tech. (As the owner of three dogs I feel like I’m always in the vet’s office!) My stories, which is written in first person, took me back to my writing roots. I love, love, love writing in first person because I “become” the character. Fun, right?

My editors loved the book and it got some fun endorsements, so I’m excited to see what my readers think. I can’t wait to get their feedback. I hope it’s not too “Ruff!”

But, seriously. . .I’m hyped! And I’m feeling so blessed to merge my worlds—dogs and writing!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 26

Texas Book-aholic, July 27

The Book Club Network, July 27

An Author’s Take, July 28

Remembrancy, July 28

deb’s Book Review, July 29

Pause for Tales, July 29

The Avid Reader, July 30

For Him and My Family, July 30

Christina’s Corner, July 31

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 31

Inklings and notions, August 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 2

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 2

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 3

She Lives To Read, August 3

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 4

Blogging With Carol, August 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 5

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 6

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, August 7 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, August 7

Labor Not in Vain, August 8

Books I’ve Read, August 8

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Janice is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-gift card and a paper copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1ffe2/off-the-chain-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kindle, Purchase

A Sprinkle in Time by Dana Mentink Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: A Sprinkle in Time

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Cozy mystery (general market)

Release date: May 24, 2022

Asprinkleintime

It’s Alpenfest in Upper Sprocket! Yodelers are congregating in the square, tourists flocking to the town, and Trinidad Jones is scooping up some fall flavors at her Shimmy and Shake Shop.

The cherry on the sundae is her upcoming feature in Go West magazine. She’s determined to serve up the perfect interview, but it won’t be easy, thanks in part to her meddling Cuban grandfather Papa Luis who has decided to make Sprocket his home for the foreseeable future. Papa Luis has set himself up as a taxi driver in his classic 1951 Buick.

But things take a turn when Papa Luis tells her he’s found a corpse in his trunk. Upon closer investigation, they realize the body has disappeared. With the assistance of Juliette and Bonnie (her sisterhood of exes) and the way too handsome nut farmer Quinn Logan, Trinidad must solve the mystery of the disappearing corpse, before her father is up to his neck in a murderous mess.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Life can be hard. Enter cozies like A Sprinkle in Time by Dana Mentink. Clean, with a sweet romance, whose amateur sleuth runs a delectable shake shop. A dog, a child, precocious twins who work for the shake shop, and lovable Papa Luis. Plus, of course, plenty of suspects. “Murder, mayhem, and milkshakes. Who’d a thunk it?”

Trinidad Jones becomes someone I truly care about in this book. I am amazed at how she and Gabe’s two other former wives forgive each other and actually become friends. Not just friends, but family, as thick as blood. Now there is a small cluster of characters to follow and enjoy in this town of Upper Sprocket. Fun!

I enjoy the inclusion of dogs, children, and special-needs people, and Dana Mentink brings them all to our Shimmy and Shake Shop story. Noodles is old, but what a loyal companion, and, wow, does he have an amazing ability or two! Little Felice adds warmth and vulnerability to the tale. Doug, the special-needs brother of Trinity’s love interest, Quinn, adds reality and complexity to the novel.

Mentink has a good sense of humor and I laughed out loud several times. Just what I want out of a cozy. Mystery, romance, great characters, laughter. A fun occupation that the sleuth actually works at. I am happy to report I made it through the book without indulging in ice cream! But, can you?

I am looking forward to more murder and mayhem in Upper Sprocket! Plus more Freakshakes!

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I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit. (I also bought my own copy.) No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

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Notable Quotables:

“He was merely a friend the way a Ming vase was just an old pot.”

“There’s your plan and God’s plan, and your plan…” “Doesn’t count,”

“Maybe it’s one of those weird small-town happenings.” “A body in your trunk isn’t a happening, it’s a horror movie,”

“It wasn’t an easy thing to command the heart to feel what the brain ordered.”

“Rumors carry so much more weight than the truth, sometimes.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent! Frozen Desserts, Just Deserts, and Justice

About the Author

Dana Mentink is a USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author as well as a two-time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, and the recipient of a Holt Medallion. She’s written over fifty titles in the suspense, lighthearted romance and mystery genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, and Poisoned Pen Press. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com, on Facebook, YouTube (Author Dana Mentink) and Instagram (dana_mentink.)

More from Dana

Who wouldn’t want to visit Upper Sprocket? Sure there’s the odd corpse that turns up, but it’s a charming place, complete with a rail riders excursion business and the Shimmy and Shake Shop, run by the determined Trinidad Jones. It’s fall in Sprocket and the locals are hosting a series of Alpenfest events with everything from yodeling performances to sausage cook offs. Papa Luis, Trinidad’s grandfather is happy to shuttle people around in his classic Chevy Bel Air until a body turns up in his truck. But other than that, Sprocket is an idyllic place with a newly opened train car inn operated by Bonnie, one of three women who were married at various times to the same rapscallion of a man. Oh, and then there’s Noodles, Trinidad’s senior Labrador retriever who has learned how to operate the windshield wipers which comes in handy as stormy weather approaches. Trinidad, Papa, Bonnie and Noodles along with other Sprocket residents are going to have their hands full as Alpenfest kicks off and gruesome items begin to pop up around town. Come along on the adventure as Trinidad wades knee deep into the sticky mess.

Railriding research with my sister!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 21

The Write Escape, May 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 22

She Lives To Read, May 22

Daysong Reflections, May 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 23

Texas Book-aholic, May 24

Pause for Tales, May 24

Inklings and notions, May 25

Blossoms and Blessings, May 25

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 26

For Him and My Family, May 26

deb’s Book Review, May 27

Blogging With Carol, May 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 28

Christina’s Corner, May 29

Tell Tale Book Reviews, May 29

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 30

Simple Harvest Reads, May 30 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 31

Labor Not in Vain, May 31

Bigreadersite, June 1

Vicky Sluiter, June 1

Genesis 5020, June 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 2

Lighthouse-Academy, June 3

A Good Book and cup of Tea, June 3

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a signed book!!

(If the winner is outside the U.S., then he or she will receive an eBook.)

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1df1a/a-sprinkle-in-time-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Favorite, Purchase

Iced Over, #2 Barks and Beans Cafe Mysteries, by Heather Day Gilbert

About the Book

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Author: Heather Day Gilbert

Series: Barks and Beans Cafe

Publisher: Woodhaven Press

Released: July 2020

Genre: Clean Cozy Mystery

BOOK TWO in the ALL-NEW BARKS & BEANS CAFE cozy mystery series!!

Welcome to the Barks & Beans Cafe, a quaint place where folks pet shelter dogs while enjoying a cup of java…and where murder sometimes pays a visit.

Black Friday turns fatal when an armored security truck hits an icy patch and runs over an embankment near the cafe. With one driver dead and the other in a coma, police are baffled by the discovery that $500,000 is missing from the truck’s cache.

When strangers show up at Barks & Beans asking nosy questions about a young cafe employee, Macy’s mama bear instincts kick in. She can’t ignore what her gut is telling her—that things aren’t all they seem on the surface—and with a little help from her brother, Bo, and her Great Dane, Coal, Macy follows up on a few leads of her own. But if the ruthless thief beats her to the stash, the thin ice she’s been skating on might just crack.

Join siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield as they sniff out crimes in their hometown…with plenty of dogs along for the ride! The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series features a small town, an amateur sleuth, and no swearing or graphic scenes.

The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series in order:
Book 1: No Filter
Book 2: Iced Over
Book 3: Fair Trade

 

My Review

When I saw Iced Over, #2 Barks and Beans Café Cozy Mystery, by Heather Day Gilbert was for sale, I had to preorder. This is a book I would not want to miss. The wonderful smell of flavored coffee beans, the sound of espresso machines, the chance to pet shelter dogs with a view to adopt…plus the chance to play Nancy Drew with a brother who used to be a DEA agent? Let’s just say I wonder if I could convince one of my loyal brothers to open a dual purpose shop like this? “Bo and I were bringing happiness into our corner of the world, one coffee drink and one perfect doggie match at a time.”

Iced Over 1
Gilbert keeps her cozies to the cozy foundations. No swearing, no sex scenes, but there is a small town with an amateur sleuth. As one of my friends said about Gilbert’s previous book, “a book I don’t have to be on guard as I read. “
Macy has a heart the size of her adopted Great Dane, Coal. I loved the way she actually puts feet to her prayers that her employee’s family would have their needs met.
I also loved that one of the secondary characters who we get to know is an unashamed plus-size 24-year- old. She is fashionable, fun, and has a good head on her shoulders. While she may not be perfectly pleased with her body, she accepts herself and that causes others to look beyond the outer wrappings.
One thing I always look for in a cozy is whether our sleuth actually spends time working at his or her purported job. Macy does indeed spend much of her time at the café, and it is so well described, I really wish I could at least visit one if I can’t work at one.

Iced Over 2
The sleuthing side becomes a little dangerous, and I am glad I am enjoying solving the mystery vicariously. I loved the introduction of another possible love connection
for Macy, but I wanted to see more romance for Bo, too. However, as Macy says, “Bo was about as romantic as a pot of cold coffee.”
Gilbert likes to end her cozies with a nice twist, leaving you needing the next book.
If you are a dog parent or a coffee aficionado, you will want to read this fun cozy.

 

My Rating

5 Stars – Hit My Reading Sweet Spot!

( Ms. Gilbert, THANK YOU  for following the original cozy rules. I wish all cozy authors did!)

 

About the Author

7232683HEATHER 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.”

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?

Belinda Blake one.png
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.”

Belinda Blake two.png

“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

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

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.

 

 

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:

golden-star-e15383548489822golden-star-e15383548489822golden-star-e15383548489822golden-star-e15383548489822

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/.

BLOG, NetGalley

A Cold Brew Killing by Lena Gregory

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE: A Cold Brew Killing, #3 An All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery

PUBLISHER: Lyrical Underground

PUBLISHED: November 2018

GENRE: Cozy

 

 When an ice cream vendor discovers a frozen stiff, Florida diner owner Gia Morelli has to serve up some just desserts . . . 
 
Gia has become good friends with Trevor, a fun, flirtatious bachelor who owns the ice cream parlor down the street from her popular All-Day Breakfast Café. Trevor has the scoop on all sorts of local attractions and activities. But when he bursts into her diner, trembling and paler than a pint of French Vanilla, she can tell something’s very wrong. Trevor points her toward his shop then passes out cold. When Gia runs down to his shop, she discovers a chilling sight—a dead body in the open freezer. But the ice cream man’s troubles are just beginning. The police suspect him of this murder a la mode, especially when details of his questionable past surface. Gia believes in her friend and is determined to clear his name and find the real cold-blooded killer before someone else gets put on ice . . .

 

MY REVIEW:

golden-star-e15383548489823golden-star-e15383548489823golden-star-e15383548489823golden-star-e15383548489823golden-star-e15383548489823

A small-town homicide puzzles café owner Gia and her friend Savannah, while it sets the rest of the town on edge. As Gia sets out to prove her accused friend innocent, gradually a picture forms of the murky past that lead to the truth coming out.
I liked how much time the main character, Gia, spent working in her cafe. I also appreciated how her routine was explained and the food was made to sound so appetizing. I think I would like to visit the All-Day Breakfast Café when life is quiet.
By the end of the book, I just felt like I was in mourning for a certain group of friends. I wished they had had someone they could have turned to who would have helped them deal with life better. I also wanted to see Hunt spend a little more attention on Gia. It seemed he was an all or nothing guy, and sometimes she got nothing. I will be looking to see how the next books in the series develop the characters and town.
Quotable:
”Sometimes you didn’t need a friend to interfere; sometimes you needed them to stand by while you made a mess of your life, then jump in and pick up the pieces.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. No positive review was required and all opinions are solely my own.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

14956514Lena lives in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island with her husband and three children.

When she was growing up, she spent many lazy afternoons on the beach, in the yard, anywhere she could find to curl up with a good book. She loves reading as much now as she did then, but she now enjoys the added pleasure of creating her own stories.s in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island with her husband and three children.

When she was growing up, she spent many lazy afternoons on the beach, in the yard, anywhere she could find to curl up with a good book. She loves reading as much now as she did then, but she now enjoys the added pleasure of creating her own stories.