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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.

 

 

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/.

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:

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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.

 

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Yeast of Eden, #4 Pancake House Mysteries by Sarah Fox

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE: Yeast of Eden, #4 Pancake House Mystery

GENRE: Cozy

PUBLISHER: Lyrical Underground

EXPECTED TO BE PUBLISHED: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN-13: 978-1516107773; LENGTH: 208 Pages

In USA Today bestselling author Sarah Fox’s delicious new Pancake House Mystery, it’s up to Marley McKinney to discover the waffle truth behind a rival’s murder . . .
 
Winter has come to Wildwood Cove, and riding in on the chill is Wally Fowler. Although he’s been away for years, establishing his reputation as the self-proclaimed Waffle King, the wealthy blowhard has returned to the coastal community to make money, not friends—by pitting his hot and trendy Waffle Kingdom against Marley McKinney’s cozy pancake house, The Flip Side. Wally doesn’t see anything wrong in a little healthy competition, until he’s murdered in his own state-of-the art kitchen.

Marley isn’t surprised when the authorities sniff around The Flip Side for a motive, but it’s her best friend Lisa who gets grilled, given her sticky history with the victim. When a second murder rocks the town, it makes it harder than ever for Marley to clear Lisa’s name. Marley’s afraid that she’s next in line to die—and the way things are looking, the odds of surviving her investigation could be stacked against her.

Includes pancake recipes right from The Flip Side menu!

 

MY REVIEW:

We all have those people we hope don’t reappear from our past. Wally Fowler is one such unwelcome returnee to Wildwood Cove in this fourth Pancake House Mystery, Yeast of Eden, by Sarah Fox. Flip Side Pancake House owner, Marley McKinney, is treated to Wally’s impervious narcissism when he appears in the pancake house and loudly proclaims how superior his waffle restaurant will be.

Wally has made enemies wherever he has been. When he turns up murdered, there is a slew of persons with possible motives. Yet the sheriff sets his eyes on Marley’s best friend, Lisa. So much for Marley leaving the sleuthing to the professionals!

I enjoy this series for many reasons. Marley, her boyfriend, Brett, and her coworkers and friends are very likable. (Still figuring out if I should cower around chef Ivan or treat him like a long-lost friend.) The language is clean, and there are no uncomfortable “too steamy” scenes to read. Fox describes the town and beach so invitingly, I can hear the crashing waves and smell the salty air.

It was fun to read about the different holiday foods at the restaurant, as well as how Wally was making his ice cream. We have a shop like that locally, which really piqued my interest in this novel.

I gratefully received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am responsible. I was not required to leave a positive review.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Sarah Fox, writer of cozy mysteries, was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she developed a love for mysteries at a young age. When not writing novels or working as a legal writer she is often reading her way through a stack of books or spending time outdoors with her English Springer Spaniel.

Sarah is the author of the Literary Pub Mysteries, the Pancake House Mysteries, and the Music Lover’s Mysteries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Caffeine Conundrum, #1The CafFUNated Mysteries by Angela Ruth Strong

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About the Book:

Title: A Caffeine Conundrum,

#1 The CafFUNated Mysteries

Kindle Edition, 227 pages
Expected publication: September 1st,2018 by Mountain Brook Ink
ASIN
B07FRXWSVM
Solving a murder mystery is harder when you don’t trust your partner…or their taste in beverages.

Sassy city girl Tandy Brandt moves to the small town of Grace Springs to start a coffee shop, never imagining she’ll be competing with local beauty queen Marissa Alexander and her dream of running a tea house. Unfortunately, the current store owner dies before selling the location to either of them, and they both become murder suspects.

The unlikely pair team up in an attempt to discover the real killer, though with the secrets in Tandy’s past and Marissa’s infamous clumsiness, they could be their own worst enemies. Despite their differences, they follow clues to question a sweet, apple pie baking antique store owner, a GQ Santa in the retirement center, and a hipster millionaire with no social skills. Will they be able to figure out whodunit and prove their innocence before one of them goes to jail…or worse?

MY REVIEW:

Warning: laughter will come easily as you read this Christmas-themed cozy by Angela Ruth Strong. When paired with coffee or tea, there may be some liquid spouting or spewing as you work to hold the mirth in.

Indeed, the trouble begins with both coffee and tea. Marissa, a bumbling, almost-beauty queen who loves tea, can’t decide whether Tandy, a grunge-wearing, toy dog lover and coffee aficionado should be her enemy or her friend.

This novel is more than just a barrel of laughs, however. While I laughed my way through the whole thing, howling out loud at the ridiculousness of the characters’ situations, they also presented with very real problems: jumping to conclusions prematurely, taking others for granted, and needing to put up façades of perfection.

I love Angela Ruth Strong’s humor, her word pictures(ex: “blizzard of thoughts”), similes(ex:”as subtle as a snow scraper”), and references to pop culture. But most of all, she points to the answer that every soul needs-grace in Christ.

Quotables:

“She needed to work on being kind rather than being nice.”

“We all need grace. Even if it’s for harm caused accidentally.”

“If people could change, then it was ok to make mistakes and grow from them. It was ok not to be perfect.”

“By accepting that she needed grace, her shame had been wiped away.”

I gratefully received an e-copy of this book from the author. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible. I was not required to leave a positive review.

About the Author:

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Angela Ruth Strong
Angela sold her first story to a national magazine while still in high school and went on to study journalism at the University of Oregon. Her debut novel LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO released in 2010 to a four-star review from Romantic Times. Angela loves connecting with fans and mentoring aspiring authors, which led her to start IDAhope Writers. She currently lives in Boise with her husband and three kids.

 

 

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Killer Green Tomatoes,#2 Farm-to-Fork Mysteries by Lynn Cahoon

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About the Book:

Kindle Edition, 182 pages
Published July 3rd, 2018 by Lyrical Underground
ASIN
B078LJPT23
  • Killer Green TomatoesKiller Green Tomatoes
    Genre: Mystery, Cozy, Contemporary

The time seems ripe for success as Angie Turner opens her farm-to-table restaurant in her Idaho hometown—until her new tomato supplier is accused of murder and Angie has to pick the real killer . . .

To Angie, nothing tastes more like summer than her Nona’s fried green tomatoes. Eager to add the recipe to the menu at the County Seat, she’s found the perfect produce supplier—her sous chef Estebe’s cousin, Javier. Just one problem: ladies’ man Javier’s current hot tomato Heather has turned up dead, and he’s the prime suspect. Somehow, between managing her restaurant and navigating a romantic triangle between Estebe and Ian, the owner/manager of the farmer’s market, Angie needs to produce evidence to clear Javier—before this green tomato farmer gets fried . . .

MY REVIEW:

In Lynn Cahoon’s second book of the Farm-to-Fork series, titled Killer Green Tomatoes, Angie and Felicia are beginning to hit their groove with the rest of the restaurant staff. The County Seat is a popular place to eat, with reservations needing to be secured well in advance. 

Angie soon finds she has more than she can chew, though, when she has her elderly neighbor for a house guest and Estebe, her sous chef, has family involved in a murder and disappearance.

I really enjoyed the difficulties between Angie and Mrs. Potter. (Sorry, Angie!) They made for very realistic, yet hilarious times.

The portrayal of the Basque people was very tasteful and sensitive to a group very proud of their heritage. 

In this book, we start to see the inner connectivity of people in the town. Several attitudes and actions are based upon someone’s protectiveness or love for another. This is actually true for multiple characters. Small town living, as Angie rediscovers, has both its joys and its jinxes.

Things one may not like: some may figure out the murderer, but there were enough twists that I was ultimately surprised. Sex was mentioned quite a bit. However, true to cozy form, there were no bedroom scenes.

Bottom line, I enjoyed this book, as Angie and Felicia and their crew really start to become their own “work family.” 

I gratefully received a copy of this book from the author and NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions, for which I am responsible. I was not required to leave a positive review.

About the Author:

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Lynn Cahoon
Website
Twitter
Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. GUIDEBOOK TO MURDER, book 1 of the series, won the Reader’s Crown for Mystery Fiction in 2015. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback. This year, she’s released WHO MOVED MY GOAT CHEESE in March as part of the new Farm to Fork series. She also writes romance under Lynn Collins. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at www.lynncahoon.com
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Too Many Crooks Spoil the Plot, #1 Ditie Brown Mystery by Sarah Osbourne

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About the Book:

Pediatrician Mabel Aphrodite Brown adores kids. So when a childhood friend asks Ditie to babysit her kids for a few days, she jumps at the chance. She never imagined she’d be solving a murder too . . .
 
Despite growing up together, Ditie hasn’t seen Ellie Winston in two years, and she didn’t even know Ellie was living in Atlanta. But when Ellie asks her to take care of Lucie and Jason for the weekend, she thinks nothing of it. They’ll bake cookies together, play with her dog—it’ll be fun! Until the police call with terrible news . . .

Ellie may not have been the best friend, but who would want her dead? Could it have something to do with the vague get-rich-quick scheme she mentioned to Ditie? Or the men in a black truck following her and breaking into her home? Not sure who to trust other than her best friend, Lurleen, Ditie’s buried maternal instincts kick in to protect the kids and find their mother’s killer—before they’re orphaned again . . .

Includes Family-Friendly Recipes!

MY REVIEW:

I am always on the lookout for a new mystery or series. Too Many Crooks Spoil the Plot by Sarah Osbourne is a fast-moving, intriguing mystery that has some very likable characters, a few to dislike, and a few from which to run.

Ditie(short for Aphrodite), Lurlene, and Jason and Lucie are arguably some of the most likable. Ditie is a pediatrician who finds herself suddenly in charge of her friend’s children. Jason and Lucie are adorable, childlike and adult-like by turns, making one’s heart ache and eyes overflow. Lurlene pretends to be French in a cute way and also helps with childcare.

Mason and Dan give the ladies in the book some romance. My complaint would be that Mason never really romances Ditie, he just acts “settled” that she is for him.

The author does a great job of providing plenty of twists and turns in this mystery until my head was reeling with suspect possibilities. I found it hard to figure out who was really behind the murders.

One thing I didn’t care for was a spate of bad language thrown in towards the middle. Maybe to keep the book from getting a PG rating? I would personally prefer the PG rating. One of the tenets of a cozy used to be “no bad language.”

The recipes at the back were quite reasonable, even for someone who considers herself a non-cook. Yum!

I will be checking out the next book, to see how the series progresses. If you like children, police business, and cozies, you may want to check it out this series, also.

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      Sarah Osbourne