Tag Archives: cozy mystery fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — What’s Your Name?

15 Oct

This week That Artsy Reader Girl is challenging bloggers to compile lists of extraordinary book titles. There are some brilliant Top Ten Tuesday lists out there, so make sure to visit her site to find them.

I decided to go with titles that contain a person’s name. The descriptor attached made me want to know more — what was her love, or promise, or curse? The titles of the books on my list are great indicators of the goodness found inside.

What about you? What book title do you find extraordinary?

 

Top Titles with Names

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Darcy By Any Other Name by Laura Hile

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

Audiobook Review: Flood Watch

5 Sep

The tide is high, and so is the danger on Lantern Beach.

Still in hiding after infiltrating a dangerous gang, Cassidy Livingston just has to make it a few more months before she can testify at trial and resume her old life. But trouble keeps finding her, and Cassidy is pulled into a local investigation after a man mysteriously disappears from the island she now calls home.

A recurring nightmare from her time undercover only muddies things, as does a visit from the parents of her handsome ex-Navy SEAL neighbor. When a friend’s life is threatened, Cassidy must make choices that put her on the verge of blowing her cover.
With a flood watch on her emotions and her life in a tangle, will Cassidy find the truth? Or will her past finally drown her?

USA Today has called Christy Barritt’s books “scary, funny, passionate, and quirky.”

A Publishers Weekly best-seller, Christy writes both mystery and romantic suspense novels that are clean with underlying messages of faith. Her books have sold almost two million copies, and one is currently being developed as a movie.

Christy’s books have won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery, have been twice nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and have finaled for both a Carol Award and Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year.

She’s married to her prince charming, a man who thinks she’s hilarious–but only when she’s not trying to be. Christy’s a self-proclaimed klutz, an avid music lover who’s known for spontaneously bursting into song, and a road trip aficionado.

Christy currently splits her time between the Virginia suburbs and Hatteras Island, North Carolina. She loves spending time with her husband, her two sons, and her four dogs.

For more information, visit her website: http://www.christybarritt.com.

My Impressions:

Cassidy Livingston is back in the second book in Christy Barritt’s Lantern Beach Mysteries series, Flood Watch. In this quick-paced novel, Cassidy and hunky nextdoor neighbor, Ty, join forces to investigate a missing persons case that could just be murder. Cassidy is a west coast detective in hiding as she awaits testifying in a big gang case, but it seems she cannot resist getting involved in the mysterious doings in the small North Carolina beach community.

There is much to like in Barritt’s book. It definitely has a cozy feel with its quaint, touristy town setting. The beach scenes are a bonus for those who need a staycation with their reading. 😉 The characters are engaging, and the budding romance between former Navy SEAL, Ty, and Cassidy adds the perfect amount of tension. Cassidy has a backstory that is a continuing thread — this gives an extra layer of suspense and danger to the story. The mystery kept me guessing right to the end, a big plus in my book. There is a very subtle faith thread woven throughout the book. Cassidy is not a believer, but she is being wooed in several ways. I found this to be very natural. I listened to the audiobook version of Flood Watch. I really liked the reader and felt her tone and delivery fit the sassy and quick-witted Cassidy very well.

So if you are looking for a mystery to take you away, Flood Watch is a good bet. It is the second book in the series, and with the continuing thread, I suggest it should be read after book 1.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE. (Currently FREE for Kindle Unlimited.)

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions are mine alone.)

 

Book Review + Interview — Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

1 Jul

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 Impressions:

I am a big fan of Heather Day Gilbert’s mysteries. Her Murder in The Mountains series is one of my all-time favorites in the genre. Her newest endeavor is sure to become another fan favorite. Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass, book 1 in the Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery series, introduces the reader to a wonderful character who manages to insert herself into all the murderous goings-on around her. Belinda is a fun character, independent, with a unique style, who has chosen unconventional pathways to a career. She freelances reviews of video games while being the go-to caretaker for very unusual pets. In this first novel, she is pet-sitting a python — clearly not a cuddly creature — which takes some stamina and grit to attend to. Belinda’s earnest and sometimes naive view on the world is endearing. I loved Belinda’s first person insights of the wealthy of Greenwich, Connecticut. She is mostly spot on in her estimation of the other characters. But, she can be fooled! The mystery takes off from the start as Belinda finds a body in her flower bed and continues as she joins the heir of the manor in finding out whodunit. When Belinda finds herself all on her own, the reader discovers the depths of her intuition and ingenuity. I didn’t quite have the mystery solved; Gilbert managed to surprise me with several twists and turns. I loved that! The mystery is resolved in the first book, but there is much more to come for Belinda, including a possible love interest or two. I am looking forward to joining Belinda on more adventures.

If you are looking for a great cozy mystery, get in on the ground floor of the Belinda Blake series. A fun puzzler, Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass gets a recommended rating from me.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

I am excited to welcome Heather Day Gilbert to By The Book today. I am a big favorite of her mysteries and Viking sagas. Yes, Vikings! Thanks so much, Heather for visiting with us.

I read in your dedication of Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass that your father first came up with the stories featuring Belinda and Katrina when you were a child. How did you expand on those to get to the current all grown up Belinda? 

I’m so glad you read that dedication — it was a very special one to me, because my dad had a widow maker heart attack last April that was out of nowhere. Thankfully, they were able to get four stents in and he’s doing well now, but it made me think about how grateful I was for those stories he made up for my two brothers and me on long car trips! Belinda and Katrina and their dog, Blitz, got into many childish adventures in Dad’s stories, and I wanted to use those characters and their sense of adventure for this series. Belinda and Katrina sort of came to life in front of me—their haircolor, their personalities (which are sort of opposite), and more.

Snakes send shivers up my spine. Do you have personal experience with slithery reptiles or did you have to do research for the snake, Rasputin, featured in the book? 

I’m not a snake person, either, but I did get much more comfy with the idea of touching one as I watched YouTube videos of ball python owners. Ball pythons are actually shorter than boas, and they come in many different colors. The ball python Belinda’s pet-sitting is black and gold (you can see pictures and even a link to one of the YouTube ball python videos I watched on my Pinterest board here). And this particular python, Rasputin, really did grow on me as I wrote the book — as it grew on Belinda.

Cozy mysteries involve quirky characters, a bit of fun, and often murder. How difficult is it to balance all the elements in that genre? 

I kind of think of myself as an author who likes to delve into characters and make them 3D, so the quirky character part kind of comes naturally. We ALL have some kinds of quirks, no matter how normal we appear at first blush. The humor has to come from my amateur sleuths themselves, and luckily, Belinda has a cute mix of naiveté and wry humor that comes out in what she thinks and says. She’s also more of an optimist than her sister, Katrina (who’s a psychologist and has seen the darker sides of human nature). 

And murder…well, I do love plotting a good murder and landing on the villain I don’t think readers will guess. I think growing up reading Agatha Christie helped me merge those three elements—if you read her books, sometimes they’ll have you laughing out loud, while sometimes, you’re on the edge of your seat because the creep factor is high!

What awaits Belinda in upcoming books in the series?

Ooh, I’m so glad you asked! I already have the preorder/cover up for Book 2, Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, and that one was even MORE of a blast to write, because I love wolves and it’s set at a wolf preserve. 😉 Book 3 is titled Belinda Blake and the Birds of a Feather, and it’ll feature homing pigeons, so that also required quite a bit of research. And Belinda will run into some interesting murderers in both books. 

Find out more about Heather Day Gilbert:

 

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.”

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

Reading Road Trip — Gulf Coast Ramblings

26 Jun

For a while my summer vacations were confined to the Gulf Coast. In college we went to a beach house in Orange Beach, Alabama. Then when I first married we moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida. Our children grew up going to Destin, Gulf Shores, and Perdido Key. We have expanded our vacation horizons in the past few years, but the Gulf Coast still offers fond memories. I thought it would be fun to feature some books set along the almost 1700 miles that the coast line spans. While some of the towns included are not technically on the coast (New Orleans, for example), they are a huge part of the flavor of the area. I have included a number of genres — cozy mystery, historical romance, women’s fiction, and contemporary romance — so you are bound to find one you will love. So even if your summer plans only include a visit to your backyard, here are some choices for a virtual Gulf Coast Ramble.

 

Galveston, Texas

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her huge Greek family — especially her father — has other ideas. They’ve all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant location on the Strand–directly across the street from the Rossis’ popular pizza place–and they want Cassia’s full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston’s premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family’s faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into Bella’s good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop . . .

New Orleans, Louisiana

Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen

In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir sees Phillip Sharp as a charming, magnetic artist, unlike any man she has known. A young lawyer herself, raised in a small town and on the brink of a career with a large firm, she is strong and successful, yet sometimes too trusting and whimsical. Ama’s rash decision to marry Phillip proves to be a mistake as he becomes overly possessive, drawing his wife away from family, friends, and her faith. His insidious, dangerous behavior becomes her dark, inescapable secret.

In this lawyer’s unraveling world, can grace survive Ama’s fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?

Vancleve, Mississippi

Fair Game by Elizabeth White

“Nothing worth having is easy to get . . .

Ana Cutrere’s homecoming to Vancleave, Mississippi, is anything but dull. Before she’s even reached town, the beautiful young widow has a run-in with a stray cow, loses her son in the woods, rescues an injured fawn, and comes face-to-face with Grant Gonzales, her high school crush. Grant recently returned to town himself amid hushed controversy. His only plan: leave the corporate world behind and open a hunting reserve. Seeing Jana again ignites old memories . . . and a painful past.Tensions boil over when he learns exactly why she returned. Jana plans to convince her grandfather to develop a wildlife rescue center — dead center on the prime hunting property he promised to sell to Grant! Jana is determined to make a new start for herself and her two children — and willing to fight for it. With deadlines drawing near for the sale of the property and no decision from her grandfather, can Jana trust God with her and Grant’s future, or will explosive emotions and diametrically opposing views tear them apart?

Mobile, Alabama

The Creole Princess by Beth White

All along the eastern seaboard, the American struggle for independence rages. In the British-held southern port of Mobile, Alabama, the conflict brewing is quieter — though no less deadly. The lovely Frenchwoman Lyse Lanier is best friends with the daughter of the British commander. Rafael Gonzalez is a charming young Spanish merchant with a secret mission and a shipment of gold to support General Washington. As their paths cross and their destinies become increasingly tangled, Lyse and Rafael must decide where their true loyalties lie — and somehow keep Lyse’s family from being executed as traitors to the British Crown.

With spectacular detail that brings the Colonial South alive, Beth White invites readers into a world of intrigue and espionage from a little-known side of the American Revolutionary War. Her richly textured settings and characters delight while fast pacing and closely held secrets will keep readers turning the pages.

The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White

Fiona Lanier is the only woman in the tiny Gulf Coast settlement of Navy Cove. While her shipbuilding family races to fill the demand for American ships brought by the War of 1812, Fiona tries to rescue her brother who was forced into service by the British Navy.

Lieutenant Charlie Kincaid has been undercover for six months, obtaining information vital to the planned British invasion of New Orleans. When a summer storm south of Mobile Bay wrecks his ship and scatters the crew, Charlie suffers a head injury, ultimately collapsing in the arms of a beautiful mermaid who seems eerily familiar. As Charlie’s memory returns in agonizing jags and crashes, he and Fiona discover that falling in love may be as inevitable as the tide. But when political loyalties begin to collide, they’ll each have to decide where their true heart lies.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

What The Cat Dragged In by Gilbert Morris

Introducing…

Jacques the Ripper: A tough–minded “Savannah” breed of feline–fierce, enormous, and with a mind of his own.

And…

Cleo: A multi–colored “Rag Doll” with long silky hair. Cleo is as affectionate as Jacques is tough and her favorite mode of transportation is draped over the shoulder of the nearest human.

In their debut mystery, Jacques and Cleo and their owner…or rather the human they own, Kate Forrest, and her son, Jeremy, move to a beautiful beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama, left to Kate by a distant relative.

The catch is that another distant relative, wanna–be novelist (and bonafide cat–hater) Jake Novak, has also inherited an interest in the house. Undeterred, Kate and Jeremy move in the downstairs quarters and Jake takes the separate apartment upstairs.

Then, when a murder occurs . . . everyone is stumped — but feline sleuths Jacques and Cleo come to the rescue and reveal the identity of the killer.

 

Destin, Florida (and nearby environs)

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth Vogt

Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel in a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the possible mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”

Paramedic Vanessa Hollister has put her adolescence behind her, including the unwanted label of being the new kid in town over and over again, thanks to her father’s military career. She’s overcome what her mother called “the biggest mistake of her life” and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Florida with her new fiancé. But will the reappearance of her first husband from her what-were-you-thinking teenage elopement disrupt her dream of an idyllic beach wedding?

As a professional storm chaser, Logan Hollister is used to taking risks. However, a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning the future of his team, the Stormmeisters. Coming face to face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa. Does their past give him the right to interfere with her future?

A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.

Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?

If Kathleen could relive any moment, it would be the one in 1969. Not because of its sweet memories, but because it changed her life forever.

Watercolor Summer by Nan Corbitt Allen

Just thirteen, Kathleen felt isolated and alienated by her family. A victim of her parents’ lack of connection to each other and to her, she was dragged by her mother to another artist colony for the summer. There she met the annoying Malcolm, a sixteen-year-old, mentally-challenged boy living with his caregiver.

In Watercolor Summer, Nan Allen tells the story of the difficult summer when Kathleen learned how Malcolm and his colorful guardian were the examples of true and selfless love. She paints a story on the canvas of Kathleen’s life which was transformed by the Master Artist–a life once stained by pain and trial, that became a thing of beauty.

Cedar Key, Florida

Waiting for Sunrise by Eva Marie Everson

Life sometimes gets the best of us. For some it’s the daily pressures, for others it’s the shadows of the past. For Patsy Milstrap, it’s both. When she travels to beautiful Cedar Key on Florida’s Gulf Coast in search of healing, she never dreams her past will be waiting for her there.

With a large helping of Southern charm, Waiting for Sunrise is a touching story of family, young love, and the need for forgiveness. Author Eva Marie Everson expertly draws out the bittersweet moments of life, weaving them into a tale that envelops the soul.

 

Tarpon Springs, Florida

The Lady of Tarpon Springs by Judith Miller

Much to the dismay of her Greek family, Zanna Krykos makes a living as a lawyer in Tarpon Springs, Florida. When her friend Lucy needs legal advice about the business she inherited upon her father’s passing, she ends up asking Zanna to run the business instead so she can focus on her medical career.

Nico Kalos is a Greek diver who has worked on sponging boats in the Aegean Sea since the age of 14, giving him a vast knowledge of the trade. When he hears of an opportunity to lead a group of spongers to the United States, he seizes it. But his excitement is quickly quelled when he arrives only to discover that a young woman with no experience in the business will be in charge of the new crews.

But as Zanna and Nico face even more complications than they could have imagined, they must learn to work together or risk everything they’ve worked so hard for.

Happy Book Birthday! — Belinda Blake And The Snake In The Grass

25 Jun

Happy book birthday to Heather Day Gilbert! The first book in her cozy mystery series, Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass, releases today. I love Heather’s mysteries (I actually love all her books 😉 ) and am excited to get in on the beginning of the Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery series. It is now available in both paperback and ebook. If you like cozies, you need to check it out!

 

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. 

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.”

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

Top 10 Tuesday — Characters Like Me, Because It Really Is All About The Books

7 May

I found this week’s Top 10 Tuesday prompt — Characters That Remind Me of Myself — a bit daunting. I lead such a boring life, that it would never make it as a book. 😉 I really struggled to come up with the requisite 10 to fill this post, until I started thinking about what consumes a lot of my thoughts — books! I read them, talk about them, blog about them, sniff them . . . . Anyway, I came up with a list of characters that are surrounded by books too. I really wouldn’t want to trade places with any of them because of their issues, and the fact that some regularly stumble on dead bodies or engage in nefarious activities! And while my husband may say our home is starting to look a lot like a bookstore or library, I do not work at either. But I am a book pusher  enthusiast who makes sure everyone has the opportunity to get their hands on the story that is just right for them. Whether you like cozy mysteries, suspense, romance, women’s fiction, or time-slip novels, I hope you find a book you just need to read!

For more fun with doppleganger characters, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

A Dozen Book Pushing Characters

(aka booksellers or librarians)

Bruce Cable — Camino Island by John Grisham

Violet and Daisy Waverly —Crime And Poetry by Amanda Flower

Annie Laurance Darling — Death on Demand by Carolyn Hart

Callie Randall — Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson

Helma Zukas — Miss Zukas And The Library Murders by Jo Dereske

Madeline, Janet, and Carrie — The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

Rick Denton — Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

A. J. Fickry — The Storied Life of A. J. Fickry by Gabrielle Zevin

Claire Malloy — Strangled Prose by Joan Hess

 

Which character is like you?

Top 10 Tuesday — Book Hooks

2 Apr

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday is all about what makes you pick up a book. Is it the cover, a recommendation from a friend, a must-read author? Several things make me pick up (and almost always buy 🙂 ) a book. It’s no secret that a striking cover will catch the eye, but I also love clever titles that use fun fonts. And I will buy just about any book from favorite authors. Then there is book buzz — the books that seem to be on everyone’s lips and blogs. Many of the books on my list check several or all of the boxes. What about you? What makes you interested in a book?

For what captures the attention of other bloggers, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Book Hooks And The Books That Go With Them

 

Book Buzz — everybody’s talking ’bout me

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Last Year of The War by Susan Meissner

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

 

Catchy Title — words matter 

Belinda Blake and A Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano

The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

 

Cover Love — sometimes you can judge a book by its cover

Almost Home by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

Governess of Penwythe Hall by Sarah Ladd

 

Favorite Author — I must read their books

Driftwood Bay by Irene Hannon

Fragments of Fear by Carrie Stuart Parks

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck

What makes you pick up a book?