Tag Archives: cozy mystery fiction

If You Liked Living Lies . . .

30 Jul

Everyone in my book club liked Living Lies by Natalie Walters. A romantic suspense set in a small southern town, it focuses on the tough issues of depression, suicide, and PTSD. It also connected cartel activity to the art world. I have a few book recommendations if you also liked Living Lies. Hope you find another book to love.

 

 

Suspense Set in A Small Town 

Trial by Fire (book 1 in the Baxter series) by Kathy Herman

When a bizarre houseboat explosion rocks the close-knit community of Baxter, firefighters, friends, and neighbors stand powerless as the McConnells’ blazing hull sinks to the bottom of Heron Lake. Grief turns to outrage as new evidence proves there was one survivor — and points to murder, something this sheltered community has never faced in its hundred-year history. In a race with the FBI, Jed sets out to track down the sole survivor, coping meanwhile with his own painful marital struggle. Baxter’s mystery and Jed’s dilemma are ones only God can solve in this suspenseful, surprising story of redemption amidst despair in small-town America.


 

A Heroine with Struggles

Fragments of Fear by Carrie Stuart Park

Evelyn Yvonne McTavish — Tavish to her friends — had her almost perfect world in Albuquerque, New Mexico, come to a crashing end with the suicide of her fiancé. As she struggles to put her life back together and make a living from her art, she’s given the news that her dog is about to be destroyed at the dog pound. Except she doesn’t own a dog. The shelter is adamant that the microchip embedded in the canine-with her name and address-makes it hers.

Tavish recognizes the dog as one owned by an archaeologist named Pat Caron because she did a commissioned drawing of the two of them months earlier. The simple solution is to return the dog to his owner, but she arrives only to discover Caron’s murdered body.

After meeting undercover FBI agent Sawyer Price the mystery deepens as more people start disappearing and Tavish becomes a target as well. Her only solution is to find the links between microchip technology, an Anasazi site in the desert, her fiancé’s death, a late-night radio show, and the dog. And the clock is ticking.

 

PTSD

Without Warning by Lynette Eason

Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.

Daniel might be concerned, but he’s not convinced that a bodyguard — and a female one at that — is necessary. A new attack and his niece’s urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who’s behind the intimidation and threats — before a would-be killer strikes again.

 

Crime in The Art World

A Fool And His Monet by Sandra Orchard

Serena Jones has a passion for recovering lost and stolen art — one that’s surpassed only by her zeal to uncover the truth about the art thief who murdered her grandfather. She’s joined the FBI Art Crime Team with the secret hope that one of her cases will lead to his killer. Now, despite her mother’s pleas to do something safer –like get married — Serena’s learning how to go undercover to catch thieves and black market traders.

When a local museum discovers an irreplaceable Monet missing, Jones leaps into action. The clues point in different directions, and her boss orders her to cease investigating her most promising suspect. But determined to solve the case and perhaps discover another clue in her grandfather’s murder, she pushes ahead, regardless of the danger.

 

Top Ten Tuesday — Women of A Certain Age

28 Jul

I had a tough time coming up with this week’s Top Ten Tuesday Freebie topic. There were so many things to choose from — exotic locales, TBR pile, fun titles, etc. Truly unlimited list options. So, I began thinking about the main characters of the books I have recently read, and discovered that almost all were in their 20s or 30s. It has been a while since I saw those numbers, having entered my golden years. Ouch! Where are the characters that are closer to my age that aren’t the cookie-baking, supportive, and supporting grandma characters? If you are like me and need a few more relatable mature characters, my list includes books that feature one main character that is a woman of a certain age. Hope you find one to love!

 

For more great bookish lists, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top 10 Books Featuring Women of A Certain Age

 

Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet by Charlene Baumbich

On the outskirts of the pastoral Illinois town of Partonville, Illinois, eighty-seven-year-old Dorothy Wetstra lives on her farm, venturing out to drive around in her 1976 Lincoln Continental — affectionately dubbed “The Tank”—play bunco with her pals, or grab a stool at Harry’s counter, where she can stay on top of the town’s latest shenanigans (most of which she is responsible for).
 
But when a visitor comes to town with a proposition, Dorothy finds herself faced with a decision that could change her beloved town, and her life. Before long, her gift for shaking things up may come in handy . . .

Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin

Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they’re right. Four x-rays later, Harriet’s ankle ― and her heart ― are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture ― God has a different plan.

Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney

Audrey Whitman’s dreams are coming true. Now that their five kids are grown, she and her husband Grant are turning their beloved family home into a cozy bed and breakfast, just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri. Opening weekend makes Audrey anxious, with family and friends coming from all over to help celebrate the occasion. But when Audrey’s daughter, Landyn, arrives, the U-Haul she’s pulling makes it clear she’s not just here for a few days. Audrey immediately has questions. What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn’s husband, Chase? And what else was her daughter not telling her? One thing was for sure, the Chicory Inn was off to a rocky start. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her daughter so desperately needs?

Invisible by Lorena McCourtney

She’s not your average crime fighter! Ivy Malone has a curiosity that sometimes gets her into trouble, and it’s only aggravated by her discovery that she can easily escape the public eye. So when vandals romp through the local cemetery, she takes advantage of her newfound anonymity and its unforeseen advantages as she launches her own unofficial investigation. Despite her oddball humor and unconventional snooping, Ivy soon becomes discouraged by her failure to turn up any solid clues. And after Ivy witnesses something ominous and unexplained, she can’t resist putting her investigative powers to work again. Even the authorities’ attempts to keep Ivy out of danger and her nosy neighbor’s match-making schemes can’t slow her down. But will the determination that fuels this persistent, quirky sleuth threaten her very safety?

Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh

For the first time since their children were born, empty nesters Judith and Stan Winters spent Thanksgiving without the kids and grandkids. It’s looking like Christmas will be the same. Judith can’t bring herself to even start decorating for the holiday; her children always hung the first ornaments on the tree, ornaments they’d made each year when they were kids. Stan had nicknamed them the “ugly ornaments” but Judith adored them. Now she can barely look at them. Can this box of ugly ornaments be the key to saving their family Christmas this year?

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross

Miss Julia, a recently bereaved and newly wealthy widow, is only slightly bemused when one Hazel Marie Puckett appears at her door with a youngster in tow and unceremoniously announces that the child is the bastard son of Miss Julia’s late husband. Suddenly, this longtime church member and pillar of her small Southern community finds herself in the center of an unseemly scandal — and the guardian of a wan nine-year-old whose mere presence turns her life upside down.

With razor-sharp wit and perfect “Steel Magnolia” poise, Miss Julia speaks her mind indeed — about a robbery, a kidnapping, and the other disgraceful events precipitated by her husband’s death. Fast-paced and charming, with a sure sense of comic drama, a cast of crazy characters, and a strong Southern cadence, Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind will delight readers from first page to last.

Seeing Things by Patti Hill

Birdie Wainwright, 72, isn’t concerned about seeing things that others can’t. For a woman who still climbs mountains with her dog (Miss Bee Haven) and likes to tango, the impractical visions brought on by macular degeneration are just another gift from God, adding more adventure to life. But when a tumble down the stairs breaks her ankle and leads back to her son’s home in Denver where she must convalesce, Birdie’s imagination really takes flight. Following a conversation with her grandson about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, she begins to see and speak with the unkempt literary character himself on a regular basis. As the line between reality and whimsy turns brittle, faith is tested among friends and loved ones, and hope is reborn.

Seeing Things is a story about family, reconciliation, and hearing from God in unexpected ways.

Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti

Charlie and Lucy Tuttle are committed to each other for life, but that life isn’t turning out quite like they expected. Charlie retired early, but Lucy planned to continue in her position as a music educator in a small Midwestern K-8 school indefinitely. And then the day came when she was forced to retire. Lucy was devoted to the program her father started years ago and now she can only watch as it disintegrates before her eyes. The longer she is separated from the passion of her heart, the more the music fades from her life and she wonders if her faith’s song is fading too. When a simple misstep threatens to silence Lucy forever, a young boy and his soundless mother change the way she sees — and hears — everything.

The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton

Lily Bishop wakes up one morning to find a good-bye note and divorce papers from her husband on the kitchen counter. Having moved to Alabama for his job only weeks before, Lily is devastated, but a flyer at the grocery store for a hair stylist position in a local retirement community provides a refuge while she contemplates her next steps.

Rose Carrigan built the small retirement village of Safe Harbor years ago — just before her husband ran off with his assistant. Now she runs a tight ship, making sure the residents follow her strict rules. Rose keeps everyone at arm’s length, including her own family. But when Lily shows up asking for a job and a place to live, Rose’s cold exterior begins to thaw.

Lily and Rose form an unlikely friendship, and Lily’s salon soon becomes the place where residents share town gossip, as well as a few secrets. Lily soon finds herself drawn to Rose’s nephew, Rawlins — a single dad and shrimper who’s had some practice at starting over — and one of the residents may be carrying a torch for Rose as well.

Neither Lily nor Rose is where she expected to be, but the summer makes them both wonder if there’s more to life and love than what they’ve experienced so far.

Your Chariot Awaits by Lorena McCourtney

Downsized from her job.
Dumped by her boyfriend.
Depressed about that upcoming 6-0 birthday.
Not a good week for Andi McConnell.

But now there’s good news: She’s just inherited a limousine, a long, sleek, black limousine, from an eccentric uncle.

There’s also bad news: The dead body that soon turns up in the trunk. And Andi is the top suspect in the murder.

Enter Keegan “Fitz” Fitzpatrick, former TV detective, very interested in the case — and in Andi. As they work together to solve the crime, a big question looms: when the bullets start flying, are the windows in Andi’s limo really bullet proof?

 

First Line Friday — Death in Dahlonega

12 Jun

Happy Friday everyone! I am at my cabin in the north Georgia mountains this weekend for some cleaning (we will see) and relaxing (definitely). My friend Tina is along for the ride. She and I were diagnosed with breast cancer the same week. This is her second go round after almost 20 years. We call ourselves twins because we have the same type of tumor, the same treatment protocol (no chemo or radiation — yeah us!), and the same very positive prognosis. After surgeries and the whole quarantine thing we deserve some time away for R&R. 🙂 In honor of our getaway to a cabin in the woods, I chose the cozy mystery set in a real north Georgia town, Death in Dahlonega by Deborah Malone, for this week’s First Line Friday. It fits with the theme of reading escapes/travel destinations, plus Dahlonega is only 30 minutes away from my cabin — I know the area well. Here is the first line:

Dahlonega, here we come! I cheered, triumphant at the 10 miles to go sign.

 

A friendly adventure turns to murder and mayhem in the north Georgia mountains. Historical writer Trixie Montgomery is asked to cover Gold Rush Days in the picturesque Georgia mountain town, Dahlonega. Trixie seizes the chance to mix business with pleasure and asks her best friend, Dee Dee to tag along. Their well laid plans go awry when Dee Dee is discovered standing over the lifeless body of prominent citizen, John Tatum – the very man she’d had a run in with earlier that day — holding a bloody pickax in her hands. Can Trixie find a way to finish her assignment and keep Dee Dee out of the slammer? Winner in American Christian Fiction Writers’ Category Five writing contest!

Deborah Malone has a degree in Human Services and worked in the field several years before starting her writing career. Deborah’s first novel Death in Dahlonega, finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Category Five writing contest! Deborah was also nominated for 2012 and 2013 Georgia Author of the Year in Novel category and was award the Georgia Author of the Year Award in 2018 for Blooming in Broken Places. She has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, for the historic magazine Georgia Backroads since 2001. She has had many article and photographs published, and her writing is featured in Tales of the Rails, edited by Olin Jackson, as well as the “Christian Communicator” and “Southern Writer’s Magazine.” She is a member of the Georgia Writer’s Association, Advanced Writer’s and Speaker’s Association and the American Christian Fiction Writers. Deborah lives with her husband Travis in the North Georgia mountains.

 

What’s your first line?

 

Head over to Hoarding Books to check out more fabulous first lines.

 

 

Reading Road Trip — West Virginia

10 Jun

Although more and more things are opening up, it is still a bit daunting to travel. Where to eat, where to sleep, where to use the bathroom 😉 ? My husband and I caught the travel bug a few years ago and are itching to get going again. This year our travel will be closer to home until we can better figure out the logistics. But in the meantime, you and I can can travel anywhere in a book. I love that no matter where I am physically, I can be somewhere else lost in the pages of a great novel. This week’s Reading Road Trip is taking me to West Virginia. I have only been there once on a school trip with my youngest son. I would love to go back to this beautiful mountain state. I have listed a few books that I hope will bring that region to life for you. If you have any more recommendations for West Virginia reading, I would love to hear them! (Note: although all of the books that are listed by Chris Fabry are set in the fictional town of Dogwood, WV, they are all standalones.)

 

Reading Road Trip — West Virginia

 

An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz

Unflinching and plainspoken, Tessa Swan is not your typical 18th-century woman. Born and bred on the western Virginia frontier along with her five brothers, she is a force to be reckoned with.

Quiet and courageous, Clay Tygart is not your typical 18th-century man. Raised by Lenape Indians, he returns a hero from the French and Indian War to the fort that bears his name, bringing with him Tessa’s long-lost friend, Keturah, who disappeared from the settlement years earlier.

Determined to avoid any romantic entanglements as fort commander, Clay remains aloof whenever he encounters the lovely Tessa. But when circumstances force Clay’s hand–and heart–the stage is set for one very private and one very public reckoning.

Miracle in A Dry Season (Appalachian Blessings series, book 1) by Sarah Loudin Thomas

It’s 1954 and Perla Long’s arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.

Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor…until he meets Perla. She’s everything he’s sought in a woman, but he can’t get past the sense that she’s hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla’s unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.

Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

Billy Allman is a hillbilly genius. People in Dogwood, West Virginia, say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin but was cut short on social skills. Though he’d gladly give you the shirt off his back, they were right. Billy longs to use his life as an ode to God, a lyrical, beautiful bluegrass song played with a finely tuned heart. So with spare parts from a lifetime of collecting, he builds a radio station in his own home. People in town laugh. But Billy carries a brutal secret that keeps him from significance and purpose. Things always seem to go wrong for him.

However small his life seems, from a different perspective Billy’s song reaches far beyond the hills and hollers he calls home. Malachi is an angel sent to observe Billy. Though it is not his dream assignment, Malachi follows the man and begins to see the bigger picture of how each painful step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful symphony that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.

Dogwood by Chris Fabry

In the small town of Dogwood, West Virginia, Karin has buried her shattered dreams by settling for a faithful husband whose emotional distance from her deep passions and conflicts leaves her isolated. Loaded with guilt, she tries to raise three small children and “do life” the best she can. Will returns to Dogwood intent on pursuing the only woman he has ever loved — only to find there is far more standing in his way than lost years in prison. The secrets of Will and Karin’s past begin to emerge through Danny Boyd, a young boy who wishes he hadn’t survived the tragedy that knit those two together as well as tore them apart. The trigger that will lay their pain bare and force them to face it rather than flee is the unlikely figure of Ruthie Bowles, a withered, wiry old woman who leads Karin so deep into her anger against God that it forces unexpected consequences.

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

The summer of 1972 was the most pivotal of Matt Plumley’s childhood. While his beloved Pirates battle for back-to-back World Series titles, Matt’s family moves from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia, where his father steps into the pulpit of a church under the thumb of town leader Basil Blackwood. A fish out of water, Matt is relieved to forge a fast bond with two unlikely friends: Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race boy, and Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight.

As the trio traipses the hills and hollers, Matt begins to fall for Jesse, and their promises to each other draw him deeper into her terrifying reality. One night, the wrath of the Blackwoods and the secrets of Jesse’s family collide, and Matt joins Jesse in a rescue that saves one life and ends another . . . and severs the bond of their friendship.

Years later, Matt is pulled back to Dogwood and to memories of that momentous summer by news of Jesse’s upcoming wedding. He could never shake the feeling that there was more to the story of that fateful night, and he’s determined to learn the truth behind the only promise Jesse Woods ever broke.

Miranda Warning (A Murder in The Mountains series, book 1) by Heather Day Gilbert

Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her.

But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox — a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting — Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer . . . or the next victim might be Tess herself.

Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains’ lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains series.

No Filter (Barks And Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery series, book 1) by Heather Day Gilbert

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.

Fed up with her go-nowhere job, newly single Macy Hatfield moves back to her small hometown in West Virginia. She joins forces with her brother Bo in his crazy new venture — the Barks & Beans Cafe, which caters to dog lovers and coffee drinkers alike.

When a golf instructor is murdered at the nearby spiritual center, Macy winds up adopting his Great Dane. Just after Macy finds a mysterious message sewn under the dog’s collar, her Dane is dognapped. She launches into a relentless search for her newfound canine friend, but along the way, she digs up a cruel and confident killer.

Out of Circulation (Hemlock Creek Suspense, book 1) by Heather Day Gilbert

Katie McClure always dreamed of becoming an FBI agent like her father, but an injury has permanently sidelined her as a librarian in her rural West Virginia hometown. Katie’s peaceful life is torn apart when armed men burst into the library, targeting her. Her fears mount after a break-in at her apartment, and she reluctantly accepts an offer of protection from Ace Calhoun, the Manhattan bodyguard who rushed to her aid against the library invaders.

But Ace didn’t show up in Hemlock Creek by accident. Even as he hides his true motives for protecting Katie, he’s pulled in by her indomitable courage and her undeniable attraction to him.

With the Russian mob breathing down her neck, the clock is ticking for Katie to find out what happened to a bank stash that went missing years ago. To her dismay, she discovers her father was not the man she believed him to be . . . and neither is Ace.

 

Where will you read next?

 

Guest Post — Heather Day Gilbert, Author of An Exotic Pet Sitter Mystery Series

8 Nov

If Heather Day Gilbert confined her writing to the back copy of cereal boxes, I would be the first in line to get those Wheaties! Thankfully, this talented author is still writing novels. The first book I read of Heather’s was Miranda Warning, the first book in her Murder in The Mountains series (review HERE). I am a big mystery fan, and I knew I had found a new favorite author. Then I read God’s Daughter, a Viking-era novel (review HERE). Oh my! It is fantastic too. Is there anything she cannot write? I don’t think so.

Today Heather is sharing about her writing journey and the decision to focus on cozy mysteries. Yay! I love those too! Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Heather!

(Be sure to check out the 10 Year Blogiversary Giveaway link at the bottom of this post.)

 

Why I Write Mysteries By Heather Day Gilbert

If you’ve read any of my books (I know Beckie has!), you’ll understand that I’ve basically run the gamut as far as genres I’ve written. From historical Vikings to contemporary romantic suspense/mystery to a nonfiction how-to book for independent authors, I’ve “been there, done that.” 

But there comes a time in almost every author’s life when they have to decide which genre they really enjoy writing most. Although I loved researching and writing my Viking historicals, I felt my writing voice fit most naturally with contemporary mysteries, so I decided to pursue that path when I began proposing books to general market editors.

It’s a comfortable fit, because mystery is what I’ve read most in my life. Starting with Encyclopedia Brown, Trixie Belden, and Nancy Drew, I moved on to Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, and Phyllis Whitney in my teen years. To be honest, Agatha is the one author I can reread a hundred times and never get tired of. Although the mysteries I mentioned above are now considered older, they were all “contemporary” in their own time, when you think about it.

I also love writing in first person point of view, and although it’s unusual to do that in historical circles, it’s commonly done in mystery circles.

But I narrowed my genre down even more — I wanted to write cozy mysteries. There are many online articles about what constitutes a true cozy mystery, but I think it’s easiest to explain by pointing to the Murder, She Wrote TV series. The general setup is that an amateur sleuth who lives in a small town gets involved in solving murders that are not graphic/gross, with no sex scenes or heavy cursing. So cozy mysteries are usually clean reads (some more than others, but mine definitely are) that have cozy (not horror) overtones. 

I’ve always loved exploring family relationships in my books, not to mention the psychological motivations for things, and I don’t write gore, language, or sex scenes, so you can see why cozy mysteries are an attractive genre to me. Plus, there’s room to inject humor/wit, which I love in Agatha’s mysteries and I hope to replicate in my own.

Not to mention, I love constructing a plot that twists and fools the reader — and since I’ve read so many mysteries, I try to fool myself as I’m writing, as well. I’ve written mysteries where I’ve switched whodunit as I wrote, just to make it more difficult to figure out. 

I figure you’ve found your niche in writing when it’s not hard to come up with ideas for an entire series based around characters you’ve created because they make you laugh and cry and wonder what they’re going to get up to next. When your readers say that your characters feel like friends and they can’t wait for the next-in-series books.

So for the foreseeable future, you can find me writing cozy mysteries. I hope you can try one and see if it’s a genre you enjoy, as well!

Heather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, is the author of the bestselling Exotic Pet-Sitter mystery series. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Like her amateur sleuth Belinda Blake, Heather plays video games, although so far she hasn’t done any exotic pet-sitting or hunted any murderers. Find out more on HeatherDayGilbert.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Year Blogiversary Giveaway

To enter, click HERE!

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.