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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Spotlight: Murder with Strings Attached

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Mark Reutlinger will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Sometimes even the most carefully conceived burglary can take an unexpected turn. Florence Palmer has her eye on concert violinist Aaron Levy's priceless violin. Unfortunately, she finds it's already been stolen. Her surprise doubles when the virtuoso she'd planned to burgle offers to hire her to help him steal it back. But they're not the only ones looking for the missing violin. When Flo inadvertently becomes the prime suspect in a case of murder, she and Aaron need to clear her name. Will they find the real killer and get the violin back to its rightful owner without anyone else, especially themselves, being killed?

Read an Excerpt

I was going to use my “one phone call” (assuming a person really gets one and that’s not just something they say in the movies) to call Aaron, but I didn’t have to bother. Almost as soon as I arrived at the police station, Aaron, who obviously had been watching developments and following the police car I was in, walked in and inquired how I might be released. Given the relatively minor nature of the charge, despite what they might actually suspect, and my clean record, despite all the burglaries they were thankfully unaware of, bail was set according to a standard schedule rather than my having to wait to see a judge the next day.

I don’t know how much it cost Aaron to bail me out, but of course whatever it was, he could well afford it; and besides, he owed it to me. After all, I was really just his employee, and surely posting bail is a standard employee benefit.

When all the necessary papers had been signed and funds transferred, Aaron and I walked out into the sunshine that I’d been afraid I wouldn’t be seeing for quite a while.

On the way to Aaron’s car, I gave him a hug and a little kiss on the cheek and thanked him for extricating me from the pokey and doing it so quickly. He looked a bit embarrassed by that, but he cleared his throat and said in his best businesslike manner:

“Okay, so why’d you shoot him, and where’d you put the violin?”

About the Author:
MARK REUTLINGER is an attorney and former law professor. He now writes novels in which the law is frequently broken, including his “Mrs. Kaplan” cozy mystery series (MRS. KAPLAN AND THE MATZOH BALL OF DEATH and A PAIN IN THE TUCHIS) and the political thrillers MADE IN CHINA and SISTER-IN-LAW: VIOLATION, SEDUCTION, AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (under the pen name M. R. Morgan). MURDER WITH STRINGS ATTACHED is his latest novel. He is also a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.

Mark and his wife Analee live in University Place, Washington, where in addition to reading and writing he plays clarinet with the Tacoma Concert Band and enjoys tennis, biking, exotic cars, model railroading, and various arts and crafts. He has no idea where he finds the time for it all.

Website1  Website2   Twitter  Goodreads

Buy Links:  Amazon  ||  Barnes and Noble

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Review - A Glimmer of Death

From the author of the Tamara Hayle mysteries comes a new series.  Here is a teaser: "In the first of a thrilling new series, one woman’s extraordinary psychic gift plunges her already-troubled present into chaos—and puts her future in someone’s deadly sights... "  This is a brand new series and I love starting with the first book.  Let's see what this author and series has to offer!

Valerie Wilson Wesley

Copyright: Jan 2021 (Kensington Books) 240 pgs

Series: 1st in Odessa Jones Mysteries

Sensuality: mild (suicide is mentioned a few times)

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy mystery

Main Character: Odessa Jones, recently widowed real estate agent

Setting: Modern day, Grovesville, New Jersey

Obtained Through: Publisher via NetGalley for honest review

Book Blurb: "Until now, Odessa Jones’ inherited ability to read emotions and foretell danger has protected her. But second sight didn’t warn her she would soon be a widow—and about to lose her home and the catering business she’s worked so hard to build. The only things keeping Dessa going are her love for baking and her sometimes-mellow cat, Juniper. Unfortunately, putting her life back together means taking a gig at an all-kinds-of-shady real estate firm run by volatile owner Charlie Risko . . .
Until Charlie is brutally killed—and Dessa’s bullied co-worker is arrested for murder. Dessa can’t be sure who’s guilty. But it doesn’t take a psychic to discover that everyone from Charlie’s much-abused staff to his long-suffering younger wife had multiple reasons to want him dead. And as Dessa follows a trail of lies through blackmail, dead-end clues, and corruption, she needs to see the truth fast—or a killer will bury her deep down with it." 

Odessa can see "glimmers", aura-like colors that correspond to a person’s emotional state and smell scents that indicate coming events.  Like smelling nutmeg means death is coming. She is grieving loss of her husband, and is starting her baking business on the side. She is a kind soul I'd like as a friend. Lennox Royal, and ex-cop, who runs the diner is a possible love interest.  Aunt Phoenix is her only close relative and source of information about her unique abilities. Daryl, her deceased husband is felt strongly throughout the story. He was a gem and she often recalls him to mind.  Bertie, Vinton, Harley, Juda, and Tanya populate the office and are suspects.

The plot is doled out in dollops as the story unfolds. The subplot of Lennox liking Odessa adds a gentleness to the story I really appreciated. Once I got past all the introductions of the characters and the murder happened, I was hooked.  The pacing is steady and shows an author who knows how to keep you interested.

The killer reveal was different than I expected, but it worked perfectly for who the killer turned out to be.  The wrap-up is the perfect ending.

I am officially a fan of Valerie Wilson Wesley now. She is a skilled author weaving the story and characters into a confection as fine as the cakes Odessa bakes!  FYI, a recipe is included that I just have to try.

Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I will be more busy on my author Goodreads page, and I would love to see there. Please join me. 

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Monday, February 15, 2021

Nurture Your Reading Habit

In 2020, the Covid 19 Corona virus saw many people staying home more and picking up books to occupy the mind.  This was a fantastic outcome from a bad situation.  As we move on, let's keep the reading habit alive.  Reading fiction is not only enjoyable, but it makes up better people.

The University of Rochester reviewed 14 previous studies on the correlation between reading fiction and exhibiting empathy towards others. The results showed reading fiction produced improvement in personal interaction and compassion for our fellow man and woman.   That's according to a Jan 25, 2019 article in Inc. titled "New Study: Reading Fiction Really Will Make You Nicer and More Empathetic"  Reading fiction isn't a magic cure for social ails, but the world could sure use more empathy and compassion right now.  

The New Yorker magazine's article "Can Reading Make You Happier?" by Ceridwen Dovey dated June 9, 2015 describes "Bibliotherapy as a very broad term for the ancient practice of encouraging reading for therapeutic effect."  Bibliotherapy is where a therapist prescribes certain books, fiction and non, to help you with areas of your life such as a broken heart or career worries.  This is real and becoming a bigger deal.  It is due to the ability of a novel to allow the reader to live a simulated life for a few hundred pages, feel that character's joys and pains, to simulate walking a mile in another's shoes.  In the process, discovering truths about yourself.  A good book club is a social way to go about this self discovery with a social benefit.  

Reading fiction is also a great stress release.  Whether you get your adrenaline pumping in a harrowing thriller or science fiction novel or you get the rush from a romance, you have spent time outside your personal struggles and pressures of life and lived through another's eyes.  I know I cherish that aspect, as well as "living" in other time periods, experiencing other cultures and "armchair traveling".  

How do you nurture the reading habit as the world is blossoming again with the end of the virus tunnel in sight?  

Join a book challenge.  There are reading challenges on book blogs and Goodreads where you share your progress with others in that challenge.  You can do a solo reading challenge at any time.  For a few years I ran a historical mystery reading challenge on this blog.  Just do a google search or check on Goodreads.  If you want to go it alone, set yourself a stretch goal, perhaps read 50 (or another number) books this year and work to meet that challenge.

Set a regular time each day for your reading.  You may need to cut short television or web surfing time to ensure your success, but it is so worth it.  What is you best time to read?  During your lunch time, an hour before sleep, before work, when you just wake up?  Find the best place to read as well.  It should be distraction free and comfortable.  It will vary for everyone what fits that description.  Make this time special with your favorite cup of tea or similar treat.

Read books that you enjoy, that sweep you up in the story.  This is key to continuing a reading habit, find authors whose writing you can count on to transport you.  Don't feel you must finish a book if it isn't working for you.  You may find a month later that book might spark your imagination better.

Have a book with you at all times.  That is easier these days with ebooks and reading apps on our cell phones.  I have read in line at the grocery store and post office.  

Maintain a list of the books you want to read.  You will feel good marking off the books.  This is a self-nurturing move showing importance to something that makes you feel good.

Keep track of your reading.  You can use a simple pen and paper, your bullet journal, or electronically on Goodreads or LibraryThing.  Besides the basics of the title and author you can include the start and finish reading dates, and a sentence or two of what you thought about the book.

On a budget?  Find a discount book store, used book store, or your local library and get to know the staff.  Sign up for your favorite author's newsletter so you know when their works are on sale.  There are many sites like Bookbub that notify you about book deals based on your reading preferences.

Make reading a shared family value.  I grew up discussing the books we were reading at the dinner table.  My mother devoured historical fiction and talked about the actual history woven into the stories she read.  That is one big reason why I love history.  

Finally, start a simple blog to post your reading experience where family and friends can keep you on your reading habit and recommend books.  There is no pressure if you are using the blog as a forum for family and friends to participate in your reading journey.  You don't have to make it highly analytical, just chat about what you read and what you liked.

These are a few ideas to keep you going on your reading habit. Thanks for reading this!

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Thursday, February 11, 2021

Clean Cozy Mystery Presale

It has been a while, but the long awaited 4th book in the Resort to Murder series - Arrowed - is now available for preorder!

It all began when a dying man with an arrow in his chest grabs her ankle.

During a heat wave at a Santa Fe resort, Julienne has the resort owner pressuring her to solve the murder. The victim is a high profile business man who made enemies rather than friends, leaving Julienne with a roster of suspects. She was supposed to be training the staff and spending quality time with Mason rather than investigating a murder. The heat turns up when an old girlfriend of Mason's checks in and is determined to get back together.

Arrowed is the fourth book in Avery Daniel's Resort to Murder series and is an exciting contemporary cozy mystery. If you like Cleo Coyle, Maddy Hunter, Duffy Brown, Lynn Cahoon, Jane Cleland, and Annette Dashofy, then you'll love this series with a strong intelligent sleuth, lavish settings, and tantalizing mysteries.

Buy this spunky clean cozy mystery and start enjoying Julienne's adventures today!

King's Rive Life review of Spiked (book III):  "Avery’s writing style is very entertaining with a first-person perspective laying out well the clever plot along with various suspects with motives and twist and turns, and sharing it all with Julienne’s inner thoughts and vivid descriptions. The mystery was delightfully involved with several lines of questioning to incorporate, an insinuation of Julie’s possible involvement, and keeping the “Wow!” ending to the…end. "

Purchase links:  Amazon || Nook

There are now four books in the Resort to Murder series, so if you have missed any of the prior books, here they are.  Purchase Here

I will share the book trailer when I have produced it.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Review - In a Peppermint Peril

This new series is advertised as "Perfect for Lorna Barrett and Jenn McKinlay fans, this festive series debut set in small-town Maine introduces book-themed tea party organizer Callie Aspen and her lovable Boston terrier."  Her is a little holiday cheer in February.

Author: Joy Avon

Copyright: Nov 2018 (Crooked Lane Books) 285 pgs

Series: 1st in Tea and a Read Mysteries

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy Mystery

Main Characters: Callie Aspen, tour guide to world's historic venues job visiting her great aunt

Setting: Modern day, Heart's Harbor, Maine

Obtained Through: Publisher NetGalley for honest review

Book Blurb:  "This Christmas, Callie Aspen returns to her childhood hideout Heart's Harbor, Maine where her great aunt runs Book Tea, a vintage tearoom where every sweet treat contains a bookish clue. Upon arrival in the fairy-tale snowy town, Callie is drawn into the preparations for a special tea party at Haywood Hall, the rambling house of Heart's Harbor's oldest resident, rich but lonely widow Dorothea Finster, who invited her estranged relatives, old friends and the elite of the town to make a mysterious announcement about her will.

Believing they can touch a part of her fortune, everybody is determined to come, despite not liking each other or even their hostess. And Callie's old friend Sheila complicates things by using the tea party to announce her daughter's engagement, even though her daughter isn't sure she's in love with the young lawyer her mother thinks so perfect for her.

Catering to people who each have their own agenda isn't easy for the Book Tea crew, especially once the valuable engagement ring goes missing and a dead body turns up in the conservatory. Can Callie and her great aunt use their love of clues to dig into the crimes and show their unhappy hostess and squabbling guests the true Christmas spirit?" 

Callie Aspen is returning to Heart’s Harbor, Maine after leaving years ago because of a broken heart. She is back after leaving her tour guide to world's historic venues job.  Stephen Du Bouvrais, the man who crushed her heart by marrying someone else, is the heir to Haywood Hall where the murder takes place.  Great Aunt Iphy (Iphigeneia) is trying to help Callie heal while getting her involved in the town.  Deputy Falk is the standard cop romantic interest.  Callie's old friend Sheila, who married Stephen, planned the ring in the cake to "nudge" her daughter to marry.  Callie’s dog – Daisy, the Boston Terrier is the breakout character.

The motive for murder wasn't clear at first.  The picture became more clear as the clues were revealed. Subplots of family troubles were woven throughout.  The story enfolded and slowly took hold of me.  It took several chapters before I was vested in the story.

The climax was like a classic "Murder She Wrote" luring the killer out.  Nicely done. The wrap up has a heart warming element that ties up a significant subplot that played into the motive.  I appreciated that.

Callie is barely introduced in the story when a whole bunch of other characters are coming into play and it was a bit confusing of a start.  Other than the daughter Amber and the elderly widow Dorothea Finster, the characters were a little lack-luster.  A lot of potential with this series and I found it a pleasant book to pickup when you want a distraction.

Rating: Good - A fun read with an entertaining story. 


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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Review - Dearly Departed

I started with the first book, Toured to Death (click here), when it came out and didn't keep up with the series.  I wanted something with an exciting location and remembered this travel series.  This is the second in the series.  The author did a guest blog (click here) a little while back as well.  Read on and find out how the second book did.

Hy Conrad

Copyright: February 2016 (Kensington) 368 pgs

Series: 2nd in Amy's Travel Mysteries

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy, Amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Amy Abel, Widow and owner of Amy's Travel Agency 

Setting: Modern day, Paris, Taj Mahal (Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India), Hawaii, and New York

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Book Blurb: "Fanny and Amy Abel, the dynamic mother-and-daughter owners of a NYC travel agency, have just booked their biggest trip yet. But with danger in the air, the itinerary may include murder...

Paisley MacGregor, a maid to the rich, made a dying request to send all of her wealthy employers on a first-class wake to spread her ashes around the world. Amy has her suspicions about these “mourners,” especially when one has a life-threatening “accident” at the first stop in Paris. And when a mysterious American stranger tagging along with the group has his ticket punched in the shadow of the Taj Mahal, Amy knows she may have a killer on her tour.

Who was this stranger, and what’s the connection to someone in her group? Digging for clues while continuing on with the trip is a lot for Amy to manage, especially when another mourner has a possibly fatal encounter with a Hawaiian volcano. Back in the States, Fanny and Amy start to piece together a secret worth killing for, but someone is hot on their trail, and ready to send them on a one-way trip—to the morgue!"

Amy Abel is timid and learning to stand up for herself, she is the reasonable, calm influence to balance her nutty mother.  Fanny, Amy's mother, is half frustrating and half funny. She writes a blog (TrippyGirl) for the travel agency, supposedly based on real travel adventures - but it is entirely fiction and a wild travelogue.  Amy's boyfriend, Marcus Alvarez, is the charming rogue who opts for a lie when the truth would do. He gets a little page time, and some of it is humorous. Amy's friend, Peter Borg, owns his own agency and asks Amy to help with his trips.  So Amy is on this trip for the money to keep her agency alive. Peter is angling for Amy as girlfriend, but I found him too bossy.   Paisley may be dead, but she is still controlling from the grave.

The settings of Paris, Taj Mahal , Hawaii, and New York are fun and a delightful escape during this pandemic to feel like you got some international sights and culture done.

Weaving a murder plot into a whirlwind travel itinerary is a challenge.  It worked well and added to the danger as you traveled with a killer.  Amy is the one seeing more to circumstances and sensing danger when others are quick to dismiss.  The pacing lagged at times, but I didn't feel the spots lasted too long.

The killer confrontation was nicely tense and suspenseful.  Although, the killer wasn't a complete surprise at that point.  The wrap-up secured the financial future of Amy's Travel Agency.  

This is perfect for the armchair traveler and fans of Maddy Hunter's "Passport to Peril" series will find this fun.  There is light humor, particularly with the TrippyGirl blog escapades Fanny makes up.  This book has an original and intriguing plot that lags in a few spots, but ultimately delivers.  I am looking forward to book three: Death on the Patagonian Express.

Rating: Good - A fun read with original plot.

Here is a short video with the author:

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