Drawing Conclusions – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars.

Drawing Conclusions is the first book in the Sketch-in-Crime series by Deirdre Verne. I definitely would have enjoyed The Drawing Game more if I had read at least this one first and possibly the 2nd as well.

Drawing Conclusions: A Sketch in Crime Mystery by Deirdre Verne book cover - artist's studio with several canvases in the background with paintings, a table with artist supplies on it, a canvas on an easel with only a thick mop of brown hair painted on it, books & a piece of pie on a plate on another table

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Brief Synopsis

While she never saw eye to eye with her father—the ambitious director of a renowned genetics research center—CeCe Prentice always remained close to her brother, Teddy. When Teddy is found dead at the lab where he worked for their father, CeCe’s efforts to mourn the tragic loss are interrupted by several attempts on her own life.

CeCe is naturally drawn in to the investigation, teaming up with Detective Frank DeRosa, the officer assigned to protect her. Together, they begin looking into the circumstances surrounding Teddy’s death, only to discover the truth may be found closer to home than they think—in CeCe’s own paintings.

(Source: Goodreads Book Description)

Review

I was correct that I would like The Drawing Game more if I had read at least one of the two books before it. I understand so much more about the characters in The Drawing Game now than I did when I first read it!

This is the first book in the Sketch In Crime mystery series and it’s a really great book! There’s a lot of back story that happens in this book which seems essential for understanding the characters better during the rest of the series.

Many of the main characters in this series are Freegans, which are a group of people who work to live as green as possible. They grow much of their own food, create their own energy to feed back into the power grid, barter with people regarding getting things done, and recycle/reuse items as much as they can. The author does a good job of exposing us as the readers to the Freegan lifestyle and explaining what it entails.

Besides just their Freegan lifestyle, the characters are complex, well-rounded, and delightful.  I really enjoyed seeing the dynamics between CeCe and her friends, her family, and the police department.  I enjoyed watching the beginnings of CeCe’s romance with Frank unfold.

The plot line moves along at a decent pace. It’s not dragging but it’s not going by so fast that you can’t keep up either. I had a little bit of an inkling who the villain was, but I was not totally sure until just before it was discovered at the end of the book.

All-in-all, this is a great start to the series and important, so definitely read it before any other books in the series!

About the Author

Middle-aged woman with slightly longer than shoulder length blond hair, with glasses - wearing a blue turtleneck sweaterDeirdre Verne is the author of Drawing Conclusions (2015), Drawing Blood (Feb 2016) and The Drawing Game (Dec 2017). Deirdre’s interest in green living inspired her to create an off-the-grid character, CeCe Prentice, who Dumpster dives her way through the Sketch in Crime mystery series. “Verne’s mystery is a winner…” Kirkus Reviews.  A member of Sisters in Crime, Deirdre’s stories appear in all three NY chapter anthologies – Murder New York Style, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices and Family Matters.

Spells and Scones – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars.

Spells and Scones is the sixth book in the Magical Bakery series by Bailey Cates. I think this is my favorite in the series so far. I’ve enjoyed the series, but this is the first one I’ve felt was worth 4 stars.

spellsandscones

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Brief Synopsis

When the bookshop next to the Honeybee Bakery hosts a signing for a Savannah radio celebrity’s new self-help book, magical baker Katie Lightfoot is happy to provide some delectable desserts. A big crowd has turned out for the event, curious about the book (and maybe to sample some goodies), but the final chapter comes too soon for the author when she is found dead at the event.

The prime suspect is Angie Kissel, a former witch whose familiar was once Katie’s own terrier, Mungo. Katie is at first hesitant to help, afraid of losing the little dog who has become so important to her. But after a little nudge from Mungo himself, Katie decides to try to conjure up the real killer—before Angie gets served…

(Source: Goodreads Description)

Review

I really enjoyed this latest installment of the Magical Bakery series. I’ve enjoyed the series, they’re certainly entertaining, but they haven’t always received a real high rating from me. This one actually rates a 4 out of 5. This is one I’d actually be willing to read a 2nd or 3rd or 4th time.

I felt that this time around, the story was much more complex and involved. The first few books, I pretty much figured it out way before the end. A couple of them, I figured out before I was even halfway thru the book. I had a slight suspicion of the villain but I was never entirely sure until right at the very end of the book.

I felt we got to know our characters even better. I will admit that I was a little surprised at a particular part between Declan & Katie (not saying anymore about WHAT part as I don’t want to spoil anything!). I was mostly surprised because Katie had made things pretty clear in that area in previous books. But, it works out in the end.

All in all, I really enjoyed this installment. I do suggest reading the other books in the series before jumping in and reading this one. There’s nothing wrong with the other books. They’re fun to read and certainly entertaining. I just liked this one better!

About the Author

Middle aged caucasian woman with medium length black hair, no glasses, and wearing a black shirtCricket McRae (aka Bailey Cates) enjoys home crafts like food preservation, cheese making, candle making, and fiber arts. She writes the Sophie Mae Reynolds Homecrafting Mystery Series. As Bailey Cates, she also writes the Magical Bakery Mysteries.

For two years Cricket managed her own soap making business, including all product design, manufacturing and marketing. The recipes included in her first book, Lye in Wait, are all Cricket’s original formulations. She has also worked in a variety of other fields ranging from drivers license examiner to program manager for a major software firm. This fulfills her mothers warning that she’d never have a regular job if she insisted on studying philosophy in college.

(Source: Goodreads Author Page)

Blog Tour – The Drawing Game

3.5 out of 5 stars

Large banner - Great Escape Virtual Book Tours Presents The Drawing Game by Deirdre Verne - February 8 - February 21, 2017 - Picture of book cover - wooden built-in wall book shelves with a fireplace in the middle - portrait over fireplace hanging crooked & chairs overturned. - Photo of author - Middle aged white woman with shoulder length brown hair with blond highlights, wearing glasses & a blue turtleneck

Welcome! Today, I’m hosting the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for The Drawing Game by Deirdre Verne. The Drawing Game is the third book in the Sketch in Crime Mystery series. While it wasn’t my favorite book so far this winter, it was pretty good.

The Drawing Game: A Sketch in Crime Mystery by Deirdre Verne book cover - formal library setting on cover - fireplace in the middle of the bookshelves - portrait hanging crooked on fireplace, chairs overturned and blood staining carpet in fr

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Brief Synopsis

A lover of all things green, CeCe Prentice is not impressed when a supposedly eco-friendly development, Green Acres, pops up next to her family’s homestead. It’s not so much the million-dollar price tags of the high-tech homes that bother her, but rather the new neighbors whose green lifestyles rely entirely on fancy phone apps.

Already disillusioned by the so-called sustainable development, CeCe is downright alarmed when residents start showing up dead and her best friend Charlie is accused of murder. CeCe’s not sure how to support both her best friend and her boyfriend, Detective Frank DeRosa…until she discovers a clue only she understands.

(Source: Goodreads description of the book)

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Terror in Taffeta – REVIEW

3.5 out of 5 stars

Today, I’m reviewing Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper. Terror in Taffeta is the first book in the Destination Weddings series. It’s a solid beginning to the series and I’m looking forward to reading more from the author.

A mystery: Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper - book cover has blue background with stylized flowers and Day of the Dead skulls. There's a bride holding a bouquet with a few petals dropping

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Brief Synopsis

Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna is just a few hours away from wrapping up her latest job: a destination wedding in the charming, colonial Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. The reception is all set up, the tequila donkey is waiting outside, and the bride and groom are standing on the altar, pledging their eternal love. But just as the priest is about to pronounce them husband and wife, one of the bridesmaids upstages the couple by collapsing into a floral arrangement. Worst of all, Kelsey discovers that she hasn’t just fainted – she’s dead. The demanding mother of the bride, Mrs. Abernathy, insists Kelsey not tell the wedding party; she paid for a wedding after all, not a funeral.

Losing a bridesmaid is bad enough, but when the bride’s sister is arrested for murder, Mrs. Abernathy demands that Kelsey fix the matter at once. And although she’s pretty sure investigating a murder isn’t in her contract, crossing the well-connected mother of the bride could be a career-killer. Before she can leave Mexico and get back to planning weddings, Kelsey must deal with stubborn detectives, another dead body, and a rekindled romance in this smart, funny cozy debut perfect for fans of Carolyn Haines.

Mexican Day of the dead sugar skull with hot pink, neon blue, and orange flowersLine of sand, cactus & sunshineMexican Day of the dead sugar skull with hot pink, neon blue, and orange flowers
Sun/Cactus line © Country Clipart by Lisa

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Small heart with teddy bear face and paws peeking over top Happy Valentine’s Day! Small heart with teddy bear face and paws peeking over top

I’ve never been a huge Valentine’s Day fan. None of my family is really. We all maintain that we tell each other and show each other how much we love each other enough throughout the year that we don’t really need a commercialized holiday to prove it. And yes, I am single, but that’s mostly by choice. I like being single. I like not having the complications a relationship brings, so that doesn’t really have any bearing on whether or not I like Valentine’s Day.

However, I spotted a few other blogs doing things like Favorite book couples and Favorite book boyfriends/girlfriends, so I thought I’d do the same to help celebrate this day of love!

Red line with heart towards the left end (about an inch from the end)

Favorite Book Couples

These are not in any specific order, just the order in which they popped into my head!

Brooklyn & Derek – Kate Carlisle’s Bibliophile Series – Derek & Brooklyn ROCK! I have loved them from the very first moment. They compliment each other well. Derek helps keep Brooklyn from being too impulsive and she helps provided laughter and joy in his life, which when you’re the owner of a private security firm, it’s hard to find those moments. Plus, Derek is obviously completely besotted with Brooklyn, so that makes it even more fun to read!

Alexander & Clara – Geneva Lee’s Royals Saga – Alexander and Clara are such a wonderful couple. What starts out as just pure lustful attraction turns into a love for a lifetime. Alexander has always kept women at a distance, not allowing them to see/feel his scars. Clara’s the first woman to get through those barriers. They work so hard to overcome the obstacles in their path and they seem so realistic. So relatable. Those are just a few of the many reasons why I love them.

Morgan & Miach – Lynn Kurland’s Nine Kingdom Series – If I had to pick just one couple, Morgan & Miach would be it. I absolutely love them. Morgan is headstrong, oblivious to her past at first, and a great swords-woman. Miach, though he is the archmage of the realm and one of the most powerful men in all of Neroche, is humble, unassuming, and completely besotted with Morgan. I love them both and have read their story at least a half a dozen times since the first book came out in 2006.

Ashton & Lila – Nora Roberts, The Collector – Something about this book and this couple just has gotten under my skin and into my heart. I’ve read their story many, many times and the book was just published in 2014. I love the story line in general, but Ash & Lila’s relationship is a big part of that story line. Lila never thought she’d needed anyone in her life romantically, but Ashton completely takes her by storm and sweeps her off her feet, though she doesn’t recognize it at first.

Eve & Roarke – J.D. Robb’s In Death series – Seriously, how can you not like Eve & Roarke? They’ve both made themselves into their own person after growing up in abusive families. Eve’s a cop and Roarke’s a reformed criminal (his words). She’s used to having nothing and he’s used to having everything. Sometimes that comes between them, but they always figure out a way to work it out. (Though as a side note, I love them as a couple, but Roarke’s not really my type so not really my idea of a good fictional boyfriend.)

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Echoes in Death – Review

3.5 out of 5 stars

Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb is #44 in the In Death series and one that I have mixed feelings about. I love the series in general and re-read many of them. I haven’t decided whether this will be one of them or not.

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author, J.D. Robb - Echoes in Death. Top half of the cover is yellow with black, red, and brown splatter - Bottom portion is a nighttime look at the Flatiron building and surrounding building in New York City

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Brief Synopsis

As NY Lt. Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke are driving home, a young woman―dazed, naked, and bloody―suddenly stumbles out in front of their car. Roarke slams on the brakes and Eve springs into action.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for her husband Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil”…

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked, this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions:

What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?

(Source: Amazon’s description of the book)

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Author Interview – Morgan Talbot

Welcome! Today I’m featuring an interview with Morgan Talbot, author of Smugglers and Scones. I’m very grateful that she was willing to answer my questions. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I have!

Morgan Talbot, author - White woman in her 30s or 40s, dark brown hair, wearing sunglasses halfway down her nose, a grey overshirt and a purple blouse

1) Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

I used to write every day like a mad thing, but I think I’m done with that phase of my writerly evolution. Nowadays, I still have a schedule, but it’s slower. Schedules are important for me, or I’ll just wander off and get interested in something else. I usually aim for a chapter per writing session, because that fits with my writing speed, chapter length, and pain tolerance—too long at any one manual task and I’m all achy for the rest of the day. Background noise is pretty useful for me—if I’m not in a coffee shop with the babble of voices, I’ll put on my headphones and listen to some Doctor Who soundtracks. Or whatever I’m into at the moment—right now, it’s the music from Doctor Who Series 6: Madman in a Box.

2) With this book, you not only create the storyline, but the whole backstory of the house and the author that lived there. How easy/difficult was that for you to do?

It took some time, but that kind of backstory/research is right up my alley, so I enjoyed every second of it. I also write epic fantasy under another pen name, so I’ve created entire worlds from scratch. Focusing more tightly on a single house and its famous occupant has been so much fun. I’ve spun all kinds of plots and events from Moorehaven’s past that’ll come out in future books. A building that old must have plenty of thrilling secrets, and I love discovering what they are just as much as everyone else.

3) How did you break into the publishing world?

About eight years ago, I first got published a startup small press I’d heard of through a friend on a writing site, but I soon found myself back out on the street due to creative differences. It felt more like I’d ricocheted off the wall of the publishing industry—confusing and disheartening. But I found a job reviewing indie books, and eventually the owner shifted to publishing instead. I had just written my first mystery novel, First to Find, and I submitted it with bated breath. To my delight, my book passed acquisitions and was accepted for publication. I’ve been very happy at Red Adept Publishing ever since.

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