Blog Tour – Magick & Mayhem – REVIEW

Large Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents Magick & Mayhem by Sharon Pape, May 1-May 14, 2017 - includes a picture of the author and the cover of the book.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Today, I’m happy to bring you a spot in the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Magick & Mayhem, the first book in the Abracadabra Mystery series by Sharon Pape. It’s a decent start to a new series.

Book Cover: Magick & Mayhem: An Abracadabra Mystery by Sharon Pape - dark aqua background - large black cat with green eyes outlined with a city inside the body with yellow letters for the title.

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Synopsis

Twenty-something Kailyn Wilde has learned to embrace her unpredictable life as a descendant of small-town New Camel’s most magickal family. She just didn’t expect to inherit her mother and grandmother’s centuries-old shop, Abracadabra, so suddenly. The surprises keep coming when Kailyn goes to finalize the estate at the local attorney’s office—and stumbles over the body of her best friend Elise’s husband . . .

As a brash detective casts the blame on Elise, Kailyn summons her deepest powers to find answers and start an investigation of her own. What with running a business, perfecting ancient spells, and keeping up with an uninvited guest of fabled origins, Kailyn has her hands full. But with the help of her uncanny black cat Sashkatu and her muumuu-clad Aunt Tilly, she’s closing in on a killer—who will do anything to make sure she never tests her supernatural skills again!

Review

While this is definitely a decent start to this new series, Magick & Mayhem, almost didn’t make the cut for me. I found it to be very disjointed and confusing at the beginning. However, I enjoyed the second half of the book much more than the first half, which redeemed it a bit.

The characters are definitely interesting. Kailyn’s certainly fun and inquisitive. Aunt Tilly & Merlin add some extra spice to the group. They’re fairly well-rounded characters, though it didn’t really seem like it at first. At first, they simply seemed all over the place and not developed at all. I’m not a fan of the heroine who decides that she must poke her nose in when she really doesn’t have that much of a reason. I can see where Kailyn thinks she has a reason, but honestly, until her friend is actually arrested, it seems pretty flimsy at best.

The descriptions of the settings were okay, but not great. I had a hard time imagining many of the settings, including Kailyn’s shop and house. It would’ve helped to have a little more detail there.

The story line… thankfully it got better as the book went on. The first half of the book, I was very confused by the secondary plot and found that getting in the way of the main plot line. The longer the book went on, however, the better the two plot lines merged and successfully played off of each other. I also did not know who the villain was until it was revealed. I was off on the wrong track completely.

Normally, when I’m reading a new book, I give the book 50-100 pages to reel me in (depending on the length of the book). However, when I’m reading a book for review, I don’t do that for the most part (there has been one exception to that). In this instance, I’m glad I didn’t stop reading because it did get better the longer it went on and by the end of the book I actually found myself enjoying it!

I do recommend this book, mostly because it gives a decent introduction to the characters that we’re sure to see in the future. I do plan to give the series another try when the second book comes out in November. I’m hoping that the writing style of that book will be more like the second half of this one when everything was starting to finally gel together.

*** Thank you to the author and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. ***

About the Author

Author Sharon Pape - Older caucasian woman with auburn hair, wide eyes with no glasses, and a smile wearing a dark grey or black jacket.

I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to put letters together to form words. From that day forward, writing has been a part of my life whether it was my first attempt at a novel in seventh grade or the little plays I wrote for my friends to perform for neighbors and family. After college, when I was busy teaching French and Spanish to high school students, I was also writing poetry — some of it in French.

After several years, I left teaching to be a full-time mom, and when my two children started school, I went back to writing. To my delight I found that the muse was still there, still waiting patiently for me to come around. My first novel, Ghostfire, was published at that time. It went on to be condensed in Redbook magazine (the first paperback original the magazine had ever condensed.) Then came The God Children and The Portal. Redbook also published my first short story, which was subsequently sold to several foreign magazines. With two great kids, a golden retriever and a loving, supportive husband (whom I’d met at the beach when I was fourteen — but that’s a story for another day), I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be in my life. But fate had another plan for me, and it went by the name of “breast cancer.”

Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was that the cancer was discovered at such an early stage, but at the time it was all very overwhelming. Once I was back on my feet, I wanted to help other women who were newly diagnosed, worried and afraid. I became a Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society and went on to run the program for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. A number of years later, with the help of my surgical oncologist and two other volunteers, I started Lean On Me, a nonprofit organization that provides peer support and information to breast cancer patients. When Lean On Me celebrated its tenth anniversary it no longer required as much of my time, and I once again found myself free to pursue my first love — writing.

Author Links

Webpage – Facebook –  Pinterest – Twitter

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Thanks for joining me today on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Magick & Mayhem! Click on the banner below to go to the main tour page where you can find information about all the stops on the tour!

Medium Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Magick & Mayhem by Sharon Pape - May 1-May 14, 2017 - includes the cover of the book

Blog Tour – Cat Got Your Cash – REVIEW

Large Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents Cat Got Your Cash by Julie Chase - April 11-April 24, 2017 - Contains a picture of the author and the book cover as well

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Today, I’m excited to be the latest stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Cat Got Your Cash by Julie Chase. This post contains a review of the book and an interview with the author, Julie Chase, at the end!

Book Cover: Cat Got Your Cash by Julie Chase - Shop decorated for fall in background - counter with money, scissors, cash register and 2 siamese kittens sitting on it in foreground

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Brief Synopsis

Lacy Marie Crocker’s whimsical pet couture has gained a following in New Orleans’s cozy Garden District, and word of mouth has traveled all the way to her favorite fashion designer, Annie Lane. Lacy’s thrilled when Annie schedules a private session at her home to discuss a companion line for her evening wear, but when Lacy arrives for the appointment, she enters the kitchen to two mewling Siamese cats–and one very dead Annie.

Lacy takes the kittens home to care for them until they can be properly claimed by Annie’s family or friends, but after a busy day of work, she returns home to find them missing. And when Lacy learns the cats are set to inherit Annie’s fortune, she begins to wonder if the killer was after the kittens all along. Now Lacy will stop at nothing to save the Siamese and find justice for Annie–if the killer doesn’t sink his claws into her first.

Luckily, Lacy has the help of handsome NOLA PD homicide detective Jack Oliver to help her catch the cat-napper before it’s too late! (Source: Goodreads)

Line of brown paw prints
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Review

Cat Got Your Cash is the 2nd book in the Kitty Couture mystery series by Julie Chase and it was great! While it didn’t have that extra pizzazz or emotional hook in it to push it up to a 5-star rating, it was still a delightful read!

In this book, we get to know Lacy a little bit more and also our two heroes – Chase, the handsome lawyer and Lacy’s schoolgirl crush and Jack, our dashing detective, who may just have the hots for Lacy. All of these characters are fun and exciting and well-developed. I’ll be honest and admit I’m rooting for Jack, but should Lacy choose Chase, I wouldn’t be overly disappointed. I just like Jack better! Lacy can be a little head strong and sometimes does things that makes me cringe (note to Lacy: When the hot detective tells you to stay put somewhere – STAY PUT!), but I still enjoy reading her stories.

The setting finds us in New Orleans and while the descriptions of the settings aren’t overly flowery, they are described well enough that I’m able to imagine most of the places in the book. I think Lacy’s shop sounds charming and while I don’t have any pets to dress up or pamper, I can easily imagine it being a place that would fit right in down in New Orleans, or even up here in Ann Arbor, near where I live! I know many pet owners who would love to shop somewhere that made organic treats for their pets!

The plot line in this book moved along at a pretty good pace. There was a small section in the middle where I felt it dragged a bit, but it quickly picked back up and was steady throughout the rest of the book. I had no idea who the villain was before Lacy figured it out so that was fun! I just couldn’t figure out who would want the victim dead. While it turned out that she wasn’t the great person that Lacy always idolized, it still was hard to imagine someone killing her. Once the villain was revealed and it was explained, it was easy to see. I love when mysteries surprise me with the villain, so that was a plus in my eyes!

All in all it was a delightful read. While the story can definitely stand on its own, this is a series and you’ll understand the personal relationships and interactions better if you read the first book, Cat Got Your Diamonds, before you read this one! Get out there and buy both books or borrow them from your local library today!

[I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions expressed are my own.]

Line of brown paw prints
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Interview With Julie Chase, author of ‘Cat Got Your Cash’

Before I get started sharing the questions and answers that I asked and Ms. Chase answered, I just wanted to say a big “Thank you!” to Ms. Chase for being willing to answer my questions for today’s post!

Author photo: Fall wooded background, young white woman with oval-shaped face, shoulder-length brown hair, no glasses, wearing a white top with a brown/tan cardigan and a gold necklace

Question #1: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?  Do you enjoy your day job?

J.C.’s Answer: Writing is my day job. My night job. The reason I rarely sleep….


Question #2: 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?

J.C.’s Answer: I write everyday while my children are at school, often after they go to bed at night as well and nearly every morning beginning at 5, before the family begins to stir. I write in complete silence because it’s loud enough in my head already. And I write 1 chapter a day, roughly 2500 – 3300 words.

For the most part, it’s a well-oiled machine over here. Granted, it can be a bizarre, Dr. Seuss looking thing, but it works.


Question #3: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reigns” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?

J.C.’s Answer: I’m a dedicated outliner. It helps me stay on schedule and easily predict when each project will end, when I can begin a new one and how soon that will also be finished. That said, my characters can make any changes they want, so long as they stay within the confines of the genre. I’m all for creative freedom, until my cozy heroine wants to time travel or have a wild night out, then I have to rein it in because readers don’t want those things in a cozy, and I don’t want to upset my readers.


Question #4: How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?

J.C.’s Answer: I don’t feel as if I’ve broken in. I’ve been at it a while, but I’m still looking for readers and trying to make a place for myself in this industry. Not an easy task. Today’s authors are among the very best in history, I think.  Still, it’s my dream to make it in this business, so I’m trying every day.

I’ve received countless rejections. Hundreds. And believe me, it’s depressing. I’ve quit writing FOREVER at least once a year since I started. The problem was that even when I wasn’t writing for publication, I was still writing. Fan fiction. Personal journals. Writing. Writing. Writing. Finally, I realized I’m a writer. I can’t turn it off, and I can’t walk away so stopped quitting and started revising my plan.


Question #5: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

J.C.’s Answer: I spend about 2 weeks writing a full synopsis and detailed outline for my novels. Then, I begin writing. I write one chapter a day. Reread it for clean up, then, send it on to two published authors who read for me. They provide feedback, I clean it up some more and move on to the next chapter. Using this process, I can write a novel in 6-8 weeks. When it’s finished, I reread from start to finish looking for places to improve, then it goes to my agent. She’ll give it a read and let me know if she sees any issues. I make her suggested changes in about a day, then off it goes to the publisher where it will be given an editorial letter for overall revisions, then several rounds of general and copy edits before being queued for production.


Question #6: A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

J.C.’s Answer: This villain in Cat Got Your Cash was really fun to write. He’s a little different than some of my others because he isn’t bad-bad as much as just not really “good.” He’s made a series of terrible and selfish choices, which has led him to desperation while trying to cover his tracks. My villain in this story is as new to villainy as my heroine is to sleuthing and together I think it’s hilarious.  A nice reprieve, in my opinion, from the innately evil bad guys we see all too often in the real world.


Question #7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?

J.C.’s Answer: My characters are all fictional. I mostly steal names and attributes from the people I know and put them together in interesting new ways on the page.


Question #8: What are some great books you’ve read recently?

J.C.’s Answer: I’ve been reading lots of Harlequin Intrigue novels lately. Those are romantic suspense. Very very good. I recently read The Girl on the Train and The Woman in Cabin 10, psychological thrillers, for my book club. Wow. My head is still rattling from those. Next up on my TBR pile is Marla Cooper’s Terror in Taffeta. She’s a lovely cozy author and I can’t wait to dig in.


Question #9: What books have influenced your life the most?

J.C.’s Answer: Every book I’ve ever read has influenced my life. I fell in love with the colorful imagination of Dr. Seuss as a young reader, then the marvelous adventures of Anne of Green Gables as a tween. The sleuthing prowess of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew taught me to think outside the box and try to beat them to solving the crime. In college, I fell in love with the melodious prose of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. More recently, I found my zest for humor in Janet Evanovich. Books have molded and shaped me, my personality and my life from the very start.


Question #10: If you could spend one day with a character from your book, who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

J.C.’s Answer: I would love to spend a day in the Garden District, working with Lacy at Furry Godmother. I’d meet her friends, share her lunch and just hang out to see what we could get into. Her life is great, even when it’s a literal hot mess.


Question #11: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?

J.C.’s Answer: I ALWAYS read my reviews. Everyone says not to, but if the reader took the time to read my book and even more time to say something about it, I feel like I should take the time to hear them. On the other hand, I never want a reader to feel like I’m spying or invading their space, so I don’t respond no matter how kind or malicious the review may be. I mean, no one asked me what I thought of their opinion. Right? So, I will keep it to myself. Besides, reviews aren’t meant for me anyway. They’re for other readers and the reviewer.

That said, I take every review to heart. If there’s a way I can do better the next time, I want to know. And if I’m doing something right, I want to keep it up. More reasons reviews are so important.  So, please keep them coming.

Line of kittens - black, calico, Siamese, grey, orange, black & white, and white
© Graphic Garden

Thank you again to Julie Chase for being willing to answer my questions today! With all the parts to each one, it’s far more than just 11 questions and I appreciate her taking the time! And thank you for joining me on this stop in the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour! The banner below takes you to the main Tour Page where you can visit other stops along the tour and all of the author’s links!

 

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Dying on the Vine – SPOTLIGHT

Today I’m happy to be hosting a spotlight for “Dying on the Vine” by Marla Cooper! I’ll be reviewing this book either later in the week or early next week!!

Dying on the Vine
by Marla Cooper

Dying on the Vine: A Mystery (Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries)
Series: Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries (Book 2)
Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books (April 4, 2017)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1250072559
E-Book ASIN: B01L7BD9VM

Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

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Synopsis

When wedding planner Kelsey McKenna goes to the Wine Country Wedding Faire, the last thing she expects to do is take on new clients. After all, she’s just there to help out her friend Brody and maybe score some free cupcakes. But when a young couple in a pinch asks for her help, she just can’t say no.

There’s only one problem: they’d been working with Babs Norton, the self-proclaimed Queen of Wine Country Weddings—and things did not end well. Kelsey wants to make sure there are no hard feelings, but unfortunately she never gets the chance. When she goes to Babs’ office, she finds the wedding planner dead on the floor.

Babs’ high-strung assistant Stefan knows exactly who killed Babs: Kelsey. At least, that’s what he very publicly accuses her of at Babs’ funeral. When Kelsey decides to do a little sleuthing to clear her name, she uncovers a myriad of secrets and lies. And when a second wedding planner is attacked, Kelsey begins to wonder if she might be next.

Set against the stunning backdrop of California wine country, Marla Cooper’s Dying on the Vine is a mystery brimming with gossip, wine, and, of course…murder.

marla cooper

About The Author

As a freelance writer, MARLA COOPER has written all sorts of things, from advertising copy to travel guidebooks to the occasional haiku. But it was while ghostwriting a nonfiction guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her current series starring destination wedding planner Kelsey McKenna. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat.

Author Links

Webpage – www.marla-cooper.com

Blog: www.chicksonthecase.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Marla.Cooper.Author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kindacozy

Tour Participants

March 28 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

March 28 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

March 29 – Blogger Nicole Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 29 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

March 30 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

March 30 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – SPOTLIGHT

March 31 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

March 31 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

April 1 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

April 1 – Bibliophile Reviews – GUEST POST  

April 2 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

April 2 – Mystery Playground – GUEST POST

April 3 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 3 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

April 4 – Book Babble – REVIEW

April 4 – T’s Stuff – REVIEW

April 5 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW

April 5 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

April 6 – Varietats – REVIEW

April 6 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 7 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW  

April 7 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 8 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW

April 8 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

April 9 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

April 10 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

April 10 – My Journey Back – REVIEW

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Blog Tour – Death By Chocolate Lab – REVIEW

Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents Death by Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake - March 6-March 17, 2017 - Banner includes photo of the author and the book cover

4 out of 5 stars.

Today, I’m hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Death by Chocolate Lab which is the first book in the Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery series by Bethany Blake. The book was a great read and a good start to a new series.

Book Cover: A Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery: Death by Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake - sidewalk outside a bookstore - books flying out the window and a brown labrador sniffing at them - basset hound looking on

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Brief Synopsis

Pet sitter Daphne Templeton has a soft spot for every stray and misfit who wanders into the quaint, lakeside village of Sylvan Creek. But even Daphne doesn’t like arrogant, womanizing Steve Beamus, the controversial owner of Blue Ribbon K-9 Academy. When Steve turns up dead during a dog agility trial, Daphne can think of a long list of people with motives for homicide, and so can the police. Unfortunately, at the top of the list is Daphne’s sister, Piper—Steve’s latest wronged girlfriend.

Certain that Piper is innocent, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary, Daphne sets out to clear her sister’s name—and find Axis, Steve’s prize-winning chocolate Labrador, who went missing the night of Steve’s death. Aided by Socrates, her taciturn basset hound, and a hyperactive one-eared Chihuahua named Artie, Daphne quickly runs afoul of Detective Jonathan Black, a handsome and enigmatic newcomer to town, who has no appreciation for Daphne’s unorthodox sleuthing.

Can a free-spirited pet sitter, armed only with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and her two incompatible dogs, find the real killer before she becomes the next victim?

Line of bones with three puppy heads - white with brown spots, all brown, and Dalmata
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Review

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. It’s the first in a new series and a solid, delightful start to the series. I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 because a) it didn’t have that extra pizzazz that I look for in a 5-star book and b) the heroine annoyed me at times with her tendency to just go full steam ahead into something without thinking about it first (which is something that *REALLY* tends to bother me in cozies).

Outside of that, this is a great book. The characters are solid, developed and complex. We know there are things about the various characters that we don’t know yet, but that makes them interesting and not boring.

The setting descriptions were okay. I could imagine the farm and each individual location but I couldn’t really see in my head where they were in relation to each other. Part of that could be my own spatial relations deficiency, but I think the descriptions of the places could have been a little more detailed.

The story moved along at a good pace. It wasn’t slow but it wasn’t so fast that you couldn’t keep up with what was happening. The villain was a complete surprise to me, which I like. I totally did not see that plot twist coming!

All in all, this is a great start to the series and I do recommend it. I’ve already pre-ordered the second one myself!

Line of brown paw prints
© Graphic Garden

About the Author

Bethany Blake lives in a small, quaint town in Pennsylvania with her husband and three daughters. When she’s not writing or riding horses, she’s wrangling a menagerie of furry family members that includes a nervous pit bull, a fearsome feline, a blind goldfish, and an attack cardinal named Robert. Like Daphne Templeton, the heroine of her Lucky Paws Mysteries, Bethany holds a Ph.D. and operates a pet sitting business called Barkley’s Premium Pet Care.

Author Links

Bethany Blake’s Website

Bethany Blake on Facebook

Bethany Blake on Twitter

Line of bones with three puppy heads - white with brown spots, all brown, and Dalmata
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Tour Participants

March 6 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

March 6 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

March 7 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

March 7 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

March 7 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

March 8 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

March 8 – Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting – REVIEW

March 9 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW

March 9 – Texas Book-aholic – SPOTLIGHT

March 9 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

March 10 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

March 10 – The Book’s the Thing – SPOTLIGHT

March 10 – Bookworm Mom – REVIEW

March 11 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 11 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

March 11 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

March 12 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 13 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW  

March 13 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – INTERVIEW

March 13 – The Power of Words – SPOTLIGHT – Review coming soon. 

March 14 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 14 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

March 15 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

March 15 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT 

March 16 – A Cozy Experience – REVIEW

March 16 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

March 17 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

March 17 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Death by Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake - March 6-March 17, 2017 - includes book cover

Blog Tour – Pekoe Most Poison – REVIEW

Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs; March 6-March 19, 2017 - banner includes author photo and book cover photo

Today, I’m super excited to bring to you the latest stop for Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs! I love the Tea Shop mysteries and look forward to the newest one every spring. This one didn’t disappoint, either!

Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs book cover - A Tea Shop Mystery - border of daffodils - picture of a table set for tea with tarts, tea pots, flowers, fresh oranges, and quiche.

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Brief Synopsis

When Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is invited by Doreen Briggs, one of Charleston’s most prominent hostesses, to a “Rat Tea,” she is understandably intrigued.  As servers dressed in rodent costumes and wearing white gloves offer elegant finger sandwiches and fine teas, Theo learns these parties date back to early twentieth-century Charleston, where the cream of society would sponsor so-called rat teas to promote city rodent control and better public health.

But this party goes from odd to chaotic when a fire starts at one of the tables and Doreen’s entrepreneur husband suddenly goes into convulsions and drops dead. Has his favorite orange pekoe tea been poisoned? Theo smells a rat.

The distraught Doreen soon engages Theo to pursue a discreet inquiry into who might have murdered her husband. As Theo and her tea sommelier review the guest list for suspects, they soon find themselves drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse…

Line of yellow & green teacups/saucers with cherries on them with a teapot (yellow & green with an apple on it) and cherry pie in the center of the line
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Review

5 out of 5 stars.

I think this is one of my favorites of the Tea Shop series so far! I really enjoyed this one. The mystery itself was great. I didn’t figure out who the killer was until very close to the end where it was revealed. Plus, this time around we had a new method and a new way of delivering that method. Sometimes having the victim shot or stabbed gets a little old, so this one was a refreshing change.

I absolutely love the characters in this series. Reading about Theodosia, Drayton, and Haley is like visiting with old friends. Their characters are so well-rounded, developed, and complex. It’s a pleasure visiting them in each book and getting to know them just that little bit more. It’s a pleasure to see how their relationships with each other and with others in the community grow and develop.

I love all the descriptions of Charleston. I’ve never been there but with as many of these books I’ve read, I feel like I have. I can easily visualize all the alleys and cemeteries and old mansions that are there. I feel like if I ever make it down there to visit, I’m going to feel right at home! It takes a skilled author to do that without boring the reader with the descriptions. Ms. Childs’ does this excellently.

The pace of these books has always been good and this one is no exception. It was never boring and kept moving along at a good clip, but yet not too fast that you couldn’t keep up.

This is a great installment in the Tea Shop Mystery series and I highly recommend it! Pick it up and enjoy! If you’ve never read the series, you don’t have to know the back story to enjoy this one, but I highly recommend the rest of the series as well!

** I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions expressed are my own. **

Line of yellow & green teacups/saucers with cherries on them with a teapot (yellow & green with an apple on it) and cherry pie in the center of the line
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About the Author

Photo of Laura Childs - Middle-aged woman with blond hair, no glasses, wearing a black sweater or coat

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fund-raising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

Laura’s Links:

Webpage – http://www.laurachilds.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/laura.childs.31

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If you would like to be a host for a Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour, click on the banner at the bottom of the page!

Tour Participants

March 6 – Michelle’s Romantic Tangle – REVIEW

March 6 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

March 7 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW

March 7 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

March 8 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

March 8 – Readsalot – SPOTLIGHT

March 8 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 9 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

March 9 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

March 9 – My Journey Back – REVIEW  

March 10 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

March 11 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW  

March 11 – The Power of Words – REVIEW, GUEST POST

March 12 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

March 12 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

March 13 – Queen of All She Reads –  SPOTLIGHT

March 13 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW

March 14 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

March 15 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 15 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

March 15 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

March 16 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW

March 16 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – INTERVIEW

March 17 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, GUEST POST

March 17 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – The Editing Pen – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

March 18 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW  

March 19 – 3  Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – REVIEW

March 19 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs - March 6-March 19, 2017 Banner with Book cover

Blog Tour – Kneaded To Death – REVIEW

Banner - Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer - February 27 - March 12, 2017 - Photo of author & Cover of book included

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Today I’m hosting the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer. This is the first in the brand-new series, Bread Shop Mystery series. It was a wonderful beginning to this new series!

Kneaded to Death: A Bread Shop Mystery by Winnie Archer book cover - Features the front of the bread shop, Yeast of Eden, which has a display window full of various types of bread, a cafe table with chairs on the front sidewalk, and a pug sitting on one of the chairs

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Purchase Links: AmazonB&NBAMKobo

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Brief Synopsis

Everyone swears by Yeast of Eden, the Mexican bread shop in town. But tonight, the only thing on the menu is la muerte . . .

Struggling photographer Ivy Culpepper has lots of soul-searching to do since returning to seaside Santa Linda, California. That is, until the thirty-one-year-old enters a bread making class at Yeast of Eden. Whether it’s the aroma of fresh conchas in the oven, or her instant connection with owner Olaya Dias and her sisters, Ivy just knows the missing ingredients in her life are hidden among the secrets of Olaya’s bakery . . .

But Ivy’s spirits crumble when a missing classmate is suddenly discovered dead in her car, riddled with stab wounds. Even more devastating, the prime suspects are the Dias sisters themselves. Doubting the women could commit such a crime, Ivy embarks on a murder investigation of her own to prove their innocence and seize the real killer. As she follows a deadly trail of crumbs around town, Ivy must trust her gut like never before—or someone else could be toast!

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Review

I really enjoyed this first installment of this brand-new Bread Shop Mystery series.

The characters in this series are unique, complex, and delightful. It’s always hard to come back to where you were raised and even harder after a tragedy has struck, but I thought Ivy handled seeing old friends/boyfriends and dealing with her grief very well. I like the fact that it’s Ivy’s friend who is part of the police force and not her romantic interest. It makes for a nice change.

The setting descriptions were okay, but not quite as detailed as I would have liked. Other than the bakery itself, I had a hard time imagining the various places in the book.

The story line was clever and interesting. It moved along at a decent pace. There were plenty of suspects to choose from and I didn’t figure out the culprit before it was revealed (yay!).

I didn’t give this 5 stars partially because while I enjoyed it, I doubt this will be a book I read more than once. The other reason was my thought that there should be more description if the settings. However, I did enjoy the book and would definitely recommend it! I look forward to the next book in the series.

** I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. **

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About the Author

Winnie Archer, author, aka Melissa Bourbon-Ramirez - Middle-aged white woman with blond hair done in an up-twist, no glasses, wearing a grey shirt and dark grey blazerThe indefatigable Winnie Archer is a middle school teacher by day, and a writer by night. Born in a beach town in California, she now lives in an inspiring century old house in North Texas and loves being surrounded by real-life history. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with both yoga and chocolate, adores pumpkin spice lattes, is devoted to her five kids and husband, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.

Author Links

Website: WinnieArcher.com

Winnie Archer is the pseudonym for national bestselling author Melissa Bourbon. Learn more at Melissa Bourbon-Ramirez.

Twitter: @MelissaBourbon

Tour Participants

February 27 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

February 27 – Books,Dreams,Life – REVIEW

February 28 – Sleuth Cafe – REVIEW

February 28 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

March 1 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 1 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

March 1 – Bookworm Mom – REVIEW

March 2 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

March 2 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – INTERVIEW

March 3 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

March 3 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW

March 4 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW, GUEST POST

March 4 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

March 5 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

March 5 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW  

March 6 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

March 6 – Book Babble – REVIEW

March 7 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW  

March 8 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, GUEST POST

March 8 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW

March 9 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 9 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

March 10 – Becky’s Bookcase – REVIEW

March 10 – Readeropolis – REVIEW

March 11 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

March 11 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – GUEST POST

March 12 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

Small Tour Banner - Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer: February 27-March 12, 2017 - Book cover included

Blog Tour – The Drawing Game – REVIEW

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

** EDIT – FEBRUARY 25, 2017 ** I definitely would have rated this a 4 or 4.5 if I had read the other two in the series first. Often times, with cozy mysteries, it’s okay to start in the middle of the series and it doesn’t really matter. This series, however, is one that you need to read in order!


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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Purchase Links: Amazon B&NBAM Kobo

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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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Review

The more I got into this book, the more that I liked it. While usually it doesn’t tend to matter to me if I’m reading a book in the middle of a series or the first of the series. However, I think with this one, I would have done better to have read at least one of the first two books. Some of the lifestyle choices of the characters didn’t make sense to me at first and that put me off a little. I was thinking, “What did I get myself into with this one?” BUT, the more I got into it and understood things a little more, the more I liked it.

The characters are interesting. I really like Charlie, Frank, and Gayle. CeCe is definitely a character, but I haven’t decided if I really like her or not. There’s not a lot of character growth in this book and that saddened me a bit. CeCe and Frank’s relationship weathers the storm that this story line brings and is perhaps stronger now because of it, but other than that, there wasn’t a lot of character development in the story.

The setting was on Long Island and for the most part, I thought the descriptions were pretty good. I didn’t feel like I was struggling to imagine the setting. But yet, I didn’t feel over saturated in detail which is a big thing for me. I despise over saturation of detail, so I’m always thankful when the author does not do that in their stories!

I thought the story line moved along at a fairly good pace. I enjoyed the plot. There were twists in the plot that I didn’t expect, including the villain. So while I didn’t love it, I did enjoy it.

I’ve already put the first two books on hold at the library I work at and I’m looking forward to reading them!

[Thank you to the author, Deirdre Verne for providing me with an ecopy of this title. I was not compensated for my review and all opinions and conclusions are my own.]

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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.

Author Links

www.deirdreverne.com

www.facebook.com/deirdreverneauthor

https://twitter.com/DeirdreVerne

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8276614.Deirdre_Verne

Medium banner - Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours presents: The Drawing Game by Deirdre Verne, February 8 - February 21, 2017; Book cover on the banner - The Drawing Game: A Sketch-in-Crime Mystery Deirdre Verne; Private library setting with a fireplace between the bookshelves. Portrait hanging crooked; chairs overturned and blood on the rug