Blog Tour – Debbie De Louise Books – REVIEWS

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Today, I’m excited to bring you a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Debbie De Louise’s Cobble Cove Mystery series. Currently there are three (3) books in the series and I will be reviewing all three today!

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Book  #1, “A Stone’s Throw”: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book Cover: A Stone's Throw - background of a brick-paved walkway/street with shadows of two people walking.
Cobble Cove #1

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Purchase Links Book #1: AmazonB&N 

Synopsis – Book #1

Widowed librarian Alicia Fairmont needs answers… After her husband is killed in a hit and run accident, Alicia travels upstate to his hometown of Cobble Cove, New York, hoping to locate his estranged family and shed light on his mysterious past. Anticipating staying only a weekend, her visit is extended when she accepts a job at the town’s library. Secrets stretch decades into the past… Assisted by handsome newspaper publisher and aspiring novelist, John McKinney, Alicia discovers a connection between her absent in-laws and a secret John’s father has kept for over sixty years. But her investigation is interrupted when she receives word her house has burned and arson is suspected, sending her rushing back to Long Island, accompanied by John. Back in Cobble Cove, cryptic clues are uncovered… When Alicia returns, she finds a strange diary, confiscated letters, and a digital audio device containing a recording made the day her husband was killed. Anonymous notes warn Alicia to leave town, but she can’t turn her back on the mystery—or her attraction to John. As the pieces begin to fall into place, evidence points to John’s involvement in her husband’s accident. The past and present threaten to collide, and Alicia confronts her fears… Has she fallen in love with her husband’s killer?

Review – Book #1

This was a great start to the series. We got adequately introduced to the characters and some of their back stories; we visited main locales of the upcoming series; and we were introduced to the author’s style of writing.

The characters in this series are definitely interesting. They’re fairly well-rounded. We learn some of their back story, but not enough to make them completely flat in the future. They’re complex and definitely each have their own issues, but they’re interesting.

The mystery was totally interesting and had lots of great twists and turns that I didn’t see coming! I didn’t know who the villains were until they were revealed. For the most part the book moved along at a steady pace, though there was one point where it dragged slightly.

All in all, a great start to the series and I look forward to the 2nd and 3rd books.

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Book Cover: Between a Rock & a Hard Place by Debbie De Louise - white woman with long blond hair and a red pea coat standing against a cement block wall with a cement staircase behind her.
Cobble Cove #2

Book #2, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”: 3 out of 5 stars.

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Synopsis

Librarian Alicia McKinney has put the past behind her… Two years ago, Alicia discovered both a terrible truth and lasting love with John McKinney in the small town of Cobble Cove, New York. Now a busy mother of twin babies and co-author of a mystery series, Alicia couldn’t be happier.

Alicia’s contentment and safety are challenged… Walking home alone from the library, Alicia senses someone following her, and on more than one occasion, she believes she is being watched. Does she have a stalker? When the local gift shop is burglarized, the troubling event causes unrest among Alicia and the residents of the quiet town.

John and Alicia receive an offer they can’t refuse… When John’s sister offers to babysit while she and John take a much-needed vacation in New York City, Alicia is reluctant to leave her children because of the disturbances in Cobble Cove. John assures her the town is safe in the hands of Sheriff-elect Ramsay. Although Alicia’s experience with and dislike of the former Long Island detective don’t alleviate her concern, she and John take their trip.

Alicia faces her worst nightmare… The McKinneys’ vacation is cut short when they learn their babies have been kidnapped and John’s sister shot. Alicia and John’s situation puts them between a rock and a hard place when the main suspect is found dead before the ransom is paid. In order to save their children, the McKinneys race against the clock to solve a mystery more puzzling than those found in their own books. Can they do it before time runs out?

Review – Book #2

I didn’t like this book nearly as much as I did the first one. For one thing, one of the issues they mention in the description of the book doesn’t even happen until the book is 3/4 of the way done! I was super disappointed in that. Plus, I felt like the ending was a little too convenient and not at all realistic.

The characters are mostly the same and that’s nice. It’s nice to see one of the characters from the first book make a reappearance in this book in a different capacity and as a seemingly different person.

The story moved along at a decent pace, I just was very disappointed that the one piece of the story line happened so late in the book. Usually something that’s in the description of the book happens more towards the beginning of the book.

This book just wasn’t as good as the first, but the interpersonal relationship growth in the book is important so if you’re going to read the series, I do suggest you read it and not skip it.

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Book Cover: Written in Stone - Cobble Cove Mystery #3 by Debbie DeLouise. Photo of a Siamese cat laying on a stone wall with the lettering over top in yellow.
Cobble Cove #3

Book #3 – Written in Stone: 4 out of 5 stars

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Synopsis

Alicia McKinney is confused . . . Was the strange email her husband received from the fictional detective in their mystery series a threat? Did the killer mistake the woman shot in the library for Alicia or the victim’s twin sister?

Cat vs. Dog . . .  After Sneaky goes missing from the library, will he turn up before a young girl becomes ill with worry over his disappearance? And will he return in time to outsmart Fido by being first to find the perpetrator’s smoking gun?

Alicia is worried . . . While waiting for the killer’s next move, Alicia has other concerns. An old flame of John’s is in town and her friend, Gilly, has adopted the role of Miss Marple to aid her sheriff boyfriend in his investigation.

When all clues point to one of her co-workers, Alicia joins Gilly in searching for the answers to the mystery.

Will they survive . . . or is their ending written in stone?

Review – Book #3

This book I felt was in between the first and second as far as quality. It wasn’t as good as the first, but it wasn’t as bad as the second.

The mystery was far more interesting than the second one, but didn’t have as many twists and turns as the first. I still wasn’t sure who the villain was until it was revealed, but I was pretty sure who it was NOT.

The portion of the book dedicated to the sub-plot of the library cat, Sneaky, going missing was well-done. It didn’t detract from the original mystery, but it wasn’t an annoying little thing either.

The one thing that really got to me by the time I got to this last book was the main character’s emphasis on her weight. Now, I will say that I’m predispositioned for this to be something that gets on my nerves, but I felt like it was just mentioned too often. They live in a town where she walks almost everywhere, so she’s getting a lot of exercise, and yet she’s constantly talking about her weight and watching the sugary desserts and this and that. I’m all for eating sensibly. I may be fat, but I do try to eat more healthy than I ever have before, but I also do not see the point in completely depriving oneself of desserts (unless you have a food allergy or diabetes or something like that). And if she lives in a town where she’s getting that much exercise, then she shouldn’t have to worry about eating dessert or a donut a couple of times a week.

That’s a topic I can easily get on a soapbox about, so I’m going to stop now. This book was definitely better than the second. If there’s a fourth, I’ll read it. 🙂

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About the Author

Author, Debbie De Louise - middle-aged white woman with glasses, shoulder-length brown hair and a big smile. She's holding a cat on her lap and wearing a pink t-shirt.Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Cat Writer’s Association. She has a BA in English and an MLS in Library Science from Long Island University. Her published novels include Cloudy RainbowA Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and Written in Stone. Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Cobble Cove Mystery #2) has been on the Amazon bestseller list for cozy mysteries. Debbie has also written articles and short stories for several anthologies of various genres and a romantic comedy novella, When Jack Trumps Ace. She is currently seeking agent representation for her psychological thriller, Sea Scope. Debbie lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and two cats.

Author Links

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/Deblibrarian

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2750133.Debbie_De_Louise

Amazon Author Page:http://www.amazon.com/Debbie-De-Louise/e/B0144ZGXPW/

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up:https://debbiedelouise.com

Cat Got Your Diamonds – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cat Got Your Diamonds is the first book in the Kitty Couture mystery series by Julie Chase and it’s delightful! I’ve been meaning to read it ever since it came out last spring and I finally was able to do so after finishing my latest round of blog tours. It did not disappoint!

Book Cover: Cat Got Your Diamonds: A Kitty Couture Mystery by Julie Chase - Store setting on cover with black & white cat on top of counter and beagle on the floor looking up at it.

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Purchase Links: Amazon – B&NKobo

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Brief Synopsis

Grandeur and opulence are everything in the famed New Orleans Garden District where pets are family and no bling is too big. Opening Furry Godmother, pet boutique and organic treat bakery, is Lacy Marie Crocker’s dream come true–until the glitter gun used to make her Shih Tzu tutus becomes a murder weapon. And Lacy becomes public enemy #1.

Now Detective Jack Oliver is hounding Lacy, and her Furry Godmother investor wants out before his name is tarnished by association. To make matters worse, a string of jewel heists with suspicious ties to the murder case has New Orleans residents on edge. To save her dream, Lacy must take a stand, put her keen eyes to work, and unravel what really happened at her shop that night. But can Lacy sniff out the killer cat burglar in time to get her tail-raising designs on the catwalk?

Witty and whimsical, Cat Got Your Diamonds, the first in a new cozy series by Julie Chase, will be the cat’s meow for fans of Rita Mae Brown and Miranda James. (Source: Goodreads)

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Review

I love Lacy. She’s kind of quirky, sometimes absent-minded, and just totally lovable. I love her spunky spirit, her go-get-em attitude, and her stubbornness. Her interactions with Detective Oliver are pretty great as well. I like the two of them together. 🙂 The other characters are fun as well. They’re mostly well-rounded and developed. I’m sure the author deliberately left some things out in order to expand on them in later books in the series.

The plot line moves along at a decent pace. I never felt like the pace was dragging, but nor did I feel like the story was so fast-paced that I couldn’t keep up. I enjoyed the plot twists along the way. I didn’t have an inkling of the villain until he was revealed. Even then, I was completely surprised. I can’t wait to read the second one in another week or so for a blog tour to find out how all of it is going to affect Lacy and her business!

I love the New Orleans setting. I also love that it’s set in the Garden District and not just the Quarter which is where so many TV shows and books are set when they talk about New Orleans. The descriptions of the settings are lovely.

All in all it’s a delightful read and a fun first book to the series! The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is that it didn’t have an emotional “hook” for me – that little bit of extra pizzazz that will push it up to a 5 in my book. But it’s still a wonderful and fun book!

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About the Author

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 necklaceJulie Chase is a mystery-loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make readers smile. She lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and Sisters in Crime (SinC). She is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency.

Julie also writes as Julie Anne Lindsey. (Source: Goodreads)

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?

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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!

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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

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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

Wish – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars

Wish is a stand-alone children’s novel by Barbara O’Connor. It’s meant for the Middle Grades (4th-6th) and is wonderful, poignant, and is just all-around delightful.

Wish by Barbara O'Connor, Author of How to Steal a Dog - tagline: With a little luck you can get what you wish for. - Sunset background, young girl with long brown hair and short-sleeved green shirt kneeling in the grass with a beagle dog - fireflies flying in the background

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Brief Synopsis

Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets
Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.

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Review

I’m pretty fond of children’s literature, but I have to say, this is one of the best children’s books I’ve read in a long time!  The story line is so realistic and believable, as are the characters in this book. It’s wonderful.

All her life Charlie’s made a wish every day. She has a whole list of ways that one can make wishes, 11:11 on the clock, first star, crossing the state line (clapping 3 times), bird singing at night, etc. We never know what this wish is until the very end of the book because after all, if you tell someone what your wish is for, it won’t come true. In the end, Charlie gets her wish even though it’s a little different looking than what she thought it would be.

Charlie goes through a lot of character growth throughout the book. When we meet her, her world has just been turned upside down. Her father’s been sent to jail, her mother’s too sick to get out of bed and take care of her, and she’s being sent to live with an aunt and uncle she’s never met before. She’s scared. She’s mad at the world for changing. She’s mad that her sister, Jackie, isn’t coming with her. She’s not really a very nice little girl to be around. She gets into fights at school and at Vacation Bible School, she says mean things in the heat of the moment, etc.. Bertha and Gus, her aunt and uncle seem to take it all in stride. They don’t yell at her, they don’t punish her, they simply love her. Little by little that’s all it takes for her to start changing.

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The supporting characters in this story – Bertha, Gus, Howard, his brothers & parents, and Charlie’s sister, Jackie are just wonderful. They all teach Charlie something about life and love and family. Jackie’s afraid that Charlie will hate her because she can’t take care of her, but Charlie doesn’t hate her. She maybe doesn’t completely understand, but by that point in the book she’s starting to settle in and get comfortable at Bertha & Gus’s place. She’s feeling a little more secure so she takes it in stride.

The settings, the story line, everything about this book is just delightful and fantastic. It’s seriously one of the best children’s Middle Grade books I’ve ever read. I can see I’ll probably be enjoying it more than once!

All in all this is a WONDERFUL book for Middle Grade kids and I HIGHLY recommend it!

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

About the Author

Barbara O'Connor, Author - Older white woman with short grey hair and glasses wearing a white shirt with a red cardigan

Barbara O’Connor’s awards include the Parents Choice Gold and Silver Award, American Library Association Notable Books, IRA Notable Books for a Global Society, School Library Journal Best Books, and Kirkus Best Books. Her books have been nominated for children’s choice awards in 38 states and voted as a state favorite by children in South Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, and South Dakota.

Barbara was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. She draws on her Southern roots to write award-winning books for children in grades 3 to 6.

She currently lives in Asheville, NC.

The Park of Sunset Dreams – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars

The Park of Sunset Dreams by Ava Miles - Picture of a park from the vantage point of standing under a tree - park bench under tree and two dogs on grassy area

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Synopsis

Jane Wilcox has a secret. She’s been the incognito poker scout to a rock star poker player dressed as a smoking hot poker babe. Now that role is over, and she’s living in small town Dare Valley, working as a dog walker—or so everyone thinks. Without her Jimmy Choo heels and Prada gowns, she’s trying to find her new sexy Inner Swan and a fairytale romance, but she’s afraid she might have turned back into “Plain Jane” until she meets Matt Hale in the dog park.

The sexy lawyer has a rambunctious dog that needs her Dog Whisperer skills and slowly they move from friends to lovers. Matt is one of the good guys, a hero, totally boy-next-door material. He’s returned to his hometown after experiencing a tragedy. He was unable to find justice for the woman in his last legal case, and now she’s passed away and given him her dog. He’s vowed to give Henry a good home and right the wrongs in the system, so he’s running for mayor of Dare Valley.

Jane and Matt fall in love during sunset walks in the dog park, but soon Jane’s secret past comes back to haunt her and harms Matt’s bid for mayor. Can Jane and Matt’s love survive the controversy?

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Review

The Park of Sunset Dreams by Ava Miles is the sixth book in her Dare Valley series. When the book first came out, it was my favorite out of the whole Dare Valley series. Since then, it’s been eclipsed by The Bridge to a Better Life.

Jane & Matt are both down to earth characters and very likable. I think fear that Jane had about her past coming to light is a fear that many of us have and it was portrayed accurately and sensitively.

The writing is crisp, clean, and well done as I’ve come to expect from Ms. Miles’ books. The whole series is excellent! Check them out and see!

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