Good morning! Today’s Great Escape Virtual Book Tour stop is for The Discombobulated Decipherers, the 2nd book in Julie Seedorf’s Brilliant, Minnesota Mystery series.
I’m not quite done with the book, but should finish today. I’ll post the review portion of my post a little later. But I wanted to get the guest post up and out there for you to see! Thank you to Ms. Seedorf for providing today’s guest post!
Thank you for having me today. I love connecting with my readers and letting them know a little more about me and my books.
The Discombobulated Decipherers is the second book in the Brilliant, Minnesota Series. The Brilliant Series features a fictional community in Minnesota with a neighborhood of amateur sleuths led by Jezabelle Jingle.
It is Christmas in Brilliant and Jezabelle is busy in the Brilliant Bistro. She recently bought the bistro and brought her baking talents along with her. Cozy mysteries always have good food as one of the staples of the mystery. This is the first book where I have added some recipes.
I am not a cook or a baker. I can get by and occasionally I can fool people into thinking I am good at it. Perhaps that is why my main character is a baking whiz. Through her, I can fulfill my dreams of becoming a baker extraordinaire. Adding recipes to the back of the book was my challenge. I called on my talented thirteen-year-old granddaughter, Maggie. Maggie makes cupcakes from scratch which melt in your mouth and uses her imagination to create delicious concoctions.
Maggie and I decided to try and come up with a recipe for one of the names I gave Jezabelle’s baking temptations. Unfortunately, our time together was limited and we only one day to perfect a recipe. We tried to find another time to finish what we started but after trying to coordinate our schedules over a six month period we decided instead to give you a recipe of one of our almost successes. The flavor was good but it was too moist and it didn’t rise. In light of not having any more time, I chose to put the recipe in the book and throw it out to my readers as a challenge to perfect it. The name of the recipe is Work In Progress Cupcakes.
Recently my high school girlfriend’s mother turned 100 years old. Gladys fed a family of fourteen children. She made everything from scratch. When I interviewed her for a newspaper article she shared a recipe with me, giving me permission to put it in my new book. Lemon Love Notes is a Gladys Johanson recipe with 100 years of love.
I do like to bake cheesecakes and I have been told they are the best cheesecakes ever. I usually use Taste of Home magazine for my cheesecakes and they gave me permission to share their Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake recipe. I love this recipe and use it often. I was elated to connect with them and to be able to put my favorite recipe of theirs in my book.
My goal for my readers is for them to come away feeling better after they have read my book. I want them to laugh, to feel the depth of my characters which develop through the series, and I want to take my readers away from reality for a short time. I hope the puzzle and the mystery in the Discombobulated Decipherers do that, but I also hope Gladys recipe and the Taste of Home recipe tweak your taste buds. I also hope you accept our challenge for our Work In Progress Cupcakes. Won’t it be fun to see the many different versions my readers create? Happy reading and happy baking.
This was an interesting book. I enjoyed a lot of it. The characters are fascinating, the plot interesting and some great puzzles besides the main mystery.
When I started the book, I wasn’t all that certain I was going to like it. I didn’t really enjoy the first one in the series, but I figured it was a new book and I’d give it a fair chance. I was happily surprised by it.
I like the characters a lot, though the overuse of alliteration with their names grates a little on my nerves. But I like Jezzy, Lizzy, Hank, and the rest. Their personalities are quirky and fun. The characters are well-rounded, complex characters as well.
The plot line moved along at a decent pace. The main mystery was interesting, but the subplot was even more interesting to me. It was fascinating. The Brilliant brothers were puzzle creators and very imaginative!
All in all it was a fun book and I do recommend it! You’ll need to start with the first book in order to understand a few things, but it’s a fascinating book and I recommend you check it out!
Thanks for joining me today! I’ll have my review up a little later if you wish to drop back by. 🙂 If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, click on the banner below. That will take you to the main tour page with a list of other participants!
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!
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.
Book #2, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”: 3 out of 5 stars.
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.
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. 🙂
About the Author
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 Rainbow, A 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.
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!
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)
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.]
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!
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.
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!
Peaches Alexander is thrilled to receive an unexpected invitation to a weekend party given by the handsome, eligible Duke of Kenneworth. The only problem: Stephen de Piaget, a stuffy medieval studies scholar who seems determined to get in the way. Peaches has absolutely no desire to get involved with Stephen, until a quirk of Fate sends her hurtling through time…
UNLESS THERE’S SOMEONE TO CATCH YOU.
Stephen de Piaget has been leading a double life: respectable professor by day, knight-in-training during holidays and summer terms. When Peaches goes missing, Stephen knows he’s the only one who can rescue her from medieval peril. Little do they know that the greatest danger they’ll face won’t be the business end of a sword, but their own unruly hearts…
All for You by Lynn Kurland is the 12th book in the de Piaget series and the 18th in the de Piaget/MacLeod crossovers. While Lynn Kurland is one of my favorite authors, I have to say that I did not feel this book was as good as some of her others.
The book was not horrible, but it seemed much more stilted than some of her other books. There were times when it felt as though the story itself did not know where it was headed.
Peaches is also one of those heroines that I tend to despise – she doesn’t have a spine. She constantly allows people to just walk all over her. Stephen, on the other hand, I’ve found charming since the first time he showed up (in ‘One Enchanted Evening‘).
While it’s certainly never going to be among my favorites and while it’s not as well-written as some Ms. Kurland’s other offerings, it was not horrible. I will also admit that it’s possible I could be more biased because I have read so many of her books and I expect a certain level of quality which I felt was missing here. Give it a try, but if you’re disappointed in it, please consider trying at least one of her other titles before you decide you don’t like her as an author!
Ten-year-old Grace knows that her mum loves her, but her mum loves drugs too. And there’s only so long Grace can fend off the ‘woman from the county’ who is threatening to put her into care. Her only hope is…
Grown-man Billy Shine hasn’t been out of his apartment for years. People scare him, and the outside world scares him even more. Day in, day out, he lives a perfectly orchestrated silent life within his four walls. Until now. . .
Grace bursts into Billy’s life with a loud voice and a brave plan to get her mum clean. And it won’t be easy, because they will have to confiscate the one thing her mum holds most dear . . . they will have to kidnap Grace. (Source: Goodreads)
Don’t Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde is a phenomenal book. It showed up in one of my discounted eBooks emails one day. The description sounded pretty good and it was on sale that day so I thought, “What the heck, I’ll try it”. I’m really glad that I did! It was a fantastic book about 9-year-old Grace (some editions seem to list her as 10, but the one I have said 9) and the struggles she faces as well as how she pulls together everyone in her apartment building, including Billy, a former Broadway dancer, who is now agoraphobic.
I found the characters to be incredibly realistic and full of life. Grace is a beautiful, thoughtful child in a bad situation. Her mother is a sometimes-recovering addict, emphasis on ‘sometimes’, which leads her to be sitting on the front steps waiting for someone to rescue her. Enter in Billy, the former dancer, who hasn’t been out of his apartment in 10 years. He sees Grace sitting there every day and finally ventures out to the patio just outside his apartment to inquire after her. Her answers change everything. The two strike up an unlikely friendship which changes both their lives.
While all of the apartment building members are part of this story, Grace and Billy are the main focus of the story so you don’t learn a lot about the others, but they’re all great secondary characters though. The settings are “just right” for me. There’s enough description so I can see the setting in my head and make up the difference in my imagination. That’s “just right” to me.
I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good book! I couldn’t put it down! I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.