BLOG TOUR – Beware the Orchids – REVIEW & GUEST POST

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Welcome! Today I’m hosting a spot on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Beware the Orchids, the first book in the Shady Acres Mystery series by Cynthia Hickey.  It was a delightful book. You will find my review, purchase links, and the Rafflecopter giveaway underneath the guest post that Ms. Hickey was gracious enough to write for me! I apologize to Ms. Hickey, for some reason I couldn’t get her beautiful photo to copy/paste properly.

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Why I love a good Mystery – Cynthia Hickey

CynthiaHickeyI’ve enjoyed mysteries from a young age, reading every. single. Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Harvey Boys. There’s something about pitting wits against a thief or killer that kept me turning the pages. Now, mysteries have enabled me to stay at home and write what I love to read.

In 2007, I heard of a mystery line opening up, but was writing romantic suspense at the time (another love of mine). A friend dared me to write for the line, saying my style would fit perfectly. I wrote my first cozy Fudge-Laced Felonies, won first place in a contest, acquired an agent, and the rest is history. Now with my fourth series, The Shady Acres series complete, I’m ready to start my fifth.


One thing you’ll always find in my series is a bit of romance, a dash of humor, and a whole lot of fun characters. I always seem to locate my stories in the Ozark mountains where I grew up. After all, the hills and hollows hold a bit of mystery themselves, but my newest series will take place in Hollywood, California.

Do I plan on stopping any time soon? Not a chance. I intend to write mysteries and suspense until God calls me home. Do I have more ideas? You bet.

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Synopsis of “Beware the Orchids”

Ditched at the altar, Shelby Hart tosses down her bouquet, quits her job, and accepts a position as gardener and event coordinator at an upscale retirement community. Her first day on the job results with a dead body in the greenhouse under the orchids and with her as the prime suspect!

Toss in a handsome handyman, quirky characters, and a flirtatious grandma and the fun never stops.

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4 out of 5 stars.

This was a delightful, fun read and I’m looking forward to others in the series!

Our main characters, Shelby, Heath, and Ida, Shelby’s grandmother, are great! I love each of them. Shelby’s a little impulsive, but while she doesn’t listen to the police and stay out of the investigation, she doesn’t seem to be too impulsive and get herself into danger. Yes, things happen to her and her friends. Yes, she ends up almost being smoked and burned alive, but she takes precautions where she can. I much prefer her type of heroine than the ones that go off and deliberately ignore the danger they’re putting themselves in.

The only thing was that the characters didn’t seem that well-rounded and developed. I’m hoping that’s something that will be fixed as the series goes on.

The setting descriptions were great. I can be a hard nut to please in this area. There’s a fine line between too much description and not enough. Thankfully, Ms. Hickey gracefully balances on that line. I was able to imagine Shady Acres vividly but I liked that not every detail was filled in for me. I like being able to use my imagination when reading.

The plot line moved along mostly at a steady pace. There were a couple of spots in the middle where it seemed to bog down a little bit, but not so badly that I resorted to skimming instead of reading.

All in all, I’d say this is a good start to the series. I look forward to reading the rest of the series!

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Thanks for joining me today on this latest Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Beware the Orchids by Cynthia Hickey. If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below. It will take you to the main tour page where there is a list of participants!

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BLOG TOUR – A Knit Before Dying – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars


Today I’m bringing you the latest stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for A Knit Before Dying by Sadie Hartwell. It’s the second in the Tangled Web Mystery series, but it was the first one I’ve read. It was a fun read and easy to read as a stand-alone.


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Shop owner Josie Blair is finally settling into the pace of living in Dorset Falls, Connecticut. Between running Miss Marple Knits, jump starting a blog, and handcrafting items with the help of her knitting pals, Josie’s too preoccupied to worry about her past in New York. And thanks to Lyndon and Harry, the owners of the brand-new antique shop next door, she has another project in her midst—repurposing a box of vintage crocheted doilies adorned with the most curious needlework . . .

But before Josie can formally welcome her neighbors, she discovers Lyndon on the floor of his shop stabbed to death by a rusty old pair of sheep shears. Police have pinned Harry as the killer, but Josie isn’t so sure. Now, she’s lacing up for another homicide investigation—and no eyelet or stitch can go unexamined, lest she herself becomes ensnared in the criminal’s deadly design . . .



This was a fun read. As I stated above, this is the first one in the series that I’ve read, even though it is the second book of the series. However, the author provided enough background information to make it possible to read this as a stand-alone without overdoing it for those who may have already read the first book.

I enjoyed our main characters. Josie seems pretty well-rounded with a good head on her shoulders. While she’s curious and she asks questions, she doesn’t seem to go looking for trouble (which, in my opinion, is a good thing). I also enjoyed Evelyn, Lorna, Helen, Mitch, and the rest of the supporting characters.

This is my first “fiber arts” cozy mystery and I enjoyed it. I felt that the author did a good job balancing out the inclusion of the knitting and the yarn shop without it being smothering for those (like myself) who are not into knitting or crocheting.

The mystery itself was interesting and had plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing. I didn’t see the final twist coming, tho’ given that there was still about 15% of the book left after the supposed climax, I knew something else was going to happen. I just didn’t know what!

The only real complaint that I have is that I would have liked it if we’d found out where the body of one of the victims had actually been buried. It’s alluded to, but we never really know for sure.

All in all tho’ it was a fun read and if the author publishes more in the series, I’m definitely up for reading them!


About the Author


Sadie Hartwell grew up near the Canadian border in northern New York State, where it’s cold, dark, and snowy almost half the year—a perfect environment for nurturing a simultaneous love of mystery fiction and needlework. She attended St. Lawrence University, graduating with a degree in history, and has worked as a waitress, handbag designer/manufacturer, paralegal, and copy editor before turning to writing full time. Now she gets to play with yarn and make up stories whenever she wants, and wishes everyone had a job as much fun as hers.



Thanks for joining me today on the latest stop of the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for A Knit Before Dying by Sadie Hartwell.  If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below. It will take you to the main tour page with the listing of all the stops!





The Fountain of Infinite Wishes – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Fountain of Infinite Wishes is the latest installment in the Dare River series by Ava Miles. Once again, Ms. Miles has brought us a phenomenal story.


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Brief Synopsis:

Shelby McGuinness, along with her sister, Sadie, wants to find her father who left their family when she was 2 and Sadie was just an infant. She hires Vander Montgomery, a private investigator in Nashville, to find him. Sparks fly between the two and a romance is born.

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I absolutely loved this book. While I’m personally more like Sadie in temperament, I thoroughly enjoyed Shelby. She’s vivacious and daring without being too impulsive. Her personality just sparkles off the page. She and Vander are attracted to each other from the start, but Vander is resolute in his ethics and will not date her as long as she is a client.  It makes for interesting meetings between the two of them at times.  Both characters are well-developed, complex characters. We learn a lot about their beliefs and hopes and past lives. They rely on each other for support and comfort even when they don’t realize they’re doing so; even before they started dating.

The only thing that disappointed me was how shocked and appalled the characters were upon meeting someone who is morbidly obese. I realize that’s not how these characters choose to live their lives, but their reactions to me seemed too harsh. I would have thought that their mama, being a reverend, would have had them do service work in poor areas similar to the one this person lived in; that they would have been more used to dealing with those situations and feelings than they seemingly were. They did show compassion to the person, but their reactions almost seemed more harsh with that than they were towards the horrible reason why their father left (which was far worse, but I won’t spoil it).

However, that was just a short piece of the story. While it disappointed me, the story and the characters generally were just wonderful. That piece is the only reason why this story didn’t receive 5 full stars because I simply loved the rest of the story.

I enjoy the Dare River setting and characters. In fact, I think it’s my favorite out of the three series Ms. Miles writes, so I always enjoy “coming home” to these stories and characters. I enjoy the fact that even this particular story is about Shelby and Vander, we see the rest of the family from time to time. Some more than other of course, but we get a glimpse at all the extended family which made me happy.

The descriptions of the various settings in this book balance well with the descriptions of the characters. Ms. Miles is very talented in that way. She gives us enough detail that we can imagine the scene, but doesn’t over saturate the scene in our own imaginations.

The story line moved along at a decent pace.  I was pleased that Vander didn’t ask Shelby out until after he’d finished with finding her father. It was one of his many fine qualities. I also appreciated the way the family gathered around each other upon learning the horrible reason their father left. I was very happy to see that they didn’t take their negative feelings out on one another, but rather found comfort from each other.

If you enjoy stories about family, people finding each other, friendship, and a bit of romance, I’d highly suggest picking up this title. Enjoy!

[I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.]

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