Cozy

Book Review: Leave It to Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton

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Leave It to Cleaver (Vintage Kitchen Mystery #6)Leave It to Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leave It to Cleaver is the 6th book in the ‘Vintage Kitchen Mystery’ series written by Victoria Hamilton. All I can say is… this series keeps on getting better. Jaymie and her sister are cleaning out a friend’s home when they discover a body trapped in a trunk for over 30 years. Who killed the missing teenager? It seems to be one of their friends who fought back in high school with the girl, except a second body turns up days later. That girl disappeared from high school around the same time. Someone was up to no good… what kinda shady characters was Becca hanging out with!?!?

Hamilton’s mystery itself is complex and full of believable suspects. I liked the way Jaymie went back and forth with her suspicion cast upon several people she knew and was close with. As she learns the truth about adoption, abuse, cheating, and hidden tempers, everything comes to a blow. What excelled in this story was the structure and approach. In alternating chapters, we see exactly what happened to different characters thirty years ago, all in third person perspective. We also see Jaymie’s current investigation, and decide for ourselves how the details will play out.

On the personal side, Jaymie is engaged, which we knew from the last book… but her wedding is finally here and it’s a double one with Becca, her sister. We meet more members of Jakob’s family – he’s such a good influence and match for Jaymie. And Grandma Leighton comes for a visit. Another wonderful edition in this series. I’ve already got the next one in my queue to order.

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Book Review: Eaves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle

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Eaves of Destruction (Fixer-Upper Mystery #5)Eaves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eaves of Destruction is the fifth book in the ‘Fixer-Upper Mystery’ cozy series by Kate Carlisle. In these books, Shannon, a ~30ish construction business owner, solves crimes as an amateur sleuth while helping renovate a wonderful seaside town in California. In this edition, the local town inspector causes trouble at several of her job sites and finds himself murdered in the neighbor’s orangery (sun room / conservatory). Whodunit!?!

Shannon is a fun protagonist. She pokes fun at herself but also knows when to be serious, just like the series itself. Obviously, if this many murders occurred in a small town, and the same person found the body all the time, she’d be locked up for some sort of charge to prevent anything else from happening! But this is a book, and there needs to be some level of recognition for that fine line of reality versus fiction. Of all the cozies I’ve read, this one is near the top of the list of those that manage that balance quite adeptly.

The victim was mean and ruthless, he just invaded people’s homes to inspect work even when it wasn’t time or he didn’t have permission to enter. The culprit was semi-believable, but I wish it had been someone else. The family we’re focusing on is interesting, and I liked the addition of Amanda, a new contractor who helps save the day when too many jobs turn up. I liked that we saw more of Shannon’s friends and their personal relationships with the men and/or families in their lives. I was glad to see the connection between the sheriff and Shannon turning into something much more easy-going.

The ending was a little over-the-top, but it made me laugh and I enjoyed how it all came together. I have already ordered the next one in the series and will read it in early April. My goal is to be caught up as soon as possible because the seventh book comes out later this year. BTW, it was adapted into a TV series in case anyone is interested in watching it. Maybe then I can shift over to the author’s other series.

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Book Review: Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisle

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Deck the Hallways (A Fixer-Upper Mystery, #4)Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Deck the Hallways is the 4th book in Kate Carlisle’s ‘A Fixer-Upper Mystery’ series. This one has a Christmas theme as Shannon and her construction crew renovate a home for multiple low-income families to move into over the holiday. As a feel-good, cozy story about a small town and the fun inhabitants, I enjoyed this book. As a mystery, it fell short for a few reasons. Let’s dive in.

All the makings of a fine whodunit are in place. Shannon and several people clash with the executive from the bank who’s making their lives miserable as they rush to close on the renovations. A mysterious woman claims a Santa Claus helper inappropriately touched her during a meeting. Jewelry has been stolen. Many people want that banker to leave for good. At about 20% in, we’re prepped for a wonderful mystery full of culprits and side stories. Then things kinda fell apart for me, which is unusual. Rather than kill him off at the normal place in a story, it doesn’t happen until almost 50% into the book, allowing for more people to show potential motives. I would’ve been okay with this except more suspects kept creeping up rather than exploring the 4 or 5 already noted. And then the book quickly jumped through 7 days to get to Christmas Day, giving maybe a page to a few lines of narrative telling us what happened each day. There were lots of those “***” markings noting scene changes which didn’t work well in this style of book.

By the time the villain was revealed, it was a little too much for me. I normally try to find the reasoning and get on board, but in this book, it felt like this was rushed way too quickly. I saw several other methods including starting the book closer to Christmas, fleshing out 1 or 2 stories in more detail rather than add 4 or 5 odd red herrings, and adding more twists to the core action. A few items were also left a little too open, and I was jarred out of reading because of the frequent scene changes. All that said, it’s not bad… just not the normal caliber I’ve seen from the author. It felt sort of average, so I ended up with 3 stars on this one. Worth a read to see character growth, learn all about the remodels, and find some good mystery elements… just not complete enough to say it’s better than others.

On the good side, Shannon’s relationship with Mac changes. I loved the bonding scenes with her father. She and her core group of friends have a solid connection. The town feels real. I like the potential change between Whitney’s and Shannon’s tension, although it could go in either direction based on what happened in this book. I’ve already ordered the next one to read soon. I’m sure it was just a one-off, but I look forward to getting back on track.

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Book Review: Crowned and Moldering by Kate Carlisle

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Crowned and Moldering (A Fixer-Upper Mystery, #3)Crowned and Moldering by Kate Carlisle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Crowned and Moldering is the 3rd book in Kate Carlisle’s ‘A Fixer-Upper Mystery’ series, also adapted as a TV show on the Hallmark channel. I haven’t caught the shows yet, but as soon as I catch up on the books, I will check it out. I don’t want it to alter my perspective until I’m current. As a stand-alone book, this one was good and I’d recommend it to all cozy readers.

Shannon Hammer inherited a construction business from her father in California. She’s doing well, but a former high school student returns home and tries to put Shannon out of business. While she’s renovating the lighthouse home for new love-interest, Mac, she finds a dead body jammed into a unique, early twentieth century home feature. It’s actually just a skeleton that’s nearly ten years old. Unfortunately, one of her employees realizes it must be his long-lost sister. Without trying to get in the way, Shannon ultimately falls into the same social circle as the deceased girl when she visits the high school on career day. Was it the guidance counselor? The principal? A rival student? A secret older boyfriend? A teacher? This one is packed full of suspects and had a lot of complex angles to consider.

I enjoy the descriptions of the houses and construction projects. The characters are all good. None are super amazing stand-out, but they work well and make me want to read more of the books. The writing style is simple and clean making it a quick 3-hour read for me. I began and finished this one on two flights and a layover last weekend. Although there is a typical 3-way romance building that will push readers to choose sides, it’s not thrown directly at us, which makes the story-line easier to accept. I do like how genuine and kind Shannon is, allowing me to root for her despite how close she is to the investigation. I plan to get the next book at the library over the weekend.

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Book Review: Honey Homicide by Vikki Walton

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Honey Homicide: A Backyard Farming MysteryHoney Homicide: A Backyard Farming Mystery by Vikki Walton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Honey Homicide is the third book in Vikki Walton’s ‘A Backyard Farming Mystery’ series. I’ve read the previous two and wanted to read this one, so I stayed current on the series. I enjoy learning all about beekeeping and other farming activities, so it’s a nice change of pace from other books I’ve been reading.

In this caper, Kandi and Anne are trying to help their friends survive a string of burglaries, fires, and corruption occurring somewhere in the town. It takes place in Colorado, and there are some pot growers who may or may not be behaving properly. When the cops get involved, and a few bodies start showing up, something is definitely out of sorts. Anne tries to manage her friendship with the sheriff only to find he’s accused of the crimes this time! Who do you trust? For Anne, she’s slowly falling in love with him, so she’ll do what’s necessary to protect the man.

Walton’s characters are cute. She has a nice balance of dialog and narrative to tell the story. I like getting to see the improvements on the inn. And it’s great how everyone works together to solve the crime and help each other survive in the town. Of the three so far, the second is my favorite, but this has fun elements with the bees and the police corruption. I’m looking forward to the next one.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie by Tyler Colins

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Can you Hula Like Hilo Hattie?Can you Hula Like Hilo Hattie? by Tyler Colins

Last year, I read the first book, The Connecticut Corpse Caper, in the Triple Threat Mystery series by Tyler Colins. Her second book, Can You Hula Luke Hilo Hattie?, is even better. Colins is one talented author who can weave a complex plot and help readers fully visualize a setting.

In this caper, our three heroines have formed a private eye agency in Hawaii. They’d solved the murders in the first book as regular citizens, so why not make it a full-time job? It was too much work in California or Connecticut to get their licenses, so Hawaii became the new home. Great idea! Fun backdrop. Hilarious characters. First, they need to bring home a runaway, hooked-on-ice teen. Second, they need to prove a man’s wife is cheating. Unfortunately, it isn’t your typical case, and when the wife turns up dead, the mystery is gonna be way more complex than our heroines thought.

Colins has created a bevy of intense and charming characters. I love ‘Cash’ who seems like a very cool dreamboat. Each time I got to know a new character, they end up getting killed off! Maybe it won’t happen this time…. but like in her first book, the body count keeps rising. It’s a fun way to keep readers on our toes. My favorite aspect of the author’s writing style is her descriptions, whether of people or settings. It’s way more than you’d normally see in a book, but it fits very well. I have a beautifully clear picture of who’s talking or moving about the book. I find myself drawn to the action, too, but it’s a very complex plot to keep focused on.

I also see strength in transitions between scenes. It’s rarely over-simplified or brash. It ends in the right place, and I roll into the next scene without worrying what happened in between. I also find the dialog to be rather strong… quick puns, not wordy, direct but full of imagery and thought. I can’t wait to see what third adventure the ladies find themselves embroiled in… no matter what the plot is, I’m sure it will create loads of fun and memories. Great job, Ms. Colins!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Author & Book Spotlight: Bree Baker — No Good Tea Goes Unpunished

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Today’s author spotlight is an accomplished writer with over two dozen books and a couple of pen names to keep track of… you might already know her! Let’s meet Bree Baker who agreed to an interview earlier this month with none other than yours truly. I first met Bree through one of her alter egos, Jacqueline Frost, author of the ‘Tree Farm Mysteries.’ If you missed my reviews of Twelve Slays of Christmas and ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas, be sure to check them out so you can see for yourself how fantastic of a writer she is. The next book in her Seaside Café Mysteries releases on February 26th, 2019, which is why we’re going all out today to get to know her better so we can spread the word!
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About the Author

Bree Baker is a Midwestern writer obsessed with small town high jinks, sweet tea and the sea. She’s been telling stories to her family, friends and strangers for as long as she can remember, and more often than not, those stories feature a warm ocean breeze and recipe she’s sure to ruin. Now, she’s working on those fancy cooking skills and dreaming up adventures for the Seaside Cafe mysteries. But there is more… Bree is a pen name for Julie Anne Lindsey… a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in Ohio with her husband and three spunky children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW), Romance Writers of America (RWA), and Sisters in Crime (SinC). She is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.
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  • Websites
  • List of Books & Series
    • Seaside Café Mysteries (Bree Baker)
    • Kitty Couture Mysteries (Julie Chase)
    • Tree Farm Mysteries (Jacqueline Frost)
    • Cider Shop Mysteries [fall 2019] (Julie Anne Lindsey)
    • Harlequin Intrigue (Julie Anne Lindsey)
    • Geek Girl Mysteries (Julie Anne Lindsey)
    • Patience Price Mysteries (Julie Anne Lindsey)
  • Social Media Links

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  • What are your real, author, and/or pen names?
    • My real name is Julie Anne Lindsey. I write as myself for Harlequin Intrigue and also at Kensington, where my new Cider Shop Mysteries series begins this fall. I write as Julie Chase AND as Jacqueline Frost for Crooked Lane Books, and for Sourcebooks I am Bree Baker.
  • What is your location?
    • I live in Northeastern Ohio.
  • How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles?
    • I published my first short story in 2012. Since then I’ve published more than 25 novels, 2 short stories and 3 novellas. My new Cider Shop Mysteries series begins in November with Kensington. I’m currently publishing the Seaside Café Mysteries with Sourcebooks, the Kitty Couture Mysteries and the Tree Farm mysteries with Crooked Lane Books, plus I write romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.
  • Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?
    • Yes! I’m a national and local member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America. I’m also the current PAN Coordinator for the mystery and suspense chapter of RWA called Kiss of Death, and I belong to the International Thriller Writers.
  • What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
    • Coffee, cats and Wine, plus reading!
  • What’s your goal in writing? Any social issues you want to cover?
    • I write to provide readers with an escape. It’s the reason I read, and I write to return the favor, or at least to pass it on.
  • What gave you the idea for your book?
    • I have a busy mind. The ideas never stop. It’s exhausting.
  • When did you know that you wanted to be an author?  What things, if any, influenced that decision?
    • I read Twilight in2010 and it gave me a much needed escape from the chaos of my life. When I put it down, I realized that I wanted to do that for someone else.
  • Do you work from an outline or plot or do you just see where the characters take you?
    • I’m a dedicated outliner. Writing for four publishers as five people while raising three kids and trying to stay sane requires serious time management and outlines keep me on track to deliver 6-7 novels a year.
  • Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Do you do anything special to get those reviews?
    • I rarely read reviews. The positive ones feel amazing, but the mean ones really sting, and when people are cruel, it can take a long time for me to emotionally recover.
  • What have you learned about yourselves since becoming an author?
    • I’ve learned that I’m tougher than I thought, more determined and resilient too!
  • Do you write full-time or part-time?
    • I am a full time author.
  • What do your plans for future projects include?
    • I’ve got a tight writing schedule through March 2020 which will provide manuscripts for releases through the end of that year. In addition, I have several new ideas brewing, I just need a little time to write up their proposals.
  • What do you think the hardest part of writing is?  What is the easiest?
    • For me, the writing is easy, finding the time to do it is a nightmare!
  • What type of books do you like to read?  Who are some of your favorite authors?
    • I try to read broadly. I belong to a local book club that reads bestsellers across genres, plus I read cozy mystery and romantic suspense to keep myself on top of the genres I write. I also listen to audio books on my 4 hour daily commute in anything from psychological suspense to YA, to sci-fi romance! And I’m currently reading the Harry Potter series. I read it all!
  • Name 3 influential authors on you and tell us why.
    • Janet Evanovich because she always makes me smile
    • Susan Mallery because she melts my heart.
    • Stephen King because….STEPHEN KING.
  • If you could co-write a book with a famous author who would it be? If it was another writer you admire but isn’t well known, who would it be?
    • In my dreams I would write with Janet Evanovich, my favorite author ever.

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NEXT BOOK – No Good Tea Goes Unpunished – February 26th, 2019

Don’t marry into murder…

Catering her childhood friend’s beachfront wedding was a dream come true for Everly Swan—and, with hundreds of guests in attendance, great exposure for her new iced tea shop and café. But when the well-to-do groom is found floating facedown in the surf, the locals of Charm, North Carolina turn their suspicions on his new bride. Could she have been so desperate to lay hands on his fortune that she arranged for his murder even before they set off on their honeymoon?

Everly knows her lovestruck friend couldn’t be behind the murder, but with clues pointing in several directions, she can’t decide which wedding guest is the most likely culprit. Meanwhile, the frustratingly handsome Detective Hays has made it clear that Everly should stay out of the investigation altogether. But with a killer on the loose and a feeling that someone is watching her café very closely, Everly knows that if she can’t solve this murder soon, her cake might be iced for good.

 

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Don’t miss your opportunity to pre-order Bree’s book via Amazon right now!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are three books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, and Flower Power Trip (March 2019). I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.