Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: Leave Tomorrow Behind: A Stella Crown Mystery by Judy Clemens

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (Dec 3 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1464202028
  • ISBN-13: 978-1464202025
Book Description

She’s back! Tattooed, hard working, and often crabby dairy farmer and biker Stella Crown is hot—both in temperature and temperament. Her sister-in-law is a nag, her fiancée Nick is ill, and her bank account is in the red. But when a local country star turns up dead at the county fair, where Stella's teenage employee Zach is an exhibitor, things turn from hot to ugly.

Stella wasn’t friends with the victim. In fact, she’d only seen her from a distance. But seeing how Stella was the one to dig her out from her deathbed in the calf barn’s manure pile, the cops are on her like flies on…well…honey.  Why on earth would Stella want to kill a young singer she’d never spoken to? She’d much rather kill the annoying helicopter dad in the fair’s dairy barn. Or the fifty percent fake girl in the Lovely Miss Pennsylvania Pageant. Or her banker.

About the Author

Judy Clemens spends her days in rural Ohio, where she writes, spends time with her family, and eats too much chocolate.  She is the author of the Grim Reaper and Stella Crown mysteries, and is a past president of Sisters in Crime.

My Review

 Good read by new-to-me author Judy Clemens. This book has been available since early December and is published by one of my favorite publishing houses, Poisoned Pen Press.

Stella Crown is an interesting woman - a dairy farmer who rides a Harley and who is engaged to a good man (also a good looking man). In between dealing with her fiance's sister who is obsessed with wedding planning, there is a state fair and the murder of a rising country star who had just performed at the state fair. All of the action revolves around the state fair and the livestock competitions. Like myself, I'm sure a lot of readers will find this part very interesting as it is a very unfamiliar world. 

Good story, good well plotted mystery and interesting characters.  Also glad I'm now on the lookout for Judy Clemens books.  One complaint - I don't like the cover. I don't think it will entice readers.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Review: January Thaw (Murder-by-Month Mystery #9) by Jess Lourey

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1689 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK (Jan. 1 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00H3R53NC

Book Description

Mira James' life is perfect. She's just consummated her relationship with Johnny Leeson, she's a freelance investigator for a local attorney, and she hasn't uncovered a dead body in nearly two weeks. That lucky streak comes to an icy halt when she joins the reopening festivities at the Prospect House, Battle Lake's oldest structure. Mira is covering the event for the Battle Lake Recall when she ice skates over a corpse frozen into the lake in front of the mansion. When Police Chief Gary Wohnt is shot in a seemingly unrelated traffic run. he and Mira must form a reluctant alliance as she becomes his eyes on the ground, uncovering a web of lies and murder that date back over a century.

About the Author

 Jess Lourey is the author of the Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month mysteries set in Battle Lake, Minnesota, and featuring amateur sleuth, Mira James. Jess has been teaching writing and sociology at the college level since 1998.

When not raising her wonderful kids, teaching, or writing, you can find her gardening, traveling, and navigating the niceties and meanities of small-town life. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and The Loft, and serves on the national board of Mystery Writers of America.

My Review

I have been meaning to try out this series for some time and I am glad that I finally have. January Thaw is the ninth title in Jess Lourey's Murder-by-Month mystery series. Each title in the series contains the name of a month.

Amateur detective and librarian Mira James seems to have no trouble finding bodies in the same town of Battle Lake, Minnesota. Set in January obviously, this latest outing involves inheritances, drugs, a new microbrewery and lots of snow and ice! And of course a dead body...found frozen in the lake.

There is plenty of action and twist and turns to keep the reader engaged. A cast of interesting characters adds to the quirky mood of the novel. An enjoyable read that will be released on January 1st. Glad I finally waded into the Murder-by-Month mystery series. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Review: A Christmas to Remember (Lucky Harbor #8.5) by Jill Shalvis (Goodreads Author), Kristen Ashley (Goodreads Author), Hope Ramsay (Goodreads Author), Molly Cannon (Goodreads Author), Marilyn Pappano

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 976 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Forever Yours (Dec 3 2013)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CO7GN1W

Book Description

Curl up with this heartwarming Christmas collection!

Jill Shalvis, Dream a Little Dream: Melissa has kept every man at a safe distance-especially firefighter Ian, a sexy friend with sexy benefits. But Ian secretly longs for more. Luckily, 'tis the season for giving love a chance . . .

Kristen Ashley, Every Year: Holidays don't come easy for Shy and his brother, Landon. But with the magic of Christmas, along with a little help from Tabby and her family, the Cage brothers are about to get the gift of a lifetime . . .

Hope Ramsay, Silent Night: Down on her luck and evicted from her apartment, single mother Maryanne hopes to start over in Last Chance. When the snow begins to fall, it looks like her baby might literally spend Christmas Eve in a manger. And Maryanne might celebrate the holiday with a handsome stranger.

Molly Cannon, Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas: Lincoln is a bachelor who's set in his ways-until a professional organizer dressed up as Mrs. Claus changes his life, one tip at a time. . .

Marilyn Pappano, A Family for Christmas: War widow Ilena doesn't mind spending Christmas alone. But when a new doctor blows into town with the winter wind, will she get her secret Christmas wish?

Plus: Excerpts from upcoming novels!

My Review

Silent Night by Hope Ramsay: I picked Hope Ramsay's story to read as I knew it would be likely a sweet, joy filled Christmas story and I was right. It is basically a retelling of the Christmas story but set in Last Chance, South Carolina. Lovely tale that had the tears welling up in no time.

Each of the 5 stories is by a different romance author. The ebook also contains an excerpt from each author's upcoming novel. Only $1.99 on Amazon. Well worth a read today, right before Christmas.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Review: An Avalon Christmas by Darien Gee

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1943 KB
  • Print Length: 149 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

Book Description

 For fans of Friendship Bread and The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society comes a delightful collection of stories that will put a smile on your face this holiday season.

The holidays have finally arrived in Avalon, Illinois and everyone is filled with festive cheer. Well, maybe not everyone ...

The husbands of Avalon have started a Bah Humbug Club. A neighborhood cookie exchange wreaks havoc on Erin Meeks' carefully planned life. Melvin O'Malley's daughter has abandoned him for the holidays in a senior facility, and shop owner Margot West is intent on creating the best holiday shopping experience for her customers when a stranger threatens to ruin it.

But a few surprises await them as well--an anonymous donor is giving away free turkeys at the Pick and Save, and there's an air of mystery surrounding a generous raffle prize for the upcoming Christmas Bazaar. And when it looks like Santa might be a no show, someone unexpected steps into his boots.

Celebrate the season with 12 heartwarming stories of hope and cheer that continue the spirit of Gee's first two novels, Friendship Bread and The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Includes recipes.

About the Author

Darien Gee is the author of the novels, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society and Friendship Bread. Her short stories have been anthologized and she also writes a weekly column on creativity and writing for the local newspaper. Darien lives in upcountry Waimea on the Big Island of Hawai‘i with her husband and their three children.

Darien attended Wellesley College and graduated from Rice University with a B.A. in Political Science. She has served on the boards of several nonprofits, including the Friends and Foundation of the San Francisco Public Library and ZYZZYVA, an award-winning literary magazine. Through it all she read voraciously, wrote short stories and journaled, and dreamed about one day writing a novel.

In 2000 she and her husband had the crazy idea of quitting their corporate jobs, selling their things and moving to Hawai‘i (note to reader: they also thought it would be fun to do this with no jobs, very little savings and while Darien was seven months pregnant). They landed on the Big Island of Hawai‘i with four suitcases. Twenty banker boxes came by USPS via the slow boat a few weeks later.

The years that followed were “life changing” (this is the polite way of putting it). But they made it through, saved some money, had a couple more children, and learned a thing or two about themselves. They fell in love with Hawai‘i and agreed never to move again–Hawai‘i marked Darien’s thirteenth move.

In 2007, Darien published her first novel, Good Things, under the pen name Mia King (visit the Mia King FAQs for more information about her husband, Darrin Gee, who is partly to blame for why Darien’s first books were written as Mia). Her second novel, Sweet Life, followed in 2008. In 2009, Table Manners was published.

Darien was homeschooling her children at the time, and started writing Friendship Bread after her daughter brought home a bag of Amish Friendship Bread starter and the bread. She wrote the first draft in five weeks, and then spent a year in revisions. The novel sold at auction in 2010. It was published in 2011 in the US as well as in 11 countries. Friendship Bread is the first novel written under Darien’s own name.

My Review

What a lovely Christmas book. And it is free on Amazon so ever better!

 Filled with stories that revolve around Christmas, a senior's facility, anonymous giving and a Bah Humbug Club. It is also filled with heartwarming tales that are perfect for the Christmas season. A light read that fill you with the spirit of Christmas. And there are recipes too.

It's free, grab it now for goodness sake!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Review: In the Blood by Lisa Unger

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2784 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (Jan. 7 2014)
  • Sold by: Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
  • Language: English

Book Description


Lana Granger lives a life of lies. She has told so many lies about where she comes from and who she is that the truth is like a cloudy nightmare she can’t quite recall. About to graduate from college and with her trust fund almost tapped out, she takes a job babysitting a troubled boy named Luke. Expelled from schools all over the country, the manipulative young Luke is accustomed to controlling the people in his life. But, in Lana, he may have met his match. Or has Lana met hers?

When Lana’s closest friend, Beck, mysteriously disappears, Lana resumes her lying ways—to friends, to the police, to herself. The police have a lot of questions for Lana when the story about her whereabouts the night Beck disappeared doesn’t jibe with eyewitness accounts. Lana will do anything to hide the truth, but it might not be enough to keep her ominous secrets buried: someone else knows about Lana’s lies. And he’s dying to tell.

“Unger pulls off a bravura feat. . . . Readers will … savor the pleasure of being guided by Unger’s sure hand along a deliciously twisted narrative path. Another scary winner from an accomplished pro.”
(Kirkus Reviews)

"[A] gripping novel of psychological suspense. . . [with a] tense, surprise-laden plot."
(Publishers Weekly (starred review))

In the Blood is an absolute corker of a thriller that cements Lisa Unger's status as one of the brightest stars in the game.”
(Dennis Lehane)

"Reading In the Blood is like grabbing a live wire. . . . A shocking, unputdownable thriller."
(Karin Slaughter)

"In the Blood is a riveting new thriller from Lisa Unger. Dark and haunting, with a deadly twist that you won't see coming 'til you're hit between the eyes, this book is a winner."
(Linda Fairstein)

"In the Blood is a psychological thriller that played me--in the best sense--from beginning to surprising end. I guarantee Lisa Unger will pull the rug out from under you more than once, so hold tight."
(Andrew Pyper)

"Unger's latest offering is full of engaging twists and turns. . . . Skillfully keeps the reader guessing. . . Fans of mystery and psychological suspense. . . will be delighted with this imaginative story."
(Library Journal)

About the Author

Lisa Unger is an award-winning New York Times and internationally bestselling author. Her novels have sold more than 1.5 million copies and have been translated into twenty-six languages. She lives in Florida. Visit

My Review

One of the best books I have read in a while. Riveting. Suspense filled. Impossible to put down. Lots of twists that I did not see coming!

This is a story of mental illness interwoven with murders and sinister thoughts. It is a story revolving around different types of love and friendships. It is a story of family. It is a story of dysfunctional relationships and dysfunctional people. Lisa Unger has set this story in the familiar town of The Hollows in New York.

If you haven't read any of Lisa Unger's books and you like a good thriller then it is time you discovered her. If you are already a fan then you definitely are going to enjoy this latest book. It is a book to look forward to diving into once the mayhem of the holidays are over. Release date is January 7, 2014.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Review: Delivering Death: A Novel (Riley Spartz #6) by Julie Kramer

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (Jan. 7 2014)
  • Sold by: Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BSAZ6X2
Book Description

 From the author of Stalking Susan comes the latest installment in the “compulsively readable” (WCCO-TV) bestselling Riley Spartz thriller series, featuring a smart, sassy, and always entertaining TV reporter as she matches wits with a media-savvy killer.

The most appealing mystery heroine since Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, TV reporter Riley Spartz is a star investigative journalist for Channel 3—and no stranger to the seedier side of her hometown. But when she receives a package of smelly human teeth in the mail at work, she’s quickly embroiled in a homicide investigation that spirals into one of the odder cases the Minneapolis police force has ever seen. Though the cops try to keep certain grisly details quiet, this murder has a strange twist—it seems that the killer wants the crime publicized.

Is it a revenge killing, or something more? Riley’s investigation takes her inside a lucrative identity theft ring that links low-life crooks like now-dead Leon Akume to white-collar opportunists like once-wealthy Jack Clemens. Despite a prime motive for murder, Jack also has the ultimate alibi: he's behind bars. While Riley pushes to keep the homicide in the news, her boss is convinced that coverage of the Mall of America’s unique version of a royal wedding is key to the station winning ratings. As the stakes continue to rise for her job and her life, Riley must outwit the killer in a trap that could leave yet another person dead...

An irresistible suspense novel that will keep readers turning pages until the stunning conclusion, Delivering Death brings the humor, intrigue, and twists and turns Julie Kramer’s fans have been waiting for.

About the Author

 Julie Kramer is a journalist turned novelist. She writes a series of thrillers set in the desperate world of TV news. Julie has won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Mainstream Mystery/Suspense, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best First Mystery as well as the Minnesota Book Award. Her work has also been nominated for the Anthony, Barry, Shamus, Mary Higgins Clark, and RT Best Amateur Sleuth Awards. She formerly ran WCCO-TV’s investigative unit before becoming a freelance network news producer for NBC and CBS. She lives with her family in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

My Review

 I do enjoy a good mystery and this series by Julie Kramer always delivers. The latest outing finds Minneapolis news reporter Riley Spartz on the hunt for a killer when she receives a package of human teeth in the mail. When wealthy Jack Clemens is murdered in prison his duplicity is revealed when authorities discover the dead man is not Jack. Could the teeth be related to Jack Clemens case? Is the man trying to buy the painting Riley bought at auction be the real Jack Clemens? There are lots of twists and turns in this entertaining mystery.

Another winner from Julie Kramer. It is available on January 7th.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review: Home to Seaview Key (A Seaview Key #2) by Sherryl Woods

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 544 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin MIRA (Jan. 28 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F12H244

Book Description

 New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods reveals that the most delightful surprises may await right in your own backyard!

Falling for a handsome stranger on the very morning they meet is hardly what recently divorced Abby Miller planned for her return to Seaview Key. Hoping to mend an old friendship and to give back to the community she loves, Abby's definitely not looking for love.

For ex-soldier Seth Landry, Seaview Key seems like the perfect place to heal a broken heart…eventually. And when he rescues a beautiful woman on the beach, his nightmares about the past are eclipsed by daydreams about the future.

Neither Abby nor Seth are looking for forever, but powerful love has its own timetable. And taking a chance on the future will test their courage in ways neither of them could possibly have anticipated.

About the Author

 With two other careers to her credit before becoming a novelist and four states in which she's lived for extended periods of time, Sherryl Woods has collected friends and memories, along with way too much unnecessary junk.

"The friends are the only things I've brought with me through the years that really matter," she says. "I could probably live without one more chintz teacup, another tin-litho sandpail or another snowglobe, but I need those friends."

Author of more than 100 romance and mystery novels, Sherryl Woods grew up in Virginia. Over the years she had lived in Ohio and Florida, as well as California. Currently she divides her time between Key Biscayne, Florida and Colonial Beach, Virginia, the small, river-front town where she spent her childhood summers.

A graduate of Ohio State University School of Journalism, Sherryl spent more than ten years as a journalist, most of them as a television critic for newspapers in Ohio and Florida. For several years she also coordinated a motivational program for the more than 8,000 employees at the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

Her first book, RESTORING LOVE, was published in 1982 by Dell Candlelight Ecstasy under the pseudonym of Suzanne Sherrill. Her second book, SAND CASTLES, under the pseudonym of Alexandra Kirk, was published later that same year by Bantam. She began using her own name when she moved to the Second Chance at Love line at Berkley Publishing. In 1986, she began writing full-time and also began her long career at Silhouette Books with the Desire title NOT AT EIGHT, DARLING, set in the world of television which she covered for so many years.

In addition to her more than 75 romances for Silhouette Desire and Special Edition, she has written thirteen mysteries — nine in the Amanda Roberts series and four in the Molly DeWitt series.

When she's not writing or reading, Sherryl loves to garden, though she's not at her best on a riding lawn mower. She also loves tennis, theater, and ballet, even though her top spin has long since vanished, she's never set foot on a stage, and she's way too uncoordinated to dance. She also loves baseball and claims anyone who's ever seen Kevin Costner in "Bull Durham" can understand why.

My Review

 I always enjoy Sherryl Wood's romances. Her latest, Home to Seaview Key, is the second in the Seaview Key series which are set on a fictional island near Naples, Florida.

Home, because main character Abby is returning to her childhood home after a long absence. Her high school sweetheart is now married to her high school best friend which adds some stress to everyone's lives.

Abby is looking to develop land she owns on the key into an upscale housing development that has some of the locals up in arms. Then there is the handsome paramedic Seth who rescues her from the surf. Both Seth and Abby have plenty of baggage...can they make it work? You'll have to read it to find out.

Another winner from Sherryl Woods.