Tuesday TwoFer: MURDER BY PAGE ONE

I’m a sucker for a good, old-fashioned murder mystery. Add in books and literary references and it’s even better!

Marvella Harris, or Marvey, has recently moved to Peach Coast, Georgia from New York City, to take a job at the local library, working to increase community outreach and services. She’s made some friends and enjoys her job. She’s at her friend Jolene’s bookstore for an author signing when she and Jo and another friend discover one of the author’s has been murdered. The local sheriff deputies seem convinced of Jo’s guilt, so Marvey jumps in to prove there are other equally viable suspects.

This has plenty of colorful Southern characters and small town vibes. I liked the way Marvey dropped in mentions of other books, and her jewelry making hobby. She also has a cat, who doesn’t seem to enjoy their new home.

The murderer is nicely revealed with enough clues and red herrings so the reader doesn’t feel cheated.

Overall, I enjoyed this and recommend it. I’d gladly read the next in the series.

——

I received an advance copy of MURDER BY PAGE ONE from Hallmark Publishing, but it did not induce me to review it, favorably or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES

It’s finally here! I’ve been waiting for this book for awhile. I snagged an advance copy through NetGalley and now my own pre-ordered copy is here. I’m one happy reader.

If you love historical fiction, dual timelines, stories with a twist, strong female protagonists, and great writing, the you’ll love WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES.

Speakeasies, bootleg hooch, and mobsters. 1925 Chicago had it all. Honoree Dalcour was a dancer at the Dreamland Cafe, and rubbed elbows with Louis Armstrong, his wife Lil Hardin, and Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. Sawyer Hayes is hoping to interview her in 2015. Through a series of encounters, we learn the secrets each are keeping and how Honoree’s will impact Sawyer.

Bryce writes with an authentic voice, befitting the Jazz Age. She knows what she’s doing and it shows. I loved the characters, the story, the setting, everything.

I highly recommend this one!


I received a free advance copy through NetGalley but was not influenced to review it favorably.

Book Talk Tuesday: CAN’T BUY ME LOVE

Welcome back to Deep Haven! I’m so happy to be here again!

CAN’T BUY ME LOVE is the second entry in the Deep Haven Collection from Sunrise Publishing. I reviewed the first book, STILL THE ONE, in January, and have been waiting not-so-patiently for CAN’T BUY ME LOVE. It will be released March 16, but lucky me, I got an advance copy!

CAN’T BUY ME LOVE is an updated fairy tale, a Cinderella retelling, set in Deep Haven, on the shores of Lake Superior, in northern Minnesota.

Ella Bradley moved to Deep Haven looking for a fresh start. She’s a housecleaner, soap maker, small business owner, and budding entrepreneur. She just needs to get her foot in the door with the Vassos hotel chain to make her pitch. She doesn’t expect to meet the playboy son of the founder. And he doesn’t mean to lie about who he is. Not exactly.

I loved it and highly recommend it!

CAN’T BUY ME LOVE has everything I love about the Deep Haven series. A town that treats everyone like family. (Well, except for Ella’s landlord, that is.) A gentle romance that grows organically. Chocolate chip cookies. A spiritual growth arc.

The only sad thing now is waiting for book 3, CRAZY FOR YOU, out in May.


I received a free copy of CAN’T BUY ME LOVE from the publisher. This did not induce me to review the book, favorably or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: RESCUING HARMONY RANCH

This was a fun book from Hallmark Publishing and included the elements I’ve come to expect in a Hallmark book: a spunky heroine, a hunky hero, a good reason to keep them apart, but a fun time watching them fall in love and figure out a way to be together anyway.

Jocelyn and Mack were childhood sweethearts in Colorado, until her mother moved her to New York City. Their love story ended, although neither forgot the other. It’s been a decade, and when Jocelyn’s grandmother needs her help, Jocelyn drops everything to fly back to the ranch. After finding out the ranch is in trouble, Joss and Mack are forced to work together to save it. And they find out they still have feelings for each other. But how can they make a relationship work when her life is in New York and his in Colorado?

I enjoyed this entry in the Country and Cowboys series from Hallmark Publishing. I’ve read at least one other in the series, too. This was well written, and Jocelyn and Mack are both strong characters. There’s one cliched plot element I saw from the beginning and wished hadn’t been used, but I guess the author and her brainstorming team couldn’t find a way to keep the couple apart without using it.

Overall, I liked this one a lot and I recommend it!


I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher, but it did not induce me to review it, favorably or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: THE VINEYARD AT PAINTED MOON

I love Susan Mallery’s romance fiction, but I really, really love her women’s fiction. THE VINEYARD AT PAINTED MOON is her latest release and it’s wonderful. It’s full of all the things I love about Mallery’s books: warmth, family, friendship, love, and humor. And as the title implies, this one includes wine!

I read it an about a day and a half, I enjoyed it so much.

Mackenzie is a gifted winemaker, so it’s a good thing she married into a family with a winery and vineyards. The only thing she’s ever wanted is to belong to this family she loves so much. So it nearly breaks her heart when she and her husband realize their marriage is over. Mackenzie has to decide if that means she needs to also leave her job and home. Her sister-in-law is her best friend. Her mother-in-law employs her. Just how much is she willing to lose, along with her marriage?

This is set in Eastern Washington, a land growing in popularity for wine grape growing. A character from Mallery’s SISTERS BY CHOICE makes an appearance early in the story, and returns later on.

I enjoyed this one a lot. The characters feel like women I’d be friends with. Except for one who is truly evil, but I won’t spoil the story.

I highly recommend THE VINEYARD AT PAINTED MOON, and I suggest reading it with a glass of Syrah.


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but it did not induce me to review it, favorably or not. That was my choice.

Book Talk Tuesday: STILL THE ONE

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of this book and I’m so happy I did!
I love Susan May Warren’s Deep Haven novels and this was the perfect return to the Minnesota town. Megan Carter, single mom and wedding planner, is saving every penny to buy a venue for her business. Cole Barrett, former Army Ranger is returning to town long enough to sell his grandfather’s house and tie up the loose ends of his life. Unfortunately, his grandfather’s garage apartment has tenant who refuses to budge.
Megan and Cole were childhood friends until Cole moved away. Now adults and forced to work together, memories and sparks fly.
Rachel D. Russell nailed the essence of the Deep Haven books: the charm, the characters, and the caring they show for each other.
I loved this book and highly recommend it and can’t wait for my chance to visit Deep Haven again!

Book Talk on a Monday: STELLA

I absolutely adored this book! Told from the point of view of a beagle, it is full of heart and love for our canine friends.
Stella was a service dog trained to sniff explosives. She lost her handler when a bomb went off at the airport and now suffers from PTSD. She’s been given several chances to be rehomed, but none of them worked out. Until she met Cloe. Cloe turns out to be just who Stella needs. And Stella is just the dog Cloe needs. Cloe has epilepsy and Stella smells the changes in Cloe’s body before she has a seizure. She just has to convince Cloe’s mother what her keen nose is detecting.
I’ll be buying copies of this for my middle-grade granddaughters. They love dogs and reading and this is the perfect book for them.

Stella, by McCall Hoyle

I received a free advanced copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley. This did not induce me to review the book, favorably or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: HAPPILY THIS CHRISTMAS

If it’s Tuesday, this must be a book review. It’s been a while since I posted a book review. Not because I haven’t been reading, but after reading quite a few books for review, I took a break and read for myself. I did read some great books that I will review in the next few weeks, but I’m starting with a Christmas book. Of course. Since it’s officially Fall, there are only twelve weekends between now and Christmas. That’s twelve chances to curl up with some hot chocolate, or a latte, or tea, and this endearing book.

Susan Mallery takes us back to Happily Inc, the wedding destination town in the California desert. This is Wynn’s story. We’ve met Wynn in the other Happily Inc stories. She runs the graphic design and printing shop and she’s a single mom of a young teenage boy.

Wynn has kept her heart to herself and refused to consider a long-term relationship. Until the good-looking police officer, Garrick, moves in next door. They wave greetings occasionally and she watches him mow his lawn, but that’s it. Until he asks her to help him get his home ready for his adult daughter, Joylyn, to come stay. She’s pregnant and her husband is deployed. They’ve been estranged for several years and he has no idea why or what happened. He’s hoping this means they can heal the past and restore the loving relationship they used to have.

Of course, it’s not that easy.

I really enjoyed this one a lot. Of course, we all know I’m a huge Susan Mallery fan. And a huge fan of Christmas stories with Happily Ever After endings.

Wynn and Garrick had believable chemistry and they were cognizant that they both had their children living with them, so they didn’t tumble into bed at the first spark, disregarding that fact. Joylyn was a pill at first, but she softened and became likable. Some of our previous Happily Inc protagonists had cameos and walk-on parts, so we got to catch up with Renee and Jasper, Bethany and Cade, Carol and Matthias, and the others.

This was a fun addition to the Happily Inc library and I highly recommend it!


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but it did not induce me to review it, either favorably or not.

Book Talk: DEAD-END DETECTIVE

Dead-End Detective is another Hallmark Publishing cozy mystery. I enjoyed this one more than the previous one I reviewed. The story and the writing are both better.

Darby Piper is partner in a detective agency in a small town in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. She’s shocked when her partner is killed and even more shocked when she discovers she’s a suspect. Her car was the murder weapon. The evidence piles up and Darby has to admit it looks bad for her.

Her partner’s nephew (and heir–another shock) shows up. They join forces to find the real killer.

The story and clues are well told. The characters are finely drawn. There are enough suspects to be credible. Overall, I liked this one and would read another Piper & Porter Mystery from Hallmark Publishing.


I received a free advance electronic copy of this book from Hallmark publishing, but that did not induce me to review it, favorably or not.

Book Talk on a Thursday: Behind the Frame

I’ve reviewed several Hallmark romance books, but this is my first mystery.
Savannah Shepherd left her art curator job in Chicago to return home and teach art in the village of Carson. She has a developing romance with a local doctor and she’s planning a big art festival. She gets drawn into solving a murder when a town councilman is killed and a chef is arrested. Savannah and her two sisters work together to clear the innocent chef.
This is a typical small town, amateur sleuth, cozy mystery. The fact that all three sisters’ names begin with the same letter made it a bit confusing until they could be sorted out. They are different characters though, with different jobs and lives and traits, so that helped.
The mystery was good, with enough red herrings mixed with the clues to be suspenseful. The murderer was unmasked and caught “off stage,” which is an odd choice. I prefer to see the bad guy get caught myself. I enjoyed the small town setting and the characters. The mystery wasn’t particularly compelling, and the writing is okay. This is the second book in a series, but reads fine as a stand alone.

I was given a free advance copy of the book from Hallmark Publishing, but that did not induce me to review the book, favorably or not.