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Carla Loves To Read

Liar Liar (Nicole Graves Mysteries #3) by Nancy Boyarsky

Liar Liar (Nicole Graves Mysteries #3)4 Stars

Published September 25th 2018 by Light Messages Publishing

Liar Liar by Nancy Boyarsky, is the first book in the Nicole Graves Mystery series that I have read. I would probably recommend that readers start at the beginning of this series and I know that I will go back and read the first two. In this book, Nicole Graves finds herself in a predicament once again. She is continuing to get in hours working as a PI, when her co-worker calls out sick. Nicole is entrusted to look after a witness in the high-profile, Oceanside University rape trial. Wanting to do her job and see justice served, she takes on the assignment despite her newly-engaged fiance’s concerns for her safety and privacy. After spending time with the rape victim in close quarters, Nicole catches small things that lead her to believe the victim may not be as truthful as others think. Will this young football player have his future derailed by this young girl? Is he telling the truth? Who else is lying in this mess? When Nicole decides to do some investigating on her own, she puts her relationship on the line. How far will she go to find the truth?

I was not sure what to expect when I started this book, but it was an excellent mystery. I was fully invested in this story, having a hard time stopping it when I had things to do. I really like the character of Nicole. She is smart and persistent and I really like her desire to seek justice and the truth. While the subject matter of a rape trial can be off putting, this book has no graphic descriptions of the crime. This is not a cozy mystery, but it has the same clean feel to it. There is a gripping storyline that had me thinking of various scenarios and the twist near the end was a good one. The red herrings along the way were there, but not obvious until you looked back on the story. A great mystery story that I would recommend to any mystery lover. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Jane Oppenheimer was well done and I enjoyed listening to this one.

Continue reading “Liar Liar (Nicole Graves Mysteries #3) by Nancy Boyarsky”

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Death in D Minor (Gethsemane Brown Mysteries #2) by Alexia Gordon

Death in D Minor (Gethsemane Brown Mysteries, #2)4.5 Stars

Published July 11th 2017 by Henery Press

This is the second book in the Gethsemane Brown mystery series and is just as good as the first, although the plot is very different. There a a few things going on in this story, but Gethsemane is such a smart, intriguing and savvy character who stands up for herself and takes no guff from anyone, she is able to pull this story off without a hitch. Gethsemane is a conductor and violinist who is presently living in the Irish Countryside. She loves the cottage in where she lives, especially as it was the home of one of her musical heroes, and is determined to save it from the hotel developer working hard to buy it. She is also trying to conjure up the ghost who lived there, after he disappeared into the netherland at the end of the last book. Were that not enough, her museum curator brother-in-law is coming for a visit hoping to buy a unique and antique American cross-stitch sampler. On the sly, he is also assisting in the investigation of a ring dealing in fake and stolen antiques. Instead, he ends up accused of theft, and Gethsemane is accused of murder. Hoping for help from her favorite ghost, she accidentally calls up the spirit of an 18th-century sea captain who once knew the girl who stitched the famous sampler.

Even though I have only read two books by Alexia Gordon, I am impressed with her writing style and voice. I love that she introduces you to the story right from the start. There is no unnecessary information or dialogue to bog down the story. As I said above, the MC is a strong, prickly character who is not warm and fuzzy but independent and can make others uncomfortable. My big disappointment in this book was that the ghost of Eamon was not present for most of the story. I enjoyed the banter these characters had in the first book and I hope it returns in the next. Overall, this book had many things I love. A wonderful setting ie. Irish countryside, a ghostly sidekick even though it was not the same one as the debut in the series, Forgeries; this time it is textiles which I loved that it is explained that they are art, murders, yes there is more than one and a wonderful amateur sleuth. The story was exciting, humorous, and clever using the idea that Gethsemane can ‘summon’ up ghosts, even the wrong ghost, giving a paranormal twist. The plot is fast-paced and kept me interested and guessing throughout the book, I did not guess the culprit until the clues were unraveled and the answer is shared with the reader. I am looking forward to the next book in this series, Killing in C Sharp. I listened to the audiobook and was quite pleased with the narration. Helen Duff did a great job with the various character voices and I loved the Irish Accent. I definitely recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers who are looking for something a bit different.

Continue reading “Death in D Minor (Gethsemane Brown Mysteries #2) by Alexia Gordon”

Christmas at Lilac Cottage (White Cliff Bay #1) by Holly Martin

Christmas at Lilac Cottage (White Cliff Bay #1)5 Stars

Published September 25th 2015 by Bookouture

I love books by Holly Martin, and this one did not disappoint. Penny is a damaged woman, one who has been holed up for eight years in Lilac Cottage after a devastating experience. She is not looking for a man, she is looking for friends and is hoping that Henry and his wife Daisy will fit the bill. When Penny is your friend, she goes out of her way to help and care about you. When we first meet Henry, I thought he was a miserable, uptight snob, but when we got to know him, how wrong I was. Daisy, it turns out, it not his wife and that changes Penny’s hope for a friendly couple living in her annex. I do not want to give away anymore of the story, but suffice it to say that Henry and Penny will get their Happily Ever After. I loved the small town of White Cliff Bay. There were some great secondary characters who added so much to the story. As well, the festival and Christmas Spirit got me in the mood for Christmas, even though it is still two months away. I devoured Henry’s and Penny’s story in one day and am ready to continue the White Cliff Bay series with the next book, Snowflakes on Silver Cove. I can’t wait to read more by this wonderful and funny author. I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a feel good Christmas Romance.

Continue reading “Christmas at Lilac Cottage (White Cliff Bay #1) by Holly Martin”

The Christmas Prayer by Wanda E. Brunstetter

The Christmas Prayer3 Stars

Published September 1st 2018 by Shiloh Run Press

This historical romance novella, The Christmas Prayer by Wanda Brunstetter, had a good plot, but just didn’t hit the mark for me. I think the idea of this story was too big for this short novella. Cynthia Cooper and her mother were traveling west to California over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Cynthia is betrothed to Walter Prentice an older man who is a bit of a stick in the mud. She is traveling with Walter and her mother as well as a few other wagons. As the trip progresses, Cynthia realizes that she does not want to marry Walter and that he doesn’t measure up to the other two men in their wagon train. One of the men, is a widowed father with two delightful children, that cause a few problems on the journey, the other a prospector traveling with his sister. When the weather turns unexpectedly, they have to hole up in a cabin they found for the winter.

The portrayal of the characters was interesting, but at the end, I wanted to see more fleshing out. I realized they were more two-dimensional than I would have liked. Even though I liked the idea of Cynthia, it was hard to get too attached to the characters. The journey was interesting, but it seemed to reach a climax, then abruptly it ended. It was a very simple story with a message of praying for guidance and support as well as being true to yourself. The publisher, Shiloh Run Press, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

Continue reading “The Christmas Prayer by Wanda E. Brunstetter”

Twelve Slays of Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #1) by Jacqueline Frost

Twelve Slays of Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #1)4.5 Stars

Published October 10th 2017 by Crooked Lane Books

This is not only the first book in a new cozy mystery series by Jacqueline Frost. She did a wonderful job with the mystery as well as the magical and cozy setting of Mistletoe Maine. Holly White returns home to Mistletoe after her fiance breaks off their engagement for another woman. Holly is sure that the family business, Reindeer Games Christmas Tree Farm, will be just what she needs to heal her broken heart and put her life back together. It is almost Christmas, so keeping busy is also on Holly’s agenda. The Twelve Day of Reindeer Games at the farm, plus cookies and hot cocoa, are really packing in the tourists and locals. All is going well, until Margaret Fenwick. the head of the Historical Society, shows up with citations for Holly’s father for not adhering to the historical code of the town. When Holly finds Margaret beaten to death, her body gruesomely stuffed into the Reindeer Games sleigh display the owners and staff at the tree farm immediately become suspects. Holly’s father, Bud, was seen arguing with the annoying woman just before her death, making him look like a strong suspect. Holly knows her dad is not a killer, so in true cozy fashion, she is on the case to clear her father and find the murderer.

I love cozy mysteries as well as Christmas stories, so this combination was a winner for me. The background theme of a Christmas tree farm and all the holiday events really added to the plot of the book. The mystery was well paced with several suspects and some red herrings. I really enjoyed Holly as the protagonist. She is dealing with personal issues, but puts that aside to help her family. She is smart and intuitive, as well as having a sense of humor and being a bit sassy. She did get herself into trouble a couple of times due to her sleuthing, but luckily for her, the new sheriff in town was there to make sure she was okay. The secondary characters were all well-written and added to the story and atmosphere. It looks like there will be some romance in the upcoming books in this series, and I am looking forward to seeing where that goes. I like that Holly designs jewellery and will be able to stay for awhile in Mistletoe using her artistic business as an income to see if she can make a living at it. A fun story and especially a fun Christmas Caper. 4.5 Stars, rounded up to 5. Continue reading “Twelve Slays of Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #1) by Jacqueline Frost”

Lone Star Christmas (Coldwater Texas #1) by Delores Fossen

Lone Star Christmas4 Stars

Published September 25th 2018 by Hqn

Lone Star Christmas is the first in a new series set in the small town of Coldwater, Texas. Callen , Laramie hightailed it out of Coldwater when he was 18, never planning to return. When he receives an invitation to the wedding of Buck, his foster father and his longtime girlfriend Rosy, Callen declines. When he gets a call from Shelby, Jake’s daughter, he decides to head to Coldwater to find out what is going on. Shelby tells him Jake needs him. He is worried about seeing Shelby again, as he was in love with her all those years ago, and does not know how he will feel seeing her again. This is Callen’s and Shelby’s story. They must deal with some feelings that resurface, other family members, Buck’s secret, the wedding and someone who tries to stir up trouble. Will they be able to find their way to each other? Will Callen decide to stay in Coldwater? Only time will tell.

I really enjoyed this romance, even though the sex scenes were a bit more descriptive than I am comfortable with. It was funny and emotional all at the same time, with a certain cuteness as well. I loved the characters, the small town, the gossiping townsfolk, and the laugh out loud moments. I still can’t picture those beautiful red dresses with the added embellishments from Rosy on the QT. That wedding would have been a sight to see in real life. Callen and Shelby were great together. I was rooting for Callen to find some healing from his past and see that coming home would help him. He and his brothers went through some terrible situations. It was great to see, that even when angry that Callen took off never to look back, the brothers were there for one another when push came to shove. I can’t wait to see the other three brothers find their perfect mate and Happily Ever Afters. If you enjoy a great romance with a bit of physical loving thrown in, family dynamics and an unselfish man who gave a home to many foster children, then you will love this story. I will certainly watch for more in this series. The publisher, HARLEQUIN, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

Continue reading “Lone Star Christmas (Coldwater Texas #1) by Delores Fossen”

A Simple Christmas (Simple Gifts #3) by Charlotte Hubbard

A Simple Christmas (Simple Gifts #3)5 Stars

Published September 25th 2018 by Zebra (Kensington)

A Simple Christmas by Charlotte Hubbard is the third book in the Simple Gifts series. This is the first one I read and had no trouble loving this story without reading the first two. Nora Hooley’s shop, Simple Gifts, is full of beautiful handcrafted Amish items including wreaths made by Rosalyn Riehl. Rosalyn works in the shop part-time, happy to escape from her miserable father. Rosalyn is the last unmarried daughter of clockmaker, Cornelius Riehl. There is suddenly a problem with money in the house, past due notices, bills not being paid and no money for groceries. Cornelius has been having problems since the death of his wife and he expects Rosalyn to take care of him. When Marcus Hooley, a horse trainer, shows up at the shop when he arrives in town, Rosalyn has feelings for this rude and handsome young man. He has been hired to work for Wyatt McKenzie. He was recommend by his cousins, but Marcus’ wild ways have gotten him fired from his last three jobs. He is hoping he will get a chance to show what he can do, but does not want to get too involved in the Plain life. Wyatt hires Marcus with certain conditions. This is Marcus’ last chance and he knows it. As he makes himself comfortable in Willow Ridge, Marcus becomes attracted to Rosalyn. There are secrets being kept about something her father has done and is supposed to confess, but his confession does not happen. He becomes more abusive to Rosalyn and is not happy when he realizes there is an attraction between Marcus and his daughter. Marcus has questions about what Cornelius is doing, and he wants to find out so he can share it with Rosalyn.

A Simple Christmas is a lovely, heartwarming Christmas and Amish story. It is an engaging novel that captured my attention from the start. It was well paced and I read it in one day. There are several twists involving Cornelius and I was eager to find out what secrets he has been keeping. I did not like Cornelius and I could not even pity him once his secrets finally came out. Rosalyn is a caring woman with a good heart, who finds it difficult to not be the dutiful daughter she has been taught to be all her life. Marcus was a wonderful character and it was great to see his growth as the story evolved. I enjoyed the setting of Willow Creek. The Amish businesses, the tourists, family and friends all make it seem like a great place to live, Amish and Englisch. One of the main Christian themes of putting our worries in God’s hands and trusting Him to handle it, is central to the story. I enjoyed A Simple Christmas and will definitely go back and read the first two in this series. The publisher, Kensington Books, generously provided me with a copy of this book. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

Continue reading “A Simple Christmas (Simple Gifts #3) by Charlotte Hubbard”

Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover’s Mystery #1) by Jenn McKinlay

Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover's Mystery, #1)4 Stars

Published July 5th 2011 by Berkley Books

This is a series that I have wanted to read for awhile. After all the comments about how good this series is, and having read and enjoyed many other books by Jenn McKinlay, I decided I needed to give it a try. I did enjoy this story, but not as much as I had anticipated.

Lindsey Norris has been hires as the director of the Briar Creek Library in Briar Creek CT. Her best friend Beth works with her as the children’s librarian. There are several other employees, but I must mentions Ms. Cole, who is called “The Lemon” behind her back. Lindsey is settling in well, making some long overdue changes to the library and getting the Library Board’s vote of confidence. All seems well, until Beth and her boyfriend of five years, Rick break up. When Beth finds out that the children’s book she has been writing has been plagarized, she is ready to go and give Rick a piece of her mind. When Lindsey, Beth and Captain Sulley show up on the private island, they find Rick in no condition to listen to anything Beth has to say. With the breakup and plagarism, Beth becomes the main suspect, in fact, the only suspect as far as the sheriff is concerned.

This was a great cast of characters, including several townspeople, the library workers and the ladies who participate in “Crafternoon” that made the story interesting. The small town feel with the gossip mill that I love in cozies, was in full swing. Milton, the 80 something year old yoga expert was such a nice guy! He was the chair of the library board and when things got a bit sticky, I loved how he stood up for his staff. There is a rather nosy reporter who I would have liked to kick out of town, but again, it made the book interesting. There were not a lot of clues, so it is the questioning and nosiness that eventually reveal the culprit. I had a suspicion of who the killer was, and I was correct, but there was quite a twist at the end of the story that I was not expecting. A good cozy story that is a good introduction to this series and to Briar Creek. I am definitely going to read more in this series.

Continue reading “Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover’s Mystery #1) by Jenn McKinlay”

Bells, Spells, and Murders (Witch City Mystery #7) by Carol J. Perry

Bells, Spells, and Murders (Witch City Mystery #7)4 Stars

Published September 25th 2018 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

Bells, Spells and Murders by Carol J. Perry is the seventh book in A Witch City Mystery series and was as good as the rest in this series. There is no sign that this series is running its course. Chang is good in life as well as in books, so in this outing, Lee Barrett is starting her new job as field reporter for WICH-TV. Lee is assigned to interview Albert Eldridge, the organizer of the Holiday Walk and financial supporter of a number of charities in Salem, Mass. When she arrives for her interview, she ends up with a different story, as she finds Mr. Eldridge dead in his office from blunt force trauma. Detective Pete Mondello, Lee’s boyfriend, is assigned the case. Lee begins an investigation of her own, gathering clues and questioning those close to Albert. She is busy with her snooping, assignments for work and getting her home ready for Christmas. Luckily for Lee, with the aid of her visions, and O’Ryan her cat, she hopes to wrap up the case before sleigh bells ring out on Christmas Eve.

Christmas in Salem was brought alive in this book. Cold weather, shopping, baking, tree decorating, a Christmas play, many Santa’s ringing bells for donations, and the generosity of people around Christmas all add to the setting and ambiance of the story. The mystery was interesting with several suspects, a red herring or two and pointed clues. Even though Pete continually asks Lee to stay out of the investigation, she does not stop, even if it means she puts herself in danger. The characters are the strength of the series. Lee is smart and independent. She lives on the third floor of her Aunt Ibby’s house in her own apartment. She has O’Ryan, a cat, who is a real character in the stories, who just happens to have been a witch’s familiar before she died. Aunt Ibby, who is sixty something, is a vibrant caring character. She is a retires librarian and does research for Lee. She is also a wonderful cook and they share many tasty meals together. I like that the authors portrays her as a vibrant personalty and there is also a bit of a love triangle for her in this book. There are several characters in this book that have not been in the others, but they all help to flesh out this book. There is a little paranormal in the book as Lee can see images in reflective images (she is a scryer). She doesn’t really embrace this and seems to be apprehensive at what she will see. This is one of the ways she gathers information, but it is not overdone. I was not able to figure out the culprit until just before the clues gave it away, which I always enjoy. I will continue to look for more books in this series, as I continue to enjoy them. The publisher, Kensington Publishing, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

Continue reading “Bells, Spells, and Murders (Witch City Mystery #7) by Carol J. Perry”

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