Thursday, May 31, 2012

Corpse in the Crystal Ball

Book Description: After clearing her name as the prime suspect in a murder, Sunny Meadows hopes she can finally enjoy some serenity in the idyllic town of Divinity in upstate New York. She’d also like a second chance with Detective Mitch Stone. But when Mitch’s gorgeous ex-girlfriend Isabel Gonzales shows up, Sunny’s not sure she can compete. Then Isabel mysteriously disappears.
When the police turn to Sunny for help, her visions lead to the discovery of Isabel’s corpse in the woods. Before she died, Isabel scrawled a message in the dirt implicating Mitch in her murder. Now Sunny must help the man she’s falling in love with as she sets out to find the real killer. But this time Sunny’s clairvoyant abilities might not save her—as what she doesn’t see can hurt her…

My Review: Can I adopt Granny Gert? Riding along on her driving lessons had me in stitches! And I loved her interactions with Morty (bow ties, night nights, and herbal have to read the book to find out how cute they are together!) I'm so happy she's decided to stay in Divinity - she is one of the best new characters in mystery fiction.

This mystery is light and breezy - the perfect summer read. Halfway through I was suspicious of one character, and I was proven right, although the motive pleasantly took me by surprise, and I liked how Mitch's sad past was tied up, hopefully paving the path to a future with Sunny. Delightful!

Tara's Thoughts: Morty and I are both such lucky kitties. We both have grandmas that love us to pieces and take care of us when Mommy isn’t around. And hopefully Sunny learned her lesson – pay better attention to Morty! He was trying to alert her to some very important clues!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Welcome, Kari Lee Townsend!!!

I am so excited to have Kari Lee Townsend, author of the wonderful Fortune Teller Mystery series, guest blogging today!!! She will be giving one lucky commenter a paperback copy of the brand new Corpse in the Crystal Ball (which I have read, loved, and will be reviewing tomorrow!), as well as a signed bookmark and bookplate! A winner will be chosen on Monday, June 4.

A Mystery Writer Sees The World Differently Than Everyday People

I think writers see the world differently than everyday people, period. But when you break it down even further, you begin to realize the type of genre you write really affects how you see the world even more.

When I am writing one of my teen books, I completely put myself in “kid” mode. I have four children (3 boys and 1 girl) ranging in age from 9 to 17. I try to listen in on the conversations they have with their friends. You’d be amazed at what you pick up on. The way they speak, the way they act, the things they say, even the differences between boys and girls. It also helps to watch and listen to Disney TV shows as well as movies.

When I am writing one of my romance books, I tend to watch the way men and women interact with each other. Body language is a huge factor in this, as well as facial expressions and dialogue. Romantic movies as well as reality TV shows really shed some light on what we do and say to attract the opposite sex.

When I am writing one of my mystery books, I tend to watch everyone. I really try to study human beings in general. What they do and say and how they act. If someone looks suspicious, I wonder why? What might he or she have done or what might they be planning to do? How would they get away with it? What in their background might have driven them to it?

I love writing all sorts of genres, but I do find that when I’m in mystery mode, the possibilities seem endless. I’m always looking for some really cool twist or turn to add to my books. I love when I can surprise my readers with something they didn’t see coming. Not an easy task to do because the mystery reader is savvy. So tell me, what do you look for when reading a mystery novel? Inquiring minds want to know.

National Bestselling Author, RT Reader’s Choice Award & Agatha Nominee Kari Lee Townsend lives in Central New York with her very understanding husband, her three busy boys, and her oh-so-dramatic daughter, who keep her grounded and make everything she does worthwhile…not to mention provide her with loads of material for her books. Kari is a longtime lover of reading and writing, with a masters in English education, who spends her days trying to figure out whodunit. Funny how no one at home will confess any more than the characters in her mysteries!

                Kari writes fun and exciting stories for any age, set in small towns, with mystical elements and quirky characters as Kari Lee Townsend. Kari also writes romantic comedies and women’s fiction with the same sense of humor and quirky characters as Kari Lee Harmon.

                To find out more about Kari and all her books go to  or click on the links below:

 Kari Lee Townsend (Website & Newsletter & Facebook & Twitter)
National Bestselling Author of The Fortune Teller Mysteries
Best Amateur Sleuth of 2011 RT Reviewers' Choice Nominee
Best First Novel Agatha Award Nominee
CORPSE IN THE CRYSTAL BALL - June 2012 (preorder now)
DESTINY WEARS SPURS (by Kari Lee Harmon) (Kindle & Nook)
PROJECT PRODUCE (by Kari Lee Harmon) (Kindle & Nook)

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Dead Season

Book Description: January is known as the dead season in the small Smoky mountain community of Hanover County, North Carolina. For dog trainer and wilderness expert Raine Stockton, who hasn't had a client in six months, this season has been deader than most. When the New Day Wilderness Program for Troubled Teens offers her a job leading a group of students on a winter camping expedition as part of their rehabilitation program, Raine jumps at the chance-- particularly since it means she will be able to take her golden retriever, Cisco, with her.

But something is not right at New Day, and Raine and Cisco soon find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, suspicion and sabotage. As the group moves deeper into the wilderness beneath steadily worsening weather, Raine begins to fear she and Cisco may soon find themselves trapped on the mountainside... with a killer.

My Review: When I was offered a review copy of this book, I was so excited to read it that I downloaded the first 3 sample chapters from Amazon while eagerly awaiting the rest of the book to arrive in my inbox. That's how much I love this series. This book is absolutely gripping...full of suspense and adventure, and very different from a regular cozy as is tackles tough subject matter and leaves unanswered questions in the end about what really happened. Even in the dead of summer you will be chilled by everything Raine and Cisco go through. I love how even though the main action of the book is in the NC woods, we still get to spend time with the special people in Raine's life...Miles and Melanie, Sonny and Maude, and Uncle Roe. In the beginning of the book I felt the same way Raine did about the teenagers that were forced upon her, but I grew to love how they grew into young adults under her influence and by necessity. And Paul and Rachel are about the creepiest couple I've ever come across in a mystery! Best book yet in one of the best mystery series out there, that thankfully has found new life due to ebooks.

Tara's Thoughts: Yeah, yeah...hero dogs. Heard all about it. If dogs were smart like cats and never left the house they wouldn't find themselves in these situations.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blueberry Blues

Book Description: When innkeeper Natalie Barnes volunteers to host the Cranberry Island Clambake at the Gray Whale Inn, she's looking forward to good food, good friends -- and maybe even a bit of good press. The day is perfect and the event as smooth as Natalie's crème anglaise -- until a mysterious illness grips several islanders, and the police finger the inn's blueberry pies as the culprit. Will Natalie sniff out the source of the poisoned pies before she -- and the Gray Whale Inn -- end up in hot water? 

My Review: Sometimes it can be hard to really get into a short story; that is certainly not the case here. It's been awhile since I've had the pleasure of reading a new Gray Whale Inn book, and this sweet little tale drew me right back to beautiful Cranberry Island. I wished I was at Natalie's clambake, feeling the ocean breeze and tasting her yummy baked goods. This is a perfect appetizer for anyone who has yet to try this delicious series.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Perfectly Matched

Book Description: The heat is on...When Boston psychic Lucy Valentine finds herself involved with a group of eccentric mediums trying to fine tune their abilities, she is convinced a rare spring heat wave has flushed all the local crazies out of hiding. Adding to her theory is her newest client in the Lost Loves division of Valentine, Inc., her family’s lucrative matchmaking firm. He’s an animal whisperer who hires Lucy to locate his soul mate—because his cat told him so. Finding his purrfect match, however, isn't as easy as it seems. But craziest of all is the Beantown Burner, a serial arsonist who is targeting private eye Sam Donahue, brother of Lucy’s boyfriend, Sean. With the help of her kooky psychic group, Lucy must tap into hidden abilities to catch the firebug before the fires turn deadly. She never expected to discover that the motive behind the flames hits a little too close to home...and dangerously close to her heart.

My Review: Another action filled adventure with the amazing Lucy Valentine!!! If you've never picked up a Heather Webber book (aka Heather Blake), what are you waiting for??? She is a master at weaving multiple plots into a story turning every one into the ultimate page-turner. I am thrilled Lucy's story is continuing as we catch up on the lives of the wacky Valentines; friends Em, Marisol and Preston and their relationships; Sean and Sam's pasts; and all the other wonderful characters central to Lucy's world, as well as the introduction of new ones, especially Dr Paul, Jeremy, and sweet little Ebbie. I loved the animal communicator angle, the revelation of Lucy's new powers, and the setup for the next book. Perfectly Matched is perfectly wonderful!

Tara's Thoughts: I feel bad for Grendel. He had his mom all to himself (except for the hamster), and now another cat and a dog has infringed on his territory. I wouldn't take that nearly as well as he is. Cuddling with them??? Blech!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cozy Pet of the Month: Tara

One of my all-time favorite blogs is featuring Tara today as their Cozy Pet of the Month. Please click on the link to read more about my little star :)

Cozy Pet of the Month

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Endless Heart

Book Description: Lettie Brown has lived in the shadow of violence. After escaping her brutal past, she’s finally at home in Forestville, Wyoming, where she would live a normal life—if she knew how. She’s content working at The Blue Plate and printing the town newspaper, if not happy. Then a stranger stumbles into her world and turns everything upside down. Shane Murphy is a shell of a man, destroyed by the aftermath of the war, his personal tragedies and a penchant for cheap whiskey. When he lands, literally, on Lettie’s feet, his future takes a hard right turn. As they fumble through a relationship that should not have been, a deep love takes root, one that cannot be denied. Together they discover a bond as unbreakable as steel and as undeniable as life itself—until the past rears its ugly head and threatens the happiness they’ve found in each other.

My Review: “I fell in love with you in my dreams” One of the most swoon-worthy lines I’ve ever read in a romance novel. This is the beautifully written story of two people – each broken by the private hells they’ve endured – who end up discovering during an ill fated supply trip a love so strong they’re willing to take a second chance on life. The first two books in this series are on my Kindle and I’m so excited that I get the chance to spend more time in Forestville. (I received an ARC of this book.)

Tara’s Thoughts: Mommy said this was an adult book, not appropriate for me. (Apparently she’s in denial that I probably had several litters of kittens during my years on the streets.) She also said there’s a really heartbreaking horse scene that I didn’t need to know about.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Big Kitty

Book Description: Did curiosity kill the cat lady? Sunny Coolidge left her New York City newspaper job to go back to Maine and take care of her ailing father. But there’s not much excitement—or interesting work—in Kittery Harbor. So when Ada Spruance, the town’s elderly cat lady, asks for help finding her supposedly-winning lottery ticket, Sunny agrees. But when she arrives at Ada’s, with a stray tomcat named Shadow tagging along, they discover the poor woman dead at the bottom of her stairs. Was it an accident—or did Ada’s death have to do with that missing lottery ticket, which turns out to be worth six million dollars? Town Constable Will Price suspects the worst. And Sunny’s reporter instincts soon drive her to do some investigating of her own. Even Shadow seems to have a nose for detective work. Following the trail of the purrloined ticket, Sunny and Shadow try to shed some light on a killer’s dark motives—before their own numbers are up…

My Review: Another cozy series set in the beautiful state of Maine has hit the shelves with the debut of Claire Donally's Sunny and Shadow mysteries. I love the irony of Sunny working for a tourism agency when it's obvious she will be getting involved in multiple murders through the course of the series! She is a great character, having returned home from the big city to care for her ailing father. Mike upset me a bit early on with the way he treated Shadow, but I think he's softening. And darling Shadow...I adored the diversions during the story where we got a glimpse into his thoughts. And the way he labeled people...Old One, Young One, Stinky One, Dead One...too cute. And so sad the way he would remember his time on the streets and getting kicked by men, making him wary of Sunny's dad. The mystery flows along seamlessly, and though we know the motives early on, the hunt for those involved and all the attempts on Sunny's life made for a real page turner. Here's hoping Sunny and Shadow team up for many adventures in the future!!!

Tara's Thoughts: Meow! I've been watching Mommy devour this book the last few nights and I have to say, that Shadow is one HUNK of a cat!!! He's so brave and streetwise yet turning into a total Mama's boy, which I find very sexy. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. me :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tara's Thoughts Debuts Tomorrow

Last night Tara came to me with a demand. She said that since I have her picture plastered all over my Facebook page and blog, she should be given equal time there as well.

So starting tomorrow she will be adding in her thoughts about some of the animal characters in the books I review. (I can't get her to stop swooning over Shadow in The Big Kitty!!!)

I may be turning her into more of a diva than she already is, but she threatened to bury my Kindle in her litter box, so what can I do???

Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Added to the TBR Mountain: Following Atticus

“In the mountains Atticus became more of what he’d always been, and I became less—less frantic, less stressed, less worried, and less harried. I felt comfortable letting him lead, and he seemed to know what I needed. He always chose the best route, if ever there was a question, and my only job was to follow.”

Middle-aged, overweight, and acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan and miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch are an unlikely pair of mountaineers, but after a close friend dies of cancer, the two pay tribute to her by attempting to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. In a rare test of endurance, Tom and Atticus set out on an adventure of a lifetime that takes them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. Little did they know that their most difficult test would lie ahead, after they returned home. . . .

At the heart of this remarkable journey is an extraordinary relationship that blurs the line between man and dog, an indelible bond that began when Tom, following the advice of Atticus’s breeder, carried the pup wherever he went for the first month of their life together. Following Atticusis ultimately a story of transformation: how a five-pound puppy pierced the heart of a tough-as-nails newspaperman, opening his eyes to the world’s beauty and its possibilities. It was a change that led to a new life among the mountains; an unforgettable saga of adventure, friendship, and the unlikeliest of family; and an inspiring tale of finding love and discovering your true self.
I haven't read this book yet, but I have heard many good things about it, and I follow Tom Ryan's Atticus blog. This week he adopted a second schnauzer, William, 15 years old, mostly deaf, mostly blind, who had been left at a kill shelter in New Jersey. I just read the blog post he wrote about how in spite of people telling him he was crazy, inviting heartache, he's taking this precious four-legged angel into his home to live out his days with love. I've taken older animals into my home. Sam was around 10 when I rescued him from a neglectful neighbor. We only had a few years together before I lost him to kidney disease. Sashi was 9 when I adopted her; we had 7 years together. Tara was approximately 7 when I adopted her 5 years ago.

It's not easy taking in an animal that you know you're not going to have as long with as you hope to. You lose your heart to them and then they break it. But older rescue animals know you have saved them, and they love you all the more for it. They have all been dealt a lousy hand and deserve a second chance. And all you can do is appreciate the time you do have together all the more. 

Please read William's story, and if you're in the market for a pet, consider a middle-aged or senior pet. You will never find a more loving and loyal friend.

A Knock on the Door

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Today's Kindle Daily Deal

Everyday Amazon features a Kindle Daily's I scooped up immediately and want to promote on my blog as well. The plight of the cats and dogs trapped in the Middle East war zones is something I have spent so much time thinking about; they are the innocent victims in all of this. I honor and commend our brave military men and women and the animal rescue volunteers for all they do to save as many as they can.

Unlike many animal books, No Buddy Left Behind is not only about rescuing strays but also about U.S. soldiers trying to survive the horrors of war and readjust to life back home.  Many troops serving in the Middle East share life-altering relationships with stray dogs and cats they save from the brutalities of life in Iraq and Afghanistan. Overcoming monumental obstacles, author Terri Crisp makes it her mission to get these soldiers’ “buddies” out of danger and bring them home to the people who love them.

So, how does someone get an animal out of a country where a dysfunctional infrastructure means that normal resources don’t exist, and every step of a plan to transport animals could get someone arrested, kidnapped, or blown apart? As Crisp soon discovers, each rescue mission, from start to finish, could easily be terminated at any point, and no animal is truly safe until its paws touch U.S. soil. Terri and her team of volunteers have saved the lives of 282 dogs and 58 cats befriended by military personnel since February 2008—and No Buddy Left Behind tells this incredible story.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What's New on Your Kindle Today?

This morning my Kindle has some unusual preordered books (for me) arriving: Amish fiction and a World War 1 historical mystery. Both are $1.99 special editions with bonus material:

Perry Borntrager had been missing for months from the quiet Amish community of Crittenden, Kentucky, when his body is discovered at the bottom of an abandoned well. The first death from mysterious circumstances in more than two decades brings the scrutiny of the outside world: A police detective arrives to help the local sheriff with the investigation. His questioning begins with Lydia Plank, Perry's former girlfriend, and Perry's best friend, the Englischer Walker Anderson.

When battlefield nurse Bess Crawford returns from France for a well-earned Christmas leave, she finds a bruised and shivering woman huddled in the doorway of her London residence. The woman has nowhere to turn, and propelled by a firm sense of duty, Bess takes her in.

Once inside Bess's flat, the woman reveals that a quarrel with her husband erupted into violence, yet she wants to return home—if Bess will go with her to Sussex. Realizing that the woman is suffering from a concussion, Bess gives up a few precious days of leave to travel with her. But she soon discovers that this is a good deed with unforeseeable consequences.

What Bess finds at Vixen Hill is a house of mourning. The woman's family has gathered for a memorial service for the elder son, who died of war wounds. Her husband, home on compassionate leave, is tense, tormented by jealousy and his own guilty conscience.

Then, when a troubled houseguest is found dead, Bess herself becomes a prime suspect in the case. This murder will lead her to a dangerous quest in war-torn France, an unexpected ally, and a startling revelation that puts her in jeopardy before a vicious killer can be exposed.

Have you downloaded anything lately that's out of the norm from your usual book purchases?

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Gambler

The Gambler - Willow Creek, Book 3
Emmaline Hunt only had one thing she could call her own. A piece of land that held a secret not even her drunken stepfather knew about. When he gambles it away in a high stakes poker game, Emmaline does the only thing she can. She tries to steal the land deed back.

Tristan Avery has seen his share of bloodshed while sitting at a gaming table and knows its time to lay low when he wins a wad of cash and a piece of land. Especially after his opponent ends up dead at his feet. High tailing it out of town is his only option but things take a drastic turn when he finds a woman in his hotel room trying to rob him blind.

The botched robbery attempt is only the start of his troubles when Tristan finds his new land occupied by the same girl who tried to rob him. When he realizes he’s left her homeless, and killed her stepfather, his conscience forces him to do the right thing. Taking her to his hometown and setting her up with a new life will make up for all he’s taken from her.

But Emmaline has other plans. She wants her land, and Tristan’s money, and she’ll do whatever it takes to get them. All she has to do is convince him she’s there to stay, outwit him, find a way back home and not let a single soul know she has a gold mine bursting at the seems with untapped wealth.


Hard to believe with all the westerns I read I've never read one where the main character is a gambler. It's not an Old West topic I'm interested in, so I wondered if I'd enjoy this story.

Turns out this is my favorite Lily Graison Willow Creek novel yet. Tristan is a dream - the quintessential gambler with a heart of gold. Emmaline is all alone in this world - it's hard to imagine the decisions women were forced to make in those days. She's tough yet fragile - and completely defenseless to Tristan's charms.

Favorite scenes - Emmaline getting so drunk in the saloon that she gets sick on the stagecoach the next day; her budding friendships with Abigail and Sarah and the updates on their families; her wagon accident in the midst of a blizzard.

This series has just gotten better with each entry. Each story stands on it's own, but it's been so much fun to read each one as it's come out and follow Willow Creek's residents' lives as they've progressed.

I received an ARC of this book. It did not influence my review as I've loved each book more than the last.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Triple Crown Mania

I'm not so much a fan of horse racing as I am swept up in the mystique of the Triple Crown. The last time it happened was in the spring of 1978, and I was less than a year old, so seeing a horse achieve such a spectacular feat is the #1 sports story I want to see in my life (besides seeing Kevin Harvick win a Sprint Cup Championship!!!)

I've religiously watched the Triple Crown races since the late '80s, and have seen some special horses come sooo close...Alysheba, War Emblem, Big Brown, Charismatic, Sunday Silence. I've also suffered through the tragedies of Barbaro and Eight Belles, which almost made me give up horse racing altogether, as Ruffian's tragic breakdown made my mother stop watching in the '70s. It's for this reason I only watch the 3 races per year...I am so terrified for the horses during each race I'm practically shaking until it's over.

I have a fairly large collection of biographies of famous horses, my favorite being Ruffian: A Racetrack Romance by William Nack. This book made me feel like I was at the racetrace in the '70s, the heyday of horse racing.

I also love books on the history of the Triple Crown. Last weekend I picked up an incredible book on the history of the Kentucky Derby at Big Lots that was $50 marked down to $10.  It is more then just a book. There are many reproduction items tucked in pockets on nearly every page, from postcards to tickets and race forms from the time era which the section is depicting.

So on Saturday I'll be watching the Kentucky Derby, hoping to see one special horse emerge as a Triple Crown contender...but more than anything praying that every horse finishes the race safely.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Deadly Grind

When vintage cookware and cookbook collector Jaymie Leighton spies an original 1920s Hoosier brand kitchen cabinet at an estate auction, it's love at first sight. Despite the protests of her sister, Rebecca, that the 19th-century yellow brick house they co-own in Michigan is already too cluttered with Jaymie's 'junk', she successfully outbids the other buyers and triumphantly takes home herHoosier.

But that night on the summer porch where they've left the Hoosier until it's cleaned up, a man is murdered, struck on the head with the steel meat grinder that is a part of the cabinet. Who is this stranger, and what was he doing on their porch? Does his death have anything to do with the Hoosier?

As the police struggle to determine the man's identity, Jaymie does a little digging on her own, accompanied by her three-legged Yorkie-Poo, Hoppy. But in her bid to uncover the truth about the hidden secrets of the Hoosier, Jaymie may be the one who ends up going, going... gone!

I've found a new favorite cozy character...Jaymie Leighton. She is so refreshing, and I see so much of myself in old-fashioned girl living in a modern world, happy to be a homebody and live her own life. I loved the scenes where big sister Becca teases Jaymie about her overstuffed kitchen, yet she's still buying more. (I didn't know anything about Hoosiers but can now see myself wanting to own one! The history of vintage cookware and recipes is fascinating; a part of our heritage that should not be forgotten. Just because everything is modern and technological today doesn't make it better.) And I love how Jaymie is an aspiring cookbook writer, and hope to read more about her fledgling career. And I don't even need to say how much I love Hoppy the feisty Yorkie-Poo and grumpy little Denver!

I really enjoyed the historical significance of Jaymie's hometown of Queensville, nestled on the US-Canada border, and the "Tea with the Queen" event. I hope further books in the series feature more of the town's festivals, especially Dickens' Days at Christmas!

So as I obviously adore the characters and setting of the book, I also loved the mystery, and was truly stumped. There are so many shady characters roaming around Queensville, all double-crossing each other, that when the true killer is finally revealed it is a surprise indeed.

I can't wait for the next book in this series...this is without question one of my favorite "first in a series" ever!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First Tuesday-May 2012

It's the merry month of May for us book lovers...I can't tell you how excited I am for this month's new cozy releases:

In case you missed them, a couple from last week:
*Rest in Pizza-Chris Cavender
*Drop Dead Chocolate-Jessica Beck

And for the week of May 1:
*Copycat Killing-Sofie Kelly
*A Deadly Grind-Victoria Hamilton
*Brownies and Broomsticks-Bailey Cates
*Big Kitty-Claire Donally
*All Sales Fatal-Laura DiSilverio
*Wild Wood Enquiry-Ann Purser
*Mrs Jeffries Defends Her Own-Emily Brightwell
*Anatomy of Death-Felicity Young

A women's fiction novel I'm excited about:
*Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service-Beth Kendrick

And last but certainly not least...a new historical western romance, first in a series,  released by a mainstream publisher!!!
*Angel's End-Cindy Holby