Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bless Her Dead Little Heart: A Southern Ladies Mystery by Miranda James - Book Review

I am so tickled to tell you about a wonderful new southern-themed cozy mystery series from a fabulous author, Miranda James (aka Dean James).

About The Book:

New York Times bestselling author Miranda James returns to Athena, Mississippi, with an all-new mystery featuring Miss An’gel and Miss Dickce Ducote, two snoopy sisters who are always ready to lend a helping hand. But when a stressed socialite brings murder right to their doorstep, even they have trouble maintaining their Southern hospitality….

With the Mississippi sun beating down, An’gel and Dickce are taking a break to cool off and pet sit their friend Charlie Harris’s cat, Diesel, when their former sorority sister, Rosabelle Sultan, shows up at their door unexpectedly, with her ne’er-do-well adult children not far behind.

Rosabelle’s selfish offspring are desperate to discover what’s in her will, and it soon becomes clear that one of them would kill to get their hands on the inheritance. Suddenly caught up in a deadly tangle of duplicitous suspects and deep-fried motives, it will take all of the sisters’ Southern charm to catch a decidedly ill-mannered killer….

My Thoughts:

Oh my goodness, where do I start? Take a tall glass of sweet tea, add in two gracious ladies, their friends and family, and a few unexpected murders and you have a thrilling and fun mystery to enjoy!

"Bless Her Dead Little Heart" is the first book in a "spin-off" cozy mystery series from the talented writing hand of Miranda (Dean) James.  Featuring the sassy and brassy Ducote sisters from James' "Cat In The Stacks" series, the southern ladies are at their sweet and fierce best in this fun "who dun it?" tale. And making a special guest appearance to lend a hand in solving the crimes is Diesel, the above-average sized and above-average smart Maine Coon cat who stars in the "Cat In The Stacks" series.

I got a real kick out of An'gel and Dickce Ducote - these gals don't let much ruffled their feathers. When their college friend Rosabelle and her family descend on the sisters' home, all sorts of chaos erupts, including several of the family members meeting their demise in the Ducote home.  But this doesn't rattle An'gel and Dickce at all - they put their smart heads together and get to the bottom of the nonsense with a few twists and turns along the way.

I just loved this charming story and I can't wait for the next installment of "The Southern Ladies" mysteries!  Congratulations to Miranda (Dean) James for a job well done!

About The Author:

Miranda James is a pseudonym for Dean James, the Agatha Award-winning author of several works of mystery nonfiction as well as four mystery series including the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series including such titles as Out of Circulation, File M for Murder, and Classified as Murder.

My thanks to Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Very Bad Things by Susan McBride - Book Review

About The Book:

A dark, moody, boarding-school murder mystery teens won’t be able to put down.

Katie never thought she’d be the girl with the popular boyfriend. She also never thought he would cheat on her—but the proof is in the photo that people at their boarding school can’t stop talking about. Mark swears he doesn’t remember anything. But Rose, the girl in the photo, is missing, and Mark is in big trouble. Because it looks like Rose isn’t just gone . . . she’s dead.

Maybe Mark was stupid, but that doesn’t mean he’s a killer.

Katie needs to find out what really happened, and her digging turns up more than she bargained for, not just about Mark but about someone she loves like a sister: Tessa, her best friend.

At Whitney Prep, it’s easy to keep secrets . . . especially the cold-blooded kind.

My Thoughts:

Delving into the world of Young Adult writing is not for the faint-hearted, but author Susan McBride makes it look so easy with her latest exciting novel, "Very Bad Things." 

This novel, which is chalk-full of teenage romance, angst, and a bit of murder, is a spine-tingling adventure that even adults will get a thrill out of.  The characters are well-developed and fascinating and the setting is properly spooky. Geared more toward the female readership, "Very Bad Things" would be a great book for daughters and moms to read together (lot of great conversation topics are scattered throughout the book!).

Susan McBride is one of my favorite "grown-up" writers and it's great to see her also succeeding at that YA market as well.  Anything that Susan writes is well worth your time reading!

About The Author:

SUSAN MCBRIDE is the award-winning author of fiction for adults and teens. She lives in a suburb of St. Louis with her husband, their daughter, and two cats who think they're dogs. You can visit her at and on Facebook at SusanMcBrideBooks.

My thanks to the author for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Guest Post by Jodi Thomas, author of "A Place Called Harmony"

I'm thrilled today to host a guest post from one of my favorite authors, Jodi Thomas.

Jodi's new book, "A Place Called Harmony," is set to be released next Tuesday, and in my opinion, is one of her best to date! Below, Jodi talks about the main characters in her new book and how they set the future of a place called Harmony.

Once in a while in my career of forty books, there comes a story I know I have to write.  It waits like an impatient child in the back of my mind for its time to shine.  A PLACE CALLED HARMONY was one of those stories.  As I moved through the Harmony series, getting to know the people of Harmony, Texas, better with each book I knew that someday I’d tell the beginning of their town.  From the day I started writing the characters came through clear.  I had to find men strong enough to influence the generations of Mathesons, Trumans and McAllens.
Many times during the writing of this story I felt all three men standing behind me telling me their lives.  Patrick McAllen, young and full of dreams, thought of it as an adventure and believed love came easy.  Clint Truman felt old at thirty and didn’t believe in love.  When he heard he had to have a wife to get the job, he went to the prison gate and picked the first woman walking out.  And then there was Captain Gillian Matheson who loved his wife but also loved adventure.
All three men were prepared for the challenge of building a town but unprepared for the depth of love they found as they build their families.
I loved writing these men and I hope the readers will follow me into this historical romance.  If you’ve read a Harmony book, you’ll feel like you already know the characters.  If you’ve never read one this book would be a great place to start.  So, step into Harmony for the first time as the three families build a town while they form bonds and loves that last a lifetime.
Enjoy the adventure,
Jodi Thomas

A Place Called Harmony

About The Book:

New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas has captivated America with her novels set in the small town of Harmony, Texas. Now she tells the story of the three hard-luck men who first settled the town, a place where last chances and long-awaited dreams collide…

Desperate to escape his overbearing father, Patrick McAllen disappears with his bride, heading north to build a new town—discovering strength, honor and true love along the way.

After drinking away the grief from his family’s death, Clint Truman avoids jail by taking a job in North Texas and settling down with a woman he vows to protect but never love—until her quiet compassion slowly breaks his hardened heart wide open…
All Gillian Matheson has ever known is Army life, leaving his true love to be a part-time spouse. But when a wounded Gillian returns home to find her desperately fighting to save their marriage, he’s determined to become the husband she deserves.

Amidst storms, outlaws, and unwelcome relatives, the three couples band together to build a town—and form a bond that breathes life into the place that will forever be called Harmony.

My thanks to Jodi for taking time out of her busy schedule to write this blog post!

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weekend Cooking - Tea and crumpets with Agatha Raisin - Book Review of "The Blood of An Englishman" by M.C. Beaton

Shining a spotlight on M.C. Beaton's 25th Agatha Raisin mystery - "The Blood of An Englishman!  And what better way to celebrate than with a lovely cup of tea and a plate of genuine crumpets!  (see below the book description for a wonderful crumpet recipe!)

The Blood of an Englishman (Agatha Raisin Series #25)

About The Book:

"Fee, fie, fo, fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman..."

Even though Agatha Raisin loathes amateur dramatics, her friend Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife, has persuaded her to support the local pantomime. Stifling a yawn at the production of "Babes in the Woods," Agatha watches the baker playing an ogre strut and threaten on the stage, until a trapdoor opens and the Ogre disappears in an impressive puff of smoke. Only he doesn't re-appear at final curtain.

Surely this isn't the way the scene was rehearsed? When it turns out the popular baker has been murdered, Agatha puts her team of private detectives on the case. They soon discover more feuds and temperamental behavior in amateur theatrics than in a professional stage show—and face more and more danger as the team gets too close to the killer.

My Thoughts:

While it is often difficult to jump into a series midstream, let alone with the 25th installment, I was pleased to find that I could pick up "The Blood of an Englishman" and immediately join in the fun as amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin (what a cool last name!) and her friends as they try to find out who killed the "Ogre" from a local play production.

I loved the wonderfully cozy English flavor of this mystery, and was charmed with the cast of characters who work so well together.  I'm inspired to go back and read the previous 24 books in this series!  And I highly recommend this one!

About The Author:

M. C. BEATON has been hailed as the “Queen of Crime” (The Globe and Mail). Chosen as the British Guest of Honor at Bouchercon 2006, she is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-four previous Agatha Raisin novels, the Hamish Macbeth series, and an Edwardian mystery series. Born in Scotland, she currently divides her time between Paris and the English Cotswolds.

Check out her website at

Curl up with a steaming cup of tea and a plate of these easy-to-make crumpets, and you'll have a wonderful afternoon of reading and snacking!  One of my favorite teas is Stash Teas - they have so many flavors to choose from - I love the English Breakfast Tea and the Raspberry tea that they have!

Classic Crumpets

(recipe from
1/2 cup warm water (105° - 115°)
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups milk
In a large bowl, stir the sugar or honey into the warm water. Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the top and let it sit until it bubbles, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and let it sit for about half an hour in a warm place.

Grease a griddle or frying pan and the crumpet rings or cookie cutters. Place the rings on the cooking surface and preheat all.

Crumpet and English Muffin Rings, GreatPartyRecipes.comPour about 3 tablespoons of batter into each 3" ring and cook over medium low heat until set, about 10 minutes. (Avoid cooking them too quickly.) The top should be full of holes when they are ready to turn.

Remove the rings from the crumpets, turn, and brown the other side, if desired, for a minute or so. Repeat until all the batter is used.

Makes 16 crumpets.

My thanks to Minotaur Books and Stash Teas for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

Weekend Cooking hosted by

Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme sponsored by  Check out what other bloggers are cooking up and reading!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Two new cozy mystery series - Death Is Like A Box of Chocolates by Kathy Aarons and Fat Cat At Large by Janet Cantrell

With the first day of fall here I wanted to share two new cozy mystery series with you!

One features chocolate and the other one kitty cats - two of my favorite things! 

About The Book:

Whether it’s to satisfy a craving for chocolate or pick up the hottest new bestseller, the locals in charming West Riverdale, Maryland, are heading to Chocolates and Chapters, where everything sold is to die for….

Best friends Michelle Serrano and Erica Russell are celebrating the sweet rewards of their combined bookstore and chocolate shop by hosting the Great Fudge Cook-off during the town’s Memorial Day weekend Arts Festival. But success turns bittersweet when Main Street’s portrait photographer is found dead in their store, poisoned by Michelle’s signature truffles.

As suspicion mounts against Michelle, her sales begin to crumble and her career seems whipped. With Erica by her side, Michelle must pick through an assortment of suspects before the future of their dream store melts away…
Includes Scrumptious Chocolate-Making Recipes!

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. As with any first book in a series there were a lot of characters introduced, but each and every one was essential to the story and by the end, they all felt like old friends.

The two main characters, Michelle (the chocolatier) and Erica (the bookseller), are sassy and smart and I loved the mixing of the chocolate shop and the bookstore. And when someone threatens their livelihood, the girls are determined to stop the threat and save their businesses. I look forward to more stories about these spunky gals.

Be sure to check out author Kathy Aarons' website at

About The Book:

When she’s not dreaming up irresistible dessert bars for her Minneapolis treatery, Bar None, Charity “Chase” Oliver is running after her cat, Quincy—a tubby tabby with a gift for sniffing out edibles. But what happens when this cat burglar leads Chase to the scene of a real crime?

The jig is up for Chase’s adorable plus-size cat, Quincy. His new vet says “diet”—that means no more cherry cheesecake bars. From now on he gets low-calorie kibble only. But one taste of the stuff is all it takes to drive him in search of better things. Quincy’s escape is the last thing Chase needs after the nasty run-in she has with underhanded business rival Gabe Naughtly.

Chase tracks Quincy down in a neighbor’s kitchen, where he’s devouring a meatloaf, unaware of the much more serious crime he’s stumbled upon. Gabe’s corpse is lying on the kitchen floor, and when Chase is discovered at the murder scene, she becomes suspect number one. Now, with a little help from her friends—both human and feline—she’ll have to catch the real killer or wind up behind bars that aren’t so sweet.

My Thoughts:

Tubby kitties and yummy dessert bars are the stars of this fun new series! Oh, and there is a murder to solve for the humans too. 

Main character Chase Oliver has a lot on her plate - her business is thriving, but someone is stealing from the till; she loves her kitty, but poor Quincy is too fat for the handsome vet's liking; and her business partner Anna is showing signs of confusion.  And on top of that, Chase finds her nemesis murdered while her cat sits munching meatloaf on the kitchen counter. Whew!

Author Janet Cantrell keeps the action moving and her characters hopping in this first story in her new "Fat Cat Mystery" series, and readers will be delighted to join in the fun.  I enjoyed it and look forward to more from this talented writer!

My thanks to Penguin/Prime Crime Books for providing the review copies of these books!  I was not compensated for my opinion.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, and tomorrow is the first day of Autumn - hooray!!!

I just love the Fall season when the weather is cooler and I seem to be able to think better!  While here in North Texas our leaves will not be turning for another month or so, it is just enough coolness to the breeze (ok, wind!) to make me want to jump for joy - or go find a pumpkin spice latte!

And with Fall comes the new crop of Fall books, and there are some excellent ones coming up!  Here is what I'm reading this week -

What I'm Reading Now:

What I Plan To Read:

Hope you have some great books lined up to read this week too!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme sponsored by Sheila at Bookjourney.  Check out what other bloggers are reading this week -

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Friday, September 19, 2014

My first audio book! Forever and Always by Jasinda Wilder

I'm listening to my first audio book (yes, I know, I'm behind the times!).  "Forever and Always" by  Jasinda Wilder is the first book in her young adult series, the Ever Trilogy.

So far so good!  Watch for my review to come of this book and book two, "After Forever."

Here's a little excerpt from this book:

These letters are often all that get me through week to week. Even if it’s just random stuff, nothing important, they’re important to me. Gramps is great, and I love working on the ranch. But…I’m lonely. I feel disconnected, like I’m no one, like I don’t belong anywhere. Like I’m just here until something else happens. I don’t even know what I want with my future. But your letters, they make me feel connected to something, to someone. I had a crush on you, when we first met. I thought you were beautiful. So beautiful. It was hard to think of anything else. Then camp ended and we never got together, and now all I have of you is these letters. S**t. I just told you I have a crush on you. HAD. Had a crush. Not sure what is anymore. A letter-crush? A literary love? That’s stupid. Sorry. I just have this rule with myself that I never throw away what I write and I always send it, so hopefully this doesn’t weird you out too much. I had a dream about you too. Same kind of thing. Us, in the darkness, together. Just us. And it was like you said, a memory turned into a dream, but a memory of something that’s never happened, but in the dream it felt so real, and it was more, I don’t even know, more RIGHT than anything I’ve ever felt, in life or in dreams. I wonder what it means that we both had the same dream about each other. Maybe nothing, maybe everything. You tell me.
~ ~ ~ ~
We’re pen pals. Maybe that’s all we’ll ever be. I don’t know. If we met IRL (in real life, in case you’re not familiar with the term) what would happen? And just FYI, the term you used, a literary love? It was beautiful. So beautiful. That term means something, between us now. We are literary loves. Lovers? I do love you, in some strange way. Knowing about you, in these letters, knowing your hurt and your joys, it means something so important to me, that I just can’t describe. I need your art, and your letters, and your literary love. If we never have anything else between us, I need this. I do. Maybe this letter will only complicate things, but like you I have a rule that I never erase or throw away what I’ve written and I always send it, no matter what I write in the letter.
Your literary love,

About The Author:


NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, WALL STREET JOURNAL and international bestselling author Jasinda Wilder is a Michigan native with a penchant for titillating tales about sexy men and strong women. Her bestselling titles include ALPHA, STRIPPED, WOUNDED, and the #1 Amazon and international bestseller FALLING INTO YOU.  
You can find her on her farm in Northern Michigan with her husband, author Jack Wilder, her five children and menagerie of animals.
Check out her website at
My thanks to Jennifer Musico at Lisa Weinert Consulting for providing the copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion or thoughts.

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