Review of Smoky Mountain Tracks


Raine Stockton is a dog trainer and she has a history of being involved in Search and Rescue.  She and her dog Cassidy, were successful more times than not when searching for victims.  In Raine’s mind and heart, there will never be another dog like Cassidy.  Cassidy excelled at agility training, Search and Rescue and being a therapy dog.   When Cassidy passes away, Raine cannot get over the loss.  Although she now owns another golden retriever, Cisco, an offspring of Cassidy, Raine does not have the interest or the heart to do any of that anymore.  And Cisco is too young and to puppyish to be any good.

But when Raine gets a phone call in the middle of the night and finds out that a mother and daughter are missing and could be out in the cold in the dark woods, she agrees to bring Cisco and search for them.  When it has been determined that mother and daughter have been kidnapped, the situation becomes even more dangerous.  Although Cisco is anxious to please Raine, the search does not end well.  The kidnapper is found dead at the bottom of a ravine, and although the mother is found, there is no sign of the child.  Time is running out before the search and rescue mission becomes a recovery mission.

The characters are very well rounded, realistic and three dimensional.  Raine is someone who wants the world to think she is strong and fearless but in reality she has a soft side.  She will do whatever it takes to protect her dogs and to help rescue those in danger.  But she is not so certain of things when it comes to her estranged husband, Buck,  who works for the sheriff’s department.  And when it comes to getting over Cassidy’s death, she is struggling a lot.  Buck is likable and at times I wanted to see the two of them get back together.  Then there’s Maude, who is a no-nonsense type of person who tells it like it is.  And Sonny is a lawyer and dog communicator that plays an important part in solving the mystery.   The character that really stole the show for me was Cisco.  He is full of puppy exuberance and mischief but he wants desperately to please Raine and win her love.  I could have read all day about his antics and been very happy doing it.

I love reading Search and Rescue fiction and I think this is one of the best ones that I have read.  The author is very talented in bringing the scenes to life and I could picture in my mind the rough terrain and the dangers that awaited Raine and Cisco.  The author is also very talented in bringing out the emotions of the reader.  There were times when I laughed out loud at something that Cisco did and then there were times when I had tears in my eyes.  The suspense and mystery were carried on throughout the whole book and there were enough twists and turns to keep me guessing as to the killer’s identity.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery.  If you enjoy Search and Rescue, then this book is a must read.  I read this book many years ago and I am so glad that I reread it.  I think I enjoyed it even more the second time.  And the fact that there are many more books in the series makes it even better.

Review of Bringing In The Thieves


Frankie Lou McMasters has returned to Ruby Springs, Texas, her hometown, with her daughter Betsy.  When Frankie Lou left town eleven years ago, it was amid a scandal with her leaving to marry the town’s trouble-maker.  Now that she is back, she wants to repair her reputation and stop all the gossipers.  Her plan is to form a church choir of troubled teens (she has some experience as being one of them) to give them some direction in their lives.  Her arch enemy Poppy  Fremont adamantly opposes the idea, Frankie Lou does not know how to change her mind.  But that no longer is a problem when Frankie Lou finds Poppy dead in the baptismal pool.  Now the problem is that she is the number one suspect in the murder.  She found the body and she has a bad history with the victim.  She definitely has her work cut out for her to prove her innocence.  The town already thinks the worse of her so she is not sure what to do to change their minds and prove she is no murderer.  A good place to start would be to find the real killer, so that is what she sets out to do.

The characters are well developed and well-rounded.  Many of them are a little quirky and crazy but that just added to the charm of the book.  Many of the antics and thoughts of the characters were funny.  The setting was a typical small town with the gossips and everyone knowing every body’s business.  The writing is descriptive and made me want to visit Ruby Springs.  I thought the mystery could have been a little better developed and more time spent on the conclusion,   but for a debut book and the first in the series, I thought it was good.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a humorous well crafted cozy.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.  I would like to thank NetGalley and BellBooks for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Review of The Ghost Of Marlow House


Danielle Boatman has inherited Marlow House from her aunt.  With the help of her friend Lily, she plans to turn the old mansion into a bed and breakfast destination.  When the two show up at the house, they find it is in disrepair but still looks pretty good for a house that has been unoccupied for ninety years.  On their first visit to the house, Danielle finds a surprise waiting for her.  The previous owner, Walt Marlow, is still in residence, even though he is dead.

Danielle has been seeing and dealing with ghosts for much of her life, ever since her grandmother visited her after she passed.  So although she is not afraid of seeing Walt, she is worried how he will take the news that he is no longer alive.  And she does not know how his being there will affect the opening of her bed and breakfast.  When she tries to help him pass to the other side, he asks her to look into his death, which was ruled a suicide.   She sure has a lot to deal with: fixing up the house and preparing for the opening of the bed and breakfast and trying to solve a ninety year old mystery.   She is not sure how she is going to accomplish any of that.

The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read.  The author has created characters that are realistic (even though one is a ghost), well rounded and three dimensional.  They are a cast of characters that are very likeable and I wanted to spend more time getting to know them.   I really enjoyed the interaction between Danielle and Walt and I could have kept reading about them all day long.  The mystery is well plotted and maintained throughout much of the book.  There are twists and turns that kept me guessing all along the way.

Sometimes, when I am looking through book sites looking for something to read, I come across a book that I really enjoy.  That is exactly what happened when I purchased The Ghost Of Marlow House.  And after further checking, I found out that this is the first book in the series.  So I hit the jackpot when I found this one, especially since cozy ghost books are one of my favorite genres to read.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy and if you like paranormal, then you really want to pick this book up.

Review of Soul Surrender


In the latest installment of Kathi Daley’s Zoe Donovan series, we find Zoe and Zak just a week away from their wedding. They are still dealing with wedding preparations and trying to handle Zak’s eccentric family, which is no easy feat.  They also have some decisions to make concerning their young friends and how they can help them with family situations and their education.  So when Zoe finds a dead body they really do not have time to deal with it.  But if you know Zoe at all, you know that she cannot help but get involved in the investigation.  And you also know that she usually needs to be rescued. Hopefully, if that is the case, she is rescued in time to attend her own wedding!

The best thing about Kathi Daley’s books are the characters that she has developed.  They are people that you care about and want to spend time with.  You want to see things work out for them and for them to be happy.  Zoe and Zak have figured out their relationship and are on their way to their happily-ever-after.  But that is not the case with Ellie and Levi.  There are still things for them to figure out and questions for them to answer.  I will just have to wait for further installments to see what happens to them.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.

The author is very talented in using the written word for very detailed descriptions.  Whether she is writing about the small town happenings, or the food that the characters are enjoying or the wedding ceremony, I feel like I am right there watching all the action and experiencing things first hand.  This makes for a great reading experience.  The writing style flows smoothly and the book is a very easy read.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading a well crafted cozy mystery.  If you have not read any of Kathi Daley’s books, it is time you treat yourself and start reading them.  I am sure you will not be disappointed.  .

Review Of Dressed To Kill


Jill Gardner is the owner of Coffee, Books and More.  She is no stranger to finding dead bodies and solving mysteries, but this time she things they will be fictitious.  She is involved in the Dinner Theatre Murder Mystery production and knows that this time she will be involved in presenting the mystery, not solving it.  But when a real dead body turns up at the dress rehearsal, she will  once again have to put on her sleuthing shoes.  The deceased is the boyfriend of Sherry, who is the ex-wife of Jill’s boyfriend, Greg.  Jill really dislikes Sherry, who is a primary suspect. Although Jill would like nothing better than to see her put away for life,  she has her doubts about Sherry’s guilt.  The more Jill learns about the deceased, she realizes he was a cheater and a conniver and there are many people who would like to see him killed.  With all the suspects, it will be extra challenging for Jill to find the killer.  With the help of her friends, and to the dismay of her police boyfriend, she once again finds herself looking for a  murderer.

The writing style flows smoothly and this book was an easy read.  The writing was descriptive and I felt like I was right there watching the action instead of just reading about it.   Whether I was reading about the small town, or the bookstore or the relationships, I felt like they were realistic and detailed.

The mystery is carried on throughout the entire book.  There are many twists and turns and a lot of possible suspects to consider.  Just when I thought I had things figured out, another twist would occur and I had to rethink my choice.

The characters are well developed and well-rounded.  I enjoyed the fact that Jill was trying to replace jealous Jill with a more trusting person and giving Greg the benefit of the doubt.  It was not easy for her to do but she really tried hard.

I would recommend this book  to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy.  This is the fourth book in the series and I have enjoyed reading them all.  I think for the most enjoyment, you should read the books in order.  I am looking forward to the next book in the series, which I believe will be released in August.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.  I would like to thank NetGalley and Kensington Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Review of Little Black Lies


Falkland Island is a quiet, idyllic community, until someone starts kidnapping little boys.  After three different children are abducted, the community realizes that all three are not caused by accidents.  But who is responsible for the abductions and why?

Catrin Quinn has already lost the most important people in her life, her two sons, from a terrible accident.  She has also lost her husband and her best friend, Rachel, and she feels her life is not worth living anymore.  The only thing that is keeping her going is the need for revenge for the death of her sons.  Right from the very beginning of the book, we learn that Catrin is going to kill someone.  Although we know the why, we do not know who.  I do not want to give away anymore of the book, so I will just let you read it for yourself.

The characters are well developed, well rounded and three dimensional.  Your heart breaks for Catrin and all she has lost.  One can almost understand her need for revenge.  The sorrow felt by her is almost palpable.  This book is a very emotional read and I would suggest having kleenex close by.

I am not a big fan of books written in the first person.  To me, the story never seems to flow as smoothly as I like.  So at times I felt like this book was a little harder to read than I would have wanted, especially since it was told from three different people’s perspective.  Other people may enjoy the variety and really like this, but it is not my favorite.  The author is also very descriptive in her writing.  In fact, at times I felt there was a little bit too much description.  I found myself skimming through pages to get back to the action, especially at the very beginning of the book.  But i am glad that I continued reading, because the story was very good.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted mystery suspense.  This book is very emotional and thought provoking.  And as I stated before, you should really have a box of kleenex nearby.  This is the first book that I have read by this author but I plan on checking out more of her works.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.  I would like to thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Review of Musseled Out


Julie Snowden has returned to Busman’s Harbor, Maine, to help the family business avoid bankruptcy.  It seems as though they have dodged the crisis and they may finally get back in the black.  But there is still the problem of David Thwing, the Mussel King, who is threatening to move into the area to compete with the Snowden Family Clambake Company.   Julie does not know how this will affect her company or what she can do about it.  But the problem disappears when David is found underneath an abandoned lobsterman’s boat, dead.  One problem is solved, although she did not want the man to die.  But now there is a bigger problem facing Julie.

Her brother-in-law, Sonny, is a suspect in the murder.  The whole town knows that Sonny really did not like him and has had many arguments with him.   But murder is a long way from arguing with someone.  And to make matters worse, Sonny is not being truthful about his whereabouts the day of the murder.  He is lying to her sister and refuses to say what he was doing that day.  This makes him look even more guilty.  But Julie cannot believe that Sonny had anything to do with the murder, so she decides to find the real murderer before he is but away for life.

Besides worrying about Sonny, Julie also has to deal with her mother’s strange behavior.  Her mother has been spending a lot of time away from home but will not say where she is and what she is doing.  She also has to decide if she is going to return to New York to continue her job as a Venture Capitalist.  She must decide soon or she will be let go.  And she also has to decide if her boyfriend, Chris, is enough of a reason to stay in Maine.  Chris has secrets of his own that he is keeping from Julie.  Although she does not think he is doing anything illegal, she still worries about what he is up to.  That is a lot of issues for one person to handle and at time she feels overwhelmed.

The characters are well developed, well rounded and likable.   I like the small town feel of Busman’s Harbor, where everyone knows everybody’s business.  The mystery was carried on throughout the entire book, and there were many suspects to consider.  There are twists and turns along the way to make it even more difficult to solve the mystery.  I did not figure it out until it was revealed at the end.  The ending is very plausible, which I like.

The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read.  The author is very descriptive in her writing and it is very easy to picture myself right there in the setting, watching all the action taking place around me.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery.  Although this is the third book in the series, it is the first one that I have read.  I am looking forward to reading the other two.

I received a free copy of Musseled Out from NetGalley in exchange for a honest  review.  I would like to thank NetGalley and Kensington Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Review of Fatal Brushstroke


Fatal Brushstroke by Sybil Johnson is the first book in a new cozy series.  This cozy centers around Aurora (Rory) Anderson who is a computer programmer and a painting, crafty lady. She  finds a dead body buried in her garden one night and it turns out the body is someone she knows.  The victim is a tole-painting instructor that Rory has had problems with in the past.  Because of this, she is considered a suspect in the murder.

Rory is not the only suspect in the case, though.  There are many other people who have a motive.  There is her adoptive mother, who owns and runs a craft store.  There is the murder victims husband and son, as well as her best friend Trudy and her protege, Nora.  Rory decides she needs to investigate on her own to be sure neither her or her adoptive mother are arrested for the crime.

The suspense and mystery begin within the first few pages and are carried on throughout the entire book.  There are many twists and turns that kept this reader changing my mind on who the killer is.  The culprit was one of the people that I suspected but I was not sure until It was revealed at the end.  

The writing style flows smoothly and this is an easy book to read.  The writing is descriptive and informative.  I learned some things about crafting and tole-painting that I did not know, which is a plus in my opinion.  The description of Vista Beach, a small town California beach community, was well written and made me want to visit.  The characters are well developed, well rounded and three dimensional.  I look forward to learning more about each of them.  

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well written cozy mystery.  Everything that I look for in a cozy I found in this book.  This is the first book in the series and I am looking forward to reading the others as they are published.  

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.  I would like to thank NetGalley and Henery Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Review of Murder Tightly Knit


Murder Tightly Knit by Vannetta Chapman is an Amish murder mystery book and I thoroughly  enjoyed it.  I read as many Amish mysteries as I can find, and this one did not disappoint me.

The action takes place in Middlebury, Indiana, in an Amish/English community.   A young Amish man has been murdered with a crossbow, and no one has any idea who the murderer is or why the man would be killed.  The people of the community find it hard to believe that anyone Amish would be guilty, but some of the clues point that way.  While the police are investigating, two local women, one Amish and one English, decide to launch their own investigation into the death.  The two are not new to investigating and were pivotal in solving a murder that had occurred earlier in the year.  There are many suspects to consider, some of which are their friends.  Will they be able to solve the crime before someone they care about is arrested or more murders occur?

The mystery is carried on throughout the entire book and I was not able to determine the killer until it was revealed in the end.  There are many twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and things are not always as they seem.

The writing style flows easily and the book is a quick easy read.  The author’s descriptive style pulls the reader right into the action and pulls you along until the conclusion.  The characters are well developed and well rounded and are people you can care about.  One of my favorite things about this book is that the Amish and English worked together.  In a lot of the Amish books I read there is very distinct divide between Amish and English ways.  In this book there was not as clear of a divide and the two groups worked together closer than normal.   I really liked that.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well written murder mystery.  If you like Amish mysteries, then this is a must read for you.  I have not read any other books by Vannetta Chapman but now I have a new author to catch up on, and I am excited about that.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.  I would like to thank NetGalley and Zondervan Fiction for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Review of Stillwater Rising


Stillwater Rising is the story of a small town community that is dealing with the horrific tragedy of a school shooting.  Several families in the community are dealing with the loss of one of their children.  One of these families is the Crowne family.  They lost their son that day and they are struggling to come to terms with it.  Each is struggling in their own way.  Jenn is grieving and is angry and wants to see the school torn down and a Memorial built in it’s place.  She cannot forgive the shooter’s mother and cannot understand how others can support the woman.  She is totally broken and is unsure if she will ever be whole again.

Her husband is trying to put on a brave front for the community and the summer visitors that have descended on the town.  As far as Jenn can tell, her husband has gotten past the tragedy and is ready to move forward with their lives.  He is still burying himself in his work, which is nothing new.  She does not understand how he could recover so quickly.

Jenn’s daughter Charity is ready to become a “victor” rather than a “victim”.  She wants to return to school and begin the healing process.  She wants to move forward and have her family heal.  She will never forget her brother but she knows the family must find a way to pull together and continue on with their lives.

Charlotte, the mayor of Stillwater Bay, is trying to keep the community together.  She fears that the tragedy will destroy her town and she cannot let that happen.  Her husband, who is the principal of the school where the shootings took place, is being regarded as a hero.  But whenever someone begins praising him for his heroic actions, he has a panic attack. Charlotte knows something is wrong but has no idea what the problem is.  But she has the town to worry about, and her husband’s problem will have to wait.

Julia is the shooter’s mother, and she is being harassed by many of the people in the town.  She knows she deserves it and does not blame them.  She should have seen the signs and known what her son was planning.  She should have been able to prevent the shootings but she did not.  She will never be able to forgive herself.  But she is still a mother and is grieving the loss of her own son like any mother would.  She is defeated and heartbroken.

Samantha is a reporter who was sent to Stillwater Bay to cover the story.  After all the other reporters, Samantha stays in the town because she feels there are still stories to be told.  She also has a personal reason for staying but we never find out that reason.

Each chapter in the book is labeled with one of the main woman’s name.  That chapter then tells their story.  I really liked this writing technique and I really liked that the story examined the different perspectives of the tragedy.  We got to see a inside look at the grieving victim’s mother, the grieving shooter’s mother and the mayor of the town trying to keep the community together.  I have read another book concerning a school shooting and it was written more from the perspective of the prosecuting attorney.  I like the fact that this book dealt with the families in the aftermath.  It gave insight into how these people felt and what they had to deal with.

There are some areas where I feel the book could have been more developed.  We do not know what Samantha’s personal reasons for staying are. We do not get an account of what really happened at the shooting and I wanted to know a little more about what happened.  We do not know the reason behind the shooting until the very last paragraph of the book.  There is a surprise twist involving the reason and I wish that had been further developed.  I feel like the book ended too abruptly and I wanted more of a conclusion rather than be wondering about the details and what was going to happen.  Perhaps there will be another book written about Stillwater Bay that will answer some of my questions.  I hope that is the case.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.  I would like to thank NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book.