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.

Review of If The Shoe Kills


If The Shoe Kills by Lynn Cahoon is the third book in A Tourist Trap Mystery series.  I have read all three in the series and I have enjoyed all three.

It is Thanksgiving time in South Cove, California.  The business community is participating in a work program where interns will help in their shops.  Many of them are not happy about this because they are afraid that the interns will be trouble makers and  delinquents.  And most of them do not like the man in charge, Ted.  He is unfriendly and obnoxious and only worries about himself.  Someone disliked him enough to kill him.

Jill Gardner owns a coffee shop and bookstore in town and she is also the business liaison with the city.  She is unfortunate enough to be the one who finds Ted’s body.  Although she did not like Ted, she cannot keep herself from investigating the murder.  Her boyfriend, Greg, who is a detective, wants her to stay out of it and leave the investigating to him.  But that is not something that Jill can do, so with the help of her friends, she sets out to solve the mystery.

Jill is also planning on hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner for her family and friends and she is stressing out about it.  She is also stressing out because Greg’s ex-girlfriend is back in town and trying to get him back.  And did I mention that her coffee shop/bookstore is hosting a children’s Christmas book party for the less fortunate children in the area?  Will she be able to juggle all of it or will everything come crashing down around her?

The characters are well developed, well rounded and three dimensional.  Since I have read all three books in the series, I can see the growth of all the main characters.  They are people that you can relate to and care about.  The friendships seem real and they are people I would like to know.

The mystery is carried on throughout the entire book.  There are many twists and turns and a lot of possible suspects to consider.  Although I was pretty sure who the killer was, I did not figure out the reason behind it.  There is a bit of surprise concerning the reason.

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.

I would recommend this book (and the other two in the series) to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy.  Although this book could be read as a stand-alone, to enjoy it even more you should read the first two books.  They are all very good and I’m glad that I found this author and series to enjoy.

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 The Burning Girl


The Burning Girl by Lisa Unger is the second book in The Whispers series.  This short story takes place ten years after Eloise discovers her psychic ability.  She is a partner in a detective agency and she has a mentor for her psychic abilities. Her daughter has moved away, and although she has two grandchildren, she does not see her remaining family very often. She continues to have psychic visions and she does her best to help people in need.  But it is definitely taking a toll on her mental and physical health.

I feel that the fact that this book took place ten years after the first book was detrimental to the story continuity.  The reader is not given enough information about how Eloise and her daughter came to terms with their tragedy and the new-found psychic ability.  I was so looking forward to reading about these things and I feel let down.  I know very little more than I did when I finished book one.

I am also confused about the “burning girl”.  It is never really explained what she wants and what her story is.  And there is an incidence in the story (I do not want to spoil other’s reading so I do not want to be specific) and I do not know if or how the “burning girl” is involved.  Although the girl is mentioned quite a lot in the story, no real information is given.    This is very disappointing to me.

Although I enjoyed The Whispers (book one) more than this book, I still enjoyed reading it.  I just wish that some of my questions from the first book were answered.  Hopefully they will be answered in the third book in the series, which I plan on reading.

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

Review of Spiraled


FBI Special Agent Ava McLane is walking through a mall after her yoga class when shots ring out.   Soon she finds herself hiding from a shooter with an injured teenager.  She does not have her gun and she cannot leave the injured teen, so she just has to wait for help to arrive and pray that she survives.  When she locks eyes with the shooter, she figures her life is over.

Detective Mason Callahan is called to the mass shooting to help with the investigation.  He does not know that his girlfriend, Ava, is inside where the danger is.  Once he learns this information, he is afraid that he will lose her forever.  So when he sees her being escorted out, he not only feels relief but also a steely determination to find out the reason behind the shootings.  Since the shooter committed suicide, he knows the who but not the why.

When another mass shooting from the past and a new shooting are all linked together, no one can figure out why these young men are attacking others and then killing themselves.  Why would three different young men open fire in public and then kill themselves?  This question must be answered before there is another killing spree.

Ava not only has to deal with the trauma of being a victim and trying to help with the investigation, she also has to deal with her twin sister.  Her sister, Jayne, has a history of mental health and dangerous behavior.  She knows how to push all the right buttons to upset Ava and cause Ava to feel tremendous guilt.  Ava feels as though her life is spiraling out of control and that is very close to shattering into a million pieces.  Mason does not know how to help Ava but he knows that if much more happens he will lose her.  And he cannot let that happen.

The characters are well developed, well rounded and three dimensional.  I felt all of Ava’s anguish and struggles and my heart went out to her.  Mason is a strong stand-up guy who you cannot help but admire.  I really enjoyed reading about them and rooting for them.

The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read.  The author is very talented in both descriptive and suspenseful writing.  While reading I felt like I was there in the mall watching the shootings taking place.  The book started out with a bang (literally) and the tension and suspense never let up.  There are twists and turns and surprises that I did not see coming.  I really enjoyed that.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-crafted romantic suspense.  I have read other books by this author and I have loved them all.

I cannot wait for another book to be released by Kendra Elliot.  Do yourself a favor and  grab any of Kendra Elliot’s books, you will not be disappointed.

I received a free copy of Spiraled from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.  If I could I would give this book more than five stars.  I would like to thank NetGalley and Montlake Romance for the opportunity to read and review this book.