Friday, July 19, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway - Summer Snoops Unleashed: 14 Furr-ocious Mysteries and Cozy Crimes by Judith Lucci, Anna Celeste Burke, Colleen Mooney, Fiona Quinn, Maria Grazia Swan, Kelly Hashway, Kim Hunt Harris, Susan Boles, Lisa B. Thomas, Emily Selby, Ava Mallory, Chelsea Thomas, Sam Cheever, and Joanna Campbell Slan

Book Synopsis
Summertime Murders are RUFF -- ALL BRAND NEW STORIES! 

Looking for cool cozies for hot summer days? Then you’ll love this purr-fectly paw-some cozy mystery boxed set from fourteen USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon best-selling authors.We’ve pulled out all the stops with Summer Snoops Unleashed! Enjoy hours of fun sniffing out clues on sandy beaches, shimmering waterways, and at small-town celebrations in these brand-new stories full of wily sleuths, cagey plots, and un-fur-gettable tails!Fetch your copy now to get these furr-ocious new cozy mysteries and woof it up with us!

They’re howlingly good reads!


My Review 

Summer Snoops Unleashed is a cozy mystery anthology.  There are 14 short animal theme cozy mysteries included, by authors Judith Lucci,  Anna Celeste Burke,  Colleen Mooney, Fiona Quinn, Maria Grazia Swan,  Kelly Hashway, Kim Hunt Harris, Susan Boles, Lisa B. Thomas, Emily Selby, Ava Mallory, Chelsea Thomas, Sam Cheever, and Joanna Campbell Slan.  The mysteries are short -- novella to short novel length.


I am reviewing the first mystery in the collection, The Most Glittery Crime of The Year - The Jewel Heist.  It is An Artzy Chicks Mystery (Book 1) by Judith Lucci.  This mystery takes place in the Shenandoah Valley.  Lily works at the Artisans Gallery in a restored 1700's log cabin.  The Gallery is also home to a possum, a yellow lab, and a calico cat.  The ladies who work at the gallery are all pet people, and Lily also has four little Shih Tzu dogs at home.


When an ornery customer from the gallery turns up dead, Lily becomes involved in trying to solve the mystery.  There is another murder and word of an old, unsolved crime -- a jewel heist from the 1930's.


The mystery is a fast paced read, with charming place descriptions (I would love to visit the gallery!) and some witty dialogue.  For example, Lily describes one of her friends who works at the gallery:  "Nobody should ever want to mess with the Diva.  There's nothing worse than a Yankee woman who wants to be a Southern belle" (Kindle location 1859).


The mystery was suspenseful.  I guessed the killer, but enjoyed reading the denouement.  I loved that one of the gallery pets even helped as the mystery unraveled.


This is a fun collection and I think other animal lovers will enjoy it as well!   Nice for a summer read with lots of mystery stories included!

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Book Review - Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham

Book Synopsis
For three years, Penny Ercanbeck has been opening other people's mail.

Dead ends are a reality for clerks at the dead letter office, and she dreams of something more--a bit of intrigue, perhaps a taste of romance. When she comes across a letter from a brokenhearted man to his one true love, it becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient.

But when Penny's undertaking leads her to the intriguing man who touched her soul with his words, everything grows more complicated. She wants to find the rightful owner of the letter, and yet . . . she finds herself caring--perhaps too much--for the one who wrote it.

My Review
Penny Ercanbeck's story begins in 1883 in Washington, D.C.  She is working as a clerk at the dead letter office. Her job is to read letters that have not reached their recipient and send them on to their rightful owner if possible.  She finds a letter from a man named Thomas Connor.  He writes to a woman named Clara whom he loved and lost.  There are more letters from Thomas to Clara that follow.  Since Clara's address is nearby Alexandria, Virginia, Penny makes a day trip to try to return the letters.  When that proves impossible, she decides to travel to Azure Springs, the small town where Thomas has relocated.  She realizes her interest has grown beyond the letters to the man who wrote them.

I wanted to read Yours Truly, Thomas from the description.  I have always loved letters and love epistolary novels.  I find the idea of a dead letter office with someone long ago sorting and redirecting mail fascinating.

Penny is a very likeable character.  She's kind and genuinely cares about others (perhaps to the extent of taking her job a bit TOO seriously!).  She has had a difficult time since her father's death, and has tried to turn her life around with her work and friends.  She even has a lovable dog named Honey (short for Honeysuckle).

Thomas is also a very sympathetic character.  He has endured a tragic loss and moved to rebuild his life.  The connection between Penny and Thomas is immediate, and I enjoyed their interactions. That said, I did get a bit frustrated with Penny with her lack of directness.  I wish she would have been more forthcoming with Thomas about her reason for being in Azure Springs.

Which brings me to Azure Springs -- what a delightful little town!  I enjoyed reading about it - the boarding house, the town dance, the caring, small town atmosphere.

Yours Truly, Thomas is inspirational fiction, and fans of Christian historical fiction will enjoy this novel with a unique setting and premise. 

Author Bio
Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs. She started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She'd pull a book from the shelf, but they'd insist she make one up. Finally, she paired her love of good stories with her love of writing and hasn't stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Book Review - The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery

Book Synopsis
The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…
As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?
Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.
Master storyteller Susan Mallery weaves threads of family drama, humor, romance and a wish-you-were-there setting into one of the most satisfying books of the year!

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My Review
The Summer of Sunshine and Margot is the story of two sisters.  Although Margot and Sunshine are fraternal twins, they are not very much alike.  Margot is an etiquette teacher.  Sunshine is a freespirit working as a nanny.  The one thing they have in common is terrible taste in men.  One summer, though, things change.  Margot goes to work for a famous (and somewhat scandalous) actress who has a handsome son.  Sunshine falls for the father of the little boy she is taking care of.  Can things change for them both in the space of a summer?

I always enjoy Susan Mallery novels.  She does such a good job at writing women's lives, and her characterizations are always enjoyable.  I wanted to read this novel because I like her work -- and I really enjoyed this book.

Margot and Sunshine were very relatable and sympathetic characters.  Margot wants to be so proper and she is really challenged by her etiquette client Bianca, who has an issue with self control.  Bianca's son, Alec, a scholar who lives in a repurposed monastery and studies ancient texts, is the polar opposite of his mother;  he is so restrained that he has a hard time connecting emotionally.

Sunshine is my favorite character.  She is very warm and sweet natured but has a tendency to get involved much too quickly with men who inspire her to leave her everyday life, traveling or moving suddenly, abandoning responsibility.  She finally has a stable job as a nanny to a little boy named Connor.  Connor's father, Declan, is a landscape architect who is a recent widower.  Sparks fly between Sunshine and Declan but they are both wary because of the situation and timing.

I really liked all the lead characters and couldn't put the book down because I wanted to see what would happen with these possible relationships.

There are some fascinating details in this book.  I enjoyed reading about Declan's work as a landscape architect, and Alec's home (a former monastery) was especially interesting.  There are secrets waiting in the attic and the cellar, and Margot makes time to explore while she is staying there.

The Summer of Sunshine and Margot is a wonderful summer read -- the setting, the characters, and the fast moving storyline make this a perfect book for a vacation or for a weekend read. 

There is also some real depth to the characters of Sunshine and Margot, and their desire to break out of longstanding patterns.  For this reason I also think this would make a wonderful summer book discussion pick.

Author Bio
#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives-family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages.Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Guilty as Charred (A Cook-Off Mystery) by Devon Delaney

Book Synopsis
Sherry Oliveri has attained celebrity status after winning the America’s Good Taste Recipe Contest with her delectable New England Crab Cake Sliders. But now that she’s back home in Connecticut, she’s got to deal with something else fishy . . .

Sherry’s making a guest appearance on a local radio show when the news comes in: Poppy Robinson has been found dead in the town’s community garden. Sherry was supposed to be taking questions about her win in the national cooking competition, but instead the callers start dishing dirt.

Poppy and Sherry were both involved in the vegetable garden, and while Poppy may have been a bit priggish, it wasn’t anything that called for a shovel to the back of the head. There was already trouble brewing, with the owner of the land threatening to renege on their agreement, and this murder has taken tensions to a new level. Now while Sherry’s organizing a Fourth of July cook-off event, she’s also got a murder investigation on her plate . . .

Includes Recipes from Sherry’s Kitchen! 

Author Bio
Devon Delaney is a wife, mother of three, accomplished cooking contester, recent empty nester, and lifelong resident of the Northeast. She has been handsomely rewarded for her recipe innovation over the last twenty-plus years, including a full kitchen of major appliances, top cash prizes, and four trips to Disney World. She has also won the Grand Prize in a national writing contest for her “foodie” poem “Ode to Pork Passion.”
Check out Devon’s website at: and find her on Instagram –

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Book Review and Giveway - Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries

Book Synopsis
From New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries comes a sparkling new series about an oft-widowed mother’s grown children, who blaze through society in their quest for the truth about their fathers . . . and in the process find that love just might conquer all . . .

A series of stepfathers and a difficult childhood have left Fletcher “Grey” Pryde, 5th Duke of Greycourt, with a guarded heart, enviable wealth, and the undeserved reputation of a rogue. Grey’s focus on expanding his dukedom allows him little time to find a wife. But when his mother is widowed yet again and he meets the charmingly unconventional woman managing his stepfather’s funeral, he’s shocked to discover how much they have in common. Still, Grey isn’t interested in love, no matter how pretty, or delightfully outspoken, the lady . . .

Beatrice Wolfe gave up on romance long ago, and the arrogant Duke of Greycourt with his rakish reputation isn’t exactly changing her mind. Then Grey agrees to assist his grief-stricken mother with her latest “project”: schooling spirited, unfashionable Beatrice for her debut. Now that Beatrice is seeing through Grey’s charms to his wounded heart, she’s having trouble keeping him at arm’s length. But once Grey starts digging into her family’s secrets, she must decide whether her loyalties lie with her family . . . or with the man whose lessons capture her heart . . .


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My Review
Project Duchess is the story of Beatrice Wolfe and "Grey," Fletcher Pryde.  Grey is a Duke in need of a wife, and Beatrice is an independent woman who is planning her debut.  Because Beatrice is from modest means, she aspires to marry a vicar or doctor.  When Beatrice and Grey meet, there is an instant spark, and they find they have much in common with their difficult childhoods.  But will this be enough for them to break tradition and find happiness together?

This is the first book in Sabrina Jeffries' new Duke Dynasty series.  A large cast of characters with a lot of background is introduced in the first few chapters.  It would be helpful to have a list of characters in the book for readers.

Once the book focused more on Beatrice and Grey, I became engrossed in their story. They are from different worlds but on an intrinsic level are so very alike.  I liked Beatrice's spark and independence, and Grey's kindness and strength.  There was a lot of back and forth between these characters with banter and a rollicking romance.

There is also a double mystery in the book -- there were two unexplained deaths in the past (Beatrice's uncle and Grey's stepfather -- both highly unsympathetic characters).  Grey works to solve the two murders, and that is part of the plot as well.

We are also introduced to Beatrice's brother and Grey's siblings -- I am guessing they will appear in future books in this series.  (I hope so!)

I enjoyed the setting of the country estate.  There is even a kennel with pointers and foxhounds, and the dogs appear several times in the book.

There are also a number of interesting historic details -- like funeral biscuits, and ruins constructed on the estate (a ruined abbey with a bell tower). 

I found Project Duchess a fun and entertaining read.  I think readers who enjoy historical romance and the regency period will especially enjoy this book.  I look forward to reading the next book in this series!

Author Bio
Sabrina Jeffries is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels and works of short fiction (some written under the pseudonyms Deborah Martin and Deborah Nicholas). Whatever time not spent writing in a coffee-fueled haze is spent traveling with her husband and adult autistic son or indulging in one of her passions—jigsaw puzzles, chocolate, and music. With over 9 million books in print in more than 20 languages, the North Carolina author never regrets tossing aside a budding career in academics for the sheer joy of writing fun fiction, and hopes that one day a book of hers will end up saving the world.


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We have two paperback copies of Project Duchess up for grabs! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. 

Giveaway Rules 
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 
– Giveaway is open to the US only. 
– Only one entry per household. 
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. 
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.  
Project Duchess

Friday, June 28, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway - Rogue Most Wanted by Janna MacGregor

Book Synopsis
Wanted: an engagement of convenience. Found: A noble suitor.

Raised on a remote Scottish estate by her adoring grandfather, Lady Theodora Worth has inherited an earldom as well as the land itself. But when an upstart duke challenges her claim to the title and the Ladykyrk estate, Thea is suddenly in need of a husband—in name, at least. An elderly neighbor with a thoroughly modern sensibility and a dashing great-nephew just might be the answer to Thea’s prayers. Except she has no intention of marrying the first man she meets. That would be utterly ridiculous.

It just can’t be him. . .

Lord William Cavensham is entirely too devoted to his family’s estate—ever since he was jilted as a lad–to wed, but he agrees to meet the woman his aunt has taken under her wing—and introduce her to possible suitors. But after just one meeting with beautiful, spirited Thea, Will is determined to help her reclaim her title. And even moreso, he can’t stop thinking that perhaps marriage to this bold, passionate woman may be the one thing he’s been missing all along?

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My Review
Lady Theodora Worth (Thea) inherits an earldom and Ladykyrk estate when her beloved grandfather dies.  The problem? She needs to find a husband.  Her elderly neighbor does some matchmaking with Thea and her great-nephew.  There are obstacles ... but will they find their way together?

Rogue Most Wanted is a very enjoyable historical romance.  I really liked Thea, with her independence and her occasional social awkwardness, and the kind and dashing hero, William.  I particularly liked that they started out as friends, despite an immediate attraction, and their romance built from that. They were thwarted at several turns by an evil duke who wants both Thea and her estate.

Each chapter begins with a quote from a local newspaper called The Midnight Cryer.  These quotes tend to be swipes at Thea, and they help set the scene for the action in the upcoming chapter.

The setting of Northumberland near the Scottish border was delightful, as was William's family estate in London, and I enjoyed the period details.  The author does a good job at creating a world and introducing it to readers.  I loved details like the maze on the estate, and the folly that Thea's grandfather built for her eighth birthday:

"The bucolic scene was breathtaking by itself, but the majestic folly sitting regally before them demanded center stage.  The stone pavilion had four separate entrances under elaborate porticos, each guarded by Boreas, Zepher, Notus, and Eurus, the gods of the four directional winds.  A small dome centered in the middle of the building was topped with a weather vane in the form of a welcoming Aeolus, the King of the Winds, with an outstretched hand" (p. 83).

This is the fifth book in the Cavendish Heiresses series.  I have not read the previous books, but this book worked fine as a standalone read.  

Rogue Most Wanted is an enjoyable read.  I recommend it especially for readers who enjoy historical romance and the Regency period.

Author Bio
Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs.


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During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two paperback copies of Rogue Most Wanted by Janna MacGregor! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. 

Giveaway Rules 
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 
– Giveaway is open to US only. 
– Only one entry per household. 
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. 
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. 
Rogue Most Wanted

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Strangled Eggs and Ham (A Country Store Mystery) by Maddie Day

Book Synopsis
Robbie Jordan’s rustic country store is growing in popularity. But when a dead body appears, it turns out that Robbie’s home-style cooking attracts hungry customers—and murder!

While Robbie scrambles through breakfast orders for her expanding clientele at Pans ‘N Pancakes, tempers run as high as the sticky August heat in South Lick, Indiana. Real-estate developer Fiona Closs plans to build a towering luxury resort at one of the most scenic hilltops in Brown County, and not everyone can see the sunny side of the imposing proposition—including Robbie’s furious Aunt Adele, who doesn’t waste a minute concocting protests and road blockades. When tensions boil over and a vocal protester is silenced forever at the resort site, Robbie ditches the griddle to catch the killer. But if slashed tires are any indication, she’ll need to crack this case before her own aunt gets served something deadly next . . .

Includes Recipes for You to Try!

Author Bio
Maddie Day is a talented amateur chef and holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from Indiana University. An Agatha Award-nominated author, she is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and also writes award-winning short crime fiction. She lives with her beau and three cats in Massachusetts.

As Edith Maxwell, she writes the Local Foods Mysteries (Kensington Publishing) and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries (Midnight Ink).

You can find all Maddie’s/Edith’s identities at She blogs every weekday with the other Wicked Cozy Authors at Look for her as Edith M. Maxwell and Maddie Day on Facebook and @edithmaxwell and @maddiedayauthor on Twitter.  

Purchase Links
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Friday, June 21, 2019

Book Review - Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan

Book Synopsis
Hamish DeLuca and Regina “Reggie” Van Buren have a new case—and this one could demand a price they’re not willing to pay.

Determined to make a life for herself, Reggie Van Buren bid goodbye to fine china and the man her parents expected her to marry and escaped to Boston. What she never expected to discover was that an unknown talent for sleuthing would develop into a business partnership with the handsome, yet shy, Hamish DeLuca.

Their latest case arrives when Errol Parker, the leading base stealer in the Boston farm leagues, hires Hamish and Reggie to investigate what the Boston police shove off as a series of harmless pranks. Errol believes these are hate crimes linked to the outbreak of war in Europe, and he’s afraid for his life. Hamish and Reggie quickly find themselves in the midst of an escalating series of crimes.

When Hamish has his careful constructed life disrupted by a figure from his past, he is driven to a decision that may sever him from Reggie forever . . . even more than her engagement to wealthy architect Vaughan Vanderlaan.


Purchase Links

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My Review
Murder in the City of Liberty is a mystery set in 1940 Boston.  Reggie (Regina) Van Buren and Hamish DeLuca have a small detective agency.  They are hired by Errol Parker, a black baseball player who is facing harassment because of his race.  There is an atmosphere of great tension in Boston, with members of a hate group meeting and spreading pamphlets.  When Hamish's cousin Luca suddenly appears, the mystery becomes even more complicated.

This book is the second in the Van Buren and DeLuca mystery series.  I did not read the first book and wish I had, because there were numerous references to characters and scenes from the first book.  It took me a few chapters to catch up, but I did, and settled in to enjoy the mystery.

I wanted to read this book because I love historical fiction, enjoy mysteries, and am fascinated by the 1940's as a historical period.  The author did a wonderful job at capturing the 1940's with period details through the book.  There are fascinating references to dances and movies and old time radio shows.  For instance, a family friend tells Reggie that she is "playing Nick and Nora Charles" (from The Thin Man) with Hamish.

The baseball setting is interesting, and the author evokes the atmosphere of an old time ballpark:

"The collective din of the stands, the squeak of the bleachers, the organ pounding out jingles and ditties and chords to inspire spectator fervor.  The shifting scoreboard and communal enthusiasm.  The smell of popcorn and beer and, as in tonight's game, the inimitable scent of almost-summer: grass and something in the air that overtook the salt and yeast of the vendors' carts and gave way to the most alluring type of nostalgia" (p. 119).

I really liked Reggie and Hamish as characters, both individually and together.  Reggie is very brave and spirited.  She has a Journal of Independence including a variety of goals:

"Sometimes as in the case of 'Learn how to properly make a bed,' the entries were left untouched in her perfectly taught cursive.  Other times they were scrawled or scratched out with enthusiasm like, 'Stay up 'til dawn.' Which she seemed to be doing now" (p. 149).

Hamish deals with anxiety, and this is dealt with honestly and sensitively in the book.  He is very dashing but also seems vulnerable and real.

There is a lot of back and forth between the characters, as they are romantically interested in each other but don't want to upset the balance of their work relationship and friendship.

The mystery aspect of Murder in the City of Liberty slowly unraveled, piece by piece, and it was very well done (and kept me guessing).  I enjoyed seeing Hamish and DeLuca solve the mystery.

I have already recommended this series to two friends who enjoy historical mysteries.  Readers who enjoy the 1940's will especially enjoy the period details in this well written book.  I am looking forward to the next book in this series!
Author Bio
Rachel McMillan is the author of the Herringford and Watts mysteries, the Three Quarter Time series of contemporary romances set in opulent Vienna, and the Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries praised for bringing an authentic 1930’s Boston world to life while normalizing the fictional conversation surrounding mental illness. Her first work of non-fiction, described as a romantic’s guide to independent travel, releases in 2020. Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada.


Connect with Rachel

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Book Review and Giveaway - A Crafter Hooks a Killer: A Handcrafted Mystery by Holly Quinn

Book Synopsis
Community Craft proprietor Sammy Kane suspects that a tantalizing thread links the deaths of her best friend and a bestselling author. But can she weave together the clues?

Samantha “Sammy” Kane is settling into her new life in idyllic Heartsford, Wisconsin, running her late friend Kate Allen’s craft shop, Community Craft when one early June day, bestselling crochet author Jane Johnson visits Heartsford. Captivated by Community Craft, Jane devotes a chapter in her new book, Behind the Seams, to the store. Sammy is honored, though satisfaction quickly turns to shock when she finds Jane strangled to death—her cold hands clutching a copy of her most recently published book, with the words “THE END” raggedly scratched into the cover.

Heavens to Etsy! Not only must Sammy contend with the author’s inauspicious demise, she has to untie some knotty details from her own past. It turns out Kate’s death was not what it seemed, and instead somehow hooked to Jane Johnson’s demise. Handsome Detective Liam Nash is on the “skein”, more than happy to see the shop owner again, if less than enamored by her sleuthing interventions. But this was Sammy’s best friend—she has to know.

Fortunately, Sammy has a “lace” in the hole. As a child, she formed the S.H.E. detective team with her cousin, Heidi, and her sister, Ellie. Having already reconstituted their partnership, the S.H.E. team searches for a pattern behind the latest death. As the case starts to unravel, will Sammy and team be able to sidestep Liam quick enough to stitch together the clues?

My Review
Sammy Kane owns a small craft shop in Heartsford, Wisconsin;  she took over the business for her best friend, Kate, who died suddenly.  She is excited about a famous crafter, Jane Johnson, visiting the shop.  When she meets Jane, the famous author suggests that she has news about Kate's death. Then Sammy discovers Jane's body, and she works with her sister and cousin - and her almost-boyfriend, police detective Liam Nash - to solve the mystery.

This is the second book in the Handcrafted Mystery series.  I have read both books and thoroughly enjoyed them.  Holly Quinn does an especially good job at capturing the small, Midwestern town atmosphere.  

I really like Sammy, her cousin Heidi, and sister Ellie.  They created a play detective group called S.H.E. (for their first names) as young girls, and they still work together to solve mysteries.  I liked this description of one of their S.H.E. meetings:

"The fireflies were just starting to pop their neon glows of brilliance in the blackening sky.  The luminosity bounced around the backyard grass and bushes as if the fireflies were putting on a private light show for them.  The three S.H.E.s huddled together around Sammy's backyard picnic table with the pages of the manuscript spread between them.  Remnants of dried coagulated cheese and corn chip crumbs littered the bottom of the baking dish, evidence of a well-eaten nacho platter" (Kindle location 2784).

Sammy can be impulsive at times and does not take the precautions for her safety that an experienced detective would take.  I think this is part of her character though, and her approach to amateur sleuthing.

Detective Liam Nash is as charming as ever, and I enjoyed his scenes with Sammy.

Of course, I also loved Sammy's dog (who often visits her shop), Bara!  (I consider all cozy mysteries more interesting if a lovable pet is part of the story.)

The mystery was well done.  I suspected the murderer but enjoyed seeing the details unravel.  The book is fast paced and I read it in just a few days because I was eager to see what happened!

I recommend A Crafter Hooks a Killer and the Handcrafted Mystery series.  Readers who are interested in crafting or small town settings will especially enjoy this book.

Author Bio
Holly Quinn has published two stand-alone fiction novels in another persona. She graduated from Carroll University in Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in business and a minor in marketing. This is her second Handcrafted mystery. Visit her @

Author Links
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Author Bio

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Book Review - Summer by the Tides by Denise Hunter

Book Synopsis
From the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom (now a beloved Hallmark Original movie) comes a heartfelt story of family secrets, forgiveness, and unexpected romance.

Following a painful betrayal, Maddy Monroe’s love life is a wreck, and her restaurant career is in shambles. When her grandmother goes missing, she and her estranged sisters converge at the family beach house in Sea Haven, North Carolina. Being with uptight Nora and free-spirited Emma at the place where their family broke apart is a struggle, and undercurrents of jealousy and resentment threaten to pull the sisters under. In the midst of the storm, sparks begin to fly between Maddy and Gram’s maddening neighbor, Connor Murphy.

As the sisters pack up the family belongings, memories of idyllic, slow-paced summers are resurrected. But long-buried secrets also come to light as Maddy discovers that all was not as it appeared that last summer in Sea Haven—nor today in the seemingly perfect lives of her sisters.

As family tensions rise and Connor causes tumult in Maddy’s heart, the sisters must find a way to accept each other for the women they’ve become before the bitterness of the past destroys their hope for a future.

Purchase Links

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My Review

Summer By the Tides is a beach read about Maddy Monroe.  Maddy has just lost her job as a restaurant manager when she caught her boyfriend cheating with her boss.  Then Maddy finds out her beloved Gram has gone missing, so she hurries to her Gram's beach house in Sea Haven, North Carolina to look for her.  She is soon joined by her older sisters, Emma and Nora, who don't get along.  Over the summer they work on the house together, sort through family history, and Maddie finds a surprising new romance.


I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it.  It looked like a perfect beach read and it absolutely was!  Denise Hunter does a great job at capturing coastal North Carolina and beach life.  I enjoyed settings like Sullivan's Landing, the little seafood restaurant where Maddie works over summer, and the marina where Connor works.  I found details like hurricane preparations at the marina fascinating.


I really liked Maddie.  She is in such a conflicted place at the beginning of the book, but she really comes into her own when she is reunited with her sisters and when she meets Connor.  Connor is a perfect book boyfriend!  He is sweet and sad (a young widower), and their relationship moves slowly with a few little stops and starts.


This is also a lovely book about family and forgiveness and choosing to move forward instead of staying mired in the past.  I also liked Maddie's sister Emma (and her cute little beagle Pippy) and her delightful Gram.  Nora (her oldest sister) was a complex character, but I appreciated her by the end of the novel.


I recommend Summer By the Tides as a beach read or a good read for a leisurely weekend.  Fans of southern fiction and women's fiction will especially enjoy this book.  

Author Bio

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 25 books, including A December Bride and The Convenient Groom, which have been adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Carol Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are rapidly approaching an empty nest.

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