Friday, September 29, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Reading, Writing, and Murder (Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery) by Brenda Whiteside and Joyce Proell

My Review

Emma and Nicole are excited to have a fun getaway for a writers' conference. The conference is full of colorful characters and drama leading up to a murder.  The sisters work together as amateur sleuths to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read Reading, Writing, and Murder because I was intrigued by the writers conference setting. I have attended several writers conferences - although certainly none as action packed as the one in this book!

This is my first read in the Chocolate Martini Sisters mystery series but I had no problem jumping in and enjoying this novel as a standalone.

I really like Nicole and Emma as sleuths. I also enjoyed the array of characters they met at the conference, which made their detecting process fun to read about.

I recommend Reading, Writing and Murder for other cozy mystery readers. It's a fun, lively, well paced mystery - perfect for a weekend read.

Book Synopsis

At the writers’ conference, murder tops the program.

Aspiring mystery author Emma Banefield and travel writer Nicole Earp are excited to attend a writers’ conference during their latest sisters’ getaway. Nic’s birthday should be all about relaxation, writing, and a chocolate martini to toast another trip around the sun, but the climate at the gathering rumbles like a sudden desert thunderstorm.

When sparks fly between the keynote speaker and her timid assistant over a handsome mystery author, the subtitle on this anticipated tranquil weekend spells drama. If a heated love triangle, bruised egos, and betrayal aren’t enough to upset the atmosphere, the conference banquet erupts into a drunken brawl and sends the place spinning. After a body is discovered, Nic and Em do what they do best—snoop—and become embroiled in a mystery that jumps off the pages of a true-crime bestseller.

With more than enough suspects and little time, the amateur sleuths have their hands full finding the killer. But can the competitive Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime before the prickly chief detective does, or will a murderer outwit them all?

Author Bios

Joyce Proell is the award-winning author of Amaryllis, Eliza and the Cady Delafield mysteries: A Deadly Truth, A Burning Truth and A Wicked Truth. Along with her husband and little dog, Nellie, she lives in Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie. She loves to hear from readers.

Website    Facebook    Amazon Author Page   Goodreads Author Page

Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense, romance, and cozy mystery. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart and won’t discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes.

Visit Brenda’s Website   Facebook    Twitter    Blog    Amazon Author Page    Goodreads Author Page    BookBub     Instagram  

Join her Newsletter Group here.   

Purchase Links
Amazon US   Amazon UK    Amazon Canada


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, September 22, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Murder at the Elms (A Gilded Newport Mystery) by Alyssa Maxwell

My Review

During the Gilded Age, Emma Cross and her husband Derrick are part of the social set in Newport, Rhode Island and also own the local newspaper.  They become involved in detecting when a young maid from a neighboring estate is discovered dead in a coal mine at the same time a very valuable necklace is discovered missing.

I wanted to read this mystery because I have enjoyed several of the books in Alyssa Maxwell's A Lady and Lady's Maid series.  I have not (yet!) read the other books in the Gilded Newport series, but Murder at the Elms works well as a stand alone.

I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery.  I love historical fiction and cozy mysteries, and this book is a perfect blend of both.  The Gilded Age setting is perfection!  There are so many great period details and descriptions that make this earlier time come alive.

I really like Emma as an amateur detective.  She's smart and independent.  Her relationship with Derrick, which is more modern than many marriages of this time, was also interesting.

The mystery aspect of Murder at the Elms was well done, with a brisk pace and a storyline that unfolds as Emma sleuths.

I recommend Murder at the Elms for fans of historical fiction, historical mysteries, cozy mysteries - and for anyone who is interested in the Gilded Age.  I want to go back and read the rest of this series!

Book Synopsis

As the nineteenth century comes to a close, the illustrious Vanderbilt family dominates Newport, Rhode Island, high society. But when murder arrives, reporter Emma Cross learns that sometimes the actions of the cream of society can curdle one’s blood in the latest installment of this bestselling cozy historical mystery series . . .

1901: Back from their honeymoon in Italy, Emma and Derrick are adapting to married life as they return to their duties at their jointly owned newspaper, the Newport Messenger. The Elms, coal baron Edward Berwind’s newly completed Bellevue Avenue estate, is newsworthy for two reasons: A modern mansion for the new century, it is one of the first homes in America to be wired for electricity with no backup power system, generated by coal from Berwind’s own mines. And their servants—with a single exception—have all gone on strike to protest their working conditions. Summarily dismissing and replacing his staff with cool and callous efficiency, Berwind throws a grand party to showcase the marvels of his new “cottage.”

Emma and Derrick are invited to the fete, which culminates not only in a fabulous musicale but an unforeseen tragedy—a chambermaid is found dead in the coal tunnel. In short order, it is also discovered that a guest’s diamond necklace is missing and a laborer has disappeared.

Detective Jesse Whyte entreats Emma and Derrick to help with the investigation and determine whether the murdered maid and stolen necklace are connected. As the dark deeds cast a shadow over the blazing mansion, it’s up to Emma to shine a light on the culprit . . .

Author Bio

Alyssa Maxwell is the author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She has worked in publishing as a reference book editor, ghost writer, and fiction editor, but knew from an early age that she wanted to be a fiction author. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain and Ireland fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles drew her to the mystery genre. She and her husband have make their home in South Florida. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and the South Florida Fiction Writers. Author Links 

Facebook Sleuths In Crime

Purchase Links – AmazonB&

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 15, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (Year-Round Christmas Mystery) by Vicki Delany

My Review

Merry Wilkinson owns a gift shop in the Christmas theme town of Rudolph, New York.  A couple of weeks from Christmas, she is having a normal day in the shop, chatting with friends and family about the upcoming small theater musical version of A Christmas Carol.  She leaves the shop for just a few minutes to check on her Saint Bernard dog, who is resting in her office.  When she returns, she finds that a contentious woman from the show's cast is dead in her shop!  Merry works to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas because I have enjoyed previous books in the series. 

This was a very enjoyable read.  I have not read the entire series, but was able to jump in and enjoy this mystery, so I think it would also work as a standalone.  

I absolutely love the small town setting of Rudolph.  The town's Christmas theme is a fun bonus!  I love the descriptions of the town, the little shops, restaurants, etc.

Merry is a good amateur detective.  She had some strong suspects, and I enjoyed watching her detecting process.

Mattie (a/k/a Matterhorn), her Saint Bernard is a nice addition to the book!  I love cozy mysteries that feature dogs or cats.

I recommend this book (and series!) for fans of cozy mysteries, and especially anyone who enjoys a small town or holiday setting.

Book Synopsis

It’s beginning to look a lot like murder in the sixth installment of this charming cozy mystery series, perfect for fans of Donna Andrews and Jacqueline Frost.

It’s the beginning of December in Rudolph, New York, America’s Christmas Town, and business is brisk at Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, a gift and d├ęcor shop owned by Merry Wilkinson. The local amateur dramatic society is intensely preparing a special musical production of A Christmas Carol. But it’s not a happy set, as rivalries between cast and crew threaten the production.

Tensions come to a head when a member of the group is found dead shortly after a shopping excursion to Mrs. Claus’s Treasures. Was someone looking to cut out the competition? Everyone in the cast and crew is a potential suspect, including Aline, Merry’s mother, and Merry’s shop assistant Jackie O’Reilly, who was desperate for a starring role.

It could be curtains for Christmas—and for Merry—unless the killer can be ferreted out of the wings.

Author Bio

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S.  Author of more than fifty books, she is currently writing the Tea by the Sea mysteries, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, the Year-Round Christmas mysteries, and the Lighthouse Library series (as Eva Gates). Vicki is the recipient of the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Author Links

Website –

Facebook –;

Twitter:  @vickidelany and@evagatesauthor

Instagram: vickidelany

Bookbub: Vicki Delany Books – BookBub

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboBookshop.orgPenguinRandomHouse


a Rafflecopter giveaway