Saturday, July 2, 2022

Ellery's Magic Bicycle by Maria Monte; illustrated by Zoe Saunders – Book Review

My newest book review is of children's book Ellery's Magic Bicycle. This one is super short but perfect for children ages 2 and up.


Ellery's Magic Bicycle by Maria Monte and illustrated by Zoe Saunders is a beautiful children's book.

The story is about Ellery who discovers a bicycle. But not just any bicycle. It's a magic bicycle. Ellery begins to play with the bicycle every day. In a way, the bicycle becomes her best friend.

But when she grows old, they drift apart. But will Ellery find and remember the great times she's had with her magic bicycle? Will grown-up Ellery rekindle that friendship?

Check out Ellery's Magic Bicycle to find out.

I must say the artwork is absolutely stunning and colorful. 

Whether you're reading Ellery's Magic Bicycle to family or children at a nursery, I'm sure children will love the beautiful and colorful illustrations by Zoe Saunders. I'm over 30 and I loved them too!

Kudos to author and artist for this lovely and quick read.




Thursday, June 9, 2022

The Double Exposure Murder by Jeanne Quigley - Book Review and Blog tour


Today, I'm featuring a book review as part of a blog tour for Jeanne Quigley's The Double Exposure Murder.

My post comes a couple of days late but here it is.

The Double Exposure Murder by Jeanne Quigley blog banner


Book: The Double Exposure Murder

Series: 1st in series, Robyn Cavanagh Mystery Series

Author: Jeanne Quigley

Genre: Cozy mystery

Publisher: TouchPoint Press

Number of Pages: 270

 

Synopsis:

Robyn Cavanagh enjoys a thriving second career as a portrait photographer in her beloved suburban hometown of Garland, New York.

Having built a large portfolio of high school senior photos and family portraits, Robyn is thrilled when math teacher Brooke Gibson hires her to take photos of a different subject: 16 Clover Lane, the house Brooke has recently inherited from her late great-aunt.

The Double Exposure Murder by Jeanne Quigley cover

Brooke will soon put the home on the market and wants Robyn to take the photos for the real estate listing. Robyn thinks the cozy house will attract prospective buyers—until she finds bride-to-be Brooke’s battered body in the garden shed.

When Brooke’s mother asks her help in canceling the wedding plans, Robyn plays amateur sleuth and gathers clues while also collecting refunds from Brooke’s wedding vendors.

With help from her friend Will Vonderlin, Robyn assembles evidence of a possible love triangle, financial indiscretions, and neighborhood feuds and builds a suspect list that includes Brooke’s fiancé, a jealous relative, a longtime rival, and a shady bartender.

The clues lead Robyn to the killer and a spectacular July Fourth finale complete with a marching band and a parade of howling dogs.

 

Book Review of The Double Exposure Murder

 

"Violent acts of any sort were a rarity in Garland. I was certain that Brooke knew her killer."

The Double Exposure Murder by Jeanne Quigley is the first book in the Robyn Cavanagh Mystery series.

The book opens with photographer-slash-accountant Robyn Cavanagh taking photos and listening to bride-to-be Brooke talk about her July wedding.

In addition to preparing for her wedding, Brooke is also working to sell her late Aunt Olive's house. Aunt Olive had left the house to Brooke and her cousin Jessica.

Robyn goes to meet Brooke, a few days later, to finalize some pictures. Instead, she stumbles on to Brooke's dead body.



"With my Olympus [camera], I had photographed a charming home and the engagement photos of a beautiful young woman. The detective had just filled a memory card with shots of the same person and setting, but of a darker scene and mood.

I much preferred the hopefulness and serenity in my photos to the violence and despair in his frames."

Soon after, Laurel, Brooke's mother, tasks Robyn with collecting the wedding refunds from various businesses in their town.

Doing so gives Robyn the opportunity to help Laurel and uncover many unsettling things about her friend Brooke. It also leads Robyn to considering various crazy theories about who wanted to kill Brooke and why.

At first I felt the book was slow especially with the first chapter focused on a babbling Brooke.

But I believe it was because author Jeanne Quigley wants readers to see how nice Brooke is and make a connection with her. But then when Robyn begins her own secret investigation,

Chapter 27 in The Double Exposure Murder was one of the longest and most boring chapters in the book. I don't like – or understand – American football. I think there were a few sections that were just there and that the author could have sped it up a little.

"You should stop snooping around the case. Leave it to the police. Perhaps they should investigate you. You are the one who found Brooke's body. You should be the price suspect."

One of my problems with The Double Exposure Murder was that I got confused a few times by the characters.

Since the book handles teens, there are the teens and their parents, and others. So I felt they were a lot!

I also felt that the reason why Brooke was killed was a bit complex. I had to read the final bit a couple of times to realize what was going on. The fact that Robyn had dug up a lot of dirt on the seemingly-sweet Brooke may or may not have contributed to that.



While reading The Double Exposure Murder, I was annoyed a few times by Robyn's many far-fetched ideas about who the killer was and why they murdered Brooke.

But then I realized: Robyn wasn't a detective, so it was natural for her thoughts to be all over the place.

Quigley has left with a few ideas and thoughts of my own.

On the other hand, here a few of the things I liked about The Double Exposure Murder:

1.      Robyn Cavanagh is around 46 and single with no apparent romantic interest. You don't see that too much in cozy mysteries.

2.     Robyn's sarcasm and inner sarcastic dialogue.

3.     Yogi, Robyn's dog. You get the impression that he's so understanding and Robyn has these cute conversations with 'him.'

4.     I loved how all of Robyn's family pitched in to discuss the murder, the suspects, the potential motives, and so on.

 

Overall, I found The Double Exposure Murder to be an interesting read. It may slow down in some parts by it's generally enjoyable.

Overall rating for The Double Exposure Murder by Jeanne Quigley: 4 Stars.

 

Note: I received a free copy of The Double Exposure Murder by Jeanne Quigley from Lori Caswell as part of a blog tour with Dolly Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

  

About the Author

author Jeanne QuigleyJeanne Quigley is the author of the Veronica Walsh Mysteries and the Robyn Cavanagh mystery series.

Unlike her fictional sleuths, she has never been a soap opera star or an accountant (though she was an accounting major for a few minutes in the spring of 1985), but she has worked for an educational publisher and in the music industry.

A lifelong New Yorker, Jeanne lives in her native Rockland County.

Connect with Jeanne via Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and her blog.

 

Last but certainly not least, as part of the blog tour, there's a giveaway! So use the Widget below to enter. Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 16, 2022

Witches at the Wedding by Alison Golden – Book Review

At last, here is my book review of Witches at the Wedding by Alison Golden.

I'm super happy to be part of Golden's street team to help her promote her books. And that's how I got a free copy of Witches at the Wedding. This has not affected my review in any way whatsoever.

 

Witches at the Wedding by Alison Golden blog banner

Synopsis:

A body in a barn. A secret from the past. Wedding plans can be murder...

Reverend Annabelle Dixon is back! A vicar with a taste for sweets and a nose for crime, Annabelle seems doggedly distracted from her impending wedding to Inspector Nicholls. Much to the dismay of her wedding organizer, Philippa.

Witches at the Wedding by Alison Golden book cover
So when a visiting priest stumbles over a corpse in a cow barn, Annabelle is all too eager to investigate. But when an ancient journal links the victim to a travesty from the past, Annabelle wonders if she’s in over her head. Meanwhile, the inspector has his hands full with potential suspects... And a troubling lack of clues.

Disgruntled laborers, absent relatives, a group of sinister travelers... The list of possible killers seems endless. But when someone burns down Annabelle and Mike’s wedding marquee days before the ceremony, they find themselves in a race against time.

Can Annabelle solve this disturbing crime, and banish her wedding day jitters once and for all, before it’s too late?

Witches at the Wedding is the eighth in a furiously fast-paced, funny new series featuring a young female vicar whose passion and dedication to her parish are matched only by her weakness for cake.

If you like quirky characters, clever puzzles, and a touch of sweet romance, then you’ll love Alison Golden’s deliciously addictive storytelling.

**This series of books are clean cozy mysteries that contain no swearing or graphic descriptions of violence or bedroom activities. There are even recipes in the back!**


Book Review of Witches at the Wedding

Is Annabelle running away from her wedding responsibilities or can't she just pass up another chance to solve a mystery?

Witches at the Wedding marks my 4th read in the Reverend Annabelle Dixon Mystery Series and overall my 9th read (!) for Alison Golden. It is sadly the final book in this fun series.

"Only three days left! And she's barely prepared anything!"

As you can see Witches at the Wedding starts off strong with the third person view of Philipa, Annabelle's and the Upton St. Mary Church's cook.

In this final book in the Reverend Annabelle Dixon Mystery Series, Annabelle has accepted Inspector Mike Nicholls' marriage proposal and they're due to get married. In three days!

And if you're wondering if Annabelle manages to land herself in a mystery within those three days… then you're right! She does!

"It's a strange case. Nothing stolen. A victim who seemed to have had little contact with the outside world. And yet such a violent, grisly murder. It almost feels personal, intimate."

Unlike previous books, the murder in Witches at the Wedding is pretty gruesome. Though as cozy mysteries go, we don't see the murder itself. Phew!




Annabelle seems to be running away from the responsibilities of getting married – I mean who hasn't chosen their cake or tried on their dress three days before the wedding?! So when a mystery knocks on her door, Annabelle dives straight in.

"Oh it was never a question of trust, Annabelle," Mike said. "I always have faith" –he winked at her– "that you'll get yourself into trouble eventually,."

There's lots hanging on this particular case. Inspector Mike Nicholls, Annabelle's husband-to-be, would get a promotion if he solves this case before his wedding day. And if the case is closed quickly, then Annabelle can get back to planning and going-on-with her wedding.

In their search for the killer, Annabelle and Nicholls come across a group of people – gypsies – living on the outskirts of the town. There, one of the women who is said to be a fortune teller, gives a reading to the couple, albeit separately, adding to the scary sense that Annabelle may not go forward with the wedding.

"You are a good, steadfast woman. There are dark forces at play. More than your people understand. These shadows are seeking, observing, and hiding in plain sight."

As always, Annabelle is funny but even more so is Philippa who is struggling to manage and prepare for the wedding.

I enjoyed this final conclusion to the Reverend Annabelle Dixon Mystery Series. Golden has a surprise and interesting ending so I'll leave it at that.

I find that Witches at the Wedding is a great conclusion to the series. Though I'd love to see more of the Annabelle-Nicholls couple having their own series again or making an appearance in another series by Golden.

 

Overall rating for Witches at the Wedding by Alison Golden: 4.5 stars

 

Note: I received a free copy of Witches at the Wedding from its author Alison Golden for being part of her street team. This in no way affected my review of the book.

 

Read more of my book reviews of Alison Golden's books:

Reverend Annabelle Dixon Mystery Series

-         Death at the Café (Book 1)

-         Horror in the Highlands (Book 5)

-         Killer at the Cult (Book 6)



Detective Inspector Graham Series

-         The Case of the Screaming Beauty

-         The Case of the Hidden Flame

-         The Case of the Broken Doll

-         The Case of Samson's Leap


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Killer at the Cult by Alison Golden – Book Review

I'm excited to be sharing a new review for Alison Golden! And there's another review on the way because I read these 2 books back-to-back!


Synopsis:

Killer at the Cult by Alison Golden
A sinister cult. A body in the woods. A mystery more devious than Annabelle’s diet…

Reverend Annabelle Dixon has pulled out all the stops to earn the affection of the handsome Inspector Nicholls. She’s even done the unthinkable, and sworn off sweets… for a bit.

But when all her efforts come to naught, Annabelle seeks comfort and distraction in the affairs of her parish. When she hears of strangers moving into a house on the edge of the village, Annabelle decides to pay these new residents a visit.

What she finds is a quirky cult, and a ritual that sends her fleeing into the woods…where she promptly trips over a dead body!

Local police make a hasty arrest, but Annabelle is convinced they have the wrong man. And she decides a murder investigation is just the thing to keep her mind off the absent Inspector Nicholls. But with an entire cult full of suspects, can Annabelle unravel the killer’s identity, before they strike again?

Killer at the Cult is the latest entry in the Reverend Annabelle Dixon series. If you like quaint English towns, mysterious characters, laugh-out-loud humor, and a touch of sweet romance, then you’ll love Alison Golden’s deliciously humorous storytelling.

This book includes recipes for some of Annabelle’s favorite treats:

·        Lovely Lemon Tart

·        Pious Plum and Almond Crumble

·        Reformed Rhubarb Flan

·        Soulful Scones


Book Review of Killer at the Cult 


"So who has motive?"

"They all do!"

"Alibis?"

"None of them have one."

 

Killer at the Cult by Alison Golden is the sixth book in the Reverend Annabelle Dixon Mystery Series. It's my third read in the series.

I'd originally planned to start my advanced reader's copy (ARC) of Golden's upcoming book Witches at the Wedding but thought I'd start Killer at the Cult first to refresh my memory.

Like all of Alison Golden's cozy mystery books, Killer at the Cult can be read as a standalone. You don't have to read other books in the series to start this one, though I highly recommend you read Death at the Café, the first book in the series because it's brilliant!

However, unlike previous books in the series, the murder mystery in Killer at the Cult doesn't take place the beginning.

In Death at the Café, the murder takes place in the first chapter or two, whereas in Killer at the Cult, the murder occurs in chapter 9. This doesn't put off the reader though, but I thought it was worth mentioning because I personally prefer when the murder takes place early on.

In Killer at the Cult, Annabelle investigates a group of people who come to her village and whom the villagers are weary of. The group seems to follow a strange saint – strange even to a Reverend like Annabelle.

Killer at the Cult by Alison Golden book quote


But they are a friendly group who invite her over for one of their – strange-is-an-understatement – rituals.

However, by the end of the ritual, the leader of the group Theo Westmoreland is discovered dead!

"But, but…There hasn't been a thorough investigation. You're making your facts fit your theory."

In this book, Annabelle meets police Inspector Ainslie – and he's totally urggh!

Unlike previous books, where Annabelle's beau Inspector Mike Nicholls is the inspector in charge, Ainslie thinks is a slam-and-dunk case. But Annabelle will set him straight – several times over! *go Annabelle*

Naturally, Annabelle decides to investigate the group more thoroughly to uncover the real killer. She delves into each person's past and how they got into the group.

"Annabelle seriously doubted [Suki's statement], but the alternative was to point out that Theo had been murdered and probably by one of the people he lived among."

Killer at the Cult comprises 31 fairly short chapters, making it easy for the reader to keep going till the end and finish the book in a few days.

One of the things I enjoy is Golden's description of setting and food – especially in the Reverend Annabelle Dixon Mystery Series. Annabelle adores sweets, especially cakes.

Here's an example:

"Annabelle pushed open the front door and marched down the hall to her rustic, cozy kitchen. It was her favorite room in the house. It had exposed beams running across the ceiling and down the walls. It was a place of calm, communion, and cupboards full of cake."

Am I the only one who wants to close their eyes and wake up in this kitchen?

Overall, I thought Killer at the Cult is an interesting read. I didn't get the killer right. I didn't expect THAT person to be the killer AT ALL!

So my overall rating for Killer at the Cult by Alison Golden is 3.75 stars.

 

Note: I received a free copy of Killer at the Cult from its author Alison Golden as part of her street team. This in no way affected my review.

 

Read more of my book reviews of Alison Golden's books:

Reverend Annabelle Dixon Mystery Series

-          Death at the Café (Book 1)

-          Horror in the Highlands (Book 5)

-          Witches at the Wedding (Book 8)

Detective Inspector Graham Series

-          The Case of the Screaming Beauty (Book 1)

-          The Case of the Hidden Flame (Book 2) 

-          The Case of the Broken Doll (Book 4)

-          The Case of Samson's Leap (Book 8)

 



Monday, May 9, 2022

Writers Helping Writers Are Running a MASSIVE Giveaway! Check it out!

I've got some exciting news to share today!

From 9 to 13 May, Writers Helping Writers, which was founded by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, is celebrating their 10-year anniversary!

And no anniversary celebration is complete without a… GIVEAWAY!

I've been following the Writers Helping Writers blog for some time and they have tons of great and free resources for writers. You'll find tips and cheat-sheets on world building, writing, editing, characters arcs, and tons more.



Plus, authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have published a series of helpful books about writing under the 'Thesaurus' series. I've read 1.5 of those books J

I've read The Negative Trait Thesaurus, which is amazing! And I've read most of The Emotion Thesaurus.

The first is about attributing character traits to your characters – with examples, while the second is about showing (not telling) emotions.

But I'm forgetting the main purpose of this post. It's The Ultimate Writer’s Toolkit Giveaway!


So here's the deal: 

As part of their 10-year anniversary for The Emotion Thesaurus, co-authors Angela and Becca are running a massive giveaway! (And I'm excited to be one of the hosts)

Angela and Becca have scoured the internet for the best tools to help writers, like YOU, strengthen their storytelling and give their career a boost. This includes software licences, subscriptions, course bundles, and even a full set of the Writers Helping Writers thesaurus guides.

And ONE lucky writer is going to WIN IT ALL!

To enter, head over to this post and enter by 13 May 2022. Good luck!

If you're struggling with how to show your character’s emotion, you may want to check out Angela and Becca's The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.

The book includes 130 different emotions and gives you lists of ways to describe them through body language, thoughts, visceral sensations, dialogue cues, and more.  It’s helped me, and maybe it will help you!

Learn more about The Emotion Thesaurus by exploring a few sample entries from the book to see what these lists look like.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!


 

Want to learn more about the craft of writing?

Check out these book reviews and blog posts:


The Writer's Body Lexicon: Body Parts, Actions, and Expressions by Kathy Steinemann

The Writer's Lexicon: Descriptions, Overused Words, and Taboos by Kathy Steinemann

The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall

Writing About Magic by Rayne Hall

Writer Your Book in a Flash by Dan Janal

The World You Write In by R. Michael Phillips (Guest Post)

A Different Kind of Hero by Jennifer Carole Lewis (Guest Post)


 

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How My Blog Got 1 Million Views in 7 Months by Patric Morgan

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