Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Case of Sampson's Leap by Alison Golden - Book Review


Book cover for The Case of Sampson's Leap by Alison Golden
Book: The Case of Sampson's Leap

Series: The Detective David Graham Series

Author: Alison Golden

Publication Date: 24 October 2021



A confounding case in the present. A precipitous puzzle from the past...

Inspector David Graham knows all about history. After moving to the island of Jersey to recover from a tragic loss, he has done his best to leave painful memories behind. But sometimes it is not so easy to forget...

When Mia, a promising young actress, turns up dead beneath the jagged cliffs known as Sampson’s Leap, suicide seems the obvious answer. But after Inspector Graham interviews the victim’s conniving clan of associates, he’s not so sure. Jealousy, greed, drugs... With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Mia's mysterious death also shines a light on a far older case... The murder of three women, nearly two centuries ago. New evidence suggests that investigative rigor may not have been applied.

Can the dogged Inspector uncover the truth of Mia’s fate? Can a historical injustice be laid to rest? And can Graham finally reveal the secrets hiding in his own heart to the woman who knows him best...?


Book Review


"I still don't know if she jumped, fell, or was pushed. Suicide, accident, or murder."

The Case of Sampson's Leap by Alison Golden is the eighth book in the Inspector David Graham Mystery Series and my – what – sixth book for Golden.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Inspector David Graham Mystery Series, it's fast; it's addictive; and you can't help but adore Graham.

Each book in the Inspector David Graham Mystery Series can be read as a standalone. So if you start at book 6 or 8, you don't have to worry about not reading the previous books, although I highly recommend them.

The Case of Sampson's Leap comprises 75 short chapters, making the book super-fast-paced. It opens with the death of a film student, Mia Thorne.

But as Inspector Graham and his team investigate and interview her friends, they find themselves in a super thick web of endless lies.

"To a woman like Mia Thorne, Noah Stimms was merely a toy, a dim foil, a moth to a flame, fluttering pointlessly but eternally hopeful around it until, eventually, he got zapped in a flash of scorching heat and acrid smoke. Mightier men had met similar fates with much the same outcome."

At the same time, the island of Gorey is nearing its bicentenary of Sampson's Leap. Sampson, an apothecary – a pharmacist, was accused of murdering three women. When the townspeople gave him the choice to either jump from a hill into the raging sea or be killed, he took the first option, only to jump and survive.

So the townspeople forced him to jump a second time and that was the end of Sampson. But the area where he had jumped had been named Sampson's Leap ever since.

Although the story focuses on Mia's death, we also get bits of history and new evidence comes to light about the 200-year-old Sampson case. After all, both incidents are related to the area known as 'Sampson's Leap.'

Book quote from the case of sampson's leap by Alison Golden

When reading
The Case of Sampson's Leap, you'll share the police's irritation at the continuous dead ends. Still it's impossible to put this book down. I finished it in 2 or 3 sittings!

Having read several books in this series, there's significant character development for everyone. While David Graham is fully-developed character, his team began book 1 as a group of newbie officers. Now in book 8, they're smarter, faster, and more creative.

"Graham fixed Noah with a look that would have dented body armor."

Alison Golden expertly juggles two mysteries in The Case of Sampson's Leap, leaving readers curious on both ends.  


Overall rating for The Case of Sampson's Leap by Alison Golden: 5 stars.

Note: I received a free copy of The Case of Sampson's Leap from its author Alison Golden being a part of her street team. This did not in any way influence my review of the book. I was already a big fan!

And while I originally finished the book in the allotted time, I had a reviewing-block (spent 7 months not writing book reviews). Hence my review is coming quite late.


Other books in the series and reviewed on Nadaness In Motion:

The Case of the Screaming Beauty (Book 1 in The Inspector David Graham Series)

The Case of the Hidden Flame (Book 2 in The Inspector David Graham Series)

The Case of the Broken Doll (Book 4 in The Inspector David Graham Series)

Death at the Café (Book 1 in The Reverend Annabelle Dixon Series)

Horror in the Highlands (Book 5 in The Reverend Annabelle Dixon Series)


Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Enter a Wizard, Stage Left by Connie di Marco – Book Review

My first blog post for 2022 is a book review and it's a quick cozy mystery by a new author for me.

Book: Enter a Wizard, Stage Left

Author: Connie di Marco

Series: Prequel to Zodiac Mystery Series

Publisher: Suspense Publishing

Publication Date: 26 October 2021

Number of pages: 111 pages


Enter a Wizard Stage Left book cover
Julia Bonatti wasn’t always a crime-solving San Francisco astrologer. She was a young woman, engaged to the love of her life, preparing for a teaching career when tragedy struck. Her fiancé was killed in a hit and run accident. As Julia struggles with her loss and attempts to find meaning in her life again, she takes refuge with her grandmother Gloria.

But there’s little time for grief or rest because Gloria, a retired seamstress, needs Julia’s help. Gloria’s been hired to create costumes for a production of Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death at the newly opened Theatre Mars in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood.

Theatre Mars is a stunning jewel, the cast is supremely talented and the script is brilliant. What could go wrong?

Julia gets the first hint of trouble when her new friend, the owner of The Mystic Eye bookshop, warns that all might not go well. Opening night will take place during the dark of the moon, the last three days before the new moon, a time that bodes disaster for any new project. The dire prediction comes true when the lead actress is murdered before the final curtain, echoing the play itself.

Julia discovers a vital clue to the murder, but a clue that puts Gloria’s life in grave danger. Can Julia rescue her grandmother before it’s too late? And will a black cat play a leading role?

Book Review

"Out, damned spot!"

Vivian gasped. The entire room became quiet.

"What?" Natalie looked around, confused.

"You quoted Macbeth," Vivian said.


"That's very bad luck before a show."

Enter a Wizard, Stage Left by Connie di Marco, a novella and prequel to the Zodiac Mystery Series.

It's also my first read for 2022! Yay!

Comprising 19 chapters, the story is short and quick. Although the death scene takes place towards the middle of the book, it's not boring and you get to meet the main characters in future books.

Enter a Wizard, Stage Left opens with a play, a remake of Agatha Christie's Appointment with Death novel and the characters and the roles they'll be playing.

We meet the main character Julia, who has just returned to live with her grandmother Gloria following the death of her fiancé. Gloria is in charge of making the costumes for all the actors and actresses in the play. She enlists Julia's help ahead of opening night.

Julia receives foreboding news that something bad will happen during opening night.

And during the play's opening, one of the play's characters is killed on stage! And soon after Julia's grandmother Gloria disappears.

As Julia frantically searches for her grandmother, her curiosity allows her to overhear discussions and meddle around the theatre.

Enter a Wizard Stage Left blog banner featuring the book cover and an author image

Enter a Wizard, Stage Left in fast-paced and you can easily finish it in a sitting or a couple of hours.

However, due to this short length, there isn't 'a lot of sleuthing.' I also felt that some of the dialogue was a bit childish or obvious. (But then again, my last read before this one was an Agatha Christie novel).

That said, Enter a Wizard, Stage Left sets the scene for future books. In this one, Julia is curious about astrology and begins reading books about it. The rest of the Zodiac Mystery Series introduce Julia as an astrologist.


Overall rating for Enter a Wizard, Stage Left by Connie di Marco: 3 stars


Note: I received a free copy of Enter a Wizard, Stage Left by Connie di Marco as part of a blog tour with Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. This did not in any way affect my review.

About the Author

connie di marco author of Enter a Wizard, Stage Left
With the Zodiac Mysteries, featuring Julia Bonatti, a crime-solving San Francisco astrologer, Connie di Marco has combined her fascination with astrology and her love of writing mysteries. 

Writing as Connie Archer, she’s the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. 

She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.  She lives in Los Angeles but dreams constantly of the San Francisco fog.

Connect with Connie di Marco via her Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Instagram, and Goodreads.

As part of the blog tour, there's a giveaway for 10 digital copies of Enter a Wizard, Stage Left. So be sure to enter using the widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait by Cleo Coyle – Book Review

I've been looking forward to reading a book by Cleo Coyle. So when I got the opportunity to read The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait, I hopped right on it.

And to my surprise Cleo Coyle is actually two people! But more on that in the author bio below.

Book: The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait
(A Haunted Bookshop Mystery)

Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: 4 May 2021
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 0425251861
ISBN-13: 978-0425251867
Digital ASIN: B08274WCLM


Bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure and her gumshoe ghost team up to solve the stunning mystery at the heart of a madwoman’s self-portrait in this all new installment from New York Times bestselling author Cleo Coyle.

While gathering a collection of vintage book cover paintings for a special event in her quaint Rhode Island bookshop, Penelope discovers a spooky portrait of a beautiful woman, one who supposedly went mad, according to town gossip. Seymour, the local mailman, falls in love with the haunting image and buys the picture, refusing to part with it, even as fatal accidents befall those around it. Is the canvas cursed? Or is something more sinister at work?

For answers, Pen turns to an otherworldly source: Jack Shepard, PI. Back in the 1940s, Jack cracked a case of a killer cover artist, and (to Pen’s relief) his spirit is willing to help her solve this mystery, even if he and his license did expire decades ago.


Book Review by Nadaness In Motion

The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait by Cleo Coyle is the seventh book in the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series and my first read for Coyle.

Penny McClure is the proud co-owner of Buy the Book, along with her aunt Sadie. Together with Penny's son Spencer, they live above the bookshop.

Penny has a ghost friend, Jack, a former private investigator (PI) from the 1940's. But Jack doesn't haunt the library. He only communicates with Penny with her mind. She can't see him and no one else can. Naturally, no one except her knows of his existence.

"I could tell from [the Sheriff's] change in expression and tone that she no longer though I was a threat. Clearly, I'd been demoted from "suspicious character" to "neurotic busybody" (or rambling idiot).

Along with her two constantly-bickering-and-humorous friends Brainert and Seymour, Penny visits a Walt Waverly to borrow some art pieces for an upcoming exhibition in her book store. But the next day, as she goes to Waverly's again, she discovers the man dead.

At the same time, Seymour has purchased a portrait (from Waverly) of a Harriet McClure, an older relative of Penny's late husband. Seymour becomes obsessed with the painting.

One of the things I liked about The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait, was the fact there were not two but three mysteries! Two in Penny's world and one in Jack's.

In the modern world, Penny encounters not one but two deaths. With one of them coming close to home as her son's babysitter is accused of murder.

In addition, Seymour's recently-acquired portrait is believed to be haunted and a killer is trying to get their hands on it – no matter the number of dead bodies they leave in their wake.

Jack uses a kind of dream-memory technique to transport Penny (not physically) to his time and draws her into a case that more-or-less to her present. Jack's case relates to one of the borrowed paintings now sitting in Penny's bookstore.

I liked how Jack offered tips and ideas to Pen using his dream-memory technique, while also giving her a heads-up along the way as she searches for a killer.

I must say I did not expect the ending in The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait but I was intrigued by the mysteries.

Unlike most cozy mysteries, The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait doesn't offer a romantic opportunity for the main character, Pen. I found that different – in a good way. Although many cozies have led me to expect a touch of romance.

While it's unclear how Penny and Jack met the first time (it's definitely in book 1), I didn't feel like anything was missing as I started with the seventh book in the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series.

The Cleo Coyle duo has created a different kind of ghost, albeit it's a bit confusing. It felt like Penny could be crazy. She can't see the ghost but only hear him. She has a coin that belongs to Jack and by taking it out of the library, she's able to communicate with Jack anywhere.

Cleo Coyle's The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait can be easily read as a standalone. That said, I'd love to read more of this series, whether past or future books.

Overall rating for The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait by Cleo Coyle: 5 stars


Note: I got a free Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) of The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait by Cleo Coyle from its publisher as part of blog tour with Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. This did not in any way affect my review of the book.

About the author(s)

Cleo Coyle is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of the long-running Coffeehouse Mysteries—now celebrating eighteen years in print. 

They are also authors of the nationally bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries, previously written under the pseudonym Alice Kimberly. Alice has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and New York, and has written popular fiction for adults and children. 

A former magazine editor, Marc has authored espionage thrillers and nonfiction for adults and children. Alice and Marc are also both bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together.

Connect with the author(s) via their website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, and Bookbub.

Purchase Links:

Amazon    Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Google Play    IndieBound

Keep up with the rest of the blog tour including interviews, more reviews, guest posts, and spotlights.

4 May – Baroness' Book Trove & FUONLYKNEW – Spotlights

5 May – The Editing Pen & Laura's Interests – Book reviews & Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – Spotlight

6 May – MJB Reviewers – Spotlight, Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Book review & Novels Alive – Guest Post

7 May – Books to the Ceiling & Christy's Cozy Corners – Book Reviews & I'm All About Books – Spotlight

8 May – The Avid Reader – Book Review & Literary Gold & StoreyBook Reviews – Spotlights

9 May –Diane Reviews Books – Book review & Brooke Blogs – Spotlight

10 May –Brianne's Book Reviews & Cozy Up With Kathy & Nadaness In Motion – Book Reviews

11 May –  ebook addicts & Sapphyria's Book Reviews – Spotlights

12 May – Here's How It Happened & Maureen's Musings – Spotlights & The Book's the Thing & Books a Plenty Book Reviews – Book reviews

13 May – BookishKelly2020 & Author Elena Taylor's Blog – Spotlights & Mysteries with Character – Guest Post

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Everything That Was Us by E. Graziani – Interview & Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the virtual book tour via Writely Yours for E. Graziani and her new book Everything That Was Us.

This isn't my first time featuring Graziani. A few years ago, I read her novel Jess Under Pressure and I absolutely loved it. It's still one of my recommended reads.

After that I featured Graziani's time-travel romance Alice-Angel of Time with a guest post.

This month, Graziani has a different kind of novel and what better way to learn about it other than through an exclusive interview with the author herself.

But first let me tell you about the book.

And look at that amazing book cover!


Book: Everything That Was Us

Author: E. Graziani

Genre: Women’s fiction, romance

Number of pages: 323

Publication date: 8 February 2021

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press



What would you do for a secret love?

Despite not speaking for nearly twenty years, Massimo Damiani, a 'rags-to-riches' oil executive, summons Sofie to his hospice bedside in picturesque Tuscany—his last wish? reconcile their stormy history and set long-buried secrets to rest.

Sofia Romano, a powerful Wall Street banker in Manhattan’s financial district, reeling with heartache in her rocky marriage, ignores her husband's protests, and flies to Italy to comfort the dying man from her past.

With old promises tugging at her heart and the memory of a tempestuous love that grew and crumbled time and again, will Sofia ever come to terms with the flaws in her marriage and gain the strength to rebuild it?

Tagline: Their pride tore them apart—a promise brought her back.


Exclusive Interview with Edy Graziani

Q: A little cliché but… what inspired you to write Everything that Was Us?"

Edy: Inspiration can come to me from anywhere…a picture in a magazine, a holiday, a movie, a couple I see at a cafe…it was really the start of a kernel of an idea that then grew into a story that evolved into Sofie and Max’s life story.

I love writing about Italy, especially the province of my heritage – Tuscany. It’s romantic, steeped in culture, gorgeous landscapes…how can you not help but want to write about it.

I generally start with a very basic premise and then build on it. I think ‘what if’… and then I build on it. And when that inspiration hits, it’s like I can’t stop until I have a basic storyline on a notepad.

Q: The genre for Everything that Was Us is women's fiction, so what can you tell us about the main character Sofia? What drew you to write her story?

Edy: Each character I’ve ever written has a part of me in them. I am Sofie and Max – I have some of Sofie’s traits – her insecurities, her practical nature, her drive to achieve her goals, her pride, and her skeptical side. I wanted to write about a strong woman…but also about a woman who is flawed and in the most vulnerable way – she is in love with a man who she cannot possibly be with unless she gives up everything she knows.

I also possess Max’s fiery-type anger, his impetuousness, his pride, and need for closure. So, in other words, I am the walking definition of contradiction.

Q: We often see books about young people, but from the blurb, we know that Massimo is dying, so what are the characters' ages?

Edy: The characters meet in their teens, then again in their early twenties, then in NYC (in their prime, I think) in their mid-thirties, and at the end, where Massimo is dying, they are in their sixties.

Q: What did you enjoy most (and least) about writing Everything that Was Us?

Edy: That’s easy! I loved writing about Italy…about Florence, Lucca, and Garfagnana. A lot of reviewers comment on the beauty of the descriptions of the Italian landscape…that’s just me indulging in my favorite thing to do.

The least? Nothing really. But if I could choose the least favorite part of the writing process…it’s the tedious editing back and forth toward the end. I was done!

Q: If you could pick popular actors and actresses for your book, who would play your main characters Sofia and Massimo?

Edy: Oh, wow…I can’t even think. They would have to be different actors, because of the age range in the novel. I have no idea…let’s let the reader choose. Lol!

Q: What can you tell us about your upcoming writing projects?

Edy: Currently, I’m taking a bit of a break. I’ve been working on tweaking a young adult science fiction fantasy about a telepath awakening to her powers after a stroke. I think it’s an amazing premise, but we’ll have to see if anybody else thinks so!


Can't wait to read the story with the telepath!


About the Author:

E. Graziani is the author of the women’s fiction novel, EVERYTHING THAT WAS US, scheduled to release in 2021 (The Wild Rose Press).


She has also written Breaking Faith (Second Story Press), a contemporary YA fiction novel, selected for the 'In the Margins' Book Award 2018 Recommended Fiction List, and one of Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens, and the YA historical memoir, War in My Town (Second Story Press), one of Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens and finalist in the Hamilton Arts Council 2016 Literary Awards for Best Non-Fiction.

Reader and reviewer, WUoC Short Prose Competition for Emerging Writers, 2019. Regular contributor, CHCH Morning Live Book Chat. She resides in Canada with her husband and four daughters.

Follow E. Graziani on social media via Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, and her Website.


Keep up with the rest of the blog tour via Writerly Yours.