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


Synopsis:

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!


Everything-That-Was-Us-by-E-Graziani-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

 

Synopsis:

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?...to 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).

E-Graziani-author-image

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.



Thursday, February 18, 2021

One Poison Pie by Lynn Cahoon – Book Review

My book review for One Poison Pie by Lynn Cahoon was meant to go up on 12 February but a long series of computer issues and glitches prevented me from posting on my tour date.

This post is part of a blog tour with Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

 

Book: One Poison Pie

(Book 1 in The Kitchen Witch Mystery Series)

Author: Lynn Cahoon

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Kensington

Number of pages: 272 pages

Publication date: 26 January 2021

ISBN-10: 1496730313
ISBN-13: 978-1496730312
Digital ASIN: B087YNC1B6

 

Synopsis:

In the first in New York Times bestselling author Lynn Cahoon’s Kitchen Witch series, Mia Malone is starting over in Magic Springs, Idaho—where murder is on the menu . . .

What’s a kitchen witch to do when her almost-fiancé leaves her suddenly single and unemployed? For Mia Malone, the answer’s simple: move to her grandmother’s quirky Idaho hometown, where magic is an open secret and witches and warlocks are (mostly) welcome. With a new gourmet dinner delivery business—and a touch of magic in her recipes—Mia’s hopes are high. Even when her ex’s little sister, Christina, arrives looking for a place to stay, Mia takes it in stride.

But her first catering job takes a distasteful turn when her client’s body is found, stabbed and stuffed under the head table. Mia’s shocked to learn that she’s a suspect—and even more so when she realizes she’s next on a killer’s list. With Christina, along with Mia’s meddling grandma, in the mix, she’ll have to find out which of the town’s eccentric residents has an appetite for murder…before this fresh start comes to a sticky end. 


Nadaness In Motion's Book Review



“Lady, you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself in to. There’s no way you can pull this off. I’m going to make sure of that.”

For a while, I’ve been hearing about cozy mystery author Lynn Cahoon so when I saw that One Poison Pie was going to be a book tour, I hopped on.

My first read for her is also the first in the Kitchen Witch Mystery Series.

I’m not sure how the title One Poison Pie relates to the story. In fact, I think it’s rather misleading but maybe I didn’t get it. After all, most cozy mystery novels tend to have punned titles.

The novel opens with Mia Malone, a kitchen witch, who just moved from the big city (and a breakup) to her small hometown. She managed to snag an old school that she’s hoping to turn into a home-food-delivery and kitchen school business.

Being a kitchen witch is completely different from the general witches. Mia introduces the idea early on:

“They didn’t wear black, pointy hats or fly around the moon. Mia’s magic was more about the colors, the food, the process of making a house a home.”

That said, kitchen witches are connected to a goddess. And Mia’s connection is through a rag doll named Gloria.

Honestly I was curious about the whole kitchen witch thing but even after I finished the novel I was still confused about it and it felt a bit creepy. It gave the story a magical/paranormal feel but I think I needed more clarity.

In One Poison Pie, Mia has enough problems as it is with the school as she hopes to get her business off the ground before it strangles her in debt. But before she can even begin to do that, her bidding rival threatens her several times.

In addition, she has an upcoming birthday-catering gig to attend to. Only problem is, her one and only client, who is hated by the entire town, ends up dead a day before her birthday!

“I swear, we’re all going to die of heart failure one day because there won’t be anyone under sixty to drive the ambulance.”

Mia doesn’t originally plan to see how her client ends up dead but she’s also the prime suspect because the victim, Adele Simpson, was stabbed with a knife.



In addition to the kitchen business and the dead client, Mia takes in Christina, her ex-boyfriend’s sister to live with her. She’s a rebellious-looking but kind-at-heart teenager. Mia suspects that her ex is using his sister to get to Mia’s cookbook.

One Poison Pie is fully of quirky and fun characters. I especially loved Mia’s grandmother Alice, aka Grans, and Mia’s potential new love Trent, who also has magical roots. There’s Trent’s brother Levi, along with Christina, who you can’t help but love, among others.

“A rumor can swirl through a small town faster than a forest fire could burn an acre.”

Although Mia’s isn’t directly investigating Adele’s murder, she picks up rumors and tidbits. Adele was also Grans’ best friend, which means she too wants to know what happened.

I really like that the mystery was tough to solve and the murder was unexpected.

One Poison Pie is narrated in the third person perspective of Mia. So it’s easy to get into her head and we get to enjoy her sarcastic and humorous side.

“Helen patted Grans, looking more like she was dusting off her back than offering a gesture of real condolence.”

Overall I think One Poison Pie is a good start to the series. I’d love to see what the other books will bring for Mia, Trent, and Grans.

Overall rating for One Poison Pie by Lynn Cahoon: 4 stars.

Note: I got a free copy of One Poison Pie by Lynn Cahoon as part of a blog tour with Great Escapes with Dolly Cas. This in no way affected my review.

About the Author:

Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. She also pens the Cat Latimer series, the Farm to Fork series, and the Kitchen Witch series.

Small town setting, big time fun with a bit of murder to keep it interesting. Romance novels are published under the pen name, Lynn Collins. She lives in a small river town like Mark Twain with her husband and three fur kids.

Connect with Lynn Cahoon via Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and her Website.

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo – Google Play 


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Egg Shooters by Laura Childs - Book Review & Tour

Today, I'm excited to be re-featuring cozy mystery author Laura Childs on my blog as part of a blog tour for her new book Egg Shooters.

 

Book: Egg Shooters
(Book 9 in the Cackleberry Club Mystery)

Author: Laura Childs
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: 26 January 2021
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 0425281744
ISBN-13: 978-0425281741
Kindle ASIN: B085BVYLKY

 


Synopsis:

A murder in the local hospital is raising everyone's temperature in the latest book in the New York Times bestselling Cackleberry Club series.

Suzanne Dietz co-owner of the Cackleberry Club Café is visiting her fiancée, Dr. Sam Hazelet when a masked gunman bursts into the emergency room. He shoots two people and would probably have done more damage had Suzanne not brained him with a thermos full of chili. Still, the gunman manages to escape.

Now the ladies of the Cackleberry Club are determined to find the killer before he finds them.

 

Book Review of Egg Shooters

"Whoever this maniac is, he's been leading us on a merry chase. And he seems to be enjoying it enormously."

Egg Shooters by Laura Childs is the ninth book in The Cackleberry Club Mystery Series. And WOW! What a ride!

I've always wanted to read Laura Childs' books and got to interview her in 2019 for her then-new-book Broken Bone China. Then in 2020, I got a glimpse of her writing – and stunning teas and desserts in Lavender Blue Murder.

Since then, I've been curious about The Cackleberry Club books. And what a read! I loved the mystery, characters, settings, and let's not get to the mouth-watering delicacies Petra can make!

Egg Shooters opens with action from the first chapter. Suzanne Dietz, co-owner of The Cackleberry Club Café is visiting her fiancé, an ER doctor, and bringing him some late lunch. While she's talking to the receptionist, a gunman comes in, shoots a security guard, the receptionist, and is hit on the head with Suzanne's thermos of hot chili.

"What's our own Nancy Drew gonna do about these robberies? You're the one with the head for crime solving. You've got the sharpest instincts in town, though Doogie would die a slow death if he ever heard me say that."

Suzanne is a lot of things but curious and creative top the list. Especially when it comes to defending herself and others.

So the book opens with a murder, a theft, and luckily the receptionist lives. But at the same time, truck hijacking is plaguing the small town of Kindred.

After the shootout, Suzanne's curiosity is piqued, and of course, a few townsfolk ask her to investigate. They know that her skills top the Sheriff Doogie's and deep down the Sheriff knows he could use a helping hand. But never admits it.

The Cackleberry Club is comprised of three co-owners: Suzanne, Toni, and Petra. Each has their quirks but Toni is by far the funniest!

"Petra was the social conscience of the Cackleberry Club, while Toni served as court jester, and Suzanne was CEO, marketing guru, and chief problem solver."

The mystery in Egg Shooters kept me glued to the book. I couldn't put it down. Not to mention Petra's mouth-watering dishes.

If there's ever a café or restaurant like The Cackleberry Club, I'm saving to go there.

I loved how the characters are both strong and deep in their own way, even Toni. I also liked how this cozy mystery shows the characters – in a way – trying to work with the police. Well – sort of.

Toni offers a ton of humor in Egg Shooters, from hilarious comments, her endless to-and-fro with her no-good-soon-to-be-divorced-absolute-kid-brained husband, to her antics and energy. Here's how she describes a new character who walks into their café.

"Who's the Daddy Warbucks type sitting over there with our diddly-squat-do-nothing mayor?"

The book also offers a number of recipes at the end of the book. Courtesy of the chef extraordinaire Petra.

I also learnt a new word: Sesquicentennial – don't ask me how to pronounce it because I failed but it means someone's or something 150th birthday – in this case it was their town's celebration. (That was worth mentioning!)

Overall I loved the Cackleberry Club, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra along with the supporting characters. I just fell in love with this series and can't wait to read more books in it.

Overall rating for Egg Shooters by Laura Childs: 5 stars

 

Don't forget to check out my exclusive interview with Laura Childs and my 4-star book review of Lavender Blue Murder.

 

About the Author:

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop MysteriesScrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

 

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

 

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

 

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

Connect with Laura Childs via her Website and Facebook.

Purchase Links: Amazon   B&N  Kobo   Google Play  IndieBound

 

Keep up with the rest of the blog tour, including book reviews, spotlights, interviews, and guest posts via Escape with Dolly Cas.