Custom Baked Murder (Pawsitively Organic Mysteries #5) by Liz Mugavero

Custom Baked Murder (Pawsitively Organic Mysteries #5) by Liz Mugavero

The small community of Frog Ledge, Connecticut, is all abuzz about the big engagement party their mayor, Tony Falco, and his fiancé, Patricia Conner, will be having. All their friends and family members will be attending this event of the century not to mention bigwigs from the area.

Everyone is excited except for Kristan “Stan” Conner, Patricia’s daughter. It’s not that she doesn’t like her new stepfather-to-be it’s just that maybe he isn’t her favorite person and to be honest she isn’t all that enthralled with her mother either. Of course Stan loves her mom but Patricia can make it hard for Stan to always like her much. But Stan will be at the affair with her boyfriend and bar owner, Jake McGee, even though Stan would much rather continue setting up for the grand opening of her organic pet patisserie and café but a daughter has to be there for her mom so she gussies herself up and goes to the party.

Unfortunately, wherever Stan goes there’s bound to be a murder and that’s exactly what happens at the party. Eleanor Chang, the mayor’s executive coach, was found in the bedroom, strangled and Patricia’s engagement ring was found in her mouth. Making matters worse is that Mayor Falco isn’t at the party yet, at least no one has seen him. The murder brings the affair to a grinding halt as the police are called in to investigate.

Who killed Eleanor? Could it have been her troubled daughter, Monica or anyone else who attended the party? And just where was Mayor Tony Falco and why was Patricia’s engagement ring in the deceased woman’s mouth? Before her cafe opens, Stan plans to find the answers to these questions.

“Custom Baked Murder” by Liz Mugavero is the fifth novel in her Pawsitively Organic Mystery Series. I ran across the first book a few years back and honestly only picked it up because I needed something to read. I knew it was about a woman who left her well-paying job in New York and moved to a small community in Connecticut and ended up opening a home-based business baking treats for cats and dogs. The description of the book didn’t actually appeal to me but it was a cozy so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m not too proud to admit that I was totally wrong. This is one good series. The characters are interesting and I enjoy the relationship Stan has with her boyfriend’s two sisters. Stan’s personal family dynamics with her mother and sister are spot on too. The people who live in Frog Ledge add a lot to the series, especially Char who owns the B & B.  She’s a gal after my own heart.

Ms. Mugavero also adds recipes in her books. I’m pretty sure these recipes can be baked for your pets and can be enjoyed along with their pet owners.

You don’t have to be an animal lover to love these books. Give the first in this series a try and you might find yourself as taken with it as I was and end up looking forward to reading the others.

 

 

 

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Hula Ville and Other Short Stories by Mark Lages

Hula Ville and Other Short Stories by Mark Lages

I’ve always enjoyed reading short stories and have a large collection of short story anthologies all over my apartment. Writing a story that lasts for only 10 pages or so isn’t as easy as some would think. You have to get thoughts, ideas, and emotions condensed into these few pages while still getting the reader to identify with it all. Not all writers can do this. Stephen King, in my opinion, writes some of the best short stories around and now I’m going to add Mark Lages to my list of solid storytellers.

In “Hula Ville and Other Short Stories” Mr. Lages gives readers close to 40 short tales that have a similar theme, being happy and how to obtain and keep it. Okay, in some of the stories you have to really look for the theme but it is there especially in the story, “Merry-Go-Round.”

In the very first story, titled “Hula Ville” a man is waiting to see if he’ll be admitted to a mental hospital. The police found him on the side of the road doing the dance “The Twist” created by Chubby Checker back in the 1960’s. As he speaks to the doctors who will determine if he will be admitted to the facility or not he explains what led up to his dancing. I understood it all and the reasoning behind the man’s actions made sense to me. The end of the story shows how the character’s explanation to his roadside dance got through to one of the doctors.

Every story was interesting and written intelligently but my favorite, without a doubt, was “Natalie’s Bathroom.” I don’t know why it affected me as strongly as it did. I was never in the situation that the main character, April, was in but somehow and for some reason I identified with her pain, loss, and anger and how she felt about her changed life.

As I was thinking about this story I thought that the author couldn’t possibly have gone through what the character in “Natalie’s Bathroom” went through but maybe he has in a different format. Did he ever have the same situation that April was thinking about at some point in his life? I don’t know but the fact that I spent so much time wondering about it showed me how good a short story writer Mr. Lages is.

Some of the stories you really have to think about and some are rather funny and/or odd but all are going to stay with you for quite some time.

“Hula Ville and Other Short Stories” is definitely a wonderful anthology for short stories lovers and for those who might never have read a short story anthology and would like to try one.

Death Unscripted (Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery #1) by M.K. Graff

Death Unscripted (Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery #1) by M.K. Graff

 

There’s nothing I like better than finding a new author, a new mystery series, and new characters that I fall in love with and “Death Unscripted” by M.K. Graff, fits the bill to a tee.

In this terrific novel I met Trudy Genova who works as a nurse consultant behind the scenes at a soap opera in New York City. Who would think that a soap opera needed a behind the scenes nurse on call while filming? Not me, never even occurred to me but that’s Trudy’s job and it sounds pretty terrific. Her hours aren’t all that bad, she meets lots of famous soap opera stars, gets to eat good food catered for them, and her best friend, Meg Pitman, works at the studio with her. The perfect job I would say and so would Trudy. That is until the lead actor in the soap opera, Griff Kennedy, is poisoned and dies on the set. With Griff’s last breath he points at Trudy and says, “you, you.” Just as Griff dies Trudy thinks, “me, me?”

Now all the cast members and everyone working on the show thinks Trudy had something to do with the actor’s demise. But Trudy never did anything to Griff. Well, there was that time she wasted a perfectly good pie when she she dumped it on Griff’s head in the cafeteria but, hey, he deserved it. Always hitting on Trudy and making lewd advances. Who needs that? But other than the pie incident she didn’t do anything to the womanizing actor, but someone certainly did.

The lead actress in the soap is, Nikki Olivier, was married to Griff at one point, then divorced him, then married him again, then divorced him again, and the two were still playing footsies. Some people just never learn. Maybe Nikki found out that her on again off again husband was two-timing her with other young actresses and every other woman around, and she slipped him some poison. Trudy thinks she better investigate because the police think that she killed Griff since he pointed to her as he died.

Trudy doesn’t much trust the police because of what happened to her father years ago but she does kind of admit that there is something interesting about lead Detective Ned O’Malley and his able assistant, Detective Tony Borelli. Best friend Meg thinks that Borelli is interesting too because as soon as they meet each other Cupid grabbed his little arrow and pierced the two of them. And Cupid is hovering around Trudy and O’Malley who find themselves looking at each other a little more than they should.

Oh, forget love, forget Cupid, there’s a murderer to be found and Trudy, Meg, O’Malley, and lovesick Borelli will find the culprit even if it kills Trudy.

I haven’t watched a soap opera since Luke and Laura from “General Hospital” fell in love some 40 years ago and it was fun to get the inside scoop of backstage life.

Death Unscripted” is a fine murder mystery/cozy type of novel. I say it’s a cozy because there is that cozy-factor involved; a woman who has no police training except for reading all those mystery books sets out to solve a murder while falling for some good looking strong man while doing so. But in this book it’s kind of good because Trudy and O’Malley are more grown up than the usual cozy characters and each have pretty complicated back stories which author M.K. Graff lets her readers know about as the story proceeds.

I also like that the novel is told from different perspectives. You see what Trudy is doing in one chapter and then in another you see what’s going on through O’Malley’s eyes as he investigates. This gives the reader an interesting and different take on the investigation.

Like all Detectives O’Malley and Borelli have more than just one case to solve. All things do not revolve around the death of the actor and the two have to divide up their time. Not as easy as it sounds what with someone stalking Trudy and breaking into her apartment. O’Malley has his hands full keeping an eye on her.

Since this is series I’m not giving anything away by saying that eventually the murderer is discovered but it isn’t as simple as the killer admitting to the deed. The story is detailed and complicated and the reason for the murder is very different than what readers suspect. I liked that twist a lot.

“Death Unscripted” is the first in the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery series and now I have to open up my purse, let the moths fly out, and buy the rest of the series to gorge on. Shelling out a few bucks for a really good novel is well worth the price.

 

Raspberry Coulis Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy Mystery – Book 38 by Susan Gillard

Raspberry Coulis Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy Mystery – Book 38 by Susan Gillard

A new week means a new beginning for many people but in Hillside, Texas, a new week means another new murder in this small town community.

Bella Vita restaurant owner, Chef Filippo Guidi, is stabbed in his kitchen when bakery owner, Heather Shepherd and her best friend, Amy Givens, go there for lunch one day. According to their server, Charlie, the Chef was not alone in the kitchen. The chef’s wife, Carla Guidi, was in there and she and her husband were arguing about money.

Of course Heather and Amy start investigating the murder as consultants to the Hillside Police Department and have discovered some interesting facts. First of all the Guidi’s were not a happy couple and fought about many things. They even found out from Carla’s brother that the Chef had tried to harm his wife once. But Carla’s brother doesn’t look so innocent either. It appears that he’s been asking his sister for money and that was the reason for the argument when the Chef was murdered.

Making matters worse for Heather is an article that has come out in the Hillside Reporter saying that Heather is being unethical in her investigations. This upsets the donut maker more than she’d like to admit because it is also affecting her daughter Lily’s school life. The Hillside Police Department seems to believe the article too since they don’t want heather involved in the investigation of the Chef’s murder.

Finding a murderer is hard enough but Heather also has to retain her good reputation as well and it’s getting hard to do that with her arch enemy, Kate Laverne, feeding fake news to the newspaper. What is Heather going to do? Things are getting very complicated.

“Raspberry Coulis Murder” is the 38th installment of Susan Gillard”s hit donut hole mystery series. If you’re a fan of Heather, Amy, and all the other characters living in Hillside, Texas this book is not to be missed. It’s interesting to see how the community is changing their view about Heather just because of what the newspaper is saying about her.

Grab this wonderful new entry and enjoy yourself.

To see other reviews of Susan’s books see Susan’s section on my blog.

“I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.”

Bones and Arrows (Sarah Booth Delaney #16.5) by Carolyn Haines

Bones and Arrows (Sarah Booth Delaney #16.5) by Carolyn Haines

Another Valentine’s Day has arrived and Sarah Booth Delaney still isn’t married. Heck, she doesn’t even have a boyfriend but she does have a few men interested in her and she’s okay with that. Who isn’t okay with her lack of a man is her best friend Tinkie Bellcase Richmond and Sarah Booth’s live in haint, Jitty.

Tinkie is hosting a big Valentine’s Day Party and the featured attraction is going to be a stud-like Cupid who’ll be shooting arrows of love into everyone, especially into Sarah Booth. Sarah Booth doesn’t want to hang around but she can never say no to Tinkie so she agrees to at least see Cupid. But when Cupid appears he’s not the stud Tinkie had advertised. This Cupid is short and hairy, think Louis Mustillo who played Vince on the television show “Mike and Molly” wearing a diaper.

But this hairy Cupid is filled with magic. Not only are his arrows of love working but he has somehow magically stolen jewelry from the guests and expensive items from Tinkie’s home. Hey, this is no Cupid but a crook! And where is the hunky Cupid? Tinkie paid $900 for him to show up in a diaper and he’s nowhere in sight. It’s a good thing Sarah Booth did stay for the party after all.

Sarah and Tinkie are partners in the Sarah Booth Delaney Detective Agency and they are good at their job and always finds the bad guy even if they and their friends might get injured while they investigate.

It didn’t take long for Sarah Booth to find hunky Cupid. He was bopped over the head and left unconscious outside in the cold Mississippi winter with nothing on but his diaper. But who hurt hunky Cupid? Since little hairy Cupid is no where to be found Sarah figures that hairy Cupid knows a lot about the injured Cupid and where all the stolen items are. I told you Sarah Booth was smart.

So off she goes to find hairy Cupid, the stolen jewelry, and find why Tinkie’s party was ruined.

“Bones and Arrows” is book number 16.5 in author Carolyn Haines’ terrific Sarah Booth Delaney Series. This is a novella and takes maybe an hour to read. It starts off where book 16 ends and it’s a good thing Ms. Haines wrote it because book 17, “Guru Bones” won’t be coming out for a couple of months and I needed my Sarah Booth fix. (“Guru Bones” can be pre-ordered which is exactly what I did a few weeks ago.)

Sarah Booth and Tinkie are great characters. I always compare them to Lucy and Ethel. They’re funny, witty, brave, capable of doing anything, and have their many flaws. They’re far from perfect which makes them very relatable to all women.

I’ve read all 16 books in this series including the few novellas. The stories are well thought out, filled with loads of Southern history, and has some pretty mean reoccurring bad guys. These books are not “fluff” novels, you can’t skim through them, not that you’d even want to.

There isn’t enough good things I can say about Carolyn and the Sarah Booth Book series. But don’t believe me. As of this posting “Bones and Arrows” is free to everyone. Just click on this link to find out how you can download it onto your phone, Kindle, tablet, or even read it on your computer. It would be best to start the series with book one but this novella is a good introduction to Sarah Booth and her friends without spoiling the earlier installments.

If you never read any of Carolyn’s books I urge you to download this one and then check out her newest series, “The Book of Beloved.” Ms. Haines is running a contest this month, February, 2017, where the winner will get a copy of it.

I’m a real fan of Carolyn Haines and all her novels and hope all book lovers will read the Sarah Booth Delaney Series.

To see other reviews of Carolyn’s books go to Carolyn’s section in my blog.

 

 

 

Cousin Marty And His Inspirational Videos

Cousin Marty And His Inspirational Videos

I can honestly say that my cousin Marty is the most spiritual person I know. He’s a firm believer in God and prays to Him every single day. Marty doesn’t just pray for himself and his family but for all people. Followers of my blog know that I have a very good friend who has cancer and is not doing very well. Every time I speak to Marty, which is every day, he always asks me how my friend is doing and assures me that she is in his prayers. I know without a doubt that this is true.

Cousin Marty, like everyone I assume, has gone through a lot of things in his life. He fought and survived living in the Projects when he was a teen; survived being hit on the head by a tree branch after Hurricane Sandy; and survived after sinking in some quicksand while he was walking along the Dead Sea in Israel. He’s told me many of his adventures.

He’s also an award winning filmmaker, some of his videos I’ve posted on this blog. Every one of his films is inspirational, well, except for his Hat Man video which is really cute.

Marty believes in “paying it forward” so he does what he can to help whoever needs it. Marty, has received help from strangers too.

Here are two of his videos that he made hoping that they will inspire us to give hope and aid to people we know and especially to those we don’t.

In this first video, “Marty Miracles: Bus Driver”, Marty talks about a bus driver who helped him when he needed it.

 

“In Full Moon” Marty comments on human nature.

 

I hope these two videos help inspire you to do some good and to learn a little more about my Cousin Marty.

Please take a look at all of Marty’s videos and stories by going to Marty’s section in my blog.

Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel (Night Vale #1) by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor

Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel (Night Vale #1) by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor

In a nutshell, this is a novel about a town in the desert called Night Vale. If I lived there I’d call it Nightmare. It’s inhabitants are ghosts, angels, aliens, some really weird people, and semi normal people who don’t understand what’s going on with them.

Pawn shop owner, Jackie Fierro has been age 19 for a long time maybe a hundred years. She’s doesn’t remember.

Diane Crayton, a single mom, works at an office but she isn’t sure what she does there. She’s also the treasurer of the PTA. Her 15 year-old son, Josh, is a shape changer. Sometimes he’s a dragon, or an insect, or a monster, or some kind of mist, but he rarely takes the shape of a teenager.

Diane and Jackie team up to find King City after a man in a tan suit pawns a piece of paper with the name of the city written on it and the paper stays in Jackie’s hand. No matter how hard she tries she can’t get the paper to leave her hand.

When Josh finds out that his father might live in King City he takes off leaving Diane to try to find him. So Jackie and Diane face killer librarians and roads that lead to King City but somehow end up back in Night Vale to try to find the man who pawned the piece of paper to Jackie and to find Josh.

I’m not sure how I feel about this very strange book. At first it was different and mildly funny but eventually I found myself pushing my way through it. It was a struggle at times. I forced myself to keep going and then after reading 200 pages of the 400 page novel it became a little more interesting or maybe I just got used to the weirdness factor.

There’s a wildly popular podcast about Night Vale that I never listened to and most likely won’t.

Welcome to Night Vale” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor is not bad just a little unsettling at times and it really does remind me of living in a nightmare.  I’d probably read another novel about this desert town if I run across it but I doubt if I’ll be going out of my looking for it.