Too Big to Die by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Too Big to Die by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Who would leave their dog locked in a car during 90 degree weather during the summer in California? Rich and famous ex reality star, Marla Kingston would. Does she even care about her poor canine? No, why should she when her husband, Kelton Kingston, is rich and famous and does whatever he wants. So of course she feels she can do whatever she likes too even if that means locking a dog in a car. But Odelia Grey and her husband Greg Stevens love dogs and when they saw the poor pooch in the steaming car barking and trying to get out Greg could do only one thing, break the car’s window and save the animal.

Marla was not happy when she saw what happened to her car and since there was a crowd of people videotaping the whole thing she was even angrier and humiliated. When she told her husband, Kelton, about the event he went out of his way to make things miserable for Odelia and Greg.

Kelton discovered that Odelia worked for the law firm, Templin & Tobin, that represents him and demanded that Odelia be fired from her job. Since Kingston is a huge client the law firm put Odelia on leave, with pay, until they decided what to do about the situation.

But things started to get crazy.  A man who was helping Greg break Kingston’s car window was murdered. A few days later when the man decided to talk to Greg about something he was shot and killed in front of Greg’s store. Then other people around the peripheral circle of the Kingstons had some odd things happening to them. Since Odelia believes that there’s no such thing as a coincidence she and Greg start to do some investigating on their own and discover that Odelia might have a bigger problem on her hands than just losing her job.

It’s a good thing so many people have their phones ready to videotape everything that happens during the day and with the help of a video blogger Odelia finds out what’s really going on with the Kingstons.

“Too Big to Die” is the latest in Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Odelia Grey mystery series. Yes, I’ve read all of the books. Odelia is a plus sized woman of a certain age who is not afraid to eat when she’s hungry. I like that in a woman. She’s also smart, well loved, and has a positive look on life.

All the mysteries in this series are fast paced and have intelligent plot lines. But I have to say this book is the best one in the series. Odelia goes through lots of different things, both good and bad, and fans will be rooting for her.

Author Sue Ann Jaffarian writes a few different series and yes, I’ve read them too. In fact, a true fan will notice characters from one series making guest appearances in another series. I kind of like that.

The author is a wonderful writer with a great imagination and her books will please all murder/mystery lovers. The murders aren’t dark and gruesome so no need to try to cover your eyes expecting to see the worst. Her books are funny, witty, and written with a good sense of humor.

Do yourself a favor and pick up any book in any of this author’s series and prepare to have a good time.

To read more reviews of books by this author please see Sue Anne’s page on my blog.
too big to die


Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated by Tom Starita

Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated by Tom Starita

Lucas James is not a nice man but somehow and for some reason, everyone likes him. Everyone wants to be his friend and woman adore him. This has been his life since he was a child so why change things now that he’s in his 30’s? Might as well keep on going on.

His dream is to become a “Rock Star.” He dreams of playing his guitar and singing his very own songs to his adoring fans, getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, having the masses bow down to him, not mention the money. Not too shabby a dream except for the fact that Lucas James hasn’t gotten too far in his rock and roll career.  

He and his band have better things to do like having their Friday night parties that go on all weekend non stop. It’s hard to be a rock singer when you’re busy drinking and taking drugs during the time you should be playing gigs at bars and getting your fan base going.

Things are a little iffy for Lucas James right now. His fiancee, Jackie, has left him, giving him back his ring and leaving him their apartment and its rent. Small problem – Lucas James does not have a job. Jackie, was supporting him for years waiting for him to make it big as a rock and roll legend which of course never happened.

Now all he has to do is find a job. Because everything usually goes his way he eventually does find one as a stock clerk in a store. He basically abandons his apartment and finds one he could afford just by sweet talking a couple of older, well, let’s just say, old women. Both of whom could be described as odd.

So now Lucas James is working at “That Store”, stealing items from it every single day, disliking his manager, “Victor the Dictator,” and trying to stay away from fellow stockroom worker, Ralph, who seems to have some kind of crush on him. So what if Lucas James takes advantage of people like when he borrows money from Ralph so he can throw his grandmother’s ashes into sea. The thing is Lucas James’ grandmother didn’t die, he just needed the money for the rent on his new place.

Lucas James is still living his life the way he did when he was a child taking advantage of everyone he meets but one day he’s going to have grow up and move into his adult life, become responsible, and figure out just why he acts the way he does. Not something he ordinarily likes to think about.

“Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated” by Tom Starita is really a pretty terrific novel. I wasn’t expecting that. The first page drew me in quickly with Mr. Starita’s casual, conversational writing style. The sign of a good storyteller to me and I always like a good story.

Lucas James is not an easy character to admire, at least I feel that way. He’s conceited, uses people then throws them away when he gets what he wants from them. That is one of the reasons why I enjoyed this story. I actually got angry at a fictional character. The author made me care about how Lucas James treated his acquaintances especially Ralph. But the good thing is that the characters who Lucas James abuses are not as dumb as he or the readers first believe them to be.

Author Tom Starita originally hails from Staten Island, New York. Staten Island is a kissing cousin to my Brooklyn roots and his writing is pure New York. Crisp, a tad sarcastic, pretty funny, and a little tough. I’ll forgive the author for moving to Stratford, Connecticut. Connecticut? For real Tom? Oh well.

“Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated” is a fast read, easy to get into, and very enjoyable.

I plan to live by Lucas James’ words, “Put the fire out when the cheese is on the table.” Read the book, it’ll make sense.

growth and change

Champagne Cream & Murder-An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 14 by Susan Gillard

Champagne Cream & Murder-An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 14 by Susan Gillard

Happy New to all and to celebrate Heather Shepherd and her friends are invited to a New Year’s Eve Party at the Key West Town Hall. Police Chief Chet, Heather’s husband Ryan’s boss, wants all his detectives to attend so they can mingle with the town. Heather and her best friend, Amy Givens, will be supplying some of the treats namely their new Champagne Cream donut. The best way to celebrate the New Year is with some champagne even if it’s in name only. These treats are rated PG so everyone can enjoy them.

Chief Chet did tell Heather that a very important resident of the town, B.W. Shellingworth, will be there with his wife, Meg, son Ben, and Ben’s girlfriend Kelly. Ben is very allergic to nuts so Heather was very careful to watch all the ingredients she put into her donuts.

But as the clock struck midnight Kelly kissed Ben and he fell down not being able to breath. Kelly ran to get her purse where she had his medication but it was too late and Ben died. How could this have happened? There were no nuts in the food. Upon investigating, traces of nuts were found on the lipstick that Kelly had specially made for herself. Did Kelly want to kill Ben for some reason and thought the best way to do it was to hide traces of nuts on her lipstick? Ben’s father, B. W. Shellingworth thinks that’s exactly what happened and insists that Kelly be arrested for murder.

All this does not feel right to Heather so she and Amy do their own investigation to find out what really happened. They find quite a few suspects of their own including Ben’s old girlfriend who wanted Ben back and a business rival of C. W.’s. Heather also thinks that Kelly just might be the murderer since no one was able to get a hold of Kelly’s lipstick tube except for Kelly but more investigating will have to be done.

“Champagne Cream & Murder” is the 14th installment in author Susan Gillard’s cute Oceanside Cozy series. There’s a nice little twist in this story that helps Heather solve the crime.

Like all the rest of Ms. Gillard’s books this novel, like Heather’s donuts, are rated PG so everyone can enjoy it. The whole series is fast paced and filled with fun, plenty of love and lots of donuts. Always a good choice to read to celebrate any holiday or a day of relaxation.


To read all my reviews of Susan Gillard’s books please see Susan’s page on my blog.

champagne cream


Paradise Can Be Murder: A Kay Driscoll Mystery (A Kay Driscoll Mystery #4) by Susan Bernhardt

Paradise Can Be Murder: A Kay Driscoll Mystery (A Kay Driscoll Mystery #4) by Susan Bernhardt

Kay Driscoll  has been told by her friends and family that she has lots of surprises coming her way in the near future she just doesn’t know what they will be. Surprises are fun, right? But right now she is concentrating on a cruise she will be taking with her husband, Phil. They are off for a romantic vacation cruising the Caribbean. The fact that Kay’s best friends, Elizabeth and Deirdre and Deirdre’s husband Mike will be cruising with them won’t stop the romance that Kay hopes for.

A huge bon voyage party was planned but all the joy of it was gone when their friends, Neelam and Dinesh’s, Gupta’s New Delhi store, was vandalized. Vandals spray-painted the words “We don’t want your kind here. We don’t need your kurry. This is America.” Both Kay and Phil were horrified at how their little town of Sudbury Falls had people like that living there.

Even though Kay felt terrible about leaving their friends in a crisis she and hubby Phil went off on their cruise with Elizabeth, Deirdre, and Mike. The ship was beautiful featuring lots of delicious foods and plenty of fun things to do during their ten days aboard. But what Kay seemed to like best was looking at the other travelers. One couple really got her interest. They ate at their own table and were always arguing. The husband, George, constantly criticized his wife, Sybil, which humiliated her and brought her to tears.

Kay, Elizabeth, and Deirdre spoke to Sybil one day and she said that George used to be part of the CIA but was transferred to another state and now she wasn’t really sure what he did. The friends felt bad for Sybil and tried to talk with her whenever they could.

But when one of the couple was found dead by the pool and it looked like the murder was done by the spouse ,Kay knew that something fishy was going on with the ship.

Kay is an old hand at helping to solve murders so she and her friends, against husband Phil’s advice, decided to find out if the spouse was the real murderer and if not then who did it and why the murder happened.

“Paradise Can Be Murder” is the fourth in the Kay Driscoll Mystery Series by Susan Bernhardt. I’ve read all of Ms. Bernhardt’s books and each one is better than the previous and that is especially true in this case.

With each new novel the author seems to become more confident in her writing abilities adding a lot of page-turning tension in her writing style. There’s one terrific scene where Kay gets herself in some deep trouble and had to get out of it before things took a deadly turn. Of course all mysteries have the protagonist getting into life-threatening situations but Ms. Bernhardt did a spectacular job of making sure readers held their breaths waiting to see how would Kay untangled herself.

And there are lots of surprises in store for Kay, some are great, some not so great, but all are fun.

Every book in the Kay Driscoll series are fun, filled with lots of food talk, and lots of love. The novels can be read by anyone and each can be read by itself even though I do suggest starting with the first in the series.

Take a ten-day cruise with Kay and her friends and see what ship-board life is like on the open seas.

Read all my reviews of Susan Bernhard’s books by going to Susan’s page on my blog.

paradise can be murder


In the Pink: How I Met the Perfect (Younger) Man, Survived Breast Cancer, and Found True Happiness After 40 by Susan McBride

In the Pink: How I Met the Perfect (Younger) Man, Survived Breast Cancer, and Found True Happiness After 40 by Susan McBride

I’ve been reading Susan McBride’s books for quite a while and always enjoyed her writing style. She writes with lots of humor and her murder/mystery novels are top notch.

Last week I saw that my library had “In the Pink: How I Met the Perfect (Younger) Man, Survived Breast Cancer, and Found True Happiness After 40” as an e book and I was compelled to borrow it. My good friend, who spent years fighting a blood cancer, multiple myeloma, which turned into Breast Cancer, had passed a day or so before I found the book.

Susan McBride and I are “friends” on Facebook and we’ve been following each other for a few years. She never hides anything from her friends and fans so I knew she had discovered her Breast Cancer about 12 years ago but when my friend passed from it earlier this month and I found Susan’s book I knew I had to read it.

No cancer is easy to deal with and Ms. McBride was incredibly forthcoming telling readers everything she had to deal with. The lumpectomy she went through, then when more cancer cells were found she had to undergo yet another operation. I won’t even begin about her radiation treatments which caused her skin to burn, bubble, turn some weird color, and cause her massive pain.

And while doing all this she was getting ready to marry her now husband, Ed, who is a little younger than her, maybe 12 years younger. (Go Susan!) Ed was her main support during all of this along with Ms. McBride’s mother and Ed’s mother.

More than anything, Susan and Ed wanted to have a baby but Susan was in her 40’s and sometimes it’s tough to become pregnant when you’re heading into your middle years. Then there was the cancer and her treatments that she had to consider.

The author did become pregnant but soon miscarried. Eventually she and Ed had a beautiful little girl, Emily Alice. Susan shows lots of pictures of this sweet child on her Facebook page and Emily really is a cutie.

“In The Pink” is maybe 120 pages long and can easily be read in one day. It’s something that all women should read. Susan was very lucky with her cancer even though it was not easy to fight, cancer is never easy to fight. Unfortunately, I know too many women who fought Breast Cancer and lost: my aunt, my two cousins, and friends. I also have friends who have won the battle … kind of. One woman I know has been in remission for a few years.

I wish I knew about this book last year when my friend was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I would have bought it for her. It’s important for women to know that there is hope and that there are women who have beaten the disease and didn’t let the cancer stop them from their dreams of marriage, children, and writing their next best selling novel.

I give Susan McBride a ton of credit for writing this short book. It must have been very hard to remember and actually write about what she went through and what she’s still going through. Yes, you can beat cancer but you always have to keep an eye open because those nasty cells can come by for another visit at any time.

“In The Pink” is a positive book and not just for victims of cancer but for everyone, mostly women though, who have been told that once you hit 40 there’s more of a chance of getting hit by lightning than finding a husband; or that once you’re a little older you can’t have a baby; or that you cannot do something that you really want to do.

And while I’m talking about Susan, here’s the link to a review I wrote of her book, “Walk Into Silence.”

In the Pink


The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker

The end of the world finally happened like we all knew it would. Not because of zombies, or some strange virus, or even an alien attack from Planet Xymzko. Nope, it came when meteorites hit the Earth, demolishing the planet and killing millions and millions of people.

But Edgar Hill and his family somehow survived, not that Ed really paid much attention to the warnings that England was sending out. Nope, it was by pure luck that he was up and about in a semi drunken stupor that tragic sunny day when he saw the meteorites falling from the sky. He grabbed his wife, his little girl, and his infant son and basically threw them into the cellar where they lived until the army dug them out.

Living in the army camp with hundreds of other survivors wasn’t all that bad. They had food, water, and shelter, much more that what other survivors had. But some of these other survivors were not nice people. They tried to kill and steal and thought that this new Earth was theirs for the taking.

One day when Ed and a few others from the army camp were patrolling the area, helicopters came to the camp and took everyone to the other side of the country to get on boats that would take the survivors to another country. Edgar and the people he was with missed the helicopters but were told that more will come for them very shortly. The group might have been waiting for Godot because like Godot, the helicopters never showed up.

The only way the group could make it the hundreds of miles to where the boats were  was to run and they only had a few weeks to get there. Not easy when Edgar was out of shape, had to run broken ground, run around valleys that were created by the falling meteorites, and not to mention avoiding some very dangerous people living off the land.

“The End of the World Running Club” by Adrian J. Walker is a fairly decent novel considering it’s very similar to most dystopian books. You know, fending for yourself, looking for water, food, shelter, getting into conflicts with miserable people and dangerous communities.

It was different reading about a group of people who decided to run to get to their destination on time. If I had to run I’d kind of look up into the sky and decline. I have issues with just walking one mile, if I had to run hundreds … nah, not for me.

On their journey Ed and his running mates run into the usual problems that beset all characters in this type of novel. Nothing really special going on but I did enjoy reading the close to 500 pages and it was interesting and easy to get through.

If dystopian books are your cup of tea give this a try. Just don’t expect anything too special.

running club

Eggnog Cream & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 12 By Susan Gillard

Eggnog Cream & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 12  By Susan Gillard

Christmas is swiftly approaching Oceanside, Florida and a secret Santa is giving out gifts to some members of the community. No one knows who he is but the gifts are wonderful except for the gift given to grouchy old Ben Grimes. Ben received a set of candlesticks but there was poison on them so when he cut his hand on the sticks’ sharper areas the poison got into his bloodstream and killed him.

Heather Shepherd and her best friend, Amy Givens, were asked to help solve the murder because of their P.I. status. The dynamic duo has a lot of suspects to deal with.

Ben Grimes was not a likable man. During this Holiday Season he was basically a Scrooge. No one cared him especially his neighbors. The house on one side of him couldn’t even be rented because he made life so miserable for anyone who dared to live there. The home on the other side of him was inhabited by Mrs. Kurtshed who did her level best to ignore her neighbor.

But someone offed Mr. Grimes so Heather and Amy go to the Key West Key News office to speak with reporter, Hope Penwell, who was writing articles about the Secret Santa. Hope agreed to let the P.I.s see all the information she gathered.

Things start to get scary when Santa gives a gift to Heather, a pair of slippers that she asked for in her donut shop. Who would be listening to her conversation about what she wanted for Christmas except for all the customers who were eating there?

After investigating some more Heather discovered that everyone who received a gift from Santa received the gift that they wished for. The card that came with the gift was lovely but had squiggly lines on them which was really a map leading to where they would be when they received their gift.

Okay, this was getting strange. Who killed Ben Grimes? Was it the Secret Santa; was it one of Mr. Grimes’ many haters; was it the woman who owned the dog that Ben Grimes bit when the the dog walked on his lawn; was it his next door neighbor; was it a reporter; was it one of Heather’s donut loving fans who visited her donut shop every day? No one knows at this point but the murder will soon be solved because Heater and Amy are on the case with a yummy donut in each hand,

“Eggnog Cream & Murder” is the 12th book in the Oceanside Cozy Mystery Series by Susan Gillard and it’s a good story with the Christmas/Holiday Season approaching.

This series is rated PG so the whole family can indulge in a good mystery. The characters are all likeable and friendly, except for the murderer of course, and reading the books will always make you yen for a donut.

So snuggle up in front of a fire with some hot chocolate and a donut and enjoy this new installment to this fantastic series.

To see more reviews of Susan Gillard’s books please go to Susan’s page.