Strawberry Frosted & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 39 by Susan Gillard

Strawberry Frosted & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 39 by Susan Gillard

All of Heather Shepherd’s baking assistants were having a bad day. One just broke up with her boyfriend, another assistant’s boyfriend had to work late all the time, another had a dental problem, and another didn’t get the part in a play he wanted to be in. It was hard getting them to focus on Heather’s newest donut, Strawberry Frosted.

The day not get any better when Heather’s friend, Josh, had problems finding an assistant for his son to be opened new restaurant. Amy Given’s, Heather’s best friend, still believes that the building the restaurant is going to be in is cursed because people were previously found murdered in it.

Finally, Josh found the perfect chef’s assistant, Kenneth Cooke, who had some great recipes and was eager to start working. Josh was thrilled that Kenneth was going to start early the next day.

That next morning,, as Josh was speaking to Kenneth on the phone the conversation suddenly stopped. It sounded like someone hit Kenneth with a watermelon. Josh asked Heather and Amy to please find his new assistant and see if he was okay.

The two friends soon found the man laying on the beach. Someone hit him over the head with a rock and killed him. Kenneth was new to Key West and no one knew him  so who would want to kill him and for what reason?

The police thought that Josh murdered Kenneth in a rage since Josh does have some anger issues. Is Josh going to be a murder suspect for the second time since he moved to Florida?

But the police found something interesting about Kenneth Cooke. That wasn’t his real name. He was really Ben Ouster from upstate New York.

Ben had owned a restaurant there but got into some trouble. One man was poisoned by eating the food in Ben’s restaurant and died. Several other diners were put in the hospital. Ben did not have to go to jail but he soon left the community and changed his name. But did one of the diners or a family member of the dead man find Ben in Key West and kill the chef in revenge? Heather and Amy, with some help with the police, will find out what really happened to Kenneth/Ben.

“Strawberry Frosted & Murder” is the 39th in author Susan Gillard’s  Oceanside Cozy Mystery Series. The plot is different with twists and turns. All the regular characters are around making this yet another good mystery in this delightful series.

“I received an ARC of this book prior to publication and I voluntarily review it and my opinions are my own.”

To see other reviews of Susan Gillard’s books please go to Susan’s page on my blog.

strawberry frosted

 

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Charmed Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney #18) By Carolyn Haines

Charmed Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney #18) By Carolyn Haines

All Sarah Booth Delaney wanted to do was sit at home and watch her favorite movie for the upteenth time, “The Wizard of Oz.” We can all dream but dreams rarely come true so when her good friend and partner in the Delaney Detective Agency, Tinkie Richmond, called and told Sarah Booth to meet her at the Sunflower County Board of Education meeting Sarah Booth hightailed it out of the house and left her movie for later.

The Board of Education meeting was in high gear. Three sisters, Faith, Hope, and Charity Harrington, were going to open a new boarding school in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Not a problem really except that the sisters were witches and they and their school were not welcomed in the community. But the school was already approved and no one was going to stop the sisters from opening their new educational institute. Oh, but people were going to try.

Kitten Fontana hired Sarah Booth and Tinkie to investigate the witches. The woman believed that the sisters kidnapped her son, Corey, and she needed Sarah Booth to look into that. But Sarah Booth and Tinkie didn’t put it past Kitten to lie about her son’s abduction just to cause more problems. Kitten and her husband, Bob, also wanted the land where the school was going to be so they could open their own lucrative business. But did they want the land so much that they’d kill for it because suddenly people were being murdered right and left.

The thought of a wiccan school brought in lots of outsiders to Sunflower County including a gossip journalist who also happens to be friends with Kitten. And others from wiccan community were visiting too and both sides are at odds with each other.

And what is happening to Sarah Booth’s cat, Pluto? Is he suddenly King of the Cats with powers of his own? Some strange things are going on in Sunflower County. Even Tinkie and Sarah Booth have hopes that some good magic will help them in their personal lives.

Lots of magic, both good and bad, are at play here and all Sarah Booth and Tinkie can do is to hope that, with their help, good overcomes evil.

Charmed Bones” is author Carolyn Haines’ 18th installment of her fabulous Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery Series. I’ve read every book and this one is the best in the series. I think I might have thought that book 17 was the best in the series too but that only proves that each book gets better and better.

There’s lots of magical things going on here: witches, ghosts, murder, lots of seemingly magical cats, incantations, spells, hidden tunnels, history, books, love, babies, movies, friendship –  you name it it’s here.

Nothing so scary that will keep you up at night unless you have to keep reading to finish a chapter during the early morning hours.

What I like best about author Carolyn Haines is not just all her terrific series but Ms. Haines is very knowledgeable. She knows history, books, music, movies and includes all of these in every novel she writes. You always learn something new when you read something she’s written.

The Sarah Booth Delaney books are on the top of my favorite series. I cannot urge you enough to read them. Even though the 18 novels are considered standalones it would be best to start with the first book and read them in order.

To see other reviews of Carolyn Haines’ books please go to Carolyn’s page on my blog.

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Mint Fudge & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 34 by Susan Gillard

Residents of Key West, Florida are excited by the upcoming  S.A.N.D. (Sand And Nautical Debris) Sandcastle Competition. There are many categories but the big category this year is to make a sandcastle so large that a person can walk into it. The previous year sandcastle builder/hardware store worker, Mac Dugan, built such a castle. Everyone was so intrigued with it that now this became the newest category in the competition.

But things never went as planned when Mac was found murdered in the sand castle he was making for this years’ competition. He was found under all the sand with just his feet sticking out of the mound.

Police Detective Ryan Shepherd asked his wife, donut maker/private investigator, Heather,  to help him and his partner solve the murder. Heather’s best friend and partner, Amy Givens, was also going to lend a hand.

As the investigation proceeded they found out that Mac was hit over the head with a shovel and then the shovel was used to destroy his sandcastle.

The two P.I. friends started interviewing people to find out why this crime was committed. Mac was a likable man where even kids enjoyed talking with him. He was also a very talented sandcastle builder and won most of the categories his castles were entered in during previous years of the competition. But why was he killed? Maybe it was because there was going to be a $10,000 grand prize for the winner and someone did not want Mac to win all that money. Or there might have been another reason for his demise. Whatever the reason may be, Heather, Amy, with the help of Ryan, will find out who the killer is and the reason.

“Mint Fudge & Murder” is author Susan Gillard’s 34th book in her wildly popular Oceanside Cozy Mystery Series. The series is enticing, filled with friends, murder, donuts, and even some comedy. The author keeps her fans informed on the personal lives of all her recurring characters.

This is another winner of a book. Ms. Gillard should be commended for her dedication to the series and to all the fans that love her characters.

“I received an ARC of this book prior to publication and I voluntarily review it and my opinions are my own.”

To see other reviews of Susan Gillard’s books please go to Susan’s page on my blog.

mint fudge

Dog Dish of Doom (An Agent to the Paws Mystery #1) by E. J. Copperman

Dog Dish of Doom (An Agent to the Paws Mystery #1) by E. J. Copperman

Kay Powell runs a talent agent for animals. She gets the wannabe actors acting jobs. Okay, maybe it’s their owners who want their pets to have show-biz jobs but Kay works for the animals and she’s dedicated to them much more so than to the people who own them.

Trent and his wife Louise’s dog, Bruno, is just about to get the role of Sandy in director Les McMaster’s Broadway production of “Annie.” Trent doesn’t much like Les and says he’s a bad director. Les agrees to sign on Bruno as long as Kay is the one to take Bruno to the theater and Trent and Louise are never to be seen at the play.

Everyone kind of agrees to the terms of the contract which is moot since Trent is found dead in his kitchen with a knife in his back and his face planted in Bruno’s water dish. The door to the apartment was locked from the inside with no sign of lock tampering. Louise finds him and calls the police. Of course she is the prime suspect but why would she kill her husband? Things are not making any sense.

Since Louise is being taken in to the police station for questioning and then will be busy with Trent’s funeral Kay agrees to take care of Bruno in her New Jersey home with her two dogs and where her parents are staying with her for a little while.

Things soon start to get complicated. Bruno’s dog walker comes by Kay’s house and says that Louise sent her to pick up Bruno. Kay finds this odd since she’s heard from director Les McMaster that Trent, Louise’s newly murdered husband, was having an affair with the dog walker. Kay finds out that the dog walker received a threatening text message from some bad guys saying that she, the dog walker, would be killed if she doesn’t bring Bruno to them. Is Bruno going to be dog-napped and why and what does Bruno have to do with Trent’s death? Did he see the murderer? And even if he did it’s not as if Bruno can present state’s evidence since he can’t speak, except for the “woof woof” that he does perfectly on cue on stage.

Kay decides to hold onto Bruno thus involving herself and her parents in this murder/dog napping mystery. It’s a good thing Kay has New York City Police Detective Rodriguez along to help her stay alive. Well, that’s something, right?

“Dog Dish of Doom” is the first in author E. J. Copperman’s An Agent to the Paws Mystery Series. I am a huge fan and have read quite a few of this author’s books especially his wonderfully funny, and a bit erie, Haunted Guest Mysteries Series.

Even though “Dog Dish of Doom” does have a murder and a potential dog napping theme it’s really pretty funny. Kay’s life in New Jersey with her aging acting parents who are looking for another gig on a cruise ship and her kind of boyfriend, coffee shop owner Sam, are amusing in itself. But when you add in a murder with Kay and her father helping the NYC Police Department to investigate, a loveable talented dog, Broadway Theater, the musical “Annie”, extra marital affairs, and other love triangles, well you have a winner.

This cozy is funny and like all of E. J, Copperman’s books, very well written with a tight plot. No recipes though. Kay is a talent agent for animals not a baker.

I will say that “Dog Dish of Doom” is one terrific mystery and it will make you laugh. And Bruno, ah Bruno, I wish he was my dog. Even if you’re not a lover of cozies about animals I think you’ll like this one. My only problem is that now I have yet another series by this author that I adore.

To see other reviews of E. J. Copperman’s books please go to E. J.’s page on my blog.

dog dish

 

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

Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24) by Janet Evanovich

Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24) by Janet Evanovich

Don’t be afraid everyone, everything is under control … I hope. Zombies are in Trenton, New Jersey. I always knew the zombies were coming and they’re now on the East Coast. Battle down the hatches, folks, but have no fear, bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum is on the job.

Stephanie and her trusty sidekick, Lula, have their hands full. They’re trying to find two men who skipped on their bail and the duo also have to feed Ethel, a boa constrictor, owned by Simon Diggery, a professional grave robber. Simon also jumped on his bail and would only let Stephanie take him in if she promised to care for his snake. Simon felt safer in jail because zombies were roaming the woods where his trailer was parked and he wanted nothing to do with them.

Then headless bodies started appearing. And then with bodies were found with holes in their heads where the brains were sucked out. See, I told you there are zombies out there.

Now Stephanie has to find her two bail jumpers, feed and care for Ethel the snake, and avoid the zombies who are after her. Things are never easy for Stephanie.

“Hardcore Twenty-Four” by Janet Evanovich,  is the 24th installment of the popular Stephanie Plum series. I used to really like this series but each book is turning into the same ol’ same ol’ to me.

Stephanie is still fooling around with her long-time heartthrob detective Joe Morelli, trying avoid the bed of the hot Ranger, and now the mysterious Diesel is back in town trying to bed Stephanie as well. This is getting a little old to me. It was bad enough with Morelli and Ranger chasing after our hero but when Diesel was added to the list of men a few books back the whole thing became tiresome and boring.

I do like Grandma Mazur, Stephanie’s mom and dad, and Lula. They add a lot of fun to the books but I am getting weary of the love/sex portions of it. It’s very soft porn and not offensive just over done.

There are still lots of laughs and it’s easy enough to get through this novel but I just wish Ms. Evanovich would do something different with all the men in Stephanie’s life. I really don’t think they’re all needed in the series.