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Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: French Fried (Ethic Eats Mystery #2) by Kylie Logan

Poison du Jour
The Statue of Liberty is 130 years old, and for the struggling residents of Hubbard, Ohio, any opportunity to bring in tourists is reason enough for a celebration. Laurel Inwood and her aunt, Sophie, are pitching in. Sophie's Terminal at the Tracks, a former greasy spoon turned charming ethnic eatery, will be offering French cuisine for the entire week. 


For expert help with their quiche and escargot, the ladies turn to Raquel "Rocky" Arnaud, a former French chef and friend of Sophie. What looks like a match made in heaven turns rank as quickly as buttermilk on a summer's day. Rocky turns up dead and when her nightly red wine shows notes of oak, cinnamon, and poison, Laurel turns from souffle to sleuth.
 

INCLUDES A RECIPE

 
To be honest, when cozies have titles like this, I tend to "judge a book by it's cover" in some regards, and expected this book to be just as pun-tastic as it's title. I figured it'd be a quick, easy read, and that the mystery would be solved within just the first few pages of the book. Shamefully, I must bow my head, as this book absolutely blew me away.

It's a clever story with some wonderful food references. The characters are very well-developed, and they were easy to like. But the mystery is what did it for me in this one. About half-way through the book, I felt like I knew who was at fault, and chalked this one up as a win for myself. However, after continuing on, I started to doubt myself more and more. And, with each turn of the page, I couldn't stop reading. I had to find out what happened. That's when Ms. Logan had me hooked.

This is a phenomenal example of a wonderfully written cozy mystery with unique ideas and a few unexpected twists and turns. It's a fantastic book. Do yourself a favor, and pick this one up. You won't be sorry!

Rating: 5 stars


Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have ONE copy of French Fried to give away to one of my lucky readers! Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win! 

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Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Once Upon a Spine (Bibliophile Mystery #11) by Kate Carlisle

San Francisco bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright stumbles through the looking glass in a tale of murder, rare books, and a quest for the perfect pie.
 

Brooklyn's oh-so-proper future in-laws are traveling from England to meet her, and if that's not enough to set her on edge, rumors abound that the charming Courtyard Shops across the street may be replaced by high-rise apartments. Their trendy neighborhood will be ruined unless Brooklyn and her fiance, Derek Stone, can persuade the shopkeepers not to sell.
 

But with a rare edition of Alice in Wonderland causing bad blood at the Brothers Bookshop and a string of petty vandalism making everyone nervous, Brooklyn and Derek feel like they're attempting six impossible things before breakfast. Then the owner of the Rabbit Hole juice bar is felled by his own heavy shelves, and the local cobbler lies dead beside him. An accident . . . or something more sinister? Things get curiouser and curiouser when a second priceless copy of Alice is discovered. Will it stir up more trouble within the close-knit community?
 

As the Brits descend, Brooklyn learns they're not so stuffy after all. Derek's dad is won over with chocolate cream pie, and his psychic mum would kill to help Brooklyn solve this murder before another victim takes a tumble.
 
A wonderful story full of fun, adventure and family, Once Upon a Spine thrills from the very beginning. Brooklyn and Derek are preparing for his family's arrival, when things begin to go haywire in this small, close-knit community. But as the stresses of the impending meeting bear down on Brooklyn, she never waivers at what she does best - solving the mystery.

This book is tremendously written and has a unique charm about it. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Brooklyn, Derek, and everyone in between again. It's a smart story with some really fun moments, and the mystery is superbly written, leaving you guessing. Another fantastic addition to this wonderful series!

Rating: 5 stars

 
Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have ONE copy of Once Upon a Spine to give away to one of my lucky readers! Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win! 

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Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Knit to Be Tied (A Knitting Mystery #14) by Maggie Sefton

The New York Times bestselling author of Purl Up and Die returns as Kelly Flynn and the Lambspun Knitters must come together before their whole town unravels . . .

In Fort Connor, Colorado, the friends at the House of Lambspun knitting shop are welcoming a new face into the fold. Shy, sweet, and pregnant Nancy Marsted would like to knit a baby hat, and the Lambspun ladies are more than happy to show her the ropes. They share their own pregnancy yarns and soon learn the father of Nancy’s baby isn’t quite the man she dreamed he was. He’s a cad.

Then one dark night a speeding car fatally mows down the dad-to-be and strikes a cyclist, spinning the town into a frenzy. Everyone worries that a crazed killer is on the loose. Now it’s up to Kelly and the gang to put down their needles and cut to the chase before the culprit is driven to kill again. 




Another great addition to this wonderful mystery series! My friends at Fort Conner are always a delight, and this trip is no different. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Sefton's ability to tell a thrilling story, and I loved how she tied this mystery up beautifully.

If you haven't given Kelly and the Lambspun Knitters a chance, you're missing out. They, alone, are worth diving in to this amazing series.

Rating: 4.5 Stars 


Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have ONE copy of Knit to be Tied to give away to one of my lucky readers! Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win!

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Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Only Skein Deep by Maggie Sefton

In the latest novel from The New York Times bestselling author of Knit to Be Tied , Kelly Flynn and The Lambspun Knitters are eagerly awaiting a bundle of joy but find themselves heaped with trouble instead...
 
Kelly Flynn and her boyfriend, Steve, couldn't be happier as they await the birth of their bouncing baby boy. Kelly's got a built-in group of fiber arts specialists, the Lambspun Knitters, who are working away on blankets and booties. As they sit around the table crafting their keepsakes, the story of Giselle Callahan is a popular topic of conversation.
 

Giselle is the young wife of Henry Callahan, a Fort Connor banking scion, who traded in his previous wife of forty years for a newer model. Giselle's prowess as a skilled country club golfer and social climber puts her on someone's hit list. When she is found dead on the greens at the golf club, Kelly and her Lambspun crew worry that a vicious killer is in their midst. They must work fast to bring an unhinged murderer to justice on the back nine before Kelly's very special delivery...
 

DELICIOUS RECIPES AND KNITTING PATTERN INCLUDED!

I wanted to like this book. I really did. I have followed the series throughout and have always recommended the series to others. And while I enjoyed visiting the characters and the Knitters, I felt like the "cozy mystery" side to this book played second fiddle to a women's fiction novel about weddings and babies.

It was difficult for me to get through the first 3/4th's of the book. It was slow, drawn out, not really all that interesting. But after a while, it started to improve, and the last 1/4th of the book, when the murder investigation was finally playing out, I enjoyed.

Will I read another book in the series? Absolutely. Will I be as quick to pick it up the next go-round? Probably not. I know that not every book in a series will be perfect, but I think I was expecting a little more from this one. Especially since everyone in the series is so well established as a character already.

Rating: 3 Stars



Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have ONE copy of Only Skein Deep to give away to one of my lucky readers! Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win! 

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Cozy Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: A Frying Shame (Deep Fried Mystery #3) by Linda Reilly

Fry another day.

The town of Wrensdale is abuzz with excitement when Steeltop Foods sponsors a cooking contest to promote its new product, the Flavor Dial. With a $25,000 prize at stake, all the contestants are on edge, including Talia Marby, owner of Fry Me A Sliver. She hopes her mini deep-fried apple pies will win her the money to pay off the renovations on her restaurant. But when Norma Ferguson wins with her flaky-top chicken stew, the tensions dial up even more.

After Norma is found dead at her cooking station, the police suspect a losing contestant got a little too hot under the collar. Now it’s crunch time as Talia works to catch the killer and clear her name before another cook gets burned.




A funny thing happened on the way to the publisher . . .

There are so many components that go into writing a mystery. Fun characters, sneaky red herrings, a plethora of guilty-looking suspects . . .  all of these have to be dumped together, shaken up, and poured out into a cohesive story.

When I was writing the initial draft of A FRYING SHAME, I needed to come up with a street name. The street itself wasn’t important—simply a quick reference by the police detective as to why she was late for her meeting with Talia Marby, my main character.

Normally I’d stare out the window to dream up a name, or I’d think of a street name from my childhood. I still can’t recall how I came up with “Oriole Road” that day, but it found its way into the story.

A few months after I turned in the manuscript to my publisher, my husband broke his hip. During the early stages of his post-surgery rehab, we decided the time was right for us to move to a place where he’d no longer have to climb stairs. I found a promising apartment complex nearby, and decided to check it out. A newly renovated unit had just become available, with full bath and master bedroom on the ground level. It was perfect! Even more delightful was that the upstairs bedroom would make the ideal writing lair for me.

We took the apartment. As soon as my husband was well enough to go home after weeks of physical therapy, we moved in. The address of our wonderful new apartment? Oriole Court. But the street name didn’t even ring a bell -- not until the publisher sent me the edits for A Frying Shame. I was stunned to realize I’d named a random street Oriole Road months before we’d even thought about moving! (insert Twilight Zone music here)

I’ll bet you’re thinking I’d driven past that street before, and that somehow the name got stuck in my sub-conscious. Nope. Oriole Court is an internal street within the apartment community. I couldn’t have seen it from the main drag unless I’d driven into the complex. And I hadn’t.

I’ve decided that the universe was whispering in my ear the day I made up that street name. The hubby and I are very happy in our Oriole Court apartment, just as Talia Marby, the fry cook in the Deep Fried mysteries, is loving her new digs in Wrensdale, Massachusetts. Living in her nana’s bungalow, she’s been having a blast transforming the old fish and chips shop into a deep-fried eatery.

But it’s not without its challenges. Wherever Talia goes, murder seems to pop into the picture. If you’re in the Berkshires, stop by Fry Me a Sliver and enjoy a deep-fried treat. The ambiance is cozy, the AC is pumping out chilled air, and the deep fryer is sizzling. And be sure to eavesdrop on the local gossip . . . you can bet it’ll be all about murder.

Ms. Reilly does it again with her newest addition to the charming Deep Fried Mystery series. The small town feel, the hilariously tenacious heroine, and a well thought out murder mystery that keeps you guessing from beginning to end help this book evolve in to a wonderful story. It's a perfect addition to this always fresh and exciting series. 

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have ONE copy of A Frying Shame to give away to one of my lucky readers! To enter, please fill out the rafflecopter below. Good luck! :)

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Cozy Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Blood Orange (China Bayles #24) by Susan Wittig Albert

In the newest China Bayles Mystery in the New York Times bestselling series, China comes to the aid of a nurse who ends up in the hospital...

It’s mid-April in Pecan Springs, and China is renting her guest cottage to Kelly Kaufman, who needs a temporary place to live as she contends with a very acrimonious divorce from her husband Rich. One nasty point of dispute is her part ownership of the Comanche Creek Brewing Company, which she is refusing to sell.

At the same time, as a nurse employed by a local hospice, Kelly has discovered instances of suspicious practices. Even more disturbing, she suspects that a patient was murdered. Kelly’s knowledge could be dangerous, and she wants to get guidance from China on what to do.

But on her way to China’s house, Kelly is forced off the road and critically injured, putting her in a medically induced coma. Now it’s up to China to determine who wanted her out of the picture. Was it her soon-to-be ex? His new lover—who happens to be the sister of China’s friend Ruby? Or someone connected with the corruption at the hospice?

China owes it to her friend to uncover the truth—but she may be putting her own life at risk. 

I always enjoy Susan Wittig Albert's writing style. She has the ability to transform a great idea into a well-written novel, and does a fantastic job of keeping the story line moving at a quick and exciting pace. So to say that I enjoyed the story of Blood Orange itself is an understatement. I truly did, and I truly enjoyed revisiting China. 

That being said, however, I wasn't too keen on the idea of China being anything but a strong-willed and tenacious woman. There are moments in this book that are very unbecoming of her character, and shed her husband in a not so favorable light. Which, I know isn't necessarily untrue to real life situations, but it was an odd twist to the character that I've grown to love. 

Overall, it's a solid book, but I'm really hoping for something more with this series soon. 

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have ONE copy of Blood Orange to give away to one of my lucky readers! To enter, fill out the rafflecopter below. Good luck! :) 

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Cozy Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: The Last Chance Olive Ranch (China Bayles #25) by Susan Wittig Albert

In this exciting new mystery from New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert, China Bayles fears for her husband’s life as an escaped convict targets him...
 
Max Mantel, the killer McQuaid put away years ago, has busted out of Huntsville Prison and appears to be headed for Pecan Springs. McQuaid knows there’s only one way to stop the vengeful convict—set a trap with himself as bait.
 
China wants to stay by her husband’s side and keep him from harm. But McQuaid  insists that she get out of town and go to the Last Chance Olive Ranch, where she’s agreed to teach a workshop on herbs.
 
When China and her best friend arrive at the ranch, she learns the owner, Maddie Haskell, has her own troubles. She inherited the ranch and olive oil business from the late matriarch, Eliza Butler, but Eliza’s nephew is contesting the will. 
 
While China throws herself into helping Maddie, McQuaid’s plan backfires when Mantel executes a countermove he never saw coming. Now McQuaid’s life is not the only one at stake—and this time may really be his last chance.



This year marks the publication of the 25th China Bayles mystery, The Last Chance Olive Ranch. Gosh—it seems like yesterday when the first book, Thyme of Death, came out. But that was way back in 1992, the same year that Bill Clinton became president, Hurricane Andrew bulldozed across South Florida, and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven cleaned up at the Oscars. To tell the truth, I never imagined that China and Ruby would be still be sleuthing, 25 books later. But I’m glad they are, for they’ve given me, as their partner-in-crime, many wonderful (and challenging) hours of writing fun.
Back in the day, those early China Bayles mysteries broke some new ground. For one thing, regional mysteries were fairly new to readers, and I was a little worried that a small town in the Texas Hill Country might not be appealing. What’s more, China was a shop owner, an herbalist, and a gardener, the first of her kind in the U.S. (British mystery author John Sherwood had already written several books in his Celia Grant horticultural series but there were none in America.) China’s mysteries were also among the first to feature recipes (Diane Mott Davidson began doing this at about the same time). And China Bayles herself was the first ex-lawyer (a criminal attorney) coupled with an ex-cop boyfriend/husband.

To my mind, it was China’s background as a lawyer that made her different from other female amateur sleuths—and still does. She’s had experience with lots of different bad guys, which gives her an eye for criminals and a pretty strong sense of who isn’t telling the truth. She knows the law and is trained to spot the ways people—both bad guys and good—use the legal system to their advantage. Her relationship with Mike McQuaid has given her an insight into the way cops and professional investigators think and work, and her friendship with Sheila Dawson, Pecan Springs’ first female chief of police, provides a strong connection to local law enforcement. On the other hand, her longtime friendship with highly-intuitive slightly-wacky Ruby Wilcox gives her a different view of what’s going on.

And of course, the plants themselves made the series different back then, and still do. Herbs—used for good or for ill, wisely or ill-advisedly—are powerful medicine, and each of China’s adventures has taught me a great deal about the wide, wonderful world of plants. The Last Chance Olive Ranch is no exception. For while the olive has been a delicious and nutritious mainstay in diets across the centuries, science is only beginning to understand all of its medicinal properties. Olive oil (more accurately, the juice of the olive) has been used to prevent cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is reported to be beneficial in treating constipation, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and blood vessel problems associated with diabetes. Topically, olive oil is applied to the skin to ease minor burns and wounds. It has also been used as an important lubricant and as a fuel for lamps and other—

But we won’t go into that. It might spoil the story for you. So I’ll just invite you to pour a cup of tea, grab a handful of your favorite cookies (maybe Ruby’s Hot Lips Cookie Crisps*), and settle in with The Last Chance Olive Ranch. It has all the elements that make China Bayles a true Texas original: an amateur sleuth with a green thumb and a serious nose for prime-thyme crime. I hope you enjoy it!

*Ruby’s Hot Lips Cookie Crisps

1 cup soft shortening
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1½ cup finely chopped cashews
1½ cups whole wheat flour
1½ cups unbleached flour
½ tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp habanero powder

Preheat oven to 325°F. Cream butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix well. Mix the dry ingredients together with the nuts, and stir into the creamed mixture. Chill. Shape into a log about 2" in diameter, slice, and bake until golden.

Author Bio
Susan Wittig Albert is the New York Times bestselling author of four Prime Crime series: China Bayles, The Darling Dahlias, The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and (with her husband, Bill Albert) the Robin Paige Victorian Mysteries. She also writes historical fiction. Recent titles: The General’s Women, Loving Eleanor, and A Wilder Rose. Her website: www.susanalbert.com

I have been a follower of the China Bayles series from the get-go. It's had up and down moments for me, but The Last Chance Olive Ranch was a redeeming moment for Ms. Albert and her series. It is a wonderfully written book that validated the fact that you CAN have a series go on for 25 books and still manage to eek out fresh material. It was very reassuring for me that China is still such a force in the cozy genre. 

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have ONE copy of The Last Chance Olive Ranch to give away to one of my lucky readers. To enter, please fill out the rafflecopter below. 

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