Review: Tagged for Death

Tagged for Death
Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 Sarah Winston, 38, is devoid of a social life since divorcing her husband, CJ Hooker, former Air Force Base Security Forces squadron commander. Forced to retire for “misconduct” after having had an affair with a 19 year old airman, Tiffany Lopez. Sarah does, however, enjoy frequenting garage sales, and recently she’s snagged a great buy at one in particular, even managing to collect various free items for charity. Back at her small apartment, while sorting out the charitable items to be taken to the military base thrift shop, she finds a bloodstained shirt with her ex-husband’s initials on the monogrammed cuff, along with another piece of bloodied clothing, a maternity top, that belonged to his dismissed lover, Tiffany Lopez. Flabbergasted as to how either of the items wound up with her other collectibles, and in a panic, Sarah frantically tries to locate CJ. When he finally contacts her she shares what she found and he assures her he’ll figure out what’s going on. But when blood is found on Tiffany’s dorm room floor, and Sarah soon finds a skull and bones on the thrift store grounds where she volunteers, will she be able to prove that her ex-husband didn’t have a motive for murder?

I really enjoyed Tagged for death. The mystery of what happened to Tiffany Lopez unfolds gradually while we simultaneously gain a window into Sarah’s life as an ex-military wife, and how she is forced to redefine herself after losing much of her identity after moving off the military base. While Sarah has to learn to adapt to life as an ordinary civilian and divorcee, she’s savvy when it comes to using her wits to investigate the murder of her ex-husband’s lover. The struggle to rid herself of the love she still has deep down for her cheating husband, while endeavoring to make a little money to sustain herself by setting up garage sales for friends and acquaintances, endeared me to her character. She’s a fighter, determined to overcome adversity, and I admired that quality. Tagged for Death is not a whimsical cozy. It has a mature theme that held my attention as much as the mystery aspect. There are a few twists that I didn’t expect, and that makes me curious and eager to move on in the series, as these twists warrant further development. A great story. I am definitely interested to see how Sarah gets on with her life. Recommended.

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Please help me win…

Hello loyal Cozynookbks readers. I’d like to ask your help. My picture has been chosen as a finalist to win a 2-night stay at one of our favorite vacation spots, but I need votes from friends to help me win. Would you’ll mind voting for my picture? Only if you like it of course. If I win I will do a book giveaway. I’ve been wanting to do that. 

Thanks in advance for all who would like to help. I can use a getaway. 😊

I hope the link works. LOL. 

Review: Murder is No Accident

Murder is No Accident
Murder is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

⭐⭐⭐💫 3.5 stars.
Young Maggie Green, 15, knows she has no business in Miss Fonda’s alluring Victorian mansion by herself. But she can’t resist. Even though the elderly Miss Fonda has invited her to come by whenever she wants, Maggie’s mother, who cleans the mansion with Maggie’s help, does not approve of her being there when they’re not working, especially since Miss Fonda is relegated to a gentle care facility now and the house sits empty. As young folks are sometimes prone to disobey their parents’ wishes, Maggie is inside the mansion in the tower room which is above the third floor, accessed by a trap door in the room beneath, making entries in her secret diary when she hears real estate agent, Geraldine Harper, entering the house. Careful not to be heard, Maggie stays still and quiet, hoping the well-known agent will leave shortly. But wait, there’s another set of footsteps heard in the house, and Geraldine hears them too. When she encounters the other intruder, a person she clearly knows, a conversation ensues and when Geraldine threatens to beckon the police, Maggie hears what sounds like someone tumbling down a flight of stairs. In fear, she waits a little while before leaving her hideaway and discovers the real estate agent dead at the bottom of the stairs. She calls 911 with Geraldine’s phone and sneaks away from the house unnoticed before the police arrive. Or did she get away unnoticed? In time Maggie becomes privy to not one murder, but two, and will she be able to keep herself out of harms way before the threats of a killer make her murder victim number three?

Murder Is No Accident is the first book I’ve read by A.H. Gabhart, and it was a pretty good mystery. What I liked most was the climactic ending. It was a different experience reading about a young teen discovering murder victims, as opposed to an adult. Some of the complexities that accompany mysteries featuring an adult protagonist is not present in this book, which was a little bit of a minus for me. The pacing started out slow but gradually picked up. It ebbed and flowed, with the ending reaching a crescendo. I think some of the parts in the beginning of the book made me feel as though it was written to appeal to an older demographic with the mention of dementia, strokes, accidents amongst the elderly, and the infirmities that are typically associated with aging. It was a little depressing, but thankfully those subjects didn’t prevail throughout the entire book. The sleepy town, Hidden Springs, where the murders took place, was comprised of quirky characters that tend to inhabit small, southern towns. A Deputy, Michael Keane, had a continual presence in the book, and the direction of his love life was somewhat of a secondary plot. I ultimately enjoyed how things turned out for him. The other characters made their appearances without much fanfare; sprinkled about here and there. Nothing particularly endearing about any of them besides Maggie and the boy who had a crush on her, Anthony. They were a sweet, innocent pair. Aside from them, there wasn’t a whole lot of character development that would make me long to read more about what happened to any of them in the future.

All in all, whereas the mystery aspect wasn’t bad, and the conclusion plausible, this was just an okay read for me. Others may really enjoy it. I just needed a little more excitement to keep me turning the pages, and that wasn’t the case for me.

Thank you Baker Publishing for an ARC of this book. In return I have provided an honest review.

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Review: The Julius House

The Julius House
The Julius House by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I love the Aurora Teagarden Mystery series. I would classify The Julius House as a conventional mystery, although I find it along the lines of cozy-ish. Charlaine Harris knows how to assemble intricately contrived, yet plausible murder scenarios that definitely excite and entertain the reader. I’ve been astounded by the outcome of the murder mystery each time I’ve read one of the books in this series. Thankfully, she’s adding new books to the series and I eagerly await what she will cook up in the ones that are to come. And now a synopsis of The Julius House…

Aurora (Roe) Teagarden’s new husband, Martin, has bought her The Julius House as a wedding present. But this is no ordinary house. The Julius House was home to a family of three that disappeared approximately six years before. It’s like they just vanished into thin air. The only relative who can relate what happened on that fateful day is Melba Totino, the mother of one of the occupants, Hope, who was married to T.C. Julius. The two lived in the house with their teenage daughter, Charity. Melba lived in a little apartment above the garage adjacent to the house. On the morning the family vanished, Melba had stepped over to the house to cook breakfast for the family as usual. According to her statement to police, when she went there that morning nobody was in the home. The couples’ vehicles were in the garage, the house was undisturbed, but the family was gone. Six years later they’re still missing.

Roe feels unsettled and determined to find out what happened to the Julius family. Could they be dead somewhere on or around the property? She’s determined to do some digging to put her mind at ease. Unfortunately, the Julius family is not the only mystery she’s interested in solving. It seems her new husband has got some secrets of his own. For instance, just who is the mysterious, odd married couple that Martin has informed Roe will be living with them in Melba’s old apartment over the garage? Why is he vague about who they are and why they’re there? It becomes clear that Roe just might have her work cut out for her as she goes on a mission to uncover both mysteries.

I can always count on being fully immersed in an Aurora Teagarden murder mystery. I enjoyed this book immensely. Most definitely recommended.

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Review: When the Grits Hit the Fan

When the Grits Hit the Fan
When the Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ It was nice to be back in touch with the folks of South Lick, Indiana. And let me just say that When the Grits Hit The Fan, the third instalment in the Country Store Mystery series, is one of the best cozies I’ve ever read to date! I mean, seriously, I couldn’t wait to pick up where I’d left off each and every time! I got not just a few, but ALL of the elements that I appreciate in a good mystery; suspense, a great setting, intriguing and quirky characters, a learning experience, a little bit of romance and a climactic, edge of your seat ending. There’s no fluff in this story. It’s a solid mystery with characters that are so distinctly original and amusing it’s hard to believe they’re fictitious. My favorites are the police officers, both men and women, who are investigating the crime. One in particular, Octavia Slade, has a no-nonsense quality that I never tired of. Lieutenant Buck Bird, the tall, lanky officer with the hearty appetite and thick Indiana accent was another favorite. And Danna, the teenaged restaurant assistant with the dreadlocks, piercings, and sassy personality snagged my complete attention each time she was mentioned. I liked the diverse backgrounds and ages, along with the appropriate dialects and jargon. It’s clear that the characters were well thought out and carefully constructed, and for that reason they are not easily forgotten.

And now, what it’s about….

Robbie Jordan, proprietor of country store and restaurant, Pans ‘N Pancakes, is grateful for the increased business she receives from hosting the Indiana University group of Sociology grad students and professors that meet there on a bimonthly basis. The conversation is typically peaceful, but during one Friday session graduate student and friend, Louise “Lou” Perlman, and Lou’s professor, Charles Stilton, are engaged in a quarrel. Lou has accused him of stealing the material from her research project and presenting it as his own. He smugly dismisses her accusation and regards her as inconsequential as compared to his superior rank. Furious, she removes herself from the table and storms off to the restroom to blow off steam. Charles Stilton doesn’t seem the least bit affected by the incident and resumes his conversation with the others. But before long he insults the chair of the department, Zenobia Brown, and shortly thereafter the group disbands for the evening. The next day while Robbie and Lou are snowshoeing, Robbie discovers Charles Stilton’s body through a hole in the frozen lake, and before long many of Robbie’s acquaintances, including her good friend Lou, are on the suspect list. Further investigation reveals that almost no one cared for the arrogant man, including his mistreated wife, their son, and his mother-in-law. So who’s the culprit? Robbie might not know who murdered Charles Stilton, but she’s sure it wasn’t her friend Lou, and she’s determined to use her sleuthing skills to have her friend exonerated.

The depth of the storyline surpassed my expectations. I never felt bored, and I was impressed with how the lead character subtly transitioned into amateur sleuth in a way that was believable. I didn’t have to suspend disbelief to accept the role she played in going about finding clues to solve the murder.

This is a cozy mystery series you won’t want to miss. Very, very highly recommended.

I received an ARC of this book, and in exchange I have provided an honest review. In no way has the free book influenced my opinions of it.

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Review: Sanctuary Cove

Sanctuary Cove
Sanctuary Cove by Kate James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

💚💚💚💚💚 What do you get when you take a handsome, compassionate veterinarian; a beautiful, intelligent, yet insecure, animal lover; a small town in the Adirondack Mountains with breathtaking scenery; and a scandal involving a corrupt senator that could destroy many lives? You get Sanctuary Cove, a wholesome romance story with a healthy dose of intrigue for good measure.

Emma Meadows, Communications professional, is finding solace in her cottage in Sanctuary Cove with her Alaskan Malamute, Max, after having lost her job, criminal defense attorney fiancé, Richard, and the home they planned to live in after their nuptials. Realizing that Richard wasn’t the man she thought he was has been difficult, but Emma is determined to make a new start. When she spots a badly injured dog on the side of the road on her way to Sanctuary Cove and calls the resident veterinarian, Josh Whitmore, who arrives at the scene to care for the dog, there’s an instant attraction felt by both Josh and Emma, even though neither one is willing to acknowledge or entertain the thought of it at first. Josh is also moving on from a toxic relationship with crazy ex-girlfriend Crystal, and making any new love connections is far from his mind. But their attraction to one another is undeniable, and before long the two are getting to know one another. Josh detects Emma’s lack of confidence and is just the person to help her regain it and realize her full potential. But it’s a double-edged sword. When Emma’s work is sought after by a consulting firm that’s willing to give her everything she’s dreamed of professionally, moving to NYC could mean the end to her blossoming relationship with Josh. And since she’s embroiled in turmoil involving a corrupt senator and her opportunist ex-fiancé Richard, will she leave Josh behind in order to protect him?

Sanctuary Cove was a great story to get lost in. The descriptive surroundings, lovable canines, respectable main characters and an HEA that will melt your heart, makes it a wholesome romance book that you’ll want to invest time in reading. The scheme involving the senator was a nice subplot that added interest to the overall storyline. Imagining the trio of canines romping around in the open and lush landscape was soothing. I truly enjoyed this book. Recommended.

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Review: The Husband’s Secret

The Husband's Secret
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ What would you do if your husband left you a letter that he didn’t intend for you to find and open until after his death, but that you mistakenly found while he was still alive and well? Would you defy his wishes and open it? This is the dilemma facing Cecelia Fitzpatrick in The Husband’s Secret.

Riveting. I actually gasped when I found out what the secret was. I was transfixed. I didn’t expect to find out what the secret was at the time it was revealed in the book, nor did I ever come close to guessing what it would be. The clever way this tale was told, combining three narratives into one, ratcheted up my interest and enjoyment of the book. It’s difficult to review The Husband’s Secret without giving too much away, so suffice to say it was worth every minute I spent on it. The epilogue was very unique and was a story unto itself. Again, I don’t want to give too much away but I highly recommend this book. Secrets can transform lives, and in The Husband’s Secret, lives will be changed in many ways. After reading this book I will surely look into more of Liane Moriarty’s books. An excellent page-turner that I never wanted to put down.

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