Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hello everyone! I know I haven't posted since the end of December. I've been having some issues and had to take a hard look at my blog and schedule.

For health reasons and other concerns I have taken a much needed break and I also work during the winter and didn't have the energy to do both. It did come about rather unexpectedly, but I think it's time to take a step back. 

In good conscience I cannot expect publishers and publicists to count on me to put out reviews every month when I'm not sure if I will be able to do so. I have had to move things around, cancel reviews for books I had already received and I don't think that is fair to you the reader and especially to the publicist who sent me the book in the first place.

I think it's time for me to realize that with my health I just cannot blog consistently enough to offer giveaways and things like that. That's not say that I won't ever post again or offer any giveaways. I just have to get a better balance between life and blogging. I will still post reviews but they may not be the most current books on the market. It just depends on what the publicists I work with have to say after I e-mail them and let them know my circumstances.

It makes me sad that this chapter of my life may be undergoing some drastic changes. As readers, you have been wonderful and I love sharing new books with you. I know that the big draw on this blog is the giveaways. Those are the posts that generate comments etc. etc. But I still enjoy knowing you read my reviews whether you comment on them or not. It has been a privilege and I hope you will understand and accept the changes that have to be made.

Thank-you from the bottom of my heart and I will keep you posted!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Death With All The Trimmings

Death With All The Trimmings (Key West Food Critic - Book 5) by Lucy Burdette

Publication Date: 12/02/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Obsidian Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320
ISBN-10: 0451465903
ISBN-13: 978-0451465900

(Received for an honest review from Obsidian Mystery)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

Lucy Burdette on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Key West Food Critic Mysteries 

1. An Appetite for Murder
2. Death In Four Courses
3. Topped Chef
4. Murder With Ganache
5. Death With All The Trimmings

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Death With All The Trimmings, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

The only snow in Key West this Christmas is Hayley Snow, food critic for Key Zest magazine, who is not getting time off for the holiday…or time off from murder. 

It may be Christmastime, but thoughts of peace on earth, good will toward men, don’t seem to extend to the restaurant biz. Hayley has been assigned to interview Edel Waugh, chef/owner of Key West’s hottest new restaurant. But off the record, Edel reveals someone’s sabotaging her kitchen and asks Hayley to investigate.

Things heat up fast when the restaurant is set on fire—and a body is discovered in the charred wreckage. Is someone out to destroy the chef’s business—or actually kill her? Amid holiday festivities like the lighted boat parade and visiting relatives who stir up mixed emotions, Hayley needs to smoke out an arsonist and a killer who may turn up the heat on her next…


Thoughts:

Lucy Burdette takes on a Christmas setting in her latest book in the Key West Food Critic mystery series, Death With All The Trimmings. Readers who like a little Christmas mixed in with their mysteries will love this one. With everything from a town wide decorating contest, to a lighted boat parade, a sabotaged restaurant and a murder, this book has it going on. Burdette uses a lot of wit and heart in her writing and readers will respond. A great addition to this unique series!

What I liked:

I'm not what you would call a beach gal. I love the mountains and snow and everything that goes with a white Christmas. But Lucy Burdette actually made me think a warm and sunny Christmas might not be so bad. Christmas in Key West isn't as wildly different as you would expect. I loved everything about it from the decorated palm trees to the town all decked out for the holidays. The lighted boat parade was also a great touch. I had never really thought about what it would be like to have Christmas where it is sunny and bright. Burdette made it seem pretty wonderful in Death With All the Trimmings.

There is a new restaurant in town and a new chef, Edel Waugh. She's a bit of a task master and that might be causing her some problems. The restaurant is under attack. Saboteurs are lurking and it's up to Hayley and her cohorts to figure out who is behind it all. And then, of course, there is a murder. Is it all related? Hayley is a good food critic, but shes a great amateur sleuth. Once again Lucy Burdette puts Hayley in hot water and lets her shine as a very well developed heroine. New characters and old favorites join making this an unforgettable addition to the series.

Not only is there mystery brewing, but Hayley's personal life is a bit mixed up as well. Her mom decides to winter in Key West, which brings up a whole new dynamic and her relationship with Wally is at a bit of a stand still. The interactions between Hayley and the rest of the characters are always so genuine. I can imagine being on my own somewhere and having a life and how that would change if my mom showed up. Could be good, could be bad! It was really interesting to explore that part of the heroine's life. This busy with Wally, seems to be just a bump in the road. His mom is sick and he doesn't have the kind of time he had before. Hopefully, it's just an adjustment they will have to make to their relationship. 

The mystery in this one was full of surprises. Did Juan's death have anything to do with what was going on at Edel's restaurant? It was a bit unpredictable and I liked that. There were tons of suspects within the restaurant and some without. The motive was unclear, but when I got to end and looked back, there were clues all along the path. Burdette did a great job keeping the reader in the dark until it was time for a big reveal.

Bottom Line:

This book was another example of Burdette's laid back Key West kind of style. She made me want to spend Christmas on the beach of all things and she had me wishing I could fix her love life. But most importantly for a good mystery she had me searching out those clues and reading way into the night trying to figure it all out. A very good book!

Death With All The Trimmings is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


Clinical psychologist Roberta Isleib, aka Lucy Burdette, has had twelve previous mysteries published, including Murder with GanacheTopped ChefDeath in Four Courses, and An Appetite for Murder in the national bestselling Key West Food Critic Mystery series. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. 


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Death With All The Trimmings by Lucy Burdette.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, January 12th.

1. Please leave a comment. Ever been to Key West? What are your thoughts about it?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Review and Giveaway: To Kiss a Kilted Warrior

To Kiss a Kilted Warrior (Claimed by the Highlander - Book 3) by Rowan Keats

Publication Date: 12/02/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet Eclipse
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 368
ISBN-10: 0451470869
ISBN-13: 978-0451470867

(Received for an honest review from Signet Eclipse)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

Rowan Keats on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Claimed by the Highlander

1. Taming a Wild Scot
2. When a Laird Takes a Lady
3. To Kiss a Kilted Warrior

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, To Kiss a Kilted Warrior, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

In the Highlands of Scotland, love and passion rage as fiercely as the storms that sweep the land—and nothing comes between a clan and its laird, a lass and her kin, or man and his chosen woman... 

Shunned by her village, weaver Morag Cameron lives a solitary existence in the woods—until the night she finds a sorely wounded Highlander by the loch. Under her care, the handsome warrior slowly recovers his strength, but his memories have disappeared. Morag is torn. For if she helps him regain his past, she may sacrifice a life with the man she has come to love...

Wulf MacCurran wants nothing more than to claim Morag as his own, but his past holds too many dangerous secrets—secrets that put them both in mortal danger. He must discover who attacked him and left him for dead. Traveling to Edinburgh, Wulf and Morag find themselves swept into a mystery with the power to determine the fate of their passions—and change Scotland forever...


Thoughts:

To Kiss a Kilted Warrior is the third book in Rowan Keats', Claimed by the Highlander series. Readers who have followed the series will enjoy finding out the secrets of the man and black and his determination to destroy clan McCurran. The strong love story between a man who has lost his memory and a shunned woman is both endearing and captivating. Keats shows a great love for Scotland and it's people and her writing shows the true Highland spirit in a way that most authors can't come close to. A great new addition to this very memorable series!

What I liked:

I have really enjoyed the Claimed by a Highlander series from it's inception. I am from Scottish ancestry and it is imperative to me that an author who writes Scottish romances understand what and who they are writing about. The more I read from this author, the more sure I become that she has not only done her homework, but she 'cares' about these people and characters. She portrays the Highland spirit and way of life in the kind of light that shines on it's courage and determination. Very well done!

Wulf McCurran holds the key to finding out who the man in black is and what he was truly after. The problem is he can't remember it. After being mortally wounded Wulf's memory has all but disappeared. He is finally reunited with is family in this book, but he doesn't really know them, including his son. He has been living a simple existence in the care of a weaver who has been shunned by her own people. But the man in black isn't quite finished with him. I loved the fact that Keats, picks up right where the last book ended. The overall story arc so far in the series is coming to a close with this book, and Keats doesn't keep her readers wondering. She lays it all out here and ties up a lot of loose ends. But there are a lot more stories to be told about these wonderful Highlanders. I am glad that I got Wulf's story in this one, it was well worth the time.

I thought Wulf was an amazing character. He has this kind of silent command about him. Even though it is obvious that he has been injured and that he cannot remember, he is still a formidable foe. A seasoned warrior, a father and kind man, Wulf was the perfect hero. He wants revenge for what has happened to him, the lose of his wife and other child, his memories. It all piles up and he has to do something. I loved his grit and determination. But most of all his caring nature. He loved Morag, he just wanted to make sure he could protect her.

For Morag it was all about trust. If she tells him who his really is, is she protecting him or sending him to his death? If she helps him find out who the man in black is, will she lose him forever? She has to trust in Wulf as a man and in herself to do the right thing. I found her courageous and very loving. If you love someone you will do most anything for them and she proves that again and again in this book. A formidable heroine in every sense of the word.

Bottom Line:

If you haven't tried this series, what are you waiting for? It's simply one of the best Scottish romance series' out right now. Rowan Keats, gets the Highland people. She understands what makes them tick and she writes them with passion and a bit of enchantment. She makes you believe in the Highland spirit and the tenacity and courage of the Scots. Just an amazing book!

To Kiss a Kilted Warrior is available NOW from you favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:

Rowan Keats graduated from the University of Ottawa with an Honours degree in Business. She worked as a banker, stock broker, and marketing director before returning to her true calling: writing. Born to a French-Canadian father and a Scottish-Danish mother, she has centuries of rich history to draw from when penning her romantic tales of days gone by.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of To Kiss a Kilted Warrior by Rowan Keats.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, January 9th.

1. Please leave a comment. What other Scottish Historical writers are your favorite's?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Review: Snowflakes on the Sea

Snowflakes on the Sea  (*Reprint*)by Linda Lael Miller

Publication Date: 10/28/2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: HQN
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
ISBN-100373779933
ISBN-13978-0373779932

(Received for an honest review from Harlequin HQN)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

Linda Lael Miller on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Snowflakes on the Sea, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

Christmas 2014: 

Nathan and Mallory McKendrick remember the troubles and triumphs they faced in the early days of their marriage. But their love story is far from over! It's a story they tell each other often…especially at Christmas. 

Winter 1984: 

International singing sensation Nathan McKendrick had it all—the looks, the talent, the charisma. It's not surprising that half the world was infatuated with him! No one more so than his wife, Mallory. The success of their marriage had always defied the odds—and the rumors. Then, suddenly, the bond between them was damaged, and Nathan and Mallory had to choose—fight for the love they still shared or let circumstances destroy it. 

In the end, there was only one choice. They had to save their marriage. 

And now, every year that goes by, every Christmas they spend together, reminds them that their love is everlasting….


Thoughts:

Snowflakes on the Sea is a Christmas time reprint from Linda Lael Miller's backlist. Readers looking for some vintage writing from an author they know and love will find this book enchanting. This one isn't the typical Miller western romance, it involves two high profile people whose marriage is feeling the strain of their tough schedules and finite time for each other. Ever wondered what it would be like to be married to a rock star? It might be a little harder than you think!

What I liked:

I probably shouldn't have picked a reprint for my first book by this author. This book is from Linda Lael Miller's early career and probably doesn't do justice to her writing today. I think I was expecting the western type setting that Miller is known for and was surprised when this one was cut from a different cloth, but that didn't deter me. I wanted to find strong characters and depth in the story, and I struggled a bit to find it but in the end I'm glad I picked this one up. It was unexpected and sometimes that exactly what I want to read.

Not your typical romance either. The couple in this book is already married. This was something I found very refreshing. It's life after the happy-ever-after. And in this case it's not quite what Cinderella had in mind. Mallory and Nathan have defied the odds and stayed together even though he's a high profile recording artist. But it's definitely not smooth sailing for these two. Trouble is on the horizon and it takes a lot of fight from both characters to pull this one out. 

I really wanted to like Mallory, but I had some issues with her. She was a bit simpering and whiny. Now, I understand that there's trouble in paradise, but a lot of times you can either cry about it or fight for it and she did a bit too much crying to suit me. There was a lot of up and down with her character. She made me like her one minute and want to shake her the next. Not quite what I'm used to where the heroine is concerned.

Nathan was the fighter of the two. He seemed determined to make it work, whatever he had to do to make it right. I appreciated the fact that he knew things were screwed up and he wanted to fix it. It's Christmas... who wants to break up at this time of year? Not this guy, he was his game. I wanted Mallory to have that same fighting spirit. Life's not easy and marriage takes a lot of hard work. I thought Miller did a good job of portraying that.

One of the things that was kind of a miss for me on this one was the back and forth. It seemed like once Nathan and Mallory got one issue solved, here came something else. You expect that a little bit in a good romance, but not the kind of onslaught these two characters had to deal with. I didn't want it to be easy to work out, but geez! This one was tough!

Bottom Line:

I never judge an author by the first book I read. I'm glad in this case. I liked the book, but I know from what others have told me, that this author is top notch and I look forward to reading other works by Miller that show that. Too much drama for me in this one and the heroine just didn't do it for me. I did like the fact that they were already married, but it didn't make up for a lot of issues I had with this one. 

Snowflakes on the Sea is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 3 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is the author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels. Now living in Spokane, Washington, the “First Lady of the West” hit a career high when all three of her 2011 Creed Cowboy books debuted at #1 on the New York Times list. In 2007, the Romance Writers of America presented her their Lifetime Achievement Award. She personally funds her Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women. Visit her at www.lindalaelmiller.com.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Review: Christmas on 4th Street

Christmas on 4th Street (Fool's Gold - Book 12.5 *Reprint*) by Susan Mallery

Publication Date: 10/28/2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: HQN
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
ISBN-100373778996
ISBN-13978-0373778997

(Received for an honest review from Harlequin HQN)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

Susan Mallery on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Fool's Gold

1. Chasing Perfect
2. Almost Perfect
2.5. Sister of the Bride
3. Finding Perfect
4. Only Mine
5. Only Yours
6. Only His
6.1. Only Us
6.5. Almost Summer
7. Summer Days
8. Summer Nights
9. All Summer Long
9.5. A Fool's Gold Christmas
9.5. Halfway There
10. Just One Kiss
11. Two of a Kind
12. Three Little Words
12.5. Christmas on 4th Street
13. When We Met
14. Before We Kiss
15. Until We Touch
15.5. Yours For Christmas

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Christmas on 4th Street, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

There's nowhere better to spend the holidays than with New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery in the town of Fool's Gold, where love is always waiting to be unwrapped… 

Noelle Perkins just got a second chance at life, and she intends to make the most of it. That's why she's opening her own store in Fool's Gold, California. The Christmas Attic celebrates everything that's magical about her favorite season. Business is booming, and as a bonus, gorgeous army doctor Gabriel Boylan has offered to help out during the holiday rush. 

Gabriel's memories of Christmas past contain more sour grapes than sugarplums, thanks to his drill sergeant father. Spending the holidays with his family while he recuperates from an injury sounds as appetizing as last year's eggnog. Still, there are some enjoyable distractions in town, including sunny, sexy Noelle…and the red-hot mistletoe kisses they can't stop sharing. 

Gabriel didn't think he was made for happily-ever-afters. But when fate hands you a love as sweet and surprising as this, only a fool could refuse….


Thoughts:

Christmas on 4th Street is a reprint of a Christmas themed story in the Fool's Gold series by Susan Mallery. Readers looking for some extra special Christmas cheer for the holidays will love the Christmas setting and Noelle's quaint store, The Christmas Attic. In Mallery's typical happy-ever-after style, this book is perfect in front of a warm fire, with a cozy blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. Readers may know that a fairy tale ending is around the corner, but it's all in how you get there. A great Christmas read and a great return to Fool's Gold during Christmas time.

What I liked:

I've been a fan of Susan Mallery for awhile now and I've read several books in the Fool's Gold series. When I saw this reprint up for review for the holidays, I couldn't resist. Returning to this wonderful small town is always a great adventure. I love the way Mallery incorporates the entire town into every book in this series. Readers who want to catch up previous couples and residents have no trouble finding out something new and readers just starting out will fall in love with Fool's Gold quickly. 

In this addition to the series, readers who are familiar with Gideon and Felicia will really love meeting Gideon's twin brother, Gabriel. It was nice to catch up with a great couple from the past, while meeting a new and dynamic couple that reverberated off the pages. Gabriel and Noelle, both have issues in their past, that is affecting their present and ultimately their future. Her friends aren't aware of what she's been through and his family, just doesn't understand why he feels the need for distance. It's a great set up for the true meaning of the holiday season.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book and others in the series is the way Susan Mallery writes about the relationships between women. The women in this small town stick together through thick and thin and heart break. The way they all pull together to support and uplift each other is inspiring. I want friends like that and Mallery makes be believe it's possible to find them. 

The romance between Noelle and Gabriel was just what I was looking for at Christmas time. He wants to steer clear of his family while he is healing from an injury and ends up working in Noelle's Christmas store. Not exactly where you might think to find a disillusioned military doctor. I liked the fact that Noelle was determined to live every moment like it was her last and the way she was slowly able to instill that same way of looking at life into Gabriel. He needed a new way to look at the world and she gave it to him. Pretty heavy stuff for Christmas season and perfect for this book.

This was a typical book for the series. Readers go into reading Susan Mallery's books knowing how they are basically going to go. Woman looks to find the perfect man, woman finds man, man is scared to death, man leaves, man comes back, man and woman live happily-ever-after. There is definitely a formula here, but the thing that sets each of these books apart, is in the details. The little things that make Gabriel and Noelle's story different from the other couples in the series. Her issues with illness and his estrangement from his family. The fact that she owns a Christmas store and he is a military doctor. It's those things that make all the difference!

I have to mention the scene at the cabin. I just can't resist. A town owned cabin, stocked with everything you need for a little shut eye, a bite to eat or a little romance. Casseroles and condoms, Oh My! LOL... You just have to read it to understand. I laughed and laughed over just the thought of it.

Bottom Line:

I may have wanted a little more realism and a little less formula in this book, but that's not say I didn't like it. I knew they'd end up together, so do you, before you even start. What made this one worth the time, was the spirit of this little town, the amazing people that populate it and those wee little things that made it special. It was a great Christmas read!

Christmas on 4th Street is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!



About the Author:


New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women. Publishers Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative,” and Booklist says “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling.” Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle. Visit her at www.SusanMallery.com.

Review: Basil Instinct

Basil Instinct (Italian Restaurant Mystery - Book 2) by Shelley Costa

Publication Date: 04/24/2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Pocket Books
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 368
ISBN-10147670936X
ISBN-13978-1476709369

(Received for an honest review from Pocket Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

Shelley Costa on the WEB: website, twitter, goodreads

Books in the series

Italian Restaurant Mysteries

1. You Cannoli Die Once
2. Basil Instinct

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Basil Instinct, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

In this second cozy mystery series that started with You Cannoli Die Once, a chef and her cousins launch their own investigation when a new sous chef turns up dead in their Italian restaurant.

When Chef Eve Angelotta’s grandmother, Maria Pia, is invited to join Belfiere, a secret all-female Italian culinary society, Eve is concerned. Rumor has it that membership is lifelong—whether you like it or not. Eve and her cousin Landon try to research Belfiere, but all they come up with is a two-year-old blog entry warning against the two-hundred-year-old society that centers around meals inspired by famous female poisoners.

Soon after, Eve’s new sous chef turns up dead just inside the front door of Miracolo, Eve’s restaurant. When they discover the sous chef had connections to Belfiere, Eve and her Italian cousins start a mission to find out what happened—before Maria Pia is made an offer she can’t refuse.


Thoughts:

Eve and the gang from Miracolo are back in Shelley Costa's, second book in the Italian Restaurant Mystery series. This time Maria Pia has been given the opportunity to join a very selective and secretive group of female chefs, but murder may be in the offing. Costa has an innate ability to write a good mystery with tons of eclectic characters and more humor than a good slap stick comedy. Readers looking for a great offbeat family will find the Angelotta's more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

What I liked:

The first book in this series, You Cannoli Die Once, was funny, but nothing like Basil Instinct. Shelley Costa has really amped up the humor in this one and readers will have some serious "Weekend at Bernie's" moments. I love that old movie and when Eve and Landon try to hide a dead body to save Maria Pia's dinner and then try to move it, you can't help but belly laugh... a lot. I think Costa's use of humor was spot on here. It took all of the tension out of the murder and managed to still keep the mystery right on track.

The secret society of chefs and their interesting traditions and rituals were entertaining and had me thinking Masons or some sort of underground community. It gave this addition to the series a sinister sort of quality that wasn't present in the first book. Maria Pia going out to get a tattoo was both funny and a testament to how far these kinds of societies can stray towards cult like behavior and I thought Costa did a fantastic job of developing this very unique group. There was a lot of humor involved with it, but also that underlying manipulative energy. Good stuff!

There were still an inordinately large amount of characters in this book, but it was easier to follow the second time around. This is a large family and I understand that, that is an Italian trait, but it gives the reader too many people to have to keep up with and if the characters only appear now and then it's easy to forget who they are or how they have been incorporated into the story up to this point. I think the author would have benefited from spending more time on a few characters then so much time on so many.

I continue to be impressed with how Costa is able to get the family dynamics so accurate in her writing. This is exactly what I expect from a big Italian family. There is a lot of love, a lot of tolerance and good times and bad. I love Eve as the main character and the way she goes about investigating the strange things that seem to keep happening at Miracolo. She is gutsy, funny and very inquisitive. I didn't figure this one out right away, but when I did, it was easy to look back and see how the author led up to everything and provided plenty of clues if the reader was paying attention.

Bottom Line:

This was a good second book in a series. The author brought in a double dose of humor and kept the reader interested from the beginning to the end. With secret societies, murdered sous chefs, culinary students, a corpse to hide and plenty of clues, this was one intriguing mystery. Can't wait to see what happens next with this big ol' Italian family.


Basil Instinct is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


Shelley Costa’s stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Presents 13 Tales of New American GothicThe World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for an Edgar Award in the Best Short Story category, and she chaired the Best Paperback Original category for the 2011 Edgar Awards. She is the author of The Everything Guide to Edgar Allan Poe, and she has lectured on Poe at various events. She has a PhD in English and is on the faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she teaches fiction writing and screenwriting. A former New Yorker, she lives in a Cleveland suburb.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review: You Cannoli Die Once

You Cannoli Die Once (Italian Restaurant Mystery - Book 1) by Shelley Costa

Publication Date: 05/28/2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Pocket Books
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 336
ISBN-101476709351
ISBN-13978-1476709352

(Received for an honest review from Pocket Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

Shelley Costa on the WEB: website, twitter, goodreads

Excerpt from, You Cannoli Die Once, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

At Miracolo Northern Italian restaurant, one can savor brilliantly seasoned veal saltimbocca, or luscious risotto alla milanese, but no cannoli. Never cannoli. Maria Pia Angelotta, the spirited seventy-six-year-old owner of the Philadelphia-area eatery that’s been in her family for four generations, has butted heads with her head chef over the cannoli ban more than once. And when the head chef is your own granddaughter, things can get a little heated. 

Fortunately, Eve Angelotta knows how to handle what her nonna dishes out. But when Maria Pia’s boyfriend is found dead in Miracolo’s kitchen, bludgeoned by a marble mortar, the question arises: Can a woman this fiery and stubborn over cream-filled pastry be capable of murder? 

The police seem to think so, and they put the elder Angelotta behind bars, while Eve, sexy neighborhood attorney Joe Beck, and the entire Miracolo family— parenti di sangue and otherwise—try every trick in the cookbook to unravel a tangle of lies and expose a killer.


Thoughts:

Finding a man in your dumpster and a body in the kitchen might seem unusual, but not for Eve Angelotta and the crew from Miracolo Italian Restaurant. Shelly Costa's, You Cannoli Die Once will have readers laughing, right along with solving the whodunit, in this well written cozy mystery. With an over-the-top Italian family, a ban on cannoli's and a murdered boyfriend it couldn't be anything but... eccentric and exciting!

What I liked:

The Italian Restaurant mystery series starts off with a bang, in You Cannoli Die Once. Shelley Costa's wit and humor take center stage as she creates an Italian American family that will have readers laughing one minutes and crying the next. Eve was once a dancer, but now she's the head chef in her families Italian restaurant outside Philly. She not only has to contend with her customers, but her formidable Nonna, Maria Pia and let's just say she's a hand full. 

Costa does such a good job building this family, from their eccentric grandmother, right down to the last cousin, and there are a ton of them. Each character was well defined, even if they were a little hard to sort through. With all the customers, friends, new acquaintances and everybody else that stopped into the restaurant it took me a while to keep them all straight. One of the hazards of a large cast in the first book in a series. But once Costa gets the reader through that it was mostly smooth sailing into the mystery. 

When Eve's grandmother's boyfriend ends up dead, she has a hard time trying to figure out a way to keep her out of jail. In fact she gets herself into a situation that could land her there as well. I liked all the hustle and bustle of the restaurant and the way finding the body was almost anticlimactic after finding out Eve's cousin might have been banging a married man. The whole dynamic of the family was just as interesting as the mystery. I thought Costa used the idea of what American's think of as an Italian family to her advantage here. It added a great element of humor to the story and kept the mystery light and fun.

I found myself a little concerned about how they described the jail in this one, only because it reminded me a little bit of Mayberry instead of Philly. You don't usually get to talk to prisoners through the bars in a big city and I found that slightly disingenuous compared to the rest of the book. I found most of the situations in the book believable other than that and I thought Costa did a good job of making parts of the mystery hard to figure out and other parts kind of self explanatory. A good tactic overall.

Bottom Line:

Overall this was a good read. The big Italian family was a hoot and I found them very endearing. I did have some trouble figuring out who was related to who, who was a friend, who was one of the musicians, who ran the business next door and so on, but once I got that down I liked this one a lot. I liked the idea that some parts of the mystery were easy to figure out while other parts were more complex and took some time. A good start to the series!

You Cannoli Die Once is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


Shelley Costa’s stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Presents 13 Tales of New American GothicThe World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for an Edgar Award in the Best Short Story category, and she chaired the Best Paperback Original category for the 2011 Edgar Awards. She is the author of The Everything Guide to Edgar Allan Poe, and she has lectured on Poe at various events. She has a PhD in English and is on the faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she teaches fiction writing and screenwriting. A former New Yorker, she lives in a Cleveland suburb.