Monday, April 30, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Let Them Eat Stake

Let Them Eat Stake (Vampire Chef - Book 2) by Sarah Zettel

Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Penguin USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 320pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0451236456
ISBN: 0451236459

(Received for an honest review from Obsidian Mystery)

Sarah Zettel on the WEB: Webpage

Books In The Series: A Taste Of The Nightlife (2011), Let Them Eat Stake (2012)

CoverArt: Click on the image for a clearer,larger picture of the books in this series.

Excerpt from Let Them Eat Stake courtesy of Amazon's Inside Look Feature.


Charlotte Caine isn't called the "Vampire Chef" because she's a member of New York's burgeoning undead community--She just cooks for them. But when she caters a vampire-witch wedding, she's in for a rude reception...

It's a dream for a "Vampire Chef"-cater the high-profile wedding of a 200-year-old vampire and a wealthy witch. So why did celebrity chef Oscar Simmons walk away from this gig? Charlotte agrees to take his place, even though she knows this event, thrown by power-hungry vampires and witches, could make (or break) her career, her restaurant, and her life. But when Simmons turns up dead, the groom's family starts vanishing, and the police start asking pointed questions, Charlotte fears she may have picked the wrong wedding to stake her reputation on...


If you are a paranormal fan and a cozy mystery enthusiast, this is the series for you! Sarah Zettel continues her Vampire Chef series with Let Them Eat Stake. This is the second book in the series about restaurant owner Charlotte Caine. Zettel has a flair for the dramatic, a very good grasp on character development and her wit and humor shine in the dialogue of this book making it one book that won't be easily set aside. This is one of those stay-up-all-night reads!

When I first found out about this series, I admit to some skepticism. I wasn't sure that a cozy writer could pull off a series of this kind. I know, I know... I was assuming that a writer who can do one thing well, couldn't possibly do the other, but I neglected to think about the fact that Sarah Zettel doesn't just contain her writing to mysteries or the paranormal, she also writes in various other genres under different pen names. I am a fan of her writing no matter the subject and that helped me decide that I wanted to read this series in spite of my initial hesitance. I am glad I gave this one a chance because it is excellently written and well worth any cozy readers time.

Vampires, witches, weres... you name it this series probably mentions it! I liked the world building that Zettel did in the first book, allowing the readers to see how the paranormal species became known to humans and about the restrictions and regulations for each type. I liked the fact that Zettel did not make the main character a paranorm. She keeps Charlotte grounded in her humanity even though she is serving both Night and Daybloods in her restaurant, Nightlife. Her brother is a vampire and that helps to tie her into the vampire scene. Zettel's reality was believable and very enjoyable to read about.

In this second addition to the series, Charlotte is asked to cater a vampire/witch wedding that could make or break her reputation. I liked the fact that like the author Charlotte takes some big risks in this book. It could backfire and put Nightlife out of business if she doesn't pull this one off right. I think Zettel showed that she was willing to take some risks as well, with her character development and her take on vampire and witch mythology. I liked the the urgency that the reader feels with this book. It's kind of do or die and that was nice. 

Zettel is able to make you love or hate her characters in turn. This book is a little more sinister than her first book in the series and her characters are somewhat darker. The good guys are good and the bad guys are really bad, there is no cloudy motives or anything like that. Charlotte has her moments and  she is most definitely human. I like characters that a flawed in some ways and Zettel really brings Charlotte and the gang from Nightlife to life here.

The mystery aspect of the story was quite interesting. The vampire/witch wedding of the century was a great plot element. In the beginning I was really curious as to why Simmons decided to give up the plush job of catering a wealthy wedding, but when he showed up dead it became a little more clear. I liked the fact that the author gives the reader a lot of think about here, not just the motives and the clues to the killer but the underlying themes of relating to people of all kinds, shapes or sizes. Sometimes a mystery is a little bit more than what meets the eye. 

I liked this one a lot and I think paranormal fans and cozy readers will love it. If it's a little out of your comfort zone, give it a try anyway, you'll be glad you did!

Let Them Eat Stake is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

Sarah Zettel was born in California in 1966. Since then, she's lived in ten cities, four states and two countries. She has written four science fiction novels and many short stories in the sf, fantasy and horror genres. Her debut full-length work, Reclamation, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Sarah now lives in Michigan with her husband and their son.


The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway of one copy of Let Them Eat Stake by Sarah Zettel.

~You must be a GFC follow or an E-mail subscriber to participate.
~U.S. addresses only.
~Deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST May 14th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on this post, not the form.
2.Please fill out the FORM.

Review and Giveaway: Reap What You Sew

Reap What You Sew (Southern Sewing Circle - Book 6) by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Penguin USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 288pp.
ISBN-13: 9780425247068
ISBN: 0425247066

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Elizabeth Lynn Casey on the WEBBlog, Twitter, Facebook

Books In The Series: Sew Deadly(2009), Death Threads(2010), Pinned For Murder(2010), Deadly Notions(2011), Dangerous Alterations(2011), Reap What You Sew(2012), Let It Sew(coming 2012)

Coverart: Click on the image for a clearer,larger picture of the books in this series.

Excerpt from Reap What You Sew courtesy Amazon's Inside Look Feature


Is movie madness enough to drive on of the members of South Carolina's Sweet Briar Ladies Society Sewing Circle to a cold-blooded murder?

Tori Sinclair has found a sense of home with the Sweet Briar Ladies Society Sewing Circle. During theirr get-together s, she can relax with her sewing and listen in on Sweet Briar's latest gossip.

But when the town is chosen to be the setting of Warren Shoemaker's movie, the sewing circle gets caught up in bigger drama. With dreams of stardom, everyone is hoping to be cast as an extra--which lucky Tori is. But fame has its price as they learn when Anita Belise, the film's leading actress, is found murdered.

When suspicion falls on a member of the sewing circle, Tori must work to uncover the truth--not only to catch a killer, but to keep their tight-knit group from being torn to shreds...


Elizabeth Lynn Casey is at it again with her latest book in the Southern Sewing Circle series, Reap What You Sew. This is the sixth book in a well crafted series that features town librarian and quilter Tori Sinclair. With a great Southern atmosphere and small town charm, this is a book that will entice cozy readers to figure out whodunit. A great addition to a well established series!

Southern cozies are usually some of my favorites. They are usually set in the South and have all the charm and elegance of Southern society. Elizabeth Lynn Casey's books always have that down home feel that makes a reader nostalgic and comfortable. The characters seem like friends and the Sweet Briar seems a lot like home. But this small town seems to have a more murders than most and the Sweet Briar Ladies Society Sewing Circle always seems to be right in the middle of the action. I love the setting and thought the author did a fantastic job making this small town a place readers will want to visit again and again. Lots of interesting South Carolina facts and cultural elements as well as local flavor. 

Tori Sinclair is a character that has grown a lot in last three years of this series. When she came to Sweet Briar to become the librarian, she seemed very closed off and lonely, but as the series has continued Tori has really come into her own. She has made friends, especially the ladies from the sewing circle and she in the midst of planning her wedding to Milo, a local school teacher. But everything has not been rosey. Whether it's a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time or just having a penchant for crime solving, Tori is a murder magnet... She is always in the middle of something! I love that about her character, it seems like she can't seem to stay out of trouble no matter what she does. 
The Sewing Circle it's self is full of interesting and quirky members of the Sweet Briar community. In Reap What You Sew, the twins, Leona and Margaret Louise find themselves in a bit of a spot. I think one of the endearing qualities of this series is the friendships that have developed between these women. They help each with their sewing but most importantly with their lives. They share not only mysteries but daily life and their conversations and actions make them so likeable that fans will return to series just to catch up with old friends. 

The mystery aspect of this one was really fun to read. Anyone who has ever lived in a small town that's been chosen as a movie set, can atest... the whole town goes nuts!  I loved the premise and thought the whodunit was clever. The leading actress ends up dead and two members of the Sewing Circle end up as suspects. But she was a diva actress that nobody liked and the killer is hiding in plain sight. It was well thought out and executed. I didn't figure it out until close to the end and even then I wasn't completely sold on who I had picked. But I was right and this one really good mystery!

I recommend it for cozy fans who like their mysteries with a lot of fun and atmosphere. This is probably the best of the series so far and I can't wait to see what happens to Tori next. A great read from a great writer!

Reap What You Sew  is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

Since the age of ten, Elizabeth Lynn Casey hasn't wanted to do anything other than write--news articles, feature stories, business copy, whatever would pay the bills. But they were always diversions from the one thing she wanted to write most...mysteries. Today, she's the best selling author of the new Southern Sewing Circle Mystery Series with Berkley Prime Crime. Elizabeth lives in the New York area with her family.


The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway of one copy of Reap What You Sew by Elizabeth Lynn Casey.

~You must be a GFC follow or an E-mail subscriber to participate.
~U.S. addresses only.
~Deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST May 14th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on this post, not the form.
2.Please fill out the FORM.

Review: Warrior

Warrior (Fallen - Book 3) by Kristina Douglas

Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: Paperback, 400pp.
ISBN-13: 978-1451655919
ISBN: 1451655916

(Received for an honest review from Pocket Books)

Kristina Douglas on the WEB: Webpage, Blog, Facebook

Books In The Series: Raziel(2011), Demon(2011), Warrior(2012)

Coverart: Click on the image for a clearer,larger picture of the books in this series.

Excerpt from Warrior

A born warrior, archangel Michael is dedicated to the Fallen’s survival. But only one woman understands the seductive hunger that he cannot forsake.
There comes a time in every angel’s life . . .

Every little girl imagines, now and then, that she’s a princess held captive in a tower. But Victoria Bellona is almost twenty-five. And that whole fairy-tale scenario? That’s her real life. The drop-dead gorgeous man who rescues her is no Prince Charming. He’s the gruff archangel Michael, and he insists that Tory is the Fallen’s only hope for ending Uriel’s vicious rule. She insists he’s crazy

. . . to show his brethren what he’s made of. 

According to the prophecy, Michael must marry this frustrating, fascinating creature, bed her, and drink her blood. But their fate is a double-edged sword. If they give in to their urgently growing desires, Tory will die in battle. If they refuse, she will die anyway, and with her, all of mankind. Michael is determined to find another solution when a traitorous kidnapper forces him into a deadly confrontation. Even if he can save Tory from Uriel’s ruthless clutches, will they ever really be together? Or is her fatal destiny—and the world’s—written in stone?


Warrior is the third book in Kristina Douglas' Fallen series. This is a series based on several different resources about angels and the fallen in particular. Douglas brings readers a very interesting and fresh look into Lucifer's band of angels who supposedly fell in love with human women. It's an original premise with lots of potential. Douglas peoples her world with tough, rugged angels who are nothing like the halo wearing angels most readers are used to. This book continues a developing series that is finding a bigger readership all the time. 

Reading a book like Warrior is always interesting for a Christian reader. It's interesting to me when authors use Biblical themes and ideas and put their own spin on them to create good, well written fiction. The key to remember is that is not meant to be literal... it's fiction. A good story and not supposed to be factual. So if you are a Christian reader, don't get uptight about it, read with an open mind and I think you'll really enjoy this series and this book.

Kristina Douglas does a fantastic job with world building in this series. Readers who are unfamiliar with the previous books in the series may be a little lost with Warrior, but they'll catch on quickly. The fallen are angels that that God cast out of heaven for various reasons. For this series in particular the angels that are fallen are angels that fell in love with human woman, who are being hunted by the Nephlim... warriors sent by the last archangel Uriel to hunt down the fallen. The fallen make a deal with Uriel to lead souls to their place in the afterlife in return for an uneasy peace. The fallen need the blood of a mate to survive, but they are not vampires. It's a very interesting world that has tons of potential.

In Warrior the archangel Michael is the champion of the fallen. He is determined to protect them in any way he can. When he finds out about a prophecy that could save the fallen from Uriel's power hungry rule, he jumps at the chance to fulfill it. What he doesn't take into account is the fact that Tory would affect him in such a way. She is in every sense his mate. He is destined to marry her but having the perfect life isn't in the cards. She is destined to die whether the prophecy comes true or not. It's up to Michael to figure out a way to save her and the fallen. I loved the whole sacrificial love idea in this book. It was a compelling storyline and the characters were endearing enough to pull if off. 

Michael is strong and tough. He isn't your grandma's angel who sits on a cloud playing harp all day. He is a warrior in every sense of the word. I liked the idea that Douglas made her angel's sexy and dark, exactly what I would expect in a fallen angel. He is brooding and very deep. Readers will fall for him instantly, for his sense of loyalty and duty and for his protective nature. He was just a great character. Tory on the other hand was a little harder for me to identify with. I wanted someone who could really stand up to Michael and do him justice and she just didn't do that for me as a reader. She was good, but I guess I just wanted a little more for him. I liked the whole rescue the damsel in distress scenario of how Michael and Tory met, that was fun.

This is a good series and a good book. I recommend it to paranormal romance fans and lovers of regular romance as well. It's a well written book about angels taken from Biblical scripture, the lost books of the Bible and Jewish folklore. Mixed altogether with the authors twist and you have a very interesting take on the fallen.

Warrior is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

Kristina Douglas is the pseudonym for a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Anne Stuart.

Anne Kristine Stuart was born on May 2, 1948 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., just after World War II to overeducated parents and grew up in Princeton, New Jersey (back in the days when girls didn't go to Princeton). Her childhood was classically dysfunctional, but she managed to survive and even thrive, helped by her love of story. She read voraciously and began to write novels in fifth grade, usually involving technically impossible love scenes (back then fifth graders were innocent).

Anne lives on 20 acres in a town in northern Vermont with her magnificent husband of more than 25 years, Richard Ohlrogge, two wonderful teenage children (a boy and a girl), four cats, a springer spaniel, a satellite dish, seven televisions, six VCRs, a DVD player, six CD players, a Husqvarna sewing machine and serger. And she loves them all. Not to mention the household's five computers.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Review; Don't Panic: Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family

Don't Panic: Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell & Bonnie Garcia

Publication Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Genre: Cookbook
Pages: Paperback, 253pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0800719944
ISBN: 0800719948

(Received for an honest review from Revell Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, ChristianBook, IndieBound


WE'RE ALL BUSY, but that doesn't mean we have to eat like we are. You don't have to settle for feeding your family commercially packaged meals full of sodium and preservatives or fat-laced fast food. Quick and healthy meals from your very own kitchen are easy and delicious recipes like

  • Southwestern Baked Cheese Dip
  • Thai Chicken Wraps
  • Walnut Spinach Salad
  • Homestyle Mac & Cheese
  • Slow Cooker Pork Chops
  • Oven Roasted Orange Chicken
  • Grilled Flat Iron Steak Sandwichs
  • Spicy Shrimp and Asparagus Stir-Fry
  • Fruit Pizza
  • Mexican Chocolate Mousse

  • And Many More.
From quick meals made on the grill or in the saute pan to crockpot dishes that require little prep and cook while you're out for the day, the recipes in this cookbook are tasty and nutritious - and require less hands-on preparation than traditional meals. Easy appetizers and desserts; one-dish casseroles and pastas; simple soups, salads, and side dishes; and even fast breakfasts round out the selections. Meals that are freezer-friendly are marked for those who want to make ahead.

Give your family the best - the easy way!


The authors of Don't Panic! Dinner's in the Freezer return with their latest cookbook, Don't Panic! Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family. This cookbook has a lot to offer today's family on the go. More mothers than ever before have to juggle careers, family, pets and everything in between. Something usually has to suffer, it's nice to know it doesn't have to be your family's health and nutrition. 

This is a cookbook designed for the fast pace of today's world. It's filled with recipes that take limited preparation, and easy to find ingredients, giving busy moms and dads more time to spend with their families and a delicious alternative to fast food or packaged freezer meals. The Don't Panic! Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family cookbook will easily become a staple in kitchens across the country!

When I was first asked to review this cookbook, I was a little unsure of how to go about it. I haven't done very many of these kinds of reviews and I wanted to make sure that I gave this cookbook, the best coverage I could. So, I decided to run it past the best cook I know... my mom! Together we looked over the cookbook just to see what kinds of recipes it offered, did they sound appetizing, were they balanced and nutritious and most of all, would my kids eat them? Let's face it, kids can be picky! It was important to me as a mother to find things in this cookbook that I thought my own family would like. I'm happy to report that there were several recipes that jumped out at me right away. My girls would like that or dad sure would enjoy this... 

I liked the fact that authors, Martinez, Howell and Garcia understood that it's important to have all the components of a good meal and some extras. This cookbook is divided into several sections, each offering recipes that are wholesome and delicious. Icons denote different features contained in each recipe including, lighter fare, recipes that can be used for entertaining, 6 ingredient meals, recipes that quick, and freezer friendly recipes. I thought that was very beneficial as I was looking through the recipes. This would give me a starting point as I was considering what to fix for dinner.

My mom and I choose a few recipes to try out from the cookbook, so that we could test the flavors, the possible options, like crockpot or freezer ready and how good our family liked the results. 

I was looking for a simple appetizer that I might give the kids as snack after school to tide them over until dinner time, when I found this recipe in the Don't Panic! Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family cookbook:


(One bite is not enough!)

8 baby potatoes (or new potatoes), ends trimmed, cut in half crosswise
1/4 t. salt
1 T. olive Oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 t. red chili pepper flakes, divided
10 slices of bacon
1/4 cup of sour cream
2 T. cream cheese, softened
1/2 t. Dijon mustard

Recipe Yield    Prep Time     Total Time

16 bites                25 - 30 min.  1 hour 15 min.


Toss the first 3 ingredients together on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Arrange potatoes, cut side down, on a serving plate. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and 1 t. chili pepper flakes. Coat bacon slices with brown sugar mixture. Arrange bacon on a wire rack set on foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until bacon is browned and glazed. Let cook for 5 - 10 minutes before finely chopping bacon.

Combine sour cream, cream cheese, mustard, remaining chili pepper flakes, and chopped bacon. Spoon onto potatoes and serve.

Nutritional Information (per potato bite): Calories 135.0; Total Fat 9.3g; Cholesterol 8.0mg; Sodium 145.0 mg; Total Carbohydrates 22.0g (Dietary Fiber 2.0g); Protein 4.0 g  

Our Verdict!                                

The recipe turned out great! These tasty little potato bites are certainly going to be a hit around our house. This is just an example of the great recipes in this book. My mom fixed a couple of other things from the cookbook that were instant pleasers at her house too, including the Tuscan Chicken, which uses penne pasta and chopped asparagus as two of it's main ingredients and Fruit Pizza which has a couple of variations for those who really love chocolate and those who are more of a sugar cookie fan. Everything we tried was tasty and went over well with the family. There are recipes for everything from grilling to the crockpot. This is a great cookbook for families on the go that don't want to let their health and nutrition suffer!

I highly recommend it and plan to use it often in my own kitchen!

Available April 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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

Susie Martinez is a professional counselor with a private counseling practice in Lakewood, Colorado. She has been married to her husband, Joe (whom she adores), for twenty-five years and has two children. Susie loves shopping and watching movies with her daughter, Cassie. She also loves talking with her son, Chris, during late-night hours. In her free time, Susie enjoys going to the movies, taking long walks, and baking extravagant desserts. Susie also struggles with a particular weakness for island excursions and white sandy beaches.

Vanda Howell is a busy wife and mom who works part-time as a kitchen design consultant. She is absolutely in love with (aka addicted to) dark chocolate covered anything, espresso lattes, and going to chick-flick/action movies. In her free time she enjoys gardening, gourmet cooking, trying new restaurants, and wakeboarding with her husband and teenage son, Elliot. Vanda is a Denver native, and has been married to her husband, Mike, for twenty-nine years.

Bonnie Garcia keeps busy with her husband, three teenage sons, and golden retriever, Gracie. She is a pediatric nurse and loves working with newborns and their parents in a pediatric practice in the Denver area. Bonnie is active in her local church, where her husband, Steve, is the senior pastor. In Bonnie's free time, she loves reading, downhill skiing, and jeeping with her family in the mountains of Colorado!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Hounds Abound

Hounds Abound (Pet Rescue Mystery - Book 3) by Linda O. Johnston

Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Penguin USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 304pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0425247051
ISBN: 0425247058

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Linda O. Johnston on the WEB: Webpage, Blog, Facebook

Books In The Series: Beagle Mania (2011), The More The Terrier (2011), Hounds Abound (2012)

Coverart: Click on the image for a clearer,larger picture of the books in this series.

Excerpt from Hounds Abound courtesy of Amazon's Inside Look Feature


Saving animals and solving murders seem to go paw in paw for shelter manager and amateur sleuth Lauren Vancouver. But this time, mixed up in a murder that may close a much-needed new shelter, she's perhaps too quick to catch the scent of the killer...

For Lauren, Save Them All the newest no-kill shelter in Los Angeles, is just what the vet ordered: a place for handicapped kitties and senior spaniels to find a loving home and a second chance. There's just one problem. It's charming owner, Bella Frankovick, is now suspected of murdering her ex-husband, a powerful and animal-hating cosmetic surgeon. And it's up to Lauren to use her bulldog grip on the case to rescue Save Them All and decide Bella's fate, while keeping herself and own critters safe from an unleashed killer...


Pet lovers and mystery readers alike will be impressed with Linda O. Johnston's latest cozy, Hounds Abound. Third in the Pet Rescue series, Hounds Abound takes on-no kill animal shelter's and a clever killer. Johnston's heart for pet rescue is evident in every page of this book. Her clear and concise writing style focuses in on the smallest of details and her descriptions take the reader right into the action. This is a whodunit that clearly has a deeper message.

Being a pet lover myself, this is a series that always strikes a cord with me. The only shelter we have where I live is not a no-kill shelter and that's heartbreaking. I loved the idea that Johnston puts forth in this book, of having a shelter specifically tailored to older and/or handicapped pets. An excellent idea and an excellent premise of Johnston's book. I liked the idea that this shelter has opened but in danger of being closed because of the owners financial entanglements with her soon to be ex-husband. That is definitely a believable scenario. The soon to be ex-wife being accused of murder is also plausible.

Lauren being asked to investigate is somewhat believable as well. This woman is a friend and fellow pet enthusiast. I can see Lauren wanting to help her out and prove her innocence, because of the shelter and because of her relationship with Bella. One of the things that I look at when I review or read a cozy is whether I think this story could have played out in real life and in this case, it's a definite yes! Both the victim and accused had a few more secrets than met the eye and enemies of their own, that could have wanted things to turn out this way. Johnston does a great job of showing motive and intent without giving away the killer until the end.

I didn't have this one tagged until the very end. I'm generally hard to stump with these things, but it does happen LOL! I liked the fact that I had to work for the solution a little bit. Johnston doesn't just say, here's what happened step by step. The reader has to be quite observant. Once I knew who the killer was, I saw how Johnston went about leading the reader right up the killer without really outing him/her. It was cleverly done and there were lots of twists and turns that kept me guessing throughout. What's a good cozy without a red herring or two?

This is a series that will appeal to many kinds of readers along with pet enthusiasts and cozy fans. There is a little something for everyone here and I think readers will agree that Johnston is a huge pet advocate and that her series is focused on pets and keeping them and the situation with overcrowding and euthanasia  in the forefront. The quirky characters and chaotic circumstances all add to the story itself and gets the message across to the reader without overwhelming them. A great addition to a very heartfelt series!

Hounds Abound is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

 Linda Carole Johnston (Osgood) is an American author of mystery and romance novels.

Johnston's first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the Year. Since then, she has had several more short stories published as well as numerous romance novels.

Johnston is a practicing attorney who splits her time between legal work and writing fiction. She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1970 with an undergraduate degree in journalism with an advertising emphasis. Before obtaining her law degree from Duquesne University School of Law, she ran a small newspaper and then worked in advertising and public relations.

Johnston currently lives near Universal Studios in Hollywood, California along with her husband Fred and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dogs. She has two adult sons.


The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway of one copy of Hounds Abound by Linda O. Johnston.

~You must be a GFC follow or an E-mail subscriber to participate.
~U.S. addresses only.
~Deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST May 10th .

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on this post, not the form.
2.Please fill out the FORM.

Review: Blood On The Bayou

Blood On The Bayou (Annabelle Lee - Book 2) by Stacey Jay

Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: Paperback, 432pp.
ISBN-13: 978-1439189870
ISBN: 1439189870

(Received for an honest review from Pocket Books)

Stacey Jay on the WEB: Webpage, Blog, Twitter, Facebook

Books In The Series: Dead On The Delta (2011), Blood On The Bayou (2012)

Coverart: Click on the image for a clearer,larger picture of the books in this series.

Excerpt from Blood On The Bayou


First came a terrorist attack. Then the mutations—and Fey who had lived in harmony with humans turned deadly. Now, most people hide behind iron gates. But those who are immune—and those with enough courage—can venture into the Louisiana Delta . . . and a nightmare world of magic.
No good deed goes unpunished…
Annabelle Lee, a Fairy Containment and Control agent blessed—or cursed—with immunity to Fairy venom, is once again called upon to help solve a murder deep in the bayou. But this investigation is off the books and her ex-lover, Hitch, is leading the hunt for a secret chemical weapons lab and an FBI mole providing it with human lab rats.
Helping Hitch means certain interpersonal disaster with her estranged boyfriend, but Annabelle knows exactly what it feels like to be a lab rat. Her new, fairy-attack-induced paranormal powers seem to have few negative side effects, but would that change if she stopped injecting herself with the mystery drug delivered to her by the even more mysterious—not to mention ridiculously attractive—Tucker? A man who can turn invisible at will, and who makes no bones about how dead she’ll be if she reveals his secrets.
As the murder investigation progresses, Annabelle learns Tucker isn’t the only one with secrets, and that the only thing that cuts deeper than a friend’s deception, are the lies we tell ourselves.


Blood on the Bayou returns readers to the deep South where faeries are out to take over and humans hide in secrecy. Stacey Jay's second book in the Annabelle Lee series is gritty, dark urban fantasy that readers won't want to miss. Jay's Louisiana Bayou is anything but friendly and the characters have a lot more to worry about than a few alligators. The world building competes well with character development as Jay's biggest strength in this novel. If you are an urban fantasy fan, this is not a series to be left on the shelf.

I love books set in the South with paranormal elements. Louisiana has always been one of those places that conveys a sense of mystery and magic. Jay plays on that theme with the setting for this series and readers will be able to feel the eery vibes this book puts off. It's one of those that makes the hair on your neck stand up. It just seems like a place where magic could really happen and I think Jay really banked on that and used it to her advantage here. 

Dead on the Delta introduces readers to Jay's faery mythology, but it becomes a lot more clear in Blood on the Bayou. Readers learn a lot more about what the faeries are really up to and why. The whole premise of the series is an interesting one. You have faeries who have basically taken over the Earth as readers know it. They bite humans and inject them with a type of venom that induces faery madness. But there are certain members of the population that are immune. That's where our heroine, Annabelle comes in. She was supposedly immune to faery venom but when she gets bitten at the end of Dead on the Delta we begin to see that everything isn't what it seems. I loved the fact that Jay didn't just tell the reader everything they had to do a little thinking on their own. I like a book that gives me something to ponder.

The bad guys aren't exactly who you think they are. Can anyone really be trusted? What's a girl to do when she doesn't know where to turn next. That's Annabelle's biggest obstacle here. Underlying themes in the series and in this book in particular include trust and loyalty. Who's really telling you the truth or is it just what you want to hear? I like that Jay was able to explore these ideas quietly within the plot and doesn't beat the reader of the head with them. It's just something that becomes more evident the more you read.

Now I'm definitely one to like a good love triangle, but Annabelle goes a step further and adds a third mysterious and very handsome suitor. Cane is the man she should want to be with. The safe and comfortable one. Hitch is the ex lover she has never really gotten over. But where does that leave Tucker? He's the mysterious bad boy that has more up his sleeve than he's about to show in this one. There are all kinds of possibilities with all these leading men, but I admit that's it's a bit far fetched for me. I mean what does Annabelle have that would garner her that much attention?

I loved the fact that Jay understands that good leading character doesn't necessarily have to be a saint. Annebelle is anything but. She's a heavy drinker, a pill popper in some instances and very irresponsible. She's definitely flawed but that gives her a lot of room for growth. In Dead on the Delta she was pretty unapologetic for her behavior, in Blood on the Bayou she is setting a course to do better and in a lot of cases she succeeds here, but she still has a long way to go. 

Jay sets up a lot of interesting situations for future books in this one, so I'm sure this won't be the last we see of Annabelle and her friends. Hitch needed her help here and she couldn't refuse him, but it may cost her a lot more than she bargained for. Is Cane really over what happened with his sister in Dead on the Delta, I doubt it... would you be? Tucker... there's a real enigma that I'm sure Jay will want to explore in future books. This is a great series so far and I think readers will who like dark fantasy with a lot of sarcasm and dry humor will love it!

Blood On The Bayou is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

Stacey Jay is a recovering workaholic (or at least working hard at recovering) with two small children, and a passion for playing pretend for a living. She’s been a full time mom-writer since 2005 and can't think of anything she'd rather be doing. Her former careers include theatre performer, professional dancer, poorly paid C-movie actress, bartender, waiter, math tutor, and yoga instructor.
In her very limited spare time, Stacey enjoys cooking elaborate dinners and eating them very slowly, dressing up in costumes with her sons, and drinking wine with her husband. She loves to hear from readers and personally answers every single email she receives.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Home For A Spell

Home For A Spell (Bewitching - Book 7) By Madelyn Alt

Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Penguin USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 304pp.
ISBN-13: 9780425255339
ISBN: 0425238679

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Madelyn Alt on the WEBBlog, Facebook, Twitter

Books In The Series: The Trouble With Magic (2006), A Charmed Death (2006), Hex Marks The Spot (2007), No Rest For The Wiccan (2008), Where There's A Witch (2009), A Witch In Time (2010),
Home For A Spell (hardcover)(2011), In Charm's Way (2012)

Coverart: Click on the image for a clearer,larger picture of the books in this series.

Excerpt from Home For A Spell courtesy of Amazon's Inside Look Feature


Back to work at her antique shop, Enchantments, Maggie's broken leg makes helping customers a lame proposition-but that doesn't mean the rest of her life is slowing down. While her boyfriend, the magically- inclined Marcus, has some unfinished business to attend to and her best friend is getting ready to tie the knot and move away, Maggie decides it's time to find her own change of scenery. And she'll start by finally getting a new apartment.

But Maggie's new dream home turns into a nightmare when the apartment manager is found dead before she can even sign the lease. And Maggie finds herself not only searching for a new home-but for a frightfully clever killer...


Madelyn Alt returns with the seventh book in the Bewitching cozy mystery series. Home for a Spell continues the tale of Stony Mill, Indiana, a mid-western town that is suddenly full mysterious magical energy. Alt's offbeat and interesting characters are up to their eyeballs in murder and in for quite a ride as they try to figure out who killed the apartment complex manager in this enchanting cozy.

Maggie, Maggie, Maggie! That's all I can say. Once again our heroine finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. With a broken ankle no less. This book picks up where A Witch in Time left off and Maggie is still suffering the effects of the things that happened in that book. Book six fell slightly short for me and I was hoping that Home for a Spell would renew the energy of the series. One of the things that is so wonderful about this series is the supernatural elements and unfortunately we don't see much of that in this book either. 

Alt alludes to the fact that there may be more 'witchy' happenings in future books and I really hope that's the case. That is truly the foundation of this series and why readers continue to read it. That's not to say that this book was poorly written or anything of sort. But the focus was more on the romantic aspects of the book than the mystery itself. I liked Marcus and Maggie together and I think they make a great lead couple, but I think Alt spent a inordinate amount of time on their relationship and less on the whodunit in this one.

Maggie's new apartment complex manager ends up floating in the pool before she even gets a chance to sign the lease. That sets up the mystery but it kind of stalls from there. The motive is revealed early on and it didn't take much to figure out who the killer was. Maggie does use her gifts and Marcus does a bit of wizardry but there isn't much focus on Maggie's growth. She has become a bit more comfortable with herself throughout the series, but I would like to see her really come into her own and own the fact that she is intuitive, an empath and more importantly a witch.

The ending in this one did throw me for a loop and sets up some interesting circumstances for the next installment. This one wasn't my favorite of the series, but it did bring up some interesting ideas and potential for books to come. I still have to wonder though, what in the world is going on in this town? Are we ever going to find out???

Home For A Spell is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

Madelyn Alt is the author of the Bewitching mystery series. Chronicling life for an offbeat group of ghosthunters is anything-but-normal Stony Mill, Indiana. These exciting stories are giving readers spills, chills, and thrills--of both the supernatural and all-too-natural kind. A born aficionado of all things paranormal, Madelyn currently spends her days toiling away in the mundane world of business and her nights writing tales of the mysterious.


The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway of one copy of  Home For A Spell by Madelyn Alt.

~You must be a GFC follow or an E-mail subscriber to participate.
~U.S. addresses only.
~Deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST May 9th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on this post, not the form.
2.Please fill out the FORM