Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review and Giveaway: The Begonia Bribe

The Begonia Bribe (Garden Society Mystery series - Book 2) by Alyse Carlson

Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425251624
ISBN-13: 978-0425251621

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

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

Alyse Carlson (Hart Johnson) on the WEB: Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the Series:

The Azalea Assault (2012), The Begonia Bribe (2013)

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

Excerpt from The Begonia Bribe, courtesy of Amazon


Roanoke, Virginia, is home ot some of the country's most exquisite gardens, and it's Camellia Harris's job to promote them. But when a pint-sized beauty contest comes to town, someone decides to deliver a final judgement...

A beauty pageant for little girls - the Little Miss Begonia Pageant - is holding its event in Elmwood Park, one of Roanoke's loveliest. Camellia is called in to help deal with the botanical details, the cute contestants, and their catty mothers. She soon realizes that the drama onstage is nothing compared to the judges' row. There's jealousy, betrayal, and a love triangle involving local newsman - and known lothario - Telly Stevens. And a mysterious saboteur is trying to stop the pageant from happening at all.

But the drama turns deadly when Stevens is murdered, poisoned by some sort of plant. With a full flower bed of potential suspects, Cam needs to dig through the evidence to uproot a killer with a lethal green thumb.


Alyse Carlson delights readers with the second book in  her Garden Society mystery series, The Begonia Bribe. Carlson takes an approach to cozy writing that readers seem to gravitate too. She gives them lots of great clues for solving the mystery while also divulging extra secrets along the way. Carlson's novels are entertaining for both mystery fans and gardeners alike. Her descriptions of the city of Roanoke and it's citizens are also captivating. A great second effort!

One of the things that struck me as interesting in Carlson's first novel in this series was the way her characters seem to leap off the page. Carlson has a knack for writing engaging dialogue that allows the reader to really get to know the people they are reading about. Roanoke has always been a fascinating city to me because of its long and mysterious history. I thought it was a great idea for Carlson to set her series in this wonderful city and to make it's inhabitants become real.

Cam is such a wonderful heroine. Every once in a while Carlson is able to slip in some dry wit and humor. I love the fact that Cam has a sense of humor and can even laugh at herself. She is very determined and can't seem to stay out of trouble, my kind of girl. LOL! She is also an avid gardener. I can't say that I always have the best of luck, but I am truly a garden enthusiast and loved the idea for this series and this character from the start.

The mystery aspect of this book was not only intriguing but cute. Little girls and pageants and beautiful gardens seemed to be a perfect fit for this mystery. With shows like Toddlers and Tiara's being so popular and seeing how catty those moms are and how the judges make their decisions on who wins made this mystery seem all the more plausible. This is something that could actually happen. It's that scary!

I liked the fact that Carlson didn't make this one too easy. Sometimes I figure them out pretty quickly given the sheer amount of cozies I read. But every once in a while I get stumped and when I do, I know that's a good mystery. This one had me racking my brain right up until end. Every time I thought I had it... not quite. It was a great read and I think readers will find this book and series, very entertaining.

The Begonia Bribe is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

About the Author:

Hart Johnson:  aspiring author of main stream suspense, some adult some YA... This is my dark face, seeking to do really rotten things to my characters for your reading pleasure (using the fictional drama to keep me from stirring up the real kind).  I've written nine suspense novels and two mysteries under this dark cloud and it is still my hope these will be published and make me rich enough to at least quit my day job.  The first of these to break out (see Kahlotus Disposal Site, below) is being queried; the rest are in various stages of editing.

Alyse Carlson:  This is my pen name for my Cozy Mystery contract with Berkley Prime Crime.  The series has a gardening theme and takes place in Roanoke, Virginia, starring 30-something public relations guru Cam Harris, her crazy friends and family, and her eccentric colleagues at the Roanoke Garden Society.  The first one came out June 5, 2012 and was selected one of Suspense Magazines best Cozies of 2012, the second is scheduled for May 7, 2013, and the third, Chrysanthemum Campaign, has been handed in. Publication date TBD. (We will see if they offer me more:  Friends have worked up titles through the whole alphabet)

[and on this front, I'm the anomaly who got her book contract (sort of) via blog: look under the tag 'contract' if you want THAT story]

Alyse is delightedly represented by Ellen Pepus of the Signature Literary Agency for Cozy Mystery and Hart is querying for her darker stuff. 

The Watery Tart:  Alternately rules the world from a small tropical island, performs lingerie training on very bad boys, and tries to tempt all of you into playing just a little bit harder--perhaps even joining the Naked World Domination movement.  My online persona is rarely serious and a little outrageous, but tries very hard to walk the PG line with her antics.  It's my goal to help you lighten up and laugh--not to offend you.

The person behind all these faces has a day job doing academic research related to health disparities at a ginormous Midwest University.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Begonia Bribe by Alyse Carlson.

~You must be a GFC follower or Email subscriber to participate.
~US addresses only (publisher request)
~The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, June 4th.

1. Please leave a comment on this post in appreciation to the author.
2. Please fill out the FORM.


holdenj said...

Well, it's nice to meet the many faces of Alyse. I think Roanoke seems like a great setting for this mystery. Thanks for the info and chance to win.

Linda Kish said...

You sound like a very busy gal. I don't know how you fit it all in but I'm glad you do. The book sounds great.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

This book sounds like a great read.


Angela - Bookaunt said...

Thank you for the chance to win this book. I think this is a fun series.

griperang at embarqmail dot com

ann said...

Thank for the chance to win. I love gardening and I love mysteries to so this book is one for me. Sounds like a winner to me.

lag123 said...

I can't imagine dealing with all of those catty mamas.

lag110 at mchsi.com mchsi dot com

Sue Farrell said...

I love gardening--but really don't care for beauty pageants--especially for little girls--but I think this cozy book would be a good read. Thanks for the contest.

NoraA said...

I own the previous title in the series and my partner and I both enjoyed it. I'd love to be the lucky winner of this one, and add it to my home library.


My Recent Favorite Books said...

Sounds like a wonderful series! =)
I have it on my to be read list.

Thanks for the chance to win!

bn100 said...

Good to know the dialogue's engaging

Carol N Wong said...

I love that this cozy is not too easy and the author uses humor.


Theresa N. said...

I'm a gardener so I'm looking forward to this mystery.
Theresa n

Carol M said...

Dialogue that helps the reader to get to know the characters is important to me. This sounds good!

mittens0831 at aol dot com

Anita Yancey said...

This book sounds like a wonderful read. I love the setting of Roanoke,Virginia. I haven't been there in years. I would enjoy reading this. Thanks for having the giveaway.


cyn209 said...

what a pretty cover!!!
thank you for this giveaway!!!

Karin said...

Just bought a couple of begonias at the local floral shop/ greenhouse today. A gardening mystery would definitely be enjoyed at this time of year.

Brooke Showalter said...

What a fun sounding series! I've been eyeing up the first book and will definitely be picking it up soon. Thank you for the review!

brookeb811 at gmail dot com

Madonna said...

this sounds like a book I would really enjoy.