Friday, November 29, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Words With Friends

Words With Friends (Black Cat Bookshop Mystery - Book 3) by Ali Brandon

Publication Date: 11/05/2013
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425252361
ISBN-13: 978-0425252369

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

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

Ali Brandon (aka Diane A.S. Stuckart) on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

Double Booked for Death (2011), A Novel Way to Die (2012), Words With Friends (2013)

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

Excerpt from Words With Friends, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.


Brooklyn bookstore owner Darla Pettistone and her oversized black cat, Hamlet, have solved a few complicated capers. But after a recent brush with danger, Darla needs to get Hamlet out of a feline funk…
Lately, Hamlet hasn’t been chasing customers or being his obnoxious self—something Darla surprisingly misses. Concerned, she hires a cat whisperer to probe Hamlet’s feline psyche and then decides to get out of her own funk by taking up karate to learn how to defend herself in case the need arises again.
But when Darla finds her sensei dead at the dojo, it seems that even a master can be felled by foul play. Darla decides to investigate the matter herself, and the promise of a mystery snaps Hamlet out of his bad mood. After all, Darla may be the sleuth, but Hamlet’s got a black belt in detection…


Ali Brandon brings readers the third book in her Black Cat Bookshop mystery series, Words with Friends. Brandon's trademark wit and her love for animals is ever clear in this latest addition to the series. Hamlet the feline companion of shop owner, Darla is blaming himself for a situation that put Darla in danger. He's in a funk and readers will be delighted with Darla's attempts to get him out of his depression. From cat whisperers to karate tournaments this is one rollicking mystery. 

This is such a delightful series. I like all of the elements that Ali Brandon brings to the table with this series, from the bookstore setting to the relationship between cat and owner. In this latest book, Words with Friends, we see a different side of Hamlet, the cat. He is usually bugging the customers and into just about everything but in this one, he's just not himself, which adds a whole new element to the story. 

Hamlet is depressed. I never really thought about depression being something that animals experienced until I went a way for a week and left my dog at home. I sent someone to take care of her, feed her, and even play with her, but she refused to eat, moped around and was just a mess while I was away. I thought Brandon did a great job showing Hamlet's condition and why it was so concerning to her. The idea of bringing in a cat whisperer was a great plot point and I thought she really made it believable. It was interesting that all Hamlet really needed was another chance to prove himself to get him right back in tip top shape.

I also liked the idea that Brandon allows her heroine Darla to realize the need for making some changes after her close call. Darla decides that she needs some form of self-protection and karate seems like a good choice for her. I liked that she took Robert with her and that they were making a good thing of it. I even liked the dojo and especially the sensai and I was kind of sad that he became the victim. I thought all of this just added a bit of realism to the story and showed a lot of character development in Darla. 

There were plenty of suspects and the mystery was well crafted and easy to follow. I had the motive figured out early on, but not the killer. Brandon kept me guessing throughout and I she did a good job of balancing, Darla's personal and professional lives vs. her amateur sleuthing. Darla is a good heroine for a lot of reasons but most of all I think her love of books and animals really endears her to readers. There were red herrings aplenty and lots of interesting clues. Hamlet was once again the real star of the book and Darla was a close second. 

I can't wait to see where Brandon goes next with this intriguing series. I love the scenes in the book shop and the great secondary characters like James and his 'non' dates and Robert and of course Hamlet. This was definitely the best in the series so far. 

Words with Friends is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

About the Author:

Ali Brandon is the national bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series. Under her own name, Diane A.S. Stuckart, she is also the author of the Leonardo da Vinci Mysteries, as well as several acclaimed historical romances and numerous works of short fiction under the names Alexa Smart and Anna Gerard. Born in the West Texas town of Lubbock, she earned her degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. She now lives in South Florida with her husband, Gerry, and a menagerie that includes their two orange tabby boys, Butch and Sundance.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Words With Friends by Ali Brandon.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US Addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, December 13th.

1. Please leave a comment describing a story involving your cat or other pet.
2. Please fill out the FORM.


traveler said...

Bogie my rescue dog is fearless and fast. He tries to outrun the UPS truck and nearly gets killed in the process. Any man in uniform. saubleb(at )gmail(dot)com

skkorman said...

My beautiful red tabby, a formerly feral kitty, and I have been together now more than 14 years, and he still will not eat from his bowl until I pat him on the tushy and say, "Eat, baby, eat!"

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

Unknown said...

My dogs go through severe separation anxiety. There are a couple of my dogs that must travel with me now because they grieve so severely in my absence. I loved your review.

Carol N Wong said...

My cockatiel, Squeaky loves his Cherrios. He has four to five in the morning on my desk. There are always crumbs so I push them together and he "cleans" my desk.
He is am old guy 25 years old and is still in the peak of health.


Rita Wray said...

I had a rabbit who would open her Christmas presents with my kids. I would call her name and hand her a gift and she would put it in her pile of gifts and then unwrap them one at a time.


Angela - Bookaunt said...

We have three indoor cats and two outdoor cats and they each have their own personality. Our littlest one inside loves to play fetch, her favorite toy is the rubber bracelets that kids where, we buy them for her and that is what she likes to fetch.

Karen B said...

My first cat Mittens (back in the early 50s) loved to sit on the edge of my mother's wringer washer and bat at the soap suds until the day she fell in!

Barbara T. said...

While delivering my friend's cats to her new home over 100 miles away, I discovered they were music critics. Listening to music was fine, but when I would sing along so would they.

Nancy said...

We have a black and white cat. He likes to sneak into the house. We have to keep them out because of allergies. Anyway, during a dark storming night, we lost power. When My husband had come in, Tom (our cat) came in with him. My husband got a surprise when something rubbed against his leg in a dark kitchen.

Linda Kish said...

We have a mastiff that we rescued that is the sweetest dog in the world but also very protective of us. He worries a lot too. He always carries a toy around in his mouth for security and likes to have a light left on at night. We have reptiles and he thinks they belong to him. He loves to sit and watch them for hours on end.

bn100 said...

don't have any

Sue Farrell said...

My dog Angie Beagle insists on having yogurt every morning when I have my breakfast.

lag123 said...

I don't have any pets but I love to take my neighbor's dog for walks.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

Brooke Showalter said...

We have 4 cats and they get into daily antics. :) They like to go on walks with us when we go walking in the neighborhood. We end up with a line of cats behind us!

Elizabeth Schroedle said...

My beagle, Dexter, will not go to sleep unless he is covered from head to toe with his blanket. He snuggles under that blanket and in less than 5 minutes, he is snoring.

Natasha said...

My guinea pig stands on top of her house when she wants food, it is so cute!
Thanks for the chance to win!

Sara said...

My that play all the time this game but he loose every time so i dont know if im really good or he sucks playing that game otherwise, i love to download a lot of mobile apps to try and play

Linda said...

Webster, one of my cats, is always waiting for me by he door when I get home from work. He "talks" to me through the door & gets progressively louder until I get the door unlocked. I've read the first two in the series and look forward to this one. Thank you for the review and the giveaway opportunity.


Having been a crazy cat lady all my life, I have enough stories to write a book (hmmm....). Right now, I have a cat who plays fetch and growls like dog at the UPS delivery person. She also sleeps with me, with her head on the pillow next to mine, on her back, and snoring like a drunken sailor. She's a trip.....