Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Chocolate Moose Motive

book cover
The Chocolate Moose Motive
by JoAnna Carl

ISBN-13: 9780451414809
Mass Market Paperback:
246 pages
Publisher: Obsidian Mystery
Released: October 1, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
As much as the chocolate concoctions at TenHuis can tantalize people’s tongues, Lee’s newest hire is more likely to make them wag. Forsythia “Sissy” Smith is the granddaughter of Warner Pier’s only remaining resident hippie, but that is the least of Lee’s concerns. The previous winter, Sissy’s husband, Buzz, was found shot to death, and local talk named Sissy the number one suspect.

Even though her alibi was airtight, the gossips are still pointing their fingers at her. Lee sympathizes with the young woman—even more so when Buzz’s dad, a tough retired Army colonel, threatens to sue Sissy for custody of her son. Then the chief gossip is found dead, with Sissy on the scene. Was she lured there? Or is she the killer?

My Review:
The Chocolate Moose Motive is a cozy mystery. It's the twelfth book in the series. You don't need to read the others to follow this one, and this novel doesn't spoil any of the previous mysteries. This story had the unique ability to make my mouth water--fine chocolates, yum!

The characters were complex and reacted realistically to events. I liked that the heroine didn't think she was smarter than the police or some great detective. It was more that she heard things, and she wanted to help her friend.

She calls herself "nosy," but she wasn't rude and didn't come across as someone who felt they had the right to know and judge everyone else's business. It was more that she was super-curious. I liked her. Even when she did not-so-smart things, I understood why she did them (as they were mostly heat-of-the-moment, impulsive reactions). There was also a mild humor throughout the book that I enjoyed.

The mystery was clue-based and could be guessed before the big reveal. The clues seemed pretty straight forward, though, and I had no trouble identifying whodunit. The clues progressively confirmed my guess. Often it's the gossip that reveals clues in cozy mysteries. I liked that the heroine in this mystery kept discovering how wrong the gossip was.

There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable mystery.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Runaway Princess by Kate Coombs

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The Runaway Princess
by Kate Coombs

ISBN-13: 9780374355463
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released: August 8, 2006

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description from Back Cover:
“A dragon darkens our dells. A witch haunts our woods. Bandits roam our moors” . . . King Stromgard swept on. “In the tradition of so many monarchs, I offer my daughter’s hand in marriage and half my kingdom to the prince who can rid us of these evils, restoring peace and prosperity to our realm.”

And so the contest in the Kingdom of Greeve begins. But Princess Margaret is not your traditional princess. Meg firmly objects to her parents’ giving her away, and she certainly has no intention of remaining in the tower where she is sequestered. Instead, she sets out to win the contest herself by enlisting the help of her good friend, her loyal maid, an eager guardsman, a young wizard, and a tenacious witch. Does Meg find her distinct place in the kingdom, or is she doomed to fulfill her royal duties?

My Review:
The Runaway Princess is a young adult fantasy novel, though females younger and older will probably also enjoy it. Boys do play a support role in the story, but there is no romance beyond the "I guess he's kinda cute" sort. It's more about friendships, loyalty, and protecting the helpless from selfish and mean people.

There's a lot of humor to it, so it's a fun romp. The characters were fun, interesting, and acted realistically. The story was fast-paced. It didn't always go were I expected, but I enjoyed were it went.

The magic was the usual fantasy-type magic, with princes turned into frogs, a magical scarf with mind of it's own, and such. There was a very minor amount of "he cursed" style of bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable, fun novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Giveaway for Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman

I haven't read this book yet, but I've liked books by this author.

Enter the CHASING HOPE Giveaway from Author Katie Cushman

In Chasing Hope, Sabrina Rice is a gifted runner and Olympic hopeful who’s had her dreams shattered by a devastating diagnosis. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she’s focused on building new dreams. Dreams that have nothing to do with running.

Until the day she sees Brandy Philip running across the community college campus, easily outpacing security. Sabrina immediately recognizes world-class speed, and it’s all the more painful that it belongs to a teenage graffiti artist.

When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina gets the uncomfortable feeling her life plans are about to be toppled…again. And that God may be asking her to help this troubled but talented girl see her dreams past the starting block.

Katie Cushman and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the CHASING HOPE Giveaway, and your chance to win one of three fabulous prizes connected with the story!

How to Enter: Go to and complete the entry box, anytime between September 16 and October 3. Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Friday, October 4, 2013, and announced at

Excerpt: Read an excerpt.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

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These Old Shades
by Georgette Heyer

ISBN-13: 9780373773404
Trade Paperback: 334 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Released: July 1, 2008

Source: Bought from

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, crosses paths with Léon, a youth of low birth who is fleeing a beating at his brutal brother's hands. Avon buys the boy and makes him his page. It soon becomes clear, however, that Léon is not what he seems, and that Avon has an ulterior motive for bringing him into his household.

Set in pre-Revolutionary France, These Old Shades follows a twisting course as young Léon (or is it Léonie?) is swept up in a dangerous mystery: how to account for her amazing resemblance to the sinister Compte de Saint Vire, and why the Compte will go to any lengths to get her in his power.

My Review:
These Old Shades is a Georgian-era romance novel set in France and England. It's helpful if you have a good grasp of French as it's not always obvious what the sentences in French are about. Still, you can follow the story even if you don't know French.

There was a nice level of historical detail woven into the story. As usual for Heyer, there were a lot of humorous scenes, and Léonie's and Rupert's antics kept me laughing. The story was more an adventure than a mystery for the reader. Only Justin understood everything that was going on, and the other characters wondered at the unexpected happenings, like kidnapping. I never really feared for the characters welfare, but I did wonder how Justin was going to get his revenge...and he did it brilliantly.

The large age difference between Justin and Léonie may bother some readers. Léonie acted like an adoring puppy toward Justin (and she didn't care if people thought so). But they brought out the best in each other and will likely be happy together, which is good.

There was no sex. There was a fair amount of explicit bad language (mainly the swearing use of "God"). Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Going Through the Notions by Cate Price

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Going Through the Notions
by Cate Price

ISBN-13: 9780425258798
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: September 3, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
While her husband renovates their old house, Daisy happily runs her small shop, Sometimes a Great Notion, selling sewing bits and bobs, antiques, and jewelry.

Daisy has her eye on an antique dollhouse and a classic Singer Featherweight at the local auction until her friend and mentor, auctioneer Angus Backstead, is led away in handcuffs. He's accused of bashing in the head of a drinking buddy over a missing set of fancy fountain pens. Daisy’s sure the sprightly old-timer couldn't have done it, but the detective has an old grudge against Angus. Angus' friends start doubting him after no new evidence turns up, but Daisy isn't about to give up on her friend.

My Review:
Going Through the Notions is a general fiction with moments of thriller and mystery. It starts out like a normal cozy mystery, and I liked how Daisy was kind and seemed smart. Then the facade of the perfect family falls apart, and Daisy isn't sure what to do. I liked the depth that this realistic family conflict gave the characters. Then the story turned into a thriller. A side thread of the story puts Daisy in serious danger several times, but this isn't completely wrapped up as we're never sure who shot at her.

I was also disappointed with how the mystery ended. I strongly suspected whodunit long before Daisy. It was realistic that Daisy didn't suspect even though she had a faint feeling that she was missing something obvious. When she figures it out, though, she rushes off to put herself if mortal danger without telling anyone or calling the police even though she was surrounded by friends during her "aha!" moment. She had the presence of mind to think through avoiding a traffic jam, yet she simply hopes that the detective will figure out whodunit, too, and make it there in time to save her. Um, not smart.

I also didn't like how Daisy treated her husband. Daisy calls to set up a dinner date with him, then impatiently hurries her friend along so she can get home. But, suddenly, she has to drive way out of her way to do an errand that could be done anytime. She follows that up by doing two chores in her shop that could be done anytime, and she doesn't even have the courtesy to call her husband and tell him that she'll be late.

So the clue-based mystery--what there was of it--was clever and even made Angus seem like a valid suspect. The thriller scenes were thrilling. The characters were complex, flawed, and realistic. I simply ended up with no respect for the heroine by the end. There were no graphic sex scenes. There was a fair amount of a wide variety of explicit bad language (averaging about 1 bad word every 2 pages).

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

RL Advice for cozy mystery heroines

I saw this post shared by a friend of mine of Facebook. I'm copy-pasting it exactly as it's found there, but I'm not sure who the actual author is. Cozy mystery heroines certainly should read it! But, seriously, it's good advice for real life, too.

WRITTEN BY A COP: Everyone should take 5 minutes to read this. It may save your life or a loved one's life. In daylight hours, refresh yourself of these things to do in an emergency situation... This is for you, and for you to share with your wife, your children, & everyone you know. After reading these 9 crucial tips, forward them to someone you care about. It never hurts to be careful in this crazy world we live in.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do :The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do! (personal note: Keep keys out, one between your fingers in a fist you can always use that as a weapon, also take your hands cup them and slam them upside the persons ears as hard as you can trust me it will burst both ear drums and hurt like hell dropping them unless they are on pcp (drug), Take you hand: curl up your fingers (so u don't break them) then w/ur base of your hand (back where the bone is) ram it as hard as you can in an upward direction into their nose this will break their nose and start it bleeding ALOT. And always remember ANYTHING can be used a weapon ANYTHING trust me!)

2. Learned this from a tourist guide. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you... Chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy.. The driver won't see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON'T DO THIS!) The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE..

If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF, Repeat: DO NOT DRIVE OFF! Instead gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:

A.) Be aware:look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor , and in the back seat.

B.) If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

C.) Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger side.. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. This is especially true at NIGHT!)

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; and even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN, Preferably in a zig -zag pattern!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked 'for help' into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

9. Another Safety Point: Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird.. The police told her 'Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door..' The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The policeman said, 'We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.' He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby's cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby.. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby's cries outside their doors when they're home alone at night.

10. Water scam! If you wake up in the middle of the night to hear all your taps outside running or what you think is a burst pipe, DO NOT GO OUT TO INVESTIGATE! These people turn on all your outside taps full blast so that you will go out to investigate and then attack.

Stay alert, keep safe, and look out for your neighbors!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Trapped by Irene Hannon

book cover
by Irene Hannon

ISBN-13: 978-0-8007-2124-4
Trade Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: September 1, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
When librarian Laura Griffin's sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned PI James "Dev" Devlin to help. But the deeper he digs, the more he begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl's disappearance. And the closer he gets to uncovering the truth, the clearer it becomes that the situation isn't just dangerous--it's deadly.

My Review:
Trapped is a Christian romantic suspense novel. This book is the second in the series, but you don't need to read the first one to understand this book and this book didn't spoil the mystery/suspense of the first book.

The characters were likable, realistic, and we got to know them well. However, one suspenseful moment didn't work for me precisely because the characters were well-developed. Early in the story, we're shown how terrified Laura is about driving on icy roads because of an accident in her past. I'm convinced she's terrified. Yet later she convinces herself to drive with potentially bad brakes on an icy road with excuses that would work for a normal person, but not for someone with a deep-seated fear.

The suspense was created by uncertainty about finding the runaway before something bad happens to her and by physical danger to those trying to find her. The romance came across as realistic, and I liked that Dev was interested in Laura even though she wasn't his "usual type." The details about the setting and the jobs were excellent and brought the story alive in my imagination.

The Christian element was shown more in how the characters treated people and acted than through their talking about God. One main character was finally able to forgive himself and renew his relationship with God by the end.

There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of "he cursed" style of bad language and one instance of abbreviation-version swearing. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable and intriguing novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.