Tag Archives: Book Three

Review & Giveaway: Out of Temper by Amber Royer

OUT OF TEMPER

Bean to Bar Mysteries, Book 3
by
AMBER ROYER
Categories: Cozy Mystery / Women Sleuth / Romance 
Publisher: Golden Tip Press
Date of Publication: February 1, 2022
Number of Pages: 264 pages 
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Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand has been the scene of two murders – both of which she has been instrumental in helping solve. So when she gets invited to demo her chocolate skills aboard a cruise ship sailing out of the local port, she’s excited at the chance to get away from the shop long enough to regain her equilibrium. She even brings her best friend along, and makes plans for time at the spa. But when she gets on board, she finds out that she’s been booked for a mystery-themed cruise, and said best friend, Autumn, has to finally deal with the real reasons she quit writing mysteries. Only – if that wasn’t stressful enough – it doesn’t take long before there’s a real murder on the cruise, and someone Felicity knows becomes the prime suspect. When said suspect asks her for help, she can’t exactly say no, can she?
Felicity finds herself surrounded by cruise goers who all had connections to the victim – and finds that both Logan (her business partner, whom she recently kissed) and Arlo (the cop who was once Felicity’s first boyfriend, before she moved away from Galveston) are dealing with the case until more official help can arrive. How will Felicity survive the ensuing awkwardness?

One thing that helps: the retired police dog turned therapy dog she meets on board. Satchmo helps Felicity deal with being back on the water after tragedy in her past – and also helps her uncover a vital clue to the case. Can Felicity unmask the killer and keep a friend from being framed before all the suspects leave the ship?
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Review

Out of Temper by Amber Royer is the third book in the Bean to Bar Mysteries series, but it is the second book in the series that I have read. After reading and thoroughly enjoying the first book, Grand Openings Can Be Murder, I knew that I had to get my paws on this one when presented with the opportunity to review it. I just wish that I had realized that I had not yet read the second book, 70% Dark Intentions, before cracking this one.

But that’s okay, because a good writer can fill you in so that you’re not floundering around confused, no matter what book you pick up in the series. And Royer is an excellent writer. She has fulfilled my expectations of a fun read filled with delicious chocolates, adorable furry sidekicks, colorful characters, and a conjecture that is tantalizingly just out of reach. Admittedly, the mystery in the first book had been easy to solve, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around why the killer did it. In this book, the victim wasn’t a cup of tea, so it wasn’t hard to imagine the many plausible scenarios that could have gone down.

Yet Royer had me convinced at least three times that I had finally nabbed the killer, and I was wrong each and every time. Just when you think that Felicity is about to uncover the final piece of the puzzle that will confirm your hunch, new clues will come to light that will send you spinning in a completely different direction. The intricate web of circumstances that ties this book to the other two is what really excites me about reading each installment of the series. Not to mention, I am dying to find out which love interest our amateur sleuth will end up with. I’m Team Logan all the way, just in case you were wondering.

I hope that Book Four has Felicity flying around in a plane with Logan to some exotic place to find obscure cacao beans and/or flavor combinations. I also would like to see tighter copy editing in the future. There were quite a few typos throughout the book. Maybe not enough to distract from a great mystery, but they were there and quite noticeable.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery read. As someone who usually savors the details in books, I am happy to report that the only place that Royer holds back a little is on gore. Other than that, prepare to drool a little when Felicity demos chocolate making… or perhaps when we catch Arlo or Logan sending longing glances in her direction. Either way, settle somewhere cozy with a snack or yummy beverage and enjoy the book.

Amber Royer writes the Chocoverse comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She is also the author of Story Like a Journalist: a Workbook for Novelists, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. Amber and her husband live in the DFW Area, where you can often find them hiking or taking landscape/architecture/wildlife photographs. If you are very nice to Amber, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course! Amber blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate.
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Review & Giveaway: Scattered Legacy by Marlene M. Bell

SCATTERED LEGACY: MURDER IN

SOUTHERN ITALY
Annalisse Series, #3
by
MARLENE M. BELL
 
Genre: Mystery / Romance
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: November 4, 2021
Number of Pages: 352 pages 
 
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To outsiders, the relationship between Manhattan antiquities assessor Annalisse Drury and sports car magnate Alec Zavos must look carefree and glamorous. In reality, it’s a love affair regularly punctuated by treasure hunting, high adventure, and the occasional dead body.

When Alec schedules a getaway trip to show Annalisse his mother’s Italian birthplace, he squeezes in the high-stakes business of divesting his family’s corporation. But things go terribly wrong as murder makes its familiar reappearance in their lives – and this time it’s Alec’s disgraced former CFO who’s the main suspect.

Accompanied by friend and detective Bill Drake, Annalisse and Alec find themselves embroiled in a behind-closed-doors conspiracy that threatens the reputation and legacy of Alec’s late father – linking him to embezzlement, extortion, and the dirty business of the Sicilian Mafia. The key to it all might be a gifted set of rosary beads where Annalisse can use her skills for appraising artifacts to uncover the truth. She leads Alec toward answers that are unthinkable—and events that will change their futures forever.

Scattered Legacy is the third in Marlene M. Bell’s thrilling Annalisse series, which weaves romance, crime, and historical mystery into addictive tales to instantly captivate fans of TV show Bones or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code

Link to the video trailer on YouTube
Review

Scattered Legacy by Marlene M. Bell is an exhilarating read filled with suspense, history, romance, and beauty. While I have not had the pleasure to read the first two books in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the characters’ backstories through Bell’s excellent exposition skills and shifts in point of view. With each passing chapter, my resolve to go back and read the first two books grew stronger when a particular tidbit stoked my interest.

From the beginning, you have to wonder how Annalisse isn’t a private detective instead of an art gallery owner. But then you realize that as an antiquities valuator, she must use excellent observation skills and have the talent to find obscure details through deep research. The opening chapter gives us a sneak peak of her complicated life, which makes you a little less jealous of her cushy job and amazing boyfriend who is about to whisk her away to Italy.

Bell wastes no time throwing us into the action. From an attempted burglary to the family name being dragged through the tabloids, our lovebirds jet off to Italy in the wake of a strange message that involves a blackbird of some sort. There is a lot of intrigue percolating and while you have to assume that all of the strange events are related somehow, we definitely do not have enough details to tie them all together yet.

The author has a nice pace to her writing and allows us to luxuriate in the beautiful sights and scents of walking through Bari. She somehow makes a meal as simple as bread with sliced meats sound utterly delectable. But don’t worry, our travelers also partake of other authentic fare such as seafood, soups, bread, and pasta when they’re not finding dead bodies or getting tailed by the mafia. While Bell spares no details on the setting or Annalisse’s inner conflicts, I’m glad that she treads lightly when describing murder scenes.

While you do not have to read the first two books to enjoy this one, I would say that if you can, do it. I definitely plan on reading them as I await the next installment of the series. Spoiler: There’s a bananas cliffhanger ending that made me groan in disbelief. So exciting!

Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer and acclaimed artist as well as a photographer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living and Sheep Industry News, to name a few.
Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside in beautiful East Texas on a wooded ranch with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large Maremma guard dog named, Tia, along with Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats that believe they rule the household—and do.

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Author Video & Giveaway: Since You’ve Been Gone by Tari Faris


SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE
Restoring Heritage Series, #3
by
Tari Faris
Genre: Fiction / Christian / Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: September 7, 2021
Number of Pages: 336 pages
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With her vision and his know-how, this thing just might work . . .

Leah Williams is back in the quaint town of Heritage, Michigan, and ready to try again to make her business a success. But blank slates are hard to come by, and a piece of her past is waiting for her there. Heir to the Heritage Fruits company, Jonathan Kensington is the guy who not only made Leah’s past difficult, but he also seems determined to complicate her present as well.

In order to avoid forcing a buyout of Leah’s building, Jon will have to strike a compromise. Can the two of them work together? Or will their troubled past set the tone for their future?

Author Video

Inspiration for Since You’ve Been Gone

The question author Tari Faris says she gets asked most often is: what is the inspiration for each book? Her response? “Although there are many pieces to that, here is a peek at the inspiration of Leah’s story in Since You Been Gone.

Tari Faris is the author of You Belong with Me and Until I Met You. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, she is the projects manager for My Book Therapy, writes for learnhowtowriteanovel.com, and is a 2017 Genesis Award winner. She has an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary and lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with her husband and their three children. Although she lives in the Southwest now, she lived in a small town in Michigan for 25 years.
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Review & Giveaway: A Witch’s Brew by Michael Scott Clifton

A WITCH’S BREW

Conquest of the Veil Book III

By Michael Scott Clifton

Publisher: Book Liftoff
Publication Date: April 14th, 2021

Pages: 318 Pages
Categories:

Sword & Sorcery / Magical Realism / Fantasy / Paranormal

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Intent on defeating the Dark Queen and destroying the Veil, Prince Tal and Alexandria arrive at Markingham to discover a city on the verge of collapse, its people starving, and children vanishing without a trace. Hopes of launching attacks from the city against the Dark Queen evaporate. To make matters worse, the tiny breach in the Veil allows only a trickle of soldiers and supplies to pass through.
Before the city’s defenses can be restored, the Baleful, a vast army composed of melded humans and animals led by a giant centaur, sweeps across the land like locusts, leaving nothing behind.
In the midst of turmoil and conflict, the love between Tal and Alex reaches white-hot intensity. But the leader of a ragtag militia group wants Tal for herself and will do anything to get him…even strike a bargain with a child-killing witch for a potion to make her irresistible.
But every witch’s brew comes with a price.

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Review

A Witch’s Brew by Michael Scott Clifton is book three of the Conquest of the Veil series, which I am very pleased to find is not the last book of a trilogy. In true Clifton fashion, this book manages to surpass even the first two brilliant books of the series as we are further entangled in the battle between good and evil.

 

While books one and two paint the line between the two sides more obviously, I love how this book has you pondering the meaning behind “a means to an end.” Is breaking a promise so bad when you do it out of love? And are you willing to break someone’s heart over honor? Those are just a few existential questions that come to mind when I mull over this wonderful story. The other questions I had: where is the witch and what’s in her brew? Those answers come just past the halfway mark of the book. Normally that type of thing would bother me, but I was so wrapped up in the story that I did not mind at all! Clifton’s gift for painting a complete picture of a fantasy world is so great that you forget where you are and become fully immersed.

 

Escape from the Wheel left me hopelessly in love with Alexandria’s character. So beautiful but kind, delicate yet strong. And this latest book confirmed that she is worthy of all admiration. Of course, someone is bound to be jealous of such a shining light. As someone who identifies as more of a best friend than a leading lady, I felt compassion for the brash Maggie. Oh, Sir Clifton, why do you torture us with yet another love triangle in this series? My heart can only take so much! To be completely honest, you could get by without reading the first two books. But why would you? You would miss out on so much backstory and this exciting build of adventure and love.

 

I know that I will need to toughen up for the next book because things are only getting harrier for our heroine and her brave prince. Each hard-won victory has been exciting but you know that the worst is yet to come. And Clifton’s magical way with the written word assures you that every detail will be unveiled and you will see all – both the good and the bad – unwind in a cinematic cyclone.

 

The vibe of this book was interesting – sort of Game of Thrones meets Hocus Pocus. I really look forward to reading the next book, especially knowing that it will be even better than this one. If you are a fantasy reader, you definitely need to pick up the first three books of the Conquest of the Veil series so that you’re ready for book four.

by Michael Scott Clifton is book three of the Conquest of the Veil series, which I am very pleased to find is not the last book of a trilogy. In true Clifton fashion, this book manages to surpass even the first two brilliant books of the series as we are further entangled in the battle between good and evil.

While books one and two paint the line between the two sides more obviously, I love how this book has you pondering the meaning behind “a means to an end.” Is breaking a promise so bad when you do it out of love? And are you willing to break someone’s heart over honor? Those are just a few existential questions that come to mind when I mull over this wonderful story. The other questions I had: where is the witch and what’s in her brew? Those answers come just past the halfway mark of the book. Normally that type of thing would bother me, but I was so wrapped up in the story that I did not mind at all! Clifton’s gift for painting a complete picture of a fantasy world is so great that you forget where you are and become fully immersed.

Escape from the Wheel left me hopelessly in love with Alexandria’s character. So beautiful but kind, delicate yet strong. And this latest book confirmed that she is worthy of all admiration. Of course, someone is bound to be jealous of such a shining light. As someone who identifies as more of a best friend than a leading lady, I felt compassion for the brash Maggie. Oh, Sir Clifton, why do you torture us with yet another love triangle in this series? My heart can only take so much! To be completely honest, you could get by without reading the first two books. But why would you? You would miss out on so much backstory and this exciting build of adventure and love.

I know that I will need to toughen up for the next book because things are only getting harrier for our heroine and her brave prince. Each hard-won victory has been exciting but you know that the worst is yet to come. And Clifton’s magical way with the written word assures you that every detail will be unveiled and you will see all – both the good and the bad – unwind in a cinematic cyclone.

The vibe of this book was interesting – sort of Game of Thrones meets Hocus Pocus. I really look forward to reading the next book, especially knowing that it will be even better than this one. If you are a fantasy reader, you definitely need to pick up the first three books of the Conquest of the Veil series so that you’re ready for book four.

Multi Award-Winning Author Michael Scott Clifton, a longtime public educator, currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas with his wife, Melanie. An avid gardener, reader, and movie junkie, his books contain facets of all the genres he enjoys—action, adventure, magic, fantasy, and romance. His fantasy novels, The Janus Witch, The Open Portal (Book I in the Conquest of the Veil series), and Escape from Wheel (Book II), all received 5-Star reviews from the prestigious Readers Favorite Book Reviews. The Open Portal has also been honored with a Feathered Quill Book Finalist Award. In addition, Edison Jones and the Anti-Grav Elevator earned a 2021 Feathered Quill Book Award Bronze Medal in the Teen Readers category. Two of his short stories have won Gold Medals, with Edges of Gray winning the Texas Authors Contest, and The End Game, winning the Northeast Texas Writer’s Organization Contest. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary Education Magazine.
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Character Interview & Giveaway: The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts by Shelton L. Williams


THE CHINESE MURDER
OF EDWARD WATTS
Covey Jencks Mystery, #3
By Shelton L. Williams


Publish Date: December 8th, 2020
Pages: 233 pages
Categories: Mystery / Humor

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Covey and JayJay travel to China and then return home to deal with shady characters, spies, gangsters, and other tough customers. In an exciting last act, they solve a murder most foul.
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Character Interview

Maggie Mae interviews JayJay Qualls from

THE CHINESE MURDER OF EDWARD WATTS

by Shelton L. Williams

Maggie: JayJay, you had lots of questions for me in The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts I am glad you’re allowing me to ask you some.

JayJay: Sure, but at the end, I have one more question for you. Deal?

Maggie: If I can answer, I will. Deal?

JayJay: Okay, fire away.

Maggie: Are you and Covey still sympatico? The FBI calls you the Love Birds, but you don’t ever seem to get jealous, and Covey calls you distant at one point in the book. Is there trouble in paradise?

JayJay: I don’t think of any relationship as paradise. I live in the moment and I am always ready to take care of myself. I have seen too many women fall into dependency on a man. That said, Covey and I very much a couple and I have made decisions to keep us a couple. Yes, we love each other.

Maggie: Can you tell us what decisions?

JayJay: Sure, Covey Jencks readers know that I did not move to Dallas or Ft. Worth to advance my acting career, and more than one old flame has tried to rekindle, especially now that I have got my own money. But I am stickin’ with Covey, at least for now.

Maggie: You like the detective business, don’t you?

JayJay: I do like it, but truth be told, I like solving mysteries with Covey. When we are working a case, we are equal partners. He includes me and listens to me. I push him to be bold and to think beyond the obvious. It’s pretty damned exciting. Besides, when he is working on oil and gas leases, you think he’s ever distant with me?

Maggie: That’s a good point. The books are more from his point of view and not yours even though you get your own chapters. After all, the series is called Covey Jencks Mysteries. Don’t you deserve your own book?

JayJay: My creative work occurs on the stage. I don’t need to sit alone at 6:00 a.m. trying to figure out what to say next before my real work starts. That sounds miserable. Maybe someday I’ll write my memoirs.

Maggie: You seemed to really be fascinated with Betty Williams and the Ghost of OHS story. Maybe you could write about that?

JayJay: Well, not long after the Chinese mystery ended, a book on the event called Washed in the Blood came out. Like many people out there, I have heard about the book but haven’t had time to read it. Maybe I will wait for the movie.

Maggie: What been your favorite adventure with Covey?

JayJay: By far, solving the mystery of the triple murder case on a college campus in Covey and JayJay Get Educated, but it was also fun to hook up with Covey to find out who killed Freddie in Covey Jencks.

Maggie: I have heard that lots of folks like Chinese Murder best. Comments?

JayJay: It’s a good story, for sure, but did I enjoy only being marginally involved and then — that ending. Who saw that coming? My role wasn’t exactly heroic, no?

Maggie: I hear ya, but I loved the book. I loved being the international woman of mystery in it.

JayJay: And you are a good one. West Texans would call you a sexy mama. I admit I was jealous of that first dress you wore in Odessa. I may go back to China to get me one of them. Time for my question.

Maggie: Okay, but I got that dress in New York. What’s your question?

JayJay: Will Covey and I ever see you again?

Maggie: I see what you are doing there. Sneaky. Will there be another Covey Jencks mystery?

Silence from JayJay. Maggie continues:

I think it depends on whether you guys stay stuck in West Texas or if you ever come back my way.

JayJay: To China?

Maggie: Hmm, no, the East Coast.

JayJay: Oh, that reminds me of my favorite part of The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts. The visit to Washington, D.C.  That was just as exciting for me as the mystery, and it was a stone cold turn-on as well. I’ll talk to the old man about that idea.

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced
International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on four occasions, and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are 
Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now the three books in the Covey Jencks series. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.


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