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Something Borrowed, Something Mewed–canine sidekick

Something Borrowed, Something Mewed

by Bethany Blake

Something Borrowed Something MewedCelebrating the 4th of July in Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania, means a weeklong pet-centric Wags ’n Flags affair complete with fireworks, patriotic decorations, dogs in costumes, and the canine All Paws on Deck Rowboat Regatta. This year pet-sitter and pet bakery owner Daphne Templeton and her Basset hound sleuthing sidekick Socrates are immersed in solving crimes. Daphne’s sister Piper is engaged to be married. The wedding planner has multiple bookings set up at the same venue and at the same time and has plans to abscond with all the bridal payments. Murder ups the ante on the scam. Who is behind all the nefarious shenanigans? 

On the personal scene in Something Borrowed, Something Mewed, Daphne and her detective boyfriend Jonathan seem to be getting emotionally closer at a time when physical separation is imminent. Daphne’s fun and a little wacky friend Moxie is Daphne’s support throughout it all. Humor is injected as Daphne has interesting, but fairly one sided, “conversations” with Socrates throughout the book as she tries to solve the mysteries swirling around Sylvan Creek’s celebration.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #5 in the Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery Series

Publication:   May 28, 2019—Kensington 

Memorable Lines:

…a black whirlwind flew past our feet and Tinkleston finally launched himself at the world’s meekest, most clueless and most accident-prone cat, who went flying off the icebox with a familiar, plaintive yowl.

I prized allegiance to family and friends. I also admired people who looked out for lost souls, whether they were siblings or Chihuahuas and pugs with oversized personalities. Or very insistent cats.

“I won’t even ask why you rode something you pedal to a biker bar.”

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Lessons from Lucy–LOL funny

Lessons from Lucy

by Dave Barry

Lessons from LucyLessons from Lucy has to be the funniest self-help book ever written. Dave Barry, the humor columnist, takes his lessons on aging from his also aging, happy, contented dog Lucy. There are indeed words of wisdom in these pages but in making his points Dave, in his typical fashion, goes off in side splitting fashion with outrageous opinions and funny anecdotes that combine to provide the reader with an outrageously funny good time. From the man who is famous for saying “I did not make this up” are totally fabricated footnotes for nautical terms and tales of marching with the World Famous Lawn Rangers of Arcola, Illinois, in the Broom Corn Festival. They are a “precision” drill team complete with lawn mowers, brooms, and silliness. Those members with a higher rank even have toilet plungers. No one takes themselves seriously, and they all have a blast. I had to do an Internet search to confirm the truth. Yes, the Lawn Rangers do exist and Dave Barry has more fun than a three year old when he can participate in their good-natured nonsense. 

Lessons from Lucy is a fast read, and you may hope it won’t end. I think it would probably be fun to read again and just as funny the second time around. Dave Barry is an unexpected introvert who never fails in the humor department. At age seventy he proves he still has what it takes to keep us laughing.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Humor, Self-Help

Notes: There are a few instances of profanity and more instances of bathroom words that three year old boys would find funny. Neither kept me from enjoying this book.

Publication:   April 2, 2019—Simon & Schuster

Memorable Lines: Please note that there is no way for me to truly share the humor of this book because so much is lost when it is taken out of context, but here are some comments that make me nod and smile.

That’s what Lucy does: she makes the best of things. She’s way better at this than I am. I know much more than she does, but she knows something I don’t: how to be happy.

Even if you can’t travel, you can still find ways to have genuine fun. The key, I think, is to stretch your boundaries, to escape the numbing routine that old age so easily decays into, to take a chance, get out of your comfort zone, maybe risk making a fool of yourself.

1. Lucy spends every second she can being as close as she can be to the people she loves. This makes her a happy dog. 2. Mike Peters, who is a busy guy facing constant deadlines, still makes a point of making time for, and jumping on the trampoline with, the people he loves. and he is the happiest person I know over the age of three.

The whole world is way too angry these days. If you want proof of that, don some eye protection and take a look at Facebook. In case you just woke up from a coma, I should explain that Facebook is a social-media website that literally billions of people visit regularly for the purpose of making some person named Mark Zuckerberg insanely rich.

A Cold Brew Killing–political aspirations turn deadly

A Cold Brew Killing

by Lena Gregory

A Cold Brew KillingA group of former high school friends converge on their hometown in Florida as two of their number compete for the job of mayor. As all eyes are focused on the politics, one is found murdered in the ice cream shop belonging to Gia’s friend, Trevor. Trevor appears guilty, and Gia wonders if she knew him as well as she thought she did.

If you have read other books in the series, you will remember the regular cast of characters. In A Cold Brew Killing, author Lena Gregory gives more depth to these characters as she reveals some of their background. She also adds many more characters for this storyline. The author boldly dances between plot threads and the importance of characters, intertwining the two into an inseparable and fascinating storyline. Are secrets of the past playing out in the present? How far should one go to keep a secret that protects someone else?

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #3 in the All-Day Breakfast Café Series, but can be read as a standalone

2. If you are not a coffee drinker or are an old school coffee drinker, you can learn about something new: cold brew coffee!

Publication:   November 6, 2018—Kensington Press (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

“I believe there are a few people we meet in our lives who are meant to be a part of something special. Sometimes lasting friends, other times just part of an important event in your life. Either way, I think we recognize those people when our paths cross.”

Her mental to-do list was getting longer and longer. If she didn’t start writing this stuff down somewhere, there was no way she’d remember to do it all. She hadn’t even remembered she was supposed to go away in less than a day.

Sometimes you didn’t need a friend to interfere; sometimes you needed them to stand by while you made a mess of your life, then jump in and help pick up the pieces.

Life on the Leash–amusing and light-hearted

Life on the Leash

by Victoria Schade

Life on the LeashIf you want a fun, relaxing novel, try Victoria Schade’s Life on the Leash—especially if you like dogs and chick lit. Schade is an animal trainer, and Life on the Leash is her first novel. Her main character, Cora, left the corporate world to do what she loves—teach pet parents how to train their dogs in a loving fashion. Her clientele in Georgetown can afford her services, and she can afford to be choosy. 

Cora tries to be professional in all of her sessions, but that is hard to do with flirtatious Charlie whose girlfriend is out of town. Complete this love triangle with Eli, the slightly geeky boy-next-door who works for one of her clients. Cora toys around with the idea of her own dog training show in opposition to one hosted by Doggie Dictator Boris Ershovich who claims to “fix” dogs through his harsh methods. 

Life on the Leash made a light-hearted read in the wake of several suspense novels. I found myself chuckling at some of the characters’ antics, gasping at a few unwise decisions, and sympathizing with Cora’s pet friendly stances. I found myself wishing that a few of her tips and tricks could have been explained thoroughly, perhaps in an addendum so as not to interrupt the story.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Women’s Fiction

Notes: Expletives are sprinkled throughout the book.

Publication:   September 18, 2018—Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster)

Beaches in Paradise–suspenseful plot

Beaches in Paradise

by Kathi Daley

Beaches in ParadiseWhen you read a book in the Tj Jensen Mystery Series, you can count on  a solid cozy mystery with likable main characters, strong family ties, and a good plot. Beaches in Paradise is a no exception. Maggie’s Hideaway is a family owned resort on Paradise Lake where Maggie works part-time when she is not busy as the local P.E. teacher and soccer coach. Maggie is also raising her two half-sisters and slowly developing her relationship with Kyle. Both enjoy functioning as a team to help solve local mysteries. What Maggie doesn’t enjoy is her confrontational encounters with Paradise’s new deputy Kate who warns Maggie off of amateur sleuthing and displays subtle hints of interest in Kyle.

Maggie involves herself in a murder and disappearance when an unpopular businessman is found dead in a wrecked car and her friend Gina is nowhere to be found. I had to suspend belief a little in considering the lengths Maggie went to find Gina. The action would have been more convincing if more background on Gina and Maggie’s two year friendship had been provided. Gina teaches math and Maggie P.E. at the local high school.There are no further details to support the strong bond they are supposed to have.

Plot is one of the main strengths of Beaches in Paradise. Three-fourths of the way through the book, after many interviews and lots of twists and turns, a huge part of the mystery is solved and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. There is more suspense to come, however, and it extends quite engagingly all the way to the second surprise ending. This is a solid series and one you will enjoy.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

Notes: #9 in the Tj Jensen Mystery Series, but is OK as a standalone.

Publication:  July 17, 2018 — Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

Once we were ready, Kyle and I climbed into the van with our troupe of geriatric sleuths. I hated to put the men in danger, but I knew they were clearheaded adults able to make up their own minds.

“More than anyone I know, you always make sure the people you care for are all right.”

The Otter of Death–fascinating otters and mystery

The Otter of Death

by Betty Webb

The Otter of DeathTeddy is a zookeeper at the Gunn Zoo in San Sebastian, CA. She lives on a houseboat and is engaged to Joe, the local county sheriff. She also volunteers conducting a census for the Otter Conservancy, a marine life rescue group. Trouble occurs during her routine survey when she discovers an otter with a cell phone. More troubling is a selfie on the phone that seems to indicate a crime.

The victim is well known, but not very popular, so there are a lot of suspects. Teddy puts herself in danger with her investigations, much to the dismay of Joe and her mother Caro. There are a lot of other characters in this book, including fellow zookeepers, neighbor liveaboards at the harbor, and the wealthy of San Sebastian.  The author, Betty Webb, does a good job of defining the characters and subtly reminding the reader of who they are, as necessary.

I found all aspects of The Otter of Death fascinating, starting with the mystery to be solved, but also including the inner workings of the zoo and information about the animals, especially the otters.

Despite the appealing cover, I went into this cozy mystery wondering if I would like it. I emerged ready to read more of this series.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Poisoned Pen Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #5 in the Gunn Zoo Mystery Series

  2. This is my first book in the series, but it worked great as a standalone.

  3. You can read the first chapter of this book at bettywebbzoomystery.com.

Publication:  May 2, 2018—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines:

“I love your mother’s house. It’s so tiny and cute.” Tiny? Cute? For an eleven-room—not counting the kitchen and six baths—antiques-stuffed mansion on a shaded hillside overlooking the Pacific? Only a Betancourt could make such an outrageous statement.

I expected a thunderbolt from Heaven to strike me dead any second, but it didn’t happen. Instead, Frasier—thrilled as any man would be to be called fascinating and mysterious—started talking about his job. It was almost, but not quite, as boring as his wails about his blood-sucking ex-wife.

Trumpeter swans may be beautiful, but they are quick to defend their babies with beating wings and slashing bills. The injuries inflicted by these large birds aren’t as minor as you might think. A peck from a swan’s bill can take out an eye, and a blow from an enraged trumpeter’s four-foot-long wing has been known to break an adult human’s leg.

Double Dog Dare–humorous cozy mystery

Double Dog Dare

by Gretchen Archer

Double Dog DareI was surprised to see that Double Dog Dare, a cozy mystery, is also classified by the publisher as humor…until I read it. It is hilarious; all the way through from one complication to another. The storyline starts out simply enough as Davis Way, who is part of the security team at a Biloxi, Mississippi, casino anticipates the arrival of her sister Meredith and Meredith’s friend Vree, a nonstop, stream of consciousness talker with her dog who will be competing in a canine competition at the casino.

From the moment Davis opens the door to the early arriving Vree instead of Meredith, absolutely nothing goes as planned. Author Gretchen Archer creates fun characters and really amusing dialogue. The plot is intricate and when you are not laughing, you will be saying “What???” over the latest development. There are a variety of crimes including kidnappings, impersonations, and thefts. Meredith has a moral dilemma and in trying to help her, Davis also explores ethical and legal boundaries.

While all of these complications are occurring, Davis has to role play the wife of the casino’s owner, care for her twin 20-month old daughters, manage several dogs, and not tell her husband what is going on at home while he is attending a conference in Nashville.

If you want a nonstop mystery that will keep you smiling, laughing, and shaking your head, you’ll want to grab Double Dog Dare. It is now available in Kindle format.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, Humor

Notes: #7 in the Davis Way Crime Capers series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:  March 20, 2018 —Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

Vree could talk the stars out of the sky. I believed she talked so she wouldn’t have to listen; there was always something Vree didn’t want to hear.

We’d wasted the half hour before that racking our brains for a doctor, a medical examiner, an EMT, a mortician, or even a Girl Scout with her Corpse Badge who owed us a favor…

“It was our constellation prize to them since our dog drew blood.”

I always thought she was just mean, as opposed to otherworldly. As it turns out, she’s neither. She wants what everyone else wants. Someone to love who loves her back. That’s it.

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