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Cliff Hanger–plans that go awry

Cliff Hanger

by Mary Feliz

Cliff HangerAs Maggie McDonald and her family look forward to a working vacation at Monterey Bay, California, they could not imagine that it would turn into a nightmare. Sons David and Brian help rescue a crashed ultralight pilot, but their quick thinking and heroic actions could backfire in a legal maelstrom. 

In Mary Feliz’s Cliff Hanger, Maggie tries to protect her sons and accomplish her organizing job at the resort that hired her, but there are complications at every turn with farmers in conflict, possible drug running, and alien deportation. It’s hard to know who to trust so the family enlists the help of crime fighting friends from their hometown, Orchard View. Their pet golden retriever, Belle, and their friend Stephen’s service dog, Munchkin, a drooling mastiff, have large supporting roles and are a welcome addition to the character list.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books (Lyrical Underground) 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 Maggie McDonald Mystery Series, but works as a standalone.

  2. Each chapter begins with a tip for vacationing families from Maggie’s organizing notebook. Many of the ideas are helpful for daily car use or for those who live on the beach.

  3. In addition to formal tips for making life easier, the author weaves handy ideas into the body of the story as well as showing how a family can respond to stresses in a healthy way.

Publication:   July 16, 2019—Lyrical Underground (Kensington Books)

Memorable Lines:

“The tricky part will be managing the news outlets and social media. Their attacks can be swifter, harsher, and more reactionary than the law. Lucky for you, we’ve just hired two people who are experts in that arena. We all need to become adept at fending off slings and arrows in cyberspace.”

I shuddered, both in fear of the tales I’d heard of exploding methamphetamine labs and in sympathy for the people for whom near-slavery in the United States meant a better life than staying in the countries in which they’d been born. My skin prickled as my thoughts traveled from the desperate to those who preyed upon them.

Max placed a plate of warm cookies on the table. The fragrance lured David from his room, and we had a moment of silent appreciation of the stress-busting properties of chocolate and refined carbohydrates.

Dead Storage–dangerous secrets

Dead Storage

by Mary Feliz

Dead StorageWhat do you do when a good friend who also happens to be a really good person gets involved in a murder and asks you to keep a secret from his husband? If you are Maggie McDonald, professional organizing consultant, wife, and mother of two boys, you keep the secret, investigate the murder, and try to get your friend out of jail.

That is the short version of a fast-paced cozy mystery entitled Dead Storage. At times I was a little irritated with the way Maggie accepted red tape and being put off by those she was interviewing. Then I thought about three months this summer and the runaround I received in trying to get two birth certificates and repairs accomplished on a motorcycle under warranty. Actually what Maggie went through was pretty believable.

I recommend this book for its intricate mystery and interesting social elements. You will especially like it if you have a heart for the homeless, empathy for those with PTSD, and a passion for dogs.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Maggie McDonald Mystery Series, but works as a standalone

Publication:  July 18, 2017–Kensington Books (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

Clutter costs time and money. Even if you aren’t renting extra storage, if you’ve got so much stuff that you don’t know what you have or where it is, or you can’t find it when you need it, it’s nearly the same as having nothing at all.

Neighborliness wasn’t restricted to streets with single-family homes and gardens. Apartment buildings, parks and anywhere that people came together could provide community too.

While electronic communications are great for efficiency purposes, any emotional or dicey situation is so much better handled face-to-face.

Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder–a cozy teachers will love

Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder

by Sara Rosett

Mother's DayMother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder is a thematic shoe-in for me, and it surpassed my expectations. The setting is Georgia, but the author grew up in and currently lives in Texas. The action occurs at an elementary school which is the unlikely scene of a murder. Except for the murder and mayhem, this could have been the elementary school I taught at for a few years in Leander, Texas. The details are perfect for a middle class school where parent participation is high, students wear an assigned color T-shirt for field day, and the Teacher Appreciation Week is five days of food, small gifts, and recognition for hard-working, appreciated teachers.

The main character is Ellie Avery, an Air Force wife, mother of two children, part-time organizing consultant, and very active volunteer at her children’s neighborhood school. The amiable Ellie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. She tries not to actively involve herself, but others look to her for help because of previous associations with a murder. Later, someone takes the threat to her doorstep, potentially endangering Ellie and her children.

This mystery is a fun, “don’t put me down” kind of read. The plot has twists and turns that keep the reader engaged and wanting more. The characters are interesting and there is a subplot concerning a competing organizer in town which enhances the appeal. If you like cozy mysteries, you will love Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder.

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:  1. #10 in the Ellie Avery Mystery Series, also called the Mom Zone Series. I enjoyed it as a standalone.

2. The book also includes “Organizing Tips for PTA Moms” placed at the end of some chapters so as not to be intrusive into the storyline. They are practical and are approved by this former teacher who also volunteered with my school’s Parent/Teacher Organization.

Publication:  March 28, 2017–Kensington Books

Memorable Lines: 

“Yes, that is my favorite way to relax, supervising twenty-two eight-year-olds hyped up on sugar at eight in the morning.”

I wished the rest of the school year could be more like the end of the year. The end of the year–when the standardized tests were over–was when the kids got to do all the fun stuff, instead of studying for the standardized tests. Why couldn’t the kids do more hands-on activities like this throughout the year?

We rush through our days so quickly and have so many little rituals that we do, day in and day out, but then a moment like that last day of school comes along. It’s a milestone that makes a definite break in the continuum and emphasizes that one phase is ending and another beginning.

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