Friday, July 25, 2014

Cozy Mystery Cover Story Countdown

I wrote another challenge.  It's on All Challenges All the Time on goodreads, under yearly challenges.

Welcome to the Cozy Mystery Cover Story Countdown. These books have amazing covers. Everyone sees something different when choosing a book to read. This is a great challenge to do along side of the Cozy Mystery Genre Challenge at Wacky Reading Challenges.

Cozy Mystery Cover Story Countdown

Read your favorite cozies and see if the covers match any of these categories.

Duration: One year from starting date.

1. Please post your categories in your original post so we have a post to which to link your name; post #2 will list participant links which can then be used for making challenge updates.

2. For each book you read, please post the cover, title, the author and the date you finished reading it. 

3. Books may only be used for one task in this challenge, but cross-challenge posting is encouraged!

4. When you complete the challenge, please post your entire list as a new message to make it easier for everyone to see what you've read. If you don't repost your list, you won't be included in the list of those who have completed the challenge.

*If you don’t know how to post a link to the book title or cover, see the instructions here: Link Instructions

Read 10 books that are outside - eg. in a park or field
Read 9 books that are inside a house or building
Read 8 books with a building - eg. house, gazebo
Read 7 books that have an animal

Read 6 books that have food
Murder and Marinara by Rosie Genova

Read 5 books with ships or cars
Read 4 books that contain a piece of furniture
Read 3 books with arms or legs
Read 2 books with a piece of jewelry 
Read 1 book with a dead body 

Murder and Marinara by Rosie Genova

Victoria, a mystery book author, is going home to the Jersey shore for a year to write a new book. The first week she is back she discovers a dead body. It's the producer of a Jersey Shore type show. Her family does not want them to shoot the TV show in their town.  She had just served him lunch. Oh no! This is not good for the family restaurant and the summer season is about to start. Vic's ex boyfriend made the salad. Her nonna wants her to find the murderer. Her mother and her cop brother want her to stay out of it. Vic and her SIL Sofia make a list of suspects and everyone is on it! A reporter wants an interview in a week. Will she figure it out in time? Or is she next on the murderer's list?

From goodreads:
Hit whodunit writer Victoria Rienzi is getting back to her roots by working at her family’s Italian restaurant. But now in between plating pasta and pouring vino, she’ll have to find the secret ingredient in a murder.... 

When Victoria takes a break from penning her popular mystery series and moves back to the Jersey shore, she imagines sun, sand, and scents of fresh basil and simmering marinara sauce at the family restaurant, the Casa Lido. But her nonna’s recipes aren’t the only things getting stirred up in this Italian kitchen. 

Their small town is up in arms over plans to film a new reality TV show, and when Victoria serves the show’s pushy producer his last meal, the Casa Lido staff finds itself embroiled in a murder investigation. Victoria wants to find the real killer, but there are as many suspects as tomatoes in her nonna’s garden. Now she’ll have to heat up her sleuthing skills quickly…before someone else gets a plateful of murder.
Chapter One
“Vic,” Josh said, “I don’t think you have any choice. You have to get rid of him.”
I stared at the phone in disbelief. “Absolutely not,” I said. “It’s too drastic. I won’t even consider it.”
“Why not? You complain about him enough. And think about what you could do with him out of the way. You could start over—a new name, a new guy. Maybe even a younger guy.”
“Look, I know what you’re suggesting. You’re asking me to”—I dropped my voice to a whisper—“to kill Bernardo.”
“Don’t you get it, Vic? It’s the easiest way out. The only question is how.” He paused. “I mean, a bullet’s kind of mundane, don’t you think? And a knife’s out of the question. I do hate a messy crime scene,” he said, more to himself than to me.
“Do you hear yourself?” I gasped. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Ooh, I know.” His volume got louder with each word. “You could do a Rear Window kind of thing and really send him out with a bang. It has a nice retro appeal, too.”
“Why don’t I just shove him over a waterfall and be done with it?”
“Too obvious.” Apparently my sarcasm was lost on him.
“Listen, Josh,” I said. “You can just forget this, okay? Because I don’t intend to harm one slicked-down hair on Bernardo’s head.”
“But, Vic, aren’t you tired of him? His annoying little gestures and that stupid accent—”
“Hang on a minute,” I interrupted. “This is Bernardo you’re talking about. He and IHave been together for almost eight years. We have a routine, a formula for our relationship. And truth be told, wasn’t I getting a little tired of him? Of his constant pronouncements? His shiny shoes and perfectly pressed pants? And yes, the accent was kind of silly.
“And he’s right all the time,” Josh continued. “He’s never been tripped up, not once.”
“He’s not supposed to be tripped up,” I said. “That’s the way I made him. And I’m not killing him off; that’s final. Anyway, what would Sylvie say? She loves Bernardo.” Sylvie Banks was my editor, my hero, and had come to be a dear friend. She’d fished me out of the slush pile, and I owed my career to her.
“Vic,” Josh said quietly, “it was Sylvie’s idea that you consider a new series.”
“It was?” My heart tightened in my chest. “But my sales have been steady.”
“Steady, yes, but nothing special. And the last one didn’t hit any of the lists.”
“So the new one will.” But even as I said it, I could feel the uncertainty creeping over me like a chill.
“We hope.” I could imagine him shaking his head, rubbing his eyes behind his glasses. “Listen, maybe we don’t have to kill him,” he said. “Maybe he can go on a long trip. Like the time you sent him to Venice, remember?” I could hear the sound of Josh’s agent wheels grinding away.
“I guess I could do that. But what about that guy you were talking to at HBO? We can’t end the series now.”
“Okay, yes, if HBO picks it up, Bernardo can have a nice long life. But that’s a big if. At the very least, I think you should take a break, maybe try something else.”
Try something else. As Josh talked, a memory stirred.  Fresh out of college with a business degree, I’d dreamed of writing a novel. Not a mystery, but a historical work based on my family. I’d jotted down a few notes and even had a name for my main character—Isabella—but that was as far as I’d gotten. Maybe the time had come to tell her story.
To read more, click here.

Pages: 309
Published: 2013

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

Dabney is a matchmaker. If she can see pink when she looks at people, it's a match. But when it's green it is a disaster! She has matched over 40 couples.
Dabney loves Nantucket. She won't leave the island unless it's absolutely necessary. She left for college but came home every weekend. She has been in love with the same man since she was 13, Clendenin Hughes. After college he got a job in Asia. Dabney would not leave Nantucket. They broke up. Then she found out she was pregnant. She thought if he came home to her that he would resent their child the same way her mother resented her and left her in a hotel in Boston when she was 8. So she told Clen not to come home and leave her and the baby alone.
Dabney did marry when Agnes was 3. She knew that Box was not her match like Clen was. She did not see pink when she looked at him, but she knew he was a good man. Now it's 27 years later and Clen is back on Nantucket.  What is going to happen??

From the author:
48-year-old Nantucketer Dabney Kimball Beech has always had a gift for matchmaking. With 42 happy couples to her credit and all of them still together, Dabney has never been wrong about romance. Never, that is, except in the case of herself and Clendenin Hughes, the green-eyed boy who took her heart with him long ago when he left the island to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. Now, after spending 27 years on the other side of the world, Clen is back on Nantucket, and Dabney has never felt so confused, or so alive.

For a sample, click here.

Pages: 361
Published: 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts

This is the second book in the Cousins O'Dwyer series. This story focuses on the coming together of Connor and Meara. They have loved each other since they were children. After Cabhan attacks and almost kills Connor, Meara realizes that she would not like to live without him. She kisses him passionately once and then again. The next day he thinks that he should do something about it. Meanwhile, the group is still trying to figure out how to get rid of Cabhan. He tries to get Meara many times. Will they be able to defeat him this time?

From the author:
With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken…

A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss.

Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle.

Plenty of women have found their way to Connor’s bed, but none to his heart until now. Frustratingly, Meara is okay with just the heat, afraid to lose herself—and their friendship—to something more. But soon, Connor will see the full force and fury of what runs in his blood. And he will need his family and friends around him when his past rolls in like the fog, threatening an end to all he loves…

Chapter Four
Connor slipped through the employees’ gate for the falconry school. As always, he felt a little
flutter—a bit like beating wings— in his heart, along his skin. It had always been the hawk for
him. That connection, like his power, came down through the blood.
He’d have preferred having some time to walk around the enclosures and aviary, greet the
hawks, the big owl they called Brutus, just to see—and hear—how they all fared.
But the way he’d started his day meant he was a few minutes behind already. He saw one of
his staff, Brian—skinny as a flagpole and barely eighteen—checking the feed and water.
So he only glanced around to be sure all was well as he crossed over to the offices, past the
fenced–in area where his assistant, Kyra, kept her pretty spaniel most days.
“And how’s it going for you today, Romeo?”
In answer, the dog wagged his whole body, clamped a gnawed blue ball in his mouth, and
brought it hopefully to the fence.
“It’ll have to be later for that.”
He stepped into the office, found Kyra, her hair a short wedge of sapphire blue, busy at the
“You’re late.”
Though she just hit five foot two, Kyra had a voice like a foghorn.
“Happy I’m the boss then, isn’t it?”
“Fin’s the boss.”“Happy I had breakfast with him so he knows what’s what.” He knocked his fist lightly on
the top of her head as he moved by to a desk covered with forms, clipboards, papers, brochures, a
spare glove, a tether, a bowl of tumbled stones, and other debris.
“We’ve had another booking come in already this morning. A double. Father and son—
and the boy’s just sixteen. I’ve put you on that, as you do better with the teenagers than Brian or
Pauline. They’re for ten this morning. Yanks.”
She paused, sent Connor a disapproving look from her round, wildly freckled face. “Sixteen,
and why isn’t he in school, I want to know.”
“You’re such a taskmaster, Kyra. It’s an education, isn’t it, to travel to another country, to
learn of hawks?”
“That won’t teach you to add two and two. Sean’s not coming in till noon, if you’re
forgetting. He’s taking his wife in for her check with the doctor.”
He looked up at that because he had forgotten. “All’s well there, right, with her and the
“Well and fine, she just wants him there as they may find if it’s a girl or boy today. That puts
Brian on the nine with the lady from Donegal, you at the ten, and Pauline’s at half-ten with a pair
of honeymooners from Dublin.”
She clicked and clacked at the keyboard as she laid out the morning’s schedule. Though she
tended toward the bossy and brisk, Kyra was a wizard at doing a dozen things at once.
And—the fly in Connor’s ointment—expected everyone else to do the same.
“I’ve set you on at two for another,” she added. “Yanks again, a couple over from Boston.
They’ve just come in from a stay at Dromoland in Clare, and they’re having three days at Ashford
before moving on. Three weeks holiday for their twenty-fifth anniversary.”

To read more, click here.

Pages: 319
Published: 2014

A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr

This is the fourth book in the Virgin River series. Marcie's husband died three years after coming home from war. He was saved by his best friend Ian. Ian came to visit once and then disappeared. Marcie needs to speak with him to be able to move on. So she decides to go find him against her family's advice. She finds him near Virgin River. He wants to be left alone. Ian thinks he scares her off but finds her asleep in the snow by the outhouse. He brings her inside his tiny cabin. She is sick. He gets Mel and the doc to come out and see her. She's okay but needs to sleep until she's better. Ian takes care of her. Being with her changes him. He falls for her. What is going to happen??

I liked this story. It was about being able to move on from tragedy in your life.

From the author:
Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life and gave her three more years to love him.
Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby’s shattered body onto a medical transport in Fallujah four years ago, then disappeared as soon as their unit arrived stateside. Since then, Marcie’s letters to Ian have gone unanswered.
Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River and finds a man as wounded emotionally as Bobby was physically. But she is not easily scared off. As Marcie pushes her way into his rugged and reclusive life, she discovers a sweet but damaged soul beneath a rough exterior.
Ian doesn’t know what to make of the determined young widow who forces him to look into the painful past and, what’s worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.

Marcie Sullivan drove into the small town, her sixth small mountain town of the day, and found herself face-to-face with a Christmas-tree trimming. The assembled staff didn’t look big enough for the job—the tree was enormous.
She pulled up beside a large cabin with a wide porch, parked her Volkswagen and got out. There were three women at work on a Christmas fir that stood about thirty feet. One was about Marcie’s age, with soft brown hair and she held an open box, perhaps containing ornaments. One woman was old, with springy white hair and black-framed glasses, who pointed upward, as if someone had put her in charge, and the third was a beautiful blonde at the top of a tall, A-frame ladder.
The tree stood between the cabin and an old boarded-up church with two tall steeples and one stained-glass window still intact—a church that must have once been a beautiful structure.
While Marcie watched the trimming, a man came out onto the cabin’s porch, stopped, looked up and cursed, then took long strides to the base of the ladder. “Don’t move. Don’t breathe,” he said in a low, commanding voice. He took the rungs every other one, climbing quickly until he reached the blonde. Then he slipped an arm around her, somewhere above what Marcie realized must be a little pregnant bulge and beneath her breasts and said, “Down. Slowly.”
“Jack!” she scolded. “Leave me alone!”
“If I have to, I’ll carry you down. Back down the ladder, slowly. Now.”
“Oh for God’s—”
Now” he said evenly, fiercely.
She began to descend, one rung at a time between his big, sturdy feet, while he held her safe against him. When they got to the bottom, she put her hands on her hips and glared up at him. “I knew exactly what I was doing!”
“Where is your brain? What if you fell from that height?”
“It’s an excellent ladder! I wasn’t going to fall!”
“You’re psychic, too? You can argue all you want, I’m not letting you that high up a ladder in your condition,” he said, his hands also on his hips. “I’ll stand guard over you if I have to.” Then he looked over his shoulder at the other two women.
“I told her I thought you wouldn’t like that,” the brown-haired one said with a helpless shrug.
He glared at the white-haired woman. “I don’t get into domestic things. That’s your problem, not mine,” she said, pushing her big glasses up on her nose.
And Marcie became homesick. So homesick. It had only been a few weeks that she’d been driving around this area, but she missed all the family squabbles, the tiresome complications. She missed her girlfriends, her job. She longed for her bossy older sister’s interference, her goofy younger brother and whatever current girlfriend was shadowing him. She missed her late husband’s large, fun, passionate family.
She hadn’t made it home for Thanksgiving—she’d been afraid to go for even a day or two, afraid she’d never pry herself out of Erin’s grip a second time. Home was Chico, California, just a few hours away, but no one—not her brother and sister, not Bobby’s family—thought what she was doing a good idea. So, she’d been calling, lying and saying she had tips about Ian and was close to finding him. Every time she called, at least every other day, she said she was getting closer when really, she wasn’t. But she was not ready to quit.
But one problem was looming large—she was just about out of money. She’d been sleeping in her car lately rather than in motels, and it was getting uncomfortable as the temperatures dropped in the mountains. At any moment snow would be falling now that it was early December, or rain could turn to sleet and that little VeeDub could sail off the mountainside like a missile.
She’d just hate to go home with this mission incomplete. More than anything, she wanted to see it through. If she wasn’t successful now, she’d only go home to earn a little money and then do it all again. She just couldn’t give up on him. On herself.

To read more, click here.

Pages: 291
Published: 2008

Authors Authors

Here's a challenge from All Challenges All the Time.  It was a spring challenge on Crazy Challenge Connection.

Authors Authors

Duration: One year from start date 
July 23, 2014-July 23, 2015
Author: Robyn Carr

You will choose ONE author – a favorite author, a new author you’d like to read more from, it doesn’t matter – and use that author as the basis for ALL of the tasks in the challenge. 

1. Read TWO books by the author you’ve chosen for this challenge.

2. Read a book whose total number of pages includes one of the numbers from the year your chosen author’s first book was published. 
Be sure to tell us when your author's first book was published.

3. Read a book whose title begins with one of the letters in your chosen author’s last name.

4. Go to Literature and read one book by each of TWO different authors who are close to your chosen author. 

5. Read a book by an author who shares a first or last name with your chosen author. 

6. Read a book set in the location where your chosen author’s most recent book took place – or the most recent book that you’ve read by your chosen author. 
Be sure to tell us the location.

7. Read a book whose title shares at least one major word (usual exceptions here) with any title written by your chosen author. 

8. Read TWO books published the same year as the year your chosen author’s most recent book was published (or is scheduled to be released).
Be sure to tell us what year the author's most recent book was published.

9 . Read a book whose title begins with one of the letters in your chosen author’s first name. 

10. Read a book by an author who’s written a blurb for one of your chosen author’s books. 

11. Read a book with the same number of words in its title as any book by your chosen author. ALL words count!
Be sure to tell us the title of the book by your chosen author. 

12. Read any other book you can somehow relate to your chosen author. Be sure to explain the connection! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr

This is the second book in the Virgin River series. Preacher is in the bar and about to close and a woman and her child come in. She has a split lip and a bruise on her face. He knows that she needs help. He feeds her and helps her get her little boy comfortable. then he convinces her to stay the night upstairs in his old room. She does, partly because she is so tired and it is pouring rain outside.  Eventually, he finds out her name and what happened. Paige is on the run from an abusive husband. Preacher knows he has to help her and falls for her. Will she escape from her husband?

I enjoyed this story. I want to live in Virgin River!!

From the author:
For the second time in a year a woman arrives in the small town of Virgin River trying to escape the past.
John “Preacher” Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of a wet October night. A marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one—the woman is covered in bruises. He wants to protect them, and he wants to punish whoever did this to her, but he knows immediately that this inclination to protect is something much more. Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in this gentle giant of a man—emotions that he has never allowed himself to feel.
But when Paige’s ex-husband turns up in Virgin River, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance. And if there’s one thing in the marines’ motto of Semper Fidelis—always faithful—has taught him, it’s that some things are worth fighting for.

Chapter One
A fierce and unseasonably cold September wind blew chilly rain against the windows. Preacher wiped down the bar and while it was only seven-thirty, it was already dark. No one in Virgin River would be out on a night like this. After the dinner hour was past, people tended to stay in on cold, wet nights. Those campers and fishermen in the area would be locked down tight against the storm. It was bear and deer hunting season, but it was unlikely any hunters would pass en route to or from lodges and blinds at this hour, in such weather. Jack, his partner and the owner of the bar and grill, knowing there would be little if any business, had gone for the night. Preacher had also sent home their seventeen year old helper, Rick. As soon as the fire burned down a little more, Preacher planned to switch off the OPEN sign and lock the door.
He poured himself a shot of whiskey and took it over to the table nearest the fire, then turned a chair toward the hearth and propped up his feet. Quiet nights like this were to his liking. He was a solitary kind of guy.
But the peace was not to be. Someone pulled on the door, causing him to frown. It opened a little bit. The wind caught the door and it flew open with a bang, bringing him instantly to his feet. Entering and then struggling to close the door was a young woman holding a child. The woman wore a ball cap and had a heavy quilted bag slung over her shoulder. Preacher went to get the door. She turned, looked up at him and they both jumped back in surprise. She was likely startled because Preacher looked intimidating—he was six-foot-four, bald with bushy black eyebrows, a diamond stud earring and shoulders about as broad as an ax handle was long.
Under the bill of the baseball cap, Preacher saw a pretty young woman’s face bearing a bruise on her cheek and a split lower lip.
“I’m... I’m sorry. I saw the sign...”
“Yeah, come on in. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be out tonight. I was about to close up.”
“Are you closing?” she asked, hoisting up her burden, a little boy, not more than three or four years old. He was asleep on her shoulder, his long legs dangling limply. “Because I... Are you closing?”
“Come on,” he said, stepping back for her to pass. “It’s okay. I don’t have anyplace better to go.” He extended an arm toward a table. “Sit by the fire there. Warm up. Dry off.”
“Thanks,” she said meekly. She went to the table by the fire and when she saw the drink, said, “Is this where you’re sitting?”
“Go ahead. Take it,” he said. “I was just having a shot before calling it a night. But there’s no hurry. We don’t usually close this early anyway, but with the rain...”
“Did you want to get home?” she asked him.
He smiled at her. “I live here. Makes me real flexible on the hours.”
“If you’re sure...”
“I’m sure,” he said. “If the weather’s decent, we usually stay open till at least nine.”
She took the chair facing the fire, the boy’s gangly legs straddling her lap. She let her quilted shoulder bag drop to the floor and pulled the child closer, hugging him tight, stroking his back.
Preacher disappeared into the back, leaving her to warm herself for a minute. He came back with a couple of pillows from his bed and the throw from his couch. He put the pillows on the table next to her and said, “Here. Lay the kid down. He’s probably heavy.”
She looked up at him with eyes that seemed to want to cry. Oh, he hoped she wouldn’t do that. He hated when women cried. He had no idea what to do. Jack—he could handle it. He was chivalrous; he knew exactly what to do with a woman under any circumstance. Preacher was uncomfortable around women until he got to know them. When you got down to it, he was inexperienced. Although it wasn’t intentional, he tended to scare women and children simply because of how he looked. But they didn’t know that underneath that sometimes grim countenance he was shy.
“Thanks,” she said again. She transferred the child to the pillows on the table. He immediately curled up small and put a thumb in his mouth. Preacher stood there, lamely holding the throw. She didn’t take it from him so he put it over the boy and tucked it around him. He noticed the boy’s cheeks were real rosy; his lips bright pink.
When she reclaimed her chair, she looked around. She saw the stag’s head over the front door and flinched. She turned full circle, noting the bear skin on the wall, the sturgeon over the bar. “Is this some kind of hunting place?” she asked.
“Not really, but a lot of hunters and fishermen pass this way,” he said. “My partner shot the bear in self-defense, but he caught the fish on purpose. One of the biggest sturgeons on the river. I got the buck, but I’d rather fish than hunt. I like the quiet.” He shrugged. “I’m the cook here. If I kill it, we eat it.”
“You can eat deer,” she said.
“And we did. We had a great winter of venison. Maybe you should have a drink,” he said, trying to keep his voice soft and nonthreatening.
“I have to find a place to stay. Where am I, anyway?”
“Virgin River. Kind of out of the way. How’d you find us?”
“I...” She shook her head and a small laugh escaped. “I got off the highway, looking for a town with a hotel...”
“You got off the highway a while ago.”

To read more, click here.

Pages: 384
Published: 2007