Apr 072014
 

FortuneCookie Fortune Cookie

Author: Josi S. Kilpack

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Published: March 2014

Softcover/Kindle/Nook/Audio: 356 pages

Genre: Culinary Mystery/Mystery-Suspense

ISBN# 9781609077877

Reviewed by: Shanda

FTC FYI: received a free hardcopy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary (Goodreads)

Sadie Hoffmiller has always liked things to be just so. A place for everything and everything in its place. Order over chaos. And of all things Sadie should be able to control, her own wedding is at the top of the list. With the big day just three weeks away, Sadie is busily adding the perfect final touches to her wedding plans. But the arrival of a mysterious letter that bears a San Francisco postmark and no return address could change everything. The only person Sadie knows in San Francisco is her older sister, Wendy, whom she hasn’t seen or heard from since their mother’s funeral nearly fifteen years ago. Sadie has faced off with murderers and crooks in recent years, yet the potential of her sister reentering her life is both overwhelming and frightening. But, as Sadie soon discovers, the letter is just the beginning. Wendy’s world turns out to be a place of unanswered questions, twisted truths, and more than one motive for murder.

Review

In Fortune Cookie, book eleven in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series, readers join Sadie in San Francisco, her sister’s place of residence for many years. My husband and I honeymooned in San Francisco, so it was great to revisit the city with Sadie and Pete.

Sadie never got along well with her sister. Wendy left home when Sadie was twelve, and other than a handful of interactions, there wasn’t much of a relationship between the two women. It was interesting to get to know more about Sadie, her childhood, and her family. She isn’t the only one struggling with difficult issues though. With only three weeks to the wedding, Pete finds himself facing some situations he didn’t expect as well. My heart was aching for both he and Sadie.

I love that, even after so many books, I feel like I am still getting to know Sadie. Josi’s hard work keeping characters interesting and plots mysterious pays off every time. I really had no clue who was going to be the bad guy until it was revealed, though I had a running list that changed often, sometimes from chapter to chapter. This series is one of the few I’ve read where I haven’t figured out who the villain is well before the big reveal.

What I appreciate even more than an unguessable antagonist are well-written characters. More than just description and dialogue, each character’s interactions, concerns, weaknesses, efforts, and motivations are relatable and believable, even those we only meet briefly in the course of Sadie’s investigation. The reader can’t help but feel the emotion and suspense the story is designed to evoke.

The Sadie Hoffmiller series is one of my absolute favorites. As sad as I am that it is winding down, I’m looking forward to Wedding Cake, the last book in the series due to be released in Fall 2014. There is a cliffhanger chapter from Wedding Cake at the end of Fortune Cookie that’s going to keep me on edge all summer. Thanks a lot, Josi. ;)

Visit Josi:

WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Find Fortune Cookie:

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Fortune Cookie Tour

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 4/30/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Aug 262013
 

Finding-Sheba Finding Sheba

Author: H.B. Moore

Publisher: StoneHouse Ink

Published Date: August 2013

Kindle: 375 pages

Genre: Mystery-Suspense

Reviewed by: Shanda and Mindy

FTC FYI: received a free PDF in exchange for an honest review

Summary

An ancient legend is reborn . . . One that might prove the Bible false.

For centuries, historians have theorized the Queen of Sheba as only a seductive legend, and scholars have debated over the legitimacy of King David or King Solomon. When undercover Israeli agent, Omar Zagouri, stumbles onto a tomb in Northern Jerusalem he unknowingly finds the final clue that threatens to overthrow government claim to the Holy Land, pits wealthy collectors against one another, and sends ruthless archaeologists scrambling to find the queen’s secret burial place. An assassination attempt on the Coptic Pope, His Holiness, Patriarch Stephanus II, is only the first in the chain of lethal crimes. Omar must find a way to prevent the greatest discovery of the century from becoming the most deadly.

Shanda’s Review

Heather (H.B.) Moore is well-known for her ability to write excellent fictional retellings of the lives and events surrounding Book of Mormon prophets who lived thousands of years ago. Recently she has also written contemporary women’s fiction as part of the Newport Ladies Book Club series, as well as a few romance novellas for the A Timeless Romance Anthology collection.

As much as I have enjoyed Heather’s previous books, I think her venture into international intrigue with Finding Sheba is her best work yet. The story moved quickly and kept me turning pages, and, except for a few chapters in the middle where there was a lot of driving around the desert that slowed things down just a bit for me, the pace of the story kept me engaged and wondering what would happen next.

Each of the main characters were well-written, interesting individuals with depth and history. The story is told from four main points-of-view: Omar, Amel, and Jade in the modern-day setting, and Nicaula, the queen of Sheba, in the historical setting. The way Heather weaved Nicaula’s chapters in with current-day events worked great for me.

While there are several characters that play a large role throughout the entire story, the reader is introduced to them one or two at a time, so it isn’t overwhelming. I did get a little lost with some of the travel back and forth to different cities and countries (mainly because I don’t know Middle East geography very well) but I didn’t worry about that so much and just let the story flow.

Finding Sheba is full of intrigue, suspense, love, sacrifice, loss, and history, with a little bit of politics and religion as well. (Biblical, etc. – as pertains to historical events and plot – this isn’t what some consider “LDS fiction.”) There is a small amount of mild language (heck, dang), some violence (hands being cut off as punishment, battles/fights), and some adult themes (references to wedding nights, inferences about violence against a woman prisoner in historical events).

I really enjoyed Finding Sheba, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good international intrigue. I look forward to reading more like this from Heather. Well done!

Mindy’s Review

I may sound like a broken record when it comes to Heather’s books. Every book from her is solid and engrossing. I thought Finding Sheba is one of her very best (and that says a lot, because I have loved every book I have read of hers). This story is so well-crafted. I could tell that this book took some time for the author. The characters and plots are amazing. I loved all the jumping around from character to character that this book does, too. It really kept me on my toes. I love it when a book challenges me and keeps me guessing and I never know what is going to happen next.

5 out of 5 stars. This book has everything for every reader. Action, suspense, romance, and mystery. You will not be disappointed.

 Visit Heather:

WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Find Finding Sheba

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finding-sheba-tour

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Apr 082013
 

Banana-Split.F-199x300 Banana Split (Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery #7)

Author: Josi S. Kilpack

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Published Date: March 2012

Softcover; 372 pages

Genre: Culinary Mystery

ISBN# 978-1-60908-903-0

Reviewed by: Shanda

Summary

Sadie Hoffmiller has survived eighteen months of nonstop adventures filled with murder, deceit, and danger. She could really use some rest—and maybe even some time to heal—relaxing in the tropical paradise of Kaua’i. However, palm trees and sunshine are not as effective a medication as Sadie had hoped. And when she finds herself entangled—literally—with a dead body, she is forced to face the compounding fears and anxieties that are making her life so difficult to live.

Her determination to stay out of danger and to focus on overcoming her anxieties soon takes a backseat when she meets eleven-year-old Charlie, the son of the woman whose body she discovered near Anahola Beach. Charlies has some questions of his own about what happened to his mother, and he is convinced that only Sadie can help him. If only Sadie were as confident in her abilities as Charlie is.

With the help of her best friend and a local social worker, Sadie dives into another mystery with the hope that, at the end, she’ll be able to find the peace and closure that has eluded her.

Review

After the traumatic events during her visit to Boston, Sadie is in dire need of rest and relaxation. She heads to Hawai’i to recuperate, but after a few weeks the anxiety takes over. Sadie spends most of the day locked in a small condo, not even finding pleasure in cooking as she once did.

When she finally ventures out at the insistence of her friends, the Blue Muumuus, what was supposed to be a peaceful snorkeling trip ends in Sadie discovering a body trapped in the water. It’s enough to send her over the edge and into the care of a therapist.

The young son of the woman whose body Sadie found seeks her out with a list of questions about his mother. Sadie decides to learn more and use the experience to help her deal with the memories of the grisly encounter. She puts her investigative skills to use and uncovers details that lead her to think the circumstances surrounding the woman’s death may not be what they first seem.

It was interesting to see Sadie in Hawai’i, alone in a small condo with no family around her. It made me a little sad to see her so affected by what she’d gone through the past several months, and yet it was reassuring and realistic, adding depth to Sadie’s character. The description of her interaction with the woman’s dead body, while far from graphic, was creepy enough to make my skin crawl.

There was great suspense and misdirection. I often figure out the bad guy in other mysteries, but I love how Josi keeps me guessing in every book. I’m never sure of the villain until the end and I’m always surprised by something.

I’m not sure how Josi manages to keep things so fresh in this series, but she has, especially as it has grown into something bigger than I think even she expected. As long as she keeps writing Sadie Hoffmiller books, I will keep reading them. I love this series and recommend it to everyone.

Visit Josi:

WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOOGLE+ | GOODREADS

Find Banana Split:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | DESERET BOOK | SEAGULL BOOK | GOODREADS

***Read Mindy’s review: Banana Split by Josi S. Kilpack***

 

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Jul 302012
 

Murder By the Way

Author: Betsy Brannon Green

Publisher: Covenant Communications

Published Date: June 2012

Paperback; 280 pages

Genre: Mystery-Suspense

ISBN# 978-1-62108-123-4

Reviewed by: Shanda & Sheila

FTC FYI: review copy in exchange for an honest review

Summary

As Kennedy Killingsworth prepares to step into the next phase of her life alongside her soon-to-be husband, Luke, the past reemerges and interrupts with full force. Luke is suddenly called away to testify at a Marine Corps trial and is forced to leave Kennedy soon after they are declared husband and wife. Then an old business associate, Drake Langston, announces he is returning to Midway to finish renovating the town and needs Kennedy’s help to smooth things over with the locals. Kennedy jumps on board to distract herself from Luke’s absence. Little does she know that there will soon be plenty to distract her. After an unexplainable prison van accident leaves a woman dead and three prisoners missing, the town feels rattled and worried. As Kennedy (and her ex-husband, Cade) gets involved in investigating the crash, more and more mysterious events unfold, and if she’s not careful, she could be the next murder by the way.

First Line

“My second wedding day was off to a perfect start.”

Find Murder By the Way:

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Shanda’s Review

I really enjoyed the first two books in this series (Murder By the Book and Murder By Design) so I was excited to receive Murder By the Way for review. The beginning of the story was more “tell” than the rest as Kennedy reviews the events of the last little while, but the writing is good. Once things got going, it didn’t take long for me to find the rhythm of the story.

While Kennedy is an interesting character to me, and I’ve enjoyed seeing a bit of her toughness soften with her love for Luke, it is Luke that is my favorite character. Due to a sudden military trial, their wedding is rushed and Luke must leave to testify immediately after the reception. This means that he is “physically” gone for a large portion of the story, but with phone calls and texts to Kennedy he remains peripherally involved.

Another favorite character is Sloan. He is a former FBI agent, and I liked not knowing if he was a good guy or a bad guy. His actions could lead either way, and it isn’t until the end that the reader learns whether he is good or bad. (I’m not saying!)

One thing I was glad to see was that Cade, Kennedy’s ex-husband, steps up and we get to see the better side of him. He has a hunch and follows through, setting the mystery in motion.

Several of the well-known characters from Betsy’s previous novels are back, as frustrating as ever. And what would a Betsy Brannon Green mystery be without Miss Eugenia?

I enjoyed the story and was happy to be surprised by the twist at the end. It played out differently than I thought it would and I was satisfied with how the story ended. The last few pages of the book are recipes and I can’t wait to try Miss Eugenia’s S’more Cookies. All in all, a great third installment of the Kennedy Killingsworth series.

Sheila’s Review

Murder By the Way is the third book in the Kennedy Killingsworth series. It is just as good as the first two books in the series. I love the inclusion of the familiar and comfortable characters that Betsy Brannon Green’s readers have come to know and love. Some examples are Miss Eugena, Miss Ida Jean, Winston, Mark and Kate. These are characters from The Haggerty Series that I absolutely love!

Once again Betsy’s books are full of mystery, intrigue, humor, and of course a lot of good food that the characters are cooking and eating. Recipes are always included at the end of the book. One that I want to try the most is, Miss Eugenia’s S’More Cookies. In the book she deep fries them, but I think I will bake them the normal way. I also want to try, Miss Iris’s Lemon Chicken, which is a little bit healthier than the cookies.

I really like Kennedy in this book, but I wish that there had been more of her new husband, Luke. He has become one of my favorite characters. There wasn’t as much action as there had been in book two, but there was plenty of “interaction” with the characters. The characters had more opportunities to figure out things mentally this time around. The ending played out almost how I have been figuring it would, but with some added twists and turns. I wasn’t disappointed in the end, and it just made me look forward to the next book in the series. At least I hope that there is more to come. I am adding this book to my list of quick, summer reads. You can read this alone, but I highly suggest that you read book one and two in the series first. I give this book 4 stars.

 

 

 

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Mar 122012
 

Smokescreen

Author: Traci Hunter Abramson

Publisher: Covenant Communications

Published Date: January 2011

Softcover; 249 pages

Genre: Mystery-Supense

ISBN# 978-1-60861-183-6

Reviewed by: Shanda

FTC FYI: reviewed a library copy but will be purchasing my own copy as soon as possible

Summary

From Goodreads:

Taylor Palmetta has spent the past year in Europe building her art career and hiding from Navy SEAL Quinn Lambert, the man who broke her heart. But Taylor can’t seem to hide from trouble. When Taylor seeks safety with her family in Virginia Beach, a series of threats puts her on high alert- and puts Quinn into protective mode.

Despite the private loss that continues to haunt him, Quinn can’t deny his renewed attraction to Taylor. But just as the romance heats up, a plot against the very foundation of the American way of life surfaces, and Taylor’s paintings may hold the key. The Saint Squad is back in action as the team frantically tries to protect their nation’s security-and Taylor and Quinn search for courage to unlock the troubled past.

My Review

Smokescreen is another great book by Traci. I have enjoyed every book in her Saint Squad series, but I especially liked this one. There’s something about Quinn that makes him so easy to love, and I really liked Taylor. She was a great match for Quinn. There was a great amount of suspense and mystery, and the description during the Saint Squad’s mission made it feel more like I was watching a movie than reading a book.

The romance between Quinn and Taylor was paced well and felt very natural. I really liked seeing the previous Saint Squad members and their wives throughout the story. I was (mostly) surprised by the twist near the end and I really loved how it played out. The suspense had me ignoring everyone and everything until I finished the book.

I highly recommend Smokescreen. Well done, Traci!

Buy Smokescreen: AMAZON | DESERET BOOK

 

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Feb 022012
 

Today we welcome Tristi Pinkston, author of several novels including her most recent book, Targets in Ties, book four in the Secret Sisters mystery series. Scroll down for details about the Targets in Ties book launch and the fun prizes Tristi will be giving away.

Please help us welcome Tristi to the LDSWBR blog. Don’t forget to leave a comment!

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Are You a Doer or a Talker?

I am very blessed to be a published author, and even more blessed to have been published multiple times. I really am living the life I’ve always wanted—I get to stay home with my kids, have a career that I love, and write books that people want to read. I truly consider myself so, so blessed.

I’ve had the chance to speak with writers who are looking to make the leap from “prospective author” to “published author.” They ask me questions about my journey, which I’m more than happy to answer, and then I listen to their responses. I hear them say things like, “Oh, you’re so lucky. I wish that would happen to me.” Or they say, “I’ve sent out ten queries this week, so it shouldn’t be too much longer before I have a contract too.” Can you hear the difference in those two responses?

Some writers dream about being published, but they never take serious action. They will sigh wistfully when they hear someone else talk about their contracts or their publisher, and then they bemoan the fact that they’re still seeking. Other writers are proactive. They are constantly working toward improving their craft. They send out the queries. They attend conferences. They network. They make friends in the right places. They do their research and their legwork. And when success comes their way, it’s not because they were lucky—it’s because they had prepared themselves to accept the opportunity when it came.

I have to admit, I get a little frustrated when I listen to people moan about their careers (or lack of careers). I’m going to share a little secret with you—if you keep doing what you’re doing, you will always be where you are. If you want to get somewhere else, you have to do something different. I have experienced for myself the power that comes from sitting down and making a goal sheet, then creating a to-do list off that goal sheet, and then getting down to business. In fact, an excellent program to help you do just that thing is found at http://www.30daypush.com. Don’t talk about what you want to achieve—make a comprehensive plan, and follow through.

If you’re not published yet, but you know the positive steps to take, you will get published. If you are published, but are unhappy with your sales or your situation, take some positive steps, and your situation will improve. Here’s another secret—you are in control of your life. You don’t have to wait for good things to happen to you—you can be the catalyst that makes good things happen to you.

Yes, you will have to be patient. No, success won’t happen overnight. But you will be creating the atmosphere in which success can thrive. You will learn things on your journey that will prepare you for success. Think for a minute about the difference between a person who just has a ton of money handed to them versus the person who has worked hard for their money. Doesn’t the person who worked for it appreciate it more and know how to budget it and take care of it? It’s the same thing with success. When you’ve been in the trenches and have worked your way out of it, it tastes so much sweeter.

Ask yourself one simple question: Am I a doer or a talker? Doers get things done. Doers are strong, powerful, positive—and they inspire others. Talkers usually end up just talking to themselves in a lonely little corner somewhere. Take control of your life. Change the things you can change. Learn different ways to cope with the areas you can’t change. And then you’ll be creating an atmosphere where success is drawn to you.

Tristi Pinkston is the author of nine books and works as a freelance editor and virtual book tour coordinator. You can learn more about her at www.tristipinkston.com, and purchase her latest book, Targets in Ties, at AMAZON.

You are also invited to attend her launch party for Targets in Ties on Thursday, February 2nd, from 5 – 7 pm at Pioneer Book, 858 S. State in Orem, Utah. Click here http://tristipinkston.blogspot.com/2012/01/its-time-for-secret-sisters-fiesta.html for all the details, and to learn about a fun online contest for those who are unable to attend the launch.

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Thank you, Tristi! 

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