Thursday Reviews: Death of a Cad, Special Agent Rylee and Quiche

As you know I’m gobbling up books by M.C. Beaton at the moment. My first review is for the second book in her Hamish MacBeth series, which I enjoyed every bit as much as the first. The third review is for the first book in her Agatha Raisin series. I’m not as crazy about this series-so far-but it is extremely well-written. I listened to it as an audio-book.

Mimi Barbour is a prolific, multi-genre, New Times and USA Today bestseller. I thoroughly enjoyed her latest Rom-Sus, which is the second book I reviewed.

I gave all three books 5 stars on Amazon, Goodreads and Bookbub.

Death of a Cad, by M.C. Beaton


From the author of the Agatha Raisin television series…
DEATH OF A CAD: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery
When Priscilla Halburton-Smythe brings her London playwright fiancé home to Lochdubh, everybody in town is delighted . . . except for love-smitten Constable Hamish Macbeth. Yet his affairs of the heart will have to wait. Vile, boorish Captain Bartlett, one of the guests at Priscilla’s engagement party, has just been found murdered-shot while on a grouse hunt. Now with many titled party guests as the prime suspects, each with a reason for snuffing out the despicable captain, Hamish must smooth ruffled feathers as he investigates the case. When the hidden culprit strikes again, Hamish will find himself trying to save Priscilla from a miserable marriage-and catch a killer before he flies the coop.

My Review – A Cozy Masterpiece

In this second book in the Hamish Macbeth series, we get to know Hamish better. He’s a richly drawn, red-headed, anti-hero with a humble view of the world and his own sense of justice. Who wouldn’t love Hamish? He sends all his money to his family, deeply cares for people, and serves his community. For all of this, he wants no credit. When he helped a boy on a train, I thought my heart would break. Most people would not notice the boy or his abuse, but Hamish sees it and takes care of him.
The other characters in the story are also richly drawn. In as little as one sentence Beaton creates a total image, “Mrs. Halburton-Smythe was a faded blonde woman with quick, timid movements.” She usually writes at least a paragraph to describe each new character, but I was never bored. They are entertaining vignettes on their own.
Beaton also brings the expansive Scottish Highland setting to life. When I’m reading her books I feel as if I’m breathing the damp air and swatting the flies, as I look down on the loch.
The book is a cozy masterpiece, the story of a cad meeting his end. The pace is fast, the story seductive and the writing exemplary. I’m in awe.
I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy cozy mysteries, stories where bad guys get their due and/or the austere Scottish landscape. Link

Special Agent Rylee, by Mimi Barbour


Rylee couldn’t believe her rotten luck…

Being chosen as one of the agents to play bodyguard to a spoiled billionaire while sailing on a Caribbean cruise, depresses her… a lot. The dude – so important to the government that they’re willing to provide the best to protect him – won’t even know they’re in place. The big question – why her? She prefers work that matters, the dirty jobs, on the streets, in the trenches, and her boss knows it. Keeping Mr. Fancy Pants out of the clutches of a worshipping stalker, mercenaries and a man out to seek revenge for an old injustice just annoys her.
Not excited about his pending cruise, before boarding the ship, Jake Andrews sees an enticing woman on the pier and decides it might not be so bad after all. Becoming landlord to two stowaways – one being a tiny kitten – isn’t at all in his plans for this vacation either. His goal is to finish his phone app for the Pentagon, have a good long rest to heal from recent stress and take a break from being threatened, stalked and attacked.
But if he can spend some of the voyage romancing this chick, that might add enough spice to his days… and nights for the trip to prove eventful.
Eventful doesn’t even come close…

My Review

I love this story. It has everything I look for in an entertaining read: fast-paced suspense, an exotic locale, interesting characters, unexpected plot twists, and love. It’s masterfully written. I highly recommend it for readers who enjoy a good suspense story with a satisfying love story. Link

The Quiche of a Death, by M.C. Beaton


The first book in M. C. Beaton’s beloved Agatha Raisin mystery series—now a hit show on Acorn TV and public television.

Putting all her eggs in one basket, Agatha Raisin gives up her successful PR firm, sells her London flat, and samples a taste of early retirement in the quiet village of Carsely. Bored, lonely and used to getting her way, she enters a local baking contest: Surely a blue ribbon for the best quiche will make her the toast of the town. But her recipe for social advancement sours when Judge Cummings-Browne not only snubs her entry—but falls over dead! After her quiche’s secret ingredient turns out to be poison, she must reveal the unsavory truth…

Agatha has never baked a thing in her life! In fact, she bought her entry ready-made from an upper crust London quicherie. Grating on the nerves of several Carsely residents, she is soon receiving sinister notes. Has her cheating and meddling landed her in hot water, or are the threats related to the suspicious death? It may mean the difference between egg on her face and a coroner’s tag on her toe…

My Review

I love this book. Agatha is truly original and yet I found myself relating to her. It takes a great writer to create such a character. All the characters were wonderfully detailed and the plot was intriguing. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy cozy mysteries.

Thursday Reviews – Death of a Gossip and Act of Survival

Death of a Gossip, by M.C. Beaton

I have a new favorite author. I fell in love with the character Hamish Macbeth on Apple Prime TV, so I downloaded M.C. Beaton’s first book in the Hamish Macbeth series, Death of a Gossip, and was knocked off my chair with her writing. Below is my review, which I’ve posted with 5 stars on Amazon, Goodreads, and Bookbub:


Travel to the Scotland Highlands with this classic Hamish Macbeth cozy mystery where an unladylike gossip columnist meets an untimely and watery death. From the author of the Agatha Raisin series.
When society widow and gossip columnist Lady Jane Winters joined the fishing class, she wasted no time in ruffling the feathers–or was it the fins?–of those around her. Among the victims of her sharp tongue and unladylike manner was Lochdubh Constable Hamish Macbeth. Yet not even Hamish thought someone would permanently silence Lady Jane’s shrills–until her strangled body is fished out of the river.
Now with the help of the lovely Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, Hamish must angle through the choppy waters of the tattler’s life to find the murderer. But with a school of suspects who aren’t ready to talk and dead women telling no tales, Hamish may be in over his head, for he knows that secrets are dangerous, knowledge is power, and killers usually do strike again.

My Review

Phenomenal Writing

I loved this book. Beaton is a master storyteller. Her characters jump off the page and her wit kept me smiling page after page. I finished it in one afternoon because I couldn’t stop reading it. I recommend this book for people who like cozy mysteries, the Scottish highlands or dead gossips. Link

Act of Survival, by Marsha R. West

I met Marsha R. West online eight years ago. We were excited new writers in the Romantic Suspense genre. This is her latest book. I gave it 5 stars on Amazon, Bookbub, and Goodreads.

Book Description

Encouraged by her friends to protect herself, Kim Mason Dennison is determined to divorce her abusive husband. Cooper Wray, an attorney, assures Kim that her husband, Hunter, can’t keep the proceedings from moving forward because Texas is a no-fault divorce state. But why is Hunter doing everything he can to stop the divorce? And will that even include murder?   

Here is my review.

Filled with Suspense

I loved Marsha R. West’s latest romantic suspense, Act of Survival. It’s a second chance story about an abused woman leaving her husband steeped in suspense and intrigue. I highly recommend it for readers who like suspenseful tales. Link


Thursday Review – Plantation Shudders

ellenI love Ellen Byron cozies. They take me away to the charm of the American South and immerse me in a mystery that keeps me turning the pages as fast as I can to find out whodunit. Her characters are richly drawn. In this story, I particularly enjoyed Gran. My dream is to one day be as gracious, kind, wise and wiley as this grand dame. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy cozy mysteries.

I gave it 5 stars. Link

Body on the Bayou – Thursday Review

body on bayouThe Perfect Cozy

Ellen Byron’s Body on the Bayou is a masterpiece of mystery and romance set in the South. It left me with a big fat smile on my face. Not only did I not figure out the murderer, but I was also shocked by a plot twist at the end. Byron’s characters are richly drawn, the setting, pun intended, is to die for. A gentle sense of humor permeates the story keeping the tone light, but at the same time, the characters make insightful comments.

My favorite lines:

  • “That woman is the worst kind of Glossie,” Gran’ declared, using an acronym she’d invented that stood for ‘gracious ladies of the South.’ “She’s a … a … Flossie—a fake lady of the South.” (Chapter 4)
  • “Little Earlie might be as annoying as a tick on a dog, but he was still part of her community …” (Chapter 17
  • “The landscape was littered with potential emotional landmines.” (Chapter 19)
  • “I’m trying to find the words that could tell you how much this means to me. But I don’t think they exist.”

And this is my very favorite:

  • “Magnolia Marie died at age 101 in 1941, knowing that she’d helped Doucet and its employees survive three wars and the Great Depression. If Magnolia Marie could triumph over such great losses and traumas, Maggie could certainly power through the lesser obstacles that currently challenged her. “That,” Maggie told the teen, is the woman I was named after.” (Chapter 23)

I’m going to download more of Ellen Byron’s books, and I highly recommend this book to readers who love cozy mysteries.


The Night House – Thursday Review

the night house

A mysterious blue wave of magic rolls across the earth killing almost everyone. With well-honed fighting skills and survival instincts, Taya stays alive. She learns that warriors have come from another dimension to reap the world of its resources. They are called Arkavians. She calls them,  “ … a civilization of good-looking locusts.”

Thane, a member of the royalty in Arkavia, is attracted to Taya’s Arkavian-like features, integrity, and personal power.  Using a non-permanent, magical bond he ensures her service for a year as his bodyguard

On the first day of the invasion she promised herself that she would avenge the death of her friends, but as she spends time with Thane her feelings become complicated. “Guilt stabbed at her chest. Guilt for surviving. Guilt for living among the enemy and not trying to slit their necks at every opportunity. Guilt for actually liking the men on Thane’s team and guilt for … guilt for Thane.”

Taya struggles with her feelings as she helps Thane uncover layers of betrayal in his elite society and the true history of the portal connecting their realms.

This book is truly a flashlight-worthy read. J.C. McKenzie pulled me into the story on the first page and never let me go. There’s lots of plot, lots of action and hot romance coiled with emotion. Taya is easy to relate to and Thane is a memorable hero with a heart of gold and a body of steel. While the fight scenes are detailed and emotion-driven, McKenzie’s trademark humor lightens the darkness to create a well-balanced tone of adventure, love, and fantasy.

I highly recommend this book for readers who enjoy post-apocalyptic stories, or paranormal romance.

I gave this book 5 stars on Amazon. link




Thursday Review: Killing it on Kobo

51buyukczulMy Review


Over six years, the author, Mark Leslie Levebvre built Kobo Writing Life from the ground up. Killing it on Kobo is a must-read for any independent publisher. Mark Leslie Levebvre details the ins-and-outs of the Rakuten Kobo business, it’s culture and its reach into the world of books. It’s written in a clear conversational tone that makes it fascinating and easy to read.

I highly recommend it, and gave it a 5-star rating on, Bookbub and Goodreads.

My Interview with Christine Munroe at Kobo

put in video clip

Christine Munroe, the director of Kobo Writing Life at Rakuten Kobo chatted with me on my podcast Blood, Sweat, and Words. You can hear her full interview here.

My Notes

I took eight pages of notes, but here are the highlights I think might interest you.

  • Over six years, the author, Mark Leslie Levebvre built Kobo Writing Life from the ground up and recently moved on to work at Draft 2 Digital
  • the name Kobo is an anagram for the word book.
  • Kobo was born in Canada out of the country’s largest book retailer, Indigo Books and Music, which is similar to Barnes and Noble in the U.S.
  • in 2012 the Japanese company Rakuten took over, changing it from a start-up to a major company in its own right with a vastly larger reach
  • Kobo is the number one digital bookseller in France, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. It has a strong foothold in Canada
  • differs from Amazon in two important ways: 1. It sells only books. 2. It works on a collaborative business model. Rather than trying to dominate the book market in countries it seeks to work with the brick and mortar stores
  • “…if you are looking to expand your swales to other countries and to gain a readership in other global territories, and, perhaps most importantly, not be dependent upon a single retailer for the majority of your writing income (also known as ‘publishing wide’) leveraging Kobo should be among the strategies you employ.”
  • three huge advantages: Kobo Plus (a reader subscription service), Overdrive (a library connection) and their Promotion Tab
  • on Kobo every pre-order sale has twice the effect on ranking as a regular sale. There are ways to optimize your pre-orders
  • the Kobo team prides itself in its culture of collaboration. They go out of their way to help authors get their books to readers. They respond to all help inquiries quickly and thoroughly.
  • They link to Findaway Voices for audio
  • They have their own weekly podcast called Kobo Life.

Thursday Reviews: One Book in the Grave & Hollywood Homicide

One Book in the Grave, by Kate Carlisle

51w3wvqvdll._sy346_One Book in the Grave is the first book in Kate Carlisle’s cozy, Bibliophile Mystery series.  It opens with the line, “Hello. My name is Brooklyn Wainwright and I am a book addict.” Being a bit of a book addict myself, Carlisle won me over immediately. There are lots of fascinating bookmaking details in this story and I like it when I get to learn something new when I’m reading a mystery. Filled with endearing, quirky characters the cozy made me smile a lot.

The plot is truly intriguing and the men are sexy, but I found myself slowing down in the middle. The banter between the characters became predictable and tiring. I give it four stars and I’m posting my review on Amazon, Bookbub, and Goodreads.

I recommend this book for younger cozy mystery lovers.


Hollywood Homicide, by Kellye Garrett

51t10xrtstlHollywood Homicide, the first book in the Detective by Day series, won the Lefty in 2018 (i.e., an award was given at the Left Coast Crime Conference) and the second book in the series is nominated for a Lefty in 2019, so I had to read one for myself.

I quickly learned that Hollywood Homicide also won the 2018 Anthony award and the 2017 Agatha award for the best first novel.

I was impressed. Filled with quick-witted one-liners and humorous situations Hollywood Homicide made me smile a lot. Consider this line, “Hollywood is high school with prettier clothes and better lunch options.”

The story opens with the down-and-out heroine, Dayna Anderson, applying for a job as a half-naked barista. She has three one-dollar bills left to her name, her father is losing the family home, and her once lucrative job as an actress is over. That’s when she sees a fifteen thousand dollar reward posted for information about a deadly hit and run accident, which she almost witnessed.

While I enjoyed the humor, I found the banter repetitive and predictable, I think, to be fair to the writer it’s aimed at a younger audience. I give it 4 stars and I’m posting my review on Amazon, Bookbub, and Goodreads.

As always, click the covers for a buy link.