Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Pack of Blood and Lies by Olivia Wildenstein

The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr




The Poppy Field

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Young nurse, Gemma, is struggling with the traumas she has witnessed through her job in the NHS. 

Needing to escape from it all, Gemma agrees to help renovate a rundown farmhouse in Doullens, France, a town near the Somme. There, in a boarded-up cupboard, wrapped in old newspapers, is a tin that reveals the secret letters and heartache of Alice Le Breton, a young volunteer nurse who worked in a casualty clearing station near the front line.
Set in the present day and during the horrifying years of the war, both woman discover deep down the strength and courage to carry on in even the most difficult of times. Through Alice’s words and her unfailing love for her sweetheart at the front, Gemma learns to truly live again.
This is a beautifully written epic historical novel that will take your breath away.







Author Bio – Deborah Carr lives on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands with her husband, two children and three rescue dogs. She became interested in books set in WW1 when researching her great-grandfather's time as a cavalryman in the 17th 21st Lancers.
She is part of ‘The Blonde Plotters’ writing group and was Deputy Editor on the online review site, Novelicious.com for seven years. Her debut historical romance, Broken Faces, is set in WW1 and was runner-up in the 2012 Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition and given a 'special commendation' in the Harry Bowling Prize that year. The Poppy Field is her second historical novel.
Social Media Links –



@rararesources



Monday, October 15, 2018

Murder by Perfection by Lauren Carr




Audiobook Details:

Book Title: Murder by Perfection by Lauren Carr
Series: Thorny Rose Mystery Series (Volume 3)
Genre: Murder Mystery
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Release date: Aug 28, 2018
Narrator: Mike Alger
Length: 8 hours, 32 minutes, unabridged
Tour dates: Oct 8 to Nov 2, 2018
Content Rating: PG (mild violence and sexual suggestion)

Book Description:

Perfection can be a fatal endeavor.

Frustrated with their busy schedules, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday attempt to find togetherness by scheduling a weekly date night. The last thing Jessica Faraday expected for her date night was to take a couple’s gourmet cooking course at the Stepford Kitchen Studio, owned by Chef Natalie Stepford―the model of perfection in looks, home, and business.

When Natalie ends up dead and Murphy goes missing, the Thorny Rose detectives must peel back the layers of Natalie Stepford’s life to discover that the pursuit of perfection can be deadly.

To read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr's page on iRead Book Tours.


Buy the Book:

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How Long Is Too Long? Does Word Count Really Matter?
By Lauren Carr

Back in the days of the giant lizard (aka dinosaur), I wrote my first book, which I call The Great American Catastrophe. This was back before the delete button was invented and traffic on the expressway during morning rush hour was often held up by a T-Rex chowing down on a Volkswagon on the on-ramp.
The Great American Catastrophe was over about 1200 pages long. Don’t ask me about the word count. Bill Gates, who was in puberty at the time, hadn’t invented that function in MS Word yet.
However, I can tell you the word count for Murder by Perfection, the latest installment in the Thorny Rose Mysteries, which was released on May 30. It has a word count of 80,762 words. That is a fraction of the length of The Great American Catastrophe, which is currently locked away in the back corner of a closet in my studio.
My writing has definitely tightened up over the decades. By tighter, that means my writing is leaner. (This is not my assessment, but that of reviewers who have praised my mysteries for being quick, fast paced reads.) Extemporaneous scenes or facts that add nothing to the mystery are left out, nor is there an overabundance of adjectives and adverbs. Part of that can be attributed to my laziness. I have better things to do than sit at the laptop trying to think of a creative way of describing a tree. (It’s tall, made of wood, and has green things hanging from the branches.)
But just because I don’t like to sweat bullets coming up with flowery ways of describing nature, does that mean description is bad? Has the Charles Dickens’ style of writing gone to the wayside with readers’ longer attention spans? Is there still a place in literature for sweeping epics like Moby Dick and Gone With the Wind.
Good question.
As an author who has mentored new writers, occasionally, this question will find its way to the forefront. At practically every book event, I will get asked about word or page count. “What word count should my book be?” “How many pages are too many for my sci-fi?”
When I started writing, I didn’t ask that question. My belief was that my book will be as long as it needs to be. Not all stories can be fit into a box dictating a specific size.
My first published book, A Small Case of Murder, was 134,000 words. It did well. However, when my next book, A Reunion to Die For (121,000 words) was picked up by Five Star Mystery, I was told to trim it down. With the removal of a subplot, it came in at 112,000 words. At a mystery writers’ conference, I was perplexed by comments from other authors about how thick my book was. I didn’t think it was that big of a book.
Compared to Murder by Perfection, A Reunion to Die For and A Small Case of Murder are epic novels.
I have found it surprising to discover that my mysteries, stretching across four series, have been enjoying great success in sales and reviews, while other authors I know, who have thicker books with large word counts, are having difficulty in even getting reviewers to take them on, even though their books are great literary pieces. For some time, I have concluded that the issue was a common problem with new authors. Reviewers didn’t want to risk investing the time on new authors with big books that would require more time to read and write a review.  
Then, one Christmas, I released a mini-anthology, A Gnarly Christmas and was shocked when this twenty-seven page short story (without any marketing to speak of) began to outsell my full books. This summer I published an anthology of my mystery shorts that has been resting comfortably among the top one hundred among mystery anthologies on Amazon for the last three months.
While a host of explanations for the volume of sales could be offered from fans of my books snapping up the short stories to fans gravitating toward the dog on the cover, I can’t help but wonder if readers are clamoring for a quick read.
Think about it: How many of us, even those of us who are readers, have the time to commit to a four-to-five hundred page book? Sociologists have been reporting for years about how busy our lives are compared to our parents. With only sporadic portions of time to sit down to our e-reader, most people may prefer books that they can quickly devour over the few hours they may have to read over the course of a week rather than invest weeks in a longer piece.
Publishers have been trimming back the word count for years. It used to be anything goes, and then it was down to 120,000 then to 100,000, until it was 80,000, and so on. Their explanation: Readers want shorter books.
Another explanation: Longer books make for more publishing material, which makes for higher production costs, which makes for more expensive books for which readers don’t want to pay when it comes to new authors.
E-books took that explanation out of the equation. They don’t require paper and ink. Therefore, an author can make their book as long as necessary to tell a great story without any consideration for production cost.
Based on the surprising success of my short stories, I have come to suspect that there is truth in publishers’ assertion that most readers are seeking quick reads over long reads.
Is the market for longer books reducing?
A few years ago, I asked that question to a fiction writing class I was teaching, I was almost lynched by this roomful of avid readers. Those wanting longer books were offended by the very question. So I can say, yes, there are readers for longer books.
But then, why are authors of longer books, great longer books, having difficulty achieving good sales?
Well, while there are avid readers crying out for big fat books, there are other readers who will confess that they do gravitate toward shorter books.
Does word count really matter? Answer: Yes and No.
With the revolution in publishing, and authors taking the power back for their creative literary success, we no longer answer to publishers dictating the word count to us. We can make our books as long as they need to be to tell our story and still get it out there to the readers.
HOWEVER, if we want our books to be successful in sales, we need to keep in mind that while there are readers who love big fat books, there are also a large number of readers who don’t want to commit to a big read—especially for an unknown, unproven author. They only want something to read on the train into work or at night before they go to bed, or while their child is practicing fencing, or they have a short attention span. Whatever the reason, there are many readers who won’t buy or commit to large books.
That being the case, if your book has a large word count, this segment of readers won’t be buying your book.
Another way to look at it:
Authors of quick reads can attract readers from both pools. Thus, these authors can enjoy a wider audience.
Authors of longer books do lose that portion of the reading audience who run screaming like little girls at word counts above 100,000. However, while these authors may not rake in as much in sales, that does not mean that they cannot be successful.
It depends on your definition of success.
If success is measured by how many books you have sold, then you want to keep your word count down.
If your definition of success is measured by the praise of a smaller audience for having created a great literary piece that will stand the test of time, then word count is an irrelevant issue. Take heart. Everyone loves a good cheeseburger, but it takes an educated palate to enjoy the fine taste of caviar. Point in fact: Moby Dick was discovered decades after Herman Melville died penniless.
Conclusion: Does word count matter? The answer is up to each individual author.

I love the way Lauren Carr thinks and writes. Reading her books is always a joy and an adventure. LISTENING to one takes the experience up a notch. Mike Alger narrates this series to perfection. From the voice of the "smart house" to the attitudes of the dogs to each of the many individual characters, this book is amazing to listen to.
The plot, as always, will take you through a range of emotions. As often as you are on the edge of your seat, you will find reasons to smile. Sensuous and dangerous, Carr writes characters that are well developed and individual. Male readers/listeners will be as intrigued by the characterizations as the dangerous intrigue.
This is a mystery you have to pay attention to as the details are masterfully encased in the narrative.
A range of controversial elements fit perfectly into the plot.

Meet the Author:



Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement retirees to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram


Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Nov 10, 2018


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DESIGNED FOR HAUNTING


Designed for Haunting (Aurora Anderson Mystery) by Sybil Johnson

 

About the Book

                                  

Designed for Haunting (Aurora Anderson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 4th in Series
Henery Press (October 9, 2018)
Hardcover: 276 pages
ISBN-10: 1635114055
ISBN-13: 978-1635114058
Paperback: 276 pages
ISBN-10: 1635114020
ISBN-13: 978-1635114027
Digital ASIN: B07FSYFM8Q

October brings a message from Beyond The Grave...
Halloween is fast approaching in the quiet Los Angeles County city of Vista Beach, home of computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Rory Anderson. While her painting chapter prepares to open its annual boutique house, Rory receives an unexpected email from Beyond The Grave, a company that automatically sends out messages when someone dies.
“I think I have a stalker,” the message reads. “If you’re reading this I’m either missing or dead. My life may depend on what you do. Please find out what happened to me.”
Haunted by her friend’s disappearance and possible death, Rory begins her search with the help of best friend and fellow painter, Liz Dexter. Can they discover who has designs on the missing woman and uncover the truth before one of them becomes the stalker’s next victim?


 A mysterious email causes alarm when it appears that a former child actress is missing or dead. Rory doesn't know why she received this email but ends up in the middle of another murder investigation after a body washes up almost at her feet.
A group of women is trying to raise money for a charitable cause with a Halloween themed benefit and escape room. Will it lend clues to the missing and murdered woman as well?
Meanwhile, someone is playing pranks on the town and they are increasing in their destructiveness. 
Getting involved in another investigation is not earning Rory any points with her dashing detective, either. 

So much is happening and somehow it all seems to be connected. Can Rory, with help of best friend, Liz figure it out before Halloween and before someone else is killed?

A complicated entangled mystery that will keep your interest all the way through.

About the Author


Sybil Johnson’s love affair with reading began in kindergarten with “The Three Little Pigs.”
Visits to the library introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and a host of other characters. Fast forward to college where she continued reading while studying Computer Science.
 After a rewarding career in the computer industry, Sybil decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E and Spinetingler Magazine, among others.
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Southern California where she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages and spending time with friends and family.

Author Links

Website: www.authorsybiljohnson.com
Facebook Author page: www.facebook.com/sybiljohnsonauthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/sybiljohnson19
GoodReads: www.goodreads.com/SybilJohnson
Publisher: http://henerypress.com/paint-the-town-dead/
Purchase Links Amazon B&N KOBO BookBub

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Friday, October 12, 2018

To Whatever End by Lyndsey Frydman

Traitorous Toys




The Cozy Corgy Series by Mildred Abbott



Title: CRUEL CANDY (Book 1)
Author: Mildred Abbott
Publisher: Wings of Ink Publications LLC
Pages: 282
Genre: Cozy Mystery

BLURB:
Estes Park, Colorado: picturesque mountains, charming shops, delightful bakeries, a cozy bookstore… and murder.

Winifred Page and her corgi, Watson, move to Estes Park to hit the Reset button on life. Fred is about to open her dream bookshop, and the only challenges she anticipates are adjusting to small-town life, tourists, and living close to her loveable mother, Phyllis, and hippy stepfather, Barry.

When Fred steps into her soon-to-be-bookshop for the first time, she expects dust bunnies and spiders… not the dead body in the upstairs kitchen. The local police have an easy suspect—Barry.
Determined to prove quirky Barry innocent of murder, Fred puts on her detective hat, and with Watson by her side, she explores her new town and gets acquainted with her fellow shopkeepers. Could one of her friendly neighbors be the real culprit? And what would be the motive for killing the owner of the Sinful Bites candy store? The secrets Fred discover put her at odds with the local police sergeant and threaten her cozy future in Estes.

With snow falling outside, all Fred wants to do is curl up by the fire with a good book and Watson snuggled at her feet. But before she can begin her new life and put her plans for her bookshop into action, Fred and Watson have a mystery to solve…

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon


One

“Oh, Watson, what have I gotten us into?” I stared at the shop through the safety of my car window. It was smaller than I remembered. I leaned forward, bumping my forehead on the glass. Fairly tall, though, at least two storeys. With the dark-stained log siding and forest-green trim and shutters, it looked like a log cabin had been sandwiched between the other stores of Estes Park.
And it was mine.
The thought ushered in a wave of excitement. A tingle of nausea too, but more excitement than anything. At least that was what I told myself.
The death grip I had on the steering wheel of my Mini Cooper said otherwise. I tore my gaze away and turned a forced smile toward the passenger seat. I needed to be brave for Watson.
He arched a brow lazily at me, not bothering to lift his head from his curled-up position. Managing to pull one of my hands free from the steering wheel, I slipped the car into Park, then scratched behind his pointed fox-like ears.
“We’re here. It’s been a long day, and you’ve been a great copilot.” A grumpy copilot, but that was normal for Watson. A quality that probably wouldn’t be as endearing if he wasn’t so stinking cute. “I’d say you deserve a treat. What do you think?”
At what was unquestionably his favorite word, Watson bounded to a standing position and began bouncing on his two front legs. His stubby corgi legs didn’t make him that much taller, though the bouncing helped.
“And this is why we work, you and me. Food is king, behind books, of course.” I snagged a dog bone out of the glove compartment, started to request for Watson to sit first—demands never worked—then decided it wasn’t worth the effort, and held it out to him. Despite his voracious appetite, which even a shark would envy, Watson avoided removing my fingers and made short work of the snack.
After a couple of minutes, Watson cocked that judgmental brow of his once more. His thoughts were clear: The prolonged staring is creepy, lady. But I’ll forgive you for another treat.
He had a point. I was putting off the inevitable. Which was silly. I was excited, happy. Time to launch into an adventure.
I turned toward the shop again, took a breath, and opened the car door. Here goes nothing.
My knees popped as I stepped onto the sidewalk, and I sucked in a breath at the tweak in my back. I supposed a drive halfway across the country was a reasonable excuse, even if I was still two years away from forty. I glanced back at Watson, who had curled back into a ball. “Seriously? The ten-hour nap wasn’t enough?”
After a few more seconds of glaring, Watson acquiesced, stood, and stretched. He raised his knobbed-tail of a butt in the air, just letting me know he was still in charge, and then leisurely crossed the console and hopped out beside me.
“Thanks for joining me, your highness.” I shut the car door and looked up at the shop. It seemed a little larger once I stood in front of it. It would be charming. My gaze flicked to the sign above the door that read Heads and Tails. Would being the operative word. Who knew what horrors lay behind the papered-over windows. I’d never envisioned a behind-the-scenes look at a taxidermy business, but it seemed I hadn’t been aware of a lot about my future. Well, whatever. If it was too horrible, I’d just pay one of those junk companies to come in and haul everything away.
That thought brought a sense of relief, but then another swept it away. I was thinking like a city girl. I doubted a town the size of Estes Park had a junk-removal business.
And again, I decided, whatever.
I had a feeling I was going to be saying that a lot.
Movement caught my eye from the store window to the left of my shop. Before I could make out a figure, I was captured by the crimson script over the glass, Sinful Bites.
Perfect. Some fortification would be needed in the very likely chance I was getting ready to walk into a store filled with petrified dead animals. I veered off to the left, giving a quick pat to my thigh. “Come on, Watson. Mama deserves a—” I almost said treat. “—reward too.”
A pleasant chime sounded as I opened the door to Sinful Bites and allowed Watson to waddle through. I cast a quick glance around. The store was done in my favorite colors—the walls, cabinets, and displays all in various shades of rich earth tones. It felt homey, comfortable. Exactly what I would be going for when I redid the god-awful taxidermy shop. That boded well for my relationship with my neighbor.
A woman with short, spiraling brunette hair looked up in surprise from behind the cash register. Her brown gaze glanced at me in confusion, then moved to the front door, and back.
I offered a hesitant smile, feeling like I’d messed up somehow. “Everything okay?”
“Yes!” The woman smiled back, wide and bright. “I’m so sorry. We just closed. I could’ve sworn I locked the door,” she said, her tone apologetic.
“Oh. Well, I can come back another time.” Despite myself, I couldn’t keep my gaze from traveling over the gleaming cases filled with candy.
“Not at all! My fault for not locking the door, and I haven’t started putting things away yet, so I insist.” Another smile.
“Thank you. I promise I’ll be quick.” I moved closer to the cases, unsure if I would be able to keep that promise. Though slightly picked over, the display was magnificent. Gleaming fruit tarts in golden brown crusts, hand-size brownies filled with nuts, caramel, and chunks of candy. Fudge of every flavor, truffles of various shapes and colors, and chocolate. So much chocolate that I was suddenly aware I’d smelled it since I walked in the door. No wonder I felt at home. Chocolates done in nearly every imaginable way—almond bark and turtles, covering pretzels, marzipan and nougat.
Heaven, I decided. I’d died and gone to heaven. I managed to tear my gaze away from the smorgasbord of delights and look at the woman. “I think I’m in love.”
The woman chuckled good-naturedly and held out her hand. “I’m Katie. Always nice to meet someone who appreciates dessert more than cardio.”
I stiffened for a heartbeat, wondering if I should be insulted. But at the twinkling of Katie’s eyes, I couldn’t help but laugh. I felt an instant kinship with the woman. “Yes, I’ll take dessert any day over fitting into a size eight. Though my real weakness is carbs, not candy. Give me a hot loaf of fresh bread and I can die a happy woman.” I took Katie’s hand.
“Me too, actually. I might work in a candy shop, but bread is what I do best.”
“Then I am definitely glad to meet you, Katie.” I released her grip and gestured down to Watson, who stared up at me, salivating. “My little corgi friend is Watson, and I’m—”
“I’m telling you, Lois, if you would just use actual sugar in your baking instead of all the stupid substitutions—” Two elderly women walked through the back door of the shop, cutting me off. They both halted at the sight of Watson and me. The blonde cast a quick glare at Katie. “I thought we closed.”
Katie flushed. “I apparently didn’t lock the door. Sorry. But I believe—” It seemed she was searching for my name. “—our friend here is in need of some chocolate.”
The blonde looked at me and cast another glare down at Watson, but by the time she met my gaze once more, her smile was wide, even if it didn’t reach her eyes. “Well, of course! You’ve come to the right place. Sinful Bites has the best chocolate in town.”
The other woman’s eyes narrowed, but she didn’t say anything.
Katie cleared her throat, cutting the brief tension that had filled the place. “Do you know what you’d like? If you’re not sure, I can get you a sample.”
Getting-to-know-you time was most definitely over. Which was doubly sad, as at any other time I would’ve taken Katie up on the offer of samples. Under the inspection of the blonde, however, I didn’t dare. “You know, I just drove into town, and I really should get home. Why don’t you give me an assortment of the ones you like best.” Chances were high such a thing would end up being more expensive than I’d intended to spend on candy, but since I was going to be neighbors with the shop, it was clear I needed to put my best foot forward as quickly as possible.
“Home?” The third woman finally spoke. “Do you live here? You must be new in town. I don’t think I’ve seen you around.”
“I just moved in. Quite literally, in fact.” I smiled at the woman, who seemed nicer than the blonde. “I’ve visited several times. I have family who live here.” I nodded at Katie as I spoke, trying to include her again and continue the introductions. “I’m Fred, and this is Watson. We just made the long drive from Kansas City to Colorado. This was our first stop in town.”
The woman gave a chuckle. “Fred? I don’t believe I’ve ever met a woman named Fred.” She gestured to herself and the blonde. “I’m Lois Garble, and this is my sister, Opal. Opal owns this candy shop, and I own the one two doors down, Healthy Delights.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you both.” Sisters? The two women definitely didn’t look like sisters. Although, now that I thought about it, they had the same features. It was only everything else that was different. Lois had naturally graying hair, a clean and wrinkled face, and she wore a plain cotton dress. Opal had dyed, highly stylized blonde hair, copious amounts of makeup, a brightly colored dress, and tons of jewelry. “My true name is Winifred Page, but everyone calls me Fred.”
“Well, I think that is simply adorable. And it suits you.” Lois shrugged playfully. “Like I said, I’ve never met a woman named Fred, but if I could imagine one, she’d have beautiful auburn hair just like yours. I’ve always thought Opal would look ravishing in that color.” She cast a sidelong glance toward her sister’s coiffed blonde hairdo.
Opal didn’t comment about becoming a redhead. “Page? Your last name is Page, and you have family in town? I don’t remember a family with that name.”
I nodded, though for some reason I was tempted to lie. “Yes. My mother grew up here. Phyllis Oswald, though now she’s Phyllis Adams.”
Both Katie and Lois seemed to take a step back, but Opal didn’t budge, instead folding her arms over her ample bosom. Any semblance of welcome or friendliness vanished, not that there’d been much from Opal. “I thought I’d heard your name before.” If looks could kill. “So that means you’re the one taking over Sid’s taxidermy shop.”
Again, lying seemed the intelligent thing to do. “Yes. Though I won’t be doing taxidermy. I’m going to be changing it to a bookshop. It’s going to be called the Cozy—”
“I’m sorry, but we’re closed.” Opal sniffed, nostrils flared. “And for future reference, I don’t allow dogs in my business.”
I halted, unsure what to say. One of the things I’d always liked about the town was Estes Park’s dog-friendly nature. I started to glance at Katie and then thought better of it. The last thing I wanted to do was get the shopgirl in trouble. I gestured back toward the door. “Sorry for….” What was I sorry for exactly? “Watson and I will just be going.”
Lois gave a loud good-natured laugh and swatted playfully at Opal, which Opal avoided with a glare. “Please forgive my sister. It’s her intake of sugar and butter and things the good Lord never intended us to eat. It makes her cranky.” She managed to deliver the line with a cheerful air, making it sound more like an endearing quality than an insult. Lois headed around the counter and slipped a birdlike arm through mine. “You come with me. I’ll get you some sweets that are natural and nourishing, and I have homemade dog-bone biscuits.” She looked down at Watson, then back at me. “I didn’t notice. How adorable. He’s a redhead like you.” Without waiting for a response, she looked back down once more. “What do you say… Watson, was it? Do you want a treat?”
Watson bounced on his two front paws again at the word, causing Lois to chuckle. The only thing I really wanted to do at that point was get away, but Watson’s reaction settled it. Plus, how could I deny the woman without seeming rude?
I allowed myself to be led toward the front door and cast a glance back, offering a quick smile to Katie and a final apologetic grimace to Opal.
Lois led me out of the shop, around the front of Heads and Tails, then pulled out her keys to usher me into Healthy Delights. “Sorry, I already shut the place down, but I’ll get you an assortment of things from the back. Give me one second, dear.” She flicked on the lights and then headed through the back door to disappear with a small wave.
The tingle of nausea rose again. My shop sat directly between these two sisters. Lois seemed sweet enough, but Lord knew what I was getting myself into with these two. Pushing the thought away, I spared a glance at Lois’s store. It was the exact same layout as Opal’s, just flipped, but the similarities stopped there. Where Opal’s candy shop felt cozy, warm, and friendly—despite the woman herself—Lois’s was done in a garish combination of pastel colors, sickeningly sweet pinks, and yellows. My stomach gurgled.
Watson didn’t seem to notice. He chuffed and looked up at me.
“Your treat is coming. Calm down.” I shook my finger at him. “And I blame you for pulling me into this.”
He chuffed again, and this time bounded so his paws landed on my foot, clearly telling me to shut up and get on with the treat giving.
“You’re ridiculous.” As if watching a car crash, I looked back at the shop. It didn’t make any sense at all. How could the sister who owned the cozy and delicious-smelling candy shop be so irritable, while the one who designed the monstrosity that looked like Easter on speed was the kind one?
Before the color palette had a chance to permanently scar my corneas, Lois returned with a large brown bag in one hand and a massive dog bone in the other. “I’m sorry I have to rush. I’d love to get to know you and your precious pup, but Opal and I have dinner plans, and I don’t want to keep her waiting.” She thrust the bag into my grip. “For future reference, I make everything Opal does, just a healthy, all-natural version. It’s fun to mix and match.”
I forced a smile. I hadn’t been able to identify what smell seemed to linger in the air, but it wasn’t pleasant. If the desserts were edible, I’d be shocked. “Thank you. I appreciate your kindness. I’m sorry if I did anything to offend—”
Lois waved me off, whipping the dog bone in the air, a large crumb flying across the room. In a rare show of speed, Watson zoomed away in pursuit. Lois didn’t seem to notice. “Never you mind. That’s just how Opal is. You see, she and I were hoping to purchase the taxidermy shop after Sid passed, but your mother wouldn’t consider selling. Said her daughter was taking it over.” Though her chipper tone didn’t fade, Lois’s smile did, a touch. “I won’t hold that against you, dear.” Another hand pat. “But if you decide you want to sell, we’d appreciate it if you would let us know.” Leaning closer, her voice dropped to a whisper. “Lots of people move to Estes Park, captured by its beauty and charm, only to discover they feel a little trapped in the mountains and constricted by small-town life. Chances are it will happen to you too. Of course, I hope not, but”—and yet another pat—“when it does, remember my sister and me.”
I opened my mouth to respond, but was utterly at a loss for words.
Words didn’t seem to be required. Lois wrapped her arm around my shoulders, which was no small feat, considering I was several inches taller than the woman, and led me toward the door. She shoved what was left of the dog bone at me. “This is made from peanut butter I ground myself, and organic grains. They are five dollars apiece, but this one’s on the house.” She opened the door for me and stood aside. “Welcome to town, Fred.”
“Thank you, Lois.” I clutched the paper bag and waggled the dog bone in Watson’s direction, capturing his attention. “Come on, buddy. Let’s go.” Watson tore off from where he’d been sniffing in the back corner of the shop. I nodded my thanks to Lois once more, then walked to the car. I changed my mind a few paces away from my burnt-orange Mini Cooper. Turning around, I headed back toward the front door of the taxidermy shop. I’d been so excited to see inside, to get lost in the planning of what my bookstore would look like, that I had driven straight here when we got into town.
After locking her front door, Lois crossed in front of Heads and Tails, gave a final friendly wave, and disappeared into Sinful Bites once more.
Pushing the odd sisters out of my mind, I addressed Watson as we stopped at the front door. “I’m sure you’ll love all the smells you’re going to find in there, but just remember, if we come across a dead animal and I scream, you’re forbidden from telling anyone. If you do, there won’t be any treats for a week.”
Watson gave a quick, sharp bark.
“Crap. I said treat, didn’t I?” At the repeated word, Watson resumed bouncing, his dark brown eyes wild with excitement and looking like a deranged bunny.
I couldn’t help but chuckle as I lifted what was left of the dog bone. “Luckily, we have one. You can get it as soon we’re inside.”
I paused at the lockbox hanging from the door handle, then set the bag of healthy candy—what a thought that was—at my feet. Catching my reflection in the window, the paper behind the glass causing it to act nearly as effectively as a mirror, I couldn’t help but scowl. My hair was a complete mess, and a sheen of light caught the gleam from dog hair. I glanced down at my peasant blouse. Life with a corgi meant I was in constant need of a lint roller, but after the day in the car, things had gotten to a nearly ludicrous level. To make matters worse, I gave my brown broomstick skirt a flick with my wrist and sent a fresh wave of dog hair spiraling around me. Wonderful. So much for putting my best foot forward. Meeting three of my neighbors while looking like I was part corgi myself.
Well, whatever. Too late to be helped now. Besides, it wasn’t like I’d ever actually be dog-hair-free anyway. Pushing the concern away, I pulled out my cell and scrolled through text messages from my mother until I came across the lockbox code. I punched in the four digits and gave a yank. There was no click and the lock didn’t budge. Clearing it, I tried again. Same reaction. I checked the text, confirming I had the numbers right, then tried a third time. When I was still denied, I tapped my mother’s name and lifted the phone to my ear.
It rang several times, then finally clicked to a message saying my mother’s voice mail was full and could no longer accept messages. What else was new? I tried the lockbox one final time. For a moment, I considered breaking the window on the front door and reaching in. It was my shop, after all.
What a way to start a new adventure, breaking and entering. Patience had never been a virtue I fostered, but letting out a resigned huff that sounded more like a corgi than a woman, I stuffed my cell back into my pocket. “Looks like we’re thwarted at the moment, Watson.”
Retrieving the paper bag, I led us back to the car, held the door for Watson to hop in, then followed.
I’d been so ecstatic about opening the bookshop, I hadn’t even considered who my neighbors might be. Being directly between Lois and Opal was going to be…. Well, I was afraid I didn’t have a word for exactly what that was going to be. I doubted it would be all that pleasant.
Watson chuffed.
“You feel it too, don’t you, boy? Who knows what we’re going to have to face with those two. At least we have each other.”
He let out a long pitiful whine.
“Aww, look at you being all empathetic. What’s gotten into—”
I realized Watson’s frantic gaze was focused on my hand, not looking deep into my eyes and sharing a moment. “Oh, I forgot.” I handed him what remained of the all-natural dog biscuit with a sigh.










 




Traitorous Toys

Title: TRAITOROUS TOYS (Book 2)
Author: Mildred Abbott
Publisher: Wings of Ink Publications LLC
Pages: 2278
Genre: Cozy Mystery


It’s Christmas in Estes Park, Colorado: cozy fires, twinkling lights, soft snowfall, and… murder.
The winter holidays in charming Estes Park lulls Winifred Page and her corgi, Watson, into thoughts of spiced chai and gingerbread as they settle into their new home. Fred’s dream bookshop is becoming a reality, and with Christmas only days away, her only concerns are spending time with family, enforcing Watson’s diet, and finding the perfect gifts.

The toy store beckons Fred and her friend Katie, who dash in out of the cold, during a shopping spree to discover handmade toys, cuddly stuffed animals… and a dying man on the floor.

When Katie’s desperate attempts to save the man ends in her being taken in for his murder, Fred once again dons her detective hat. She puts aside her Christmas list and—with Watson sniffing around—begins a list of suspects. But as quickly as clues point to one person, new discoveries shift the spotlight to another.

With Katie’s freedom in the balance, Fred has little time to think about gifts or to enjoy the holiday lights and music. A killer is on the loose, one who became violent in a picture-perfect Christmas toy shop, and Fred and Watson can’t begin to predict what might happen next…

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Winifred (Fred) Blake is creating a new life for herself and her Corgi, Watson, in Estes Park, Colorado, having moved close to her family. This includes her uncles, her mother, stepfather and an assortment of step-family including multiple twins.
Fred is still getting to know the neighboring shopkeepers, as well as her extended family.
You do not need to have read the previous book to keep up with what is happening.

She is finally ready to stock the shelves of her own store after an unfortunate beginning.
The good to come of her rough restart is a best friend, Katie. Taking some time to enjoy holiday decorations and do some Christmas shopping with her new BFF, results in a precarious situation. There are a few stereotypes in this book, but nothing I found objectionable. I appreciated the viewpoint presented about the local lawyer. There are also the inevitable quirks found in personalities, that we'll continue to discover as the series progresses.

There is a murder, discovered by Katie and Fred, with strange ties to Fred's family. The investigating cop seems to have a grudge against Fred and anyone associated with her.
Of course that means Fred and Watson must nose out the true evidence!

An enjoyable cozy read with delightful characters and so much promise!

Bickering Birds

Title: BICKERING BIRDS (Book 3)
Author: Mildred Abbott
Publisher: Wings of Ink Publications LLC
Pages: 280
Genre: Cozy Mystery

BLURB:
Rocky Mountain National Park has it all: rugged peaks, pine-scented forests, enchanting bird-watching locations, and… murder.

The Cozy Corgi bookshop finally opens, and Winifred Page and her headstrong corgi, Watson, are ready to welcome their first patrons. With her new best friend, Katie, creating heavenly pastries in the bakery on the top floor of the store, Fred’s dreams are all coming together in delicious and unexpected ways.

When Katie caters a meeting of the Feathered Friends Brigade and drags Fred along, they expect nothing more than loquacious chatter about birds as they endeavor to build a professional relationship with the owner of the wild bird shop. Fred and Katie are quickly roped into a moonlight snowshoeing hike in hopes of spotting a rare owl. While the endangered bird proves elusive… the murdered man in the snow is hard to miss.

Fred’s growing relationship with Sergeant Wexler hits a snag when he forbids her from donning her sleuth hat yet again. But Fred is a lot like her corgi—she doesn’t like being told what to do, even if it puts an end to a possible romance.

As Fred and Watson delve into the lives of the ornithological club members, the tangled birds’ nest of an investigation makes Fred wonder if she should have left this one to the police. But when feathers begin to fly, Fred has no choice but to flush out a killer…

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Savage Sourdough

Title: SAVAGE SOURDOUGH (Book 4)
Author: Mildred Abbott
Publisher: Wings of Ink Publications LLC
Pages: 296
Genre: Cozy Mystery


Opening the Cozy Corgi in Estes Park is a dream come true: small-town charm, fresh-baked bread, hours by the fire reading mysteries, and… murder.

For Winifred Page and her devoted corgi, Watson, the puzzle pieces of life are falling into place as they settle into their home in the Colorado mountains. Surrounded by family and friends, Fred begins to relax into the charm and beauty of being the owner of a bookshop and bakery.

The buzz of possible romance—though Fred wasn’t looking for a relationship—has quieted as one of her suitors is no longer a viable option while the other has moved into the friend zone. But all thoughts of romance, wanted or not, fly out the window when Fred finds a dead body in the Cozy Corgi bakery… again.

Things get stickier when Fred’s main suspect turns out to be a family member of one of the local police officers—the one who already despises Fred and her little dog. Determined not to let past grievances cloud her judgment, Fred tips her detective hat and pokes deeper into the murder investigation. But in a mystery that becomes smoke and mirrors, nothing is as it seems.

The revelations Fred unveils threaten not only her picture-perfect world but her very life….

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Scornful Scones

Title: SCORNFUL SCONES (Book 5)
Author: Mildred Abbott
Publisher: Wings of Ink Publications LLC
Pages: 302
Genre: Cozy Mystery


With summer approaching, Estes Park is abuzz with flowers, baking, tourists, and… murder.
Tourist season is about to begin, and the lovely weather has Winifred Page and her corgi sidekick, Watson, leaving the comfort of the Cozy Corgi Bookshop and Bakery to reluctantly attend a celebration at the Black Bear Roaster coffee shop. But a chill of uncertainty settles over Fred when a choking death doesn’t seem so accidental—despite the dry, hazardous scones.

As Fred and Police Sergeant Branson Wexler rekindle a possible romance, Fred shares her suspicions. But is she seeing murder at every turn? Learning to trust her gut feelings, Fred risks the ire of the coffee shop owner to investigate not one, but two, deaths.

As suspects and motives abound, old resentments are uncovered, and Fred and Watson build new friendships even as they follow the crumbs to find clues to a killer.

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Chaotic Corgis

Title: CHAOTIC CORGIS (Book 6)
Author: Mildred Abbott
Publisher: Wings of Ink Publications LLC
Pages: 213
Genre: Cozy Mystery


At the height of the summer season, Estes Park explodes with people, wildlife, fireworks, and… murder.

The Cozy Corgi Bookshop and Bakery is buzzing with tourists, and Winifred Page and her quirky corgi, Watson, celebrate the Fourth of July picnicking with family and friends—of the human and four-legged variety. As summer blooms with romance for Fred and Sergeant Branson Wexler, murder lurks around the corner.

With a friend’s life in danger, Fred and Watson doggedly pursue the investigation, even as Fred finds herself once again at odds with the police department. But caring for two chaotic corgis while navigating emotions from the past in the midst of solving a mystery might be too much, and Fred hits a roadblock.

As relationships are tested and secrets exposed, Fred might lose more than one person she loves…

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Quarrelsome Quartz

Title: QUARRELSOME QUARTZ (Book 7)
Author: Mildred Abbott
Publisher: Wings of Ink Publications LLC
Pages: 340
Genre: Cozy Mystery


A New Age conference comes to Estes Park, Colorado, bringing a cacophony of tie-dye, crystals, and murder…

As summer draws to a close, the Spirit, Health, and Heart Conference arrives, just in time for Winifred’s sisters to open their store next to the Cozy Corgi Bookshop. To Fred’s surprise, Chakras turns out to be a beautiful addition to the delightful mountain town. The shop even has a room so pleasing in its crystal tranquility that Fred’s corgi, Watson, approves—and hardly anything impresses him.

But not everyone is charmed by the crystals, tarot readings, and messages of personal enlightenment. When a famous spiritualist is found dead, Chakras and the entire town is plunged into a conflict that touches the lives of those closest to Fred.

Although she is hesitant to become involved, it is simply not in the cards for Fred to sit out the investigation. As she and Watson embark on a journey that forces them to take a look into the darker shadows of Estes Park, Fred soon finds herself digging into the secrets of those she loves…

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Wicked Wildlife

Title: WICKED WILDLIFE (Book 8)
Author: Mildred Abbott
Publisher: Wings of Ink Publications LLC
Pages: 217
Genre: Cozy Mystery


Poaching becomes an ever more pervasive problem within the National Park. When Fred discovers a body, of the human variety, while on a hike, she and Watson are pulled into another mystery. Over the days that follow, everything in Fred’s world gets turned on its head and the secrets that are revealed shake her to her core.

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Reading the Cozy Corgi series is pretty much all you need to know about Mildred. In real life, she’s obsessed with everything she writes about: Corgis, Books, Cozy Mountain Towns, and Baked Goods.  She’s not obsessed with murder, however. At least not at her own hands (nor paid for… no contract killing here). But since childhood, starting with Nancy Drew, trying to figure out who-dun-it has played a formative role in her personality.  Having Fred and Watson stroll into her mind was a touch of kismet.

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