Audiobook Pick of the Month: Booty Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery

Published July 12, 2014 by Chick-Lit Cafe

18404222From the Publisher:  Sarah Booth Delaney’s fiancé, Graf Milieu, has become depressed while recovering from a severe leg injury, but Sarah Booth knows just how to help him heal. She’s arranged a romantic getaway for the two of them at a lovely beach cottage on Dauphin Island off the Gulf Coast. On the first day of their island adventure, they take a historical tour led by Angela Trotter, a young woman well-versed in local lore, including rumors of pirate treasure hidden somewhere on the island. In fact, Angela confides to Sarah Booth and Graf that her father, a sailor and treasure hunter, was murdered just when he thought he was closing in on the treasure. Angela’s convinced that the wrong man was imprisoned for her father’s murder, and she manages to persuade Sarah Booth to take the case. And Sarah Booth soon realizes that there’s much more going on than meets the eye. With untold amounts of treasure offering plenty of motive for murder and a fiancé falling deeper into depression, Sarah Booth’s peaceful island vacation is quickly spinning out of control.

Why I liked it:   As always, Carolyn Haines delivers a puzzling mystery filled with complex characters, four-legged sidekicks, ghostly shenanigans and intriguing subplots.  The mystery in this installment is twofold: Who killed the treasure hunter? And what in tarnations  is wrong with Graf?  With a big storm a’brewin and a slew of dark secrets about to bubble up from under the surface, our sassy Southern sleuth is in for a wild ride!

What really shines in this book is the foreshadowing, which is a key ingredient in a quality whodunit. As Sarah Booth navigates the rocky waters of her relationship with Graf, I couldn’t think of a more perfect setting than a beach town under the threat of a monster hurricane.  At the risk of revealing any spoilers, I’ll leave it at that. But I will say that you’ll have a very strong opinion about him after she weathers the storm.

What irked me: Normally I love Jitty’s antics, but in this book she seemed to be tormenting Sarah Booth with her cryptic warnings. She’s known for popping up at random moments in outlandish outfits only to offer a few pieces of advice and puzzling riddles . This time, she’s appearing as iconic celebrities in mourning, hinting that death and despair is just around the corner.  So while Graf is inexplicably withdrawing from Sarah Booth, Jitty is constantly torturing her with bad omens. Of course, they finally stopped dangling their carrots at the end of the book. But it just didn’t seem right for them to keep her in the dark for so long. There were many points in the story when I wanted to shake Graf and Jitty and scream, “Out with it already, you fools!”

The narrator: Kate Forbes is the perfect narrator for the Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries. She does a fantastic job performing each of the characters’ voices in a believable way, which can be rather tricky when you’re dealing with a broad range of personalities. Her pensive, somber tone was the perfect match for Sarah Booth and Jittie, who were both in the midst of exposing some serious life—and afterlife—revelations.

Summed up in three words: Suspenseful, foreboding, intriguing.

 

Lay Death at Her Door by Elizabeth Buhmann

Published June 28, 2014 by Chick-Lit Cafe

17991758Do you ever get sucked into one of those indie movies with meandering plots and questionable characters? You know the kind I’m talking about, right? Sometimes I’m just too tired to change the channel, or I become strangely enchanted by the bizarreness of it all. What makes or breaks these movies is a plot twist that brings it all together. And that, my friends, pretty much sums up what happened with this book.

Looking at the back cover, I assumed it would be a cat-and-mouse type thriller about a woman running from a fiendish stalker while getting romanced by the hunky town sheriff. Turns out, this book was quite a departure from the formulaic romance/thrillers that line my bookshelf. Was that necessarily a good thing? Eh, I suppose. It’s good to break out of our comfort zones every now and then, right? At least that’s what my dad says when he tries to push one of his hard-boiled detective thrillers on me.

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? The first few chapters are pretty darn slow. After 50 pages of “My dad is controlling me…my house is a prison…I’m repressing the past…,” I was growing a little tired of the ongoing monologue. But once the story started to develop, I was sucked into Kate Cranbrook’s dark web of secrets. The only problem with Kate is that she has the personality of a sea slug. In fact, she’s everything I despise in a human being.  She’s totally in love with herself and uses people without giving anything in return. But yet, I was oddly intrigued by the motives behind her bizarre actions. That right there is what kept me reading tearing through the pages until the very end.

What really happened when she and her father fled from Africa? Why won’t she run away from her controlling father and get a place of her own? Did she really put an innocent man in jail? I didn’t have questions to those answers until the very end—and trust me—it’s worth the wait. I’ll stop right here before I give anything away.  But I will say that the ending will certainly give people lots to talk about. I certainly have some choice words about some of the characters, but I’ll keep them to myself to save you from any spoilers.

Although I loathed the main character and found the first few chapters to be in dire need of editing, I have to tip my hat to the author for crafting a tale that breaks the boundaries of genre fiction. It’s not a classic mystery, nor is it a typical thriller. So if you’re looking for a break from the monotony, give this book a try. I’m quite certain you’ll have a strong opinion of Kate and her creeptastic father after polishing off the last chapter.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Murder on the Hoof: A Mystery by Kathryn O’Sullivan

Published June 17, 2014 by Chick-Lit Cafe

18404182It’s summertime and you know what that means. Lots and lots of easy breezy beach reads filled with murder, mayhem, furry four-legged sidekicks and sizzling romance! This is the time of year when people travel the world and experience idyllic touristy towns for themselves. But to be honest with you, I’d much rather spend my summer doing absolutely nothing but reading on my back porch with my fur babies and a pitcher of sangria. No need to suffer the indignities of air travel, or shell out hundreds of dollars on overpriced hotels. For the mere price of a paperback, I can choose my own destination without ever having to wrestle with my luggage. Oh how I love reading!

For my first summer getaway, I traveled to North Carolina’s Corolla Island, where wild horses roam free and eccentric townsfolk run amok. There are also plenty of hunky firefighters who put their lives on the line to save their beloved beach town from going up in smoke. Seeing as how this is a sleepy little tourist town, you’d think that firefighters would have a pretty cushy job. Well think again! Dead bodies have a way of popping up in the most unexpected places. As for the suspects, it’s pretty much fair game. Even the old bitties seem to be stashing some skeletons in their closets. Oh yes, Corolla has a seedy underbelly filled with murder, blackmail, lies and deceit. It’s like Cabot Cove, only there’s a lot more eye candy for the ladies!

The mystery begins when Fire Chief Colleen McCabe stumbles upon a dead body after a rather elaborate training exercise on the beach. As part of the mock fire emergency, the community’s acting troupe posed as bloodied victims. Even the town mortician pitched in by painting their bodies with fake gore. It all seemed to be running smoothly until one of the “victims” stopped moving…and breathing altogether.SpanishMustangsOfCorolla

As Colleen investigates the crime, she discovers that the 60-something murder victim had some dark secrets of her own, and quite a few of the townies had some pretty valid reasons for wanting her dead. Considering that practically the entire town was at the murder scene, Colleen has her work cut out for her.  With some help from the town sheriff (and potential boyfriend!) Bill Dorman and her trusty four-legged sidekicks, she pieces together clues and narrows down the slew of suspects.

The plot thickens when a hotshot movie starlet starts following Colleen all around town to research her next movie role. Not only is she interfering with the investigation, she’s also Bill’s ex fiancé! If that’s not bad enough, another member of the acting troupe turns up dead—and it’s only a matter of time until the killer strikes again.

I’ll stop right here before I reveal any spoilers, but I will say that the killer was way far down on my suspect list. This is a fun jigsaw-puzzle of a mystery that will keep you guessing until the climactic town theater production. What really makes this mystery series special is the protagonist. I love that she’s defying gender roles by heading up a fire department. She’s strong, fearless, and respected by all her employees. Yet she’s also dealing with insecurities and boy troubles that resonate with women readers. I should also mention that her sleuthing sidekick, Myrtle Crepe, is a real kick in the pants. Her antics are amusing, yet she doesn’t go over the top with the trash talking and zany shenanigans…that can get old really fast.  I’m excited to see what lies in store for their next adventure. And I’m really looking forward to seeing how Bill and Colleen’s romance develops. It looks as though a dark horse named Pinky might be waiting in the wings—and I can’t wait to see how this fledgling love triangle collides!

If you’re new to this mystery series, you’re in for a real treat. Check out my review of the first installment, Foal Play.

FRIDAY FINDS: Summertime Fun Edition!

Published May 30, 2014 by Chick-Lit Cafe

friday_findsIt’s Friday, y’all! Time to switch into weekend mode and daydream about all those glossy books stacked up on your nightstand. Here are a few of my latest impulse buys!

Fat Is the New 30: The Sweet Potato Queens’ Guide to Coping with (the crappy parts of) Life

13342320This book had me at Fat is the New 30! Southern women are crazy, neurotic, catty and downright hilarious! This is exactly what I need to navigate my way through life as a 30-something who will forever be battling the dreaded bulge.

Killer Honeymoon: Savannah Reid, Book 18

15812854I needed a fluffy book to listen to while running along the coast in San Diego last week. It’s the perfect combination of murder, mayhem and island adventure shenanigans!

The Virtue of Selfishness

51qfkdyaEBL__SL300_There’s a lot of fluff on my reading list this summer, so I might as well balance it out with a little brain food. I come from a long line of incredibly repugnant, selfish people. So if this crippling personality disorder can be somewhat virtuous, I’d love to know all about it.

Porch Lights

13338545I accidentally read all my books while vacationing in California and desperately needed something to read on the plane. This book has been on my to-be-read list for a long time, and it just so happened to be on clearance so how could I go wrong? Stay tuned for the review!

Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should be Reading that spotlights books of various formats that have been added to the to-be-read list. What books are you dying to read this weekend? Post a comment and tell me all about it!

Waiting on Wednesday: Murder on the Hoof by Kathryn O’Sullivan

Published May 14, 2014 by Chick-Lit Cafe

untitled18404182Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that book bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

This week, I’m waiting rather impatiently on Murder on the Hoof by Kathryn O’Sullivan. My copy should be arriving in the mail any day now. Hooray for fun mail!

This is the second installment of her Colleen McCabe mystery series set in a picturesque beach community in North Carolina, where wild horses roam free along the ocean waves.  Go here to read my review of her debut mystery, Foal Play.

Check out the book sizzler!

Looks like the perfect beach read for my upcoming trip to San Diego! What book are you waiting for this week?

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Published May 11, 2014 by Chick-Lit Cafe

12262741Oh boy…I really wanted to like this book. Based on all the rave reviews from my trusted book bloggers, I assumed this was going to be a real showstopper. After reading Following Atticus, I was ready for another soul-searching wilderness adventure. The themes of both books are essentially the same: Lost souls embrace the healing powers of nature while pursuing their epic quests.  Their accomplishments are indeed impressive, yet I had a hard time admiring – or even liking – the leading lady in Wild.

There’s this theory that we tend to not like things we don’t understand. I guess that’s why I was immediately turned off by Cheryl Strayed. Despite her poetic ramblings, I couldn’t understand the logic behind some of the self-serving decisions she made that ended up hurting the people she loved. I disconnected from Cheryl the moment when she drooled all over a male nurse’s bulging crotch while standing over her mother’s deathbed. Seriously? You want to jump some strange guy’s bones while your mother is taking her last dying breaths? I know the mind does some wacko things in traumatic situations, but this just seems bizarre.

Throughout the book, I waited for her to redeem herself, but she continued to dig herself deeper into the hole by making idiotic, impulsive decisions.  Why would you go on a solo trek down isolated terrain without a weapon or self-defense training? If you’re toting around a ginormous backpack that’s half your body weight, maybe you should do some rethinking. Oh and before you go on an epic journey through various ecosystems, perhaps it’s a good idea to study a map and weather conditions.

I don’t know, guys. I tried to get past my disdain for this babe in the woods, but even her poetic reflections about the simplicity of nature couldn’t save this book. The flashbacks of her life growing up in a mud-and-straw house with her hippy mother were semi interesting. But did she really need to torture her readers with the gory details about the demise of mother’s beloved horse? There were a couple of chapters about death and dying that I had to skip because the play-by-play details were just a little too much to take.

Maybe if I read this before Following Atticus, I wouldn’t be such a tough critic. Their quest was all about stepping outside mundane life and finding something bigger. Cheryl’s odyssey was all about…well Cheryl. Since this is a journey of transformation, I guess that’s okay for some readers. This reader, however, wanted something more.

On a happier note, I will say that I commend her strength and tenacity. It’s nearly impossible kicking a heroin addiction, and she did it cold turkey. That’s pretty dang impressive. Plus I admire her strong, independent spirit. It takes a lot of balls – or shall I say brass ovaries – to hike the entire PCT all alone. I couldn’t even pitch a tent in my own backyard alone without getting the heebie jeebies.

Normally I don’t write such scathing reviews, but I sincerely doubt this is going to affect book sales one bit. With the blockbuster movie coming out, I’m sure more fans will come out in droves. In fact, an author once told me that a healthy mix of one-star and all-star reviews is actually the sign of a book worth reading. Even though I would rather hike the entire PCT in my bare feet than read this book again, I highly recommend it to book clubs. Trust me, Cheryl’s antics will undoubtedly stir up a hearty debate!

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt Sinn

Published April 21, 2014 by Chick-Lit Cafe

1625742_471634879631984_588126569_nMeet CeeCee Honeycutt, the newest member of the Sinn family!  She found her way into my life one fateful morning when I scooped her up from the side of the road. I’ll never forget how scared and lost she looked as she wandered in front of cars near a busy street. Not knowing what to expect, I swung my car door open and called out to her. Without hesitation, she jumped into the Taurus and stared up at me with an unmistakable look of relief.  Since she had no collar or registered microchip, I had to do some serious sleuthing to reunite this mystery mutt with her owner. Little did I know, she had already found her way home.

6617928So what does this have to do with books, you ask? Well if you’re a Beth Hoffman fan, her name should ring a bell. According to my neighbors, her name is CeeCee, which is rather fitting considering that’s the name of one of my most favorite literary characters. In fact, they both started their homeward-bound journeys from very rocky pasts.

Of course there’s no way of knowing what this dog has been through, but I do know that she desperately needed a safe place to land. I may not have a fancy Cadillac or a stately Southern mansion like Aunt Tootie, but I’d like to think that CeeCee is just as thrilled to be living in her new home as her literary counterpart.

If you’re an animal lover and enjoy good books about strong Southern women, check out Beth Hoffman’s blog. This wonderful author is dedicating her book tour to raising money for animal shelters! If you haven’t ready any of her books, you’re in for a real treat. Read my reviews here and here.

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