Friday, September 30, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Button Holed

Button Holed (Button Box Mystery - Book 1) by Kylie Logan

Publication Date: September 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 288pp
ISBN-13: 9780425243763
ISBN: 0425243761
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Kylie Logan  (Miranda Bliss/ Casey Daniels) on the WEB: website, blog, facebook
(Not much info on Kylie quite a bit on her alter ego Casey though) 


In a big picture world, it's the little things that appeal to button dealer Josie Giancola. There's history in every button. There's art, and craft, and style. There might be clues to murder, too.

Working out of her button shop in a Chicago brownstone, Josie Giancola has quietly become one of the country's leading experts on buttons - antique buttons, jeweled buttons, artistic buttons. Her reputation draws a Hollywood starlet to the Button Box to shop for one-of-a-kind buttons for her made-to-order wedding gown.

But after the Button Box is ransacked and the actress is murdered, Josie's cozy world is thrown into chaos. Homicide detective Nevin Riley is looking to her for clues, starting with the murder weapon - an antique buttonhook. But a killer has other ideas, like keeping Josie's lips buttoned up ... permanently.


First in a new series, Button Holed, by Kylie Logan is a cozy mystery with an urban setting. Using the Windy City of Chicago as a backdrop for this engaging new series, Logan introduces cozy fans to Josie Giancola, a protagonist with an eye for beautiful buttons of all kinds. This is a novel with an interesting premise, a resourceful and determined heroine and a quirky cast of supporting characters that will draw the reader in and hold them glued to the pages all the way to the final twist.

With every new cozy series, the first book spends a great deal of time doing set up for future installments. Introducing the characters, setting the scene, giving the protagonist a reason to be investigating etc. etc. Logan is able to pull this off easily. She hooks the reader from the very first chapter with a beginning robbery scene that leaves Josie's shop in chaos on the eve of her grand opening. She then introduces the victim quickly into the story and the plot thickens.

As the book continues, readers begin to get a picture of who this heroine is and what shes all about. Josie is a very fresh and interesting character. Her passion for her work with antique buttons is obvious and she comes across as credible and believable. The authors knowledge of buttons and button collecting is extensive and adds to the authenticity of the book. I think readers will fall in love with Josie and her shop, The Button Box. She brings a lot to the table as an expert and since an antique button was found next to the body, and the murder occurred in her shop, she has a clear cut reason to want to investigate. 

The supporting cast includes detective Nevin Riley, who asks for Josie's help in figuring out the clues to find the killer and Josie's ex-husband, Kaz. I thought the author did such a great job bringing each new character in at the right time and giving them a genuine reason to be involved in Josie's life. Each character is well thought out and brings an added flavor to the book. Logan has created a cast that readers will enjoy learning more about and look forward to seeing again, which is great for a new series.

The mystery aspect of the book was well written and tightly plotted. The list of suspects is just the right size, not too many that each can't be explored and not too few, so that readers can easily pick out the killer. Button Holed is fast paced and doesn't let the reader down in the middle. The final twist and turn was exciting and kept me off balance just enough so that I couldn't quite figure it out until the author wanted me too. The hallmark of a good cozy! 

I think this book will appeal to readers who are interested in antiques, buttons, museums and things of this nature. This is a great beginning to a new series and I found myself really looking forward to the fact that this wasn't a single title. The characters were so interesting that I didn't really want to leave them yet, always a good sign that a series will do well.

Button Holed is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Casey Daniels (a.k.a. Miranda Bliss and Kylie Logan) has a degree in English, experience as a journalist and writing teacher. When she's not writing, she's usually with her family and two dogs, Ernie, an adorable Airedale pup, and Oscar, a rescued Jack Russell who spends far too much time watching TV. Daniels enjoys knitting, gardening and of course, stomping through cemeteries in search of history, stories and inspiration.


The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Button Holed by Kylie Logan that will go to one winner from Debbie's Book Bag!

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US Addresses only (Publisher Request).
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST October 14th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on THIS post.
2. Please fill out the FORM.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: Lord and Lady Spy

Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen

Publication Date: September 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: Paperback, 384pp
ISBN-13: 9781402259074
ISBN: 1402259077
(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Lord and Lady Spy in e-book format is on sale for .99 cents from 9/27 to 10/3 at participating booksellers! (Including Barnes & Noble)

Shana Galen on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from Lord and Lady Spy
Book Trailer:

Lord Adrian Smythe may appear a perfectly boring gentleman, but he leads a thrilling life as one of England's most preeminent spies, an identity so clandestine even his wife is unaware of it. But he isn't the only one with secrets...


Now that the Napoleonic wars have come to an end, daring secret agent Lady Sophia Smythe can hardly bear the thought of returning home to her tedious husband. Until she discovers in the dark of night that he's not who she thinks he is after all...

Shana Galen's brilliant Regency world features two noble spies who cross swords and meet their match in a fast-paced, witty love story full of excitement and heart.


Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen, seamlessly blends romance with mystery and intrigue. With all the qualities of a good thriller, this novel set in the Regency era is action packed and full of surprises. The main characters are insightful and determined, being a spy is dangerous business. Readers will love the sparks that fly between Adrian and Sophia and their competitive spirits. Their marriage may have started out as a convenience, but it turns into a battle of wills where both players are risking more than just their future careers. 

Before reading this book, I hadn't really thought a lot about the fact that spies probably existed during this time period, but it is completely understandable considering the Napoleonic wars and other conflicts that took place in the Regency era. Shana Galen has taken the allure and aura of sexiness that surrounds the idea of spies and what they do and transported it into a historical setting. She gives the readers characters that will appeal to their fantasies that people can lead a double life. Galen excels at creating snappy, emotional dialogue that drives the story and the arguments between Adrian and Sophia are a great example of this. The overall affect is very well written, engaging novel about two spies that happen to be married and somehow through it all find the love they didn't think existed between them.

Here you have two people who are in a marriage of convenience and because of the nature of their marriage they spend a great deal of time apart. This in turn allows both of them to carry on a double life. Lord Smythe appears to be a very handsome playboy who would rather travel the world than spend time with his drab and dull wife. Lady Smythe however is not what she seems. Underneath her facade of frumpy clothing and austere hairstyles, she is a very vibrant and resourceful woman. But neither character realizes that there is so much more to each other. They know so little about each other that they are completely dumbfounded when they find out that they are both spies, competing for the same job. 

I thought that the author did a fantastic job of switching back and forth between who these characters were in their daily lives and who they were are spies. Galen is able to show them as real people with real problems including infertility, and harsh misunderstandings. I loved the fact that when they began to really get to know each other they found that they were a perfect match. The romantic edge to the story made it all the more interesting. The heat between them starts out as anger and needing to be better than the other in some way, but it quickly translates to romantic heat, as the sparks start to fly. These two characters are used to things being risky and their romantic life is just as passionate as they are as spies and people. Very well written.

I recommend this one to readers who like their romance with a bit of a twist. The spy angle really works well and brings a lot of intrigue and mystery to the book. The novel portrays the life of a spy as sexy and full of danger and readers will love the overall atmosphere and ambiance of this story. It was very good from the first page to the last. I am in hopes that the author writes a few more spy/romance novels. Her writing style is smooth and full of delicious detail and some very witty dialogue. In a nutshell, I loved it and I think you will too!

Lord and Lady Spy is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag! Shana Galen is fast becoming one of my favorite historical romance writers... you don't want to miss this one!

Shana Galen is the author of five Regency historicals. Her books have been sold in Brazil, Russia, and the Netherlands and featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher, Shana now writes full time. She lives with her husband and daughter in Houston, Texas.

Guest Post and Giveaway: Shana Galen

Please join me in welcoming Shana Galen back to Debbie's Book Bag today. Shana's latest book, Lord and Lady Spy features a husband and wife spy team in Regency England. Shana's guest post is called, "Regency Spies." The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for two copies of Shana's book, Lord and Lady Spy, please see details at the end of the post.

Regency Spies

By nature, espionage is a secret affair. This was even more true in the Regency Era. Undoubtedly, though the British employed many men, and probably even a handful of women, to glean information about Napoleon’s plans and strategies, these men and women have remained largely unsung.

One reason for this is that spying was not considered a noble profession. With the advent of James Bond, spying became sexy and posh in modern culture, but in the Regency Era it was considered cowardly. A real man fought his enemy face-to-face on the battlefield or on the high seas aboard a man-of-war. Cowards skulked about trying to ferret out information.

In reality, the role of the spy was extremely important to British victory in the Peninsular Wars. One reference I found helpful when writing Lord and Lady Spy, my homage to the film Mr. and Mrs. Smith, was The Man Who Broke Napoleon’s Codes by Mark Urban. Urban tells the story of George Scovall, an engraver’s apprentice who became the Duke of Wellington’s decoder. Scovall deciphered Napoleon’s Great Paris Cipher, which reportedly contained over 1,400 elements.

The interesting thing about Scovall is that he was a commoner. Perhaps this was why “spying” appealed to him. Unlike a higher born man, Scovall could not buy his way to a higher rank in the military. He had to earn it. He did so, eventually, but as was probably common with the British military of the era, he was also passed over for promotion many times.

Information about female spies is even harder to come by. I did find a book titled My Lady Scandalous by Jo Manning about the life of courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott. Grace was in Paris at the time of the French Revolution and an avowed royalist sympathizer. These sympathies got her in trouble with the Revolutionary government and she was imprisoned and barely escaped the guillotine. But these dangers did not prevent Grace from acting nobly. She saved the governor of the fallen Tuileries—the French royal family’s residence in Paris, which fell to the revolutionary mobs in 1792 and signaled the beginning of the end of the monarchy. The marquis de Champcenetz was wounded in the siege but managed to survive through extraordinary circumstances. Grace was asked to hide him and agreed, even though many of her household servants were revolutionaries and she knew municipal officers were scouring the city for the marquis and conducting house-to-house searches.

Grace hid the man under a pile of mattresses in her boudoir when the guards knock on her door. The guards told her to get out of bed so they may search it and thrust bayonets into the mattresses, certainly killing the hidden Champcenetz, but Grace—ever the courtesan—jokes with them, flatters them, and flirts with them. They allow her to stay in bed and Champcenetz is not discovered.

But this is not the end of Grace’s bravery. She also traveled to Spa, Belgium, which was a sort of meeting place for spies and couriers of the day, and ferried letters from the imprisoned Marie-Antoinette to the Austrian government, most likely pleading for assistance from the queen’s homeland. That assistance was never to come, but Grace certainly did her part to assist the doomed queen.

In Lord and Lady Spy, I’ve tried to make Adrian and Sophia worthy counterparts to the spies that inspired them. I hope you find reading their adventures as exciting as I did writing about them!

Do you enjoy books about spies? Why do we find spies so sexy?


The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for two copies of Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen to be given to two winners from Debbie's Book Bag.

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.

~ US and Canadian Addresses only! (Publisher Request)
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST October 12th.

1. In appreciation to the author please answer Shana's question in the comments (It is right before the giveaway details)
2. Please fill out the FORM.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: The Weddding Affair

The Wedding Affair by Leigh Michaels

Publication Date: September 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: Paperback, 384pp
ISBN-13: 9781402244216
ISBN: 1402244215

(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Leigh Michaels on the WEB: website, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from The Wedding Affair



The duke, whose sister's wedding is the event of the ton, is fighting off debutantes and desperately needs help from beautiful, stubborn Lady Olivia Reyne. But she is engrossed with preventing other problems that are engulfing her dearest friends and family. The last thing Lady Olivia is looking for is to be embroiled with a duke whose dark gaze makes her forget herself entirely...

Discover a new side of a beloved author as Leigh Michaels draws you into the glittering, glitzy world of Regency England and an affair you'll never forget.


Author Leigh Michaels is a master at weaving interesting and complicated plotlines. When it comes to romance most readers are looking for a happy-ever-after at the end, with Michaels latest book, The Wedding Affair, the reader gets three for the price of one. With six lead characters and three romances set against the backdrop of a lavish Regency, England wedding, this book is full of surprises, misconceptions and some very intriguing secrets. 

Michaels, a veteran romance writer, shows off her ability to entice her audience by giving them a book that will pull at several different emotions as each story plays out. Each couple in The Wedding Affair is facing a problem they must sort to bring about their happiness. 

The first couple, Simon the Duke of Somervale is fending off debutantes right and left during the house party for his sister Daphne's wedding. He conspires with the local widow, Lady Olivia Reyne to pose as his fiancee and help him to thwart his matchmaking mother. Simon and Olivia's story is a comical look at what happens when you try to fool others into thinking you have feelings for someone you don't and then you realize you do. Michaels uses humor to bring out the fun aspect of this historical romance. The story line is interesting, and full of comedic moments.

The second couple Kate, the vicars daughter and Andrew the tutor, meet at the wedding because Kate is staying with Olvia at the time. But this isn't their first meeting. Secrets swirl in this story line as readers contemplate why Andrew never returned to Kate all those years ago. This the part of the story that will pull at the readers heartstrings. A young couple with a second chance at finding love. Michaels is able to bring out her descriptive skills throughout the book, but I think the rich period detail and interesting facts that she brings out in this particular part of the story is remarkable. I felt like I was right there with Kate when saw Andrew again after all that time.

The final couple Charles and Penelope is quite another story. They are already married, but their marriage is anything but happy. Charles is resentful of the fact that Penelope's father is practically forcing them to have a grandchild and because of this he wants very little to do with her. It's up to Penelope to figure out a way to get him to notice that she wants a real marriage and family with him. How does one seduce their own husband? I liked the fact that Michaels gives Penelope the strength of character to go out there and fight for what she wants. Though this part of the story is a little sad, it shows that Michaels can bring any emotion to the forefront in her writing.

The amazing thing about this book is that all of these stories are going on in and around each other throughout the book. You don't have one story and then the next and the next, they are all going on at the same time, which means a lot of shifting of the point of view and lots of secrets and misconceptions and trickery and humor all coinciding together. It's amazing to me how the author ever kept it all straight, but the book really works. It all comes together in a romantic and fun way. Michaels is able to weave these plotlines with ease. She gives just enough attention to each couple and each romance to keep the reader glued to the novel. It isn't overwhelming or confusing, it blends seamlessly and the reader will love it!

I recommend this one to historical romance fans and those looking for something a little different in their Regency romance. The intermingling of the three stories is remarkably well done and proves once again that Leigh Michaels is a master storyteller.

The Wedding Affair is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Leigh Michaels is the author of 80 romance novels with more than 35 million copies sold. A six time RITA finalist, she has also received two RT Book Reviews Reviewer's Choice awards, and the Johnson Brigham Award. She teaches romance writing on the internet at Gotham Writers' Workshop. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

Interviw and Giveaway: Leigh Michaels

Please join me welcoming Leigh Michaels back to Debbie's Book Bag today. Leigh is here to talk about her latest release, The Wedding Affair. The publisher is sponsoring a great giveaway, see details at the end of the post.

DEB: Leigh, tell us what you’ve been up to since you were here last?
LM: On my last visit, my first Regency-period historical, The Mistress’ House, had just been released. The Wedding Affair is my third Regency, and I’m excited to have all three books out now.

DEB: Tell us a little about your latest book, The Wedding Affair? Is this book a single title or part of a series?
LM: In The Wedding Affair, guests have gathered at a country estate for a wedding, but they pay more attention to their private affairs (and I do mean affairs!) than they do to the bride and groom.

Each of my historicals stands alone. The only things they have in common are the time period and one continuing character (she’s a secondary character, but it’s fun to have her walk on stage in each of the books). However, each one of my historicals includes three heroes, three heroines, and three romances.

DEB: One of the things I have enjoyed about your latest books,is the fact that you choose to tell three inter-woven stories. What made you decide to take on so many characters and stories at one time?
LM:  After 83 published novels and another 15 or 20 non-fiction titles, I need a new challenge with each book in order to keep me excited. Stories about a group of friends or sisters or co-workers are done fairly often in women’s fiction, but not in romance.  I’ve found that it’s a great way to subtly carry out a theme, by showing the different ways that characters react to desperation, for instance, as in The Wedding Affair.

DEB: When you are researching for a particular book, what kinds of resources do you use and what is most helpful to you in finding out what you need to know for your novel?
LM: I have a good-sized library of Regency resources, including books about the period (biographies, sociological studies) and from the period (novels, diaries, reprints of guidebooks and maps). I was also fortunate enough to live in London for a short while, so I was able to walk the city and see many things that a Regency-era heroine would have seen. That experience also helped me to understand distances and geography, and I got to see the countryside as well.  The internet helps too – especially with things like tracking down pictures of costumes. It’s still hard to find specific details, though, because many of them were such common knowledge that they weren’t written down.

DEB: A lot of my readers are writers and they are interested in how you first got started writing. What gave you the confidence to try to sell your manuscript?
LM: Pure dumb determination. Actually, I sent my first submission in the hope that I’d get a rejection letter which started off, “No, but here’s why” – and then I could make the next book better. As it happens, that submission landed in the hands of my first editor, who saw promise in my work. She made suggestions and asked for revisions, and a few months later she bought that book. I worked with her for several years, through about 25 books.

DEB: Do you have advice for new writers?
LM: Persistence is every bit as important as raw talent in succeeding. Don’t just write one book—when your first is ready to send out, write another book and send it out, too. If the answer is a Yes, editors always ask what else you have. If it’s a No, having something else out there, something that might be the first sale, helps to take the pain away.

DEB: My readers are also interested in you as a person. Name one pet peeve that you have?
LM: People who freely share their opinions that romance novels are trashy or pornographic—without ever having read one.

DEB: Tell us one thing that readers may not know about you?
LM: I love tiny things, and I have a miniature house: a Georgian-style manor house that would have been a possible home for my Regency characters. You can see pictures of it at's%20house.htm

DEB: If you could travel to any time period when and where would it be?
LM: Only ONE? Oh, dear. I’d have to put work first and go to the Regency era, to solve those research problems which continue to nag at me. But if I had another choice, I’d like to know what really happened in Dealey Plaza in November 1963.

DEB: What books are you most interested in that are coming out in 2011? Your own and other writers.
LM: I read cozy mystery as well as romance to relax, so I’m trying to find time to read Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Townsend, and I’m waiting for the release of Liver Let Die by Liz Lipperman and Who Do, VooDoo? by Rochelle Staab. And I recently finished Awaken the Highland Warrior by Anita Clenney, who’s a former student of mine.


Sourcebooks is sponsoring an awesome giveaway here at Debbie's Book Bag today. Two winners will each win a copy of all three of Leigh Michaels books, The Mistress House, Just One Season in London and The Wedding Affair.

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US and Canadian Addresses only (Publisher Request)
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST October 12th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on THIS post.
2. Please fill out the FORM.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Spider's Revenge

Spider's Revenge (Elemental Assassins - Book 5) by Jennifer Estep

Publication Date: September 2011
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: Paperback, 400pp
ISBN-13: 9781439192641
ISBN: 1439192642

(Received during a giveaway on the author's website, in exchange for an honest review)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Jennifer Estep on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from Spider's Revenge


Old habits die hard for assassins.
And I plan on murdering someone before the night is through.

Killing used to be my regular gig, after all. Gin Blanco, aka the Spider, assassin-for-hire. And I was very, very good at it. Now, I’m ready to make the one hit that truly matters: Mab Monroe, the dangerous Fire elemental who murdered my family when I was thirteen. Oh, I don’t think the mission will be easy, but turns out it’s a bit more problematic than expected. The bitch knows I’m coming for her. So now I’m up against the army of lethal bounty hunters Mab hired to track me down. She also put a price on my baby sister’s head. Keeping Bria safe is my first priority. Taking Mab out is a close second. Good thing I’ve got my powerful Ice and Stone magic—and my irresistible lover, Owen Grayson—to watch my back. This battle has been years in the making, and there’s a good chance I won’t survive. But if I’m going down, then Mab’s coming with me . . . no matter what I have to do to make that happen. 


If you are a fan of Urban Fantasy it's safe to say you've probably heard of the Elemental Assassins series by Jennifer Estep. If you haven't had the pleasure than let me assure you, it's one of the best Urban Fantasy series' out there. I read a lot of books from this genre and I was really excited when I won an ARC copy of the latest book in the series, Spider's Revenge from the author. Jam packed with action and full of well fleshed out characters this book shot straight to my top ten of the year, right out of the gate.

This is such an interesting sub-genre to me. There are so many possibilities. I love strong female characters and gritty, dark environs and this series has both. Estep has crafted an edgy, abrasive world where her characters encounter corruption and magic on a daily basis. Her ability to endear the readers to characters who are capable of some very heinous acts is remarkable. Estep makes the reader want to feel what her characters are feeling and her descriptive prowess is unmatched in the genre. 

Estep's latest addition to the series, Spider's Revenge is the culmination of a story arc that began in book one of the series, Spider's Bite. Gin Blanco isn't exactly what readers expect from a heroine. The one thing that has basically shaped her life since she was orphaned at thirteen has been vengeance. Gin has lived for the day when she has a chance to take down Mab Monroe, the fire elemental that killed her family. Now she stands at the edge of fulfilling her need for revenge, but things have changed. Gin is very hard character. She has a take no prisoners attitude. She knows who she is and what she is capable of and she accepts that about herself, but that doesn't mean she is without emotion or conscience. Estep has given the reader a character that is able to garner respect and even sympathy despite the fact she is for all intents and purposes a killer. That takes some talent and Estep pulls it off with ease.  

This series and especially this book, is very character driven. Gin may have the leading role in Spider's Revenge, but it the secondary cast of characters who help to create the tension and emotion that is necessary to give the reader the overall experience. In this book we get to see how much each of these characters has come to mean to Gin and how they have shaped her world. Owen, her lover is such a contrast to Gin. He supports and loves her even though he knows what she's done in her past and what she plans to do. Finn is Gin's handler and more importantly he is her friend. He matters to Gin an that's saying a lot. She is very devoted to those she loves and would risk everything for them including the one remaining sister she still has, Bria. These are just a few of the other characters that make up this series. There are so many more interesting characters I could mention, but it's safe to say that Estep really knows how to characterize and bring the people in her mind to life in the pages of her books.

I think readers who have read the whole series so far will really love the way Estep brings it all together in this book. A lot of questions are answered and new ones are brought up. Though is may be the end of this particular story arc, the series itself will continue in February of 2012, with By a Thread, the sixth book in the Elemental Assassins series. I can't say enough good things about this book and this series. If you haven't had the opportunity to read it... GET IT! It's action packed, emotionally charged, full of fantastic characters and situations that will pull you in and never let go til the end. I recommend it to readers of Urban Fantasy and especially to readers who want to give this sub-genre a try. If this is your first taste of Urban Fantasy you'll be hooked!

Spider's Revenge is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag! Easily one of my favorites of the year!

JENNIFER ESTEP is a USA Today bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, Tangled Threads, and Spider’s Revenge are the other books in her red-hot Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series, which includes Touch of Frost and Kiss of Frost. She’s also the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series, featuring Karma Girl, Hot Mama, and Jinx.

Review and Giveaway: The Diva Haunts the House

The Diva Haunts the House (Domestic Diva - Book 5) by Krista Davis

Publication Date: September 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 304pp
ISBN-13: 9780425243787
ISBN: 0425243788

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Krista Davis on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter



Domestic diva Sophie Winston is getting into the holiday spirit, and her decorations for a community haunted house are so good, it's scary. Not to be outdone, rival domestic diva Natasha is throwing a spooktacular Halloween party at her house. But when Sophie arrives, she discovers one of Natasha's guests dead in the hair-raising Halloween display, and a pale fanged partygoer fleeing the scene.

The cause of death is not immediately apparent, but the victim does have two puncture wounds on his neck. While Sophie's boyfriend, homicide detective Wolf, investigates, rumors start to flying faster than witches on broomsticks. Could the killer be a real vampire - the same one rumored to have lived in Sophie's haunted house back when it was a boarding house? Good thing a domestic diva never runs out of garlic...


All of you know that one person in your circle of friends who can cook anything, decorate for every season and always has perfect dinners and get-togethers, that is a domestic diva. In Krista Davis' Domestic Diva Mystery series, resident diva Sophie Winston, not only does all of those things well, but she also writes a column for the local paper with tips and ideas for those who wish to be domestic diva's as well. Davis is able to capitalize on the success of the food related television shows and networks by creating a series, with a culinary spin. But there is a lot more to this series than a few good recipes.

Davis has a knack for creating characters that are fun and engaging. Sophie reminds me of a young Martha Stewart with her hand in just about everything from crafting to cooking. But she also has a very observant and curious nature. She makes the perfect amateur sleuth, as she finds herself in the middle of murder after murder. In The Diva Haunts the House, Sophie is getting ready for Halloween and takes on the job of figuring out who killed Patrick, a local businessman, who nobody seemed to like. When he ends up dead in the middle of her diva nemesis, Natasha's holiday display, there seems to be a bit of controversy over whether the killer is alive or one of the undead and it's up to Sophie to find a solution.

There have been many cozy mystery series' that have popped up lately that have a paranormal flavor or bent. Some involving witches and vampires. I was slightly surprised when Davis chose to go the vampire route with this book, but it being Halloween, I could see the point. I thought she did a fantastic job of making the mystery seem a little on the supernatural side, but not letting that aspect of it overwhelm the mystery. The conclusion Sophie comes to in the end will leave readers satisfied and ready for the next installment in the series.

One of the things I really liked about this one was the fact that it was released in September which gives readers a chance to look at all of the great decorating tips and recipes that Davis includes in the book, in time to use them for their own Halloween parties and activities. Reading this one brought back a lot of great memories from my childhood and I'm sure other readers will enjoy the humor and nostalgia that comes from reading this one. The fall is one of my favorite times of the year and I love finding books that have fall themes and settings. 

I recommend this one to cozy mystery fans and culinary enthusiasts. To readers who love to decorate and to those who love Halloween. This is a great autumn read and the mystery is fun and is in keeping with the Halloween theme. I think readers who are interested in the paranormal may also find something in this book and it may turn them onto to a new genre!

The Diva Haunts the House is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Krista Davis is the national bestselling author of the Domestic Diva Mysteries. Her first book, The Diva Runs Out of Thyme, was nominated for an Agatha Award. Krista lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with an Ocicat named Mochie and a brood of dogs. Her friends and family complain about being guinea pigs for her recipes, but she notices that they keep coming back or more.


The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway here at Debbie's Book Bag for one copy of The Diva Haunts the House by Krista Davis.

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US Addresses only (Publisher Request)
~ The Deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST October 11th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on THIS post.
2. Please fill out the FORM.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Death in a Difficult Position

Death in a Difficult Position (Mantra for Murder - Book 4) by Diana Killian

Publication Date: September 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 304pp
ISBN-13: 9780425243817
ISBN: 0425243818

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Diana Killian on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter 


At Sacred Balance yoga studio, owner A.J. Alexander tries to help her clients feel heavenly. But a seriously inflexible preacher claims she's sending them straight to Hell...

Though he's new in Stillbrook, the charismatic Reverend David Goode has wasted no time in pointing a righteous finger at the town's center of sin: A.J. and her studio. A.J. tries to have a civil word with him, but the fire and brimstone only get worse. In fact, her former partner turned ruthless yoga rival, Lily approaches her suggesting they present a united front against Goode before he drives them both out of business.

But when Goode is found murdered and the hot-tempered Lily is accused, A.J. discovers that the good reverend was actually a bad, bad boy, with a flock of motives for murder. And if she wants to clear Lily' s name, A.J. is going to have to stretch her sleuthing skills to the limit...


Death in a Difficult Position is the fourth book in Diana Killian's Mantra for Murder mystery series that focuses on heroine A.J Alexander and her yoga studio, Sacred Balance. Killian has created a series that is current, edgy, and full of humor. She takes the dire situation of murder and gives it lighter, less exhausting spin. This is a great example of what a cozy should be. Killian's multifaceted characters are well written and engaging and the story itself with appeal to readers with many different backgrounds.

In the fourth installment of the series, Death in a Difficult Position we find A.J. teaming up with rival yoga instructor, Lily to face down salacious comments from a member of the religious community. Reverend David Goode is hell bent to prove that yoga is from the devil and those who practice it are steeped in sin. Killian certainly isn't afraid to let readers draw their own conclusions. She chooses a somewhat controversial side of the yoga debate and uses it to enhance her story, without seeming condescending or pretentious. I thought she did an excellent job of taking a difficult premise and making it work. 

One of the things that I really enjoy about this series is the amount of comic relief and humor that Killian instills in her story. From well placed puns and comments, to quirky characters like A.J.'s mom and her TV buddies, to funny situations and circumstances. Let's face it... murder is a heavy subject, but in true cozy style Kilian is able to give readers an interesting mystery that is lighter and does not produce the same angst that main stream mysteries and thrillers provide. Murder is still murder, but Kilian's characters prove, that life still goes on.

Yoga is very popular right now and that gives this series a very current and edgy feel to it. Yoga is one of those things that can be embraced by everyone from housewives to rock stars and everyone in between. That also allows for a much bigger reading audience as well. Readers will appreciate the authors knowledge of yoga and how she presents it in her books. I've always thought it was exercise for the body and the mind and I think Killian is able to convey that to the reader, along with helpful techniques and ideas. I always feel like a I learn a little more about it with each one of her books.

They mystery aspect of this one is well written and will hold the readers interest all the way to the end. Killian provides several clever motives to keep readers guessing and draw them into A.J.s life and the town of Stillbrook. I recommend this one to cozy mystery fans, yoga enthusiasts and those who are looking for a great mystery to wile away the Autumn evenings.

Death in a Difficult Position is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Diana Killian is the author of the comedic Mantra for Murder series about an overstressed freelance marketing consultant who inherits a yoga studio from her murdered aunt. Diana is also the author of the romantic and lightly literary Poetic Death novels -- a series about the adventures of an American school teacher in the English Lake District.

A graduate of Pepperdine Malibu, Diana is married and lives in California.


The publisher is providing one copy of Death in a Difficult Position by Diana Killian for giveaway here on Debbie's Book Bag!

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US Addresses only (Publisher Request)
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST October 10th.

1. Please leave a comment on THIS post in appreciation to the author.
2. Please fill out the FORM
As sometimes happens, I had a bit of a glitch with my review of Death in a Difficult Position earlier and was forced to delete it. The giveaway link will not be working for a little while until I get the review back up... so if it doesn't work for you try again a little later and it should be back up to speed. Thanks for your patience!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: A Heart Revealed

A Heart Revealed (Wind's of Change - Book 2) by Julie Lessman

Publication Date: September 2011
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Genre: Christian Fiction, Inspirational
Pages: Paperback, 506pp
ISBN-13: 9780800734169
ISBN: 0800734165

(Received for an honest review from Revell Books)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository,, IndieBound

Julie Lessman on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from A Heart Revealed (Courtesy of Seasons of Humility)


Her heart is tied to a youthful vow... but can true love set it free?

Ten years ago, Emma Malloy fled Dublin for Boston, running for her life. Her emotional wounds have finally faded, and her life is now full of purpose and free from the pain of her past. But when she falls for her friend Charity's handsome and charming brother, Sean O'Connor, fear and shame threaten to destroy her. Could Sean and Emma ever have a future together? Or is Emma doomed to live out the rest of her life denying the only true love she's ever known?

Filled with intense passion and longing, deception and revelation, A Heart Revealed will hold you in its grip until the very last page. 


  A Heart Revealed is the second book in Julie Lessman's Winds of Change series, but it also ties loosely to her Daughters of Boston series as well. Both sets of books follow the adventures of the Irish O'Connor family. In her latest book, Lessman takes up the story of Sean one of the eldest sons of the O'Connor family and Emma Malloy, a young woman the O'Connor's have taken under their wing. Emma fled Ireland and came to Boston leaving behind an abusive husband, and a life that she could no longer bear, but she still feels she is bearing the punishment of her sins by still being tied to her husband and believes herself unworthy of love. With the help of Sean, his family and most of all God, Emma is able to find herself and open her heart to the possibilities of forgiveness and ultimately love.

A Heart Revealed can stand on it's own and be read a part from the other books by Lessman, but I believe the reader is really missing out by not reading everything they can find about the O'Connor family. There are so many characters and so many people interacting with each other, I just think it could be a little confusing without all the back story. This book reads like a Christian soap opera, which is amusing in a lot of ways. There are several couples in varying stages of friendship, first love and marriage and keeping them all straight may prove a hard task for some readers, but Lessman has a knack for building relationships that are interesting and memorable. Her characters are never put in just to take up space, they always have some purpose or something to teach the reader and I really like that about her writing style.

Lessman has a very clear goal with each of her books. She intends not only to tell a very well thought out story, but she wants the reader to take something away with them after reading one of her novels. In this particular book, I think the theme is learning that even though God forgives us for the things we do that are against His will, we still have to forgive ourselves. Lessman is able to convey that to the reader through Emma's character. Emma is woman who loves God and understands her place in this world. Her outpouring of love is inspiring and very heartfelt, yet the sins of her past still prevent her from having a happy and joyful present. She has asked God's forgiveness, but she is reluctant to forgive herself, thinking she is paying for her misdeeds. I thought Lessman did a fantastic job of expressing this idea and allowing the reader to see what Emma was going through and how she eventually opened her heart to seeing herself as God saw her, not as she saw herself. 

I would have to say that this one is probably my favorite book by Lessman so far. I thought she was able to bring a lot of stories from her other books into to play in this one, but not to the point of overwhelming the story she was trying to tell. Though many others are mentioned this book is ultimately Sean and Emma's story and as main characters I think they really shined. Sean is the epitome of the ultimate bachelor and really adds a lot of comic relief to the book as he tries to fend off the wayward advances of other women. But Sean feelings for Emma have grown over time. It wasn't love at first sight and I think he was rather surprised when he realized it, but once he understands, he is like a homing pigeon, Emma is his home, the person he needs in his life and he doesn't give up. I'm glad that the author shows his tenacity and his joyful spirit. Both he and Emma are wonderful characters.

I recommend this book to Christian and Inspirational fiction readers, those who love a good story about family and to those who struggle with forgiving themselves for things that have happened in their past. I loved it and I can't wait for the next one to come out. Lessman is fast becoming one of my favorite Christian authors and I think she'll be one of yours too!

Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples! Christian historical fiction at it's best!

Julie Lessman is the popular author of A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed and A Passion Denied, as well as A Hope Undaunted, which was one of 2010's Booklist Top Ten Inspirational Fiction winners. Lessman has garnered several writing awards, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. she lives in Missouri.