Thursday, April 29, 2021

Review: For Batter or Worse by: Jenn McKinlay


Title: For Batter or Worse
 Author: Jenn McKinlay
Publisher: Berkley
Series: Cupcake Bakery Mystery #13
Format: e-book ARC ( 288 p.)
Source: NetGalley

Description:

The Fairy Tale Cupcake crew must discover the truth behind a death sprinkled with suspicion before Mel and Joe can say "I do", in the thirteenth Cupcake Bakery Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay.

Life is sweet and business is booming at the Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery--and the fact that Mel and Joe are getting married is the icing on the cake. Their reception will be held at the swanky resort where Oz works as the pastry chef. The wedding planning is all fun-fetti and games until Mel and Joe meet the head chef at the resort who has been making Oz's life miserable. When the eccentric chef insults Mel's bakery, Oz gets into a blowout argument with the culinary prima donna.

Things turn extra sour when the chef is murdered, and Oz is the police's main suspect. As the countdown to the wedding day begins, Mel, Joe, and the rest of the Fairy Tale Cupcake crew must sift through clues to catch the real killer and clear Oz's name before their wedding plans are totally battered and baked.

My Thoughts; 

Mel and Joe are days away from getting married and are finalizing their wedding along with checking on Mel's worker Oz whose recently joined a new job as a pastry chef in a hotel.  While there they see an altercation between Oz and head chef Miles who seems to be a big Diva Chef,  When he is found dead the next day and Oz is leaning over him it's up to Mel to figure it out before Oz winds up in jail.  Who killed Chef Miles and why?  Was it someone he upset or was he into something much worse?

This book was great fun anytime Angie's brother's are there it is always a riot! Add to the fact Angie and Tate are getting ready for their baby to arrive it's a fun adventure with a great mystery in the middle and Mel is determined to solve it before her honeymoon!  

The players in this book all seem to have questionable agendas.  Some seem to be out for knocking others out so they can be the best chef and leaving others behind in their dust.  That doesn't seem to phase Oz who just wants to create great desserts or Mel who just wants to clear her pastry chef!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Review: The Devil's Bones by: Carolyn Haines


Title: The Devil's Bones
Author: Carolyn Haines
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Series: Sarah Boothe Delaney #21
Format: Hardcover ( 368 p.) personal purchase

Description:

Spunky southern private investigator Sarah Booth Delaney tackles a thorny murder while away on a girls' weekend.

Sarah Booth and Cece are in Lucedale, Mississippi, where the newly-pregnant Tinkie is treating her friends to a girls' weekend at the fabulous new Bexley B&B. The facials, organics, food, and fitness coaches are supposed to be phenomenal, but Tinkie's primary aim is to attend the Sunrise Easter Services at the incredible Palestinian Gardens, a miniature Holy Land that spreads over 20 acres and has recreations of all parts of Jerusalem—and to speak with the Biblical scholar, gardener, and creator of the Palestinian Garden Daniel Reynolds.

After waking up at the crack of dawn for the service the three friends wander around the gardens, taking in the wonder of entire cities in miniature and the acres of the Holy Land, with the River Jordan winding through it all. The day is brightening when the find themselves at the Mount of Olives—with a dead body.

Daniel identifies the dead man as local lawyer Perry Slay, who was well known for his sly and underhanded dealings, and had plenty of people out for his blood. When Erick Ward, a local pharmacist, is arrested, Sarah Booth takes the case.

As the bodies pile up like a pillar of salt and the suspect list grows as long as the River Jordan, Sarah Booth, Cece, and Tinkie must resurrect the truth before their own lives—and that of Tinkie's unborn child—are endangered. 

My Thoughts: 

Sarah Booth and Cece and Tinkie are on a mini retreat to Lucedale Mississippi enjoying a treat Tinkie gave them Easter weekend!  When the bodies start pilling up Sarah is up to eyes figuring out whose killing people and making it look like the local pharmacist is up to no good.  The problem is Sarah can't see to keep Erik the pharmacist out of trouble or with an alibi as the bodies stack!

This book had everything and Jitty dressed as all sorts of characters.  It was such fun to watch Jitty and Sarah try to figure their way out of this.  Definitely a great Easter story for those who love holiday theme mysteries!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Review: Murder Once Removed by: S. C. Perkins


Title: Murder Once Removed
Author: S. C. Perkins
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Series: Ancestry Detective #1
Format: Paperback ( 319 p.) Personal Purchase

Description:

S.C. Perkins' Murder Once Removed is the captivating first mystery in the Ancestry Detective series, in which Texas genealogist Lucy Lancaster uses her skills to solve murders in both the past and present.

Except for a good taco, genealogist Lucy Lancaster loves nothing more than tracking down her clients’ long-dead ancestors, and her job has never been so exciting as when she discovers a daguerreotype photograph and a journal proving Austin, Texas, billionaire Gus Halloran’s great-great-grandfather was murdered back in 1849. What’s more, Lucy is able to tell Gus who was responsible for his ancestor’s death.

Partly, at least. Using clues from the journal, Lucy narrows the suspects down to two nineteenth-century Texans, one of whom is the ancestor of present-day U.S. senator Daniel Applewhite. But when Gus publicly outs the senator as the descendant of a murderer—with the accidental help of Lucy herself—and her former co-worker is murdered protecting the daguerreotype, Lucy will find that shaking the branches of some family trees proves them to be more twisted and dangerous than she ever thought possible. 

My Thoughts: 

This book follows Lucy Lancaster who works at finding history for her clients.  While working on her latest job when a friend of hers winds up dead thinks it's connected to her work and is determined to unearth who really killed Seth Halloran back in 1849.  Which leads Lucy all over the place to library and ancestry.com to Texas state records going way back to see what happened.  But someone else is determined Lucy get to the truth and quick?  Will she figure it out or will her time run out?

I enjoyed this story with so much going everything from murder to cute agents hanging around her to keeping secrets senators ask her to keep quiet on.  How will Lucy widdle through it all to solve this one.  Well she does and is totally amazing to watch in action an adventure that is worth the risk to read and see if you can solve it before she does!

Monday, April 26, 2021

Review: Coached To Death by: Victoria Laurie


Title: Coached To Death
Author: Victoria Laurie
Publisher: Kensington
Series: The Life Coach Mysteries #1
Format: Paperback ( 352 p.) Personal Purchase

Description:

When Catherine Cooper settles in the Hamptons on the heels of a nasty split from her long-time husband, the luxurious coastal community seems like the perfect place to get back on track in style. But as Cat soon discovers, starting fresh on the East End can be deadly . . .

Cat Cooper never imagined selling off her in-demand marketing firm would mean going from the pinnacle of success to a walking hot mess. Gouged from an unexpected divorce, Cat suddenly finds herself struggling through a new career as a business-savvy life coach for the hopelessly adrift in East Hampton and contending with Heather Holland--a spiteful neighbor who will do anything to bully her out of town. But her second act may very well continue behind bars when Heather's dead body turns up next to a shattered punchbowl . . . and Cat's pinned as the murderer.

But given Heather's mean girl reputation, any one of the guests at her invite-only luncheon could have committed the crime before planting Cat's punchbowl next to the body. Determined not to trade designer duds for an unflattering prison jumpsuit, Cat sides with her best friend Gilley to scour chic boutiques and oceanfront mansions in search of the criminal who framed her. With a stoic detective looking to get her in cuffs, it's up to Cat to catch the real killer and land on her feet once again . . . 

My Thoughts: 

This is a spinoff series of M.J and Abby Cooper.  When Abby's newly divorced sister teams with computer extrodinare Gilley anything that can happen will happen.  In this book as Cat Cooper is starting a new company as a life coach she ends up with a client who needs all sorts of help and also Cat and Gilley find themselves investigating a murder of Cat's nasty neighbor Heather Holland.  Who killed her and why?

This book showed the smarts and sass in this book as Cat and Gil work to solve the crime and get Cat out of the hot seat.  It had so much going on and so much we've come to love about Ms. Laurie.  Such a skilled storyteller it pulls you in and makes you feel like your right along with Gil and Cat getting into trouble and watching Cat put the pieces together for this wonderful adventure!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Review: How To Knit A Murder by: Sally Goldenbaum


Title: How To Knit A Murder
Author: Sally Goldenbaum
Publisher: Kensington
Series: Seaside Knitters Society Mystery #13
Format: Paperback ( 306 p.) Personal Purchase

Description:

A mysterious woman arrives in picturesque Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, and the Seaside Knitters welcome her into their cozy world of intricate patterns and colorful skeins. Unfortunately, nothing frays a warm introduction like cold-blooded murder . . . 
 
With her shy manner and baggy jeans, Rose Chopra becomes an unlikely superhero the night she stumbles into Izzy Perry’s shop and inadvertently saves a shipment of yarn from water damage. When the Seaside Knitters help the enigmatic handywoman settle into town and find work at a popular real estate company, Rose proves she can fix just about anything—until a potential homebuyer is killed and she becomes entangled in murder . . .
 
The moment controversial entrepreneur Spencer Paxton is found dead in a pricey ocean-side house, accusations fly at the last person on the property—Rose. But the Seaside Knitters have their doubts. After all, Spencer’s political aspirations as well as his company’s plans to pave over Sea Harbor’s historic art district with luxury apartments earned him some very real enemies . . .
 
Now, Izzy, Birdie, Nell, and Cass must swap knitting for sleuthing as they struggle to move the needle on a twisted homicide case causing turmoil across town. As tensions build in the sleepy New England community and Rose’s secret past unravels, the ladies face an unsettling realization—true victims aren’t always the ones buried six feet under . . . 

My Thoughts:

This book introduces Rose Chopra, Spencer Paxton and Bree MacIntosh who have come back home to Sea Harbor but when Paxton pushes people the wrong way he winds up dead and Bree and Rose are looking like good suspects to his murder.  Could they have something to do with it or is it an old crime that happened and it was time for payment for the crime?  Nell, Izzy and their friends have their work cut out for them when they go back to high school and see what happened way back when!

Rose Chopra was a shy timid girl in high school who excelled at Math but crossed hairs with Spencer Paxton when it came to math and he chose to torment in her in high school so she wouldn't forget she was a nothing and he ruled the school.  Bree Spencer's wife wants almost nothing to do with him.  They are married in license only Bree wants to do her art and stay as far from Spencer as she can.  Could either of these women really have committed the crime?

I love this story it was fun and such a pleasure to go back to Sea Harbor and see what everyone is up to and how they solve the next mystery!  It was such fun to read this book and travel back to high school and see what they uncovered!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Review: If Books Could Kill by: Kate Carlisle


Title: If Books Could Kill
Author: Kate Carlisle
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Series: Biblophile Mystery #2 
Format: e-book ( 280 p.) personal purchase

Description:

Book restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright is attending the world-renowned Edinburgh Book Fair when her ex Kyle shows up with a bombshell. He has an original copy of a scandalous text that could change history—and humiliate the beloved British monarchy.
When Kyle turns up dead, the police are convinced Brooklyn's the culprit. But with an entire convention of suspects, Brooklyn's conducting her own investigation to find out if the motive for murder was a 200-year-old secret—or something much more personal.

My Review: 

This book follows Brooklyn whose in England attending a book fair when she stumbles on an ex of hers who has a book and ends up dead because of it will Brooklyn read her last book or while her time be cut short?

I love this series it's such fun to visit with Brooklyn and Derek and see what they are up to this time it seems Brooklyn has her hands full with her ex Kyle and what is going on with him.  This book was such a fun and exciting read!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Review: #Scandal by: Sarah Ocker


Title: #Scandal
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover ( 416 p.) Personal Purchase

Description:

Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.

When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.

By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation.

Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.

There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love...

My Review: 

Lucy is standing in for prom of her best friend Ellie who is sick or is she really.  She ends up on a date with Cole who she has had a thing for him for years, but due to his relationship with her bestie Ellie she has kept her distance but this one night everything gets thrown out the window.

Lucy's phone goes missing and social media being what it is it's not long before Lucy's pictures are everywhere.  Including some questionable ones with Cole.  Lucy finds herself outcast and having to work with other people to try to find out who took her phone and who has shammed her to death.

Meanwhile Lucy's sister Jayla Heart is hitting rock bottom.  Her life is falling apart and she returns home hoping for some solace but she hasn't been completely forthcoming with her family.  Hollywood isn't all it's cracked up to be.

I really enjoyed this book and seeing how Lucy would deal with the social media nightmare!  It was definitely interesting to see it all play out I love how in the end Lucy and Jayla became stronger as sisters and how Lucy ended up with new friends who could care less about the www or #whatever!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Review: Intensity by: Sherrilyn Kenyon


Title: Intensity
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Publisher: Nemsis Productions
Series: Chronicles of Nick #8
Format: Hardcover ( 400 p.) Personal Purchase

Description:

It’s a demon-eat-demon world for Nick Gautier. Just when he thinks he’s finally gotten a handle on how not to take over the world and destroy it, Death returns with an all-star cast that is determined to end the Malachai reign and lineage forever. Worse? Death and War have found the one, true enemy Nick can’t find, and even if he did, it’s one he could never bring himself to banish or kill.

Now framed for murders he hasn’t committed, and surrounded by new friends who might be turncoats, Nick is learning fast how his father went down in flames.

The heat in New Orleans is rising fast, and Nick’s threat-level has gone into a whole new level of intensity. He’s learning fast that when War and Death decide to battle, they don’t take prisoners. The don’t negotiate. And they’re both immune to his biting sarcasm and Cajun charm. To win this, he will have to embrace a new set of powers, but one wrong step, and he will belong to the side of Darkness, forever.

My Thoughts: 

Nick's had a bad year and just keep getting better all the time. This time around someone else is causing trouble in Nick's life someone he hasn't met yet and will be his biggest enemy his son.  Who seems determined to end Nick's existence but in the process his son will disappear as well.  Will Nick figure out how to best his unborn kid or will this future child get the best of him.

This book had everything we've known to love about Nick.  From his mom to his demon friends and all those inbetween!  I loved this story and glad to see it will continue in some way.  I felt there was more to Nick than we know.  Definitely a great series for those who love Nick and everything Sherrilyn Kenyon!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Review: Death of A Wedding Cake Baker by: Lee Hollis


Title: Death of A Wedding Cake Baker
Author: Lee Hollis
Publisher: Kensington
Series: Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery #11
Format: Paperback ( 320 p. ) Personal Purchase

Description:

For Matron of Honor Hayley Powell, catching a half-baked poisoner before her friend's wedding will be icing on the cake . . .

Liddy Crawford, best friend of food and cocktails columnist Hayley Powell, is getting married. The wedding is the talk of the town in Bar Harbor, Maine, including snide gossip about the age gap between the bride and her groom, local lawyer Sonny Lipton. But the cruelty of the comments is nothing compared to the nasty wedding cake baker, Liddy's quarrelsome cousin Lisa.

So when the belligerent baker is found facedown in a three-tier cake, the victim of a poisoned slice, there are more suspects in town than names on the guest list. With Sonny getting cold feet, Liddy getting hot under the frilly collar of her wedding gown, and a killer possibly crashing the ceremony, Hayley vows to solve the crime before her best friend walks down the aisle . . .

Includes seven delectable recipes from Hayley's kitchen!

My Review: 

This book follows Hayley Powell as she is helping her friend Liddy with her wedding preparations for her upcoming wedding to Sonny Lipton.  There seems to be so many issues with the simple wedding.  When Liddy let's her cousin make her wedding cake which leads to disaster.

When Liddy's cousin winds up dead and the cake she made to Liddy's exact description Liddy has to switch gears to find a new cake and a new baker.  So who killed Lisa Liddy's cousin and why? Was it someone connected to Lisa's past or someone connected to Liddy's wedding?

Sonny is also acting very strange. He keeps failing to keep appointments with Liddy for the wedding.   What is going on with Sonny and why is he acting so strange?

This book was crazy with so much going on.  It felt like needing notecards to keep up with it.  With the Liddy drama and Sonny's disappearance act you felt like something was definitely up and the truth was such a surprise.  I really enjoyed the end!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Review: Tails You Loose by: Carol J. Perry

Title: Tails You Loose
Author: Carol J. Perry
Publisher: Kensington
Series: Witch City Mystery #2
Pages: 365
Format: e-book
Source: Purchase

Description:

Her instincts may be killer--but can she catch one this wicked?

After losing her job as a TV psychic, Lee Barrett has decided to volunteer her talents as an instructor at the Tabitha Trumbull Academy of the Arts--known as "The Tabby"--in her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. But when the school's handyman turns up dead under seemingly inexplicable circumstances on Christmas night, Lee's clairvoyant capabilities begin bubbling to the surface once again.

The Tabby is housed in the long-vacant Trumbull's Department Store. As Lee and her intrepid students begin work on a documentary charting the store's history, they unravel a century of family secrets, deathbed whispers--and a mysterious labyrinth of tunnels hidden right below the streets of Salem. Even the witches in town are spooked, and when Lee begins seeing visions in the large black patent leather pump in her classroom, she's certain something evil is afoot. But ghosts in the store's attic are the least of her worries with a killer on the loose. . .

My Review: 

This book follows Lee Barrett as she is about to begin her next big adventure and new job teaching kids at The Tabitha Trumball Academy of Arts known better to people as The Tabby.  Before she even begins someone is found dead whom Lee's Aunt Ibby knows.  Who killed Bill and why?

As they adventure continues Lee also stumbles upon a lot of history about Tabitha Trumball who spend her remaining years at the Tabby under the guise of being insane!  Nobody knows for sure what happened in the end except for her nurse Megan.

I found this book great it combined history and witchcraft, and all things Salem.  Such a fun adventure to be on Ms. Perry doesn't disappoint.  She makes you feel like your right next to Lee during the whole story!  Can't wait to see what is next for Lee!
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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Review: Egg Shooters by: Laura Childs


Title: Egg Shooters
Author: Laura Childs
Publisher: Berkley Series: Cackleberry Club #9
Format: e-book ARC (304 p.)
Source: Publisher

Description:

A murder in the local hospital is raising everyone's temperature in the latest book in the New York Times bestselling Cackleberry Club series.
     
Suzanne Dietz, co-owner of the Cackleberry Club Café, is visiting her fiancé, Dr. Sam Hazelet, when a masked gunman bursts into the emergency room. He shoots two people and would probably have done more damage had Suzanne not brained him with a thermos full of chili. Still, the gunman manages to escape.

Now the ladies of the Cackleberry Club are determined to find the killer before he finds them.

My Review:

This book was such a fun adventure following Suzanne and her co-workers at the Cackleberry Club as they are trying to solve an attack at the local hospital where Suzanne was bringing dinner to her soon to be husband.

With a murder going on plus people stealing major drugs all over the place the stakes are high as Suzanne and company try to figure out whose selling drugs and why.  Also Junior makes another wonderful appearance trying to help.

I love this series it's such fun to see what Suzanne and her co-workers are up to.  You never know what you are going to get especially when you add Junior to the mix!

Friday, April 9, 2021

Book Spotlight: Guinevere Triology by: Cheryl Carpinello

 

A beautifully written story with fascinating characters, set in medieval England, and featuring characters of legend like the legendary King Arthur and Merlyn…



By Cheryl Carpinello

Title: GUINEVERE TRILOGY
Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Publisher: Silver Quill Publishing
Pages: 371
Genre: Middle Grade / Teen / Young YA

BOOK BLURBS:

GUINEVERE: ON THE EVE OF LEGEND

Princess Guinevere dreaded her upcoming thirteenth birthday. It signaled the beginning of her official role as the Lady of her father’s castle.
No more adventures in the forest with Cedwyn. No more explorations outside the castle walls. No more excitement. No more danger. No more fun.
Cedwyn—her companion for as long as she remembered—viewed her circumstances differently.
A Medieval coming-of-age story relevant today.

GUINEVERE: AT THE DAWN OF LEGEND

Ancient Stones. Mystical Stones. Autumnal Equinox.
Down upon a wide plain the yellow orb shines strong.
Racing side by side, the two laughingly ride.
A mist descends. The laughing stops.
A dangerous Medieval tale of two friends. Of a loyalty not often seen.

GUINEVERE: THE LEGEND

Fiercely loyal, Cedwyn always rushes to Guinevere’s defense. Stubborn to a fault. Always there for her. A future Knight? His one and only hope. A hero? Not what Cedwyn strove for, but it sought him.

Guinevere rarely thinks with her head. Just the opposite. Thinking with one’s heart: a recipe for trouble. And trouble finds Guinevere, all too often. Stubborn, she refuses to abandon those depending upon her. Even when ordered by her father, the king.

And so these two—both on the edge of Legend—barrel forth in this deadly dangerous and riveting Arthurian adventure.

Guinevere: The Legend is the concluding entry in the Guinevere trilogy by Cheryl Carpinello, a compelling Arthurian tale with strong characters and a story that explores the themes of friendship and loyalty against the backdrop of a society rocked by a crisis. The little children have been kidnapped, and Cedwyn is with them. Guinevere has made a vow to rescue Cedwyn and she leaves home without telling her father, an act that fills her with guilt. But she doesn’t know her bravery might put Cedwyn in harm’s way. She is just fifteen. And eleven-year-old Cedwyn trusts her absolutely, considering her as his queen. He is certain that she’s coming for him and the children. Can she save them from the renegades who hold the children captive? Traveling across the dark waters to the land beyond, Gaul, is perilous. In spite of the grim tales she’s heard from the old wizard Merlyn, will she continue?

This is a beautifully written story with fascinating characters, set in medieval England, and featuring characters of legend like the legendary King Arthur and Merlyn. In this novel, the author deftly develops a tale of adventure that revolves around Guinevere as a young girl and her loyalty to those she loves. The reader encounters her at the very start of the story, poised and on the go, determined to save her friend. Cedwyn is a richly developed young character as well and I enjoyed the way the author develops his friendship and devotion to the protagonist. The writing is filled with strong imagery, including elements of the setting like the rugged landscapes. The author’s unique ability to unveil the strong emotions of the characters and to keep the story realistic is a great addition to the strengths of the novel. The medieval era is reflected in the unique style of conversation and in the beliefs of the characters. Guinevere: The Legend is a gripping tale that keeps the reader turning the pages until the very last one…Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite

 


Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend

Chapter 1

Hunting

 

G

uinevere stared into the shadows along the edge of the forest. She could hear Cedwyn shifting from foot to foot beside her, unable to stand still. She sighed, the bow of sturdy pine in her hand growing heavier like her heart. Her thirteenth Birth Day was in a few days, but she wasn’t excited. Birth Days were supposed to be fun, but not this year. Not for her, not for a princess.

She frowned as Cedwyn adjusted the leather quiver of arrows on his back again. Sometimes, like today, her patience with the nine-year-old was short.

“Guin’ver?”

“Hush!”

“But ...”

“Hush!”

She stamped her foot on the ground, annoyed at being interrupted. “Cedwyn,” she snapped. “What is so important that you can’t be quiet?”

“I’m hungry, and the bottoms of my trousers are damp. Can’t we go back to the castle?” His voice betrayed his hurt at her tone.

Guinevere knew her anger wasn’t with Cedwyn. It wasn’t his fault. The bottom of her green ankle-length tunic, also damp with the morning dew, was starting to make her ankles itch. Her stomach chose that moment to begin grumbling. It started as a low vibration but grew louder as if it hadn’t been fed in days.

Cedwyn heard it and started giggling. He tried to smother the sound by covering his mouth, but he was too late.

Trying to keep from laughing also, Guinevere shook her head. “How are we ever going to shoot a rabbit with all this noise?” She tousled his blond hair to let him know that she was not serious. “Let’s try for just ten minutes longer. Then if we find nothing, we’ll go back. Is that all right?”

Cedwyn nodded, not wanting to make any further noise.

Her eyes wandered across the blue sky. The English summer sun had barely reached above the far hills when they had first arrived at the forest. Now, it was well on its way in its climb toward the dinner hour, and they hadn’t even had a proper breakfast yet. Cedwyn’s mother was sure to be upset that they had been gone so long.

“Come on,” he whispered. “The only creatures we’ve seen moving have been badgers and Cornish hens. We could of had five bloody hens by now.”

“You better not let your mother hear you use that word. Anyway, I told you, it’s good luck to bag a rabbit on the eve of your thirteenth Birth Day,” Guinevere said.

Cedwyn studied her face, unsure if she was telling the truth or not. Then his blue eyes widened, and he grabbed her arm as she turned to continue hunting. “Wait a minute! You promised to help me bag a rabbit on the eve of my tenth Birth Day. You said that was lucky!”

She turned to him, her balled fists on her slim hips. “You need to listen closer when I talk to you. I explained the difference between boys and girls. Boys have to seek luck on the eve of their tenth and fifteenth Birth Days. Since girls are naturally luckier than boys, they only have to seek luck once, on the eve of their thirteenth Birth Day.”

Cedwyn eyed her suspiciously. “But I thought that the eve was the night before. Your Birth Day isn’t until the day after tomorrow.”

“That’s true, but the eve of something can also be anytime close to the day.”

“You sure?”

“Of course I am! Otherwise, what would happen if the day before I didn’t get a rabbit? This way there are more chances to get one. Now, let’s go. I’m sure I saw the grass moving up ahead, and I don’t think it was the wind.” She didn’t mention to him that she needed lots of luck.

Cedwyn obediently followed her, mumbling to himself. “We’re still running out of time.”

They hadn’t gone far when he thought of something else. “Guin’ver?”

She turned, her long brown braid whipping around. “Shh! You will scare the rabbits away!”

“But you also promised to teach me how to hunt with a bow and arrow once you are thirteen.”

“Yes, but if you don’t stop your chatter, I won’t. Do you understand?”

Cedwyn nodded. A slight upturning of his mouth betrayed his satisfaction at her promise.

“Then let’s go.”

He followed, a smile highlighting his chubby cheeks. He then smacked into Guinevere who had abruptly stopped.

“Wha...”

A hand clamped down over his mouth followed by an angry “Shh!”

Cedwyn moved quietly up to her side, his nine-year-old frame coming up to her shoulders. When she looked him, her brown eyes sparkled with excitement in the midmorning light. Her lips formed the word “Look.” His blue eyes followed her out-stretched arm.

There, just beneath the pine trees where the wild grasses grew-- movement. He stared at the spot. Then the tall green stalks bent again, betraying the presence of something beneath.

“How can you tell if it’s really a rabbit?” he whispered.

“See how the stalks move forward a bit and then part?”

Cedwyn nodded.

“Well, the forward movement of the stalks is the rabbit testing out the goodness of the food. And then where the grasses part---that is---when the rabbit stops and starts feeding,” Guinevere said, her pride in her knowledge showing. “Hand me an arrow.” She held out her hand as Cedwyn pulled an arrow from the small leather quiver on his back.

Very carefully, her heart pounding, Guinevere nocked the arrow and steadily drew the bowstring back. Taking a deep breath to steady her arms and calm her heart, she let the arrow loose. She watched the spin of the feathers as the arrow sped to its target like a hawk diving after its prey.

Suddenly a horrendous cry filled the air. Guinevere and Cedwyn jumped into each other’s arms. They crouched on the ground and covered their ears as the shrill cry continued to make their ears ring.

“Wh...what is that?” Cedwyn whispered.

Guinevere shook her head in reply.

And then, a different sound—of something crashing through the grasses and scrub thickets. They inched their way up to peek above the grass. There—crashing and charging around the thickets—the biggest wild boar they’d ever seen.

Cedwyn looked at Guinevere. “Ain’t that your arrow sticking in its side?”

She nodded slowly, in shock that she’d hit anything. For a few moments, they watched as the boar ran first in one direction and then another in what appeared to be a crazed pattern. But Guinevere recognized the pattern: the wounded boar was searching for its hunters .

“Come on,” she said, grabbing his hand. “We have to get out of here now!”

“Why?” Then he had his answer. The boar roared in anger. The ground trembled under their feet as the boar spotted them and barreled straight for them. It had found the culprits responsible for the arrow in its side.

“Run!” Guinevere said, no longer quiet.

Cedwyn needed no further urging. He took off with Guinevere close behind him. The thunderous crashing of the boar through the grasses and scrub brush vibrated through every part of their bodies.

Guinevere chanced a look behind her and realized that the boar was gaining on them. She glanced around. Off to the right was a smaller pine tree that Cedwyn could climb to get up out of danger. He was the slowest, but they were running faster than ever. Guinevere reached for Cedwyn’s shoulder, heard a thud, and her hand found only air. He cried out as he hit the ground. The exposed tree root had claimed its first victim of the day.

She reached down to help him up, but his foot was stuck solid. Seeing the boar grow in size as it got closer, Guinevere’s brain frantically looked for a way to save Cedwyn and herself. If she made enough noise, she could get the boar to follow her into the forest. That would give Cedwyn time to get loose and up the tree.

“I’ll lead the boar away. Get yourself free and then head for that tree.”

Cedwyn looked in the direction Guinevere pointed.

“Get up in it as far as you can go and hang on until I let you know it’s safe to come down. All right?”

Cedwyn nodded, his eyes wide with fear.

“Stay down and be still ‘til you hear from me. Then be quick!”

He nodded again, searching behind them for sight of the boar.

Guinevere jumped and shouted, “Halloo boar! Here I am. Come and get me!” She waved her arms, diverting the boar’s attention to her. Once spotted, she ran. The pounding of its hooves told her the boar was following and, if possible, coming even faster. “Cedwyn! Now!” Guinevere shouted as she dashed for the safety of the trees.

Behind her, the boar charged, pain fueling its rage. Thundering through the grasses and scrub brush, it focused only on reaching the creature responsible for its pain. Behind them, Cedwyn frantically dug and pulled on the root to free his foot.

“Guin’ver! I can’t get loose!”

“You have to! Try harder! Pull harder!”

Cedwyn dug and kicked his foot until he felt it start to loosen. Finally pulling free, he stood up. He could see the boar charging after Guinevere. He ran for the pine tree. Grabbing branches, he pulled himself up until he was too high for the boar to reach.

“I’m in the tree!” he yelled.

Not turning around, Guinevere raised a hand and continued running.

Once in the forest, she slowed to let her eyes adjust to the darkness, and as she waited, the sounds of the boar grew louder. Finally, she could just make out a faint trail. She ran down the path, trying to find some place to hide so that the boar would run past her.

Up ahead was a pine tree with low hanging branches. Using her last bit of speed, she reached the tree and jumped. Her hands grasped a branch; pine needles pricked her skin. She pulled herself up, struggling to breathe, her arms aching from the effort.

Before she could get a good hold, the whole tree shook. Pine needles fell, sticking in her hair and on her clothes. Screaming, she fought to hold on, ignoring the bark cutting into her skin. At least if the boar gets me, I won’t have my thirteenth Birth Day. She didn’t know which would be worse: the boar or turning thirteen.

The boar charged the tree again. Her grip loosened. She screamed louder, suddenly sure that turning thirteen wouldn’t be as bad as facing the angry boar.

“Guin’ver! I’m coming!” Cedwyn’s only answer was another scream from the forest. He loosened his arms and slid down the tree, unmindful of the scratches from the bark.

Guinevere’s right arm flailed above her, blindly searching for a higher branch. Her fingertips brushed the bottom of one sliding through the sap. She stretched up, grasping the branch firmly with one hand. Trying not to think of what would happen if she fell, she let go with her other hand. For just a moment she felt herself slipping down, but her fingers found the branch, and she held on. The boar hit the tree again. It shook hard enough to nearly topple over, and Guinevere screamed once more.

Then she heard another more horrible scream. Its piercing sound traveled up the trunk into her body. Thinking it was Cedwyn, she looked down and saw a rock hit the boar’s side with the arrow. Its angry cry filled the air one last time before the wounded animal ran off deep into the forest.

Guinevere leaned against the rough pine trying to breathe.

“Is it gone? Can you see it?” Cedwyn asked, peeking out from behind a bush.

Guinevere searched the path that the boar had taken. There was no sign of it, and she couldn’t hear it anymore either.

“It’s gone. We’re safe. C’mon out.”

As Cedwyn made his way to her, she climbed down the tree and collasped on the ground, her legs too wobbly to hold her. Both of them were a mess. Guinevere proceeded to brush some of the dirt, pine needles, and small twigs off her clothing. Strands of hair had escaped from her braid, and she tried to tuck them back as she pulled out the pine needles.

Cedwyn plopped beside her, brushing twigs and pine needles off his clothes. Guinevere reached over and rubbed dirt off his cheek. They looked at each other and burst out laughing from relief at still being alive.

“I..thought..we..were...dead!” Cedwyn said between laughs.

“You should have felt that tree shake! I was sure I was the boar’s next meal!” Guinevere paused before adding, “Thank you for coming to my rescue.”

“You saved me too. That’s what friends are for.”

“Yes. I’m only glad that we’re still alive to be friends,” she said, squeezing his hand. “Let’s go. We’re really late now, and we don’t even have a rabbit as a peace offering.”

He nodded. “We’re gonna be in trouble.” Then, as if someone had heard them, upon the wind came a faint but clear voice.

“Lady Guinevere! Cedwyn!”

Grabbing hands, the two ran, fearful of what awaited them at the castle.

Suddenly Cedwyn stopped and pulled Guinevere backwards, almost knocking her down. Grinning, he pointed under a bush at the side of the path. Laughter spilled out from her as she saw their trap in the thicket where they had set it earlier that morning. It was no longer empty. Inside crouched their peace offering: a rabbit! They stuffed the rabbit inside the small leather satchel Guinevere carried; their good humor restored until the wind carried that voice again, this time louder and angrier.

“Lady Guinevere! Cedwyn!

 




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Cheryl Carpinello taught high school English for 25 years. During that time, she worked with numerous students who didn’t like to read for a variety of reasons. However, she discovered that even the most reluctant readers became engaged in the classroom and in reading when she introduced units on King Arthur and the works of ancient world writers. Upon retiring, she set out to write fast-paced, action-filled stories in these setting to encourage young readers to read more. When not writing, you can find her reading, spending time with family, and traveling.

Cheryl’s books:

Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend (1)

Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend (2)

Guinevere: The Legend (3)

Guinevere Trilogy ebook only

The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table)

Sons of the Sphinx

Tutankhamen Speaks

Grandma/Grandpa’s Tales 1

Grandma/Grandpa’s Tales 2



Website: https://www.cherylcarpinello.com

Blog: carpinelloswritingpages.blogspot.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ccarpinello

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.carpinello1






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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Review: Missing and Endangered by: J. A. Jance


Title: Missing and Endangered
Author: J. A. Jance
Publisher: William Morrow
Series: Joanna Brady #19
Format: Hardcover ( 384 p.) Personal Purchase

Description:

Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady’s professional and personal lives collide when her college-age daughter is involved in a missing persons case in this evocative and atmospheric mystery in J. A. Jance’s New York Times bestselling suspense series, set in the beautiful desert country of the American Southwest.

When Jennifer Brady returns to Northern Arizona University for her sophomore year, she quickly becomes a big sister to her new roommate, Beth Rankin, a brilliant yet sheltered sixteen-year-old freshman. For a homeschooled Beth, college is her first taste of both freedom and unfettered access to the internet, and Jenny is concerned that she is too naive.

With Beth at war with her parents, Jenny asks to invite Beth home for Christmas, and Sheriff Joanna Brady says yes. After all, what could go wrong? Within hours, however, Joanna’s department is sucked into a complex officer-involved shooting that places two vulnerable young children in jeopardy. When Beth disappears while visiting over Christmas vacation, Joanna finds herself in a case fraught with landmines. With her own daughter’s well-being at stake, the seasoned sheriff knows there’s no room for the slightest mistake as hope ticks away for a fragile young girl who has gone missing and endangered.

My Thoughts: 

Jennifer Brady is taking all her midterm exams at college and getting ready to head home for Christmas and has included her roommate Beth in that equation.  What she doesn't know is Beth spends her nights talking to a guy online who has convinced her that he works for a secret company and can't show her alot of video chats.  What Beth doesn't know the guy if full of crap.  

Joanne Brady has her hands busy getting ready for Christmas and look into two kids impacted by a death of their father (well step-father). and having a mom whose too busy to be a mom.  Joanne is determined to make sure these kids are ok and get help if they need help.  

What transpires between the two situations makes Joanna and Jennifer really step up and do the tough work and help when people need help.

I love this series.  Joanna and Jennifer are very likable characters that pull you in so you can see what people are up to!  You love going back to Arizona to see how Joanna and her family are.  Definitely a great mystery that will keep you captivated until the very end!

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