BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway of Playing With Fire by J.J. Cook

Publisher: Berkley
Series: Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery #2
Format Read: Paperback
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | Barnes & Noble
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission for purchases made through these links.

Blurb from goodreads:

Fire Chief Stella Griffin is working to solve the mysterious death of her predecessor, Eric Gamlyn—who also haunts her cabin. Yet the more she learns, the more burning questions she must answer. Just as Stella thinks she has a lead from Deputy Chum, someone snuffs her hopes—and the lawman.

Adding fuel to the fire, Stella’s parents soon arrive—with her ex-boyfriend—hoping to persuade her to return to Chicago. Now Stella is torn between the life she left behind and uncovering what happened to her ghostly friend. But she’d better think fast or more than her investigation could go up in flames….

Bea's Thoughts:

Although this was the second book in the series, I had no trouble reading this as a stand-alone. "Playing with Fire" was an enjoyable introduction to the world of fire fighting. I know little about it and I enjoyed getting an inside glimpse. Stella, the lead character and the acting fire chief of Sweet Pepper, Tennessee, is a very likable and relatable character as well as a strong narrator. Eric, the ghost of the dead fire chief, is an active member of the story and his interactions with Stella are a treat. He also has a sneaky sense of humor and enjoys playing tricks on people, "haunting" the cabin he shares with Stella. He has a good deal of fun playing tricks on Stella's ex, Doug. :D The cast of characters is interesting and felt real as did the small town southern atmosphere. The authors put in enough detail to give a picture but don't go overboard. I could visualize places and events while still filling in some of the details. Small town life is accurately portrayed, and neither glorified nor vilified.

I was caught up in the story and it kept my interest all the way to the puzzling end. Why puzzling? Because the last two chapters happen after the major plot lines are resolved and read more like the opening chapters of the next book. It was odd and weakened the ending.There were also several times when the authors abruptly shifted perspectives; most of the story is told in from Stella's POV, third person present, but then suddenly we'd get a few sentences or a paragraph from another character's perspective. It was jarring. 

"Playing with Fire" gives us several plots; Eric's murder, a present day murder, Stella's family, and Stella's job as the acting fire chief. They're deftly woven together and add up to an engaging mix of mystery, family, romance, and some humor. The mystery is tightly constructed and kept me guessing. I enjoyed the story and I'm looking forward to the next book. 


About the author ~ 

J.J. Cook’s first mystery, That Old Flame of Mine, became an instant bestseller in 2013. Playing with Fire is the second book in that series. They write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as Joyce and Jim Lavene, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.

Find J.J. Online:


Tour Wide Giveaway
The authors are giving away one copy of "That Old Flame of Mine", book 1, in print with a copy of the e-novella - "Hero's Journey", and a print copy of "Playing with Fire" in a Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade tote. Sorry, US only. Please read my Giveaway Policy.

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  1. The story looks original and funny :)

  2. congrats & continued success to JJ!!!!

  3. I absolutely loved this book and the series. I'm the next tour stop :)

  4. Oh sounds fun. I love fire-fighting reads and how different the heroine is the fire chief! Haven't seen that before. Thanks for the heads up Bea!

  5. I found your thoughts on this books very helpful thank you.

  6. I love cozy mysteries!!! Congrats and thanks for the giveway.

  7. I find it really disconcerting when POV changes so suddenly like that. I enjoy books with multiple POVs, but I really like it to be clear smooth transitions. I might check this one out all the same - I haven't read a cozy mystery in a loooong time


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