Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway for Playing with Fire by J.J. Cook

Join author J.J. Cook on the Virtual Blog Tour for Playing With Fire, presented by Great Escapes Book Tours, from January 6 – January 20, 2014.  Please leave a comment or question for the author to let them know you stopped by.  You can enter their tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.   You can also follow the rest of the tour here

Impossible Stella, with Eric Gamlyn, former Sweet Pepper Fire Chief  By J. J. Cook 
I have lived alone, at peace with the world around me for forty years – except for the occasional annoying, living human who wants to take over my home. I woke up here after dying, and I have tried to be thankful that I ended up here instead of in a ditch somewhere.

No one talks about what happens to the dead. Trust me – there’s a reason for that! The world is empty, and not at all what you might expect. At least I still have the Little Pigeon River to watch, and the Smoky Mountains to marvel at. I can hear the cry of the birds, and watch the change of the seasons.

Until Stella Griffin walked into my afterlife.

I have to give her credit. She’s here in Sweet Pepper, Tennessee to save my fire brigade from extinction. I appreciate that. I worked hard to create the fire brigade, even though the county worked harder to destroy it.

What little peace I had ran out the back door when Stella came through the front. She’s tall, and bossy. Her red hair shows her temper, but not the compassion and bravery in her heart. She’s a worthy fire chief to take my place.

But she won’t leave well-enough alone.

Okay. I didn’t die as many thought I did – in a silo fire where the roof collapsed in on me. I thought I’d died that way too. Then Stella found me buried in the firehouse wall. I can handle that.

She can’t.

She has to know why, and who’s responsible. She can’t leave it alone and go about her own, complicated life. She doesn’t even know yet if she’s staying in Sweet Pepper or going back to Chicago! Why is she trying to figure out who killed me?
What does it matter anyway? I’m still going to be dead.

I hate more than anything that looking into who killed me might put Stella’s life in danger. She still has a chance to live a good life – to have a family. I lost that opportunity because I thought there was plenty of time left for that kind of thing. I was wrong. I don’t want her to be wrong.

So I discourage her, and I would block her way, if I could. My life began again when Stella came to live in my lonely world. I don’t want to lose her.

But she’s like stopping a forest fire. She rages on, burning through barricades she shouldn’t, not stopping for an instant to think that the people who killed me might want to kill her too.

She cries when she thinks she won’t find the answers for me. She can’t see that I don’t care if I didn’t die a hero. The past is gone. All I want is for her to be in my future. 
Playing with Fire
By J.J. Cook
A Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery, Book 2

Publisher:  Berkley Prime Crime
Release Date:  January 7, 2014
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-101632-00-0

Add to Goodreads

About the book: 

Welcome to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s home to the hottest and sweetest peppers in the world—as well as at least one ghost and a hotbed of secrets…


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…

Buy Links:    Amazon    B&N    Kobo   Book Depository  Book World 

About J.J. Cook
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.


Twitter: @authorjlavene


A cozy mystery set in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Playing with Fire, the second book in J.J. Cook’s Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery series, has well developed characters, an interesting mystery and a smidgeon of romance.  A well paced plot and lively dialogue kept me turning the pages to discover what was going to happen next.  While part of a series, I was able to read and enjoy this book without having read the previous book first.

Being pulled in several different directions, Fire Chief Stella Griffin needs to decide between staying in Sweet Pepper or returning to her job in Chicago.  Staying in Sweet Pepper will allow her to continue investigating the mysterious death of her predecessor Eric Gamlyn, whose ghost shares her temporary home.  She’ll also be able to continue training and developing the volunteer fire fighters she’s turned into the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade.  If she heads home to Chicago, Eric’s death would remain a mystery and would probably never be solved; especially since the local police don’t seem interested in looking into such an old case. 

Just as Stella begins gathering clues about Eric’s death, and a newly retired cop tells her about what he’s thinks is the motive, Stella’s parents arrive for an unexpected visit.  They want Stella to come home and hope they’ll be able to talk her into going back to Chicago with them.  The author does a wonderful job developing Stella’s character; she’s smart, strong and independent.  She doesn’t like unsolved mysteries, especially when they involve other fire fighters.  While she realizes Eric is now a ghost, and that there’s only so much she can do for him, she’s determined to discover what happened forty years ago. 

The secondary characters are also well developed and all of them made a contribution to the story.  I especially enjoyed getting to know Eric, who secretly loves Stella even though he knows there relationship can’t go anywhere because after all he’s a ghost.  Stella’s parents are fun, clearly love their daughter and want her to do what’s in her best interest.  The volunteer fire fighters are also well developed and I enjoyed their interactions with Stella.

Will Stella uncover the truth behind Eric’s death?  Will she stay in Sweet Pepper or return to Chicago?  You’ll have to read Playing with Fire to find out.  I enjoyed it and look forward to the next book in this series.

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 Crowns*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule
January 6 - Dr. Pepper Diva - Review
January 7 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Review – Guest Post
January 8- Queen of All She Reads – Review – Guest Post
January 8 - My Recent Favorite books - Review
January 9 - readalot blog - Review
January 10 – Melina's Book Blog – Review - Interview
January 11 – off
January 12 – Christa Reads and Writes - Review
January 13 – Community Bookstop - Review
January 14- Girl Lost In a Book - Review
January 15 – Books-n-Kisses - Review
January 16 – dru's book musing – Guest Post
January 16 - Bea's Book Nook - Review
January 17 – Socrates' Book Review Blog - Review
January 18 –off
January 19 – Brooke Blogs - Review
January 20 – Mochas, Mysteries and More – Review - Interview

*FTC Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review. 


  1. Haven't yet read the first, THAT OLD FLAME of MINE, but it as well as both PLAYING WITH FIRE and HERO'S JOURNEY are on my TBR list. Winning them would be a thrill.
    I can't imagine how you write so many different books under all your names. Even keeping up with one series, and writing one book, would overtax my abilities -- I'm in awe of both of yours'.