Thursday, October 25, 2018

Book Review of Thread Herrings

Thread Herrings
By:  Lea Wait
Kensington Books
3 Stars

Angie Curtis, the owner of Mainely Needlepoint, was invited to her first auction by her friend, Sarah Byrne, an antique shop owner.  Angie was fascinated by the great variety of items up for auction, and those bidding on the auctions.  She specifically expressed some interest in all of the needlepoints, but it was a badly damaged embroidered coat of arms that truly intrigued her.  She bid on it and won it.  When she got home, she unframed it and found a folded piece of paper with a blue silk ribbon in it.  The paper was a “receipt” for a boy named “Charles” who was left at the Foundling Hospital in England in 1757.  Angie was puzzled by the paper and the coat of arms.  She wanted to find out the story behind them.  Her friend, Clem, who worked at the local new station, suggested she participate in a short piece about the items in order to ask viewers to help her solve the mystery.  That was when her troubles began.  A threat was sent to the news station that warned that Clem and Angie would be killed if they didn’t leave the story alone.  The next day, Clem was found dead. Even with her guilt over Clem’s death, Angie was still determined to solve the mystery.  Will she be able to solve it before she winds up dead as well?

I thought this book had a very riveting plot.  The author does a great job with the rising action of the story.  The intensity of the plot becomes more and more desperate, and the urgency builds and builds.  It was one of those books that is hard to put down because you have to find out what happens next.  A unique detail in this story is that Angie is in hiding for almost all of the climbing action, and she therefore has to rely almost solely on her phone to help her solve the mystery.  We don’t often find cozy mystery sleuths that do almost all of their investigating with a phone.

There are two main ingredients this book is missing though:  suspects and motives.  We have to wait all the way until the end until we find out who and why.  There is never really a suspect list, and no way for the reader to figure out “whodunit?”  When we are finally given a possible suspect there still isn’t a viable motive.  It isn’t until the suspect actually describes what happens that he also reveals the why, and the why seems a little far fetched.

So even though the ending was a little weak, I would still recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers.

Thanks to Net Galley & Kensington Books for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #ThreadHerrings

Book Review of Murder in Her Stocking

Murder in Her Stocking
By:  G. A. McKevett
Kensington Books
5 Stars

Murder in Her Stocking takes place about 30 years ago in the small southern town of McGill, Georgia.  The story centers around Stella Reid and her seven grandchildren.  One night while out with two of her grandchildren, Stella hears the most dreadful cry coming from the alley behind the local tavern.  Stella sends her grandkids to the police station, and she rushes to the alley to see if she can help.  There she finds the town’s “bad girl,” Prissy Carr, dying.  She takes Prissy into her arms and comforts her during her final minutes.  By the time the sheriff arrives, Prissy is dead.  While not everyone in McGill thinks she is worth the effort, the sheriff and Stella know they need to solve the mystery of her death.

Life doesn’t stop though just because there is a murder to solve.  Stella must also deal with her daughter-in-law, the town drunk, in order to ensure her grandkids are being properly cared for.  Stella also comforts one of her closest friends who is going through a difficult time in her marriage.  She must also deal with her changing feelings for the local sheriff and his for hers.

This story does a great job of taking you back in time and setting the scene for this Christmas mystery.  It also does a great job of creating memorable, unique characters.   This book is so much more than just a cozy mystery. It’s also about heartbreak, love, family, and the value of true friends.  It touched me in a way that other cozy mysteries simply haven’t.  I found myself laughing at the funny parts, and crying through the tough times, and wishing I could help. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys mysteries, Christmas mysteries, or especially stories that help to teach the true meaning of Christmas

I’ve seen from other reviewers that this book is a prequel to the Savannah Reid mystery series.  I’ve not read that series yet, but I was still able to throughly enjoy this book.  I’m looking forward to reading through the Savannah Reid series, and I hope to see more from the Granny Reid series.

Thanks to Net Galley and Kensington Books for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #MurderInHerStocking

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Book Review of A Picture of Murder

A Picture of Murder
By:  T. E. Kinsey
Amazon Publishing UK
4 stars

Lady Hardcastle and Florence Armstrong are back and better than ever.  This is the fourth book in the Lady Hardcastle Mystery series.  The novel opens up on All Hallows’ Eve.  Ghosts and ghouls are abound in Littleton, Cotterell. A film producer, Mr. Cheetham, and his film crew arrive at town, at the perfect time, to show their moving picture, The Witch’s Downfall.  Things go awry though when one of the film’s actors is found dead and killed in the same manner as his character.  Lady Hardcastle and Armstrong put their skills to use to try and solve the murders.  But, are they looking for a supernatural being or a living person?

This novel is fun from start to finish.  It is my favorite book in the Lady Hardcastle series.  We meet old and new characters and each character is distinctive and unique. Ultimately, however, it is the repertoire between the characters that makes this novel so great.  The interactions between Lady Hardcastle and Armstrong are particularly memorable.  We also get a small glance at some of Lady Hardcastle and Armstrong’s secret past.  This past seems to have prepared them for the sleuthing they do in the present.  Their skills are sharp enough to captivate the police, who not only inform them on the progress on the case, but also encourage their help.  Not only is the mystery solved at the end of the book, but we get a hint of a relationship in the making. Something fun to look forward to in the next book.  I really enjoyed this book, and it was a entertaining October read.

Thanks to Net Galley and Amazon Publishing UK for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #APictureOfMurder

Monday, October 15, 2018

Book Review for The Hour of Death

The Hour of Death
By:  Jane Willan
Crooked Lane Books
4 Stars

The Hour of Death is the second book in the Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn series.

Sister Agatha is content with her life at the Gwenafwy Abbey in Northern Wales.  She loves books and is the Abbey’s librarian.  Her free time is spent reading mysteries by authors such as Agatha Christie (her namesake), Louise Penny, and Janet Evanovich.  Not only does she read mysteries, but she is writing a mystery novel as well.  When not busy reading or writing, Sister Agatha spends a lot of time in the village of Pryderi. There she visits the local library, drinks tea at The Buttered Crust, spends time with Father Selwyn, and visits St. Anselm Church.  One Saturday during Advent, Sister Agatha is in the village when sirens erupt.  She follows the sound of the sirens and finds them stopped in front of St. Anselm Church.  Agatha inquires as to what has happened and finds out one of the Church parishioners, Tiffany Reese, is dead.  Tiffany Reese was not well like, and Sister Agatha suspects foul play.  With the help of Father Selwyn, Sister Agatha sets out to solve the mystery of Tiffany’s death.  Around every corner she seems to find another suspect and another secret.

This book was such a great, unique read.  There were vibrant characters in an idyllic setting.  Each nun introduced in the story has her own unique personality and varied interests.  I also love that the nuns are modern and are portrayed as such.  They aren’t portrayed the same as Middle Age nuns would be.  The story is also very realistic.  At one point, Agatha wants to take prints off a teacup, but she abandons the idea because she doesn’t have access to the national database of fingerprints.  She must solve this mystery with only the resources available to her.  As Agatha uncovers each clue, and moves from suspect to suspect, the reader moves from one possible solution to another.  The book left me guessing all the way until the end.

I think anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries will be entertained by  this book.  For those that love references to other literary texts within a story, this book may be right up your alley.  This book also reminded me of the Father Dowling Mysteries from the late 80s.  I think fans of that show will like this book as well.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Book Review for The Pint of No Return

The Pint of No Return
By:  Ellie Alexander
St. Martin’s Press
Minotaur Books
4 Stars

Sloan Krause is a female brewer in the German themed town of Leavenworth, Washington.  It’s Octoberfest time, and the city is abounding with tourists who are there for the festival which includes beer tasting and other German filled fun.  Sloan has recently started working at Nitro, a nanobrewery, operated by Garrett.  While running errands for Nitro, she runs into a film crew that is gathering footage for a documentary about beer. They become interested in Sloan because she knows so much about beer and how to make it.  They also like that she is a woman in a predominately male field. While talking to the film crew, the star of the show, Mitchell Morgan, comes storming into the store.  He has little time for anyone but himself.  Later, the documentary takes a turn for the worst when Mitchell is found dead.  Was it his ego that killed him or something else?

This book is well written, it has a great story set in a unique setting, and it is filled with great characters.  In a way, this book reminds me of the original Star Trek series.  Not the science fiction part, but the character development.  Viewers would turn in each week to not necessarily see what danger Kirk would land it (although that was always interesting), but to come back to familiar friends and watch as their characters progressively grew and changed.  The relationships ultimately became the force driving the plot.  That is how this story felt to me.  The characters and their relationships really become more important than the murder.  Although the murder was never too far away.  We have Sloan and her changing relationships with Mac and Garrett, her Krause family, her son, and Kat.  Sloan’s relationship with her unknown parents also changes as she receives new information.

I will definitely return to this series to see where these characters go.

This is a perfect book to cuddle up with on a cool fall evening in front of the fireplace.

I enjoyed this book so much, that I think I will read Alexander’s Bakeshop Mysteries.

Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #ThePintOfNoReturn

Boo Review for The Dead Ringer

The Dead Ringer
Written By:  M. C. Beaton
St Martin’s Press
Minotaur Books
3 Stars

The town of Thirk Magna is known for its bell ringers.  The Bishop is coming to town and it’s for him that the bells toll.  He is a handsome , smooth talker who woos the ladies of the town so that they will donate money to his old folk’s home.  Soon after his arrival, Millicent, one of the bell ringers is found dead.  Agatha also learns that the bishop’s fiancĂ© seems to have disappeared.  Agatha wonders if the two events could be related, and she decides she needs to learn more.  Unfortunately, as she is trying to piece together the puzzle more bodies pile up.

There are a number of issues I had with this book. The first is the number of characters introduced in the first chapters. I had to go back to the beginning to make a list of characters in order to keep track of everyone.  I also didn’t find the main character very likable.  She was standoffish and rude even to the people that care about her.  Thirdly, Agatha does very little investigating in this novel.  She seems more concerned about her love life than solving the mystery.

Underneath all the flaws, however, is a well written cozy mystery.  I found the book hard to put down, and I would read late into the night.  There are also some great characters.  I cared enough about the characters, that I plan on continuing the series to see how the characters progress and what happens to them.  This story also had a great ending that was totally unexpected.  Just when you think the mystery is solved, a wrench is thrown in, and you have to readjust your original conclusions.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press Minotaur Books for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #TheDeadRinger

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Book Review for The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

I’m not going to summarize this book because it has such an AMAZING plot, and I don’t want to give any of it away. Amazon and Goodreads don’t even offer much of a summary. This is one of those novels you should just jump right into without a lot of background information. The book reminds me of Space Mountain at Disneyland. It’s filled with thrilling twists and turns, dips and drops, and all at a fast paced speed. At the end of the ride you think to yourself, “That was one hell of an adventure!” If you love murder mysteries, and you don’t mind a sci-fi twist, you won’t regret reading this book. In fact, you won’t want to put it down.

Book Review For Dark Tide Rising

One cold and foggy evening, William Monk’s peaceful evening at home was interrupted by a knock at the door.  The caller was Sir Oliver Rathbone, a lawyer and good friend of Monk’s.  He came to Monk for help with a kidnapping.  His client’s wife, Kate, had been kidnapped and the kidnappers had demanded a ransom be paid in exchange for Helen’s release.  Monk was immediately sympathetic with the husband, Harry Exeter, because his own wife, Hester, was kidnapped once. Monk vowed to help Exeter deliver the money and get his wife back.  At the drop off location, however, things went terribly wrong.

Let me first say that I haven’t read an Anne Perry book that I haven’t liked.  Anne Perry is a master storyteller, and she doesn’t disappoint with this latest installment of the William Monk series.

This book can be read as a standalone novel, but in order to truly appreciate Perry’s character development, you should read these books in order.

Perry has a knack for allowing the reader to see into each character and to empathize with what they are going through. Right away, her superb writing does a prodigious job of expressing the despair that Exeter and Monk are feeling.  That despair grows and grows as the novel progresses.  In particular, Monk’s agony over the botched drop off, and his doubts about his men, weighs heavily on him and grows as the story unfolds.  The reader’s desire to see this weight lifted also grows at the same time.  We also learn more about some of the other recurring characters.

Perry’s character evolution does not interfere with the development of the plot.  It is riveting, realistic, and keeps the reader guessing.  There are sub-plots within the main story that all merge together to form a coherent and complex story which in turn leads to the answers of many questions.

Like many of Perry’s other books, this novel ends shortly after the climax of the story.  This is not a negative attribute of her books, but some people are surprised by how abrupt the endings are.

Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #DarkTideRising

Friday, October 5, 2018

Book Review for The Peppermint Mocha Murder

What could be better than a trip to a small New England town for Christmas?  That’s how Hayden Mundy Moore, a chocolatier, feels when her financial advisor and friend, Travis, invites her to his hometown.  He invites her to join him and his friend Albany for the premier of the musical adaptation of Albany’s recent book.

On her first night in town, Hayden can’t sleep so she decides to make chocolate peppermint truffles to surprise the owner and guests of the B&B where she is staying.  Instead of making her way into the kitchen, however, she finds herself in the dining room.  There she discovers the body of a woman who she later finds out is the producer of the musical.  The police seem to think her death was nothing more than an accident.  Hayden has questions though, and she decides to investigate it herself.  Along the way she discovers what secrets this little town holds.

I really appreciated the setting for this book.  It did a great job of setting a Christmas atmosphere even with a murder hanging over the town.  The delicious sounding chocolate treats don’t hurt either.  There is a great cast of characters in this book.  However, I don’t feel like Hayden was able to ever really able to find out the who, what, when, why, and how about each of the characters.  It makes her conclusions at the end of the book seem a little weak.  The book was still very enjoyable to read, and I hope to go back and read the first five books in the series.

I think fans of other cooking mysteries will enjoy this book.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book.

Book Review for The Cinnamon Roll Murder

One evening on their way to the Lake Eden Inn to listen to a rehearsal for the jazz festival, Hannah and her sister, Michelle, come upon a multi-car accident.  They call 911 and then decide to see if they can help any of the victims.  They come across a bus that happens to contain the band, The Cinnamon Roll Six, which was set to headline the jazz festival. While most of those on board the bus appear to have only bumps and bruises, the keyboard player, Buddy, has an injured hand, and the bus driver is dead.  At the hospital, x-rays show that Buddy has a sprained wrist.  Buddy is taken to a patient room to wait for the doctor to come put a splint on his wrist. Before a doctor is able to treat Billy’s injury, someone enters the room and thrusts a pair of scissors into Buddy’s chest.

The 15th book in the Hannah Swensen series, the Cinnamon Roll Murder, is probably my least favorite in the series so far.  The Swesen ladies have really started to feel that they have become smarter than the police.  Although, Mike, Bill, and the rest of the Lake Eden Police Department, usually come to the same conclusions as they do, but without endangering their own lives or the lives of others.  In addition, in order to solve the crimes, the girls have to deceive and steal from the men they are said to love.  They steal police reports, medical records, and other personal and confidential information. The characters feel as if they are out of control.

This book also felt more like a recipe book than a cozy mystery.  While I usually love the recipes included with the story, it seemed like the recipes moved the book along, rather than the plot.  The mystery was actually rather thin.

While I didn’t enjoy this book, I’m not giving up on this series yet.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Book Review for The Body in the Attic

The Body in the Attic is the first in a new cozy mystery series by Judi Lynn.  Jazzi, who is a house flipper, along with her cousin Jerod, have started work on a new house that was once owned by their Aunt Lynda’s boyfriend.  In the process of clearing the house, the two cousins stumble upon a body in the attic.  Tests later show that the body belongs to their Aunt Lynda.  Jazzi, along with help from her family, tries to unravel what happened to her Aunt Lynda.  Along with repairing the house and helping with the investigation, Jazzi find times to develop a love interest with her house contractor, Ansel.

I really enjoyed reading this book.  Jazzi is a strong and unique character.  For those of  you that enjoy watching all the shows about house flipping, I think you will find this a fun read.  You get invested in the progress of the house as the story moves along.  You are able to watch as the characters develop strong and realistic bonds between them.  The only problem I had with the characters is that I thought Jazzi let Ansel take over too much of the decision making.  I would think that as a house flipper that she would have strong instincts about what would work.  I still enjoyed the chemistry that builds between them though.  I’m looking forward to meeting these characters again in the next book.

The mystery itself leaves many clues for the reader.  However, you are left to second guess yourself with each new twist and turn in the investigation.
#netgalley #thebodyintheattic

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book.

Book Review for Murder by the Book

Addie Greyborne is living with the grief of losing both her father and fiancĂ©, when an unknown aunt dies and leaves Addie her entire estate. Addie uses the opportunity to leave Boston and head to small New England town that is named after her family. There, with the inventory from her aunt’s estate, Addie is able to start her own bookstore. From the day she opens the shop she is hit with problem after promblem. Things escalate until a local business owner is found dead, and her new friend Serena is charged with the murder. Addie insists on untangling the mystery behind the shopkeeper’s death and the string of events that have been plaguing her. 

So, I loved this cozy mystery from the start. It was one of those books where you keep telling yourself you will go to bed as soon as you read just one more chapter. Yet, you can’t stop reading. There were a lot of characters introduced through the novel, and some reviewers have said they had a hard time keeping them straight. I didn’t find that to be the case as of the characters were unique enough to be remembered. The story offers some unique twists and turns, and it does a great job of tying everything together in the end. As soon as I finished this book, I went to Amazon to make sure that was another book in this series. I was excited to see that there was and added it to my TBR pile. #MurderByTheBook; #netgalley

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book.

Book Review for Red Land Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt

So, I loved Barbara Mertz’s Amelia Peabody series, and I thought I would really enjoy this nonfiction book she had written. I loved the conversational style of the text, and the way she approached the topic, but I didn’t really feel like I walked away with anything. Perhaps if I hadn’t studied Ancient Egypt with the kids, I would have gotten more from this book. The information, however, seemed fairly basic and didn’t provide a really unique perspective.

Book Review for The Gilded Shroud

The Gilded Shroud is set in London, 1789. At the opening of the story we meet our soon to be sleuth, Ottilia Draycott. She has recently been hired as a lady companion to the Dowager Marchioness. Soon after Ottilia Draycot is hired, the Dowager’s daughter in law, the Marchioness of Polbrook is murdered. The Dowager’s eldest son becomes the primary suspect. Right away, Ottilia engrains herself into the family affair. With the help of the Dowager’s younger son, Ottilia sets out to solve the mystery.

I love a good British mystery, and this book falls into the category. We have a fun and clever sleuth in Ottilia Draycott. Some of her deductions seem a bit far fetched, but most of the time, they are very logical. She is able to leave tantalizing morsels of clues for the reader to follow along with her. At first the budding romance between Lord Francis Fanshawe and Ottilia seems a bit forced. However, as the story progresses so too do the relationships between the characters, and their development becomes more natural. I found this to be a very enjoyable mystery, and I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series.

The Gilded Shroud Available at Amazon