Monday, December 11, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays n

I love having guests in our home.  We live in a beautiful state with many wonderful areas to share with visiting friends and family. 

However, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve been so busy with visitors and activities that I’ve not posted anything in a long time.  I’ve been stealing little bits of time to read.

I would like to encourage you to visit local businesses for holiday shopping and if it’s a local bookstore, why that is even better!  There are so many good books for everyone on your list. 

There are shelves of mysteries, fantasy, science fiction, and general fiction.  There are some great non-fiction titles out there, too. 

A book is a gift that can be used again and again.  If you aren’t sure what book to purchase, a gift card from your bookstore is a great idea.  The recipient can shop and purchase whatever genre and title suits them best.  Trust me, a reader is never disappointed to receive a gift card to their favorite store.

Have a wonderful holiday with your families and friends.  
A Murder for the Books
by Victoria Gilbert

Amy Webber finds being the newly hired director of the Taylorsford Public Library very different from her previous position at the university.  However, she’s trying to forget that position, as she left crawling from the spotlight after making a scene when discovering her former partner wrapped within the vibrating strings of his lead violinist. The small town begins to waken when Amy discovers a missing, elderly patron dead in the building that houses the archives.  Old tales of the town begin to surface and rumors of major development begin to shake it further.  As the heat gets turned up at City Hall, things heat up for Amy when meets her aunt’s new neighbor and the two set out to get to the bottom of the mess.  Amy just hopes they can do it without anyone else getting hurt, herself included.

This story is reflective of what is happening in many of the small towns across the U. S.  Everyone wants a piece of the pie but at what price?  As the larger cities price themselves out of the affordable living range, many are flocking to the smaller towns in search of a quiet, friendly place to set down roots and raise their children.  Gilbert gives us a taste of that little piece of pie but shows us that it can be sprinkled with pits and sours.  She reveals the greed and avarice that can rise from the feelings of familial entitlement.  Her characters are mostly good hearted, small town folks.  Her bad eggs are pretty rotten.  This is a good little cozy mystery with a dark core.  I look forward to more from Taylorsford and its library director.  Well done.

I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for approving the Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

Pub: Crooked Lane Books
Pub Date: December 12, 2017

ISBN:  9781683314394

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Altered to Death
   A Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery
by Christina Freeburn

Faith has been commissioned by the local historical society to create a scrapbook to be displayed in the newly refurbished Everton House.  As the renovations begin to pick up steam, skeletons and secrets begin to be uncovered, literally.  Unfortunately for the town of Eden, not all the secrets uncovered remain within the grounds of the Everton House. 

Freeburn’s scrapbooking mystery is a cozy, satisfying book to jump into while kicking back on a winter’s afternoon.  It may be cozy but don’t let your guard down.  There are violent perpetrators and shady characters lurking about.  Faith finds herself in dangerous circumstances more than once.  This is a highly enjoyable installment to the series.

I wish to thank the generosity of the publisher and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

PUB:  Henery Press
PUB DATE:  November 28, 2017
ISBN:  9781635112795

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Friday, November 24, 2017

Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross
By Lisa Tuttle
When a hysterical man tumbles through the door of Jasper Jessperson’s home, pointing a finger at Miss Lane and proclaiming, “witch,” it would have been fuel enough to set them to investigate.  However, after discovering the identity of the fallen man as Charles Manning and locating the brother of the poor man, they are hired to find out who, in fact, poisoned him.  Was it really a witch or just the normal darkness that often surfaces when men come to face over a woman?

Tuttle’s Jessperson and Lane series is rather unique as she enjoys putting a paranormal or fantasy touch into her stories.  Though the hook here is witchcraft it is not what you would expect and she weaves in the natural practices of the wiccan within the plot.  The real surprise comes at the end and leaves you with a wistful wondering of folklore and fairytales of old.  At the heart of this sophomore offering is a good, old-fashioned mystery.  Many of the characters are dark and brooding.  Just what you would expect in a good Victorian mystery.  Tuttle’s descriptions of landscape and surroundings will have you curling up with a warm wrap and a hot cup of tea.  The following ISBN reference is for the ebook.  It seems they will not be offering it in print. I hope I’m wrong about this as I feel it would find a bigger audience in print. 

I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for approving the Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

Pub:  Random House/Hydra
Pub Date:  November 28, 2017
ISBN:  9780399182204 - ebook

Genre:  Victorian Mystery/Fantasy

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Smoke & Mirrors
A Miss Barnum Mystery
by Casey Daniels

Evangeline Barnum, Evie to her friends and family, runs her brother’s museum in New York City.  This is as odd to polite society as all of the displays in her brother’s museum.  She enjoys the work there and has become friends with many of the people considered oddities by polite society.  When a friend from her home town shows up at the museum asking for her help, she refuses to him.  Believing she is being attacked, Jeffery Hollister, the Lizard Man, intervenes on Evie’s behalf.  Later, her friend is found dead in front of the Feejee Mermaid and Jeffery is no longer in residence.  Believing he is innocent, Evie sets out to discover who the real murderer.  Little does she know she is about to uncover an evil that will impact her loved ones.

In the character of Evie Barnum, Daniels has created a strong willed, independent young woman we all can embrace.  Though she moves through her day to day ritual following the boundaries and etiquette of high society, she is still driven to discover the reason a wrong has been committed against someone who is close to her.  She is happy to have more to give by working in the museum and many admire her for it.  The personality Daniels brings to light through Phineas Barnum is delightful.  Other characters are realistic and norms of the day come through clearly.  I enjoyed the way side characters interact with Evie. I believe no one will be surprised at the conclusion of this adventure but they will be wholly satisfied.  I enjoyed reading this and I hope we can have more delightful adventures with Miss Barnum. 

I wish to thank the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy through NetGalley for my honest review.

ISBN:  9780727887252
Pub:  Severn House Publishing
Pub Date:  Nov. 1, 2017

Genre:  Historical Mystery

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dead of Winter:  A Lily Dale Mystery
by Wendi Corsi Staub

Winter in Lily Dale is quiet, peaceful.  The summer crowds have left and business for the local spiritualists has slowed down.  However, the summer like temps have Bella questioning the weather reports of four or more inches of snow.  Misty Starr, on the other hand, is having visions of her son, Jiffy, in a bus traveling through a severe snow storm.  Extremely frustrated, she is unable to decipher the feelings of dread that envelope her regardless of who she is supposed to be reading. Troubles escalate when Bella finds a body in the lake and her son Max and his buddy Jiffy have found a treasure. The snow begins to fly and as it quickly begins to pile up, so too do the troubles and no one seems to know what is going on, even the spiritualists.

My first encounter with Lily Dale and its quirky, colorful community of spiritualists began with Lily Dale: Awakening.  It introduces the reader to Calla and her delightful grandmother, Odelia.  The first three books were published as young adult and follow the teenage Calla.  The next grouping of Lily Dale stories involves widowed Bella Jordan and her son Max.  Bella has reluctantly taken up residence at the Valley View Guesthouse as its innkeeper.  She often questions her decision to remain but Max thinks it’s fantastic since he has a new best friend in Jiffy.  Sweet, free spirit Jiffy is a handful to his mom, Misty and often is on his own which drives overprotective Bella a little crazy.  Previously introduced characters, such as Odelia and Calla, are generously sprinkled throughout these books.  The stories begin light but can take a scary and suspenseful turn.  Story lines are not gratuitously graphic and do not have overt sexual scenes.  Instead, Staub delivers up good storytelling and sprinkles in the colorful and often kooky residents of Lily Dale. These books are a good fit for teens interested in mysteries with a little supernatural twist.  They are entertaining and I hope to see more that showcase some of the more colorful characters.

I wish to thank the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy through NetGalley for my honest review.

Lily Dale: Awakening                                                      Nine Lives
ISBN:  9780802796547                                                  ISBN:  9781629532486
Available Now                                                                   Available Now

Lily Dale: Believing                                                         Something Buried,  
ISBN:  9780802796561                                                  Something Blue
 Available Now                                                                  ISBN:   9781629537726
                                                                                             Available Now
Lily Dale: Connecting                                                      Dead of Winter
ISBN:  9780802797858                                                  ISBN:  9781683313335
Available Now                                                                   Pub Date:  Nov. 17, 2017
                                                                                              Crooked Lane Books

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Friday, October 13, 2017

Death Overdue
A Haunted Library Mystery
by Allison Brook

It’s time to move on.  Carrie didn’t work her way through library school so she could shelve books.  Besides, she didn’t want to wear out her welcome, staying with her aunt and uncle.  Perhaps coming home to Clover Ridge was a mistake.  When she is offered the head of programs and events she decides to take a chance and remain.  She feels a warm connection from her first program speaker, retired homicide detective Al Buckley, who is there to speak about a local cold case he was working on.  Before his talk can get off the ground, Al collapses and dies. Carrie is devastated and vows to figure out what happened. Little did she know assistance would come from a former librarian. 

This first installment in a new cozy series is peppered with a realistic look into small town politics and library melodrama. Brook’s details of the overall function and maintaining a harmonious work place within a library is spot on and adds to the storyline.  The characters are authentically portrayed including the changes Carrie makes for her new position.  Though I do see her reverting to her former self in future installments, if just for a short period. The characters are fun, devious, and loving. I don’t know if I enjoyed this so much because I felt comfortable within the pages of this book or it was just a good read.  My own experience, working in a library, was very different from Carrie’s and I was blessed to be a part of a staff that managed to work together nicely.  One thing I do know, I am looking forward to the next installment eagerly.

I wish to thank the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy through NetGalley for my honest review.

ISBN:  9781683313861
Pub: Crooked Lane Books
Pub Date: October 10, 2017

Genre:  Cozy Mystery/Slight Paranormal Twist