Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Hazel Wood
by Melissa Albert

Alice has grown up running to keep ahead of the bad luck that seems to follow her and her mother but sometimes not very successfully.  Then one day her mom tells her their luck just took a turn for the better, Alice’s grandmother has died.  You see, Ella’s mother happens to be the famous reclusive author Althea Prosperpine.  Alice found a copy of her grandmother’s book of dark fairy tales once.   Ella ripped it from her hands, demanding she never read them.  Like any teen, Alice promptly began the search for a copy of the collection.  The only thing she could ever find was an article about her grandmother in an old copy of Vanity Fair. 

Having always tread a wide path around her grandmother’s fans, when Alice’s mother is stolen from their apartment, leaving behind a horrid stench and a note from Althea’s book addressed to Alice on her pillow she knows she must find Ella.  How is she to find her when Ella’s instructions strictly forbade her to go to the Hazel Wood and she has never read her grandmother’s stories.  Looks like she is going to have to recruit Finch, a huge fan and the closest thing to a friend that Alice has ever had. 

This book will have many devoted fans just as Althea’s book.  Albert moves her characters flawlessly through the many varied and veiled woods.  Be wary as you traverse her netherworlds, they are heavily atmospheric and authentic.  Her writing imparts you with the heavy, foggy sense of loss that is the mystique of the Hinterland, Half Wood and Hazel Wood.  After finishing this plum of a novel, you will look over your shoulder often, questioning whether character in the shadows is human or from the Hinterland.  This will be a hit with readers of all ages.  I hope Albert likes to travel and talk to people.  She is about to experience a lot of both.

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

Pub:  Flatiron/Macmillan
Pub Date:  January 30, 2018
ISBN:  9781250147905

Genre:  Contemporary/Urban Fantasy

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Skeleton Paints a Picture
by Leigh Perry

In the fourth offering of the Family Skeleton series, adjunct professor, Georgia Thackery finds herself teaching at Falstone Art and Design University.  Feeling a bit lonely, having left her daughter and her best friend at her parent’s house, she’s surprised and very happy to find her best friend, Sid, shipped himself to her.  Did I mention Sid happens to be a fully articulated skeleton?  He likes being with her in the snowy north since he can run the snow blower and shovel snow while being completely covered in full winter clothing.  While enjoying his outdoor freedom, Sid discovers a car partially covered in snow with a young woman behind the wheel.  Georgia soon discovers the victim was employed by the university and was secretly investigating possible art theft on campus.

I found this review hard to write.  I don’t know why.  This was a highly intriguing read with Sid at its forefront.  Honestly, everyone should have a friend like Sid.  He looks after Georgia like a best friend should.  Plus, the information regarding the theft of the young student’s work was very interesting.  The back biting and false friendly staff of the English department was too enlightening.  I’m sure a lot of that goes on.  It goes on everywhere.  This is a fun, relaxing read and one that didn’t require a lot of concentration.  A good beach read or even an afternoon by the fire with a cup of tea or better yet, a glass of wine.  I don’t believe a lot of teens would pick this up even with a talk up.  Some might say that due to the story involving students in college, struggling with the woes of college life would entice them.  Though the theft of the student’s work is the basis of the story, I just can’t see teen readers being interested.  That’s just my opinion.  I would still offer it up as a realistic look at college life. 

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

Pub:  Diversion Publishing/Diversion Books
Pub Date:  October 10, 2017
ISBN:  97891635760460

Genre:  Cozy Mystery/Paranormal

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mining for Justice 
by Kathleen Ernst

As a curator for Old World Museum, Chloe Ellefson understands how ‘unstable’ funding is for historical sites.  Her boss reminds her of this every time he sees her. When the opportunity arises to work for a week at the Pendarvis site, she leaps at it.  Unfortunately, the paper runs a story which highlights the lack of funding to keep Pendarvis open spotlighting the major drain of funds as the Old World site.  As the volunteers and some staff realize who she is, Chloe becomes the target for a lot of negative emotions.  She feels it her responsibility to dampen down these emotions while working hard to help put Pendarvis back on stable ground.  When a doctoral candidate, who has been voicing negative comments regarding the running of Pendarvis is found dead at the foot of the stairs in one of the houses, Chloe’s job gets one more item added to her to do list.  Figure out what is really going on at the Pendarvis site.

Once again Ernst lays before us a multi-layered novel enlightening readers with historical details blending them with a contemporary mystery in the middle.  She has a way to bring an unknown thread of the tapestry that makes up our country’s history to the forefront of her story.  The history is thoroughly researched without becoming bogged down in details.  The author’s notes and photos add to the facts she has included in her novel.  Behind the scenes peeks at the trials and woes of museums and working historical sites is solid. The mystery dips its toes into the history storyline but does not overpower it.  Chloe’s ability to ‘sense’ emotions is a nice touch.  Though I don’t believe many teens will be enticed by the basic storylines, I do believe those who enjoy a good historical story mixed in with their mysteries will enjoy them.  Also, fans of Ernst’s younger writings will eagerly pick these up as their reading preference yearns for more meaty storylines.

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

ISBN: 9780738753348
Publisher:  Midnight Ink

Pub Date: Oct. 08, 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017

Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid
A series by Deborah Crombie

For a lady that grew up in Texas, author Deborah Crombie has created a wonderful series that is placed in London and surrounding environs.  I discovered this series when I was busy crocheting baby blankets for friends and family.  I enjoy listening to audiobooks while I clean house or crochet and I downloaded the first title, A Share in Death.  I was immediately hooked and found myself listening to a book every two days.

Gemma is a divorced mom working as a sergeant under Detective Superintendent Kincaid of Scotland Yard.  Juggling life worries, as well as their cases, their human flaws, doubts and wonderful personalities come through clearly.  Though the story lines themselves deal with darkness, there is something so uplifting about these two.  It’s a bit refreshing that neither are alcoholics, drug addicts or on the take.  They are as normal as people can be considering what they deal with on a day-to-day basis. 

At the heart of each book is a typical horrible murder.  However, woven within the main story are always a couple of other stories taking place as the murder is investigated.  It could be a back story that gives you history of the area where the murder takes place or possibly about the family.  It could be a back story or even an ongoing story that involves Gemma and Duncan.  Now, some may feel it sounds as if there is too much going on to keep track of all the storylines.  The truth of the matter is that Crombie is a master at making you feel like you are accompanying these two along on their normal day.  As you settle into the story, you realize it’s no different than anyone else’s life.  We have our work, home and family stories and our friendship’s stories. 

Crombie’s descriptions of the British scenery are so three dimensional, it’s amazing she didn’t grow up in Great Britain.   It doesn’t matter if she takes us along on a shopping expedition on Portobello Road or driving through Scotland.  She gives you the full experience through her prose.

So far there are seventeen titles in the series.  I have listened to fourteen.  My one whine about the audios is the inconsistence of the narrators.  My favorite has been Michael Deehy.  He gives Duncan a wonderfully patient sounding voice that I love.  He even performs the female voices excellently.  Jenny Sterlin is another narrator.  Yes, she is female but gives an excellent performance of all the characters. 

I didn’t purchase these through Audible as I’m not a fan of the whole yearly fee and having to pay for each book on top of that.  I’m retired.  I have a fixed income.  I downloaded them from my library’s Overdrive account.  Contact your local library and they can hook you up.  I’m not saying every library has every title of this series.  Libraries pay for each title just as they would for a book.  I actually paid a fee to get a library card for a neighboring county library because they have a better selection of titles that I am interested in downloading.  I believe you can request a title be added just as you would a book.  Again, check with your library. 

If you haven’t discovered this series, I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as I have.  

Thursday, October 5, 2017

by  G. M Malliet

Jillian White moved to England from American and is living in the picture-perfect village of Weycombe.  It’s a quaint little place of everyone’s dreams.  She is lucky enough to be living in a gated community with her titled husband and its posh residents.  As we all know, things are not always what they seem when you get behind the closed doors of the houses.  When the real estate agent turns up dead along the river on the jogging path, Jill decides to take it upon herself to uncover who murdered her. 

Malliet’s story realistically portrays the lives of this quiet little group where everyone thinks they know what is really going on. Malliet keeps you guessing as Jill goes about her day to figure out who is embellishing and who is not giving her all the facts.  Each character is colorfully described and each stand out on their own.  Along with the mystery storyline, Malliet has created a story that deals with a young, contemporary woman who is struggling with issues of self-confidence and a failing marriage.  There are several story lines within this novel and Malliet keeps them moving.  A good contemporary mystery.

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

ISBN: 978738754260
Pub: Midnight Ink
Pub Date:  October 8, 2017

Genre:  Contemporary Mystery

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sleep Like a Baby
An Aurora Teagarden Mystery
by Charlaine Harris

Opening a new Aurora Teagarden mystery is like greeting an old friend after a long absence.  Upon discovery of this series, I consumed the first four in one weekend.  It was so much fun.  Was I excited Harris has revisited the series?  DUH!!  Now Aurora (Roe to her friends) and Robin have dipped their toes into parenthood.  As Robin flies off to an author’s award ceremony, Roe comes down with the flu and she is in desperate need of assistance with baby Sophie.  Roe wakes in the middle of the night to the highly unhappy wailing of her daughter only to discover her help is absent, there’s a body in her backyard and a storm is brewing.  Luckily Roe’s much younger, brother is available to help out.  On top of this mess, her mother’s new husband and Roe’s friend, John has had another heart attack and is in the hospital.  How is Roe going to get through this mess and still find her way around new motherhood? 

Harris is one of those authors that is versatile in her story telling.  She bounces from one storyline to the next.  Vampires, ghosts and murders.  One protagonist that you don’t want to meet in a dark alley and one struck by lightning.  Her characters are varied and she doesn’t often shy from bumping a few off.  If you are a fan of her Sookie Stackhouse series, you might want to give some of her other series a try.  I will give you fair warning, they are nothing like that one.  Each series stands alone.  What is life but a challenge, no?  Go on.  You know you want to. 

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

Pub Date:  September 26, 2017
Pub: St. Martin’s Press
ISBN:  9781250090065

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Turkey Trot Murder
by Leslie Meier

We all want to believe that living in a small town will protect our children and keep our family and friends safe.  No drugs, no gangs, no murder.  Everyone gets along and you never need to lock your doors.  Lucy Stone is discovering that drugs are being sold at the nearby community college. Lucy stone is surprised when she learns of a drug problem on the campus of the community college.  Could this be what led Alison Franklin to mistakenly tread on the thin ice that led to her death?  Alison’s dad, the wealthy Ed Franklin, is blaming the influx of immigrants and targeting the new owner Rey Rodriguez and ‘his kind.’  Lucy’s afraid that things are changing in her little town and not for the better.  Not willing to leave things alone, Lucy is determined to figure out who is responsible for the trouble brewing in her town.

In her 24th installment of the Lucy Stone series, Meier turns to the headlines and brings them into the town of Tinker’s Cove.  I don’t normally pick up books that rip themes from the well-trod news but Meier gives her protagonist a backbone and initiative to step up and create change and understanding of these pivotal issues.  She doesn’t get on a soap box and brow beat the issues.  They are treated fairly and diplomatically and wraps it up in a nice little cozy mystery.  Oh, don’t think for a minute that this isn’t gritty.  It has grit and substance but you will walk away with a good feeling of justice being served and friends uniting.

I want to thank the publisher for providing an advanced reader’s copy through NetGalley for my honest review.

Pub:  Kensington Publishing
Pub Date:  September 20, 2017
ISBN:  9781496710307

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Monday, September 18, 2017

Jane Unlimited
by Kristin Cashore

 "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." At the time Aunt Magnolia had asked this of Jane, she thought it was an odd request but relented.  Tu Reviens was one of the many places her former tutor, Kiran Thrash, called home.  Now her beloved aunt was dead and Kiran has invited her to Tu Reviens.  With nothing but her memories and her umbrellas, Jane accepts the invitation embarking on an adventure that only she can figure out where she wants it to end.

It has been a long wait for the next novel from Kristin Cashore and it has been well worth it.  Once again Cashore's skill at world building and her ability to entwine everyday life within them shines. Her new book offers adventures for everyone, not just Jane.   Is it a mystery, science fiction, fantasy, contemporary character/life story?  Cashore's fans will either be completely satisfied or utterly disappointed.  However, fans of true storytelling will extol the wonders of this new novel.  There is something for everyone in this story and the ending is truly satisfying.  

ISBN:  9780803741492
Publisher:  Penguin Group/Penguin Young Readers Group-Kathy Dawson Books
Publication Date: September 19, 2017

I want to thank the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Reader's Copy for my honest review. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Doom with a View
A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery #2
by Kate Kingsbury

Sometimes you just need a light, fun book to take your mind off the news, your schedule and life in general.  Doom with a View hit the spot for me.  The second installment of the Merry Ghost Inn Mysteries.  The story isn’t heavy handed or dark.  Yes, there is a murder but it’s not overly described or gruesome.  The victim happens to be a curmudgeon and not popular with his other traveling companions.  Melissa and her grandmother, Liza, are not happy as this is yet another mishap to hit their B & B and they were hoping their reopening after a fire almost ended their endeavor into the hospitality field would go a little smoother.  Their run-ins with the local constabulary are anything but helpful.  However, they have a week to get to the bottom of the killing and they must stay out of the way of the lackluster detective assigned to the case.  There is mild romance, delicious recipes, and many quirky characters.  This isn’t heavy reading, nor deep thoughtful writing.  It is just a fun, delightful story.

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

Pub: Crooked Lane Books
Pub Date: September 12, 2017
ISBN:  9781683312352

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Big Decisions

I’ve tried to keep my reviews ‘professional’ using the lingo professionals use when they talk about the books they read.  I’m not getting paid by journals and publishers to read and talk about their products.  Nor am I a person who spouts vindictively about any books I read.  I’m not going to pretend to find everything I read fits into my little shelf of preferred reading.  However, a person took the time to put those words onto paper to tell a story.  It may not float my boat, but there is someone out there who will enjoy it.  I like to find things that I can talk to people about and get them excited about the book even if I’m not. 

When I talk to people about what I’ve read, I don’t use the professional phrases.  I’m not a professional editor or publisher.  I’m just someone who loves to read books and talk about books.  I will admit that I don’t usually read what is popular.  For me, popular fiction is too realistic and deals with situations that, I personally, don’t wish to spend my relaxing, reading time jumping into.  A majority of people read what is popular.  I prefer to read something that I have discovered on my own but isn’t too intense. That’s just me.

On that note, you won’t find a lot of bells and whistles on my blog.  It’s not flashy.  It’s not really that pretty.  You will find odd and non-mainstream titles that I will talk about.  I might include the odd semi-popular title but whether they are included or not,  I hope you find something that will interest you.  
The Body on Baker Street
 A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery
by Vicki Delany

As owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, Gemma Doyle finds herself scrambling to provide enough seating for a book signing by the well-known popular author, Renalta Van Markoff.  Though her high selling books are a page above those torrid bodice rippers, Gemma is excited to be hosting the author. Her best friend and co-owner of the attached Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Shop has offered to close for an hour to help provide seating area for the event.  The book signing stands to be one of Gemma’s most popular events yet.  The local dedicated Sherlockian, Donald Morris, attends and proceeds to challenge Renalta and her audacity to publish such stories about the popular sleuth.  As the group proceeds to line up for the signing, Renalta Van Markoff falls face down upon the signing table.  Donald is their primary suspect but Gemma knows Donald couldn’t have killed Renalta.

Vicki Delany’s Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery has a winner in this sophomore release for the series.  The characters are realistic and the story is believable.  It has a quick pace and doesn’t lag.  This is a great addition to the series and I’m sure fans will be eagerly awaiting the next installment.

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

ISBN:  9781683312994
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Pub Date:  September 12, 2017

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Death Distilled:
A Whiskey Business Mystery
by Melina Mullet

As a world renown photojournalist, Abigail Logan hasn’t really felt ‘at home’ anywhere.  Now, as she looks around the small town of Balfour she feels it.  Since she inherited the distillery, Abbey Glen, from her uncle along with his country home she is feeling the stirrings of wanting to put down roots. Her best friend has arranged a tour of her distillery for visiting dignitaries on short notice and she learns a stranger has been asking for her around the village. Yes, her plate is full and soon the bodies are piling up. 

Successful, smart and sassy.  Mullet’s protagonist has always come up with three words that fit the people who she comes in contact. These are my words for Abigail (Abi to her friends).  This is a strong sophomore edition of this series.  The story is filled with colorful characters, both dangerous and likable.  The plot is skillfully woven within the village life and the operations of the distillery.  This novel has a lot of meat on its bones.  So far, all I can locate is an ISBN for the ebook.  I sincerely hope that this will be released in a print edition.  I have read many titles that were in print and should just be ebooks. This is not one of them. Mullet’s Whiskey Business series is well written and highly entertaining and deserves a print copy. 

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

Pub:  Random House / Alibi
Pub Date:  September 5, 2017
ISBN:  9780399179068 ebook

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Missing Masterpiece
by Jeanne M. Dams

Dorothy and Alan have planned a trip to Normandy to help their friend launch her first art gallery showing with a trip to Paris and Mont-Saint-Michel afterwards.  However, Dorothy finds herself traveling alone as Alan is forced to stay behind nursing a broken ankle.  Dorothy is forced to travel ahead and soon finds herself involved in one mystery after another.  All seem to revolve around a possible missing piece of music penned by Abelard.   By the time Alan arrives, Dorothy is fully involved in a situation that will need many heads to unravel.

This is the first time I’ve read anything by Jeanne M. Dams.  I found the story engaging and the main protagonist easily relatable.   I enjoy a good mystery that involves lost manuscripts and ancient, historical sights.  Dams involves all of these elements and wraps them up with interesting players within a beautiful backdrop we would all love to visit.   The threads of the story come together nicely.  Those who like their mysteries solved without heart stressing palpitations will enjoy this.   

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

ISBN: 9780727887184
Pub:  Severn House Publishing
Pub Date:  September 1, 2017 

Genre:  Mystery

Friday, September 1, 2017

Death Shall Come
A Country House Murder Mystery featuring Ishmael Jones
By Simon R. Green

“Death shall come on swift wings to whoever desecrates this tomb.  .  .”

The Colonel has contacted Ishmael and asked that he join him and his wife, at the opening of a sarcophagus long hidden and believed contain the mummy of the first Cleopatra.  The unveiling will take place at the isolated Cardavan estate.  There are no security personnel on site, only electronic.  There are nine attendees at this scheduled unveiling, mostly family members.  What can go wrong?  

This fifth installment of mysteries involving Ishmael Jones is a true mix of genres, my first Ishmael Jones novel and my first reading of a Simon R. Green novel.  I was highly intrigued with the premise as it had an Agatha Christie feel to it.  Green’s skill at mixing up genres is atmospheric, entertaining and a lot of fun.  Did I mention creepy, suspenseful and fully intense?  It’s nice that the story isn’t bogged down with a ton of techno babble.  He gives you just enough information to keep you moving through the story, leaving you with enough curiosity to consider the other Ishmael Jones novels.  It moves rapidly and there are obvious holes within the ‘telling’ as there would be in Ishmael’s world.  This series is right up teens alley.  They love books that take liberties and look at situations differently.  Looking for a rapid ride of a story? I heartily invite you to jump right in.  

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

Pub:  Severn House
Pub Date: September 1, 2017
ISBN:  9780727887214

Genre:  Mystery/Sci-fi 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

“Why are you reading that?”
Part II

I have not read much YA lately. The latest trend seems to be realistic fiction.  These are great books and are very important for teens. However, I will admit that realistic fiction is not a big draw for me.  Working with teens is the best experience.  They will come to you with happy stories and events in their lives and you will hear horror stories.  The sad reality of working with teens is you are part psychologist.  You become a good listener and try to put the right book in the hands of someone who can use it and take something away that answers questions.  Today’s social media give a portal into the horror that many teens face and some eagerly dish out.  Many of the titles released in today’s market deal with these issues.  I am a wimp.  Reading and hearing about these scenes every day wear me out.  I no longer get any pleasure reading books that deal with these issues.  They are so important though and necessary for those that need ways to deal with these daily situations and have nowhere to turn to find the answers.  Too many adults are hesitant to address the hard to face realities of life to a teen, especially their own child.  Of course, teens are so open to discussing these awkward topics that come up in life, aren’t they? 

I believe some of the most entertaining and exciting novels are in the Young Adult area.  Authors who write for teens are not afraid to think outside the box.  Teens are more willing to accept the unconventional, as we witnessed with Meyer’s vampires.  It was refreshing and liberating and allowed many authors to create their own scenarios that are not part of the norm. 

The mystery genre is much the same as in adult.  It deals with realistic scenarios.  Jealousy, envy, greed, all play a big part in teen mysteries.  Kidnappings, drugs, and the loss of love figure heavily in these thrillers. Another big theme is the popular ‘fear of failure.’  You will find this theme carries over into adult thrillers.  Both can be graphic and gruesome.  It is this thread of brutality that keeps me from enjoying any contemporary thrillers.  For me personally, I see and hear so much of this theme in the daily thread on Facebook, nightly newsfeed, and in the newspaper.  ‘Man’s inhumanity to man’ is not a relaxing, comfy, nor entertaining theme I wish to spend my final years reading. 

That is why I read what I do.

Thank you!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Hidden Gems #1

In the phenomenon that is Games of Thrones, so many fans of George R. R. Martin rush to obtain their ComicCon tickets and stand in lines for hours to hear Martin speak and hope to pick up some insider info on upcoming episodes.  The big thing is, before he was an HBO wonderkin, he was an author.  He is an author.   And a damn good one at that.

In 1983 a paperback was given to me by friends because they knew I enjoyed books with vampires.  Almost 35 years have passed and I have held on to this paperback because it had become one of my favorites.  I was unpacking my books after a big move and was placing them on the shelves in alphabetical order by authors last name (like any good librarian), only to discover that Martin was the author.  I had no idea.  Before there was Game of Thrones, there was Fevre Dream.  The story is an intriguing one of the golden days of the Mississippi steamboat days.  Days of glorious, showy steamboats traveling down the river filled with beautiful people, gamblers and vampires.  The nights are filled with danger, intrigue and vampires.

Abner Marsh was down on his luck when he was contacted by the wealthy and aristocratic Joshua York to build a riverboat and teach him all about being its captain.  York has given Marsh the funds to build one of the most beautiful and fastest ships on the river, the Fevre Dream.  It was all about racing and beating the other ships down the river. Excited to show the world what Fevre Dream can do Marsh pushes her down the mighty Mississippi passing the other riverboats at record speeds.  However, York has a different agenda, putting out orders to stop at odd spots for long delays.  The stops coupled with York’s odd behavior and his odder friends put Marsh on edge.  As rumors of bodies begin to surface Marsh decides to confront his benefactor. 

Martin has created an atmospheric tale of life in 1857 on the Mississippi.  His story is brimming with beautiful scenery and dark descriptions that fill the mind with images both beautiful and disturbing.   His portrayal of life on board the Fevre Dream and the river are breath taking as well as the vile and lurid scenarios of those who embrace and revere life in the dark.

Fevre Dream
By George R. R. Martin
ISBN:  9780553577938 pbk reprint
Pub Date:  April 24, 2012

Genre:  Historical/Supernatural

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Old Scores
by Will Thomas

Cyrus Barker has worked endlessly in his garden to make it pristine for the Japanese diplomats who wish to walk its paths.  Thomas Llewelyn is surprised to see his boss flinch as the group enters and once again finds himself wondering at the hidden past of Barker. Then Barker is arrested outside the temporary quarters for the Japanese embassy when the ambassador is murdered.  Frustrated by Barker’s practice to hold clues to himself, Llewelyn questions his own willingness to continue as a personal enquiry agent working for Barker. 

Fans of this series will be very pleased to know that Thomas does, in fact, give us a peak into the mysterious past of Cyrus Barker.  (No spoilers here. Read the book!)  The historical elements Thomas peppers throughout this novel are interesting and don’t bog down the story.  Cyrus and Thomas are men with good hearts but emotionally flawed.  There are a few characters whose return appearances add more depth and enjoyment to the story. However, if this is your first sojourn into the world of Barker and Llewelyn, Thomas does an excellent job of filing in with enough facts that give you just enough information and might inspire you to pick up previous volumes.  Old Scores hits all the bases with intense situations, action and light-hearted banter.   So far, this is one of my favorites.

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

ISBN: 9781250077967
Pub:  St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books
Pub Date:  October 3, 2017

Genre:  Historical Mystery

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

by Susan Kay

I believe everyone knows the story of the Phantom of the Opera.  Susan Kay has created a past for Erik and it’s a dark, haunting one that will stay with you long after you finish the novel.  If you have been fortunate enough to see the stage production, there are a few hints at the past. Kay takes those hints and fills in the gaps creating a past rich in horror and color which gives you a clear idea of who he has become.  She builds a past for Christine and Raoul and brings it full circle as she brings us up to the Paris Opera House.  Putting more ‘meat’ on the bones of the story and bringing up to a contemporary styling makes this an easy read for all.  As the story comes to a close, you had better have tissues within arm’s reach.  This retelling of Erik’s story is easily one of my favorites.  Yes, it is a ‘horror’ story but it is also a story of a young man’s life at the hands of true monsters and how human he really is. Is he an adored hero or a hated villain? You might have a hard decision with this one.  Teens will eagerly devour this telling.  There is a review from School Library Journal recommending it for teens on Amazon.  This book was published many years ago and I hope you will look for it in your library or book store.

ISBN:  9781933626000/pbk.
Available now

Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror/Romance

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Amber Shadows

By Lucy Ribchester

Everyone is doing their part for the war effort and Honey’s stepfather was able to acquire a position for her in one of the Huts at Bletchley Park.  Those who work at Bletchley Park do not talk about what goes on in their Hut.  In fact, Captain Tiver said he would shoot her himself if she broke the secrecy agreement.  So how can she explain the packages she is receiving from Russia that appear to be pieces of amber looted from the Amber Room.  She’s good at codes but the coded message etched onto the amber is too complex.  Her brother Dickie would be able to help her but when he gets murdered and friends go missing she knows she needs help but doesn’t know who she can trust. 

I really enjoy novels that give us a different look into events in history.  The movie Imitation Game showed us a little what life was like for those tasked to breaking the coded messages of the enemy.  Alan Turing is mentioned briefly in this work but it’s not about him.  Ribchester has created an entertaining mystery while enlightening the reader with details of the women who worked within the huts of Bletchly Park and the difficult life many lived while serving their country.  Honey’s story is fictional but is entertaining and suspenseful. However, it is filled with the dangers and uncertainty that so many felt during that time.  The Author’s Notes at the back of the book details Ribchester’s research into the women who worked in the huts. The Amber Shadows is a thrilling read and would be a good one to put into the hands of teens. 

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

ISBN:  9781681774480
Pub: Pegasus Books/ W.W. Norton
Pub Date:  August 8, 2017

Genre:  Historical Mystery