Friday, June 23, 2017

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

As you can tell, I love the cozy mystery genre.  They offer returning characters and familiar surroundings.  Some are pretty campy but many still offer up very meaty story lines and some intense plot situations.  The Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel are taking some of these novels and turning them into movies.  They don’t all follow the books verbatim, but they do offer some entertaining television.  One of my favorite series is the Aurora Teagarden series by Charlaine Harris.  Yes, that Charlaine Harris.  However, the Teagarden mysteries do not include vampires or werewolves.  Aurora is a librarian and probably that is why I love the series. A few other series you can watch include the Garage Sale series by Sherry Harris, the Fixer Upper series by Kate Carlisle, and the Hannah Swenson series by Joanne Fluke. The newest entry on the channel is the Emma Fielding series by Dana Cameron has just debuted with Courtney Thorne-Smith.   I will admit I prefer the printed books to the movies but they are fun.  They are simple and complete guilty pleasure entertainment.  All can be found by the author's name in your library.  If not there, you can probably request the titles or even ask your local bookseller to order them in for you.  Happy beach reading!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Paranormal Guffaws

I don’t read humorous fiction very often.  In fact, I only pick it up if I get a recommendation from a friend or read a review.  During the height of the vampire craze in teen and some adult fiction, on the recommendation of a fellow co-worker, I picked up the first book in the Queen Betsy series, Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson.  Until that time, I can honestly say I had never laughed out loud while reading a book.  It all begins when Betsy wakes up in the morgue in a cheap suit and knock-off designer shoes after having been attacked by a crazy homeless guy, or so she thought.  However, instead of being upset about awakening in the morgue, she is royally pissed off having her lovely shoes swapped out by her stepmother who Betsy is sure is responsible for the big switcheroo.  Davidson’s writing is riddled with funny situations and a few hot and spicy scenes.  The series starts off light hearted and very funny.  Betsy, it turns out, is destined to become Queen of the Vampires.  She wants NO part of it.  As the series moves on it becomes a bit darker and the situations more complicated.  It’s fun, twisted and filled with a few guffaws.

Undead and Unwed: First in the Queen Betsy series
    by MaryJanice Davidson
ISBN: 9780425242261
Pub: Random House/Berkley

Wicked Business:  First in the Lizzie and Diesel series
    by Janet Evanovich
ISBN:  9780312652913

Pub:  St. Martin’s Press 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Lost Property Office (Section 13)
 by James R. Hannibal

Hannibal introduces us to American lad, Jack Buckles.  Jack is a finder of things. For him, it’s a quirk but this talent goes back several generations in the Buckles family. After stumbling into the Lost Property Office, he realizes how important this talent is but he’s afraid his isn’t strong enough to find his father who has disappeared within London while tracking the Ember.

This is a fun adventure that will delight children of all ages.  Hannibal has filled the pages with characters worthy of love and of loathing. Fans of adventure fantasy filled with hidden networks deep within cities will delight in this book.   It would be a great read-aloud for the whole family.

I wish to thank Simon & Schuster for providing an Advanced Readers Copy for my honest review.

ISBN: 9781481461094
Pub: Simon & Schuster
Pub Date:  November 8, 2016

Genre:  Juvenile /Adventure/Fantasy

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Comfort Reading

Any devoted reader knows that a trusted protagonist is just as good as comfort food.  If you can consume comfort food without spilling it on the beloved pages, both may be consumed at the same time.  My series of choice is Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries. 
For those of you who have not experienced all that is Flavia, I will endeavor to introduce you.  Her first appearance is in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Flavia is a sweet little eleven-year-old whose favorite pastime is spent within her damp, drafty laboratory left behind by dear Uncle Tarquin de Luce. There with her trusty companion, Esmerelda, a hen she spends her favorite hours. The laboratory is nestled within Buckshaw, the crumbling family estate located in Bishop’s Lacey. It is a typical sleepy little British village recovering in the years following WWII.  Flavia and her trusty bicycle, Gladys traverse the countryside assisting in the process of solving local dastardly deeds which often include murder. She is completely misunderstood by her older sisters Ophelia (Feely) and Daphne (Daffy) and as with any siblings she is often the brunt of cruel words and thus the line is drawn, literally, down the middle of the house. Her father, reeling from his grief over the death of her mother, often is ignorant of her adventures. The one who understands her and drops words of wisdom into her young ears is her father’s trusty valet, Dogger.  Flavia is smart, inquisitive, inventive, and delightfully funny.  Don’t be put off by her age.  She holds her own against adult and peers alike.
Bradley has just delivered the eighth installment of Flavia’s adventures. These books are well researched and the reader should have no trouble creating a vision of each character in their mind. I never do.
For a real treat, I recommend the audio books.  Jayne Entwhistle gives a perfect performance in her narration of these books.  Now as I read the books, her voice is what I hear.  She truly fleshes out Flavia’s precocious personality and the constituents of Bishop’s Lacey.  Spending time with Jayne as Flavia is time well spent.

I truly hope you will pick up this series and give it a try.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Lately, instead of reading reviewing books for future release, my hands have been forced to put the book down and pick up the crochet needle.  Due to some people who feel they need to add to their family’s number I have charged up the Bluetooth headphones and begun listening to anything I can check out from my favorite library’s Overdrive account.  It is a wonderful way to read, crochet and watch a baseball game.  I do love it.  I heartily encourage everyone, once again, to try audiobooks.  They are a great way to pass commute time.  I know I have talked about this previously but it is a great way to discover new authors and genres you might like.  I have always been curious about Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series.  I purchased the books for our collection on the recommendations of several patrons and I had seen the short term series on the SyFy channel.  A huge plus for listening to the audio was the narrator, James Marsters.  Um, any Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans out there?  He was Spike.  As a narrator, he really does a pretty good job of narrating the series.  Though, I must admit that it could use some editing.  The first in the series is rough.  You can hear pages turning and the narrator moving around.  But Marsters is very good at narrating the snarky attitude and weary tones of the protagonist.

One of the problems with checking out audios from a library’s Overdrive account is the limited selection they are forced to carry.  Library’s basically rent the titles at a cost and as the title fades in popularity it gets ‘weeded.’  Some libraries do not carry all titles in a series. If you have the options to procure library cards from different libraries, I heartily encourage you to do so.  This will give you the possibilities of more titles to access.  However, some library systems share catalogues.  Overdrive also gives you access to ebooks.  Using this catalogue does not charge you overdue fines.  You have your allotted time to read the book and it will expire on its own.  Keeps you honest.  Through online research, you might find other libraries that will issued a library card for a small fee if you do not live within their community.  

Friday, June 9, 2017

Red-Handed in Romanée-Conti

by Jean-Pierre Alaux, Noël Balan

Benjamin Cooker was set to spend some time with his wife and father in London. It’s bad timing as the grape harvest is due to be picked and the Lemoine family needs his advice on the picking schedule. As Cooker and his assistant, Virgile make their way to the vineyard they pass a site being cordoned off by a young police officer. When the Winemaker Detective instructs his assistant to pull over, they are informed a body has been discovered and are strongly advised to return to their car. More daunting than. a body in the vines, clouds are collecting on the horizon that promises a grape damaging thunder storm. Alaux weaves a mystery within his delectable descriptions of wine. His pacing of the mystery and the details of the countryside where the vineyards are located is rich. I would strongly advise reading this series at an acceptable time for having a glass of wine at hand. It didn’t matter that it was ten o’clock in the morning, I wanted a glass of wine. The fun, respectful working relationship Benjamin and Virgile have is entertaining. This is my first taste of the Winemaker Detective series but I can assure you I will be looking for more.
I must confess, I have been to the region covered in this installment and it was a major influence of this title for me. It was so much fun to recognize the names of the towns that I have visited and could easily visualize the countryside.
I want to thank the publishers for generously providing this title through NetGalley and Edelweiss for my honest review.
ISBN: 9781939474650         
Pub: Le French Book       
Book BD: 11/15/2016 

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Thursday, June 8, 2017


It is said that ‘Patience is a virtue.’  Sometimes though, patience is tried and pulled to the limits when you’re waiting for the next installment of a beloved series to be released.  I have a few friends who will wait until the entire series has been published before they will begin it.  This works great for trilogies or duos.  So many of the series I enjoy reading have SO many titles in them and continue to be published.  Cozy mysteries are like this.  If you have a favorite used bookstore you like to haunt and aren’t sure which book comes where in the series, I have discovered a great little website that I keep on my phone.  Fantastic Fiction, has a majority of the authors of series listed on this site and they keep the titles listed in order.  I have only had a couple of authors not show up on this sight.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Antique House Murder  An Oakwood Mystery
by Leslie Nagel

When you own a vintage clothing store, it pays to have a friend who specializes in liquidating estates.  Charley knows she owes Calvin Prescott for saving the rack of gorgeous items from the Mulbridge estate.  When she goes to collect the clothing from Calvin’s warehouse, she discovers her friend dead on the floor of his office.  Charley needs to figure out if his death is related to the rumor that Augusta Mulbridge left a secret will quickly or the bulldozers will raze the property and it won’t matter if there is another will or not and Calvin’s death could be for naught.

Having not read the first of Nagel’s Oakwood Mystery, The Book Club Murders, I found the second installment highly entertaining.  The plot moves along at a steady pace and is filled with complex story lines that all come together to a satisfying end.  As you read you feel all of the character’s triumphs and frustrations, frustrations that include the handsome detective Marcus Trenault.  I certainly would have loved to attend the Mulbridge House estate sale. 

I wish to thank the publishers for their generosity in providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy from NetGalley for my honest review.

Genre:  Cozy Mysteries        ISBN: 9780425285213         Publisher: Random House/Alibi   
Pub Date: July 25, 2017  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Weight of Night

by Christine Carbo

Many who have demons to wrestle find solace in slumber.  That is not the case for Gretchen Larson, the county’s lead crime scene investigator.  She has come to the US to get away from the demons and has found a home in Montana.  Many know the demons Glacier National Park Police Officer Monty Harris carries with him. The discovery of a skeleton, unearthed by firefighters digging fire breaks and the disappearance of young boy, will bring the demons of these two people to the surface faster than the fires that burn around them.

Without being overly graphic, Carbo wraps this book around you with intense, descriptive prose.  Your eyes sting, your nose hurts as she writes about the choking smoke and you feel the intensity in the heat of the flames.  You worry and fret with the parents of the missing boy.  You want to comfort Gretchen as she sleeps and when she relives events from her past. All her of her characters are realistic and fully described. Carbo has delivered an entertaining and highly suspenseful novel with the beautiful Glacier National Park as its backdrop. 
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

I am thankful for the generosity of the publisher for providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review. 

ISBN:  9781501156236      PUB: Atria Books       PUB DATE:  June 6, 2017