Friday, June 30, 2017

Abigail Hall
by Lauren A. Forry

With the horrors of the war behind them, Eliza is doing her best to protect her sister Rebecca. It’s not enough for Aunt Bess since she has decided that Eliza and Rebecca are to go to Thornecroft, somewhere in the Welsh countryside, to work as housemaids. No one knew what horrors awaited them within the halls of the long-haunted house and those who walk through its doors.

Within the pages of Abigail Hall, Forry weaves a story of people trying to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of World War II.  Their struggles and the lengths some will go to survive are real. Around these struggles, she weaves a tale filled with ghosts of lost loves and madness. The gothic feel of this novel is eerie but the day to day struggles are gritty and realistic.  The characters are fully defined and historical details well researched.  This is a great one for those who like to end their reading experiences in the last pages with a loud gasp.  Forry’s story will leave you with your mouth hanging open.  Teens and adults alike who enjoy their ghost stories filled with historical detail will enjoy this novel.

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

ISBN: 9781510717268 
PUB: Skyhorse Publishing 
PUB DATE: April 11, 2017

Genre:  Historical/Gothic Mystery

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Murder on Black Swan Lane
By Andrea Penrose

Lord Wrexford is a man of science and as such is often heard having words with Reverend Josiah Holworthy. The current caricature drawn by the well-known A. J. Quill not only shows this but also the wayward lifestyle of Lord Wrexford.  Quill’s drawings often include unknown details of situations that keep the beau monde watching their backs.  Thus, when Holworthy’s body is discovered within his church and Quill’s detailed drawing show more than just a murder, the Bow Street Runners naturally look to Wrexford as their key suspect.  Using details of Quill’s drawing of the scene, Wrexford sets out to discover the person behind the drawings and find out how he acquires these hidden details and help Wrexford catch the killer before he finds himself at the end of the hangman’s noose.

Filled with rumors and legends of alchemy, Murder on Black Swan Lane is an entertaining look at society during regency England.  Some reviewers have compared this with c.s. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr novels.  Harris’s books of this time are filled with more meaty political details.  Though Penrose’s book looks at the huge gaps between the haves and the have-nots, it doesn’t go into great detail, nor is it needed to get the reader to see them.  This novel gets to the heart of the mystery and keeps it moving.  Harris’s writing and her books are among my favorites and if, as promised, this is the first of a new series, Penrose will be added to my favorites.

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

ISBN:  9781496710772
Pub: Kensington
Pub Date: June 27, 2017

Genre:  Historical Mystery

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Fate of Mercy Alban
By Wendy Webb

Returning to Alban House after twenty years was hard enough but Grace’s return meant she now had to bury her mother.  Cleaning out her mother’s room she discovers love letters written the summer before her parents were married.  The letters are only the beginning of her discovery of the actual account of what happened at the house when David Coleville committed suicide and her great-aunt Fate disappeared. 

The story Webb serves up is one of family ghosts, witches and a house filled with family secrets and hidden passage ways.  Her storytelling is filled with a cast of characters both likable and creepy.  Her mix of mystery, paranormal and romance is highly satisfying.  There is even a teen daughter in the mix.  Webb does a great job telling her story.  The pacing is steady and well plotted.  On the ‘can’t put it down’ scale between 1 and 5, this is a definite 4.  It is very, very good.

Pub:  Hachette Books, 2013

ISBN:  9781624901164

Genre:  Paranormal Mystery

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hell Bay
by Will Thomas

Everyone loves a good house party. Fresh air in the country or by the seaside while exchanging light gossip and friendly banter with the other guests. What could be more relaxing? Cyrus Barker had avoided such a party for a long time.  Now he was caught in the snare of a prospective job at the behest of Lady Philippa Asheigh’s closest friend whose husband happens to be the head of the RSUI.  Under the guise of the house party, a secret mission to negotiate peaceful terms between France and England are to be worked out and Lord Hargrave wants Barker and his partner Thomas Llewelyn to provide security.  Security jobs were Barker’s least favorite but he was stuck and when guests start dying his actual skills come into question. 

Reminiscent of Christie’s And Then There Were None, Thomas puts new shine on the theme of marooned guests with a killer on the loose.  His characters are wonderfully flawed and human.  You will find yourself pondering the characters and events of this novel as you go about your day. This is a divine addition to the Thomas and Llewelyn historical mystery series. Teen fans of Downton Abbey who like a more meat in their mysteries will enjoy this one.

I want to thank the publishers for generously providing this title through NetGalley and Edelweiss for my honest review.

ISBN:  9781250077950
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books
Pub Date:  October 25, 2016

Genre:  Historical Mystery

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