Monday, December 11, 2017

Needles and Pearls

Title: Needles and Pearls
Author: Gil McNeil
Published: May 11th 2010 by Voice
Format: Paperback, 432 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Series: Beach Street Knitting Society #2

From time to time, I need to take a break from my usual murder/suspense/thriller books and visit the calmer sides of life. I cannot say that Jo Mackenzie's life of running a knitting shop in the seaside village of Broadgate and raising two bickering boys is calm, but it is definitely a break that I enjoy.

Jo’s philandering husband was killed in an accident right after he admitted to an affair and wanting a divorce. With the world, and his mother, not knowing the truth and thinking that he was a saint - Jo must carry on with her boys, her stitch and bitch group, a life in need of repair, and a little gift that is the result of a very brief tryst with photographer Daniel Fitzgerald.

Jo needs nothing from the father, she may not be wealthy, but she had decided to take life on on her own terms, which do not involve tracking down Daniel, or asking for money. Her life is too busy with knitting clubs and school projects, two weddings to plan, and a shop that needs to be rebuilt. The baby on the way is just another thing in her life that she will get to, and what she does not yet know, is that this unexpected arrival maybe be the one thing that will bring her life full circle.

Of course, Gil McNeil adds in a new love interest that started out as a friendship and after a bumpy start, Jo can see the chance of a do-over. Her grandmother was given a second chance and her anxiety ridden best friend is about to partake in her own adventure, so why shouldn’t Jo have another shot at her happily ever after.

Granted, this is only book number two in the series and with Jo’s chaotic life, anything can go wrong, but for now, she is definitely allowed the hope that she is feeling with her little family.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Marathon

Title: Marathon
Author: Brian Freeman
Published: May 3rd 2017 by Quercus
Format: Hardcover, 408 pages
Genre: Police Procedural
Series: Jonathan Stride #8

Taking a nod from the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, Brian Freeman expands his story by pointing out how rumors and hatred can turn a town like Duluth, Minnesota, upside down and drag the innocent into a web of deceit and lies.

Near the finish line of the Duluth marathon, a bomb explodes and with it, countless lives have been changed. Dawn Basch is in town stirring up trouble with her First Amendment speeches and finds the Muslim community an ideal target to blame for this attack. With no real justification, and social media stoking the fires, cab drive Khan Rashid is targeted as a person of interest and FBI special agent Gayle Durkin is called in to find their suspect.

All of this turns into a major cluster as Jonathan Stride, Serena Dial-Stride, and Maggie Bei race around Duluth in hopes of finding the truth before more innocent people are killed. Dawn Basch does not care who is caught in her crossfire. She has an agenda and she knows who is responsible, yet Freeman would not make it that easy for his readers. There are twists. There is even a time or two that the reader is lead down a wrong path, or maybe it was just me trying to tie up loose ends, but in its conclusion, there is still a gasp or two.

This is a fast read. The characters are real, their pain is apparent on each page, and Brian Freeman does not pull any punches. There are times where you hope that the hero of the day will ride in and save the innocent, but the fact that he does not, leads more credence to the pain that both the town and its people have to endure.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Lady in Shadows

Title: A Lady in Shadows
Author: Lene Kaaberbol
Published: December 5th 2017 by Atria Books
Format: eBook, Paperback, 352 pages
Genre: Historical Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Madeleine Karno #2

Dreadful. That is the only word that I can come up with to describe this long and drawn out book. Trying either to shock the reader with the subject matter or to lure them in with the detailed gynecological practices of a villainous doctor in 1880’s France, or if that is not enough, the unbeknownst relationships of Madeline Karno’s fiancé – which really served no point. The book should have been wall-banged within the first 100 pages.

Trying to disguise a failed, what we now call a cesarean section, as the acts of a French Jack the Ripper, Madeleine Karno, who we were introduced to in ‘Doctor Death’ begins to see tell tail signs and sets off to find the hideous person brutalizing the local prostitutes all in the name of science.

Lene Kaaberbol goes into curious detail about the time and place, but tends to go overboard for shock value. The doctor at the center of this fiasco reads more like Josef Mengele, the Auschwitz Angel of Death, in his need to find perfect subjects to rebuild France’s dwindling birth rates. Then throw in a person from August Dreyfuss’ past, and a photographer with his own naughty secrets, and those that should know better but do not do better when it comes to those in need.

Considering how I loved her first book in this series, this was a torture to read. The gruesomeness of the subject matter was not the issue for me, but rather how drawn out it all was. How in the end she tried to tie her storylines together and how unrealistic that it all played out. If there is a third book, I certainly hope that she tries not to throw too much in in hopes that something will catch the reader and that she reduces her fillers to keep the story flowing.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Vanishing Season

Title: The Vanishing Season
Author: Joanna Schaffhausen
Published: December 5th 2017 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 288 pages
Genre: Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Joanna Schaffhausen is a gifted writer, every time I thought that I had this puzzle put together, a new piece was added sending me down a new path with a new suspect in mind. I love it when an author does not intentionally mislead a reader but rather lets little parts slip in that opens up new directions to explore.

As a child, Abby Hathaway was abducted and held captive by a brutal man that liked to keep souvenirs. FBI Agent Reed Markham was determined to find this psychopath before he could claim another victim. A bond was forged between these two in a harrowing rescue. Now twenty years later with Markham mirroring John Grisham and Abby, going by her middle name of Ellery, a member of the Massachusetts’ Woodbury Police Department, their world’s collide again when Ellery calls on him when people start disappearing every July around Ellery’s birthday and cards appear that let her know that her secret is no longer safe.

Though a twisty tail, the plot does not follow the unreliable narrative that so often befuddles this genre. The reader is given the bits and pieces that move the intrigue along, without insulting your intelligence and at the same time, making your brain work sorting out the details and at the end you realize a giant clue was given to you in the beginning that you had brushed away as unimportant fluff.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Deck the Halls With Fudge

Title: Deck the Halls with Fudge
Author: Nancy Coco
Published: October 31st 2017 by Kensington
Format: eBook, 101 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Candy Coated Mystery #5.5

I am so used to the narrator of this series being Allie that Francis being the storyteller caught me off guard. Newly married and settling into a quiet evening at home, Frances and Douglas Devaney are enjoying the view from their cottage window when they see a body bounced out of a horse drawn sleigh. Rushing to the rescue, Warren Engle is found dead with neither the sleigh nor horses to be found.

Unfortunately, this was no accident and now Frances takes it upon herself to solve the mystery surrounding the death of the stepson of one of her dear friends. Much like her employer Allie of the McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop in previous books, Frances finds herself both central to the investigation and in the middle of a few precarious situations. Seems that old Warren was quite the shady fellow and with several people on the island being ruined by him, Francis knows that she and the women from the senior citizen network can narrow down a suspect faster than the police chief and still get the Christmas tree up on time.

I usually complain about short novellas that do not move the story forward but I have always found Frances and Douglas to be adorable and was glad to see an investigation from their perspective. The story is charming and funny in just the right places and the perfect book to settling in with this winter season. ***Put Review Here***

Monday, November 27, 2017

Delivering Death

Title: Delivering Death
Author: Julie Kramer
Published: January 7th 2014 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Riley Spartz #6

I am not sure how I feel about this being the last Riley Spartz book. This series has been a love hate relationship for me. I tend to become invested in series, and cannot walk away, even if I do not like them and yet I am saddened when they end. I know, it makes no sense, but now I can leave knowing that I have finished what Julie Kramer had started.

As an investigative reporter, Riley Spartz has had her share of interesting stories, but when an envelope shows up on her desk with human teeth, her research goes into over drive and darn near gets her killed. This is all in addition to the on goings at the Mall of America where two very different stories are playing out and both will involve Riley running into her ex-fiancé Nick Garnett. There is also a piece of artwork won at auction that has hidden messages, a man in prison is impersonating another, and all of this will be leading Riley down a dangerous path.

Where the teeth came from is a bit twisty, and by the end of the book, seemed like an “oops, guess I need to get back to that” moment, yet the author seems to have pulled the impossible together with only a few, “oh, ok” moments.

There is a great deal going on in this book and Julie Kramer has to pull it all together by the end so Riley can have her chance at the happily ever after that she has been after since book number one where you learned of the death of her first husband. Will I miss Riley – that is hard to say, but I am glad that the series ended where it did.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Home in Carolina

Title: Home in Carolina
Author: Sherryl Woods
Published: March 30th 2010 by MIRA
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction / Romance
Series: Sweet Magnolias #5

I do not know why twenty-something women are portrayed as whiney self-centered teenagers, but that is what you get with Annie Sullivan. Back home in Serenity, South Carolina, Annie is working at the corner spa as a personal trainer when she hears that high school boyfriend Tyler Townsend is back home recuperating from shoulder surgery. This is where you have to let go of reality since a major league ball player would never be permitted to go for rehab with a personal trainer in a small town, that is what highly trained physical therapists are for, but then again Sherryl Woods is known to cut a few corners for the sake of a romance.

Three years prior, naughty boy Tyler had a one-night stand with a baseball groupie and he is the father of a baby that was dropped off at his hotel room door. Annie will not tolerate this sort of betrayal and is just one of the factors that pushed her to an eating disorder. Now three years down the road, with Tyler and his son back in town, all the old feelings and disorders are rearing their ugly heads as the town of Serenity sits back and waits see how this plays out.

What is encouraging about this book is the new generation of Sweet Magnolia’s. Annie, Sarah, and Raylene, grew up together and though they do not want to become their mother’s that just might be the direction that they are heading with a slightly younger spin and new complications.

Though there are annoying parts of this series, I do find myself coming back from time to time to see what these ladies are up to. Seems that very little changes -- they can dominate a town and their husbands, but at the same time remain sweet southern ladies.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Whispering Room

Title: The Whispering Room
Author: Dean Koontz
Published: November 21st 2017 by Bantam
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 512 pages
Genre: Thriller
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Jane Hawk #2

You have to both love and hate the wordsmith that is Dean Koontz. He is a firm believer in the style of “why use two words when you can use six” and always throw in ‘like’ (approximately 400 times) so the reader understands that you are about to over describe the underside of a rock. Granted, it is not that bad, but after a while, you would not be surprised if it was mentioned.

As a sequel to ‘The Silent Corner’, Jane Hawk continues on the course of eliminating the people and institution that caused not only her husband’s suicide but also the deaths of 8,400 persons per year that that an algorithm has decided are leading people away from an ideal society.

Not sure how many books are planned for this series, but the second outing reminded me of the lull in a stand-alone where you are not quite sure in which direction the characters are going and they are doing their best to regroup before a thunderous conclusion. Jane Hawk spends most of the book jaunting back and forth across the country with multiple costume changes and near the end the author decides that it is a good time to mention characters from the first book. Thankfully, a wizened traveling companion for Jane was added that livened thing up a bit, and here is to hoping he will reappear further down the line since he was the only highlight of the book.

Yes, you will have to read the first book to understand the second, but if it were not for the first, you would not want to read the second. Hope that made sense since book two is a major let down and hopefully, Dean Koontz and his editors will be able to get this series back on track and someone will earn their paycheck by word searching “like” and tossing most of them out.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Origin

Title: Origin
Author: Dan Brown
Published: October 3rd 2017 by Doubleday Books
Format: Hardcover, 461 pages
Genre: Thriller
Series: Robert Langdon #5

Love him or hate him, Dan Brown sure likes controversy and to stir the pot, but in doing so, he also causes his readers to think. Maybe I am one of those moronic readers that others bash, but I always enjoy his books. Granted, every book tends to have Robert Langdon running through some glamorous city with a beautiful woman, but that does not negate the narrative.

This is a story of conflicts. Ideologies, worldviews, and science are at the forefront. Tech wunderkind Edmond Kirsch (think Steve Jobs and Elon Musk) has brought together the world to watch his touted release. Centered in Bilbao, Barcelona, at the Guggenheim museum, Kirsch sets about to answer the top two questions that haunts humankind. Where did we come from and where are we going? He has claimed to discover the answers to both of these questions and in doing so has angered the religious elite and a small group of mercenaries. As an Atheist, he does not look at religion is the same light as others and with his singular focus on science he has set about to prove once and for all that religion is man’s invention and science is the only path to the future.

Robert Langdon is both mesmerized and confounded by his invitation to this event. Kirsch was once a student of his at Harvard and months prior, the two had a visit where interesting questions has been posed. As Langdon enters the museum, he is handed an earpiece that will help guide his way through the museum and its displays. Only that is not the sole purpose of this devise. Winston, his audio tour guide is nothing like what Langdon was expecting and with this interesting twist. Kirsch’s discovery is held in the balance when a mercenary steps forward and abruptly ends this performance. Langdon and Ambra Vidal, the beautiful woman who is destined to be the queen consort (I know, that was an interesting twist), launch into a race across Barcelona to release Kirsch’s discovery to a desperately waiting world.

The reader has to get past the parts where Robert Langdon is more superhero than Harvard professor. That a woman in a formal dress and heals has no problem traversing streets, paths, and chain link fences. This book is designed to get the conversation started. What if Kirsch’s discoveries are our past and our future. What if tomorrow the entire world were to stop fighting over ideologies and grasp onto one singular destiny. With the speed of which science is moving, and the conversations that have been started, this is a fascinating tale brought to life in a way that will have the reader wondering out loud and bringing up the what-ifs when discussing both religion and science.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Artemis

Title: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir
Published: November 14th 2017 by Crown Publishing Group
Format: ebook; Hardcover, 384 pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

I am wondering if I was the only one that missed something earlier in this book and did not know how old Jazz was. I could have sworn that this was a young adult novel with the antics that Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara was up to and the simplicity of the earlier chapters. Granted, there were a few things thrown in that were a little more adult, but still not totally breaking the YA Genre rules completely. Then I am not sure how, but midway through the book, all the numbers came together and I realized that the character that I though was sixteen was actually twenty-six years old and only acted like an insolent teenager.

Artemis is the first and only colony on the moon consisting of two thousand people occupying connecting bubbles with names like Armstrong, Bean, and Shepard. Jazz currently works as a porter ferrying goods from one section to another with a bit of a smuggling business on the side. There are certain products that are not allowed, but since she is a rule breaker, she has decided what should be allowed as long as her rules are followed. Of course, this has put her on the outs with authority figures that she is constantly butting heads with, but that is not going to stop her. She needs to make more money since she has a debt to pay and as long as she follows her own rules, no one will get hurt.

Turns out that there is something very sneaky going on in Artemis and when the local billionaire asks for a favor with a high payoff who is she to say no. Turns out that she was not given the full picture and when that job goes astray, she finds herself a wanted person. There is only one way out and this will put not only her life, but also the lives of everyone in Artemis, in danger.

Andy Weir is known for his humor and there is no exception here. The readers will find themselves laughing aloud and definitely shaking their heads in wonder in not only how Jazz got herself in this situation but also on how she will manage to get herself out. The way this book ends, you can most assuredly see a series in the making and if the rumors are true, the option to purchase this book as a new television series is in the works and we will soon be seeing Jazz in all her brazen ways.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Seeds of Revenge

Title: Seeds of Revenge
Author: Wendy Tyson
Expected Publication November 14th 2017 by Henery Press
Format: eBook, Paperback 259 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Greenhouse Mystery #3

This book was twisty from the start with little distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys.

Being the good person that Megan Sawyer is, she picks up stranded Becca Fox on the side of the road during a brutal winter storm in Winsome, Pennsylvania. What Megan did not know at the time was that she was opening herself up to a family drama of epic portion with a bit of Gaslight on the side.

Becca is in town to sell her “Love Potions” at her aunt Merry’s store during the Christmas season, but when she arrives on her aunt’s doorstep, her estranged father is there. There is no love lost on Becca’s side since she is convinced that he killed her mother. With the reconciliation that Merry has hoped for out the window, odd things begin to happen with Becca, her brother Luke, their father Paul, and their aunt Merry.

Megan is trying to stay out of other people’s issues and run her organic farm and in town café, yet little by little this amateur sleuth is pulled in when a body is discovered, an anguished girl shows up in her kitchen, a house is burned down, a person is over medicated, cryptic messages are left, and all seem to follow a master plan that had been laid out in books that Megan’s aunt Sarah had written.

I know, very twisty and from time to time, I had to refresh my memory to names and relationships, but in the end, I realized how much I had enjoyed this book over her last “Bitter Harvest”. The last left me wondering if I wanted to continue with this series, yet this one left me wondering when the next will be published.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Britt-Marie Was Here

Title: Britt-Marie Was Here
Author: Fredrik Backman
Published: May 3rd 2016 by Atria Books
Format: Hardcover, 324 pages
Genre: Fiction

Though you do not need to read Backman’s books in published order, if you had, you would remember Britt-Marie was first introduced in “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry”.

Suddenly traversing the world on her own since she can no longer tolerate her husband coming home with perfume on his shirt, Britt-Marie moves out and suddenly finds herself in an unemployment office with no skill set other than cleaning with bicarbonate of soda and her very particular brand of window cleaner. The woman in the office is as tolerant as a person can be with the Britt-Marie who has a way of offering suggestions that come out as criticism, but that it not her intention. With daily pressuring, a job is secured and this is truly where Britt-Marie’s life begins.

Borg is a depressed roadside town that is mostly shut down due to the local trucking company going out of business leaving the few remaining, mostly those that cannot get out and orphaned children, to get by as best as they can. As the overseer of the recreation center, Britt-Marie sets out cleaning the place and even befriending a rat. It is football (soccer) that holds this town together. They each have their favorite teams and the children are determined to play in the local tournament even though they can only practice on an asphalt pitch and need car headlights to light their way.

It is the children that start to melt this nag-bag of a woman’s heart. Since she has never had her own, she eventually learns their names and life stories. She tries not to be shocked, but when their realities become her own, she finds an inner strength to fight for them in a way that no one ever fought for Britt-Marie. Borg is becoming her town, her people, and a place that finally feels like home.

Of course, as she becomes settled, her husband comes looking for her and since Britt-Marie only knows how to be a wife, she is emotionally drawn back into that role - but is that what she truly wants? The local policeman is also knocking on her door and hopes that one day she would knock on his, but what direction will she go as the town is rocked by death and the children need her more than they ever have before. With a repaired car and enough petrol to drive to Paris, where will she go, what will the new Britt-Marie do with her new found confidence and independence.

The middle part of this book is a bit clunky and meandering, but that is all made up for in the end. If it is possible to have a coming of mid-life age book, this is it. You can see Britt-Marie’s growth and you can see that she has found her purpose if only she continues to have enough courage in herself to be the person that she has always wanted to be.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Bella Flora Christmas

Title: A Bella Flora Christmas
Author: Wendy Wax
Expected Publication: November 7th 2017 by InterMix
Format: Kindle
Genre: Holiday Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Ten Beach Road #5.5

I cannot reiterate enough how much I dislike novellas. Rarely do they move a book forward and are only used as unnecessary fillers that rarely affect the overall outcome of the series. A Bella Flora Christmas is no different.

Wendy Wax spends half of the book explaining to her readers who each character is and their relationship to each other in addition to their personal relationships. If you have been reading since the beginning, you already know whom everyone is and how Bella Flora plays into their lives.

Kyra is the main character of this novella and you get to hear her incessant whining when it comes to the father of her son, his over the top wife and the threat that they are holding over her.

There is a possibility that this is a small lead into her next book, “Best Thing Ever” due to release the end of May (2018) since the reader was never told the full outcome of the two things that were keeping Kyra up at night. Granted, one was partially decided, but the full consequence of events with the Deranian’s could fill a book all on their own. And what is going to happen over the next year with Bella Flora? That could be entertaining as well since the women tend to confuse situations more than they solve their own problems.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Fatal Collection

Title: A Fatal Collection
Author: Mary Ellen Hughes
Expected Publication: November 8th 2017 by Midnight Ink
Format: eBook, Paperback: 264 pages
Genre: Cozy Mysteries
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: A Keepsake Cove Mystery #1

A Fatal Collection is the first book in the new Keepsake Cove Mystery series. Taking its lead from Lorna Barrett’s Booktown series, Keepsake Cove, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is the home to small specialty shops, with descriptive names, that cater to tourists looking to add to their hobbies and collections.

Callie Reed has returned to Keepsake Cove, which is a little town within a town, and her Aunt Melodie’s “House of Melody” music box store to take a breather from her relationship with Hank and to figure out what she wants and to come to terms with the fact that their relationship is just is not working out. When Melodie is found dead in the shop the next morning, no one is more surprised than Callie to find out that she is the sole beneficiary of both the home and shop.

From all outward appearances, her aunt suffered from a simple accident, but what does not make sense was why she there in the middle of the night. What had also been kept from Callie was that Melodie was fighting with her business neighbor. Karl Eggars wanted the music box shop, so he could expand his business for his nephew but Melodie would not sell. Was this accident, no accident at all?

There appears to be a couple of strange goings on in Keepsake Cove and with the business owners up in arms over the association treasurer having such an expensive and elaborate lifestyle, there is a very public outcry for an independent audit to see if he is stealing from them. Between the infighting and Melodie’s death hanging over them, everyone seems to be a bit out of sorts.

Between shop assistant Tabitha and her costume of the day, psychic abilities, tarot cards and Grandpa Reed’s music box going off at odd times, Callie is in for an adventure when she stumbles across the reason why Melodie was in the shop at 3am, not to mention what secrets a shop patron holds, and a surprise or two that Melodie herself, may have had.

There is a great deal thrown into this first book and quite a few names and business to get to know. Hopefully, the second book will calm down a bit and readers can take their time strolling through Keepsake Cove with their “brick walkways, ornamental street lights, hanging flower baskets, and Dickensian shop front” and slowly get to know the people and place that their clientele have come to love.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Vineyard Victims

Title: The Vineyard Victims
Author: Ellen Crosby
Expected Publication: November 7th 2017 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 335 pages
Genre: Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Wine Country Mysteries #8

After the sixth book in this series, The Sauvignon Secret, Ellen Crosby took a break from her Wine Country series and I missed them. When she returned five years later with The Champagne Conspiracy, I was delighted but apprehensive since I was not sure if she would be able to return to her characters the way that she had left them. I was not disappointed and now with book eight, I am once again glad to return to Montgomery Estate Vineyards.

Failed presidential candidate Jamison Vaughn sails his car past Lucie on a rain slicked road outside of Montgomery Vineyards and plunges headlong into the stone pillars. Many believe that it was an accident but Lucie was there and knows that it was a deliberate act. No one wants to say the word suicide, but what would cause a man, with so much to live for, to end his life in such a brutal way.

These stone pillars have a history with Lucie, it is in this same location, ten years prior, where she was in a horrendous accident that has left her disabled and people are sure that she is confusing her accident with what she saw. No, she is sure of what she knows and being the last person to see Vaughn alive and hearing his last words, she is determined to find out whom “Rick” is and why he needs to forgive Vaughn.

Suddenly walls have gone up and the Vaughn family is shutting Lucie out. They will handle the press and since her ex-lover Mick Dunne, who has held long ties to the Vaughn’s, dismisses her at every turn, Lucie with no option other than to strikes out on her own to find answers. The Vaughn family is happy with their “accident” explanation and would like for this whole messy affair to go away, but it appears that Jamie was meeting with a reporter and was about to go public with a long held secret.

Trying to buy Lucie off only seems to get her in deeper and when college cover-ups are revealed, and the truth of whom “Rick” is, leaves a wake of devastation that will send a members of their small community to prison and set an innocent man free.

Ellen Crosby weaves a twisty tale that spans decades, but in the end, loyalties are tested and those that have been hiding a ghastly act have their truth revealed. I cannot say that it was obvious from the start, but by the end, there could have been only one mastermind that could hold it all together and keep Lucie from the truth.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Secret, Book and Scone Society

Title: The Secret, Book and Scone Society
Author: Ellery Adams
Published: October 31st 2017 by Kensington
Format: eBook, Hardcover: 304 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Miracle Springs, North Carolina #1

This is a new series by Ellery Adams revolving around four women that come together to solve a murder, but at the same time, to create a friendship that is centered around each woman telling their deepest secret.

Nora Pennington walked away from her previous life that left her scarred and is looking for a new beginning. She can read peoples troubles and in doing so recommends books from her small bookstore, that if read in specific order, can help people find the answers that they are looking for. Hester Winthrop creates comfort scones in her bakery. Estella Sadler, who is called nasty names behind her back and has a flair for the dramatic, is the local salon owner and June Dixon who works at the local thermal pools.

Together the women of Miracle Springs set out to find the answer as to why Neil Parrish, either fell or was pushed in front of a train. Sheriff Todd, also known as the Toad around town, calls it suicide but that quick answer does not hold up for the women. As they sip their coffee and gather around a table with a secret compartment, they begin to compare their notes on Neil. Something is very fishy in Miracle Springs and with a new housing development going in, that Neil was part of, the women set out to solve a murder, expose a fraud, and help to get one of their own out of jail when she has been accused of killing yet another person involved in the Pine Ridge development.

I enjoyed the first book in this new series. With interesting women and a bit of mysticism on the side, they take the reader through their lives and the small town that they call home. I can’t say that this book fully falls under the cozy mystery heading, but then again, it does not fall fully under romance, because you know that there has to be some, and it does not fit completely under women’s fiction or paranormal. Just little bits and parts of all of them, which leaves something for everyone.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Mystery at the Manor

Title: Mystery at the Manor
Author: Matthew Costello and Neil Richards
Published: January 16th 2014 by Bastei Entertainment
Format: Kindle Edition, 106 pages
Genre: Short Story / Mystery
Series: Cherringham - A Cozy Crime Series #2

I love these short stories. Jack and Sarah are teaming up again to figure out if one of Victor Hamblyn’s children set the fire that took his life. What they did not expect to find was that old Vic had a buried secret of his own.

To back up, Victor Hamblyn, the owner of Mogdon Manor needs a bit of help around the house, the chair lift was not his idea, but the stairs are getting to be too difficult to maneuver on his own. So one evening after his caregiver has gone home, Victor rides up to his bedroom, settles in for the night and that is when he smells smoke. He needs to get to his most treasured possession, unfortunately it is up in the attic and when his body is found, no one understand not only how did he get there, but what was he looking for.

Jack, a retired NYPD homicide detective and Sarah a Cherringham local, start banging about and soon discover why Victor was willing to risk his life. This will leave Victor’s conniving brood stunned and pointing fingers but a hidden chapter of their father's life will be revealed, a love story will be told, and souls can finally find peace.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Forbidden Falls

Title: Forbidden Falls
Author: Robyn Carr
Published: December 29th 2009 by Mira
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 371 pages
Genre: Romance
Series: Virgin River #8

There is something simple, though not in a bad way, about Virgin River. The people are warm and inviting and if you are on the skeptical side, a little too good to be true.

After putting a bid in on a dilapidated old church with a stunning stained glass window, Noah Kincaid, son of a televangelist father whom he does not get along with, moves to Virgin River to start his ministry and to lend a helping hand where he can. With more work needed on the building and a phone that is ringing, Noah needs a very industrious helper. As the pinched and prune-faced women of the nearby areas apply for the job, Noah knows that finding what he needs might be harder than he thought – that is until ex-stripper Ellie Baldwin walks in the door.

I know, I was rolling my eyes too, how cliché to match up a stripper with a man of the cloth, but Noah needs a helper and when he finds out that Ellie is a single mother that just lost custody of her children to an ex-husband with a couple secrets of his own, he is riding in on his white steed to save the day.

The town of Virgin River comes to their aid, no one here judges, they just pitch in where they are needed and if the minister and the stripper are not enough drama for this town, recurring character Paul receives a call that he was not expecting. Remember back when Paul’s ex-girlfriend Terri tried to tell him that she was pregnant with his child. Turned out he was not the father but Terri has unexpectantly passed away and has left her daughter to Paul and Vanni to raise.

Of course, that causes all sorts of upheaval but this is Virgin River and if there were not a crisis, this town would not know what to do with themselves. Are the people of this town too good to be true – of course they are but that is why the readers keep returning. It is a nice break, a refreshing breather when the real world gets too crazy and you want to take a day or two to sink into someone else’s life and know that just possibly there are good people out that just want to help where they can and in doing so, make a better life for those around them.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Quicksand

Title: Quicksand
Author: Malin Persson Giolito
Published: Hardcover: 512 pages
Format: eBook, Hardcover: 512 pages
Genre: Legal Procedural
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

This is not a book that I could recommend. The first quarter was interesting, but then my attention began to wane as the narrator went on incessantly. The middle part, I skimmed and feel that I missed nothing and then the ending was somewhat interesting but I had lost patience with the whole thing and was just glad that it was over.

Told from the perspective of 18-year-old Maria “Maja” Norberg, currently on trial for her involvement in a school shooting that was carried out by her boyfriend Sebastian. Until the very end, the reader is not completely sure of her participation. Was she part of the initial strategy that Sebastian, the son of Sweden’s richest man, had planned or was she just caught up in events that she was unaware of until the final defining moments.

Told in a teenage voice full of condescension and a story that unfolds too slowly for my tastes, I had a hard time with this book. Maja just seems to drone on in an unfiltered diatribe of those around her and her trying to come to terms with what happened and her part in it. Was there deeper meaning and societal innuendo that I miss – probably, but at the same time, the author should do their part in keeping my attention.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Burial at Sea

Title: A Burial at Sea
Author: Charles Finch
Published: November 8th 2011 by Minotaur Books
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Charles Lennox #5

I enjoyed the first two books in this series, A Beautiful Blue Death and The September Society, ever since then, I have been disappointed but continue on in hopes that they will return to the where they had first captured my attention.

Charles Lennox is asked by his brother to leave his pregnant wife for a clandestine mission to Egypt to help the British government. Unable to say no, he boards the sailing ship Lucy. Of course, there is no such thing as a retired sleuth so when the ship’s second lieutenant is found butchered, the ship’s Captain implores Charles to find the culprit. Very much a locked room scenario since the ship is at sea, Charles sets off to answer the questions only to discover that there is a possible mutiny afoot and now the Captain has been murdered.

What is funny about this book is that by the time the murders on the ship are solved, I had completely forgotten the reason why Charles Lennox was on the Lucy in the first place and found myself frustrated that they book had continued when I thought that the climax had been reached.

For me, the Egypt meeting was completely unnecessary but then I had remembered that Teddy was on the ship and now I am pretty sure that this whole thing was a ruse by Sir Edmond to make sure that his son was safe. Maybe there was more to the meeting, but either way, my brain checked out during the last third of the book.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Goodbye to the Dead

Title: Goodbye to the Dead
Author: Brian Freeman
Published: March 8th 2016 by Quercus
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Genre: Suspense / Police Procedural
Series: Jonathan Stride #7

Well, did the brilliant Dr. Janine Snow kill her husband Jay Ferris nine years ago or did she not. That is what is keeping Lt. Jonathan Stride of the Duluth Police Department up at night. Nine years ago, he got the conviction for this murder and Janine is doing time, but now that a gun and jewelry have been found no one knows for sure.

At this time, Stride’s wife Cindy was still alive and she and Janine were close friends. They had worked together and on the fate-filled night, Cindy was the last to see Jay alive and she knew that Janine was there. She needs to testify but is conflicted.

Howard Marlowe, a Janine worshiper, just so happens to be placed on her jury. He is determined to be the lone holdout but the evidence is too strong and votes to convict her. Feeling as if he has betrayed her, he then spends the next nine years visiting her and searching for proof of her innocence much to the chagrin of his wife.

Brian Freeman does not let his audience down, interspersed with Janine Snow, the reader is juggled a mall shooting, sex trafficking, the continuing reappearance of troubled teen Cat Marlowe, the beginnings of Cindy’s illness, and how two unrelated cases, years apart, can be connected, but most importantly – can Stride find a way to come to terms with his past and move forward with Serena Dial.

Brian Freeman does not draw simple lines with his characters. Not everyone is good, not everyone is bad, you see them develop and change. They will infuriate you one moment and then you see a human side underneath and there is no easy answers for anyone involved.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Western Star

Title: The Western Star
Author: Craig Johnson
Published: September 5th 2017 by Viking
Format: *Hardcover; 336 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: Walt Longmire #13

Thank you for the epilogue otherwise I would not have been able to pull all of those parts together. I did notice Cady asking why it took them so long to have her, but that was brushed over and I was hoping that by the end, that part would have been explained and when it was, I have to admit that I did let out a very loud gasp.

Current day and flashbacks divide each chapter. In 1972, Walt Longmire returned from Vietnam and joins Sheriff Connelly as his deputy on the annual Wyoming Sheriffs’ Association outing across the state of Wyoming from Cheyenne to Evanston and back on the Western Star. Taking plotlines from Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” and her credence “he did it, she did it, no one did it, or they all did it”, Longmire sets off to solve a murder that takes place on the train and intermeshes it with the present day where he is fighting the compassionate release of one of the most dangerous killers that he has ever encountered.

Present day has Walt, Vic and Henry at Cady’s home helping her with her daughter and preparing for their fight against the compassionate release board. Craig Johnson has done his homework here and goes into great length explaining this process to the reader. What you do not realize at the time is who the inmate is and why Walt is taking it so personally. You think you have an idea because of earlier points, but the truth is a surprise.

The bouncing back and forth is not hard to follow. The trainload of Sheriffs is hard to keep straight but fortunately, there are only a couple of names that you have to remember. It truly is not until the ending where Craig Johnson pulls this tightly wound narrative together and when he does, it is truly a “oh, wow” moment.

What is even more surprising is the postcard with one word written on the back that has Walt Longmire boarding a plane with his trusty Colt. He is on a mission, a mission that will not be disclosed until the next book and has me wondering what that one word could be.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Light We Lost

Title: The Light We Lost
Author: Jill Santopolo
Published: May 9th 2017 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Format: Hardcover, 328 pages
Genre: Romance

A heart-wrenching story is the easiest way of describing the relationship between college students Lucy and Gabe who meet on September 11th, 2001. As they stand on the top of a building at Columbia University, they see the devastation that takes down the twin towers and in its place, their shifting thirteen-year relationship takes form.

Lucy is consumed with her immediate connection with Gabe, but when he suddenly returns to his ex-girlfriend she pines and wallows until they meet up by chance a year later. They are drawn to each other but they each have careers that they are equally passionate about and have agreed to never dissuade each other from their dreams.

As Gabe’s career as a photojournalist takes him to war torn regions, Lucy develops her ideas for children’s programs that build young minds. Then Lucy meets Darren, a stable and settling force. He is not as exciting as Gabe is, but he is dependable. Something that Gabe never was. She settles for the man that does not tick all the boxes, but is home every night for dinner. Their life together grows, her career fulfills her, yet her husband Darren discounts her dreams. He thinks that what she does is unimportant and wishes that she would just stay home with their children. Something that Gabe would have never asked of her.

This is the danger point in her marriage. Lucy sees excitement in Gabe that is missing from her life at home. Maybe just one last time and she will finally be able move on, but fate hands her one last trick. As Gabe, lies injured in a hospital in Gaza City, Lucy rushes to his side. Trying to keep him engaged in this world instead of letting him float off, she recounts their dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, love.

No stone is left unturned in this bittersweet love story. A story that will stay with you and at points make you question your own life choices. This book is both beautiful and devastating so grab the tissues because you are in for a bumpy ride.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Witches' Tree

Title: The Witches' Tree
Author: M.C. Beaton
Published: October 3rd 2017 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover 244 pgs
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Agatha Raisin #28

After the last book, ‘Pushing up Daisies’, I had hoped that MC Beaton has turned a corner and her Agatha Raisin series would get back to what they had previous been with multiple story lines that bounced back and forth effortlessly. Unfortunately, this book returned to the usual drivel that has become her norm.

Fifty-three year old Agatha is in her usual depressed mood when there is no man in her life and work is the usual boring assortment of missing pets, marital affairs and wayward teens. Agatha is still the “pet hate” for Wilkes since she tends to solve more crime by “bumbling about” then he does. Thus begins the tale of the Witches’ Tree when the body of Margaret Darby is found hanging from a tree that has a curious past.

The story gets a bit twisted with several dead bodies, a coven, and a will that has gone through several revisions, but when it comes down to it, the village of Sumpton Harcourt has some very odd people not to mention too much affinity for Agatha Christy and romance novels.

Things were touched on in the book, involving the wife of the new vicar, that I did not think belonged in a cozy mystery and I was rather surprised to see it brought up here. There were parts that did not seem to be fully addressed by the end of the book and characters that took up more room than they should have. Overall, if you have read the full series to this point, you would not be able to pass by a new Agatha, but if you are just staring out, I suggest that you start at the beginning and develop you own love for the people of Carsley.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Ghost on the Case

Title: Ghost on the Case
Author: Carolyn Hart
Expected Publication Date: October 3rd 2017 by Berkley Books
Format: eBook; Hardcover 272 pages
Genre: Cozy Supernatural
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Bailey Ruth #8

This series is getting more ridiculous with each book. Easily three-quarters of the reiteration could be removed and you would be left with a decent, though not great, novella. Granted, the multiple outfit changes have been reduced, but to take its place, Carolyn Hart is under the belief that her readers cannot retain plot points and characters and needs to re-explain each every other chapter.

Since excessive detail goes into informing the reader who Bailey Ruth Raeburn is and her job as an emissary, there is no reason that you have to read this series in order. Each book follows the same tired format of a good person caught in a bad situation needing help and Paul Wiggins from ‘Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions’ picks Bailey Ruth to return to earth to help but she must follow the ‘Precepts for Earthy Visitation’ or the “Rescue Express” will come smoking in and pick her up before her task can be completed.

Yet again, using various disguises, identities, and outfit changes, Bailey Ruth saves the day. The case is solved, the outfit is on point and those bumbling around the Adelaide, Oklahoma police department would not be able to save their town or citizenry without the help of the perpetually twenty-seven year old that always knows where to find passwords, extra handfuls of candy, or the perfect booth at Lulu’s.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Legal Tender

Title: Legal Tender
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Published: October 1st 1996 by HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardcover; 291 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: Rosato and Associates #2

I need to make the Rosato and Associates series more prevalent in my reading choices since I enjoyed this book and the previous “Everywhere that Mary Went”, so much. Lisa Scottoline keeps the guessing and the developments on track so the reader is never bored and there is no lag time between events.

Bennie Rosato is a six-foot blonde that is hard to miss either in the courtroom or walking down the street. She is one of two partners in a growing law firm and is knocked for a loop when her partner and ex-lover announces that he is dissolving the partnership. Not to worry, she can keep her clients involving police misconduct and excessive-force cases and the good guy that he is has rented new office space for her and anyone that wants to go with her. When she had initially called the meeting, where this announcement was made, it was only to verify rumors that some of her associates where floating their resumes. Little did she know that she would be blindsided and her world would implode.

Since everyone heard the argument with Mark that followed their showdown, it is no surprise that when his body was found the next morning Bennie would be the first and to some the only suspect but Lisa Scottoline would not make it that easy for the readers. What follows is a well-braided tale with planted evidence, a corporate CEO that is also murdered, running around NYC in various outfits and identities, a mysterious meeting in a boathouse, a lawyer posing as a lawyer, all the while still making it to a doctor’s appointment for her mother.

How the ending was pulled off sounded more like a slapstick vignette with suspect and police alike stumbling into a courtroom. There are characters that you will adore, there are characters that you do not trust and are hoping that Bennie’s radar is working and there is humor, lots of humor, and hope, which is exactly what Bennie needs as she faces her next escapade and life with her mother.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Death on Tap

Title: Death on Tap
Author: Ellie Alexander
Expected Publication: October 3rd 2017 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Sloan Kraus #1

I should have known that if the murder did not happen in the first twenty five percent of the book, that this was not a “who-done-it” and that the body floating in the fermenter was only an incidental part of the bigger picture.

Leavenworth, Washington is a Pacific Northwest destination town centered on beer with its Bavarian architecture and Oktoberfest banners. Sloan Krause and her husband Mac are brew masters for his family’s business Das Keller. All that came to a crashing halt when Sloan finds her husband in a compromising position with a barmaid and she wastes no time in heading off to the newest nanobrewery in town - Nitro.

All would have been fine and dandy if it was not for the body that they found floating in the tank at Nitro and fingers being pointed at Mac since he has a bit of a temper and a business on a downhill slide. Sloan wants to clear his name, if not for him, but for his aging parents that have been disappointed by Mac’s most recent antics and bad business deals.

This is where the book takes off in all sorts of directions and the idea of this being called a mystery left completely in the dust. This is a book about family, about beer and hops, about coming to terms with life in foster care and how people can take you in and make you one of their own. Plus, a murder that needed to be tied up since it was mention earlier in the book.

This is the first book in the Sloan Krause Mystery series that comes across as flat. The ending offers some interest in the next planned book, but as of now, I do not see myself waiting for its arrival.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sleep Like A Baby

Title: Sleep Like a Baby
Author: Charlaine Harris
Expected Publication: September 26th 2017 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBooks; Hardcover: 272 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Aurora Teagarden Mysteries #10

I have to admit that I am not reading this series in order. Sometimes I read a book, sometimes I catch the Hallmark version so when I picked up “Sleep Like a Baby”, I was somewhat taken aback by where Aurora’s life is but at the same time, I was grateful that Charlaine Harris did a little bit of catching the reader up with what had been happening.

Just as Robin is getting ready to jump on a plane for his big night at the awards ceremony, Aurora comes down with a horrible case of the flu. With a new baby to care for, and a stepbrother that is helpful but has his own life, Aurora cannot be left alone. Robin decides to call Virginia, a local caregiver that can come in nights to help with both Aurora and two-month-old Sofie.

Turns out that there is a whole mess brewing when Aurora wakes to find her daughter crying and the caregiver nowhere in sight and a dead body in the backyard. Thankfully, it is not Virginia but a woman that had been stalking Robin. This case just got a whole lot stranger for the local Lawrenceton police department and now Robin is in panic mode since he was not there to protect his family.

With her head swimming in germs and a crying infant that needs nursing every two hours, Aurora does her best to find answers but at the same time, she needs to be there for her mother when adversity strikes Aida’s life.

This book did get a bit silly from time to time, for instance, Aurora’s sentimentality to a diaper bag because a dear friend gave it to her, made me shake my head at her. I know that this series is kinder and gentler than others out there are, but sometimes Aurora’s gosh-golly-gee outlook irritates me.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Last Resort

Title: Last Resort
Author: Jeff Shelby
Published: August 29th 2014 by Mission Bay Publishing
Format: eBook, 298 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Moose River Mystery #2

It had been so long since I had read the first book in the series, “The Murder Pit” that I am glad Jeff Shelby did a little rehashing to click my old brain cells into place. It is not necessary to have read that book first, but it was a nice reminder of where Daisy and Jake started out.

Windy Vista Resort on Lenzen Lake is north of Duluth, Minnesota and looks like an ideal vacation spot for Daisy and Jake Savage, or at least that is what the brochure said after they had won an all-expense paid vacation that they two of them greatly need. After finding a body in their coal chute and repairs to a house that are never-ending, they desperately needed to leave their four children in the hands of trusting grandparents and head out of town. The brochure was geared more to a the vision of the future then the rundown trailer park full of wacky people and a dead body with a much-coveted medallion around his neck that they found.

Delilah, the owner of Windy Vista does her best, but times are tough and now with her business partner dead and money missing from their accounts, the park is in peril of closing. While Jake cannot get away fast enough, Daisy has taken a liking to this group of misfits and is determined to solve yet another murder mystery.

This is a fun series, the Daisy and Jake relationship is funny and the situations that they find themselves in are over the top. They complement each other well and their banter is what holds the books together for me. Funny story – I had actually stumbled across this series by accident. I had been looking for another book in the “Stay at Home Dad” series by Jeffrey Allen and somehow my searches lead me to Jeff Shelby. Come to find out, they are the same person. Who Knew? Now if we could only convince him to write more Deuce Winter’s books.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Grave Peril

Title: Grave Peril
Author: Jim Butcher
Published: November 4th 2008 by Roc
Format: Hardcover, 348 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Dresden Files #3

I do not know why it took me so long to find this series. Granted the spooky world is not my usual go to, yet I find myself transfixed each time I pick up these books. To be fair, I am not sure that it is the ghoul factor that keeps me coming back, but I do know that if Jim Butcher ever removed the humor, I would not enjoy them as much as I do.

Since Harry Dresden is the only Wizard in the phonebook, he receives call for the strange things happening in the Windy City, yet when Harry and his friend Michael are called to the hospital to battle a ghost that is terrorizing babies in the maternity ward, how can they say no. What they did not know at the time was that the veil between this world and the “nevernever” is thinning thus allowing all sorts of creepy things through.

Harry and Michael seem to be the targets of a gang of demons. Being what demons are, they do not play fair and when they go after those closest to Harry and Michael, all rules are thrown to the side and using whatever is at their disposal, this team of two, plus a couple of vampires are ready to take on those that are bent to destroy our world.

Hearts are broken, souls are shattered, yet Harry, Michael, and Bob will continue to protect those that they love and those that are completely unaware of what is going on around them. Jim Butcher packs this volume with many memorable characters and I, as the reader, hope to see a few of them again.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Love and Other Consolation Prizes

Title: Love and Other Consolation Prizes
Author: Jamie Ford
Published: September 12th 2017 by Ballantine Books
Format: eBook and Hardcove; 320 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

I do not know where to begin with this book. Jaime Ford has such a way with his descriptions and heartbreaking characters that it is always a disservice to try to relay the depth and emotions that he puts into his writing and the lives of his characters.

Beginning in 1902 when five year Yung Kun-ai is placed on a freighter by a starving mother after he witnesses her smothering his infant sister, this sad young boy learn quickly that the world does not treat everyone fairly especially if you are an orphan and have mixed blood. Being the product of a Chinese mother and a white missionary father, he lives in two worlds and realizes that neither world wants him.

Arriving in Seattle, he becomes a ward of the state and with a wealthy benefactress, he is sent to a boarding school, but once again is treated like a second class citizen. Gathering courage, he informs his sponsor that he no longer wants what is offered and being the horrible person that she is, she has the brilliant idea of auctioning him at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific World’s Fair.

Madam Flora and the Gibson Girls of the Tenderloin bordello take him in and create a home for him. To the outside world this is a disaster, but to Ernest, his prayers have been answered especially when he is reunited with Fahn, a young Japanese girl that was on the freighter with him and had, in his youthful way, told her on their first week at sea, that he was going to marry her.

Of course there are conflicts especially when Maisie, the daughter of Madam Flora, has staked her claim on Ernest, but the three come to terms with their arrangement. Life in a brothel is both exhilarating and terrifying. There are prices to be paid and lasting realties must be faced.

Now in 1962, Ernest is trying desperately to keep control over Gracie’s memories. She has slipped away from him and with moments of clarity, and an investigative journalist daughter that is asking questions about their past, Ernest is trying to keep the most scandalous parts hidden and his family together.

Every chapter has a breathless moment as their story is revealed. The reader is trying to keep a step ahead and when the realities are voiced, you are both relieved as to what has been exposed and terrified as to what will be laid bare next.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Death in Dark Blue

Title: Death in Dark Blue
Author: Julia Buckley
Published: May 2nd 2017 by Berkley
Format: Paperback; 304 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Writer's Apprentice Mystery Book Series #2

Running parallel to quotes at the beginning of each chapter from the fictional novel Death on the Danube written, I believe, by the main characters of the book - Camille Graham and her personal assistant and collaborator, Lena London. The reader is given a slight taste as to what will unfold in the subsequent pages and will open the door to the body that is found and the upheaval that is brought to them all.

Continuing from the last book ‘A Dark and Stormy Murder’, Sam West, their semi reclusive next door neighbor, continues to be under suspicion since his once thought to be dead wife has been spotted and Lena is using her research talents to find her.

Taylor Branch, the best friend of the missing Victoria has used her blog to disparage Sam at every turn, but had sent a message that she would like to meet up with him and apologize in person. When her body is found on his property, the tabloids are after him once again to prove that he is a murderer. It might not have been his wife Victoria, but with Taylor’s body being discovered on his property, he obviously had a hand in this one.

Many characters are thrown in throughout this book and the reader needs to analyze each and decided if they are important or just thrown in for distraction. I cannot understand why a few of them were mentioned, but then again, that is what a mystery is about. The infamous red herrings that keep the reader engaged. Then there is Grace Palmer who throws this whole thing wide open.

Winter in Blue Lake, Indiana, gives a very heavy hand to this pseudo-gothic novel. The atmosphere is heavy, gray, and oppressive, yet at the same time, there are modern day features such as the determined paparazzi and cozy mystery features using the ever present German Sheppards named Rochester and Heathcliff and a cat named Lestrade. Of course, Julia Buckley throws in touches of romance so when it comes to classifying this genre, it is all over the place.

The end of the book leads to a very large opening for the next book in the series with an orchestrated abduction and Sam ever present in the center of the drama.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Doom With A View

Title: Doom With a View
Author: Kate Kingsbury
Published: September 12th 2017 by Crooked Lane Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover 244 pgs
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Merry Ghost Inn #2

I almost put this book down after the first chapter. Innkeeper Melanie West finds a body on her driveway, calling emergency dispatch she says, “I think he is dead”, but is rather indifferent and returns to the house since she has piecrusts in the oven and is too worried about bad reviews of her new inn, than an actual human being.

With a group of elderly booklovers taking over the Merry Ghost Inn for their grand opening weekend, Melanie and her grandmother Liza have their hands full when the investigation drags on and no one is allowed to leave town. As to who could have tampered with the balcony and killed Walter, they each have their own speculations but it is not until Beatrice mentions the man in the skeleton mask that they sit up and take notice.

With the grumpy town detective interviewing everyone and getting nowhere, Melanie and Liza decide to start asking a couple of questions on their own. Apparently, Walter was barely tolerated by the members of his book group and after Gloria had accused him of breaking up her most recent relationship, others started turning their backs on him too.

With only a couple of days before their next group of visitors descends on the Merry Ghost Inn, Melanie and Liza are running out of time. The grumpy detective is making no headway so why not set a trap of their own considering their entire guest list are possible suspects.

This book is a good weekend read, if you remember the previous book, you would be familiar with Melanie’s backstory and though it is not a dominate part of this story, hopefully one day soon, she will have all her questions answered.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Keepsake

Title: The Keepsake
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Published: September 9th 2008 by Ballantine Books
Format: Hardcover, 349 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: Rizzoli and Isles #7

I think that I am actually surprised by how much I liked this book. The previous books were hit or miss and I was preparing myself for yet another miss.

Medical Examiner Maura Isles is called into the Crispin Museum in Boston to help with the dating process of Madam X, a recently discovered Egyptian mummy. As she looks closer at the x-rays, it becomes obvious that this is not an ancient relic but a recent murder victim that someone has tried to pass off as a relic.

Tess Gerritsen goes into in depth detail on how mummies are created and how bodies are preserved in bogs, and surprising to me, this part was rather fascinating.

Dr. Josephine Pulcillo, a young archeologist and a central character in this book, is not who she claims to be. Her credentials are genuine, but who she really is has been kept secret and her lineage is what keeps her on the run.

As Detective Jane Rizzoli tries to unravel this tightly coiled story, as more parts and more bodies reveal themselves, leaving everyone involved more confused than when they started. The reader will have to hold on until the end when that last, but most intricate, part is exposed.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Shunning Sarah

Title: Shunning Sarah
Author: Julie Kramer
Published: August 7th 2012 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Riley Spartz #5

I have a love hate relationship with this series. There are certain parts that I love – Riley’s bumbling. Yet at the same time, I really dislike Riley’s bumbling. Some parts seem to take too long to conclude, yet other parts are over much too quickly. There is only one more book in this series, and hopefully, Julie Kramer will be able to draw all the parts of Riley’s life together and maybe see a happily ever after for her.

You have to go with what mom says and if she is pointing you towards the body of an Amish girl and you are a news reporter, you had better grab your camera and go. Oh, and do not get distracted by a bear. Apparently, there is one in the woods that has others grabbing their guns.

When a local boy falls into a sinkhole, no one expected that hole to be hiding the dead body of a woman wrapped in a quilt, but that is exactly what happened when Josh Kueppers falls in and comes face to face with her. Doing what any other panicked child with a shotgun would do, he blows off her face. Now with no way of identifying the woman, the local police and Channel 3 reporter Riley Spartz set out to find out who this woman could be.

Come to find out that the dead woman is Sarah Yoder from the nearby town of Harmony. Since this is technical outside of the broadcast area that her market audience is from, Riley has to battle the new news director. He is a disgusting sort, but this story is too interesting and Riley is willing to put up with just about anything to keep her news followers up-to-date on her findings.

The Amish are a quiet self-contained community and they have no need of the devil in the form of television or its reporters, but that does not stop Riley. As she digs further into Sarah’s life and shunning, Riley’s life, if not her hair, is in danger. Being slow on the uptake, she eventually figures out most of the parts, but not before she is running for her life and needs to climb into a bear’s den to get the help that she needs.

By the end, Sarah’s tormented life is revealed, yet Riley is not comfortable sharing it all. She will make sure that those that need to be protected will be. She will see a grieving mother, yet not feel sorry for her. Riley will do what she can, but right now, she needs to go home, to the farm and her parents. Her own personal life is in turmoil, but that can wait for another day. Today she just needs her family.