Thursday, June 29, 2017

Aunt Dimity and the Widow's Curse

Title: Aunt Dimity and the Widow's Curse
Author: Nancy Atherton
Published: May 30th 2017 by Viking
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Aunt Dimity Mystery #22

Though the Aunt Dimity books are short and very hit or miss for me, I am glad to say that this book was better than most and packs a very interesting story.

Lori Shepard will admit to anyone that will listen that she is gullible. She tries to accept everyone at face value so when Mrs. Annabelle Craven, a long loved village member, admits that she had killed her husband, Lori is both shocked and curious. Not wanting to jump to any conclusions, and with her husband and son’s out of town, Lori grabs Bree Pym and heads out to Old Cowerton to do a bit of investigating on her own.

I know that the premise does not sound too enticing, but Nancy Atherton was able to wind a very interesting “she-said, she-said” story, almost to the point where you cannot figure out who is actually telling the truth. Just understand that old stories and old jealousies die-hard and when you can fit a scenario to your own liking, just about anything is possible.

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Panicked Premonition

Title: A Panicked Premonition
Author: Victoria Laurie
Expected Publicaton: July 4th 2017 by Berkley
Format: eBook, 320 pages
Genre: Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Psychic Eye Mysteries #15

I love it when I am reading a mystery and begin to have my own “but what about” questions and then one by one the author answers them. “It’s like she gets me” (ok, you will have to read the book to get that reference).

This is a unique series in that fourteen or so books back this was a cozy mystery series and within time, they have shifted more to a regular mystery with parts and subjects that are on the un-cozy side yet you forgive Victoria Laurie because, as a writer, she is growing.

With a twisty plot that involves dear friend Dave and the new panic room business that Dutch and Brice have started, now that Milo is no longer in the picture, things go sideways quickly when there is a double murder at a recent project and Dave is nowhere to be found.

Abby and Candice are the main focus in this book and in between working out, the ladies tend to be going back and forth between their private investigator skills and their being on the FBI payroll. Guess you walk on a very narrow edge when you husbands are with the FBI and they need their girlfriends to solve crimes.

After a few bumpy books in this series, I can say that this is one of the better ones. Not too much is given away early and though the author sends you down a couple of weedy paths, the conclusion makes sense without the reader having to reach too far out to pull in all the pieces.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You That She's Sorry

Title: My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You That She's Sorry
Author: Fredrik Backman
Published: June 16th 2015 by Atria Books
Format: Hardcover, 372 pages
Genre: Fiction

There is nothing more special than a quirky grandmother and her precocious almost 8-year old granddaughter. They are both “different”, but that is what makes their relationship all the more special.

Every night, her grandmother carries Elsa away to the mythical Land-of-Almost-Awake, which has six kingdoms, each with its own power and Elsa knows by heart, including Miamas where everyone is different and no one needs to be normal. What Elsa did not know, was the true meaning behind each character that her grandmother spoke of. All that reality came crashing down on the day that her grandmother died.

Her grandmother was her only true friend, she was bullied at school, but home was her refuge. Her apartment building was full of misfits and with her parents’ divorce and her mother’s remarriage with a “halfie” sibling on the way, Elsa is trying desperately to not only fit in, but to work through her grief. It is not until she is tasked with delivering letters in a kind of treasure hunt. This is where the title of the book comes from and where the reader sees the whole story unfold and how each and every person in the apartment building is there for very surprising reasons and how their stories are revealed in the Land-of-Almost-Awake.

This is a complex tale that needs to be read in large parts so the reader can keep all the relationships together. Every chapter discovers a part that leaves the reader grasping for more. The revelations are boundless and the love that is revealed within the walls of the building that they call home is deeply heart touching and spellbinding.

This is a book that will remain on my shelf so I can return to the Land-of-Almost-Awake and meet up with them again when I need to add more fairytale and imaginings to my life.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Town in a Lobster Stew

Title: Town in a Lobster Stew
Author: B.B. Haywood
Published: February 1st 2011 by Berkley
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Candy Holliday Mystery #2

The first book in this series was only so-so for me, so I decided to give the second a try. Unfortunately, this is where the series will stop for me. Overly descriptive, overly drawn out and desperately boring to the point of being able to skip entire paragraphs without losing any of the storyline.

Cape Willington, along the Maine coast, is hosting their annual Lobster Stew Cook-off that is apparently a big deal since not only does it come with bragging rights and an entry into “caper” society, but also worth conspiracy and hiding a body over.

When not helping her father at Blueberry Acres or working in the local bakery or making pies at home, Candy Holliday is a community reporter for the hometown newspaper. It was not until a local octogenarian asks for Candy’s help when she notices that Mr. Sedley’s recipe has gone missing and her neighbor cannot be found. On the surface, the two are not linked, but Candy’s instincts go into overdrive when she is asked to judge the local competition and someone has submitted a stew made from the missing recipe.

There is enough shenanigans going on in this town and enough backroom dealings to keep any reporter on their toes and the reader is brought into the entirety of their goings on. Unfortunately, this writing team is determined to overly describe every incident and if you were not paying attention the first time, they will describe it again and if you are still unsure of how a specific character fits in, just hold on for a chapter since they or their occupation will be mentioned again.

By the end of the book, the only interesting character was Captain Mike and unfortunately he has literally sailed off, and with rough choppy waters, no one is sure if he will be seen or heard from again.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Title: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
Author: Matthew J. Sullivan
Published: June 13th 2017 by Scribner
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Though other rated this book highly, I did not like it. I found myself putting it down, picking up other books, and then only begrudgingly picking it back up to finish. For me, it read as if the author had no idea what his ending point should be and continued to throw ideas out there in hopes that something would reignite him.

Lydia takes her job as a manager of a community bookstore personally, she has her regular customers and a select few that she calls Bookfrogs that consist mainly of down on their luck, if not homeless, people who spend their days within the stacks.

One evening, around closing time, she hears a banging noise. Turns out that one of her Frogs, Joey Molina, has hung himself. Little did she know that this tragic act would reopen the door into her own tragedy twenty years prior. With his crate of possessions, she discovers messages that he left for her, breadcrumbs really, that not only explains who he really was, but helps her to answer the most troubling questions of her own life.

A dark and twisty story that literally bored me to sleep on numerous occasions. I do not see what all the hype is about, but I am glad that others were able to find in this book what I was not.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Only The Lucky

Title: Only the Lucky
Author: Linda Castillo
Published: May 23rd 2017 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook, 56 pages
Genre: Police Procedural
Series: Kate Burkholder #8.5

At only 56 pages, this is a quick story that brings you back to Painter’s Mill on Friday the 13th where an Amish “rager” is planned on an eerie abandoned farm and the county is thrown into a complete blackout due to an accident on the highway. There is very little that Police Chief Burkholder can do to stop this party, since permission has been given by the property owner, so when a young girl is found unconscious with a severe head wound Kate and her team enter and quickly to “size up” the “designer” situation.

Linda Castillo does her best to leave the suspect pool open, and though it would be easy to point your finger at an easy suspect, the truth is a bit closer than anyone has originally assumed.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Killing Kate

Title: Killing Kate
Author: Julie Kramer
Published: July 26th 2011 by Atria Books
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Riley Spartz #4

To me, this came across as a lifeless book. Bouncing between two narratives, the reader is either interested in Buddy, a dog that was left in an overheated car by an aggressive owner or a killer that is stalking waitresses in the Midwest.

Riley Spartz, an on air TV personality, is juggling two stories. The public is obsessed with the dog angle, yet a serial killer has met his match in Riley when his latest victim is an unassuming woman that has a secret life as a bestselling writer of erotica. Whereas the dog viewpoint will bring in many readers, it is not until the explosive end to that story where things get interesting. Yet, the dark angel and a family tree of homicidal killers is what kept my interest. Especially when you add in chalk outlines around the bodies in the shape of angels.

The Riley Spartz series is basically a big ball of fluff. There are no deep characters or interesting plot twists. Just straight forward writing that at times is completely skip worthy yet, there is something about Riley that makes me want to read the next book. If only Julie Kramer did not have to give so many camera angel notations. We get that Riley is an on air personality, but telling me what is going on with camera shots during her on air appearances was just annoying.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Bitter Harvest

Title: A Bitter Harvest
Author: Wendy Tyson
Published: March 7th 2017 by Henery Press
Format: Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Greenhouse Mysteries #2

Rural Winsome, located in Eastern Pennsylvania, is preparing for their first Oktoberfest, not all participants are happy about which farm, and more importantly, which craft brewery will be showcased. It is not that this is a competitive thing among the residents, unfortunately, it is more along the lines of favors and who knows whom that has some upset. Things ramp up quickly when first one and then a second body is discovered. Who is behind this and why has Megan Sawyer found an old battered Adirondack chair on Potter Hill angled to watch her property?

Megan is the owner of the Washington Acres Café and Larder in addition to an organic farm, where she lives with her grandmother Bibi, and in the last book, the reader found out that there might be some hidden items of interest located on the property.

With Oktoberfest gearing up and the expected influx of thousands of people over the next week, Megan and the local police chief need to answer a few questions quickly and it is not just about the dead men, but there are other oddities as well, that are confounding them. Dealing with the “human foibles of greed, lust and jealousy” this is a twisty story that had me on a number of occasions going back a bit to remind myself who was who and who was related and who was dating and who was an employee and who was dead. By the end, the dots were connected but not before I was completely confused and wondered what Wendy Tyson’s storyboard must have looked like with dozens of pushpins and connecting strings pointing in multiple directions.

As the book says, “a bunch of disparate facts and no cohesive theory” not only tells of the murders in Winsome, but also perfectly describes this book considering the ulterior motives behind the slayings came completely out of left field.

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Grave Calling

Title: A Grave Calling
Author: Wendy Roberts
Published: June 5th 2017 by Carina Press
Format: ebook
Genre: Paranormal / Police Procedural
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Bodies of Evidence #1

I enjoy Wendy Roberts and though I have wished that her standalone books had continued as series, I am glad to see that Julie Hall and Bodies of Evidence will.

Twenty five year old Julie Hall refers to herself as a corpse magnet ever since, as a young twelve year old child with dowsing rods, she found a body instead of water. Having changed her name from Delma Arsenault to Julie Hall, she now leads a quiet life as a gas station attendant. That is until FBI Agent Garrett Pierce appears in her life and knows about her past, a past that can now help him find three missing girls.

She does not like taking money for her talent since that feels like a bad karma thing to do, but will take enough to help pay for a birthday present for her beloved grandfather. She had been dropped at her grandparents’ farm when she was six and hoped that her mother would come back for her. When that did not happen, the unimaginable abuse from a brutal grandmother ensued. She had always wondered why her grandfather never intervened, but that was a long time ago. Her grandmother was now gone and her grandfather and dog are all that she has left.

Then she begins to find the bodies and her life will never be the same.

This is creating yet another downward spiral for her, the alcoholism is bad enough, and the quicksand – her name for PTSD, is unrelenting. Yet, she does not want to give up on the missing girls. As one by one, she finds them along with white ribbons, she is in deeper then she wishes. So deep that the truth of “betrayal comes from friends and not enemies” hits her so hard that this is a spiral that she may never recover from.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Turning Angel

Title: Turning Angel
Author: Greg Iles
Published: December 27th 2005 by Scribner
Format: Hardcover, 512 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: Penn Cage #2

When you begin an Iles book, I certainly hope that you have no other plans because you will not be able to put it down. You are taken hold of from the beginning and with a giant exhale, you slowly sink into the atmosphere that surrounds you.

Natchez, Mississippi is divided when Harvard bound class valedictorian Kate Townsend is found dead. What was at first thought to be an accidental drowning turns more ominous when it is deemed a murder and Penn’s old friend, Dr. Drew Elliot is the main suspect. Turns out that their relationship was anything but innocent since Kate, who had a few secrets of her own, was a couple weeks pregnant.

With a book that is over five hundred pages, the reader knows that there is more to this tale than meets the eye. This is where the deep dive begins. Drew asks prosecutor now bestselling author Penn to lead his defense team. Pursuing the investigation, Penn discovers more than he wishes to about his town, the high school mindset, drugs, Kate, Drew, and just about everyone that he meets. Other than Penn’s daughter Annie, I truly wonder if there are any good people in this town.

As Penn is delivering St. Stephen's commencement address, he comes to a realization, his beloved town is in trouble and with the mayoral seat now available, maybe he is the only one that can step up and save it from itself.