Autumn Alibi – Jennifer David Hesse

Now that the snow has melted and it feels like Autumn once again, I wanted to read some books set during this season. Luckily, the next book in the Wiccan Wheel Series was exactly what I was looking for!

{677CAA61-C3C5-40F1-BCFD-F9A0C6D16585}Img100

I began reading The Wiccan Wheel mysteries earlier this year partly because I was in a cozy mystery mood and partly because I’ve always been fascinated by various beliefs and religions that people choose to follow. What I discovered was a delightful series centered around, of course, the Wiccan Wheel which divides up the calendar into eight seasons and their corresponding celebrations such as Mabon and Yule Tide.

Keli Milanni is a successful attorney who is a Wiccan witch. Several of her cases, as well as the search for her mysterious aunt, often lead Keli to murderous endeavors. With the aide of her abilites, she solves the cases and brings closure to those who are left behind. She has interesting friends and co-workers who help her along the way, each bringing their own quirky personalities to the story.

The series, including Autumn Alibi, is a collection of well written, intelligent cozy mysteries. There are hints of romance but they are not the focus of the stories -the mysteries remain at the center throughout. This a fun series, especially if you enjoy cozy mysteries with a bit of a paranormal flair.

St. Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre #Valentine’sDay #ElisabethCrabtree

Do you know how hard it is to find a good book that is specifically for St. Valentine’s Day!? As many book as are written for Christmas, one would think that this would be a breeze. If they are out there, please let me know because I have searched high and low and the pickings are slim, to say the least. Luckily for me, I found this little gem hiding in the FREE Kindle books on Amazon.

51N8-KpA0DL

Kat has moved back to her hometown of Hatter’s Cove and is now working for her local paper. She’s finding it to be a let-down after years of crime reporting. Now, she has been relegated to covering the society pages, specially being the ace food critic, a job that has led to multiple bouts of food poisoning as well a death threats. Apparently her restaurants reviews are similar to my book reviews. 🙂  When she receives an invitation to the grand opening of the newest Cookie Shop, she is reluctant to go but knows she has to attend. After all, the owner is her mother’s best friend. Later that evening, Kat receives an anonymous call beckoning her back to the cookie shop. The caller tells her that they have a big tip regarding an old murder. When Kat arrives, she discovers a dead body holding a bag full of cookies from the shop. The owner, her mother’s friend, is promptly arrested despite everyone’s protests. Kat knows she has to do whatever it takes to find the real killer – to save her mother’s friend and possibly her own life.

If you’ve read cosy mysteries, and I’m sure most of you have, then you know that sometimes they are just too adorable for words and the characters are sooo sweet but the substance of the mystery is, well, lacking. If there is too much crime and violence then the book is no longer a “cosy” so it’s a tightrope to walk for authors. Thankfully for us, as readers, Crabtree knows exactly how to tread that tightrope perfectly. There is plenty of humor, the characters are quirky and funny but they still have plenty of depth and, most importantly, the crime itself is plausible, within reason of course. If you like a lite read, a mystery without gore, then you will find The St. Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre absolutely perfect and it’s a great seasonal read too – who could ask for more?

Baby Daddy Mystery: Shady Hoosier Detective Agency @DaisyPettles

I’ve been reading some very grim thrillers, gritty urban fiction and heartbreaking women’s fiction lately and I seriously needed a change of pace. How fortuitous that Daisy Pettle would publish the next book in Shady Hoosier Detective Agency series.

51rqcxeftxl

For those of you who may be unaware, “Hoosiers” is the official name for those of us who are lucky enough to live in the midwestern state of Indiana. You can ask a dozen people where the nickname originated and you will receive a dozen different answers but it is now our official title. That said, this series with its quirky characters, often real-life Hoosier settings and true to life, ethnocentric humor, had me laughing-out-loud from start to finish. I adored the first book, The Ghost Busting Mystery, but The Baby Daddy Mystery was just too terrific, even better than the first!

Ruby Jane and Veenie are back and have been hired by one of the wealthiest women in town to verify the paternity of her late husband’s mistress’s children. However, the dead bodies soon begin to pile up as RJ and Veenie get closer to learning the truth. It doesn’t help that it is spring in PawPaw County and everyone – literally – is having a spring fling with somebody else’s spouse. What can I say? The Hoosier hills come alive in the spring time. 😉

These books are meant to be read with tongue in cheek. The joy of reading them is in their massive amount of humor and it comes in buckets. This one did, in fact, have a bit more actual sleuthing than the first and that made it a tad more enjoyable for me but I would read anything that featured RJ and Veenie. It is so incredibly rare for women their age to be featured as anything other than doddering old fuddy-duddies and I absolutely adore the fact that Veenie, well, is actually a lot like me! Now if only I could find that elusive pie hut I would be in heaven!

If you haven’t read anything in this series yet – well, what are you waiting for!?

Thank you so much to #Netgalley, @DaisyPettles and #HotPantsPressLLC for my copy of this delightful book!

Murder at the Mill

Murder at the Mill is a fantastic beginning to a new series featuring Iris Grey, an artist who happens to solve a murder mystery.

37638216

I picked up Murder at the Mill to fulfill the amateur sleuth category for the PopSugar Reading Challenge and thought I was going to get a cute cozy tale. While this is not a “thriller” by any means, it is definitely a good, old fashioned, well told mystery in the style of Agatha Christie. There are lots of twists and turns and red herrings that will keep you guessing until the very end. The characters are very well developed – some very likable and others are simply deplorable – but all very interesting and three dimensional.

I’m excited to have find a new author to love and cannot wait for the next in this series!

A Dolphin Named Star #Capstone

I read a wonderful review by Lana at Cole Campfire Blog about two young girls who live at a wildlife sanctuary. The book sounded so marvelous that I had to get a copy for myself! Thank you Lana!

A Dolphin Named Star is a delightful story that I’m assuming is written for tweens, perhaps a little younger. (8-11 years old) It reminded me of a cross between Nancy Drew and the old television show, Flipper. Yes, yes, I know I’m showing my age but I read all of the Nancy Drew books and watched re-runs of Flipper so often that I, literally, could recite entire episodes by memory. Is it any wonder that I loved A Dolphin Named Star!?

cover146880-medium

Elsa and her best friend Olivia spend all of their time at the Seaside Sanctuary for wildlife where Elsa’s parents work. The girls have bonded with the new dolphins who have been rescued and are acclimatizing to their new outdoor “pool.” However, worry sets in for the girls as the dolphins immediately begin to get sick, have sores and, eventually, one of the trio dies. No one can figure out exactly what is wrong with the dolphins since water samples come back clean. The girls do some sleuthing to find the answers, hopefully in time to save the remaining dolphins.

This is, of course, a book that is written for the minds and attention level of kids, however, it is intelligently written and covers a lot of bases regarding the sanctity of wildlife, ocean pollution, corporate wrong-doing. Because my own kids grew up with books like this, from Nancy Drew to Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, I think the book is perfectly written for their interests and knowledge base. In addition, as if the book weren’t terrific enough, there are discussion questions in the back of the book to encourage further dialogue and research. There also is a glossary of terms that might be unfamiliar to kids but which will further enhance their language skills and, hopefully, peak their interest so that they will search out other books on this topic.

A Dolphin Named Star is beautifully illustrated, marvelously written and a thoroughly enjoyable book. It is one in a set of four books about the girls and Seaside Sanctuary and would be an excellent gift for young readers.

Thanks again to Lana for putting this book on my radar, to #Netgalley and @CapstonePub for my advance copy – published by  #StoneArchBooks.

 

 

 

The Valentine Candy Murder @LeslieMeier

I know, I know, you’re gearing up for Christmas and here I am writing about Valentine’s Day. It’s just one of those days where everything up is down. 😉 Actually, I was looking for an interesting cosy for Valentine’s Day and happened upon The Valentine Candy Murder which will be published in December.

cover151014-medium

The Valentine Candy Murder is a compilation of two previously published works by Leslie Meier. She did something similar for Halloween and now we have this, two books in one. The first is Valentine Candy Murder in which a librarian is murdered shortly before a library board meeting. Newly appointed board member, Lucy, searches for answers when she believes the local detective has arrested the wrong person for the murder. The second, Chocolate Covered Murder, revolves around a rather intense rivalry between two chocolate shops in the small town of Tinker’s Cove. Lucy, a freelance reporter for the Pennysaver newspaper, begins her own investigation once again.

If you already are a fan of Meier’s work and/or have followed along the amateur sleuthing of Lucy’s, then having these two holiday themed books under one cover will be delight for you. The characters are vivid and fascinating and the plots themselves lend well to a cosy type read.

I came into these books fresh having never read about Tinker’s Cove or Lucy before now. The first, originally published long ago, felt a bit dated to me. If I had known that the action was taking place in, say, the 80s then I would have better understood perhaps. As it was, there are multiple references to the computer and searching for things online that came across as very antiquated – appropriate for the 80s but not for today. Because there were so many of these references, I found them a bit distracting. The second book skips ahead considerably on Lucy’s timeline so I found myself, once again, rather confused. The toddler in the first book is now a teen and the son is grown and married. I just don’t think that putting these two books together was wise given their vast time difference – at least not for new readers.

If you already are a fan then I’m quite sure you will enjoy these two books together. For the rest of us, I would suggest starting at the beginning of the series and read each individually. The writing is good and cozy and the characters are interesting.

Thank you to #Netgalley and #Kensington Press for my advanced copy.

Murder With All the Trimmings by Shawn Reilly Simmons

Murder With All the Trimmings is quick, fun, holiday cozy mystery.

517WPqgXxKL

I want to reiterate that, for my reviews, a 5 or 6 is not a bad book, it merely is in the middle ground for all of the books of that genre that I have read.

The story revolves around a murder that occurs in a Broadway theatre. There is confusion over the actual identity of victim, who was a dancer with a troupe similar to the Rockettes. The cop who is investigating the murder is also the boyfriend of the main character who happened to discover the body. She is the chef for her dearest friend who is filming a documentary on the theatre and the troupe.

Everything about this book was interesting – the setting of the old theatre, the dancers, the holiday season and the life of a famous chef. However, none of it actually ever clicked for me, I never connected to the story’s characters. I’m unsure if it the manner in which they were drawn, or if I’m simply not into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. I suspect that there many other readers who will find this to be a very enjoyable, delightful read. I, however, was left wanting more.

My advanced copy was furnished by #Edelweiss and #HenryPress

 

 

Ghost Busting Mystery: A Shady Hoosier Book by @DaisyPettles

I moved to Indiana for my son, I stayed for the humor. Seriously. Midwesterners, Hoosiers particularly, are some of the funniest people I ever have met! It is that side-splitting, tongue-in-cheek humor that you will discover in the Ghost Busting Mystery: Book 1 of the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency series by Daisy Pettles, aka Vicky Phillips.

41083312

A fellow blogger suggested that I read Ghost Busting Mystery  since I’m always on the hunt for good Midwestern books and authors. I was dubious based on the title and, okay, the description itself. Boy, was I ever glad that I read the book anyway! This is one of my Top Ten Books of 2018 and one of the funniest books I ever have read! As in, EVER!

Ruby Jane, known as RJ to all who know her, and her best friend for life, Veenie, are natural born snoops. They work part-time at the Shades Detective Agency in an extremely small town in Southern Indiana called Knobby Waters.  What it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in colorful characters who reside there. RJ and Veenie are on the far side of “elderly,” although that’s not even a word that I ever would use to describe them. They like to snoop for Shades in order to get “twinkie money” that they use for, yes twinkies, emergency pie runs and “mystery meat” sandwiches at the local bar. They have agreed to take the case of the glowing bottomed ghosts hanging out in their neighbor’s orchard.

The author creates a cast of characters, including a drunk wiener dog, and a depiction of rural Indiana, chicken houses resembling the Senate building, so brilliantly and perfectly that I swear I have been there and met these folks. They will have you laughing out loud before you’ve finished the first chapter. Yes, there is a very fine plot/mystery but it is the humor, wit and sarcasm that will keep you glued to the pages of this comedy. It’s like Garrison Keillor meets Mel Brooks: folksy, irreverent, hilarity with a whole lot of Midwestern charm.

If you don’t read one other book before this year ends, you have to read Ghost Busting Mystery. I promise that RJ and Veenie will make glad that you did. If you need me I will be down in southern Indiana looking for the Pie Hut for emergency pie runs!

Loads of thanks to #Netgalley, @DaisyPettles, and #HotPantsPress,LLC for my copy of this comedic tale!

And Then There Were Ten, #AChristmasGift @SueMoorcroft

The Countdown Continues with Ten Weeks to Christmas…

cover147305-medium

I seriously cannot believe it is just TEN WEEKS until the big day. It’s a good thing that I celebrate the entire holiday season or I would be in a panic. Wait! I already am in a panic! No, no, not really. The fact that I’m decorating trees in secret, in my closet, so they will be ready to go the day after Halloween means nothing. Nah….  One thing that does not wait, however, is my passion for holiday reading and Sue Moorcroft has given us another outstanding Christmas book this year: A Christmas Gift!

Georgine loves Christmas. As the artistic director for a private arts school, she is in charge of the annual Christmas pageant. Regardless of anything else going on in her life, each Christmas she completely immerses herself in the organization of the holiday production. Over the past year, she has encountered financial problems as her former boyfriend left her with a mountain of debt – and the collectors that go with it. Also compounding the problem is her sister who has barged back into her life, bringing her financial woes as well. Having been raised quite wealthy in a family that eventually lost everything, Georgine is terrified of being financially destitute. Georgine also cares for her elderly father who has had a stroke. Thrown into this mixed bag of emotions is “Joe,” whom her boss has given to her as an assistant for the play. Joe feels familiar to Georgine but she is unable to place where she has known him from in her past. Who “Joe” is will turn Georgine’s world upside down along with much hilarity, angst, sadness and joy.

A Christmas Gift is exactly the type of holiday book that I love. Of course there is a bit of romance, lots of crossed signals, and ultimately a happy ending. However, Moorcroft’s style of writing also lends itself to explore deeper undercurrents that we all face. With Georgine and Joe, we see how extreme poverty can manifest itself throughout a lifetime, how fleeting wealth can be and how tenuous relationships are, whether they with the opposite sex, parent-child, or sibling relationships – they all take a lot of work to maintain. Moorcroft deftly handles each of these topics and allows the reader to look beyond the surface of the “happy holiday” stereotype.

I loved A Christmas Gift and, if you like holiday stories, I think you will enjoy it as well. Let me know if you’ve read this book or any of Moorcroft’s other books. Are you reading holiday tales yet? Share them with me – I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks to #Netgalley, @AvonBooksUK and @SueMoorcroft for my copy of this delightful tale.

 

 

 

Two Shorts for Sunday: One Man’s Meat and The Naked Nuns by Colin Watson #FarragoBooks #FlaxboroughSeries

Two more fabulous British mysteries in the #Flaxborough series.

Originally published in the 1960s and 70s, the Flaxborough Series by Colin Watson are traditional British mysteries at their finest. Watson used satire and a biting sense of humor to captivate readers across the globe. Thankfully, Farrago Books has reprinted these classics and made them available as e-books as well so that a new generation of readers can enjoy Watson’s tales of hilarity and skullduggery.

In One Man’s Meat, DI Purbright is back, this time investigating the strange case of a young man who has died while on a carnival ride. While this may seem like a simple, straight forward accident, nothing ever is simple or straight-forward in Flaxborough. Ever. As Purbright soon discovers, murder is afoot along with corporate espionage, “professional correspondents” and tainted dog food. For those of you who might equate “professional correspondents” with modern-day journalists – think again. A “professional correspondent” is court lingo for the person with whom a spouse has had a liaison. Oh yes, One Man’s Meat makes The War of the Roses look like child’s play.

Although the bulk of the story is told from the perpetrator’s perspective, all of the humor and witty repartee are present throughout. This particular book in the series is a bit more difficult to follow, perhaps because of the selected voice used. It is, never-the-less a marvelous classic mystery that readers will enjoy.

Of all of the Flaxborough series, The Naked Nuns is my least favorite. However, that is like saying that vanilla is my least favorite ice cream – it still is tasty and fun!

The concern with The Naked Nuns is that the plot is too unbelievable. Okay, most of this series has convoluted plots, but this one is more so. The salvation to the book is that, as always, Watson is an incredibly funny writer which makes reading his books a little like watching the Pink Panther version of Christie’s Poirot. Silliness abounds, but it’s a worthwhile, fun read just the same.

If you are a fan of witty, well written, non-violent, no-gore, classic mysteries then I highly recommend both of these books and the rest of the Flaxborough Series as well.

A huge appreciation to #Netgalley and #Farrago for giving me the pleasure of reading these books!