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Ditched 4 Murder–murder mystery with a side of humor

Ditched 4 Murder

by J.C. Eaton

Ditched 4 MurderPhee (Sophie Kimball) is still acclimating to Arizona’s high temperatures: quite a change from Minnesota. She is employed as a bookkeeper at Williams Investigations, on a year’s leave of absence from the Mankato Police Department. She makes it clear that she is not a Private Investigator and has no ambitions to be one. Despite her inclinations, she gets dragged into several murder investigations because of her family ties. Her mother and her looney aunt, a soon-to-be-bride in her seventies, are already part of the aging retirement community in Sun West City, and they call on her frequently for support and particularly in tough times. Phee is in her forties and is quite likable and intelligent. Although she is single, there is no potential love interest in this book.

Ditched 4 Murder is a cozy mystery by J.C. Eaton. I enjoyed the Arizona setting, the characters, many of whom are in the catering business, and the plot with multiple threads and many complications. Especially appealing is the author’s sense of humor, a delight throughout.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Sophie Kimball Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:  November 28, 2017—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

“Quaint! Don’t you know what that means? It means no air-conditioning, no cable TV, forget about a mini-fridge and a microwave, and we’ll be lucky if they stick a fan in the room. There’s only one thing worse than quaint, and that’s rustic. Thank God she did’t pick rustic. That means no electricity and an outhouse!”

…honey, we spend the first fifty years of our lives collecting things and the next fifty giving them away.

“You ever think about doing that detective stuff, Phee?” I walked to the outside office. “Sure, I think about it. It’s right up there with trekking the Andes and riding an Icelandic horse across glacial rivers.”

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Altered to Death–mysterious discoveries during a renovation

Altered to Death

by Christina Freeburn

Altered to DeathAltered to Death is an enjoyable cozy mystery with a good plot and likable characters. I had lots of interruptions, but was always eager to return to the story. I did have to remind myself of various characters but that is more of a reflection on my memory than on the book itself.

I had read one other book in this series and I liked it, but I think Christina Freeburn’s writing has improved with this one. The plot was intricate with many possible pathways, but none seemed invented just to be deceptive; they were all realistic and tied in with other plot threads. There were surprises even after the mystery of an unidentified skeleton uncovered during a renovation was resolved. Tying the present mystery into the sudden disappearance of one of the town’s founding families made the tale even more interesting. If a decaying mansion, old diaries, secrets long hidden in an attic, and a possible secret passageway are intriguing to you, then you will enjoy Altered to Death.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

Notes: #6 in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:   November 28, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

Some believed that a spouse had to have known the evil the other one did. I hadn’t. I had no clue my then husband had murdered someone until I was arrested for it.

Attractive people were considered nice, smart, and good while unattractive people were often seen as mean, stupid, and evil.

Tonight had a bad memory attached to, but it was only a night, one moment in time and tomorrow would be different.

The Story of Arthur Truluv–kindness in action

The Story of Arthur Truluv

by Elizabeth Berg

The Story of Arthur TruvluvI don’t know what I expected as I methodically started the next book in my queue. This one was labelled “Women’s Fiction” which I have learned covers a wide range of possibilities. As a book blogger, I rarely read the online summary again after I have made my selection of a book that I will read weeks or even months later. I never read other reviews until I have written my own. Those practices keep even my subconscious honest.

The Story of Arthur Truluv is a beautiful, delicate surprise. A rather short book that rightfully flows from beginning to end with only double line spacing to mark changes or pauses in the storyline, it is best with no chapter breaks. By the end I had fallen in love with the main characters, the aging Arthur and the young Maddy who is covered with the sadness of being different in so many ways. I was immersed in their individual stories and their collective potential for happiness. They meet in a cemetery and quietly begin a friendship that crosses age barriers.

I am not generally an openly emotional person, but The Story of Arthur Truluv left me in tears, not of sorrow but of hope. Hope for the characters and for the future of real people who find themselves closed in by circumstances but trying to address life and death with hope, courage, and the gentleness that emanates from kindness.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Random House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Women’s Fiction

Notes: I don’t usually read books I review more than once. I think this book will start a new Kindle collection for me: “Revisit.”

Publication:   November 21, 2017—Random House

Memorable Lines:

The bones of his face protrude; he’s gotten so skinny he could take a bath in a gun barrel.

But adults complicate everything. They are by nature complicators. They learned to make things harder than they need to be and they learned to talk way too much.

“But what we need are readers. Right? Where would writers be without readers?…See, that’s what I do. I am the audience. I am the witness. I am the great appreciator, that’s what I do and that’s all I want to do. I worked for a lot of years. I did a lot of things for a lot of years. Now, well, here I am in the rocking chair, and I don’t mind it, Lucille. I don’t feel useless. I feel lucky.”

Seeds of Revenge–perfect title for this book

Seeds of Revenge

by Wendy Tyson

Seeds of RevengeLet’s just put it right out there: I am a Wendy Tyson fan and her latest book Seeds of Revenge lived up to my expectations. This is a well-crafted mystery with enough suspects to be interesting, but not so many that they overwhelm. Once more Tyson injects her legal and psychology backgrounds, along with a love of books, into this story creating a page turner.

Megan Sawyer, a former lawyer who is working toward organic certification for her greenhouse and farm and also owns a café in small town Winsome, becomes involved in solving a murder that focuses on one local family but reaches out to encompass Megan and her family as well.

Megan uses her connections with locals and the police chief, her brains, and her persistence to unravel the many threads of Seeds of Revenge. In the process she has to confront some of her own relationship issues, past and present.

Set in a wintery Christmas season near Philadelphia, the holidays play a minor role as eye candy for the story. It is not a Christmas story by any means. That is just the backdrop for a very good mystery.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: #3 in The Greenhouse Mystery Series; works well as a standalone

Publication:   November 14, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

The historic buildings, with their brick and stone fascia, were done up in holiday finery, and the tall streetlights wore caps of white over streams of plaid ribbon. The street was deserted at this time of night, and the snow remained untouched except for a semi-cleared path carved by the plow.

A teakettle whistled. Megan pulled it off the stove with an oversized Christmas mitt and began filling a china teapot, her mind on all the ways people could destroy the very things they loved in another person.

King was looking at her with something akin to warmth. After the traumas of last fall they’d developed a bond. She’d come to respect his abilities and toughness as a new police chief, and he seemed to appreciate her insights. It was a relationship that worked…

A Deadly Eclair–weak in the deduction department

A Deadly Eclair

by Daryl Wood Gerber

A Deadly EclairThis is a book I really wanted to like. The main character Mimi is a nice and capable person. She owns a restaurant, Bistro Rousseau, and an inn, Maison Rousseau, in Napa Valley. This is a second chance at happiness in her personal life and success in business. She is an understanding boss who has hired an interesting staff. She is creative, has good taste, and is a lover of Impressionism.

As the story opens Mimi is preparing for an out-of-towners’ dinner party for a celebrity wedding also scheduled to take place at the inn. One of the best parts of the book is the presentation of delicious sounding gourmet items on the bistro’s menu. The book closes with recipes the characters have shared.

The focus of the mystery is a murder. When it occurs, Mimi turns into an amateur detective. Unfortunately she is a pretty bad one. She discretely interviews lots of potential suspects, many of whom are guests at her restaurant and inn. They lie to her and she takes what they say at face value and bases her theories on those lies. She also places far too much emphasis on trying to read people’s lips or watch their reactions. Then she draws conclusions willy nilly based on whole conversations that she mentally fabricates.

A Deadly Eclair has a great setting and interesting characters. Past that, I was disappointed in the plot and its resolution, which for me is not very believable.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #1 in the new French Bistro Mystery series

Publication:   November 7,  2017—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

Next, I worked as sous chef to a celebrated chef—celebrated was code for crazy—at a snazzy restaurant.

A strong woman is one who is able to smile this morning like she didn’t cry last night.

Of course, there were a lot of ifs in my speculation.

Much Ado About Murder–Shakespeare in a Civil War era setting

Much Ado About Murder

by Elizabeth J. Duncan

Much Ado about MurderEngland comes to the U.S. in Much Ado About Murder. Charlotte Fairfax is a costume designer formerly with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Audrey Ashley is an actress from a famous English dramatic family; she insists on a particular English director. Set in the Catskills, a production of Much Ado About Nothing is anticipated to draw crowds of tourists to help sustain the town and local hotel. Add in a few Corgis and a lot of tea to round out the British ambiance.

Unfortunately, trouble plagues the production with conflicts, injuries, a murder, and lots of suspects. Charlotte and her wealthy friend Paula, chairperson of the theater board, bear major responsibilities for ironing out difficulties and investigating the murder. Charlotte has support from her boyfriend Ray, the chief of police.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery with its interesting characters and setting. As a drama fan, I particularly appreciated that focus and found that it was integral to the plot rather than contrived. Reading about the difficulties of staging a professional production on a restricted budget in a more remote location got my attention and added an element of fun to the mystery.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery Series, but worked well as a standalone for me

Publication:   November 7, 2017—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

Audrey shook her head as the server placed a generous slice of apple pie, its latticed crust golden and flaky, warm, cinnamon-laced chunky apple filling oozing onto the plate, in front of each diner. It was accompanied by scoops of homemade French vanilla ice cream and slices of mature cheddar cheese.

Theater rehearsal rooms are almost always closed to outsiders. They’re meant to be safe places where actors can try on a role and wear it for an hour or a day, experiment,  do anything and everything to find the heart and voice of a role, make mistakes, indulge in whimsy and nonsense, until they understand where their character has come from and what he seeks and why he wants it. They do this by playing off other actors, and gradually, as they work out the mechanics of the play and the technical aspects, it comes together as the words are lifted off their pages and take on a life of their own.

The Boyfriend Swap–great beach, plane, or cozy afternoon

The Boyfriend Swap

by Meredith Schorr

The Boyfriend SwapI like to vary my reading occasionally by throwing in a Chick Lit book. Meredith Schorr’s The Boyfriend Swap was a good change of pace at the the right time. The first half established characters, varying the viewpoint in clearly marked divisions between elementary school music teacher Robyn and hard driven lawyer Sidney. It is quite funny as they both have family situations coming up at Christmas where they don’t want their families to meet their respective boyfriends for various reasons.

When the boyfriend swap occurs, the book still has humorous moments, but things don’t always turn out as expected so there are some anxious times as well. Is swapping boyfriends a good idea in anyone’s mind? Will it all work out in the end for Robyn, Sidney, and their boyfriends? Come along for a fun read, but don’t model your romantic life on theirs!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Publication:   November 7, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

How were children supposed to nurture their creative sides if schools focused entirely on academics?

Giving him a quick once-over as he absently pulled his finders through his longish hair, I was taken aback by his blatant beauty. The gods of looks certainly didn’t hold back the day Perry was born. Too bad they were so stingy with his humility.

Usually, the scent of garlic from my mom’s roasted chicken made my mouth water, but the guilt-and-anxiety cocktail I was drinking rid me of an appetite.

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