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Monthly Archives: October 2017

Killer Party–a good one!

Killer Party

by Lynn Cahoon

KillerPartyI had read the eighth book in the Tourist Trap Mystery Series by popular cozy mystery author Lynn Cahoon and was not excited as it focused more on extraneous details of the main character’s personal life and less on the mystery. I am so glad I gave this series and author another chance with Killer Party.

Set at The Castle, a luxurious resort/museum in South Cove, a small town in California, this tale finds Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More celebrating the upcoming marriage of her boyfriend Greg’s old college buddy. Cahoon does a great job of familiarizing the reader with old characters and introducing new ones, while jumping right into the plot. My favorite new character and coffee shop employee is Deek, who initially appears to be a disaster in the waiting. Despite calling everyone “Dude,” Deek is a talented, well-educated young man with great enthusiasm for his work.

There are lots of suspects and threads to the plot. Greg, who is the local police chief, is forced to investigate informally with Jill since he is a friend of the victim. Side issues evolve with Jill’s Aunt Jackie who is planning her own wedding.

Killer Party is fun, interesting and an all-round good cozy mystery. What’s next, Ms. Cahoon? I’m ready!

I would like to extend my thanks to 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: #9 in the Tourist Trap Mystery Series, but works as a standalone 

Publication:  July 18, 2017—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

Actually I wasn’t sure why I was apologizing to this woman I’d never met before. I’d read a book that said one of the ways women give up their power is by saying I’m sorry for things that weren’t their fault.

I needed to have one good meal before we started skirting the law. It was part of the investigators handbook. Or at the least the one I was going to write someday after I made all the mistakes first.

I liked doing laundry. It calmed me in some weird way. Take something dirty and stained and make that all go away. Too bad life wasn’t like that.

Dead Storage–dangerous secrets

Dead Storage

by Mary Feliz

Dead StorageWhat do you do when a good friend who also happens to be a really good person gets involved in a murder and asks you to keep a secret from his husband? If you are Maggie McDonald, professional organizing consultant, wife, and mother of two boys, you keep the secret, investigate the murder, and try to get your friend out of jail.

That is the short version of a fast-paced cozy mystery entitled Dead Storage. At times I was a little irritated with the way Maggie accepted red tape and being put off by those she was interviewing. Then I thought about three months this summer and the runaround I received in trying to get two birth certificates and repairs accomplished on a motorcycle under warranty. Actually what Maggie went through was pretty believable.

I recommend this book for its intricate mystery and interesting social elements. You will especially like it if you have a heart for the homeless, empathy for those with PTSD, and a passion for dogs.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Maggie McDonald Mystery Series, but works as a standalone

Publication:  July 18, 2017–Kensington Books (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

Clutter costs time and money. Even if you aren’t renting extra storage, if you’ve got so much stuff that you don’t know what you have or where it is, or you can’t find it when you need it, it’s nearly the same as having nothing at all.

Neighborliness wasn’t restricted to streets with single-family homes and gardens. Apartment buildings, parks and anywhere that people came together could provide community too.

While electronic communications are great for efficiency purposes, any emotional or dicey situation is so much better handled face-to-face.

Room for Doubt–does the motive justify the crime?

Room for Doubt

by Nancy Cole Silverman

Room for DoubtWhen is a murdered person not a victim? Who is Mustang Sally? Why would a policeman turn a blind eye to a crime?

There are lots of questions to be answered in the fast-paced cozy mystery, Room for Doubt,  by Nancy Cole Silverman. Carol Childs is a single mom trying to make a living as a reporter for talk radio when she finds herself hosting a late night talk show. Throw into this mix a handsome PI, an aging “Psychic to the Stars,” and some bizarre murders and you have a recipe for a mystery you won’t want to put down.

There is not a lot of deep character development, but you won’t miss it because the plot has the focus. The reporter Carol and PI Chase, who would like to get to know Carol better, are both likable. Supporting characters add interest as they move in and out of the action. The setting provides a realistic touch as it is the L.A. area where the author currently lives.

I would like to extend my thanks to 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: #4 in the Carol Childs Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:   July 18, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

Whoever said fashion made the woman certainly knew the right outfit could cover a world of insecurities, and right now I felt like I needed all the help I could get.

“I thought the arguments and his escalating violence was my fault and that I could fix him. So I didn’t leave. I thought I could make it better. Abusive men can do that to you.”

“Things have changed some today but not enough. Abuse is a social stigma. A lot of women are too embarrassed to tell their friends and family the truth about what’s happening. Most end up living in fear.”

To Kill a Hummingbird–the middle is good

To Kill a Hummingbird

by J.R. Ripley

To Kill a HummingbirdI enjoy word play so I was immediately attracted by the title of J.R. Ripley’s To Kill a Hummingbird. This is the fourth book in his Bird Lover’s Mystery Series with two more waiting in the “wings.” This cozy mystery gets off to a slow start with rather stilted dialogue. Ripley spends the requisite amount of time introducing his characters and setting the stage, but the story just seems to drag as the former professor of Birds and Bees shop owner, Amy Simms, arrives in Ruby Lake, North Carolina, for a book signing. The book rambles on for four chapters with the only suspense being the alcoholic state of the professor.

The author includes some interesting information on hummingbirds, but often the inclusion seems forced. I do think, however, that this is a book bird aficionados will really enjoy. My opinion of the book grew steadily more positive as the plot increased in complexity and as the characters interacted with each other. There were interesting twists to the plot as Amy and her boyfriend Derek try to determine who is responsible for several murders. Unfortunately, after the mystery is solved, the author attempts some comic relief which is both unsuccessful and unwanted.

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

Rating: 3/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #4 in the Bird Lover’s Mystery Series

Publication: July 11, 2017— Kensington Books (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

“Sometimes when you see a hummingbird hovering over a flower, it isn’t because it’s about to feed on nectar—it could very well be that the bird has spotted a tasty spider or even an insect trapped in a spider’s web.”

If You Give a Man a Cookie–spousal humor in parody format

If You Give a Man a Cookie

Written by Laura Joffe Numeroff

Illustrated by Brian Ajhar

If You Give a Man a CookieFor as long as I can remember, our family byword for “one thing leading to another” has been “if you give a mouse…” We don’t even have to finish the title; we all know what it means. I’m sure a lot of my readers can identify with that as you grew up with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie as a storytime favorite. Or maybe you were one of the many adults who shared this book with children.

Laura Joffe Numeroff has since produced many variations on this children’s book, but now she has written one for adults: If You Give a Man a Cookie. In this humorous parody, a woman offers up a cookie to her husband and, to nobody’s surprise who has read the original, he asks for milk to go with it. The book progresses in this delightful fashion with lots of helpless husband scenarios that may seem familiar to patient spouses.

Whereas Felicia Bond is responsible for the sweet, funny, and appealing artwork in Numeroff’s children’s books, the illustrator of If You Give a Man a Cookie is Brian Ajhar. His style is very different with sharper lines in a more comic book manner, with more appeal to its adult target audience. Be sure to note the dog who appears on almost every page adding to both the story and the humor.

This book would make a fun, less serious gift for the woman who has it all, including a man with 24/7 needs. I think most men would even find the humor in it. Also, consider it for those contemplating marriage; they might have second thoughts!

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Andrews McMeel Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Entertainment, Humor

Publication:   October 10, 2017—Andrews McMeel Publishing

Unnatural Habits–Phryne at her best

Unnatural Habits

by Kerry Greenwood

Unnatural HabitsKerry Greenwood created a much more complex mystery in Unnatural Habits than others of the Phryne Fisher Mystery Series that I have read. There are several significant investigations occurring simultaneously as well as some minor threads to be unravelled. I remember viewing the movie version of this book years ago. With this series, I usually like the movie better than the book, but in this case I must insist that the book is, in fact, light years past the movie which can not begin to do justice to the intricate plot or character development.

Greenwood, through Phryne Fisher, takes up the cause of girls and women who are treated like sexual property in a time when most women receive little respect and the Catholic church ignores various kinds of ill treatment of girls, women, and boys. Phryne is unable to rest until all of the immediate problems are solved, and she puts her own life at risk to rescue less fortunates.

This particular tale is enhanced by the frequent inclusion of her “minions” as she calls her willing helpers—Tink, her apprentice; Dot, her assistant and companion; Jane and Ruth, her adopted daughters; Burt and Cec, socialist taxi drivers; and Mr. and Mrs. Butler, providers of specialty drinks and food. Each character is called upon to use their unique skills to aid in the investigations.

Australia of the 1920’s comes to life with descriptions of dress of various levels of society, examinations of attitudes, laws, and customs, and use of unique terms. Some of the moral issues examined in the book would be considered reprehensible by most people today. Others are still being debated. There are some actions taken in the novel by Miss Fisher and others that are illegal, but are ignored because ignoring them promotes the general good and provides food for thought for the reader.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Notes: All of the Phryne Fisher books may be enjoyed as standalones, but the characters are more interesting if you have read a few of the books in the series.

Publication:  July 4, 2017—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines:

She was pursuing a very perilous line of enquiry and appeared to have the sense of self-preservation of a chocolate Easter egg in a blast furnace.

“Assume the rules do not apply to you, and they don’t.”

The tone of voice could have been used in the fishing industry for freezing prawns.

“Government reports are like that,” Phryne told her. “Not altogether meant to be understood, thus easily denied.”

Indian Summer–a book of relationships

Indian Summer

by Marcia Willett

Indian SummerIndian Summer is one of those books that is difficult to categorize. Some call it a Romance, but it focuses more on relationships than on romance. Others see it as Women’s Fiction, and I agree that it would appeal more to women than to men, but I prefer to just call it a novel. Marcia Willett’s Indian Summer is the story of Sir Mungo Kerslake and his brother Archie who reside on the family property near a small town. The other characters’ lives intersect with the brothers’ in various ways. Some live on the property as tenants or renters. Others are visitors from outside the community. All have secrets.

Sir Mungo is a very social retired actor and director of some renown, and all of the characters relate to him in some way. Very likable, he is the ultimate good friend—hospitable, understanding, loyal, and trustworthy. He has the amusing penchant of looking at life through a director’s lens, seeing life events as the bits and pieces of a play. He adds a fun, dramatic flair to every situation.

Indian Summer was first published as a paperback in 2015. Thomas Dunne Books is now publishing it as a hardback. This my first book by this author, but won’t be the last. I enjoyed the gentle, understanding approach of the author to her characters. The story is written in such a way that it jumps between sets of characters within a chapter. That was disconcerting at first, but as the relationships became more apparent, these switches morphed into a flow appropriate to the plot.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Publication:   June 27, 2017—Thomas Dunne Books

Memorable Lines:

Her own world has swung back into focus and she realizes how very precious it is to her. She mustn’t risk it for this chimera of excitement and fun; for some brief sexual gratification. Yet how to extricate herself?

The trouble is, he knows by experience that it’s this part of the creative process that he really loves: sitting in bars with his laptop open, jotting down ideas; walking around new places; watching people and inventing little scenarios for them. It’s rather depressing that, when the time comes to sit down and actually write the story, his enthusiasm wanes.

Perhaps, thinks Mungo, that’s why the friends of our youth are so dear to us. To each other we aren’t grey and old and dull. We remember times when we took chances, acted courageously, rescued each other and gave each other support. These things remain. In their company we are the people we’ve always been: viable and strong.

Lowcountry Bonfire–is it a paranormal?

Lowcountry Bonfire

by Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry BonfireWhen is a paranormal not a paranormal? When it is part of the Liz Talbot Mystery Series. When it deals with ghosts who are not angels of any type, but are guardian spirits. When the guardian spirits have a mission assigned by the Almighty, not the devil. When the town psychic doesn’t tell fortunes, but does share gut feelings about people.

Lowcountry Bonfire takes place in a small South Carolina town where everybody knows everybody else, iced tea and fried foods reign, and houses are built a story above ground level to avoid water damage. Liz Talbot and her husband Nate are private investigators working on contract for the local police department headed by Liz’s brother Blake. When Tammy Sue learns her husband Zeke has been cheating on her, she sets his classic car on fire. With the neighborhood watching, a corpse is found, and in the course of the investigation Liz discovers she does not know her neighbors as well as she thought.

Author Susan M. Boyer has developed a good plot with interesting characters. Many are suspected of murder with a surprise ending ahead. The semi-paranormal aspect was initially puzzling. As this is the sixth book in the series, I assume the guardian spirit’s presence was explained thoroughly in an earlier book. Not normally a paranormal reader, I did not find that aspect bothersome in a demonic sense; it’s a fictional tool whose purpose is to add a comedic touch. I would compare it to Shakespeare’s use of Falstaff.

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

Notes: #6 in the Liz Talbot Mystery Series

Publication: June 27, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

“It’s hard to believe anyone in this town is that isolated.”
“Small towns can be the loneliest places on earth if you feel like you’re on the outside looking in at all that closeness.”

“I told him he didn’t pay me enough for how hard I worked. He said if I was more contentious I might get a raise. We went back and forth a while.” I rolled my lips in and out, nodded. Zeke must’ve told him to be more conscientious. Good grief.

“People often do things that make no sense to the rest of us,” she said. “The challenge is to love them anyway.”

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