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Monthly Archives: November 2017

Twelve Slays of Christmas–a holiday treat

Twelve Slays of Christmas

by Jacqueline Frost

Twelve Slays of ChristmasIf you are someone with magical memories of Christmas, you will enjoy being immersed in the first Christmas Tree Farm Mystery. We are taken to a Christmas wonderland where the Whites try to keep the family business, Christmas Tree Farm, open in spite of dwindling tree sales by offering a twelve day tourist Christmas extravaganza in the little town of Mistletoe.

Holly returns home after nine years in the big city when her fiancé dumps her a week before the wedding. Murder threatens what should be a happy season for the tourists and locals. Both Holly and the tree farm are in danger. Sheriff Evan Gray makes a believable love interest as they get acquainted quickly through her investigations of several crises. The plot is interesting, the main characters are likable, and the setting is as Christmasy as you can get in a murder mystery.

I would like to extend my thanks to 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: #1 in the Christmas Tree Farm Mystery Series

Publication: October 10, 2017—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

“I have two cups of Santa’s cinnamon tea, one spicy apple cider, and a peppermint twist hot cocoa,” I said, setting the mugs on the table surrounded by rosy-cheeked women wearing matching holiday sweaters. They leaned forward at the sight of my mother’s specialty drinks. I slipped cinnamon sticks into the tea and cider, then popped a candy cane into the cocoa.

“Everyone’s capable of something they never thought they could be.”

“You have to make things happen, not wait around hoping something might happen to you.”

Fireworks in Paradise–fireworks for TJ and Kyle

Fireworks in Paradise

by Kathi Daley

Fireworks in ParadiseTJ Jensen transported her sisters, good friend Kyle, grandfather, and his friend Doc, along with a menagerie, across the country to help a family friend for the summer. They are suddenly recalled to the resort the family owns in Paradise Island by a car accident that puts TJ’s father in the ICU.

Fireworks in Paradise is a good cozy mystery that ties in a cold case with vehicle tampering and local politics. Despite personal problems, TJ and her family’s resort host a number of the town’s Fourth of July celebrations. I enjoyed the tale but there are a lot of nuanced relationships that play into the story. The author does a good job of bringing the reader up to date, but there are also a number of new characters incorporated into the eighth novel in this series. Although I enjoyed Fireworks in Paradise, I don’t think this mystery would work as well as a standalone as some of the others in this series.

I do recommend the book and the series, but I have some residual hesitation about a 100% endorsement of this mystery. I found the amount of time TJ spent solving the crime to be unrealistic given other issues she should have been addressing. I know she felt like she could help her father most by finding the saboteur, but having rushed across the country you would think her focus would be spending time with her dad at the hospital or filling in at the resort’s Fourth of July activities for him. In spite of that, I did like the book’s underlying theme of the importance of family and friends.

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: Mystery

Notes: #8 in the TJ Jensen Mystery Series

Publication: October 10, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

Love isn’t something you have to dissect and analyze. It’s something that just is.

…you never knew when someone or something in the background of an otherwise unspectacular photo would provide you with just the clue you needed to solve a case.

Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions–moral turpitude in 1916?

Miss Kopp”s Midnight Confessions

by Amy Stewart

Miss Kopp's Midnight ConfessionsAmy Stewart has taken the real story of three sisters in the U.S. in 1916 and fleshed it out as a fictional tale based on her research. The rights of women are so limited in this book that is it hard to conceive of it in the twenty-first century.

Constance Kopp is the first female deputy sheriff in New Jersey and one of the first in the U.S. Many of the problems she deals with involve moral issues which can result in very stiff penalties, especially for women. As the U.S. prepares to enter World War I (1917), girls and women are starting to be employed outside the home working long hours under difficult conditions in factories where they are paid much less than men for the same work. One indicator of the status of women’s rights is that the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote was ratified on August 18, 1920.

With this setting in mind, know that there is nothing pedantic about Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions. It is composed of very short chapters that make you want to turn the page and keep reading. It deals with cultural and social issues of the time and demonstrates that there can be flexibility, based on reasonableness and sensitivity, within the law. Deputy Sheriff Constance Kopp encounters young women with various problems; she must view them through the prism of the potential for similar issues in her own family.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction

Notes: #3 in the Kopp Sister Novel Series, but can be read as a standalone

Publication:   September 5, 2017—Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Memorable Lines:

Whatever discomforts she might endure, they couldn’t compare to the hardships of a trench in the Argonne. The idea stayed with her, as she grew more accustomed to the tedium of a factory job, the long hours on her feet, her red and swollen fingers, and the dull ache behind her eyes from staring at those spinning threads all day. Her brothers were eager to go overseas and endure far worse. Surely she could bear it for their sake.

She was such a slight, mousy girl, with so little to say, but a steel cable of resolve ran through her. The notions of duty and service and country came as naturally to her as breathing.

Edna had an endless reservoir of determination, and all the high ideals in the world, but she didn’t know how to bluff, or play a trick, or talk her way into a room where she wasn’t invited. She was constitutionally unable to lie or cheat or hide anything—money, jewels, the truth. Minnie could do all of that, and while she didn’t know much about war, she was fairly certain that something in that line might be called for.

Protocol–good debut mystery


by Kathleen Valenti

There are exceptions, but generally I love it when a mystery begins with action or intrigue. Protocol, Kathleen Valenti’s debut novel, fits in that category. If you think a novel about the pharmaceutical industry sounds stuffy or boring, think again.

Maggie O’Maley is excited to be starting a new chapter in her life in her first job as a researcher at Rxcellance Pharmaceutical. Socially insecure and intellectually astute, she requires income to support not only herself, but also her aunt and father whose restaurant is undergoing hard times. Unfortunately she gets caught up in a world of violence beginning with appointment reminders she receives on her previously owned cell phone that was not properly wiped of information. Her world spirals out of control as she tries to make good choices for her job and to keep herself alive. A subplot that ties into the main mystery puts her long time best friend Constantine up against Ethan, a new love interest from the research facility.

Protocol is a page turner with lots of suspense and twists. Maggie is a likable character, and I look forward to reading more of her adventures in Kathleen Valenti’s next novel.

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

Notes: #1 in the Maggie O’Malley Mystery Series

Publication: September 5, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

She imagined furtive glances by coworkers, conversations that stopped as soon as she approached and whispers around the water cooler as innuendo oozed under doors and around cubicle walls.

Maggie fumbled in her pocket and put two quarters into the machine. She punched the combination of keys that would spring Snap, Crackle, and Pop from their coiled prison.

The smell of antiseptic, so familiar, so clean, now seemed deceitful, designed to conceal the smell of putrefaction.

A Festival of Leaves and Some #FREE #Photos

Educators, students, bloggers, I am reblogging this because it not only addresses copyright issues which we all need to be respectful of, but also offers free use the blogger’s pictures. And they are beautiful!

Second Wind Leisure Perspectives

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you probably know I LOVE photography and combine that with my love for Autumn!

Growing up in San Diego, there wasn’t much to see in the way of Autumn leaves as the palm and eucalyptus trees didn’t yield to Fall’s changes. Once in a while, in December, when some of the east areas felt a few cold nights, did you see the few Liquid Amber trees show their Fall colors.

One I moved to Sacramento as an adult, and lived among “the City of Trees,” my obsession for Autumn grew each Fall as the entire region became a burst of color. It also does this in the spring, but that’s for another season!

You also may know that I love my photo challenges and am including this photo (from a two-year old post) into a fun challenge I discovered…

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Murder in Montparnasse–an astounding plot

Murder in Montparnasse

by Kerry Greenwood

Murder in MontparnasseIt is said that one should order soup in a fine restaurant as it is a predictor of the quality of the meal to come. The first chapter of Murder in Montparnasse was my “soup.” I knew upon sampling the book, that the descriptive language was worth savoring on the tongue. The introduction of three major plot threads provided delicious flavors evocative of a mystery worth reading.

Phryne Fisher has her hands full in this fast-paced mystery which focuses on a group of Bert and Cec’s friends from the war who seem to be targeted for death, the disappearance of a young lady, and strange occurrences at a delightful French restaurant. Along the way, various other puzzling circumstances need to be examined. Phryne’s past also becomes important as her time spent in Paris in an art community returns to haunt her. Domestic issues involve the marriage of her Chinese lover and the employment termination of her beloved Mr. Butler. Phryne’s daughters, Jane and Ruth, are pleased to take on detective roles, and Constable Hugh Collins shows his skills in some independent police work. Murder in Montparnasse is an altogether satisfying mystery.

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: #12 in the Phryne Fisher Mystery Series

Publication: September 5, 2017—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines:

The remedy for anything short of an outbreak of cholera in a French kitchen was “Add more cream!”

The waiter, who had clearly graduated magna cum laude from Cheeky French Waiter School, made a face which suggested that a chef who had dinners to cook ought not to be slugging down cognac at lunch, but he slapped down another glass and the bottle of cognac. He then flounced away, turning an ostentatious back.

Dot always worried about Phryne. There had been raised male voices in the refined parlour, and Dot didn’t like it one bit. Raised male voices, in Dot’s experience, preceded raised male fists. And then Miss Phryne might have to hurt someone.

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