Past Due for Murder
by Victoria Gilbert
Amy, a library director, juggles many roles from hosting special events to encourage community involvement to maintaining an archive to preserve local history. In Victoria Gilbert’s Past Due for Murder, Amy finds herself in the middle of a myriad of questions. Some are personal and others extend to the community: Why is her boyfriend Richard acting differently and lying? What happened to the missing student Lacey? Why does graduate student Trish hate Lacey so deeply? Did Charles, Amy’s ex-boyfriend, steal another professor’s ideas and why is he back in town? Is there blackmail going on at Clarion University? Who would be motivated so strongly that they would commit murder? As Amy discovers the answers to some questions, more arise and they form a tangled mess which gets unraveled in the end. This cozy mystery is a page turner you won’t want to miss.
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.
Notes: # 3 in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery Series, but works as a standalone.
Publication: February 22, 2019—Crooked Lane Books
I thanked her and went back to compiling statistics from our integrated library system. It was a part of my job that I hated, which made it a perfect match for my mood.
I stared at him, struck by the knowledge that his polished appearance couldn’t hide his true nature. He was obviously someone who always had to be right, who’d always demand blind obedience from his family and friends. In short, he was a bully, and no amount of tailoring and expensive haircuts or handcrafted shoes could hide that truth.
“Time don’t change who you are, just what you look like.”
The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God’s Goodness Around You
by Shannan Martin
Where is a Christian’s mission field? You know, the ordinary person who has not been called to go to another country? Shannan Martin in The Ministry of Ordinary Places says it is wherever God has placed you. She doesn’t advocate passing out pamphlets, cornering people, or pushing invitations to come to church. Instead, we are to love people, listen to them, invite them into our homes, be available to them and to the opportunities to help them as God presents them to us.
As a rural introvert, Martin has had to change a lot in opening her heart, time, and home to her neighbors in a multicultural setting. She had to “choose the comfort of the past or the struggle of moving forward.” She learned that hospitality is not perfection in entertainment; it is extending invitations willy nilly, throwing together some tacos, and letting God take it from there. She has learned to receive kindness from others, understanding the cost of that kindness from someone who is down and out.
Martin’s story is engaging, and her writing style is excellent from the humorous “Go with God, good middle school bus driver. You are a rose among loud, hormonal, Hot-Cheetos-for-breakfast-eating, lanyard-flipping thorns” to sharp edged descriptions such as “She has known the desolate landscape of struggle. Hunger and wanting blow through her life like gale-force winds through a thin cotton jacket.” There is magic for the reader in words like these.
Martin does not believe in pushing Jesus down anyone’s throat; she makes her own heart accessible and invites others into her life where they not only see, but feel, the impact of Jesus on individual lives.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Thomas Nelson for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Publication: October 9, 2018—Thomas Nelson
Only as we engage in the hidden practice of listening do we learn about the struggles of others, gaining empathy where we one cast judgement.
It’s so easy to tip into judgment when we view the world through an us-them dichotomy. Sitting face-to-face, the problems loom larger and we have to contend with the sticky fact that there is simply always more to the story.
…we are all longing to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Sometimes we get so hung up on doing something great, we forget the best thing is often the smallest.
Mr. Finchley Discovers His England
by Victor Canning
Edgar Finchley, a clerk in a law firm, has not had a vacation in ten years when his new boss surprises him with a three week holiday. This mild-mannered, middle aged bachelor anticipates trading his typical, longstanding daily schedule for a different holiday routine, but is surprised to find himself wrapped up in a series of adventures.
Victor Canning’s Mr. Finchley Discovers His England was originally published in 1934 before WWII when the author was twenty-three. A best seller upon publication, it is a humorous work reflective of a more innocent time and makes a fun read. I enjoyed all of Finchley’s exploits. Despite the light-hearted nature of the book, the character of Finchley develops as he finds courage and flexibility he never knew he had. This book is full of well written, vivid descriptions and many British terms. I enjoyed learning words such as “roach” (a type of fish) and “rean” (a varian of reen, an irrigation ditch). Mr. Finchley Discovers His England is a delight to those who enjoy an author who can craft superlative descriptions and has an extensive vocabulary.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Ferrago for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: General Fiction (Adult), Humor
Notes: 1. The first in a series.
2. There is a chapter which devotes itself to a cricket match This part of the book would be more interesting to a reader who is familiar with the game and terminology.
Publication: April 18, 2019—Ferrago
The sun tipped the edge of the hills in a blazing tiara and every copse and thicket, each barn and cottage, sprang into a bold relief, white wall vivid against chestnut green, and a church clock, black and gold against the grey of the stones.
…he came slowly to see what until now he had never realized; that danger, the wonder of the unexpected, the exhilaration of living and not knowing what one would be doing or where one would next be were the only thing that gave colour to life.
He was beginning to see that McGrath was the type of man who bullied and stormed at people—and was surprised when they accused him of losing his temper.
Flower Power Trip
by James J. Cudney
The third cozy in the Braxton Campus Mystery series does not disappoint its fans nor leave out new readers. It begins with a helpful Who’s Who briefly describing the characters in the series. The first chapter follows up with a summary of the action in the first two books as told by the main character Kellan, while getting the plot for the new book underway.
Kellan discovers a dead body and again finds himself in the middle of a homicide investigation. Flower Power Trip swirls delightfully with interesting characters, a multitude of clues, and humorous repartee. Several threads continue on from previous books: Kellan’s rocky relationships with his boss Myriam and Sheriff April Montague, Nana D’s bid for the mayoral seat, and Kellan’s presumed dead wife Francesca with ties to a mob family. There are also romantic conflicts and more than a little danger.
Notes: #3 in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series but works quite well as a standalone
Publication: March 30, 2019—Creativia
Helena recently celebrated her birthday by doing a pub crawl across all four villages in Wharton County. Eight hours, eight bars, eight different drinks. I wouldn’t have survived that level of commitment.
…”you are nothing but a nosy, interfering, non-stop questioning, painful wart on the tip of my pinky toe that has aggravated me beyond any reasonable expectation.”
…you must always have more physical books than e-books. I wanted Emma to experience a multitude of technology at her fingertips from an early age, but she also needed to respect and cherish all that our country had accomplished in the history of bookmaking and printing.
Staging is Murder
Laura Bishop has quit her boring IT job, but still has debts to pay off from her mother’s illness and funeral. She has allowed herself one year to make a success of a new staging business, helping people prepare their homes to look their best for resale. Her friend Nita, whose large Italian family “adopted” Laura years ago, is the “Lucy” to Laura’s “Ethel” as they try to solve a murder and free Tyrone, Laura’s assistant in the business. There are lots of suspects, and my heart was in my throat when Laura decided to confide in one of them as I felt sure he was the murderer. Was he? Why did someone want Laura to stop investigating? Will she be able to discover the murderer before he or she strikes again? Grace Topping’s Staging is Murder is a good start to a new cozy mystery series. Read it to answer all these questions and to learn if her first staging job is a success or a flop.
I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: 1. #! in the Laura Bishop Mystery Series
2. Staging tips are included in each chapter.
Publication: April 30, 2019—Henery Press
Also, trying to find the time to help him while meeting my staging deadline was creating havoc with my stress level. I needed physical activity. Either that or lots of chocolate.
I wasn’t cut out to be Nancy Drew. With nerves like mine, I couldn’t sit comfortably through a scary movie much less play detective in real life.
“Here, I brought you a Snickers—the staff of life.”
The Library of Ever
by Zeno Alexander
Lenora is a rich, privileged, eleven year old, cared for by a nanny in the absence of her vacationing, neglectful parents. With a nanny absorbed by shopping and tech devices, Lenora is understandably bored, but that changes quickly when she escapes the nanny’s unwatchful eye in the LIBRARY. To her delight, she is hired to work there. What follows is a series of magical librarian adventures. With each one of them, Lenora proves her worth and advances from Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian up through the ranks.
The adventures are fun and scary in this amazing library created by Zeno Alexander in The Library of Ever. Lenora is set on tasks by Malachi, the Chief Answerer, and she bravely confronts the Forces of Darkness who want to destroy Light in the world by destroying knowledge. The scary features are appropriate to Middle Grade readers with transporting by tubes, shrinking and unshrinking, dark caverns, holes that suddenly appear, evil men in bowler hats who can chill a room, and robots with spinning swords for arms. There are lighter moments too. Lenora becomes a cat in a diorama to rescue a lost kitten. Lenora is ever helpful, for as a librarian that is her job. Her good deeds include resettling a colony of penguins and helping a kindly robot find a lost memory. The plot moves quickly from adventure to adventure and is an appropriate length for Middle Grade readers. As an adult reader I enjoyed it too, smiling over antics and anticipating each new adventure along with each promotion for Apprentice Librarian Lenora who has always enjoyed the adventures to be found in books.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Children’s Fiction, Middle Grades
Notes: Ages: 8-11
Publication: April 30, 2019—Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Malachi burst onto the scene looking rather disheveled, meaning a wisp of hair had escaped from her bun and her badge was ever so slightly askew.
“This isn’t the Complaints Desk,” said Lenora shortly. “The Complaints Desk is down the stairs, across the hall, over the bridge, past the waterfall, then you take the fifth left after the third right and straight on ’til morning.” Lenora had no idea if there was a Complaints Desk. “You’ll also need ice skates.”
Remember, Lenora, you are not alone in this fight, even if it will feel like that sometimes. You have allies, and you can rely on them to help you with the battles you are not yet ready to fight.
by Linda Lovely
Brie Hooker, a South Carolina aspiring vegan chef, teams up with her yoga instructor and a few friends to start a goat yoga class. That’s a perfect match because Brie is also helping her aunt with 500 goats on her goat farm where they make and sell goat cheese. Also Brie is trying to open a vegan B&B in a semi-dilapidated mansion her aunts bought for her fulfilling a long time dream.
You’ll just have to read this fast-paced cozy mystery to discover how goat yoga and a B&B can be essential components of a mystery with murders, arson, and blackmail. Throw in family relationships, a quirky best friend, and two competing bachelors, and you have Bad Pick, Linda Lovely’s latest humorous cozy you won’t want to put down.
I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: 1. I had no idea “goat yoga” is actually a type of yoga. A quick Internet search convinced me that it is something people actually pay money to do. Are any of you goat yoga aficionados?
2. #3 in the Brie Hooker Mystery Series. It works as a standalone, but I think I enjoyed it more having read the other two books in the series.
Publication: April 16, 2019—Henery Press
“There’s more to yoga than meditation. What the goats provide is important—closeness to nature and unbridled joy. all part of being present in the moment.”
Eva’s crusty exterior poorly camouflaged her generous heart.
Mollye’s baby-faced beau always had an eager puppy-dog look about him. Yet his demeanor tonight made me sense he was a quite capable of barking and growling if the need arose.
The Tale Teller
by Anne Hillerman
Many years ago I read Tony Hillerman’s mysteries, eagerly awaiting the publication of each new one. Then after a hiatus, I rediscovered the Navajo world I had been missing—Shiprock, the Rez, and officers Leaphorn, Chee, and Manuelito. This time the storyline has been picked up by Anne Hillerman, Tony’s daughter. With eight books to her credit, four of which continue the plot lines established by her father, Anne Hillerman is a formidable successor to her father.
The Tale Teller weaves a plot as complicated as any mystery I have read, using the same main characters Hillerman fans have come to love. The Navajo culture is portrayed accurately including some basic Navajo words to enhance the Native ambiance in the story. The setting is the Four Corners region of the Southwest in all its dusty, gritty heat of July. The characters have just enough predictability to cause readers to smile and nod, but not so much that there are no surprises. In fact, the plot provides so many of those that your head will be spinning trying to keep up.
Lieutenant Leaphorn is hired to discover what happened to some missing donations to the Navajo museum. Bernie and Chee help solve a murder. Sorting out truths from deceptions is never easy, and it certainly isn’t in this mystery with a surprise ending.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to HarperCollins Publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Mystery, Police Procedural
Publication: April 9, 2019—HarperCollins
“My philosophy is when someone says something sweet to me, I believe it. It balances those times someone said something mean and I believed that.”
“They aren’t teaching cursive writing much anymore. My daughter just prints and types. But she’s learning to speak Navajo in class and that’s more important. You can’t expect the schools to do everything.”
Leaphorn knew what it was like to miss someone, how the numbness of shock fades into profound, bone-deep loneliness.
Murder at the Marina
Kelly Jackson grew up on a Wyoming ranch enjoying barrel racing, but moved to Redwood Cove in Northern California where she manages the Redwood Cove B&B and is an honorary member of the Silver Sentinels, a group of senior citizens who solve crime to help their community. In this cozy mystery they are called on to help two of their own, the Russian brothers Rudy and Ivan, who have a cloud of murder over their heads.
This book is replete with Russian culture and some history as the area hosts the Russian Heritage Festival. We also learn of the aristocratic family background of the brothers. The most fun and exciting part of the story is the inclusion of a remarkable Cossack riding team. I felt like I was right there watching their amazing feats. There are many possible suspects, and danger lurks in surprising places. I could read the book again just for the fun and entertainment of the last third, which would be meaningless without the development that occurs in the first part of the book. If you enjoy watching an investigation unfold, read Janet Finsilver’s Murder at the Marina where there are many pathways to the truth and clues for the sleuths to chart as they track down the murderers.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #5 in the Kelly Jackson Mystery Series, but worked well for me as a standalone
Publication: April 2, 2019—Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)
The smells and sounds of the sea mixed together—an orchestra of sensation. Ocean mist covered my face and my skin tingled from its cool touch.
“You all give generously of your time and your caring. It’s your nature. Accepting a gift is a form of giving.”