Thursday, December 14, 2017

Addressed to Kill (A Postmistress Mystery #3)

Author:  Jean Flowers
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN:  9780425279120
Berkley Publishing
304 Pages
$7.99; $7.99 Amazon
July 25, 2017

Love is in the air for postmaster Cassie Miller and the residents of North Ashcot, Massachusetts.  Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and the town is gearing up for a special dinner dance at the senior center.  Since the local musical group performing at the dance has been displaced from their regular practice location, Cassie is all too happy to host them during off-hours at the post office.

But not everything is coming up roses.  When one of the musicians, Dennis Somerville, is found shot in his home, rumors swirl over who might have wanted him dead.  Cassie must determine if there is a link between a string of recent break-ins and Dennis's murder before another victim winds up with more than a broken heart.


As the third book in the Postmistress series, I really wanted to like it better than the first two.  But there are so many things wrong with this book, beginning with buildings changing locations and growing larger.  That's right - growing larger.  In the last book, the drawings showed the post office, then buildings 1201 Main and 1203 Main on the corner facing the bank.  In this book, it's 1203 Main, 1201 Main, and a much larger post office (now transposed to the corner and facing the bank) - attached to a community center that didn't exist before.  Maybe others don't pay attention to details, but I do.  And these details most certainly weren't in the previous book.  You can't just change locations of buildings and make them larger on a whim.  Not to mention I've never heard of a post office having a community center.  That's just odd.

Secondly, supposedly there are three thousand people in the town of North Ashcot, but only one postal employee.  They don't deliver mail, and we're supposed to believe that everyone goes to the post office to get it.  Even if half are children, that's a lot of post boxes they'd need.  This post office must be the biggest in the country to accommodate that many.  Plus, can you imagine the lines of people picking up/mailing packages at Christmas?  In fact, she wouldn't have time to investigate murders.  She'd spend all her time sorting mail and putting it in the boxes.  I check my mail every day, as do most people.  I thought this was a town of about 100 people up until now.  Now I understand some towns don't do home delivery - but with this many people you'd have to have more than one person and keep the post office open a lot longer to accommodate those that work during the day, not to mention disabled people would need their mail delivered.  Also, when does she sort the mail?  Is it done by elves in the middle of the night?  Because Cassie never mentions sorting, yet with all these people, that would take a lot of time.  So, a town this size, with everyone coming into the post office every day to get their mail would take up an awful lot of time - and again, need more than ONE employee to do so.

When a professor is murdered Cassie blames herself because he wanted her to investigate threatening letters (which he should have taken to the police department if he thought his life was threatened) so nosy Cassie needs to investigate - again.  While Cassie's in the perfect job for her, since she thinks post offices are fascinating, they're not.  I really tried to like it, but sorry, I am so done with this series.


More on Jean Flowers's Books:

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Boyfriend Swap

Author:  Meredith Schorr
Genre:  Romance/Christmas

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781635112740; 9781635112719
Henery Press Publishing
288 Pages
$31.00; $15.95; $2.99 Amazon
November 7, 2017


First meet Robyn Lane.  She's always dated struggling creative types, including her current squeeze (Perry, an actor).  For this year's Chrismukkah celebration, her parents would love her to bring someone stable, reliable, steadily employed.  You know, with health insurance and a 401(k).

Now let's meet Sidney Bellows.  Her parents already plan her professional life (she's an attorney at her father's law firm).  If she brings her current boyfriend (Will, an attorney) to the family Christmas extravaganza, her parents will have their wedding planned by New Year's Eve.

Leave it to a mutual friend (and copious amounts of wine) to find a playful solution:  Swap those boyfriends, fool the parents, and enjoy the holidays.  It's perfect!  Robyn can show off a successful attorney boyfriend, and Sidney's high-society family won't ring those wedding bells when they meet a flaky actor beau.

The fun isn't in the theory, it's in the practice.

Will turns out to be the boy-next-door Robyn crushed on hard throughout her teenage years.  Sidney's family fawns all over Perry like he's an Oscar-winner rather than a D-list wannabe.

Fool the parents?  Enjoy the holidays?  Swapping boyfriends never sounded so good or went so bad.


Robyn Lane is a music teacher who, along with her roommate, Anne Marie, is having a girls' night out wine party.  Asked to attend is Anne Marie's boss, Sidney Bellows, a driven attorney who needs to get away from her office and an annoying co-worker for awhile.

Both women are dreading the coming Christmas festivities with their families.  Robyn's parents hate anyone she's interested in - laid back, artistic types; and Sidney's father, also an attorney and head of the firm she works for, lives, eats and breathes law.  Her current boyfriend is also an attorney, but Sidney doesn't want to subject him to her father, because she knows it will be all work and no fun.

After imbibing a few too many, Sidney comes up with a foolproof plan:  What if, just for a few days, they swap boyfriends to fool their parents?  Robyn can bring Sidney's boyfriend Will, and Sidney can bring Perry, Robyn's actor boyfriend - it's perfect.  While Robyn balks at first, Sidney is used to getting her way - after all, she's been formally trained just for that.

When Robyn agrees to the exchange, the next step is to have everyone meet each other and propose the plan to Will and Perry.  Robyn's surprised when she recognizes Will as someone she grew up with and had a crush on in high school; and Sidney, seeing Perry, thinks he's the most gorgeous man she's ever seen.  While Perry is willing (thinking he can hone his acting skills), Will is harder to convince, until he "overhears" a staged conversation Sidney is supposedly having with her father.

With everything in place, it all seems like it's going swimmingly.  Robyn's parents are glad to have Will back into the fold, and unfortunately for Robyn, mention her girlhood crush...which she still has, unbeknownst to Will.

Sidney, on the other hand, is stunned when she realizes that her parents absolutely love Perry.  Her firm's specialty is entertainment law, and her father offers to help him; her mother thinks he's charming.  Sidney, however, isn't pleased by the fact that Perry isn't 'sticking to the script' and unhappily begins to realize this is one situation she's losing control of, which angers her. 

What ensues is a comedy of errors while the two women try to get through their time at home and return to their former lives.  But what they're soon figuring out is that going back to the way things were before isn't as easy as they thought it would be; and maybe they don't want to do so after all...

On the one hand, I thought this book was pretty cute.  It's a nice semi-sweet tale of what we think we want and discover it's not what we really want at all.  Although I felt that Sidney's transformation was much greater than Robyn's - Sidney's had a lot to do with wanting a piece of her own life to remain just that, while Robyn's appeared to be that she had been stuck in an eternal one-sided relationship for years; I did think that having truthful conversations with their respective sets of parents might have been in order for some time coming.

However, I also felt it was perfect for a quick Christmas feel-good read; and quite a nice story.  Recommended if you need something to cozy up to on a cold winter evening.


More on Meredith Schorr's Books:

Friday, December 8, 2017

Cancelled by Murder (A Postmistress Mystery #2)

Author:  Jean Flowers
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780425279113
Berkley Publishing
304 Pages
September 6, 2016


Cassie Miller returned to her sleepy hometown in the Berkshires to start over as the new postmistress.  But she soon finds that dead letters are nothing compared to murder victims...

With a massive storm about to hit North Ashcot, Massachusetts, floods and widespread wind damage, Cassie is forced to close up the post office, while the rest of the local business owners and residents batten down the hatches and brace themselves for the worst.

Although the storm proves to be not as bad as predicted, fabric shop owner Daisy Harmon is found dead, seemingly killed by a fallen branch.  But the police quickly determine that her death has nothing to do with foul weather and everything to do with foul play.  After Daisy's widowed husband approaches Cassie to help solve his wife's murder, she vows to find the killer before another innocent victim is taken by storm.


It's the end of summer in North Ashcot, Massachusetts, and Cassie Miller has been postmistress for a year now, with a new boyfriend, Quinn, and a best friend in the local police chief.  She's even become a member of the local quilting group.

There's been a bad storm, and Cassie has just learned that one of the quilters has been a casualty...only she wasn't.  It seems that Daisy Harmon was murdered, and now there's a killer on the loose.  When Daisy's husband Cliff asks for Cassie's help, she feels she just can't turn away from him, even though she knows Sunni will be mad that she won't let the police department handle it.  So even though it's a reluctant decision, she agrees to help Cliff figure out who wanted his wife dead and why.  With little to go on, the police warning her away, and someone sending her warning notes, Cassie may be in over her head, but she;s not going to let a killer stay free; especially one who may have her targeted as the next victim...

This is the second book in the series, and I really, really wanted to like it better than the first.  I know that it's about the postmistress in a small town, but the endless chatter about everyone's mail and everybody's personal business (even though Cassie doesn't gossip, she sure was doing a lot to the reader) was bogging down the story.  So much so that I couldn't even stay interested for long periods of time.  Not to mention the cover has a cat in the post office...but there really aren't any cats in the story.  Hmm...

At any rate, the story just didn't grab me enough to seem like much of a mystery.  Yes, we have a murdered woman; but when it came right down to it, the reason she was killed didn't seem like any reason to kill her at all; and I didn't think the way Cassie escaped from the killer was believable enough; but I guess any port in a storm - just my own opinion.  Cassie also overthinks everything (we hear a lot of her thoughts) and seems to be bad at questioning people (they always know).  She just doesn't have any skill in doing this; it makes her seem nosy and inept.

The bottom line is this:  while the protagonist being a postmistress is mildly interesting, her constant telling us about everyone's mail, stamps, and the reasons people are on stamps seemed like fillers and unnecessary (nor interesting) to the story.  I also couldn't understand why she was still friends with Linda, who mocked small-town life every chance she got.  Who'd want a friend who made fun of your life choices?  I was also beginning to wonder if Quinn was on the up-and-up with her since he was on one really long business trip; but came to the conclusion that by being away, there was no reason to create any romantic involvement between him and Cassie.  At the last, you can't re-home Genets.  Once the Raleys had possession of them, there is where they would stay if they didn't want to harm them in any way.

So unfortunately, even though I have the third book in this series, right now it's a toss up as to whether I'll continue reading it.  I had high hopes, but I don't know how much more I can take reading about who's getting what mail from someone, or how busy her post office is on a daily basis.


More on Jean Flower's Books:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Six Feet Under (A Kenni Lowry Mystery #4)

Author:  Tonya Kappes
Genre:  Mystery

Trade Paperback
ISBN #:  9781635113082
Henery Press Publishing
March 13, 2018

(More Information to Come)


The residents of Cottonwood, Kentucky are sent into a tizzy when the Culinary Channel comes to town to film an episode of Southern Home Cookin' with celebrity chef Frank Von Lee.

Especially Sheriff Kenni Lowry.

Her mama's award-winning chicken pot pie is what brought Frank to town, and they don't make hair in the South bigger than her mama's ego after the news.

When Frank Von Lee is found dead from food poisoning and the most likely culprit is Mama's chicken pot pie, Kenni's poppa, the former sheriff, comes back from the Great Beyond to assist in the investigation.

But nothing's prepared Kenni for such a personal tie to a case, and she finds herself pushing the limits of the laws she's sworn to protect.


Kenni Lowry is the sheriff of small-town Cottonwood, Kentucky.  She's happy in her job, taking over from her Grandfather 'Poppa', who's now a ghost and shows up to help when something bad is about to happen in their tight-knit community.

Her mama Vivian is over the moon because having won a contest for her chicken pot pie, it's now bringing to town Chef Frank Von Lee, who has a show on television and Vivian is one of two contestants to be interviewed, with the chef picking the best dish.

As if that's not enough, people are being seen all over town with pink handicapped stickers for their cars which are obviously illegal; someone is running an illegal Botox ring, and she's also navigating her new romantic relationship with her deputy Finn Vincent, and hasn't decided on a way to tell him about her Poppa; which, while they're still figuring it out, will have take second place to the fact that shortly after Frank arrived - he died.

Kenni received a call from the inn where he was staying, and it appears at first that he died from a heart attack.  But while in his room, she notices what's left of a pot pie and a memo he left behind stating it was from Vivian, and that from all appearances, it was store-bought.  While Kenni doesn't believe it for a minute, her mother has been acting strangely - including getting Botox injections, and now has a black eye she won't talk about.

So with Viv being the main suspect, Kenni is pulled from the case and Finn takes the lead.  But this is her mama and she's not going to sit back and watch her being railroaded for something she didn't do.  Once Kenni starts her own investigation, she learns that there's more than one person who might have had a finger in the pie and wanted Frank dead; but in order to pull Viv's fat out of the fire, they need to sift through the suspects and figure out which one wanted him cooked for good...

As always, Ms. Kappes has turned out a top-notch mystery about another murder in this little Southern town.  The usual residents make an appearance, of course, with the focus shifting on her mother this time around.  While, for the most part, the townspeople don't think Viv killed a man, there's still the circumstantial evidence - even if it doesn't make sense to Kenni and Finn.  Still, they need to strike quickly before a killer gets away.

There's so much going on that it's hard to decide what the best part of the book is.  I can honestly say that I enjoyed this one as much as the others, and that's quite a bit.  The author pulls us into Cottonwood's quirky characters' lives, making you either want to visit there or decide to keep your sanity and just stay away altogether!

When the ending comes and the killer is discovered, I have to say that it was done nicely.  The clues were all there, but it was interwoven in a delightful manner so that unless you were actually looking for them, you may miss them entirely.  I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.


More on Tonya Kappes's Books:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Death Takes Priority (A Postmistress Mystery)

Author:  Jean Flowers
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780425279106
Berkley Publishing
304 Pages
$7.99; $2.99 Amazon
November 3, 2015


After caring for her dying aunt and being dumped by her fiancé, Cassie Miller decides to return to her small hometown in the Berkshires to lick her wounds and live in the house where she was raised.  Leaving behind her managerial position in the Boston main post office, Cassie trades in her tailored suits and high heels for the comfortable blue shirt and red-white-and-blue striped scarf of the postmaster for North Ashcot, Massachusetts.

Everything is business as usual until Cassie arrives at work one day to find that someone has broken into the post office building.  the only items stolen: stacks of telephone books.  Who steals phone books?  And when the body of an unidentified man is found in the woods and the handsome antiques dealer she just had lunch with is taken into custody, Cassie is suddenly drawn into the case.  With a crime enveloped in mystery, she needs to track the killer - before another victim's fate is sealed in the dead letter office...


Cassie Miller used to work for the postal service in Boston, but when her aunt got sick and her boyfriend dumped her, she ran home to North Ashcot, Massachusetts.  She took over the office of Postmaster and has been home for three months, trying to find her way again with people she's known and some she hasn't.

When she accepts a lunch date from a local antiques dealer, Scott James, she doesn't know that it's going to end abruptly, with Scott taken in for questioning - it seems someone from Cassie's past has been found murdered, and he had two names in his possession - Scott's and Quinn Martindale's.  It also comes as a surprise that Scott and Quinn turn out to be the same person.

When she discovers the identity of the dead man - someone she went to prom with - his sister Wanda asks her to investigate, because Wanda thinks the police are blowing her off about possible reasons why her brother was murdered.  While Cassie tries to stay out of the investigation, it appears people think she already is in.  She's questioned by people who visit the post office, and and once she discovers her tires have been slashed - all four of them - it's apparent someone who knows what's going on thinks so, too...

I liked this book up to a point.  I liked the fact that our protagonist is a postmaster, but I really didn't care to hear about all her duties; it was beginning to get old.  We all know that postal employees have to sort mail, deliver it, fill the various bins, etc.  I'm pretty sure no one believes it's done by elves in the middle of the night.  Anyhow...I found it distracting as much as I would have if I'd been reading about a florist who continually told us how she orders flowers, cuts them, arranges them, etc. 

The plot itself was decent enough, but never really seemed to come together for me.  There just didn't seem to be any real reason why the person who was actually "organizing everything" would think Cassie could be a serious threat.  She knew very little, and honestly didn't know how to ask questions without people catching on.  It just seemed off to me.

While I understand this is the first in a new series, I also understand that it takes time to hone the same, so I hope that the next book brings a little more polish, and I plan to give this author another chance to do so.


More on Jean Flowers's Books:

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Slay Bells Ring (A Caprice De Luca Mystery #7)

Author:  Karen Rose Smith
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781496709776
Kensington Publishing
352 Pages
$7.99; $5.99 Amazon
October 31, 2017


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially now that Caprice De Luca has wrapped up her holiday-themed staging gig at a stunning historic home in downtown Kismet, Pennsylvania.  Behind all the red ribbon and glowing string lights, homeowners Chris and Sara Merriwether have it all.  But Chris, a Vietnam vet who plays Santa every year at the community park, has been displaying strange behavior after a recent trip to Washington, D.C.

The joy of the season vanishes entirely when Chris is found murdered on Santa Lane, leaving behind his loyal malamute and lots of unfinished business.  As Caprice uncovers hidden secrets in Santa's workshop, the pressure is on to catch the candy cane-wielding-culprit--before she's next on a killer's deadly wish list...


Chris Merriwether and his wife Sara have hired Caprice to stage their home for a quick sale.  Chris, more so than Sara, wants to move into a condo, but she has her doubts although willing to go along with it.  Chris is a toymaker who plays Santa every year in the Christmas parade, and it is shortly after this that he is found dead, killed with a heavy wooden candy cane.

While at first no one can believe such a wonderful man was killed, it soon becomes apparent that there were enemies of his; and Caprice begins to wonder if any of those enemies were in his own family.  Even though the police are investigating the murder, because Chris was a friend of her father's she feels the need to do a little sleuthing herself.

So in between helping her sister Bella's Christmas program, staging a home for sale, and looking after her own pets and planning her sometime-future wedding, she noses around people who knew Chris to see if any of them can give her a clue as to why.  But if she's not careful, her questions might lead her to the wrong party - the killer...

I have to say that I have always enjoyed the Caprice De Luca mysteries; have read every one of them, and therefore I was looking forward to this one being just as wonderful.  Unfortunately, there were a few things that took away my enjoyment of this mystery.  One was that the mystery took a back seat to the dilemma Caprice feels in planning her wedding - she needs to find a dress, is waiting for an annulment, and she really, really loves Grant as we are reminded often.

Every time we were learning something about the murder, the next paragraph was about her family or Grant.  It was just overwhelming to the mystery.  I understand her strong family values, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  But it was getting to the point that I got the idea her family would be the ones to decide on a wedding date, where she would honeymoon, and so forth; because she wouldn't think of making those decisions without their help.  I also have a hard time believing her family has no conflict between them at all.  It seemed just too perfect.

This was far too saccharine for me this time around.  Caprice loves Grant so much she can't stop telling us - ever.  She wants to marry him, but wants to wait until his annulment comes through.  Annulments can take up to three years.  So she's willing to wait up to another three years before she gets married or has sex?  (Not to mention he's been married before, so the fact he's willing to wait that long truly makes him a paragon among men - and as a side note, I don't read a lot of romances, so it's not that I want them to have sex; it just doesn't seem quite realistic).  How old will that make her when she finally has children?  Plus, she acts like she's eighteen in this book - gushing over Grant, her wedding gown, pearls, etc.; and then has a panic attack because Grant wants to move into a home big enough for both of them, not just her.  She just seemed so immature in her attitude toward Grant and her wedding.  Regrettably, it just didn't ring true to the real world, and it should have.    

What I am saying is that unless the main character is having a personal crisis, it shouldn't take away from the main issue - which in this case is a murder.  Aside from that, the writing was very good and Ms. Smith is a talented writer that I hope to hear more from in the future.


More on Karen Rose Smith's Books:

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cremains of the Day (A Tallie Graver Mystery)

Author:  Misty Simon
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781496712219
Kensington Publishing
293 Pages
October 31, 2017


For Tallulah Graver, marrying wealthy Waldo Phillips seemed like the best way out of the family business, the Graver Funeral Home.  But when her marriage falls apart and Tallie is left with next to nothing, she turns to cleaning houses to make ends meet.  As humbling as it is to tidy the mansions of the snobby socialites she used to call friends, at least she doesn't have to be around dead bodies.  Until...

She discovers one of her employers lying in a closet with a knife sticking out of her chest.  This unpleasant shock seems to be part of a web of weird experiences:  Tallie's friend Gina's shop is broken into, her ex is stun-gunned where it hurts the most, and now she's receiving flowers from the dead woman.  Granted the deliveryman is handsome, but seriously, that's enough to cast a pall over anyone's day.  Now Tallie needs to dig deep to clean up this mess - before she finds herself in a grave situation.


Tallie Graver's family owns a funeral home, and after a messy divorce from a wealthy man, she decides that it's better to clean the homes of people she socialized with rather than take a job working for her family, even though she lives above the funeral parlor.  One evening while helping her friend Gina with catering the meal after a funeral, she rushes to Gina's restaurant to retrieve some items and finds Gina's cousin Katie in the shop, tied up with her mouth duct-taped.  She also finds her ex-husband Walden (whom she calls Waldo) behind the shop, and he's been tased where no man wants to be.

Detective Burton thinks Tallie might be lying - he thinks she tased Walden on purpose, and tied Katie up to cover her tracks.  Burton doesn't like her - supposedly because when she was married, her husband's money got her out of parking tickets, and he had also been called to their house on numerous occasions for noise disturbance.  Then, the next day when one of her employers is found dead, Burton also thinks she's the prime suspect.

When a mysterious man named Max shows up and is everywhere Tallie is, she finds out that he's an old friend of her brother's who now is on Waldo's trail because he owes a lot of unpaid taxes and is suspected of embezzlement.  Max is there to try and keep Tallie out of it, since she's not married anymore and trying to stay away from her old life.

But it's not easy when things keep happening to her; things that keep her in Waldo's vicinity; so she decides to find the killer herself rather than be put in jail, with or without Burton's help.  All she has is the fact she's a maid and that she's still able to access her old home - that and Max, who may be more of a help than she realizes...

While I agree that this is a good start to a new series, there were several things that bothered me.  First, she'd rather clean other people's toilets than work in a funeral home?  It's not like she'd be embalming bodies (you have to be a professional to do that; ditto with the makeup).  She lives above the home, works there part-time already, but would rather scrub toilets, floors, and clean up others' garbage; it is so much better.  This just didn't make sense.

Then, Burton is willing to nail her for a murder because of parking tickets?  Really?  That seems like a stretch.  And calling her 'girly' repeatedly?  That grated on me.  I've never had a friend or relative call me that, and if they did, I can guarantee it would only be once.  It's condescending and rude.

I get that she's attracted to Max, but in practically every other paragraph she kept talking about it in one way or another.  Man, she was so concerned with him that I wondered how she could keep her thoughts straight during the investigation.  There was so much about this that I think it took time away from the mystery.  There also wasn't any geographical info.  What does the town look like?  Is it historic?  New buildings?  Old?  It was hard to get a feel for place.

So, while I would really have liked to enjoy this book more, I just couldn't get past these points.  Hopefully in the next book she's able to realize her dream of a tea shop, and perhaps we'll learn more about the town and get to know her family.  A nice, quick read, although with a heads up, there is some cursing throughout.


More on Misty Simon's Books:

Addressed to Kill (A Postmistress Mystery #3)

Author:  Jean Flowers Genre:  Mystery Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book ISBN:  9780425279120 Berkley Publishing 304 Pages $7.99; $7...