Thursday, March 28, 2019

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat (A Magical Cats Mystery #1)

Author:  Sofie Kelly
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780451232496
Berkley Obsidian
324 Pages
$7.29; $1.99 Amazon
February 1, 2011

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When Kathleen Paulson leaves her life in Boston and moves to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, she has no idea that two strays will muzzle their way into her life.  Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction, and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen's fondness for Barry Manilow.  But beyond all the fur and purrs, there seems to be something more to these felines.

When murder interrupts Mayville's Wild Rose Summer Music Festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect.  More stunning is her realization that Owen and Hercules are truly special - perhaps even magical.  Suddenly she's relying on their skills to solve this crime and save her reputation.  With a little legwork from her four-legged friends, Kathleen may be able to solve this purr-fect murder...

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Kathleen Paulson has left Boston to accept a position as head librarian at the Mayville Heights, Minnesota library.  She's also overseeing the renovation of said library, and that's not without its problems.  On this morning Kathleen hears a commotion in the library and goes to check it out, only to find one of her employees trying to explain to Gregor Easton, a visiting conductor, that the library is under renovation and the Internet is not yet connected.  Easton, however, is having none of it.  Since he was informed they did indeed have Internet, he wants to use it, and can't seem to understand that even if computers are available, the Internet might not be (not very tech savvy at all?).

But someone doesn't like the arguing - Owen, one of Kathleen's two cats, suddenly appears on Easton's head, and what follows is disaster.  After Easton is calmed down, Kathleen offers to have breakfast sent to his hotel room the next morning by way of apology.  Mollified, Easton leaves.  Kathleen, though, has no idea how Owen got into the library in the first place.

The next morning Kathleen needs to find Oren, a local handyman, and she thinks he might be at the theater working, so heads over there.  But Oren's truck isn't in the parking lot, and even so, she enters the theater but instead finds Easton, slumped over the piano - dead.  After calling the police and answering questions, she returns to the library.

Then things start getting strange.  The lead detective, Marcus Gordon, is questioning her and she thinks that she's probably the prime suspect, even though she only met Easton one time and managed to find his body.  Her work crew at the library arrives sporadically; accidents keep happening to her that manage to cause minor injuries; and her cats - Owen and Hercules - well, that's a story:  She found them as kittens on the grounds of Wisteria Hill, the abandoned estate of her employer, Everett Henderson.  They followed her home and she adopted them.  But she's now noticing that they have very special magical powers.

Kathleen realizes that in order to get herself out of hot water with the police, she'll need to figure out who had the best motive to kill Easton.  Unfortunately, it could be any one of her friends, and while she doesn't want to believe it, she knows that someone out there is framing her for a murder she didn't commit...

This is the first book in the series, and I thought it was a very good beginning indeed.  Our protagonist has her hands full with library renovations when Easton shows up, and when he's killed she suddenly moves to the top of the list as a person of interest.  But since she had no reason to kill him, she figures out that someone in town knew things she'd said to Easton and used them to draw him to a death trap.

I thought the book was written well, although I also thought it was a little heavy on non-essential things to the plot.  We really don't need to know about her Tai Chi class, nothing happens there that makes a whit of difference, and it certainly didn't matter to me.  Yes, it introduced other characters, but they could have been introduced at a cafe or the library just as well.  It bogged down the tale a tad.

The only other thing that bothered me is when one character tells Kathleen that she "wouldn't understand because she's from away."  This is not a phrase they use in Minnesota (I know because I grew up there).  When someone moves to town, we don't say they're 'from away.'  That's strictly an east coast phrase (and since the author is from the east coast, I would have expected her to know this).  Minor, but it bothered me, since when someone moves to town we merely say that 'you're new here'.  I was also a bit surprised not a single person spoke as if they actually grew up in the state.  But hey...

Anyway, I absolutely loved Owen and Hercules.  They've decided to adopt Kathleen, and they help her in her investigation, and she reacts much as the way anyone would when they find out the truth.  They point her in the right direction by bringing her clues, and even act as her protectors when need be.  Without them, the story wouldn't be half as interesting as it is.

When the ending comes and we discover the murderer it came as rather a surprise, yet I didn't feel that the reason for the murder was enough of one to kill for; but that's my own opinion.  There was also another surprise in store, and that was an interesting red herring.  Still, the climax was done well and everything was explained in a satisfying manner. 

All in all, I enjoyed the book and the introduction to Owen and Hercules, and look forward to reading the next in the series.  Recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Curiosity-Thrilled-Cat-Magical-Cats/dp/0451232496/ref=

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2766829253

More on Sofie Kelly's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/k/sofie-kelly/

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Catering to Nobody (Goldy Schultz Book 1)

Author:  Diane Mott Davidson
Genre:   Mystery

Hardcover; Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780312042776; 9780553584707
Bantam Books
266 Pages
$21.23; $$7.19; $3.99 Amazon
July 1, 1990



Catering a wake is not Goldy's idea of fun.  Yet the Colorado caterer throws herself into preparing a savory feast including Poached Salmon and Strawberry Shortcake Buffet designed to soothe the forty mourners.  And her culinary efforts seem to be exactly what the doctor ordered...until her ex-father-in-law gynecologist Fritz Korman is struck down and Goldy is accused of adding poison to the menu.  Now, with the Department of Health impounding her leftovers, her ex-husband proclaiming her guilt, and her business about to be shut down, Goldy knows she can't wait for the police to serve up the answers.  She'll soon uncover more than one family skeleton and veritable slew of unpalatable secrets - the kind that could make Goldy the main course in an unsavory killer's next murder!

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This is going to be one of the shortest reviews I've ever done, because I just couldn't stand Goldy.  So, instead of a traditional review, I'm just going to list the talking points that lead up to the reason I gave this book one star only, instead of leading in with an intro:

Goldy is a whiny, self- absorbed protagonist who allows her abusive ex-husband to continue to abuse her; she has an eleven-year-old son who is being bullied at school and she leaves him to work it out himself (and, I'm guessing, continue to be bullied) instead of informing the school to take measures or speak to the other boys' parents; she does nothing at all.

I found it odd that the recipes are in the middle of sentences!  Not at the end of chapters or even paragraphs - but in the middle of sentences.  Oh.  My.  God.  Also, who on earth puts mayonnaise in guacamole?  You have to wonder how far she'll go as a caterer with this recipe.

Her ex-husband is a well-heeled doctor but she doesn't make him pay child support on a regular basis even though she's struggling as a caterer to make ends meet.  She'd rather keep the peace than pay the bills!  She's never taken him to court about paying support on a regular basis, gotten a restraining order against him for physically assaulting her, nor told him never to speak to her that way again.  Her name should be on doormats sold countrywide.  But it's contradictory when she just tells people what to do, like taking her ex-mother-in-law's car and refusing to give it back.

She's not even conscientious as a caterer.  She runs out of supplies.  I'm a home cook and I check my cupboards and refrigerator on a regular basis, and if I'm running low I replenish, and if I use a can of anything I replace it the next time I go to the store! 

She allows her son to call his grandparents by their first names because apparently neither she nor her husband could teach him otherwise.  It might not bother others, but I find it disrespectful, the same as if they wouldn't call a teacher by their first name.  Her son also speaks and acts like he's twenty, not eleven.  It makes you wonder if the author has children of her own.

She's only investigating because her business is on the line, she doesn't really care otherwise, and she has no problem breaking into Laura's home and taking things, including smoking the dead woman's cigarettes; nor going through confidential patient files.

She's a horrible human being and unlikable in the extreme.  It makes you wonder how there are so many books in this series.  No, I will not read any more of them and I'm sorry I even read the first one.

https://www.amazon.com/Catering-Nobody-Goldy-Book-1/dp/0553584707/ref=

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2765680078

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/d/diane-mott-davidson/

A Deadly Grind (A Vintage Kitchen Mystery #1)

Author:  Victoria Hamilton
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Audio CD; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780425248010; 9781425617169
Berkley Publishing
303 Pages
$7.97; $27.07; $7.99 Amazon
May 1, 2012



When vintage cookware and cookbook collector Jaymie Leighton spies an original 1920s Hoosier-brand kitchen cabinet at an estate auction, it's love at first sight.  Despite the protests of her sister, Rebecca, that the nineteenth-century yellow brick house they share in Michigan is already too cluttered with Jaymie's junk, she successfully outbids the other buyers and triumphantly takes home her Hoosier.

But that night on the summer porch, where she's left the Hoosier to be cleaned up, a man is murdered - struck on the head with the steel meat grinder that is part of the cabinet.  Who is this stranger, and what was he doing on their porch?  Does his death have anything to do with the Hoosier?

As the police struggle to determine the man's identity, Jaymie can't help doing a little digging on her own, accompanied by her three-legged Yorkie-Poo, Hopalong.  But in her bid to uncover the truth about the hidden secrets of the Hoosier, Jaymie may be the one who ends up going, going, gone...

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Jaymie Leighton spots an old Hoosier cabinet at a sale that she's attending with her sister Becca.  Even though Becca warns against it, Jaymie buys it - noting that a couple of people who were fighting at the time, missed the gavel and she won her item.

But when she gets it home she needs to figure out a way to get it out of her van.  Miraculously, a man appears out of the darkness, tells her he's staying at the local B&B, and helps her move her prized piece.  They leave it out on the porch for cleaning, and Jaymie and her sister then retire to bed.  But during the night they hear sounds, and Jaymie discovers a man near her cabinet, and he's dead. 

Not knowing who he is, Jaymie is willing to find out, especially when she figures out his death had something to do with the Hoosier.  But what is it, and can she find out before she becomes the next victim?...

This is the first book in the series, and unfortunately, it's going to be my last.  I'm even surprised I got as far as I did, and also surprised I didn't hurt myself from rolling my eyes so much.  There are so many sentences that are phrased as questions - almost like Jaymie is second-guessing everything that comes out of her mouth.  And I got really, really tired of hearing about Tea with the Queen.  Who cares? 

There were so many things wrong with this that it was hard to like the book, and to tell the truth, I wasn't able to finish it.  I read as far as I could and then I wound up just going to the back to find out who the killer was and why.  This is how boring this book was to me.

First off, Jaymie's ex-boyfriend Joel walked out on her two weeks before Christmas (!) without a word; he just left the house (what kind of a coward doesn't give a reason why?), and went to another girl.  Then, Jaymie meets the other woman, Heidi, and decides she's nice (!) and acts like everything is hunky-dory.  Really?  Honestly?  a) This is not a nice woman if she knows (which she had to) that the boyfriend was living with someone and she had no problem making a play for him in the first place.  How is this nice?  He has a girlfriend that he's living with and you think it's perfectly fine to date him?  Then, b) Jaymie has no problem being nice to her in return.  What woman do you know is going to be nice to the woman who stole your boyfriend?  A live-in boyfriend no less.  What kind of stupid do you have to be to do this? c) Jaymie's even nice to the ex-boyfriend.  Like it doesn't matter that he cheated on her, dumped her without a word just before Christmas.  Honestly?  Is she really this dumb?  She didn't want to punch him or even ask him why he left without a word?  What is wrong with this woman?

Plus, Jaymie starts worrying that Heidi will look beautiful for the Tea and since she'll be serving she'll look dowdy next to Heidi and Joel will see her and compare them.  So she's obsessing about the man who left her for another woman and worries that he'll compare the both of them.  Say what?  Oh, and I have another tidbit of news for Jaymie:  She might drink Tetley tea (brought all the way from Canada as she felt the need to tell us), but you can buy it anywhere in the states and it's lousy tea.  (Sorry, this book irritated me so much I felt the need to throw that in).

When she brings the cabinet home, a stranger shows up out of nowhere, gives her a story as to why he's there, and she buys it without question (which is odd, considering she was questioning everything else during the book).  Then this guy even asks her if she has an alarm system, and lo and behold, no alarms go off in her head that something's fishy about it.

She discovers a clue to the murder, but instead of calling the police immediately she decides to work in her garden for awhile.  Huh?  I also got tired of hearing about the summer porch. It's a porch, plain and simple.  You explained it once, that's enough.  Most people say front porch or back porch, I've never heard anyone say summer porch.  Does that make her front porch the winter porch?  Do they only use it in winter?  At any rate, the things she does defy explanation.  It's as if her brain is wired wrong and she can't think properly.

Life is too short to waste on bad books, so my first foray into this series will be my last.  I would suggest that you skip this series and move on to something that actually makes sense and doesn't talk about irrelevant things and repetitive details.

https://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Grind-Vintage-Kitchen-Mystery/dp/0425248011/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2765599772

More on Victoria Hamilton's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/h/victoria-hamilton/

Monday, March 25, 2019

Sweet Tea and Secrets (A Tea and Read Mystery #2)

Author:  Joy Avon
Genre:   Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN:  9781643850238
Crooked Lane Books
$26.99; $12.99 Amazon
June 11, 2019

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Last Christmas, Callie Aspen left her tour guide job and settled in Heart's Harbor, Maine.  Now, she helps out at Book Tea, her great aunt's vintage tearoom, where each treat has a bookish clue.  Though she's excited to start her new life, Callie worries she may regret having burned her bridges behind her.  Fortunately, she finds immediate distraction in the preparations for a spectacular Fourth of July tea party, which will recreate moments from the town's rich history.

Intrigued to learn that 1980s TV star Monica Walker was last seen in Heart's Harbor before she vanished - allegedly to elope - Callie probes the townsfolk for information.  She's stunned when several locals share contradictory stories about the last day before Monica's disappearance.  Did she intend to leave her hit TV series?  Was she being stalked by her ex?  And why is the newspaper editor who investigated the stroy at the time so anxious about the cold case heating up?

When one of the talkative townspeople turns up dead, Callie aims to catch the killer.  But it's no picnic: Deputy Falk doesn't want her meddling, and the locals suddenly know more about the past than they'd been at liberty to admit.  If Callie and the Book Tea crew can't crack the case, they'll pay a very steep price.

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Callie Aspen has left her job as an international tour guide and returned home to Heart's Harbor, Maine, to help her aunt Iphy run Book Tea, the tearoom her aunt owns.  She's having a little trepidation about it, though, especially when she sees the cottage her aunt has rented for her.  From the outside, it appears a bit of a disaster, but Iphy assures her that she's put an ad in town for a handyman, and things can be fixed.

They also discover a man outside the home measuring things, and when Callie confronts him, he identifies himself as Quinn Darrow, says he saw the ad and decided to come and look at the place.  When he offers a very good estimate, Callie hires him.  While still at the cottage, Iphy mentions how Callie needs to help plan the Fourth of July celebration, and adds that Quinn can help her, which he readily agrees to.  But when Quinn and Callie go to the town's archives, he steers her toward an old cold case that he thinks will be a hit with the townspeople.

Callie's also having questions about whether she made the right decision to move when Deputy Falk, whom she had (and still does) an attraction to when she was home in December now seems to be aloof to her and keeping his distance.  She's wondering if maybe he's regretting her coming back.

In 1989 an actress disappeared into thin air after arriving in Heart's Harbor, and no one knew if she left on her own, with someone else, or was murdered.  After Callie and Quinn question a local regarding the case, that person is murdered.  Now Callie wonders if Quinn was involved, and so does Deputy Falk.  When Quinn's caught in several lies, Callie wants to know what his connection is to the case.  But when she starts investigating to find a killer, she sees that things not only aren't always as they seem, but sometimes the truth can be closer than you think...

I read the first in the series and while I felt it was a decent enough beginning, I have to say that I liked this second one so much better.  The mystery was done very well, with clues strewn about here and there, yet not overt at all; Callie is having doubts about her move, which is natural, and she's finding her way with Deputy Falk which might not be as difficult as she at first thinks.

Callie shows that she is a strong woman who is willing to compromise, and she's smart, serious, and willing to see all sides of a situation before she acts.  She doesn't put herself into untenable situations or do stupid things, and I really like that.  She can keep secrets if need be, and that shows integrity - which I have always found important in a person.

When the ending comes and the murderer is revealed, I really enjoyed the scene.  It was a bit surreal in a way, and that made it all the better.  The killer came as a bit of a surprise, even as there were, as I mentioned before, clues aplenty; still it was done nicely and all the ends were woven together well.  We are given a clue as to where the next book will go, a bit of a teaser, as it were.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  Recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Tea-Secrets-Read-Mystery/dp/1643850237/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2763178382

More on Joy Avon's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/a/joy-avon/

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Christie Curse (A Book Collector Mystery #1)

Author:  Victoria Abbott
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780425255285
Berkley Publishing
295 Pages
$7.99; $7.99 Amazon
March 5, 2013

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Jordan Bingham needs a new job and a new place to live.  She's back in Harrison Falls, New York, living with her not so law-abiding uncles, in debt thanks to a credit card-stealing ex and pending grad school loans.

Enter the perfect job, a research position that includes room and board, which will allow her to spend her days hunting down rare mysteries for an avid book collector.  There's just one problem:  her employer, Vera Van Alst - the most hated citizen of Harrison Falls.

Jordan's first assignment is to track down a rumored Agatha Christie play.  It seems easy enough, but Jordan soon finds out that her predecessor was killed while looking for it, and there is still someone out there willing to murder to keep the play out of Vera's hands.  Jordan's new job is good...but is it worth her life?

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Jordan Bingham needs a job, and so applies to be a researcher for Vera Van Alst, whom, for some reason, everyone in town hates.  I'm guessing it's because her family's shoe factory closed and people lost their jobs, but blaming her seemed pretty ridiculous since she had nothing to do with it.  That's no different than if a store shuts down and the employees lose their job they start blaming the ten-year-old daughter who couldn't be culpable no matter what.

The second thing is we're given to understand that her uncles are thieves, because they own an "antiques" store.  Okay...are there really antiques or 'antiques'?  Did they steal everything (which could be spotted by someone and/or traced), did they receive stolen goods?  We're never told anything, so it's rather hard to make a judgment of any kind on this.

Then, the murder takes place before Jordan gets the job, before the book begins.  So we don't know anything except the victim was young (28) and worked as the researcher before Jordan.  So why would she want to solve his murder?  Shouldn't she just be trying to find an Agatha Christie play, if it exists?  In fact, there was very little about Dame Christie at all.

Yes, there was conflict, since another person was attacked, but the book never seemed to draw me in, since there was more conversation and less of anything that was interesting.  In fact, the best thing about the book was Sal.  (I don't know; maybe because I live in Las Vegas, but hey...).  Anyway, I just didn't find this book intriguing enough to continue with the series.

More on Victoria Abbott's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/a/victoria-abbott/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2759852516

More on Victoria Abbott's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/a/victoria-abbott/

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Thread on Arrival (A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery #8)

Author:  Lea Wait
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback [Audio CD] Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781496716736; [9781515944423]
Kensington Publishing
320 Pages
$7.99; [$29.99]; $6.99 Amazon
April 30, 2019

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Ike Hamilton is part of the Haven Harbor community just like anyone else, though he's fallen on hard times and has to make do on disability checks and deposit bottles.  Most of the locals do what they can to help him out, and needlepointing partners Angie and Sarah are happy to see him at the annual Blessing of the Fleet, honoring all those lost at sea over the centuries.

But when harmless Ike is stabbed, suspicion quickly falls on a troubled teenage boy who's new in town.  Angie's convinced that young Leo is innocent - but if he didn't do it, who did?  Turns out Ike may have appeared simple-minded, but he knew a few secrets that someone might have murdered him to keep quiet.  Angie sets out to trace Ike's bottle-collecting route to find out what he witnessed - and for this killer, there may be no redemption.

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Angie Curtis lives in Haven Harbor, Maine and runs Mainely Needlepoint, a small business she took over from her grandmother; she and its members create needlepoint items that they sell online and in stores.  She and her boyfriend Patrick are attending the Blessing of the Fleet, an annual ritual where her grandfather (by marriage) Pastor Tom is conducting this year.  It is a reading of the names of those who have died while fishing, and a blessing of the boats before the season begins. 

When Angie sees that one of the other needlepointers, Dave Pearcy, she goes over to say hello.  Dave is a high school science teacher, and together they notice Ike Hamilton.  Ike's a bit slow, and since his parents died, he lives alone - or so they thought - in his family's old garage, their home having been destroyed years ago.  With him is a teenager who only identifies himself as Leo.

Dave wonders about Leo, since he hasn't seen him at the school and wonders who he is.  He tells Leo if he ever needs help, to come find him; describing his house for the young boy.  Little does he know that it will be sooner than later Leo will need his help.  The next day, while Angie is visiting Dave, Leo shows up at his door.  He tells Dave that Ike is dead, and he needs help.

Angie calls the police - even though Leo doesn't want anything to do with them - and he tells his story.  Dave decides to care for Leo since there is no one else, but the police have him down as the main suspect in the murder.  While Dave and Angie both believe the boy is innocent, she decides to do a little sleuthing herself.

Angie, who worked for a PI while living in Arizona, has a bit of experience in this (also having helped solve other murders).  What she finds out about the people in her town is eye-opening, to say the least, and gives her a few suspects that may have had a reason to want Ike out of the picture.  But her final help comes from an unlikely source, and it shows her the truth isn't always easy to see, even if it's right in front of you all the time...

This is such a delightful series to read.  The characters are well-drawn, and I love the fact that Angie doesn't walk blindly into situations that could put her in danger.  She actually thinks things out first, putting all the facts in front of her, then disassembling them piece by piece until she can put the puzzle back together again.  It's refreshing to read.

Angie's investigation takes her out of town, where she learns about Leo's past, which she shares with Dave, and he, in turn, shares with the police.  But Dave's faith in the boy only wavers a little; they're still convinced he's innocent of murder (although Angie does waver a tad).  Yet she always wants to find the truth, unwilling to convict without sound evidence.  Unfortunately, it brings several people to view in an unfavorable light, which bothers her.

She's also coming into a new stage with Patrick, and he's allowing himself to realize that he doesn't mind her sleuthing at all.  It was a nice surprise, and hopefully Angie will appreciate that this a good man who truly loves her.  We will see on that front.

Anyway, we learn a little more about Dave's past, and while it's rather sad, it made him the man he is; I have always liked him and I like him even more; it's always nice to learn about the secondary characters.  It makes them more human, and brings you more into the story.  We've already learned about Sarah's past, so I recommend that if you haven't read any of the previous books, you go back to the beginning and do so, because it's a very good series indeed.

I did know the who the murderer was early on, but only because I read so many mysteries and pay extreme attention to details; still, my enjoyment of the book never faltered as Ms. Wait is a talented writer who knows how to weave a story admirably and put everything together so well.  And this she does admirably.

In the end, I felt that the ending was quite satisfactory; the murderer revealed in an unexpected setting, with everything joined nicely and giving a tale that is filled with plenty of clues and quite fun to read.  I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended. 

https://www.amazon.com/Thread-Arrival-Mainely-Needlepoint-Mystery/dp/1496716736/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2758570901

More on Lea Wait's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/w/lea-wait/

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

If Walls Could Talk (A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery #1)

Author:  Juliet Blackwell
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; [Audio CD]; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780451231819; [9781452615622]
Obsidian Mystery
326 Pages
$7.99; [$22.48]; $2.99 Amazon
December 7, 2010

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Since she took over her father's construction business, Melanie Turner has made quite a name for herself remodeling historic houses in the San Francisco Bay Area.  But now her reputation may be on the line.

At her newest renovation project, a run-down Pacific Heights mansion, Mel is visited by the ghost of a colleague who recently met a bad end with power tools.  Mel hopes that by tracking down the killer, she can rid herself of the ghostly presence of the murdered man.

Mel's only clue is an odd box she discovers inside a wall at the job site.  If she can make sense of its mysterious contents, she might be able to nail a killer - before she becomes the next construction casualty...

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Mel Turner is a 38-year-old divorcee who has taken over her father's contracting business.  She's decided to help a friend renovate an old Victorian home, showing up the night after he has a wild party.  While there, another man she dislikes intensely shows up, severely injured.  Kenneth has been attacked, and while Mel tries to keep him alive, it's apparent he didn't make it.  Yet later on that same day she sees him, and eventually figures out he's a ghost.

When her friend Matt is suspected of killing Kenneth, she decides to find out who murdered the man, once she reconciles herself with the ability of being able to see ghosts.  But it seems the killer is not only still on the loose, they're on the lookout for something special, and if Mel gets in the way, she might have to go, too...

This is the first in the series and I liked the premise so wanted to read it.  Unfortunately, it couldn't hold up right from the beginning.  We're supposed to believe that Mel is a contractor who, because she wears work boots, shows up to work in clothing that looks as if she's going to a nightclub.  Right.  Because every woman who works on job sites dresses like that.  Because people will see you as a professional and want to hire you if you look terrific.  Sorry, but I've worked on job sites and I not only wouldn't take a person seriously who dressed like that, I'd wonder which one of the workers she spent the night with after he picked her up in a bar.  I certainly wouldn't want to hire her.  Face it:  Would you hire an attorney if you showed up to their office and they were wearing a low cut sparkly dress?  You'd think they spent the night out on the town and just got to work...and probably go to another attorney.  Attire does count in professional jobs.  So strike one.

Strike two: the murder of Kenneth is particularly gruesome and I don't think it needed to be so.  (A saw?)  I couldn't get the picture out of my mind and since I read this late at night, it probably wasn't a good idea to do so.  I'm strong on mental visuals, so it stuck with me - unfortunately - and I have no desire to read future books if this was the way it was depicted.  If I'm reading a thriller, I have no problem with it, since I pretty much expect it, but not in what is termed a 'cozy'.  Some things can still get the point across without reading about a 'bloody stump'.

Strike three:  If she and her ex were both anthropologists, why was he the one with the cushy job?  Why couldn't both of them have great jobs?  Is the author telling us that women are less than men when it comes to getting positions at universities?  She also states how she wanted to be a martyr in a Paris apartment.  News flash: she is; just not in Paris.  She's a martyr through the entire book.  Gee, Mel, many women have marriages that fail but they don't go through life lamenting what they could have had.

After these things, I completely lost interest in the book.  Mel grated on me; she wanted a different life but took over her father's business out of obligation?  All she had to do was sit her father down and tell him she didn't want to be a contractor, and he could either go back to work or close the business.  He wasn't much better than her, just giving up everything in his life and turning it over to his daughter instead of pulling himself together.  For a man who's an ex-marine, he sure didn't have any discipline regarding his business, not seeing that other people were dependent on him. 

Anyway, I'm pretty much done with this series, and since this is the first book, that says a lot.

https://www.amazon.com/Walls-Could-Haunted-Renovation-Mysteries/dp/0451231813/ref=

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2756192774

More on Juliet Blackwell's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/b/juliet-blackwell/

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Deadly Vows (A Britton Bay Mystery Book 2)

Author:  Jody Holford
Genre:   Mystery

Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781516108701
Kensington Publishing
172 Pages
$15.95; $4.99 Amazon
April 9, 2019

✮✮✮✮



Britton Bay is buzzing with preparations for a wedding at the bed and breakfast where Molly rents a small carriage home.  Molly is even helping out and plans to interview the rising star caterer - until the woman is found dead.  And then the bride-to-be goes missing.  To make matters worse, the venue is owned by Molly's new boyfriend's mother - and Molly was among the last people to see the victim alive.  All of which makes solving the crime her top priority...

With the nuptials indefinitely on hold, Molly will have to sift through a sticky mix of suspects, including a rival caterer with a short fuse, a groom with an illicit secret, and a wedding party riddled with personal drama.  And if she doesn't discover the truth soon, Molly might be her own front page news...

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Molly Owens is editor in chief of the Britton Bay Bulletin, their newspaper, and she also lives in a cottage behind the B&B her boyfriend Sam's mother Katherine owns.  She's watching the tents being erected for a huge wedding at the B&B, and it's quite a spectacle.  On her way to work one morning she talks with the owner of the local bakery, Bella, and discovers that the wedding party has brought in their own caterer, which means that Bella, who provides the B&B with baked goods, won't be supplying them during their stay.  She also discovers that the owner of the paper, Alan Benedict, knows the bride's mother and is going to run a feature.  But when Patricia Lovenly (MOB) arrives at the paper she's not alone.  She's brought with her the caterer, Skyler Friessen, who doesn't seem to want to be there, and comes off as thinking she's better than anyone in the town. 

Later on, when Molly returns home she hopes to have an interview with Skyler, but needs to figure out a way to approach her.  Reluctantly, Skyler agrees on one the next morning, but when Molly arrives at the hotel where she's staying, she finds out that Skyler is dead, and it's not long before her inquisitive nature leads her to the fact that she was poisoned. 

While she insists she's not investigating the crime, she can't help but wonder who hated the woman enough to want to kill her.  Why would anyone want to murder a woman who, though unpleasant at best, didn't seem to be horrible enough to kill.  But someone did, and Molly, who's in a perfect place to watch the wedding guests - since they aren't allowed to leave until the murderer is caught - starts putting the clues together.  But will it be in time to save herself from being the next person to get iced?

This is the second book in the series, following Deadly News, and I am happy to say that I found it to be just as good as the first one.  This time out, Molly is secure in the fact that she's doing well as Editor in Chief at her job, and navigating her new relationship with Sam.  She's still having trouble after her disastrous breakup with her ex, but Sam is winding himself into her life so easily that she's learning how to trust again.

But then there's the murder.  And the killer is more than likely someone the bride brought with her when they arrived in Britton Bay.  The only clues she has are the ramblings of a local who isn't all there mentally, and the fact that the last thing she drank came from Bella's bakery - but she does know that Bella's not a murderer.  Which leaves her back to square one, trying to figure out who is, even though she's telling herself she's not investigating.

Molly is a great character; she's independent, strong, yet still scarred inside and is flawed, just like the rest of the world.  She cares about the people around her, and it shows.  Sam is a truly decent guy with a great sense of humor; although he's in for a surprise himself with something regarding his mother.  The rest of the characters feed the story well, and even though we don't see as much of the people who work at the newspaper, their presence is still known.

The mystery was done very well.  The clues are there, but they're thrown in by bits and pieces, and you just have to look for them.  There are a couple of red herring that lead you to believe other people just might be guilty, but that's exactly as it is supposed to be.

In the end, when Molly discovers the identity of the killer, it all comes together nicely, giving us a tale that was entertaining and interesting; which also made Molly do some thinking of her own in the process on where her life is going.  A very enjoyable book and I look forward to the next in the series.  Recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Vows-Britton-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07FLP2PKJ/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2749384100

More on Jody Holford's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/h/jody-holford/

Monday, March 11, 2019

Double Agent (A Davis Way Crime Caper #8)

Author:  Gretchen Archer
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781635114985; 9781635114959
Henery Press Publishing
252 Pages
[Price TBA] $14.90; $6.99 Amazon
March 26, 2019

✮✮✮✮✮


THIS JUST IN:  On the weather front, Category Four Hurricane Kevin took a last-minute left and is headed straight for the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.  In breaking news, Undercover Casino Operative Davis Way has one foot out the evacuation door when fifty million dollars disappear, and in its place, a dead body.

In other news, if forced to ride out the storm on the hotel's thirteenth-floor fortress, Davis won't be alone.  Her husband, Bradley, her best friend, Fantasy, and a crew of highly trained first responders will be hurricane hostages too, along with Mississippi State Gaming Agents, a FEMA agent, an insurance agent, a State Special Agent, and an Emergency Response Agent -- at least one of them a double agent.

The good news is her high school reunion is cancelled.  The bad news is everything else.  the fake news features a castaway pig named Bacon.

The hurricane heist headlines will be sensational.  If Davis survives to see them.

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Davis Way Cole works at the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi as a sort of "secret super spy."  When she's needed, she does whatever necessary to keep things running exactly the way they should, even if it means turning into a female James Bond.

Right now she and her family - her husband, President and CEO Bradley, and twin daughters Bexley and Quinn, need to evacuate the casino because of impending hurricane Kevin.  But that can't be done until they remove all the cash from the machines, and there's only herself and her partner Fantasy to do it.  The rest of their team - Baylor and No Hair - are in Hawaii for Baylor's wedding to Davis's nanny July.

Unfortunately, they also have in residence Davis's lookalike Bianca Sanders, who, along with her husband Richard, own the casino (Richard is in Norway) a couple of women from Michigan who couldn't leave because of flight problems, the Bellissimo Storm Team (first responders and specialists), and a television production crew, and a couple of gaming agents.

But things never go according to plan, especially so when Davis and Fantasy hear a gunshot while removing the cash boxes from the machines.  They follow the sound and find Davis's ex-husband Eddie (who is there because for some reason unknown to Davis - and unwanted - her high school reunion was supposed to take place at the casino) apparently shot, and his girlfriend Danielle - Davis's nemesis - lying in a pool of blood.  Which turns out not to be hers.  But which also means it has to belong to someone else, and that someone else isn't Eddie.  Which means there's a shooter in the casino, and they need to find out who and where that person is.

Needless to say, Davis isn't going anywhere, and neither is anyone else; which means they're all going to be huddled up on Disaster, the unnamed thirteenth floor that Bianca's father built as a fortress in just this kind of emergency and which no one is supposed to know even exists.

Now that the stage is set for riding out a hurricane in a deserted casino, holed up in a fortress that isn't there, let me be clear:  In Davis's life, things never go as easy as riding out a hurricane in a fortress.  This is about to be made clear in her latest escapade.  Which all takes place in under 48 hours.

It's an intense ride, rather like being on a roller coaster - backwards, upside down, blindfolded, and in the rain.  Even if you could see, it wouldn't be a pleasant trip.  Davis finds out that there's more at stake than finding a lone shooter in the casino.  It's finding out who killed the man on the floor... and who took the fifty million dollars they removed from the machines.  But, unfortunately, the only witnesses are Danielle, who seems to have amnesia, and Eddie, who's dumber than a sloth (which is the dumbest animal on the planet).  Which means Davis has no help at all.

What ensues is worse than chaos, and Davis is stuck right in the center of it, like being in the eye of the hurricane.  Endlessly.  With no way out.  It's full of suspense, intrigue, conspiracy, and cunning.  The tale is masterful, with Ms. Archer pulling you into the story immediately, and right from the amusing phone call with her mother (who wants her out of the casino now) to that first gunshot.  By that time, you are hooked.

But there's more afoot to be found:  People who are not what they seem, and even what appears to be forthright problems on the surface turn out to be something else entirely.  (Sorry, but in saying more I'd be pretty much telling you enough so that you wouldn't need to read the book - so I won't).  It's enough to say that not only are the twists and turns aplenty, it's a tale that weaves so many threads throughout you could create a tapestry.  It's crazy.  Insane.  Totally enthralling.  It makes me grateful I don't have to live Davis's life.

Some of the characters are annoying (even I was starting to hate Eddie and Danielle as much as Davis) and I probably wouldn't have been able to keep from slapping Filet, so Davis has the better of me there.  Or more patience.  Either way.  I do think Bianca has grown on me, since I actually like her, too.  I don't know why.  I love Davis, Bradley, and the rest of the crew, who are always there and always have each other's backs, and not a stupid one among them.  I even like her parents (her mother, while trying at times, does have her moments).

When we reach the climax and everything starts to come together, it's woven so tightly you couldn't pull the threads apart if you tried.  It's a delightful narrative, engaging, and those last few moments when the action finds it way to a close are surprising.  An ending to be proud of.  A book to be read and reread.  Highly recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Double-Agent-Davis-Crime-Caper/dp/1635114950/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2746831823

More on Gretchen Archer's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/a/gretchen-archer/

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Expiration Date (A Cook-Oft Mystery #1)

Author:  Devon Delaney
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781496714435
Kensington Publishing
336 Pages
$7.99; $4.99 Amazon
April 24, 2018

✮✮✮


With contestants from Maine to California and a ten-thousand-dollar prize at stake, Sherry's latest competition, hosted by the CEO of an organic food company, is sure to be heated.  But she's more than ready to step up to the stove.  After all, she did win the award for Most Creative Cupcake back in high-school.  Today, she's hoping her flavorful pork tenderloin will sway the judges.  Instead, it seems someone's decided to slay one of the judges...

After Chef Birns falls face first into the Seafood Flatbread Pizza, Sherry's dish is deemed suspicious.  Now she'll have to stir through a stew of rule-breaking, corruption, and gossip to get herself off the chopping block, and find out who turned this food fight fatal...

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Sherry Frazzelle is keen on entering cooking competitions.  The one she's in now is for an organic food company, OrgaNicks, named after the owner, Nick Andime.  Also entering is her younger sister, Marla.  Cooking competitions can be cutthroat and stressful.  Unfortunately, this is one of those times, with the person next to her - Kenny Dewitt - being abrasive and snide.  However, she's not going to let him ruin it.

After the dishes are completed and the entrants have been seated, the three chefs have taken their places and are tasting the food.  But when they're getting ready to announce the winner of the ten thousand dollar prize, one of the chefs keels over and later dies - poisoned.  Sherry eventually finds out that the last dish he tasted was hers, and now she's under suspicion of being the guilty party.

While both the police and her father tell her to stay out of it, Sherry knows her reputation is on the line, and she needs to find a killer.  But, of course, that's only if the killer doesn't find her first...

I wanted to read this book because like Sherry, I love to cook and bake.  It's the first in a new series, and I'm happy to say that I wasn't disappointed.  Sherry asks questions, but she's not truly invasive nor get-in-your-face with questions.  I really dislike protagonists who follow people around and demand answers from them.  Sherry tries to make it seem as if she's having a normal conversation; but, of course, the killer doesn't see it that way.

She's also trying to find a new life without her husband of five years, Charlie.  But this relationship is different: Charlie didn't cheat, he didn't abuse her; he just decided he didn't want to be married.  However, he's a likable character, darn it.  Just like Sherry thinks about him, it's difficult to dislike a man who appears to be so nice.  He's there when she needs him, and leaves a little bit of himself behind, almost as if he doesn't really want to let go of her.

The mystery itself was done really well.  The clues abound, and red herrings are everywhere, with almost anyone who could be the guilty party.  But while we're sifting through them, it's an interesting tale with a backbone to it, and keeps you reading throughout until you get to the end.  When we do discover the killer and the reason for the murder, it's unfortunate and sad at the same time while not giving sympathy to the murderer.

Although I feel that Sherry is a little OCD about things - she needs to be in control, is neurotic, easily irritated with people, anxious, slightly paranoiac, and a little bit pessimistic (expecting the worst all the time); there are people like this, and she just happens to be one of them.  She also hates it when her name is mispronounced and gets irritated when others call her 'Ma'am' instead of Miss/Ms. (Personally, I hate 'Ms').  While her quirks are meant, in my opinion, to make her endearing, too many of them make one not to spend a lot of time with her.  Perhaps it's because she had to step in for her mother at an early age and never really was allowed a full childhood; but we don't know.  (Maybe she needs to see a therapist?)  In future books I would like to know more about this and see Sherry change a little bit as she becomes more accustomed to living alone.

Her father Erno is a font of wisdom, even if it is couched in adages; I do like Amber and hope to see more of her in future books.  Although This was a fun mystery, full of surprises and I'm glad I took the time to read it.  There are also some nice recipes in the back (although not the one for the pork tenderloin, unfortunately).  All in all, I enjoyed the book; it's a nice cozy that can be gotten through quickly and I hope to read more by this author.

https://www.amazon.com/Expiration-Cook-Off-Mystery-Devon-Delaney/dp/1496714431/ref=

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2740865131

More on Devon Delaney's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/d/devon-delaney/

Monday, March 4, 2019

Hummus and Homicide (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery)

Author:  Tina Kashian
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; [Audio CD]; Digital Book; Audiobook
ISBN #:  9781496713476; [9781541468382]
Kensington Publishing; [Tantor Audio]
320 Pages
$7.99; $21.72; $5.99 Amazon
February 27, 2018

✮✮



Things are slow in the off-season in this Jersey Shore town, but Lucy doesn't mind.  She doesn't even mind waitressing at the Kebab Kitchen.  Her parents have put in a new hummus bar, with every flavor from lemon to roasted red pepper.  It's fun to see their calico cat again, and to catch up with her old BFF, who's married to a cop now.

She could do without Heather Banks, though.  the Gucci-toting ex-cheerleader is still as nasty as she was back in high school...and unfortunately, she's just taken over as the local health inspector.  Just minutes after eating at the Kebab Kitchen - where she's tallied up a whole list of bogus violations - she falls down dead in the street.  Word on the grapevine is it's homicide, and Lucy's the number one suspect.

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Lucy Berberian leaves her job as a patent attorney in Philadelphia to return home, but hasn't told her parents the entire story.  The minute she returns her mother expects her to help out at the restaurant - a place she hates and couldn't wait to leave; but when she comes across her old enemy Heather Banks - who made her miserable in high school - she realizes that it's not over when she finds out Heather is the new health inspector.

To make matters worse, Heather finds all sorts of violations at the restaurant, when her father, the previous inspector, never found a single one in thirty years.  Lucy knows it's only out of vindictiveness.  But then Heather is found dead outside the restaurant, and she's been poisoned.  Now Lucy is on the hot seat, suspected of killing her.  She enlists the help of her best friend Katie to help her find out who killed Heather before she's sent away for the crime...

I wanted to read this because it sounded from the blurb that it might be a great series to begin reading.  However, there's things I couldn't get past and others I just didn't like.  First off, calling Gadoo the cat her mother's pet is a little off the mark.  The cat lives outside and her mother feeds it.  Basically, her mother is feeding a stray cat.  He comes around for the food.  He isn't allowed in the home, and it doesn't appear that they care for him in any other way - no vaccinations, no place to sleep, etc.  Just a stray cat that they've decided to name.

Then, this is not a town I'd want to visit.  Heather has apparently been holding a grudge against Lucy since high school, and decides to 'get even' by giving her parents a bad health inspection - which, I would think, they could challenge and have her fired for; after all, if they've passed every single other inspection in thirty years it would be pretty obvious to everyone who knows Heather and Lucy that it was out of spite and nothing else.  Ditto for the Detective, Calvin Clemmons.  He's holding a grudge against Lucy's sister Emma for breaking up with him in high school, and it appears that he's giving Lucy a hard time about being the main suspect in the murder because of it.  Jeez.  Who would live in a town where people can't move on with their lives?

Then, and I quote, the author writes: "Lucy felt as if she were being sucked back into the fold like quicksand: no amount of professional accomplishments mattered.  Family helped family, and their expectations could be stifling and overwhelming.  It was partly why she'd fled years ago."  This does not sound like a woman who's happy to be working in a restaurant she couldn't wait to escape from.  And therein lies the biggest problem:  I had a hard time reconciling the fact that she'd so willingly want to keep the restaurant she wanted to get away from.  (She also stated that she can't cook, so why would she want to keep the restaurant otherwise?)

There was a lot of repetition in sentences, and I really have to wonder if there is any other way to say someone is hungry or thirsty instead of constantly repeating "it made her mouth water."  Every time I hear that phrase in any book, I picture the person with drool dripping from their mouth or sucking back saliva.  I've never been so enamored of an aroma that that has happened.  I find it annoying, and it was said more than once here.  I also got tired of the 'mother cliché:  get married!  I want grandchildren!  Yeah, nothing says love like pushing your daughter into marriage so she can pop out grandchildren for you; ignore the fact that she has the right to choose what she wants out of life.  With a mother like this, I dread the rest of the books in the series.

I also thought it was ridiculous that the detective would accuse Lucy of murder because of a bad health inspection at the restaurant.  Honestly?  She's going to kill someone because they gave her demerits?  Yeah, that's believable.  Truth to tell, I lost interest in the book around the 30% mark, but I trudged on anyway, hoping it would improve.  It didn't.  However, I will read the next in the series and hope for the best.  Also, here's what I'd like to see in future books:  Her mother to leave her alone to decide if - and when - she chooses to get married and stop harping on grandkids (nag the other daughter - she's already married, and in ten years has only produced one child); and Gadoo to become an indoor cat and be cared for properly, not to be left to fend on his own at night.

https://www.amazon.com/Hummus-Homicide-Kebab-Kitchen-Mystery/dp/1496713478/ref=

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2227324054

More on Tina Kashian's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/k/tina-kashian/

The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco (A Book Club Mystery #1)

Author:  Laura DiSilverio
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780451470836
Obsidian Mystery
336 Pages
$7.99; $2.99 Amazon
April 7, 2015



Amy-Faye has always loved her idyllic Rocky Mountain town of Heaven, Colorado.  Her event-planning business is thriving, her fellow book-obsessed Readaholics are great, and her parents live only a few blocks away.  But lately her hometown has felt a little less heavenly.  First, she agrees to plan a wedding without realizing the groom is her ex-boyfriend.  Then Ivy, one of her fellow Readaholics, dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances.

The police rule Ivy's death a suicide by poisoning, but Amy-Faye and the remaining Readaholics suspect foul play.  Amy-Faye soon discovers that Ivy was hiding dangerous secrets - and making deadly enemies.  Taking a page from her favorite literary sleuths, Amy-Faye is determined to find the real killer and close the book on this case.  But finding the truth could spell her own ending.

✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽

When Amy-Faye is heading to a new potential job of planning a wedding, she meets with the prospective bride.  She doesn't find out until later that the groom is going to be her ex-boyfriend, Doug.  Shaken, she tries not to let it show and agrees to go ahead anyway.  Then, after the latest meeting of the Readaholics, where they're discussing Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, Amy Faye discovers one of their members ill, and Ivy later dies from what appears to be suicide by poison.  But Amy Faye doesn't believe she killed herself, and will do whatever it takes to find out the truth.

It doesn't help that the new detective in town, Lindell Hart, thinks the case is closed and tells her to let it go.  But Amy Faye isn't so sure and enlists the help of her friends to find out why Ivy was murdered.  Once she starts digging, she finds out more than she wants to know, and it could put her in the reach of someone who's killed once and doesn't mind doing it again...

I really wanted to like this book - after all, there's a cute cat on the cover, and who doesn't like cozies with cats?  Well, this author, apparently...

The book begins when Amy Faye finds a small kitten on the way to her meeting.  Since the first chapters are about her and her new acquisition of the kitten, I'm thinking she has a new kitten.  But this is the worst case of bait and switch by any author that I've ever read, and I read over 300 books every year.  She begins by telling you about the poor little adorable kitten, then...gives it away because she can't be bothered with a kitten.  But silly me - because a kitten is on the cover, I actually thought there would be a kitten in the book (there is one scene where the person she gave it to brings it to one of their meetings, so I assume we're supposed to know it's loved and fine; I don't buy it.)

She decides she's "too busy" to care for it and must get rid of it.  So, instead of giving this little thing a warm and safe home, she gives it to someone who takes it to be an outdoor cat - where there are predators - not even caring, not thinking it could get parasites; because, after all, what does she care if the kitten gets fleas or parasites and is constantly scratching?  Before those who have outdoor cats get upset, I'm of the opinion that cats should be strictly indoor.   You can't use the argument you're 'too busy' with me; cats are fine on their own, and low maintenance, unlike dogs.  They don't need to be taken for a walk, and you don't have to kennel them when you travel.  I lead a full life, and my cats are perfectly happy.

Anyway, now that I'm done with my rant about indoor vs. outdoor cats, there were other problems with this book as well:  She agrees to plan her ex-boyfriend's wedding, but is stunned by the fact that he's getting married.  Because, it seems, she didn't know they were completely broken up.  Since they've had an on-again, off-again relationship, she thought they were just in the off-again stage.  And other people knew - like her best friend Brooke - but no one bothered to tell her.  How can you call someone your best friend if they have that kind of information but don't share it with you?  And what about Doug's mother?  She's the one who recommended Amy Faye; kudos for throwing business her way, but I suppose his mother never liked her, because she didn't call her first and mention it to her.  I guess she believed they were just 'childhood sweethearts' and that it was all over between them.  That woman would have been off my Christmas card list for sure.

I didn't think the reason for the murder was interesting enough to carry the book, the friends didn't seem like they cared enough to help her investigate, and her best friend Brooke seems too selfish and self-centered for me to like her.  Oh, and there wasn't much about a book club, either, except the people in it.

But to make it worse, the ending completely sucked.  For those that haven't read the book, I'll put it in a spoiler, but be aware it does contain the ending of the book!  So if you don't want to know it, DO NOT read the spoiler!



In my opinion, a vacuum cleaner doesn’t suck as much as this ending.  It was obvious from using a kitten as bait that the author wanted to get people to read her book...and by the ending it was also obvious that she didn't care if they did or not.

https://www.amazon.com/Readaholics-Falcon-Fiasco-Book-Mystery/dp/0451470834/ref=

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2738304492

More on Laura DiSilverio's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/d/laura-disilverio/

Friday, March 1, 2019

Staging is Murder (A Laura Bishop Mystery #1)

Author:  Grace Topping
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN:  9781635114904; 9781635114874
Henery Press Publishing
268 Pages
[Prices TBA] $4.99 Amazon
April 30, 2019

✮✮✮✮✮


Laura Bishop has just nabbed her first decorating commission - staging for sale a 19th-century mansion that hasn't been updated for decades.  But when a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at Laura's feet, replacing flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her duties.

To clear her young assistant of the murder and save her fledgling business, Laura's determined to find the killer.  Turns out it's not as easy as renovating a manor home, especially with two handsome men complicating her mission: the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the manse from foreclosure.

Worse still, the meddling of a horoscope-guided friend, a determined grandmother and the local funeral director could get them all killed before Laura props the first pillow.

✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽

Laura Bishop is starting a new career in home staging.  She's been hired by Victoria Denton, who's about as nasty as they come.  But Laura needs the job, and she's determined to make the best of it.  Along with her is her assistant Tyrone Webster, who has aspirations of becoming a designer.  While working with Victoria is difficult, Laura and Tyrone seem to be dealing with it.  But things come to a head one day when Tyrone accidentally breaks a vase and Victoria gets angry and demands he leave.  It goes from bad to worse when Laura tells him that Victoria is on the panel to decide who receives a scholarship that he desperately wants.

Tyrone chases after her, trying to apologize and and offer to pay for the vase, but she won't budge.  Later that day, while Laura is in the basement she has a surprise:  Victoria falls through the oversized laundry chute, and she's very much dead.  When the police arrive and take control of the situation, Laura is questioned and released.  But she soon discovers that Detective Alex Spangler has arrested Tyrone for the murder, and won't be swayed.

Laura is dismayed but doesn't know what to do - that is, until she's approached by Tyrone's grandmother, who raised him.  Mrs. Webster begs Laura to find the killer and get Tyrone released.  She resists at first, but then reluctantly agrees, since she can't think of any way out.  It begins as merely asking questions of people, but soon it becomes apparent that she's been asking the wrong person, because for one who's already killed once, they have no qualms about putting her out of the way forever...

This is the first in a new series, and I really enjoyed it.  There were a couple of things that bothered me, so I'll list them and get them out of the way: I didn't care for Monica Heller at all.  She's a rival stager, and I only hope she doesn't become the 'evil nemesis.'  I really dislike when a series has a person that hates the protagonist and tries to destroy them and/or their business; I don't feel it's necessary to make a great series to have such a person.  The second thing that bothered me is in a spoiler below, and I urge you not to read it until after you've already finished the book!

 

Anyway, getting past those two items, which I am giving a pass on because as I've stated before, this is the first in a new series, and I felt that the author has done a very good job of weaving a tale of mystery and intrigue, introducing characters that will be interesting to watch as they develop over time.  I do like the characters of Laura, Nita, and Tyrone, and Doug.  It will be interesting to see where the next book takes us in regard to their lives.

While the action was low-key, it worked admirably.  Laura seems to be a kind of low-key gal.  I liked the fact that she was uncomfortable in her new position as amateur sleuth; she was asking questions but didn't really know how to go about it and when she confronted people, it seemed right that she was overly blunt, being 'new to the game' as it were.  She's a wonderful character and I can't wait to see where the next book takes us.

When the ending comes and the murderer is revealed, I felt that it all came together nicely and was believable.  One never knows what another is capable of; or what will drive them to commit murder.  It was a very good narrative indeed, and I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Staging-Murder-Laura-Bishop-Mystery/dp/163511490X/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2734538013

More on Grace Topping's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/t/grace-topping/

Remembering the Dead (A Penny Brannigan Mystery #10)

Author:  Elizabeth J. Duncan Genre:   Mystery Hardcover; Digital Book ISBN #:  9781643851136 Crooked Lane Publishing $26.56; $12.99 Am...