Friday, 17 May 2019

Murder in the Reading Room (Book Retreat Mysteries #5) by Ellery Adams

Murder in the Reading Room (Book Retreat Mysteries #5)
Storyton Hall, Virginia, is a paradise for book lovers who come from all over for literary getaways. But manager Jane Steward is temporarily leaving for another renowned resort—in hopes of solving a twist-filled mystery . . .

Jane’s boyfriend is missing, and she thinks she may find him at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate. Officially, she’s there to learn about luxury hotel management, but she’s also prowling around the breathtaking buildings and grounds looking for secret passageways and clues. One of the staff gardeners promises to be helpful . . . that is, until his body turns up in the reading room of his cottage, a book on his lap.

When she finally locates the kidnapped Edwin, his captor insists that she lead him back to Storyton Hall, convinced that it houses Ernest Hemingway’s lost suitcase, stolen from a Paris train station in 1922. But before they can turn up the treasure, the bell may toll for another victim...  (Summary via Goodreads)

If you are a fan of the Book Retreat Mystery series by Ellery Adams, you are highly invested in Storyton Hall and Jane's life.  If you aren't a fan yet, you have plenty of time to get to know Jane and her crazy life !!   

In Murder in the Reading Room, the fifth book in this series, Jane travels to Biltmore Estates to attend a hotel management seminar as well as look for her boyfriend Edwin.  Edwin ends up missing in Murder in the Locked Library, the fourth book, so when we rejoin Jane in the fifth book in this series, she is determined to find him and bring him home.

One cannot help but love Jane and her lifestyle....she is a single mom of twin boys running a book lover's hotel retreat.....unfortunately she is the keeper of a secret library that has people killing over it's contents.  Even though Jane is trained to fight and everyone employeed at Storyton Hall is there to protect her and her family, it is very hard to trust outsiders.

Adams hooks the reader into the story instantly.....and when the reader gets to page 58 it will become increasingly difficult for the reader to stop !!  Adams drops a bombshell on Jane and the reader that you will want to continue reading to find out how things turn out.  

I highly recommend booking a room at Storyton Hall and hanging out with Jane, her great-aunt and uncle, the employees who are family and her girlfriends, The Cover Girls.  As Jane walks through the rooms, you will feel like you are walking along side her and when she goes home to check on the twins, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, you will again feel like you are there.  And when Jane is in trouble you will hold your breathe while she disentangles herself.  And while you read this book, you will become a pro at holding your breathe........

Review by Missi S.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

A Sip Before Dying (Wine & Dine Mysteries #1) by Gemma Halliday

A Sip Before Dying (Wine & Dine Mysteries #1)
From #1 Amazon, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Gemma Halliday comes a brand new series full of mystery, laughter, and murder in wine country...

The Oak Valley Vineyard has been in Emmy Oak's family for generations. So when the small Sonoma winery is suddenly in financial trouble and in danger of being gobbled up by the corporate giants, Emmy moves home to try to save her legacy with her modern culinary know-how. First step—she throws a party showcasing her latest vintage and signature tasty treats to a group of wine country's most elite enthusiasts. Only when one of her VIP guests sips a glass of poisoned wine and dies in her cellar, Emmy's name is on everyone lips for all the wrong reasons.

The victim was the young, boy-toy husband of one of Silicon Valley's most successful female CEOs... and his playboy ways and suspicious spending habits have almost no one mourning his death. Enter Detective Christopher Grant, recent SFPD transplant, who is assigned to the case and immediately homes in on Oak Valley. But Emmy is determined to clear her winery's name—even if Grant's dark eyes, sexy smile, and mysterious past threaten to distract her. After calling in the big guns to help her—a.k.a. her jewelry designer best friend and copious amounts of cookie dough ice cream—Emmy finds herself digging through a slew of suspects to uncover crimes, grudges, and secret affairs that could put a soap opera to shame. Can Emmy find out just which of the upper crust poisoned the victim's vintage...or will Emmy's next sip be her last?
   (Summary via Goodreads)

I could not put A Sip Before Dying by Gemma Halliday down.  Once I started reading it, I was hooked !!  The chapters were so short and captivating that there was no saying "one more chapter....".  A reader can breeze through this story in no time.  The only bad thing is that the reader can breeze through this story in no time.

You cannot help but fall in love with the main character, Emmy and her best friend, Ava.  Emmy is running her family's vineyard (hopefully not into the ground) and Ava owns her own little boutique.  While Emmy is trying to keep her family business afloat, Ava is right there to help in any way that she can.  

Emmy decides to host a party for an elite clientele hoping to get her business in the red.....unfortunately when the husband of a powerful business woman is found dead in the wine cellar, things aren't looking too good for Emmy.  And when she finds out that the local detective is looking at an old high school friend of Emmy's as the top suspect, Emmy knows that she has to do something to prove her innocence.

While Emmy and Ava try to prove Jenny's innocence, they uncover more than they wanted about the deceased.  This leads them down some dark roads.  No matter what Detective Grant tells Emmy, she knows that she should listen to him but its going to take more than a sexy detective to stop her from helpiing a friend.  Even when Emmy is attacked, that fuels her fire more......

I loved the friendships in A Sip Before Dying and the storyline.  Halliday set the stage nicely and introduces the reader to a great scene and characters.  You feel right at home with Emmy and Ava.  I was sorry to finish the story but look forward to more in this series.  The Wine & Dine Mystery series is a definite to read and keep an eye out for more to follow.  

Review by Missi S.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Beneath the Surface (Sgt. Windflower Mystery #3) by Mike Martin

Beneath the Surface (Sgt. Windlfower Mystery, #3)
Sgt. Windflower is back and as usual he’s loving life on the east coast. He may be a long way from his home in Northern Alberta but he has been adopted by the locals as almost one of their own. He has a good life, good work with the RCMP, and a good woman that he has grown closer to in his years on the southeast coast of Newfoundland. But trouble is brewing just beneath the surface of this calm and charm-filled existence.

It begins with the discovery of a dead girl’s body in St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador. The girl is from Grand Bank where Windflower has been stationed for the last few years. Sgt. Windflower and his associate Corporal Eddie Tizzard are pulled further and further into the case. The situation also grows to include a whole array of criminal activities from human trafficking and even the Russian Mafia.

Along the way Windflower not only has to deal with this crime wave operating all around the region, but with some challenges in his own life. He has to go back to his Aboriginal roots to find the answers to some very deep and disturbing questions. But nothing seems to bother his appetite and joy for life, especially his appetite. He continues to sample traditional Newfoundland dishes like fish and brewis but he also expands to include pan-fried sea trout and baked salmon, along with a range of desserts from blueberry buckle to his all-time favourite, peanut butter cheesecake.

His faith in the police force, that has become his life, is also threatened by a series of events that he becomes aware of that are certainly immoral if not even illegal. He is forced to face not only his own personal demons but those in real life that are lurking all around us. Sometime they are right in front of our face, but at other times they are hiding deep beneath the surface, waiting to be resolved.  (Summary via Amazon)

If you are a fan of Stuarts Woods and especially his Stone Barrington series, then you will love the Sgt Windflower Mystery series by Mike Martin.  Windflower is a strong, well-centered character that knows what he wants and does everything he can to get it....just like Stone Barrington would do.   Pretty much the only difference between Barrington and Windflower is that Barrington always has a lot of love interests and Windflower has one love, Sheila.  

Windflower works for the RCMP, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and has been on assignment in Marystown when we begin reading Beneath the Surface, the third book in this series.  But Windflower is ready to return home to Grand Bank and when his girlfriend, Sheila, who has been in a special care health facility since a car accident, is being released to go home, Windflower knows that it is time for him as well.

No matter where Windflower works, whether it is on assignment or back at his office in Grand Bank, he will do whatever he can to insure that justice is matter how small the case is.  However in Beneath the Surface there are a few different cases that have his attention and one of them is right there in his office building !!  

There is so much to keep the readers attention in this series.  I love Windflower's strong beliefs and loved reading the dream interpretations.  I love his devotion to Sheila and his town.  His circle of friends and family are ones to long for and even his commitment to the food he eats is a joy to read about !!!

The Sgt. Windflower Mystery series has something for all readers to enjoy !!  The series will take the reader on a journey that will not soon be forgotten....this series stays with the reader .... in a very good way !!!  And with the way that Martin ended Beneath the Surface, I cannot wait to see what is in store for Windflower and Sheila in the future !!!

Review by Missi S.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Murder In Galway (Galway Ireland Mystery #1) by Carlene O'Connor

Murder In Galway (Galway Ireland Mystery #1)
New Yorker Tara Meehan's first trip to Galway may be her last . . .

Tara never imagined her introduction to Ireland like this—carrying her mam’s ashes to honor her final request: “Tell Johnny I’m sorry . . . Take me home.” She’s never met her mam's estranged brother, Johnny Meehan, who owns an architectural salvage business in Galway. Although Tara is immediately charmed by the medieval city, the locals seem wary of strangers and a gypsy warns her that death is all around.

When Tara arrives at her uncle’s stone cottage, the prophesy seems true. A dead man lies sprawled over the threshold in a pool of blood. The victim turns out to be Johnny’s wealthiest client, and her missing uncle is the garda’s number-one suspect. In trying to find Johnny and solve the crime, Tara uncovers her mam and uncle’s troubled past. But with a desperate killer about, she had better mind herself, or they’ll be tossing her ashes in Galway Bay . . .  (Summary via Goodreads)

What a GREAT start for a series !!!  Murder in Galway by Carlene O'Connor is the first book in her Galway Ireland Mystery series and it is an amazing story !!!

Sadly we travel with Tara Meehan to Galway Ireland where she is going to meet her uncle for the first time while she is honoring her recently deceased mothers final wishes.  Her mother grew up in Galway but left before Tara was born and never returned.  Along with having her ashes released over the Galway Bay, her mother also wanted Tara to apologize to her uncle......unfortunately Tara doesn't know why.    Another unfortunate thing is that when Tara arrives at her uncle's cottage there is a dead man in the doorway !!!  Seeing as Tara as no clue what her uncle looks like, she assumes that the dead man is her uncle.  

As it turns out the deceased man is not Tara's uncle but it is his most wealthiest client and he was murdered and Tara's uncle is missing !!  Everyone in town is saying that her uncle had recently been acting weird and they believe that he was capable of murdering the client.  Even though Tara has never met her uncle, she is most certain that he did not murder the man and she will do whatever it takes to prove that. 

While Tara travels around town getting to know the people and the town as well as her uncle's business, she is also doing her own investigating......even though the local police, guard as they are called in Ireland, are telling her to stop and to basically go back to America.  It will come as no surprise that Tara does not listen to the guard and along with her uncle's one employee, Danny, she solves not one, but two murders and brings her uncle out of hiding !!!

I just love stories centered around Ireland, even if they are fictitious.  And the way that O'Connor writes Murder in Galway, the reader will feel like they are there !!  I love when an author can send the reader away on a journey without having to pack or deal with jet lag......and O'Connor has that amazing ability !!

Review by Missi S.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Charity's Burden (Quaker Midwife Mystery #4) by Edith Maxwell

Charity's Burden (Quaker Midwife Mystery #4)
Quaker midwife Rose Carroll seeks the true cause of a young mother's death
The winter of 1889 is harsh in Amesbury, Massachusetts, but it doesn't stop Quaker midwife Rose Carroll from making the rounds to her pregnant and postpartum mothers. When Charity Skells dies from an apparent early miscarriage, Rose wonders about the symptoms that don't match the diagnosis. She learns that Charity's husband may be up to no good with a young woman whose mother appears to offer illegal abortions. A disgraced physician in town does the same, and Charity's cousin seems to have a nefarious agenda. With several suspects emerging, each with their own possible motives, Rose and police detective Kevin Donovan race against time to solve the case before another innocent life is taken.  (Summary via Goodreads)

I have had the pleasure of reading all the books in Edith Maxwell's Quaker Midwife Mystery series and I am in love with Rose Carroll !!  The books are written and set in the late 1800's and it is amazing to read and imagine how things were in those times.  Yes things were very, very different....and then some things are still quite the same.

To a reader the 1800's may look to be an easier time .... with there being no modern technology to consume people, transportation was extremely different, families were extremely devoted to each other and in the Quaker Midwife Mystery series, they were extremely devoted to their religion.  

In Charity's Burden, the latest in this series, Maxwell takes the reader into a very judgemental and serious look at childbearing.  With Rose being a midwife and helping mothers give birth and bring healthy babies into the world, abortion is not something that she approves of.  Rose is willing to help mothers with family spacing (giving mothers herbs to help prevent them from getting pregnant) and when one of her patients comes to her with excessive bleeding and passes shortly after, Rose knows that she did not die from natural causes.  Rose is again determined to find out the truth of Charity's death and find the guilty party and bring Charity's family some justice.  

While Rose is doing her investigating, she is always in touch with her friend and local police detective, Kevin Donovan.  Unfortunately Rose is banned from going to the police station by the new Police Chief so she must go to Kevin's home and leave him messages with his wife....which back in the 1800's isn't very easy especially in the cold winter months.  But determined Rose will do what it takes and luckily Kevin's wife is well aware of Rose's past involvements with helping Kevin so Rose is very welcome at their home.

In Charity's Burden there are happy things going on as well.  Faith, Rose's eldest niece is getting married !!!  Even though Rose and her fiance David have been engaged for a while, they have some obstacles to deal with before thier happy day can occur so they set their sad feelings aside to enjoy Faith and Zeb's Worship for Marriage.  

Luckily Rose was able to solve Charity's murder just in time to get to the Meetinghouse to witness the marriage. (If you've read any of these books, you know that Rose does seem to like to cut things close....another reason to love her)  

When reading the Quaker Midwife Mystery series books, you cannot help but wonder at all the research that Maxwell puts into these stories.  It always amazes me that the author's put so much work into writting some stories.  The reader tends to get carried away reading the story and doesn't really think about how the words actually made it to print.  I have had the pleasure of getting to know Maxwell and I have learned that the Quaker Midwife Mystery series has a lot of her heart in them.  She thrives on researching and truly loves writing and sharing Rose's stories.  I personally think that she has a time machine and travels back in time and spends time in the 1800's so that she can be sure to get everything exactly as it is.  When you are reading these books, you FEEL like you yourself are there !!  And that is what makes these books a treasure to read and enjoy !!!!

Review by Missi S.

With a Kiss I Die (A Theater Cop Mystery Series #2) by J.A. Hennrikus

With a Kiss I Die
Will the kiss of death claim Romeo and Juliet--and Sully--before opening night?

When Edwina "Sully" Sullivan, a retired cop turned theater manager, learns that a production of Romeo and Juliet--which Cliffside Theater's Dimitri Traietti left town to direct--is in serious trouble, she sets aside her grant applications and heads to Boston to help.

Between managing Dimitri, consulting with costume and set designers, and schmoozing with potential funders, Sully puts on nearly every hat in the biz. But the one hat she doesn't expect to wear is that of her old job as a cop. When a socialite is murdered in Boston's Public Garden, Sully's ex-husband becomes the prime suspect. So she reprises her role as an ace investigator and once again steps into the spotlight to solve a crime.  (Summary via Goodreads)

With a Kiss I Die is the second book in the Theater Cop Mystery series by J.A. Hennrikus and boy is the main character, Sully Sullivan, a very busy and popular person !!  (Very similar to the author I may add.)

Sully is a theater manager who use to be a cop.  You would think with that drastic of a career change, things would be quiet, slow and maybe boring.  Nope....that is not the case with Sully.  When we begin reading With a Kiss I Die, Sully's theater, Cliffside Theater, is in between productions so it is slow.  While Sully is working on grants and reports, Dimitri, the director of the theater goes to Boston to help aother theater with their production of Romeo and Juliet.

Unfortunately everything that could go wrong with the Romeo and Juliet production is going wrong and even things that aren't are.  Sully goes to Boston to calm Dimitri down and help in any way that she can.  While at a party where she is hoping to meet with some people that could help with funding an expansion for Cliifside, there is a confrontation between some key people and later one of them is found stangled in the park.

Even though Sully is in Boston to help with the production of Romeo and Juliet and trying to meet with some people for grants for the Cliffside, she finds herself in the middle of the investigation.  While Sully is just asking questions staying off of the local cops radar, it doesn't stay that way for long.  Especially when her ex-husband doesn't show up for a meeting and leaves some cryptic messages......

There is a lot going on in With A Kiss I Die.....the story is fast paced and full of adrenaline causing feelings.  I only wish that I had been able to read A Christmas Peril, the first book in this series so that I could have been able to know more of Sully's background.  This is not to say that you cannot pick up With a Kiss I Die and not know what is going on or be able to follow the story.  You can read With a Kiss I Die and fall in love with Sully and her friends and the theater life and thoroughly enjoy the story.  I did .... I guess I'm selfish and want more of Sully.  She is definitely someone you will want to hang out with !!!  With that said..... I think I am going to have to go get a copy of A Christmas Peril so that I can spend some more time with Sully until the third book in this series comes out. So whatever book you start read, I highly recommend this series !!!

Review by Missi S.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Bikinis & Bloodshed (Aloha Lagoon Mysteries #8) by Anne Marie Stoddard

Bikinis Bloodshed (Aloha Lagoon Mysteries #8)

From USA Today bestselling author Anne Marie Stoddard comes a fabulously fashionable mystery in paradise...

After a very painful—and very public—divorce from her cheating football star husband, Kaley Kalua just wants some peace and privacy. Cramming only the essentials (clothes, shoes, and makeup) into her Prada duffel bag, Kaley returns to her hometown of Aloha Lagoon to manage her Aunt Rikki’s clothing shop, the Happy Hula Dress Boutique. A new job, new friends, and a change of scenery are just what she needs to turn her life around. It doesn’t hurt that Kaley’s handsome childhood best friend, Noa Kahele, has also moved back to the small resort town.

Unfortunately, life on the island isn’t quite the peaceful paradise that Kaley was expecting. Not everyone is thrilled about her return—especially Louana, Happy Hula’s assistant manager, who thinks that she deserves Kaley’s new job. And when the woman is found strangled by a bikini top from the boutique, the police make it clear that Aunt Rikki is their main suspect. But Kaley is determined to prove her aunt’s innocence! Between dodging a nosy local reporter and sparring with her high school nemesis, Kaley compiles her own list of suspects. In the process, she also attracts the attention of a dangerous killer. If Kaley isn’t careful, she could wind up trading her colorful wardrobe for funeral black…

The Aloha Lagoon Mysteries:
Ukulele Murder (book #1)
Murder on the Aloha Express (book #2)
Deadly Wipeout (book #3)
Deadly Bubbles in the Wine (book #4)
Mele Kalikimaka Murder (book #5)
Death of the Big Kahuna (book #6)
Ukulele Deadly (book #7)
Bikinis and Bloodshed (book #8)

Death of the Kona Man (book #9)
Lethal Tide (book #10)
Beachboy Murder (book #11)
Handbags Homicide (book #12)

About Aloha Lagoon:
There's trouble in paradise...
Welcome to Aloha Lagoon, one of Hawaii's hidden treasures. A little bit of tropical paradise nestled along the coast of Kauai, this resort town boasts luxurious accommodation, friendly island atmosphere...and only a slightly higher than normal murder rate. While mysterious circumstances may be the norm on our corner of the island, we're certain that our staff and Lagoon natives will make your stay in Aloha Lagoon one you will never forget!
   (Summary via Goodreads)

I LOVE the Aloha Lagoon Mystery series published by Gemma Halliday Publishing Co.  How can you not like a series that centers around an island resort and involves murder ?  Each book in this series is written by different authors but have the Aloha Lagoon Resort and the homicide detective in common in all the books.

Bikinis & Bloodshed by Anne Marie Stoddard is the 8th book in the series and we are introduced to Kaley Kalua who returns to the island after divorcing her cheating football star husband.  Her Aunt Rikki and old childhood friend, Noa, are more than happy to have her back....for different reasons.  Aunt Rikki is glad to have her back and hires Kaley as Assitant Manager at her high-end clothing store, The Happy Hula Dress Boutique.  

But before Kaley can unpack and settle in an employee from the store is found murdered behind the store and Aunt Rikki is looked at as the top suspect.  Kaley, with help from Noa, goes against her better judgement and starts questioning people to prove her aunt's innocence.  Unfortunately when another employee from the store is injured Aunt Rikki is arrested and a note attached to a rock is thrown through the living room window at Kaley and Nao !!!  Even though the note is telling her to back off, Kaley is more determined to find the person behind everything !!! 

I love this series and returning to the Aloha Lagoon resort and meeting new people and seeing more of the resort in the different books in this series.  No matter who you hang around with in whatever area of the resort you are in, you are sure of two things.... the first is that you will love it and wish it were real so you could meet the people and visit the resort and secondly there will be a murder....or two !!!   So grab a drink and a snack and settle don't even have to pack to take the trip to paradise......

Review by Missi S.