Tuesday, 18 February 2020

'Twas the Week After Christmas (Season's Change Book 1) by Mark Justice

'Twas the Week After Christmas (Season's Change Book 1) by [Justice, Mark]
When Abbie Price finds herself suddenly out of a job, she moves back to her home town of Juniper, Ohio, surrounded and supported by her friends and family.A series of unexplained packages pulls Abbie into a mystery that intimately touches the lives of everyone around her. With the New Year’s Nosh less than a week away, Abbie is determined to unravel the truth behind the mysterious packages and discovers herself on a journey toward acceptance, healing, and hope.  (Summary via Amazon)

'Twas the Week After Christmas by Mark Justice is the first book in his Season's Change Mystery series.  'Twas the Week After Christmas is very different from your regular cozy mystery in that there is no death.....and that is pretty much the only difference.......

'Twas the Week After Christmas you are hanging out with main character, Abbie Price, who just lost her job and moved back to her hometown on Christmas night.  Everyone in Juniper, Ohio is like family.  It is a nice, small, loving town and the week after Christmas everyone is still in the Christmas mood and gearing up for the New Year's Eve celebration, The New Year's Nosh.

Abbie is helping her grandmother in the family candy store while she figures out what her next move is after losing her job.  They are getting ready to make their famous fudge for the Nosh....unfortunately they do not get their chocolate order but instead a mysterious wooden box with exotic spices show up.
And that is not the only mysterious box showing up around town.  Each box is very specific to the individual receiving it and forces the recipricant to think outside the box..... (pun intended)

Abbie and friends try to find out who is leaving the boxes and the only "clue" they have to follow are some curious looking footsteps......

'Twas the Week After Christmas is the perfect cozy to get lost in when you really just want a feel good cozy story.  You have a great town that you are sure to want to visit and Juniper is full of great people that you want to hang around with and Sugar's Diner is the perfect place to do it at !!  And the author leaves the reader longing for more......

Review by Missi M.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Deadly Cost of Goods (Book 5 in Second Treasures Mysteries) by Margaret Evans

Deadly Cost of Goods
In Vol. 5 of Margaret Evans's Second Treasures Mysteries, a box of old books in Laura Keene's shop contains a clue that draws her to a ghostly, boarded-up library, where a young teenage girl disappeared decades ago. Where others have given up on this cold case, Laura is determined to find the connection between her murdered parents and the missing child.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Deadly Cost of Goods by Margaret Evans is the fifth book in her Second Treasures Mystery series and unfortunately the first one in this series that I have read.  There are some things that are lost to a reader if you haven't read the previous ones but the main focus in Deadly Cost of Goods will grab the reader....

Main character Laura Keene runs a second hand store in her hometown.  She moved away with her aunt after her parents were killed but has recently moved back and has her own business, a great group of old friends, is involved in her town and is dating the police Sargeant......oh and there's a cat in her store that only she can see !!!

In Deadly Cost of Goods Laura and the town are gearing up for Heritage Week and they have a committee for everything and Laura seems to be in the center of it all.  Not only does Laura have a lot going on running her business and planning things for Heritage Week but she also is very interested in an old cold case of a 13 year old girl that was last seen at the old town library.  The old library has long been boarded up and a new library built but Laura is drawn to the old library and when she goes through old boxes of books and finds the dead girls library card, it sends her on a quest to find answers......

Deadly Cost of Goods is a very interesting tale and like I said there are some backstories that I'm sure if I read the previous books, I would be spot on !  If I get some free time I know what books I will read because I want to know everything about Laura and how she got where she got.....and I am ready for the next installment of Second Treasures Mysteries because the way Evans leaves the reader, you really have no choice but to be a devoted fan....

Review by Missi M.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Sealed Off (Maine Clambake Mystery #8) by Barbara Ross

Sealed Off (A Maine Clambake Mystery, #8)
Early October is “winding down” time in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, but there’s nothing relaxing about it for Julia Snowden. Between busloads of weekend leaf peepers at the Snowden Family Clambake and a gut renovation of the old mansion on Morrow Island, she’s keeping it all together with a potentially volatile skeleton crew—until one of them turns up dead under the firewood.
When the Russian demo team clearing out the mansion discovers a room that’s been sealed off for decades, Julia’s baffled as to its purpose and what secrets it might have held. Tensions are already simmering with the crew, but when one of the workers is found murdered, things come to a boil. With the discovery of another body—and a mysterious diary with Cyrillic text in the hidden room—the pressure’s on Julia to dig up a real killer fast. But she’ll have to sort through a pile of suspects, including ex-spouses, a spurned lover, and a recently released prisoner, to fish out one clammed-up killer.   (Summary via Goodreads)

I love getting lost in a good book, especially when they are part of a series and you've read the previous books and that is exactly how it was for me reading Sealed Off by Barbara Ross.

Sealed Off is the eighth book in Ross's Maine Clambake Mystery series and the reader cannot help but love hanging around with main character, Julia Snowden.  Julia is a very, very busy person running her family clambake business along with her sister, brother-in-law and mother but add a dead body and Julia turns into a super hero on steroids !!

Julia and her family are at the end of the season and trying to get through the last 2 weeks of clambakes before closing for the winter unfortunately 2 of their employees get into a fight at the end of one of the bakes and the next day one of them is found dead.....and three of the employees didnt show up for work....one of them being the brother of Julia's boyfriend.

Sealed Off is full of secrets, some recent and some many, many years in the past....with Julia taking charge of finding out everything she can.  Ross has a great knack of grabbing the readers attention as soon as you open up the book and keeps you chargin through until the very last page.  You cannot help but love Julia, her family, the clambake business, all the secrets and the way Julia finds out everything she can.  You cannot help but love her devotion to her family, friends and her town, her determination to ensure everyone is safe, and the way she makes it look so easy !!!  I totally enjoy the time I spend with Julia in Busman's Harbor and look forward to my next visit.......

Review by Missi M.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Final Sail (A Dead-End Job Mystery #11) by Elaine Viets

Final Sail (A Dead-End Job Mystery Book 11)
From Anthony and Agatha Award-winning author Elaine Viets—the thrilling mystery series about one woman trying to make a living... while other people are making a killing.

As one half of Coronado Investigations in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Helen Hawthorne is working full time alongside her handsome hubby Phil. And after the surprising number of murders Helen helped solve while earning low pay on off the books jobs, anything else should be smooth sailing, right?

Unfortunately, Helen’s unique work history also makes her a natural for undercover work—and in this case that means she’s going right back to scrubbing and cleaning while acting as a “yacht stewardess” to catch some smugglers. And even more annoying is the fact that Phil must stay on shore to figure out if a wealthy man has fallen victim to his gold-digging trophy wife.

But after a member of the yacht crew disappears, Helen’s case quickly goes from simple smuggling to maritime murder. And if she doesn’t find out who pitched the man overboard, she might end up lost at sea herself…

Praise for the Dead-End Job Mysteries by Anthony and Agatha Award-winning author Elaine Viets

“A stubborn and intelligent heroine, a wonderful South Florida setting, and a cast of more-or-less lethal bimbos...I loved this book.”—Charlaine Harris
“Brave Viets preps by actually working the jobs she describes in loving and hilarious detail, giving her offbeat series a healthy balance between the banal and the bizarre.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Laugh-out-loud comedy with enough twists and turns to make it to the top of the mystery bestseller charts.” —Florida Today
“Fans of Janet Evanovich and Parnell Hall will appreciate Viets’s humor.”—South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“Wit, murder, and sunshine . . . it must be Florida. I love this new series.”—Nancy Pickard
“A heroine with a sense of humor and a gift for snappy dialogue.”—Jane Heller   (Summary via Goodreads)

I love getting lost in the Dead-End Job Mystery series by Elaine Viets.... and with every book in the series, the reader gets to go on some great adventures with main character Helen Hawthorne.  And in Final Sail, the eleventh book in this series we are going on a cruise !!!

Helen and Phil got married and are partners in their private investigation business, Coronado Investigations, and in Final Sail they have two cases and Helen has to go undercover on a private yacht !!  But that's not all....she also gets ordained online as a minister for the other case that Phil and her are working on.

Final Sail will have the reader turning the pages almost faster than they can read the words.....it is so fun reading this series to see what trouble Helen is going to get into and even funner reading how she gets out of it.   I love that she is finally getting her past in order and moving forward with Phil even with her ex-husband Rob "in the shadows" and love that Helen and Phil are working together and living at the Coronado Tropics Apartments and continue to hang out with the crew there.  Viets knows how to keep the reader's interest whether they are picking up the first book in this series or like me, the eleventh !!!

Review by Missi M.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

There's A Murder Afoot (Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #5) by Vicki Delany

There's A Murder Afoot (Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #5)
Just in time for Sherlock Holmes's 166th birthday, the fifth installment in national bestselling author Vicki Delany's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery takes Sherlockania to the max with a Holmes convention and historic 221 Baker Street.

Gemma Doyle and her friends travel to London for a Sherlock Holmes convention--but will Gemma's father take the fall for a felonious forger's fatality?

The 6th of January is Sherlock Holmes's birthday, and lucky for Gemma Doyle, January is also the slowest time of the year at both the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, and Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room. It's a good time for Gemma and her friends to travel to England for a Holmes Convention. For Gemma, the trip provides an opportunity to visit her parents, Jayne Wilson is excited about seeing all the sites London has to offer, and Ryan Ashburton just wants to spend some time with Gemma. But the trip is immediately derailed when Gemma's father Henry recognizes his brother-in-law Randolph Manning, who disappeared more than thirty years ago on the night he stole a valuable painting from his own parents.

Henry, a retired detective with Scotland Yard, has been keeping tabs on the man's career as a forger of Old Masters and he warns Randy to stay away from his family. Randy is at the conference selling his own art, a series of sketches inspired by the Holmes Canon. The ever-observant Gemma notes that he isn't exactly popular with some of the other conference attendees, but when Randy is found dead after the banquet with a dazed and confused Henry Doyle standing over him, the police leap to assume his guilt. It's up to Gemma, with the help of her friends, to plunge into the "lowest and vilest alleys" of London to save her father from prison.
   (Summary via Goodreads)

I love picking up a book in a series and as soon as you start reading you feel like you are back with some old friends......that is exactly how it felt when I picked up There's a Murder Afoot by Vicki Delany.  There's a Murder Afoot is the fifth book in her Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series and having read the previous four, I am a fan.

Main character Gemma Doyle co-owns a Sherlock Holmes based bookshop with her uncle Arthur and she is also part owner of the adjoining business, Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room with her best friend, Jayne.  As in the previous books, Gemma and Jayne seem to get themselves in the middle of a murder investigation where Gemma's boyfriend Ryan who is a police detective doesn't like.  However in There's a Murder Afoot Gemma, Jayne, Ryan and two other friends are traveling across the pond to England to attend a Sherlock Holmes convention, visit with Gemma's parents and sightsee......how could anything go wrong ??

Well if author Vicki Delany has anything to say about it, which obviously she does, something is definitely going to happen....and as a reader I could not turn the pages fast enough.  And boy oh boy where does she come up with these ideas ??

While out for drinks and dinner the very first night they are in England, the gang along with Gemma's parents and sister, Pippa run into Gemma's mum's long long brother.  Unfortunately the reason that he is long lost is because he stole a valuable painting from his parents and disappeared many years ago.  Before the family can come to terms with his reappearing, he is murdered, Gemma's dad is found standing over his body unable to remember what happened, the Inspector assigned to his case doesn't like him, and Gemma's sister's job is very important with the govenment but that's all we know about it.....  So yes even though the are far from home, Gemma is right at home in her hometown so she has no problem jumping into proving her father's innocence and everyone in the gang is all for it, some more readily that others !!!

There's a Murder Afoot was so much fun to read especially with it taking place in England and away from the bookstore and tea room.  Don't get me wrong... I love hanging around with Gemma, Jayne and crew when they are in Cape Cod but to go to England and not even leave the comforts of my couch, that was an awesome treat !!  I'm sure you will agree.....

Review by Missi M.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Remembering Lea Wait : Interview with her daughter Ali

Author Lea Wait
 Author Lea Wait's passing last year affected me in a way that is hard to put into words.  I did not have the pleasure of ever meeting Lea but I loved her in her books.  How can a person that you have never met have such a hold on you ?  Well if you have ever read a book by Lea, then you already know.  Actually that happens more than we know....when an author, musician, actor, sports player, etc. that we follow, their death can truly hurt.  Luckily we are able to "keep them alive" in our hearts by re-reading their books, listening to their music, watching their movies.....

I read all of Lea's books (her for adult books) and with Thread and Buried, the 9th book in her Mainely Needlepoint book, her very last book, I wanted to do something special.  So I reached out to her daughter Ali and some other people that knew and loved her.  Below is my talk with Ali and at the end of my thoughts on Thread and Buried you can read what some others had to say about Lea Wait.

How does it feel to be adopted by a well-known, well-loved author ?
It is very humbling to be adopted by a well known and well loved author.I didn’t  think it was a big deal to be adopted by a single parent growing up. My mom was a big executive in the corporate world (35 years) and didn’t start writing until she retired. I never really knew the extent of it and how she impacted so many people until her passing. She has left a legacy with her books and I’m so proud of her.

Have you and your sister's read Lea's books ?
I haven’t read all of her books, but I have read a few. I’m determined to read most, if not all, by the end of this year.

Lea's two series focus on murder (obviously) but also needlepoint (her Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series) and antique prints (her Antique Prints Mystery series), do you or your sister's share these hobbies and interests ?
 I’m honestly not a big murder mystery book reader and I’m definitely not into needlepoint. But, my grandmother had an antique print business when I was growing up that I helped with over the years. Antiques and prints have always been a big part of my younger years, so I’d say that sort of thing does interest me. Although it is not something that is a big part of my life now, it was growing up.
Lea's Antique Print Mystery series talks about a relationship that was long distance with the two characters going in different directions as well as main character Maggie working on adopting a child......there seems that that kind of "shadows" what your mom went through.....What can you tell us about that ?
 Being adopted, along with all of my sisters, was very prevalent in my life. Adoption is something very near and dear to my heart. So it makes sense that my mom would write a book that pertains to that subject, as she had first hand knowledge on it.

What was it like having a mom whose job was being an author ?
 Having a mom that was an author was something I thought was pretty cool. She did so much research and worked so many hours. She traveled and had many speaking engagements as an author and it made me really proud of her. I always knew her as a hard worker but being an author was so different than working a corporate job. And she was very talented and she was well networked. Her work ethic was high and she was very determined. 

Do you or your sisters have the writing gene ?
I can’t speak for my sisters, but I can say for myself, I’m not a writer, I guess I don’t have a writing gene. The only thing I can relate to that is growing up, I was an avid writer of journals. I wrote my life in journals and I also wrote a few poems. I’ve never had anything printed or never thought I’d get anything published like my mom. But, as far as writing goes, journaling was something I did for many years.

How old were you when you were adopted ? Your sisters ?
Lea with 3 out of 4 daughters
My mom had four daughters. I was the second oldest, but I was the first one to be adopted. I was 4 years old when my mom adopted me. I was an only child for a couple years, then she adopted my older sister, then my two younger sisters. So to clarify, I was 4 years old, and all my sisters were 8 years old when they were adopted. I was an only child, then I was the youngest (my older sister and myself) then I was an older sister when my two other sisters were adopted.

Being adopted can be rough/difficult like we see in your mom's last book in her Antique Print Mystery series, Shadows on a Morning in Maine....but add to it being adopted from Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong or India, how was that ?  
What did your mom do to make it special/easier ?
 Well, with my sisters and I all having been adopted from different countries (Thailand, Korea, China and India) my mom used to joke it was the United Nations at the dinner table when were growing up. She made it special by celebrating for all four of us, individually, the day we were/came home/adopted. My mom also made it important for all of us to know all about our native countries. It was very important to my mom that we all knew our background and celebrated where we all were born. Adoption was always a huge part of our upbringing. All four of us knew we were adopted from day one. Although we might not have known all the details, we did for sure know we were all adopted from different countries and embraced it.

In your moms final book, Thread and Buried, before the book begins, in her acknowledgments she writes "with all thanks, joy and no regrets" (yes I read everything and yes I cried) those words speak volumes, like it could be a motto for your family ?
In her acknowledgements when she writes, “with all thanks, joy and no regrets” in her final book, that does seem like a motto for our family. Although it wasn’t always talked about, I know she was thankful and I would like to think she wanted to live her life with no regrets. I believe joy comes from within. The great thing about writing, is you can express yourself on paper when otherwise it’s more difficult to say or put into words when talking. 

Your mom wrote a non-fiction book, Living & Writing on the Coast of Maine and she talks about her relationship with her husband Bob and their journey, her life before becoming an author and raising 4 daughters as a single parent, your mom said she loved every aspect of a writer's life.....does that motivate you to be your best ? Do you feel like you have a lot to lie up to ?
Ali with Lea's husband Bob
 I feel like I do have a lot of firsthand knowledge about her relationship/marriage to her husband Bob. I knew him most of my life and I believe I was the closest to him, then were my sisters, I think she had two different aspects of her life. One was as a single parent, working a high level corporate job. Once her daughters were all grown up with their own families and lives, she had a life as wife and author. I know she loved her life as a writer. She was living her dream. I feel she did the best she could as a single parent and having to work as a corporate executive. Her book, the non-fiction, Living & Writing on the Coast of Maine, reflected her life as an author. I know she loved it. What motivates me about that book was that she was living her life to the fullest. The way she had wanted and what she really had aspired to be.The impact she has made, is something I for sure would want in my life and I know I have a lot to live up to.

Lea being grandma
Your mother mentioned that she is a grandmother and I believe you are a mother yourself, did you read your mother's historicala for young children to your kids ?
 My mom was a grandmother of 8 grandchildren. I am a mother of three. When my kids were younger, I had read a couple of the historicals for young children to them. All of my kids were given autographed copies of my mom’s books for their collections (including myself).

Is there anything you want your moms devoted fans to know about her ?  Anything you want to say ?
Lea and Ali
To my mom’s devoted fans, I just want to personally thank you. So many of you have shown so much support and love through these past months. Without you, I honestly would have never known the impact she had in the writing community, She was a very strong woman, with a great work ethic and she was determined. Although she and I had very different personalities and beliefs, I loved her tremendously. I can’t thank you enough for reading and continuing to purchase her books and give reviews for them. She knew I was proud of her and all of her accomplishments. And I know, if there was at least one person she had impacted, she did her job. Every day, I miss her so very much, but I am so grateful for the outpouring of support. Everyone who knew her, whether in person or through social media, knows what a great person and writer she was. She is greatly missed and I appreciate all new readers, as well as, the ones who have already read all of her books and series. Her devoted fans are what and who help keep continue her legacy in the many years to come.

WOW !!  Thank you Ali for taking the time to talk to me and to share your life with your mom.  She was and always will be one of my favorite authors and I intend to visit her books regularly.  (Living and Writing on the Coast of Maine is in a special spot near me where I read daily so that I can look at it and pick it up whenever I need a boost....that book is very inspiration and I encourage everyone to add it to their books.)

To know more about Lea, please check out her website :  https://www.leawait.com/

Thread and Buried (Mainely Needlepoint #9) by Lea Wait

Thread and Buried (Mainely Needlepoint #9)
Haven Harbor is an authentic coastal Maine town--which makes it the perfect location for a new film production. But now it's become the scene of a crime . . .

Needlepointers Angie and Sarah are helping with set design for the movie being shot in their little New England hometown--but as the lighthouse and the wharves bustle with activity, a real-life drama is about to unfold. The producer, Hank Stoddard, has been harassing the pretty young female lead, and the two exchanged heated words at a lobster bake. Now someone's lowered the boom on him . . .

After a wayward piece of sound equipment sends him to his death, theories fly about who went off-script. Meanwhile, a local woman's tragic story about a true love lost at sea, which originally inspired the film, may lead to murderous revelations from long ago. Angie's got to unravel these mysteries, and may need to give more than one killer the hook . . .
    (Summary via Goodreads)

Seeing as Thread and Buried, the ninth book in the Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series by Lea Wait, is Lea's very last book I tried to read it slowly.....but I failed miserably.

I have been a fan of Wait's (since her other series the Antique Prints Mysteries)  and her Mainely Needlepoint series since Twisted Threads, the first book in this series. I fell in love with main character Angie Curtis, her hometown of Haven Harbor, her friends and their lives.  Every time I open one of these books, I know I am going to get swept away and travel to that little coastal town in Maine and never want to leave.

Even when Angie is trying to just go about her life working on her Needlepoint making business, hanging with her friend Sarah or her boyfriend, Patrick or even her grandmother, she always finds herself in the middle of a mystery......  In Thread and Buried Patrick's mother is back in town and she has brought a whole lot of Hollywood people with her....they are making a movie and not just any movie, they are making a movie from one of her dear friend Ruth's books.  Ruth helps out with the needlepoint orders when her arthritis isn't acting up but her main source of income has been by writing books, mainly erotica.  However the book that the movie is based from is one of her earlier books, before the erotica started.  There is a lot of tension with the making of this movie.....the writers are constantly getting asked to make changes to the script, the producer is yelling at everyone.  Before even one scene gets finalized, Hank, the producer, has an "accident" and dies.  A lot of people saw what happened and felt that it was in deed as accident, however the local police and homicide detectives do not agree.

Can Angie figure out what happened to Hank and keep the movie going ?  Even though she was right there and saw everything unfold, she herself has a kot of unanswered questions......

One of the things that I love about Wait is that she can capture the readers attention as soon as they open the book and keep you captive even after your finish the story and close the book.  The reader will feel like they are a part of Angie's life and will never want that feeling of belonging to end. 

It has been a treat and an honor to have read all of the books in this series and to be able to share my thoughts with other readers.  I sincerely hope that my thoughts have encouraged others to pick up this series and get to know Angie, her hometown and friends as well as the author.  Wait's ability to take the reader to this little town and make you feel like a part of something is an amazing gift and I am so honored to have taken the ride because of her.

Review by Missi M.

Some final thoughts on Lea Wait.....

Friend and Author Kathy Lynn Emerson / Kaitlyn Dunnett 
 "Lea and I were corresponding by email all the while she was writing Thread and Buried and undergoing chemo. She worried that it was too short, that it was too different, since she wrote some scenes in a different point of view, and that she’d miss some continuity problem as she tried to proofread for errors. What she managed to do, in spite of everything she was going through, was write a terrific book. She was a true professional as well as a wonderful, giving person."

Friend and Author Barbara Ross 

"Lea and I became good friends because we were neighbors. My husband and I had a house in Boothbay Harbor, Maine and Lea and her husband, Bob Thomas, lived in nearby Edgecomb. They were not much older than we were, but they had moved to Maine earlier, left their day jobs for creative pursuits earlier, and Lea was well ahead of me on her writing and publishing journey. They gave to us to generously. They gave us their friendship, they gave advice about living in Maine, and most of all, they mentored both of us as we tried our hands at writing and photography respectively. They will forever be in my heart."

Larissa Ackerman (Kensington Publishing)
"I am so lucky that I had the chance to work with Lea Wait—she was such a lovely, appreciative, and kind person. Words cannot express how great she truly was! Both she and her wonderful series will be deeply missed."

Kate Flora (Manages Maine Crime Writers) and Friend
"I always use to give Lea rides when we were going to the same place because her converstion was fascinating.  She loved research, and knowing things, and her life story was dramatic and brave. I don't know if she was an optimist, just that she was endlessly determined and brave.  Also such a kind friend.  When I was nominated for a Maine Literary Award and my husband was busy, she and Bob came to be my family.  I have a great photo Bob took of the two of us with my blue award balloon."