Friday, 17 November 2017

A Deadly Éclair (A French Bistro Mystery #1) by Daryl Wood Gerber

A Deadly Éclair (A French Bistro Mystery, #1)

It's always been Mimi Rousseau's dream to open her own bistro, but it seems beyond her grasp since she's been chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband's tremendous debt. Until her best friend Jorianne James introduces her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker who invests in promising prospects. Now, working the bistro and inn until she's able to pay it off and call it her own, Mimi is throwing the inn's first wedding ever. 
The wedding will be the talk of the town, as famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan's half-brother, Edison, has chosen the inn as her perfect venue. Anxious, Mimi is sure things are going to turn south, especially when Edison gets drunk and rowdy at the out-of-towners' dinner, but by the evening, things begin to look up again. That is until six AM rolls around, and Bryan is found dead at the bistro with an eclair stuffed in his mouth. And the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven in Bryan's will. 
Now it's up to Mimi to clear her name and get to the bottom of things before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Eclair, the scrumptious series debut by Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber.  (Summady via Goodreads)

A French Bistro Mystery series by Daryl Wood Gerber is going to be one of my favorite series !!  With her debut book, A Deadly Eclair, I have fallen in love with everything in the story !!  

You have Mimi who owns the bistro and inn where she runs the bistro and her best friend, Jo, manages the inn.   And all of this is possible because Bryan saw something promising in Mimi and invested in her dream.  Not only does Bryan see something special in Mimi he also wants to help her succeed.  It only seems fitting that the first wedding held at the inn is a famous talk show host to a well known jeweler.  The bride also happens to be the daughter of Bryan's half brother so that should help things run smoothly.  

Unfortunately things don't go as planned at the out-of-towners dinner gathering the night before the wedding and even worse when the bride goes out running early the next morning and finds Bryan dead on the patio of the bistro with an eclair stuffed in his mouth.  To make matters worse, if that is possible, Mimi is the main suspect when it is discovered that Bryan was lured there by a text message from her cell phone !!!

While Mimi tries to resume business as usual and keep all the wedding guests comfortable, she also questions everyone trying to solve Bryan's murder, clear her name, and keep her business afloat.

A Deadly Eclair has a wonderful cast of characters, some you fall in love with Mimi's best friend Jo who runs the inn effortlessly and is always there for Mimi no matter what.  You also will love the hostess, Heather, who has a thing for aliens but is more than capable of being the hostess with the mostest.  And there are also Sergeant Tyson Daly and the gardener Raymond who went to school with Mimi, Mimi's mother who owns a vineyard as well as Nash who sells wine and also has a crush on Mimi.

And let's not overlook that this ALL takes place in a wonderful place Napa Valley which is full of jazz music, gourmet food, lucious wine, refreshing gardens and mouth dropping artwork.....

My only recommendation before picking this book up to get lost in it is to grab a nice glass of wine, some cheese and crackers, a comfy blanket and settle back.....once you open up the book, you won't want to leave......

Review by Missi S.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Much Ado About Murder (Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery #3) by Elizabeth J. Duncan

Much Ado About Murder (Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery #3)
Costume designer Charlotte Fairfax has another murder on her hands as she prepares for the latest performance of the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company, Much Ado About Nothing. The company's steady growth enables them to cast star British actress Audrey Ashley, who arrives on scene to play the lead role of Beatrice. But things immediately get more complicated when Audrey insists the company replace the current director with new, up and coming British director Edmund Albright. 

Edmund plans to change the popular romantic comedy, which alienates several people associated with the production. And the list of people he upsets only grows: the laid off former director, the hotel owner's secretary, and even Audrey herself. Just as Edmund's plans are about to come to fruition, his body is discovered on his sofa, holding a gun in his hand. His death is quickly ruled a suicide but Charlotte thinks otherwise. Why would Edmund, on the brink of greatness, kill himself? And in such an American way? 

With a whole cast of characters to investigate, Charlotte is determined to unmask each one before it's final curtain call on the whole production in award-winning author Elizabeth J. Duncan's third Shakespeare in the Catskills mystery, Much Ado About Murder.  (Summary via Goodreads)

I might be a tad partial to Much Ado About Murder by Elizabeth J. Duncan because it is A Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery and I live in upstate New York.  But whatever reason you choose to read Much Ado About Murder, I am quite certain that you will love it !!

Even though this is the third book in the series and I haven't had the pleasure of reading the previous two, I was able to pick it up and breeze right through it.  As soon as I started reading, I was lost in the Catskills....  The story is so fun !!!  You have a theater company attached to a grand hotel with three bungalows and the bungalows are housed by the director of the current play, the main star of the current play and Charlotte, the costume designer and her police officer boyfriend.

Unfortunately the current Shakespeare play has trouble from the start with the director leaving abruptly and unable to return and then his replacement, Edmind, is found dead in his bungalow as a result of an apparent suicide.  But as they say in show business the show must go on so with a third director they continue with rehearsals.  

Charlotte and her friend Paula, who is on the board of directors for the theatre have a hard time accepting that Edmund would commit suicide.  He was very passionate about the play and the direction he was taking it, it just didn't fit that he would kill himself.

Charlotte and Paula dig into their own investigation and try to find out who killed Edmund and why.  But with a cast of over-eager actors and a very eager replacement director, how will they narrow down the list of suspects ???  

Much Ado About Murder was such a treat to read, Duncan has a way with her writing that you feel like you are right there walking along side Charlotte as she walks the paths along the grounds and you can almost taste the gin and tonic that she makes when she gets together with Paula.....

Review by Missi S.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Dead of Winter (Lily Dale Mystery #3) by Wendy Corsi Staub

Dead of Winter (Lily Dale Mystery, #3 & Lily Dale, #7)
Just as a murderer dumps his corpse into the lake across Valley View in Lily Dale, Bella Jordan happens to be at her window, not quite realizing what she's seeing. Unbeknownst to her, the killer spots her silhouette and prowls straight to her door. That is, until he's interrupted by a black cat. A superstitious gambler, he takes off, but Bella's seen too much, and he vows to return. 

Jiffy Arden, a neighborhood kid looking for the black cat and stumbling across the killer, begins to have premonitions of being kidnapped during the season's first snowstorm. Sure enough, when it strikes, he vanishes, never arriving home from the bus stop. While her son, Max, believes Jiffy has been kidnapped, Bella is convinced he's just wandered off as he typically does... until a body shows up in the lake. 

Now everyone is pulling out all the stops to find the missing child, identify the victim, and collar the killer. And fast, because he's coming for Bella next in Dead of Winter  (Summary via Goodreads)

I could not stop reading this book !!!!  As soon as I started reading Dead of Winter by Wendy Corsi Staub I was hooked !!!  Even though this is the third book in the Lily Dale Mystery series and the first one that I read, it didn't matter.  I was introduced to everyone in town like it was the first book.  Staub's writing allows the reader to pick up the book and before you even finish the first chapter you are at home in this little lakeside community with all its wacky residents !!

The main character focus is on Bella and her young son Max as they are new to Lily Dale (yes Lily Dale is the name of the area , it's not the name of a character).  Bella and Max moved there recently after her husband passed away and she ends up running the Valley View Manor on the lake.  They were brought to the Valley View Manor by Chance (a cat) and ended up staying.

One unique thing about Dead of Winter is that Lily Dale is full of spiritualists.  Most of Bella's neighbors are mediums that see and talk to the dead..... even her son's 6 year old best friend, Jiffy.  This doesn't give the reader a "spooky" feeling because the way that it is written is comical at times and, well, the rest just seems to make sense.

Don't get me wrong....there is a murder in the middle of the night and the killer dumps the victim over a rowboat in the lake....and Bella is caught looking out the window by the killer....and Jiffy just happens to run into the killer outside the Valley View Manor......and the victim just happens to be from a very impressive gang of theives.....and to make it all even better Lily Dale is hit with a tremendous snowstorm....

OMG I want to read it again !!!  That's how good Dead of Winter is !!  I sat on my couch reading it from start to finish !!  Once you get to a certain point in the story (I won't tell you where...) you CANNOT put the book can't !!  I challenge you to try !!  Believe me when you get to that point, and you will know it when you get there, you mind as well cancel whatever you had planned for the rest of the day.

Dead of Winter is set in a very interesting lakeside community with such interesting people .... I could go on and on regarding the residents, dead and alive, but you should read it for yourself !!

After reading Dead of Winter, I can tell you that I will be going back and reading the rest of the Lily Dale series......

Review by Missi S.


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Walker on the Cape (Sgt. Windfower Mystery #1) by Mike Martin

The Walker on the Cape (Sgt. Windflower Mystery, #1)

A man's body is found in a small fishing community on the East Coast. First, everyone thinks it's a heart attack or stroke but then it's discovered that he was poisoned. Who would do this and why? Finding that out falls to Winston Windflower and his side-kick Eddie Tizzard. Along the way, they discover there are many more secrets hidden in this small community and powerful people who want to keep it that way.  (Summary via Goodreads)


The Walker on the Cape by Mike Martin is the first in his Sgt. Windflower Mystery series and it starts the series off epically !!!

One of the things that I love about this book and this series is that it is set in Canada.  It is always interesting to read stories set in other areas from your own so that you can learn about those areas as you read a good story.  Even the simply differences like calling a police officer Constable and reading how everyone drinks tea instead of coffee are nice touches in a book.

In the Walker on the Cape you meet Sergeant Winston Windflower who lives in a small community that is shook by the death of Elias Martin.  Elias Martin is an elderly man who, since his wife's death, has kept to himself.  When he is found on the Cape by two hikers, his death is ruled suspicious after the police find evidence at his residence.  Who would want to kill Martin ?  

Windflower's investigation leads him to a very powerful and corrupt businessman, Harvey Brenton whose wife, Marge, was Martin's girlfriend many years ago.  But when Brenton is shot to death and Marge and Martin's nephew, James both admit to the crime, Windflower has more questions than answers.....

There are many characters and relationships that you will love to read about and follow in this series.  I for one cannot wait to dig into the next book and ride along with Windflower.....

Review by Missi S.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Twelve Slays of Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #1) by Jacqueline Frost

Twelve Slays of Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #1)

When Holly White's fiance cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime--exactly what the doctor prescribed. Except her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grouch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly's family tree farm. 
When the murder weapon is revealed as one of the wooden stakes used to identify trees on the farm, Sheriff Evan Grey turns to Holly's father, Bud, and the Reindeer Games staff. And it doesn't help that Bud and the reindeer keeper were each seen arguing with Margaret just before her death. But Holly knows her father, and is determined to exonerate him.The jingle bells are ringing, the clock is ticking, and if Holly doesn't watch out, she'll end up on Santa's naughty list in Twelve Slays of Christmas, Jacqueline Frost's jolly series debut.  (Summary via Goodreads)

There is SO much about Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost to LOVE....unless you are the Grinch that is !!

First you are in a town called Mistletoe hainging out at a tree farm, Reindeer Games, with Holly White and her cat Cindy Lou Who....have I grabbed your interest yet ??

How about Holly moves back home a few weeks before Christmas when Reindeer Games is in full Christmas mode?  It's like you can smell all the yumy treats her mom is making.

Yes I almost forgot there is a murder that occurs and the victim happens to be a "Grinch" herself.  Even though Margaret is the President of the Mistletoe Historical Society, she is a thorn in everyone's side.  And when Holly finds her dead body on a sleigh on the property and the murder weapon is a stake used to mark trees on the farm, Holly buts heads with the town Sheriff trying to solve the case and save her family's legacy.

It doesn't matter where you are and what time of the year it is when you read Twelve Slays of Christmas (I was on the beach in Florida in October),  it is guaranteed to put you in the holiday season.  You will be longing for cocoa and snickledoodles in no time.

Like I said there is so much to like within this story....It is sure to put you in a good mood.  Even with the murder and the town on edge, there is a determined Sheriff who will do everything he can to protect his town and find justice.

The relationships in the story will draw at your heartstrings....from Holly and her parents to the friendships Holly has with old family friend Cookie and re-acquainted school friend Caroline, the way the entire town sticks together and let's not forget the new sparkly relationship between Holly and the Sheriff.

I am a HUGE fan of Jacqueline Frost and her other series Kitty Couture Mysteries written as Julie Chase.  I look forward to more installments of Christmas Tree Farm Mysteries.  I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve.....

Review by Missi S.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Interview with Author Julie Chase / Jacqueline Frost / Julie Anne Lindsey

Jacqueline Frost....aka Julie Chase....aka Julie Anne an AMAZING author and I have the pleasure of sharing her with you. If you go to her website she is described as :" a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in Ohio with her husband and three spunky children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world."

If you have read ANY of her books, you would agree that she has changed the world with her writing, even if it was just while you read the book and it was only your world that was impacted. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading one of her books, maybe you will after your get to know her a little bit. I recently had the pleasure of talking to her (via computer sadly) after I read her latest book Twelve Slays of Christmas under her latest pen name Jacqueline Frost.

Twelve Slays of Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #1)

How long does it take to write a book ?  I’m a very dedicated outliner, so I spend about 10 days creating a detailed outline that includes all the twists and turns I need to make a great mystery. Then it’s time to write!  Using the outline as my guide and reference, I write a chapter a day and have a finished novel 28 days later. My total timeframe with time-off for family fun, weekends and life is about 6-8 weeks, concept to completion.

Why do you write under 2 different names ? I actually write under a few different names, and each is for a different reason. For example, I write my own cozy mystery ideas for Crooked Lane Books as Julie Chase, but when Crooked Lane had a fun idea for a cozy series set on a tree farm in New England, they needed a writer. They also needed a complete manuscript in about six weeks and knew I was a quick writer, so they gave my agent a call, and voila! Jacqueline Frost was born. I’ve also written as myself, Julie Anne Lindsey, and I have 6 romantic suspense titles under contract with Harlequin Intrigue which will release in 2018 & 2019. Using my real name for those will keep my cozy readers from picking up a Harlequin novel and being disappointed when the content isn’t what they’d grown accustom to expecting from me.  

Additionally, I have a new cozy series starting with Sourcebooks next summer that will be released under yet another name. Sometimes publishers request new pen names to distinguish their series from another. Sometimes it’s a marketing call. I’m just thankful to have the offers, so I keep on typing. Ohhhh and that new series information is still under wraps for now, so you’ve heard about it here first!
How do you balance them ? So far, that’s been pretty easy. I’m very open about being Julie Chase, Jacqueline Frost and Julie Anne Lindsey. And in truth, I might not be either of those names one day soon. If Crooked Lane doesn’t ask me to write anymore Kitty Couture books, for example, then Julie Chase will be no more. And the Christmas Tree Farm mysteries was Crooked Lane’s idea, so another author may be Jacqueline in the future. The only thing that never changes in this industry is the fact that it keeps changing.

Do you have a writing work schedule ?  Absolutely! I write every weekday from 9am (when I get home from driving my son to a special STEM high school, 40 minutes away) until 2pm when I have to leave to pick him up. I also take my laptop to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, cross country, gymnastics and tuba lessons, then I sit in the parking lot and write. On a tight deadline, I also write from 10pm – midnight, set my alarm to tell me to stop writing and go to bed, then I get up at 5am and write until 6:30 when I have to wake the kids for school. Every little bit of time helps.

What do you like to do when not writing ?  Read. I’m a voracious reader. And I also watch a ton of TV shows that refill my brain with wonderful “what ifs.” I slip away with friends for lunch or coffee when I can, and I love to clean and organize anything I can get my hands on. But it seems that no matter what I’m doing physically, my mind is always working on a new story plot or way to make my current manuscript more fun.
Cat Got Your Secrets (Kitty Couture Mystery, #3)

How do you balance life as a writer and life as a wife/mother ? I don’t. I can’t. I spend an inordinate amount of time telling people I am only ONE person. I cannot duplicate or split myself. I can only do my best, and that’s got to be enough because it’s all I’ve got. I like to think I’m teaching my kids the value of hard work and tenacity and showing them that sometimes we have to make tough decisions about how we spend our time. Like money, there is only so much we have to work with. I put my family first whenever I can, but there have also been times the lesson has been: Mommy matters too. And they’ve simply had to wait.

Do you read ? YES !

If so, what kind of books do you read ? I read a wide variety thanks to a book club I started about a year ago. Each woman chooses the book for one month, so we get a variety of genres and a chance to know one another better through our selections. We’ve read a little bit of everything this year, but **My** personal favorites have always been young adult, cozy mystery and romance. If a book can make me laugh, it’s an instant favorite.

Favorite author ? Janet Evanovich. Hands down. No question.

What book are you reading now ?  Right now, I’m reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern for book club. I’m listening to Pretend You Don’t See Her by Mary Higgins Clark on my commute back and forth to my teen’s high school, and I’m also reading In the Arms of the Enemy (a Harlequin Intrigue) by Carol Ericson.

What inspires you ? People. I am desperately interested in human relationships, our unique reactions to identical circumstances and the general dynamics of groups. I especially have a heart for women, and writing allows me to reach ladies I couldn’t have otherwise and (hopefully) through my books, I can give them a small reprieve from the busyness of their lives. I always try to make my readers. I know that somedays those smiles can be hard to come by.

Does your family read your books ?  My parents and my mother-in-law read every page. My husband and kids have never picked one up.

When and why did you begin writing ?  I began writing in 2010 when I needed a break from my life. I was a sleep deprived mother of a newborn who did not sleep, a potty-training toddler who had zero interest in the potty, and a homeschooling kindergartener who preferred to stick his pencils up his nose rather than to learn to write with them. I needed a break, and writing seemed like a fun way for someone like me to get a little time to herself. I had no idea then what it would one day become.

What inspired you to write your first book ?  I read a novel during that same time frame (from my last answer) that gave me a much needed break from the demands of my life. It took me away to another world, and when I came back, I felt like I could handle things better. I started looking forward to my next chance to read. When I finished that novel, I knew I wanted to do that for someone else. So, I asked Google, “How do I write a book?” And I’ve been at it ever since.

Julie Chase
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider your mentor ? Janet Evanovich. She’s the reason I write.

Out of the author names that you write under, do you have a favorite ?  Yes.
If so, why ?  I like writing the Julie Chase books best because after finishing three titles in the Kitty Couture Mysteries, Lacy and her gang have become very real and important to me. I miss them now that the publisher has decided not to publish more. I miss “visiting” New Orleans and dropping in on Lacy’s mother, dreaming up the misadventures of the Lama Mamas and Jazzy Chicks, and the sweetly developing romance between Lacy and Jack.

Your new series is a Christmas series, how fun was that to write ?   I LOVED it. I’m a Christmas fanatic, so I got to live out my ultimate dream of being part of an entire town who loves Christmas.

Is Christmas your vacation holiday ? Yes !

What is your favorite holiday tradition ? Every year since our kids were small, we’ve invited all the grandparents over the night after Thanksgiving for hot chocolate and cookies. Then, the kids and grandparents decorate our tree. I put it up and add the lights the day before Thanksgiving, but we wait until Friday night to decorate. I sit back, put on the music and watch my kids making priceless memories with their grandparents. The photos I’ve taken over the years are so special, and now that we’ve lost one of the dear grandpas, it makes me all the more thankful that we have those memories to cherish.

Your other series, A Kitty Couture series, is all about cats and dogs and the love their owners have for them.  You must be an animal lover.....are you a cat person ? dog person ? Other ?  Do you have pets now ?  If so, what ?
I see the Kitty Couture Mysteries as more about the people than the pets, but that’s probably just how my mind works. Lacy caters to a pet-loving customer base, true, but her job is just a side-note to the main story arcs, which revolve around Lacy and her deep love for family, friends and New Orleans.

As for my pets, I currently have a goldfish named Fishy who is very excited to see me every morning when I delivery the fishy flakes from heaven. My son is allergic to cats, so I have another 5 years or so before I can get a kitty back in my life, and while we puppy sit for relatives when they go on vacation, our family is on the run more than we’re home, so this season of life seems like an unfair time to have a dog.
What question do you wish someone would ask about your books that nobody has ? I honestly can’t think of a thing! You get a brownie for this question, because I am rarely caught without words!

Is there anything you would like to share with your readers ? I always want to tell my readers Thank you. You might not realize it, but you make my dream possible. Every time you buy one of my books, review it, recommend it to someone else or borrow it from a library, you are telling this industry that I am worthy of another contract. Without you, dear reader, my life would be vastly different. Your grace and generosity keeps me writing, chasing my dream, showing my kids they really can do anything they put their heart and soul into, and believing in impossible things to come. THANK YOU !!

Wow !!! Isn't she great ? Such a down to earth person and didn't you just love her Christmas tradition ? Even during an interview it is like she is telling a story....made you the reader feel emotions.... That is what a GREAT author does, they make the reader feel and gives us something to think about even after we finish reading the book.

As I said in the beginning we spoke after I read Twelve Slays of Christmas written as Jacqueline Frost. I had the pleasure of reading that while sitting on the beach in Florida and even though it was 90 degrees, I still felt Christmas all around me. I look forward to more books in The Christmas Tree Farm Mystery Series and I hope that she will be the one writing them. Tomorrow I will be posting my review on Twelve Slays of Christmas so come back and meet Holly White, her cat Cindy Lou Who and the rest of Mistletoe.....

Check her and her books out at :

Interview by Missi S.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Nine Lessons (Josephine Tey #7) by Nicola Upson

Nine Lessons (Josephine Tey #7)

Called to the peaceful wooded churchyard of St-John's-at-Hampstead, Detective Chief Inspector Archie Penrose faces one of the most audacious and unusual murders of his career. The body of the church's organist is found in an opened grave, together with a photograph of a manor house and a cryptic note. The image leads Archie to Cambridge, where the crisp autumn air has brought with it bustling life to the ancient university and town. 
Both Josephine Tey and Archie's lover Bridget have recently settled in Cambridge, though both women are not equally happy to see him. One has concealed an important secret from Archie which now threatens to come to light. Meanwhile, the change of seasons has also brought with it a series of vicious attacks against women in town, spreading fear and suspicion through the community. 
Soon, another body is revealed, and in the shadow of King's College Chapel, Archie uncovers a connection twenty-five years old which haunted both victims--as well as some of their living companions. As Archie and Josephine each grapple with savage malefactors intent on making their victims pay, they must race to stop another attack in this beautifully written, intricately plotted mystery.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Nine Lessons by Nicola Upson has some storylines that are a first for me and I have been reading for a long, long time.  There is something to be said about finding a book that can provide a reader with that.

Nine Lessons sends the reader back to 1937 and starts in a cemetery in London and an old grave where a recent murder has taken place.  Unfortunately for Detective Chief Inspector Archie Penrose this is just the beginning of a very interesting and intrigueing case that will take him down some dark paths leading him to more death and more questions than answers.  There are clues left with the body that do not make any sense until more bodies and clues begin to occur.  These bodies and clues take Penrose to a college and a choir twenty-five years ago but the remaining survivors from that choir are not talking.

Also going on in Nine Lessons are a series of attacks and rapes on women where Penrose's dear friend Josephine finds herself investigating in a quiet manner.  And I might add here that Josephine is in a relationship with a woman, Marta, during a time where it was very unacceptable.  The way in which Upson writes about this relationship and the manner in which others view it is remarkable.

There is so much more that I can say about the stories and the people involved in this book but by doing so I would be giving too much away to you the reader and I feel that this is a book that belongs on your nightstand or endtable with your personal bookmark sticking out.....

I really enjoyed reading Nine Lessons, I am only sorry that this is the first book in this series that I have had the pleasure of reading.  I am certain that the previous books were just as entertaining as this one.  Upon finishing Nine Lessons I am thoroughly looking forward to the next installment in this series.  The way that Upson concluded Nine Lessons made me anxious for more .......

Review by Missi S.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Murder on the Toy Town Express (Vintage Toyshop Mystery #2) by Barbara Early

Murder on the Toy Town Express (Vintage Toyshop Mystery #2)
Liz McCall has come to love running her father's vintage toyshop back home in East Aurora, NY, so when the Train and Toy Show comes to town, she's all aboard for a fun toy-filled weekend. The only hitch is that her childhood bully Craig McFadden, now local business rival, has set up a booth next to hers. But the fun and games are over when Craig falls from the ceiling in a publicity stunt gone wrong. 
What was initially thought to be a fatal accident proves much more sinister. Pulled into the case by her feelings for both Ken, the police chief, and Jack, her high school sweetheart whose brother is one the prime suspects, Liz dives headfirst into the investigation. But as she digs deeper, she's shocked to learn her father may have been the intended target. 
The trouble train is barreling down and Liz may have just bought herself a first class ticket in Murder on the Toy Town Express, Barbara Early's delightful second installment in her Vintage Toyshop mysteries.  (Summary via Goodreads)

What would you do if your childhood bully was in an accident right in front of you and later died ?  And it is ruled murder ?  And if he was a business rival whose business was right across from your business ?  What if you met his employee, liked her and felt sorry for her ?  And what if your father was the retired chief of police ?  Oh and you are sort of dating the new chief of police as well as the brother of one of the suspects ?

These are all questions that are asked of Liz McCall who is the main character in Murder on the Toy Town Express by Barbara Early.  Liz does what any normal main character in a cozy mystery does...she dives head first into the investigation.....okay maybe head first isn't a great way to say it seeing as Craig McFadden falls to his death from a catwalk during a stunt at the Train and Toy Show.

There is a lot going on in Murder on the Toy Town Express but the way that Early writes and brings it all together seems effortlessly.  Not only is she telling an attention getting story but she takes the reader down memory lane with her mention of nostalgic toys and comics.  It is also amazing how Liz and her dad work together with each other and the lead investigator on the case.  Especially with her dad retired there is a lot of respect among the group....which is a nice change when looking at other cozy mysteries.  It's nice to see everyone getting along.  

Early has a colorful cast of suspects in this story but when the dust clears and you find out who the guilty party is you will be blown away !!!  I can almost guarantee that you will be as shocked as I was and you will want to go back and re-read it again......

One thing I ALWAYS do when I read a book is read the Author's Notes and Acknowledgments at the end of the book.  This gives me a little more insight into the author and what they are about.  This was the last paragraph in the Acknowledgment's section at the end of Murder on the Toy Town Express and I felt it needed sharing.  

"And thanks to you, the reader.  There are many books on the shelves, and you picked this one.  I hope you've enjoyed the time we've spent together!"

There are a lot of books on the shelves and I HOPE that this is one that you, the reader, will choose.  You will enjoy the time you spend with author Barbara Early.  I know I did.

Review by Missi S.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Death Overdue (A Haunted Library Mystery #1) by Allison Brook

Death Overdue (A Haunted Library Mystery, #1)
Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she's offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies. 

The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie's determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it's the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura's case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al. 

Now it's due or die for Carrie in Death Overdue, the delightful first in a new cozy series by Allison Brook.  (Summary via Goodreads)

There is so much to LOVE in this new series by Allison Brook.  Death Overdue is the first book in the Haunted Library Mystery series and not only will you love the story and the people but Brook's will have you actually laughing !!  She will also keep you on your toes trying to solve the murders.  I can almost bet that you will end up just as shocked as me when you find out who did it !!

Any book that can pull at your emotions.....wether it is laughing, crying, sitting on the edge of your seat frightened, or turn the pages faster a winner in my eyes.  And Death Overdue is loaded with all of that.

Not only is this a cozy mystery but it can also be described as a fairy tale.  The main character Carrie is definitely living a dream life.....she lives with her aunt and uncle in the beginning who love and spoil her, she receives a new position at the library that she falls in love doing, she moves into a well furnished cottage right on a river, has a dreamy yet mysterious landlord, and has made some good friends.  So what if the first program she is in charge of in her new position ends up with the guest speaker dropping dead and there is one co-worker trying to make her fail at her new job and there is a ghost in the library that only her and one other person can see and communicate with.  

Wait ..... what.... back up.... slow down right ?  

Yes a retired detective is speaking about a 15 year old murder case that he now knows who commited the crime but before he can reveal who it is he drops dead.  This is the first program that Carrie is in charge of since she recieved the job of Head of Programs and Events at the library.  Carrie decides to look into the detective's death as well as the murder that he was there talking about.  Who better to team with than the son of the woman murdered 15 years ago.  

As you read Death Overdue you are introduced to Carrie and her family.  You also get to know all about members of the small town that she lives in....past and present members.  Some people you get to know a little too well and some you will want to know more about.  You also get to hang out with Carrie at work in the library and see the relationships with her co workers develop.  This is where you will "see" Evelyn the library ghost.  

Brook's has mastered the act of story telling.  As you begin to read Death Overdue you are swept right into the story and will not want to put the book down.  You cannot help but wish you were Carrie in most ways and like her you will want to solve both murders even if one of her new friends is the guilty party.  

So I encourage you to pick up a copy and sit in your favorite reading nook and spend some time with Carrie in Clover Ridge.....

Review by Missi S.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Murder in Little Shendon by A.H. Richardson

Murder in Little Shendon

MURDER IN LITTLE SHENDON Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens - not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with delightful twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper. Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From the murdered man's housekeeper to Lady Armstrong, her staff and her nephew. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion. Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. A.H. Richardson, noted author, places in your trembling hands a mystery murder that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, his friend Sir Victor Hazlitt and the famed Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. Scratch your head with them over the strange clues that turn up. Follow them as they tread carefully among the landmines that appear innocent as they lie hidden beneath the surface of mystery. Something evil skulks in this tiny country village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community? You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead - it's the journey that proves the most enticing.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Murder in Little Shendon by A.H. Richardson is such a clever tale !!

Richardson wastes no time in presenting the murder.  Chapter 1, page 3 and you have antique shop owner Bartholomew Fynche dead on the floor in his office.  Fynche was not a likeable person, actually it seemed he was hated by everyone who lived in the small town.  That means that the suspect list was quite long.

Inspector Burgess enlists the help of Sir Victor Hazlitt and Beresford Brandon.  Although Brandon is an actor he has experience and knowledge in criminology and being an actor may help him to interview people while keeping them at ease.

Richardson has developed a very interesting and unique cast of characters that reside in Little Sheldon.  As you read the story and ride along with Inspector Burgess and his two helpers, you get acquainted with the town as well as the residents.  I'm sure that you will agree with me that you do not envy their tasks in the least.  With everyone having disliked Fynche how will they solve the murder......

And when another person, Lady Armstrong's cook Flora Riley, is found murdered, it is more difficult to tie the two crimes together.

But where there is a will, there is a way and the way that these three men work together and solve both murders will have you applauding Richardson and looking forward to the next book....

Review by Missi S.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Peregrine Island by Diane B. Saxton

Peregrine Island
PEREGRINE ISLAND is the recipient of the following literary awards:

2017 Winner of the National Indie Excellence Award for Regional Fiction: Northeast 
2017 Distinguished Favorite in Literary Fiction by Independent Press Awards 
2017 International Book Awards Finalist for Literary Fiction 
2017 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist for Fiction 
2017 Bronze Award for US Northeast Fiction from the Independent Publisher (IPPY) Book Awards

Literary Mystery Highlights an Heirloom Painting on Long Island Sound and the Relationships between Three Generations of Women 

Part “who-done-it” and part family drama, this award-winning novel reveals that neither people nor paintings are always what they appear to be

Contradictory relationships within troubled families are nothing new, but the award-winning psychological novel written by well-known journalist Diane B. Saxton elevates these relationships and the mysterious heirloom painting that both exposes and unites them to an art form.

Peregrine Island interweaves the stories of three generations of women, one valuable painting, the artist who created it, and those who would do anything to possess it – including kill.

Lush with sensory details, this psychologically complex mystery novel is set on a private island in the middle of Long Island Sound. It begins when the family’s lives are turned upside-down one summer by so-called art experts, who appear on the doorstep of their isolated home to appraise a favorite heirloom painting. When incriminating papers along with two other paintings are discovered behind the painting in question, the appraisal turns into a full-fledged investigation and detectives are called into the case— but not by the family whose members grow increasingly antagonistic toward one another.

During the course of the inquiry and as the summer progresses, the family members discover new secrets about one another and new facts about their past. Above all, they learn that neither people nor paintings can be taken at face value.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Peregrine Island by Diane B. Saxton is the first book that I have read that upon completing it, I am still unsure as to if I liked it or not.....  Peregrine Island gives the reader a LOT to think about.  Even after finishing it, it will stay on your mind for some time.  I guess a good one word discription of it would be "intense".

In Peregrine Island there are a total of 12 characters within the entire story and the way that Saxton strings them all together will completely amaze you.  It is like watching a magician do a magic trick.

I love how Saxton devotes one chapter to a character and their point of view of the story.  I think that helps the reader better understand how each character is thinking.  And believe me there is a lot of thinking going on.

Although the story and chapters are viewed through the minds of Winter, her daughter Elsie and granddaughter Peda, you will get to know the men in their lives as well.

Saxton centers the entire story around a painting, a painting that has been in Winter's life for as long as she can remember.  She stares at the people in the picture for hours every day.  She likes to think that she knows the people and how they feel and think.  It takes her away from her own life that at times is hard for her to understand and deal with.   And the story behind the painter is just as mysterious as the characters in the painting.

For a story that has few characters and is set around one object, a story that has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, a story that is read through the viewpoint of three people, focuses on the present as well as the past, I can say for sure that you will find it very entertaining as well as riveting.  I look forward to what Saxton has in store for us with her next novel.

Review by Missi S.