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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Review - A Familiar Tale

This is the debut novel in a new series.  It is a lighthearted magical cozy.  Come along and see if it's for you.

Author: Delia James

Copyright: Feb 2016 (NAL) 336 pgs

Series: 1st in A Witch's Cat Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy

Main Character: Annabelle (Annie) Amelia Blessingsound Britton

Setting: Modern day, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Annabelle breaks up with her boyfriend and decides to visit visit her best friend - Chef Martine, who is opening a restaurant in the seaside town of  Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  When she stumbles upon a smoky gray cat named Alastair (nicknamed the ghost cat), and follows him into a charming cottage of his former owner (Dorothy) who recently died.  She gains access, seemingly from Alistair the cat's magic touch, into a locked attic room with a witch's altar complete with her photo in the center.  Before she knows it, she encounters an intruder and pockets the wand from the altar.  Her hidden talent - a "vibe" she gets - tells her that Dorothy was pushed rather than accidentally fell down the basement stairs.  She is soon surrounded by Dorothy's coven, surviving nephew, and Alistair, all wanting to find out the truth yet trying to protect her at the same time.

Annie, she is a fun character that is easy to care about.  Her interactions with Alistair are priceless.  She has a self-deprecating sense of humor that keeps the narrative light.  Martine is a busy Chef, but makes time for Annie when she is needed.  Frank, the head of the local paper and only surviving relation to Dorothy may be interested in Annie.  I look forward to seeing how his character develops.  The coven is comprised of Julia, Valerie, Kenisha, Didi, Shannon, and Trisha are a friendly group of women who use their spells, charms, and potions to keep the people of Portsmouth safe.  Sean, the charismatic bartender at Martine's restaurant, is another potential romantic interest.  At least, he is interested.  Alistair the cat is not surprising, the breakout star.  Enigmatic, he is a cat of mystery who disappears into thin air and appears just as suddenly.

The plot arrears simple on first blush, but there is enough going on that motive or the killer aren't clear.  Particularly motive.  The pages kept turning as I followed Annie, so the pacing maintained a steady rhythm.  The killer reveal was plenty tense which made me happy.  The wrap up leaves the reader wanting to know what is in store for Annie now.

I liked this light and engaging mystery with warm and fun characters.  The only draw back were quite a few typos.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list.

Cherry Cheesecake Cookies

These festive cookies offer bright red saucy cherries atop a stage of sweet cheesecake dusted in graham cracker crumbs. The best part is, they're a cinch to make!
While the original recipe calls for the use of cherries on top, feel free to adapt it by using a tablespoon of blueberry pie filling, strawberry pie filling, strawberry-rhubarb pie filling, even lemon pie filling, etc. The possibilities are endless and these delicious cookies will be the hit of any party. In case you're wondering, this recipe can easily be doubled as well.

You'll Need:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (place in a small shallow dish)
1 cans (20-ounce) cherry pie filling (or blueberry or strawberry, etc if desired)

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, mixing well, then set aside.

In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, butter and sugar and beat them together until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating until incorporated and smooth.

Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, do not over beat the dough.

Refrigerate dough until firm, about 30-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Scoop the dough out and shape into 1 1/2-inch balls, then roll the balls in graham cracker crumbs. Place balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, then, using the back of a spoon press gently to make an indentation in the center of each cookie.

Place 3 cherries in each cookie dimple.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cool for five minutes on the sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Prep Time: 45 min (including refrigeration time)
Cook Time: 14 min Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Recipe from

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Guest Post - Diana Orgain

Let's welcome the author of the new Love or Money Mystery Series to our little slice of the blog-o-sphere!
I reviewed her second book in the series, Second Chance at Murder (click here).  Let's find out a little more about her in this interview.

QandA with USA Today Bestselling Author, Diana Orgain

1. How long have you been writing? I have a B.A. and an M.F.A. in Playwriting and it was many moons ago I was in college…so I think it’s safe to say, I’ve been writing for about 20 years.

2. When did your first novel come out? What was it called? A little about it? My first novel was Bundle of Trouble: A Maternal Instincts Mystery The story is about is about a new mom who’s fears something may have happened to her near-do-well brother-in-law. As Private Investigators probe around, it gives Kate the idea to start her own investigation service and therefore, by able to work from home and care for her new baby.

3. Have you always written mysteries? If not what else have you written? Yes, always comedic mysteries in novel format. My plays were sometimes mysteries, sometimes comedies and sometimes both.

4. What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? I love watching reality TV, but with three children and a busy writing career, I hardly ever get to watch TV at all, so I decided to create my own reality TV show series where I could control the ending!

5. Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work? I write to entertain and I love it!

6. Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can? Both! I make up a schedule and when I blow it, I write whenever I can ; )

7. Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it? I definitely plot. I know all the plot point in a novel as if they were written on the inside of my eyelids. I also keep a notebook with me at all times for when inspiration hits.

8. If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write? Morning!

9. Writing heroes? Mary Higgins Clark has always been an inspiration.

10. What kind of research do you do? Interview law personnel, lots of internet research, lots of talking to people!

11. What do you read? Everything! I’m currently hooked on a Japanese Anime Series that my daughter and I are reading together Attack on Titan (we can’t get enough!) It’s not something I would have ordinarily picked up, but the fact that my daughter and I are reading together, just tickles me.

12. Favorite TV or movies? Goodness to many to mention I think…all time favorite movies are anything written by Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley)

13. What is something people would be surprised to know about you? English is not my first language! 14. Where can readers find out more about you? And the can always sign up for my newsletter to get the latest updates.

Diana Orgain is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Maternal Instincts Mystery Series: Bundle of Trouble, Motherhood is Murder and Formula for Murder, and Nursing a Grudge. She is also the Author of the Love or Money Mystery series and Yappy Hour. Diana is the New York Times Bestselling co-author of the Scrapbooking Mystery Series with Laura Childs. To keep up to date with the latest releases visit Diana at or sign up for the newsletter.

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THANK You Ms. Orgain for those answers so we can get to know you a little better.

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Review - Second Chance at Murder

I didn't read the first novel in this series, but I am jumping in on the second book.  I was able to understand the story without having read the prior book, so no worries on that score.  Let's drop in on a reality show similar to The Amazing Race set in Spain where murder makes an unscheduled appearance.

Author: Diana Orgain

Copyright: Jan 2016 (Berkley) 298 pgs

Series: 2nd in Love or Money Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Georgia Thornton, former police-officer now reality show contestant

Setting: Modern day, Spain

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

The first book in the series was like a Bachelorette show, Georgia met and fell in love with Scott.  Sadly, the prize money is all gone.  So Georgia and Scott agree to appear in a new reality show, pitting them against other teams in an athletic journey across the countryside of Spain for a chance to win $250,000. Before the fierce competition can even begin Georgia is knocked for a loop when Scott, along with his passport, disappears during an overnight camping trip in the Pyrenees Mountains, leaving only his bloody wristwatch behind—and a woman’s dead body.

With the Spanish authorities ready to convict Scott, Georgia must find him and prove his innocence in an amazing race against crime

Georgia is emotionally challenged because of Scott's disappearance and the implications that he left her.  Scott doesn't get much page time in this edition, so his fans may be a tad disappointed.  Georgia's father Gordon becomes the replacement on the show to keep filming.  He is a great character and adds to the story nicely.  Sergio is one of the Spanish policeman investigating the murder and Scott's suspicious disappearance, who becomes smitten with Georgia.  Becca, show producer and her best friend has short scenes as well as Cheryl, the Executive producer who is dating Gordon.  Cheryl is very driven and single minded (TV Ratings).  Cooper, one of the contestants and a suspect is a breakout character.

The exotic location of Spain with old historic churches and landmarks is a great backdrop for the race.  I like this aspect of the story.  

The plot presents a scary scenario of being in a foreign country and your romantic partner disappears and is the main suspect in a murder.  That is a great premise that immediately gets your interest.  The full picture slowly develops of what happened and kept me turning the pages.  The killer reveal is tense and suspenseful, the wrap up is uplifting.

This series has a fun and engaging heroine with great locations and tantalizing mysteries.  

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Review - A Wee Dose of Death

Here is the newest in the ScotShop mystery series.  I reviewed #1 Wee Murder In My Shop (click here), and I was tickled to have the author provide two guest posts (click here), and another post (click here).  

Author: Fran Stewart

Copyright: Jan 2016 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 2nd in ScotShop Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy

Main Characters: Peggy Winn, Owner/Operator of the Scot Shop

Setting: Modern day, Hamelin, Vermont

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

     It's the dead of winter when a college microbiology professor is found dead by Hamelin police chief Mac Campbell, who is himself seriously injured in a cross country skiing accident, in a little mountain cabin up the Perth ski trail. Turns out that the murdered professor used to be Peggy's friend's instructor and had become secretive in the last several months.  The knee-jerk reaction from recovering Chief Campbell is to arrest the eccentric wife since there was a significant life insurance policy involved.  But, as Peggy gets to know the widow, she discovers the widow isn't the ogre students and colleagues thought she was, and realizes she isn't the killer.  Peggy still has her fourteenth century highland ghost, Dirk, tagging along with the Scottish shawl he is attached to.

     I had a difficult time with this book.  Apparently Dirk's near constant harping, nitpicking, condescending, know-it-all, and morally superior attitude throughout is perceived as funny by some readers.  The clash between 14th Century Scotland and modern America.  But, it just grated on me.  What struck me even more was that Peggy would actually blame and shame herself for needing a break from his ongoing harassment.  That was the real kicker for me.  I have a pet peeve of main characters who don't stand up for themselves with overbearing relatives, but this surpassed even that.  So, it wasn't comical to me at all, rather a denial of her feelings having any worth and a subjugation.  Plus, she is then attracted to this abusive man.  I know, pretty heavy stuff...but there you have my thoughts on the Peggy and Dirk dynamic.  

     Chief of police Mac Campbell has serious anger management issues and blames as much as he possibly can on Peggy.  Policeman Harper is the potential love interest, but he can't communicate for beans in this book and doesn't take any growing relationship seriously enough to make an effort.  I am disappointed in this character, not as much as I am in Peggy, though.

     The setting of Vermont in winter had my teeth chattering and was quite effective.  The way the plot was doled out kept some suspense over what the professor was involved in.  The book was light enough to keep the pages turning.  There was a good killer reveal that had some delightfully tense moments.  

The overbearing attitudes of both Dirk and Mac Campbell have spoiled what would have been a fun and breezy book for me.  I personally don't think I will risk reading another.  But, I know many don't have the same reaction to Dirk as I do and find lots of humor in the book.  Ultimately, only you will know if it is for you.

Ratings:  Good - A fun read with minor flaws, good but not stellar. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Guest Post-Fran Stewart

Please welcome Fran Stewart, author of the ScotShop mystery series today.  She is graciously providing the guest post today, providing insights into her main character.  I will have the review for the newest book tomorrow.

Peggy and I 

I’ve been asked—often—just how much of Fran Stewart is in Peggy Winn, the shop owner in my ScotShop mysteries.

Well, not a whole lot. And, quite a bit.

How can both answers be true?

I’m glad you asked.

I lived in Vermont, the setting of A WEE DOSE OF DEATH, for 26 years. Peggy’s lived there all her life, but since her life so far is only 30 years long, she and I are almost even.

On the other hand, Peggy’s really good at cross-country skiing. I’m not. I can recall all too vividly the way I always lagged behind groups of my enthusiastic skier friends. “Come on up for a jaunt through the woods and up the mountain,” the invitation would read. “Afterwards, we’ll gather for hot food and good conversation.” It always sounded like a good idea, so I’d agree to go.

Within twenty minutes I was at the back of the pack. Within thirty, I could just barely hear them ahead of me. Eventually, they’d all stop for a rest. By the time I caught up with the group, they were on their way farther up the trail. After the third “rest stop,” I’d invariably give up, turn around, and follow my tracks back to the beginning. More times than I care to admit, everyone else would have already gotten there ahead of me (through the woods, up the mountain, down on the other side, and back around the base). <>

Maybe that’s why Peggy turned out to be such a good skier. She loves to fly across the meadow and up the mountain trails. Dirk enjoys it, too, although (since he’s a ghost) he doesn’t have to worry about waxing a pair of skis.

Peggy and I are similar in that Peggy can see Dirk Farquharson, the 14th-century ghost who is attached to the shawl Peggy wears, and I’ve seen three ghosts, although I’ve had only limited experience with conversing with one.

We’re different in that Peggy’s ghost is there to stay, while my three were rather ephemeral, lasting only for brief minutes.

Peggy’s thirty. I used to be thirty. And Peggy has a dear friend, Karaline Logg, who owns a restaurant, while I have a number of dear friends who like to eat in restaurants.

Peggy has a cat named Shorty and would like to get a Scottish terrier (spoiler alert – she gets one in book #3). Meanwhile she thoroughly enjoys Scamp, her assistant

manager’s Scottie. I have cats, but my dogs are limited to granddogs—an Australian shepherd and a GBBD (Great Big Brown Dog).

And finally, Peggy has a brother, Drew. Drew is a dinosaur expert who travels around the country advising museums about their dinosaur exhibits. His service dog, Tessa, accompanies him everywhere. I’m sorry to say I never had a brother, but I’m one ahead of Peggy Winn, because I have a marvelous sister.

Does this all even out in the end? Oh yes!

Of course, the nice thing about being the author is that I can introduce new places, people, and events whenever I want to. In the future, Peggy and I may come to be more alike than ever. Or maybe not.

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Thank you Fran for that fun post.  

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Guest Post - Bailey Cattrell

My review of Bailey Cattrell's debut novel for the new Enchanted Garden Mystery is available (click here).  If you like the Magical Bakery Mysteries or the Home Crafting Mysteries you will probably enjoy this new series.

Book and Character Details
Daisies For Innocence is first in the Enchanted Garden Mystery series and features Elliana Allbright, aromatherapist extraordinaire and owner of Scents & Nonsense. A thirty-something recent divorcee, Ellie has lived in Poppyville, California her entire life.
In fact, her great, great grandfather was one of the founders of the town – along with Pauline “Poppy” Thierry, the local madam in 1849. Originally settled in order to cater to the miners headed into the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the California Gold Rush, modern-day Poppyville is a tourist town chock full of Old West flavor and offering nearby hot springs, mountain biking, horseback riding, and fly fishing.
Ellie lives with Dash, her Pembroke Welsh corgi, in a super-efficient Tiny House at the back of the Scents & Nonsense property. The shop is guarded day and night by a Russian blue shorthair named Nabokov who regularly attracts clusters of blue butterflies when he ventures out to sun himself in the garden. By the end of the book, Ellie’s growing menagerie is joined by a beta fish named Leonard.
The space between Ellie’s home and work is packed with garden beds connected by winding stone paths. There are seating areas and cozy alcoves interspersed with fairy houses, gnome doors and miniature tableaus tucked in surprising nooks and crannies. An etched boulder in the center of the space declares it The Enchanted Garden, and over time it has gained a reputation as a place for children to come explore the tiny “fairy” worlds while their parents have a cup of tea and nibble on the cookies Ellie’s best friend, Astrid Moneypenny, brings into the shop each morning.
However, the Enchanted Garden also provides the flowers and plants Ellie distills down into custom “perfumes” that do more than just smell good. She learned about plants and their essences from her gamma, who left behind a dog-eared but beautifully illustrated garden journal and an ancient, copper alembic. An alembic is a kind of still (think moonshine), but much smaller and used for distilling essential oils.
Her whole life, Ellie always had a fine-tuned sense of smell, which, combined with a natural ability to know how scents can help other people, uniquely qualifies her to create her special perfumes. When Astrid calls it a superpower, Ellie just laughs, but it turns out Astrid might be more right than Ellie realizes!
In Daisies For Innocence, Ellie’s part-time employee, Josie Overland, confesses that she has been dating Ellie’s ex-husband for a month or so. Ellie is surprised and worried at this news, as she doesn’t want Josie to get hurt the same way she did. But when she finds Josie dead on the boardwalk in front of Scents & Nonsense the next morning, she is unable to convince Detective Max Lang that she had no motive to kill Josie. After all, Max and Ellie’s ex, Harris, are best friends, and Harris has painted Ellie to be a jealous shrew.
Fortunately, Max’s partner, Detective Lupe Garcia is open to looking for other suspects. Unfortunately, Garcia’s new to town, and so it’s up to Ellie and Astrid to ferret out the real killer. Ellie also gets help from members of the Greenstockings, her women’s business group, and Ritter Nelson, an old high-school crush who is back in town visiting his sister.
And then there’s the mysterious plant that sprouted under the birdbath the same day Josie was killed – a plant that grows faster than anything Ellie has ever seen and that she can’t identify anywhere except in her gamma’s journal. As she looks into the life of a woman she thought she knew while hunting for her murderer, Ellie waits for the chance to distill the strange plant’s heady essence – and whatever memories it might bring – for herself.
The book includes a recipe for Astrid’s Chewy Double Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Cookies, aromatherapy tips, and essential oil blends for things like relaxations and concentration. There’s also the first chapter of Brownies and Broomsticks, the first of the NYT bestselling Magical Bakery Mysteries that I write as Bailey Cates.
Next up? Spells and Scones, the sixth Magical Bakery mystery, will release in July, 2016, and I’m currently working on the second Enchanted Garden Mystery, Nightshade for Warning.
For more information about all my books, please visit

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Thank you Ms. Cattrell for this wonderful background for your new series.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review - Daisies For Innocence

This is a new series by Bailey Cattrell, who writes the New York Times bestselling Magical Bakery Mysteries as Bailey Cates, the Home Crafting Mysteries as Cricket McRae and Shotgun Moon as K. C. McRae, comes the first Enchanted Garden Mystery featuring custom perfume maker Elliana Allbright.

Author: Bailey Cattrell

Copyright: Jan 2016 (Nal) 336 pgs

Series: 1st in Enchanted Garden Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy, slightly Paranormal

Main Characters: Elliana Allbright, Owner Scents and Nonscense custom perfume and aromatherapy shop

Setting: Modern day, Poppyville, California

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Elliana finds her part time employee Josie Overland dead in her garden behind her aromatherapy shop.  Josie had confessed the day before of dating Elliana'a ex-husband Harris.  It has only been about a year since her divorce and she has started her own business and was feeling happy and content, now she has Harris telling the police (particularly his police officer best friend) that he believes she killed his girlfriend out of jealousy.  So  Elliana must find who the killer is before she is arrested.  Maybe Elliana has made one friend on the police force in Lupe Garcia, who seems to be the only officer looking for other suspects.  

Additionally, her high school crush is back in town for an undetermined time.  It's hard to make a good impression on the guy all the single gals in town are trying to date when you are avoiding arrest.  Elliana is also awakening to the fact that her skills with aromas and botanical essences—some from her very own garden—seem almost…supernatural. Her perfumes can evoke emotions,  bring about change, or simply make people happy.

Elliana is easy to like.  She's one of those characters you would enjoy chatting with in real life. She works hard and is enjoying her new life.  Astrid is her devoted good friend who is more a free-spirit.  Harris is Elliana's narcissistic ex-husband who goes out of his way to make her life difficult.  Ritter Nelson is her high school crush back in town, but for how long?  He seems level-headed and a good guy - but he is due to leave again when his work gets the grant funding due shortly.  The Greenstockings Club: Elliana, Astrid, Cynthia Beck owner of hair salon, Gessie King owner of a horse stable, and Thea Nelson landscape artist are members of the club to help women in business. This hodge-podge of local women has plenty of potential for future books.

The plot wasn't very complicated and clues are sprinkled as the investigation continues.  The reader is working out the possible motives and suspects as Josie's past (pre-Poppyville) is revealed and works out the solution pretty much the same time as Elliana.  There is plenty going on between the murder storyline, Ritter's appearance in town and it's effect on Elliana, plus her developing understanding of her gift with plants.  All of which maintains the reader's interest.

The killer confrontation is tense and well done.  The wrap up puts a smile on your face and leaves you disappointed to leave Poppyville and Elliana's mesmerizing garden.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Review - Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante

I have been behind in posting my reviews...and reading.  I am attempting to catch up.  

I have followed and reviewed each of the books in the Maggie Hope series:  #1 Mr. Churchill's Secretary (click here), #2 Princess Elizabeth's Spy (click here), #3 His Majesty's Hope (click here), #4 The Prime Minister's Secret Agent (click here), and a wonderful interview with Ms. MacNeal (click here).  Today I review the newest addition to the series.

Author: Susan Elia MacNeal

Copyright: Oct 2015 (Bantam) 352 pgs

Series: 5th in Maggie Hope Spy series

Sensuality: mild 

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Intrigue

Main Characters: Maggie Hope, a spy who started as Churchill's secretary

Setting: December 1941, Washington DC

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

December 1941. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill arrives in Washington, D.C., along with special agent Maggie Hope. Posing as his typist, she is accompanying the prime minister as he meets with President Roosevelt to negotiate the United States’ entry into World War II. When one of the First Lady’s aides is mysteriously murdered, Maggie is quickly drawn into Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt’s inner circle—as Eleanor herself is implicated in the crime. Although Maggie isn't undercover behind enemy lines, she manages to find her unique talents in need.  Maggie knows she must keep the investigation quiet, so she employs her unparalleled skills at code breaking and espionage to figure out who would target Mrs. Roosevelt, and why. What Maggie uncovers is a shocking conspiracy that could jeopardize American support for the war and leave the fate of the world hanging dangerously in the balance.

Maggie maybe in a secretarial support role with Churchill, but she is a spy in her core.  She can't be anything else and is finding her new place in the war effort.  She must also face her ex-fiance, John Sterling as he is trying to reconcile their relationship.  John is on the trip with Churchill too, which provides some insights into his character that Maggie must consider. John's future seems to be taking a surprising turn as well.  David Greene is Maggie's dear friend and Churchill's right-hand guy.  David is always a joy in the stories.  Clara Hess, Maggie's mother and captured Nazi spy is with us again to keep the story off balance and unpredictable.  We finally meet Maggie's aunt Edith and it highlighted how difficult it can be to keep your real work secret.  Plus Tom O'Brian, a journalist and former classmate of Maggie's joins us for the adventure.  Will he be a significant factor in Maggie's life?

Washington DC was fascinating for a setting as America was just entering the war and the impact on the Capitol was manifesting.  The few scenes set in Hollywood were nostalgic.  The prison scenes were particularly well utilized.

 The plot hinges on how a scandal involving the First Lady would have repercussions that would jeopardize the war effort and the fragile new alliance between Britain and America.  It is hard to imagine now, but for the era I think it is a viable plot scenario.  The story-line kept me interested and turning pages with the subplots interwoven seamlessly.  The showdown with the killer was tense and the remaining questions get answered.  The wrap up set the stage for the next book...and left some developments as tantalizing possibilities.

This series has been a tour de force since it's debut, and this book does it justice.  The world of Maggie Hope is compelling drama set amidst grand historical events that transports you as only a topnotch storyteller can.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Review - Give Up the Ghost

I have reviewed each in this series from the debut issue.  The fifth, Keeper of the Castle (click here), fourth, Home for the Haunting (click here), the third, Murder on the House (click here), the second book, Deadbolt (click here), and the debut book, If Walls Could Talk (click here).  Today is the newest addition to the series.

Author:  Juliet Blackwell

Copyright: Dec 2015 (Berkley) 336 pgs

Series: 6th in Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy

Main Characters:  Mel Turner, woman construction renovation Owner/Operator

Setting: Modern day, San Francisco

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

San Francisco millionaire Andrew Flynt wants to sell his Victorian mansion, but ghostly music, the squeaking of a long-disappeared weathervane, and an angry ghost of the original owner Peregrine Summerton, keep running off potential buyers. He spent $29 million on the very modern renovations but can't sell it.  After a famous psychic Chantelle is called in, she informs the Flynts that their updates to the home have left its resident ghost extremely agitated. So contractor Mel Turner is engaged to track down and replace some of the original features of the house so it can sell. 

But when the beautiful psychic is found stabbed, it appears someone had a very human motive for murder. Could the motive have anything to do with the haunted mansion?  Mel must use her gift to uncover the secrets of the haunted house and maybe catch a killer too.  Subplots are Mel also helping a group of college students displaced from their apartment by a ghost.  Plus, Chantelle happens to have a good looking brother, Landon Demetrius, who is keeping Mel company while Graham is out of town.

Mel Turner is competent and hard working.  She deals with directing construction crews and solving ghostly problems with spunk.  But when it comes to Graham, she isn't as self-assured.  Graham is absent for most of this since he is traveling...but he drops a bombshell on Mel towards the end.  Landon, the new guy on the block who turns Mel's head definitely peaked my interest.  Mel's close friend Luz, a professor, plays more of a role in this book and that is a great addition.  Homicide Detective Annette Crawford is getting more time in the story too and I have come to look forward to her scenes.  Mel’s dad, Bill, their friend Stan, and her ex-stepson Caleb get a little page-time which are all enjoyable. 

The Crosswinds, a historical house in Pacific Heights San Francisco has it's own secrets that add to the fun.  This mansion and grumpy ghost add a great element. Several trips through junk yards further contribute to the setting with a grungy tinge to great effect.

The story line kept my interest and had some humorous twists that made the pages fly by.  The killer reveal surprised me and provided some gulps.  Great stuff.  The wrap-up had a surprise that I didn't see coming.  

This sixth outing in the Haunted Home Renovation mystery series is a stellar addition and not to be missed.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend. 

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