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Monday, October 28, 2019

Review - Death and Relaxation

This is another great book to get into the Halloween mood.  This book is imaginative and absorbing.  There is some heat/steam in one scene, but nothing really explicit.  Check out my review and see if it is for you.

Author: Devon Monk

Copyright: June 2016 (Odd House Press) 326 pgs

Series: 1st in Ordinary Magic Mystery series

Sensuality: One steamy petting scene

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Police Procedural

Main Character: Police Chief Delaney Reed

Setting: Modern day, beach town Ordinary Oregon

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Book Blurb: "Monsters, gods, and mayhem...

Police Chief Delaney Reed can handle the Valkyries, werewolves, gill-men and other paranormal creatures who call the small beach town of Ordinary, Oregon their home. It’s the vacationing gods who keep her up at night. 

With the famous rhubarb festival right around the corner, small-town tensions, tempers, and godly tantrums are at an all-time high. The last thing Delaney needs is her ex-boyfriend reappearing just when she's finally caught the attention of Ryder Bailey, the one man she should never love. 

No, scratch that. The actual last thing she needs is a dead body washing ashore, especially since the dead body is a god. 

Catching a murderer, wrestling a god power, and re-scheduling the apocalypse? Just another day on the job in Ordinary. Falling in love with her childhood friend while trying to keep the secrets of her town secret? That’s gonna take some work."

Delaney Reed sleeps with her gun and is trying to fill her deceased father's shoes as the chief of police, while still grieving his sudden death.  She is reliable and overworked.  Sister Jean has the intuition ability, sensing when something bad is approaching but sadly doesn't get details with it.  She is a bit more adventurous than her two other sisters, dying her hair various colors. She handles calls for the police station.  Sister Myra has great timing, always showing up where and when she is needed and is calm and collected. She handles forensics for the small police station.  Ryder Bailey, Delaney's teen boyfriend and heart-throb, had been back in town for a year and she had managed to avoid him. Until now.  Cooper Clark, the ex-boyfriend, is a self centered beach bum.  Thanatos, aka Death, decides to vacation in Ordinary and his character is much like a stiff undertaker who learns to loosen up a smidgen.  I love this character as he attempts to wear Hawaiian shirts with his pressed slacks.

Ordinary Oregon is a great setting.  The idea of a beach town that gets the usual tourists plus various mythical gods wanting a vacation from their duties is a tough one to pull off, but Devon Monk did it expertly.  The town has the atmosphere of fog rolling in and crashing surf along with wooded secluded sections.  Great Gothic touches.

Who would want to kill a god on vacation, or was it one of the mortals that didn't know he was not a regular fisherman?  Surprisingly, there are several people that had a motive. I was so involved in the story that I couldn't waiting to read the next page, and the next chapter.

The killer reveal was a surprise and had some tense moments.  Nicely done.  The wrap-up takes a few chapters to tie up the threads of the story to satisfaction.  I am anxious to read the next in the book as I already miss Ordinary and the Reed sisters.

The book is well rounded with suspense, some sprinkled humor, a little steam but not much, and a mix of quirky and serious characters. The world building of a playground for gods is brilliantly handled and the personal struggles of Delaney grappling with grief and loneliness made me invested in the story.

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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Monday, October 14, 2019

Spooktacular Giveaway Blog Hop 2019

If you are joining us as part of the Spooktacular Giveaway Blog hop, look around and stay for awhile.  We celebrate everything mystery and suspense here - no doubt you can find something of interest!


We are celebrating Halloween here at Mysteries and My Musings with a giveaway for the eighth year!  One combination prize to a winner, 3 winners!

1)  Bewitched and Betrothed by Juliet Blackwell and Death Waits in the Dark by Julia Buckley

2)  Marigold For Malice by Bailey Cattrell and Booking the Crook by Laurie Cass

3)  Cookies and Clairvoyance by Bailey Cates and A Date with Murder by Donald Bain and Jon Land

Entry for giveaway lasts until October 31 6:00 p.m. (MST).  U.S.  entries only please.  

I will be shipping the books to the winners.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be an email subscriber to this blog***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.  ALL ENTRIES WITHOUT AN EMAIL ADDRESS ARE DISQUALIFIED.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until 6:00 p.m (MST) on  Oct 31, 2019.    I shall notify each winner via the email address you provide to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.  If I don't hear from you in 3 days, I will select another winner and notify them.

IF you are an email subscriber of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.

BECOME an email subscriber of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

Other participating Blogs:

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Review - The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum

Here is another fun paranormal cozy to get us in the mood for Halloween.  This was on my TBR pile for a while and I finally got to it.  I am so glad I did.  It is the first in the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum Mystery series.  Check out my review and see if this is of interest to you.

Author: Kirsten Weiss

Copyright: March 2016 (Midnight Ink) 290 pgs

Series: 1st in Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy, light paranormal for eerie effects

Main Character: Madelyn "Maddie" Kosloski, unemployed and helping her friend out

Setting: Modern day in small town San Benedetto in central California

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Book cover blurb:  "When Maddie Kosloski's career flatlines, she retreats to her wine country hometown for solace and cheap rent. Railroaded into managing the local paranormal museum, she's certain the rumors of its haunting are greatly exaggerated. But then a fresh corpse in the museum embroils Maddie in murders past and present, making her wonder if a ghost could really be on the loose.

With her high school bully as one of the detectives in charge of the investigation, Maddie doubts justice will be served. When one of her best friends is arrested, she knows it won't be. Maddie also grapples with ghost hunters, obsessed taxidermists, and the sexy motorcyclist next door as outside forces threaten. And as she juggles spectral shenanigans with the hunt for a killer, she discovers there truly is no place like home."

Maddie Kosloski got fired from her high profile overseas corporate job for refusing to pay an official a bribe and has to face her siblings overachieving success and pressuring mother. Adele Nakamoto is her close friend and daughter of a vineyard owner/mayor with money to burn.  Harper Caldarelli is another close friend and a financial advisor. Detective Laurel Hammer is Maddie's nemesis from high school who picks right up were she left off making her life miserable.  Blond hunk Mason Hjelm is a potential romantic interest who runs a motorcycle shop next door to the museum.  Tall, dark, and handsome Detective Slate (Laurel's partner) is another potential romantic interest.  The cat,GD for Ghost Detecting, is an interesting adjunct staff for the museum.  

The museum, voted tackiest museum in town, is a run down attraction with  a creepy doll room and resident ghosts.  The town is quirky with its annual Christmas cow (made of straw) tradition that somehow gets set on fire every year.  Between the town and the museum, it combines for a quirky, fun feel that adds a lot to the character and mood of the book.

The plot gets twisty and it's hard to tell who the killer is among the many potential bad guys.  Although Maddie doesn't go out and hunt down clues, many of the clues find their way to her as she works at the museum and asks a few questions.  There are many red herrings complicating the issue as well.  The pacing is light and easy with well timed events which kept me engaged.  The climax is nicely done with thrills and danger.  The wrap-up is delightful with a mock re-trial of one of the museum's ghosts who had been hung for her husband's murder. I loved that touch.

If you are looking for a light entertaining read, you might enjoy this book.  The paranormal isn't dark or scary, rather a few creepy moments and more atmospheric. The premise for this series is great and the author took the idea and truly made it into an enjoyable and fun story.  I am already eyeing the second in the series. 

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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Monday, October 7, 2019

Lefty Awards 2019

I am trying to catch up with the mystery and thriller book awards.  I like sharing them because you find some great new books to read.  

The Left Coast Crime “Lefty” Awards are fan awards chosen by registered members of the Left Coast Crime convention. Nominations for awards to be presented at each annual convention are made by people registered for that convention and also the immediately prior convention. A ballot listing the official nominees is given to each registrant when they check in at the convention, and final voting takes place at the convention. The ballots are tabulated and that year’s Lefty Awards are presented at the Awards Celebration.

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel
  * Scot Free by Catriona McPherson (winner)
  ° Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron
  ° Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett
  ° Nighttown by Timothy Hallinan 
  ° Death al Fresco by Leslie Karst
  ° The Spirit in Question by Cynthia Kuhn

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel
(Bruce Alexander Memorial, covering events before 1960)
  * The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (winner)
  ° Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen
  ° The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday by David Corbett
  ° Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King 
  ° A Dying Note by Ann Parker
  ° It Begins in Betrayal by Iona Whishaw

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel
  * A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (winner) ~~ I will be reviewing shortly on blog
  ° Broken Places by Tracy Clark 
  ° Cobra Clutch by A.J. Devlin 
  ° The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn 
  ° What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix 
  ° Deadly Solution by Keenan Powell
  ° Give Out Creek by J.G. Toews

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel
  * November Road by Lou Berney (winner)
  ° Wrong Light by Matt Coyle
  ° Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny
  ° Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day 
  ° A Reckoning in the Back Country by Terry Shames
  ° A Stone’s Throw by James W. Ziskin

I hope these give you some new prospects to keep you stocked in mysteries.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Review - Bewitched and Betrothed

With Halloween approaching I thought this cozy paranormal would be perfect to get us all in the mood.  

Read my reviews of the prior books:  #1 Secondhand Spirits (click here), #2 Cast Off Coven (click here), #3 Hexes and Hemlines (click here), #4 In a Witch's Wardrobe (click here), #5 Tarnished and Torn (click here), #6 A Vision in Velvet (click here), #7 Spellcasting in Silk (click here),  and #8 Toxic Trousseau book excerpt (click here).  I also interviewed the author twice: interview #2 (click here), and interview #1 (click here).

If you are a fan, you won't want to miss this book. If you are new to this series, you can check out the reviews above and try the first, or jump right in with this 10th book.  It works as a stand alone as well.

Author: Juliette Blackwell

Copyright: June 2019 (Berkley) 352 pgs

Series: 10th in Witchcraft Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy

Main Character: Lily Ivory, powerful natural witch and owner of vintage clothing store

Setting: Modern day, San Francisco

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Book Blurb: "A supernatural force on the loose in San Francisco and a family reunion keeps witch and vintage store owner Lily Ivory on her toes as she prepares to walk down the aisle...

When Lily Ivory stumbles on the uniform of a former prisoner from Alcatraz and SFPD inspector Carlos Romero’s cousin is kidnapped, Lily suspects something dangerous has been unleashed on the ghost-ridden island of Alcatraz. She'll have to sleuth out the culprit—when she’s not busy entertaining her visiting relatives and resolving romantic conflicts as her wedding date approaches. Could recent omens be pointing to the magical threat in her adopted city? If so, she'll have to line up her allies to change the fate of the Bay Area. Because no matter what, Lily's determined to celebrate her marriage with her friends by her side—even if it means battling a demonic foe before she can make it to the altar."

Lily Ivory has come a long way in this series and she is more confident but still has her insecure moments.  Sailor is her fiance who we barely see in this book, which is surprising with the wedding fast approaching. Aidan makes only two appearances in the novel, but he plays a vital role in the climax. I know the focus is growing more on Sailor and away from Aidan, but he is still an important character and I love his part in every book.  Detective Carlos Romero has also come a long way in trusting Lily and he has become a favorite of mine in the lineup.  Oscar the Gobgoyle in the disguise as a pig is Lily's familiar and he is still searching for his mother.  Graciela’s Coven comes out for the wedding with a crew of quirky gals.  Lily's mother also joins in and I appreciated her attempts to fit into Lily's life a little.  Overall a fantastic gathering of strong characters.

The setting is bustling San Francisco and Alcatraz island specifically. Using the reputedly haunted Alacatraz was great and made this story that much more spooky.  The plot is the culmination of Aidan's warnings in the past few books of a supernatural showdown approaching for the very city and its citizens itself.  It is also the culminatin thus far of Lily's personal growth since she can't fight this power by herself and all the people she has made friends with will have to back her up.  The pacing is spot on and kept my interest riveted to the pages.

The climax was on a grand scale and delivered all the thrills and chills the book had built up towards.  It was brilliantly executed, my hat is off to Ms. Blackwell.  The wrap-up was the event the book promised and was touching.

I have been a fan of this series since the first book was released.  I am impressed at how Ms. Blackwell built this showdown up from previous books and delivered on every promise.  I hope that Aidan doesn't get shuffled off and he remains in the character lineup because his character is so much a part of the mythos of the series.  I have to wonder, after this powerful showdown, what could be in Lily's future?

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

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Review - Pride, Prejuduce, and Poison

This new series is touted as "Perfect for fans of Laura Levine and Stephanie Barron, Elizabeth Blake’s Jane Austen Society mystery debut is a mirthfully morbid merger of manners and murder."  Find out more about this exciting debut novel with a Jane Austen Society as the main theme for the series.  

Author: Elizabth Blake

Copyright: August 2019 (Crooked Lane Books) 332 pgs

Series:  1st in Jane Austen Society Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Erin Coleridge, owner of a used bookstore out of her home 

Setting: Modern day, Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, England

Obtained Through: Publisher (Netgalley) for honest review

From the book blurb: "Erin Coleridge’s used bookstore in Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, England is a meeting place for the villagers and, in particular, for the local Jane Austen Society. At the Society’s monthly meeting, matters come to a head between the old guard and its young turks. After the meeting breaks for tea, persuasion gives way to murder—with extreme prejudice—when president Sylvia Pemberthy falls dead to the floor. Poisoned? Presumably…but by whom? And was Sylvia the only target?

Handsome—but shy—Detective Inspector Peter Hadley and charismatic Sergeant Rashid Jarral arrive at the scene. The long suspect list includes Sylvia’s lover Kurt Becker and his tightly wound wife Suzanne. Or, perhaps, the killer was Sylvia’s own cuckolded husband, Jerome. Among the many Society members who may have had her in their sights is dashing Jonathan Alder, who was heard having a royal battle of words with the late president the night before.

Then, when Jonathan Alder narrowly avoids becoming the next victim, Farnsworth (the town’s "cat lady") persuades a seriously time-crunched Erin to help DI Hadley. But the killer is more devious than anyone imagines."

Erin Coleridge is such a genuine character that I became vested in her quickly.  DI Peter Hadley is portrayed well, balancing his job with a growing interest in Erin when she could be a suspect.  I love Sergeant Rashid Jarral's character and hope to see more of him.  The myriad of suspects and townspeople each have their motives and quirky personalities as you expect in a cozy, but they have some depth. 

Kirkbymoorside (a real town in North Yorkshire) is a delightfully rendered setting that is like a warm blanket on a chilly night, you don't want to leave it.  The plot seems simple but has a few surprises and twists.  The pacing is spot on and kept my interest as new motives come to light.  

The killer reveal was a surprise and handled well for shock value.  The wrap up left me wanting more of Erin and to find out about her and DI Hadley.

I had been immersed in several historical mysteries and wasn't sure if a modern mystery would keep my interest.  This book did the trick.  I couldn't help but feel like this was remeniscent of Miss Marple only with a younger heroine and updated writing style.  The Jane Austen Society provided a great theme to build the mystery around.  I think any cozy mystery fan will enjoy this new series.

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

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Monday, September 16, 2019

Book Spotlight and Giveaway-Singapore Sapphire

Today we are featuring a giveaway for readers. Berkley publishing has graciously offered one copy of Singapore Sapphire, the first in the new Harriet Gordon series to a lucky winner.  

Early twentieth-century Singapore is a place where a person can disappear, and Harriet Gordon hopes to make a new life for herself there, leaving her tragic memories behind her--but murder gets in the way.

About the book:
Singapore Sapphire (A Harriet Gordon Mystery) by A. M.


"Singapore, 1910--Desperate for a fresh start, Harriet Gordon finds herself living with her brother, a reverend and headmaster of a school for boys, in Singapore at the height of colonial rule. Hoping to gain some financial independence, she advertises her services as a personal secretary. It is unfortunate that she should discover her first client, Sir Oswald Newbold--explorer, mine magnate and president of the exclusive Explorers and Geographers Club--dead with a knife in his throat.

When Inspector Robert Curran is put on the case, he realizes that he has an unusual witness in Harriet. Harriet's keen eye for detail and strong sense of duty interests him, as does her distrust of the police and her traumatic past, which she is at pains to keep secret from the gossips of Singapore society.

When another body is dragged from the canal, Harriet feels compelled to help with the case. She and Curran are soon drawn into a murderous web of treachery and deceit and find themselves face-to-face with a ruthless cabal that has no qualms about killing again to protect its secrets."

“Skillfully and seamlessly weaves actual people and events of the time with rich, multidimensional fictional characters.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“My favorite new mystery series! Set in a unique and compelling setting, and filled with fascinating historical research, deft characterization, and thrilling suspense, readers will devour Singapore Sapphire. One of the best books I’ve read this year. I can’t wait to read Harriet’s next adventure.” – Anna Lee Huber, bestselling author of the Lady Darby Mysteries

“Singapore Sapphire is a gem of a story!  You will love the intrepid heroine and the exotic locale that bring this twisty tale to life. I loved every minute of this steamy adventure.”-Victoria Thompson, Bestselling author of Murder in Trinity Place.

“Filled with all the hot, decadent splendor and sultry danger of Colonial-era Singapore. Rich, atmospheric, and fascinating!”—USA Today bestselling author C.S. Harris

Entry for giveaway lasts until September 30, 2019 6:00 p.m. (MST). U.S. entries only please.
The publisher will be shipping the book to the winners.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be an email subscriber of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until 6:00 p.m (MST) on September 30, 2019. I shall notify the winner via the email address you provide to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.

IF you are an email subscriber of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.

BECOME an email subscriber of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Review - Murder at Brightwell

This novel was shortlisted for the Edgar Award for best first novel in 2015 and received critical acclaim.  I found the premise fascinating and like to start with the beginning of a series.  So I bring you the first in the Amory Ames mystery series set in the 1930s with a spunky heroine.

Author: Ashley Weaver

Copyright: Oct 2014 (Minotaur) 333 pgs

Series: 1st in Amory Ames Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy/Amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Amory Ames, dissatisfied society wife of a playboy

Setting: 1932, Brighton on the south coast of England

Obtained Through: Publisher/NetGalley for honest review

Book Blurb: "Amory Ames, a wealthy young woman questioning her marriage to her notoriously charming playboy husband, Milo, is looking for a change. She accepts a request for help from her former fiancĂ©, Gil Trent, not knowing that she’ll soon become embroiled in a murder investigation that will not only test her friendship with Gil, but also will upset the status quo with her husband.

Amory accompanies Gil to the luxurious Brightwell Hotel in an attempt to circumvent the marriage of his sister, Emmeline, to Rupert Howe a disreputable ladies man. There is more than her happiness at stake, however, when Rupert is murdered and Gil is arrested for the crime. Matters are further complicated by Milo’s unexpected arrival, and as the line between friend and foe becomes less clear, Amory must decide where her heart lies and catch the killer before she, too, becomes a victim."

Amory Ames, hurting from her husband's neglect is developing a jaded view of life after a short time married.  She thinks perhaps she should start living her life apart from Milo and takes this opportunity to not sit at home wondering when Milo will spend some time with her.  She doesn't seek sympathy, rather she starts to live a little.  Milo, the lackadaisical husband who can't seem to stop being the playboy is my least favorite character but at least he gets a smidgen jealous.  Gil Trent, the former fiance has good and bad qualities and is the catalyst for Amory to re-evaluate her situation.  Gil's sister, Emelline reminds Amory of her pre-married self as she is helplessly in love with a man who won't make her happy.  Each of the characters, even Milo, are under suspicion at one point or another. 

Bright and luxurious Brightwell made the mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie's "An Affair at Styles" only more stylish.  It is an excellent setting and used to great effect.  The pace keeps up between looking for a murderer and Amory's dealing with Milo and their complicated relationship.  My interest was carried throughout to the end.  

The climax has a deliciously tense killer reveal and the wrapup ties up threads while leaving just enough about Amory and Milo's situation to be continued in the next book "Death Wears a Mask".

There is wonderful sharp witty dialog, particularly between Amory and Milo.  Amory is a well developed character that you can relate to on many levels.  The running theme that money doesn't gaurantee happiness is under the surface and simply demonstrated.  

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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Monday, August 26, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway - Love and Death Among the Cheetahs

Today we are featuring a giveaway for readers. Berkley publishing has graciously offered one copy of Love and Death Among the Cheetahs (A Royal Spyness Mystery Book 13) to a lucky winner.  The Royal Spyness series is a historical cozy (1930s) with the charming and clumsy Lady Georgiana, or Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, 34th in line for the English throne.

About the book:

"I was so excited when Darcy announced out of the blue that
we were flying to Kenya for our extended honeymoon. Now that we are here, I suspect he has actually been sent to fulfill another secret mission. I am trying very hard not to pick a fight about it, because after all, we are in paradise! Darcy finally confides that there have been robberies in London and Paris. It seems the thief was a member of the aristocracy and may have fled to Kenya. Since we are staying in the Happy Valley—the center of upper-class English life—we are well positioned to hunt for clues and ferret out possible suspects.

Now that I am a sophisticated married woman, I am doing my best to sound like one. But crikey! These aristocrats are a thoroughly loathsome sort enjoying a completely decadent lifestyle filled with wild parties and rampant infidelity. And one of the leading lights in the community, Lord Cheriton, has the nerve to make a play for me. While I am on my honeymoon! Of course, I put an end to that right off. 

When he is found bloodied and lifeless along a lonely stretch of road, it appears he fell victim to a lion. But it seems that the Happy Valley community wants to close the case a bit too quickly. Darcy and I soon discover that there is much more than a simple robbery and an animal attack to contend with here in Kenya. Nearly everyone has a motive to want Lord Cheriton dead and some will go to great lengths to silence anyone who asks too many questions. The hunt is on! I just hope I can survive my honeymoon long enough to catch a killer. . . ."

Entry for giveaway lasts until September 7, 2019 6:00 p.m. (MST). U.S. entries only please.
The publisher will be shipping the book to the winners.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be an email subscriber of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until 6:00 p.m (MST) on September 7, 2019. I shall notify the winner via the email address you provide to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.

IF you are an email subscriber of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.

BECOME an email subscriber of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review - Murder at Morrington Hall

I'm not sure how I heard of this book, but I am so glad to have discovered it. But when I read "You will love this delightful debut novel to what promises to be a winning series... I couldn’t put it down!” from one of my favorite authors, Victoria Thompson, I had to see for myself.  Read on for my assessment of this debut novel in a new series.

Author: Clara McKenna

Copyright: Jan 2017 (Berkley) 298 pgs

Series: 1st in Stella and Lyndy Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy

Main Characters: Stella Kendrick, America Heiress, thoroughbred breeder

Setting: 1905, Hampshire England

Obtained Through: Personal find

Book Blurb:
"Spring, 1905:  Free-spirited like the Thoroughbreds she rides across the Kentucky countryside, Stella takes adventure by the reins when she’s asked to attend a mysterious wedding in rural England. But once she arrives at the lush Morrington Hall estate, her cold and ambitious father confesses that he won’t only give away his best racehorses as gifts—he has also arranged to give away his daughter as bride to the Earl of Atherly’s financially strapped son . . . 
Stella refuses to be sold off like a prized pony. Yet despite a rough start, there’s something intriguing about her groom-to-be, the roguish Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst. The unlikely pair could actually be on the right track with each other . . . until they find the vicar who was to marry them dead in the library. 
With culture clashes mounting between families, a scandalous murder case hangs over Morrington Hall. Now, Stella and Lyndy must go from future spouses to amateur sleuths as they team up to search for the truth—and prevent an unbridled criminal from destroying their new life together right out of the gate "

Stella Kendrick, free spirited, proud, stubborn, and independant with scars from her father's ill treatment of her.  Mr Elijah Kendrick, Stella's cold hearted father and self-made millionaire, is uncouth and rude.  Viscount Lord Lyndhurst, Lyndy, is the intended groom who is marrying out of duty - until he meets Stella and thinks he may enjoy her company.  The Earl and Lady Atherly, Lyndy's parents, are insufferable snobs that financially have to welcome the unladylike American heiress into the family, but they make their displeasure well known.  Lord Hugh, second son of the Duke of Tonnbridge is Lyndy's best friend, and a prime suspect.  The stiff British nobility clash with brash Americans for many tense scenes throughout.

The setting of New Forest, the former royal hunting grounds for King William the Conqueror centuries prior with its legendary ponies roaming free, is an idyllic setting.  Several scenes contain Epsom Downs Derby and it brings out the excitement of the race.  It all provides the background to spotlight the differences between the rigid social rules of British upper class and the uncultured manners of the Americans of the era.

Of course the simple question of who would kill a Vicar gets more complicated as the story unfolds.  It had to be somebody who could make their way around the mansion without really being noticed much, which narrows the field of suspects.  

The climax highlights Stella's intelligence and independence to prove a point about who the killer was, which replaces a suspenseful killer reveal.  Although I love the tense and suspenseful killer reveal, this creative unveiling was quite enjoyable and well executed.

I loved the characters of Stella Kendrick and Lyndy and how they come to accept and appreciate each other.  The writing style is engaging, drew me in immediately, and had me sympathize with Stella and Lyndy.  The aspect of an unsuspecting heiress essentially being sold off is a great setup for this series - and is based on historical realities such as Consuelo Vanderbilt being in that exact situation.

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

Here is a short video about the marrying off of 
Consuelo Vanderbilt

Here is a short video about The New Forest.

Thank you for joining me!

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway - Death in a Budapest Butterfly

Today we are featuring a giveaway for readers. Berkley publishing has graciously offered one copy of Death in a Budapest Butterfly to a lucky winner.

About the book:
"Hana Keller and her family run Maggie's Tea House, an establishment heavily influenced by the family's Hungarian heritage and specializing in a European-style traditional tea service. But one of the shop's largest draws is Hana's eccentric grandmother, Juliana, renowned for her ability to read the future in the leaves at the bottom of customers' cups. Lately, however, her readings have become alarmingly ominous and seemingly related to old Hungarian legends...

When a guest is poisoned at a tea event, Juliana’s dire predictions appear to have come true. Things are brought to a boil when Hana’s beloved Anna Weatherley butterfly teacup becomes the center of the murder investigation as it carried the poisoned tea. The cup is claimed as evidence by a handsome police detective, and the pretty Tea House is suddenly endangered. Hana and her family must catch the killer to save their business and bring the beautiful Budapest Butterfly back home where it belongs."

The book includes Chicken Paprikas, Dumplings, Stuffed Cabbage, and Dessert Crescents recipes.  I am looking forward to trying them!

Entry for giveaway lasts until August 31, 2019 6:00 p.m. (MST). U.S. entries only please.
The publisher will be shipping the book to the winners.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be an email subscriber of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until 6:00 p.m (MST) on August 31, 2019. I shall notify the winner via the email address you provide to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.

IF you are an email subscriber of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.

BECOME an email subscriber of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

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I have written and published three cozy mysteries - ICED (Resort to Murder #1), Nailed (Resort to Murder #2), and SPIKED (Resort to Murder #3) by Avery Daniels 


"Julienne needs only three things: successfully pull of a last minute wedding relocated to her resort, work out things with her stubborn ex- boyfriend, and solve the murder of a private investigator found with her business card on his dead body. The wedding she can handle, but it comes with a flirtatious brother of the bride who manages to give Mason the idea she has moved on, and the dead PI was playing with fire before he was poisoned leaving a myriad of suspects. Two suspects are part of a scandal waiting to explode and nobody wants to be in the middle of the fallout.

Can Julienne wade through the various suspects while coordinating the wedding and dealing with a handsome amorous guest before her rival on the local paper exposes her connection and thus damages the resort’s reputation? Will she and Mason find their way to each other?"

"This was a thrilling third book from Avery Daniels with Juliette once again taking the lead on another murder investigation... Avery’s writing style is very entertaining with a first-person perspective laying out well the clever plot along with various suspects with motives and twist and turns, and sharing it all with Julienne’s inner thoughts and vivid descriptions. The mystery was delightfully involved with several lines of questioning to incorporate, an insinuation of Julie’s possible involvement, and keeping the “Wow!” ending to the…end. "  King's River Life Magazine

"Another fantastic book. Very entertaining, great characters... Great mix of mystery with a bit of romance ( or almost romance)."  BookHound

"A mixture of danger, humor, and romance set in lovely Colorado Springs, the author writes a perfect cozy mystery with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. " Cheryl Malandrinos

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