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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

2021 Lefty Awards

Book awards often open us up to new authors or series.  Here is this year's Left Coast Crime book awards, the Lefty!

Winners are listed first each category.

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel
  Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard (Crooked Lane Books)
  ° Jennifer J. Chow, Mimi Lee Gets a Clue (Berkley Prime Crime)
  ° Carl Hiaasen, Squeeze Me (Alfred A. Knopf)
  ° Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets (Henery Press)
  ° J. Michael Orenduff, The Pot Thief Who Studied the Woman at Otowi Crossing (Aakenbaaken & Kent)
  ° Sung J. Woo, Skin Deep (Agora Books)

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel
(Bruce Alexander Memorial) for books covering events before 1970
  ✫ Catriona McPherson, The Turning Tide (Quercus)
  ° Susanna Calkins, The Fate of a Flapper (Minotaur Books)
  ° Dianne Freeman, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder (Kensington Books) here is a review of the 1st in the series (click here)
  ° Laurie R. King, Riviera Gold (Bantam Books)
  ° Ann Parker, Mortal Music (Poisoned Pen Press)
  ° James W. Ziskin, Turn to Stone (Seventh Street Books)

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel
  ✫ David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Winter Counts (Ecco)
  ° Daisy Bateman, Murder Goes to Market (Seventh Street Books)
  ° Mary Keliikoa, Derailed (Camel Press)
  ° Erica Ruth Neubauer, Murder at the Mena House (Kensington Books)
  ° Richard Osman, The Thursday Murder Club (Viking)
  ° Halley Sutton, The Lady Upstairs (Putnam)

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel
  Louise Penny, All the Devils Are Here (Minotaur Books)
  ° Tracy Clark, What You Don’t See (Kensington Books)
  ° S.A. Cosby, Blacktop Wasteland (Flatiron Books)
  ° Matt Coyle, Blind Vigil (Oceanview Publishing)
  ° Rachel Howzell Hall, And Now She’s Gone (Forge)

Hopefully you find your new book to read from these award-winning mysteries!

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Review - Pressed to Death

I reviewed the first in The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum (click here).  I finished the troublesome second book (always harder on the second book to keep up the momentum.)  Find out how this book stacked up. 

Author: Kirsten Weiss

Copyright: June 2020 (Misterio Press) 338 pgs

Series: 2nd in A Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy mystery with ghostly touches, amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Maddie Kosloski, new manager of Paranormal Museum and skeptic 

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

Obtained Through: library

Book blurb: "It's Halloween season in San Benedetto, and paranormal museum owner Maddie Kosloski has the perfect paranormal exhibit for the harvest festival – a haunted grape press. But before she can open the exhibit, she’s accused of stealing the antique press. And when her accuser is found murdered, all eyes turn to Maddie.

Solving the crime is the last thing on Maddie’s mind, but her mother insists she investigate. Does her mother have a secret agenda? And why has the local charity, Ladies Aid, seemingly gone gangster?

In this light, cozy mystery, haunted houses, runaway wine barrels, and murder combine in a perfect storm of chaos. Facing down danger and her own over-active imagination, Maddie must unearth the killer before she becomes the next ghost to haunt her museum."

Maddie Kosloski is settling into her unexpected career running and sprucing up a paranormal museum while dealing with her pressuring mother. Adele Nakamoto is her close friend who runs the adjacent tea room and daughter of a vineyard owner/mayor. Harper Caldarelli is another close friend and a financial advisor. Adele and Harper prove they are good friends in this addition to the series. Blond hunk Mason Hjelm who runs a motorcycle shop next door to the museum is her boyfriend and there is trouble when an old girlfriend shows up. Detective Slate (Laurel's partner) is a subdued potential romantic interest on the sidelines.  Detective Laurel Hammer is Maddie's nemesis from high school who looks for connections to Maddie in the murder.  The museum cat, GD for Ghost Detecting, is an interesting adjunct staff for the museum.   

The setting is mostly around the harvest festival and the paranomal museum (voted tackiest museum in town).  I enjoyed all the wine and grape related items in the story that were great touches.  I felt like I was in the middle of a wine focused community.

There is a subplot of the haunted grape press. The subplot has a haunting that presents its own little mystery and once that is solved the "haunting" is over. The subplot is always subtle, adding a little fun. The story kept my attention and made an enjoyable escape. The killer reveal was exciting and daring. It was done a little differently but it worked well.

This is a fun cozy mystery if you are looking for a lite book to pass the hours that has a rocky road for romance, a subplot that adds a smidgen of ghostly atmosphere, and a murder mystery to puzzle over.  It isn't perfect, for those who can't get beyond the author's use of providence when it should be provenance or the incorrect spelling of memento mori this isn't for you. But if you want a wine themed fun cozy with a dash of paranormal to entertain you for a few hours, this is the book. 

Rating:  Pretty Good - A fun read with a few minor flaws. 

Here is a short video on a similar type of wine press that is featured in the book (although not antique).

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Monday, April 12, 2021

How Do You Pick Your Next Read?

There are so many books available at our fingertips today. With ebooks, you can shop and start reading a new book in a few minutes.  But the number and variety of books can be overwhelming. There are well over 1 million books published a year.  Even if a book is one of the fewer and fewer traditionally published, the author shoulders more and more of the burden to publicize the book.  Considering all of that, how do you pick your next read? 

1) Sometimes we are lucky to have family or friends with similar reading taste and can take recommendations from them.  But for those who aren't so lucky, where do you look?

2)  Amazon suggested reads was always a good way to look at similar books and discover a new read, but that has gone away and Amazon is now flooded with paid ads by authors all struggling to get your attention.  

3)  Goodreads isn't perfect, but at least it is all about books and readers with a little of the social aspect of Facebook.  As a reader, do you visit Goodreads regularly, follow authors or reviewers, and find books to read via your favorite reviewer? 

4)  Or there are Facebook readers groups to get input from other readers what they have enjoyed.  Facebook also has author ads.  Have you bought a book based on a FB reader group or ad?

5)  A more old school approach is newspaper or magazine reviews.  They are fewer out there, and they are often syndicated so the same review hits a number of newspapers.  Have you purchased a book based on a review in a newspaper or magazine?

6)  Blogs are still influential and popular in spite of the ever changing trending app of the moment.  There is a plethora of book blogs with reviews of books, often genre specific.  Have you found a new book to read from a blog?

7)  Then there are subscription newsletters for books (BookBub, BargainBooksy, The Fussy Librarian, BookGorilla, Ereader News Today etc.)  These are often for books on sale or bargain priced and seem quite popular.  

Please vote in the poll how you typically find your next read.  If there are other avenues you use to find the next book to read, please share in the comments.  Thank you!

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Sunday, April 4, 2021

Review - Death on Tap

This is a new to me series that I decided to start at the beginning.  The concept captured my interest, see what I think.

Author: Ellie Alexander

Copyright: August 2018 (Random House-Bantam) 315 pgs

Series: 1st in Sloan Krause Mystery series

Sensuality: Adult topics

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy mystery, amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Sloan Krause-foster child-turned chef, brewer, and mother

Setting: Contemporary, mountain village of Leavenworth, Washington

Obtained Through: Purchase

Blurb:  "When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” This place is the new cool place in town, and Mac can’t help but be green with envy at their success.

But just as Sloan is settling in to her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way. Danger is brewing in Beervaria and suddenly Sloan is on the case."

Sloan Krause Sloan grew up a foster child-turned chef, brewer, and mother so she is struggling with the infidelity and particularly what this means with her in-laws who are the closest to parents she has ever had.  Cheating husband Mac is really a loser and doesn't deserve Sloan at all.  Garrett Strong, owner of new Nitro really likes Sloan and is a possible romantic interest in future novels in the series.  Otto and Ursula (Mac's parents) and Hans (Mac's younger brother) are jewels and I love them. Alex, Sloan's son, is refreshing in that he is responsible and caring of his mother. 

Leavenworth Washington is a unique setting.  It is an entire town dedicated to beer... and is essentially an American version of a German alpine village nicknamed Beer-varia.  Everything is associated with beer in some way or another. Garrett's new pub, Nitro doesn't follow the Bavarian  theme of the rest of town which gets hims some pressure from locals.  This all makes for an interesting setting.

The plot develops over the course of the story.  What was the victim involved in that got him killed, why was he killed in Nitro, and why was Mac's lighter found next to the body? Throw in some good misdirection and it keeps you guessing.  I found it had enough complications and surprises to keep me reading, although at times the mystery takes a back seat to all the personal issues in Sloan's life.

 The killer reveal was realistic with only some tension. I know I love a harrowing killer reveal/confrontation is my favorite. But this worked with the storyline well.  The wrapup gives us an interesting tidbit for Sloan's personal life that will play out in the following novels in the series.

The setting is done very well with lots of character.  Sloan is a good character with a lot going on emotionally and she is handling well. I liked the explantions of beer making and its craft side.  The mystery was good. I had suspected the killer early on, but hadn't determined the motive. This is a fun cozy with developed characters.

Rating:  Good - checks all the cozy boxes for a light read. 

Here is a short video tour of Leavenworth, Washington

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