chez_jae: (Books)
I took a trip down memory lane and read another Trixie Belden book. It was Trixie Belden and the Mystery of the Missing Heiress by Kathryn Kenny.

After the letdown from the last Trixie book I read, this was a refreshing return to old-school Trixie. She and her fellow Bob Whites learn that Jim may have an unknown cousin in Holland, and that the young woman has inherited a piece of property that is worth $150,000.00. Trixie and the gang head to the Bronx to meet up with Jim's cousin, only to learn she drove herself to Sleepyside. While they are in NYC, someone tampers with their car, delaying the Bob Whites' return.

Upon meeting Jim's cousin, Juliana, Trixie is less than impressed by her. She had pictured a sweet young woman, but they are confronted with someone who is aloof to the point of rudeness. Trixie tries to get along with Juliana for her friend's sake. In the meantime, another young woman turns up in Sleepyside, the victim of an accident. She has no memory, and the hospital staff call her Janie. Janie is a delight, and Trixie and the rest of the Bob Whites vow to help her find her family.

While it was painfully obvious where this was going, it was still fun to see the kids put two and two together. Of course, it can't be a Trixie Belden book without some danger. Janie accidentally falls over a precipice when the ground gives way beneath her, and the Bob Whites, headed up by Trixie, are the ones to save her. A mysterious figure menaces the Belden homestead, and Trixie thinks he meant to harm Janie, who has been staying with the Belden family. The ending was satisfactory, if a bit rushed.

Favorite line: "She's driving the recorder of deeds nuts."
That happens more often than you realize...

Good story, much better than the last one in the series. Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Earlier, I finished reading The Ghost and Mrs Mewer by Krista Davis. It's the second book in her "Paws & Claws" mystery series.

Holly has decided to return to Wagtail and help her Oma run the Sugar Maple Inn, and she couldn't be happier. The Inn is filled to capacity for the town's Howloween celebrations, and most of the guests are part of the television crew the Apparition Apprehenders. Everything is going well until Holly's dog Trixie discovers a woman floating facedown in shallow water. Although the death is initially ruled an accident, both Holly and police officer Dave feel that there was foul play involved.

It seems there is no shortage of suspects, either. The victim, Mallory, had managed to get on the wrong side of almost everyone on the television crew, as well as Wagtail resident (and Holly's friend) Clementine. The question is, who had motive, method, AND opportunity?

As if a potential murder isn't enough to deal with, Holly's ex-boyfriend Ben comes to Wagtail, thinking they can just pick up where they left off. And, the man whom Holly secretly adores, childhood friend Holmes, has a fiancee awaiting him back in Chicago.

I enjoyed the story, but I wasn't completely engrossed by it, which is why it took a week to read. I blame part of that on the NHL playoffs, however. Ha ha!

Favorite line: "We can't blame everything we don't understand on the paranormal. I get that, which is why I find it all so fascinating."

Very good, but perhaps not as enjoyable as the first book in the series. Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Sunday was a lazy, relaxing day, and I read A Fright to the Death from cover to cover. It's part of author Dawn Eastman's "Family Fortune" mystery series, featuring cop-on-sabbatical and reluctant psychic Clyde Fortune.

Clyde and her boyfriend Mac are on their way to the airport to catch a flight to Mexico. It's a great chance for some fun, sun, and time to relax away from their families. Unfortunately, a blizzard cancels their flight and strands them at the same small hotel where most of their families are gathered for a knitting conference. Now they're stranded in the last place they'd rather be. As if that isn't bad enough, one of the owners of the hotel is killed. The local police have no way of reaching the scene of the crime, which means it's up to Mac and Clyde to take charge and try to solve a murder.

The story was good (obviously, since I read it in one day!), but it was probably my least favorite of this series. I don't think I care much for "closed scene" mysteries, wherein the characters are forced into close proximity and no one can leave. Clyde's Aunt Violet came across as a completely annoying, interfering busy body. I'm sure it was meant to be funny, but I found it irritating. Other than that, things moved along at a good pace, and the characters were well-rounded. It was difficult to figure out who killed Clarissa, because so many people seemed to have a good motive.

Favorite lines:
♦ "Lots of terrible bosses live through their employee's anger."
♦ "Oh, like those sweaters Mrs Weasley made in the Harry Potter books?"
♦ "Everyone likes to blame the cat, but they aren't always as mischievous as they seem."

Very good, overall. Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Last night, I read the rest of File M for Murder by Miranda James. It's part of the "Cat in the Stacks" mystery series.

Assistant librarian Charlie is pleasantly surprised when his daughter Laura returns home. She's going to be teaching a semester at the local college,and Charlie is looking forward to spending time with her. The theater department has another returnee for the term--famous playwright Connor Lawton. Charlie soon learns that Lawton is an obnoxious ass, and even worse, Laura used to date him.

When Lawton is murdered and it's Laura who discovers the body, she at first is under suspicion for the crime, and later, her life is endangered after she removed a flash drive from Lawton's apartment. All of this leaves Charlie, as well as his cat Diesel, feeling extra protective of Laura. The flash drive reveals some interesting clues, and it's up to a reference librarian to figure them out.

The story involved more action than previous ones in the series, what with another murder taking place, and repeated attempts to harm Laura. I was a bit disappointed in the "prodigal child comes home" trope, but only because the author used it in one of the first books in the series, when Charlie's son Sean came home. Fortunately, I believe he only has the two children, so we shouldn't see any more of that in subsequent books.

Favorite line: "As long as it's over who needs a tense confrontation with a murderer?...They always seem a bit contrived in some of the books I read."
I agree! Bonus points to the author for a non-dramatic wrapping up of the case.

The book was likable enough, although not extraordinary. Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
In spite of having an interview today, I still managed to read Murder, She Barked, by Krista Davis. It's the first book in the "Paws & Claws" mystery series. Yet again, another series I have several books in and hadn't read any. Yikes.

Holly Miller has just lost her job, her boyfriend's ex is trying to re-enter the picture, and now she's received a call from her grandmother's best friend that Oma needs her. Holly drops everything to rush to Wagtail, VA, and the pet-friendly inn that her Oma owns there. Along the way, she picks up a dog, and witnesses a fiery explosion. Holly arrives to find out that her Oma was injured in a hit-and-run that killed the person she was with. It doesn't take Holly long to realize that Oma may have been the killer's intended target. When another person in town is murdered, Holly struggles to find a connection. In the meantime, her boyfriend proposes to her via text, then has the nerve to show up with his ex in tow, someone tries to steal Holly's new dog, she reconnects with an old crush, and her Oma seems to be keeping secrets.

I enjoyed the story. Lots of twists and turns to the plot. Characterizations were wonderful, although there was one smarmy person who gave me the willies, and one woman who needed a beat-down. I even enjoyed reading about the many pets in the story.

Favorite line: was a well-known rule that all diets were off during road trips.

Good book, and I'm glad I have more to read. Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
On Wednesday, I began reading Assault and Beret by Jenn McKinlay, and I finished it on Thursday. It's part of the author's "Hat Shop" mystery series.

Scarlett's cousin Vivian is set to teach a millinery class in Paris, and Scarlett tags along. She has an ulterior motive; Scarlett wants to meet Viv's mysterious, estranged husband. She brokers a meeting between the two, and Viv reluctantly attends, simply wanting an annulment to her hasty marriage. Instead, it appears as if she and Will my be on their way to reconciliation. Will, who works for a company that insures priceless art, shows Scarlett and Viv a rediscovered Renoir. Shortly thereafter, he is abducted, and the painting goes missing. Now, it's up to Scarlett and Viv, to save the day. They are aided by their ragtag gang of regulars who travel to Paris to be with them, including Scarlett's love interest, Harrison.

The story pelted along at a fast pace. I did figure some things out, but others caught me completely flat-footed. It was fun to see the usually cool and reserved Vivian being flustered by not one, but two different men, and I enjoyed watching things progress between Scarlett and Harry.

Favorite line: Damn Americans, why didn't they pick up the hat thing?

Excellent! Five stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
I stayed up way late last night to finish reading Murder Can Spook Your Cat, by Selma Eichler. It's part of a series featuring PI Desiree Shapiro. I haven't read any others, nor do I plan to seek out any more. I am sure I purchased it because of the lure of a cat, only to discover the cat didn't figure very prominently in the story.

Five years ago, Desiree's good friend Kevin married children's author Luella Pressman. Now he has contacted Desiree to look into Luella's unexpected death. Kevin and Luella divorced but remained close, and he is devastated by her death and convinced that one of Luella's three stepdaughters must have done her in.

Mind you, at this point, no one knew the cause of Luella's death, pending autopsy and toxicology reports. So, for the most part, the entire story focused on Desiree questioning everyone who was in close contact with Luella (her stepdaughters, her sister, the housekeeper, Kevin, and Luella's latest love interest, Bud). All of this without knowing if it was murder or not.

Honestly, I don't know why I stayed up so late reading this. The story skipped back in time at several points, and the plot was all over the place between Desiree's investigation, her own lackluster love life, her other relationships with friends, colleagues, and neighbors, and her shopping excursions. Given the title of the story and the fact that Luella's formerly sweet-natured cat turned into a spaz monkey after her death, I thought that perhaps the cat's behavior would help uncover the killer. Not so! I did appreciate that Desiree is portrayed as a plump, forty-something character, rather than a lissome twenty-something. I think what kept me reading was the fact that the chapters were quite short, and I was truly puzzled as to who may have killed Luella. At one point, I suspected that Kevin, the sister, and all three stepdaughters had conspired to get rid of her, because all of them, to a person, waxed poetic about how well they all got on with Luella.

Aside from that, Desiree's kinda sorta relationship with Bruce made me want to tear my hair out. She was reluctant to tell anyone she was seeing him, because the fact embarrassed her. Why? Because Bruce was distant, only called her at the last minute to see her, insulted her in front of his friends, and then accused her of overreacting when she called him on it. When they broke up over something stupid, Desiree was both saddened and relieved. Then, he called her again, and the foolish woman agreed to see him again! *head desk*

Favorite line: I'm not exactly into fitness. In fact, the only exercise I enjoy is walking from the refrigerator to the table.

I'm torn about this one. It was not a tautly crafted mystery by any means, Desiree needed a class on how not to be a doormat, and the promised cat element didn't materialize. However, I couldn't help but think of the story at times when I wasn't reading it. Hmmm...If I could award it 3 1/2 stars, I would. I think I'll go with three, simply because I have no intentions of reading anything else in this series.

chez_jae: (Books)
I spent most of the afternoon reading a cozy ebook, titled A Fatal Twist of Lemon. It's the first installment in author Patrice Greenwood's "Wisteria Tearoom" mystery series. I've been to tea at a place called the Wisteria Twig Tearoom, so this delighted me!

Before the grand opening of her new Wisteria Tearoom, Ellen Rosing hosts a tea for several guests to thank them for their support and assistance. As the final guests are leaving, she returns to the dining room to check on the last guest, Sylvia Carruthers, only to find the woman dead on the floor.

From there, Ellen is subjected to intense scrutiny by policeman Tony Aragon, whom she begins referring to (mentally, at least) as Officer Arrogant. She knows the man is just doing his job, but he seems to be deliberately grating on her nerves. Determined not to let her venture fail before it's even begun, Ellen starts looking into the murder herself, questioning her staff and the other guests in an effort to learn if they saw or heard anything suspicious.

In the meantime, the light in the closed-off dining room keeps coming on, as well as the stereo system. Ellen doesn't want to attribute it to a haunting, but a woman who does ghost tours told her the building that houses the tearoom is haunted by its first owner, Captain Dusenberry. Ellen is more concerned with the recent death in the dining room, and her investigation may lead her into danger.

This was a delightful story. I enjoyed the characters, and I particularly liked the author's descriptions of the Victorian decor, the fragrant teas, and the swoon-worthy food! I did not like Officer Arrogant, and I liked it even less when Ellen became grudgingly attracted to him. Really?! Guh. *shakes head*

Favorite line: Part of me was terrified, and another part was thinking, "This is a stupid way to die."

Giving it four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Yesterday, I finished reading Wish You Were Here. It's the first book in the "Mrs Murphy" mystery series by authors Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown. I am ashamed to admit that I have perhaps a dozen of these books, and apparently, I hadn't read any of them.

*wallows in shame*

Mary Minor Harristeen, "Harry" to her friends, is the postmistress in the small town of Crozet. She enjoys her job, and she takes advantage of it to read other people's postcards. When two people in town are murdered in grisly fashion, Harry recalls that each of them received postcards, depicting tombstones, with the phrase "Wish you were here" on them. She's convinced it's a clue, but the police aren't so sure.

In the meantime, Harry's cat, Mrs Murphy, and her Corgi, Tee Tucker, are concerned for her welfare. They take it upon themselves to sniff out some clues on their own.

Interspersed with the murder mystery was a glut of small town politics, religion, and social class. Harry's pending divorce is a source of gossip, as is the upcoming wedding of the mayor's daughter. I enjoyed meeting Harry, her pets, and the other citizens of the town. They were a fun and lively bunch! Even other pets were well-characterized. Made me want to visit.

Favorite line:"'That government governs best which governs least', and this one has its tentacles into every aspect of life, every aspect. Terrifying. Why, they even want to tell us what to do in bed."
Considering this book was written a quarter of a century ago, this is frighteningly accurate!

Wonderful characters, fast-paced action, lots of intrigue and humor...and cats! Loved it!

Five stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Last evening, I finished the book Reading Up a Storm. It's the third installment in Eva Gates' "Lighthouse Library" mystery series.

One evening, in her apartment at the top of the Bodie Island Lighthouse, librarian Lucy curls up with a good book, while enjoying the sounds of a storm. When she happens to look out her window, she sees some lights on the beach, and what appears to be a boat, floundering in the waves and coming closer to the shore. Lucy calls for help, and later she learns that a boat did crash, but the occupants were saved by the Coast Guard. Mere days later, one of the survivors of the crash is found murdered, and Lucy's friend Stephanie is under heavy suspicion. Lucy knows Steph wouldn't have killed anyone, and she begins asking questions, trying to ascertain who may have had a motive for killing William Williamson.

Lucy's snooping gets her in trouble with the police, and it also puts her life in danger when someone tries to run her off the road. In the meantime, Lucy is still being subtly courted by both Mayor Conner and police officer Butch. However, Lucy finds her own affections swaying towards Conner. She dreads having to tell Butch, but lately, Butch seems to have eyes only for Stephanie.

The story rocketed along. I love all of the characters, including Charles, the library cat. The author did a good job of combining Lucy's sleuthing with her normal life.

Favorite lines:
♦ The benefits of civilization are sometimes lost on Charles. Until he hears the sound of the can opener, that is.
♦ Had Bill and Jill Hill killed Will?

Great book, five stars!

chez_jae: (Books)
Since I didn't have to get up early today, I stayed up last night to finish Death at First Sight by Lena Gregory. It's the first installment in the "Bay Island Psychic" mystery series.

Cass Donovan closed her psychiatric practice in New York and returned home to Bay Island to open a mystical gift shop, where she uses her skills and intuition to provide psychic readings. Cass herself doesn't believe she's truly psychic, but when a young local woman comes for a reading, Cass sees a shadow pass over her crystal ball. The only other time she saw such a shadow, it led to a death. Cass doesn't want to alarm Ellie, so she doesn't mention it. Later, Ellie's mother confronts Cass in the local deli and rants at her for giving Ellie a reading. When Cass finds the woman dead the following morning, she becomes the prime suspect in her murder.

Cass finds herself doing a sideline investigation of the murder to clear her name, trying to help her friend Bee with his annual fashion show, track down Ellie to warn her, and deal with her attraction to the stranger in town.

The story was fast-paced, but I swear, Cass is one of the dumbest heroines I've come across in a long time. She suspected Ellie's cheating husband of murdering the mother, and when Jay calls her in a panic at 3am and asks her to meet him out by the deserted lighthouse, because he can tell her who the killer really is, SHE AGREED TO MEET WITH HIM. Mind you, this was after HE CAME TO HER SHOP AND THREATENED HER.

*head desk*

There wasn't a lot of depth to Cass' character, at least not in this first book. I liked her friend Bee, along with her married friends, Stephanie and Tank. However, it sure seemed that Stephanie spent more time with Cass and Bee than she did with her husband. I didn't like that Cass couldn't seem to focus on anything whenever Luke was around.

Favorite line: A voice as sinful as his deserved the looks to go with it.

Very average, average rating:

chez_jae: (Books)
Between yesterday and today, I read an ebook, The Locked Room Murder, which is the first in the "Bluebell Knopps" cozy mystery series, by author Nancy McGovern.

At the age of 16, Bluebell meets Steve, and she knows he is The One. Her best friend, Nolan, isn't so sure, but he supports her. Blue and Steve begin dating, and on the cusp of 21, she is certain that Steve is about to propose to her. However, a mysterious woman, who has bright blue hair like Bluebell does, comes to town and tells Bluebell that she's a witch, and that she will come into her powers when she reaches age 21. Of course, Blue doesn't believe her.

Later that evening, Steve breaks up with Bluebell and breaks her heart. When the mysterious woman appears again, Bluebell wants her to prove that she's a witch by giving Steve back to her. The next thing Bluebell knows, she is waking up in the middle of a meadow and being arrested for Steve's murder. The rest of the story shows Blue and Nolan asking questions and attempting to figure out how Steve could have been murdered inside a locked room. Along the way, Bluebell learns that Steve wasn't as faithful to her as she was to him.

Eh, it was cute and cozy, but it read like something written by a teen, for teens. Not necessarily a bad thing; it was just right for an afternoon of mindless fluff. There wasn't much character development, and the narrative was more tell than show.

Favorite line: "If it gets any hotter today, I'm going to go to work in a swimsuit and install a pool in the lobby."

Average, 3 stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Let's was Thursday night when I finished reading A Biscuit, A Casket, which is the second book in Liz Mugavero's "Pawsitively Organic" mystery series.

Kristan "Stan" is settling into small-town life in Frog Ledge. Her new business of making organic treats and food for pets is starting to take off, and Stan is asked to cater a doggie party at a local dairy farm. The farm is all decked out for Halloween, including a corn maze. When Hal Hoffman, the owner of the farm, is found murdered in his own corn maze, Hal's wife, Emmalee, asks Stan to help her organize the farm's finances, and Stan is unwittingly drawn into the investigation by her proximity to the people involved with the farm, including family, friends, neighbors, hired help, and other dairy farmers whose farms were part of a co-op with Hal's farm.

To make matters worse, Stan's mother shows up for an unexpected visit, putting Stan further on edge. One of Stan's friends is behaving in a bizarre manner, one of the co-op wives is sticking her nose where it isn't wanted, Stan is trying to decide where she stands with hunky bartender Jake, and Jake's police officer sister doesn't seem to appreciate it when Stan tries to give her inside info from her stint working at the farm.

Lots going on, but all of it melded together. A couple points didn't sit well with me. One was the constant knocking of the dairy industry. While most of it came from Stan's friend, Nikki, you KNOW it's actually coming from the author. Another thing that bothered me is when Stan got a tour of the farm from its manager, he showed her the dry cows and said they'd be dry for 150 days. WTF?! I grew up on a dairy farm. You don't have cows out of production for five months! Holy cow pies, you'd never make any money! Nice try, Liz, but next time, ask. Cows are dry for six to eight weeks, tops.

Favorite line: "Plenty of people deserve to have chairs thrown at them."

I'd give it 3 1/2 if I could, but I guess I'll go with three.

chez_jae: (Books)
Before Ieaving for vacay, I decided to pick up a short, light read, and last night I finished it. The book was The Mystery on the Mississippi, by Kathryn Kenny, and it's the 15th installment of the vintage Trixie Belden mysteries.

Trixie and the rest of the Bob-Whites get a chance to travel to St Louis when Honey's father has a conference to attend. As soon as Trixie and Honey get to their hotel room, they find a briefcase in the closet, left by the previous occupant. When they pick it up to take to the front desk, the case opens, and several papers fall out. While the girls are busy trying to collect the scattered papers, the case's owner returns and berates them for handling his property. He snatches up the papers and briefcase and leaves. Later, the girls find a few scattered pages that the man missed. Trixie is certain he's up to no good, and she puts the papers in her purse for safe-keeping.

The Bob-Whites get the chance of a lifetime to travel down the Mississippi River on a towboat. While on board, Trixie becomes suspicious of two new workers who seem a bit sketchy to her. Later, someone ransacks her stateroom, which is when the rest of the Bob-Whites begin taking Trixie's theories about the shady man at the hotel seriously.

There was a lot of activity crammed into only a few days' worth of trip. Trixie nearly died three times, and by the third time, I was getting weary of it. I really love this series, but this one was much darker and more sinister than previous books. There were kidnappers, guns, a mysterious map, and too many close calls to count. Not my favorite in this series by a long shot.

Favorite line: "You're just like a bulldog with a hold on a tramp's leg."

Meh. Three stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
I used my "night off" of the computer to finish reading Booked for Trouble. It's the second book in Eva Gates' "Lighthouse Library" mystery series.

Lucy is still settling into her new life in the Outer Banks. She loves her job at the Lighthouse Library, as well as her tiny apartment on the fourth floor of the lighthouse. Things are going well until Lucy's socialite mother, Suzanne, drops in for an unexpected visit. Lucy is convinced her mother would like nothing more than to drag her back to Boston.

Suzanne joins one of Lucy's book club meetings, after which another member is found dead outside of the lighthouse. Suzanne had exchanged angry words with the victim earlier, and the two of them were the last to leave the lighthouse. Now, Lucy's mother is the primary suspect in the murder, and Lucy needs to do some research to clear Suzanne's name.

There was a lot going on in the story. Not only was there a murder investigation, but Lucy kept seeing a strange woman everywhere, whom she began mentally referring to as the Gray Woman. Both police officer Butch and mayor Connor have expressed interest in spending more time with Lucy, the victim's husband causes a scene at a restaurant, and there's a stolen necklace in the mix.

Favorite lines:
♦ I resisted posting Hiding in hotel bathroom, waiting for killer.
♦ Charles pointed out that his food bowl had somehow become emptied in the night.
♦ " could you, a serious book collector, not have known that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books are the literary equivalent of the invention of sliced bread?"

HP reference, ftw! And, I love quotes about Charles, the library cat!

Fun, lively story. Five stars!

chez_jae: (Books)
I finished reading Paws for Murder by Annie Knox last night. It's the first book in the author's "Pet Boutique Mystery" series.

Izzy McHale has just opened a trendy new boutique for pets, called Trendy Tails. The night of her grand opening, a local woman pickets the store, claiming that clothing is "unnatural" for pets. Izzy and her assistant Rena go to confront Sherry and calm things down, but when Sherry is later found dead in the alley behind Izzy's store, Rena becomes a primary suspect.

Rena hires Izzy's former crush, Sean Tucker, as her attorney, and together, Izzy and Sean begin investigating to see who may have really murdered Sherry. They discover several potential suspects, but proving anything will prove to be difficult, indeed.

The story was classic cozy mystery, with an amateur sleuth and lots of warm fuzzies. Izzy and Sean's tentative reconnection was almost painful to watch, but there seems to be hope for the future. Some parts of the book were vexing. For instance, Sean and Izzy were able to search Sherry's apartment (thanks to her on-again-off-again boyfriend, who let them in), but I couldn't help but wonder why the police hadn't searched it. Then, Izzy and Rena discovered Sherry's missing cell phone, but instead of turning it over to the police, they went through calls and texts on their own and confronted different people about it. I was like, 'obstruction of justice, much?'. Sheesh. At least Izzy's romantic interest was an attorney and not a cop/detective/sheriff.

Favorite line: "I look like I might sacrifice chickens in my spare time."

Giving this one an average rating of three:

chez_jae: (Books)
Last night, I completed By Book Or By Crook, which is the first book in the "Lighthouse Library" mystery series by author Eva Gates.

When Lucy's de facto boyfriend proposes, she envisions of life of boring social engagements and bridge clubs, and she panics and flees to the Outer Banks, where she spent summers as a child. There, her Aunt Ellen helps her land a job at the Lighthouse Library, where a rare collection of first edition Jane Austen books is on display. When the chairman of the library board is murdered at the soiree intended to introduce the books to the public, the head librarian becomes the primary suspect. Lucy knows Bertie wouldn't hurt a fly, but the police aren't so sure.

Tensions escalate when one of the rare books goes missing. Now, Lucy finds herself caught up in a real mystery, rather than one contained in the pages of her beloved books. To complicate things, Lucy has a rival for her job. Louise Jane thinks she should have been chosen, since she's a local and knows the area's history. Lucy also reconnects with her former childhood crush, and she meets a hunky police officer, too.

The only paranormal element to the book was Louise Jane telling Lucy stories about the hauntings at the lighthouse, where Lucy has a small apartment on an upper floor. Fortunately, Lucy has a roommate, the regal Himalayan, Charles.

The story was fun and refreshing after the dark, brooding book I'd just read. Lucy is a likable heroine, the other characters are well-drawn, even the ones I didn't like, and the plot clipped along at a good pace. It was nice to see Lucy making new friends, and to see that she has two potential romantic interests after being involved in a rather romance-less relationship before.

Favorite line: In the sudden silence, I could hear a ghost screaming from the depths of a castle dungeon. Or it might have been Charles the cat, expressing his opinion at being locked in the closet.

Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
I just polished off a short, cozy ebook mystery. It was A Frozen Scoop of Murder by Constance Barker, and it's the first in a series.

Tara opens her own ice cream shoppe, The Frozen Scoop, and her friends Stormi and Paige help her run it. One of her regular customers, Miss Greta, is the town harridan. When Greta is murdered via peanut dust (everyone in town knew of her allergy to peanuts), Tara can't resist speculating on who may have wanted the woman dead. Was it her nephew, who stood to inherit? Her bff, whom Greta had a falling out with? One of the two men that Greta was allegedly seeing? Or was it someone else?

The story was light and short--perfect for a quick read. It was average at best. There was nothing remarkably good, nor remarkably bad about it. I thought the ending was rushed, but oh well. I don't believe I'll bother reading more in this series, but if you like short cozies, give it a try.

Favorite line: I wouldn't win a foot race with her if the finish line were rimmed with bakery goodies.

Three of five:

chez_jae: (Books)
Tonight, rather than tuning into the Super Bowl, I finished reading Kneading to Die by Liz Mugavero. It is the first book in the author's "Pawsitively Organic" mystery series.

I've become so accustomed to reading first person pov that it was a bit odd to read this one in third. I also found the main character's name odd: Kristan "Stan" Connor. Like, she couldn't go by Kris, or Kristy? Le sigh.

Stan has lost her stressful public relations job, and she takes the opportunity to buy an adorable Victorian house in the small town of Frog Ledge. While her cat Nutty loves it, Stan's boyfriend Richard is somewhat of a dick about it. Hah! Shortly after moving in, the town's vet strong-arms Stan into bringing Nutty in for a consultation. Stan arrives to find the woman dead in her office. Now, Stan finds herself at the top of the list of suspects.

Despite being new to town, Stan has already figured out that not many people liked the vet, and she begins making some subtle inquiries in hopes of clearing her name. Along the way, she makes friends, then alienates some of them with her questioning. She meets local charmer, Jake McGee, whose sister is leading the charge to press charges against Stan.

Stan is kept busy making homemade treats for Nutty and selling some to her new neighbors, helping her friend Nikki with her pet rescue business, dodging the town's sole reporter, and being harassed by a faceless enemy.

The story was good--lots of stuff going on, although most of it was bad for Stan. I do have more books in the series to read.

Favorite line: She wanted to find who started that nasty rumor and beat them with her cake pan.

An okay read; giving it an okay score for now:

chez_jae: (Books)
Last night, I read the rest of Daisies for Innocence, which is the first book in a new series by author Bailey Cattrell, aka Bailey Cates. If you're writing in the same genre, why use another nom de plume? Honestly!

As the story begins, Elliana Allbright is establishing her own business after her divorce a year earlier. Ellie has opened a shop that sells custom-made perfumes, soaps, and other aromatherapy products. Ever since she was young, Ellie has had a knack for intuiting just what will help people the most, and she uses that gift to suggest and even create custom blends for them. Behind her shop is her cherished garden, which she calls the Enchanted Garden. Ellie had the shed at the bottom of the garden converted to a small cottage that she now calls home. She lives there with her corgi, Dash. The shop came with a resident cat named Nabokov.

When Ellie's assistant Josie tells Ellie that she's now dating her ex-husband, Ellie is shocked, and she fears her relationship with Josie will become strained. Instead, she finds Josie murdered at the edge of her garden the following day. Now Ellie finds herself the prime suspect in the crime, and she is determined to prove she didn't do it.

This was an adorable cozy mystery. I enjoyed Ellie's friends and neighbors, especially Astrid, who baked cookies each morning and brought them to Ellie's shop, Scents & Nonsense. Of the two cops assigned to investigate the case, one is a friend of Ellie's ex, and he's a total jerk to her. The other is a young woman who is new to the area. She and Ellie strike up a guarded friendship. And, best of all, Ellie's new love interest is NOT a police officer, sheriff, detective, private eye, Fed, or anyone involved in law enforcement. I mean, come on, people! Have the rest of you noticed that the female protagonist in cozy mysteries is almost invariably paired up with someone in law enforcement? Sheesh. Instead, Ritter Nelson is a botanist. Hah! I love it!

Favorite line: "The odds here are good, but the goods are pretty odd."

Fun, refreshing, and interesting. Four out of five:



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September 2017

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