Friday, September 10, 2021

Dead Bath and Beyond

 This is the 4th book in the Victoria Square series by Lorraine Bartlett.  This series is a fun mix of crafts/antiques with mysteries mixed in.  Katie is a great character with ample ability to manage a business but still having a realistic dose of insecurity and uncertainty in her social and business life.  The series feels a bit different than many cozy mysteries as Katie doesn't have a central female BFF whom she confides and colludes with.  In this case many of the supporting and recurring characters are male although Katie does interact with Rose quite a bit at Artisan Alley, it's not a central sounding board or co-conspiring relationship.   Instead, the main characters she bounces her investigations off are male- her boyfriend and her friend, Ray Davenport, are the 2 main characters filling that role but at times her friend Seth in a central character as well.  

This book will especially be appealing to readers who like to boat as it centers around the end of the boating season on Lake Ontario. There are quite a few sailing related scenes and conversations.  As always the book is full of false suspicions and the ending is a bit surprising but does tie up all the pieces of the story that had been presented as unexplained situations.  I will admit though I did lose track of all the different characters in this book and was a bit uncertain who was the guilty party in the overall scheme of the story.  I think this may have been correlated to the fact that I listened to this on audiobook rather than read it and that caused me to lose track of the large cast of characters introduced in this story.

All in all a good book in a great series.   


Dead, Bath, and Beyond (Victoria Square, #4)Dead, Bath, and Beyond (Victoria Square, #4) by Lorraine Bartlett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the audio book version of this cozy. There are some good plot angles and the development of relationships both personal and professional are well written. They are realistically up and down with struggles that feel probable. The mystery itself is well written and the story wrapped up well at the ending.

View all my reviews



Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #
  2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 Book 4 in series 31
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #114
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #128
  5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   sept
  6. Cruisin thru Cozies  Free choice #73
  7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #108
  8. Craving for Cozies  Book #91
  9. Medical Examiner Challenge 1 Toe Tags
  10. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 2
        • Lake or ocean
      • Row 5
        • Bathtub, shower, bathroom
    • Weapons
      • Row 3
        • Drowning, water, ice
    • Detectives- Katie/Ray
    • Victims- Jake
  11. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #67a  Shot #3
  12. Audiobook  #2021AudiobookChallenge  Book#11


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

One of Us in Next

 The sequel to One of Us is Lying proved to be another wonderful read by Karen McManus.  This is the 3rd book I have read by her this year and I have thoroughly enjoyed them all.  She captures the angst and drama of the teen life very well.  These books truly make me glad I didn't grow up in the age of social media with all the drama it brings with it.  I also appreciate that my son is not that interested in broadcasting his life and feelings on the internet.  

McManus wrote another thrilling drama that keeps the reader guessing until the end and continues to show the dangers of gossip and social media when manipulated by those with unhealthy needs to toy with others, emotionally and physically.  This book is a wonderful sequel in that it has the same essence of a hidden puppeteer manipulating the teens of Bayview HS once again.  The characters at the center of the story were involved in the original thriller but were not the central characters in that novel.  Those characters from One of Us is Lying are included in this entry, but are more peripheral in general. 

 All in all these are well written YA books that keep the reader engaged while pointing out the all too realistic opportunities for abuse of social media.


One of Us Is NextOne of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

high school continues to be a terrifying setting in this second book in the series. I sure am glad I didn't have social media when i went through high school . the mystery behind the new rumor driven truth or dare challenge is well constructed and keeps the reader in suspense until the end. There are plenty of good twists and turns and the life of a teen/young adult is depicted well in this book

View all my reviews



Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #105
  2. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #36 second book in a duology 
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #113
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #127
  5. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #107
  6. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #52 Re-Do One Of The Previous 51 Categories From This 2021 Challenge-  #1 set in a school
  7. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #14 The Web: with a puppeteer figure
  8. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  Back to School
  9. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
  10. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 

      • Row 3
        • Cliff, roof, high place
    • Weapons
      • Row 4
        • Push or fall
    • Detectives- Maeve/Knox
    • Victims- Brandon Weber
  11. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #72  Shot #3


Death on the Green

 This second Dublin Driver mystery by Catie Murphy is set mainly on the golf courses of Bull Island while Megan Malone is driving the pro golfer, Martin Walsh, and his wife.  The sport of golf is central to the story as the victim is Martin's old friend and co-competitor Lou MacDonald.  The plot has plenty of twists and turns and the motive is quite well concealed til the end.  The story mixes some glamourous living in with a bit of romance but all in all it is a well written cozy mystery.  The Irish colloquialisms are well presented and quite amusing to see Megan, an American transplant, stumble over word choices at times.  All in all this is a lighthearted cozy series that is entertaining and easy to read.  


 

Death on the GreenDeath on the Green by Catie Murphy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This second installment of the Dublin Driver series. Megan finds herself caught up in another murder while driving for a professional golfer. This cozy has a great mix of foreign intrigue and a well written mystery. The characters are both charming and abhorrent. The ones you are to like are quite appealing and tug at your heartstrings the ones who are antagonistic are easy to dislike. The outcome of the story is quite surprising and keeps the reader on edge til the very end

View all my reviews


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #104
  2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  Ireland
  3. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 Dublin Driver #2
  4. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #112
  5. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #126
  6. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  7. Cruisin thru Cozies  Free choice #72
  8. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #106
  9. Craving for Cozies  Book #90
  10. Diversify your reading #DYRC21  Crime
  11. Medical Examiner Challenge  2 Toe Tags
  12. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 5
        • Beach or shoreline
    • Weapons
      • Row 2 
        • Rock, brick, blunt object

      • Row 5t
        • Hands or fists
    • Detectives- Megan Malone
    • Victims- Lou MacDonald/ Nick Collins
  13. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #73  Shot #2


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Binti

 I selected this book by Nnedi Okorafor as a read for an Afrofuturist book.  This book was definitely one that took me outside my normal genre/comfort zone.  I was pleasantly surprised by the book as I am not generally a sci fi/fantasy reader.  This book did a wonderful job of combining Earth and space species in the story.   Binti is a smart, strong willed young women who has grown up in the Namib desert.  I have had the pleasure of visiting this desert so it made it a bit easier to visualize and imagine the setting I think.  

Binti is from a people who are considered outsiders within her own country/region but are accepted as they play a large role in the functioning of the planet and the species.  Her people, the Himba, are the makers of the astrolabes which are a vital part of the society.  She is  even more special as she is further gifted in math and harmonizing.  

The story has a central theme of a war raging between two cultures as well as one of a coming of age element.  Binti wants to pursue her passion, not follow according to her family's plan for her to takeover her father's successful business.  Her boldness drops her into a community of like minded scholars but also places herself in a precarious position of belonging to neither of 2 races who are at war with each other.  

The story was an adventure and shows the compassion of living beings and how friendships can overcome differences when people give each other a chance.   There is a series of books in this tale and I may pursue reading more of them in the future since I did enjoy this one and it was a nice quick read.  



BintiBinti by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not my normal genre but I really enjoyed this sci fi/ fantasy novel. The description is wonderful and brings out the ability to visualize the scenes. The characters are a mix of both human and extra terrestrial. This is the first in a series and it sets up an interesting premise and characters with an intriguing relationship that will be interesting to see if it develops as the series progresses. Binti is a strong willed and determined young woman who is very intelligent and a role model in her bravery.

View all my reviews



Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #103
  2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  Namibia
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #111
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #125
  5. PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge #2 An Afrofuturist book  
  6. Around the Year in 52 Books #41. A book by a new-to-you BIPOC author  
  7. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #3 The Dark: about/set in space
  8. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #38. SET IN THE FUTURE
  9. Bookworm  #43.) Read a Science Fiction
  10. Spells and Spaceships #3 Space Opera Badge: Book set in space or on other planets
  11. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  Back to School
  12. 52 books in 52 weeks  #4-6 out of this world


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Murder in the Cookbook Nook

 This latest installment in the Book Retreat mysteries kept me engaged in the story and continues on a wonderful series.  Storyton Hall  is the setting for this series by Ellery Adams.  This wonderful high end hotel is set in the Virginia mountains and focuses around a book themed hotel.  There are many wonderful characters in the series and the reader gets to know them as the series has progressed through 7 books.   

This particular book centers around a cooking competition so fans of Chopped and Hell's Kitchen will enjoy the central plot.  Another interesting aspect to this story is a cross over of the characters from the Books by the Bay series written by Ms. Adams.  Olivia Limoges visits Storyton Hall when her friend and chef, Michel enters into the competition being hosted there. The book shows some of the behind the scenes drama on a cooking reality show and also some of the machinations behind Instagram Influencers as well.  It makes for a modern twist on the cozy mystery.  

The mystery itself is well written and keeps the reader guessing throughout the story.  All in all I really enjoyed the book


Murder in the Cookbook NookMurder in the Cookbook Nook by Ellery Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is always a joy to read this cozy series as Adams makes many references to other works of literature. This story continued to develop the characters in Jane's family and close knit circle of friends. The characters and their relationships are so realistic as a reader you feel as though you are right there amongst them. I enjoyed the cross over with Adams' other series by having Olivia Limoges appear with Chef Michel in this book. Anyone who loves mysteries and who loves cooking competition shows will enjoy this book

View all my reviews



Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #102
  2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 Book Retreat #7
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #110
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #124
  5. Cruisin thru Cozies  Free choice #71
  6. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #105
  7. Craving for Cozies  Book #89
  8. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
  9. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 1
        • Kitchen or bakery
    • Weapons
      • Row 2 
        • Pointy object

    • Detectives- Jane/Sinlair/Lachlan/Butterfield
    • Victims- Chef Pierce
  10. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #46  Shot #2


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Farm to Trouble

 This is a new series by Amanda Flower.  Unlike her other series set in Amish country, this is a farming community in northern Michigan.  (if you are a Kid Rock fan and now have that "All Summer Long" line stuck in your head- my apologies )   

In this series Shiloh Bellamy has returned how from LA after 15 years.  She intended to come home to help revitalize and convert her family farm to an organic farm.  Unfortunately for her, financial troubles are the least of her concerns when she comes home. 

She discovers she is an outsider in the town she grew up in and has a lot of past demons to contend with upon her return.  The characters are well written and complex- they are certainly not all tea and roses but rather have some real issues with real disagreements.  As the story progresses we learn more of Shiloh's past and she discovers secrets about her neighbors and family.  

The mystery is well written and has multiple layers to the storyline.  The clues are well constructed and the guilty party is not at all the expected individual nor is the motive what the reader would expect. 

 All in all this is a great start to a new series and I look forward to reading more.

Farm to TroubleFarm to Trouble by Amanda Flower
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this debut in the new series by Amanda Flower. While still set in a rural Midwest farming community this is different from her others which are set in Amish country. This book still has the outsider who is thrown into the role of the detective while trying to help someone she cares about. Unlike the Amish cozies this features Shiloh Bellamy who has returned to help her father resurrect the family farm. Unfortunately things are worse than she expected, not just with the farm but also with her choice of investors. Shiloh quickly learns that Althusser grew up in this northern Michigan town, the locals view her as no soggy from a fudgie and trust her the same. The story is a good mix of plots, drama- family and small town history varieties, and characters. The relationships are layered and full of simmering tensions similar to real life. The mystery keeps the reader guessing and has a great twist or two at the end. Cannot wait to read more in the series

View all my reviews



Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #101
  2. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #109
  3. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #123
  4. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  5. Cruisin thru Cozies  Free choice #70
  6. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #104
  7. Craving for Cozies  Book #88
  8. Medical Examiner Challenge 1 Toe Tags
  9. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 5
        • Garden, park, gazebo
    • Weapons
      • Row 5
        • Rifle or shotgun
    • Detectives- Shiloh Bellamy
    • Victims-Jefferson Crocker
  10. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #6  Shot #5



Class Act

This is the 58th installment in the Stuart Woods series about Stone Barrington.  At this point the series is definitely a bit predictable in certain aspects, dinner with Dino; Stone as a playboy;  people wanting to kill people.  All of this was present but I did find the plot a little better than the recent installments in the series.  I also found some of Stone's decisions to be a deviation from his normal behavior with a bit of a more edgy and questionable slant.  The plots are enough to keep my attention and will keep me returning for more but if you are looking for highly thought provoking or intricate details this is not the series for you. 


Class ActClass Act by Stuart Woods
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On one hand this is a typical Stone Barrington story. Rotating trysts and people wanting to kill him amidst fancy dinners at PJ Clarke’s and Patroon. This installment was a bit more gritty and showed a side of Stone that isn’t often seen. He is faced with some moral and ethical choices that he deals with himself rather than passing off to Herbie or other associates. This book will full of action, deceit and double crossing highlights the fact that people are not always what they seem and their pasts may surprise you

View all my reviews


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #100
  2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021  Stone Barrington #58
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #108
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #122
  5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  6. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #103
  7. Medical Examiner Challenge 6 Toe Tags
  8. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 1
        • Kitchen or bakery
      • Row 4
        • Street or sidewalk
      • Row 5
        • Bedroom
        • Bathtub, shower, bathroom
    • Weapons
      • Row 2 
        • Hand gun x3 
        • Pointy object x2 
      • Row 3
        • Bomb or explosion
      • Row 4
        • Dagger 
      • Row 5
        • Hands or fists
    • Detectives- Stone/Dino
    • Victims- Manny/Hilda/Sal/Cora/the Don/Michael 
  9. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #5b  Shot #1