Saturday, April 19, 2014

Review: A Killing Notion by: Melissa Bourbon


Title: A Killing Notion
Author: Melissa Bourbon
Publisher: Signet
Series: A Magical Dressmaking Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: ebook
Source: Cozy Book Tours

Description:

Harlow Jane Cassidy is swamped with homecoming couture requests. If only she didn’t have to help solve a murder, she might get the gowns off the dress forms....  

Harlow is doing everything she can to expand her dressmaking business, Buttons & Bows—without letting clients know about her secret charm. When she has a chance to create homecoming dresses with a local charity and handmade mums for several high school girls—including Gracie, whose father, Will, has mended Harlow’s heart—she is ready to use her magical talents for a great cause.

But when Gracie’s date for the dance is accused of murder, Harlow knows things won’t be back on course until she helps Gracie clear the football player’s name. If Harlow can’t patch up this mess before the big game, her business and her love life might be permanently benched.

INCLUDES SEWING TIPS

My Thoughts:

In this book we follow Texan Harlow Jane Cassidy as she is helping teenage girls get ready for homecoming.  When quickly in the book Gracie Harlow's boyfriend's daughter's boyfriend ends up loosing his dad then getting accused of his death.  Did Shane really kill his father?  And is there more to Chris Montgomery than meets the eye?

Helping Harlow investigate the murder is Harlow's dead grandmother who leads her to clues to solving the murder.  This book dealt with a lot families and the children of those families and how they deal when things go wrong and kids find out.

I enjoyed journeying to the truth in this story of who had the most to gain by Chris's death.  What you find out will really give a whole new angle for cozy mysteries I have never read one like this with such a twist that you wonder how these secrets stayed quiet for so long.  I loved how Gracie and Harlow really connected in this book with making homecoming dress and accessories used.  It was great!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: Easter Bunny Murder by: Leslie Meier

Title: Easter Bunny Murder
Author: Leslie Meier
Publisher: Kensington Books
Series: A Lucky Stone Mystery #19
Pages: 263
Format: Nook ebook
Source: Purchase

Description:

Spring has sprung in Tinker's Cove, and Lucy Stone has a mile-long to-do list. From painting eggs with her grandson, to preparing the perfect Easter feast, to reviving her garden after a long, cold winter, she hardly has time to hunt for a killer with a deadly case of spring fever... Lucy has always loved covering the annual Easter egg hunt for the Pennysaver. Hosted by elderly socialite Vivian Van Vorst at Pine Point, her luxurious oceanfront estate, it's a swanky event where the grown-ups sip cocktails while their children search for eggs that are as likely to contain savings bonds as they are jelly beans. 

But when Lucy arrives with her three-year-old grandson, VV's normally welcoming gates are locked, and a man dressed as the Easter Bunny emerges only to drop dead moments later… Lucy discovers that the victim is Van Vorst Duff, VV's grandson, and soon learns that not all is as it seems at idyllic Pine Point, where the champagne and caviar seem to be running dry. Always a social butterfly, VV has been skipping lunch dates with friends, and her much-needed donations to local charities have stopped with no explanation. Maybe she's going senile, or maybe her heirs are getting a little too anxious to take over her estate… As Lucy gathers a basketful of suspects, she's convinced someone's been hunting for a lot more than eggs, and she'll have to chase the truth down a rabbit hole before the killer claims another victim…

My Thoughts:

Everyone in Tinker's Cove is eagerly getting ready for Easter and with that comes a annual Easter Egg Hunt at Vivian Van Vorst's massive house.  When people get there they find something isn't right.  Nothing has been prepared for the festival.  And not long does Van dressed up as the Easter Bunny.  As people in town begin to notice that something isn't right in the Vorst's house.  Everything from Vivi's treatment to people being fired and not getting what standard pay is.  As a slew of deaths start to pile up it's up to Lucy to figure out what is going on.

There are no shortage of suspects between Vivi's granddaughter Vicky and her husband to their questionable lawyer.  To any number of people who might have been wronged by Vivi. Who is the guilty party and what are they hoping to gain by this?

This was a great seasonal themed book.  I loved reading about Easter themes intertwined with the story of a great murder mystery.  I really was left wondering who committed the horrible crimes, it was such a page turner and one I would read on another Easter when I'm needing my Easter Egg fix!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review - Too Much Happiness by: Alice Munro

Title: Too Much Happiness
Author: Alice Munro
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 304
Format: Turkish translation paperback
Source: Received from Turkish publisher for review

Description:

Ten superb new stories by one of our most beloved and admired writers—the winner of the 2009 Man Booker International Prize. 

In the first story a young wife and mother receives release from the unbearable pain of losing her three children from a most surprising source. In another, a young woman, in the aftermath of an unusual and humiliating seduction, reacts in a clever if less-than-admirable fashion. Other stories uncover the “deep-holes” in a marriage, the unsuspected cruelty of children, and how a boy’s disfigured face provides both the good things in his life and the bad. And in the long title story, we accompany Sophia Kovalevsky—a late-nineteenth-century Russian √©migr√© and mathematician—on a winter journey that takes her from the Riviera, where she visits her lover, to Paris, Germany, and, Denmark, where she has a fateful meeting with a local doctor, and finally to Sweden, where she teaches at the only university in Europe willing to employ a female mathematician.

With clarity and ease, Alice Munro once again renders complex, difficult events and emotions into stories that shed light on the unpredictable ways in which men and women accommodate and often transcend what happens in their lives.

Too Much Happiness is a compelling, provocative—even daring—collection.

My thoughts: 

After reading Too Much Happiness, I understood why Alice Munro has received so many awards, including the Nobel Prize in 2013. I should admit from the beginning that she entered my radar with her latest award, and on our first date she made me sad, got me mad, made me think, and made me question myself and all those around me. 

Munro tells us about the lives of different women, and it becomes obvious right away that she's an amazing observer. Not only an observer of actions, either; also an observer of emotions. Doree, for example, is someone who lets her husband psychologically pressure her and still visits him at jail. In another story, a young woman visits an older guy at his home and reads to him naked. In another one there's murder, and then a different one focuses on a woman who won't stop brestfeeding her baby even though the baby's past 5 months.

Most of them are women who stand up to authority, to public approval, women who do as they wish. Munro puts them in situations that we might come along every day as well as situations we can't even imagine. And while doing so, she pulls out the details that we wouldn't have noticed otherwise. I'm rather excited that I have at least one more Munro book to read this year.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review - Instructions for a Heatwave by: Maggie O'Farrell

Title: Instructions for a Heatwave
Author: Maggie O'Farrell
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 304
Format: Epub
Source: Personal purchase
Description:

Sophisticated, intelligent, impossible to put down, Maggie O’Farrell’s beguiling novels—After You’d Gone, winner of a Betty Trask Award; The Distance Between Us, winner of a Somerset Maugham Award; The Hand That First Held Mine, winner of the Costa Novel Award; and her unforgettable bestseller The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox—blend richly textured psychological drama with page-turning suspense. Instructions for a Heatwave finds her at the top of her game, with a novel about a family crisis set during the legendary British heatwave of 1976. 

Gretta Riordan wakes on a stultifying July morning to find that her husband of forty years has gone to get the paper and vanished, cleaning out his bank account along the way. Gretta’s three grown children converge on their parents’ home for the first time in years: Michael Francis, a history teacher whose marriage is failing; Monica, with two stepdaughters who despise her and a blighted past that has driven away the younger sister she once adored; and Aoife, the youngest, now living in Manhattan, a smart, immensely resourceful young woman who has arranged her entire life to conceal a devastating secret.

Maggie O’Farrell writes with exceptional grace and sensitivity about marriage, about the mysteries that inhere within families, and the fault lines over which we build our lives—the secrets we hide from the people who know and love us best. In a novel that stretches from the heart of London to New York City’s Upper West Side to a remote village on the coast of Ireland, O’Farrell paints a bracing portrait of a family falling apart and coming together with hard-won, life-changing truths about who they really are.

My thoughts:

In 1976, there was a heatwave that took over the UK, and especially in June and July, the temperature went over 36C and stayed there for a long time. Especially during the summer and fall of 1975 and 76, there was immense drought. It was at a point where there was no rain fall at all in some parts of the UK. As a result of this, food prices went record high when crops died.* And, the father of the Riorden family went out to buy the newspaper and didn't come back... That's where our story starts. 

Instructions for a Heatwave is the 6th novel by Irish author Maggie O'Farrell. I should say right from the beginning that I'm looking very much forward to reading the rest of her work. I can also say though that the subject-matter of the book wasn't my favorite part. Here's how I can summarize it in one sentence: it takes place during the drought I've mentioned above, and it's the story of a mother and her children looking for the father who took off and didn't come back. 

Gretta Riorden, the mother, was born and raised in Ireland. She's a very colorful character, still hanging on tight to her Catholic upbringing. She talks loudly and even has conversations with inanimate objects. The oldest son is Michael Francis, then there's Monica, and the Aofie (Irish for Eva) is the youngest and really way much younger than both her siblings. 

When we first start getting to know the family, Michael Francis lives close to his parents with his wife and two children, working as a teacher. Monica has been divorced once, is living with her new husband and trying to make the husband's kids to love her. Aofie, on the other hand, has left London and is living in New York City, working as the assistant of a famous, successful photographer. She is also keeping it as a secret from everyone else that she never learned how to read. The father, Robert Riorden, leaves to get the newspaper one day and doesn't come back. This is the incident that brings the entire family together: the quest to locate their missing father. Like I've said, I wasn't very crazy about the subject-matter...

If you ask me why I didn't just leave the book and move onto something else...

O'Farrel has a good eye for details and shows this to the reader in every page. However, unlike most authors who do like a good detail or two, she doesn't use them to describe tangible things; she uses them to create atmosphere and emotion, also dropping little clues about the characters themselves here and there. For example, when Gretta takes out the crafts she's abandoned a long time ago, you know she's restless. Monica's mind keeps drifting off to her sister Aofie even though she herself doesn't seem to understand why. Michael Francis gets mad at his mother because they always seem to "leave Monica alone" and bother him instead. With these clues, we really get an in depth feeling of the characters' emotions, what they're feeling at certain times and how they might react to something later on. Another example... Here's how O'Farrell explains Monica and Aofie's relationship, the sisters who shared a room before they both left home:

If you sleep near someone, night in, night out, breathing each other's air, it is as if your dreams, your unconscious lives become entangled, the circuits of your minds running close to each other, exchanging information without speech.

I was rather excited when I read this because I know from experience, having shared my room with my sister when we were little, that this does indeed happen. O'Farrell is very crafty in switching back and forth between past and future that you just take a smooth ride in time, finding out more and more secrets and realizing why the characters are the way they are.

I still had some questions left when the book was over. Like, why did the father chose that day and time to take off? Some of the "unusual" behaviors seem to be tied to the abnormal heat throughout the book. Is that it? Did the heat cause him to act out of character? I don't think this was really answered in the book, but it will also make it a book that I will find myself thinking about from time to time.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: A Roux Revenge by: Connie Archer


Title: A Roux Revenge
Author: Connie Archer
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Series: Soup Lover's Mystery #3
Pages: 305
Format: Paperback
Source: Cozy Book Tours

Description:

STIRRING UP TROUBLE

Snowflake, Vermont, is known for its skiing in winter—and its soup all year round, thanks to Lucky Jamieson’s By the Spoonful Soup Shop. Autumn brings golden leaves, pumpkin rice soup, the annual Harvest Festival… and murder.

Lucky’s soup shop is busier than usual this October, with groups of itinerant travelers in town to work the Harvest Festival. One newcomer seems to take a particular interest in Lucky’s young waitress, Janie, spying on her from across the street. Is the stranger stalking Janie?

After an unidentified man is found murdered in a van by the side of the road, simmering suspicions about the travelers are brought to a boil. But when Janie is put in harm’s way, Lucky must join forces with the travelers to turn up the heat on a killer…

Recipes included!

My Thoughts:

This book was sent to me as part of a book tour.  It follows the story of Lucky Jamieson and her grandfather Jack as they work at the Spoonful Soup Shop.  Early in this book a man is found dead and the chief of Police Nate is trying to figure out what happened.

Then we get introduced to Lucky, Jack, Sage, and Janie and other colorful characters.  Janie is having a hard time dealing with her mother they are fighting and Lucky offers Janie a place to stay while the women work out their issues and Lucky learns about traveler's gypsy people who run festivals around different states and Miriam's connection to them.  It's a sad story, from there a man keeps watching Janie and Janie can't figure out why.  Pretty soon Janie figures out why, but no one can figure out how the dead guy is connected to all of this.

To make things harder on Nate everything goes missing from the vehicle the dead guy was in to the dead guy himself.  Which puts more pressure on Nate to wrap up this case.  Will Nate ever solve this case?  And how does Janie apply to this murder investigation?

This book was great we get to see so many different stories and what people are up too.  Also we get to see how Lucky's love life is and where it is headed.  I really enjoyed reading this book along with the different soup recipes!

GIVEAWAY TIME:

This giveaway is U.S.A. only.  I have one copy of this book and some swag as well, to giveaway to a luck winner all you have to do is list your favorite cozy mystery series, and why.  Easy peasy!  Please include your email address so that I can contact you.  Good luck everyone!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: Small Town Spin by: LynDee Walker


Title: Small Town Spin
Author: LynDee Walker
Publisher: Henery Press
Series: A Headlines in High Heels Mystery #3
Pages: 280
Format: NetGalley ebook
Source: Cozy Book Tours

Description:

BIG IDEAS AND WONDERFUL CHARACTERS…

When a superstar athlete's son turns up dead in a tiny town on the Virginia coast, crime reporter Nichelle Clarke gets the inside scoop. But she quickly spies a gaping hole her inner Lois Lane cannot ignore.

Determined to unravel the mystery, Nichelle fights off paparazzi cameras and an unexpected rival. She uncovers an illegal moonshine operation, a string of copycat suicides, and a slew of closets stacked with more skeletons than slingbacks. Chasing a killer who’s a breath from getting away with murder, Nichelle realizes too late the culprit has her number—and it might be up.

My Thoughts:

When a up and coming baseball star in school is found dead by apparent suicide it's up to Nichelle to figure out what is going on in the small town of Matthews.  All points suggest not a suicide but something else.  Could someone have wanted him dead?  When TJ's girlfriend comes back to town and winds up dead as well another apparent suicide it's falling on Nichelle to find out why the kids are dying and who has the most to gain by it?

Nichelle also stumbles upon a moonshine operation and is determined to figure out if moonshine is to blame in the recent deaths.  When the truth unravels Nichelle finds it more shocking that anyone would think.

I loved spending time with Nichelle and her co-workers and associates to see what they are like and what the small town of Matthews is all about.  It's a quite, quaint little town with locals knowing everything before it makes the news.  Every stones gets turned over in this book to figure out what is going on, and who had the most to gain by the teen deaths.

The ending had a great spin all of it's own when something happened to the prime suspect in Nichelle's eyes.  It definitely had a great twist that all cozy mysteries have even when you think you figure it out there is always the big twist in the story.  Can't wait to read more by LynDee Walker!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review: I'll See You In My Dreams by: Michael Edwin Q

Title: I'll See You In My Dreams
Author: Michael Edwin Q
Publisher: Michael Edwin Q
Pages: 256
Format: bound book
Source: Author Request

Description:

85 year old Christopher Goodman and 84 year old Irene Kelly live thousands of miles from each other. But ever night they meet in a shared dream where they are young lovers. It's time they meet in the real world. Christopher runs away from home, and with the help of his grandson, Walter Jr., they journey on a quest to Irene - his intentions - marriage! A cast of characters you will never forget. There's Romance, Mystery, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, but most of all LOVE! You have a date tonight! Don't forget I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS.

My Thoughts: 

In this book we follow the story of Christopher Goodman and Irene Kelly.  When Chris goes to sleep he dreams of an island where a beautiful girl is there, the girl is Irene Kelly who has been on the island as well.  The two find out they were high school sweethearts until they broke up long ago and met other significant others and since the death of their spouses have found their way to the island.

Chris decides to make the trek to San Diego where Irene is.  No matter how much she tells him to go back to Texas he just can't let Irene go when they could get married in the real world.  What he doesn't realize is what awaits him in California.

This book was great we get to see the relationship between Chris and Irene and Chris's relationship with his family.  When Chris goes missing his grandson Walter Jr. sets out on trek to find his grandfather and give him his happy ever after. 

The two meet some interesting characters and travel all over the country to get to San Diego, helping those along the way they can. One man they met they were able to help heal a relationship between a father and son.  Another was helping a family get away safely.

I just enjoyed this story so much it was great.  The characters were definitely intriguing and had you wanting to continue to read until the story was told!  What a great adventure to go on!

Respect The Arc