It's the end of March, already. 2023 is flying by, isn't it? That must mean it is time for another reading summary. Along with that, the index
has been updated. Two months in a row!
All ratings are on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great). The link takes you to my full review.
Till Death Do Us Port by Kate Lansing
(Colorado Wine Mysteries #4) – 5
Parker Valentine is thrilled for her cousin, Emma, who is
about to marry the man of her dreams.
And Parker is hoping that providing the wine for the reception will help
grow her winery. However, the day is
facing more than the usual rockiness.
Then things take a turn when the wedding planner turns up dead, and
Parker teams up with an unlikely ally to figure out who did it.
I’d forgotten just how wonderful this series is before I
picked up this book, but I was reminded very quickly. The characters are strong. I love seeing how Parker and the rest of the
regulars have grown, and the new characters were just as good. Between drama and the mystery, there’s plenty
to keep us turning pages, and it leads to a great climax. The way the author weaves in tidbits about
grapes and wine to shed light on the story helps build on the theme. There are some funny moments as well, which really
added to my enjoyment. The book is
written in present tense, which is different, but I find it well worth the
extra effort it takes my brain to adjust in the first couple of chapters. We get three recipes at the end, combined
with suggested wine pairings. Fans will
enjoy this book, and if you haven’t started this series yet, fix that today.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Record Store Reckoning by J.C. Kenney (Darcy
Gaughan Mysteries #1) – 4
Darcy Gaughan has just returned home from a wonderful
vacation. On her first day back at work,
she makes a horrible discovery, the body of her boss and mentor in his
office. The evidence seems to point to
suicide, or at least that’s what the police think. Darcy doesn’t buy it for a minute and starts to
investigate to learn the truth. Can she
figure out what really happened? Or are
the police right?
I couldn’t resist a music store set cozy, and this one
introduced us to some great characters.
I liked Darcy and the rest of the staff, and the suspects were strong as
well. I appreciated the fact that they
still had motives even though the victim was generally a well-loved
person. I did feel the pacing was off,
including a small data dump early on, but it did build to a strong climax. I also found a lot of typos in the physical
copy I bought soon after it came out.
The book is still very readable, but they were annoying. Things build to a logical and fun climax. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to
Vinyl Resting Place
by Olivia Blacke (Record
Shop Mysteries #1) – 5
Juni Jessup and her sisters have opened Sip and Spin
Records, a combined record store and coffee shop, on the site of the one that
their family used to own before records stopped selling. The night before their official opening, they
are throwing a party, but things turn tragic afterward when Juni finds a dead
body in their storage closet. When their
uncle is arrested for the crime, Juni and her sisters don’t hesitate to put their
shop up to get him released on bail. But
then he vanishes. Can the three of them
figure out what is really going on in time to save their shop?
I really enjoyed this debut.
The plot takes off in a couple of different directions, and I enjoyed
that creativity. I did feel it slowed
down a little in the middle, but it picked up again for a fantastic
climax. You can feel the history between
Juni and her sisters, and I loved their relationships. There are other fun series regulars, and the
suspects fit into the book perfectly. I
also enjoyed the humor running through the book. The setting, a small town just outside of
Austin, Texas, was charming as well. I
can’t wait to revisit Juni and the rest of the characters again soon.
The Shimmer by Ridley Pearson (Kingdom Keepers
Inheritance #1) – 4
In the near future, Eli Whitman is living in EPCOT, which
has been designed to fulfill Walt Disney’s original vision for a
community. His thirteenth birthday
coincides with a solar eclipse, but it’s what happens at his party that is
really strange. The video game he and
his friends are playing comes to life, and someone jumps out from it,
kidnapping him. Can his friends find
him? Where is he?
When Ridley Pearson announced he was going to write about
the kids of the Kingdom Keepers, I knew I had to find out what he was going to
do next. I loved the advances in
technology we get with the future setting.
There’s plenty of action to keep us turning pages, and I’m curious to
see where this saga is going to go next.
I did have a little trouble keeping all the characters straight early
on, but the important ones quickly emerge as the action starts. And yes, the original Kingdom Keepers we know
and love are here, and they have a slightly larger roll than I was expecting,
which was wonderful. I’m already anxious
to see where the characters are going to find themselves next.
All This is Hidden by Rhys Bowen and Clare
Broyles (Molly Murphy #19) – 4
Molly is shocked when her husband, Daniel, announces that he
has quit his job with the New York City police department to run for New York
Sheriff on the Tammany Hall ticket.
Knowing how much Daniel hates bribes, she can’t believe it, but he tells
her to trust him. Along with this change,
they are moving into a house of Fifth Avenue, which also doesn’t make Molly
happy. As she tries to adjust to her new
life, she finds that something is going on beneath the surface. Then a murder takes place. Can Molly figure out what is going on?
It's always a delight to visit Molly in 1900’s New York
City. The time and place come expertly
to life as we watch her try to figure out exactly what is happening. As is often the case in this series, it takes
a little while for the story to truly begin, but once it does, we are treated
to an interesting mystery. One part of
the ending was a little abrupt, but that’s a minor complaint. I’m happy to say I liked Daniel here overall,
which isn’t always the case, and the rest of the regulars were their charming
selves. I also liked most of the
suspects, which made solving the murder that much more interesting. Fans old and new will lose themselves in
Molly’s latest case.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Hooked on Murder by Betty Hechtman (Crochet
Mysteries #1) – 3
Recently widowed Molly Pink has landed a job as the events
coordinator at a local independent bookstore.
Part of that is overseeing the crochet group that meets in their event
space. When one of their members, Ellen
Sheridan, leaves behind her crochet needles, Molly decides to run them
home. Unfortunately, she finds Ellen’s
dead body, and the police are right behind her.
Molly has more of a connection to Ellen then she lets on at first, and
the police think that makes her a great suspect. Can she figure out what really happened?
When I realized this book was set in Southern California, I
decided I had to give it a try. While
there is a good mystery in here, the pacing is off, and some of the sub-plots
slowed things down further. On the other
hand, I loved the characters, who are varied and charming. I especially enjoyed the fictional
celebrities who showed up. Part of my
problem was the writing, which felt a bit vague at times, and kept me from
getting fully into Molly’s world. There
is a simple crochet project and a delicious sounding recipe at the end. I liked the characters enough to consider
picking up the sequel, but it’s not a series I’m going to rush back to.
Apprehend Me No Flowers by Diane Vallere
(Madison Night #7) – 4
It’s May 2019, and Madison is dealing with a lot. Not only has her idol, Doris Day, recently
died, but her business is closed while she deals with a lawsuit. However, a picnic dinner with her boyfriend,
police captain Tex Allen, provides distraction, and not in a good way. Madison finds a dead body stuffed in a trash
can; meanwhile, hikers find another on the other side of the park. Can Madison figure out what is going on? Or will she cause more harm than good?
Since Doris Day has been such a large part of the DNA of the
series (in a completely fictional sense), I appreciated that this book took the
time to address how her death was impacting Madison. It’s part of her growth in this book, which I
enjoyed. I also appreciated the plot,
which includes several different things and kept me entertained until the
logical climax. Unfortunately, I did
feel there were a couple of editing snafus, but they were minor overall. There is a recurring character who continues
to surprise me, and that happened here again as well. I very much want to see where that
relationship is going. All told, this is
another winner that will please series fans.
Four Parties and a Funeral by Maria DiRico
(Catering Hall Mysteries #4) – 4
Even though Mia Carina has no desire to be part of the new
reality show, Dons of Ditmars Boulevard, Belle View has been hired as a
location for some events and to cater others.
Not only that, but some mobsters she knows have been cast. She quickly learns that the drama unfolding
before the cameras is no match for the drama unfolding among the crew. Still, she is surprised when a dead body
turns up. With someone she knows the
police’s chief suspect, Mia jumps in to find out what is really happening. Can she figure it out?
It was wonderful to be back with Mia and the rest of her
family and friends. Yes, I did find a few
things related to the production of the show stretched believability a bit for
me, but that’s mostly minor. I was
having fun the entire way through the book, laughing quite a bit at the antics
of the characters. I suspect if I
watched the kind of show being lampooned here, I would find it even
funnier. There are several sub-plots,
but they never take away from the strong mystery, which goes to some rather
creative places before Mia reaches the logical solution. The regular characters are up to their usual
antics, which is always fun, and I loved the development that some of them
got. This book will leave readers, old
and new, with a grin on their face.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
The Christie Caper by Carolyn Hart (Death on
Demand #7) – 4
Annie Laurence Darling is hosting The Christie Caper, a
week-long tribute to the queen of crime on her one hundredth birthday. But the event is being crashed by Neil
Bledsoe, a reviewer who hates all but the most hard boiled mysteries and has
made lots of enemies. Things have hardly
started before the attacks on Neil begin, but he still goes ahead with tearing
down Agatha Christie. Can Annie figure
out what he is up to and stop him before someone stops him permanently?
Obviously, this book came out quite a few years ago since it
was tied to Agatha Christie’s centennial.
But that hardly matters since this is a great puzzle worth of Christie
herself. I did find the pacing a little
slow as it neared the middle of the book, but things picked up again not too
long after that. All the characters we
know and love are here once again, and they are fantastic. I do find Annie’s temper a little annoying,
and hope it tones down as the series progresses. The suspects are strong as well. We get a great dose of humor as the book goes
along. As with the others in the series,
there is more foul language than I would expect for the genre. All told, this is another fine addition to a
well-loved series. Fans of Christie will
also enjoy it.
Intrigue in Istanbul by Erica Ruth Neubauer
(Jane Wunderly Mysteries #4) – 5
Jane Wunderly has returned home to Boston with her new
fiancé, Redvers. However, when they come
home, they discover that Professor Wunderly, Jane’s father, has left town,
following a lead to an ancient artifact that he’s been hoping to find for
years. Since something in Boston needs
his immediate attention, they head to Istanbul only to find that he’s
vanished. Not knowing if anyone they are
meeting is friend or foe, they try to figure out where he is. Will they find him before it is too late?
It was wonderful to be back in 1926 with Jane and
Redvers. Fans will be delighted to find
that Aunt Millie is back as well. While
there are some murders in the book, there is plenty of story to keep the reader
entertained before they happen. I was
hooked right away and always had a hard time putting the book down. The time period comes to life wonderfully as
well. I enjoyed the new characters we
met, and I liked watching Jane grow as a result of what she learned. If you are new to the series, you could jump
in here. Whether new to the series or
already a fan, you’ll find this book enjoyable.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
The Clairvoyant Countess by Dorothy Gilman
(Madame Karitska #1) – 3
Madame Karitska is a psychic, and when she meets a young
woman in danger, Madame Karitska reaches out to Lieutenant Pruden for
help. Thus begins their relationships as
Madame Karitska helps him on several other case. What really happened with a couple of murders
three years ago? And did a young woman
die in a car accident?
I don’t normally pick up supernatural themed stories, but
since I love this author’s Mrs. Pollifax series, I decided to give it a
try. Sadly, it disappointed. I tried, but I couldn’t let go of the
supernatural element. I think part of
that was because it made the stories a bit easy to solve. I was also expecting a novel instead of a
series of short stories. There are a
couple of arcs that tie them together, mainly for Lieutenant Pruden, who is as
equally an important character as Madame Karitska. Yet I did enjoy some of the stories in this
collection, and I really liked the characters, so this wasn’t a completely