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BE MY BANSHEE

Be My Banshee (Purple Door Detective Agency) (Volume 1) - Joyce Lavene, Jeni Chappelle, Jim Lavene

BE MY BANSHEE is unlike anything I have ever read. This book isn’t just a para-cozy, it has a large paranormal aspect to it. It’s not a story I would normally read or review on my blog, but there was one major deciding factor in me choosing to read it…the authors, Joyce and Jim Lavene. These two brilliant writers turn everything they write into gold.

 

Well written and very creative, BE MY BANSHEE has an incredible plot. There was action and suspense from the beginning of page one, all the way to the fantastic conclusion. Once again the Lavenes have created a winning new series.

 

Even if this isn’t your normal reading material, with the Halloween season approaching add a copy of this fun mystery to your reading list. Can you think of a more perfect time of year to read a book about witches, banshees, shape shifters, and more?

 

If you’ve read books but this beyond talented writing team, then you know you have to get this book. If you haven’t read the writing of Joyce and Jim Lavene…what are you waiting for?!

AURORA TEAGARDEN MYSTERIES VOL 1

The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries Omnibus 1 - Charlaine Harris

I didn’t read the stories in this book when they were first published, but after seeing the Hallmark Channel movie based on the second book in the series, A BONE TO PICK, I knew I had to read them. I’ll do each review separately.

 

REAL MURDER

I enjoyed this first story in the Aurora Teagarden Mystery series. REAL MURDERS was fast paced and entertaining.

 

Lead character Aurora “Roe” Teagarden is a lot like a grown up Nancy Drew. She can’t turn her back on a good mystery, especially not when it involves the murder of a fellow member of the Real Murders club.

 

Aurora’s investigation is not an easy one for her, or for the reader. With so many twists and turns I wasn’t anywhere close to making a guess at the killer. I was blown away with the reveal.

 

After reading REAL MURDERS, I was even more excited to start that second story,

 

A BONE TO PICK

Having seen the Hallmark movie of A BONE TO PICK, I of course already knew the outcome of this story, but that didn’t take away from the fun of it. As in most cases, this book was better than the movie.

 

Author Charlaine Harris has a wonderful writing style that simply pulls you into her stories. You get a real sense of being involved in it all.

 

In this story, Aurora “Roe” has an old mystery to solve when she finds a skull in the window seat of the house she inherited from an acquaintance. Suddenly the excitement of owning a new house and everything else that was left to her is overshadowed with trying to solve the mystery of the skull.

 

I will say, of all the cozy mystery protagonist I’ve read, Aurora is a little more zealous and reckless in her investigating. I hazard from being a member of the Real Murder group no doubt. But to me it just added to the fun because I kept saying things out loud like “Seriously! You’re going to do that? You’re just asking to get yourself caught and killed!” Yes, I do talk to the characters when I read. Don’t you?

 

All in all, this was a wonderful, well written story that was hard to put down. And now after reading the first two books, I’m really looking forward to getting caught up on the whole series.

KILLER RUN

Killer Run (A Tourist Trap Mystery Book 5) - Lynn Cahoon

When I read the first book in this series, I knew it was going to do well. But I didn’t come close to conceiving what a runaway hit it would be!

 

I really enjoy the characters in the Tourist Trap series. They’re not perfect. Not even series lead Jill Gardner. They all have flaws. Some of them are aware of them and some aren’t. You can’t get any more real life than that.

 

I have to say, I was happy to see the victim in KILLER RUN murdered. LOL Harsh I know, but I didn’t like her at all. As far as victims in mysteries go, she had it coming. 

 

Author Lynn Cahoon has smooth and easy writing style that made me want to keep turning page after page. This story had plenty of twists, turns, ups and down to keep me guessing. And once the killer was revealed, I was holding my breath through the excitement. A very action packed scene indeed. Without giving anything away, if I had been Jill, I may have murdered Aunt Jackie during this scene. ;-) It would have been easy enough to get away with.

 

Killer Run was a perfect installment to a wonderful series. I look forward to what Lynn Cahoon has planned for the next book!

DINNER AND DEATH

Dinner and Death: A Carolina Pennsbury Mystery - Helen Grochmal

A wonderful mystery of murder, mayhem, and table assignments, all set in the world of an “old folk’s home --- that is, Independent Retirement Community”.

 

This delightful mystery follows Carolina Pennsbury and her fellow dinner table companions of the Buckingham Courte Retirement Community. And tis group of ladies is something else! After “losing” the sixth member of their dinner table group, the ladies try very hard to keep their seating arrangements to five. But how many are at their table becomes the least of their worries when they have a would be cat killer to find, after someone poisons one of the residents cats.

 

This was a cozy unlike any I’ve read. With an original concept and a true skill for storytelling, author Helen Grochmal had me intrigued and completely absorbed in this laugh out loud mystery.

 

I can only hope that should I find myself in a retirement community one day, I have a group of ladies like these for companions. Hmm…or do I?

 

DINNER AND DEATH is the second Carolina Pennsbury mystery. I plan to go back and read the first in this series. And I look forward to more installments.

GONE BUT KNOT FORGOTTEN

Gone But Knot Forgotten (Quilting Mysteries (Mary Marks)) - Mary Marks

Author Mary Marks is back with another delight installment of her Quilting Mystery series.

 

Please be assured, you do not have to know how to quilt to enjoy this series, not do you need to have read the first to books in the series to read this one. But it is always fun to go back to the other installments to see how it all started.

 

In GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN, protagonist Martha Rose suddenly finds herself executor to a friend’s estate. A friend she hasn’t seen in twenty years. Things don’t seem right to Martha, and then another body is discovered. Add to that the theft of items worth millions of dollars, and Martha knows she has to get to the bottom of things.

 

I truly enjoy Ms. Mark’s style of writing. I really liked that she explained some of the rituals of a Jewish funeral. I’m Christian and my grandmother was a minister, so learning more about other religions is fascinating to me.

 

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN was a wonderfully crafted mystery. Ms. Marks takes us through a sleuthing at a perfect pace.  There were more twists and turns than a quilt has stitches. More suspects than a few, and questions that felt like there could be no answers to. All leading up to an amazing reveal that had me completely surprised.

 

I look forward to what author Marks has in store for us next! 

THE DARLING DAHLIAS AND THE ELEVEN O'CLOCK LADY

The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O'Clock Lady - Susan Wittig Albert

Having read this book on the heels of the book before it in the series, THE DARLING DAHLIAS AND THE SILVER DOLLAR BUSH, I will say I liked ELEVEN O’CLOCK LADY more.

 

The Darling Dahlias are back and planning on enjoying a wonderful summer. But they didn’t plan on the murder of the town’s lady with the “somewhat wild reputation”. 

 

With rumors sprouting up all over and the suspect list growing like weeds, THE DAELING DAHLEAS AND THE SILVER DOLLAR BUSH was a well plotted mystery that captured my attention at the very beginning and held me captured until the end.

 

I really like all the ladies in the garden club. In real life, one or two of them would be sort of hard to get used to. However, between the pages of this book, they are a lot of fun to read.

 

With it’s 1930’s setting, this isn’t your typical cozy mystery. That being said, this series shouldn’t be over looked by cozy readers.

 

And be sure to check out the back of the book where you will find The Dahlias’ Household Magic tips, and wonderful southern style depression – era recipes!

DARLING DAHLIAS AND THE SILVER DOLLAR BUSH

The Darling Dahlias and the Silver Dollar Bush - Susan Wittig Albert

I just took my first trip to Darling, Alabama in the 1930’s. I had a delightful time, so I’m going again! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

THE DARLING DAHLIAS AND THE SILVER DOLLAR BUSH, was my first book in this historical mystery series, but not my first book by author Susan Wittig Albert. I started reading her China Bayles books a few months. Wittig Albert is an exceptional writer. Her words seem to flow effortlessly from her pen/keyboard. At least, that’s how they read to me.

 

I enjoyed getting to know Liz Lacy and the other ladies of the Darling Dahlias’ gardening club. These ladies prove that the women of the 1930’s were no shrinking violets. These ladies made this story feel a bit more character driven than some books. Indeed’ this book read a bit more like a “women’s fiction” than a mystery. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t mean that as a negative. I just wanted to point out that it transcended genre barriers and I think many readers will like that. 

 

The mystery was done very well and it was interesting to see how everything was resolved.

 

And just for something I personally enjoy…the author included a character list at the beginning and she named each chapter. I just love that. ;-)

 

There are also several southern-style depression-era recipes included at the back of the book.

BOOKED FOR TROUBLE

Booked for Trouble - Eva Gates

I enjoyed my return visit to the Outer Banks and The Lighthouse Library so much I didn’t want it to end!

 

Author Eva Gates has written a wonderful second installment in the Lighthouse Library Mystery series. Book one, BY BOOK OR BY CROOK, was absolutely delightful, but Ms. Gates has kicked the mystery and entertainment up a few notches with, BOOKED FOR TROUBLE.

 

From the moment I opened this book I was drawn in and didn’t want to be disturbed until I had finished. The setting, the people, everything about this book was well written. A library in a lighthouse? Does it get much cozier than that?

 

Perfectly paced and well plotted, BOOKED FOR TROUBLE was excellent from cover to over. It you are limited on the books you can, make sure this wonderful mystery is one of them!

 

Don’t miss the excerpt for READING UP A STORM, found at the back of the book.

BLACK CAT CROSSING

— feeling amazing
Black Cat Crossing - Kay Finch

Author Kay Finch is the new cat’s meow of cozy mysteries.

 

A cozy mystery where the protagonist is an aspiring mystery writer and a black cat that is supposed to be bad luck? How was I going to pass on this one? And then, on the very first page there is a coffee shop that plays disco music. Author Kay Finch must have my house bugged!

 

To say I loved BLACK CAT CROSSING would be an understatement. This first book in the new Bad Luck Cat Mystery series was absolutely purrfection (Oh come on, I had to!).

 

Sabrina Tate, the above mentioned protagonist, is a fantastic cozy lead. And I adore her Aunt Rowena “Roe”. And Hitchcock the cat is sure to be a favorite among readers. I look forward to reading more about them in future installments.

 

Ms. Finch has written a book packed with mystery and intrigue. Each chapter brought something new and exciting to the story. All culminating in a surprising reveal that left me both shocked and breathless.

 

Look for the yummy recipes at the back of the book!

DEATH OF A BLUE BLOOD

Murder, She Wrote: Death of a Blue Blood - Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain

At forty-three books and counting, what can I say about a book in the Murder She Wrote series that hasn’t already been said?

 

Author Donald Bain along with his collaborator Jessica Fletcher, have a real flare for storytelling and have done a remarkable job of continuing the adventures of Ms. Fletcher. When you read a book in this series, it’s like sitting in front of the television and watching an episode of the show the books are based on. You can hear the characters voices via the actors of from the show.

 

As with past installments in this series, DEATH OF A BLUE BLOOD was extremely well written with an entertaining plot. It’s always fun having Jessica team up with Scotland Yard detective inspector George Sutherland. They make an excellent pair. While they investigate one murder another apparent murder happens. With more suspects than a few, Mr. Bain gave my brain a real work out while trying to solve this mystery.

 

If you’re a fan of the Murder She Wrote Mystery series, you’re going to love this installment. Haven’t read any of the books but loved the show? No worries. Reading DEATH OF A BLUE BLOOD is like watching a lost episode.

 

Make sure to check out the back of the book for an excerpt from book 44, THE GHOST AND MRS. FLETCHER.

LAW AND AUTHOR

— feeling amazing
Law and Author (Ashton Corners Book Club) - Erika Chase

As a fan of this series I’ve really been looking forward to LAW AND AUTHOR. I was not disappointed! Author Erika Chase has written another wonderful story in the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series.

 

This series has one of my favorite groups of characters. Lizzie Turner and the other members of the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society had a lot on their hands in this one when murder hits to close to the group.

 

Ms. Chase certainly knows how to write a fantastic story. Once I opened this book and started reading this amazingly well plotted mystery, I found myself being drawn in deeper and deeper until the room around me disappeared and I was completely enmeshed in the world of Ashton Corners loved every second of it right up to the exciting reveal!

 

LAW AND AUTHOR serves to prove that this series just keeps getting better with every story.

 

And I just have to mention that I love that Ms. Chase starts each chapter with a quote from a book along with the title and the author. What a great tribute to those authors. Plus it’s a great way for readers to add to their TBRs!

 

Check out the back of the book for each character’s reading list, and an excerpt from a brand new series by Linda Wikin aka Erika Chase!

KNOT THE USUAL SUSPECTS

Knot the Usual Suspects - Molly MacRae

Author Molly MacRae has written another winner in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery series. Like a beautiful afghan, every new stich she makes in this series only serves to make it more wonderful.

 

KNOT THE USUAL SUSPECTS is absolutely delightful. I can’t knit a knot, but I loved reading about the lovely projects this fun loving, sassy group of characters create. It really does inspire me to want to learn the craft.

 

Kath and crew find themselves in the middle of another murder, and of course they investigate, with the help of resident ghost, Geneva.

 

Ms. MacRae has a wonderful talent for combining mystery, fun, crafting, and the paranormal. With twists and turns and surprises all the way to the exciting reveal, KNOT THE USUAL SUSPECTS is a must read mystery that will thrill readers and have them begging the author for more.

 

This is also a great mystery for readers of several mystery sub-genres. Craft-cozies, and para-cozies. There is indeed something for everyone in this one.

 

Don’t forget to check out the back of the book for recipes and knitting patterns! 

TRICK OR DECEIT

Trick or Deceit - Shelley Freydont

In more than plenty of time for Halloween, TRICK OR DECEIT is the perfect book to read for the season. But I bet you won’t last that long before you read this installment of the Celebration Bay Mystery series.

 

It’s October in Celebration Bay and murder and mischief was not supposed to be on the agenda for event coordinator Liv Montgomery. Well, not the real thing anyway. But that doesn’t stop it from happening.

 

Halloween is my favorite holiday setting for cozy mysteries. I mean, how perfect, right? And author Shelley Freydont takes full advantage of the holiday to write a delightful mystery that is tricky to figure out and a real treat to devour. TRICK OR DECEIT was a great whodunit with more surprises than candy in a trick or treat bag, and had me second guessing myself right up until the thrilling conclusion.

 

Don’t be afraid to pick up this Halloween cozy. You’re going to love it! And I look forward to what author Freydont has in store for us next.

 

ONCE UPON A GRIND

— feeling amazing
Once Upon a Grind - Cleo Coyle

I must admit here and now that this is the first book I have read in the Coffeehouse Mystery series. Not for lack of wanting to. I just have a huge TBR (to be read) and I didn’t want to add a series with so many books already in it to catch up on. Oh boy, have I ever been cheating myself out of some wonderful reading time! This book is not as good as my sister has told me the series is, it’s ten times better!

 

By the end of chapter one of ONCE UPON A GRIND, I knew I was hooked worse than one gets on the wonderful caffeine this series is about. I felt an instant affection right away with the story’s characters. Series lead Clare Cosi is someone I would like to know. And while I don’t normally care for cozies set in big cities, NYC is about as big as they get, this book had a very cozy, small town feel and I greatly enjoyed it.

 

The fairy tale theme in the story was very well done. Author Cleo Coyle perfectly blended real life and the fairy tale aspects to create a spectacular mystery that left me breathless. I was on the edge of my seat through the twists and turns of this book. And with its brilliant conclusion, I was finally able to take a deep breath. I am now a mega Cleo Coyle fan. Good thing my sister has the whole series!

 

So, grab a cup of your favorite brew and be prepared to enjoy this awesome book.

 

Make sure to check out the back of the book for tons of tips and recipes!

 

BASKET CASE

— feeling amazing
Basket Case - Nancy Haddock

BASKET CASE is one of the cutest, most refreshing new cozy mysteries of the year! Author Nancy Haddock has created an extraordinarily, fun cast of characters. The “Silver Six” are such a handful, but there isn’t one of them I wouldn’t want for an aunt.

 

This first book in the Silver Six Crafting Mystery series is packed with fun, mystery, and just plain good story telling. I was captivated from beginning to end, sad when the book was done.

 

Ms. Haddock lets readers get a very good way into the story before she brings in the discovery of the murder victim. I’m so glad she waited. It really helped me to get to know and enjoy the core characters before they launched into investigation mode.

 

Excellent writing and a wonderfully plotted mystery make BASKET CASE one of the “must read” new mysteries of 2015. Don’t miss out on this one!  Nancy Haddock is sure to be an ongoing name in cozy mysteries.

 

Crafting tips, recipes, and an excerpt of book 2, GOODBYE GOURDEOUS, can all be found at the back of the book!

CINDERELLA SIX FEET UNDER

Cinderella Six Feet Under - Maia Chance

I’ve mentioned this in several reviews…cozy mysteries are starting to add more and more historicals to the genre. Hmmm…a new subgenre, historical-cozies. But none of the others are quite like the Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery series.

 

Author Maia Chance is breathing new life not only into cozies, but into fairy tales as well. CINDERELLA SIX FEET UNDER is a delightfully murderous take on the well-loved story of Cinderella. This story starts off early into the book with the discovery of the victim’s body. What follows is a well plotted, wonderfully written mystery that kept me guessing.

 

Ms. Chance really did her research and captured the feel of her Victorian setting. Through her use of language and descriptions, I was transported back to Victorian times and found myself in the mystery/fairy tale and part of the investigation myself.

 

If you’ve read the first book in this series, SNOW WHITE RED-HANDED, I have no doubt you’ll enjoy this next installment. But, if like myself, you haven’t read the first book, no worries, you won’t feel lost in CINDERELLA SIX FEET UNDER at all.

 

Keep reading after the story is over for a sneak peek of BEAUTY, BEAST, AND BELLADONNA, book 3 in this great series!