Saturday, May 26, 2018

Comic Sans Murder

Author:  Paige Shelton
Series:  A Dangerous Type Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  December 2017

Description:  The visit of quirky world-famous horror author Nathan Grimes to Star City is especially thrilling for Clare Henry and her grandfather Chester. As the owners of The Rescued Word, a charming boutique shop in town, Clare and Chester specialize in restoring old typewriters and repairing beloved books. They’ve invited Nathan to their shop to use their equipment for his next book.
But all plans to work on the book take a step in the wrong direction when a tourist discovers an abandoned ski boot on the slopes—and the only sign of the owner is the dismembered foot he left inside! Nathan’s writer’s curiosity for all things horror is further piqued after the body of Clare’s high school friend Lloyd Gavin is discovered sans one foot. When all toes point to a class reunion gone wrong, Nathan can’t help but join Clare and her best friend, police officer Jodie Wentworth, as they hurry to track down the killer before more former classmates become Most Likely to Be Killed.

My Review

I've been reading a lot of advanced reader copies of new books so far this year and I decided that I really need to catch up on some series and books that have been on the to be read list.  So, it's time to return to Star City Utah to see what new trouble Clare and her friends can stir up.  Paige Shelton has crafted a terrific series with characters that hook you from the beginning.  This third book in the Dangerous Type Mystery series was just as entertaining as the first two.  

What continues to draw me to Paige Shelton books is the way she crafts her characters and combines them with engaging mysteries.  Clare Henry is one of those characters.  In fact, She is well rounded, dimensional and engaging.  I think the secondary cast of characters is also well developed and add to the overall depth of the story.  Clare continues to grown into her own as a protagonist and amateur sleuth.  She is still dating Seth and their relationship is written so that if feels natural and not rushed.

I thought the mystery in this third book was really well done and it kept me guessing.  Ms. Shelton certainly threw in plenty of plot twists that kept me re-evaluating my guess as to the culprit or culprits.  I love a mystery that keeps me guessing and on my toes.  This one definitely did that. 

I love reading about Clare, the Rescued Word and the rest of the citizens of Star City.  Ms. Shelton has crafted a delightful series that entertains and takes the reader along for the ride as a wonderfully crafted mystery unfolds.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Magical Match

Author:  Juliet Blackwell
Series:  A Witchcraft Mystery #9
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  April 3, 2018

Description:  Lily Ivory and her friends are planning a 1950s-themed brunch to benefit the local women's shelter. When a figure from her past shows up unannounced, threatening her unless she returns something that belonged to him, Lily's fiancĂ©, Sailor, steps in to defend her. After the same man is found dead later that day, Sailor is the primary suspect. He swears he's innocent, but multiple witnesses ID him as the perpetrator of the assault. Lily vows to clear his name...only she's not sure where to start with the mounting evidence against him. 

When she sees Sailor in the neighborhood despite knowing he's in jail, Lily starts to wonder if there could be a doppelganger in San Francisco. When she's not busy helping customers find matching outfits for the upcoming event, searching for a vintage wedding dress for her own nuptials, and dealing with an ill-timed magical cold, Lily begins to suspect one of her magical foes is targeting her loved ones in an attempt to weaken her.

My Review

It's been almost two years since readers have had a new book in this series, so when I received a notice that there was a release date for book 9, it was an automatic pre-order.  This is one of my favorite paranormal cozy mystery series and I have loved the characters, the setting and the mysteries from the very first book.

What keeps me coming back to this series is the author and the characters.  Ms. Blackwell has a writing style that creates such a wonderful world that the reader is instantly transported to San Francisco and becomes engaged in the story.  Lily Ivory is a wonderful protagonist.  I have enjoyed watching her grow and develop through the course of nine books now.  It hasn't always been an easy journey.  Lily struggles to continue on her path to grown her talent and powers and a witch while balancing that with the family she has created with her friends.  The secondary cast of characters  is delightful.  It is comprised of both human and magical characters that each has a role to play in Lily's life and development.  I also like that Lily has found love.  Although, in typical Lily fashion, that goes a bit awry as well.

The mystery is well done and is woven through the entire story.  It has a unique premise involving a doppelganger who looks like Lily's fiance Sailor, which of course results in Sailor being arrested for a crime.  With an already full plate that includes a fundraiser at the shop, a wedding to plan, and a caravan of coven grandma's headed to San Francisco, Lily now has to add "get her fiance out of jail" to that list.  Because of the uniqueness of how the murder is committed, there are plenty of suspects to choose from in the magical community.  Ms. Blackwell throws in plenty of twists and turns to the mix to keep her readers guessing.  In the end, I was surprised by the identity of the killer, but it made sense.  j

This is a delightful series and one that I always pre-order.  It has wonderful characters that are rich and developed but continue to grow in each story.  The setting in a vintage clothes shop in San Francisco with paranormal elements which I find to be very interesting.  Top all that off with well crafted mysteries and strong plots and it hits all the marks I look for in a good cozy mystery series.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Lethal Literature

Author:  Kym Roberts
Series:  A Book Barn Mystery #4
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  May 1, 2018

Description:  Sponsoring the literacy drive to benefit the foster care system should be a feel-good endeavor, but one of Charli’s helpers is definitely on another page. Charli’s dad is distracted and keeping something secret, which Charli suspects is a harmless flirtation with an attractive county clerk who offered to lend them a hand. It’s nothing to worry about—until the same clerk winds up dead…
When nosy locals begin pointing fingers, Charli finds herself entangled in a race to uncover the killer’s identity—and to get to the bottom of a shattering family secret that could rewrite her history in alarming ways. Suddenly Charli is facing her worst fears and her childhood nemesis in order to unmask a murderer—before he silences her for good…

My Review

It is time to return to Hazel Rock, Texas to check in on Charli Rae and her pink armadillo Princess to see what new trouble has arisen.  Because, lets face it, if there is trouble in Hazel Rock, Charli is most like right in the middle of it.

This is the fourth book in this series and I have enjoyed all of them. This one was a two day read for me. Charli Rae is a different type of character. She is a little scattered, impulsive and can be childish but she knows this about herself. She is loyal to those who are closest to her and will stand up and fight for them. The author has surrounded her with a good solid cast of secondary characters that balance and ground Charli Rae.  The one thing I hope that is resolved soon is Charli Rae's romantic life.  I just need her to make a decision because I am not a fan of the love triangle or a character that can't make a decision about a relationship.

The mystery was well written and flowed through the entire story. There were plenty of twists and turns that I did not see coming, relative to Charli's family. I was surprised but thought that the twists made sense and added to some of the tensions in the story. There were enough clues and some good red herrings thrown into the mix to keep the reader guessing as to the identity of the killer. And for those of you wondering, yes, Princess does play a role in helping save the day once again.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, through Netgalley.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Flowers and Foul Play

Author:  Amanda Flower
Series:  A Magic Garden Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date:  May 8, 2018

Description:  Florist Fiona Knox’s life isn’t smelling so sweet these days. Her fiancĂ© left her for their cake decorator. Then, her flower shop wilted after a chain florist opened next door. So when her godfather, Ian MacCallister, leaves her a cottage in Scotland, Fiona jumps on the next plane to Edinburgh. Ian, after all, is the one who taught her to love flowers. But when Ian’s elderly caretaker Hamish MacGregor shows her to the cottage upon her arrival, she finds the once resplendent grounds of Duncreigan in a dreadful shambles—with a dead body in the garden.

Minutes into her arrival, Fiona is already being questioned by the handsome Chief Inspector Neil Craig and getting her passport seized. But it’s Craig’s fixation on Uncle Ian’s loyal caretaker, Hamish, as a prime suspect, that really makes her worried. As Fiona strolls the town, she quickly realizes there are a whole bouquet of suspects much more likely to have killed Alastair Croft, the dead lawyer who seems to have had more enemies than friends. 

My Review

I can't think of anything better than a new book by author Amanda Flower, unless it is a new series by this author.  I am a huge fan and have made no secret about how much I love her writing and her books.  Her cozy mysteries hit all the marks I look for when selecting a book in this genre.  Her writing style flows with such description that you can easily picture yourself in whatever setting she has created.  Her characters come to life as the reader turns the pages and is transported to into the story for hours of enjoyment.  

Flowers and Foul Play, set in Scotland, has endearing characters, a well written plot and an enchanting garden that provides a bit of magic to the story.  Fiona Knox is an American who inherits property in Scotland from her deceased godfather.  Given what Fiona has gone through (a broken engagement and the closing of her business) she doesn't give in to pity but sets out on an adventure to Scotland to deal with her inheritance.  Like so many of the protagonists that Ms. Flower's writes, Fiona has strength and resilience to begin again.  Her new adventure, however, doesn't begin as she imagined after she finds a dead body in the garden.  There is a diverse and eclectic cast of secondary characters that I am really looking forward to getting to know in future books. 

The mystery is what a reader/fan would expect from Ms. Flower.  It is woven throughout the story and the author provides her readers with plenty of clues, twists,  and turns.  While the victim was a "hometown" boy, it appears that he lost some of his shine through his recent actions.  This allows the author to open up the suspect pool and give the reader plenty of suspect to choose from.  I did not suspect the identity of the killer and thought the reveal was climatic.  There is also the mystery of the garden, how that will play out in Fiona's life and how it will lead her to help others.

I was highly entertained with this new series, the setting and the characters.  And, as you may have already guessed, I will be returning to Scotland to see what Ms. Flower has in store next for Fiona Knox.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, through Netgalley.