You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘cozy book’ tag.

Before I even start this review, I want to say that Hailey Lind is in my top 5 favourite mystery authors. In the last book Annie Kincade decided to go into business with the shady, yet charming Michael X Johnson, a crony of her Grandfather’s and also an ex(?) art thief, much to the dismay of her landlord/semi-love interest Frank. It starts out with Annie and her friends discovering a body set up to look like the Death of Marat painting in the exclusive and male only Fleming Union Club where she was doing some restoration.  After finding the body, she was ejected from the club for going into unauthorised areas (ie everywhere by the servants quarters) and being a woman.

Someone was trying to sell a fake Gaugain and the insurance company wanted her help to confirm the fake as well as track down the original, while Frank wants her to ask around regarding a missing bronze.  Of course with her family background, she soon knew who was the forger of the Gaugain and it was only when her Faux Uncle Anton is found suffering from arsenic poisoning that Annie decides to start investigating. I love everything about this series, Annie is a wonderful character and the perfect mix of light and shades that makes her pop out of the page – she is funny, sarcastic, fiercely loyal and one of those people who you would love to be friends with.  We also get to see more of Mary and Brian in a hilarious scene in a club. Of course I enjoyed the book, that goes without saying!  I found myself totally immersed into her world, cemented with continuous plots that run throughout the series, as well as different elements of the mystery story.  Absolutely brilliant! The author has her own website http://www.haileylind.com/ where you can read excerpts of the books and also read more about her other alter ego as Juliet Blackwell who writes paranormal mysteries which also has excerpts too.

Advertisements

Ari owns a knitting shop, ‘Ariadne’s Web’, and this is where the first body is discovered strangled with some handspun yarn, spun by her best friend Diane. Eventually Josh the new detective clears her as a suspect and reluctantly concedes to work together to find the murderer.
As the dead bodies pile up, she discovers that her patterns have been sold online, but is it connected with the deaths? Her life is also made a little more difficult thanks to her irritating ex husband and issues with her young daughter.

This was a well written book that had consistent and swift pacing, making it an enjoyable page turner. There is a large cast of characters which helped the mystery bed to down and hid the murderer. I also liked the connection between Ari, Joel and Diane. As a knitter, I enjoyed the knitting and spinning references too, as well as the descriptions of the shop and contents. I did have an inkling of who the murderer was, which was a little disappointing.

From what I understand, the author has primarily written romance books and it was clear that murder mysteries were a departure. I wasn’t entirely sure that she knew much about knitting and in particular online pattern sharing and selling, as there seemed to be some inconsistencies. All in all, this was a fun cozy mystery which also had the bonus of some knitting patterns as an added extra. All in all this was a great book and an interesting start to a series, which I will look forward to reading.

Geared for the GraveThis is the first in  the Cycle Path Mystery series. Evie, an ad exec, finds herself on Mackinac Island after volunteering to help Rudy’s ailing bike hire business (who was also laid low with a broken leg) with the hope that as Rudy is her boss’s Dad, she might finally get her hands on her long awaited promotion.  Not on the Island for 12 hours, she finds herself face to face with her first bead body – Bunny the local Grande Dame. With Rudy framed for the murder and her promotion speeding away from her, Evie decides to channel Miss Marple and figure out who the murderer is.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, you were taken on a romp around the island, complete with bikes, horses, hit men, and lock picking.  Not only that, but like every small community, it was rife with scandal, internal squabbles and infighting, as well as committees and festivals to promote the tourist industry.  In short, Mackinac is a law unto itself, so when Evie, the Pied Piper of trouble turns up – the residents of Mackinac Island are happy to join in and fan the flames.

I thought that the map of Mackinac Island was a stroke of genius –  there was a lot of rushing about to different parts of the island, and it was useful to pin point where everyone was. In fact, it would have been great if it also contained where the main characters resided/worked.

One of the things I love about murder mysteries is that you can pick up clues and play along, and with this book, the cornerstone clue was lobbed in just after the murderer was revealed, so it would have been fun if there was a sniff of it earlier instead of when it was all over and done with, but that is only the tiniest of criticism and better than figuring out who the murderer was three chapters in!

All in all, this was a great book, it definitely seemed to be laying the ground for more adventures on the island and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Duffy very kindly sent me a copy of this book for a fair and unbiased review – thank you!

http://www.duffybrown.com/

Dr. Angela Hunter is an archaeologist and works with her Dad in Mississippi retrieving Indian artefacts.  She is asked to look into an ancient codex that could help unlock the mystery of the Mound Builders who had no written language.

The story alternates between Angela’s progress and an Aztec family in the 1300’s.  I don’t know much about this time or the area, but what I do know is that it is very bloody.  In fact the description of the live sacrifice of a young girl who thought that she was going to get married tested my gore limits.  It is this incident that prompts a judge to go against the tradition of human sacrifice and instead offers his own blood.  Unfortunately the community doesn’t like this and not helped with his son’s behaviour, they are forced to go on the run where they settle in Migaduha (Cahokia Mounds in Illinois).

It is a very clever way to proceed with the story, but I did find myself wanting to skip the details about 1300 Aztecs to learn more about what is going on with the rest of the story.  This could be because I don’t really have as much connection (or interest – sorry) with this time periods and long descriptions about Aztec sports didn’t really do it for me.

Back in modern time, Angela is forced to work with Franklin Oettendorf, her former professor and lover and the handsome workaholic Joseph Edgewater who is a head honcho of a secret Native American society.  Of course Franklin is bad news, more concerned with his own fame and career path, and using anyone and anything that gets in his way.  In the end he gets his comeuppance when it turns out that the codex is actually a curse.

It is clear that this book has been researched in depth and even if the subject matter is a little difficult for me, I respect the author for putting in the hours.  There weren’t that many twists with the ending, the good guys won and the bad guys were quashed, but it certainly left the reader wondering what would happen in the next book.

This book was sent to me as part of Elle Marie’s virtual tour in return for an honest and fair review.

 

Here is a little break from reviews with an answer to a question that I often get, how do you find new books?

I know what it is like, you have found a new series of books and if you are lucky, there are quite a few to read, but what happens when you finish?! Dun dun duuun.  I hate not having a stack of books ready and waiting for me (is this the sign of an addiction?) and as I suffer from chronic pain, I can’t pop down to the bookshop and browse the shelves, so I do it all on the internet.  So here are six ways to find new mystery titles.

1. The publishers

Many books have excerpts in the back of similar titles.  This is often a great way of finding out whether you like an author.  You can find more details and get updates about new titles from the publisher and if you pop onto their websites you can sign up to their mailing lists.  One of the larger publishers of cozy mysteries is http://berkleysignetmysteries.com, which has monthly updates, but be careful – they often have spoliers dotted about.

2. Blogs, Facebook and Twitter

There are several group blogs where a different author posts every day.  At the http://www.cozychicksblog.com/  there is Leann Sweeney, Kate Collins Maggie Sefton, Deb Baker, JB/Jennifer Stanley, Heather Webber, Lorna Barrett, Dru Ann Love.  Then there is http://killerhobbies.blogspot.co.uk/  featuring Joanna Campbell Slan, Monica Ferris, Linda O. Johnston, Mollie Cox Bryan, Chrystle Fiedler, Betty Hechtman.  Both of these sites have daily updates and competitions.  Don’t forget there is Facebook and Twitter too.

3. Author Websites

Some authors have their own websites which are regularly updated.  These can be a great way to get more information on books, maps of towns, even background information on the characters.  Here are some examples of author websites

http://www.haileylind.com/ – The awesome Art Lover’s series

http://www.julietblackwell.net/ – The Lily Ivory Witchcraft series as well as the Haunted Home renovation series

http://victorialaurie.com/ – Victoria writes both the Psychic Eye and Ghost Hunter books.  She is in my Top 3 author list and if there was ever a series of books that should make it to TV, it is these.

4. Sample Chapters

Sometimes, authors have the first chapters of books on their websites. I have found so many brilliant books this way, where the characters wheedled their way into my head and I had to read them straight away!  The following authors have been particularly great.

Angie Fox with The Accidental Demon Slayer

Kalayna Price with Grave Witch and Once Bitten

5. Other customers recommend…

If you buy your books online, both Amazon and the Book Depository have an ‘other customers recommend’ list of books which is on the whole very useful.  There are also review websites like Good Reads and blogs like mine, but you have to be aware that you might come across some spoilers.

6. Free eBooks

I’ve recently started reading ebooks thanks to my new ipod.  In fact, I haven’t read a single regular book in a month because I have been downloading dozens of free books. Why did I not know this sooner!  Anyway, most of these are hidden away in Amazon and if you are based outside the US like me, it is a little easier to find the free books on the US site.  The best thing about this, is that you discover books that have not been published in the traditional sense.  I loved Witch Way by Heidi Hall and a few pages in I was buying the next two books.  Of course there are always some iffy books, but as they are free, or at the most under £2, it is not the same as spending £5.99.

So those my secrets for finding new authors to read.  Happy Reading!

Hooked on Murder

Molly Pink co-ordinates events at Shedd and Royal books, but ends up stumbling upon the body of Ellen Sheridan, leader of the crochet group and her late husband’s old business partner.  Soon she is being targeted by the policewoman in charge of the investigation whose judgement is clouded by jealousy over Molly’s relationship with Detective Barry and feels like the only way she can get herself out of the sticky situation is to do some investigating herself.

What I liked about this book was that she takes up crochet and it documents her journey into learning different techniques and the slippery slope into yarn addiction.  As a way of de-stressing she joins a crochet group who are struggling to make a blanket which is to be auctioned off for charity, as with most groups there’s a huge amount of politics to be tip toed around, not to mention the rivalry between crocheters and knitters.

I found Molly quite a tragic figure, while she was doing her best to carve out her own life, it seemed like the world couldn’t help but give her a few kickings along the way, not to mention a boyfriend who just wanted a housekeeper and a cook on tap.

The murder mystery part itself was cleverly made (even though the murderer was a peripheral character that was barely mentioned, which as a reader sometimes feels like a cop out) and it was only when there was a face off between the characters that everything fell into place and it went into scary movie territory – the ‘don’t go into the basement on your own’ kind of thing 😉

I would say that it was an enjoyable book that was OK, but didn’t necessarily hit all of the buttons.  Still, as a crocheter I liked the descriptions about the way that they made the blanket and the crochet vs knitters show down.   Let me know what you think!

Betty has her own website http://bettyhechtman.com/and Facebook page as well as photos of the crochet patterns – so get your hooks out!!

This is the fourth book in the Booktown Mysteries, featuring Tricia who owns ‘Haven’t Got A Clue’ – a bookshop specialising in mysteries.  Her sister, Angelica, has just launched her career as the new Martha Stewart with her cookery book and on the eve of her book tour there is an explosion in one of the other bookshops in the street.  The owner, Jim, is killed, and Angelica’s boyfriend, Bob, is injured and will not co-operate with the police and is very tight-lipped about the whole matter.

With Angelica away, soon Tricia finds herself taking care of Anglica’s shop and café, attempting to take care of an increasingly hostile Bob, dealing with mourning shop manager, as well as collecting for a fund for Jim’s mother and trying to figure out what happened.  She certainly has her hands full!

This is my favourite book in the series, I had really hoped that Tricia and Captain Baker’s relationship would move on, but instead he put things on hold to take care of his ex-wife who became sick.  To top it all, Revolting Russ has gone from being an irritant to verging on being a stalker.  I can only hope that Captain Baker’s behaviour is a way of illustrating that he and Tricia are made from the same cloth – she deserves a little happiness.  I loved hearing more from Miss Marple, she sounds just like my cat (although a little less set on world domination).

I feel sorry for Tricia, given that she is always trying so hard to help other people – and they rarely seem to appreciate it. The murder plot itself was very clever and as always the reveal showed that there was a lot more at going on in the town that meets the eye.  What I enjoy about this series is that the additional goings on in the town is not just to add colour, but creating sub plots that evolve in the background throughout the series. It also adds updates of what happened in previous books, like Ginny and Eugenia, to prove that even though the crime has been solved, that there are repercussions.

Like the last book, it seems to be that the men are the most disappointing, other than Mr Everett who is an absolute star.  The rest all seem to be lacking (especially Bob and Revolting Russ).  The murder victim, Jim, seems to have been a complete ass in spite of the love of a good woman and even Captain Baker is losing brownie points because of the way that he is treating Tricia.

The final scene revealed that Tricia isn’t totally taken for granted and I loved what happened with the delivery man.  It certainly left a lot of room for new plots and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

This book was very kindly sent to me by Lorna Barrett, thank you.

For fans of this book, Lorna Barrett is the pen name for Lorraine Bartlett and she has a new book series coming out in the autumn called ‘A Matter of Murder’, a craft themed mystery which looks brilliant.  Keep your eyes peeled for this one!

This is the fourth in the Vintage Magic Series and I had forgotten how much I loved these books, Madeira (or Mad) owns a vintage clothing shop and also has a psychic ability to have visions when she touches old clothes, which helps her solve murders.

One morning she is sent a dress she designed for a broadway star and friend, Dom, with a note saying that she is dead and that Mad should use her talents to solve her murder.  Next thing that she knows, she is on her way to New York with her FBI boyfriend Nick and her best friend Eve to help Dom’s son who begged her to help and see if she could pick up on the events leading to her death by reading her clothes.

Annette Blair is brilliant at capturing emotion in her books and soon you are sensing the loss of Dom and the grief that Mad is feeling, but it isn’t all doom and gloom as there are some brilliant comedic moments, usually involving Mad and Werner who is a Detective in Mystic Falls who follows her to New York after Nick has to follow a potential suspect.  In this book Werner is becoming more human, showing flashes of affection for Mad – he even attended a fashion show which Nick declined to go to and ended up being a hero.  I also loved the way that Eve shows such delight in antagonising Nick and her joy when Mad shows interest elsewhere.

The book swings back and forth from Mystic to New York, so there was only the briefest mention of Dante the ghost in her shop, and I really, really missed him.  However we did have some classic Eve vs Nick moments and her Dad and Aunt Fee turned up in New York just when she needed them too.  There are also appearances of characters in her other books (these are romance novels, which I didn’t realise and spent most of the book wondering when someone would hurry up and get murdered!).

I really enjoyed this book, the characters were vibrant and even though the book was set in anther location, the plot didn’t suffer or lose momentum at all.  Also, the murder solving element of the book is double-sided as the characters need to find physical evidence to back up Mad’s visions, which adds extra excitement to the book.

This is the best book yet and I really am looking forward to the next one in the series!

http://www.annetteblair.com/

When ‘A Glimpse of Evil’ dropped through the letter box I promised myself that I would read it slowly and savour it, especially as I had spent the previous week re-reading all of the Psychic Eye books.  Fast forward to waking up at 2 am and not able to get back to sleep, so I thought that I’d read just one chapter… next thing I knew, birds were singing and the sun was up!  This is what happens with Victoria Laurie books, they are just like praline chocolates – you just can’t stop at one.

This is the 8th book in the Psychic Eye series, Abby and Dutch are moving to Texas where Dutch and Brice, a recent Abby convert as well as boyfriend to Candice, is starting a new FBI office specialising in Cold Cases and Abby is their secret weapon.

‘A Glimpse of Evil’ is much darker than the other books.  Abby is thrown into the deep end and is not only pushing herself to the max sorting through dozens of cases to see whether they are solvable (and being awesome, she managed to solve three in the first day).  She has to deal with pretty horrific crimes, as well as an office full of agents who are all sceptical of what she can do.  This only changes when she is sent out with an agent to find some clues, only for him to produce one of his own cold cases for her to look at and then decides to follow her instincts and do a little investigating on the way back.    Next thing they know, she has found two bodies, discovers the murderer and ends up having to defend herself using a gun.  All culminating with her being suspended and at a loose end.

Also with time on her hands, Candice convinces Abby to looking at a FBI cold case involving a serial child killer – of course this leads to another near death experience for Abby!  Thankfully, things are going well with Dutch and Abby, but Candice and Brice are constantly bickering and misunderstanding each other.  There was a brief cameo of Dave (I missed him) and Milo (who seems to be moving to Texas too), but I really missed Cat.

You could really get a sense of Abby spreading herself too thin, torn between her old style of investigating with Candice and doing readings, as well as helping Dutch and Brice at the FBI.  It feels like this book is the one that breaks the camel’s back for Abby and is a natural turning point – and by the ending you know why!  I imagine that the next book will be even darker, especially with Abby working for the CIA.

It isn’t all darkness,  and there are still the usual Laurie style wise cracks – before going to the FBI, Abby had to go on an anger management course and she is trying not to swear coming up with some brilliant alternatives – and why the Hello Dolly not!

This book didn’t disappoint me and it had one of the most complex murder plot twists that I have read in some time.  With the move to Texas and Abby being accepted by the “establishment”, it does feel like a new era for Abby and the Psychic Eye books, but I do hope that we get to hear about Milo, Candice, Dave, Cat, Eggy and Tuttle even when she is a high flying spy.  Wow, what a book – I can’t wait until the next one.

http://www.victorialaurie.com/ Author’s Website

 

Feint of Art

It is hot here in the UK, that kind of muggy heat that makes you to feel completely overwhelmed as soon as you move, bleugh, so I am chilling out with the cats who are making their unhappiness known with lots of audible sighs and general grumples.  Thankfully I seem to have had better luck with my books this time, as soon as I read the first page of Feint of Art, I knew that this book would be a good’n – and after the last three disasters, I needed this to be a good book!

Annie Kincaid has painting in her blood – or to be more precise, forgery.  By the age of 10 after painting a perfect copy of the Mona Lisa she was hailed a prodigy, but in her late teens after spending time with her professional forger Grandfather in France, she discovered that unless she wanted a life on the run with the threat of prison hanging over her, she needed a career change.

Despite her best efforts, her past has continually dogged her.  A promising career as a professional restorer at the Brock Museum was halted when an expert, still smarting from the embarrassment of being outed as proclaiming one of her teenage forgeries as the real deal, revealed her past to the owners.  This led to her being fired and her new career change, starting her own business specialising in faux finishing.

However hard she tries, her talents as a painter – and as a result of the tutelage of her Grandfather, her talent for detecting forgeries, is constantly called upon.  This time her ex boyfriend, who also happens to be Head Curator of the Brock, asked her to authenticate a Caravaggio (which turned out to be a fake painted by one of her Grandfather’s cronies) in a midnight meeting, later on he disappears and a janitor is murdered.

To make matters worse, her new landlord is going to raise her rent – and her first meeting with him, she dinged his car and insulted him.  So when she was tasked with finding the originals of some Old Master drawings that had been forged by the same man who created the copy of the Caravaggio, she thought that she could kill several birds with one stone and also raise some cash while she is at it.

Annie is a brilliant character, she has good intentions and would always drop everything to help a friend, unfortunately this also means that she finds herself in sticky situations.  Other supporting characters include Mary her assistant;  Annette the police woman; Frank her landlord and Michael the art thief. I really enjoyed this book and Annie was such a refreshing character with lots of dimensions.  As I have mentioned many times before, I actually love to see faults in a character as it makes them more believable and the cast of characters in Feint of Art are all well-rounded and incredibly likable, even the slightly iffy Michael!

I would describe the book as a mystery romp as you are propelled through the chapters along with Annie.  I liked the way that there were several new characters introduced throughout the book, instead of all lumped together at the beginning.  It also means that when  you think that you have an idea who the culprit is, someone new pops up.

The final scene was hilarious and beautifully captured the essence of the  book.  I can’t wait to read the next books, because you just know that Michael won’t be able to stay away and who knows what Annie will do next.

Hailey Lind’s website http://www.haileylind.com/

Crafty Book Worm

Follow Murder! She Read on WordPress.com

Goodreads

Categories