Thursday, September 21, 2023

Audiobook Review: The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

The Stone Circle

Author:
Elly Griffiths
Narrator: Jane McDowell
Series: Ruth Galloway (Book 11)
Publication: Recorded Books (May 7, 2019)
Length: 10 hours

Description: In a chilling entry to the award-winning Ruth Galloway series, she and DCI Nelson are haunted by a ghost from their past, just as their future lands on shaky ground.

DCI Nelson has been receiving threatening letters. They are anonymous, yet reminiscent of ones he has received in the past, from the person who drew him into a case that’s haunted him for years. At the same time, Ruth receives a letter purporting to be from that very same person—her former mentor, and the reason she first started working with Nelson. But the author of those letters is dead. Or is he?

The past is reaching out for Ruth and Nelson, and its grip is deadly.

My Thoughts: Ruth finds modern bones when she is called to an archaeological site which draws Nelson into the investigation of a cold crime. A young girl disappeared from a street festival celebrating the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. Now in 2016 her bones have been discovered.

Nelson has also finally told his adult daughters about his daughter Kate with Ruth. And he is the father of new baby boy with his wife Michelle. Michelle meets Star in her mother and baby class and becomes friends with the young woman who is the unwed mother of Ava. It happens that the missing girl whose bones were discovered by Ruth was her aunt. 

When Ava is kidnapped, Nelson and his people are in a high-pressure search to find the baby who is less than one month old while also investigating the cold crime. 

This was another enjoyable episode in a long-running series. I really like the relationships between the many characters. I also like the archaeology. 

Jane McDowell does an excellent job with the voices of all the characters. 

I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: Case of the Bleus by Korina Moss

Case of the Bleus

Author:
Korina Moss
Series: Cheese Shop Mysteries (Book 4)
Publication: St. Martin's Paperbacks (September 26, 2023)

Description: What in the bleu blazes is happening in Yarrow Glen now?

Cheesemongers from across the Northwest have come to the Sonoma Valley for the Northwest Cheese Invitational. As owner of the local cheese shop, Curds & Whey, Willa Bauer loves it. The event showcases custom cheese creations, and it’s the perfect time to gather with old colleagues to honor her former boss, the late and grate cheese legend, Max Dumas. He was famous for journeying into the wild bleu yonder to where he aged his award-winning custom Church Bleu. Only Max knew the recipe and location to his beloved cheese, and many are eager to have these revealed at his will reading.

But instead of naming someone to inherit his cheese and its secrets, Max stuns everyone with one cryptic clue. When a fellow cheesemonger dies under mysterious circumstances––the woman they all thought would get the secrets to Max's prized possession––everyone falls under suspicion. Willa adores Church Bleu as much as the next cheese connoisseur, but it’s not to die for. Is a killer trying to get away with murder...and the cheese?

My Thoughts: Team Cheese is on the case again. Willa Bauer reconnects with old co-workers when the Northwest Cheese Invitational is scheduled for the town where Willa has opened Curds & Whey, her own cheese shop. 

The invitational is honoring Max Dumas after his death. He created a unique, special and valuable cheese and his employees hope that he has shared the secret of its creation in his will. The formula could lead to fame and fortune for the person who inherits it. 

When the will proves a disappointment, the co-workers, Max's daughter, and the president of the cheese organization need to find another way to find the cheese. Willa doesn't want the cheese but finds herself in the middle of things when it is learned that a book Max gave her when she left to open her own shop is filled with clues. 

When one of the co-workers is murdered, Willa realizes that this is a secret someone is willing to kill for. And since a former dating partner is under suspicion because his mead was the murder weapon which killed highly-allergic-to-honey Kendall, Willa has to get involved despite the problems it will cause with potential date Detective Heath. 

The story was fun. The characters were interesting. And the recipes in the back for some of the cheese treats enjoyed during the story sound good too. 

Favorite Quote:
As Mrs. Schultz had once pointed out, when you're a woman of a certain age, you become invisible to the public, which is only a plus for listening in on conversations.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

ARC Review: Unleased Holiday by Victoria Schade

Unleashed Holiday

Author:
Victoria Schade
Publication: Berkley (September 26, 2023)

Description: When an old rival reappears right before the holidays, a professional dog trainer must decide if the melting frost between them can make up for their ruff past, from the USA Today bestselling author of Dog Friendly.

Chelsea Higgins is doing just fine. She’s heading into the holidays at the helm of a thriving dog training business, and she’s got a mellow senior dog at home to keep her warm at the end of the day. What more could she need? Enter certified gym bro Andrew Gibson: Chelsea’s former nemesis, and now the newest neighbor in her business complex, who also wants to expand into the vacant space Chelsea’s been eyeing for months. Who cares if it’s the season of joy? Let the turf war begin.

When an unfortunate (and literal) run-in with Andrew’s lawless dog leaves Chelsea with a bum wrist, the two strike a deal: Andrew will help Chelsea rehab the injury if she’ll work with him to train his adorably uncivilized boxer.

Their typical bickering soon turns to bantering, and Chelsea finds herself inexplicably drawn to the man she thought she had nothing in common with. As she gets to know Andrew and his parents, she realizes she needs to refocus on her own family, especially with a milestone Christmas speeding toward them. But Chelsea can't help wondering if she and Andrew are training for keeps, or if this unexpected Christmas gift is just too good to be true.

My Thoughts: This contemporary romance was engaging and a quick read. It hits a lot of the romance memes. It is an enemies to lovers romance. At least it is on the heroine's part. She has an embarrassing memory of a drunken hookup with the hero. 

Chelsea Higgins runs a successful dog training business. When she learns that her new next-door neighbor is Andrew Gibson, she's less than thrilled. They have known each other since college when he was her best friend's roommate. Now he's opening a gym next door and has an untrained deaf boxer that he doesn't keep on a leash often enough for Chelsea.

The rivalry they had in college soon turns to bantering and to romance as Chelsea gets to know the real Andrew as opposed to the person she made him in her mind when they were in college together. 

Besides the romance, Chelsea is also still dealing with the death of her father from cancer and the changes that has made in her family. She's also distanced herself from her best friends as a part of her grief. 

I liked the people in this story, and I really liked the dogs. Chelsea's senior dog Birdie and her new puppy Edith and Andrew and his deaf Boxer named Duke were all active characters in this romance. 

Fans of contemporary romance will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
It was just like Carly to call me on my b.s., but she didn't understand my history with Andrew. Sure, I'd always been quick to knock him down a few pegs, not because I wanted to, but because I had to. With Andrew, I had no choice but to be on the defensive. I'd always forced myself to ignore my embarrassing involuntary response to him--that seasick, racing heartbeat, shaky hands feeling--because whenever we were together his "jokes" didn't stop, and I was his favorite target.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Audiobook Review: The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters

The Mummy Case

Author:
Elizabeth Peters
Narrator: Susan O'Malley
Series: Amelia Peabody (Book 3)
Publication: Blackstone Audio (November 15, 2002)
Length: 10 hours

Description: The irascible husband of Victorian Egyptologist Amelia Peabody demonstrates again why he has been nicknamed "Father of Curses." Denied permission to dig at the pyramids of Dahshoor, Emerson is awarded instead the "pyramids" of Mazghunah: countless mounds of rubble in the midst of nowhere. Nothing in this barren spot seems worthy of interest - until an antiquities dealer is murdered in his Cairo shop.

When a sinister Egyptian spotted at the crime scene turns up in Mazghunah, Amelia can't resist following his trail. There's a mysterious scrap of papyrus and a missing mummy case to investigate, while she keeps at least one eye on their precocious son Ramses and his Egyptian cat. But the digging turns truly dangerous when Amelia and Emerson look for answers in an ancient tomb - one that could become their grave.

My Thoughts: This third Amelia Peabody adventure is the first where Ramses has a role. He is Emerson and Amelia's precocious son and has a character which stands up nicely to Amelia's. Emerson was denied permission to dig at the pyramids of Dahshoor but given a permit to dig at Mazghunah. This was a terrible disappointment since the "pyramids" were almost completely flattened and the major features of the area were old cemeteries dating from much later that the period of the pyramids of Dahshoor.

However, that doesn't mean that things would proceed in a quiet, boring way. From the discovery of the body of an antiquities dealer in Cairo to thieves breaking in to attempt to steal something to the emergence of a Master Criminal, Amelia's season is destined to be filled with activity.

Ramses adds excitement of his own when he steals a lion cub from a cruising German lady and does his own digging at Dahshoor. His digging is fortuitous since it is his explorations that allow him to find his mother and father after the Master Criminal's henchmen have dropped them into a water filler burial chamber in one of the pyramids of Dahshoor.

The story also references religious issues. First of all, the conflict between the Muslims and the Copts and then the arrival of fanatical American missionaries raises the tensions in the area and gives the Master Criminal room to do his thieving. 

I like that these stories are told from the eccentric viewpoint of Amelia Peabody Emerson. I like her relationship with her husband and her son. This was altogether a fun story to listen to. Susan O'Malley does an excellent job with all the various characters. 

I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Book Review: New Tricks by David Rosenfelt

New Tricks

Author:
David Rosenfelt
Series: Andy Carpenter (Book 7)
Publication: Grand Central Publishing (July 18, 2009)

Description: In this "taut thriller full of whiplash plot twists and wisecracking dialogue," a lawyer will do whatever it takes to make sure an adorable Bernese puppy -- whose owner was brutally murdered -- doesn't fall into the wrong hands (Entertainment Weekly).

Few can rival Andy's affection for dogs. However, the playful new friend he just inherited is valued by several people, many of whom are willing to resort to violence to get what they want. It will take more than Andy's usual courtroom theatrics to save this dog, including a little help from his beloved golden retriever, Tara.

Andy soon discovers that anyone around him is in danger, including his long-time girlfriend Laurie, and he will have to muster all of his wits to save those he holds most dear.

My Thoughts: It all starts when Judge "Hatchett" Henderson assigns Andy a pro bono case: a Bernese Mountain dog puppy is in a custody battle after his owner was murdered. Andy is all for helping find the perfect home for Waggy, a very active puppy.

He happens to be at the home of the widow discussing the matter and meeting the estranged son who is there arguing with his stepmother when the house explodes killing the widow and narrowly missing Andy and Waggy. 

The custody case should be easy except a third party, the former dog show partner of the murdered man, files his own claim for custody of the puppy and the son is arrested for the murder of his father and stepfather. 

Andy takes on the case of the son and needs to prove that he didn't kill his father or stepmother despite all the evidence pointing toward him if he wants Waggy to have a happy home. And it seems that someone wants Waggy dead. An assassination attempt on the dog hits Andy's long-time girlfriend Laurie and almost kills her. 

This story was filled with twists and turns and is also filled with Andy's usual snark. I really enjoyed this story.

Favorite Quote:
"You don't really have to take it anywhere, you know. You won the case."

I think about that for a moment. The way I do my job, the way I've always done my job, is to think of it as a competition, a game. I won't feel like I've won the game unless I figure it out. Laurie already knows this about me, so I smile and say, "The game isn't over yet."

"And if you win the game it means a murderer gets caught," she says.

"That's what makes it a really great game."
I bought this one November 26, 2022. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, September 18, 2023

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (September 18, 2023)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup.

Want to See What I Added to My Stack? links to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Marlene at Reading Reality.

Other Than Reading...

This was a quiet week. The skies were mostly gray and gloomy. The temperatures were seasonal with a low one morning of 35 degrees. Our high for the week was 71. We had major thunderstorms run through on Tuesday night which gave us anywhere from 1 to 4 inches of rain depending on where you lived in Duluth. There was some flooding downtown, but we live on top of the hill and didn't have any near us. We probably got closer to the one inch of rain reported by the National Weather Service than the four downtown got.

I didn't read as much as I wanted since I've gotten sucked into another reread of The Others series. Those audiobooks are all around 15 hours long. I couldn't sleep one night, grabbed my Kindle, and looked for something new to read. I found Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros which is really engaging but is also over 600 pages long. I plan to review it on November 1 but need to set is aside for now until I read the books that come before it on my calendar. 

This week's highlights include a dentist appointment on Monday. My brother who had maxed out his vacation hours decided to take this week off to use some of them. He doesn't have any plans that I'm aware of. He'll just be hanging around. 

I stopped yesterday at a food truck that has been on my radar for a while. I bought a sampler of their offerings, so we have plenty of barbecue to last us for a couple of days. BBQ ribs, pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket and sausages are providing an enticing scent whenever the refrigerator door is opened. 

I'm planning to try out a recipe for Amish Cinnamon Bread before my baseball game starts today to help use up some of the quart of buttermilk I bought a couple of days ago. The recipe sounds like one I've enjoyed in the past though that one had sour cream instead of buttermilk. 

Just when I thought I was catching up on review books, I was approved for one title I had requested earlier and decided to look around NetGalley while I was downloading it. Big mistake! Nine books caught my attention and were added to my review stack. 

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)
  • Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop (Audiobook reread) -- Second in The Others Series.
  • Home at Night by Paula Munier (Review; October 17) -- Fifth in the Mercy Carr mystery series. Great setting, great characters, and an interesting mystery. My review will be posted on October 11.
  • Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop (Audiobook reread) -- Third in The Others series.
  • In the Wick of Time by Valona Jones (Review; October 17) -- Cozy mystery with some magic. I thought it could have used more editing. My review will be posted on October 12.
  • Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop (Audiobook reread) -- Fourth in The Others series.
  • Claws and Contrivances by Stephanie Burgis (Mine) -- This was a lovely romantic comedy with dragons. My review will be posted on October 14.
  • The Fatal Folio by Elizabeth Penney (Review; October 24) -- Third in the Cambridge Bookshop mystery series. An entertaining and engaging story. My review will be posted on October 17.
Currently
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Review:
Bought:
What was your week like?

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Book Review: Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare

Miss Aldridge Regrets

Author:
Louise Hare
Series: A Canary Club Mystery (Book 1)
Publication: Berkley (July 5, 2022)

Description: The glittering RMS Queen Mary. A nightclub singer on the run. An aristocratic family with secrets worth killing for.

London, 1936. Lena Aldridge wonders if life has passed her by. The dazzling theatre career she hoped for hasn’t worked out. Instead, she’s stuck singing in a sticky-floored basement club in Soho, and her married lover has just left her. But Lena has always had a complicated life, one shrouded in mystery as a mixed-race girl passing for white in a city unforgiving of her true racial heritage.

She’s feeling utterly hopeless until a stranger offers her the chance of a lifetime: a starring role on Broadway and a first-class ticket on the Queen Mary bound for New York. After a murder at the club, the timing couldn’t be better, and Lena jumps at the chance to escape England. But death follows her onboard when an obscenely wealthy family draws her into their fold just as one among them is killed in a chillingly familiar way. As Lena navigates the Abernathy’s increasingly bizarre family dynamic, she realizes that her greatest performance won't be for an audience, but for her life.

With seductive glamor, simmering family drama, and dizzying twists, Louise Hare makes her beguiling US debut.

My Thoughts: This historical mystery is set in 1936 and stars Lena Aldridge who is Black but passing for White. She is a singer in a seedy club when she is offered the chance to go to New York City to star in a Broadway musical. This couldn't come at a more perfect time. Her married lover has just left her. She's been kicked out of her room at her rooming house and has been fired from her job at the club. 

She has also just witnessed the death of her boss who also happens to be her best friend's husband. Tommy Scarsdale wasn't much of a husband flaunting his younger and younger lovers in front of his wife's face. Even worse, he has just asked her friend Maggie for a divorce and plans to leave her destitute. When he dies from cyanide poisoning, Lena suspects Maggie but decides to cover up any possibility of her involvement. 

Once onboard the ship, she finds herself seated at the table of the powerful Abernathy family. The head of the family is Francis Parker who is a very wealthy man who has suffered a stroke and is dying. However, he still has a tight grip on his family which includes his son-in-law Jack, daughter Eliza, and grandchildren Frankie and Carrie. Also in the entourage is his personal physician Dr. Wilding and Parker's secretary Daisy.

Lena is wondering why Charlie Bacon, who is supposed to be her guide to New York, wants to have her get to know these people. It soon becomes clear that he is eager for her to ingratiate herself with them in the hopes of having them support the upcoming Broadway show. 

Then Francis Parker is also poised with cyanide and Lena is sure that she will be blamed. Two deaths having the same cause is just too coincidental. She's right that she'll be blamed because that's what a hidden enemy has planned. But why Lena has been chosen to be the scapegoat only slowly becomes clear. 

Luckily, Lena has an alibi for the third murder in the person of bandleader Will Goodman. It is Will who brings the theme of prejudice into the story. He's a Black man who is knowledgeable about the difficulties Lena will face in New York if anyone learns that she's passing. 

This was a complicated story with a variety of flashbacks and viewpoints. I found Lena to be morally ambiguous and I'm not sure I agree with her choices even while knowing there was no other real choice about what she did. 

The time period was well drawn and the characters interesting and complex people. I enjoyed the story. 

Favorite Quote:
Alfie had told me that there were two sets of rules in America -- one for them and one for us. In England, there simply weren't enough colored people for most people to have thought about it that hard. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Friday Memes: Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare

 Happy Friday everybody!

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
The doorman barely glanced at me as I slipped past him and down the stairs into the basement club, the stale air thick with cigarette smoke. No one here knew who I was; no one cared.
Friday 56:
The point is that, whether she knows it or not, Lena Aldridge has a very good motive for murder, and it would be a shame to waste it. When the truth comes out, no one will believe she's innocent.
This week I am spotlighting Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare. This historical mystery is the first in a series. I felt I should read it before I read the sequel which was on my TBR mountain. (The review was for my review book was posted on August 23.) 

Here's the description from Amazon:
The glittering RMS Queen Mary. A nightclub singer on the run. An aristocratic family with secrets worth killing for.

London, 1936. Lena Aldridge wonders if life has passed her by. The dazzling theatre career she hoped for hasn’t worked out. Instead, she’s stuck singing in a sticky-floored basement club in Soho, and her married lover has just left her. But Lena has always had a complicated life, one shrouded in mystery as a mixed-race girl passing for white in a city unforgiving of her true racial heritage.

She’s feeling utterly hopeless until a stranger offers her the chance of a lifetime: a starring role on Broadway and a first-class ticket on the Queen Mary bound for New York. After a murder at the club, the timing couldn’t be better, and Lena jumps at the chance to escape England. But death follows her onboard when an obscenely wealthy family draws her into their fold just as one among them is killed in a chillingly familiar way. As Lena navigates the Abernathy’s increasingly bizarre family dynamic, she realizes that her greatest performance won't be for an audience, but for her life.

With seductive glamor, simmering family drama, and dizzying twists, Louise Hare makes her beguiling US debut.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

ARC Review: Redemption by Deborah J. Ledford

Redemption

Author:
Deborah J. Ledford
Series: Eva "Lightning Dance" Duran (Book 1)
Publication: Thomas & Mercer (September 1, 2023)

Description: From award-winning author Deborah J Ledford comes a thrilling new series featuring a Native American sheriff’s deputy who risks it all to find a friend who’s gone missing.

After four women disappear from the Taos Pueblo reservation, Deputy Eva “Lightning Dance” Duran dives into the case. For her, it’s personal. Among the missing is her best friend, Paloma, a heroin addict who left behind an eighteen-year-old son.

Eva senses a lack of interest from the department as she embarks on the investigation. But their reluctance only fuels her fire. Eva teams up with tribal police officer and longtime friend Cruz “Wolf Song” Romero to tackle a mystery that could both ruin her reputation and threaten her standing in the tribe.

And when the missing women start turning up dead, Eva uncovers clues that take her deeper into the reservation’s protected secrets. As Eva races to find Paloma before it’s too late, she will face several tests of loyalty—to her friend, her culture, and her tribe.

My Thoughts: REDEMPTION is the first in a new contemporary series starring a Native American Sheriff's Deputy who is willing to put it all on the line to find her missing friend. Paloma has been her friend since childhood. But a car accident that killed her husband and two others and left her severely injured has left her with chronic pain an addiction to any sort of drug she can find to relieve it. Paloma was once the most famous hoop dancer in the Southwest. 

When Paloma goes missing only Eva and Paloma's eighteen-year-old son Kai are willing to look for her. Paloma has burned her bridges with the tribe because she was stealing in order to support her habit. 

This story is told from multiple viewpoints. We hear from Eva, and from Kai, and from Paloma, and from Alice the traveling nurse who is determined to find a cure for the drug addiction that is making inroads on the reservation and who especially wants to save Paloma since she has been a fan since she first saw her dance.

The story deals with real life problems. Drug addiction and dealing in drugs find a fertile ground on Indian reservations for a number of reasons including their large size and sparse population. This story also deals with people trying to meet other people's expectations which is something Eva is dealing with being the only Native American and one of few women in the Sheriff's Department. 

This story wasn't a who dunnit. We knew the criminal. We knew her motives and watched her mental state deteriorate. The tension came from wondering if Eva would be able to follow the clues fast enough to save her friend before the villain killed her accidentally. 

I liked the action. The rafting scenes to get to a body were graphic and exciting. I liked the characters. 

Favorite Quote:
"Now what?" Kai asked. 

"Now we wait for the cavalry."

"Because that worked out so good for our people in the past," Kai deadpanned.

She almost laughed, then caught his serious tone and spiraled down the path of doubt, right along with the younger member of her community.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Kindle First. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: Murder at Midnight by Katharine Schellman

Murder at Midnight

Author:
Katharine Schellman
Series: A Lily Adler Mystery (Book 4)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (September 19, 2023)

Description: Perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Ashley Weaver, when a body is found shot to death after an unexpected snowstorm, Lily Adler quickly realizes that some people will stop at nothing to bury their secrets.

Regency widow Lily Adler is looking forward to a quiet Christmastide away from the schemes and secrets she witnessed daily in London. Not only will she be visiting the family of her late husband; she will be reunited with Captain Jack Hartley, her friend and confidante, finally returned after a long voyage at sea.

But secrets aren’t only found in London. Jack’s younger sister, Amelia, is the center of neighborhood scandal and gossip. She refuses to tell anyone what really happened, even when an unexpected snowstorm strands the neighborhood families together after a Christmas ball. Stuck until the snow stops, the Adlers, Hartleys, and their neighbors settle in for the night, only to be awakened in the morning by the scream of a maid who has just discovered a dead body.

The victim was the well-to-do son of a local gentleman—the same man whose name has become so scandalously linked to Amelia’s.

With the snow still falling and no way to come or go, it’s clear that someone in the house was responsible for the young man’s death. When suspicion instantly falls on Jack’s sister, he and Lily must unmask the true culprit before Amelia is convicted of a crime she didn’t commit.

My Thoughts: An unexpected snowstorm strands Lily Adler and others after a Christmas Ball. Among the stranded is a murderer and Lily's friend Jack's youngest sister Amelia is the prime suspect. Amelia is the focus of a local scandal which also concerned the victim. She won't share her secrets which makes it hard to clear her name.

Lily and her brother-in-law John who is the local magistrate need to solve the crime before the weather clears and the houseguests depart for their own homes. Amelia's are not the only secrets and Lily and John and Matthew Spencer, the man who wants to marry Lily, need to uncover them all if they are to find the killer. 

It doesn't help that Jack "confesses" to the murder in order to clear his sister's name. Nor does it help that there is a second victim whose death is supposed to look like a suicide. Missing jewels, a cunning financial scam, and Lily's own indecision about whether or not to accept Matthew's offer add layers to this story which was engaging and entertaining. 

This was an excellent addition to an entertaining series. 

Favorite Quote:
There were not many people Lily considered true friends. But Jack, who had been a boyhood companion of her husband and become her own trusted confidant, was one of them.

A bit of a scoundrel by nature, he had his mother's good looks but little of her reserve. And he never lost an opportunity to tease Lily or make her laugh.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

ARC Review: Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas by Vicki Delany

Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas

Author:
Vicki Delany
Series: Year-Round Christmas Mystery (Book 6)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (September 19, 2023)

Description: It’s beginning to look a lot like murder in the sixth installment of this charming cozy mystery series, perfect for fans of Donna Andrews and Jacqueline Frost.

It’s the beginning of December in Rudolph, New York, America's Christmas Town, and business is brisk at Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, a gift and d├ęcor shop owned by Merry Wilkinson. The local amateur dramatic society is intensely preparing a special musical production of A Christmas Carol. But it’s not a happy set, as rivalries between cast and crew threaten the production.

Tensions come to a head when a member of the group is found dead shortly after a shopping excursion to Mrs. Claus's Treasures. Was someone looking to cut out the competition? Everyone in the cast and crew is a potential suspect, including Aline, Merry’s mother, and Merry's shop assistant Jackie O'Reilly, who was desperate for a starring role.

It could be curtains for Christmas—and for Merry—unless the killer can be ferreted out of the wings.

My Thoughts: As Christmas approaches in Rudolph, New York, tensions are rising when the local dramatic society prepares to put on a musical version of A Christmas Carol. This wouldn't normally impact Merry Wilkinson's life since she keeps busy running Mrs. Claus's Treasures, a gift and decor shop. But Merry's mother who is a retired opera singer has a part and is directing the musical numbers. 

Merry happens to be at the theater and witnesses the tensions herself. A new person in town is the troop's artistic director and she is always trying to override the director and influence the casting. One of Merry's employees is in the chorus and the understudy for Mrs. Cratchit and has delusions of talent. When the woman playing Mrs. Cratchit is killed in Merry's store while Merry is in the backroom dealing with a dog issue, her employee and Merry herself come under suspicion. 

Merry wants to investigate to clear her name and that of her employee but she doesn't know enough about the players. She has never been interested in theater herself. However, the local gossip network, or which her landlady is a charter member, is on the case providing Merry with clues she gladly shares with the detective on the case. Tensions rise as the production gets nearer to its first night and Merry is on the case to find the murderer. 

This was an entertaining cozy mystery which is sixth in a series. I haven't read any of the others but didn't have any trouble getting into the story and learning about the characters. Fans of cozies and fans of this series will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
In the past, I believed I could sometimes uncover things Detective Simmonds, with all her official resources could not. People didn't see me as an authority figure or a threat--or didn't care if they were wasting my time--so they talked more freely to me. Simmonds herself had never quite come out and said I was a help. But she'd hinted at it. I thought she'd hinted at it. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Audiobook Review: Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

Crocodile on the Sandbank

Author:
Elizabeth Peters
Narrator: Susan O'Malley
Series: Amelia Peabody (Book 1)
Publication: Blackstone Audio (August 23, 2002)
Length: 8 hours and 47 minutes

Description: Meet Egyptologist Amelia Peabody in the first mystery in the Victorian-era, New York Times-bestselling series.

"If Indiana Jones were female, a wife, and a mother who lived in Victorian times, he would be Amelia Peabody Emerson."—Publishers Weekly


Amelia Peabody, that indomitable product of the Victorian age, embarks on her first Egyptian adventure armed with unshakable self-confidence, a journal to record her thoughts, and, of course, a sturdy umbrella. On her way, Amelia rescues young Evelyn Barton-Forbes, who has been “ruined” and abandoned on the streets of Rome by her rascally lover. With a typical disregard for convention, Amelia promptly hires her fellow countrywoman as a companion and takes her to Cairo.

Eluding Evelyn’s former lover, who wants her back, and Evelyn’s cousin Lord Ellesmere, who wishes to marry her, the two women sail up the Nile to an archaeological site that is home to a rather lively mummy. Soon strange visitations, suspicious accidents, and a botched kidnapping convince Amelia that there is a plot afoot to harm Evelyn.

My Thoughts: This book introduces Amelia Peabody who will eventually feature in 20 books written between 1975 and 2006. Amelia is a semi-proper Victorian lady who, after inheriting a comfortable income upon the death of her father, decides to travel the world. 

Beginning her journey in Italy, Amelia discovers a gentlewoman in distress and decides to make Evelyn her companion. The two travel to Egypt because Amelia wants to visit the pyramids and other Egyptian antiquities. She meets irascible archaeologist Radcliffe Emerson while touring a museum in Cairo.

The two meet again when Amelia stops her voyage south on the Nile to view the site he is excavating only to find him desperately ill and in need of her medical care. Not only does she fall in love with Emerson but she also falls in love with Egypt and Egyptology.

Meanwhile, her companion who is the disinherited granddaughter of a very wealthy Earl has troubles of her own. She is fleeing the Italian lover who coaxed her away from home and dealing with another Italian cousin who is the heir to her grandfather's property. He really wants to marry Evelyn who has fallen in love with Emerson's brother Walter.

This story has mummies some of whom seem to have left their graves to frighten both Amelia and Evelyn, bat-infested tombs, superstitious natives, and all sorts of danger and adventure. It was a fun story to hear since Amelia, who narrates the story, has her own unique and eccentric viewpoint.

The story has a lot of historical detail since many of the characters who are talked about were real people and the leading archaeologists of the day which is about 1890.

I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: The Golden Gate by Amy Chua

The Golden Gate

Author:
Amy Chua
Publication: Minotaur Books (September 19, 2023)

Description: Amy Chua's debut novel, The Golden Gate, is a sweeping, evocative, and compelling historical thriller that paints a vibrant portrait of a California buffeted by the turbulent crosswinds of a world at war and a society about to undergo massive change.

In Berkeley, California, in 1944, Homicide Detective Al Sullivan has just left the swanky Claremont Hotel after a drink in the bar when a presidential candidate is assassinated in one of the rooms upstairs. A rich industrialist with enemies among the anarchist factions on the far left, Walter Wilkinson could have been targeted by any number of groups. But strangely, Sullivan’s investigation brings up the specter of another tragedy at the Claremont, ten years earlier: the death of seven-year-old Iris Stafford, a member of the Bainbridge family, one of the wealthiest in all of San Francisco. Some say she haunts the Claremont still.

The many threads of the case keep leading Sullivan back to the three remaining Bainbridge heiresses, now adults: Iris’s sister, Isabella, and her cousins Cassie and Nicole. Determined not to let anything distract him from the truth—not the powerful influence of Bainbridges’ grandmother, or the political aspirations of Berkeley’s district attorney, or the interest of China's First Lady Madame Chiang Kai-Shek in his findings—Sullivan follows his investigation to its devastating conclusion.

Chua’s page-turning debut brings to life a historical era rife with turbulent social forces and groundbreaking forensic advances, when race and class defined the very essence of power, sex, and justice, and introduces a fascinating character in Detective Sullivan, a mixed race former Army officer who is still reckoning with his own history.

My Thoughts: It's 1944. It's San Francisco. Detective Al Sullivan gets involved in the murder of presidential candidate Walter Wilkinson who is shot to death and stage in a humiliating way in the Claremont Hotel. Wilkinson was a controversial candidate with enemies at all ends of the political spectrum. But another reason, far more personal, is a possible motive for murder too.

Sullivan finds himself investigating the cream of society in the Bainbridges. Any of three attractive Bainbridge young women - sisters Nicole and Cassie and their cousin Isabella - all have their own reasons for wanting him dead. Or it is possible that there is a Chinese connection since he's been rumored to be having an affair with Madame Chiang Kai-Shek.

Sullivan, a mixed-race former Army officer passing for White, finds himself dealing with all sorts of prejudices and presumptions as he investigates from his superior's certainty that no woman of good family could be involved in murder to a DA who is all too ready to frame one or the other of the Bainbridge girls if it will help his political career. Al also dealing with his half-sister's eleven-year-old daughter who is going astray and is in debt to the mob after the disappearance of her mother. 

This story was filled with incredible historical detail and has extensive notes of the sources the author used. As a liberal, I was extremely uncomfortable reading about the prevailing attitudes and prejudices of the day. However, the story was compelling and hard to put down.

Favorite Quote:
"There's a suspicion line in every society, Miriam, and you're either about or below it. The people above that line, they never even think about it. They walk the streets like they own them. They take for granted that the law is there to protect them, because it is.

"But if you're below the line, different story. Below the line, you're what the law protects against. Society has its constant eye on you, not just cops but average people and people lower than you--everyone. You start to look and feel like you're doing something wrong even when you're not."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, September 11, 2023

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (September 11, 2023)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup.

Want to See What I Added to My Stack? links to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Marlene at Reading Reality.

Other Than Reading...

After a gray and gloomy week, the sun has finally come out this morning. We got more rain on September 5 than we got in all of August. With 2.77 inches of rain that day and the .24 inches we got on September 9 we are just .04 inches short of what we got all of July and August. I'm also starting to see some Fall color on the leaves as I look out my window this morning. 

I had a pretty good reading week and am making progress on my review books with October releases. I have lowered that stack from 15 books to six. They are on the stack to be read this week. 

I have an appointment free week this week after last week's dentist appointment and flu shot and Covid booster. The RSV vaccine won't be available from my provider until mid-October, but I want to get that one too. Next week I have another dentist's appointment to fill a couple of cavities. 

This week I plan to read and watch Atlanta Braves baseball. The football season begins today but the Vikings game is the same time as the Braves game. I haven't decided which I'll watch yet. I may watch the Vikings and then watch the Braves game which I can watch anytime with MLB.TV.

My brother and I have been talking about what to eat this week and it looks like leftovers win in the early part of the week. Today will be Reuben sandwiches to use up some Marble Rye bread before it goes too stale. Tomorrow will be leftover casserole from earlier this past week. After that, who knows?

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)
  • Written in Red by Anne Bishop (Mine; Audiobook) -- I always enjoy revisiting the world of The Others. I still love this story after uncountable rereads. 
  • A Cold Highland Wind by Tasha Alexander (Review; October 3) -- The 17th Lady Emily historical mystery takes place in Scotland while Lady Emily and her family are visiting a family friend. My review will be posted on September 28.
  • 'Twas the Bite Before Christmas by David Rosenfelt (Review; October 10) -- The 28th Andy Carpenter mystery was filled with the usual snark and mystery. My review will be posted on October 4.
  • A Traitor in Whitehall by Julia Kelly (Review; October 3) -- Engaging historical fiction that begins a new series. Great WWII setting and interesting characters. My review will be posted on September 30.
  • Rumor of Evil by Gary Braver (Review; October 10) -- Contemporary mystery with flashbacks to an earlier mystery. Interesting main character who is dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts after the death of his daughter and break-up of his marriage. My review will be posted on October 3.
  • Payback in Death by J. D. Robb (Mine) -- This latest In Death novel had an interesting plot, engaging characters, romance and humor. My review will be posted on October 7.
  • Let It Crow! Let It Crow! Let It Crow! by Donna Andrews (Review; October 10) -- Latest episode in the Meg Langslow mysteries set at Ragnar's "castle" a few days before Christmas. My review will be posted on October 5.
  • Second Term by J. M. Adams (Review; October 17) -- Near future thriller packed with action and with a great main character. My review will be posted on October 10.
Currently
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Review:
None
Bought:
What was your week like?