Dead and Breakfast

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Dead and Breakfast: A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery by Kate Kingsbury

I love a brand new series. There’s nothing better than the promise of finding a new world to lose yourself in, and Dead & Breakfast is definitely a great new world to get lost in. A beautiful location in Oregon, a big old house set right on the beach, haunted by a laughing ghost, and real skeletons in the closet. This is the recipe for a great book, so I was eager to dive in.

Starting over after a messy divorce, Melanie buys a B&B with her grandmother, Liza, in Sully’s Landing, Oregon. It’s been vacant for years and needs some updating, and while stripping wallpaper in an upstairs bedroom, Melanie and Liza find a hidden door that opens onto a startling sight – a skeleton, dressed only in a nightgown! With only a few weeks until they open, and the police busy with another case, Liza and Melanie start investigating to find a killer before their B&B dream goes up in smoke.

What I really enjoyed about Dead & Breakfast is that it drew me in right from the start, and left me wanting more. I loved the plot, from discovering the secret room to adopting Max to the exciting ending. The story even left a couple of open plot threads that I’m looking forward to seeing more of. I’m dying (ha!) to know more about the laughing ghost (nicknamed Orville by Liza) and what other secrets are lurking at the Merry Ghost Inn.

The main characters, Melanie and Liza, are a likable bunch. I really liked Liza, she reminds me of my own Grammy – high energy, in charge and lovable. There was just enough info to give them dimension, while leaving out just enough that you want to know more. Melanie and Liza made a great team, I loved how they went about snooping around and uncovering clues.

Overall, a very promising start to a new cozy series and I can’t wait to come back to Sully’s Landing and find out more about the giggling ghost!

Thank you to Crooked Lane Books and Netgalley for the advance copy in return for my honest review.

Dead and Breakfast is available at book retailers or online at  Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

Series: Merry Ghost Inn #1
Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/ePub/Paperback
ISBN: 9781683312390
ASIN: B01IRS85DA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)
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Review: Darkscope

10796935 Darkscope by J. Carson Black

Darkscope skillfully weaves mystery, suspense, thrills, chills and horror into an exquisitely tense story of family secrets, lies and deception.

Chelsea McCord’s marriage is on the rocks and moves back to Bisbee, AZ to be welcomed home by her uncle, Bob. Soon after moving into a little bungalow, Chelsea finds an old Kodak box camera and uses it to take pictures around the small desert town. While looking through the viewfinder, Chelsea sees images from the past; Bisbee how it was 40 years ago. When she develops the film, she finds images of the same woman as she grows from a child to a young woman. Who is she? What are her ties to Chelsea, whose family has a long legacy in the small mining town?

This review is really hard to write. On one hand, I have tons to say about the excellent plot but I don’t want to give anything away! I think this is an amazing read any time of the year, but definitely perfect for Halloween. Vengeful ghosts, haunted cameras, visions of horrible deaths, it’s got it all. This was a real edge of your seat story that just drew me in deeper with each page, one of those books where you don’t have an inkling what’s going on until it’s revealed in the story, making you feel a little off-balance and a little unsteady, which really heightened the suspense.

At the heart of the book was the mystery of a woman who disappeared in the 1940s, as told in the present day as well as the past. I loved how the old box camera told the story; the smell of death coming from the camera, the snapshots, and literally chasing Chelsea through the house (which was creepy and a little funny at the same time. All I kept thinking about was The Brave Little Toaster.) The subplots, Chelsea’s ex, Bob’s run for governor, and Sunshine, really added to the tense atmosphere and kept the story moving at a breakneck pace.

Overall, I really enjoyed Darkscope and it was a bargain at only 99¢ on Amazon. I definitely recommend it as a Halloween read or for fans of paranormal mysteries.

Darkscope is available online at Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Breakaway Media
Publication Date: Oct 09, 2011
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/ePub
ISBN: 2940013266414
ASIN: B004E9U6U2
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Horror
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Awarded: The Favorite New Blog Awards

The fabulous FairlyLiterary nominated me for the Favorite New Blog award. Thank you!  Take a moment to check out her blog, you won’t be sorry.

The rules: Answer the questions, nominate 10 other bloggers who have smaller blogs than you do. In the spirit, try to keep it as those with less than 400-500 followers. I hope you enjoy the awards! Find new blogs! No matter how big or small you are, connecting is important! The picture I used, a hammock on a beach, would be my happy place!

  1. What is your happy place?
    A cool day, a warm house, in the kitchen baking something that will be fabulously delicious, then curling up with a blanket and a good book.
  2.  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
    I have pretty simple aspirations.  Hopefully somewhere comfortable, in good health, with my family close by and good books to read.
  3. What is your passion in life?
    Reading!  Reading a book, writing about a book, searching for new books to read, libraries, bookstores, bookshelves….it’s what my life revolves around.
  4.  Who are your favorite people in the world? (family, children, parents, etc)

    Other than my family, book people are my favorite people in the world. Also, Bruce Campbell because he’s awesome.

  5.  What would you consider the philosophy of your life?

    “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”
    ― Oscar Wilde

And now the nominations (of course, you’re not required to do this, but I’d love to see your answers!)

Bri-anna @ Briar’s Reviews

Joyce @ The Paperback Princess

This Is My Truth Now

Lynne @ Fictionophile

Krissy’s Bookshelf Reviews

Janel @ Keeper of Pages

Jackie @ Books & Tea

Charlee @ Once Upon a Book

Anna @ A Wonderous Bookshelf

Kelly @Kelly’s Book Blog

 

Review: The United States of Absurdity

31860053The United States of Absurdity: Untold Stories from American History by Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds

The duo from The Dollop podcast have written a book full of the odd, the outrageous and all the funny stories that never made it into the history books.

This was a laugh out loud funny take on some of the lesser well-known stories that make up the fabric of our history. The presidential cheese story made me chuckle (What. A. Legend.) and the Lobotomobile story was outrageous, but the best story, and the reason I wanted to read this book, was the Kentucky Meat Shower story.

Meat.  Meat rained down all over Crouch’s property.  The meat dropped to the ground in varying sizes.  Some pieces were small.  Some were big.  It was raining meat; Hallelujah, it was raining meat!  The happiest creature was Crouch’s cat, who walked around eating the sky meat like it had won the feline lottery.

The stories are indeed hilarious and absurd, but not necessarily untold. I’ve seen a few of the stories in other places, and Reddit is full of Action Park stories (and even has its own subreddit, /r/actionpark, or check out these commercials of seemingly innocuous Action Park rides on Youtube.)

Overall, The United States of Absurdity is a short and funny look at US history,  great as a time-waster, side-splitting funny and a must-read for trivia fans and history buffs.

The United States of Absurdity is available at book retailers or onine at Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

Thank you to Ten Speed Press and NetGalley, who provided an advance copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/ePub/Hardcover
ISBN: 9780399578755
ASIN: B01KE61LUC
Genre: History
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

New Release! Dangling by a Thread

29064426Dangling by a Thread by Lea Wait

Jesse lives a hermit’s life on an island just off Haven Harbor’s shore, alone except for his beloved Great Cormorants. When a millionaire visits Haven Harbor and decides to buy Jesse’s island, Jesse’s only concern is to save the island for the birds. When Jesse is found dead, there’s plenty of suspects, but who was the killer and why?

I enjoy Haven Harbor and its cozy atmosphere and the enjoyable plot kept a steady pace through the book, with a little bit of action to added to the suspense. I had a good idea who the killer was halfway through the book but it turned out I was wrong (close, but wrong.)

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A Great Cormorant. I agree with Patrick, they are surreal!

I liked the Save the Cormorant movement, and I especially liked that Angie and her friends were strong enough in their convictions and their loyalty to Jesse to risk the ire of the local townspeople to save their habitat.

I like Angie and the other characters (especially Gram) but I have to say, the one thing that put me off in this book was Angie and her issues.  Her attitude towards Patrick was a little annoying; despite the fact that she’s a caring person who doesn’t judge, she seems to think Patrick is a snob only because he’s rich which makes her feel insecure. Seriously, Angie, get over yourself.

I thought the climax of the book was a little abrupt. The plot was slowly and steadily moving along, then screeched to a halt. It was, for the most part, a satisfying conclusion and the plot was resolved, but it was incongrous with the pace of the book and a the loose ends a little too neatly tied up.

Overall, I enjoyed Dangling by a Thread and I will continue to read the series and those Maple Oatmeal cookies sound amazing. No raisins for me, please.

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Edit: I made the Maple Oatmeal cookies today and they are delish!  They were super easy to make  and I substituted chopped pecans instead of raisins.  They baked up beautifully and the end result is a light cinnamon-y chewy cookie.  I think next time I’m going to drizzle a little maple glaze over the top.  But that’s a whole other post.

Dangling by a Thread is available at book retailers or online   Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Thank you to Kensington Books and Netgalley, who provided an advance copy to read and review in return for my honest review.

Series: A Mainely Needlepoint #4
Rating: ★★★★✰ 4 Stars
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: Oct. 25, 2016
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Epub
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Language: English
ASIN: B01BAYWZHU
ISBN-13: 9781496706263
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Frog Legs

30832036Frog Legs (A Dunbarton Mystery #3) by Valerie Tate

Alicia (Ali to her friends) is a newlywed settling down at her horse farm in rural Ontario, CA when a proposal is submitted to build a new golf course and resort that includes the destruction of an existing marsh. After a protest group demands an ecological study, the fate of the marsh rests with a noted ecologist, who announces she did not find any endangered species and the project could proceed. The head of the conservation group, Ali’s old friend Ted, believes he has found something that reverses Rowena’s findings, but he is murdered before he can share what he has found. Ali and Chris set out to investigate, navigating small town politics to uncover the truth.

I really enjoyed this. I’ve not read any of the previous books in this series, so I can safely say this can be read as a standalone, or as an entry into the series. Set in a small town in Ontario, Canada, Dunbarton is a idyllic location and gave the book a strong sense of place. The writing is engaging, you can’t help but like Ali and her husband Chris, who managed not to let the marsh issue come between them, despite working on opposing sides. And what a great plot! I wavered between which suspect was the killer over and over and in the end I was kinda right but mostly wrong and very satisfied.

I enjoyed the ecological aspect of the story, that marshes are increasingly under threat from development, and the importance of preserving them. I could also see the viewpoint of the townspeople who were in favor of the golf course. In a small town, there are so few places of income and revenue that a big development can be a huge boon for a town. It also highlighted how easy it is to let greed compromise good judgement.

Overall, a very enjoyable book, and I’ll be sure to check out the other books in the series. I definitely recommend this to cozy mystery fans as a quick, light read.

Frog Legs is available at book retailers or online Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Thank you to the author, Valerie Tate, for providing a free copy of the book in return for my honest review.

Series: Dunbarton Mystery #3
Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher:Red Cottage Books
Publication Date:July 1, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN: 9781534682078
ASIN: B019MBQQK0
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

New Release! Classic German Baking

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Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen by Luisa Weiss

Original Review date: June 07, 2016

I love baking and my family is half German; while we still have some family recipes floating around, I was very interested in finding some traditional German baking recipes.

This well-organized book is perfect for any baker, from novices (like me) to pros. The book details the history of each recipe before laying out the easy to follow step-by-step instructions. There’s an extensive glossary of ingredients that was very helpful because I was unfamiliar with some of them (Baker’s Ammonia? Almond Paste?) and it helped me to know what to look for. I did miraculously find almond paste at a discount store (of all places), but could not find baker’s ammonia anywhere; I may have to buy that online.  All the measurements given for each recipe have both a volume amount (in grams) and the equivalent for the rest of us that never bothered to get a food scale.

Armed with my almond paste, I decided to start small with Heidesand (Sandy Almond Sugar Cookies) .    These were easy to make, needing just a few ingredients, 1 bowl and no mixer.  Can’t get any easier than that!   Just work the wet ingredients together, and knead in the flour.  Then, roll into a cylinder, chill for a few hours, cut into slices, roll in sugar and bake.   How much easier can you get?

The result reminds me of Pecan Sandies (which are pretty much the same thing, a shortbread with nuts.  So these are kind of like Almond Sandies.)  Not too sweet with a nice, crunchy texture, they would go great with a cup of tea.   Or spread with Nutella.  Mmmm!

Overall, very enjoyable and I had a lot of fun with the first recipe I tried.  I recommend this book for bakers of all skill levels who are looking to try something different.  Thank you to the publisher, Ten Speed Press and the author, Luisa Weiss for the advanced copy of the book.

Classic German Baking is a great gift idea!  It is available at book retailers or online at Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date:  Oct. 18, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/ePub/Hardcover
ISBN: 9781607748250
ASIN: B01B0KA77Y
Genre: Culinary/Cookbook
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Ghost of a Chance

28320545Ghost of a Chance by Angie Fox

Another quick foray into Sugarland, Ghost of a Chance has Verity and gangster ghost Frankie helping out ghost buddy Matthew Jackson to recover a necklace that his mother had promised him – 150 years ago. Verity (with Frankie, of course) crashes a party at the Jackson home by working as a server during the annual family Christmas party to reunite a son (who has spent the last 150 years feeling bitterly alone after his mother threw him out for joining the Union army during the Civil War) and a mother who has spent the last 150 years mourning him. The part where Verity was trying to get the mother to look out the window and see him? *sniffle* And a happy ending? You can’t go wrong.

The great thing about these very short stories is how rich the plot is, considering there’s only 40 pages! The story unfolds quickly, with just the right amount of detail to be a satisfying read without feeling incomplete or rushed.

Overall, enjoyable and satisfying, Ghost of a Chance is a great little tale to while away an hour.

Ghost of a Chance is available at Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

Series: Southern Ghost Hunter #2.5
Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher:Moose Island Books
Publication Date:Jan. 4, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/ePub
ISBN:2940157706692
ASIN: B01H65B0NM
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: A Ghostly Gift

24954886A Ghostly Gift by Angie Fox

A short and sweet read, A Ghostly Gift has a touch of humor, a sleazy ghost bar, and a heartwarming tale that will hit you right in the feels.

After reading the 4th book in this fantastic series, I vowed to catch up with all the other books. A Ghostly Gift is a very short story (it took me a half hour to read) set just after the first book. Verity’s sister, Melody asks her for a favor; a friend’s resale shop is being terrorized by a ghost and she needs Verity’s help to get rid of the ghost before anything valuable is broken. With gangster ghost Frankie by her side, Verity goes to investigate and uncovers a long lost secret: a dead WWII soldier needs help to find his old sweetheart.

This was heartwarming and a little sad; my heart went out to the poor soldier and his lost love, who have spent decades mourning their lost love. When they were eventually reunited, it made me a little teary. I’m a sucker for this kind of thing.

Overall, an excellent short story in a fantastic series, and highly recommended for paranormal mystery fans.

Buy it on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble

Series: Southern Ghost Hunter #1.5
Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Angie Fox
Publication Date: Feb 15, 2015
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/ePub
ISBN: 2940151540735
ASIN: B00TOZ9EC2
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Paws and Effect

28504510Paws and Effect by Sofie Kelly

Kathleen is out to breakfast with boyfriend Marcus when they unexpectedly meet up with Marcus’s old college friends; John, Danielle and Travis. Not long after, Danielle is found dead – and the evidence seems to implicate Marcus, who doesn’t have a good alibi. Kathleen knows there’s something Marcus isn’t telling her, but she also knows that Marcus did not murder his friend. With the help of her friends and her magical cats, Owen and Hercules, Kathleen wades through the secrets between friends to catch a killer.

This is such a cute series, and I always enjoy visiting Kathleen and the gang in Mayville Heights. I can’t believe we’re up to #8 of Owen and Hercules and their shenanigans! As usual, they’re busy walking through walls, making themselves invisible, and biting the heads of catnip chickens while smugly pointing out clues.

This was a great plot, I liked that details about the victim were filled in as the story went along, because you don’t really get to “know” her before she is killed and those details gave clues to who the killer was. I guessed who did it early on, based on what I thought was a clue and it turns out I was on the right track, but the “clue” wasn’t a clue at all, or even a red herring.

This can easily be read as a standalone, as past events aren’t really a part of this story and the few references don’t hinder this book for new readers. But I definitely recomend reading the other books in the series because magical cats. Owen and Hercules are the real stars of this series, if only because their antics add some humor and whimsy to the series.

Overall, another great book in an enjoyable series and I don’t hesitate to recommend this series to cozy mystery fans.

Paws and Effect is available at book retailers or on Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

Series: Magical Cats Mystery #8
Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: Oct. 4, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/ePub/Paperback
ISBN: 781410492647
ASIN: B01AHKXJ78
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Pressed to Death

30846960Pressed to Death (Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum #2) by Kirsten Weiss

Maddie has just bought a haunted grape press for her Paranormal Museum when she’s accused of stealing it by a vintner that Maddie later finds dead. Coerced into investigating by her mother, Maddie puts catching a killer at the top of her to-do list, along with staging a room at a Halloween haunted house and hosting a Death Cafe at the Paranormal Museum.

I liked this, but I was a little disappointed. At the heart of this book is a good premise and an intriguing plot. The current day murders had a lot of twists and turns, and the story behind the haunted grape press (and everyone’s reaction to it) was entertaining. I loved Maddie’s room at the Haunted House (actually, I would’ve loved to see the whole thing!) and the descriptions of the custom Oujia boards she sells made me want to go out and buy one. As for Adele’s new descriptions of her teas, I thought they were colorful and a bit corny, but pornographic? Nope. Harper needs to get out more.

Unfortunately, the murders weren’t the focus of the book; the plots were largely buried under the weight of Maddie’s love life, the town placing bets on whether Maddie will solve the crime, the Ladies Aid anarchy, the Death Cafe, and the terrifically annoying Detective Hammer whose purpose seems only to be a distraction and is a negative stereotype that makes police look bad (as if they need any more of that. I’m seeing this more and more in books and it infuriates me.  I doubt it’s the author’s intent to vilify the police, but it’s entirely unwelcome.  It’s such a cliche to have a bitchy woman character that hates the MC, and it’s implausible that such an immature, hostile and rude person would stay on the force long enough to become a detective. Ugh. Can we stop this, please? )

I just feel like it was all too much…stuff that was crammed into the book, and the plots suffered for it, especially the haunted grape press story line, it just sort of petered out with a barely-there resolution.

Overall, this is a very cute and enjoyable series (and I still love the idea of a paranormal museum!) and this book was a good read but it would’ve been so much better if the focus was more on the mystery and less on all the other silliness.

Thank you to Midnight Ink and Netgalley, who provided an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

Pressed to Death is available at book retailers or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Series: Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum #2
Rating:★★★✰✰ 3 stars
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: March 8, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePub
ISBN: 9780738750316
ASIN: B01FOR0Z7G
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

TBR Tuesday (October 18, 2016)

Managed to get through 4 of the 5 books from last week, so I’m feeling pretty good about my 2016 Reading Challenge progress. But then again, there’s about 30 more waiting in my Soon-To-Be-Read pile, fighting to make it on the list.bookfight

Great, now I’m picturing some kind of Thunder Dome battle between books fighting to be read next. Aaaannd now I can’t think about anything else.

Ok, where was I?  Oh yes.  This week’s TBR is chock-full of this and that and everything else.  There’s some seriously good reads on this list, I may have to turn off the phone, tv, computer and everything else so I don’t get interrupted!

10796935Darkscope

“A frightening tale of lost souls, lost love, murder and deceit.”
—The Sierra Vista Herald
This is the one I didn’t get to last week, and it’s first on my list this week.

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31860053

The United States of Absurdity

From the creators of the comedy/history podcast “The Dollop,” “The United States of Absurdity” presents short, informative, and hilarious stories of the most outlandish (but true) people, events, and more from United States history. Comedians Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds cover the weird stories you didn’t learn in history class, such as 10-Cent Beer Night, the Jackson Cheese, and the Kentucky Meat Shower, each accompanied by a full-page illustration that brings these historical “milestones” to life in full-color. Adding to the giftable history/comedy package, each story is accompanied by tongue-in-cheek trivia and timelines that help place the stories in context with the more well-known historical events that occurred around them

I  saw this on Netgalley and I knew this was right up my alley when I saw “Kentucky Meat Shower.”  Who can resist that?  Not me, that’s who.

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29284829

Behead Me

Retired FBI agent Cliff Knowles thought he was being hired by a Fortune 500 company just to find out why their sales of spare parts were down. He soon learns that where there’s money there’s mayhem – and murder.

Written by a former FBI agent,  his books are loosely based  on his real life cases.  I read the excerpt on Amazon and was hooked from the first page

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30832036Frog Legs

The body was found in the early morning, face down in the murky waters of the marsh. There was no question that he had drowned. The question was did he have help? And if he did, who, among the many, irate people upon whose toes he had trod, had helped to send him on his way? The only witnesses have frog legs and they have nothing to say on the matter.

I had just seen Dunbartons mysteries somewhere (must’ve been recommended on Goodreads or something)  and when I was offered a copy of this book, I thought I’d give it a try.  I read the excerpt on Amazon and it sounds really good, I liked the writing right from the beginning.

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29933974

Ghostland

An intellectual feast for fans of offbeat history, Ghostland takes readers on a road trip through some of the country’s most infamously haunted places–and deep into the dark side of our history.

*squee*  I’m hoping this one has some good thrills and chills.  I love true ghost stories!

What’s on top of your TBR list this week?

Review: Live and Let Diet

29627248Live and Let Diet by Morgana Best

Sybil has moved to Little Tatterford after he soon-to-be-ex husband offers to pay for 6 months rent at a little cottage there.  Sybil decides to start a mobile pet grooming business but gets sidetracked when the body of a tenant at the boarding house next door is found dead.  She smells bitter almonds on the man’s breath, a tell-tale sign of being poisoned.  When she becomes the next target, Sybil begins  investigating to find out who’s targeting her and why.

Do they have cool names for cozy mysteries in Australia? Like Cozy-Dozies or anything? If so, that would be enough to draw me in, but if not, the plot was more than enough, with several plot twists that set up a satisfying ending that left me wanting more.

I really enjoyed this, a very promising start to a new series. I loved Sybil, she’s smart, likable and a little naive.  Mr. Buttons was by far my favorite character, he made the story for me, from “straightening” up the crime scene because the cat shed on the carpet to his bath scene when Sybil had to drag the reluctant Great Dane to his bath. The landlady, Cressida and her cat, Lord Farringdon (who talks to Cressida) were also enjoyable but not developed as much as I wanted. How, exactly, does Lord Farringdon talk to her? I’d love to know how that came about.

I really liked the Australian setting, which highlights not only the sights but also how large Australia is.  It gives the story a real sense of place, and added a little reality to the story.

There is a little bit of a paranormal element to the story, but I’m not going to give it away.  I thought her gift, and why she has it, was very original and added a lot to the story.

Overall, a quick, light read and very recommended for cozy mystery fans.

Live and Let Diet is available at book retailers or online Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Series: Australian Amateur Sleuth #1
Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Cozy Mysteries Books
Publication Date: March 25, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePub
ISBN: 9781530764563
ASIN: B01DH47396
Genre: Cozy Mystery/Paranormal
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

New Release: A Memory of Muskets

28700178A Memory of Muskets by Kathleen Ernst
Original review date: May 21, 2016

A Memory of Muskets, book 7 in the Chloe Ellefson series,combines a heart-wrenching tale of Roelke’s ancestors, finely woven into a riveting present day mystery of a Civil War re-enactor   found dead at Old World Wisconsin.  With nothing to identify the dead man, the investigation stalls and another Civil War re-enactor is shot to death at Milwaukee’s German Fest. Roelke works to piece together the pieces and find a killer. Throughout the book, the tragic story of Roelke’s ancestors unfolds as Roelke and Chloe purchase the Roelke homestead, which has been in his family since the time of the Civil War.

The present day plot was really well crafted; I had no firm suspects (although I hoped Petty guilty of the murders.) and the ending did come as a surprise. The characters continue to grow and gain some dimension and have become a solid unit.

What I really loved was the Roelke family history. There was a lot I could relate to with this book; I have been working on my family’s German genealogy over the last few months, so I guess I felt a certain kinship with the story. It certainly brought much enjoyment for me reading it, as it could just as easily have been my own history. I’m woman enough to admit that I did cry at the end of the book. When I said a heart-wrenching story, I wasn’t kidding.

Overall, a another solid entry into the Chloe Ellefson series and I can’t wait to read more. This book can be read as a standalone, but would be better appreciated if the series was read in order.

Thank you to Midnight Ink and Netgalley, who provided an advance copy in return for my honest review.

A Memory of Muskets  is available at book retailers or online at   Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Series:Chloe Ellefson #7
Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: Oct. 8, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePub
ISBN: 978-0738745152
ASIN: B01APSYQ1A
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Southern Spirits

24582237Southern Spirits (Southern Ghost Hunter #1) by Angie Fox

Poor Verity. Forced to repay her cheating ex-boyfriend Beau for their wedding after she jilted him at the altar and trashed the reception, she faces having to sell her home to repay her debts. After accidentally “grounding” Frankie, the ghost of an old mobster, Verity finds that she can see and speak to ghosts. When her ex’s brother, Ellis, asks for her help to get rid of an angry ghost in return for the money to save her house, it’s a deal Verity can’t refuse. When Verity uncovers a decades-old murder, Verity must use her new abilities to track down a killer.

Southern Ghost Hunters is fast becoming my favorite cozy series, with its exciting plots and great characters. I’ve already read two other books in the series, so I finally sat down to see how it all began.

Verity dumps out a vase full of dust, not realizing it’s an urn filled with the last remains of Frankie “The German”, a mobster who was killed 100 years ago. Now Frankie is “grounded” and can’t leave the property unless Verity carries his urn with her. Frankie is able to help Verity see The Other Side and interact with ghosts. Frankie is a real hoot, and the perfect sidekick for Verity. Thanks to him, she manages to find some much needed money for an elderly widow and to put an angry ghost to rest.

I loved the first ghost story line, with Jilted Josephine and her poltergeist mother. I would’ve liked to have seen Verity go back and help them more, maybe that will come in a later book. It just made me sad that poor Josephine is still locked in her room. *sigh*

The second ghost story line, helping her ex’s brother, Ellis, get rid of the angry ghost that’s destroying his work to restore an old distillery, was very exciting. I loved the Colonel, I wavered between thinking he was protecting Verity and attacking her. The story behind the poltergeist was tragic (like Josephine!) and I really felt for the poor ghostie. I’d be mad too, if that happened to me!

Overall, Southern Spirits is a a real page-turner; fun, exciting and addicting. I definitely recommend this series as a must read for fans of paranormal and/or cozy mysteries.

Enter now to win a print copy of Southern Spirits on Goodreads from now until October 24th, 2016 (US and Canada)! The Kindle version is free on Amazon for a limited time!

Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

Series:Southern Ghost Hunter #1
Rating:★★★★ 5 stars
Publication Date: Jan. 18, 2015
ISBN-13:978-1939661210
ASIN: B01DH47396
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Title Wave

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Title Wave by Lorna Barrett

Tricia and Angelica have set out on a book lovers cruise, featuring many popular mystery authors, including EM Barstow, the author of a hit mystery series. EM is an abrasive woman who makes enemies wherever she goes, so it’s no surprise when Tricia later finds her dead, hanging from her shower by a scarf. Tricia can’t help but investigate, convinced that the ship’s security office isn’t investigating and that it’s up to her to find a killer.

This one was just…okay. I loved the idea of a book lovers cruise, and it was so easy to picture myself in that sumptuous stateroom and enjoying all the luxuries while cruising the high seas. But the plot just didn’t do it for me; it felt like the book focused more on Tricia and her issues and the mystery was just along for the ride. On one hand, it did explain a lot about why Tricia is such a doormat. On the other hand, the ending was far-fetched and implausible.

Overall, I did like this book, I always look forward to catching up with Tricia and the gang, but this one fell a little flat for me. It is an enjoyable series, and I will continue with it.

Title Wave is available at book retailers or online at AmazonBarnes & Noble

Series: Booktown Mystery #10
Rating: ★★★✰✰ 3 stars
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePub
ISBN: 9780698406322
ASIN: B016VRFUDC
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

TBR Tuesday October 11, 2016

I’ve finally caught up on my reading challenge and I’m back on track to meet my goal of 150 books in 2016.  I’m at 117 books read so far this year, and I still have a ton of really great books to finish.  I love having a full TBR pile!

This week’s TBR list is full of hauntings, magic and bone-chilling thrills just in time for Halloween, so I’ll have a spooktacular time reading this week! (Sorry about the pun, I couldn’t resist.)

30846960 Pressed to Death by Kirsten Weiss

Perfectly pressed. Perfectly proper. Perfectly deadly.

Paranormal museum owner Maddie Kosloski thinks she has the perfect paranormal exhibit for the harvest festival—a haunted grape press. But before she can open the exhibit, she’s accused of stealing the antique press. And when her accuser is found murdered, all eyes turn to Maddie.

In this light, cozy mystery, haunted houses, runaway wine barrels, and murder combine in a perfect storm of chaos. Facing down danger and her own over-active imagination, Maddie must unearth the killer before she becomes the next ghost to haunt her museum.

Woo! The second in the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum series looks to be a great read, and perfect to put me in the Halloween spirit!

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28504510Paws and Effect  by Sofie Kelly

Magical cats Owen and Hercules and resourceful librarian Kathleen Paulson are back in the latest from the New York Times bestselling author of Faux Paw…
 
Kathleen is excited to meet three old pals of her beau, Detective Marcus Gordon, while they visit charming Mayville Heights on business. But the reunion is cut short when one of the friends is killed—and the evidence points towards Marcus as the murderer.

I love catching up with Owen & Hercules and their magical hi-jinx, I’m really looking foward to this one.

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Southern Spirits by  Angie Fox

One simple mistake…
For a girl who is about to lose her family home,
Releases the ghost of a long-dead gangster,
And opens Verity Long’s eyes to a whole new world.

When out of work graphic designer Verity Long accidentally traps a ghost on her property, she’s saddled with more than a supernatural sidekick—she gains the ability see spirits. It leads to an offer she can’t refuse from the town’s bad boy, the brother of her ex and the last man she should ever partner with.

I picked this one up on Amazon as a freebie.  I’ve read 2 other books in the series, so I’m excited to start from the beginning and see how it all began.

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10796935Darkscope by J. Carson Black

“A frightening tale of lost souls, lost love, murder and deceit.”
—The Sierra Vista Herald

After photographer Chelsea McCord’s marriage falls apart, her great uncle Bob talks her into starting a new life in 1980s Bisbee, Arizona, the historic mining town with a notorious past. Bob’s father, mining magnate Lucas McCord, helped build Bisbee in the early 20th century.

Chelsea discovers an old box camera in a dusty trunk, the film still inside. Sfjhe uses it to photograph the town. Is it her imagination, or does the stench of death emanate from the camera’s inner workings?

And when Chelsea looks through a viewfinder wavy with age, she sees children in gunny sack clothes, their eyes dark and grainy. Children from the 1920’s. She sees a young man and woman at a train station that no longer exists. The same young woman appears in each of the camera’s photographs.

As the past superimposes itself on the present, Chelsea learns the secret of her powerful family’s dark legacy. With one click of the shutter, she has unleashed a pure and hungry evil that will consume everyone she loves.

Pitted against a supernatural force and stalked by a psychopathic killer, Chelsea rediscovers her capacity to love as she fights to save her beloved uncle–and herself.

I picked this one up after I saw it in a weekly book bargain email I subscribe to.  After reading the first chapter, I was hooked.   I’m anticipating a good, spooky read.

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The Skeletons of Birkbury by Diana J. Febry

Twenty years ago no connection was made between the disappearance of a girl from Cheltenham and a fatal car accident in the small village of Birkbury. But that changes when the body is found buried in Birkbury and there are two further car accidents and a local girl goes missing.

After I read Who Killed Vivien Morse not long ago,  I put the rest of the series on my TBR list and I’m finally getting to the first book in the series.  I’m looking forward to visiting DCI Hatherall & friends and seeing where it all began.  This isn’t a spooky or ghostly, or paranormal book but it has the word skeletons in the title, so I’m counting it as a Halloween read.

Review: Worth Killing For

30320413Worth Killing For by Ed James

A gritty, hard-boiled story about gangs, crime and murder on the streets of London, Worth Killing For isn’t your ordinary police procedural, it’s a look at the seedy side of city life that lives and breathes every day, but most of us don’t notice until it impacts our own lives.

DI Simon Fenchurch witnesses a fatal stabbing of a young woman on the street in London and chases down the suspect, a young boy on a bicycle. After apprehending him, a number of cellphones are found, indicating the boy is a cellphone thief known as an “Apple Picker”. After evidence turns up that exonerates the suspect, Fenchurch is forced to set him free. As he investigates further, he uncovers a sophisticated petty crime ring led by an elusive figure named Kamal that appears to be branching out into violent crime. But who is Kamal working for?

Just a few pages into the book, you’re already in the midst of the action and it doesn’t let up until the end of the book. I enjoyed the complex plot, there were many layers to the story that peeled off little by little right up to the shocking conclusion. A lot of hot social topics in today’s society are neatly knitted into the story, such as racial tension, gangs and crime, making the book so realistic that you feel like you’re right there on the street.

Overall, an enjoyable read from one of my favorite authors and this series is shaping up to be a blockbuster. I would say that this book can be read as a standalone, but to fully understand the characters, they should be read in order.

Worth Killing For will be released on October 11, 2016 and will be available at book retailers or on Amazon

Thank you to Thomas & Mercer and Netgalley, who provided an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Series: DI Fenchurch #2
Rating: ★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: Oct. 11, 2016
Language: English
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audio
ASIN: B01CGBC70G
ISBN-13: 978-1503938229
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: The Corpse with the Garnet Face

29778567The Corpse with the Garnet Face by Cathy Ace

Cait Morgan is a psychologist who specializes in victim profiling. Newly married to retired cop, Bud, they are surprised one day when Bud’s mother calls to say her long-lost brother, Jonas, has died. He left a final message to Bud asking him to come to Amsterdam and fulfill his final wishes; to distribute some paintings to a few surviving friends. When they arrive, Cait and Bud find things aren’t what they seem, and it’s up to them to unravel the secrets Jonas has hidden for decades.

It’s been on my To-Be-Read list for months and if I’d known how good it was, I’d have gotten to it sooner! This is the first book I’ve read in this series, and now I’m going to go back and read the others. It  can easily be read as a standalone, references to prior books were few and didn’t distract from the story. I really enjoyed the writing style; the plot unwound steadily as the book progressed, with just enough suspense to keep me turning pages, yet relaxed enough that I felt like I was in Amsterdam soaking up the sights right along with Cait and Bud. While I figured out the “why” pretty early on, it was no less enjoyable and the conclusion was excellent. You know how on Murder, She Wrote, Jessica would take you through, step by step, the whole rotten plot right to the end? That’s how this one was done. It was a great way to end the book.

The locale was a big draw, the old world city of Amsterdam with its art museums and bicycles and cafes and I really liked the description of Jonas’s house, one of those tall, skinny buildings skirting the canal, complete with a pulley on top to move furniture in and out. I would’ve loved to see those steep, narrow staircases and that beautiful studio on the top floor.

The characters really make the book. Cait is smart and astute; with a photographic memory and a knack for reading people, she was the first to realize something was a bit off after arriving in Amsterdam. Jonas sounded like an interesting character, it’s a shame he wasn’t in the story. I really liked the solution of who was in the photos that Jonas had in his bedside table. What a great, memorable plot thread. I’ll remember that one for a long time.

Overall, an excellent cozy mystery with a riveting plot, great characters and a beautiful locale, and I definitely recommend it for cozy mystery readers.

The Corpse with the Garnet Face is available at book retailers or online at Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Series:Cait Morgan #7
Rating: ★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Touchwood Editions
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Paperback, Kindle,  ePub
Genre: Cozy Mystery
ASIN: B019O1BNX8
ISBN-13: 978-1771511650
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Release Day: Deader Homes and Gardens

32149236Deader Homes and Gardens by Angie Fox

A spooky tale of a haunted mansion, evil spirits, and Egyptian curses will leave your poor nails bitten to the quick in this exciting paranormal cozy mystery.

Verity Long has given up her graphic design business to become a  full-time ghost hunter.  With gangster ghost Frankie by her side to lend her his power to The Other Side, Verity awaits her first ghost hunting job.  When Lee, the last heir to the very haunted Rock Fall mansion, calls her in to investigate, Verity has to battle a murderous spirit hell bent on keeping the secrets of Rock Fall from being uncovered.

I could not put this down and read this in one evening. I can’t remember the last time I read a cozy mystery with this much depth, it reminded me of the early Ghost Hunter books by Victoria Laurie; a scary baddie, lots of thrills & chills, a sprinkling of horror, a dash of humor, and that creepy kind of suspense that raises the hair on the back of your neck.

    “Lord have mercy.  Dozens of doll heads, broken from their bodies, stared up at me through the gently moving water in the basin.  Their eyes opened wide, their cracked mouths smiled. My blood went cold.”

My blood went cold reading that.  *shiver*

The plot surrounds the Treadwell family, who died mysteriously after a cache of Ancient Egyptian treasures were brought home after a dig in the early part of the 20th century, was excellent, very well written with lots of red herrings and plot twists. The ghosts were the stars of this book, from the mute little girl, Charlotte to the scarred Governess to Frankie, the gangster who blackmails Verity into allowing a gangster get-together in her backyard in return for his help. Complete with flapper girls, a jazz band, and a spectral craps table, it sounded like the kind of happening party anyone would want to be caught dead at. I loved the descriptions of the grounds at the mansion, a beautiful abandoned garden left to grow wild.  My Secret-Garden-obsessed self was in heaven.  I’d love to explore something like that (but without the evil ghosts, thanks)

While there are references to previous books, they don’t distract from the plot, so this can be read as a standalone but you will want to read the other books after reading this one!

Overall, an exceptional cozy mystery for any time of year, but especially good for a Halloween read.

Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

I was provided an advanced copy of the book by Season Publishing, Moose Island Books and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review

Series: Southern Ghost Hunter #4
Rating: ★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Moose Island Books
Publication Date: Oct. 09, 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal
Language: English
Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-1939661371
ASIN: B01M98PA4S
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)