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)

Review: Daufuskie Island

Daufuskie Island, Mystery, Time Travel, Mystereity, John Lueder, Adventure

Daufuskie Island by John Lueder

The St. John family owns a summer house on Daufuskie Island, off the coast of South Carolina. After a hurricane, Caris and her kids discover a mysterious treasure chest containing a note and a silver key. The key unlocks a mysterious silver door in an old, abandoned lighthouse that leads the family on a harrowing adventure through history.

This book was riveting; I couldn’t put it down. The story switches between each character’s adventures, and I found myself racing through them to get to the next. The characters were very believable, from the squabbles between the children (reminded me of my own childhood!) to the family’s reactions to the confusing events and the situations they found themselves in. I think my favorite character was Maitland, I love the idea of someone from the past being transported into present times and how they cope with it.

While enjoyable for adults, it would be a great learning companion for middle school aged kids, with scenes set both in the Revolutionary War and Civil War that would enhance their history classes. Although there’s some minor violence towards the end of the book, It’s not any more graphic than what kids see on an average cartoon or superhero movie, so very little parental guidance would be necessary.

Overall, a captivating, exciting and thrilling romp through history, Daufuskie Island will appeal to history buffs of all ages, from kids to adults.

Thank you to Mountain Arbor Press and Netgalley for a copy of the book in return for my honest review.

Daufuskie Island is available at book retailers or at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

Rating: ★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Mountain Arbor Press
Publication Date: July 23, 2016
Genre: Mystery, Time Travel, Adventure, History
Format: Paperback, Kindle, ePub
Language:
English
ASIN: B01J0HDWI0
ISBN-13: 978-1631830310
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Secrets Untold

30848365Secrets Untold by Brooklyn Shivers

I was offered a complimentary copy of this book by the author and after reading the premise, I was hooked. Lily Thomas runs an ice cream shop with her mom, Rose. After Lily has frightening visions of her mom’s murder, it sadly comes true one horrifying day. After the police close the case as a burglary gone wrong, Lily knows it’s up to her to find her mom’s killer.

Although a novella, there was a rich amount of detail to set the scene. I felt like I really got to know Lily, I really felt for her after she lost her mom and I admired her strength and perseverance. The mysterious detective, Jarred, was intriguing and I’m really interested to find out the secret he’s hiding. The other characters in the book weren’t as developed as the main characters, but I’m confident they will be in later books (which makes me want to read more!) The really satisfying ending made the book for me, solving the murder while making a cliffhanger for the next book. You can be sure I’m going to pick that up once it comes out.

Overall, a great debut and a very enjoyable read. I’d say this is more like a YA book and would be perfect for younger readers who enjoy paranormal romances/mysteries. There’s no bad language or sexual situations, so a parent could feel comfortable letting a teenager read this book.

Secrets Untold is available on Kindle at Amazon

Review: Charms & Witchdemeanors

30078041Charms & Witchdemeanors by Amanda M. Lee

This series is hit or miss for me. Most of the books are so fantastic that I read them in one sitting, unable to put them down.

This isn’t one of them. In fact, the first 1/3 of the book was so inane, I considered abandoning it (and the series) altogether. The immature griping and sniping between Bay, Clove and Thistle is just annoying. They’re all in their late 20s and having meltdowns because one of them moved in with her boyfriend. And she’s not moving to China, she’s moving a mile down the road. I’m not sure what the point of the asshole FBI agent was. He didn’t add anything to the story, he was just another annoying character trying their hardest to get me to stop reading the book.

Inane characters aside, the plot was quite good and the only reason I’m giving this book 2 stars. Aunt Tillie is accused of poisoning another old lady. Lots of very old small town secrets come out and the murderer was a complete surprise. In fact, if you took out the annoying cousins, this would be a 5 star book.

Overall, just….okay. But barely….okay.

Crimes and Witchdemeanors is available at book retailers or you can buy a copy on Amazon

 

Review: Divining Murder

30077551Divining Murder by GM Cameron

A woman is found murdered in a ritualistic way, and the police have very information to go on.  The victim, a middle aged woman who left her husband to start a mysterious new life is found in an alley in Glasgow with multiple stab wounds.   Shortly after the murder, Andromeda (Annie to her friends)  spies a man at a Glasgow train station whose aura is clearly evil.  After leaving an anonymous tip for the police, they trace the tip back to her, and with no other information to go on, begin to investigate what she saw.   It soon becomes apparent that Annie is the key to unraveling the mystery and stopping a man bent on evil.

I’m a sucker for paranormal mysteries, and I’m a sucker for Scottish mysteries, so I had pretty high expectations just from reading the blurb.  And it was (for the most part) an excellent mystery, with a taut plot, great characters and lots of magic.

The plot was really well done; a great premise that grew and spiraled as the book went on, wth an action packed ending.  I liked that there were actually 3 teams working on the mystery separately, it was  a great way to integrate new information.  So there was Annie and her friends,  the victim’s ex-husband, friend and her sister (who is a nun) plus the police.  And – you won’t believe this –  every time the amateurs found out new information they – get ready for this – called the police and told them of their findings!  Amazing, right?

I really enjoyed all the characters, from bohemian Annie to angsty punker Doll to soft-hearted thug Mick, they were a likable crew.  I have to say, out of all the characters, the cops were the most confusing to me.  I lost track of who was who, outside of Angela and Donnelly.

What kept me from rating this 5 stars (because it really was a great book) was a couple of things.  For one, it was predictable.  I knew what was going to happen at the end before I was a third of the way through the book.  I kept reading, hoping I was wrong but no, it’s like I’m psychic or something.  Also, this book went on way too long, a little editing would’ve tightened up the story and made it a lean, mean, mystery machine.

Overall, a great mystery and perfect for anyone who loves Tartan Noir or witches or magic.

SPOILER behind the tag: Continue reading “Review: Divining Murder”

Review: The Ghost in Mr. Pepper’s Bed

29566102The Ghost in Mr. Pepper’s Bed by Sigrid Vansandt

Sonya Curuthers is a medium who specializes in ghost therapy (in other words, seances). Early one morning at the Whispering Pines RV Park, Mr. Pepper wakes to a ghostly woman snuggling up to him and the resulting kerfuffle between the ghost of his dead wife and the spooning specter  sends him running to the woman in charge of the RV park, who calls Sonya for help. When bones are discovered in a pit soon after, Sonya (along with her wee terrier and the ghost of a 19th century Scottish laird) has to use all of her expertise to find a murderer.

First in a new series,  I picked up The Ghost in Mr. Pepper’s Bed on a whim. The title was just irresistible to me, I had to know just who Mr. Pepper was,  why there was a ghost in Mr. Pepper’s bed, and, of course, why there was a Scottish ghost riding on the front of a scooter.  Was he the ghost in Mr. Pepper’s bed?  Now you see why I had to read it.  I dived in and discovered a great mystery, with quirky, likable characters, loads of southern charm, and a well-paced rich plot that will tug at your heartstrings.   I appreciated the small town Missouri setting,  the vivid descriptions of the homes and the locations reminded me of the small town where I grew up.  I loved the dog gossip network and how they relayed their information.  I didn’t understand the point of the story line with the kid on the skateboard, though.   The murder didn’t have a whole lot of suspects, but the satisfying conclusion made it worth finishing.

Overall, a fantastic book that sucked me in from the very first page and definitely one of my favorites I’ve read so far this year.  Very memorable and enjoyable and I hope to see more of Sonya very soon.

The Ghost in Mr. Pepper’s Bed is available on Kindle from Amazon

Review: Crime and Poetry

26189433Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower

Crime and Poetry . the first book in the new Magical Bookshop series, has  Violet Waverly rushing home after an urgent call that her grandmother is dying and needs her to return home to Cascade Springs, near Niagara Falls, NY.  When she arrives, she finds her grandmother, Daisy, is just fine and lured her back home to take over the family business, a bookshop called Charming Books.

Haunted by the death of a friend 12 years ago, Violet intends to return to Chicago to continue getting her degree, but when Daisy’s friend Benedict Raisin turns up dead in her driveway, and Daisy is under suspicion for his murder.  Violet feels she has to stay until the real murderer is caught.  Attracted to the town’s police chief, pursued by her childhood sweetheart, and stunned by a family secret, can Violet unravel a mystery and solve a murder with the help of books?

I really enjoyed this book.  Having grown up in WNY, just an hour away from the Falls, I was instantly comfortable with the setting.   The little town of Cascade Springs sounds just like many of the picturesque small towns that dot the landscape around Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen a bookshop with a birch tree growing inside (bonus points for a talking crow!) but I’d love to visit one someday!

The plot was very well done, lots of suspects and motives and surprising plot twist at the end.  I liked that although there’s a paranormal element – it is a magical bookshop, after all – the murder was solved mostly by old-fashioned sleuthing.

The characters were charming and a little eccentric, from retro Sadie to Grandma Daisy to little furry cat sidekick Emerson, they added color and dimension to the little town of Cascade Springs.

I do have to say, that any backstory/traumatic past event in the main character’s past  would be best included in the first few chapters. In Violet’s case the death of her friend was alluded to several times, but wasn’t until nearly 3/4 of the way through the book that the whole story was revealed.  That was way too long; disclosing it sooner might have helped to build some empathy for Violet.

Also, the burgeoning love triangle kind of detracted from it.  The police chief makes her all tingly, why bother with the childhood sweetheart?  Unnecessary plot device.

Overall, a great first in a new series and I look forward to visiting the magical bookshop again.

Crime and Poetry is available at bookstores everywhere, or the Kindle edition is available at Amazon.com

 

Review: Death Pays The Rose Rent

26192746Death Pays the Rose Rent by Valerie S. Malmont

Tori Miracle was an aspiring crime reporter in New York City when, after being shunted to the unwanted role of fashion reporter, quits  her job to become a novelist.  After penning her first novel, The Mark Twain Horror House, she waits in her tiny, rundown apartment to hit it big.  After an invitation from her best friend, Alice-Ann, to visit her in rural Pennsylvania, Tori packs up her clothes, her cats and her typewriter and jumps on a bus.  Soon after arriving, she learns her friend is having marital issues with her husband, Richard.  Not long after, Richard is found dead and Alice-Ann is the prime suspect.

I really enjoyed this book, from the easy style of writing to the characters to the rich plot.  It was easy to sink into and I really liked the off-beat but likeable characters. The only issue I had with the story is that Tori makes several references to prior events, making it sound as though there was an earlier book in the series.   It’s too bad there isn’t, because it sounds like it would make an even better book than this one.  Just a touch of the supernatural in this story, and also caves.  I like caves.  I would love to be exploring all those paths under the town!

I have to say, I did figure out who the bad guy was because they were constantly ignored on the list of suspects.  Just a bit obvious, but like I said, the rich plot was so great that I couldn’t stop reading.

I deducted half a star because of all the Edison idolizing.  I’m not a fan of Edison,  he was less a brilliant inventor and more a fraud who took credit for the discoveries of many of his employees, like Nicola Tesla for example.  Ugh.  Stop the idolizing, please!

Overall, a really great start to a series and recommended for anyone looking for a light read and a great mystery.

 

This book was originally published nearly 20 years ago, so it may be hard to find in bookstores, but you can  pick up a copy on Amazon

Review: Earthbound Bones

84b7be2a411a562204779bd6f4121940Earthbound Bones by ReGina Welling

Being an angel ain’t easy in Earthbound Bones

In Earthbound Bones, the angel Galmadriel finds herself earthbound after a daring act caused her to fall from Heaven.  With no communication from her superiors, Galmadriel is forced to find her way in an unfamiliar world as she tries to solve the mystery of a little boy hit and killed by a car and the murder of the woman living next door.  Galmadriel must connect the dots and find a killer in the hopes that she will redeem herself and be allowed back into Heaven.

This book can be read as a stand-alone, but I recommend reading the 4 books in the Psychic Seasons series as it is frequently referenced in the book. I read (and loved) the Psychic Seasons series last year, so when this sequel came up on Netgalley, I snapped it up.  I loved the premise of the guardian angel Galmadriel  having to adapt to being a human.  Or, at least, an angel in a human body.

The whole fish-out-of-water theme has always appealed to me, and I enjoyed watching Galmadriel adjust to human life, particularly her struggles with the coffee maker and experiencing a BLT for the first time (That BLT sounded really good, too!).  I also enjoyed her reunion with the Psychic Seasons ladies.  It was rather like visiting old friends when they showed up in the story, with Amethyst plucking auras, Kat winning bets and Gustavia’s funky skirts.

The plot was well-paced and unfolded neatly.  I loved the scenes with Craig’s mind, it was fascinating, both haunting and enthralling. And as  the main plot of solving the murders progressed, the secondary plot of Julius going missing and the block on Galmadriel’s powers snuck in there and added another layer to the already rich plot. I love how the author expertly weaves several books together with one theme, and this one, ending neatly with a cliffhanger, always leaves me wanting more.

Overall, a fantastic read and a great sequel to the Psychic Seasons series.

This book is available only on Kindle or Kindle apps.  Order a copy of Earthbound Bones from Amazon
Recommended Reading:  The Psychic Seasons series

 

Review: Trouble at Pelican Penthouse

29849307Trouble at Pelican Penthouse by Minnie Crockwell

If you don’t have the time to drive an RV around the country solving murders, then this is the series for you.  (But also if you like short cozy mysteries and/or 18th century ghost crushes)
This is the 10th book in the Will Travel for Trouble series, in which Minnie drives her RV around the country with Ben, her 18th century ghostly companion, and finds murder at every stop. In Trouble at Pelican Penthouse, Minnie rents a beach house on the Gulf coast for a week because all the RV parks in the area are full.  Minnie uncovers evidence of illegal shark fishing and soon after, a man is found dead.  Can Minnie solve the mystery?

One of the best things about this series is that they’re so short that they can be read in an hour or 2 but don’t sacrifice quality. I love the richness of the setting, how well the characters are drawn; and an intricate plot with  lots of red herrings and plot twists to keep you guessing.

Overall, this is another great entry in an already great series and one I recommend to anyone looking for a quick read or who enjoys cozy mysteries.

Trouble at Pelican Penthouse is available only on Kindle or Kindle Apps.  Pick up a copy at Amazon

 

Review: Who Killed The Ghost In The Library

 22881600Who Killed The Ghost In The Library by Teresa Lee Watson

Cam Shaw is a ghostwriter looking for a new gig when she gets a note requesting a meeting at an old manor outside of town.  When she gets there, she discovers her client is an actual ghost – and he wants to know who murdered him 60 years ago.

Pretty good for the first in a new series.  The plot was top-notch; once I dived into the book, I was hooked.  While I figured out the who about halfway through the book, I stayed for the why.

So why only a 4 star rating?  For one, the action in the book was a little far-fetched.  Lots of cars getting blown up and, one of my biggest pet peeves, the use of a silencer. (Note to all current or future authors: you cannot silence a gunshot, even if you put a pillow in front of it. Stop using this plot device in books.)   There were also too many TSTL moments and I’m sorry, no cop would let his civilian girlfriend into interrogations or into crime scenes with them.  No. Just no. Stop this, please.

Even with all that, it was still a great read and a promising start to a new series.

 

Who Killed the Ghost in the Library is available only on Kindle or Kindle apps at Amazon.  Get your copy today!