Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot

Description (from cover):

'Heather Wells is used to having her cake and eating it too, but this time her cake just might be cooked. Her wedding cake, that is.

With her upcoming nuptials to PI Cooper Cartwright only weeks away, Heather's already stressed. And when a pretty junior turns up dead, Heather's sure things can't get worse--until every student in the dorm where she works is a possible suspect, and Heather's long-lost mother shows up.

Heather has no time for a tearful mother and bride reunion. She has a wedding to pull off and a murder to solve. Instead of wedding bells, she might be hearing wedding bullets, but she's determined to bring the bad guys to justice if it's the last thing she does...and this time, it just might be.

My thoughts:

This girl has long been a fan of the Heather Wells mystery series. Who wouldn't love to read about a former child pop star who has come down in the world and is a pro at solving mysteries. Heather Wells grew up living life in the limelight as a child music phenomenon. After her mother and manager stole all of her hard-earned money, she is working at a college dorm in New York City to make ends meet. Of course, she is super witty and hilarious and quite the detective to boot. She is engaged to be married to a private investigator and the wedding date is approaching fast. She is so embroiled in wedding plans, when a student in her dorm is killed. She is determined to make sure that justice prevails and a killer doesn't go free.

I love Meg Cabot's writing. She is a well-known author who has grown to literary fame because of her unique and wonderful writing style. I know that when I pick up one of her books, I am going to be immensely amused and intrigued from the very beginning. This book was no different. It was a breath of fresh air coming back to a series that I so dearly love and I simply cannot wait until the next one is released. If you have not discovered the Heather Wells mystery series yet, you are simply missing out on a delightful read.

I couldn't put this one down. I was sad when it ended and I wish I had another one to read right away. This one features Heather's wedding planning and her wedding to her fiance and it was bittersweet. It was nice to see characters that you have watched develop over time go through something so dramatic. I seriously hope that this series continues, because I do not think that I could live without it. Yes it is just a book, but I have really connected with the characters and they feel like friends of my own. I can't wait to see what the author has in store for the characters and I am anxiously awaiting the next book in this series.

Overall Rating: 5+

Title:  The Bride Wore Size 12
Author:  Meg Cabot
Series:  Heather Wells Mystery #5
Publisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date:  September 24, 2013
Pages:  400
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: A Woman Unknown by Frances Brody

Description (from cover):

'The Woman Unknown:

Deirdre Fitzpatrick is married to a man who wants to know where she really goes when supposedly taking care of her sick mother. He calls on the expertise of Kate Shackleton, amateur sleuth extraordinaire to investigate.

The Gentleman:

Everett Runcie is a banker facing ruin and disgrace. His American heiress wife will no longer pay for his mistakes, or tolerate his infidelity, and is seeking a divorce.

The Murder:

When a chambermaid enters Runcie's hotel room, she is shocked to find that he is alone--and dead! Suddenly Kate is thrown into the depths of an altogether more sinister investigation. Can she uncover the truth of her most complex and personal, case to date?'

My thoughts:

Kate Shackleton is a sleuth all unto her own. She is smart and she is so ever determined to solve mysteries and make the best out of a bad situation for her clients. She has a fierce competition with an inspector of some regard at Scotland Yard and she is determined to best him at every turn. She has to be one step ahead even when the clues are puzzling and perplexing and nothing seems to be going right. Kate's friend's husband is found dead in a local hotel under quite the mysterious circumstances. She is brought in to help Scotland Yard with their investigation and then told to run along and do something else. Of course, as headstrong as Kate is, that doesn't sit too well and she sets out to discover a murderer at any cost.

I enjoy this series. Some of the books in this series are better than others, but I thought that this book was actually a splendid read. I stayed up late to finish this book as I couldn't go to bed until I had a resolution. Books like that tend to rate high on my list. This series puts me in mind of a classic English mystery. Kate Shackleton is a little like Maisie Dobbs, but she has really defined herself and put herself on a different level than Maisie. Kate is compassionate about her work and the people who hire her and she is determined to see every single case to the very end. I like her reasoning and her connections with the other characters in the book. It makes her seem like a realistic character who I wouldn't mind calling my friend.

There was only one flaw in this book that I could find. There was one detail that wasn't quite properly wrapped up for me. I don't want to give away too much information as it might spoil the book for other readers, but I finished the book and was like "well wait..what happened with...." That put me off a little bit as I felt like the resolution didn't take care of every single aspect of the mystery, even if it was a minor detail and not overall needed for the solving of the mystery. Other than this little thing, I found the book to be a delightful read that was a perfect mystery for a gloomy and rainy Sunday.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  A Woman Unknown
Author:  Frances Brody
Series:  Kate Shackleton Mystery #4
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Publication Date:  February 10, 2015
Pages:  384
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Review: Snow White Red-Handed by Maia Chance

Description (from cover):

'Miss Ophelia Flax is a Victorian actress who knows all about making quick changes and even quicker exits. But to solve a fairy-tale crime in the haunted Black Forest, she'll need more than a bit of charm...

1867: After quitting her latest variety hall engagement, Ophelia acts her way into a lady's maid position for a crass American millionaire. When her new job whisks her off to a foreboding castle straight out of a Grimm tale, she begins to wonder if her fast-talking ways might have been too hasty. The vast grounds contain the suspected remains of Snow White's cottage, along with a disturbing dwarf skeleton. And when her millionaire boss turns up dead--poisoned by an apple--the fantastic setting turns into a once upon a crime scene.

To keep from rising to the top of the suspect list, Ophelia fights through a bramble of elegant lies, sinister folklore, and priceless treasure, with only a dashing but mysterious scholar as her ally. As the clock ticks towards midnight, she'll have to break a cunning killer's spell before her own time runs out...'

My thoughts:

I have been longed intrigued by fairy tales and when I saw that this was a fairy tale mystery, well I knew that I had to read it. I enjoy watching Once Upon a Time and have been enraptured by the new fairytale movies coming out recently. I thought that reading a cozy mystery series featuring fairy tales might be right up my alley. However, this book started off slow and I spent a great deal of time wondering when the story was going to pick up the pace and when I would start to enjoy it. About half-way through, is when that finally happened for me. I am not sure if I felt that the beginning was slow due to character and plot development, but nevertheless, I wasn't drawn into the story right away.

About half-way through the book, I started to warm up and enjoy the story a little more. Ophelia was an actress, but she quit her job and found herself a lady's maid to a rich American newlywed. She travels from America to Germany to the Black Forest and finds herself in a whole mess of trouble. When her boss' husband turns up dead in mysterious circumstances and Ophelia's friend is named as the murderer, she is determine to solve the mystery and free her friend. She enlists the help of a fascinating professor and sets out to discover the truth. I enjoyed the setting and the way that the author weaved fairy tale folklore into this story. It wasn't a fantastic debut, but it was a good start and I have a feeling that I will be checking this series out more in the future.

Like I stated before, it was a slow start, but I am glad that I stuck with it. After the initial plot development, the story really started to pick up and the mystery was well on its way. I am curious to see what the next book holds in store. It seems that it will be featuring the story of Cinderella and will be set in Paris. I got that little tidbit of information from the teaser of the next book at the end of this one. Nevertheless, something a little different and I found it to be somewhat enjoyable. Not a smashing debut, but one that made me curious about this author and this new series.

Overall Rating: 3

Title:  Snow White Red-Handed
Author:  Maia Chance
Series:  Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery #1
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  November 4, 2014
Pages:  336
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Review: Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Description (from cover):

'From acclaimed author Lynn Cullen--whose The Creation of Eve was hailed as "intoxicating" by the Washington Post and "a swoon-worthy blend of mystery, romance, and history" by Atlanta Magazine--comes the captivating confession of Edgar Allen Poe's mistress...and the obsession of Poe's wife.

New York, 1845. Mr. Poe's The Raven is all the literary rage--the success of which a struggling poet like Frances Osgood can only dream. As a mother trying to support her two children after her husband's betrayal, Frances jumps at the opportunity to meet the mysterious Poe, if only to help her career. Although not a fan of his writing, Frances is overwhelmed by his magnetic presence--and the surprising revelation that he admires her work. What follows is a flirtation, then a seduction, then an illicit love affair. But when Edgar's frail wife, Virginia--a cousin half his age--insists on befriending Frances as well, the relationship becomes as dark and deceiving, as full of twists and turns, as one of Poe's tales...and maybe, as Frances fears, every bit as deadly.

Closely based on Poe's life and writings, and rich with authentic historical detail, Mrs. Poe, is a novel of romantic obsession as passionate and enduring as its brilliant subject.'

My thoughts:

Edgar Allen Poe was one of our nation's most famous authors. He wrote those gothic and dark tales that are still popular today, such as The Raven, The Tell Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. Poe is well known for his darkness and his intellect in all things mysterious. He created quite the sensation back in the 1840's when he was just starting out and quickly rose to fame because he was so different from the other writers on the scene at that time. I, of course, knew who Edgar Allen Poe was because what reader doesn't? I have read some of his works, most memorably The Tell Tale Heart which was spooky all in itself. But I really didn't know anything about the author who created such a literary storm in his lifetime.

This book takes place in New York City just at the beginning of Poe's career. It is told in the narrative of Frances Osgood, who was rumored to be Poe's mistress. It was interesting to see how Fanny saw Mr. Poe and his young wife, Virginia. Virginia had an immense need to be liked and appreciated by her husband. She was obsessed with making him happy and making herself the center of his attention. Mr. Poe was most definitely moody and distracted and quite tired of playing his wife's games. It is no small wonder that he found solace in the arms of Fanny Osgood. Fanny's husband was a cheating scoundrel who would abandon her and their children quite frequently to chase after charming heiresses. I found it interesting that someone so moody as Mr. Poe and someone so meek as Ms. Osgood could find romance in each other.

Lynn Cullen wrote a fantastic book about these two characters. Of course, everyone knows who Edgar Allen Poe was, but it was nice to learn something different about him and to learn about Frances Osgood, of whom I had no knowledge until I read this book. Their love story is quite chaotic and strained, but nevertheless, it was a well written tale based on historical fact. I simply couldn't put this one down. I was curious to see how things would turn out. I highly recommend this book to people who want to learn something a little different about one of America's most famous authors. This author did a fantastic job of opening my eyes to a more deeper and intense side of Poe that I never would have known.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  Mrs. Poe
Author:  Lynn Cullen
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  Gallery Books
Publication Date:  April 1, 2014
Pages:  352
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Review, Blog Tour Stop & Giveaway: A Fright to the Death by Dawn Eastman

Description (from cover):

'From the author of Be Careful What You Witch For, here is the newest Family Fortune Mystery, starring former cop Clyde Fortune, who--snowbound with her kooky family in a creepy castle--is climbing the walls and combing the halls, looking for a cold-blooded killer...

After their flight to Mexico is cancelled, Clyde and her detective boyfriend, Mac, end up snowed in with their families at a supposedly haunted hotel. Clyde's tarot card-reading mother, Rose, is making dire predictions for the weekend, and self-proclaimed pet psychic Aunt Vi is enchanted by the legend of the hotel's ghost--until the power goes out and a body turns up.

With a hotel full of stranded suspects, Clyde will have to draw on all her skills--both the police ones she'd rather forget and the psychic one she'd rather ignore--to solve the bone-chilling mystery before someone else gets iced...'

My thoughts:

Who wouldn't love being stranded in a creepy castle with your quirky family while a murderer is on the loose? That is exactly what happens to Clyde Fortune. She thought she would be taking a warm vacation to sunny Mexico with her boyfriend, Mac, however a snowstorm had alternate plans for the couple. After their flight is cancelled, they stop by a hotel and find themselves snowbound with their families. So much for a romantic getaway. Clyde and Mac decide to make the best of the situation, that is until someone ends up dead. With the power out and no chance of escaping cabin fever, the duo set out to discover clues and solve a murder. With the help of Clyde's Aunt Vi, a quirky character all unto herself, they must solve this murder before someone else winds up dead.

Having read the other books in this series, I jumped on the chance to read this newest installment. I have stated in my other reviews that I love the quirky characters. I simply cannot get enough. Aunt Vi is a hoot and Clyde tries her best to escape the weirdness of her family, but always seems to be drawn back in. I really didn't enjoy the setting of a snowstorm after such a dreary winter, but nevertheless, the story drew me in and the characters most definitely kept me entertained. I did like the ending of this book and it bodes well for the upcoming books in this series. 

Dawn Eastman is a phenomenal writer who can draw her readers in and leave them in suspense until the very end. It is rare that an author can do that. I never really can find anything to complain about when I read her books. I enjoy them thoroughly and simply cannot wait until the next one is released. I am curious to see if this author is going to try her hand at another cozy series as so many cozy authors seem to do. If she does decide to go that route, I will be one of the first ones to get my hand on that book. A cute cozy mystery that had me in stitches with laughter and enthralled with suspense from the first page to the very last one.

Overall Rating: 4

Title:  A Fright to the Death
Author:  Dawn Eastman
Series:  Family Fortune Mystery #3
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date:  April 7, 2015
Pages:  304
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Dawn Eastman lived in Michigan for many years, in a house full of animals, unusual people, and laughter. She now lives in Iowa with her husband, son, daughter, and one extremely bossy small down. Pall in the Family is her first novel. You can follow Dawn at her website:, her blog: or on Twitter: @DawnAEastman

This has been a stop on the A Fright to the Death blog tour hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Make sure you stop at all the hosts as some are giving away copies of this book!

April 7 – Tea and A Book
April 9 – Musings and Ramblings
April 11 – A Blue Million Books
April 12 – Girl Lost In a Book
April 13 – Book-n-Kisses
April 15 – deal sharing aunt
April 16 – Cozy Up With Kathy
April 17 – fuonlyknew
April 18 – Chloe Gets A Clue 
April 19 – A Chick Who Reads

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: Murder in the Queen's Garden by Amanda Carmack

Description (from cover):

'1559. Elizabeth has been on the throne for six months, and life in England seems newly golden. But for the royal court, murder and betrayal are foretold in the stars...

Kate Haywood, the young queen's personal musician, has been keeping busy playing for a merry round of summer parties where famed astrologer Dr. John Dee and his fantastic horoscopes are all the rage. However, Elizabeth's favorite stargazer fails to predict the discovery of a skeleton in the queen's garden--and that the victim's identity will call his own innocence into question.

When the doctor's pupil is the victim of a second murder, the concerned queen enlists her trusted Kate to clear the accused killer of wrongdoing. But will the stars align to light Kate's path through a tangled thicket of treachery to save Elizabeth's prized astrologer and protect the queen from those who threaten her reign?'

My thoughts:

Here I am reading yet another book about the Tudors. I can't seem to help it. I love to hate them. I do like historical mysteries a lot and I really think that is what really drew me into this book. This is the third book in the Elizabethan Mystery series by this author and it was just okay. Nothing too exciting, but nothing too bad at the same time. I enjoyed the first book and the second one not so much. This one sort of fell in the middle of both of those. I like Kate's character, I just feel that this series doesn't really lend anything original to itself and I just feel like I am reading yet another mystery about the Tudors. It really doesn't have any oomph and nothing really draws me in except for the fact that I love historical mysteries.

In this one, the reader is introduced to Dr. John Dee. If you know anything about Elizabeth I, you will know that she highly respected and admired Dr. Dee for his advice and his knowledge in all things astrological. He was well-known for his horoscopes, so much in fact that Elizabeth usually consulted with him before making any big decisions during her reign. In this book, Dr. Dee's mentor disappeared years ago and when a skeleton is found in the queen's garden, it is suspected to be his body. Of course, when Dr. Dee's pupil ends up dead, it seems that someone has it out for him. Is this a personal vendetta against the Doctor or is there something more sinister at play here?

Like I've already stated, this book was just okay. It really didn't jump out and grab me into the storyline. It took me forever to get through this one, but I have been working late and I just fall asleep. The ending was just mediocre and I have to say that I was glad when it was over and I could finally read something else. I, of course, will state here that I will probably at some point be dissuaded from reading this series, but every single time I say that I read the next book in the series and the vicious cycle never ends. I do have to say that I am a very optimistic reader and hold out hope that the next will be earth shattering. That rarely ever happens, but that is besides the point.

Overall Rating: 3

Title:  Murder in the Queen's Garden
Author:  Amanda Carmack
Series:  Elizabethan Mystery #3
Publisher:  NAL
Publication Date:  February 3, 2015
Pages:  304
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was purchased by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Review: For Whom the Bluebell Tolls by Beverly Allen

Description (from cover):

'Florist Audrey Bloom, co-owner of the Rose in Bloom, creates fragrant bouquets for brides. But when a wedding goes fatally wrong, it's up to Audrey to sniff out a killer...

Everything is coming up roses for Audrey when her dazzling creations are picked to be featured on a wedding reality show. The hot series is filming an episode about a bridge who's bonkers for bells, and Audrey's bouquets of campanulas, calla lilies, and Bells-of-Ireland are perfect for the bridal theme.

But Audrey's debut quickly becomes a hothouse of trouble. Her ex, Brad, shows up as a crew member on the show, threatening her blossoming relations with Nick the baker. To make matters worse, when one of the show's hosts is found dead in the bell tower of a historic church, all the evidence points towards Brad.

Now Audrey needs to weed out the real killer before someone else's chance at stardom is permanently nipped in the bud...'

My thoughts:

I jumped right into this book after I enjoyed Bloom and Doom so much. I was hoping to get the same kind of reaction to this book, but alas, it was not meant to be. I figured out the mystery about three-fourths of the way through this book and that has to be one of my biggest pet peeves when reading a mystery. I love the surprise and the buildup of suspense and the shock of the mystery being revealed to be something other than what I expected. That most definitely did not happen in this one as I figured it out quickly and nailed it pretty much spot on. Therefore, I didn't get my shocking ending and big reveal.

The theme of this book was about a wedding reality television show being filmed in Audrey's small home town of Ramble, Virginia. I feel like that theme has been used by all of the cozy series and it seems a little unoriginal and played out. I really do like the characters and the setting, but I need more than that to really enjoy a book. I am hoping that the next in the series is as good as the first and lacks the disappointing parts of the second. I hate that I feel this way after raving about Bloom and Doom. The first book was absolutely exciting to read and I enjoyed it a lot. I just wish I could have felt the same about this one.

I am curious to see what other readers thought about this book and Bloom and Doom. Did you have the same reaction that I did? Or did you enjoy both books or not enjoy either one? I think that it is interesting to find out other reader's perspective and opinions about books that I read and I would welcome some feedback from some of you. I will say that I am not quite ready to give up on this series yet and the first book packed a punch. I am hoping that the third will be utterly compelling and will suck me right back into the world of flowers and murder.

Overall Rating: 2.5

Title:  For Whom the Bluebell Tolls
Author:  Beverly Allen
Series:  Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery #2
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  January 6, 2015
Pages:  304
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.
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