Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Death in the Vines by M.L. Longworth

Description (from cover):

'A crime wave jolts Aix-en-Provence in the third delightful Verlaque and Bonnet mystery...

Fans of Donna Leon and Andrea Camilleri, mystery lovers, Francophiles, and foodies will adore this who-done-it with a beautiful European setting. In her riveting follow-up to Death at the Chateau Bremont and Murder in the Rue Dumas, M.L. Longworth evokes the sights and sounds of late-summer Provence, where the mistral blows and death comes in the most unexpected places.

Olivier Bonnard, the owner of Domaine Beauclaire winery, is devastated when he discovers the theft of a priceless cache of rare vintages. Soon after, Monsieur Gilles d'Arras reports that his wife, Pauline, has vanished from their lavish apartment. As Judge Antoine Verlaque and Commissioner Paulik tackle the case (with a little help from Marine Bonnet), they receive an urgent call: Bonnard has just found Madame d'Arras--dead in his vineyard.'

My thoughts:

So I read Death at the Chateau Bremont a while ago and while I didn't necessarily care for the book, I decided to give this series another shot with this installment. Once again, I wasn't overly impressed, but it was just an okay read. Nothing really makes me connect with these characters, and while it could be the fact that they're French and I don't really know a lot about the culture, I just have a hard time getting into this series. There are a lot of French words in this book and I really couldn't figure out the English translation. Sometimes, the characters got on my nerves and the supposed "mystery" really wasn't even all that engaging.

I will say that I am proud of myself for sticking it out and finishing this book. While it wasn't terrible, it just wasn't something that made me sit back and say "wow" when it was over. I can see that this book might appeal to people who understand the French culture and understand about vineyards and the delicacy that is wine-making. For me I could care less how much wine is made as long as it tastes good. I think that this book might also appeal for people who like mysteries that aren't cozies. While this one isn't gory, it just lacks the overall entertainment that I feel that I get from a good cozy mystery.

Needless to say, that I more than likely will not be going back and reading the second book in this series that I skipped. I just have a really hard time connecting and enjoying this series. The author doesn't write poorly and lord knows I read a lot of worse books than this one, it just isn't something that I can really see myself continuing with. I would like to hear from readers who have read the books in this series and see if they perhaps feel the same way.

Overall Rating: 2

Title:  Death in the Vines
Author:  M.L. Longworth
Series:  Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery #3
Publisher:  Penguin Books
Publication Date:  May 28, 2013
Pages:  304
Genre:  Mystery/Thrillers
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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: Murder Most Austen by Tracy Kiely

Description (from cover):

'A dedicated Anglophile and Janeite, Elizabeth Parker is hoping the trip to the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath will distract her from her lack of a job and her uncertain future with her boyfriend, Peter.

On the plane ride to England, she and Aunt Winnie meet Professor Richard Baines, a self-proclaimed expert on all things Austen. His outlandish claims that within each Austen novel there is a sordid secondary story is second only to his odious theory on the true cause of Austen's death. When Baines is found stabbed to death in his Mr. Darcy costume during the costume ball, it appears that Baines' theories have finally pushed one Austen fan too far. But Aunt Winnie's friend becomes the prime suspect, so Aunt Winnie enlists Elizabeth to find the professor's real killer. With an ex-wife, a scheming daughter-in-law, and a trophy wife, not to mention a festival's worth of die-hard Austen fans, there are no shortage of suspects.

This fourth in Tracy Kiely's charming series is pure delight. If Bath is the number-one Mecca for Jane Austen fans, Murder Most Austen is the perfect read for those who love some laughs and quick wit with their mystery.'

My thoughts:

So I had thought that my run with this series had come to an end. I thought that this book was going to be predictable and then when I had it figured out, I was totally wrong. I will say that I didn't enjoy this book as much as the others in the series, but it still was a good read. It was a little predictable at times, and some of the plot "twists" were a little too easily figured out, but I thought I knew the conclusion and the ending was drastically different. So, therefore, I suppose this author did have one more trick left up her sleeve. You would think that a book about a Jane Austen festival and a murder would make this reader clap for joy, but for some reason, I didn't really enjoy the characters being in this setting. I am so weird.

I think that I prefer Elizabeth Parker to be a devoted Jane Austen fan, but in the real world and not at a Jane Austen festival. I think that it was a little too much over the top. I really enjoyed the books in this series where Elizabeth is in the real world and is a normal twenty-something and just seems to have knack for solving murders while spouting Jane Austen literature quotes. I get what the author was trying to get at, but it was a little too much for me to really enjoy. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this book, it just wasn't my favorite in the series. I would probably have to say it was my least favorite in regards to setting and murder mystery.

Now the ending, made my heart sing with joy. I loved the ending and I am begging (on my hands and knees) for this author to continue this character's story. Elizabeth Parker is a sassy and witty character that I think I won't forget. She reminds me so much of myself, that I feel like I've lost a family member or something now that I don't have any more books to read. While trolling the internet, as I do when boredom strikes sometimes, I noticed that this series is hit or miss with readers. Either you love it or you don't. This reader loves this series and hopes and prays for more to come. I highly encourage cozy mystery lovers who love intelligent and humorous sleuths to discover this series for yourself. (PS: It's on sale at Amazon, so if you're interested snag it for yourself before the price increases again.)

Overall Rating: 4

Title:  Murder Most Austen
Author:  Tracy Kiely
Series:  Elizabeth Parker Mystery #4
Publisher:  Minotaur Books
Publication Date:  September 4, 2012
Pages:  302
Genre:  Cozy 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.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely

Description (from cover):

'After the death of Elizabeth Parker's great-uncle Martin Reynolds, the family's house in the picturesque Maryland town of St. Michaels is sold. When the new owners dig up the pool, they find the body of the man thought to have run off eight years earlier after embezzling over a million dollars from the family business.

This grisly discovery not only unearths old questions about what really happened to the stolen money, but it brings Detective Joe Muldoon back into the family's lives. Eight years ago Elizabeth's cousin Ann reluctantly broke off her relationship with Joe due to family pressure. Ann always regretted that decision and now fears that it is too late for her and Joe--especially after she becomes the main suspect.

In this clever and entertaining mystery, rich with echoes of Jane Austen's Persuasion, Elizabeth tries to match wits against a killer who;s had an eight-year head start as she also tries her hand at matchmaking. Mystery lovers are in for a treat.'

My thoughts:

I think what makes a book really special is when you can really relate to a character. Elizabeth Parker reminds me so much of myself with the things that she comes up with and the thoughts that she keeps to herself. She likes to second guess everything and over-analyze things and I know that I am also like that. I like the way that she thinks about things and it really resonated with me as a reader because I would typically think about things the same exact way. I also enjoy the fact that this author always has a slew of suspects. It's almost like everyone had motive and everyone had opportunity, but who is the killer? Every time that I think I have it figured out, I am wrong and the story goes in a different direction.

This book was hard to put down. Not only for the Jane Austen references, but because it was just an overly enjoyable book. For some reason, a lot of the reviews that I have read about the books in this series, just make me sad. While this book doesn't work for others, it kept me very entertained and intrigued from the first page until the very end. I am almost skeptical about whether the other reviewers really gave this series and this author a chance. While I am guilty of the same at times, I just found this book to be something that I really enjoyed. Alas, the beauty of reading and the fact that not every reader interprets a book the same way.

Elizabeth Parker is a character that I want more of. I am sad to say that I only have one more book left in this series and then I'm done. From the author's website, it doesn't look like there are any more books in the works and that is just as almost devastating as finishing a series you enjoy. I am hoping that this author continues with this series, because I simply cannot get enough of the whimsical characters and the abundance of clues and suspects. This mystery series has kept me on my toes and I am so hoping that there are more coming.

Overall Rating: 5

Title:  Murder Most Persuasive
Author:  Tracy Kiely
Series:  Elizabeth Parker Mystery #3
Publisher:  Minotaur Books
Publication Date:  August 30, 2011
Pages:  304
Genre:  Cozy 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.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review: Murder on the Bride's Side by Tracy Kiely

Description (from cover):

'Drawing from the classic Sense and Sensibility, Tracy Kiely continues the adventures of Elizabeth Parker, the likeable Austen-quoting sleuth, in this witty and charming series.

Elizabeth Parker suspected that fulfilling her duties as maid-of-honor for her best friend, Bridget, was going to be murder. And no sooner is the last grain of rice thrown than she finds herself staring into the dead eyes of Bridget's Aunt Roni, a woman whose death is almost as universally celebrated as Bridget's nuptials.

The horror only increases when Harry, Bridget's cousin, becomes the chief suspect. The idea is ludicrous to the family, because Harry is one of the kindest, most compassionate people imaginable. To complicate matters, Elizabeth's boyfriend, Peter, appears to be falling for an old flame, a gorgeous wedding planner. Determined to clear Harry of the crime, reign in Bridget's impulsive brand of sleuthing, and figure out where Peter's heart lies, Elizabeth sets her mind to work.

Tracy Kiely has again brilliantly combined the wit and spunk of Austen's protagonists with a contemporary, traditional mystery. With a vibrant cast of characters, the lust setting of a Virginia estate, and irresistible humor, she delivers on all counts.'

My thoughts:

I made the mistake of reading other reader's reviews of this book before reading this one. Sometimes I like to do this and other times I don't. I really shouldn't have with this one because the general consensus was that this book wasn't as good as the first in the series and shouldn't be read. I have to disagree. I enjoyed this one just as much as I did the first one. Maybe it's the characters, maybe it's the Jane Austen undertones, or maybe it's just a book that I enjoyed. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed this one while others did not. I am not ashamed of this fact, because that is the beauty of reading. What works for one, doesn't necessary fit every reader and their tastes.

There is a bevy of suspects and clues in this book that simply had me on my toes. I had not a clue who the killer was and the ending was a little surprising. Every time that I thought I had the solution, another twist was thrown in and added to the mix. I love mysteries that keep me guessing until the very end. This book did that satisfactorily and I am glad that I had the chance to read this one. I am also glad that I trusted my gut and read something that I found to be very appealing. Elizabeth is a character that reminds me a lot of myself. At times she is insecure, she is very smart and bookish, and loves all things Jane Austen related. That sounds like my kind of character.

I enjoyed this one and the first one in this series, so much that I threw caution to the wind and picked up the next book in this series. So far, so good. I am hoping that this new read will keep me interested like this one did. I enjoy this author and her writing and I love the blend of different types of characters and storylines. While I will admit that this book might not appeal to every reader, this reader was well pleased with this book and I highly recommend it for readers who enjoy Austen but enjoy reading something a little different at the same time. All I can say is give this book a try and see if you like it for yourself.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  Murder on the Bride's Side
Author:  Tracy Kiely
Series:  Elizabeth Parker Mystery #2
Publisher:  Minotaur Books
Publication Date:  August 31, 2010
Pages:  304
Genre:  Cozy 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.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Murder at Longbourn by Tracy Kiely

Description (from cover):

'A die-hard fan of Jane Austen novels and the traditional English mystery, Tracy Kiely has combined elements of both for this truly delightful and witty debut.

Planning New Year's resolutions to rid her life of all things unhealthy, Elizabeth Parker has dumped fatty foods, processed sugar, and her two-timing boyfriend. Indeed, the invitation to join her Aunt Winnie for a How to Host a Murder Party on New Year's Eve at Winnie's new Cape Cod B and B comes just in time. But when the local wealthy miser ends up the unscripted victim, Elizabeth must unearth old secrets and new motives in order to clear her beloved aunt of suspicion. The suspects include the town gossip, a haughty rich woman, and an antiques business owner much enamored of his benefactress, a Mrs. Kristell Dubois. If that isn't bad enough, Elizabeth must also contend with her childhood nemesis, Peter McGowan--a man she suspects has only matured in chronological years--and her suspicions about his family's interest in Winnie's inn.

Yesterday, her only worry was of ever finding her Mr. Darcy. Now she has a murder to solve. Is it any wonder her resolution to achieve inner poise is in tatters?

By reimagining characters and themes lifted from the treasured classic Pride and Prejudice, and crafting an expert, intricate mystery, Tracy Kiely has brought to life something very special: a new cozy series that is clever, vibrant, and utterly disarming.'

My thoughts:

This girl loves Jane Austen and mysteries. Put the two together and I am sure to love the book. Of course, that was the case with this one right off the bat. I could feel the author's underlying Jane Austen tones and her use of characters similar to the ones in Pride and Prejudice. For someone who loves Jane Austen, I can only appreciate this author's well-defined love of all things Austen. I have been wanting to read this series for a while, and while Kindle had them on sale not too long ago, I snatched up the whole series. This book bodes well for the rest of the series and whether I will enjoy reading them.

Elizabeth Parker is looking for something different in her life. Just having dumped her boyfriend and with it being New Year's Eve, she decides to join her Aunt Winnie at her Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast for a murder mystery dinner. Everything is fine, until someone who wasn't supposed to die, turns up dead. Aunt Winnie because the number one suspect as she owns the end and has a history of arguments with the deceased. Elizabeth is determined to prove once and for all that her gentle and loving aunt is not a murderer and that someone else had plenty motive to want him dead. 

I simply could not get enough of this book. If you love Jane Austen, but like to read something a little different at the same time, then this book might interest you. I like how the author used Jane Austen as a backup but that she didn't solely rely on the famed author to create a book for her. There are slight undertones of Austen in this book, but it is not overwhelming and it is not a recreation of her works. This book stands out a fresh and different in a world of literature quickly trying to hang on to Austen's fame.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  Murder at Longbourn
Author:  Tracy Kiely
Series:  Elizabeth Parker Mystery #1
Publisher:  Minotaur Books
Publication Date:  April 1, 2010
Pages:  321
Genre:  Cozy 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, July 22, 2014

Review: Room With a Clue by Kate Kingsbury

Description (from cover):

'Welcome to the Pennyfoot..

The London aristocracy has discovered the pleasures of seaside holidays in Badgers End, and it's Cecily Sinclair's job as the owner of the Pennyfoot Hotel to keep them comfortable and entertained. Detective work is not part of her duties--but Cecily is only too willing to help the local constable when death pays an unexpected visit...

Fatal fall..

The view from the Pennyfoot's roof garden is lovely...but for Lady Eleanor Danbury, it was the last thing she ever saw. A four-story fall has ended her life, and solving the case is no small feat for the snobbish society matron managed to put off nearly everyone, from the hotel housemaid to her harried husband. But murder is bad business, so Cecily sets out to catch the culprit before disaster strikes again...'

My thoughts:

I've been wanting to read this series for years and thanks to Amazon's new Unlimited program, I was able to read this one. I will say that I was a little disappointed as it was a little too easily figured out. I knew who the murder was and why pretty much early on and I was just simply expecting a little more I suppose. I will say that it is a quaint English mystery that is the true definition of a cozy mystery. I will say that the setting and the characters were a treat, but that the mystery was a little too easily solved for my taste.

It was easy to get lost in the scenery of a quaint seaside English town that is known for being a vacation spot for the wealthy. It was also set in one of my favorite historical periods, the Edwardian era, which is what caught my eye in the first place. The main character Cecily seems like she has a lot of gumption and that I could really come to enjoy reading about her detective escapades. Unfortunately, this book was too short to really get a feel for the characters and to see if this is a series I could really enjoy.

While the first book in this series was not like I was expecting, I think I will read a couple more to see if I want to continue with this series. I love the time period and that it is a cozy mystery series I could come to enjoy with time. This series has been around for some time and has some notoriety as it has been around for quite some time. I would love to see how you guys enjoyed this series and see if you had the same reaction.

Overall Rating: 2.5

Title:  Room With a Clue
Author:  Kate Kingsbury
Series:  Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery #1
Publisher:  Jove
Publication Date:  September 1, 1993
Pages:  204
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was received from Amazon Unlimited. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: Poisoned Prose by Ellery Adams

Description (from cover):

'When Olivia Limoges and other Oyster Bay patrons of the arts sponsor a retreat for famous storytellers, one of them is going to have a very unhappy ending...

Olivia thought gathering some of the most renowned storytellers in one place would be a nice, simple way for herself and the Bayside Book Writers to appreciate their talents. But things take a dark turn when the most famous storyteller in the nation--the captivating Violetta Devereaux--announces onstage that she will meet her end in Oyster Bay.

When Violetta is discovered murdered after the show, everyone involved with the retreat becomes a suspect. There are rumors that Violetta, who grew up in extreme poverty in the Appalachian Mountains, possessed an invaluable treasure. Now Chief Rawlings and the Bayside Book Writers must work at a frenzied pace to solve the crime before someone closes the book on them,'

My thoughts:

This book was by far the best in the series. So much happens in this book with the characters that I cannot wait to get my hands on the next one and see how everything turns out. I was reading this one like crazy and couldn't put it down. I felt this way about the rest of the books in this series, but this one was the icing on the cake. A fabulous and well-written mystery and now I am sad because there are no books left in this series to read. The next one doesn't come out for a couple of months and I am wondering if I will survive the wait. 

Olivia and Bayside Book Writers are at it again. When a famed storyteller ends up dead in Oyster Bay, they team up to help solve her murder. With suspects coming out of the woodwork and secrets piling up, they must be smart about their investigation as this murderer has nothing to lose and everything to gain. A thrilling page turner that will keep you on the edge of your seat dying to see what happens next. Olivia goes through some pretty traumatic things in this book and I am curious to see how those incidents play out in the rest of the series. 

Please discover this series for yourselves, if you haven't already. I love cozies but this is by far one of the best cozy series that I have read ever. The characters are so well-developed and likeable and the author always stuns me with the conclusion. I couldn't ask for a better written mystery. Alas, I have ran out of books and this author seriously cannot pen them fast enough to keep me happy. Disappointed that I will have to wait several months to get my hands on the next installation, but once I do, it will be like returning home and seeing old friends again.

Overall Rating: 5+

Title:  Poisoned Prose
Author:  Ellery Adams
Series:  Books by the Bay Mystery #5
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  October 1, 2013
Pages:  305
Genre:  Cozy 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.
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