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: http://www.dawneastman.com/, her blog: http://familyfortunemysteries.wordpress.com/ 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.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review: Bloom and Doom by Beverly Allen

Description (from cover):

'As the co-owner of the Rose in Bloom, Audrey Bloom creates magnificent flower arrangements for brides to be. Though helping to plan a wedding can be stressful, it's nothing compared to the groom turning up dead.

A designer of eye-catching bridal bouquets--many of them based on the Victorian meanings behind each flower--Audrey Bloom is used to celebrations that end with happily ever after. In fact, every couple she's worked with is still together, living in wedded bliss. But her perfect record is about to be broken.

Her childhood friend Jenny Whitney has reeled in the most eligible bachelor in Ramble, Virginia, and she's hired Audrey to desire the bouquet. But before Jenny can walk down the aisle clutching her blend of anemone, scabious, and pussy willow (a floral disaster in Audrey's mind), the groom is found dead--sprinkled with bits of a bouquet. This is bad for business--not to mention for Jenny, who has become the prime suspect. So Audrey decides to do a little digging herself, hoping she won't be the next Ramble resident pushing up daisies...'

My thoughts:

It is very rare that I read a debut mystery book and actually love it. I absolutely adored this book. I found it nearly impossible to put down and I really enjoyed the characters. I never would have thought that a mystery featuring flowers would be interesting, but this one really knocked it out the park. The characters were witty and engaging and it was nice to read something a little different. This book felt like a lot of research went into it because Audrey shares with the readers the meanings of each flower. I know that it took time to discover what each flower meant and it was nice to learn something at the same time.

Audrey and her cousin, Liv, are the owners of Rose in Bloom, a quaint flower shop in a little town called Ramble, Virginia. They specialize in providing the small town with flowers for all sorts of celebrations and Audrey has become well known for her bridal bouquets. Her childhood friend, Jenny, is getting married and comes to Audrey for help with her wedding flowers. Audrey is ecstatic to be doing her friend's wedding, that is until the groom ends up murdered and Jenny is a prime suspect. Audrey knows that her friend is incapable of murdering someone, so she is determined to discover who wanted the groom dead at any cost.

There's something about this book that drew me in at the very first page. Whether it was the characters, the small town feeling, good writing, or all of the above, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I am reading the next in this series, For Whom the Bluebell Tolls, as I simply couldn't get enough of this series. I am amazed at how much I enjoyed this book. I've never really been one for flowers, as a I have horrible allergies, but this book made me really enjoy flowers without the sinus issues. Can't wait to see what happens with these characters in the next installation.

Overall Rating: 5+

Title:  Bloom and Doom
Author:  Beverly Allen
Series:  Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery #1
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  April 1, 2014
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, March 26, 2015

Review: Geared for the Grave by Duffy Brown

Description (from cover):

'Mackinac Island is a peaceful summer resort town where everyone coasts through the streets on bicycles. But after someone sends a prominent local on her final ride, it's up to one resourceful visitor to get things running again...

Hoping to shift her chances of a promotion in her favor, Evie Bloomfield heads to Mackinac Island to assist her boss's father. Rudy Randolph has broken his leg, and operating his bike shop. Rudy's Rides, is too much to handle by himself. But Evie's good turn only leads to more trouble...

After Evie's arrival, wealthy resident Bunny Harrington dies in what looks like a freak bike accident. Upon closer inspection, it's discovered that Bunny's brakes were tampered with, and now the prime suspect in her murder is also Bunny's number one enemy: Rudy. So if Evie hopes to stay on her boss's good side, she'll need to steer Rudy clear of jail. Now she must quickly solve this mystery so she can put the brakes on the real killer's plan...

My thoughts:

I tend to be drawn to new cozy mystery series like a moth to a flame. I am always hunting for that next cozy mystery series that I will love and wait for the new releases anxiously. I hate to say that, while this was an okay debut, I was not really all that impressed. I thought that I would like to read something a little different, because I really don't really cozy themed mysteries featuring bicycles on a regular basis, but this one just didn't catch my interest as much as I thought it would. I loved the setting. Mackinac Island, which I am not one hundred percent sure isn't a real place, sounds absolutely divine. A small island where everyone gets around on bicycles sounds heavenly. It sounds like a real nice place to escape the busy world we live in today.

Some things in this book were so obvious that it seemed that they were flashing like bright neon signs. I had a hard time wondering why it was taking forever for the main character to catch on to things. My favorite character in this read had to probably be Irish Donna. I never knew what was going to come out of her mouth next and she seemed like a pretty interesting character. I think I liked her more than the protagonist in this story. This book was also a little spastic and hard to follow at times. It seems like there was so much going on at once that it really took something away from the story in the end.

I also felt that things that happened in the plot were a little out of character and really didn't belong. There were times where I thought that things that occurred were a little over the top and not necessarily realistic. I prefer my books to be a little different, but a little real at the same time. I might give the next one in the series a shot, but if the series doesn't right itself in the next installment, this might be a series that I quickly give up on.

Overall Rating: 2

Title:  Geared for the Grave
Author:  Duffy Brown
Series:  Cycle Path Mystery #1
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  December 2, 2014
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.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Blog Tour Stop & Review: Garden of Death by Chrystle Fiedler

Description (from cover):

'When a local doctor is found dead in Willow McQuade's medicinal garden, she must find the killer to clear her boyfriend's name in this third clever book in the Natural Remedies Mystery series.

Dr. Willow McQuade, owner of Nature's Way Market & Cafe, has put the finishing touches on a new medicinal plant garden for Greenport's annual Maritime Festival and is ready for the festivities to begin. But it's not all flowers and sunshine at the grand opening, when Willow discovers the body of another contestant, Dr. Charles White, face down in her garden.

Willow's hunky boyfriend, Jackson Spade, immediately becomes a suspect due to a recent fight with Dr. White. Willow knows she has to remedy the situation, but it won't be easy with the other applicants' vendettas and vandals wrecking her garden at every turn. And when she finds buried treasure in her garden that just might belong to the legendary Captain Kidd, the stakes become even higher. Was Dr. White searching for that treasure? Did someone kill him to get to it first? With the help of Jackson and her eccentric ex-boyfriend, Willow follows the clues to uncover the truth that someone wants buried...

But can she dig up enough evidence before she becomes the killer's next victim?'

My thoughts:

So this is the third book in the Natural Remedies Mystery series and I have read each and every installment in this series. It's growing on me, but sometimes I just couldn't get past the corny relationship parts in this book. I like Willow and I like the characters somewhat, but her relationship with Jackson, tends to get on my nerves a little. It is just annoying how cutesy they are and it just seems a little over done. I want to see some conflict in their relationship and not have it all be peaches and cream all the time. Sure, Jackson, is the main suspect in the murder in this story, but that just didn't seem like enough conflict to me.

I will say that this mystery had a lot of suspects and everyone had motive. It was a nice little puzzle to try to figure out. Towards the end though, the author starts drifting towards one suspect and the ending wasn't really all that much of a surprise. I would have liked a little more mystery in that area, but overall this book was a good read. My problems with this series before have been that the main character seems to give too much natural remedy advice, but in this one it really was muted and it didn't bother me at all. I actually found the herbs and their descriptions and uses at the beginning of every chapter to be quite interesting and informative. I learned a little something while reading this book and that is definitely something that I can appreciate. 

Overall, not a bad book, but not something that left me raving about it at the end. I still think that the series needs some work and I really just need Willow and Jackson to not be so annoying. I am willing to give this series another shot because I actually like learning about the herbs and plants that the author incorporates into her books. I find it interesting and engaging at the same time. I just hope for a little more oomph in the next book.

Overall Rating: 3

Title:  Garden of Death
Author:  Chrystle Fiedler
Series:  Natural Remedies Mystery #3
Publisher:  Pocket Books
Publication Date:  March 24, 2015
Pages:  400
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble


About the Author:

Chrystle Fiedler is a writer who specializes in alternative health topics and the author or coauthor of four nonfiction books: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Natural Remedies, The Country Almanac of Home Remedies, Beat Sugar Addiction Now!, and the Beat Sugar Addiction Now! Cookbook. Chrystle made her fiction debut with Death Drops, first in its series. You can visit her webpage at www.chrystlefiedler.com


This has been a stop on the Garden of Death blog tour presented by Great Escapes Book Tours. Make sure you check out all the other stops on the tour as some are giving away copies of this book!

March 18 – Shelley's Book Case
March 19 – Melina's Book Blog
March 20 – deal sharing aunt
March 21 - Girl Lost In a Book
March 23 – dru's book musings
March 24 – Marie's Cozy Corner
March 25 – Lilac Reviews
March 26 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews
March 27 – Chloe Gets A Clue
March 28 – readalot
March 29 – Babs Book Bistro
March 31 - Brooke Blogs


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