Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Review: Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen

Description (from cover):

'Nothing is simple when you're thirty-fifth in line for the British crown, least of all marriage. But with love on their side, and plans to elope, Lady Georgiana Rannoch and her beau Darcy O'Mara hope to bypass a few royal rules...

With Darcy driving me out of London in a borrowed motor car, I soon discover that he isn't planning to introduce me to the pleasures of sinning in secret--as I had hoped--but to make me his wife!

Of course, there are some quibbles to be dealt with, such as my needing special permission from the King to marry a Roman Catholic and the question of where we might live after the honeymoon. Though he will inherit a title, Darcy is as broke as I am. Even his family's Irish castle has been sold to a rich American who now employees Darcy's father as a hired hand.

Throwing these cares to the wind, nothing could deter us from our mission--except perhaps the news that my future father-in-law has just been arrested. It seems the rich American was murdered and Darcy's father had more than enough motive to do the deed. With the elopement postponed, we head for Ireland where he insists he's innocent, and it's up to us to prove it--for better or worse.'

My thoughts:

Rhys Bowen is perhaps one of my favorite mystery writers ever. I love her wit and the quirky characters she creates in her series. Lady Georgiana has always been a favorite of mine and I love how Bowen makes her such a lovable character. Who doesn't love Georgie? I have been following this series for quite some time now and I am glad to see so much character and story development. This series has come a long way. Not in the sense of improvement, but in the story of the characters that carries from book to book. I know when I am reading one of Bowen's books that I will enjoy it, every single time. Bowen never fails to deliver when it comes to an entertaining mystery.

In this book, Georgie and Darcy are headed to Ireland where Darcy's father has been accused of murdering the rich American who bought the prestigious family castle. Darcy's father and the murder victim were heard having a heated argument the afternoon before the murder occurred. All the evidence is pointing in the direction of Darcy's father and even Darcy believes he did it. Georgie refuses to settle and embarks on solving a mystery where so much is at stake. Georgie has to fight off inquisitive reporters that are determined to figure out who she is and why she is so involved in this murder mystery. She doesn't want scandal to erupt if anyone finds out that she is related to the King and that she is traveling unchaperoned with Darcy.

I thought that this book was a great installment to an already spectacular series. I enjoyed reading every single page. I love Georgie's maid, Queenie, as she is always making me laugh. If you love a good historical mystery that packs wit and smarts, this is a great series for you to discover. I absolutely cannot wait for the next installment to be released and I hate that I have to wait for the next one to come out. We all have those authors and series that we love and cannot wait to get our hands on. This author and this series is most definitely one of those for me. Another fantastic hit from Rhys Bowen.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  Crowned and Dangerous
Author:  Rhys Bowen
Series:  Royal Spyness Mystery #10
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  August 2, 2016
Pages:  320
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

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

Monday, August 1, 2016

Review: Jane and the Waterloo Map by Stephanie Barron

Description (from cover):

'Jane Austen turns sleuth in this delightful Regency-era mystery.

November, 1815. The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, high-flying banker, is about to declare bankruptcy--dragging several of his brothers down with him. The crisis destroys Henry's health, and Jane flies to his London bedside, believing him to be dying. While she's there, the chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent invites Jane to tour Carlton House, the Prince's fabulous London home. The chaplain is a fan of Jane's books, and during the tour he suggests she dedicate her next novel--Emma--to HRH, whom she despises.

However, before she can speak to HRH, Jane stumbles upon a body--sprawled on the carpet in the Regent's library. The dying man, Colonel MacFarland, was a cavalry hero and a friend of Wellington's. He utters a single failing phrase: "Waterloo map"....and Jane is on the hunt for a treasure of incalculable value and a killer of considerate cunning.'

My thoughts:

I recently finished Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas and reviewed it on this blog. In that review, I thought that the book didn't really live up to the rest of the series and I was hoping that this newest installment would turn out better. I was correct. I enjoyed this book and it brought back the original greatness of the series, which made me fall in love with it in the first place. In this book Jane's brother Henry Austen makes an appearance and for some reason, I always enjoy reading the books when Henry is in it. I like Henry and Jane's relationship and their knack for bouncing off murder mysteries and clues off of each other.

Jane has rushed to London to visit and take care of a sick Henry. It was touch and go for a while, but Henry is on the mend. Jane has some down time after taking care of Henry and is invited to the Prince Regent's London house, Carlton House, to use the library to assist her in her literary endeavors. She is shown around Carlton House on a tour and during that tour, she stumbles across a man who has been taken ill in the library. Jane jumps immediately to action and begins assisting the ill man. While she is doing this, the man whispers the phrase "Waterloo map" before he is attended to the royal physicians. Jane is perplexed by the ill man's statement and disregards it. It is only when the man dies a few hours later that she is concerned about the dying man's last words and the evidence of poisoning. She searches the library where the man died and finds a map with a cipher. Determined to not let this mystery be forgotten, she sets out to find out why this man was poisoned and who would have benefited from his death.

Overall, this was a great read. I am a little sad because Jane is nearing the end of her life in this series and I am wondering just how many books the author plans to write before the series is finished. This series has long been one that I enjoy and I always hate to see a good series end. This book was better than the previous installment in Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas and I thoroughly enjoyed every page. I always enjoy the author's portrayal of Jane and wonder how she was in real life. I also deeply appreciate the author's willingness to try to stick to true events in Jane's life. I am excited to read the next installments in this series until the last book is written.

Overall Rating: 3.5

Title:  Jane and the Waterloo Map
Author:  Stephanie Barron
Series:  Jane Austen Mystery #13
Publisher:  Soho Crime
Publication Date:  February 2, 2016
Pages:  320
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review: Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stepahnie Barron

Description (from cover):

"Jane Austen turns sleuth in this delightful murder mystery set over the twelve days of a Regency-era Christmas party.

Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood: Mansfield Park is selling nicely; Napoleon has been banished to Elba; British forces have seized Washington, D.C.; and on Christmas Eve, John Quincy Adams signs the Treaty of Ghent, which will end a war nobody in England really wanted.

Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane's fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again?

My thoughts:

Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors of all times. Period. I love her writing style and the lasting impression she left on the literature world. I have long been a fan of anything having to do with Jane Austen and her books and when Stephanie Barron began writing this series long ago, I was an avid reader. It is very interesting to read about Jane and her personal life that she kept so secluded and add in a twist of a murder mystery, well I am instantly hooked. This book is the 12th installment of the long-beloved Jane Austen Mysteries. For some reason, I feel that I have read somewhere that this series is coming to an end, but I might be wrong. In fact, I hope that I am wrong, because this series has been one that I continuously return to time and time again.

In this book, Jane and her family have been invited to stay with friends for the Christmas festivities. Jane is eager to spend time with her friend and enjoy the holiday season. Of course, with Jane around, there is a murder and a puzzle that she must use her sharp wits and intelligence to solve. When one of the guests is found dead in what appears to be an accident, Jane's sharp eye determines that this was no accident. She is determined to find out what happened and who wanted this guest dead and why. With the help of her family and friends, she seeks out a murderer. 

As I stated before this is the 12th installment in this series. I found that this book was just okay in comparison with the others in the series. I enjoyed this book, but the mystery seemed to lack the enjoyment for me as the previous books. Not a bad read, just not exactly what I was expecting. I enjoyed returning to this series and am currently reading the next installment, Jane and the Waterloo Map. It has been a couple of years since I have read this series, and maybe that is why I felt that the story in this one was just okay. I am hoping the next installment will be better.

Overall Rating: 3

Title:  Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas
Author:  Stephanie Barron
Series:  Jane Austen Mystery #12
Publisher:  Soho Crime
Publication Date:  October 27, 2015
Pages:  352
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Blog Tour Post, Review & Giveaway: A Golden Cage by Shelley Freydont

Description (from cover):

'The author of A Gilded Grave returns to Newport, Rhode Island, at the close of the nineteenth century, where headstrong heiress Deanna Randolph must solve another murder among the social elite.

With her mother in Europe, Deanna is staying with the Ballard family, who agree to chaperone her through the summer season and guide her towards an advantageous marriage proposal--or so her mother hopes. Relishing her new freedom, Deanna is more interested in buying one of the fashionable bathing costumes, joining a ladies' bicycling club, and befriending an actress named Amabelle Deeks, all of which could scandalize her mother.

Far more scandalous is the discovery of a young man bludgeoned to death on the conservatory floor at Bonheur, the Ballards' sumptuous "cottage." Deanna recognizes him as an actor who performed at the birthday fete for a prominent judge the night before. But why was he at Bonheur? And where is Amabelle?

Concerned her new friend may be in danger--or worse--Deanna enlists the help of her intrepid maid, Elspeth, and her former beau, Joe Ballard, to find Amabelle before the villain of this drama demands an encore.'

My thoughts:

This is the second book in the Newport Gilded Age Mystery series by Shelley Freydont. The first book in the series, A Gilded Grave, was a read that I quite enjoyed as I previously rated it at 5+ stars. This book was also a fantastic read and one that I read in two days. I really have come to enjoy reading this series and cannot wait to see what happens next. Deanna is a character that I find to be well-developed and well-rounded and one that I cannot help but like. You root for her throughout the book and you become to care about what happens. Sometimes that connection that the reader has with the character is hard to find in books but the author has no problem connecting the characters and relating them to her readers.

I love this time period. In Newport, Rhode Island in the 1890's, society reigned supreme. Rules dictated women and what they were allowed to do, but there were new inventions being made such as the bicycle and other contraptions that were forcing the boundaries of society. Deanna is a character that likes to push the boundaries and try new things. She is intrigued by the bicycle and knows that if her mother was around that she wouldn't be able to try these new things. I like this about Deanna. I like that she is willing to push the envelope even though she lands herself right in the middle of a murder investigation.

I really enjoyed this book and cannot wait to see what the author has planned for the characters moving forward with the series. A great read for lovers of cozy mysteries with a historical theme. I highly recommend this one!

Overall Rating: 5+

Title:  A Golden Cage
Author:  Shelley Freydont
Series:  Newport Gilded Age Mystery #2
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  June 7, 2016
Pages:  368
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Shelley Freydont is the author of several mystery series, including the Newport Gilded Age Mysteries (beginning with A Gilded Grave) and the Celebration Bay Mysteries, as well as those featuring Lindy Haggerty and Katie McDonald. She is also the author of several novels under the name Shelley Noble, and her books have been translated into seven languages.

This has been a stop of the A Golden Cage blog tour hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Make sure that you stop by the other stops as well!

June 7 – A Holland Reads

June 7 –   Community Bookstop 

June 8 – Back Porchervations

June 8 – Nadaness In Motion

June 9 – Shelley’s Book Case

June 10 – Cozy Up With Kathy

June 11 – Laura’s Interests

June 12 – Melina’s Book Blog

June 13 – Student of Opinions

June 14 – Island Confidential

June 14 – Girl Lost In A Book

June 15 – The Ninja Librarian

June 16 – Deal Sharing Aunt

June 17 – Brooke Blogs

June 18 – I Read What You Write

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Netgalley and Great Escape 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.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Blog Tour Post & Review: Eclair and Present Danger by Laura Bradford

Description (from cover):

'The first book in the delicious new Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery series from national bestselling author Laura Bradford.

With her rent rising faster than her pie crust, bakery owner Winnie Johnson had hoped to be rescued by an inheritance from her wealthy friend and neighbor Gertrude Redenbacher. Instead all she inherits is the widow's hostile hissing tabby, Lovey, and a vintage ambulance, restored by Gertrude's late husband. As her dream crumbles, Winnie makes her final delivery--a peach pie to an elderly widower. But she finds Bary Wagner lying on his kitchen floor, smothered by a pillow.

To comfort her frightened and grieving neighbors, Winnie comes to the rescue with her baked goods--and an idea is born: dessert delivery via her ambulance and a new business called the Emergency Dessert Squad. When she's not speeding to the scenes of dessert emergencies, Winnie is also racing to track down Bart's killer--before she needs to call a real ambulance for the next victim...'

My thoughts:

I enjoy reading Laura Bradford's Amish mystery series and I was excited to learn that she has written a new series. In this book, Winnie Johnson is the owner of a bakery and she loves what she does. However, the landlord is increasing his rent and Winnie cannot afford to keep her business open. She has to shut the doors of her bakery and she is at a loss to determine what to do with her life. She has to have money in order to pay her bills. A neighbor that has died has left Winnie a vintage ambulance as her inheritance and genius strikes. Winnie uses her baking skills and the ambulance and the Emergency Dessert Squad is born. Her neighbors are senior citizens and her best friend is a little quirky but the author uses these characters to make an interesting read.

I enjoyed this book. It was a little hard to follow at the beginning trying to keep up with all the characters, but eventually I got into the lull of this book and the story started to come together. The murder mystery was a little easy to figure out, but I still enjoyed reading this book. I feel that this series is the beginning of a series that has a lot of potential. I would say that this isn't the best debut, but it is a good start. I enjoyed the characters and I am curious to see how things turn out for them in the next book. I think that the concept of the Emergency Dessert Squad is brilliant and I am anxious to see how the business progresses throughout the series. I truly enjoyed the scenarios that the author created and thought that they were very clever. This is a series that I will be sure to continue to look into in the future.

Overall Rating: 3

Title:  Eclair and Present Danger
Author:  Laura Bradford
Series:  Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery #1
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  June 7, 2016
Pages:  304
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Laura Bradford (aka Elizabeth Lynn Casey) is the author of several mystery series and a handful of romance novels. She is a former Agatha Award nominee and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award.  In her free time, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, baking, playing games, and catching up with friends. In addition to the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, Laura writes The Amish Mysteries and The Jenkins & Burns mysteries, as well as The Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries (as Elizabeth Lynn Casey). For more information, visit Laura’s website: www.laurabradford.com  or get to know her even better on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/laurabradfordauthor, and on Twitter:  @bradfordauthor

This has been a stop of the Eclair and Present Danger blog tour hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Make sure that you stop by the other stops as well!

June 1 – Girl Lost In a Book
June 1 – MysteriesEtc
June 2 – cherylbbookblog
June 3 – Texas Book-aholic
June 3 – Cozy Up With Kathy
June 4 – Brooke Blogs
June 5 – Island Confidential
June 6 – fuonlyknew
June 7 – Classy Cheapskate 
June 7 – Books Direct
June 8 – A Holland Reads
June 8 – Community Bookstop
June 9 – Melina’s Book Blog
June 9 – deal sharing aunt
June 9 – Mystery Playground
June 10 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews
June 11 – LibriAmoriMiei
June 12 – Book Babble
June 12 – I Read What You Write

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

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Review: The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

Description (from cover):

'In 1910 Toronto, while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, two friends perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.

Inspired by their fascination with all things Sherlock Holmes, best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem launch a consulting detective business. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city's underbelly, where the high hopes of those dreaming to make a new life in Canada are met with prejudice and squalor. 

While searching for answers, donning disguises, and sneaking around where no proper ladies would ever go, they pair with Jasper Forth, a police constable, and Ray DeLuca, a reporter in whom Jem takes a more than professional interest. Merinda could well be Toronto's premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever--if they can stay alive long enough to do so.'

My thoughts:

This book initially piqued my interest because it is a genre that I love and well it was in a different city that what I normally read. It looked like something that I would enjoy, so I was thrilled when I was offered a chance to read this one. This one started off a little slow, but by the ending it had me intrigued. I think that this book was a good debut to a promising series and cannot wait to see how Jem and Merinda move forward in the series. 

Merinda and Jem are bachelor ladies living in 1910 Toronto. Society requires them to act a certain way, and well that is something that neither of them is really good at. The girls are good friend and even live together and share a deep love for all things Sherlock Holmes. Both girls are very smart and attentive to detail and they begin a detective consulting business. When a case comes their way where Irish girls are turning up dead, they set out on the trail of a murderer. They become involved in high society and the back streets of Toronto to fish out their murderer. They use some help along the way, but they have to be careful because someone is after them that wants to keep everything quiet.

I enjoyed reading about Merinda and Jem and enjoyed their friendship and their differences. Both of the main characters bring something different to the duo and that is what makes their relationship work. I felt that the story was good, even if it was a little slowing going at first, and that there is a good chance for this series. I do think that the author needs to bring it a little more however. There are a lot of similar books out there and this series will really need something different to set it apart from the rest. Nevertheless, a good start to a promising new historical mystery series.

Overall Rating: 3.5

Title:  The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder
Author:  Rachel McMillan
Series:  Herringford and Watts Mystery #1
Publisher:  Harvest House Publishers
Publication Date:  April 1, 2016
Pages:  224
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

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

Monday, May 2, 2016

Review: The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

Description (from cover):

'Sparkling and sophisticated, this sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking debut novel tells the story of a very messy, very high-profile divorce and the endearingly cynical young lawyer dragooned into handling it.

Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old-line New England firm, where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are trapped behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one week, with all the big partners out of town, Sophie is stick handling the intake interview for the daughter of the firm's most important client.

After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly's. Mia is now locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology at Mather Medical School, for custody of their ten-year old daughter Jane. Mia also burns to take him down a peg. Sophie warns Mia that she's never handled a divorce case before, but Mia can't be put off. The way she sees it, it's her first divorce, too. For Sophie, the whole affair will spark a hard look at her own relationships--with her parents, colleagues, friends, lovers, and, most important, herself.

A rich, layered novel told entirely through personal correspondence, office memos, e-mails, articles, handwritten notes, and legal documents, The Divorce Papers offers a direct window into the lives of an entertaining cast of characters never shy about speaking their minds. Original and captivating, Susan Rieger's brilliantly conceived and expertly crafted debut races along with with, heartache, and exceptional comedic timing, as it explores the complicated family dynamic that results when marriage fails--as well as the ever-present risks and coveted rewards of that thing called love.'

My thoughts:

Not many of you know, but I am a family law paralegal. I have been doing this job for about nine years now. Day in and day out, I deal with families that are going through divorces and see firsthand how that effects people. I normally tend to stay far away from reading about these kind of issues in my free time as I deal with it on a regular basis, but this book caught my eye. It actually was on a book-lover's calendar that I have on my desk at work and what initially drew me in was the fact that this book is nothing but correspondence. It is written in emails, memos, letters, notes and articles. I liked that because it was something different. Another thing that drew me in was the story. I wanted to see how an author would take something that I do on a daily basis and how it would compare to the real thing. This book was spot on!

This story is about a high-profile divorce and and custody case. As a family law paralegal, I could relate a lot to this book from the way the client was acting to the things that came up during the case. This book does not sugarcoat the family law experience and I felt that it was an accurate depiction of what I see everyday. Sophie is a criminal law associate at a prestigious law firm and when the partners are out of town for a conference, she is asked to sit in on a family law consultation. Thinking that she would just take notes about the situation and hand the case off to a more experienced attorney, she is shocked when the client wants to hire her to represent her even though she has no family law experience. 

This book was nice read and very enjoyable. I found that it remained true to real life and that the story had its ups and downs just like a real divorce case would. It was nice to see Sophie struggle with the issues that arose during the case and how she learned from her colleagues and just by doing research. I felt that this book was engaging and I particularly loved the fact that it was written in correspondence. I found that was what set this book apart from the others and that it wasn't overly unrealistic or mushy. A fantastic read all around!

Overall Rating: 5+

Title:  The Divorce Papers
Author:  Susan Rieger
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  Broadway Books
Publication Date:  October 28, 2014
Pages:  496
Genre:  Fiction
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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