Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review: The Wolfe Widow by Victoria Abbott

Description (from cover):

'As Thanksgiving approaches, Jordan Bingham is grateful for her job researching rare books for Vera Van Alst, the infamous curmudgeon of Harrison Falls, NewYork. But when an uninvited guest makes an appearance, much more than dinner is disrupted--and Jordan is thankful just to be alive.

Vera Van Alst doesn't normally receive visitors without appointment, but she agrees to see the imperious Muriel Delgado upon arrival. Shortly thereafter, Jordan is told that her position is being terminated. Evicted from the Van Alst House, Jordan is determined to find out what hold Muriel has over her erstwhile employer.

It seems Muriel has designs on Vera's money and property--not to mention a particular interest in her collection of Nero Wolfe first editions. When Jordan discovers a deadly connection between Muriel and the Van Alst family, it's up to her to put the house in order and stop a killer from going back to press.'

My thoughts:

This cozy mystery was a little different than most cozies mysteries. The reader is quite aware of who the villain is quite early on. The only thing the reader doesn't know, is exactly who is cohorts with this person and why. That is nicely left to the end for the reader to have something to figure out. I adore this series. I really do. I've always known that a cozy mystery series that appeals to my love of books and reading would draw me in. I have loved this series since the first book and nothing has diminished this in my eyes. The characters are flawless and the plot line is to die for (no pun intended).

Jordan Bingham has a job with the not-so-pleasant Vera Van Alst, where she uses her research skills to find rare books. When a strange visitor drops in to the Van Alst house unexpectedly, things quickly spiral out of control for Jordan. All of a sudden Vera fires Jordan from her job and evicts her from the property. Jordan is, of course, upset about her job, but she knows something sinister is at play. She knows that her firing was due to this strange visitor and she is determined to find out what exactly is going on.

With Jordan's quirky family helping her along the way, I couldn't help but laugh. And I mean quirky. Jordan's family is known for their criminal activities and I love how she incorporates them into the story and uses their tactics. She is the good one in the family, but old habits die hard. I love the way that this author writes and every single book that comes out in the series is an utter treat. If you haven't discovered this series yet and love cozy mysteries with a book theme, I highly encourage you to do so. I haven't read a book in this series yet that wasn't fun and a thrill ride.

Overall Rating: 5+

Title:  The Wolfe Widow
Author:  Victoria Abbott
Series:  Book Collector Mystery #3
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  September 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.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: A Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd

Description (from cover):

'With The Solitary House, award-winning author Lynn Shepherd introduced readers to Charles Maddox, a brilliant private detective plying his trade on the gaslit streets of Dickensian London. Now, in this mesmerizing new novel of historical suspense, a mystery strikes disturbingly close to home--and draws Maddox into a world of literary legends, tormented souls, and a legacy of terrible secrets.

When his great-uncle, the master detective who schooled him in the science of "thief taking," is mysteriously stricken, Charles Maddox fears that the old man's breakdown may be directly related to the latest case he's been asked to undertake. Summoned to the home of a stuffy nobleman and his imperious wife, Charles finds his investigative services have been engaged by no less than the son of the celebrated poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his famed widow, Mary, author of the gothic classic Frankenstein. Approached by a stranger offering to sell a cache of rare papers allegedly belonging to the legendary late poet, the Shelley family seeks Maddox's aid in discovering whether the precious documents are authentic or merely the work of an opportunistic charlatan.

But the true identity of his quarry is only the first of many surprises lying in wait for the detective. Hardly a conniving criminal, Claire Clairmont is in fact the stepsister of Mary Shelley, and their tortured history of jealousy, obsession, and dark deceit looms large over the affair Maddox must untangle. So, too, does the shadow of the brilliant, eccentric Percy Shelley, who found no rest from the private demons that pursued him. With each new detail unearthed, the investigation grows ever more disturbing. And when shocking evidence of foul play comes to light, Maddox's chilling hunt for the truth leads him into the blackest reaches of the soul.

Steeped in finely wrought Victorian atmosphere, and rife with eye-opening historical revelations, A Fatal Likeness carries the reader ever deeper into a darkly magnetic tale of love and madness as utterly harrowing and heartbreaking as it is undeniably human.'

My thoughts:

I have a tendency to not let things go, especially when it comes to series. Even if I hate it. I will read the series until I absolutely cannot take any more. I think part of me hopes that there will be a change in the series that makes me love it, but it always turns out different. I always end up hating that book too and swearing off the series until the next book comes along and the pattern is then repeated. That this the way it was with this book. I never really have enjoyed Lynn Shepherd's books. I read Murder at Mansfield Park and The Solitary House and nothing really clicked for me in either. So why I picked this one up and read it is still beyond my comprehension.

This book was so utterly confusing that I had absolutely no idea who half the characters were. They all seemed to have the same name and everything was muddled and ran together. The storyline was beyond choppy and the ending disappointing. I absolutely couldn't wait to be done with this one. It was just a weird book and I really didn't like it at all. I do like Charles' character, but that is probably about all. I really couldn't connect with this book and it felt like it was too long and would never end.

I have come to realize that if I pick this author's books up, chances are I am not going to like it. Part of me hopes for the off-chance that something comes along and knocks me off my feet, but reality says don't hold my breath. I really wanted to love this series as it is set in Victorian London, but I cannot get past the crazy writing and the plot and how everything just doesn't make any sense. I wasn't looking forward to reading this one and maybe now I can listen to my gut feeling and not read something not worth my time.

Overall Rating: 1

Title:  A Fatal Likeness
Author:  Lynn Shepherd
Series:  Charles Maddox Mystery #3
Publisher:  Delacorte Press
Publication Date:  August 20, 2013
Pages:  384
Genre:  Historical 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.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review: Death Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz

Description (from cover):

'The town of Jewel Bay, Montana--known as A Food Lover's Village--is obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin Murphy takes over her family's century-old general store, she turns it into a boutique market filled with local delicacies. But Erin's freshly booming business might go rotten when a former employee turns up dead...

Murphy's Mercantile, known as the Merc, has been a staple in Jewel Bay for over a hundred years. To celebrate their recent makeover as a gourmet food market, Erin has organized a town festival, Festa di Pasta, featuring the culinary goods of Montana's finest--including her mother Fresca's delicious Italian specialties. 

But Erin's sweet success is soured when the shop's former manager, Claudette, is found dead behind the Merc on the Festa's opening night. With rival chef James Angelo stirring up trouble, and rumors swirling that Fresca's sauce recipes were stolen from Claudette, Erin's mother is under close scrutiny. Now Erin will have to hun down some new suspects, or both her family and her store might wind up in hot water...'

My thoughts:

So the debut cozy mystery book in a new series curse continues. Once again I picked up a new cozy series that I think that I will enjoy, only to be disappointed in the first book of the series. Sigh. I was simply bored to tears with this one. It had the small town, murder, and a lot of suspects, but unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep yours truly entertained. At times, I felt like I was just reading this one to be reading a book. Nothing grabbed my attention, nothing sucked me in to the storyline. Even the ending was a little disappointing. Of course, there was the dreaded love triangle thing going on for the main character and nothing annoys me more than the love triangle. That alone is enough to put me off a book, but for this one, there were other issues.

I just found this one to be mediocre at best. It wasn't poorly written, it just didn't have any oomph factor that really drew me in. This book is a short one coming in at only 270+ pages for the mystery part and yet it took me days to get through it. That is one sign that I really didn't care for it. Usually if a book is so good, I can't wait to read it and I seem to breeze right through it. Definitely not the case with this one. It just seems to me to be another series trying to live off the food mystery theme with the god awful love triangle. Is this becoming a new normal for the cozy mysteries? The love triangle? I swear it keeps popping up in cozies like no one's business. Note to authors: I HATE LOVE TRIANGLES!! I am sick of them. They do not make for good story lines. They are boring and annoying. Stop writing about love triangles. Ugh.

Really, I am sort of annoyed with this book at the moment (Can't you tell??) that I don't even really have anything good to say. I am still trying to figure out how this one won the Agatha award for debut mystery. Nothing spectacular here. Hate to be so bluntly honest, but I love the cozy mystery genre and I loathed this book. I'm leaving it at that.

Overall Rating: 1

Title:  Death Al Dente
Author:  Leslie Budewitz
Series:  Food Lovers' Village Mystery #1
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  August 6, 2013
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.

Blog Tour Stop, Review & Giveaway: Unlikely Traitors by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

Description (from cover):

'Ursula Marlow thought she was done with death, but when her fiance, Lord Wrotham, is arrested on charges of treason, her world is turned upside down. t is the winter of 1913, and the British Parliament, unsettled on the question of Home Rule for Ireland, is shaken over allegations of a plot to sell naval military secrets to Kaiser's Germany and liberate Ireland from English rule. For the first time, Ursula must work together with Chief Inspector Harrison to uncover the truth about Lord Wrotham's involvement, as well as his mysterious past.

As the investigation continues, Ursula is drawn into the shadowy world of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and a web of espionage and betrayal. She must race against time to clear Lord Wrotham's name and thwart a plot that threatens not only British national security, but also her life.

My thoughts:

If you have been following along my blog, you will have noticed that I have been reading and reviewing all the books in this series. When I was given the chance to participate in this blog tour, I started reading this book and quickly caught on to the fact that I was missing a lot of information. This book begins right where the second book leaves off and if you haven't read the others in this series, it can be quite confusing. So in order to adequately review this book, I decided that I had to read its predecessors. I'm really glad that I did, because I discover a new series that I enjoy. Ursula's character is somewhat not the norm for the time that the books are set in. She flouts society and doesn't seem to care so much when she is the subject of scandal and scorn. She is definitely a character that I enjoy because she is so different.

This book started right off with a bang. I love books that within the first couple of pages, something is afoot. This was definitely one of those books. This book also has treason, espionage and action in droves. I found it to be wonderfully fast pasted and intriguing. I will say that this book is a complete different book from the first book in the series and the author has really taken this series to the next level. The only problem that I had with this book was that I figured things out a little earlier than I would have liked. I love a surprise and I love to be shocked. I didn't get that with this one as I figured out who was behind everything quite early on. Nevertheless, this book still was a fun and action packed read that kept me flying through the pages.

If you haven't read this series, it is a wonderfully written historical mystery that has characters the reader comes to enjoy spending time with. I really liked the little surprise the author gave the reader at the end and I cannot wait to see how things turn out for Ursula and Lord Wrotham. This book was definitely a pivotal installment in this series and I am curious to see what happens next. If you are interested in this series, I highly recommend that you begin at book one and work your way through the series. I have a feeling that if you start with this book, you might be lost as I was and you really won't get the whole effect of the series if you start in the middle. Nevertheless, this book was a wonderful edition to an emerging historical mystery series that I will be keeping my eye on.

Overall Rating: 4

Title:  Unlikely Traitors
Author:  Clare Langley-Hawthorne
Series:  Ursula Marlow Mystery #3
Publisher:  Open Road Distribution
Publication Date:  July 8, 2014
Pages:  262
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

As a child of British parents, Clare Langley-Hawthorne grew up in Australia with a strong sense of history. Her mother was a history teacher and her father was an economics professor. Her parents instilled in her a love of art, history, and literature. She dreamed of being a writer but instead studied law at the University of Melbourne in Australia. She went on to practice commercial law before switching careers and moving to the United States in 1995. She obtained Master's degrees in economics and international trade law and subsequently worked as an economist in the health care industry. But the dream of being a writer never died. She published articles on both law and economics and soon realized that what she really wanted to do was pursue her life-long dream of becoming a fiction writer. The opportunity arose when she took time off to pursue a PhD only to discover she was pregnant with twins. She now lives in Denver, Colorado with her twin sons and collie. In her spare time she enjoys painting, completing the New York Times crossword and indulging in her love of English literature.



This has been a stop in the 'Unlikely Traitors' book tour presented by Great Escapes Books Tours. Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour as some are offering giveaways!

September 15, 2014--Shelley's Book Case
September 16, 2014--Turner's Antics
September 17, 2014--Kelly P's Blog
September 18, 2014--Brooke Blogs
September 19, 2014--A Blue Million Books
September 20, 2014--readalot
September 21, 2014--Girl Lost In a Book
September 22, 2014--Cozy Up With Kathy
September 24, 2014--Latte' Da!



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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

Description (from cover):

'A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole's atmospheric debut novels captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.

March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland's remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence--sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets--their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western Front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he'll survive.

June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth's daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn't understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth's house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth's whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.

Sparkling with charm and full of captivating period detail, Letters from Skye is a testament to the power of love to overcome great adversity, and marks Jessica Brockmole as a stunning new literary voice.'

My thoughts:

If you have read and loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society odds are you will enjoy this book as well. They are very similar, yet different at the same time. This book focuses more on a few characters, while the other seems to focus more on the whole island and how the war affects them. Still you can compare the two and see that they have a lot of the similar themes, but this book was more about love in wartime versus how war effects society as a whole. This book switches back and forth from World War I and World War II and shows the readers the similarities of the wars, but how different they really were. World War I was mostly fought away from England, while in World War II, England was constantly bombarded with bombs.

Elspeth Dunn begins a strange relationship with an American after she receives David's first letter congratulating her on her poetry book. Soon they strike up a friendly correspondence and over time they fall in love. It is interesting to see how an ocean and a war cannot deter true love. This book also features Elspeth's daughter Margaret and how she is coping during the beginning of WWII. Margaret is a lot like her mother, but she doesn't realize it because her past was kept secret by her mother. Her mother kept her in the dark about her father and her mother's life before having Margaret. There is a lot of mystery in this book because when you're reading it, you can help but want to know what happened. The author did a fantastic job of making this reader want to read through the pages as fast as possible to find out how everything happened.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It was a short and quick read and I was able to read it in one day. I hate that it was so short, but I can imagine how hard it is the for the author to write in nothing but letters. This book is told through the character's letters to each other. I enjoyed the different approach that this book took in telling its story. I think that this is a great read for people who love to read about WWI and WWII and encourage others to discover it for themselves.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  Letters from Skye
Author:  Jessica Brockmole
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  Ballantine Books
Publication Date:  May 13, 2014
Pages:  320
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.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson

Description (from cover):

'London, 1727. Tom Hawkins refuses to follow in his father's footsteps and become a country parson. His preference is for wine, women, and cards. But there's honor there too, and Tom won't pull family strings to get himself out of debt--not even when faced with London's notorious debtor's prison.

The Marshalsea Gaol is a world of its own, with simple rules: Those with family or friends who can lend them a little money may survive in relative comfort. Those with none will starve in squalor and disease. And those who try to escape will suffer a gruesome fate at the hands of its ruthless governor and his cronies. The trouble is, Tom has never been good at following rules, even simple ones. And the recent grisly murder of a debtor, Captain Roberts, has brought further terror to the gaol. While the captain's beautiful widow cries for justice, the finger of suspicion points only one way: to the sly, enigmatic figure of Samuel Fleet. 

Some call Fleet a devil, a man to avoid at all costs. But Tom Hawkins is sharing his cell. Soon Tom's choice is clear: get to the truth of the murder--or be the next to die.

A dazzling evocation of a startlingly modern era, The Devil in the Marshalsea is a thrilling debut novel full of intrigue and suspense.'

My thoughts:

This one has been making the rounds on a lot of the blogs that I follow and because it looked interesting, I snagged it at my local library. I am glad that I had the chance to read this one. It is an eye-opening to experience into a historical world of debtor's prisons. I haven't read anything that portrays the debtor's prisons and what they were really like for all who lived in them. At times this book was downright gruesome and while I really didn't care for that all that much, I understand that the author wanted the reader to see how life was really like. 

Tom Hawkins is a character the reader loves to gripe about. He is smart, but at times he makes the worst possible choices. I really enjoyed this book and found it really hard to put down. I wanted to see how everything turned out. The author did a fantastic job in creating the world of the debtor's prison for the reader and the characters are all so untrustworthy. One minute you think you've found a friend, but in reality the reader has found a foe. No one is what they appear and I loved that aspect of this book. I also really enjoyed Fleet's character, who everyone loves to hate. He is the scapegoat of a lot of people, but he is also not what he seems.

I enjoyed the suspense and thrill ride that was this novel. I could have done without the more gruesome scenes and for that I will rate it a little lower. However, if you can put that aside, you will find that this is a beautifully written story of betrayal, intrigue and murder. I was amazed at how much research the author appears to have put into the novel as it really shows and the reader is left feeling as they are apart of something different.

Overall Rating: 4

Title:  The Devil in the Marshalsea
Author:  Antonia Hodgson
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  Mariner Books
Publication Date:  June 10, 2014
Pages:  400
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.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review: The Serpent and the Scorpion by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

Description (from cover):

'It's nearly two years since her father's death and Ursula Marlow is embroiled in personal and professional struggles. Her relationship with Lord Wrotham has cooled since she rejected his marriage proposal and she continues to fly in the face of society's conventions as to the appropriate role of a woman in Edwardian England. Now she is besieged on all fronts as she struggles to succeed as an independent businesswoman, despite financial difficulties, labor unrest and arson attacks on her mills and factories.

While on a business trip to Egypt, Ursula witnesses a friend's murder in Cairo's Khan el-Khalili bazaar, and embarks on her own investigation, convinced the Egyptian police and Scotland Yard are mistaken in assuming the death was politically motivated.

Days later a young woman dies in a fire in one of Ursula's factories in England and Ursula returns to discover the woman was already dead before the fire started. Driven by her need for justice and the dictates of her conscience, Ursula must rely on her own powers of detection and a growing interest in cryptography to discover a possible connection between the deaths, the return of her Bolshevik ex-lover and disturbing events in the Middle East.'

My thoughts:

This book was immensely better than the first one in this series. I enjoyed this one a lot. The author seemed to stepped up her game when writing this one. This one embroils the reader in political and emotional turmoil. This is a murder steeped high in politics and greed. I have to say that this one was a hard one to put down. Ursula character goes through a dramatic change from the first book to this one. She is more independent, more level headed and more mature. I have to say that this Ursula beats the other Ursula hands down. She knows what she wants and she is not afraid to fight tooth and nail for it.

I do wish that this book was set more in Egypt. The author did a fantastic job of laying the scenery when Ursula was in Egypt and I would have loved to see everything play out in the Middle East instead of in England. The author was able to portray the exotic and curious being that Egypt is and it made me want more. Of course, I love a book set in England, but I think the author did a phenomenal job and would love to see a book set fully somewhere full of intrigue.  This book is a complete 180 from the first book and it has become a series that I am fully engaged and interested in.

Ursula has to make some tough decisions in this one, but it shows the reader the dramatic change from spoiled heiress to a businesswoman in her own right. This was a fantastic read that was well worth the money I spent on the Kindle edition. If you haven't discovered this gem of a series, I encourage you to find it if you love history and a plucky main character.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  The Serpent and the Scorpion
Author:  Clare Langley-Hawthorne
Series:  Ursula Marlow Mystery #2
Publisher:  Penguin Books
Publication Date:  September 30, 2008
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.
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