Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: Book Clubbed by Lorna Barrett

Description (from cover):

'New York Times bestselling author Lorna Barrett is back in town--Booktown, that is--with another page-turning mystery. This time bookstore owner Tricia Miles and her sister, Angelica, put their own problems on the shelf to catch a killer who turns a bookcase into a murder weapon.

Cranky Chamber of Commerce receptionist Betsy Dittmeyer is done reading people the riot act. After she's crushed by a fallen bookcase, the next item to be read is her last will and testament--which is packed with surprises. It soon comes to light that Betsy was hiding volumes of dark secrets behind that perpetual frown of hers--and one of them just might have been a motive for murder.

While Tricia tries to help Angelica--the newly elected Chamber of Commerce president and Betsy's boss--solve the mystery, she discovers a hidden chapter in her own family history that rocks her to her very core. And with her ex-husband and the chief of police vying for her affections, it's double hard to focus on who might have buried Betsy in a tomb of tomes. 

But as Tricia and Angelica try to read between the lines, they need to watch their step and make sure the killer doesn't catch them between the stacks.'

My thoughts:

Who doesn't love a return to Booktown? I know I do. This is one of those series that I have to read as soon as they come out. I was fortunate to get this copy from the library, but I had to wait as it was so popular. I understand why. This author simply knows how to do a cozy mystery. I will say that I was worried that I would have forgotten the characters and the basic background of the series while waiting for this book to be released, but once I started reading it, everything came back into place. I have to say that I really do enjoy this series and I cannot wait to see what the author has in store for her readers next.

Tricia Miles cannot stay away from a mystery. When Betsy, the local Chamber of Commerce's receptionist is killed by a falling bookcase, everyone thinks it is just a freak accident. That is, until the medical examiner's report comes back. Soon they learn that Betsy was murdered and Tricia cannot leave it well enough alone. She starts digging into Betsy's life and learns some startling things. Like the fact that Betsy was more financially well off then she let on. But Tricia is focused mainly on finding out who wanted Betsy dead and why. Her sister Angelica and her friends help her to figure out what happened and who exactly had motive to want Betsy dead. 

I simply devoured this book. I could have read it in one sitting had I not had to go to work or do other life things. This is the type of book that would be perfect on a rainy Saturday where one just wants to stay in and read a good book. I simply love this author and can't get enough. I love how the author makes the characters seem so real by giving them real life struggles and challenges. That fact alone really endears me to the characters and makes me come back for more. I can't wait to see how things play out for Tricia in her life and the ending in this one had me on the edge of my seat. Waiting for the next installment is going to seem like forever.

Overall Rating: 5

Title:  Book Clubbed
Author:  Lorna Barrett
Series:  Booktown Mystery #8
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  July 1, 2014
Pages:  320
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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams

Description (from cover):

'Who would resort to murder?

Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural western Virginia is the storybook resort of Storyton Hall, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. To increase her number of bookings, manager Jane Steward has decided to host a Murder and Mayhem Week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather together for some role-playing and fantasy crime-solving.

When the winner of the scavenger hunt, Felix Hampden, is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the valuable book he won as his prize is missing, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer. Amid a house full of fake detectives, Jane is bound and determined to find a real-life killer. There's no room for error as Jane tries to unlock this mystery before another vacancy opens up...'

My thoughts:

This book caught my eye a couple of months ago when it was excepted in one of Adams' other book series. Of course this book lover and cozy mystery lover is going to love when the two combine into a delightful mystery. I knew that I just had to read this book and I was not disappointed. I have to say that this author is like the queen of cozy mysteries as everything she writes seems to turn to gold. I love her writing style and the characters she comes up with. Storyton Hall seems like heaven on earth and I wish it existed in real life as I would book my vacation there today. Who wouldn't want to go on vacation to an old mansion where books define everything? It was nice to escape to Storyton even if I couldn't go for real.

Jane Steward is a widowed mother of twin boys who is the manager of Storyton Hall, her family's ancestral home and resort. She loves the old house and everything it stands for. It needs some repairs and Jane decides to bring in some money to the resort by hosting a Murder and Mayhem Week event. Little does she know that a real murder will take place and she has to solve it before her resort goes bankrupt. Using the help of the staff of the hall, she discovers a secret about her family and learns a motive for the killing. She is determined to make sure that her beloved home is safe for her guests and for her family.

I simply couldn't get myself to put this one down. As I stated earlier, I tend to love Adams' mysteries and this one was no exception. I cannot wait to read the next one and return to the lovely Storyton Hall and Storyton Village. Adams has a new hit series on her hands and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. If you love cozy mysteries and books this is the perfect series for you. I cannot recommend it enough and hope that you will have the pleasure of reading this one soon.

Overall Rating: 5

Title:  Murder in the Mystery Suite
Author:  Ellery Adams
Series:  Book Retreat Mystery #1
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  August 5, 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.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Review: Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

Description (from cover):

'Lady Georgiana Rannoch, thirty-fifth in line for the British throne, knows how to play the part of an almost royal--but now she's off to Hollywood, where she must reprise her role as sleuth or risk starring in an all-too-convincing death scene.

My mother, the glamorous and much-married actress, is hearing wedding bells once again--which is why she must hop across the pond for a quickie divorce in Reno. To offer my moral support, and since all expenses are paid by her new hubby-to-be, Max, I agree to make the voyage with her.

Crossing the Atlantic, with adventure in the air and wealthy men aboard, Mother all but forgets about Max and matrimony--especially when movie mogul Cy Goldman insists on casting her in his next picture.

Meanwhile, I find myself caught up in the secret investigation of a suspected jewel thief. Lucky for me, the lead investigator happens to be my dashing beau, Darcy!

Mother's movie and Darcy's larceny lead everyone to Cy's Hollywood hoe, where the likes of Charlie Chaplin are hanging about and there's enough romantic intrigue to fill a double feature. But we hardly get a chance to work out the sleeping arrangements before Cy turns up dead--as if there wasn't enough drama already.'

My thoughts:

This is a series that I return to time and time again. I love this author and I love her writing style. I also can't help but love Georgie's character. She is smart and very humorous at the same time. I love reading about her antics and her impossible relationship with her mother and her lady's maid, Queenie. I find the characters so amusing that I usually find myself laughing out loud with all the silliness. Bowen has a way with creating a mystery that I can enjoy each and every single time she releases a book. This series never gets old for me and I look forward to the next installation with anticipation.

Gerogiana Rannoch, is a very distant relation to the current King of England. She has quite the adventures in England and the reader gets to see her interact with royalty and the upper crust of English society. However, in this book, Bowen tries something a little different with Georgie on a trip to America with her not-so-loveable mother. Her mother is trying to arrange a quickie divorce so that she can be with her wealthy beau, Max, and asks for Georgie to join her for her trip across the pond. Of course, Georgie, good sport that she is can't turn down that offer and off she goes. While they are on board the ship, mysterious circumstances occur and Georgie of course cannot ignore the signs that something sinister is at play.

If you haven't read this series yet, I ask, well why not? I absolutely adore this series and like I stated before, I eagerly await the next installation. I am always sad when my time with Georgie ends and I have to wait months for our next adventure. This author simply is amazing and can write an engaging and entertaining book every single time. I usually get bored quickly with series, but not with this one. If you enjoy strong characters, that are very silly at times and yet are very smart, this might be a series you might want to check into.

Overall Rating: 5+

Title:  Queen of Hearts
Author:  Rhys Bowen
Series:  Royal Spyness Mystery #8
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  August 5, 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.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: Godiva by Nicole Galland

Description (from cover):

'From the author of The Fool's Tale comes a brilliantly crafted retelling of the legend of Lady Godiva.

According to legend, Lady Godiva lifted the unfair taxation of her people by her husband, Leofric, Earl of Mercia, by riding through the streets of Coventry wearing only a smile. It's a story that's kept tongues wagging for nearly a thousand years. But what would drive a lady of the court to take off everything and risk her reputation, her life, even her wardrobe--all for a few peasant's pennies?

In this daringly original, charmingly twisted take on an oft-imagined tale, Nicole Galland exposes a provocative view of Godiva not only in the flesh, but in all her glory. With history exonerating her dear husband, Godiva, helped along by her steadfast companion the abbess Edgiva, defies the tyranny of a new royal villain. Never before has Countess Godiva's ride into infamy--and into an unexpected adventure of romance, deceit, and naked intrigue--been told quite like this.'

My thoughts:

So, I picked this one up thinking that it was going to be bland historical fiction and that I would be hopelessly bored. I was completely wrong. I really enjoyed this one. Lady Godiva is someone that I knew of, but really knew nothing about. It was interesting to read about her and her life and the circumstances that made her legendary. This author does a fantastic job of creating historical fiction using strong characters and an interesting storyline that had me anxiously waiting to see what happened.

Lady Godiva and her friend Egdiva are protesting the King's tax on the people. The bulk of this book is about Godiva dealing with the King asking her to either forfeit Coventry, which she owns, or to ride a horse naked in front of all of the townspeople. The King thinks that she will not even consider doing this and the storyline has Godiva going back and forth between her options. She seeks counsel from some friends, her husband and the local bishop in making her decision. I loved the ending of this one and how it was unexpected in a way.

This is a fantastic read for historical fiction lovers who love a little something out of the ordinary. Lady Godiva is not someone that I would expect that I would enjoy reading about, but this author did a fantastic job of taking Godiva and making her story very interesting. I applaud her for that as this might have been a book I skipped over had I not been asked to review it by the publisher. I was shocked as to how much I enjoyed this book, even though I have read this author before and liked her other works. Goes to show that you can never judge a book by its cover.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  Godiva
Author:  Nicole Galland
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  William Morrow
Publication Date:  July 2, 2013
Pages:  336
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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla by Lauren Willig

Description (from cover):

'In the latest Pink Carnation novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig, rumors spreading among the ton turn deadly as a young couple unites to solve a mystery..

In October of 1806, the Little Season is in full swing, and Sally Fitzhugh has had enough of the endless parties and balls. With a rampant vampire craze sparked by the novel The Convent of Orsino, it seems no one can speak of anything else. But when Sally hears a rumor that the reclusive Duke of Belliston is an actual vampire, she cannot resist the challenge of proving such nonsense false. At a ball in Belliston Square, she ventures across the gardens and encounters the mysterious Duke.

Lucien, Duke of Belliston, is well versed in the trouble gossip can bring. He's returned home to dispel the rumors of scandal surrounding his parents' deaths, which hint at everything from treason to dark sorcery. While he searches for the truth, he welcomes his fearsome reputation--until a woman is found dead in Richmond. Her blood drained from her throat.

Lucien and Sally join forces to stop the so-called vampire from killing again. Someone managed to get away with killing the last Duke of Belliston. But they won't kill this duke--not if Sally has anything to say about it.'

My thoughts:

I adore this series. I have been reading and loving every book in this series for years. I love how the author switches back and forth from historical settings to the present. This is one of those series when a new book is released, I have to have it immediately. I love this author's writing style and yes, it does have some romance in it. But it is tastefully done. I normally can't stand a book that is too mushy, but this author gives me enough mystery, historical fiction and romance to make this reader a very happy one. Willig has a way with words that sucks me in from page one and I spend most of book hoping to never get to the end. 

In this book, we get to learn about Sally Fitzhugh, Turnip's younger sister and we deal with the vampire craze that has taken the English society by storm. Mysterious Lucien, the Duke of Belliston, has returned from America to claim his birthright. Of course, this sets off a firestorm of gossip and everyone is speculating that he is a vampire. Only Sally doesn't listen to the gossip and sets out to discover more about this elusive Duke herself. While doing so, they stumble over a dead body. What reader doesn't love a murder mystery with spies? 

I will say that this book doesn't focus much on the spies as the other books in this series. That in itself was a little disappointing. What was even more disappointing, was learning from the author's afterword that the next book released in this series will be the last. Woe is me..How will I ever live without more Pink Carnation books? This is a travesty. I look forward to the newest release every year, but I am hoping the next book will be a grand finale to a phenomenal series.

Overall Rating: 4

Title:  The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla
Author:  Lauren Willig
Series:  Pink Carnation #11
Publisher:  NAL Trade
Publication Date:  August 5, 2014
Pages:  496
Genre:  Historical Fiction
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.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Review: Circle of Shadows by Imogen Robertson

Description (from cover):

'In the fourth installment of Imogen Robertson's acclaimed historical suspense series, Mrs. Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther depart England for the Duchy of Maulberg on a desperate mission to save a man accused of murder.

Shrove Tuesday, 1784. As Germany's elite dance at a masked ball, the beautiful Lady Martesen is murdered. Daniel Clode, Mrs. Westerman's brother-in-law, is found near the body, his wrists cut, his memories nightmarish. Is Daniel a killer? As he awaits execution, Westerman enlists Crowther, the increasingly reclusive anatomist, to help prove Daniel's innocence. After another ruthless death, the investigative duo find themselves racing to solve the mystery behind the killings--but no one will talk, and the clock is ticking for Daniel.'

My thoughts:

Time and time again, I have tried to read this series and enjoy this historical mystery series. And time and time again, I seem to fail at this. I have read four books in this series and it seems every single time I pick up one of these books, I am bored to tears and spend most of my time wishing the book was over already. For some reason, I have a hard time connecting with the characters and they seem to be intelligent, yet hard to like for me. I think that this is a series that I am going to have to give up on and count it as a loss. I have tried really hard to like the characters and the mysteries, but I just can't enjoy them.

This mystery takes place in Germany and Westerman and Crowther head there from England to help clear her brother-in-law of murder. While the story is taking place of them trying to hunt down a killer, there is a side story that kind of relates to the plot, but not really. I was glad to have finally finished this book and that is a sign to me that I should quit this series while I am ahead. If I can't wait to finish a book so that I can read something else, then obviously this isn't the series for me. 

This series does attract some followers and I am glad that while I didn't enjoy it, that other readers do find it entertaining. Something about the characters just puts me off this series and seeing as I can't connect, I have a hard time reading this author. The writing isn't bad, it just is a little all over the place and at times hard to keep up with. I personally am I surprised in myself that I actually stuck with this book until the end, but I have decided that it is time to let this series go and to not continue any further.

Overall Rating: 1

Title:  Circle of Shadows
Author:  Imogen Robertson
Series:  Westerman & Crowther Mystery #4
Publisher:  Penguin Books
Publication Date:  June 13, 2013
Pages:  386
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.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

Description (from cover):

'Widowed for the second time at age thirty-one, Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. 

No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives--two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth--Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen.

Katherine has to employ all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her, including her stepdaughter, Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands.

With the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position, Katherine's survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor's edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love.'

My thoughts:

Katherine Parr's story is very unique and disturbing at the same time. It was interesting to see how she feared becoming King Henry VIII's sixth wife. I can't imagine what fear that position would hold, knowing that some of your predecessors were set aside and even some where executed. That can't be something that would help you sleep at night, fearing that your every move was being watched, analyzed and used against you. From this book's portrayal, it seems that Katherine didn't want to be Queen, but that fate drop it on her doorstep and she made the most of what she could with the circumstances. Having been widowed twice, she felt that her life depended on her acquiescence of marrying the King. How could she refuse someone so historically known for his temper?

I enjoyed reading this book as I thought that the author did a fantastic job of creating Katherine's voice in this book. It was really hard for me not to like her, even though she did have some faults. At times she let her heart rule her head and I was concerned even though I know from history how things play out. I will say that this book felt like something I have read before, even though I haven't. I will say that I didn't like that too much as I like when author's put their own spin. Some of the plot twists and turns that were fictional character based seemed like I had already read them somewhere before, so it was a little strange in that essence. 

Overall, this was a good historical fiction book, if you leave it at historical fiction. Some of the facts in this book were accurate, but some of it was clearly fiction. I do think that the author had to take liberties with the story to make it appealing to the reader and I understand that. I just hope that historical fiction readers take that with a grain of salt realizing that this is fiction and not all fact. I did like the way that the author made Katherine really relate to the reader and that was what made me like this book as much as I did. Some things could have been improved, but overall this was a good historical fiction read.

Overall Rating: 3.5

Title:  Queen's Gambit
Author:  Elizabeth Fremantle
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Publication Date:  August 6, 2013 (Reprint)
Pages:  492
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.
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