A couple of housekeeping things

Hi everyone!

I debated about this post for a few days. The first item on the agenda I definitely needed & wanted to let you know about. The second item, I wasn’t so sure about at first, but I decided to err on the side of caution. Part of me is saddened about having to include the second item, but part of me also believes in being honest with people in regards to things they may not like/be offended by/etc.

  • I have decided to join Amazon Associates. What that means is that if you really like a book you see on my blog and you click on the Amazon purchase link, I will get a small amount of money from the sale (avg of about 4% of the price). I am NOT planning on having a lot of Amazon ads on my page. There will not be a bunch of “in your face” ads that we all find absolutely annoying.  But, if you click the Amazon link under “Purchase Links” and purchase the item from there, then I will receive the “commission”.  Currently all new posts have this type of link. Older posts are being updated as I can get to them.

 

  • I have been branching out with my reading material. I know that I have several followers who have conservative beliefs. I’m not here to change your mind about things or ridicule you for your beliefs (nor will I tolerate comments from others that are hateful, ridiculing, or otherwise unkind). I am, however, going to be reviewing books that you may not wish to read about so please be aware of that.
    • I recently discovered a series of ebooks that are romance, but are not “traditional” romance. These are romance novels focusing on gay men and their search for their true love.
    • I also recently discovered a series of cozy mysteries where the main characters are a lesbian couple. I’m barely into the first book but I’m enjoying it so far.
    • I’ve also started reading more “banned & challenged books” which can have more controversial subject matter in them; that’s why they’re challenged and/or banned in the first place.

 

I’m happy to have a diverse crowd of followers and I’m willing to tolerate friendly debate on issues, but I will not stand for hatred or unkind comments and will delete them. If someone continues posting them, I will ban that person. I’m not a social commentary blogger. I’m a book blogger.

Books for Reluctant Readers – Middle Grades (Ages 8-12/13)

A few weeks ago, a mother who reads my blog sent me a message through my contact me page and asked if I could do a blog post about good books for an 11-year-old reluctant reader (male). I decided to take the idea and “run” with it. I decided to make a series of posts of books and series that appeal to different age groups, particularly ones that are favored by reluctant readers.  This particular one covers that middle grade area (approximately ages 8-12/13). I will later create a post for younger readers (ages 4-8) and teen readers (ages 13-19). These lists will be for all genders, that way you can spot good reads whether they’re traditionally aimed at boys or girls.

I cannot take all the credit for this list. I found some of my recommendations on various lists on Goodreads, I had a huge amount of help from the members of the Facebook Group: ALA Think Tank, and I also conferred with one of our youth librarians here at Ann Arbor District Library. I’m very thankful for Laura’s and the Think Tank group members’ suggestions! I’m not as familiar with middle grade fiction as I am books for the younger grades (something I’m trying to remedy!). Without all of those who chipped in with their ideas, this post would have never come about!

Individual Suggested Titles for Middle Grade Reluctant Readers

The above titles all have one thing in common – they all contain short bits of information that can be read a little bit at a time. There are other “fact” books that middle graders and tweens like such as the Guinness Book of World Records and the World Almanac.  There are other books similar to Two-Minute Mysteries as well such as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark or even the Encyclopedia Brown & Choose Your Own Adventure series, though those maybe be too “easy” to read.


 

These three titles are all considered great books for reluctant readers who are middle grade girls. I personally have read the first two. Ella Enchanted was okay. I liked it well enough, but The Secret Garden is my number one favorite book ever. Other titles similar to these include The Little PrincessThe Railway Children, Everything on a Waffle, and Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin.


These three titles are considered great for all reluctant middle grade readers. The only one I’ve read personally is The Giver and I highly recommend that one. Wonder is on my “to-read” list, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it.  Other titles that are similar to these are Island of the Blue Dolphins, Number the Stars, and The Bridge to Terabithia.


These three titles are all considered great for reluctant readers who are middle grade boys, though I would recommend them for all. They’re funny and fantastical and just fun! Other titles that could be included are FrindleHoles, and Hoot.

Series Recommended for Middle Grade Reluctant Readers

The three series above were the most recommended series for reluctant middle grader readers outside of Harry Potter.  One of my colleagues actually went so far as to state that she has never found an 11-year-old boy who did not like the Ranger’s Apprentice series. Being neither an 11-year-old boy or someone who deals with them on a regular basis, I have no idea if this holds true outside of her library system, but it’s worth a shot, certainly!


These three series all deal with fantasy and science fiction. The two on the ends are fantasy while the middle one is science fiction. They’ve all come highly recommended. Other similar series are The Sisters Grimm, The Heroes of Olympus, Chronicles of Narnia, and the Wrinkle in Time novels.


These three series traditionally appeal more towards girls, but if you’ve got a boy who’s interested in horses, Saddle Club might be a good fit. Other series like these include: The Frog Princess series, the Abby Hayes series, the American Girl series, and the Alice series.


These three series are supposed to be absolutely hilarious. I’ve never read any of them so I can’t say one way or the other, but that’s what I’ve been told.


GuysRead

The “Guys Read” series by Jon Sciezka is aimed specifically at boys. They’re short stories designed to grab and keep the attention of boys in the middle grades. You can also visit the website at www.guysread.com.

 

Authors that Often Appeal to Middle Grade Reluctant Readers

These three authors are big draws for reluctant readers who are into sports. They all have different sports series and some even cover the more “unusual” sports for kids like extreme sports, go-kart racing, etc. You can also check out Jake Maddox who has a sports series as well.


These three authors are great for those who are into fairy tales. I’ve personally read some of Gail Carson Levine’s work and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have not tried the other two authors, but I may in the future as I like fairy tale retellings.


These three are other authors that came up in the course of my gathering information for middle grade reluctant readers. You can also check out Kate DiCamillo and Louis Sachar.

 

Graphic Novels for Middle Grade Reluctant Readers

I do not want to leave out graphic novels and books that have a similar style. They’re wonderful reading tools for children who do not seem to like books without pictures as much. I’ve chosen a few series, a few stand-alone and a few that a children’s librarian at my library called “Graphic Novel-esque”. These are books that still have lots of pictures in them but they also have more text than a traditional graphic novel.

These three series were repeatedly named as good graphic novel series. I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels (I have nothing against the genre, they’re just not really my cup of tea), but even I loved the Amulet series. It’s one of the only graphic novel series that have ever gotten my attention and held it throughout the whole book. Big Nate also has a novel series that has been written as well.  Other series to check out include HildafolkExplorer (written by the same author as the Amulet series), JellabyBabymouse, and Lunch Lady.


These three series are what you would call “Graphic Novel-esque” series. They have lots of graphics for those who are totally into graphic novels but they also have a bit more text. Similar series include Dork DiariesAmelia’s Notebooks, and The Origami Yoda series.


These three are “stand alone” graphic novels. El Deafo is Cece Bell’s memoir about growing up with a hearing loss. Raina Telgemeier is a favorite among pre-teen girls. The title from Jim Ottaviani is an example of a non-fiction graphic novel.

These are a few of the many, many options out there for reluctant readers in the middle grades. Over the next month or so, I’ll be posting a similar list for younger readers and one for teens. Check them out and hopefully they’ll get your reluctant reader into reading!

Blog Tour – Cat Got Your Cash

Large Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents Cat Got Your Cash by Julie Chase - April 11-April 24, 2017 - Contains a picture of the author and the book cover as well

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Today, I’m excited to be the latest stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Cat Got Your Cash by Julie Chase. This post contains a review of the book and an interview with the author, Julie Chase, at the end!

Book Cover: Cat Got Your Cash by Julie Chase - Shop decorated for fall in background - counter with money, scissors, cash register and 2 siamese kittens sitting on it in foreground

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Brief Synopsis

Lacy Marie Crocker’s whimsical pet couture has gained a following in New Orleans’s cozy Garden District, and word of mouth has traveled all the way to her favorite fashion designer, Annie Lane. Lacy’s thrilled when Annie schedules a private session at her home to discuss a companion line for her evening wear, but when Lacy arrives for the appointment, she enters the kitchen to two mewling Siamese cats–and one very dead Annie.

Lacy takes the kittens home to care for them until they can be properly claimed by Annie’s family or friends, but after a busy day of work, she returns home to find them missing. And when Lacy learns the cats are set to inherit Annie’s fortune, she begins to wonder if the killer was after the kittens all along. Now Lacy will stop at nothing to save the Siamese and find justice for Annie–if the killer doesn’t sink his claws into her first.

Luckily, Lacy has the help of handsome NOLA PD homicide detective Jack Oliver to help her catch the cat-napper before it’s too late! (Source: Goodreads)

Review

Cat Got Your Cash is the 2nd book in the Kitty Couture mystery series by Julie Chase and it was great! While it didn’t have that extra pizzazz or emotional hook in it to push it up to a 5-star rating, it was still a delightful read!

In this book, we get to know Lacy a little bit more and also our two heroes – Chase, the handsome lawyer and Lacy’s schoolgirl crush and Jack, our dashing detective, who may just have the hots for Lacy. All of these characters are fun and exciting and well-developed. I’ll be honest and admit I’m rooting for Jack, but should Lacy choose Chase, I wouldn’t be overly disappointed. I just like Jack better! Lacy can be a little head strong and sometimes does things that makes me cringe (note to Lacy: When the hot detective tells you to stay put somewhere – STAY PUT!), but I still enjoy reading her stories.

The setting finds us in New Orleans and while the descriptions of the settings aren’t overly flowery, they are described well enough that I’m able to imagine most of the places in the book. I think Lacy’s shop sounds charming and while I don’t have any pets to dress up or pamper, I can easily imagine it being a place that would fit right in down in New Orleans, or even up here in Ann Arbor, near where I live! I know many pet owners who would love to shop somewhere that made organic treats for their pets!

The plot line in this book moved along at a pretty good pace. There was a small section in the middle where I felt it dragged a bit, but it quickly picked back up and was steady throughout the rest of the book. I had no idea who the villain was before Lacy figured it out so that was fun! I just couldn’t figure out who would want the victim dead. While it turned out that she wasn’t the great person that Lacy always idolized, it still was hard to imagine someone killing her. Once the villain was revealed and it was explained, it was easy to see. I love when mysteries surprise me with the villain, so that was a plus in my eyes!

All in all it was a delightful read. While the story can definitely stand on its own, this is a series and you’ll understand the personal relationships and interactions better if you read the first book, Cat Got Your Diamonds, before you read this one! Get out there and buy both books or borrow them from your local library today!

Interview With Julie Chase, author of ‘Cat Got Your Cash’

Before I get started sharing the questions and answers that I asked and Ms. Chase answered, I just wanted to say a big “Thank you!” to Ms. Chase for being willing to answer my questions for today’s post!

Author photo: Fall wooded background, young white woman with oval-shaped face, shoulder-length brown hair, no glasses, wearing a white top with a brown/tan cardigan and a gold necklace

Question #1: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?  Do you enjoy your day job?

J.C.’s Answer: Writing is my day job. My night job. The reason I rarely sleep….


Question #2: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

J.C.’s Answer: I write everyday while my children are at school, often after they go to bed at night as well and nearly every morning beginning at 5, before the family begins to stir. I write in complete silence because it’s loud enough in my head already. And I write 1 chapter a day, roughly 2500 – 3300 words.

For the most part, it’s a well-oiled machine over here. Granted, it can be a bizarre, Dr. Seuss looking thing, but it works.


Question #3: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reigns” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?

J.C.’s Answer: I’m a dedicated outliner. It helps me stay on schedule and easily predict when each project will end, when I can begin a new one and how soon that will also be finished. That said, my characters can make any changes they want, so long as they stay within the confines of the genre. I’m all for creative freedom, until my cozy heroine wants to time travel or have a wild night out, then I have to rein it in because readers don’t want those things in a cozy, and I don’t want to upset my readers.


Question #4: How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?

J.C.’s Answer: I don’t feel as if I’ve broken in. I’ve been at it a while, but I’m still looking for readers and trying to make a place for myself in this industry. Not an easy task. Today’s authors are among the very best in history, I think.  Still, it’s my dream to make it in this business, so I’m trying every day.

I’ve received countless rejections. Hundreds. And believe me, it’s depressing. I’ve quit writing FOREVER at least once a year since I started. The problem was that even when I wasn’t writing for publication, I was still writing. Fan fiction. Personal journals. Writing. Writing. Writing. Finally, I realized I’m a writer. I can’t turn it off, and I can’t walk away so stopped quitting and started revising my plan.


Question #5: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

J.C.’s Answer: I spend about 2 weeks writing a full synopsis and detailed outline for my novels. Then, I begin writing. I write one chapter a day. Reread it for clean up, then, send it on to two published authors who read for me. They provide feedback, I clean it up some more and move on to the next chapter. Using this process, I can write a novel in 6-8 weeks. When it’s finished, I reread from start to finish looking for places to improve, then it goes to my agent. She’ll give it a read and let me know if she sees any issues. I make her suggested changes in about a day, then off it goes to the publisher where it will be given an editorial letter for overall revisions, then several rounds of general and copy edits before being queued for production.


Question #6: A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

J.C.’s Answer: This villain in Cat Got Your Cash was really fun to write. He’s a little different than some of my others because he isn’t bad-bad as much as just not really “good.” He’s made a series of terrible and selfish choices, which has led him to desperation while trying to cover his tracks. My villain in this story is as new to villainy as my heroine is to sleuthing and together I think it’s hilarious.  A nice reprieve, in my opinion, from the innately evil bad guys we see all too often in the real world.


Question #7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?

J.C.’s Answer: My characters are all fictional. I mostly steal names and attributes from the people I know and put them together in interesting new ways on the page.


Question #8: What are some great books you’ve read recently?

J.C.’s Answer: I’ve been reading lots of Harlequin Intrigue novels lately. Those are romantic suspense. Very very good. I recently read The Girl on the Train and The Woman in Cabin 10, psychological thrillers, for my book club. Wow. My head is still rattling from those. Next up on my TBR pile is Marla Cooper’s Terror in Taffeta. She’s a lovely cozy author and I can’t wait to dig in.


Question #9: What books have influenced your life the most?

J.C.’s Answer: Every book I’ve ever read has influenced my life. I fell in love with the colorful imagination of Dr. Seuss as a young reader, then the marvelous adventures of Anne of Green Gables as a tween. The sleuthing prowess of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew taught me to think outside the box and try to beat them to solving the crime. In college, I fell in love with the melodious prose of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. More recently, I found my zest for humor in Janet Evanovich. Books have molded and shaped me, my personality and my life from the very start.


Question #10: If you could spend one day with a character from your book, who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

J.C.’s Answer: I would love to spend a day in the Garden District, working with Lacy at Furry Godmother. I’d meet her friends, share her lunch and just hang out to see what we could get into. Her life is great, even when it’s a literal hot mess.


Question #11: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?

J.C.’s Answer: I ALWAYS read my reviews. Everyone says not to, but if the reader took the time to read my book and even more time to say something about it, I feel like I should take the time to hear them. On the other hand, I never want a reader to feel like I’m spying or invading their space, so I don’t respond no matter how kind or malicious the review may be. I mean, no one asked me what I thought of their opinion. Right? So, I will keep it to myself. Besides, reviews aren’t meant for me anyway. They’re for other readers and the reviewer.

That said, I take every review to heart. If there’s a way I can do better the next time, I want to know. And if I’m doing something right, I want to keep it up. More reasons reviews are so important.  So, please keep them coming.

Thank you again to Julie Chase for being willing to answer my questions today! With all the parts to each one, it’s far more than just 11 questions and I appreciate her taking the time! And thank you for joining me on this stop in the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour! The banner below takes you to the main Tour Page where you can visit other stops along the tour and all of the author’s links!

 

cat-got-your-cash-large-banner336

 

A Christmas Tartan – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.

A Christmas Tartan is a novella that comes in between The Cracked Spine and Of Books and Bagpipes in the Scottish Bookshop Mystery series by Paige Shelton. It’s a wonderful holiday story and a cozy mystery to boot!

Book Cover: A Christmas Tartan by Paige Shelton - Dark green background with wooden counter - red, green & black plaid tartan scarf, silver plate etched with trees, silver spoon, brown button, and book on table - holly hanging in the bkgd.

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Brief Synopsis

Christmastime has come to Scotland, and Delaney and all her coworkers at the Cracked Spine, the quirky bookshop in the heart of Edinburgh, are all in the holiday spirit. Between mugs of hot chocolate and nibbles of gingerbread, Delaney has been given the task of tracking down the provenance of a mysterious box of objects that her boss, Edwin, has recently acquired. In it are various trinkets, but what really catches Delaney’s eye is a worn copy of A Christmas Carol, where she also finds an old photo tucked inside. On the back is a name, which leads her to a woman whose granddaughter has gone missing. When it becomes clear that the box might be connected to the missing girl, Delaney is pulled into the intrigue, and takes it upon herself to figure out what really happened—and why. (Source: Goodreads)

Review

This novella is a little bit different from the other two full-length novels in this series (I can’t really state how it is different though, as that would give some of the plot away). However, that being said, I really enjoyed this story!

This story deals mostly with Delaney herself. Our other usual cast of characters have very little role in this mystery, but we do see them a little. This story has our heroine checking out the provenance of this mystery box of items. In doing so, she comes across an old, unsolved mystery of a missing young woman.

This is just a fast-paced, fun little mystery to whet the appetite for the second book in the series. It’s definitely fun and a page-turner, but there’s not a lot of character development or personal relationship development in this book. Nothing that really seems important to the overall arc to the series. Yet, it’s still a delightful read.

There’s not much else I can say without spoilers, so I’ll just end with saying pick it up – you’ll enjoy it!!

The Moonlight Serenade – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Moonlight Serenade is the 11th book in the Dare Valley series by Ava Miles. It’s a short novella designed to tell the rest of Rhett & Abbie’s story which was partially told in book 3, The Grand Opening and book 4, The Holiday Serenade. It was a delightful short read.

Book Cover: The Moonlight Serenade by Ava Miles - The Dare Valley series - Background has a field under the moonlight so it's all in dark blues and teals. The lettering is on top in white.

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Brief Synopsis

Abbie Maven is every bit a lady.

Rhett Butler Blaylock doesn’t mingle much with ladies.

Being a professional poker player, the only lady he spends time with is Lady Luck. Yet, despite their differences, he can’t fight the temptation of getting closer to Abbie. He imagines she smells as fresh as a hot July peach and tastes even more tantalizing.

She makes him want to be a better man.

Abbie can’t ignore her brother’s best friend—the man who makes her son laugh. They are as different as ocean and desert, and yet she can’t stop her heart from opening to him… Or her body. Someone had destroyed both a long time ago. Rhett makes her come alive again.

They strike a bargain: a secret relationship on her terms. Behind closed doors, everything is perfect. But his poker persona as a bad boy undermines everything she’s raising her son to believe in. Abbie has to decide: are moonlight serenades enough?

Review

As I started above, this is a delightful, short read. It’s a very character-driven story line which means that there’s not that many setting descriptions, which is fine. The story moves along very quickly, which you expect because it’s just a novella and a short one at that.

We get to learn a little more about Rhett and Abbie in this story and see the beginnings of their courtship/relationship. It was great to read”the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey always said. It was lovely to read how they first came together, how they handled their fledgling relationship, and knowing how the first half of their courtship/relationship ended. It answers some questions that are answered in those first few Dare Valley books.

The novella is so short, there’s not much I can say about it without giving away spoilers! If you’ve read other books in the Dare Valley series, you’ll enjoy this first half of Rhett & Abbie’s story. If you haven’t read any of the others, I suggest starting at the beginning.

Dying on the Vine – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars.

Dying on the Vine is the second installment in the Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding mystery series by Marla Cooper. It was very well-written, but not quite my cup of tea.

Dying on the Vine book cover - Bride dressed in a white sleeveless bridal gown, holding a wine glass - book cover is edged with grape vines, grapes, bees and wine glasses

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Brief Synopsis

Spirited wedding planner Kelsey McKenna juggles a sabotaged wedding and a cold-blooded killer in beautiful California wine country in this hilarious follow-up to Terror in Taffeta.

Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna just signed on to a dream gig. She’s going to be the “day-of” coordinator at the beautiful Higgens Estate in California wine country. There’s only one problem: the wedding was originally planned by Babs Norton, the self-proclaimed Queen of Wine Country Weddings, who the father of the bride has fired.

Kelsey decides to clear the air with Babs and make sure there are no hard feelings, but before she can throw herself into executing the perfect wedding, she discovers Babs dead on the floor of his office. David, Babs’ assistant is quick to point the finger very publicly at Kelsey. Even worse, Kelsey learns that with the big day only weeks away, the bitter little man has sabotaged her new clients’ wedding by canceling all the vendor contracts.

With the help of her friend Brody and assistant Laurel, Kelsey must scramble to salvage the wedding while dodging gossipy wedding planners, grumpy winemakers, and a cold-blooded killer in this smart, funny cozy perfect for fans of Carolyn Haines. (Source: Goodreads)

GrapevineClipart

Review

I had a hard time deciding how to score this book. I ended up giving it 4 out of 5 stars because while I had some personal issues with it, it is still a very well-written book and other people may very well enjoy it.  I, unfortunately, didn’t really enjoy it, which I was disappointed with. I wanted to like it. I had enjoyed the first in the series, Terror in Taffeta, a month or so ago.

There were two things about this book that I just really didn’t like.

First of all, while I like Kelsey’s character as a person, she takes WAY too many chances with dangerous situations. Heroines like this are ones that I tend to call “too stupid to live”.  Most cozy mystery heroines take some chances here or there, but Kelsey just doesn’t seem to stop and think about the danger. Even when the danger is pointed out to her, she ignores the warning and goes and does whatever she was thinking of anyway. Not a good way to operate unless you want to end up dead too early in life.

The second reason is that I just found the plot line to be moving along too slowly. I thought the first book also moved along slowly. I was hoping that would change with this second book, but it didn’t. The plot line was interesting, it just moved along too slowly for my taste.

One thing that was an improvement over the first book was that the setting descriptions were better in this book. I was much more able to envision the settings than I was in the first book. That was a wonderful improvement.

It’s a well-written book and if you don’t mind heroines who are always running off into danger with no thoughts of self-preservation, then you might very well enjoy it!

** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions expressed are my own. **

About the Author

Author, Marla Cooper - Middle-aged white woman with reddish brown short hair, oval shaped face, no glasses, wearing a sleeveless navy blouse with white dots

MARLA COOPER is the author of the Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries. As a freelance writer, Marla has written all sorts of things, from advertising copy to travel guidebooks to the occasional haiku, and it was while ghostwriting a guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her series. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat.

Of Books and Bagpipes – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Of Books and Bagpipes is the second book in the Scottish Bookshop mystery series by Paige Shelton and it’s as delightful as the first!

Book Cover: Of Books and Bagpipes - A Scottish Bookshop Mystery by Paige Shelton: Teal plaid with white lettering, a drawing of a castle on a hill with a messenger bag, stack of books, and small brown/black dog in foreground.

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Brief Synopsis

Delaney Nichols has settled so comfortably into her new life in Edinburgh that she truly feels it’s become more home than her once beloved Kansas. Her job at the Cracked Spine, a bookshop that specializes in rare manuscripts as well as other sundry valuable historical objects, is everything she had dreamed, with her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, entrusting her more and more with bigger jobs. Her latest task includes a trip to Castle Doune, a castle not far out of Edinburgh, to retrieve a hard-to-find edition of an old Scottish comic, an “Oor Wullie,” in a cloak and dagger transaction that Edwin has orchestrated.

While taking in the sights of the distant Highlands from the castle’s ramparts, Delaney is startled when she spots a sandal-clad foot at the other end of the roof. Unfortunately, the foot’s owner is very much dead and, based on the William Wallace costume he’s wearing, perfectly matches the description of the man who was supposed to bring the Oor Wullie. As Delaney rushes to call off some approaching tourists and find the police, she comes across the Oor Wullie, its pages torn and fluttering around a side wall of the castle. Instinct tells her to take the pages and hide them under her jacket. It’s not until she returns to the Cracked Spine that she realizes just how complicated this story is and endeavors to untangle the tricky plot of why someone wanted this man dead, all before getting herself booked for murder. (Source: Goodreads)

Review

Of Books and Bagpipes is a delightful 2nd installment in the Scottish Bookshop Mystery series by Paige Shelton. While it didn’t have that extra emotional hook to push it up to 5 stars, it’s still a really great book.

This book finds us back with all of our old friends, Delaney, Elias & Aggie, Tom, and The Cracked Spine crew. In this installment we learn more about Edwin and his college days. It’s a tangled web of mysteries, deceit, and intrigue. Delaney is still a bit too apt to run head-long into danger without thinking, but at least most of the time now, she doesn’t go off by herself, which makes me less upset with her when she does those things!

We find more of those lovely descriptions of the Scottish setting, the castle, the library, the countryside. It really just makes me want to sell everything and go there! Alas, not possible for me at this time, but Ms. Shelton really makes it sound lovely and wonderful!

The plot line moves along at a steady pace in this one. Thankfully, it is not too fast as there are so many intersecting angles in the story and so many details to remember. The pace allows you to remember all those things and yet doesn’t feel like it’s too slow. That takes serious talent and Ms. Shelton delivers!

The only downside for me right now is that I’ve even finished the novella that came between The Cracked Spine and this book and now I have to wait for the third to appear!

While the individual stories in the series can stand alone, I highly recommend reading this series in order as the interpersonal relationships are so important within the series! Check out The Cracked Spine first and then enjoy this newest installment and the novella, A Christmas Tartan!

** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions expressed are my own. **

About the Author

Paige Shelton is the New York Times bestselling author of the Farmers’ Market Mysteries and the Country Cooking School Mysteries. She’s lived in many places but currently resides in Arizona. Visit her at paigeshelton.com(Source: Amazon)