Crime & Poetry – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars.

Crime and Poetry is the first book in the Magical Bookshop mystery series by Amanda Flower. It’s a pretty good start to the series.

Crime and Poetry: A Magical Bookshop Mystery by Amanda Flower book cover - winding staircase around a tree trunk with cat sitting on the stairs, a front counter with an old-fashioned cash register and books.

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Brief Synopsis

Rushing home to sit by her ailing grandmother’s bedside, Violet Waverly is shocked to find Grandma Daisy the picture of perfect health. Violet doesn’t need to read between the lines: her grandma wants Violet back home and working in her magical store, Charming Books. It’s where the perfect book tends to fly off the shelf and pick you…

Violet has every intention to hightail it back to Chicago, but then a dead man is discovered clutching a volume of Emily Dickinson’s poems from Grandma Daisy’s shop. The victim is Benedict Raisin, who recently put Grandma Daisy in his will, making her a prime suspect. Now, with the help of a tuxedo cat named Emerson, Violet will have to find a killer to keep Grandma from getting booked for good…

Review

This was a very good book and I enjoyed it after I finally got into it.

I had a little trouble getting into it at first because of the supposed location. I’m very familiar with the section of Western New York that this book is set in and it took me a while to figure out what part of the Niagara River they were based on. At first I was confused because so much of that area has the river in a gorge and the communities are several stories above, but there is an area that is similar to what was described and once I figured out that area was where the fictional town is, it was easier for me to get into the actual story. The setting descriptions were great. They were a nice balance of description versus imagination.

I enjoyed the characters in this book. While Violet has a tendency to go looking for trouble (which can be a pet peeve for me), she’s not one of the “too stupid to live” heroines that you sometimes see in cozies. Grandma Daisy is awesome and I absolutely adore her. The characters are rich and strong, complex and easy to identify with. I look forward to seeing how the various characters grow and their relationships change throughout the series.

The story line moved along at a decent pace. There was only one time that I thought it was moving a bit slowly, but that feeling didn’t last long.

All in all, I’d say that this is an excellent start to a new series and I look forward to reading more from this author!

 

 

A Tale of Two Mommies – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars

A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager (author) & Mike Blanc (illustrator) is a charming book about a young boy talking with another boy and girl about his two mommies, Mommy and Momma.

A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager (author) and Mike Blanc (illustrator) book cover - beach background with two white women from the waist down in shorts and sandals. A young black boy is holding one hand of each and swinging legs

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Brief Synopsis

A Tale of Two Mommies is a beach conversation among three children. One boy asks another boy about having two mommies. A young girl listening in asks some questions too.
True to a child’s curiosity, practical questions follow. “Which mom is there when you want to go fishing? / Which mom helps out when Kitty goes missing?” To which he answers: “Mommy helps when I want to go fishing. / Both Mommies help when Kitty goes missing.”

Review

I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t give it five stars because I felt that it began and ended really abruptly. Perhaps that’s how the author intended it to be, but it felt awkward to me. Outside of that, I really enjoyed this book.

The illustrations are brightly colored, engaging, and delightful. There is a diversity in the characters. The two mothers appear to be caucasian, as is the little girl the young boy is talking to. The protagonist of the story is a little black boy and the other little boy is Asian. I appreciate that the author/illustrator took the time to make the characters diverse.

I also loved how the questions were very much kid-oriented. They’re great questions and answers as far as which Mom helps the child with various things.

I would definitely recommend this book as a good LGBTQ resource!

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

Sea floor with kelp growing and fish swimming, including 3 clown fish, 2 seahorses, 2 angelfish and 1 trout

© Irene’s Graphics

Blog Tour – Kneaded To Death

Banner - Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer - February 27 - March 12, 2017 - Photo of author & Cover of book included

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Today I’m hosting the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer. This is the first in the brand-new series, Bread Shop Mystery series. It was a wonderful beginning to this new series!

Kneaded to Death: A Bread Shop Mystery by Winnie Archer book cover - Features the front of the bread shop, Yeast of Eden, which has a display window full of various types of bread, a cafe table with chairs on the front sidewalk, and a pug sitting on one of the chairs

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Brief Synopsis

Everyone swears by Yeast of Eden, the Mexican bread shop in town. But tonight, the only thing on the menu is la muerte . . .

Struggling photographer Ivy Culpepper has lots of soul-searching to do since returning to seaside Santa Linda, California. That is, until the thirty-one-year-old enters a bread making class at Yeast of Eden. Whether it’s the aroma of fresh conchas in the oven, or her instant connection with owner Olaya Dias and her sisters, Ivy just knows the missing ingredients in her life are hidden among the secrets of Olaya’s bakery . . .

But Ivy’s spirits crumble when a missing classmate is suddenly discovered dead in her car, riddled with stab wounds. Even more devastating, the prime suspects are the Dias sisters themselves. Doubting the women could commit such a crime, Ivy embarks on a murder investigation of her own to prove their innocence and seize the real killer. As she follows a deadly trail of crumbs around town, Ivy must trust her gut like never before—or someone else could be toast!

Review

I really enjoyed this first installment of this brand-new Bread Shop Mystery series.

The characters in this series are unique, complex, and delightful. It’s always hard to come back to where you were raised and even harder after a tragedy has struck, but I thought Ivy handled seeing old friends/boyfriends and dealing with her grief very well. I like the fact that it’s Ivy’s friend who is part of the police force and not her romantic interest. It makes for a nice change.

The setting descriptions were okay, but not quite as detailed as I would have liked. Other than the bakery itself, I had a hard time imagining the various places in the book.

The story line was clever and interesting. It moved along at a decent pace. There were plenty of suspects to choose from and I didn’t figure out the culprit before it was revealed (yay!).

I didn’t give this 5 stars partially because while I enjoyed it, I doubt this will be a book I read more than once. The other reason was my thought that there should be more description if the settings. However, I did enjoy the book and would definitely recommend it! I look forward to the next book in the series.

** I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. **

About the Author

Winnie Archer, author, aka Melissa Bourbon-Ramirez - Middle-aged white woman with blond hair done in an up-twist, no glasses, wearing a grey shirt and dark grey blazerThe indefatigable Winnie Archer is a middle school teacher by day, and a writer by night. Born in a beach town in California, she now lives in an inspiring century old house in North Texas and loves being surrounded by real-life history. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with both yoga and chocolate, adores pumpkin spice lattes, is devoted to her five kids and husband, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.

 

 

Author Links

Website: WinnieArcher.com

Winnie Archer is the pseudonym for national bestselling author Melissa Bourbon. Learn more at Melissa Bourbon-Ramirez.

Twitter: @MelissaBourbon

 

Tour Participants

February 27 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

February 27 – Books,Dreams,Life – REVIEW

February 28 – Sleuth Cafe – REVIEW

February 28 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

March 1 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 1 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

March 1 – Bookworm Mom – REVIEW

March 2 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

March 2 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – INTERVIEW

March 3 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

March 3 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW

March 4 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW, GUEST POST

March 4 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

March 5 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

March 5 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW  

March 6 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

March 6 – Book Babble – REVIEW

March 7 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW  

March 8 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, GUEST POST

March 8 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW

March 9 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 9 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

March 10 – Becky’s Bookcase – REVIEW

March 10 – Readeropolis – REVIEW

March 11 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

March 11 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – GUEST POST

March 12 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

Small Tour Banner - Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer: February 27-March 12, 2017 - Book cover included

Drawing Blood – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars

Drawing Blood is the second book in the Sketch In Crime mystery series by Deirdre Verne. While I did not enjoy this one quite as much as I did the first one, it was still a very enjoyable book.

Drawing Blood: A Sketch in Crime Mystery by Deirdre Verne book cover - wooden table with laptop, plates and mugs, books, etc. on it - sketches hanging on wall including sketch of faceless person with short, choppy black hair.

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Brief Synopsis

CeCe Prentice and her Dumpster-diving pals are back on top . . . of a pile of trash

When Big Bob, manager of the town recycling center, goes missing, CeCe is worried about more than where she’ll score her next salvaged car. As one of the only people present when Bob’s body is recovered from under the weekly recycling haul, CeCe is able to identify witnesses and provide sketches of the scene. But when she’s startled by an unidentified woman at Bob’s empty house, CeCe’s artistic talents are challenged and her drawings come up short. With her observational skills on the fritz, CeCe joins Detective Frank DeRosa and her network of Freegan friends to re-create Big Bob’s life from the garbage up. The team is soon thrust into the underworld of recycling, where what appears to be junk could actually be the clue that saves a life.

(Source: Amazon book description)

Review

While this book is very important to the overall story arc of the series, I did not feel like the mystery portion of the book was that strong. I was far more interested in the personal drama that CeCe and Frank were going through as well as the growth of their relationship rather than who killed Big Bob.

While the two story lines converge towards the end of the story, I kind of wish they had converged earlier. It might have made me care about who killed Big Bob more. I didn’t know who the villain was before close to the end, which is a plus, but then again we didn’t even meet the villain until close to the end of the book, so that does limit being able to know who they are.

There are several things that we don’t know about until the end of the book and while some people like that type of plot, I’m not one of them. Yet, there were elements of the story that I really enjoyed, like watching CeCe and Frank’s relationship grow throughout the book. I enjoyed the part of the story line where CeCe and Frank were looking into whether or not CeCe had a daughter out there somewhere that she didn’t know about.

It was an enjoyable book overall and I do recommend it, but it was not as great as the first one in the series. Still, anyone interested in the series should not miss this book!

About the Author

Middle-aged woman with slightly longer than shoulder length blond hair, with glasses - wearing a blue turtleneck sweaterDeirdre Verne is the author of Drawing Conclusions (2015), Drawing Blood (Feb 2016) and The Drawing Game (Dec 2017). Deirdre’s interest in green living inspired her to create an off-the-grid character, CeCe Prentice, who Dumpster dives her way through the Sketch in Crime mystery series. “Verne’s mystery is a winner…” Kirkus Reviews.  A member of Sisters in Crime, Deirdre’s stories appear in all three NY chapter anthologies – Murder New York Style, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices and Family Matters.

 

End of February Update

Alright, after being sick for a few days, I’m back at it around here. Here’s an update of what I read/reviewed during the month of February.

During the month of February, I read 16 books, wrote 11 reviews (with a 12th in the writing stage), wrote up 1 author interview, had 1 general book/holiday post and participated in 1 blog tour. Of the books I read, 7 were cozy mysteries, 6 were romance books, 2 were non-cozy mysteries, and there was 1 children’s book. The only books I read that I did not review were one book by Agatha Christie, one book I re-read by J.D. Robb (though I’m still thinking about writing a review for that one), and two books I re-read by Nora Roberts. The rest of the books I wrote up reviews for.

I made progress on a few of my reading challenges.

  • Goodreads Challenge 2017 – I’m up to 35 books read out of 175 for my goal.
  • Pages Read Challenge 2017 – I’m up to 10,156 pages so far in 2017. My goal is between 48,001 and 60,000 pages.
  • Ebook Challenge 2017 – I’ve read 16 out of my goal of 50 ebooks for 2017.
  • Craving for Cozies 2017 – I’ve read 22 out of my goal of 80 cozy mysteries for 2017.
  • Read it Again, Sam 2017 – I’ve read 6 out of my goal of 16+ re-reads for 2017.
  • Blogger Shame 2017 – I’ve read 2 out of my goal of 12 books that I’m behind in reviewing. That’s a good start!
  • Library Love 2017 – I’ve read so many library books already this year that I upped my challenge level from level 2 – just 24 books to level 4 – 50+ books. I’ve already read 17 from the library this year!

 

Since I’ve been sick, I’ve been doing a little re-reading and not reading anything new, but now that I’m feeling better, I’m hoping to get back to reading new things. I have a children’s book that the author asked me to read/review that I want to get done in the next few days as well as others (including an upcoming .

Coming up in March, I’m a part of 5 blog tours, so that will keep me somewhat busy. In between those, I hope to get at least one more book done for my Blogger Shame challenge so I can continue getting caught up on those.

Drawing Conclusions – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Drawing Conclusions is the first book in the Sketch-in-Crime series by Deirdre Verne. I definitely would have enjoyed The Drawing Game more if I had read at least this one first and possibly the 2nd as well.

Drawing Conclusions: A Sketch in Crime Mystery by Deirdre Verne book cover - artist's studio with several canvases in the background with paintings, a table with artist supplies on it, a canvas on an easel with only a thick mop of brown hair painted on it, books & a piece of pie on a plate on another table

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Line of blue, red, and green sharpened pencils

© Graphic Garden

Brief Synopsis

While she never saw eye to eye with her father—the ambitious director of a renowned genetics research center—CeCe Prentice always remained close to her brother, Teddy. When Teddy is found dead at the lab where he worked for their father, CeCe’s efforts to mourn the tragic loss are interrupted by several attempts on her own life.

CeCe is naturally drawn in to the investigation, teaming up with Detective Frank DeRosa, the officer assigned to protect her. Together, they begin looking into the circumstances surrounding Teddy’s death, only to discover the truth may be found closer to home than they think—in CeCe’s own paintings.

(Source: Goodreads Book Description)

Review

I was correct that I would like The Drawing Game more if I had read at least one of the two books before it. I understand so much more about the characters in The Drawing Game now than I did when I first read it!

This is the first book in the Sketch In Crime mystery series and it’s a really great book! There’s a lot of back story that happens in this book which seems essential for understanding the characters better during the rest of the series.

Many of the main characters in this series are Freegans, which are a group of people who work to live as green as possible. They grow much of their own food, create their own energy to feed back into the power grid, barter with people regarding getting things done, and recycle/reuse items as much as they can. The author does a good job of exposing us as the readers to the Freegan lifestyle and explaining what it entails.

Besides just their Freegan lifestyle, the characters are complex, well-rounded, and delightful.  I really enjoyed seeing the dynamics between CeCe and her friends, her family, and the police department.  I enjoyed watching the beginnings of CeCe’s romance with Frank unfold.

The plot line moves along at a decent pace. It’s not dragging but it’s not going by so fast that you can’t keep up either. I had a little bit of an inkling who the villain was, but I was not totally sure until just before it was discovered at the end of the book.

All-in-all, this is a great start to the series and important, so definitely read it before any other books in the series!

About the Author

Middle-aged woman with slightly longer than shoulder length blond hair, with glasses - wearing a blue turtleneck sweaterDeirdre Verne is the author of Drawing Conclusions (2015), Drawing Blood (Feb 2016) and The Drawing Game (Dec 2017). Deirdre’s interest in green living inspired her to create an off-the-grid character, CeCe Prentice, who Dumpster dives her way through the Sketch in Crime mystery series. “Verne’s mystery is a winner…” Kirkus Reviews.  A member of Sisters in Crime, Deirdre’s stories appear in all three NY chapter anthologies – Murder New York Style, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices and Family Matters.

Spells and Scones – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars.

Spells and Scones is the sixth book in the Magical Bakery series by Bailey Cates. I think this is my favorite in the series so far. I’ve enjoyed the series, but this is the first one I’ve felt was worth 4 stars.

spellsandscones

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Brief Synopsis

When the bookshop next to the Honeybee Bakery hosts a signing for a Savannah radio celebrity’s new self-help book, magical baker Katie Lightfoot is happy to provide some delectable desserts. A big crowd has turned out for the event, curious about the book (and maybe to sample some goodies), but the final chapter comes too soon for the author when she is found dead at the event.

The prime suspect is Angie Kissel, a former witch whose familiar was once Katie’s own terrier, Mungo. Katie is at first hesitant to help, afraid of losing the little dog who has become so important to her. But after a little nudge from Mungo himself, Katie decides to try to conjure up the real killer—before Angie gets served…

(Source: Goodreads Description)

Review

I really enjoyed this latest installment of the Magical Bakery series. I’ve enjoyed the series, they’re certainly entertaining, but they haven’t always received a real high rating from me. This one actually rates a 4 out of 5. This is one I’d actually be willing to read a 2nd or 3rd or 4th time.

I felt that this time around, the story was much more complex and involved. The first few books, I pretty much figured it out way before the end. A couple of them, I figured out before I was even halfway thru the book. I had a slight suspicion of the villain but I was never entirely sure until right at the very end of the book.

I felt we got to know our characters even better. I will admit that I was a little surprised at a particular part between Declan & Katie (not saying anymore about WHAT part as I don’t want to spoil anything!). I was mostly surprised because Katie had made things pretty clear in that area in previous books. But, it works out in the end.

All in all, I really enjoyed this installment. I do suggest reading the other books in the series before jumping in and reading this one. There’s nothing wrong with the other books. They’re fun to read and certainly entertaining. I just liked this one better!

About the Author

Middle aged caucasian woman with medium length black hair, no glasses, and wearing a black shirtCricket McRae (aka Bailey Cates) enjoys home crafts like food preservation, cheese making, candle making, and fiber arts. She writes the Sophie Mae Reynolds Homecrafting Mystery Series. As Bailey Cates, she also writes the Magical Bakery Mysteries.

For two years Cricket managed her own soap making business, including all product design, manufacturing and marketing. The recipes included in her first book, Lye in Wait, are all Cricket’s original formulations. She has also worked in a variety of other fields ranging from drivers license examiner to program manager for a major software firm. This fulfills her mothers warning that she’d never have a regular job if she insisted on studying philosophy in college.

(Source: Goodreads Author Page)