Prose and Cons – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars

Prose and Cons is the 2nd book in the Magical Bookshop mystery series by Amanda Flower. It was fun and entertaining to read. 🙂

Book Cover: Prose and Cons: A Magical Bookshop Mystery by Agatha Award-Winning Author Amanda Flower - Front porch of a bookshop with books stacked on the floor of the porch and on a bench; Black & White cat with crow sitting next to him and swirling autumn leaves shimmering with magic

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Brief Synopsis

October in Cascade Springs means tourists are pouring in for the annual Food and Wine Festival, and Daisy hopes to draw those crowds to the store. She asks Violet and the local writing group, the Red Inkers, to give a reading of the works of Edgar Allan Poe on the shop’s front porch to entertain the revelers. Everyone eagerly agrees.

Yet their enthusiasm is soon extinguished when Violet discovers one of the writers dead in the shop moments before the event. After the shop magically tells Violet she’ll need to rely on Poe’s works to solve the murder, she enlists the help of her trusty tuxedo cat, Emerson, and the shop’s crow, Faulkner. But they must act fast before someone else’s heart beats nevermore… (Source: Goodreads)

Review

I definitely enjoyed this book better than the first one in the series. We get to know the characters a little better and I’m liking Violet more and more. This time around it’s the Food and Wine festival along with the murder of one of their writing group members. While the victim was not well liked in town, Violet still feels for her as no one deserves to die like that.

Through the use of Poe’s works of literary prose, the bookshop seems to be telling Violet to look for someone hiding in plain sight. I totally didn’t see the villain coming until the very end when they reveal themselves (I don’t want to give it away!). It was a complete surprise to me and I’m looking forward to seeing how this changes dynamics among the main characters in the next book.

I have my personal favorite out of the two suitors that Violet has and I’ve enjoyed the interactions in this one as they seem to be going his way. Woo hoo! But then again, something at the end of the book (again, no spoilers!) makes me think that she won’t end up choosing him. Boo. 😦

All in all it’s a fun read and I look forward to reading more in the series!

About the Author

Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Amanda is an adult services librarian for a public library near Cleveland. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan. (Source: Goodreads)

Cat Got Your Diamonds – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cat Got Your Diamonds is the first book in the Kitty Couture mystery series by Julie Chase and it’s delightful! I’ve been meaning to read it ever since it came out last spring and I finally was able to do so after finishing my latest round of blog tours. It did not disappoint!

Book Cover: Cat Got Your Diamonds: A Kitty Couture Mystery by Julie Chase - Store setting on cover with black & white cat on top of counter and beagle on the floor looking up at it.

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Brief Synopsis

Grandeur and opulence are everything in the famed New Orleans Garden District where pets are family and no bling is too big. Opening Furry Godmother, pet boutique and organic treat bakery, is Lacy Marie Crocker’s dream come true–until the glitter gun used to make her Shih Tzu tutus becomes a murder weapon. And Lacy becomes public enemy #1.

Now Detective Jack Oliver is hounding Lacy, and her Furry Godmother investor wants out before his name is tarnished by association. To make matters worse, a string of jewel heists with suspicious ties to the murder case has New Orleans residents on edge. To save her dream, Lacy must take a stand, put her keen eyes to work, and unravel what really happened at her shop that night. But can Lacy sniff out the killer cat burglar in time to get her tail-raising designs on the catwalk?

Witty and whimsical, Cat Got Your Diamonds, the first in a new cozy series by Julie Chase, will be the cat’s meow for fans of Rita Mae Brown and Miranda James. (Source: Goodreads)

Review

I love Lacy. She’s kind of quirky, sometimes absent-minded, and just totally lovable. I love her spunky spirit, her go-get-em attitude, and her stubbornness. Her interactions with Detective Oliver are pretty great as well. I like the two of them together. 🙂 The other characters are fun as well. They’re mostly well-rounded and developed. I’m sure the author deliberately left some things out in order to expand on them in later books in the series.

The plot line moves along at a decent pace. I never felt like the pace was dragging, but nor did I feel like the story was so fast-paced that I couldn’t keep up. I enjoyed the plot twists along the way. I didn’t have an inkling of the villain until he was revealed. Even then, I was completely surprised. I can’t wait to read the second one in another week or so for a blog tour to find out how all of it is going to affect Lacy and her business!

I love the New Orleans setting. I also love that it’s set in the Garden District and not just the Quarter which is where so many TV shows and books are set when they talk about New Orleans. The descriptions of the settings are lovely.

All in all it’s a delightful read and a fun first book to the series! The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is that it didn’t have an emotional “hook” for me – that little bit of extra pizzazz that will push it up to a 5 in my book. But it’s still a wonderful and fun book!

About the Author

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 necklaceJulie Chase is a mystery-loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make readers smile. She lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and Sisters in Crime (SinC). She is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency.

Julie also writes as Julie Anne Lindsey. (Source: Goodreads)

Twelve Angry Librarians – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars.

Twelve Angry Librarians is the latest installment in the Cat in the Stacks mystery series by Miranda James. I enjoyed it and I enjoyed visiting characters I love again, but this one didn’t hold my attention as well as some of the others in the series.

Book Cover: A Cat in the Stacks Mystery: Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James - auditorium background, Maine coon cat sitting on counter with a pile of books and a sign saying "Librarian Convention"

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Brief Synopsis

Light-hearted librarian Charlie Harris is known around his hometown of Athena, Mississippi, for walking his cat, a rescued Maine Coon named Diesel. But he may soon be taken for a walk himself—in handcuffs…
 
Charlie is stressed out. The Southern Academic Libraries Association is holding this year’s annual meeting at Athena College. Since Charlie is the interim library director, he must deliver the welcome speech to all the visiting librarians. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the keynote address will be delivered by Charlie’s old nemesis from library school.

It’s been thirty years since Charlie has seen Gavin Fong, and he’s still an insufferable know-it-all capable of getting under everyone’s skin. In his keynote, Gavin puts forth a most unpopular opinion: that degreed librarians will be obsolete in the academic libraries of the future. So when Gavin drops dead, no one seems too upset…

But Charlie, who was seen having a heated argument with Gavin the day before, has jumped to the top of the suspect list. Now Charlie and Diesel must check out every clue to refine their search for the real killer among them before the next book Charlie reads comes from a prison library…

Review

As I stated above, while I enjoyed this latest installment to a point, it didn’t hold my attention as well as previous books in the series. I’ve always been eager to read the new book and devoured it quickly. This one, I actually set aside for a few weeks after starting it (because I had other books to read for blog tours) and then went back to it. I don’t know why it wasn’t holding my attention as well, it just didn’t.

It was still a lovely visit with favorite characters – Charlie, Diesel, Helen Louise, Stewart & Haskell, etc. I’ve enjoyed these characters throughout the series and it’s always fun to visit them in a new book. These are complex characters and many are at a crossroads in their lives in this book (I’m not saying anything more because I don’t want to spoil the book for you!).

I suppose it’s possible that this one wasn’t as riveting for me because while we were still in Athena, the plot centered around a library convention being held so there were more “strangers” and less of our favorite characters.

I did thoroughly enjoy the plot twist that occurred. I certainly did not see that coming! Karma really is a bitch. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything so that’s all I’m going to say about that!

I do recommend this book, especially if you’re already a fan of the series. If you haven’t read the series before, I highly suggest you start at the beginning with Murder Past Due. While the mysteries themselves stand alone, Charlie’s life does change quite a bit during the course of the series and you’ll understand it all better if you start at the beginning!

About the Author – Miranda James

I am a native of Mississippi and recently returned to live in Jackson after spending thirty-three years in Houston, Texas. I have loved mysteries since I discovered Nancy Drew at the age of ten. At twelve or thirteen I wrote a mystery and even submitted it to a publisher — and promptly received a form rejection letter. That dashed my hopes for a writing career for a while, but I went back to writing mysteries while I was in graduate school in Rice. My first published adult mystery was actually the second one I wrote: CRUEL AS THE GRAVE was published in 2000.

Since then I have published twenty additional mysteries, the latest of which is TWELVE ANGRY LIBRARIANS, the eighth in the Cat in the Stacks series. In my day-to-day life I am a librarian like Charlie (except my specialty is medical libraries) and I have two cats, neither of whom is a Maine Coon. I love reading and writing mysteries and taking care of two spoiled cats (that’s probably redundant–all cats are spoiled because they generally accept no less). I write mysteries to entertain readers and help them relax and get away from the pressures of daily life. That’s why I read them myself.