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!!

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)

The Cracked Spine – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.

I recently finished The Cracked Spine which is the first book in the Scottish Bookshop series by Paige Shelton and it was fantastic! I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read more by her!

Book Cover: The Cracked Spine, A Scottish Bookshop Mystery by Paige Shelton - outside of bookshop, red awning with the text, two display windows where you can see books, red doors, a small brown and black dog on the sidewalk along with a knife and 3 books scattered

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Brief Synopsis

In need of a good adventure, Delaney Nichols takes the leap and moves to Edinburgh, Scotland to start a job at The Cracked Spine. She doesn’t know much about what she’s gotten herself into, other than that the work sounds exciting, and that her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, has given her the opportunity of a lifetime. Edwin has promised that she’ll be working with “a desk that has seen the likes of kings and queens, paupers and princes,” and Delaney can’t wait to get started.

When she arrives, she meets her new Scottish family; also working at the Cracked Spine are Rosie, perpetually wrapped in scarves, and who always has tiny dog Hector in tow; Hamlet, a nineteen-year-old thespian with a colored past and bright future; and Edwin, who is just as enigmatic and mysterious as Delaney expected. An unexpected bonus is Tom the bartender from across the street, with his piercing eyes, and a rolling brogue — and it doesn’t hurt that he looks awfully good in a kilt.

But before she can settle into her new life, a precious artifact — a previously undiscovered First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays — goes missing, and Edwin’s sister is murdered, seemingly in connection to the missing folio. Delaney decides to do some sleuthing of her own, to find out just what the real story is behind the priceless folio, and how it’s connected to the tragic death, all without getting harmed herself. (Source: Goodreads)

Review

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I picked it up to read from my library a couple of months ago, but other books came in that had holds on them and I got several books for blog tours and such so it sat there for a bit. Then, I got approval to review the second book in the series, Of Books & Bagpipes, which comes out April 4th, so I knew I needed to get to this one. I was not disappointed in the least!

This book came very close to getting 5 stars, but it just didn’t have that extra pizzazz that I like to feel with a 5-star book. Even still, it was excellent and delightful!

These characters are fun, loving, and down-to-earth. They’re believable and yet well-developed and complex. I’m absolutely thrilled that for at least this first book, we didn’t start off with a love triangle! Sometimes that gets really old in cozy mysteries. Here, our main character, Delaney is only dating one man (yay!).

The plot line in this book moved along quite smoothly and quickly. Not so fast that I couldn’t keep up, but there certainly weren’t any slow parts in my opinion. I had no idea as far as who the villain was until the end when they are revealed. I was trying to put the clues together, but I just didn’t have any idea, which I like!

The descriptions of the settings were wonderful. This is probably one instance when I wouldn’t mind more description instead of less. Scotland’s at the top of my “travel to someday” list, so I greedily soak up any and all descriptions I read about Scotland, Edinburgh, and everything Scottish! If this book was set in any other locale, I might have felt the descriptions were a little too much, but being that it’s Scotland, I’ll take any and all descriptions given!

The only thing I didn’t really care for is that Delaney seems to be one of those heroines who just has to know it all and figure it all out, even if that means putting herself into harm’s way far more often than she should. I liked that Elias was determined that she wouldn’t go alone, but I kind of prefer a heroine who doesn’t rush head-long into danger all the time.

Other than that, this is a fantastic book and you should read it!

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)

All For You

3.5 out of 5 stars

All for You by Lynn Kurland is the 12th book in the de Piaget series and the 18th in the de Piaget/MacLeod crossovers. While Lynn Kurland is one of my favorite authors, I have to say that I did not feel this book was as good as some of her others.

The book was not horrible, but it seemed much more stilted than some of her other books. There were times when it felt as though the story itself did not know where it was headed.

Peaches is also one of those heroines that I tend to despise – she doesn’t have a spine. She constantly allows people to just walk all over her. Stephen, on the other hand, I’ve found charming since the first time he showed up (in ‘One Enchanted Evening‘).

While it’s certainly never going to be among my favorites and while it’s not as well-written as some Ms. Kurland’s other offerings, it was not horrible. I will also admit that it’s possible I could be more biased because I have read so many of her books and I expect a certain level of quality which I felt was missing here. Give it a try, but if you’re disappointed in it, please consider trying at least one of her other titles before you decide you don’t like her as an author!