Today, my review is not part of a blog tour, but I’m happy to be bringing you a review of Vangie Vale and the Corpseless Custard by R.L. Syme. This is the 2nd book in the Matchbaker Mystery series. I did enjoy the book, but not quite as well as the first book.
What could be wrong with bringing a few fancy custard tarts to your Bunco group to impress a guest of honor?
Nothing at all…except that guest of honor never shows up. And when her body is discovered, everyone at the Bunco group is a murder suspect.
Vangie Vale finds herself in another predicament trying to solve a murder in a neighboring small town before her mugshot shows up in the local anonymous gossip blog. And just when she hoped her Sherlocking days were done. No rest for the wicked…or the clergy.
Pick up your second book in The Matchbaker Mysteries today. You’ll never guess whodunit.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but something was just missing that was in the first book. I can’t even quantify it with words; it just was missing something which is why it received 4 stars instead of 4.5 stars like the first book.
I enjoy Vangie. I love Malcolm and Derek. The new side characters introduced in this book were very interesting and brought new life into the scenes, which is always a plus! One thing I am hoping is that Derek has a little bit of a calming influence on Vangie. She’s a little bit too impulsive for my taste, putting herself in harm’s way without even thinking. I know some of that comes from her personality and it will never change significantly, but I am hoping that Derek can help rein her in on her more outlandish plans.
The plot line moved along smoothly. I did suspect who the killer was before the end, but it was still a good mystery. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one being released in November or December!
All in all, it’s a fun read and definitely one I enjoyed and recommend! Check out this series! It’s a lot of fun!
About the Author
Rebecca Syme writes small town romance as Becca Boyd and cozy mystery as R.L. Syme. She is a long-time foodie and loves fancy cheese. Becca calls the mountains of Montana her home and draws inspiration from the beautiful vistas and heartwarming people. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Line of Fire series of sweet romances and part of the Chick Tales series set in Somewhere, TX. You can find her on Twitter talking #fancycheese or #Chopped, and on Facebook with her fans in Becca Nation.
Today I’m happy to be bringing you another Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. This time, I’m featuring Murder at the River Bend Retirement Resort by Stan Schatt. For the most part, I really enjoyed this book.
When a very disagreeable resident of the exclusive River Bend Retirement Resort is murdered, bestselling mystery writer Miriam Lipsky has to find the real killer to save her dear friend from prison. She finds the retirement home seethes with intrigue, passion, and jealousy. To make matters worse, it’s hard to distinguish what residents actually saw from what they imagined.
Miriam finds she has to search for the killer while juggling an autistic grandson, a divorced daughter with a tendency to choose the wrong man, her best friend’s overly friendly husband, and a stalker who leaves her more and more threatening notes. To make matters worse, her rabbi who won’t take no for an answer when it comes to fixing her up.
Miriam, a widow after a disastrous marriage, has given up on love. Just when she is sure that part of her life is over, someone new appears from a very unexpected place.
Murder at the River Bend Retirement Resort is a cozy mystery with a sleuth who has to learn on the job. Despite her best intentions, Miriam makes mistake after mistake and yet moves ever closer to discovering a cold-blooded killer who has no remorse.
For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun read.
I enjoyed our two major characters, Miriam and the sheriff. They play well off of each other and it was a change to have a sheriff who was okay with the amateur talking to people and trying to gather clues. That was a refreshing change. It was nice not to have the sheriff/police chief at odds with the amateur detective.
The plot line was good, but I did feel that it bogged down a little in the middle. I felt as tho’ there were places where the subplot got in the way of the main story. That’s why I only rated it a 4 star book.
It was still a fun book to read and I’ll read more in the series as I really like Miriam and Sheriff Rhodes.
About the Author
Stan is the author of over 40 books including the Frankie and Josh mysteries. He has published books on career changing, technology, and writers that include Michael Connelly and Daniel Silva.
Thanks for joining me today on this latest Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below. That will take you to the main tour page where you can find a list of participants!
Today, I’m happy to bring you a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours tour for Body on Baker Street by Vicki Delany. We’ll start off with a guest post from Ms. Delany and then my review and purchase links will be after that.
Creating a Whole New Town
By Vicki Delany
Some books are set in real places. My Lighthouse Library series written under the pen name of Eva Gates is set not just in a real town, but in a specific, real-life building. The Bodie Island Lighthouse near Nags Head, North Carolina. You can visit it yourself, have a look around, go inside the lighthouse, even climb the spiral iron staircase 200 steps to the top. It’s all real.
Except it doesn’t contain a library, offices, meeting rooms, and certainly not an apartment on the 4th floor. Those I added myself.
But sometimes a real place won’t do, and then the imagination comes in. For the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, I needed a street called Baker Street, and a town with a name that relates to London or to England. I wanted it to be in New England, and I wanted a tourist destination, which is always convenient for providing a steady stream of victims and suspects.
So I created West London, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, and named the main shopping street Baker Street. At 222 Baker Street, I put the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, and next door at number 220, I opened Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room.
I put my town on a peninsula with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Nantucket Sound on the other, to make it a popular tourist spot and to provide the books with lots of atmosphere.
Now that I had my store, I had to stock it. Books mostly, Conan Doyle originals, modern pastiche novels, non-fiction to do with Conan Doyle and his life and times and contemporaries, a gaslight shelf full of mysteries set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. And merchandise of course, anything and everything to do with the Great Detective and his imitators, from posters and DVDs to tea cups and sewing thimbles. Next door at Mrs. Hudson’s they got busy making scones, sandwiches, and small pastries and serving afternoon tea.
Now that I had my town and my shops, it was time to populate it. Gemma Doyle is a thirty-something Englishwoman, come to Cape Cod to manage her great uncle’s store. She is smart, highly perceptive, has a great memory (for things she wants to remember) and is occasionally lacking in some of the social graces. Her best friend Jayne Wilson owns and operates the tea room. As Gemma pokes her nose in murder cases, Jayne is always loyal but often confused. We have not one, but two, handsome men. Rare book dealer Grant Thompson and Detective Ryan Ashburton. Ryan and Gemma were once in a relationship, but he found it hard to be with a woman who always seemed to know what he was thinking. More cops, dedicated Sherlockians, an intrepid newspaper reporter, fellow shop-owners, and Great Uncle Arthur who never seems to be at home, round out the cast.
The joy of writing cozies, I have found, is the pure fun in it. I’ve had great fun creating the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium and the people of West London, and I hope you enjoy reading about their adventures.
Thank you, Ms. Delany for providing a guest post for my blog today! It was interesting reading about your thought processes behind creating the town.
Body on Baker Street is the second book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series. While it’s definitely possible to read this as a stand-alone book, I highly recommend reading the first book, Elementary, She Read as it’s a great start to the series!
I enjoyed this latest installment of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series.
Gemma is a fascinating, yet sometimes annoying character, much like Sherlock Holmes himself. She’s well-rounded and complex, but sometimes her mannerisms are just a little too over the top for me. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but there’s a particular spot in this book that I wanted to give Gemma a “Gibbs-slap” (from NCIS for you non-tv watchers) to the back of the head to try to get her common sense going again before she attempted something totally idiotic!
I love the side characters too. Jayne and Ryan are wonderful. I’m liking Ashleigh more and more as each book goes on. I even like Louise more and more as the series goes on.
The setting descriptions are always well-done. I feel like there’s enough for us to be able to imagine the setting in our mind, but not so much that we’re overwhelmed as readers. That’s a hard balance to find, but I think Ms. Delany does it well in this book.
The plot moves along well. I had no idea who the villain was until he/she was revealed. As Gemma explained her logic behind her deduction, I could see the way the clues lined up, but the villain definitely wasn’t on my radar before that.
All in all, it was a good book. It didn’t have that pizzazz that I look for in a 5-star book and Gemma’s stupidity in some things caused me to give it a 4, but I still recommend it to cozy mystery lovers!
Thanks for stopping by today! If you wish to visit other stops along the tour, please click the banner below and that will take you to the main tour page with a list of participants.
Today I’m pleased to be bringing you the latest stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Vangie Vale & the Murdered Macaron by R.L. Syme. This was a delightful book to read and I enjoyed it. Stay tuned for an interview with the author after the review.
** Update 8/7/17 ** Yesterday I still didn’t feel well, so updates to the post had to wait until today, but I’m happy to report that we now have more formatting, purchase links, a link to the item on Goodreads, and links to the author’s sites, plus graphics to help break up the text. Thank you for being patient as I dealt with my migraine and the aftermath.
Small towns and gossip go together like flaky crust and sweet pastry cream. Between the police scanners, social media, and the senior center, it’s like a zombie apocalypse where they consume people’s secrets instead of living flesh. But Vangie Vale wants nothing more than to stay under the radar…especially the police radar.
So when her new bakery becomes linked to a murder investigation, nothing will stop the gossip mill from connecting her to the dead body. Can’t have that.
Forced back into the role of investigator, this newly-arrived-in-town part-time bakery owner has to become the very thing she hates–a nosy, small-town gossip–in order to clear her good name, and keep her face off the front page. But when a date-gone-wrong brings her face-to-face with the Sheriff, Vangie can’t ignore the fact that one of her macarons was involved in a murder. She has to find out who-dun-it.
As I said above, the book was a delightful read and I enjoyed it. I like our main character, Vangie. Sometimes she drove me a little nuts because she had a tendency to put herself into situations that held the possibility of danger without really thinking too much, but she didn’t do that often, so I didn’t get too annoyed by it.
I had mixed feelings about most of the supporting characters throughout the book. As we got more into the back story of the town and its people, I understood the characters motivations better and started to like some of them more, but there were enough red herrings in this book that I was suspicious of most of the townspeople and characters until the villain was actually revealed.
The plot line moved along at a steady and somewhat quick pace, though it wasn’t so quick that you couldn’t keep up. This was a fun read and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good whodunit.
First, let me say a huge thank you to R.L. Syme for being willing to answer my questions.
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?
I don’t. I’m lucky enough to be able to write full-time. I love it. I used to have non-writing jobs, though, and I’ve done so many different jobs, mostly in the nonprofit arena. Theater, music, church, youth, restaurants… all great experiences for me to take from in the writing.
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?
I write every day. Pretty much during the same hours every day, too, unless I’m on deadline, and then I’ll probably write more. I usually try to write a specific number of hours, rather than a word count. That way I know I’ll always get it done.
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?
With Vangie, I definitely feel like the story was hers, and she took over. It might be because I feel like I know her so well, I can predict what she does. I love knowing a character that well.
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?
I definitely went through a lot of rejections first. I never thought about quitting before…I’ve thought about quitting after. Lol. It’s definitely hard work. But I love it. To keep myself hopeful, I try to focus on the characters and the story I’m telling. I want to see them get their justice or their happy ending.
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?
Macaron went through three pretty major revisions. Normally, I don’t do that many, but this book has a lot of moving parts. I have two editors and several beta readers, and they are so helpful. I definitely set the book aside after every draft or every read-through. I like it to be fresh when I look at it.
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?
The thing I love about mystery is that the villain is usually someone who has a really good reason for doing what they did. They just got desperate. I think that’s what I like so much. I get to sort of write normal people who just get carried away because they want something so much. I think that’s what makes mystery so interesting.
7) Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?
My characters are definitely fictional. I try to make them as real as I can, so I almost always have pieces of something familiar in them, but I never write a one-to-one correlation of a person. I don’t think it’s fair to try to tell someone’s story so completely like that. But I also want them to feel real.
8) If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?
That’s a great question. I’ve always wanted to do non-fiction, about TS Eliot. In fact, I worked on a fiction book about TS Eliot for a long time, but it never quite came to fruition. But there’s always a chance I will go back to that idea someday. I love TS Eliot.
9) What are some great books you’ve read recently?
I’m just finishing a re-read of Tana French’s The Likeness, and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve read all of her Dublin Murder Squad books, and I think they’re my favorite series out right now.
10) What books have influenced your life the most?
I’d be lying if I didn’t say The Bible, just because of my religious background. But in addition to that, I’ve been reading thriller and mystery for so long, I’d have a big list of those, as well. Nancy Drew would be up there, and Dean Koontz. John Grisham. But then, additionally, I was an English major, so I’ve read all the classics, and those have influenced me a lot, as well. Poetry, too. Eliot and Hopkins most notably.
11) If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
It would absolutely be Derek Hobson. And I’d be okay with just riding on his bike. Although maybe a little B&E, too…. #sigh
12) 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?
I usually don’t respond to reviews. I did once, on one of my very first books, and I learned from the experience that it’s not my job to tell readers what they did and didn’t experience during my books. I’ve learned that I have to be really okay with putting the book out into the world and letting people think what they’re going to think. Not everyone will like every book, and reviews are supposed to help readers find the books they will and won’t like. As a good friend says, reviews are for readers, not for authors.
Thanks so much for having me!
And THANK YOU for being willing to answer my questions today!! 🙂
Boston Homicide Detective, Christie Watson, wants nothing less than to bury her head in the sand in her hometown, Sleepy Creek, Ohio. Placed on sabbatical for a little ‘over-enthusiasm,’ Chris has to stay out of trouble or risk losing her job for good, and Sleepy Creek, with its clapboard homes and peaceful milieu, seems just the place to do that. But returning to Sleepy Creek means facing the one cold case she’s never solved: her mother’s murder.
The past becomes the least of her worries, however, when a man is murdered in her best friend’s back yard. Griselda, awesome human being all-round and owner of the local Burger Bar – serving scrumptious delights like the Mexican Fiesta Burger – is the prime suspect. To make matters worse, the handsome detective in charge of the case won’t quit asking questions or drop the icy professionalism whenever Chris counters with her own.
Det. Watson can’t let this one slide – sabbatical or not, she won’t let her friend wind up behind bars for a crime she didn’t commit. Equipped with her cop skills, and that thirst for truth, she sets off to solve the murder before it’s too late.
This was a fun read, but I felt it was way too short. At the end, we’re left with more questions than answers, which isn’t generally how I like to end a cozy mystery.
The characters are well-written and complex. I love Griselda. She’s awesome! I’m not sure how I feel about Christie. She’s a little too impulsive for my taste, but I want to see what she’s like in additional books before really making a decision.
The setting descriptions that were included were well done, I just wish there had been more. I can easily visualize Griselda’s house and the Burger Bar, but the rest of the small town, not so much. It would’ve been great to see other things happening in town besides just the murder, giving us more locales to imagine and to put the town together in our minds.
The story line moved along very quickly given the shortness of the book. I was able to follow the story line, so it wasn’t too quick in that regard, I just wish we had gotten more background information on Christie and Griselda, more information about the killer, just more information in general. That’s why I only gave it a 3.5 out of 5 rating. It just needed more.
I’m still looking forward to the second book and hoping that we get more of that missing information then.