Sunday, December 21, 2014

Scandal at Six by Ann Purser

book cover
Scandal at Six
by Ann Purser


ISBN-13: 9780425261774
Mass Market Paperback:
352 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: December 2, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Lois Meade has scrubbed her way through the homes in Long Farnden, and she’s not afraid of dusting cobwebs and killing a few bugs. But in her role as amateur sleuth, she’s learning to beware of snakes in the grass . . .

Spring has arrived in Long Farnden and with it, a mysterious infestation. Lois Meade’s daughter has found her village store overrun by insects and reptiles. As Lois looks into the invasion, her investigation leads her to Robert Pettison, a seemingly unhinged zookeeper, and his nephew. The two of them are knee-deep in illegal trade, and they don’t take kindly to Lois poking her nose into their business.

Lois enlists the help of her faithful cleaner Dot Nimmo and police inspector Hunter Cowgill to discover more about Pettison and a suspicious death at the zoo.


My Review:
Scandal at Six is a cozy mystery. This is the thirteenth book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunits of the previous novels.

The theme of illegal rare animal trade was an interesting idea, but there actually wasn't much mystery to this story. The "bad guys" are point-of-view characters, so we know from the start who is putting snakes and such in the shop. There are a few deaths where it's implied a certain POV character caused them, but this is never definitively addressed.

The only mysterious death happens at the very end. We have all the clues from previous events, and the solution is quickly uncovered. There were enough clues that I could immediately narrow down the suspects and only one seemed likely--and that was, indeed, whodunit.

There was some bad language. There was no sex. I'd recommend this novel to those interested in the theme and who don't care about the lack of mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Death with All the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette

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Death with All the Trimmings
by Lucy Burdette


ISBN-13: 9780451465900
Mass Market Paperback:
320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: December 1, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
It may be Christmastime, but thoughts of peace on earth, good will toward men, don’t seem to extend to the restaurant biz. Hayley Snow, food critic for Key Zest magazine, has been assigned to interview Edel Waugh, chef/owner of Key West’s hottest new restaurant. But off the record, Edel reveals someone’s sabotaging her kitchen and asks Hayley to investigate.

Things heat up fast when the restaurant is set on fire—and a body is discovered in the charred wreckage. Amid holiday festivities like the lighted boat parade and visiting relatives who stir up mixed emotions, Hayley needs to smoke out an arsonist and a killer who may turn up the heat on her next…


My Review:
Death with All the Trimmings is a cozy mystery/suspense. It's the fifth book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunits of the previous novels.

The story was more of a suspense, with the heroine being shot and a friend getting tied up, than a mystery. There were some clues as to who was involved in the various incidents, but more attention was on the drama of everyone's lives. In the end, I thought they'd forgotten to find the actual murderer. The only mention of whodunit was from one Bad Person accusing another of the murder. We're given practically no clues about the actual murder, so I'd expected at least some police confirmation that they'd found proof against the accused and that it was, indeed, whodunit. Ah, well.

There was some bad language (or, as one of the characters would call it, "naughty language"). There was no sex. I'd recommend this novel to people who enjoy suspenseful, drama-filled books with a focus on awesome food.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Aground on St. Thomas by Rebecca M. Hale

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Aground on St. Thomas
by Rebecca M. Hale


ISBN-13: 978-0425252512
Mass Market Paperback:
400 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: December 2, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
The tropical paradise of St. Thomas is shut down as the FBI seizes control of the island to apprehend government officials on bribery charges. Tourists and locals are stranded until FBI agent Gabe “Friday” Stein can find the missing governor and two senators who have eluded capture.

Innocent of any crime, Senator Julia Sanchez can only escape wrongful arrest with the help of eccentric Senator Bobo. As they try to blend in with increasingly hostile locals and make their trek across the island to safety, Senator Sanchez is only just beginning to realize the extent of the corruption behind the island’s idyllic fa├žade


My Review:
Aground on St. Thomas is a suspense novel set in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is the third book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, but there appears to be an underlying story that continues through the series. The plot and outcome of the previous novel was also "spoiled" in this one.

The idea behind the story and the action was intriguing. However, there wasn't much mystery to it for the reader since we get POV thoughts and motives from all the major (and some minor) players in this political game. The characters were varied and each had motives of their own, so it was never certain exactly how things would turn out--who would survive physically and politically.

While the pacing was generally good, there was a slow point a few chapters in where each main character stopped to think about his background and what lead up to the action in the previous chapters. It's too bad this wasn't staggered throughout the story instead of done all at once, but the pacing did pick back up nicely after that.

There was no sex or bad language, and the minimal violence was more implied than described. I'd recommend this interesting novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer

book cover
No Wind of Blame
by Georgette Heyer


ISBN-13: 9781402218019
Trade Paperback: 364 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Released: 1939;
September 1, 2009

Source: Bought through Half.com.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Tragedy befalls the Carter family following an eventful visit from a Russian prince and a scandalous blackmail letter. The murder of Wally Carter is a bewildering mystery — how does one shoot a man crossing a narrow bridge without being near the murder weapon when it is fired? The analytical Inspector Hemingway reveals his unnerving talent for solving a fiendish problem.


My Review:
No Wind of Blame is a historical mystery set in 1939 in England. The characters were more believable (or less odd) and funnier than in some of Heyer's mysteries. Readers turned off by one of those mysteries might still enjoy this novel.

I did correctly guess whodunit and how simply because I'd just read a suspense novel by another author that used a similar method. The mystery was clever. It had some good "slight of hand" that looked like hidden clues that pointed in another direction so I was kept guessing if I really was right or not. Even the romance didn't turn out quite the way it initially seemed like it would!

There was some bad language and no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this entertaining mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer

book cover
Cousin Kate
by Georgette Heyer


ISBN-13: 9781402217685
Trade Paperback: 317 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released: 1968; May 1, 2009

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Kate Malvern, rescued from penury by her aunt Minerva, hardly knows what to expect at Staplewood - the grand household is so very different from a life spent following the drum in the Peninsular! But surely, other households are more homelike? Kate's uncle lives in one wing, handsome, moody cousin Torquil in another; thought the guests are few, even family dinners are formal. And, when Kate begins to suspect the shocking reason for Minerva's generosity, she has no-one to confide in but cousin Philip - who appears to have taken her in instant dislike...


My Review:
Cousin Kate is a Gothic Regency romance. It's got the screams in the night, locked doors, manipulations, and Gothic-style madness. Though not a light-hearted story, it's like Heyer couldn't let the story descend into a creepy or horror story--just some tense moments full of threat. Which is fine by me! The ending was very sad, but I felt like the author was trying too hard to convince the reader that this really was a happy ending. Also, since Kate is supposed to be world-traveled and not a sheltered miss, I was baffled by how long it took her to even suspect what was wrong at Staplewood.

There was no sex and no detailed descriptions of gory aspects. There was a fair amount of bad language (almost all of it the swearing use of "God"). Overall, this isn't my type of story, but others may enjoy it.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Snow White Red-Handed by Maia Chance

book cover
Snow White Red-Handed
by Maia Chance


ISBN-13: 9780425271629
Mass Market Paperback:
336 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: November 4, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Miss Ophelia Flax is a Victorian actress who has left her company, but she acts her way into a lady’s maid position for an American millionaire. Her new job whisks her off to a foreboding castle in the Black Forest, straight out of a Grimm tale. The vast grounds contain the suspected remains of Snow White’s cottage along with a dwarf skeleton. Then her millionaire boss turns up dead, poisoned by an apple.

Gabriel Penrose is a scholar that believes that fairy tales are based on real events, and he's determined to discover the true history behind the Snow White tale. He needs Ophelia's help, and she needs his as she fights through a bramble of elegant lies so she can prevent a friend from remaining a murder suspect.


My Review:
Snow White Red-Handed is a historical mystery set in 1867 in Germany. Actually, it's more of a suspense novel as Ophelia, Prue, and Gabriel repeatedly walk into danger. Everyone has a hidden motive, and some suspects are willing to kill to get what they want!

The characters were varied, interesting, and generally likable. The mystery was clue-based, but it was such a muddle of motives that anyone could have done it. I was able to figure out several strands of secrets before the heroes, but I didn't know whodunit for certain until right before our heroes. The author did a good job with an interesting concept. I didn't care about the characters enough to get fully engaged in their suspenseful adventure, but other readers may. I enjoyed the story in any case.

There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'm recommend this interesting mystery/suspense novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, November 10, 2014

DOGS OF WAR tv series

I was given the opportunity to pre-view the premiere episode of a new reality series on A&E called DOGS OF WAR. The show premieres Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 10PM ET/PT and then moves to Sundays at 10PM ET/PT beginning Nov. 16.

You can view the trailer here: https://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-15cPBPbgs.

Show description: DOGS OF WAR spotlights combat veteran Jim Stanek, who returns home struggling with PTSD. He looked into getting a service dog to help him heal, only to discover how expensive they are, and how long the wait to be paired with one is. So he started his own nonprofit to rescue dogs from kill shelters, train them as service dogs and partner them with struggling veterans at little or no cost.

My review: The premiere episode showed a little about how the dogs were selected and initially trained. The episode followed one man who needed a service dog from his choosing his dog, through them training together, and how things were going after several months. I thought the show did a good job getting across how PTSD effects a person's life and how they view the "normal" world. (Of course, I don't have it so I don't really know how well they did, but it made me feel like I better understood what it was like to have it.) It was positive show that was inspiring to watch.

There was some bad language which was bleeped out in the version I watched; I assuming it's also bleeped out in the actual show. I'd recommend this show to pet lovers and those who want to better understand PTSD.