Books I am reading

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Paint the Town Dead by Sybil Johnson

a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Rory Anderson is an IT consultant and artist who has recently returned to her childhood hometown to live. She is attending an art convention at the recently opened Akaw Resort.
     While attending an art class, one of Rory's friends, Jasmine, collapses and dies. The death is ruled an accidental overdose of her anti-narcolepsy medication, but Rory feels that someone deliberately poisoned Jasmine. She and her best friends Liz, begin to track down Jasmine's movements at the convention to try to piece together what actually happened. Along the way, they uncover several secrets that could have played a part in silencing Jasmine.
     This is the second book in this new series, but easily stands alone. There are enough plot twists and turns to keep the reader interested and guessing right up to the end. Prepare to do nothing else until the book is finished!
     A great post-holiday read with a cuppa tea and a comfy easy chair.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Life in the Time of Murder by D E Haggerty

     This is the third installment of The Gray Haired Knitting Detectives. I have not yet read the first two books, but after the fun romp of this book, I will be going back to read the back stories.
Dee is a 30ish woman who recently left her abusive husband, and moved in with her grandmother until she can get settles and find her own place. Grandma runs in a posse of older women who love to knit and solve murders. There are various other friends that hang out together, including Izzy (the granddaughter of a former knitter), her husband, Mike, a police detective, Jack, Dee's boss and the owner of the store where she works, and his partner, Damien, and Tommy, and local firefighter with a major crush on Dee.
When Dee's husband visits her and demands that she move back with him, the gang kick into gear to protect Dee. A few days later, he is found dead, and Dee becomes the number one suspect. The knitters, et. al., kick into high gear to find the real killer before the detective assigned to the case arrests Dee. Of course mayhem ensues.
If you like fun, quirky characters, fast-paced repartee', and people who supposedly work full-time, but never have to be at work when a crisis arises, you will love this book. Part of the fun comes from Dee trying to find ways to escape the posse when she wants to talk to someone without their interference.
I give this a four out of five stars for inventive fun, twists and turns, and lots of laughs!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Between A Rock and a Hard Place (Potting Shed Mystery series Book 3)

 This is # 3 in the Potting Shed Series, and I have thoroughly enjoyed all three entries. And at $2,99 for the Kindle edition of this volume, it is a great bargain.

Pru Parker is a 50-something Texan, drawn back to her mother's birthplace in England. She is a master horticulturist, and looks for work that will allow her to remain in England. She has met and fallen in love with Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse at her first position – and first murder scene. By Book 3, she has completed a 6-month travel time with Christopher which has culminated with his proposal and her acceptance.

Now as they plan their wedding and decide where they will live, Pru takes a 3-month assignment at Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh., researching recovered documents that could prove to be the missing diaries of ‘Archibald Menzies. Menzies had been an 18th-century plant hunter, and part of his diaries had been missing until, possibly, now. She would validate it based on the botanics he wrote of.

Pru is assigned to special collections curator, Iain Blackwell, and is given a part-time assistant, Saskia Bennet. Iain makes it very clear that he is upset that Pru has been hired to research the journal, and not assigned to him. After a particularly heated exchange, overheard by Saskia, Iain is found dead, and Pru becomes the prime suspect. Christopher travels to Scotland to help support Pru and work with her to clear her name. Twists and turns ensue.

With each book, the characters have been become deeper and more interesting people. The books are well-written and provide information about real gardens and true historical horticultural information.
If you enjoy cozy mysteries, this is for you. If you love gardening, this is for you. And while the arch of the story grows over each installment, each book also stands alone. I give this a strong 4 out of 5 Stars! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Martha and the quilters

     Gone But Knot Forgotten is the third in a cozy mystery series. I have not yet read the first two volumes, but I will. I am usually cautious with cozies; while I appreciate the less violent approach to mysteries, I find that too many cozies are formulaic and the characters are pretty flat. Neither of those are issues with Martha and her adventures.
     Martha and her friends, Lucy and Birdie, are long-time friends who spend Tuesday mornings quilting together. While very diverse women, their quilting draws them together. Martha, a middle-aged Jewish woman, has been made the executor of the will of a former high school friend. As she learns more about the circumstances of her friend's life and death, she becomes embroiled in trying to figure out who killed her friend. Lucy and Birdie become involved in the mystery, to their detriment and Lucy's husband's anger.
     Add in a Jewish biker friend for Martha, missing jewelry, antiques and art work, an old mystery of her friend's missing husband and his greedy siblings, and you have a boiling pot of intrigue. There is humor, spirituality, fear of relationships, and much more as Martha and her friends try to unravel what happened to Harriet. I give this book 4 stars out of five. And I will be reading the first two books in the series.

Episode 4 in the Blanche White Series

     Blanche is a middle-aged, black woman with strong opinions, a generous heart and a drive to find the truth. She reveals to us the pain and fear of living black in America. Barbara Neely has created an intelligent, complex main character in this series, and interesting secondary characters to populate her world.
     In Blanche Passes Go, issues of abuse, white supremacy, and class stereotypes are explored and turned on their ear. Blanche returns to her hometown of Farleigh, NC for the summer. She comes to help her best friend, Adele, with her new catering business, and, to feel out the possibility of returning to Farleigh permanently after her children go off to college. She doesn't expect to be confronting the fear and pain of a rape she experienced 10 years earlier, let alone the gold-digging fiance' of a former client, a murder, the neighbor children escaping the abuse of the father toward their mother, and the possibility of romance.
     I love this series, and I cheer for Blanche as she walks through the pain of her past in order to set herself free, and works tirelessly to bring justice for her former client and appropriate karma to her former rapist. I am saddened that most of the whites in Blanche's world are bigoted, self-serving scum. Blanche would never give me a second look as a possible friend, and, that saddens me. But having lived in an integrated neighborhood in Philadelphia for 18 years, I also understand the deep pain and injustice that leads minorities to protect themselves from constant abuse.
    While the Blanche White series is certainly in the "mystery" category, it is so much more. It is literature that explores the deep issues and experiences of blacks in America, of women in male dominates society, and in dignity and respect for poor, hard-working people. Each book can stand alone, but there is a richness in reading the books in order as Blanche grows and develops as a person. I give this book 5 stars. If you are a sensitive person, keep the Kleenex nearby.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Give Em Pumpkin To Talk About (Pumpkin Patch Mysteries Book 1) by Joyce Lavene and Jim Lavene

Sarah Tucker (a Richmond attorney) returns to her grandparents' farm to begin selling it. Her grandparents disappeared when she was 12 years old. Her family moved to Richmond shortly afterward. Her mother initially has a private investigator look into her parents' disappearance, but when no leads turned up. her husband talked her into letting the search go and moving on with her life. Now she has decided to sell the farm and has sent Sarah to finalize the plans.
Sarah is surprised by how strongly her feelings are aroused when she enters her grandparents' home after all these years. And many surprises await her. She is initially confronted by a grizzled looking "mountain man" who says he has cared for the property since her grandparents disappeared, under their instructions.
After meeting with a local realtor, a buyer almost immediately offers to buy the farm. Sarah is a bit puzzled by the quick bid. But when she receives a call to meet someone with information about her grandparents, and he ends up dead, she becomes scared and only wants to sell and leave.
As things progress, she meets several friends she had made during summer visits to the farm, discovers who the "mountain man" is, and begins to wonder if the family really should sell. Then mayhem follows.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and look forward to upcoming books in this beginning series. I give it 4 stars: an interesting plot and characters, but at times a bit formulaic. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Circling the Sun

     Circling the Sun is a masterpiece of story-telling. It is the story of Beryl Markham and her life in 1920's British East Africa. Ms Markham is best known for her record breaking aviator flight from east to west across the Atlantic. But this story focuses on the elements of her life that led to such a courageous (fool-hardy) feat.
Born to a British colonial, abandonned by her mother at an early age, raised in Kenya more as a native than a Britain, Beryl became the first woman horse trainer in Africa, taking many horses to the winner's circle. She also became a land owner when very few women owned their own land.
This book explores the triumph and pain Beryl endured in her quest to be her own person, not owned or controlled by others. She also struggled to be in a balanced marriage. The failure of these relationships led her into various relationships; the most nortorious was with Denys Finch Hatten (played by Robert Redford in the movie Out of Africa).
This is a great story and told well by Paula McLain (also author of best selling novel The Parid Wife). If you enjoy historical novels, you will love this one. I give it 5 stars!