Friday, December 15, 2017

Best of 2017

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Every December for our Mystery Book Club meeting, rather than having an individual book to read, we share titles of books we have read and enjoyed. Oh and did I mention we also share snacks and treats? And bring books to swap.. have a great time, talking, eating and looking at books.

Here is the list of the books the MBC members shared this year. They are not all mysteries and they are not all fiction. Yes, some read books other than mysteries (but I am not sure why).

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading.

Title Author
The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death Corinne May Botz
The Originals: The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying
Squadron of WWII
Sarah Byrn Rickman
Never Salute With a Broken Garter Peggy Lutz
It's Hard to Salute Standing in a Wall Locker Peggy Lutz
Mississippi Blood Greg Isles
Boar Island Nevada Barr
The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery,
Death and Salvation
Jon M. Sweeney
Living in the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with
Migratory Birds
Scott Weidensaul
The Sound of Rain Gregg Olsen
Bone Box Faye Kellerman
Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders Gyles Brandeth
At Home in Mitford Jan Karon
A Death in the Dales Frances Brody
IQ Joe Ide 
Their Lost Daughters Joe Ellis
The Girl in the Ice Robert Bryndza
Samuel Craddock series Terry Shames
Long Way Down, Saving Jason (?) Michael Sears
The Late Show  Michael Connelly
A Man Called Ove Frederick Backman
The Nightengale Kristen Hannah
The Wild Trees Richard Preston
The All Girls Filling Station Last Reunion Fannie Flagg
Lilac Girls Martha Hall Kelly
What Alice Forgot Liane Moriarty
The Thing About Jellyfish Ali Benjamin
Spenser series Robert B. Parker
Further Along the Road Less Travelled M. Scott Peck
Hillbillyelogy  J.D. Vance
The Underground Railroad Colson Whitehead
The Circle Dave Eggers
Ruff Cut Kasey Riley
Tess Winnet series, Alex Hoffman series Leslie Wolfe
When the Clocks Stopped: Mysterious Marsh book 1 M.L. Eaton
Brain Surgeon Keith Black
Being  Mortal Atul Gawande

Madam Tulip by David Ahern


Well...with the holidays upon us, I have not been able to read as much as I would have liked.
I most recently read Madam Tulip. This was recommended to me by my really long distance, internet friend, Virginia King, who writes the Selkie Moon series.

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"Suspense, mystery, action, a little romance and lots of laughs.

Derry O’Donnell, an out-of-work American actress living in Ireland, is young, talented, a teeny bit psychic … and broke. Spurred on by an ultimatum from her awesomely high-achieving mother, and with a little help from her theatrical friends, Derry embarks on a part-time career as Madame Tulip, fortune-teller to the rich and famous. But at her first fortune-telling gig - a celebrity charity weekend in a castle - a famous rap artist will die.

As Derry is drawn deeper into a seedy world of celebrities, supermodels and millionaires, she finds herself playing the most dangerous role of her acting life. Trapped in a maze of intrigue, money and drugs, Derry's attempts at amateur detective could soon destroy her friends, her ex-lover, her father and herself.

Madame Tulip is the first in a series of Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents."


I really liked this first book of this new (to me) cozy series.

Derry's funds from her mother are about to be cut off and her career as an actress isn't really taking off. What is the daughter of a seventh son of a seventh son (as the legend goes) to do? With her gift of second sight, be a fortune teller for money of course. With a quirky costume put together by Derry and her friend, Bella, Madam Tulip is for hire for all your party needs. Sounds fun right? Derry gets more than she bargained for when a murder takes place at her first big event, and her friend is arrested for it. Derry is smack in the middle of murder, drugs and seedy characters. The book starts out fun and light, and turns to quite the thriller. Fast paced. A hint of romance. A lead into the second book in the series. What will Derry get into next with her career as MadamTulip? Probably more trouble.

About the author:

David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate but soon absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.

Madame Tulip wasn’t David Ahern's first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’d ever had with a computer. The second in the Madam Tulip mystery series, Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts, was published in autumn 2016. He is now writing the third Madam Tulip adventure and enjoys pretending this is actual work.

David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.

You can learn more about David Ahern and Madam Tulip on his website www.davidahern.info


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ruff Cut by Kasey Riley

I have another good book for you.
Ruff Cut: Sheriff Megan Book 1 by Kasey Riley

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Here's what it is about:
"Army veteran Sheriff Megan Holloway has a lot on her mind. A dog with a bellyful of smuggled diamonds, a terrified woman hiding at the Bailey’s Boarding House and a mafioso who is likely connected to both of them. What’s that city crook doing in her town, anyway?

Add to that, the man Megan’s been close to for the past year is flirting with another woman and, last night, she relived her personal nightmare of the war in Afghanistan, again…yeah, her life is just peachy. Her psychological trauma has kept her from committing to Aaron; maybe he’s given up waiting for her. Maybe he's begun looking for a woman with less emotional baggage…

Forced to call in the proper government agencies, Megan fights to keep control of the investigation by hook or by crook. Protecting the citizens in her town is her first priority. Fortunately, she has an ace-in-the-hole the Feds don’t. The citizens of Riverview trust her and will help her any way she needs.

Formulating a plot to take down the crooks, Megan decides to play on their lack of knowledge about the denizens of the Colorado high desert, and she gives the villains just enough information. Will the trap be sprung and the leader caught? Possibly, if she can just keep the Feds from messing up her plan.

Riverview once again is the setting for this mystery. The small rural ranching town set in the high desert of Colorado where your neighbors are your friends and can be counted on to help when times get tough… or things get dangerous."


I loved this book; two mysteries, a romance and a dog all in one. The story starts out with Sheriff Megan Holloway searching for a lost boy at the R-B (guest ranch- mystery #1). We get a peek into Megan's background, skills and abilities and her decision to start the Riverview Mounted Search and Rescue squad. The main story of Megan cracking the major crime ring is quite a page turner. (mystery #2).  Aaron is Megan's love interest or vice a versa. Can't wait to see what happens with Aaron (romance) and the dog on the cover.
I was happy to see it end with : "The End...for now". I am ready to move on to the next book.
Kasey Riley has written four other books. They are stand alones BUT three of the four books feature characters/people in Riverview, where Ruff Cut takes place. This was interesting to me. It might just be a new experience for me but I have not read stand alones by the same author that take place in the same setting, where different characters are the main character(s) in the different books and others from another book, cross paths with the featured main characters. I like it. For instance, in Skeleton Trail: A Riverview Mystery, Megan is introduced but she is not the main character.
Ruff Cut has the first two chapters of Skeleton Trail as a preview at the end. (It also grabs you right away so I will be getting that book in a minute.) It looks like there is going to be a series that features Megan Holloway now.
Here is Kasey Riley's website: http://www.kaseyriley.com/index.html
Ruff Cut is so engaging, I was ready to sign up for Megan's Riverview Mounted Search and Rescue!
 
I received a free copy but voluntarily provided this review.





Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Downside Up by Jane Thornley

I just finished a book by an author that is new to me and thoroughly enjoyed it.



About:

"Jenna’s back on the roof again. But she's no longer a troubled child. This time she's hunting a killer.

Jenna Elson has tried to escape her troubled past, but her uncle’s sudden death has brought her home to London.
The police have ruled the death accidental but Jenna’s aunt is screaming murder. Wheelchair-bound and as formidable as ever, Aunt Clair urges Jenna to play their old game of “be my eyes” and search for clues from her childhood refuge far above the city streets.

Though Jenna knows every chimney and every dormer of those Victorian rooftops, the night landscape has changed. Renovations and skylights have made spying on the neighbours easier—even addictive—but navigating her old sanctuary has become treacherous: a killer lurks nearby and nowhere is safe.
When Jenna’s sleuthing comes to a crashing end, leaving her memory damaged, she knows she’s lost something crucial amid her brain’s scrambled images. Dark revelations challenge her trust in those closest to her and danger is stalking her every step. But time is running out and Jenna must pull herself together before death strikes the final blow and takes everything she loves with it."

This was quite a page turner.

Jenna was raised by her Aunt Clair and Uncle Dan (brother and sister) after her mother died an her father ran off. Aunt Clair and Jenna played a game - Jenna would climb and walk the rooftops of their London flat and describe what she saw to her aunt, who is wheelchair bound and cannot get around. Jenna is living in Canada and as a "travel journalist",  is up for a big promotion as editor at a travel magazine.  She is anxious to get back after her uncle's affairs are in order.

But her aunt is certain Uncle Dan was murdered and wants Jenna to help her find out who killed him. She has her suspicions.  There are several characters that are good possibilities.  Is it Brian Dunn, a neighbor that Aunt Clair is certain did it? Uncle Dan had said he was going to visit Brian Dunn, the night he was found dead. Or what about Nicholas Hewitt? The actor that lives in another flat? Jenna observes, on her rooftop visits, lots of arguing with Brian, Nicholas and a women named Suzanna. Then there are Aunt Clair's "rent a dudes", as Jenna calls them. Two young men Aunt Clair has hired: Jake for redoing Uncle Dan's garden, and Harry, computer expert. They are always around and now Aunt Clair has let Harry move in! Jenna is suspicious of these two.

Another main character is Mac the dog. Poor Mac. He has a big part in the story. He is frequently tied up in the yard waiting for Jenna to take him out. Mac keeps getting away and running to Brian Dunn's place. Why is that? Can Mac identify the killer?

Well...someone seems to be following Jenna. Then she and Nicholas have a mishap. Was it an accident or not? And in true Midsomer Murders fashion (one of my favorite shows), a couple of other people end up dead.

The story moves at a pretty fast pace once the background is laid out. I found myself trying to read faster than I can as the drama escalated. This is a very suspenseful story.

I was happy to see this is the first book in a trilogy.

As I said, Jane Thornley is a new author to me. Here is a bit about her.

"Jane Thornley has been writing for half-past forever. Though she's been an English teacher, professional librarian, travel host, collaborator in a software company, a knitwear designer, and a superintendent of schools, she considers "author" to be her default position. She now lives nestled by a river in Nova Scotia and travels the world gleaning inspiration. Once upon a time, Jane Thornley explored many roles--librarian, teacher, designer, school administrator, software consultant--but writer has always been her default self. She began writing stories in elementary school and completed 4 novels before graduating public education. But that was just the warm-up. She loves to play her books out in color, adventure, travel, and quirky characters, leaving readers hungry for more.
Born in Nova Scotia, Canada, she continues as an art-to-wear knitwear designer and impassioned traveler while weaving her stories against a colorful international backdrop so vibrant, readers constantly remark on it in reviews."

Her new None of the Above suspense series has just launched with book 1, Downside Up, which readers describe as an addictive new thriller.

She also writes the Crime by Design series:  "How do you go from unemployed to illegal in a matter of hours? Begin with a missing brother and lost treasure. Discover that your family is tied up in the black market and trip over a few bodies trying to find them, and then start running for your life ... Phoebe is scrambling across multiple countries, embroiled in INTERPOL's most high-stakes heists, and all in the name of love. Maybe she didn't pick her family, but she's choosing both her friends and her enemies. Too bad they're one and the same ...
Love, adventure, suspense, and wit--Crime by Design takes you on a thrilling ride through the art and antiquities world served up with a side of knitting and textiles. If you love the humour of Janet Evanovich , the spirit of Indiana Jones, and prefer your books to be fast-paced page-turners, read the Crime by Design series.
Book 1 begins in Nova Scotia and Bermuda, Book 2 races across Turkey, and Book 3 features the Amalfi Coast, each location adding to the gang of vibrant characters and settings so vivid, you'll thing you're there. Fasten your seatbelts. This series is a fun, suspense-filled thrill-ride.

Visit her home page: http://www.janethornley.com/blog/index.php/crime-by-design/#    

I received a free copy and voluntarily am providing this review.           


Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Midnight Assassin by Skip Hollandsworth

Time flies when you are having fun. Been off doing some non book things. Although, during that time, I managed to acquire some more books that I will be sharing here soon.

Meanwhile for our November Mystery Book Club (MBC) meeting we read:
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The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America's First Serial Killer by Skip Hollandsworth.
It is a nonfiction book, so we were steering off our normal path, but it is certainly a mystery and we are located near the setting so that made it pretty interesting.

Here's what it's about:

"In the late 1800s, the city of Austin, Texas was on the cusp of emerging from an isolated western outpost into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. But beginning in December 1884, Austin was terrorized by someone equally as vicious and, in some ways, far more diabolical than London's infamous Jack the Ripper. For almost exactly one year, the Midnight Assassin crisscrossed the entire city, striking on moonlit nights, using axes, knives, and long steel rods to rip apart women from every race and class. At the time the concept of a serial killer was unthinkable, but the murders continued, the killer became more brazen, and the citizens' panic reached a fever pitch.

Before it was all over, at least a dozen men would be arrested in connection with the murders, and the crimes would expose what a newspaper described as "the most extensive and profound scandal ever known in Austin." And yes, when Jack the Ripper began his attacks in 1888, London police investigators did wonder if the killer from Austin had crossed the ocean to terrorize their own city."

The MBC groups take: We all liked reading about the history of Austin; how the capital was built, the building of the Driskill hotel, the street names we are still familiar with, the family names that are still known around Austin, and the moonlight towers of which a few are still standing. We were all appalled at how investigations were done at that time. The police and anyone else, tromping through the crime scenes and disturbing any and all evidence, to the point even the hound dogs they brought in to try to track the killer, were so confused by the hundreds of smells, they were of no use.  We had to remind ourselves that this was 136 years ago. We couldn't believe that some people slept in the same room, while some of these murders took place. We were also appalled at the treatment of the African Americans. It was also unsettling as to how quickly the police were to name a suspect, bring him in and charge him with the crimes, keeping him locked up, and not treated well at all. They did that 12 times as if to blame someone, convict him, then all would be well. The book also shows the politics at the time. Many said nothing has changed in that area. lol

One of the group members gave us a head's up that there was a rerun of the History Detectives that did a show on this story also. Many of us were able to watch it. That was very interesting too. The History Detectives felt there was a likely suspect, but it was never proven. (I highly recommend History Detectives if it comes back or you get a chance to see any reruns. One of my favorites.)

We were all glad to have read it, and found it interesting, but the concensus was we are all fiction mystery lovers.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Glimpse of Death by Leslie Wolfe

Just finished Glimpse of Death -  Special Agent Tess Winnett #3.

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Here is what it is about.

"When the body of a young woman is found in her own backyard, a week after her disappearance, evidence leads investigators to a chilling conclusion. She is not the first victim of a serial killer no one knew existed. She most definitely is not the last.

FBI Special Agent Tess Winnett joins the local detectives assigned to the case and searches for answers in the intriguing investigation that offers a plethora of forensic evidence, yet no viable leads. When another body is found, the search intensifies, and details about the killer’s unusual signature emerge. He likes to stalk his victims before abducting them. He likes to show them a flash of what’s coming, a foreboding warning of their grim futures."

So. I have read three others of Leslie Wolf's books. Dawn Girl (Tess Winnett #1), Watson Girl (Tess Winnett #2) and The Executive which is Alex Hoffman #1 book.

Obviously I like Leslie's books. They are definitely riveting, page turners, quick reads because you really cannot put them down. Dawn Girl was pretty gritty but I had to finish it. Watson Girl was not as gritty, but was certainly a psychological thriller. The Executive is really good to but more about crooked business deals and people out to do bad things. 

I missed the part about  Glimpse of Death being a " serial killer thriller. It is pretty disturbing to me. Violent. Gritty. But I had to finish it to make sure whoever got caught. There are plenty of opportunities in this book, to shout out loud: "Don't do it! No, don't be so stupid! Hey, you better say something!" etc etc.

But Leslie's writing is so good and her books so gripping, that I will read more...and just skip over some parts.

Hallmark Movies and Mysteries

Wanted to let you know about new Hallmark Mysteries airing this month.

Gourmet Detective: Eat, Drink and Be Buried
October 13, 8 p.m central
(This showed once already so this is the second showing.)

The Gourmet Detective Poster

Hailey Dean Mystery: Dating is Murder
Sunday October 15, 8 p.m. central
(Nancy Grace writes this series and appears in the movie)



Darrow and Darrow
Sunday October 22,  8 p.m. central
This is a new movie series. Not sure it is a mystery, but looks kind of good. Can't get a picture I can post but you will recognize Kimbery Williams Paisley and Wendie Malick.

Here's what it is about.

"Claire Darrow, a lawyer, fights for what’s right, regardless of whether it makes her a dime. Naomi, Claire’s estranged mother and a lawyer as well, would rather make a profit. They clash on nearly everything, even on the best way to raise Claire’s daughter, Louise. Stars Kimberly Williams-Paisely, Tom Cavanagh, Wendie Malick."

I love the Mystery Movies on Hallmark. Their website, not so much.

Enjoy