Friday, December 21, 2018

Merry Christmas!

As things are beginning to snowball (timewise, not weather wise), just wanted to wish you all Merry Christmas!

It will be busy here for the next few days, week, then looking forward to relaxing and doing some reading!

I have a couple of books I am reading and will tell you about them soon.

Enjoy your holidays!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Death and Daisies by Amanda Flower

I just finished a fun cozy mystery.
Death and Daisies by Amanda Flower - Book # 2 in A Magic Garden Mystery series


About: "Florist Fiona Knox left behind her gloomy life for a magical garden in Scotland, but a murder on her shop’s opening day spells doom.
Fiona Knox thought she was pulling her life back together when she inherited her godfather’s cottage in Duncreigan, Scotland—complete with a magical walled garden. But the erstwhile Tennessee flower shop owner promptly found herself puddle boot-deep in danger when she found a dead body among the glimmering blossoms. One police investigation later (made a trifle less unpleasant by the presence of handsome Chief Inspector Neil Craig), and Fiona’s life is getting back on a steady, though bewitched, track. Her sister Isla has just moved in with her, and the grand opening of her new spellbound venture, the Climbing Rose Flower Shop in Aberdeenshire, is imminent.

But dark, ensorcelled clouds are gathering to douse Fiona’s newly sunny outlook. First, imperious parish minister Quaid MacCullen makes it undeniably clear that he would be happy to send Fiona back to Tennessee. Then, a horrific lightning storm, rife with terribly omen, threatens to tear apart the elderly cottage and sends Fi and Isla cowering under their beds. The storm passes, but then, Fi is called away from the Climbing Rose’s opening soiree when Kipling, the tiny village’s weak-kneed volunteer police chief, finds a dead body on the beach.

The body proves difficult to identify, but Kipling is certain it’s that of the parish minister. Which makes Fiona, MacCullen’s new nemesis, a suspect. And what’s worse, Isla has seemed bewitched as of late…did she do something unspeakable to protect her sister? The last thing Fiona wanted to do was play detective again. But now, the rosy future she’d envisioned is going to seed, and if she and Craig can’t clear her name, her idyllic life will wilt away in Death and Daisies, national bestselling author Amanda Flower’s second enchanting Magic Garden mystery."

Now before you say, "Oh no, I don't like things about magic. That's too silly for me...", I will tell you that magic isn't a constant in the book. The garden allegedly is "magic", in that it only blooms if the caretaker is living there (my deduction). There is a menhir (tall oblong ancient stone) that if touched by certain people, the person may have visions of the future. In this story, Fiona receives warnings and help in the murder investigation. Also, a fox that inhabits the garden may or may not be the reincarnation of Fiona's godfather, the last caretaker of the garden. But the fox doesn't talk or anything like that.

Death and Daisies is a wonderful cozy mystery. The setting is new and different for a mystery. Fiona has inherited Duncriegan garden and the responsibilities of a magic garden. New to the village of Aberdeenshire, Fiona is receiving threatening notes on and in her newly opened flower shop, The Climbing Rose. Parish minister Quaid MacCullen has publicly banned Fiona from the church and paid her a very unfriendly visit. What is behind is dislike for Fiona? When MacCullen turns up dead, many eyes are upon Fiona. She can't help herself but get involved in the investigation, which puts Fiona in more danger. Fiona visits her garden for guidance from the fox and the menhir. Chief Inspector Neil Craig is trying to keep Fiona out of the investigation and out of harms way. Fiona's sister Isla, visiting from Memphis is acting suspicious and moody, which isn't helping. The books is very well written, wonderful description of the village and garden. The characters are well developed and interesting, including the garden. There are relationships developing between the characters and some romantic interests brewing, making for great next books in this series.

I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to more in the series to see what happens next to Fiona. I am hoping to learn more about the garden also. I do need to go back and read book one: Flowers and Foul Play.

About the author:
 Amanda Flower
Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio.

Amanda also writes Amish Candy Shop Mystery series, Magical Bookshop series and the Appleseed Creek series.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Mystery Book Club's Best of 2018

We are coming to the end of 2018. We had our last Mystery Book Club meeting for 2018. The MBC has really grown in the past few months, bringing lots more book recommendations, lively discussions and new book friends.

We don't read a book for the December meeting. Instead we bring snacks, books to trade or give away and talk about our favorite books of the year. As promised here is the list of the books the group members presented. Note: they are not all mysteries, they are not all fiction. (Whaaat?)
It was impossible to take notes on what each book was about or what the members liked about the books they talked about. I will give a little info on the books I mentioned, though.

My favorites first:

Sherlock Holmes and the Twelve Days of Christmas: An enthralling collection of festive mysteries by Roger Riccard. This just came out December 1. (I just posted a review here also. See the post for more info.)

The Artisan Heart by Dean Mayes: Not a mystery but a feel good book with a bit of suspense.

The Slim Hardy series by Jack Benton (Chris Ward)
   Book One: The Man by the Sea
   Book Two: The Clockmaker's Secret

I am anxiously awaiting Book Three in this series.

Ok here is the rest of the list. No particular order and as I said, not all mysteries or fiction. But I thought you might be interested in what other books our MBC reads.

I'd Rather Be Reading 
Anne Bogel

The Book That Matters Most
Ann Hood

To The Bright Edge of the World
Eowyn Ivey

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Gail Honeyman

Dear Mrs. Bird
A.J. Pearce

The Clockmaker's Daughter
Kate Morton

Truly Devious
Maureen Johnson

Under a Dark Sky
Lori Rader-Day

Lethal White
Robert Galbraith

The Day of the Dead
Nicci French

The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Happiness 
Paula Poundstone

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues
Nova Jacobs

The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles: A Love Story
Laura Fahrenthold

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's View of the World
Michael Pollan

A Gentleman in Moscow
Amor Towles

News of the World
Paulette Jiles

Frederik Pohl

Charles Frazier

Where the Crawdad's Sing
Delia Owens

Alex McKnight series
Steve Hamilton

Nick Mason series
Steve Hamilton

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
Rachel Joyce

Before I Go to Sleep
S.J. Watson

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules -  League of Pensioners
Catherine Ingelman - Sundberg

Find Me 
Carol O'Connell

Fall of Giants
Ken Follett

Hound of the Baskervilles
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Purloined Letter
Edgar Allen Poe

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
Alice Schroeder

What's on your list for 2019? Might find a few books to add to it her

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sherlock Holmes and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Roger Riccard

🎄🎄I have recently (in the past few months) become a fan of collections of short stories. I find it is great to have a short story available to you on a portable device for when you find yourself waiting unexpectedly for something i.e. system goes down at work, waiting in the doctor or dentist office, waiting for a person...times when you know you may only have 15 minutes or so and could use something good to read but don't have time or desire to get involved in your current novel.

Sherlock Holmes and the Twelve Days of Christmas is just such a book.



"Roger Riccard, having published two previous Sherlock Holmes novels, The Case of the Poisoned Lilly and The Case of the Twain Papers, has again taken pen in hand to bring forth a series of twelve short stories from the Christmas seasons of Holmes’ career.

From a case endangering Queen Victoria to his old arch-nemesis Moriarty, follow Sherlock as he encounters the most unfathomable mysteries, all portrayed with Riccard’s trademark style and immersive historical detail. Just who did shoot Sir James Piersall at the stroke of midnight? And can Holmes and Watson prevent an assassination at Christmas Eve dinner - without knowing which of the royal guests is the intended target?

Brimming with wit, intrigue and mystery, Sherlock enthusiasts will be transfixed and delighted by this collection. "

This collection of short stories is great. Although new stories, you would think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself wrote them. The stories have our favorite characters, Sherlock, Dr. Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft. The writing and language is in the same style as the "originals". Wonderful footnotes that explain interesting references to items and customs of the time period and to previous "cases" worked on by Sherlock and Watson. Interesting stories with all of Sherlock's usual antics. Sherlock fans will love this and others new to Sherlock Holmes too. 

This would make a great gift for the Sherlockian in your life. 

child opening his Christmas present animated

I received a free copy and voluntarily provided a review.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Hour of Death by Jane Willan

Just finished reading The Hour of Death by Jane Willan, the second book in Sister Agatha and Father Selywyn Mystery Series. I so enjoyed this book.



"Jane Willan’s The Hour of Death will be a Christmas delight for fans of G. M. Malliet, set on an island in Wales.

Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn make sleuthing a work of art. But will they paint themselves into a corner when they investigate the Village Art Society president’s death?

As Yuletide settles upon Gwenafwy Abbey, the rural Welsh convent’s peace is shattered when Tiffany Reese, president of the Village Art Society, is found dead on the floor of the parish hall. Sister Agatha, whose interests lie more with reading and writing mystery stories than with making the abbey’s world-renowned organic gouda, is not shy about inserting herself into the case. With the not-entirely-eager assistance of Father Selwyn, she begins her investigation.

Sister Agatha has no shortage of suspects to check off her naughty-or-nice list, until finally, Tiffany’s half-brother, Kendrick Geddings, emerges as the prime suspect. There never was any love lost between Tiffany and Kendrick, and of late they had been locked in a vicious battle for control of the family estate. But if Sister Agatha thinks she has the case wrapped up, she’ll have to think again.

As the days of Advent tick by, Sister Agatha is determined to crack the case by Christmas in The Hour of Death, Jane Willan’s perfectly puzzling second Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn Mystery."

If you are a fan of the Max Tudor series by G.M. Malliet, you will love this series. The book story takes place the small village of Pryderi. While the other Sisters are busy making cheese to sell, Sister Agatha is busy investigating the death of Tiffany Reese. The police call it a natural death and are ready to close the case, but Sister Agatha is sure it is murder. After all she listens to a podcast by Inspector Rupert McFarland, who gives instruction in how to be an investigator. She is also trying to write a mystery book, but it seems like murders are getting in the way of that. And if it weren't enough that there is a murder in Pryderi, a developer is trying to bully sheep farmers out of their land.

Sister Agatha also has learned her amateur trade from Inspector Gamache of the wonderful Louise Penny series, Inspector Barnaby by watching Midsomer Murders, and Miss Marple books written by Agatha Christie. She often consults Agatha Christi books to help her in the investigation. References to these famous investigators are cleverly mentioned throughout the story as Sister Agatha often thinks " what would Gamache do?...what would Miss Marple do?...Inspector Barnaby would never do this... What would Jessica Fletcher say?" She carries a notebook and a Sharpie with her at all times, ready to take notes. She has different notebooks for different things she is working on and depending on the time of year. For this investigation, during Advent, she will need an appropriate notebook: "...a lovely notebook bound in purple lambskin, handcrafted in Bethlehem, with 192 leaves of Smythson's signature gilt-edged, cream colored featherweight paper. Both practical and luxurious, the advertising copy touted, 'This  mid-size notebook, transitions effortlessly from your desk to your travel bag.' She hoped it would also transition from desk... to oversized red jumper pocket."

Sister Agatha can frequently be found in the Buttered Crust Tea Shop and Father Selwyn. Stop in and say hello.

About the author:
Jane Willan

"Reverend Jane Willan is a parish minister and author in Paxton, Massachusetts. She serves the First Congregational Church of Paxton and lives in the church parsonage with her husband Don and their two rescue dogs, Magi and Moses.

Before moving to Paxton, Jane served congregations in the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ in the small town of Creston and the larger-but-still-small town of Burlington, Iowa. 

Before becoming an ordained pastor, Jane worked in Boston as a science editor, a freelance science writer, a teacher, and a brief stint in biological research at Harvard. In 2003, she became a full-time pastor and took her first church in Iowa.

Jane completed her undergraduate work at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. She has a Master of Science degree from Boston University, and a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School."