A Good Day to Buy – Sherry Harris

31349508 4.5/5 Base Thrift Stores 

On The Back:

HER BROTHER IS NO BARGAIN
When Sarah Winston’s estranged brother Luke shows up on her doorstep, asking her not to tell anyone he’s in town—especially her ex, the chief of police—the timing is strange, to say the least. Hours earlier, Sarah’s latest garage sale was taped off as a crime scene following the discovery of a murdered Vietnam vet and his gravely injured wife—her clients, the Spencers.

BUT IS HE A KILLER?
All Luke will tell Sarah is that he’s undercover, investigating a story. Before she can learn more, he vanishes as suddenly as he appeared. Rummaging through his things for a clue to his whereabouts, Sarah comes upon a list of veterans and realizes that to find her brother, she’ll have to figure out who killed Mr. Spencer. And all without telling her ex . . .

My Thoughts:

I’m going to be completely honest, I like to yard sale, but when I first saw this series I didn’t think I’d like it. It just didn’t sound like a broad enough pastime to base a series off of. However, I am glad to say that I was completely wrong. The Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries are wonderful books that I always look forward to. Another well-written book in a great series, A Good Day to Buy was excellent.

I read for the characters, and the characters in this book were great. Sarah is the perfect MC. She has her breakdowns, but that makes her realistic. I also love Gennie, Seth, and Stella, though I must say, Gennie is probably my favorite character in the entire book. Luke, Sarah’s brother, was a complex, interesting character I hope reappears later. Another character introduced, Charlie, was an absolute hoot! I hope the next book brings more scenes with Gennie and her, because they are great!

I mentioned that I thought the premise for this series would be limiting, but it’s not. The way Ms. Harris sets up Sarah’s business is creative, and there is so much more than just one or two simple yard sales happening. The mystery, also, was solid, though the murderer reveal was slightly anticlimactic.

Really the only negative in this book was CJ. To put it lightly, he’s a pig. An absolute jerk who Sarah would be better off without. That’s all I’m going to say about him.

Overall a well-written, outstanding book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t wait until another one comes out!

Death in Dark Blue – Julia Buckley

31682759 5/5 Dark Blue Overcoats

On the Back:

An aspiring suspense author finds herself writing mysteries by day and solving them by night in the second Writer’s Apprentice Mystery by the author of A Dark and Stormy Murder and the Undercover Dish Mysteries.

In the quaint town of Blue Lake, Indiana, Lena London is settling into her dream job, but someone is making her life a nightmare…

Things are beginning to go right for Lena. She’s got a new job assisting suspense novelist and friend, Camilla Graham. She lives rent-free in Camilla’s beautiful, Gothic house. She even has a handsome new boyfriend, Sam West.

After being under attack by the media and his neighbors, Sam has recently been cleared of suspicion for murder. Journalists and townsfolk alike are remorseful, and one blogger would even like to apologize to him in person. But when she’s found dead behind Sam’s house, Lena must dodge paparazzi as she unravels the many mysteries that threaten to darken the skies of her little town and her newfound love with Sam.

My Thoughts:

If there were one author that has started being published (traditionally) in the last two years that I would have to call my favorite, it would be Julia Buckley. I am caught up on both of her series, and every book I’ve read of hers has been high-quality, solid mysteries with stand-out characters and engaging plots.

In Death in Dark Blue Lena has once again found herself in the middle of a mystery. Lena is the perfect MC; she isn’t shy about investigating, but she isn’t sneaky or obnoxious about it, either. Sam, Camilla, and Doug were all outstanding once again, though I wish we’d learn more about Camilla. We also met a new semi-major character, Belinda, who I hope will return in the next book in a larger role.

As with the first in this series, A Dark and Stormy Murder, there are two mysteries going on. One is confined to this book, and is wrapped up nicely at the end. The other is a direct continuation from the first book. The second mystery, however, is the most intriguing.

Normally I hate cliffhangers and, like the first book, this one ended on one. However, this book was so enjoyable I didn’t mind it one bit, and I absolutely can not wait for the next one! Highly recommend!

Wedding Day Murder – Leslie Meier

2369844/5 Iced Wedding Cakes

On The Back:

Already juggling four kids’ hectic schedules, a rambunctious dog, an attention-craving husband, and a full-time reporter job, Lucy Stone can’t possibly squeeze in another responsibility…or can she? When Sue Finch asks for help planning her daughter Sidra’s wedding to Internet millionaire Ron Davitz, loyal pal Lucy willingly dives into the world of white lace, roses, and chair rentals. What could be more perfect than a backyard Summer wedding in the Stones’ newly built gazebo?

Yet when the groom’s body is found floating beside his yacht, Lucy isn’t convinced it was an accidental drowning. From the picturesque waterfront to toney Smith Heights Road, Tinker’s Cove is awash with suspects. Now, fresh from planning Sidra’s wedding, Lucy finds herself contemplating her own funeral as she launches the harrowing pursuit of a killer who will do anything to keep from being unveiled…

My Thoughts:

The last book I reviewed on this blog was Turkey Day Murder, so what would be more appropriate than reviewing the next in that series as the first after MoreMysteriesPlease’s reboot? (At least those were the thoughts going through my head when I decided to read this book).

Leslie Meier has been a hit-or-miss author for me. Some of her books are absolutely delightful, but the next book will be terrible. I am extremely happy to say that Wedding Day Murder was one of the delightful books.

I love Lucy and the great cast of characters surrounding her! From her kids, to their friends, to Lucy’s coworkers, to Sue, all are delightful. All except one, that is. The one character who I can not bear is Bill. Bill is most certainly one of the worst individuals I’ve ever read about. He constantly demeans Lucy and her thoughts, and constantly guilt trips her. I know Ms. Meier is probably trying to present a realistic marriage, and I do think too many books portray unrealistic marriages, however, Bill is so unlikable I wish he’d get a job away so Lucy could live her life without his comments.

Besides Bill the mystery was wonderful. The plot wrapped up nicely, the setting was idealistic, and we met new characters that I hope appear in the next book. Leslie Meier has a talent for writing a mystery that you can’t put down!

Update

Hello all. I have recently wrapped up my last round of schooling, and my career as a student is rapidly coming to an end. Because of that, I am going to try to be more active and restart posting on the blog. It’s been almost a year since my last post, but I have new ideas for more posts, and I am excited for what this upcoming summer brings.

Thanks all, and I hope you’ll join me for the ride!

-Jonathan

Turkey Day Murder – Leslie Meier

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3/5 Tom Turkeys

On The Back:

Tinker’s Cove has a long history of Thanksgiving festivities, from visits with TomTom Turkey to the annual Warriors high school football game and Lucy Stone’s impressive pumpkin pie. But this year, someone has added murder to the menu, and Lucy intends to discover who left Metinnicut Indian activist Curt Nolan deader than the proverbial Thanksgiving turkey—with an ancient war club next to his head.

The list of suspects isn’t exactly a brief one. Nolan had a habit of disagreeing with just about everybody he met. Between fixing dinner for twelve and keeping her four kids from tearing each other limb from limb, Lucy has a pretty full plate already. So what’s a little investigation? But if she’s not careful, she just may find herself served up as a last-minute course, stone-cold dead with all the trimmings…

My Thoughts:

Another in a series I’m currently working my way through, Turkey Day Murder was one of my least favorite in this series so far.

I mostly like Lucy. She’s kind and caring, but she honestly has no spine when it comes to her husband. Her husband who, in this book, told her that she should’ve been cleaning the house instead. It was so infuriating,a dn, if you cannot tell, I absolutely CANNOT stand Bill!

The mystery was good, though parts of it were slightly obvious and the ending was too perfect for my taste. I know this is a short review, but I really have nothing else to say about the book. Overall a good book that would’ve benefitted if Bill would’ve been away on a trip.

A Killer Maize – Paige Shelton

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3/5 Corn Mazes

On The Back:

Becca Robbins is selling her farm-made jams and preserves at a county fair where business is not the only thing that’s dead…

The last person Becca expects to run into at the Swayton County Fall Festival is her ex-husband, Scott Triplett, who’s operating a shooting gallery. Honesty was not always Scott’s policy, and their unexpected reunion is further complicated when the festival becomes a crime scene. On Becca’s second day there, Ferris wheel operator Virgil Morrison is found hanging from his rickety ride, dead from a gunshot.

As Becca starts to notice Scott suspiciously sneaking around the fairgrounds, she begins to worry her ex may be involved in the murder. Then there’s the shadow she sees in the creepy corn maze and rumors of a gypsy curse—not to mention Virgil’s mysterious spider tattoo. Now Becca must search through a labyrinth of lies, secrets, and superstition to find a kernel of truth…before the killer starts stalking her.

My Thoughts:

It’s been quite a bit (October of last year, in fact) since I’ve read a book in this series, and lately I’ve been trying to not only attack my TBR shelves (which were about to burst) but also read some books in series that I started but stopped for one reason or another. This book fit the bill, so I decided to go ahead and give it a go. I honestly have to say, it disappointed me.

Becca is great, though I still feel like she’s a little bit naive and shallow. She’s a part of a love triangle and people keep telling her the right choice (which is right in front of her face!!!) but she drags her feet. The author tried and succeeded in creating tension in the relationship, but it didn’t really improve my feelings on the entire thing. The secondary characters, however, were great! They all are fleshed out and I honestly feel they’re more relatable than Becca.

The mystery was okay, but there was a huge clue like 75 pages before the ending, so it wasn’t really a surprise. I honestly liked the setting of Bailey’s better than the county fair setting, also.

My main complaint, and the reason I rated this a low three stars, was I lost interest in the book. The last 100 pages or so felt like they dragged to me. It was probably my mood I’m in (I’ve been so busy with other things) but it was still disappointing.

Overall a mediocre book. However, I loved the second and third in this series, so I hope the next one improves.

Death of a Coupon Clipper – Lee Hollis

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4/5 Coupon Clippers

On The Back:

Hayley Powell, food and cocktails columnist for Bar Harbor’s Island Times, is. . .well, kind of broke. So when she’s selected for that extreme coupon-clipping reality game show coming to town. . . . . . she’s thrilled, especially when her competition is nasty nurse Candace Culpepper. But when Haley stumbles across a face-down-in-the-snow Candace–scissors gleaming between her shoulders–she knows the next thing she’ll be selected for will probably be a police line-up.

Meanwhile, though Hayley’s BFF Mona was only joking about “taking Candace out,” Bruce Linney, the Island Times crime reporter, definitely isn’t laughing. And what about the smarmy, cold-hearted host of the show, Drew Nickerson, who may have been having a steamy affair with the intentionally-iced nurse? Hayley needs to cut to the chase and find the killer. Everything may hinge on a stray coupon, but Hayley better keep her eyes on the real grand prize: staying out of permanent cold storage!

Includes seven delectable recipes from Hayley’s kitchen!

My Thoughts:

The third in a series of solid, enjoyable reads; Death of a Coupon Clipper combined a game show with small town life and a murder to create a wonderful cozy mystery.

Hayley is hilarious. Absolutely, positively hilarious. She doesn’t care what others think of her and is brutally honest most of the time. It’s a combination that I love! Mona, Liddy, and the rest of the characters are also joys to read about. However, then there’s Lex. I really don’t like Lex and I really hope that we see a whole lot less of him in future books. He’s obnoxious and annoying in my opinion.

The mystery was surprising, however it seemed weak. The killer’s motive was so crazily petty I couldn’t believe it. However, the process leading up to the reveal was wonderful; not too much brazen sleuthing, but enough that it made it a quick read even though the book was over 400 pages long.

Overall a solid book that I flew through and enjoyed.. Recommend and I will certainly be reading the next one!

Fool’s Puzzle – Earlene Fowler

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4/5 Antique Quilts

On The Back:

Leaving behind memories of her late husband, Benni Harper is making a fresh start…Moving to the trendy California town of San Celina, she takes an exciting new job as director of a folk-art museum. While setting up an exhibit of handmade quilts, she stumbles upon the body of a brutally stabbed artist. Hoping to conduct an investigation on her own, she crosses paths with the local police chief, who thinks this short and sassy cowgirl should leave detecting to the cops and join him for dinner. But it’s hard to keep a country girl down, and soon Benni uncovers an alarming pattern of family secrets, small-town lies–and the shocking truth about the night her husband died…

My Thoughts:

Even though I had heard nothing but good reviews of this book, I let it sit on my shelves for more than two years. Fool’s Puzzle delves deep into a western small-town and exposes secrets and lies. It was an excellent first-in-a-series book!

Benni is absolutely hilarious and she’s 100% real. I can totally see a woman like her living in a small town in the west. Chief Gabe Oritz was also well-written. I loved his scenes with Benni and found most of them to be laugh-out-loud hilarious. Dove, Elvira, and Rita were also all joys to read about.

The mystery was wonderful. I didn’t see the killer coming until the ending, and it all was pieced together wonderfully. From what we saw of the setting I loved it, though I could have used a tad bit more to help me picture things like Benni’s house.

Overall, however, a stand-out read. I will be reading the next one.

 

Murder in the Secret Garden – Ellery Adams

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4.5/5 Herbalists

On The Back:

Things really go to seed in the newest novel in the New York Times bestselling Book Retreat mysteries…

There is a hidden garden bordering the grounds of Jane Steward’s book-themed resort—a garden filled with beautiful but deadly plants such as mandrake and nightshade. Tucked away behind ivy-covered walls and accessible only through a single locked door, as described in the pages of Frances Hodges Burnett’s classic novel, the garden is of special interest to Jane’s current group of guests, The Medieval Herbalists. But when one of them turns up dead, Jane must discover whether a member of the group has come to Storyton Hall to celebrate their passion for plant lore or to implement a particularly cruel means for murder.

With thousands of books at her disposal, Jane believes she has the proper materials to solve this deadly problem. If she’s wrong, however, she may lose something far more precious than the contents of Storyton’s secret library…

My Thoughts:

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Berkley and Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions stated in this review are explicitly my own.*

The Book Retreat Mysteries have become one of the series I look forward to when they’re released, so naturally when I got the chance to get a for-review copy of this book I snagged it.

Jane is a wonderful character, she’s a single mother and yet balances it wonderfully with her duties as manager of Storyton Hall. Edwin, the love interest, is also excellent. He’s surrounded by mystery, but yet you can’t help cheering for him the entire time. The Finns are half good and that’s why I took the half star off. I really like Lachan and Sinclair, but I really could care less about Sterling or Butterworth. They’re boring, and I found myself skimming every time they appeared.

The setting is absolutely amazing. I would love to visit a place like Storyton Hall, and I don’t know if I would ever leave! The mystery was also well plotted. It didn’t have the typical huge MC-almost-gets-killed ending, but it was an absolutely wonderful change. It was a great puzzle.

Overall an outstanding book. Well worth the read. Highly recommend and I’ll read the next one!

July Reading Review

Read only one less than June, so I’d say it was pretty good! I had a large amount of really good books (6 rated 4.5 or over) and July was just a great month.

Books Read: 16

Best Books of June:

  1. Crowned and Dangerous – Rhys Bowen
  2. The Diva Serves High Tea – Krista Davis
  3. Hearse and Buggy – Laura Bradford
  4. A Killer Crop – Sheila Connolly
  5. Death by the Book – Julianna Deering

Yearly Challenge: 93/180 books

Mount TBR Challenge: 25/36 books (extended again!)

Cruisin’ Through the Cozies Challenge: 80/130

I had great luck with July and I’m hoping for great luck in August. Happy reading!