Friday, 16 February 2018

Rattlesnake Hill by Leslie Wheeler


Rattlesnake Hill
It’s November in the Berkshires, a dreary time of dwindling light when the tourists have fled along with the last gasp of fall foliage. So when a stranger shows up in the sleepy hilltown of New Nottingham and starts asking questions, the locals don’t exactly roll out the welcome wagon.
Bostonian Kathryn Stinson is on a deeply personal quest to solve a family mystery: the identity of a nameless beauty in an old photograph an ancestor brought with him to California over a century ago. But, as Kathryn quickly discovers, the hills possess a host of dark secrets – both ancient and new – that can only be revealed at the price of danger and even death.
Her suspicious neighbors on Rattlesnake Hill, named for the timber rattlers that haunt its rocky slopes, become openly hostile when Kathryn starts seeking answers to a more recent mystery: the murder of Diana Farley, who once occupied the house Kathryn is now renting. Was it Diana’s husband, who killed her to keep her from divorcing him, or her lover, Earl Barker, a backwoods charmer and leading member of a wild clan known for their violent tempers?
When Kathryn plunges into a passionate affair with Earl, she puts herself on a collision course with past and present. She must find out if Earl killed Diana, or risk becoming a victim herself.
   (Summary via Goodreads)


Imagine me taking my hands and placing them on the sides of my head and making the mind blowing impression..... That is how you are going to feel when you finish reading Rattlesnake Hill by Leslie Wheeler.

In Rattlesnake Hill Kathryn moves to a little town in the Berkshires on a quest to find out some answers to her family history but she ends up getting a whole lot more !!  Not only does she try to solve a love story regarding a picture of a beautiful woman her relative Jared Cutter had carried with him for years and years until his death but she finds herself trying to get answers to a murder that happened in the woods behind the house she is renting.  Both of these situations involve love triangles between 2 men and the woman they loved and both of these stories had tragic endings.

While Kathryn gets to know the town and its residents, she is drawn to the history behind the stories and tries to find out everything she can especially when she develops feelings for a local, Earl Barker.  And if that doesn't complicate things, Earl happens to be one of the men involved in the more recent love triangle murder.......

Wheeler does an amazing job of telling you a story inside of a story.  Not only are you trying to get to the bottom of the identity of the woman in the photograph from many, many years prior but she also has you examining the events of the double death surrounding the woman that Earl loved before Kathryn.  Not only are you reading about small town dynamics and the relationships of the residents in the town but you are witness to love stories that are so intense, people are willing to die for each other.

I am always amazed by a author's talent when I read one of their books and Wheeler does so much more !!  Even after finishing the book and putting it aside, I am still sitting on the balcony looking out at the lake.....reflecting on everything that I read in the book and savoring the time I spent on Rattlesnake Hill.....I highly recommend you take the trip yourself, you won't be disappointed.

Review by Missi S.












Thursday, 15 February 2018

Ukulele Murder (Aloha Lagoon Mysteries #1) by Leslie Langtry


Ukulele Murder (Aloha Lagoon Mysteries #1)

Nani Johnson thought she had it made when she moved from Kansas to the resort town of Aloha Lagoon, Kauai. In spite of her certifiably crazy mom, Nani is determined that nothing will stop her from becoming a ukulele virtuoso! Unfortunately her Julliard training doesn't help her break into the local music scene due to some heavy competition from the Terrible Trio—three hostile, local musicians. The only work she finds is a few bar mitzvahs and gigs at the kitschy Blue Hawaii Wedding Chapel.

But when one of Nani's competitors drops dead right after a public feud, Nani becomes the police's main suspect. A missing murder weapon, mysterious threats, and a heck of a frame-up job all have Nani worrying she'll be trading in her flowery muumuus for prison orange. Enter hunky local botanist Nick Woodfield, who just might be able to help her clear her name...that is if he doesn't have secrets of his own. With the bodies stacking up, the danger closing in, and the authorities circling, Nani must track down a killer...before she ends up the latest victim of the Ukulele Murderer!  (Summary via Goodreads)




Ukulele Murder by Leslie Langtry is the first book in the Aloha Lagoon Mystery series however it is not the first book in this series that I have read.  And it doesn't matter !!  You can pick up any book in this series and start reading it.  The Aloha Lagoon Mystery series is a series of books written by a number of amazing authors and the thing that links them all together is the Aloha Lagoon Resort on the island of Kauai.  Each book written centers around the resort and introduces you to the culture, the food, the music, the people, the sun, the sand and murder......

In Ukulele Murder you are introduced to Nani Johnson who plays the ukulele.  She works at the Blue Hawaii Wedding Chapel, gives lessons to a handful of students, lives with her crazy mother and is being set up for murder !!  "The Terrible Trio" as she calls them are local ukulele musicians who she doesn't really know that well but cannot stand them....which is okay because none of them like her or even each other.  But someone is killing them and making it look like Nani did it.  Ukulele is a serious business on the island and one worth killing over !!!

Nani with the help of her best friend, Binny and her "future" boyfriend Nick decide to solve the murders themselves.  After all Detective Ray is taking his sweet old time doing it because it looks like he believes Nani did it.    

You will want to grab a mimosa and some sunscreen because once you start you will not be able to stop !!  There is so much to love in these books you will be a HUGE fan from the start !!!  You will never want to leave the resort !!


Review by Missi S.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Cat of the Baskervilles (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #3) by Vicki Delany


The Cat of the Baskervilles (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #3)
The show is coming to town on Cape Cod. The West London Theater Festival is putting on a stage production of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Gemma Doyle is excited and participating with her friend Jayne Wilson, whose mother, Leslie, just happens to be volunteering with the company. Leslie arranges a fundraising tea party at the home of the festival organizer, catered by Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room. The tea is a rousing success, but Sir Nigel Bellingham, the famous star cast as the lead of Sherlock, goes missing. And Gemma finds him at the bottom of the cliff. Dead.

Before the tea, Sir Nigel had come by the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, only for Gemma to realize that he’s not at all suited to the role. But as Gemma and Jayne investigate, the list of suspects just grows longer. Long past his prime, Sir Nigel was second to a younger actor who had first been given the role. The festival’s executive director also expressed that he had been hired over her objections. Then there are the slew of people to whom Sir Nigel was rude. They all have motive, but then a scrap of Leslie’s apron caught on a bush by Sir Nigel’s body is found. And the police are set to pounce as she becomes suspect #1.

It’s up to Gemma and Jayne to team up again and clear Jayne’s mother’s name in The Cat of the Baskervilles, the delightful third Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery.
   (Summary via Goodreads)


There is so much to love about the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series by Vicki Delany... I almost don't even know where to begin !!!  

I guess the BEST place to start is with the main character, Gemma Doyle.  She is a smart, independent, strong single woman who has a great life....you almost envy her but you can't because you will love her too much.  Gemma is co-owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Empoirum with her great uncle as well as part owner of Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room next door.  Gemma's best friend Jayne owns and runs the tearoom.  But Uncle Authur is always traveling so Gemma and Jayne run the businesses together.

The businesses are in West Loudon, Massachusetts which is a touristy summer town and in The Cat of the Baskervilles the town is getting ready for the summer festival seasona and a well-known actor is going to be starring in one of the summer productions.  Unfortunately during a tea to raise money for the theatre group the main character, Sir Nigel Bellingham, ends up dead !!  And to make matters worse Jayne's mother, Leslie, is looking to be the main suspect !!!

You will love the friendships among the characters in the group, you will love the bookstore and the tearoom and will see yourself sitting in the corner of the tearoom drinking your tea with your book or browsing the shelves at the bookstore.....and you will most definitely be sitting along side Gemma as she goes about town innocently observing while gathering information to clear Jayne's mom.

But yes this is a murder mystery and someone has died and that is "dark" but the colorful way that Delany writes the story is magical !!!  And don't worry there is someone that you will dislike and sorry no it is not the killer.  It is the main Detective Ryan's partner Louise Estrada.  Louise doesn't like Gemma and everyone knows it !!  It could because of the close relationship Gemma has with Ryan, or it could be that she thought she was going to be promoted but Ryan was instead or it could be because Gemma seems to always be in the middle of every case there is and Gemma seems to be able to help solve the crimes.  Whatever the reasoning is you will love the way that Ryan is always in the middle of it.

YES there is a lot to love about this series and with every new book in the series you fall deeper and deeper into the series.  The only thing you won't like is that the books have to end.....and BOY does Delany know how to leave the reader wanting more !!!  Book four I can hardly wait !!!

Review by Missi S.


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The Valentine's Cat Burglar (Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mysteries Book 13) by Alannah Rogers



The Valentine's Cat Burglar (Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mysteries Book 13) by [Rogers, Alannah]
Valentine's Day is set to be a very special day indeed for new couple Beatrice and Matthew, in their mid-sixties and back together after forty years apart. And it's going to be magical for their small town of Ashbrook, New Hampshire, too. A massive skating party is planned and the whole town is excited!

But, then a traveling medium predicts that the party will end in disaster. A scary editorial is printed in the local newspaper. And there's a rash break-in involving arson. The whole town is on edge and it seems that the town's heroic effort to rebuild is going to, perhaps literally, go up in smoke.

Beatrice has to put aside managing the Cozy Cat Cafe, dodging rumors of an upcoming run for mayor, and planning her wedding to put her amateur detective hat back on. Thankfully, her four crime-fighting cats are always there to back her up. And this time, the most underrated of Beatrice's feline troupe might just be the one to save the day.

This is the thirteenth book in the Beatrice Young cozy cat mystery series. It can be read as a standalone but is extra delightful when enjoyed in sequence. This novella is a clean mystery with no graphic violence, sex, or swearing.  (Summary via Amazon)



Even though the Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery series are novella's they are packed with great stories.  And the best part is that you can read one of them in one sitting  !!!


The Valentine's Cat Burglar is just in time for Valentine's Day and if anyone knows about LOVE, it is the main character Beatrice.  She has reconnected with her old flame Matthew who is now her fiance and all they want to do is have a romantic Valentine's Day together at the outside skating party organized for the town.  But someone has other ideas for the two of them as well as the entire town threatening to burn the town down !!

Beatrice seldom goes anywhere without her very intuitive felines and when the cats start acting strangely during the party, Beatrice and Matthew follow the cats to a dark residential part of town ..... 

What happens next, you have to read for yourself !!!  You won't be able to turn the pages fast enough !!!

Alannah Rogers knows how to tell a story and pack it full of entertainment.  Doesn't matter if the story is 70 pages long or 400, you will be engrossed in it from the first word until the last sentence.  I highy encourage you to check her books out !!!

Review by Missi S.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Biscuits and Slashed Browns (Country Store Mysteries #4) by Maddie Day


Biscuits and Slashed Browns (Country Store Mysteries #4)

For country-store owner Robbie Jordan, the National Maple Syrup Festival is a sweet escape from late-winter in South Lick, Indiana--until murder saps the life out of the celebration . . .

As Robbie arranges a breakfast-themed cook-off at Pans 'N Pancakes, visitors pour into Brown County for the annual maple extravaganza. Unfortunately, that includes Professor Connolly, a know-it-all academic from Boston who makes enemies everywhere he goes--and this time, bad manners prove deadly. Soon after clashing with several scientists at a maple tree panel, the professor is found dead outside a sugar shack, stabbed to death by a local restaurateur's knife. When an innocent woman gets dragged into the investigation and a biologist mysteriously disappears, Robbie drops her winning maple biscuits to search for answers. But can she help police crack the case before another victim is caught in a sticky situation with a killer?  (Summary via Goodreads)


How do they do it ??  Authors I mean.....  It amazes me when I read a book what imagination the author has....such a talent !!  Take Maddie Day for instance .... one line in her Biscuits and Slashed Browns is going to stay with me forever.  A river dirt cheap.  Whatever does that mean ??  Well it means a word that it sounds exactly like....arrivederci.  ( I betcha you'll never say it that way ever again )  And the Country Store Mystery series is full of quirky sayings and words just like that.

One thing that I always do when I read a book is I read everything.  I read the dedication, the acknowledgements and the authors notes.  You learn a lot by reading those.  You read the author's recognition to people that have helped them in their research, you read about their family and friends who support their writing, and you realize that there is so much more that goes into writing a book than you ever imagined !!!  It makes you appreciate the story even more.

Maddie Day goes above and beyond with her Country Store Mystery series with each book drawing you deeper and deeper into South Lick Indiana and Robbie Jordan's life.  You will fall instantly in love with Robbie, her Pans 'N Pancakes restaurant/store, her little town, her friends and family and especially the grub !!!  Even the murders that occur will help draw you in !!  And in Biscuits and Slashed Browns with a Professor being murdered during a Maple Syrup Festival right next to a sugar shack how can you not want to dive right in ??  Robbie always does....

Robbie has this love for solving puzzles and her love and devotion to her community will always have her asking questions and doing whatever she can to solve any case that involves someone she knows.  And well in a small town, theres a good chance she knows whoever is involved.

So you might coulda want to mosey on up to a comfy seat and take a load off whilst you catch up with Robbie and her crew....believe me Maddie Day says it a lot better but I think y'all catch my drift.....

Review by Missi S.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Silenced by Sugar (Cookies & Chance Mysteries) (Volume 5) by Catherine Bruns


Silenced by Sugar (Cookies & Chance Mysteries) (Volume 5)

From USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bruns comes another to-die-for culinary mystery...

Full-time baker and sometime-sleuth Sally Muccio is enjoying life as a new bride and only wishes that sales in her bakery would pick up. So when popular TV host Donna Dooley invites her and best friend, Josie, to be guests on Someone's in the Kitchen with Donna, it’s the answer to their prayers. The pair is excited about the opportunity until they discover Donna's new assistant is none other than Josie's former nemesis from culinary school, Kelly Thompson.

Like cookies in a hot oven, temperatures rise, and their animosity escalates into a food fight during the taping—which then goes viral! But when a dead body is then discovered on the set, fingers immediately point to Josie, and Sal's usual sassy partner is at a loss of how to defend herself. Sal's world is once again plunged into chaos as she attempts to keep her friend out of jail, control a blast from the past that threatens to harm her marriage, and keep her crazy parents at bay as they film a commercial for a funeral home. Already knee deep in dough, Sal discovers a possible link between the current murder and an unsolved one from the past. But she’ll have to work fast because a killer is on her trail and determined to silence Sal...forever.  (Summary via Goodreads)

**Recipes Included!**

The Cookies Chance Mysteries:
Tastes Like Murder (book #1)
Baked to Death (book #2)
A Spot of Murder (short story in the "Killer Beach Reads" collection)
Burned to a Crisp (book #3)
Frosted With Revenge (book #4)
Silenced by Sugar (book #5)



I cannot get enough of the Cookies & Chance Mystery series by Catherine Bruns and I cannot stress enough that YOU have got to read them !!!  There is so much to love in this series .... from the people to the storylines to the murders to the relationships to the quirkiness of Gramma Rosa !!!

As I've said before when I've discussed this series reading these books is more than the story ... you are part of a family !!!  You will completely fall in love with Sally and her new husband Mike as well as her loving Gramma Rosa, crazy parents, down-to-earth sister Gianna, and her best friend and partner Josie.  And the relationships among them all is just plain AWESOME to read !!

Everytime you finish reading one of the books in this series you are left with so much.  Even though you close the book and put it back on the shelf, you won't be able to forget about the devotion, strength, courage and funniness surrounding the Muccio/Donovan family.

It always amazes me the talent and imagination that authors have when I read their books.  And some authors stand out a little more .... Catherine Bruns is on a level all of her own !!!  I mean come on !!!  You have Sally and Josie running a cookie shop that is best known because the customers get a free fortune cookie and some times these fortunes guide the story.  And then there are Sally's parents....her father has this infatuation with death and everything that surrounds it to the point that there is a coffin in the living room !!!  And Sally's mom dressing and acting like a hot teenager but what can ya say she looks the part !!  And Gramma Rosa who always knows what to say even if she messes up the sayings (for example - you can't judge a book by it's picture). And the only "normal' member in the family is her younger sister Gianna who is a lawyer....but wait she's dating the grandson of their neighbor Mrs. Gavelli who hates Sally.  You don't even need a murder to solve when all this other stuff is going on but it does add spice to the mix....

But when you are reading the books, this is all normal and understandable and completely acceptable but mostly off the chart entertaining !!!!  

If you read any of these books and you are not moved by the author and the stories, I don't know what to say.....  Maybe read it again ?  Although reading them again isn't such a crazy idea.......

Review by Missi S.


Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Frosted with Revenge (Cookies & Chance Mystery #4) by Catherine Bruns


Frosted with Revenge (Cookies & Chance Mystery #4)
Sally Muccio’s walk down the aisle might be her last.
The some-time amateur sleuth and full-time bakery owner is finally marrying the man of her dreams. But during a last minute taste testing of their wedding cake, Sally and her fiancĂ© are witnesses—and almost victims!—of a random shooting. At least they think it’s random, until an original fortune cookie message proves otherwise. Is someone after Sally? And why does the mysterious shooter want to ice the baker? Sal tries to proceed with caution, but when someone close to her is attacked, all bets are off. She'll do whatever it takes to bring this monster to justice, even if it means sacrificing herself in the process.
Can Sal make it to the church on time…and alive?  (Summary via Goodreads)




If you aren't a fan of Catherine Bruns and her Cookies and Chance Mystery series....what are you waiting for ???  Sally and Mike are getting married and you won't want to miss their big day !!  

Frosted with Revenge is the fourth book in this series and if you have been reading them from the first one, you are totally in love with Sally, Mike and the rest of the crew.  And you are well invested in their lives and you will not be able to resist the urge to continue reading until the last page.

Sally and Mike are getting married but as they are planning their big day someone else has other plans for Sally.....like wanting her dead !!!  Now you know that Sally can take care of herself but in Frosted with Revenge she is pushed to her limits !!  And it all starts when her and Mike are at the bakery for the taste testing for their wedding cake ( I know....why isn't her best friend and partner in the cookie shop Josie making the cake ?? ).  As Mike is outside taking a phone call another bride-to-be stands in front of Sally in the window and is shot !!  So instead of the week before their wedding being a happy time for them, they are forced to change all their plans and try to find out who wants Sally dead before someone else gets killed.

The Cookies and Chance Mystery series is more than just a series....it's a family !!  Once you read the first book, you are hooked and feel like a member of the crazy Muccio family.  So when you do get to Frosted with Revenge, make sure you are somewhere comfortable with a box of tissues because you will not be able to hold in the emotions that arise !!

Review by Missi S.