Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: An Unholy Alliance (Emma Golden Mysteries #1) by Judy Nedry

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 402 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: iUniverse (May 19 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005O07GEE

Book Description
An Unholy Alliance introduces Emma Golden, a self-styled has-been who is invited to write a book on her beloved Oregon wine country, and manage a bed and breakfast for a friend. All seems ideal until Emma encounters her verbally abusive ex-husband, Dwight McCourt, shortly after settling in at the B&B. She discovers that she still harbors unresolved feelings for him.
Other characters crowd onto the scene, all wanting to be included in Emma’s upcoming wine book. Most prominent among them is Ted Maxell, a bombastic and unpopular newcomer to Oregon, and the owner of the showy Cougar Crossing Winery. Ted invites Emma to a gathering at his winery, where the story quickly turns sideways. By the end of the evening, Ted is found floating in a vat of fermenting pinot noir, his trousers bunched around his ankles.
- See more at:

Like many women in their fifties, Emma Golden feels invisible. She lives quietly in her Portland, Oregon bungalow and minds her own business. But her tranquil life is about to change. She is asked to return to the rolling hills of her former wine country home south of the city to supervise a friend's bed and breakfast inn near Dundee. Emma arrives at the Westerly Inn during grape harvest. She is under contract to write a book about Oregon wineries, and it's business as usual until she discovers one of her subjects dead in a wine vat-murdered at his own dinner party.

Cougar Crossing Winery owner Ted Maxell was a ruthless and dishonest newcomer to the northern Willamette Valley wine scene. Many people wanted him gone-including his son, many local winegrowers, and even Emma's ex-husband, Dwight. Then Maxell's daughter, Tiffany, calls Emma and begs for assistance. "I know who killed my father," she wails. When Emma answers Tiffany's cry for help, she finds herself drawn into the search for a murderer or murderers with secrets worth killing for.

About the Author

 Judy Nedry graduated University of Oregon with a degree in journalism and spent more than 20 years documenting the growth of the Pacific Northwest wine and food industries. She parlays this experience, plus her knowledge of small rural communities, into the Emma Golden Mystery Series which debuted in 2009 with "An Unholy Alliance" set in the vineyard-covered hills southwest of Portland, Oregon. The second in the series, "The Difficult Sister," is set on the remote southern Oregon coast. It was released in November, 2013.

The author resides in Portland, Oregon.

From the author:
"I specialize in lost causes, long friendships, and living well when I am able. The last award I won was in 1970; I can’t even pick up a couple bucks from a lottery scratch-it. I love anything to do with words, and always have. It’s a disease. Like my main character, Emma Golden, I’m a real dullard at a party. But I know a lot about food and wine and dark nights of the soul.

I grew up in a home where we were expected to find our own entertainment--riding bikes, disappearing into the woods to build forts...or just wander, stealing the neighbors' berries, lolling by the lake or reading Classic comic books on hot summer afternoons, eavesdropping on conversations at our mostly dysfunctional family events,and later just eavesdropping. And of course, reading. There was always a book around.

It is natural I became a story teller because I love stories. At college I started out as an English major, and then switched to journalism because it seemed to make sense.

As a journalist I became a better listener. As a wine and food writer I discovered an world of pleasures beyond my wildest imaginings. You see, I'd grown up in small towns. Where I came from, people didn't eat fine food or drink wine. I literally fell off a turnip truck! But I always knew there was more out there because I read books.

In addition to writing, I have worked in strawberry fields and onion fields, shipped potatoes and onions all over the continental United States, taken a summer job as secretary for a small town attorney, spent a month in New York as a guest editor for Mademoiselle magazine, served as managing editor for a small alternative magazine in the early 1970s, become a stock broker (a big mistake for someone like me!), helped found a vineyard and winery, co-founded a wine and food magazine, and traveled all over the world. I even ran a farmers' market for six months, carhopped at an A&W rootbeer stand, volunteered at a college theatre (and was smitten), married and bore two children.

All the while reading, loving, devouring mysteries, spy novels, thrillers, and suspense...."

Find out more at:

My Review

 An Unholy Alliance is the first book in the Emma Golden Mystery series by author Judy Nedry. It is a fast-paced, easy to read book. I can relate to Emma Golden as she is in her fifties. She is dealing with feeling invisible as sometimes happens in our middle years when her life takes an adventurous turn. She agrees to help at a friend's bed and breakfast and at the same time she is working on a nonfiction book about the blossoming Oregon wine industry.

Emma is invited to winery owner Ted Maxwell's party and before the party is over Maxwell is dead..found floating in a vat of pinot noir! There are lots of interesting characters...including many who have good reason to want Ted Maxwell dead. An Unholy Alliance seems like a cozy mystery at first what with the bed and breakfast and winery elements but it actually delves into some grim themes.

Great read. I'm looking forward to reading Emma's next adventure: The Difficult Sister.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: The Blood of an Englishman: An Agatha Raisin Mystery (Agatha Raisin #25) by M.C. Beaton

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Sept. 16 2014)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English

Book Description

"Fee, fie, fo, fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman..."Even though Agatha Raisin loathes amateur dramatics, her friend Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife, has persuaded her to support the local pantomime. Stifling a yawn at the production of "Babes in the Woods," Agatha watches the baker playing an ogre strut and threaten on the stage, until a trapdoor opens...followed by a scream and then silence.

Surely this isn't the way the scene was rehearsed? When it turns out the popular baker has been murdered, Agatha puts her team of private detectives on the case. They soon discover more feuds and temperamental behavior in amateur theatrics than in a professional stage show—and face more and more danger as the team gets too close to the killer.The Blood of an Englishman is Agatha's 25th adventure, and you'd think she would have learned by now not to keep making the same mistakes. Alas, no—yet Agatha's flaws only make her more endearing. In this sparkling new entry in   M. C. Beaton's New York Times bestselling series of modern cozies, Agatha Raisin once again "manages to infuriate, amuse, and solicit our deepest sympathies as we watch her blunder her way boldly through another murder mystery".

About the Author

 Marion Chesney Gibbons
aka: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Marion Chesney, Charlotte Ward, Sarah Chester.

Marion Chesney was born on 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, and started her first job as a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd. While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be their theatre critic. She left Smith’s to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any shorthand or typing, but quickly got the job of fashion editor instead. She then moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she reported mostly on crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter. After marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles, Marion went to the United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian. When that didn’t work out, they went to Virginia and Marion worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch’s new tabloid, The Star, and moved to New York.

Anxious to spend more time at home with her small son, Marion, urged by her husband, started to write historical romances in 1977. After she had written over 100 of them under her maiden name, Marion Chesney, and under the pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester, she getting fed up with 1714 to 1910, she began to write detectives stories in 1985 under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton. On a trip from the States to Sutherland on holiday, a course at a fishing school inspired the first Constable Hamish Macbeth story. They returned to Britain and bought a croft house and croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of black sheep. But Charles was at school, in London so when he finished and both tired of the long commute to the north of Scotland, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created.

My Review

Ok, I must confess...Agatha Raisin is the aunt that I wish I had. She is so funny. She would be so amazing to have around. And an incredibly clever woman as well.

The Blood of an Englishman is the 25th Agatha Raisin mystery and yes I have read all 25. Why...because they are entertaining! Not only does M.C. Beaton transport the reader to a Cotswold English village in all its glory, she does so in an incredibly amusing fashion.

Agatha would not be Agatha if her head was not been turned by a handsome man. Of course the handsome man is an amateur actor in a local production of a pantomime where murder occurs in front right in front of the audience..including Agatha of course. The story takes plenty of twists and turns before our Agatha is in danger and the murderer is exposed. Beaton has a fast-paced writing style that allows for a speedy read. Highly recommend this entire series and definitely recommend The Blood of an Englishman. It can be read as a standalone but to get the full Agatha experience, I recommend you read them all. sure to follow M.C. Beaton on Facebook...she is continually amusing and clever. 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 533 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (July 8 2014)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A2C6EWO

  •  Book Description

    Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.

    About the Author

    Born Sybil Anne Rivers in Atlanta, Georgia, she was raised in Fairburn, Georgia, and attended Auburn University, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority. 

    While at Auburn she wrote a column for the student newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman, that favored integration. The university administration attempted to suppress the column, and ultimately fired her, and the column garnered national attention. She later became a senior editor for Atlanta magazine. At the age of thirty she married Heyward Siddons, and she and her husband now live in Charleston, South Carolina, and spend summers in Maine.

    My Review

    The Girls of August is a good beach read but I was expecting more from an Anne Rivers Siddons book. I keep expecting surprises and twists that weren't there. So disappointing in that sense. It was easy to read and I finished it quite quickly. I would recommend Siddons' earlier books.

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    Review: The Bone Orchard (Mike Bowditch #5) by Paul Doiron

    • eries: Mike Bowditch Mysteries (Book 5)
    • Hardcover: 320 pages
    • Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 15, 2014)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1250034884
    • ISBN-13: 978-1250034885

    Book Description

    In the aftermath of a family tragedy, Mike Bowditch has left the Maine Warden Service and is working as a fishing guide in the North Woods. But when his mentor Sgt. Kathy Frost is forced to kill a troubled war veteran in an apparent case of "suicide by cop," he begins having second thoughts about his decision.

    Now Kathy finds herself the target of a government inquiry and outrage from the dead soldier's platoon mates. Soon she finds herself in the sights of a sniper, as well. When the sergeant is shot outside her farmhouse, Mike joins the hunt to find the mysterious man responsible. To do so, the ex-warden must plunge into his friend's secret past—even as a beautiful woman from Mike's own past returns, throwing into jeopardy his tentative romance with wildlife biologist Stacey Stevens.

    As Kathy Frost lies on the brink of death and a dangerous shooter stalks the blueberry barrens of central Maine, Bowditch is forced to confront the choices he has made and determine, once and for all, the kind of man he truly is, in The Bone Orchard by Paul Doiron.

    About the Author

     Paul Doiron is the author of the Mike Bowditch series of crime novels, including The Poacher's Son, which won the the Barry Award and the Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for an Edgar Award, an Anthony Award, a Macavity Award, and a Thriller Award for Best First Novel, and the Maine Literary Award for "Best Fiction of 2010." PopMatters named it to its Best Fiction of 2010 list.

    His second book in the Mike Bowditch series, Trespasser, won the Maine Literary Award for crime fiction, was an American Booksellers Association Indie Bestseller and has been called a "masterpiece of high-octane narrative" by Booklist.

    The third novel, Bad Little Falls, was a Bookscan Bestseller and is a nominee for the RT Reviewers Choice Award.

    Massacre Pond, the fourth in the series, was an Indie Next pick and an Indie Favorite, as well as Bookscan Bestseller.

    The Mike Bowditch novels have been translated into ten languages: German, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Romanian, Slovenian, Hungarian, and Czech. The UK editions of all three books will be published in 2013 by Constable & Robinson.

    He is Editor Emeritus of Down East: The Magazine of Maine, having served as Editor in Chief from 2005 to 2013, before stepping down to write full time. A native of Maine, he attended Yale University, where he graduated with a degree in English, and he holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. He is a former member of the Maine Arts Commission and a current member of the Maine Humanities Council. Paul is a Registered Maine Guide specializing in fly fishing and outdoor recreation and lives on a trout stream in coastal Maine.

    The Bangor Daily News named Paul one of its 12 Mainers to Watch in 2012.

    My Review

    The Mike Bowditch Mystery series is one of the best series currently available. Paul Doiron brings Maine to life in this series. When an author can transport a reader to a local through his words, you know he is a writer worth his salt. 

    Mike Bowditch is a rebel, a non-conformist, but a man of integrity. The kind of man you would want as a friend. Kathy Frost is lucky to have such a friend. She is very rightly annoyed with him for leaving the warden service. Because Mike is a natural. He has the deductive reasoning skills combined with a knowledge of the outdoors that makes him perfect for a warden's job. But Mike has been disillusioned and he is spending his days as a fishing guide. Until he talks to his friend...then tragedy strikes. Is a suicidal ex-soldier's death to blame or is it something else?

    Mike Bowditch may no longer be a Maine Game Warden but he can never stop investigating...he can never stop being a warden. Bowditch is relentless in his search for the truth and his hunt for the shooter who shot his mentor Kathy Frost. As with each book in the series, Mike Bowditch grows up more before his eyes. As always there is plenty of action and twists and I loved the ending!

    Fabulous addition to a wonderful series. Download or pick up your copy today....The Bone Orchard is on sale now!


    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Review: NIV The Journey Bible Revealing God and How You Fit into His Plan Published by Zondervan

    • File Size: 6019 KB
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
    • Publisher: Zondervan (April 21, 2014)
    • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00JD4V7Y2

    Book Description

    “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”—Jeremiah 29:13

    The NIV Journey Bible is uniquely designed to help readers discover the practical aspects of Christianity and better understand God. Patterned after the Willow Creek model of ministry and intended for those in the investigative stage of their spiritual journey, The Journey’s exploratory approach addresses key questions inquisitive readers may have about the Bible and its relevance today. Notes and insights are woven throughout the complete NIV Bible text, drawing readers into the message and pointing the way to a relationship with Jesus. Icons trace six seeker themes throughout Scripture: "Discovering God," "Addressing Questions,” “Strengthening Relationships," "Reasons to Believe," "Knowing Yourself," and "Managing Resources." Also included in The Journey are introductory articles that define key concepts involved in being a spiritually open person, book introductions, indexes, a dictionary/concordance, and a "Fire Alive" reading plan covering Genesis, Deuteronomy, John, Acts, and Romans.

    The Journey can be used as an evangelism tool and makes a perfect gift for new believers and those looking for answers to life’s deepest questions. It is also a helpful guide for veteran Christians who want a refreshing perspective on the basics of their belief.

    My Review

    This is a fabulous bible to give to new believers. Or just to people who are looking for the Truth and for answers in an easy to follow format.

    There is great introductory material in this bible:

    o   What Is A Spiritual Explorer?
    o   How To Seek God
    o   A Summary of the Bible
    o   Who is Jesus?
    o   Jesus’ Famous One-Liners
    o   Crossing the Line: How to Follow Jesus
    o   Defining Moments of the Old Testament
    o   Defining Moments of the New Testament
    o   Five Alive

    Five Alive is a sensible reading plan for reading key parts of the bible over 30 days. Great introduction for new believers. I love the introductions to each book of the bible with the Bottom Line, Central Ideas and Outline. This bible is relaxed and non-threatening. You will not fill overwhelmed with this version.

    Great addition to my bible collection!

    Review: Justice in June (Mary Magruder Katz #2) by Barbara Levenson

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 1879 KB
    • Print Length: 275 pages
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Publisher: Barbara Levenson; 2nd edition (May 4 2014)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00K59ZMBI

    Book Description

    Miami in June: it's raining, it's pouring, but the life of criminal defense attorney Mary Magruder Katz is anything but boring-especially when she gets caught up in a whirlwind of three different cases. Judge Liz Maxwell's job, sanity, and reputation are at stake, and she needs Mary to ferret out wrongdoing in Miami's courts. Solving this case won't just mean going out on a limb; it will mean risking life and limb. Luis Corona, a family friend of Mary's boyfriend, Carlos, needs help with a legal matter that, to Mary's horror, turns out to be a terrorism charge. And this case will leave some catastrophic damage-and unwelcome notoriety-in its wake. Just when Mary thought things couldn't get worse, Carlos gets in his own nasty legal quandary-one that could cost him everything. Three cases. One Mary. One torrential downpour of turmoil. Can she weather the storm? Ride out the cold front that settles over her once-hot romance? Salvage what remains of her-and her clients'-reputations? For Mary Magruder Katz, this month's forecast calls for trouble.

    About the Author

    Barbara Levenson has lived in Miami for the past 32 years. A cum laude graduate of the University of Miami Law School, Barbara has served as a prosecutor and run her own law practice where she focused on criminal defense and civil rights litigation. Barbara and her husband, a retired financial consultant, bred and showed German Shepherd Dogs for 20 years and finished 11 champions in the show ring. They have two sons.

    My Review

    Justice in June is a fun summer mystery read. I have always enjoyed zany mystery stories such as those written by Janet Evanovich...Justice in June is just as zany!

    The author, Barbara Levenson, is a lawyer so you know that the legal information and court scenes are accurate. It really does rain a lot in Florida in June...I was just does.  

    Criminal defense attorney Mary Magruder Katz is working on three cases and is very overwhelmed as she is being pulled in different directions. She is defending a judge in a tricky case...and then there is her boyfriend Carlos pushing her help his cousin Luis who is somehow caught up in a national security threat.

    Fun book. Great beach read!


    Review: This Private Plot: An Oliver Swithin Mystery by Alan Beechey

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 847 KB
    • Print Length: 301 pages
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (May 1 2014)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00K2H3WSS

    Book Description

     If a blackmail letter drives a man to suicide, is the sender guilty of murder? “Yes,” says Oliver Swithin, author of bestselling Finsbury the Ferret children’s stories and amateur sleuth, who is on holiday in an ancient village.

    A midnight streak with his naked girlfriend—Scotland Yard’s Effie Strongitham—abruptly ends in the discovery of a corpse. Retired radio broadcaster Dennis Breedlove has hanged himself from the old gibbet. Evidence suggests blackmail may have driven this celebrity to suicide. Irresistibly intrigued, Oliver believes discovering the dead man’s secret will lead to the identity of the blackmailer. But in Britain today, when shame is a ticket to fame, why suicide? What if it wasn’t?

    When the mystery abruptly turns inside out, black-clad strangers attack Oliver in the night. The Vicar behaves strangely. So do the village’s ¬ five unmarried Bennet sisters, a mysterious monk, the persistent, self-effacing Underwood Tooth, and Oliver’s Uncle Tim, Effie’s superior at the Yard and a part-time Shakespearean actor. Plus Oliver’s aunt and his mother. Who else might play a role in This Private Plot? Two William Shakespeares?

    It’s time to put the laugh back into slaughter with the long-awaited third chapter in the career of Oliver Swithin. Yet under the clever wordplay and bawdy jokes lies an inventive and, yes, scholarly plot.

    About the Author

     Alan Beechey was born in England and grew up in London. He moved to Manhattan in his twenties and now lives with his three sons and his rescue mutt, Leila, in Rye, New York. This Private Plot is Alan Beechey’s third mystery featuring children’s book author and amateur sleuth Oliver Swithin and his girlfriend, Scotland Yard detective Effie Strongitharm.

    My Review

    What a fun read! This is the first book that I have read that is written by Alan Beechey.  This Private Plot is the third book in the Oliver Swithin series. It can stand alone but now I am planning to go back and read the first maybe reading them in order would be a good idea!

    Blackmail...suicide....streaking...and that is just how the book starts. Sometimes a little raunchy and filled with puns. This is definitely a fun read. I has been available since May and is a great mystery filled with secrets and British shenanigans!