Friday, January 31, 2014

Review: Whispers of Vivaldi (Tito Amato #6) by Beverle Graves Myers

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2881 KB
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (Dec 31 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HLSY9S8

Book Description

Venice, 1745—an age of reckless pleasures, playful artifice, and baroque excess. An accident has reduced Tito Amato’s glorious singing voice to a husky croak. A tragedy— but also an opportunity. The once celebrated male soprano is now determined to prove himself as a director. With the theater losing subscribers to a rival company headed by an unscrupulous impresario, San Marco’s Maestro Torani charges Tito with locating the perfect opera to fill the seats in time for the opening of Carnival.
Surprisingly, a second-rate composer provides the very thing—an opera so replete with gorgeous melodies the public speculates it was written by the late Antonio Vivaldi. Even more disconcerting are the rumors swirling around Angeletto, a male soprano imported from Naples to sing the lead. Is the singer truly a castrato or a female soprano engaging in a daring but lucrative masquerade?

Both matters lead the perplexed Tito into dangerous waters that turn murderous when Maestro Torani undergoes a series of increasingly vicious attacks ending in his death. And Tito is the prime suspect. His own life as well as the future of Teatro San Marco now depend on his skills as a sleuth….  

About the Author

Beverle Graves Myers is the author of five previous Tito Amato mysteries, and, with Joanne Dobson, Face of the Enemy set in New York during World War II. Bev, a retired psychiatrist, divides her time between Kentucky and Florida.

My Review

Poisoned Pen Press has a wonderful stable of authors, Beverle Graves Myers included. I love going back in time to 1745 in Venice. The thought of being transported to Venice is enough to make you want to read this book. 

In 1745, Venice is mysterious and alluring. The author did a wonderful job of transporting the reader to 18th century Venice. And the mystery was well plotted and intriguing. A rivalry has developed between two opera houses. Tito Amato's voice has been compromised thus he takes on directing an opera instead. There are questions about who wrote the opera the competing opera house is producing. Then there are questions about the sex of Angeletto, the soprano Tito hires for his opera. Amidst all these questions there is a murder. Can Tito solve the mystery...

I'm not a fan of opera and had barely heard of Vivaldi before reading this mystery but it was not a concern. The story is such that you do not need a prior knowledge of opera...just the love of a good mystery. And all the better that it is set in 18th century Venice.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Giveaway Link: Book Club Librarian: Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Picking Lemons by ...

Book Club Librarian: Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Picking Lemons by ...: I'm excited to participate in the Picking Lemons Blog Tour.  In this post you will find book and author information, my review, and a...

Review: Evening Stars (Blackberry Island) [Kindle Edition] Susan Mallery

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 508 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin MIRA (Feb. 25 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

Book Description

New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery returns to Blackberry Island with the poignant tale of two sisters on the verge of claiming their dreams.

Small-town nurse Nina Wentworth has made a career out of being a caretaker. More "Mom" than their mother ever was, she sacrificed medical school—and her first love—so her sister could break free. Which is why she isn't exactly thrilled to see Averil back on Blackberry Island, especially when Nina's life has suddenly become…complicated.

Nina unexpectedly finds herself juggling two men—her high school sweetheart and a younger maverick pilot who also wants to claim her heart. But as fun as all this romance is, Nina has real life to deal with. Averil doesn't seem to want the great guy she's married to, and doesn't seem to be making headway writing her first book; their mom is living life just as recklessly as she always has; and Nina's starting to realize that the control she once had is slipping out of her fingers. Her hopes of getting off the island seem to be stretching further away…until her mother makes a discovery that could change everything forever.

But before Nina and Averil can reach for the stars, they have to decide what they want. Will Averil stay? Will Nina leave? And what about the men who claim to love them? Does love heal, or will finding their happy ending mean giving up all they've ever wanted?

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women and the relationships that move them. Publishers Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative,” and Booklist says, “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling.” While Susan appreciates the critical praise, she is most honored by the enthusiastic readers who write to tell her that her books made them laugh, made them cry and made the world a happier place to live. Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle. She’s there for the coffee, not the weather.

My Review

Sometimes life is just that way...there are two equally interesting objects competing for your Nina's case, she has two very interesting suitors after years of nothing. Who will she choose....

If I want to read a good romance, I turn to Susan Mallery's books which are consistently well written with an intriguing story. Blackberry Island is the setting for this outing and we are introduced to her next series, Mischief Bay through Nina's younger sister Averil.

This book is more about family dynamics than anything. Nina's relationship with her mother and with her sister Averil are explored in great depth.  Nina questions her life: why she has stayed on the island, why she didn't go to medical school and why did she really think she needed to be in control of everything.

Good book, good story and good romance. Susan Mallery's books are always a pleasure to read. Evening Stars is available on February 25th.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Review: Moving Target: A Novel (Ali Reynolds #9) by J.A. Jance

  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (Feb. 18 2014)
  • Sold by: Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DPM7TW2

Book  Description

In this high-stakes thriller from New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance, Ali Reynolds spans continents to solve a cold case murder and to figure out who wants a young juvenile offender dead.

Lance Tucker, an incarcerated juvenile offender and talented hacker in his own right, is set on fire one night and severely burned while hanging Christmas decorations in a lockup rec room. B. Simpson, Ali Reynolds's fiancé and the man who helped put Lance in jail, feels obliged to get to the bottom of what happened. With Ali off in England to help Leland Brooks at a reunion with his long-estranged family, B. turns to someone else to help out: Ali's good friend and Taser-carrying nun, Sister Anselm.

Meanwhile, in Bournemouth, Leland's hometown, Ali begins to investigate the decades-old murder of Leland's father, which Leland himself was once suspected of committing. With unsolved murders on both sides of the Atlantic, Ali, B., and Sister Anselm are united by their search for answers and the jeopardy they get into as a result.

From the author praised for her "inimitable, take-no-prisoners style" (Kirkus Reviews), Moving Target sends Ali on a trans-Atlantic adventure and straight into the path of a deadly killer.

About the Author

 J.A. Jance is the New York Times bestselling author of the Ali Reynolds series, the J.P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series, as well as four interrelated Southwestern thrillers featuring the Walker family. Born in South Dakota, and brought up in Brisbee, Arizona, Jance and her husband live in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.

My Review

The Ali Reynolds series was the first of J.A. Jance's wonderful mystery series that I discovered. I have enjoyed every book in the series, and Moving Target is an excellent addition.

There are two stories going on in this book. Ali and Leland head to England to visit with Leland's relatives that he has not seen in decades where they discover family treachery and a possible murder in the past. And back in the US, Ali's fiance B is worried about a young hacker in a youth detention center who has been beaten and set afire and is fighting for his life. The young hacker, Lance, is a computer mastermind who has made a discovery that many would kill to control. B feels responsible for Lance's incarceration and wants to help in any way he can so with Ali out of the country, Sister Anselm is on the job protecting the young man from further harm.

 I found Moving Target to be an engrossing read which I could not put down.  Both stories were interesting and intriguing to follow. I loved the way all the stories were wrapped up in the conclusion.  J.A. Jance is an excellent writer and storyteller. Every book that I have read of hers are enjoyable. Be sure to pick up a copy of Moving Target on February 18th.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: Inherit the Word (A Cookbook Nook Mystery) by Daryl Wood Gerber

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (March 4 2014)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group USA
  • Language: English

Book Description

Jenna Hart moved back to Crystal Cove, California, to recapture her joie de vivre and to help her aunt Vera run the local culinary bookshop and café. But it’s hard to follow a simple recipe for relaxation when murder gets thrown in the mix…

The Cookbook Nook is set to host the town’s upcoming Grill Fest, a tasty tradition which pits local amateur chefs against one another to concoct the most delicious dishes. This year’s challenge: grilled cheese. But with competing chefs bearing grudges from past years, more mouths are running off than savoring the fare.

The expression "too many cooks” proves all too true when the eight-time champ is found murdered in the alley behind the café. Soon a local diner owner (and Jenna’s "second mother”) is suspected of bumping off the competition, and Jenna has to douse the flames before the wrong person gets burned.

About the Author

Daryl Wood Gerber is an Agatha Award-winning author who writes the Cheese Shop Mysteries under the pseudonym Avery Aames. Like her protagonist, Daryl is an admitted foodie and an avid reader of books, including cookbooks. Prior to writing, Daryl acted on stage and television, including on Murder, She Wrote.

My Review

 This is the second book in Daryl Wood Gerber's Cookbook Nook Mysteries. Under the pseudonym Avery Aames, Daryl writes the Cheese Shop Mysteries. Inherit the Word is a wonderful cozy culinary mystery.

Gerber is obviously an expert on all books related to cooking as well as other culinary mystery authors. Inherit the Word is a good story centered around the town's Grill Fest, a cooking competition. When a murder occurs, suspects abound. I was kept guessing until the end which is always the sign of a well plotted, well written mystery.

I highly recommend Inherit the Word for fans of cozy mysteries. It will be released on March 4th. Thanks for the advanced copy Daryl. It was greatly appreciated.

Review: Pier Pressure: California Piers from San Diego to San Francisco by Kathy Schroeder

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. (December 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076434353X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764343537

Book Description

Travel along the California coast from San Francisco to San Diego and visit the many pleasure and fishing piers just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. Approximately 500 color photos take you to 51 piers in the coastal areas of San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and more. Revel in their majestic beauty as you learn history and trivia of each. Which pier is the most southernmost in California? Which pier is the longest wooden pier on the West Coast? And which pier, painted a unique green, can be seen from airplanes flying high overhead? Visit the Maritime Museum at Hyde Street Pier and the world-famous Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Piers of all sizes and stature are found throughout these pages and will have you wanting to visit these incredible places yourself. This book is a must-have for beach, nature, and photography lovers.

My Review

 One of my favorite parts of California is its glorious piers. The piers of California dot the beautiful California coastline with a regularity you can count on. This book, Pier Pressure, which was just released in December covers California's piers from San Diego to San Francisco.

On Page 132 you can find one of my favorite piers, the San Simeon pier located in the very small town of Sebastian which is coincidentally home to a small restaurant, Sebastian's Store, which serves the best burger you will ever have. The Hearst Corporation owns Sebastian's Store which serves beef grown on the Hearst Ranch. I love the look of the pier and images it conjures in my mind. I can imagine beautiful Hollywood starlets descending off the William Hearst's yacht onto the pier before being whisked off to Hearst Castle for a weekend of fun and frivolity.

Pier Pressure is filled with fabulous photographs of all the piers. It contains fascinating stories about each of the piers as it chronicles their history.

If you love travel books, love California and particularly if you love California's piers, then be sure to pick up a copy of this beautiful coffee table style photo journal.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: Blackberry Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen #17) by Joanne Fluke

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington Books (Feb. 25 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F8J6PU2

Book Description

It's been a sleepy summer for the folks of Lake Eden, Minnesota. In fact, it's been a whole four months since anyone in the Swensen family has come across a dead body—a detail that just made the front page of the local paper. And that means Hannah Swensen can finally focus on her bakery. . .or can she?
Life is never really quiet for Hannah. After all, her mother's wedding is a little over a month away and guess who Delores put in charge of the planning? Yet just when Hannah believes her biggest challenge will be whether to use buttercream or fondant for the wedding cake, she accidentally hits a stranger with her cookie truck while driving down a winding country road in a raging thunderstorm. Hannah is wracked with guilt, and things get even worse when she's arrested. . .for murder! But an autopsy soon reveals the mystery man, his shirt covered in stains from blackberry pie, would have died even if Hannah hadn't hit him. Now, to clear her name, Hannah will have to follow a trail of pie crumbs to track down the identity of the deceased, find a baker who knows more about murder than how to roll out a perfect pie crust—and get herself to the church on time. . .

About the Author

 Joanne Fluke is a writer. She has written seventeen books published in the series. Her series has been known for its recipes, its comedy, and endings. Her books contain romance as well. She currently lives in southern California.

My Review
Blackberry Pie Murder is the seventeenth book in the Hannah Swenson series by Joanne Fluke. And Hannah still cannot decide between Mike and Norman. Really...this is all a little too silly.

As always the recipes make the book. The story is fine. All the regular characters are there.  If you are a fan of the series then I'm sure you'll enjoy this latest offering.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Review: After I'm Gone: A Novel by Laura Lippman

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (Feb. 11 2014)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers CA
  • Language: English

Book Description

When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old Bernadette "Bambi" Gottschalk at a Valentine's Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative-if not all legal-businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi's comfortable world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.

Though Bambi has no idea where her husband-or all of his money-might be, she suspects one woman does: his devoted young mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day that Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she's left to join her old lover-until her remains are eventually found in a secluded wooded park.

Now, twenty-six years after Julie went missing, Roberto "Sandy" Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web of bitterness, jealously, resentment, greed, and longing stretching over three decades that connects five intriguing women: a faithful wife, a dead mistress, and three very different daughters. And at the center is the man who, though long gone, has never been forgotten by the five women who loved him: the enigmatic Felix Brewer.

Somewhere between the secrets and lies connecting past and present, Sandy will find the truth. And when he does, no one will ever be the same.

About the Author

Since her debut in 1997, Laura Lippman has been heralded for her thoughtful, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. She is the author of twenty works of fiction, including eleven Tess Monaghan mysteries. She lives in Baltimore, New Orleans, and New York City with her family.

My Review

I was thrilled to be granted an early review copy of After I'm Gone which is written by one of my favorite authors: Laura Lippman. From the first pages I couldn't put this book down. Lippman is an amazing storyteller.

The story revolves around five women: Felix Brewer's wife, his three daughters and his mistress. When Felix, who was facing criminal charges, fled the country, he left those five women's lives in an uproar. Ten years after Felix disappeared, his mistress Julie also disappeared. But then her body is found but the murder goes unsolved. Twenty-six years later retired detective Sandy Sanchez takes up the cold case and the pieces start to come together.

Lippman brings all these women to life in such a way that you don't want anything bad to happen to any of them. This book is full of interesting twists to kept the reader enthralled to the last page. Lippman's writing style is superb. The ending wraps up the story perfectly.

I think we may see more of Sandy in the future...and that's all I'm going to say.

Awesome book! If you are a Lippman fan then you know it is going to be amazing before you even read it. If you haven't discovered Laura Lippman yet then it is time you did. After I'm Gone will be released on February 11th.

Giveaway: The Two Mrs. Abbotts

 The Two Mrs. Abbotts:

The final book in D.E. Stevenson’s delightful Miss Buncle Series takes us back to the charming English town of Wandlebury, where Barbara Abbott (formerly Buncle) has her hands full raising two children in the midst of World War II along with keeping an eye on her niece, Jerry Abbott. Of course, Barbara makes time to observe her neighbors’ lives, and her tendency towards matchmaking leads her to some sticky situations. Readers will enjoy the new characters and hilarious social situations in the latest Miss Buncle adventure. 

I will post my review once I have received the book and read it.

Giveaway Details:

 This contest closes on January 17th and is only open to residents of the US and Canada. I would appreciate it if you became a follower of the blog when you entered.  If you become a blog follower  you will receive an extra entry. The book will be mailed to you directly by the publisher if you win.

To enter please comment in the comment box below and include your email address so that I can contact you. Email your request to enter the contest to:

mysteriesetc AT gmail DOT com

if you are unable to leave a comment. Sorry for the problem with the Comment box.

When the contest closes, I will number the entries in the order received. I will let Randomizer choose the winner.

Good Luck!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Giveaway Alert

Coming Soon! A Giveaway

 The Two Mrs. Abbotts:

The final book in D.E. Stevenson’s delightful Miss Buncle Series takes us back to the charming English town of Wandlebury, where Barbara Abbott (formerly Buncle) has her hands full raising two children in the midst of World War II along with keeping an eye on her niece, Jerry Abbott. Of course, Barbara makes time to observe her neighbors’ lives, and her tendency towards matchmaking leads her to some sticky situations. Readers will enjoy the new characters and hilarious social situations in the latest Miss Buncle adventure.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review: Deal Killer (Darby Farr Mystery #5) by Vicki Doudera

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK (April 8 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738734292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738734293

Book Description

Big Trouble in the Big Apple

Darby arrives in Manhattan for a much-anticipated visit with Miles Porter--and to find a dream property for her client Hideki Kobayashi--only to learn that Miles is a suspect in a murder investigation. Russian businessman Alec Rodin was stabbed to death near Miles' office after a public confrontation between the two men. It doesn't help matters that Miles and Rodin's fiancee live in the same ritzy apartment building.

Darby and Miles set out to find the killer. It seems that everyone connected to Central Park Place has something to hide. There's Natalia Kazakova, the victim's not-very-distraught fiancee and her billionaire father, Mikhail, who owns the penthouse suite where she lives. Members of Russia's shadowy security force, a desperate real estate agent, the reclusive old woman in Apartment 515--who can be trusted?

About the Author

When I was a girl and my parents had to bribe me to go anywhere, my mother always promised me a new Nancy Drew Mystery. I remember the thrill of making my selection, turning the crisp pages, and tuning out for the ride home as I immersed myself in the story.

Years later, I still love a good mystery — both reading and writing them!
I moved to Maine in 1986 to renovate and open a Victorian inn with my husband, Ed. We’ve raised three wonderful children here and love calling this corner of Northern New England home. My books Moving to Maine and Where to Retire in Maine are guides to the state, and I’ll be updating MTM, probably in 2014.

In 2003, almost on a whim, I decided to get my real estate license. As I sat in my very first sales agent class and listened to all of the things that could go wrong when buying a house, I had a sudden vision of Darby Farr. I flipped to the back of my notebook and wrote, “Bludgeoned buyers… slaughtered sellers…and a smart agent solving the crimes.”

Who would have thought that a new career would help me achieve my lifelong dream?
Now, I very happily spend my days juggling two roles: Realtor and Mystery Writer. The extrovert in me loves meeting new clients, touring homes, and putting deals together, while the writer savors my time at my computer, letting my imagination run wild.

My Review

The Darby Farr Mystery series by Vicki Doudera is a great mystery series. Doudera writes about what she knows - real estate - and it makes for a well-written, plot driven, mystery thriller.

Doudera kept me guessing until the end - always the sign of a good mystery. I enjoyed the characters and the story. This latest outing was set in New York City which provided a new setting for Darby and her boyfriend Miles. The story revolves around Miles's teaching assignment in New York, the building he is living in, Russian billionaires and New York City real estate. Lots of twists and turns to keep the reader enthralled.

Great mystery! Be sure to pick up a copy when it is available in early April!