Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: Murder at the Mansion (Victorian Village Mysteries #1) by Sheila Connolly

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4584 KB
  • Print Length: 328 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250135869
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (June 26 2018)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0785DV17F

Book Description

The first in a brand-new series from New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly!

Katherine Hamilton's goal in high school was to escape from her dead-end hometown of Asheford, Maryland. Fifteen years later she's got a degree in hospitality management and a great job supervising every aspect of the day-to-day operations of a high-end boutique hotel on the Baltimore waterfront. Then her high school best friend asks her to come talk with the town leaders of Asheford, but she won't say why. Kate can't cut her last link to her past, so she agrees to make the short trip across the state to Asheford.

Once Kate arrives, the town council members reveal that their town is on the verge of going bankrupt, and they've decided that Kate's skills and knowledge make her the perfect person to cure all their ills. The town has used its last available funds to buy the huge Victorian mansion just outside of town, hoping to use it to attract some of the tourists who travel to visit the nearby Civil War battle sites. Kate has less-than-fond memories of the mansion, for personal reasons, but to make matters worse, the only person who has presented a possible alternate plan is Cordelia Walker--Kate's high school nemesis, who had a hand in driving Kate away from Asheford so many years.

But a few days later Kate receives a call from the police--Cordelia has been found dead on the mansion property, and Kate is all-but certain that her name is high on the suspect list. She finds herself juggling the murder investigation and her growing fascination with the magnificent old house that turns out to be full of long-hidden mysteries itself. Kate knows she must clear her name and save her town--before she ends up behind bars.

About the Author

Sheila Connolly has taught art history, structured and marketed municipal bonds for major cities, worked as a staff member on two statewide political campaigns, and served as a fundraiser for several non-profit organizations. She also managed her own consulting company providing genealogical research services. Now a full-time writer, she thinks writing mysteries is a lot more fun than any of her previous occupations.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime-New England (president 2011), the national Sisters in Crime, and the fabulous on-line SinC chapter, the Guppies. She also belongs to Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America.

Sheila is Regent of her local DAR chapter, and a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants. She's also the grandchild of Irish immigrants (in case you're worried that she's a snob). In addition to genealogy, Sheila loves restoring old houses, visiting cemeteries, and traveling. She is married, and has one daughter and two cats.

She blogs with Poe's Deadly Daughters and Mystery Lovers' Kitchen on Fridays, and Killer Characters the 25th of each month.

My Review

Murder at the Mansion is the first in a new series by author Sheila Connolly. It is entitled the Victorian Village Mysteries series. There is nothing better than getting in on a series from the first book so I was thrilled to plunge right in.

The author of this series, Sheila Conolly, has written many cozy mysteries. I have read her books before and knew that Murder at the Mansion would be good.

Katherine Hamilton has had a very successful career in the hospitality industry. Recently out of a job, Kate returns to her hometown of Asheboro, Maryland to help with a new business venture. She is more than up to the job but what about the dead body! Lots of suspects and a good story.

Highly recommend Murder at the Mansion.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Review: Till Death Do Us Tart (A Bakeshop Mystery #8) by Ellie Alexander

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2148 KB
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (June 26 2018)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B077XKS2SY

Book Description

Torte—the small-town bakeshop no one can resist—is hosting a midsummer night’s wedding . . . where merry-making and murder are served up in equal measure. Till Death Do Us Tart is Ellie Alexander's eighth delectable novel in the Bakeshop mystery series.
Jules Capshaw has too much on her plate—and she’s feeling the pinch: the whole town of Ashland, Oregon, is in on the surprise Elizabethan-themed wedding she’s planning for her mom and soon-to-be stepdad. But is her secret scheme half-baked? She’s hiding racks overflowing with sweet treats while Torte is topsy-turvy with a major remodel and the return of Jules’s estranged husband, Carlos. And until now, Jules had no clue about the bitter family feud that has her friend Lance frazzled and suspicious. But when a party crasher takes someone out with a serving of poisoned wine and Jules discovers the deadly cup was intended for her, it’s time to turn the tables on a killer.

For further information on the series:

About the Author

Ellie Alexander, author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series (St. Martin's Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

The 7th book in the Bakeshop Mysteries, ANOTHER ONE BITES THE CRUST, releases in January 2018, and be sure to check out Ellie's new beer series set in Leavenworth, WA, DEATH ON TAP.

Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her websites at: http://www.elliealexander.co/ or following her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliealexand...

My Review

Till Death Do Us Tart is the 8th book in the A Bakeshop Mystery series. I have read the entire series as I find it quite delightful and well written. Till Death Do Us Tart is a great addition to the series.

Ashland, Oregon is the setting for this series. Ashland is a unique town in southern Oregon that hosts a Shakespeare festival every year. Many parts of the town follow this theme. Author Alexander brings Ashland alive for the reader.

Till Death Do Us Tart is centered around the surprise wedding ceremony of Jules' mother and the Professor. Between the secret wedding, Carlos and his son showing up and the remodel of the bakeshop, things are already hopping when a guest is served poisoned wine. The guest who is served the wine is a PI hired by Jules friend Lance to help with his estranged family. Lots going on in this book!

Great book! It looks like the next book in the series is out at the end of the year! Yippee!

Review: Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1333 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (June 12 2018)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B072VCK61M

Book Description

Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He’s found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginian Appalachia where his main responsibilities include tracking wildlife and refurbishing cabins. It’s hard work, and totally solitary—perfect to hide away from the Mexican drug cartels he betrayed back in Arizona. But when Rice finds the carcass of a bear killed on the grounds, the quiet solitude he’s so desperately sought is suddenly at risk.

More bears are killed on the preserve and Rice’s obsession with catching the poachers escalates, leading to hostile altercations with the locals and attention from both the law and Rice’s employers. Partnering with his predecessor, a scientist who hopes to continue her research on the preserve, Rice puts into motion a plan that could expose the poachers but risks revealing his own whereabouts to the dangerous people he was running from in the first place.

James McLaughlin expertly brings the beauty and danger of Appalachia to life. The result is an elemental, slow burn of a novel—one that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.


“One of the year’s most buzzy, fascinating thrillers. . . . A suspenseful, emotionally resonant journey into one man’s dark past.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“A journey into the wilds of Appalachia. . . . Tightly plotted and beautifully written, Bearskin marks an auspicious debut.” (Nylon Magazine)

“Bearskin—a gripping tale written in spare, beautiful prose—tells the tale of Rice Moore, a reluctant hero, competent, resilient, and utterly engaging.  McLaughlin is a gifted storyteller, and Bearskin is a remarkable debut.” (Scott Smith, NYT Bestselling author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins)

Bearskin is visceral, raw, and compelling—filled with sights, smells, and sounds truly observed.  It’s a powerful debut and an absolute showcase of exceptional prose.  There are very few first novels when I feel compelled to circle brilliant passages, but James McLaughlin’s writing had me doing just that.”  (C.J. Box, #1 NYT bestselling author of The Disappeared)

“A secret past, old foes, bloodthirsty locals, and the destruction of the natural world converge in McLaughlin’s debut novel. An intricately written thriller that explores the darkest parts of human nature against the beauty of unspoiled American wilds.” (Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of Robert B. Parker’s Old Black Magic and The Sinners)

“At once brutal and beautiful, Bearskin is a tense, haunting thriller brought to life by McLaughlin’s deft and vivid rendering of the rugged mountain landscape and the beasts that dwell within. A powerful debut.” (Laura McHugh, author of The Weight of Blood and Arrowood

Bearskin is visceral, raw, and compelling—filled with sights, smells, and sounds truly observed.  It’s a powerful debut and an absolute showcase of exceptional prose.  There are very few first novels when I feel compelled to circle brilliant passages, but James McLaughlin’s writing had me doing just that.” —C.J. Box, #1 NYT bestselling author of The Disappeared

About the Author

James A. McLaughlin holds law and MFA degrees from the University of Virginia. His fiction and essays have appeared in The Missouri Review, The Portland Review, River Teeth, and elsewhere. He grew up in rural Virginia and lives in the Wasatch Range east of Salt Lake City, Utah.

My Review

Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin was a fantastic surprise of a book. It has flowing prose that is similar to my favorite James Lee Burke. This is McLaughlin's first book. I cannot wait for more.

Rice Moore has found the perfect job for a biologist who needs to hide from the Sinaloa cartel. He is the groundskeeper on an isolated nature reserve in Appalachian Virginia. The locals invade his world as they poach the bears on the reserve. Rice takes the protection of the bears very personally. 

The reader is taken into the magical, mystical world of Appalachia in Bearskin. You can feel everything that Rice is feeling and touch everything he is touching. McLaughlin is an amazing writer who had me spellbound throughout the book.

There is violence but it is not gratuitous, it is necessary to the story. I barely noticed it as I was so engrossed in the story. Great book!

Highly recommend Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Review: A Gathering of Secrets (Kate Burkholder #10) by Linda Castillo

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 10 2018)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B078H45Q6K

Book Description

A deadly fire exposes the dark side of Amish life in this harrowing new thriller in the New York Times bestselling series.
When a historic barn burns to the ground in the middle of the night, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called in to investigate. At first, it looks like an accident, but when the body of eighteen-year-old Daniel Gingerich is found inside—burned alive—Kate suspects murder. Who would want a well-liked, hardworking young Amish man dead?

Kate delves into the investigation only to find herself stonewalled by the community to which she once belonged. Is their silence a result of the Amish tenet of separation? Or is this peaceful and deeply religious community conspiring to hide a truth no one wants to talk about? Kate doubles down only to discover a plethora of secrets and a chilling series of crimes that shatters everything she thought she knew about her Amish roots—and herself.

As Kate wades through a sea of suspects, she’s confronted by her own violent past and an unthinkable possibility.

“Riveting...Castillo's sensitive handling of her subject matter builds a nuanced, often troubling picture of insular, patriarchal communities in which silence allows predators to thrive.”―Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Linda Castillo is the New York Times bestselling author of the Kate Burkholder series, including Sworn to Silence and Gone Missing, crime thrillers set in Amish country. Sworn to Silence was recently adapted into a Lifetime original movie titled An Amish Murder starring Neve Campbell as Kate Burkholder.

Castillo is the recipient of numerous industry awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence and the Holt Medallion, and she received a nomination for the Rita. In addition to writing, Castillo’s other passion is horses, particularly her appaloosa George. She lives in Texas with her husband and is currently at work on her next novel.

My Review

A Gathering of Secrets is the 10th Kate Burkholder mystery by author Linda Castillo. I have read many of the books in this series and found them all to be excellent. A Gathering of Secrets is a great addition to the series. It moved things along in Kate's life as well particularly in her relationship with John Tomasetti.

The book starts off with a young Amish man dying in a barn fire. The fire has been deliberately set. Who would want to kill a charming young Amish man? It turns out quite a few people!

A Gathering of Secrets is well written and has a great plotline. I really enjoyed the tale. It pulled at Kate in ways other cases have not before. It really hits home for her.

Hard to put down! Highly recommend A Gathering of Secrets. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Review: Everyday Holy: Finding a Big God in the Little Moments by Melanie Shankle

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 696 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0310346681
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Zondervan (April 10 2018)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B072TP57HT

Book Description

It seems to be a rite of passage for every woman: one day you wake up and think, “Wait. This is the life I signed up for?!?”

We’ve all been there. Melanie Shankle is just brave enough to say it out loud. And Everyday Holy is your invitation to re-examine your life and find the little pieces that create a beautiful picture of a big God.   

On any given day, you may be asking yourself:

Is Instagram making me crazy, or am I actually supposed to have a perfectly curated cup of coffee on my artfully rumpled throw blanket every morning?
Doubts about my faith are normal, right?
Is eating cookie dough straight from the fridge fine as long as it’s organic?
Could it be that loving my family well is my spiritual gift?

It’s a common theme: Am I okay? Is my life significant? And how do we measure significance, anyway? Melanie’s hilarious and poignant insight offers you the deep breath of relief that God is working in all the moments, no matter how big or how small. In 100 devotions, Everyday Holy: Finding a Big God in the Little Moments invites you to see your life as God intended: rich with opportunity, significance, and beauty, even on days that feel overwhelmingly ordinary.

If you’re looking for the line that connects the dots, Everyday Holy is for you. If you wonder where God is in this mess or how exactly He’s working behind the scenes, this book is for you. Whether you feel overwhelmed or disillusioned or frustrated by how your life feels, there’s room for you at this table. And here’s the best news: We’re all in this together.

About the Author

Melanie Shankle is a graduate of Texas A&M and lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband, Perry, and daughter, Caroline. Melanie began blogging in July 2006 when she started her blog, Big Mama. She’s also a regular contributor to The Pioneer Woman blog. Her first book, Sparkly Green Earrings, came out in February 2013 and debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list. Her second book, The Antelope in the Living Room, was released on February 4, 2014 and also hit the New York Times list.

My Review

Everyday Holy: Finding a Big God in the Little Moments is the first book that I have read by Melanie Shankle.

Everyday Holy is a book of 100 devotions. It is a lovely volume. Perfect size to keep close by for reading your daily devotional. This book will challenge you. And it assists you in helping you appreciate what you already have. God's truth is right there waiting for you...in little things and little moments. You don't need something big!

This lovely book would be a great gift to yourself or to someone you know that you could find it helpful. I think it is helpful for women no matter where they are in the their walk.

Highly recommend Everyday Holy: Finding a Big God in the Little Moments.  

Review: Stay Hidden (Mike Bowditch #9) by Paul Doiron

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 3 2018)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0791JYWR2

Book Description

A supposed hunting accident becomes a dangerously complicated murder investigation in this intricately-plotted new thriller featuring Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch.

A woman has been shot to death by a deer hunter on an island off the coast of Maine. To newly promoted Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch, the case seems open and shut. But as soon as he arrives on remote Maquoit Island he discovers mysteries piling up one on top of the other.

The hunter now claims he didn’t fire the fatal shot and the ballistic evidence proves he’s telling the truth. Bowditch begins to suspect the secretive community might be covering up the identity of whoever killed Ariel Evans. The controversial author was supposedly writing a book about the island's notorious hermit. So why are there no notes in her rented cottage?

The biggest blow comes the next day when the weekly ferry arrives and off steps the dead woman herself. Ariel Evans is alive, well, and determined to solve her own “murder” even if it upsets Mike Bowditch’s investigation and makes them both targets of an elusive killer who will do anything to conceal his crimes.

Praise for Stay Hidden:

"Outstanding." ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The extraordinary sense of place makes this Doiron's strongest novel yet." ―Booklist (starred review)

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."

My Review

Stay Hidden is the 9th book in the Mike Bowditch series by Paul Doiron. I have read all the books in this series and it is definitely one of my favorites. Paul Doiron is an excellent writer and story teller. Every book in this series is a fantastic read. Stay Hidden is a compelling addition to the series.

Mike Bowditch, now an investigator with the Maine Game Wardens, is sent to a remote island off the Maine coast where someone has been shot and killed by a hunter. But was it a hunting accident? Or murder?

Maquoit Island is far offshore. Lobstermen populate the island but it is also home to summer homes. One of the summer homes was rented by a famous author and she is found dead. The twists in this book keep coming and Bowditch has plenty of suspects including an old hermit, her lobsterman lover, the lobsterman's wife...the list goes on. And there is a rivalry on the island between two families that divide the islanders.

This book was quite the ride. Everything takes place within a few short hours. Mike is tested over and over again and comes through every time. I could not put this book down. So good!!!

Highly recommend Stay Hidden by Paul Doiron.