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Book Review of Emeralds and Envy by Angela McRae

I’m ready to head to Roseland, Georgia to hit the garage sales with Emma  Madison. Emma debuts as a jewelry designer and amateur sleuth in this first book of what I hope will be a long-running cozy mystery series by Angela McRae.

Emeralds and Envy is a story of a jewelry artist who comes up with unique creations by combining vintage jewelry components with modern craft store beads and baubles and original accents.

Roseland is an interesting town featuring an eclectic mix of shops and eateries.

Other than her friend Jen, who is still employed in the newspaper business (Emma was formerly a reporter), Emma’s friends are other artists and vintage merchants who appreciate modern takes on classic style – a concept I wholeheartedly support in my own life and writing projects. (I actually dabbled in discovering and reselling mid-twentieth-century jewelry for a time, so appreciate many of the authentic details.)

Love the fact that Emma’s cat is named after a famous jewelry designer.

The plot follows the proper form for a cozy mystery. I was hooked from the first page and the writing flowed consistent throughout. The red herrings had me stumped. I was completely unsure of the identity of the murderer until the reveal, during a scene which had me on the edge of my seat.

There’s a hint of a possible budding romance, or at least a fond friendship, for Emma, with an attractive male artist. Perhaps that background plot might continue in a next edition of the “Junkin’ Jewelry Mysteries” along with more details about the feline Miriam Haskell?

Andrea McRae is a skilled writer whose voice is perfect for this lighthearted, entertaining, classic cozy.

Emeralds and Envy is great read for any season, I much enjoyed my stolen moments in the spring sunshine with this one.

 

Book Review of The Liar in the Library – a Feathering Mystery – by Simon Brett

Jude, who is a healer in the British coastal village of Feathering, is normally the character who supports others needing help. In this book, however, Jude herself is in need of support as she becomes a suspect in the murder of an old friend.

Zosia, assistant to Ted Crisp, proprietor of The Crown and Anchor, the pub patronized by Jude and her co investigator of local murders, Carol, is having some difficulties which become entwined with the murder plot.

A visit to this village is always a pleasure. In the end, Jude and Carol solve the murder as usual. I’m not totally getting the last page of the book, but perhaps I was just tired when I finished it and the connection wasn’t registering.

Let me know what you think if you should read the book.

Book Review of Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake by Sarah Graves

A fun fast paced read in Sarah Graves’ new series. Always a fan of the Home Repair is Homicide Mysteries by Ms. Graves, the same spirit of adventure and beloved characters play their parts in this series as well.

Picture Maine in early summer, a super storm, almost hurricane on the way as plans for the Fourth of July Holiday are in full swing.

Cheesecakes really do take center stage. Jake and friend Ellie, the main sleuths summon super-human energy to bake a number of them needed for the fundraising auction at the festival.

Baking them and all the other items needed to operate The Chocolate Moose in Eastport Maine, the ladies’ new adventure takes place amid wild rides on boats and in cars, as the girls flee from murder suspects, and work out what really happened in order to save Ellie from being jailed as a suspect herself.

A bit over the top at the end with new threats and developments, but an enjoyable read for lovers of active plot cozies.

I wondered at the beginning where the rest of Ellie’s family went, but by the end they reappeared, and the explanation made sense

A super summer story.

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Book Review of Lions and Tigers and Murder, Oh My A Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery By Denise Swanson

Several interwoven plots add interest to this cozy – Lions and Tigers and Murder, Oh My (Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery) . –  The second book I’ve read recently which features a decision to be made by the main character concerning the choice of two suitors.

If you like old time dime-stores with a modern twists to make them work in today’s world, you’ll find this story entertaining.

Devereaux is the proprietor of the store. She rents space to a fledgling private detective (one of the love interests). His latest client is a man who proposes to build a sort of rescue zoo for wild animals. The man’s wife is missing and the police aren’t sympathetic.

The mystery focuses upon finding the wife and figuring out what really happened and who the perpetrator actually is.

Maybe not a book for young children, not that they would likely read this type of story anyway. The language and insinuations aren’t extreme, but stronger than in most cozies.

I would visit Devereaux’s Dime Store and Gift Baskets again. There’s actually a bit of a cliff hanger at the end (no peeking).

 

Book Review of Murder on the Toy Town Express by Barbara Early

After enjoying most of this story, I must admit the ending has me flummoxed. The solution to the mystery made sense, though it was a bit emotionally upsetting. But I feel the rest of the story should perhapsdisappear , leaving out the rather odd events on the last two pages.

Don’t go reading the last pages first, though. Read from start to finish and see what you think. Then let me know.

Anyone who loves collectible toys – from vintage games to model trains – will enjoy this story in which such items play prominently. The setting is a small town in Western New York. Liz McCall and her father, a retired policeman who owns a vintage toy shop are the main characters.

The murder mystery begins as the town’s toy show ends. Being a law enforcement family, Liz and her dad feel compelled to solve the murder. Liz nearly succumbs to the same fate, as a result of their research.

I figured out who the culprit was just before Liz did, anticipating the coming events.

I have much in common with author, Barbara Early, who enjoys . . . classic movies and campy seventies television, board games, and posting pictures of her four cats on Facebook. . . according to the “about the author” blurb. Will surely visit her site when time permits!

This is the second installment in the Vintage Toyshop mysteries. I will seek out the first also. Barbara offers a number of creatively crafted and intriguingly descriptive phrases throughout the story that will inspire readers and aspiring writers alike.

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Book Review of Pawprints and Predicaments – A Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery by Bethany Blake

Book Review of Pawprints & Predicaments (Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery)

Spent my first plein air reading session of the year, sprawled in the springtime grass on this fair Sunday, one of a very few fine days we’ve seen this April. Was determined to finish Pawprints and Predicaments.

I’m really beginning to become enamored of Daphne and her multi job lifestyle – like mine and that of so many Americans these days. Pet sitter, baker, and private investigator, though the latter job doesn’t pay her too well. It’s like writing, though. She’s compelled to continue, though there might be more profitable ways to spend her time.

A former world traveler and philosopher, she’s finding life in a small Pennsylvania town satisfying at this time in her life. Still young, she’s unattached and enjoys the occasional date at one of the interesting local restaurants.

As this story begins, Winterfest is in full swing. A way to attract tourists, a number of events are scheduled including the Polar Bear Plunge, and a cardboard “Iditarod” featuring conveyances made of cardboard pulled or ridden in by costumed pets of all kinds.

Daphne and her own pets plus those in her charge face one adventurous day after another as the events proceed. Her sister Piper, a veterinarian, and friend Moxie, a lover of vintage, plus all the other colorful characters make for a fun crowd. Not to mention her realtor mother who features prominently too.

A murder creates mayhem in the community, and fearless or foolish, however you view laypersons who confront their own suspects, Daphne, is on top of her own investigation.

I missed something along the way and the reveal of the culprit served to astonish             me, though I felt the other suspects to be innocent. In total bewilderment the last chapter, I smacked the side of my head and said, “of course,” when the character’s guilt was unveiled.

Sylvan Creek, on Lake Wallapawakee is a great town in which to spend an armchair trip.

A four and a half star story

****

Not a super favorite but a wonderful read I highly recommend to cozy lovers who are fans of animals. I will definitely look for more in this series. I read a small paperback copy. Would have enjoyed it more in hard cover.

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The Perfect Present for Mothers Who Love Mysteries

Only a few short weeks remain until Mother’s Day. Do you have a vague idea of what you’re going to give the mother(s) in your life or are you still clueless?

What better gift for mothers who love to relax with a good read than a book about the day?  Mother’s Day Murder (Lucy Stone, Book 15) one of Lesie Meier’s great creations would be a perfect choice.

Leslie’s main character Lucy Stone (named for a real life lady who was a leader in the cause for women’s rights) is a down to earth mother and now grandmother who works for the little local paper in the small Maine town where she resides.

The demands of keeping her family happy while holding down a job, being civically active, and solving murders mirrors the lives of most of we women of today. She’s fun, thoughtful, creative, and insightful. I’ve followed the Lucy Stone Series all the way through, watching her children mature and take off on lives of their own. I hope the series continues so we can see how Lucy evolves as she enters a new life stage.

Happy Mothers Day in advance to all My Readers!

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Book Review of: Claws for Concern A Cat in the Stacks Mystery By Miranda James

I am in danger of becoming a crank   here on the North Coast, where where Mother Nature is taking us on a roller coaster this week, climbing into summer temperatures one day, then letting us plunge back into winter weather for the rest of this week.

Claws for Concern (Cat in the Stacks Mystery) got me through the weekend, and I have another Bethany Blake book ready for any spare moment I may find this week.

Here’s my take on Miranda James’ latest mystery:

A forty pound domestic cat? One that has to have a sitter if his owner leaves the house without him?  The profile of Diesel was a bit of a reach for my imagination at first. But, pet lover that I am, I did grow fond of the well-mannered feline who shares his life with Charlie Harris.

This is the ninth installment of the Cat in the Stacks mystery series, but the first one I’ve read.

I found it interesting and comforting to follow Charlie through his days as a library volunteer who forays into the field of criminal investigation as a hobby. Charlie has a loyal housekeeper, Azalea, and rents part of his home to two men and their pet dog. The sixtyish gentleman has two children and is currently enamored with his new baby grandson.

This tale involves newly discovered family ties, and a carefully entwined plot that includes interesting coincidences. The mystery plot is suspenseful to the end. Diesel, of course, helps with the interrogations, in his own way.

This mystery may not be on my “top shelf” of favorites, but I did enjoy it. I plan to seek out some more titles in this series that features one of my favorite cat breeds, the Maine Coon Cat. I don’t know that any Maine Coon approaches Diesel’s nearly bobcat size, but individuals of this breed do tend to be larger than average. Diesel is charming and dog-like and I do recommend this series to lovers of pet-themed cozies.

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