Book Review of A Fatal Fiction by Kaitlyn Dunnett

Mikki Lincoln, seventy year old retired junior high school teacher turned freelance editor is making her life exciting by investigating a murder again. The scariest part of A Fatal Fiction for me was when she jumps from a seven foot high roof in order to “escape” her nephew’s detection.

(You have to read the story to find out why.)

Lenape Hollow, in the Catskill area of New York state is the setting. It’s Mikki’s hometown, where she’s spending her later years, after moving back from Maine. A dispute over a long-closed resort is the focus of much of the story, the setting for some of the scenes relating to the murder mystery.

Mikki is editing the memoirs of the elderly daughter of the proprietor of the resort back in its heydey, when an array of famous people stayed there. I’m not sure the previous sentence is grammatically correct, but I’m sure Mikki – or Kaitlyn Dunnett . . . could tell me.

The trivia regarding grammar at the end of the book was a treat. This is the third mystery in the “Deadly Edits” series.

I enjoyed reading the detaiils of Mikki’s mundane but satisfying lifestyle, as well as the complex plot structure and the dramatic conclusion.

The cover of this copy is lovely too – books in prettily bound covers on a shelf, with an inset featuring Calpurnia, Mikki’s calico cat eying birds outside, against a background of purple Catskill Mountains and the lovely hues of the sky above them. In the foreground, manuscript pages flutter onto a table.

Looks like a perfect setting to me. I must get back to my “in process” cozy mystery manuscript. So many writing projects, so little time. . .

Book Review of Furmidable Foes by Rita Mae Brown

Furmidable Foes is yet another well-crafted story in this long running mystery series by Rita Mae and feline friend, Sneaky Pie.

Complex due to the inclusion of a side story that takes place in the eighteenth century, based in the same territory as the modern times tale—this one featuring springtime peonies, matching lipsticks, church events that include pets, seasonal farming and horse breeding facts, the more intelligent than humans discussions and antics of main character Mary Minor (Harry) Haristeen’s pets, Pewter, Tucker, Pirate, Mrs. Murphy.

As the fourth of July approaches, expect fireworks of all kinds in this wonderful classic installment of the tales I never tire of, the Mrs. Murphy Mysteries.

Our mature indoor tabby reminds me of Mrs. Murphy. Our younger tabby who forced her way into our home between one and two years ago behaves oddly, and not always politely, in a similar manner to Pewter. Have I been reading too many of these tales? Examining the behavior of animals too closely? Impossible.

A highly recommended read for lovers of dogs, cats, horses, wildlife, whimsy, and history

Book Review of A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Colette

This cozy mystery is from an author new to me. Abby Colette is a Cleveland, Ohio native and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of other mystery series’ but it was the title A Deadly Inside Scoop which intrigued me as it features a Chagrin Falls, Ohio ice cream shop.

A fictional shop, that is, but the town is a real place in the Northeastern Ohio snow-belt. Hailing from Ohio, that’s an area where I’ve always thought I’d like to live, for six months of the year, or if I was retired and didn’t have to go anywhere during the remainder.

But I digress. The book follows the classic process of a typical cozy. It begins with a day featuring details of the heroine, Bronwyn Crewse’s takeover of the historic family ice cream shop; her attempt to modernize the enterprise, which means taking in back to its roots of specializing in the title product, featuring flavors never imagined by its original proprietors.

Bronwyn is an unmarried, childless business major who left a successful career to be near her grandfather, parents and brothers and to save the heritage business.

The first day morphs into a stressful night as Bronwyn stays at the shop brainstorming ways to successfully launch a frozen treat business during a premature October blizzard. The discovery of a murder victim makes the night even more ominous.

A complex mix of suspects keeps readers on their toes through the body of the story featuring dramas involved in running a food business and solving the murder mystery in order to exonerate one of Bronwyn’s family members.   

The story closes with a nail-biting close call for Bronwyn and a friend who assists her in the final act of the murder investigation.

Grandma Kay’s Snow Ice Cream and several other recipes for frozen treats are included as a bonus at the book’s closing.

Oh, and I can’t forget – who could turn down a cozy featuring a cute white cat who is the ice cream shop mascot? Don’t tell the health department.

Book Review of How to Knit a Murder

I did have a difficult time keeping up with character identities in this fast flowing story, but a helpful guide was provided inside the front cover.

I picked up How to Knit a Murder  by Sally Goldenbaum on a day when I was mentally “down” and it delivered what M.C. Beaton mentioned as her reason for writing fiction – “to give someone a good time on a bad day”.

I do my best to make that my motto as I compose my own stories also.

The Cape Ann area is an inspirational place for me, so I immediately loved the setting of this book’s charming fictional village, which holds secrets and conflicts just as do all places of human habitation.

In this entertaining cozy, a group of close friends who share a passion for felines and knitting solve a murder, exonerate and welcome a former resident and schoolmate.

It was a bit unsettling to realize the identity of the murderer, but isn’t it always for those of us who empathize with everyone?

A lovely story which conveys the reminder that the imprint of childhood experiences, especially those involving strong emotions, can stay with us always.

How we deal with these powerful, sometimes terribly upsetting memories is up to us.

Book Review of Whiskers in the Dark – By Rita Mae Brown

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 springtime sunshine with this one.

 

 

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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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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Dial Meow for Murder – a book for lovers of eclectic characters, pets and all that accompanies the Halloween Season.

a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/premonition/”>Premonition

via Daily Prompt: Premonition

I actually have experienced a few premonitions during my lifetime, a couple of them coming as dreams revealing scenes and details I could never have known might happen, but that did in fact come to fruition. The dreams seemed different from “normal” ones. I sensed that they had meaning, though I was in denial until the events occurred. So I’m a true believer that there is a lot about the universe that we don’t know.

I have a strong desire to make sense of everything, but the world from our perspective doesn’t seem to make much sense, so faith and trust are necessities. From that point of view, I value my unexplained experiences, as they are proof that there’s something beyond the physical world with all it’s flaws.

I have a premonition today, well, really a reality based prediction that those of you who are interested in the spirit of the Halloween season, parties, costumes, and pets, will love the book I was planning to review today.

So, here’s the review. I hope you enjoy it and perhaps click the link to order a copy, and let me know in the comments section if you have had premonitions that came true too:

Book Review of Dial Meow for Murder – A Lucky Paws Pet Sitting Mystery by Bethany Blake

Dial Meow for Murder (Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery)

I’ll have to read the first in the series, Death by Chocolate Lab, now that I’ve become a fan of Daphne and Socrates, oh, and Tinkleston too, the crazy little kitten Daphne just adopted after the death of his owner. Socrates, the basset hound is Daphne’s sidekick and protector. Daphne has her own pet sitting business, though she doesn’t seem to do that job too much in this book. She’s too busy creating costumes, celebrating at Halloween events and solving murders.

A casual romance/friendship is featured, as is a drama concerning the large home of a lady who passed away, which was for sale by Daphne’s mother’s real estate company at the time of the death of the owner.

Daphne’s sister Piper is a veterinarian. Both young ladies are animal lovers so cute pets permeate the tale. Fund raising for pet rescue organizations is a prime pastime for the interesting cast of characters.

I liked how everything turned out in the end, the several plots coming together pretty seamlessly. Well, one character I really liked is leaving Sylvan Creek (PA), which made me a bit sad, but it’s probably a good thing for that character. I’m not sure what the title has to do with the story, but I do like the take on the vintage film “Dial M for Murder”.

A recommended read for those who love pets, and the lovely season of Autumn, and Halloween.

To learn more, view the link below:

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Book Review of Glow of Death, a Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery – By Jane K. Cleland

Cats, Books, Mystery Books,

Lecture
via Daily Prompt: Lecture

Perhaps I should attend a lecture on the proper way to review books – learning from the experiences of others is a valued way to improve one’s own talents. But just now I’m too busy reading books I love and hoping to share them with others who like the same kind of cozies I do. – In addition to my other personal and professional responsibilities.

So I hope that readers are ok for now with the fact that I share my honest impression of books with you- my online friends, in the same natural manner I would use with “in person” friends.

So here’s my review of  Glow of Death: A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery (Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries): My latest favorite from Jane K. Cleland, set in my very favorite place to visit in person, Southern Coastal New England:

It took me a while to read this one. A bit longer than most cozies, it seems, but the plot held the reader’s interest the entire time.

A complex winding plot with some unexpected suspense at the end.   I must admit I got a little lost for a time, keeping track of characters and plot twists, but that was okay.

A tiffany lamp was the star of the story. I learned some details of how to tell a real one from a reproduction, but it does require an expert to be sure. If an item has enough value, people will find a way to accurately make copies.

This one was stolen, replaced with a fake, and Josie was challenged with finding the real one, and finding the murderer of the lady with whom she had met to appraise the lamp. Well, maybe. That’s all I’m saying

I learned a bit about tomato cultivation, as a side character did nothing but tend to her plants it seemed, each time Josie passed her home. It seemed a bit repetitive, but I would love the meet the character in person, very pleasant and a great sense of style.

Josie finds romance with her cop boyfriend who’s out of town assignment finally comes to an end and they can spend more time together. And Hank, the watch cat of Prescott Antiques gains a new friend.

If you find antiques fascinating, love cats, and the New England Coast, and appreciate an assortment of interesting characters, all entwined into a detailed plot you will enjoy this story.

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Book Review of X Marks the Scot by Kaitlyn Dunnett

X Marks the Scot (Liss MacCrimmon Mystery)

Liss Maccrimmon – Ruskin serves as the focus of this installment in the Liss MacCrimmon  Scottish Mystery Series. Liss is the proprietor of Moosetookalook Scottish Emporium, a business started by her father and Aunt Margaret in the nineteen fifties.

A trip to Canada with Liss’ Aunt Margaret, the discovery of a dead body and several break-ins pepper the pursuit of the map’s significance. It’s at first not apparent whether the events are related to the map or not, but it soon becomes clear that others are aware of the treasure map as well.

A Shirley Temple lookalike and professed scholar, Benny Beamer, who is seeking material for the historical publication she is planning to further her career plays prominently in the tale as do those involved with The Chadwick Mansion, the estate where Liss believes the treasure map leads.

The antics of Lumpkin and Glenora, Liss’ cats, and Dandi and Dondi, Aunt Margaret’s Scottish Terriers (what else!) entertain animal loving readers like myself. And then there’s the attraction of Liss’s handsome husband Dan who, in addition to assisting his family’s businesses, Ruskin Construction, and The Spruces, a historic hotel his father restored and reopened, is a craftsman who creates specialty “puzzle tables”.

Liss’ friend Sherri Campbell, the local Chief of Police, as always assists in solving the mystery and strives to keep Liss safe, but in the end, Liss takes a risk and confronts her suspect, making for a suspenseful conclusion to the story. Will Liss survive this confrontation? Read and see.

A subplot has Liss worried about why her aging parents are returning to Maine after many years of living in Arizona.

Kaitly Dunnett is one of my very favorite creators of cozies. The style and characterization of this series has always resonated with me. It’s been very inspirational in the composition of my own cozy mystery manuscript, Black Cats, Schemes, and Childhood Dreams, which is nearing completion.

I highly recommend  X Marks the Scot and all the earlier works in the series.

To learn more, click the link below:

X Marks the Scot (Liss MacCrimmon Mystery)

Kilt Dead

Scone Cold Dead

A Wee Christmas Homicide

The Corpse Wore Tartan

Scotched

Bagpipes, Brides, and Homicides

Vampires, Bones, and Treacle Scones

Ho-Ho-Homicide

The Scottie Barked at Midnight

Kilt at the Highland Games

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X Marks the Scot (Liss MacCrimmon Mystery)