Saturday, May 20, 2017

Book Review: The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen

The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #6)The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the sixth book in the Her Royal Spyness series, but the first I have read. It was this year’s Christmas read. I am hooked. I loved Georgiana, as well as the other characters, though there is not as much development of them - her mother, grandfather, Darcy - as some of the other characters.

Georgie is faced with spending Christmas with her brother and his wife, Binky and Fig (I’m not going to say anything about the ridiculous names) at the family’s castle, with Fig’s family. Georgie’s mother is going to be spending Christmas at Tiddleton-under-Lovey. Desperate not to spend Christmas where she’s not wanted, she looks for a job and finds an ad for a lady of high breeding to help host a party in Tiddleton-under-Lovey of all places. She applies and gets the job.

The Christmas party and events are a setting that are reminiscent of Agatha Christy and Ms Bowen did it wonderfully. The characters range from an American couple and their two children (teenagers) to a colonel and his wife just recently from India. Plus, a cast of characters from the town, including what amounts to a village idiot (though he managed to have jobs) to a trio of spinster sisters, and the Vicar.

The day Georgie arrives the first murder has already occurred, but it is ruled a hunting accident or a suicide, though one doesn’t usually shoot themselves in a tree. From there, there is a death just about everyday, though none of them appear to be anything other than accidents or natural causes. What is unusual is the daily occurrence. Georgie finally connects the the deaths and from there it moves rather quickly. The ending was climatic and not what I expected, but it all pulled together well.

I loved the book. I loved the setting of the Christmas party in a small town with her mother and Noel Coward nearby along with her Grandfather, who is a retired beat cop (the local police mistakenly thought he was a detective and sought him out for advice with the deaths). I liked that the local cop looked to the Grandfather for help and didn’t rule out help from Georgie.

There was also her relationship with Darcy O’Mara. It was the only drawback to not having read the previous novels as I was a little lost (though it did not detract from the novel). He is smitten, but thought she should leave it to the local police, though he seems supportive of Georgie.
If you like historical mysteries a la Agatha Christie with a tiny bit of romance, this book is for you. I’m ready to read the first books in the series and hope they are as good.


View all my reviews

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Book Review: Death & the Brewmaster's Widow by Loretta Ross

Death & The Brewmaster’s Widow (An Auction Block Mysteries, #2)Death & The Brewmaster’s Widow by Loretta  Ross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book in this series and presents a wonderful mystery. One of the hardest things about this series to me is the main character’s name - Death, pronounced Deeth. But, once you get into the story, you know how to say the name and the oddness goes away a bit. There are plenty of wonderful things about this series, compared to others out there (and many that I enjoy). First, is the lack of antagonism from the local authorities with Death’s character - a wounded Warrior turned private investigator/bounty hunter and Wren, the auctioneer from the series title. Death is indeed a wounded warrior, which is the second refreshing thing about this mysteries. While I hate that he is wounded, it is true to the times we live in. Next is the closeness of the characters in this book, from Wren’s employers (it’s their auction company) to the police to other towns folk. Now, not all small towns may be like this, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were.

Next is the fact that Death learns to rely on Wren and not sell her short. He definitely considers an equal. He may not like his disability, but he’s not in denial about it either. He recognizes Wren’s strengths and adds those to his own. In this book, the support also comes from Death’s brother’s fire department and friends as he and Wren look in to the oddness of getting a badge that did not belong to Death’s brother, who died in a fire. The numbers on the badge don’t match. At first, it’s just a curiosity, but as they continue to look into it a mystery unfolds. I figured it out right about the same time the characters did, but that didn’t detract at all. In fact, it’s not a traditional mystery in the end, which makes it even better.

The final climatic scenes are among some of the best I have read, alternating between Wren and Death. Quite well done. The epilogue was also very satisfying. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series. I recommend reading these books in order as they do build upon each other. Recommended if you enjoy a good mystery with all likable people.


View all my reviews

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Recipe Review: Brown Sugar & Almond Biscotti

Brown Sugar & Almond Biscotti
I've taken to having a cup of tea in the evening while I read my book.  Sometimes, this calls for a little nosh to go with it.  It occurred to me that biscotti would be a great choice.  Nice with the tea, but not too much.

So, I cruised through the various biscotti recipes on Pinterest, pinning several.  I settled on Brown Sugar and Almond Biscotti from Food Gal to start.  It takes a little time between the baking and the toasting, but it is definitely worth it.  This is one tasty recipe. Next time, I won't toast it quite so long at the end as I like it a little softer, but that's my preference.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Review: A Ghostly Undertaking by Tanya Kappes

A Ghostly Undertaking (Ghostly Southern Mysteries, #1)A Ghostly Undertaking by Tonya Kappes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first book in the Ghostly Southern Mystery series by Tanya Kappes. While I enjoyed the book, I’m not sure I’d call it a mystery. More like Chick Lit with a little mystery thrown in. I liked the characters, but am not sure we really get to know them. We get to know the main character, Emma Lee, who runs the Eternal Slumber funeral home (and drives around in the hearse because she can't afford another car), and Ruthie, the dead person. We also get to know Jack Henry, the sheriff and Emma’s crush. Relationships are not well developed, though they aren’t non-existent. You know Emma is close to Granny, but you don’t really see it. She works with her sister, Charlotte, and there are hints of a relationship there, but that’s it.

The mystery revolves around who killed Ruthie. Emma can see Ruthie due to an accident she had a few months ago. Everyone thinks Emma is crazy and it’s the “Funeral Trauma.” Except Jack Henry, who believes her and doesn’t really bat an eye.

There was as much of Emma and Jack in this story as the mystery. I felt like the killer came out of nowhere, but there were hints. Honestly, the best part of the story was Emma’s growing friendship with Ruthie. Who disappears after her murder is solved. This book was equally split between Emma and Jack’s growing relationship as the mystery.

The one thing that drove me nuts was the almost universal referral to everyone by their first and middle names. I realize this is set in Kentucky and that the author is from there. I grew up in the South and while you see this sometimes, it’s not that prevalent and certainly not for an entire town. I also got a little tired of hearing the term "funeral trauma" as it kind of made it sound like everyone in the town was a little backward. This aside, I did enjoy this book and wouldn’t be averse to reading the next book in the series.

View all my reviews