Category Archives: Reading for Fun

The Reinvented Miss Bluebeard by Minda Webber

On a recent trip to Preschool Story Time at my local library, my daughter pulled this book off the rack near the “check out” counter as she waited for me to check out my books. I have a fascination with all things paranormal and all things fairy tale (which I love to critique). So, it caught my attention and I added it to check out pile.

The Reinvented Miss Bluebeard (2007) by Minda Webber is described on the back cover with:

Kooks, Spooks & the Infamous Dr. Bluebeard: When your father is not only an infamous pirate but the husband of six vanished wives, respectability’s hard to come by. That’s why Eve invented herself a husband. How else was a nineteenth-century girl to follow her dreams and become one of those newfangled psychiatrists? Certainly she’d never be running The Towers, London’s preeminent asylum for potty paranormals. She wouldn’t be seeing famous patients such as Frederick Frankenstein (he has a screw loose) and treating Jane Van Helsing’s blood phobia. But now, wackier than the werewolves and loonier than the leprechaun she is already treating, something new is taking shape—and he has the name of her never-before-seen husband and a body to drive a girl absolutely batty . . .

The wild mishmash of history, fairytale, and literary characters and plots was tangled enough that several readings would probably be needed to bring them all to light. Webber’s clever literary and psychological references kept me interested and amused. This was great. It was the funniest thing I have read in a very long time. Clearly, Webber is well-read and well-learned. Evidently, Webber writes these kind of books often, and I will be adding her to my “author’s to watch” list.

Happy Reading!

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Books by the Bay Series by Ellery Adams

Ellery Adams, who also publishes as J. B. Stanley and Jennifer Stanley, has published two books in the Books by the Bay series so far. I read the first last year, and honestly, I wasn’t sure about it. Nonetheless, I just picked up the second, and I liked it–really liked it.

A Killer Plot (2010)

Product Description: In the small coastal town of Oyster Bay, North Carolina, you’ll find plenty of characters, ne’er-do-wells, and even a few celebs trying to duck the paparazzi. But when murder joins this curious community, the Bayside Book Writers are there to get the story…

Olivia Limoges is the subject of constant gossip. Ever since she came back to town-a return as mysterious as her departure-Olivia has kept to herself, her dog, and her unfinished novel. With a little cajoling from the eminently charming writer Camden Ford, she agrees to join the Bayside Book Writers, break her writer’s block, and even make a few friends…

But when townspeople start turning up dead with haiku poems left by the bodies, anyone with a flair for language is suddenly suspect. And it’s up to Olivia to catch the killer before she meets her own surprise ending.

A Deadly Cliche (2011)

Product Description: While walking her poodle, Olivia Limoges discovers a dead body buried in the sand. Could it be connected to the bizarre burglaries plaguing Oyster Bay, North Carolina? At every crime scene, the thieves set up odd tableaus: a stick of butter with a knife through it, dolls with silver spoons in their mouths, a deck of cards with a missing queen. Olivia realizes each setup represents a cliché. And who better to decode the cliché clues than her Bayside Book Writers group?

 

 

What I don’t like: I don’t like the long passages from the books Olivia is writing and critiquing for her writer’s group; I don’t want to read partial books. I don’t like that Olivia is seen as a benevolent benefactor (when she could be seen / developed as a hard-working woman with incredible business sense). I don’t like the lack of colors (as detail; they feel missing).

What I like: I like how complicated Olivia is. I like that Olivia is friends with people she doesn’t quite understand. I like that she is attracted to someone without completely understanding why. I like that Olivia’s best friend is a dog. I like that the mysteries are not too easy to figure out. I love the ocean-side setting. I love the wrath of mother nature in the second book. I love the way the second book introduces a serious complication that can be developed in future books.

I like more than I don’t! I think you will too. Happy Reading!

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Devil’s Food Cake Murder by Joanna Fluke

The most recent in the Hannah Swensen Mysteries was released recently. At one time, I would have been first in line to purchase another in this installment, loving the recipes, the mysteries, and learning about the cold northern state of Minnesota. However, the last few have seemed way too similar, way too same ole same ole, to justify that this time. In fact, I had tried several of the recipes for cookies and baked goods last winter, and we didn’t really like them (and I am a great cook / baker), and I was really tired of Hannah’s ambivalent feelings for Norman and Mike. So, I wasn’t in a hurry to buy this one. Nonetheless, it lured me in hopes of returning to the original spunk of this series and its protagonist, Hannah Swensen.

Product Description: These days, everyone in Lake Eden, Minnesota, is buzzing with activity, and Hannah Swensen is no exception. But no matter how busy she may be, Hannah can always find time to help a friend in need – especially when there’s a murder to investigate. A new minister is in town to cover for Reverend Bob Knudson, who’s honeymooning with Hannah’s good friend Claire. But when the replacement is found face down in a plate of devil’s food cake with a bullet in his head, Hannah starts asking questions. She soon discovers that the good Reverend wasn’t quite the saintly fellow he appeared to be. It will take some more digging to find the culprit, but Hannah is sure of one thing: even the most half-baked murder plot can be oh so deadly…

While I don’t think this one is good as the first five, it is much better than the most recent. I did figure out the “twist” with Norman way before it was revealed, but the hanging ending will keep me interested enough to purchase the next one. It also made me think this was not as “goody goody” as it had really become in the last few books, which certainly makes it more appealing to me as a reader. I didn’t learn as much about Minnesota as I have in past books, but I didn’t get bored. It was a fun, fast read.

Happy Reading!

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Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

Pale Demon is the newest installment in The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. I have written about Harrison many times on this blog, and I am happy to give her books another plug as I have just finished Pale Demon and loved it.

Book Description: Banned from the flight lists, Rachel teams up with tycoon Trent Kalamack, headed for the West Coast for his own mysterious business. Can a witch, an elf, a living vampire, and a pixy in one car survive for over 2,300 miles?  And that’s not counting the assassin on their tail.

This video is from the author’s website and explains The Hollows!

http://bcove.me/dewoeguq

Happy Reading!

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Lucy Kincaid Series by Allison Brennan

Allison Brennan has written many books about the Kincaids and Rogans, but the newest installment in the Kincaid Family Saga is the Lucy Kincaid (where so far at least, Sean Rogan is the love interest). I have enjoyed reading about the Kincaids, though I will admit that the violence in these books is pretty gruesome. Nonetheless, I have just finished the first two parts of this trilogy. I cannot find a release date for the third.

Information below taken from the author’s website at http://www.allisonbrennan.com/.

LOVE ME TO DEATH
Release Date:
December 28, 2010

Six years ago, Lucy Kincaid was attacked and nearly killed by an online predator. She survived. Her attacker did not. Now Lucy’s goal is to join the FBI and fight cyber-crime, but in the meantime, she’s volunteering with a victim’s rights group, surfing the Web undercover to lure sex offenders into the hands of the law. But when the predators she hunts start turning up as murder victims, the FBI takes a whole new interest in Lucy.

With her future and possibly even her freedom suddenly in jeopardy, Lucy discovers she’s a pawn in someone’s twisted plot to mete out vigilante justice. She joins forces with security expert and daredevil Sean Rogan, and together they track their elusive quarry from anonymous online chat rooms onto the mean streets of Washington, D.C. But someone else is shadowing them: A merciless stalker has his savage eye on Lucy. The only way for her to escape his brutality may be another fight to the death.

KISS ME, KILL ME
Release Date:
February 22, 2011

KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE

Lucy Kincaid has firsthand experience dealing with deadly criminal predators, and she’s fully prepared to share her many talents with the FBI. But when her career plans are derailed, her boyfriend, security expert Sean Rogan, asks for help on his latest private investigation. Using her well-honed cyber-hunting skills, Lucy is soon on the trail of a missing teenage girl with a penchant for disappearing—and a shocking secret life.

FBI Agent Suzanne Madeaux is also tracking someone: a serial killer on the loose in New York City. Dubbed by the press the Cinderella Strangler, he cruises seamy underground sex parties, where drug-fueled women make for easy pickings. As Lucy and Sean’s desperate search collides with the FBI’s hunt, Lucy isn’t about to step aside. Haunted by painful memories of her own harrowing encounters with evil, she’s determined to keep any more innocents from meeting the fate she so narrowly escaped. Delving deep into the twisted psyche of a remorseless killer, Lucy must confront her own fears—even if it means risking a future job with the FBI and future happiness with Sean.

Happy Reading!

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Crimes of Fashion

The newest in the Crimes of Fashion cozy mystery series by Ellen Byerrum was released last month, and while I have not had a chance to read it yet, I have read and enjoyed the first six. Lacy Smithsonian, fashion writer, is interesting and smart. The history incorporated into each book through Lacy’s affinity with her aunt’s clothing is almost paranormal in nature and is certainly fun.

Book One, Killer Hair (2003)

Crimes of Fashion” columnist Lacey Smithsonian delves into her latest mystery when hot new stylist Angie Woods supposedly commits suicide, but Lacey believes otherwise and teams up with a gorgeous ex-cop to find the truth, an investigation that leads her to a congressional staffer.

 

 

 

 

Book Two: Designer Knockoff (2004)

When fashion columnist Lacey Smithsonian learns that a new fashion museum will soon grace decidedly unfashionable D.C., it’s more than a good story-it’s a chance to show off her vintage Hugh Bentley suit. And it’s not long before the dapper designer himself spots Lacey in the crowd. A reporter at heart, she manages to get all the juicy details about his past-including a long-unsolved mystery about a missing employee. Could it be linked to the disappearance of a Washington intern or the recent Bentley boutique robbery? Lacey sets out to unravel the murderous details in a fabric of lies, greed-and (gasp!) very bad taste…

 

Book Three: Hostile Makeover (2005)

As makeover madness sweeps the nation’s capital, reporter Lacey Smithsonian interviews Amanda Manville, a TV makeover show success story. But with Amanda’s beauty comes a beast in the form of a stalker with vicious intentions.

Book Four: Raiders of the Lost Corset (2006)

Lacey can’t wait to see France for the first time with friend Magda Rousseau, corset creator for D.C.’s wealthiest and kinkiest. Lacey’s job there is to report on haute couture, but the real reason for the trip is the supposed Rousseau lost treasure: a corset lined with jewels. But just before the big trip, someone poisons Magda. Could it have something to do with the priceless corset? To find out, Lacey must follow a dangerous thread that will lead her to the answers–and perhaps the missing jewels.

Book Five: Grave Apparel (2007)

When a holiday sweater-hating diva is found beaten and left for dead wearing a hideous acrylic number that screams Christmas, “Crimes of Fashion” columnist Lacey Smithsonian must unravel the mystery before she becomes the next fashion victim.

Book Six: Armed and Glamorous (2008)

Fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian pursues a course in private investigation in order to have a shot at a better job and gets to test her skills when a D.C. socialite is discovered dead outside the first class.

Book Seven, which is a new release, is Shot Through Velvet (2011). I have not read it yet, but it is on my list:

Fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian is touring a failing velvet factory in Virginia on its final day of operations-and finds one of the factory owners dead, lashed to a spool of velvet and soaked in blue dye. The workers are delighted, since they blamed the “Blue Devil” for killing their jobs.

But when another nickname, the “Velvet Avenger”, makes the rounds, and ribbons of blue velvet start popping up, it could be more than Lacey’s job at stake-it could be her life…

Happy Reading!

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Heather Webber’s Cozies

When I was putting together my Witchy Chicks list, I realized that I had not blogged about Heather Webber. I first learned of Webber on the Cozy Mystery Blog. There, she is described with “Webber writes a cozy mystery series that features a landscaper who specializes in “surprise garden makeovers” but who is sometimes surprised by murders, which she solves, not commits!” that series, the Nina Quinn series, is pretty good. I like the “surprise makeovers” and I love the gardening theme. The books of the series are

  • A Hoe Lot of Trouble
  • Trouble in Spades
  • Digging up trouble
  • Trouble in Bloom
  • Weeding out Trouble.

To my knowledge, no new books have been published in this series since 2008.

I then began reading the Cozy Chicks blog (because I was a fan of Kate Collins and Lorna Barrett). On their blog, the cozy chicks offer an opportunity to get free bookmarks. I sent off for them, and they came back–many autographed. Webber’s was one I received, and I found out that she has another series, and it is about a psychic, which is of course right up my alley! (Webber has her own blog at http://www.heatherwebber.blogspot.com/, in addition to holding the “friday” spot on the cozychicks.)

The Lucy Valentine series has three books so far.

When psychic matchmaker Lucy Valentine is hired by a new client, she’s shocked to find he has a skeleton in his past–literally. (2010)

This first in the series is a great start; it has a mystery (which was way too easy to solve), love, and psychic abilities. I loved it.

                                                              The second in the series is described with:

The irrepressible star of “Truly, Madly” is back in business. This time, Lucy Valentine will go to the ends of the Earth to find true love for her clients . . . and maybe even herself.

At first, I didn’t think the second was as good as the first, but by time the ending came (which was way too quickly), I found that I did. the mystery was a bit deeper, and the love story was still there. I missed the match-making from the first book, but it ended with a bit of lovey gooey to keep me happy.

The third in the series is described:

After being “exposed” by a Boston Herald reporter, matchmaking agency owner Lucy Valentine, who has a unique ability, gets more clients than she can handle until she is upstaged by a mysterious masked man dubbed “The Lone Ranger.”

This one is also a winner. I probably should have put Webber in my paranormal category rather than as a Witchy Chick, but there is something about the hereditary quality of her power/s that suggests to be that it might be developed into a bit more than just a “gift” –she is making it the center of her world at this point.

Regardless, If you like “psychic” detectives (in cozies), you will like this series. Happy Reading!

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