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murder! she read

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It rocks, but not in a good way., 9 Nov. 2015
This cat scratcher rocks, but not in a good way. Due to the nature of the design, when my cat leapt onto the top the whole scratcher rocked and toppled over, which meant that he didn't want to go near it. l stabilised it with wedges on the front and he was happy to use it as a perch for the last couple of months until (in a daring chase with a fly) he leapt off and hitting a weak spot, it collapsed :(
He is only 2.25kg, so is quite slight, but found it very difficult to get comfortable in the den - as the dimensions are for the outside edges, you need to take off at least 2 inches to get an inside dimension to determine if your cat will be comfortable in it.
This has promising design, but I'd say that it was only suitable for kittens instead of adult cats. However the cat nip was amazing (and has lasted longer than the scratcher!)

Arsenic and Old Paint (Art Lover's Mysteries)
Arsenic and Old Paint (Art Lover's Mysteries)
by Hailey Lind
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent series, more please!, 21 Jun. 2015
Before I even start this review, I want to say that Hailey Lind is in my top 5 favourite mystery authors. In the last book Annie Kincade decided to go into business with the shady, yet charming Michael X Johnson, a crony of her Grandfather's and also an ex(?) art thief, much to the dismay of her landlord/semi-love interest Frank. It starts out with Annie and her friends discovering a body set up to look like the Death of Marat painting in the exclusive and male only Fleming Union Club where she was doing some restoration. After finding the body, she was ejected from the club for going into unauthorised areas (ie everywhere by the servants quarters) and being a woman.

Someone was trying to sell a fake Gaugain and the insurance company wanted her help to confirm the fake as well as track down the original, while Frank wants her to ask around regarding a missing bronze. Of course with her family background, she soon knew who was the forger of the Gaugain and it was only when her Faux Uncle Anton is found suffering from arsenic poisoning that Annie decides to start investigating.

I love everything about this series, Annie is a wonderful character and the perfect mix of light and shades that makes her pop out of the page - she is funny, sarcastic, fiercely loyal and one of those people who you would love to be friends with. We also get to see more of Mary and Brian in a hilarious scene in a club. Of course I enjoyed the book, that goes without saying! I found myself totally immersed into her world, cemented with continuous plots that run throughout the series, as well as different elements of the mystery story. Absolutely brilliant, please can we have more.

Died in the Wool: A Knitting Mystery (Knitting Mysteries)
Died in the Wool: A Knitting Mystery (Knitting Mysteries)
by Mary Kruger
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting start to a series, 21 Jun. 2015
Ari owns a knitting shop, ‘Ariadne’s Web’, and this is where the first body is discovered strangled with some handspun yarn, spun by her best friend Diane. Eventually Josh the new detective clears her as a suspect and reluctantly concedes to work together to find the murderer.
As the dead bodies pile up, she discovers that her patterns have been sold online, but is it connected with the deaths? Her life is also made a little more difficult thanks to her irritating ex husband and issues with her young daughter.

This was a well written book that had consistent and swift pacing, making it an enjoyable page turner. There is a large cast of characters which helped the mystery bed to down and hid the murderer. I also liked the connection between Ari, Joel and Diane. As a knitter, I enjoyed the knitting and spinning references too, as well as the descriptions of the shop and contents. I did have an inkling of who the murderer was, which was a little disappointing.

From what I understand, the author has primarily written romance books and it was clear that murder mysteries were a departure. I wasn’t entirely sure that she knew much about knitting and in particular online pattern sharing and selling, as there seemed to be some inconsistencies. All in all, this was a fun cozy mystery which also had the bonus of some knitting patterns as an added extra. All in all this was a great book and an interesting start to a series, which I will look forward to reading.

Stuck on Murder (A Decoupage Mystery)
Stuck on Murder (A Decoupage Mystery)
Price: £2.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Small town mystery with interesting cast of characters!, 25 Feb. 2015
Brenna moves from Boston to a small town where she works in her friend’s paper shop specialising in decoupage. She soon discovers the mayor’s body shoved in a trunk and her friend and landlord is being accused of the murder, so to save him and her sanity, she decides to do some investigating herself along with her best friend.

In some books, rather than establishing a character that the reader has an immediate affinity for, sometimes author do the opposite and introduce a character that is so annoying and infuriating that it serves just as well as a tool to feel empathy for the main character. In this book, we are introduced to Ella and Marie Porter, senior citizen twins who are bent on bickering, one-upmanship and behaviour that would warrant them to me put on the naughty step and have their toys confiscated. I am not sure if I actually felt empathy for Brenna with having to deal with these monsters and instead sped read over those paragraphs instead.

I liked this book, the story line was interesting with a good twist at the end (even though it felt a little rushed). I am not sure if this was a deliberate ploy by the author, but you often felt like an outsider to the community like Brenna – instead of say, the Hannah Swensen books where you are thrown into town life and enveloped by the characters – so I wasn’t too keen on this, but I am interested enough in the characters to get the next book.

Sleeping with Anemone (Flower Shop Mysteries (Paperback))
Sleeping with Anemone (Flower Shop Mysteries (Paperback))
by Kate Collins
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Floral Mystery, 25 Feb. 2015
I am a huge fan of Kate Collins and her Flower Shop Mystery books. I love her characters, especially the heroine Abby Knight. Abby owns a flower shop after leaving her law degree and like all the best characters she is full of light and shade. She often finds herself in sticky situations because she wants to do the right thing – defend the defenceless and right wrongs – a true knight. If you were ever in trouble, you’d want Abby fighting in your corner!

Of course things don’t often turn out how they should and she needs to have someone to rescue her. This rescuer comes in the form of her hunky boyfriend, Marco. A former Army Ranger who now owns the bar down from her flower shop, he loves the way that she always wants to do the right thing – even if it causes more than one headache for him!

The book starts out with Abby on one of her crusades, protesting against the cruel farming practices of Uniworld Food and managing to tick off big wigs at every turn. She is exhibiting at a home and garden show where she is also collecting signatures for her petition. The only problem is that Uniworld is sponsoring the event and soon security is called to escort her out. unfortunately she has other problems in the form of her mother’s sweets that she was giving out as a promotion (her Mum has great ideas, but often ends up with not such a great product) which lead to a dramatic and hilarious show down that had me laughing out loud.

When she returns to the shop, a burning brick is thrown through the window and it turns out that it wasn’t just the security at the garden show that were ticked off with her. Things escalated when her truly irritating cousin Jillian and her teenage niece were kidnapped. This final kidnapping and the body linked to it was the final straw and Marco takes it upon himself to be a permanent body guard. Unfortunately such close quarters makes her question whether or not they should marry. Poor guy, he is really put through the ringer keeping an eye on Abby. She is obviously feeling suffocated and it is her nature to rail against unnecessary rules, so she decides that the only way she can get back her freedom is to sort everything out and get to the bottom of the kidnapping, which means finding ways to escape Marco.

In true Kate Collins style, there are several intertwining plot lines. One minute you think that you have an idea of what is going on, only for it to be turned on its head. In the end, you never see the whole picture until Abby does – which also means you go along the same dead ends too.

As well as the scene in the home and garden show, my favourite part of the book (which also had me in floods of tears) was the final scene with Abby and her Dad. You can see where she gets her strength from and it was a beautiful moment between father and daughter. Throughout the series, you get the feeling that Abby’s tendency to search for the truth is as a result of her Dad’s accident (a former policeman, shot in the line of duty and now in a wheelchair) and that she often mourns that with the accident he also lost the part of him that was the policeman. This is proved wrong with the final showdown. Even though he is in a wheelchair, her Dad still has a heart and head of a policeman, because of this I think that she has a growing realisation of who her Dad is.

I wish this book lasted a little longer, even though I tried to eek it out I still finished it within a day, but I am so excited about the next one. There was comment in passing about her Dad using crutches to get to Marco’s apartment which makes me wonder if he is getting ready to walk Abby down the aisle! Of course the final page with the checklist was a brilliant way to end the book, with just enough romance to warm your heart.

Visit http://www.katecollinsbooks.com/ to see a plan of the flower shop and other snippets of information that aren’t in the book. Abby also has her own Facebook page too – I love these extras, with the internet it seems a fairly simple way of giving fans of the books a little added extra.

The Diva Takes the Cake (A Domestic Diva Mystery)
The Diva Takes the Cake (A Domestic Diva Mystery)
Price: £6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Both love and hate this book!, 25 Feb. 2015
In this book Sophie’s sister, Hannah, is marrying creepy Craig and she is organising the wedding. Of course, this also means that the oh so delightful Natasha is doing all she can to muscle in on the action at every opportunity.

What I like about this book is that on every chapter there is a Q and A or an article snippet from either Sophie’s or Natasha’s column. It is a really clever way of highlighting the difference between the characters and also set up the theme of the chapter.

Natasha set up home with Mars in the same road as Sophie, which means that Sophie has a constant stream of people who are seeking refuge, including the dog. The first victim turns out to be connected to Craig, which throws the wedding party into chaos. Hannah on the other hand is doing a perfect impression of an ostritch sticking her head in the sand, so Sophie decides to poke around a bit to try and find out more about Craig’s life – and more importantly, what he is hiding.

Along with the murder, the other main theme running through the book is the constant interfering of Natasha. What an awful woman, I don’t know whether Sophie is the most gracious hostess on the planet or is an impressive doormat. She seems to just accept the meddling and blatant attempts of Natasha to seize every element of her life. I wonder if she actually has a backbone. Halfway through the book she finally told Natasha not to interfere, but did she listen? Of course not, and Natasha carried on regardless. What I don’t understand is that Sophie considers her as a friend, yet there is no indication of a friendship, just some nutty woman who wants to hijack anything that she does. When it comes down to it, Natasha is just a whisker away from assuming Sophie’s identity.

Like the previous book, the storyline was very complex and with all the relatives and friends floating around Sophie’s house, it was reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel. All these different characters kept you on your toes because you were constantly trying to figure out who was doing what and who was connected to who, not to mention several red herrings. There was also the non-romance between Sophie and the Wolf, with the classic lack of communication between them, made worse by guess who? Natasha, of course. Again in what way is this woman showing friendship?

As much as I hated Natasha, I did enjoy the book. The complex plot and all the characters meant that you never got ahead of yourself in trying to predict what was going to happen. It would be a great book if Natasha wasn’t such a pantomime villain. If she was toned down, or if we could see why there is this friendship, then it would be easier to tolerate such a vivid character. Just because she is the antagonist, doesn’t mean that you can’t see the good parts in her – many of the characters that I love the most are the ones where you get to see all shades of their personality.

Again, like the first book, I am going to wait a while before I read the third in the series to de-Natasha-ise, otherwise the book would certainly end up being thrown across the room!

Domestic Diva Mysteries Website – this is a great website, you even get the layout of Sophie’s neighbourhood and some of her recipes

Mistletoe Murder (A Lucy Stone Mystery Series)
Mistletoe Murder (A Lucy Stone Mystery Series)

1.0 out of 5 stars Features killing of a cat, not for animal lovers :(, 25 Feb. 2015
This book ticked so many boxes, a cozy murder mystery and Christmas – my favourite things, but as I started to read, it all went pear shaped.

The lead character Lucy Stone is married with children and is working herself to a frenzy keeping the house going, cooking up a storm for Christmas, looking after her husband and kids and working nights at a call centre for a catalogue company.

I found this book intensely depressing. The description of the call centre job was nothing but soul destroying, then one of their pet cats were killed, which Lucy and her husband casually dismissed (I think that I was more upset about it than they were). Then Lucy’s mother was coming to stay and there was a long description about her father’s death and how she was coping with it. In short, there was so much misery that the book gave me a stomach ache and life is too short to read books that do that to you, so I stopped reading it (something that I have only done with two other books). Out of curiosity, I flicked through to the last chapter and found out that I had guessed who the murderer was, so the murder mystery part of the book sucked too.

Some people really like this series, but it was just too much gloom and doom for me. Blarg.

Feint of Art:: An Annie Kincaid Mystery
Feint of Art:: An Annie Kincaid Mystery
Price: £2.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book - spies and forgers, oh my!, 25 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As soon as I read the first page of Feint of Art, I knew that this book would be a good’n.
Annie Kincaid has painting in her blood – or to be more precise, forgery. By the age of 10 after painting a perfect copy of the Mona Lisa she was hailed a prodigy, but in her late teens after spending time with her professional forger Grandfather in France, she discovered that unless she wanted a life on the run with the threat of prison hanging over her, she needed a career change.

Despite her best efforts, her past has continually dogged her. A promising career as a professional restorer at the Brock Museum was halted when an expert, still smarting from the embarrassment of being outed as proclaiming one of her teenage forgeries as the real deal, revealed her past to the owners. This led to her being fired and her new career change, starting her own business specialising in faux finishing.

However hard she tries, her talents as a painter – and as a result of the tutelage of her Grandfather, her talent for detecting forgeries, is constantly called upon. This time her ex boyfriend, who also happens to be Head Curator of the Brock, asked her to authenticate a Caravaggio (which turned out to be a fake painted by one of her Grandfather’s cronies) in a midnight meeting, later on he disappears and a janitor is murdered.

To make matters worse, her new landlord is going to raise her rent – and her first meeting with him, she dinged his car and insulted him. So when she was tasked with finding the originals of some Old Master drawings that had been forged by the same man who created the copy of the Caravaggio, she thought that she could kill several birds with one stone and also raise some cash while she is at it.

Annie is a brilliant character, she has good intentions and would always drop everything to help a friend, unfortunately this also means that she finds herself in sticky situations. Other supporting characters include Mary her assistant; Annette the police woman; Frank her landlord and Michael the art thief. I really enjoyed this book and Annie was such a refreshing character with lots of dimensions. As I have mentioned many times before, I actually love to see faults in a character as it makes them more believable and the cast of characters in Feint of Art are all well-rounded and incredibly likable, even the slightly iffy Michael!

I would describe the book as a mystery romp as you are propelled through the chapters along with Annie. I liked the way that there were several new characters introduced throughout the book, instead of all lumped together at the beginning. It also means that when you think that you have an idea who the culprit is, someone new pops up.

The final scene was hilarious and beautifully captured the essence of the book. I can’t wait to read the next books, because you just know that Michael won’t be able to stay away and who knows what Annie will do next.

Hailey Lind’s website http://www.haileylind.com/

Chapter & Hearse (A Booktown Mystery)
Chapter & Hearse (A Booktown Mystery)
Price: £4.37

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Booktown, 25 Feb. 2015
This is the fourth book in the Booktown Mysteries, featuring Tricia who owns ‘Haven’t Got A Clue’ – a bookshop specialising in mysteries. Her sister, Angelica, has just launched her career as the new Martha Stewart with her cookery book and on the eve of her book tour there is an explosion in one of the other bookshops in the street. The owner, Jim, is killed, and Angelica’s boyfriend, Bob, is injured and will not co-operate with the police and is very tight-lipped about the whole matter.

With Angelica away, soon Tricia finds herself taking care of Anglica’s shop and café, attempting to take care of an increasingly hostile Bob, dealing with mourning shop manager, as well as collecting for a fund for Jim’s mother and trying to figure out what happened. She certainly has her hands full!

This is my favourite book in the series, I had really hoped that Tricia and Captain Baker’s relationship would move on, but instead he put things on hold to take care of his ex-wife who became sick. To top it all, Revolting Russ has gone from being an irritant to verging on being a stalker. I can only hope that Captain Baker’s behaviour is a way of illustrating that he and Tricia are made from the same cloth – she deserves a little happiness. I loved hearing more from Miss Marple, she sounds just like my cat (although a little less set on world domination).

I feel sorry for Tricia, given that she is always trying so hard to help other people – and they rarely seem to appreciate it. The murder plot itself was very clever and as always the reveal showed that there was a lot more at going on in the town that meets the eye. What I enjoy about this series is that the additional goings on in the town is not just to add colour, but creating sub plots that evolve in the background throughout the series. It also adds updates of what happened in previous books, like Ginny and Eugenia, to prove that even though the crime has been solved, that there are repercussions.

Like the last book, it seems to be that the men are the most disappointing, other than Mr Everett who is an absolute star. The rest all seem to be lacking (especially Bob and Revolting Russ). The murder victim, Jim, seems to have been a complete ass in spite of the love of a good woman and even Captain Baker is losing brownie points because of the way that he is treating Tricia.

The final scene revealed that Tricia isn’t totally taken for granted and I loved what happened with the delivery man. It certainly left a lot of room for new plots and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

This book was very kindly sent to me by Lorna Barrett, thank you.

For fans of this book, Lorna Barrett is the pen name for Lorraine Bartlett and she has a new book series coming out in the autumn called ‘A Matter of Murder’, a craft themed mystery which looks brilliant. Keep your eyes peeled for this one!

Fundraising the Dead (Museum Mysteries)
Fundraising the Dead (Museum Mysteries)
by Sheila Connolly
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.40

3.0 out of 5 stars Slow starter, 25 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the first book in the Museum Mystery series and as someone who loves antiques and museums, I was really excited about this book, but I really struggled to get into it. Nell is a fundraiser at the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society and hours before a large event, she is cornered by Marty, a Board Member, who says that part of her family’s legacy is missing. Soon Nell discovers that there is more stuff missing and things get worse when the only other employee who knows about the thefts turns up dead.

I am not sure why this book was such a slow starter, maybe it was the relationship between Nell and Charles (the Society’s Director), who just had baddie written all over him… or it was the long descriptions of meetings which never seemed to lead to anything (yes, I know that it part of the work of a fundraiser, but to repeatedly go over the details – it felt like I was there, and not in a good way). The book started to turn around when Nell, Marty and Jimmy got together to trap the thief, however the culprit was so obvious that he could have been wearing a sash saying ‘I steal stuff to maintain my lavish lifestyle, ask me how’.

What irritated me most was Nell’s character. On one hand she is portrayed as this professional woman with high standards, on the other, she is this sexually liberal woman who is willing to have a ‘I’m using him as much as he’s using me’ relationship with her boss, only to act all hurt when she figures out that Charles has been using her (and anything else in a skirt). Then in a blink of an eye, she is flirting with the handsome FBI agent. It just seemed disjointed as if the writer took all the stereotypical behaviours of a single 30 something woman on TV and smooshed it into a character.

In all, it was an OK book, but it will be a while before I read the next book in the series, and then only when I am going through a book drought.

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