Books

#NetGalley #BookReview Death at the Manor (Lily Adler Mystery #3) by Katharine Schellman #Historical #regency #Mystery 

Review 

Death at the Manor

(Lily Adler Mystery #3) 

by  

Katharine Schellman  

Release date: August 9th, 2022

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

I received a complimentary ARC copy of Death at the Manor (Lily Adler Mystery #3) by Katharine Schellman from Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review. 

… well-written, clever, and classically crafted locked room mystery keeps this book engaging leading to an ending that caught me by surprise (which is hard to do) … 

The third entry into this mystery series begins with widow Lily Adler bidding bon voyage (albeit perhaps temporarily) to her dead husband’s best friend and her mystery solving partner Captain Jack Hartley as he takes leave aboard a ship. In his absence, Lily decides along with her newlywed friends Lord Edward (Ned) and Lady Ofelia Carroway to get away for a nice peaceful visit with her aunt Eliza and her partner Susan in Hampshire.  

While visiting, rumors circulate about a ghost referred to as the Grey Lady who has driven out the staff of Belleford Manor and tormented the Wright family. When a friend of the Wrights widower Matthew Spencer entices them to see the ghost for themselves, they all go for a visit. Upon meeting the quirky Wright family, it is evident that not all is as it seems and they appear to thrive on the reputation of the manor, getting the fame and notoriety that they seem to seek. The group gets more than they bargain for when the matriarch of the family is found dead in her bed behind a locked door. While the family is insisting that Grey Lady is the spectral culprit, Lily and her party know differently. With the bizarre and questionable behavior of both the family and staff Lily has her work cut out for her. Lily and her friends go on a mission to find the true culprit before they strike again.  
 

A well-written, clever, and classically crafted locked room mystery keeps this book engaging leading to an ending that caught me by surprise (which is hard to do). Having read and reviewed the previous two books: The Body in the Garden and Silence in the Library, this felt quite different to me, it lacked the quick-witted banter between Jack and Lily which made the books uniquely fun. Although good as a standalone, as a dedicated reader of the series it was disappointing and felt very removed from the author’s usual style. In my opinion, it feels like this is perhaps a book laying the groundwork for a spin-off series of some sort. I love the series in general and hope the next book gets back its mysterious yet fun feel.  

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview of A Poisonous Page (Sweet Fiction Bookshop #2) by Kitt Crowe #CozyMystery #CrookedLaneBooks

A Poisonous Page

Sweet Fiction Bookshop #2

by Kitt Crowe

Release date: July 12th, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Poisonous Page (Sweet Fiction Bookshop # 2) by Kitt Crowe from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

…an intriguing, fun, cozy mystery replete with a cleverly crafted complex plot, an abundance of red herrings…  

In A Poisonous Page, the second entry in the Sweet Fiction Bookshop mystery   we pick up with Lexi after recovering from the events of Book One, Digging Up Trouble.  

Lexi, the manager of the Sweet Fiction Bookshop, gave up a prestigious editing job in Seattle for her hometown of Confection Oregon. Although she had a successful career in the big city, she missed her small hometown, her family and her best friends Teri, Teri’s brother Dash and Cat. Since her return Lexi has managed to reconnect, train her wayward pup Cookie, and has earned quite a bit of fame after her and her book club aka ‘the Macaroons’ solved a murder months earlier. Recovered and a little bored Lexi is craving excitement and when Marilyn Freeman a prominent middle aged real estate agent dies unexpectedly Lexi is curious. When the autopsy rules the victim died of natural causes, Lexi is not convinced but she cannot get anyone to agree with her especially not “Iceberg” or Detective Berg who has become her nemesis. After Marylin’s co-worker Rachel is found murdered in the back yard of Dash’s home, and all evidence points to him, he is arrested, and Lexi realizes it is up to her and the Macaroons to get to the bottom of things.  

 If you are looking for an intriguing, fun, cozy mystery with a cleverly crafted complex plot, an abundance of red herrings, a touch of romance and a quirky cast of fun characters this is for you. Although I felt the first book dragged a bit, the author made up for it in her second outing in the series, I highly recommend.  

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#Netgalley #BookReview The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature (Tips and Techniques for #Drawing and #Painting #Nature on Location) by Virginia Hein & Gail L. Wong #UrbanSketching #NatureSketching

Review

The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature

Tips and Techniques for Drawing and Painting Nature on Location

by Virginia Hein & Gail L. Wong

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature by Virginia Hein & Gail L. Wong from Net Galley and Quarto Publishing Group – Quarry, in order to read and give an honest review.

… If you are interested in learning or brushing up your skills this book is for you…

After taking a hiatus from urban sketching for a long time I recently began delving back into it and was lucky enough to be introduced to the The Urban Sketching Handbook Series a collection of wonderful and comprehensive guides on learning the art of urban sketching. The newest entry into the series The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature, is no exception offering a wonderful way to take your sketches to the next level. The authors perfectly describe the storytelling aspect behind urban sketching and how to incorporate nature into your visual stories in a way that captivates viewers. The book starts by giving readers the basics of composition, proportion, shape and structure then goes on to give detailed instructions on drawing natural elements, color theory, the concept of notan and the tools artists will need to create their masterpieces. The book also offers workshop exercises and challenges to help you put each skill into practice. 

Overall, I love this series for the simple fact they are all no nonsense, well-written and wonderfully illustrated guides that are packed with tools and techniques suitable for both the novice and expert urban sketchers. I read through The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature a few times and played with a few concepts but I look forward to putting some of the tricks I’ve learned into action with some serious sketches on my next trip out. If you are interested in learning or brushing up your skills this book is for you, I highly recommend it!

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#NetGalley #BookReview Outside by Ragnar Jonasson #Mystery #CrimeFiction #NordicNoir

Outside

by Ragnar Jonasson

Release date: June 28th, 2022  

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(3.5 rounded up)


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Outside by Ragnar Jonasson from Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press /Minotaur Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

the author takes you on a clever psychological journey.

A reunion of four old friends turns deadly in this entry from one of Nordic Noir’s most popular authors Ragnar Jónasson.  

While on a ptarmigan hunting trip in Iceland’s Eastern Highlands organized by former bad boy turned successful wilderness guide Armann. When Armann, his friends Daniel, Gunnlauger and Helena are caught in a brutal whiteout their lives turn upside down. In order to survive they break into a shelter to ride out the storm but are met with a menacing surprise. Told from four points of view it becomes apparent that there is more to this trip than meets the eye, murder, mayhem, and betrayal keep the reader on the edge of their seat. The cold desolate setting also adds an interesting twist to the emotional state of the characters.  The characters are dynamic, well-written and realistic, however in my opinion not really likeable. Although the author takes you on a clever psychological journey my major disappointment is the build to a very flat, unfinished, unsatisfying ending.  

Although I enjoyed the book for the most part but felt dissatisfied, I probably will read more from Ragnar Jonasson. 

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#NetGalley #BookReview A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons (A Saffron Everleigh Mystery) by Kate Khavari #Historical #Mystery #CrookedLaneBooks

A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons

A Saffron Everleigh Mystery#1

Kate Khavari

Release date: June 7th, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons (A Saffron Everleigh Mystery #1) by Kate Khavari from Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

… atmospheric and filled with thrills, humor, romance and an intriguing plot A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons is a brilliant historical mystery with a cozy quality to it. …  

Set in 1923, we are introduced to the very spirited Saffron Everleigh, the first female research assistant in the Botany Department of the University College of London. As with most females in a traditionally male field, she endures the usual academic “old boys club” attitude amongst her colleagues. Her late famous botanist father leaves her a huge legacy to live up to. As assistant to her mentor Botanist Dr. Maxwell, Saffron is determined to make her mark and earn the respect of her peers.

While attending a formal dinner to launch an expedition to the Amazon, we are introduced to the quirky cast of characters including the dapper biology researcher Alexander Ashton. Overhearing conversations between various attendees, Saffron learns of scandals that are brewing below the surface of the stodgy academic world. During a toast when Mrs. Henry, the wife of Dr. Henry the expedition leader is poisoned, and Dr. Maxwell is arrested, Saffron and Alexander work together to figure out who was behind the poisoning and why.

Atmospheric and filled with thrills, humor, romance and an intriguing plot, A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons is a brilliant historical mystery with a cozy quality to it. I love Saffron, a brilliant, quirky, and brave woman, she is definitely a character to admire. Although it tends to drag a bit in the middle it more than makes up for it with a chilling climax. I cannot wait to read more about Saffron’s adventures! I highly recommend it.

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Woman in the Library A Novel by Sulari Gentill #Mystery

Review

The Woman in the Library

A Novel

by

Sulari Gentill

Release date: June 7th, 2022

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill from Net Galley and Poisoned Pen Press in order to read and give an honest review.

…A cleverly crafted, interesting, unique, and unexpected whodunit that keeps the reader flipping pages to a surprising and satisfying ending…

A story within a story, this cleverly crafted, intelligent, and unconventional novel features two main plotlines. The main plotline is the inside story written by the protagonist, Australian author Hannah Tigone and in the form of draft chapters shared with a beta reader. Hannah’s novel focuses on a murder in the reading room of the Boston Public Library and a friendship that forms after four strangers bond over hearing the dead woman’s screams. Hannah’s story focuses on twenty-seven-year-old aspiring author Winifred Kincaid a native Australian on a scholarship to the states who is inspired by the events that occurred at the library and her three new friends. As she studies her three friends “Freud Girl,” Marigold Anastas, a twenty-three-year-old psychology student with tattoos and a nose ring, “Heroic Chin” aka Whit Metters Harvard law student and son of a famous lawyer and “Handsome Man” Cain McLeod a well-known best-selling author. As Winifred begins drafting her novel and her friendships begin to blossom, the murder investigation begins to focus on one of her new friends. When another murder connects to one of the four the hunt is on to find the culprit before an innocent person is accused.

The second plotline focuses on one-sided correspondence between “Leo” and Hannah. Leo is thrilled when the author uses his name as a character in her novel. At first the correspondence is no more than constructive criticism from a fan and “beta reader” but evolves into something deranged as the outraged, racist fan disagrees with the direction the author has taken. These letters pepper each chapter and end up connecting to Hannah’s story in ways no one could have foreseen.

A cleverly crafted, interesting, unique, and unexpected whodunit that keeps the reader flipping pages to a surprising and satisfying ending. A read that I highly recommend.

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#NetGalley #BookReview A Fatal Booking (A Booklover’s B&B Mystery #3) by Victoria Gilbert #Cozy #Mystery

A Fatal Booking

A Booklover’s B&B Mystery #3

Victoria Gilbert 

Release date: June 7th, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Fatal Booking (A Booklover’s B&B Mystery #3) by Victoria Gilbert from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

… a fast-paced mystery, replete with an abundance of twists and turns, quirky characters. …  

In this third entry in the Book lover’s B & B mystery series, Charlotte, the owner, and operator of the inherited Chapters B&B in North Carolina is hosting an old friend’s book club retreat featuring fairy tales and classic children’s literature. What should have been a fun time turns tragic when one of the members is murdered. Long held grudges and the questionable business practices of the victim provides an abundance of suspects. True to form Charlotte and her neighbor Ellen, a former spy both decide to offer the police some inside help since the suspects are asked to stay in town, most harboring at Chapters. When Charlotte’s attic is broken into it becomes obvious that there is more to the story, more that connects the history of Chapters throwing Charlotte and her friend into the path of a killer. Gavin makes a reappearance in this entry and the three endure a nail-biting adventure. 

I enjoy the series, each book is better than the previous, however, this entry felt like a finale of sorts which I truly hope is not the case. A Fatal Booking is a fast-paced mystery, replete with an abundance of twists and turns, quirky characters. It is a fantastic and fun cozy mystery read which I definitely recommend.  

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#NetGalley #Book #Review Peril at Pennington Manor (Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series #2) by Tracy Gardner #Cozy #Mystery

Review

Peril at Pennington Manor

Peril at Pennington Manor

Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series #2

by Tracy Gardner

Release date: June 7th, 2022

⭐⭐⭐⭐


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Peril at Pennington Manor (Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series #2) by Tracy Gardner from Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.
…Murder, mayhem, antiquities, and quirky characters make up this fast paced and fun cozy…
Author Tracy Gardner does it again with her second entry in Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series. Peril at Pennington Manor was another fast-paced fun cozy mystery filled with family drama, murder, and stolen antiquities. Having read and reviewed the first in the series, Ruby Red Herring, this entry did not disappoint. Protagonist Avery Ayres works at her family’s business, Ayers Antiquities and Artifacts Appraisers. Aunt Midge asked Avery and her father to do an appraisal for her dear friend Duke Nicholas, who is ready to put his estate Pennington Manor up for sale. As he gives Avery and her father, William, a tour of the manor, they discover that some of the artifacts have been replaced by fakes and a rare antique pocket watch has been stolen. When the manor’s housekeeper, Suzanne Vicks, is pushed off the roof and falls to her death. Avery believes the thefts and the murder are connected and former flame and police detective Art Smith joins the appraisal team in an undercover capacity, to keep his eyes open while the team works through the manor room by room. When another murder happens at the manor the hunt is on but not before a blackout makes the situation more perilous, leaving both Avery and Art fighting for their lives. Murder, mayhem, antiquities, and quirky characters make up this fast paced and fun cozy. Tracy Gardener has once again crafted a clever fast-paced mystery that is intriguing, highly entertaining and I can’t wait to read more in this series.
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#NetGalley #BookReview Death by Beach Read (Lighthouse Library Mystery # 9) by Eva Gates #Cozy #Mystery #CrookedLaneBooks

Death by Beach Read 

Lighthouse Library Mystery # 9

Eva Gates 

Release date: June 7th, 2022  

🌟🌟🌟🌟 🌟

(4.5 Rounded up)


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Death by Beach Read (Lighthouse Library Mystery # 9) by Eva Gates from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

… a fun, intriguing, cozy mystery replete with a cleverly crafted plot, great atmosphere as well as a brilliant and quirky cast of characters…  

A fan of The Lighthouse Library Mysteries, this ninth entry, Death by Beach Read was another wonderful addition to the series.

We open with Lucy and Connor settling into their new home and in the process of planning their wedding, life for them is good although so much work is still to be done. Since their home had stood abandoned for years and with the legend that had surrounded scaring people away, the house had fallen into a neglected state. When Connor is on a business trip and Lucy is woken up in the middle of the night by Charles the cat alerting her to the sound of footsteps in the house, a whirlwind of events begins. From a ghostly legend, family secrets, the return of a troublesome character and a body in their kitchen, Lucy is on the case trying to put the pieces together in order to preserve her sanity…and her life.

This was a fun, intriguing, cozy mystery replete with a cleverly crafted plot, great atmosphere as well as a brilliant and quirky cast of characters. Although I miss Lucy living in the lighthouse, I feel the character is growing along with the changes, making the series feel fresh, in my opinion. My one criticism and not to give spoilers, it felt there were loose ends that were not really addressed which left the reader hanging just a bit. Overall, I love this series and I thoroughly enjoyed Death by Beach Read, I would highly recommend it!

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Secret of Karabakh by Fidan Bagirova #Thriller #LiteraryFiction #History

The Secret of Karabakh

by Fidan Bagirova

Release date: April 14th, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Secret of Karabakh by Fidan Bagirova from Net GalleyLume Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

a brilliantly intricate blend of mystery, thriller and historical fiction that takes you on a journey

Alana Fulton, has it all, the only child of a self-made, jet-setting, wealthy couple, she is a well-respected student finishing her PhD in Archaeology at the illustrious Cambridge University and is in a relationship with a movie star…she is living the Dream. Her reality is shifted when out of the blue she is chased by a strange man, her dorm room is viciously ransacked, and it becomes clear she was the intended target of a terrorist attack at her dorm. During the investigation it becomes clear that both her and her movie star boyfriend are prime suspects in the case. After a mysterious encounter with a hooded figure a note is pressed in her hand that reads…

“You are not who you think you are.

Your future is not what you think it will be.

You are in danger…”

When the accumulated events become surreal, and fractured memories begin to surface, Alana’s dream life begins to become a nightmare. Alana becomes driven to stay alive and protect those she loves while unravelling the mystery of who she really is.

The Secret of Karabakh by Fidan Bagirova is a brilliantly intricate blend of mystery, thriller and historical fiction that takes you on a journey from London, to Cambridge, to Switzerland and finally to Azerbaijan. Rich with detail the author seamlessly blends the challenging history and rich culture of Azerbaijan with the page-turning plot keeps the reader reading into the wee hours of the morning. Filled with multifaceted, authentic characters including a refreshingly portrayed female protagonist who is intelligent, driven, strong and resilient. All in all, this book was a wonderfully original and engaging read, that I highly recommend.