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Book Review: Murder on Black Swan Lane

Murder on Black Swan Lane is on a great sale for 2.99. It’s a reasonably decent read. It’s a Regency mystery, although I’d say it skirts being steampunk. If there were a dirigible in there, it’d be steampunk. The alchemy and chemistry mentioned is on the glossed over hocus pocus side. The main male character is not well-portrayed in the first few chapters. In what was probably an attempt to create the stereotypical powerful, rich and well-educated Earl, he comes across as arrogant, annoying, and stupidly interested in boring pursuits such as gambling, drinking and womanizing. His “brilliant” supposed chemistry talent is glossed over. Once past that misstep, the characterization was stronger. The main female was delightful most of the time, and it was easy to sympathize with her plight. The mystery itself morphed into about three different mysteries with a confusing cast of characters. The characterization of the main and side characters was enough to propel me through the story–as was the absence of romance. The author was particularly skilled at turning the two main characters into friends. It was very interesting to me how they were attracted to one another, but they were very much bound by, and accepting of, their class status. Ms. Sloane never once considered any kind of romantic dalliance. She was too worried about her next meal and the meals of those she was responsible for. In that aspect, she was realistic in a way that I don’t usually see in Regency mysteries or romance. As for the main, if he considered her a romantic interest, he never acted on it. He was too busy trying to stay out of the gallows. I enjoyed this focus quite a bit as it struck me as far more realistic than most books where “irresistible” urges take over the story at the most ridiculous times.

That said, much of the mystery was quite unrealistic with great leaps of luck and quite a bit of the denouements coming from the bad guys answering questions at the end of a gun or right before planning on killing the hero. There was more introspection scattered about than I like to read, and the end action scene was so improbable and cliched I had to wonder if the author had simply written too many of them to come up with any special touches.

But, it was entertaining enough to finish and a good price. I give it 3 stars.

Posted: September 29, 2017
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Book Discussion: Pinned Post Week 10

So this week I picked out some historical fiction and women’s fiction. Just a whim while looking for good prices.

Amberwell

It was dark when Nell Ayrton got to Carlisle. There had been a raid in the Midlands and the station was blacked-out and in chaos.
Nell ran wildly from one side of the enormous station to the other, despair clutching at her heart.

How on earth was she to find an unknown woman in the milling crowds? And would she have Roger’s baby safely tucked away with her?

Nell is just one of the Aryton’s in trouble as the Second World War looms. Amberwell, an estate on the west coast of Scotland, has been in the Ayrton family for several generations… descending from father to son in an unbroken line. By family tradition, each new owner was to add to the amenities of the place and in this way Amberwell grew larger and more beautiful as the years went by, endowed with gardens and terraces and orchards. The five young Ayrtons who grew up at Amberwell have now ventured out into the world.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Evelyn, who’s in the sad slump of middle age, and gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode, who’s telling her life story. Her tale includes two more women—the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth—who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, offering good coffee, southern barbecue, and all kinds of love and laughter—even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present will never be quite the same again.

I had an urban fantasy picked out, but the reviews complained of bad language and worse, no copy editing. Kiss of death.

Posted: September 23, 2017
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Review: Spirelli Paranormal Investigations

Spirelli Paranormal Investigations Episodes 1-3

I don’t know how I came across this, and I don’t know why they are called episodes. The book actually contains 3 complete novellas packaged into one book. These are quite fun, a bit like Tracking Magic or the first three Markhat mysteries (out of print). I loved the Spirelli characters and thought that even in just the three stories the characters evolved. There’s a hint of mystery between Marin (a VERY COOL dragon) and one of the characters she meets during an investigation, so I suspect this will not be a case of the dragon falling for her boss. Good stuff. Cozy with fun characters and enough action to keep you reading. Love the cover too. Absolutely recommended.

Also available at Kobo!

Bargain: Cozy Mystery, Tough Nut to Kill

We have another bargain cozy this morning! Tough Nut to Kill is 2.99.

Lindy Blanchard has devoted five years of her life to saving the pecan trees on her family’s farm—but someone is going to deadly lengths to see that she fails…

Riverville, Texas, is pecan country, and the Blanchard family farm is famous for its acres of tall pecan trees and the delicious pies and cookies sold at the Nut House, the aptly named family store. Miss Amelia, Lindy’s feisty grandmother, makes the best pecan pies for several counties and the farm is attracting visitors from far and wide to sample the wares.

Until the day Lindy walks into the greenhouse to find her uncle Amos murdered and her new stock of trees destroyed, with the best of the bunch stolen. Who is out to ruin the Blanchard family? And who wanted Uncle Amos dead? With the sheriff stumped, it’s up to Lindy and Miss Amelia to save the ranch and tree a killer.

Posted: February 16, 2017
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Bargains: Historical Mysteries

The Palace Tiger – a good sale for $1.99 – Historical mystery/adventure – British Detective (This is book four. Book four and Book 5, The Bee’s Kiss are on sale so pick them up now if you like this kind of historical mystery. Book one is: The Last Kashmiri Rose.

India, 1922. In this, the fourth in the acclaimed Joe Sandilands series, Scotland Yard detective Joe arrives in the princely state of Ranipur at the request of the Maharajah, an old ally of the British. The Maharajah is dying, and the succession is unclear. The death of his first son, while panther-wrestling, is suspicious, but as Joe begins to investigate a second son dies dramatically right before his eyes. With only the youngest, aged 12, now left to succeed, can Joe ensure his survival? In the glittering and luxurious setting of the court with its array of powerful, scheming characters, Joe must find his way through the maze of intrigue to trap, at last, the palace tiger.

Cozies/Romantic Comedy
Next up, I found this VERY interesting set of books by Elizabeth Cadell that are finally on Kindle. These appear to be cozies of an old fashioned character-based kind–a mix of romantic comedy, trials and tribulations and fun. Here’s the author bio:

Violet Elizabeth Cadell was born in 1903 in Calcutta, India. During the Great War she studied music in London, but refused a musical career and returned to India where she married and had two children. After she was widowed ten years later, she returned to England.

Elizabeth wrote her first book ‘My Dear Aunt Flora’ during the Second World War in 1946, thereafter producing another 52 light-hearted, humorous and romantic books which won her a faithful readership in England and America. She moved to Portugal in 1960 and subsequently set many of her books in that country. She died in 1989, aged eighty-five.

Here’s the first in one of her books, a romantic comedy:

The Lark Shall Sing There was no money, the family was scattered, and Lucille, who had mothered them all since she was sixteen, was going to be married. So the house must be sold; Lucille knew that was the only sensible things to do, but the family had other ideas.
Home they came by whatever way they could, penniless and bedraggled but with certain new-found friends who were to help them to upset Lucille’s plans—all her plans for a calm, settled and sensible life.


The Fox from His Lair is more of a cozy mystery, but seems to have that same focus on characters. This one also falls under British Amateur Sleuth.

For Anabelle Baird, the fortnight’s holiday with her fiancé, Philip Ancell, in Lisbon has not been a happy one. At the Lisbon airport she has a surprise encounter with Angus Pemberton whom she had last seen seven years ago when he left Steyne under a cloud and went to Brazil. 
Anabelle’s reunion with Angus and her strange meeting with Luis, a small Portuguese boy, are but portents of her involvement in a mystery which pursues her to Steyne and finds its roots there in the home of Angus’ eccentric old grandmother Lady Evelyn Pemberton.


What am I working on?

I’m quite certain y’all are on the edge of your seats, wondering DAILY what book I might write next. I know I wonder about it all the time…probably a bad sign…but I’ve always written stories by the seat of my pants, never knowing where they might wander. At this point, it’s safe to say I’m working on Fairy Bite, the third book in the Dragons of Wendal series. Yes, that would be the series that was only going to be a short story. Then it was only going to be a stand alone novel.

Well, here we are with me working on the third and final book in the series. Fairy Bite, like the others, will be cozy/fantasy/romance/possibly young adult, but not too young. Notice how this series doesn’t like to leave out a single genre.

The book should be out late April/May 2017. I’ll commence complaining about editing chores on it any day now. Here’s the blurb to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Fairy Bite

Shunned and ridiculed ever since a fairy mistakenly bit her, Ally leaves her village in hopes that once gone, her family can resume their normal lives and be respected. She heads to Wendal, hoping the shifters there won’t care about the little problems associated with the effects of a fairy bite.

Before she is even halfway there, she discovers that the fairies may not be finished ruining her life. If she wants to leave Birk, she’ll first have to contend with the little people, a very ornery gargoyle, more than one prince and, of all things, an enraged dragon.


Related:
Dragons of Wendal

DragonKin

Book Bargains for those Ignoring the SuperBowl

For those of you who don’t plan to watch the superbowl, you might need something to read. I have found a couple of bargains to tide you over!

Another intriguing historical mystery:

The Booksellers Tale I noticed a nice review by one of my blog readers for this book! Obviously a great book!

Oxford, Spring 1353. When young bookseller Nicholas Elyot discovers the body of student William Farringdon floating in the river Cherwell, it looks like a drowning. Soon, however, Nicholas finds evidence of murder. Who could have wanted to kill this promising student? As Nicholas and his scholar friend Jordain try to unravel what lies behind William’s death, they learn that he was innocently caught up in a criminal plot. When their investigations begin to involve town, university, and abbey, Nicholas takes a risky gamble – and puts his family in terrible danger.

And this looks like a good fantasy.
Into the Fae – It has very good ratings/reviews and is a bargain at 99 cents. Ofttimes, if a book has editing problems, it’s the kiss of death–this one looks like it was very popular despite initial problems that have since been corrected.

With peace finally descending on the Romanian Grey Wolves, longtime fae ambassador to the wolves, Perizada, has been given a new mission by the Great Luna. But Peri’s desire for revenge against her sister, Lorelle, burns in her heart. Further complicating matters, the great white wolf, Lucian Lupei, has been returned to the pack after centuries trapped in the Dark Forest, and it appears he is destined to be with Peri. Can she put aside her thoughts of vengeance long enough to accept Lucian’s love and complete her mission?

Bargains: Historical Romance and True Murder Mysteries

We have a bit of historical romance today:

Ariana’s Pride by Margaret Lake. Reminds me of reading the old Julie Garwood books back when I was a teen. Ariana’s Pride is in KU so if you subscribe, you can read it for free.

Ariana Devoe is the feisty and headstrong daughter of Earl William. When she loses her home and family, she sets off to reach the elderly Baron to whom her father has promised her. Along the way, she discovers she’d rather avenge her father’s death than be stuck with the old baron. She knows she can’t carry out her plan on her own. Jeremy has promised to help her, but does he have his own agenda?

Oddly enough when I was trying to remember the book that Ariana reminded me of, I found that Julie Garwood’s, The Bride, is on sale for $1.99 today! How weird is that?

And since I seem to be on an historical kick, I found this very interesting non-fiction book — True Tales of Victorian Murders!!!

Hot on the heels of A Mix of Murders, Gaslight Villainy forms Grahame Farrell’s second volume of gripping true-murder cases. But where A Mix of Murders covers the Twentieth Century, Gaslight Villainy treats the reader, in exquisite detail, to a selection of fourteen crimes committed during the Victorian period.

Wait! More cozy books??

Murder at Redwood Cove REALLY good deal at 99 cents!

If it weren’t for the fact that she’s replacing a dead man, Kelly Jackson would love her new job managing the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast on the coast of Northern California. But Bob Phillips did plunge off the cliff to his death…and Kelly’s starting to think it may not have been an accident. Bob’s retired friends—The “Silver Sentinels”—are also on the case, especially when Kelly is attacked…and another body turns up. Kelly has her hands full with overseeing the B&B’s annual Taste of Chocolate and Wine Festival, but she’s also closing in on the killer…who’s ready to send Kelly on her own permanent vacation…

Book two is also on sale!!! Murder at the Mansion

The Sweet Taste of Murder

The only thing worse than an used car salesman showing up on your doorstep is finding one dead.

After a scandalous divorce, Elise returns from the big city to her southern home town only to trip over the body of the town playboy. He leaves behind a heap of trouble that includes missing money, missing pets, and mourning lovers, and the suspects just keep piling up.

Caught in her own drama, Elise is quick to wash her hands of it, until her best friend, Lavina, winds up as the number one suspect.

Can Elise clear her friend’s name without ending up as the next one dead? Or are her friendship blinders keeping her from seeing the truth?

Posted: February 2, 2017
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Weekend Reading

Some books that caught my eye today:

Historical Intrigue

The Secret World of Christoval Alvarez It is the year 1586. England is awash with traitors, plotting to assassinate the Queen and bring about a foreign invasion. The young physician Christoval Alvarez, a refugee from the horrors of the Portuguese Inquisition, is coerced into becoming a code-breaker and spy in Sir Francis Walsingham’s espionage service. In the race to thwart the plot, who will triumph – the ruthless conspirators or the equally ruthless State?


The Eloquent Scribe Gotta have that Egyptian fix! The only thing Sitehuti of Western Thebes ever wanted was to complete scribal school and slide comfortably into the mid-levels of Egyptian bureaucracy. All that goes into the river the day he is adopted by Nefer-Djenou-Bastet, a highly opinionated sacred cat.

From that point on, the young scribe’s life is turned upside down. Everyone sees him as special; favored by the gods.

Naturally, that makes him the perfect person to investigate a plot against the Great House of Ramesses II. Suddenly, Sitehuti is up to his neck in political intrigue, conspiracy and murder that takes him right into private heart of the royal palace.

He’s been bestowed a great honor. Now all he has to do is survive it.


A Private Disgrace Lizzie Borden (Yes, that Lizzie Borden!)
A Private Disgrace is the single best account of the ghastly murders which took place in Fall River, Massachusetts on August 14, 1892.

Lizzie Andrew Borden (b.1860 – d.1927) was tried and acquitted in the 1892 axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts. Media coverage of the case created a furor throughout the United States reminiscent of the Rosenberg, Claus von Bulow and O.J. Simpson trials. No other suspect was ever charged with the double homicide, and speculation on the case continues to this day.

The case is curious because there was no physical evidence linking Lizzie to the murder. The broken axe the police found in the basement was clean of blood and the police refused to use forensic testing for fingerprints (a science then in its infancy). The defense raised evidence that Andrew Borden was a hard businessman who had made many enemies. On the other hand, the atmosphere in the Borden household was tense, Lizzie resented her stepmother, she was prone to mental instability, and she had purchased poison a few days before the murders which police suspected was the cause of food poisoning. There was a financial motive: Lizzie was upset her father had transferred property she was due to inherit to other family members. And then there was the ‘paint stained’ dress Lizzie burned three days after the murder…



What will you be reading this weekend??

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