Mystery

Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich

Dangerous Minds (Knight and Moon, #2)Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Knight and Moon #2
Publication Date: 6/20/17

When I’m ready for smiles, giggles, and guffaws encased in an intriguing mystery, Janet Evanovich is my go-to author. Just picture sitting on your sofa listening to or reading this book and you just burst out laughing and your spouse looks at you like you have suddenly gone nuts. That is the way it is through this entire book. The characters are busy investigating a very serious mystery and you are sitting there with a huge smile on your face. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read. If you like Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, then you’ll love this one as well.

Emerson Knight, gazillionaire, takes eccentric to a whole new level. He’s brilliant and loves solving impossible, improbable puzzles. So, a whole island going missing and megalomaniacs seeking world domination and/or destruction are right down his alley. Oh, and by the way, add that he is romance cover gorgeous and charming as well!

Riley Moon has multiple degrees from Harvard and she can also shoot, rope and ride with the best of them. She’s strong and resourceful – and attractive as well. Riley works for Emerson Knight because he caused her to lose her last job – and he pays her REALLY well. She always has really good intentions, but somehow she always gets caught up in the force of nature that is Emerson Knight and can’t manage to escape.

Emerson once studied under Wayan Bagus who is a monk, so when he shows up at Emerson’s home asking for help because his island has disappeared, Emerson dives right in and investigates. The investigation takes us to Yellowstone and Hawaii and includes a secret government organization bent on ruling the world.

I hope you’ll give this book a try because I think you will like it.

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Leave It To Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton

Leave It to Cleaver (A Vintage Kitchen Mystery Book 6)Leave It to Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: A Vintage Kitchen Mystery Book 6
Publication Date: June 23, 2017

Delightfully entertaining, well-written, and an interesting and exciting plot. What more could you ask for in a mystery? It literally keeps you guessing right to the end.

For me, this is Jaymie’s ‘coming of age’ story. As I was reading through the book, I kept feeling as if the author was saying goodbye and was tying up loose ends. I even wondered if this might be the last book in the series. However, I think that feeling of goodbye is more a goodbye to the youth and immaturity present in the previous books. I can’t wait to see where our more mature and settled Jaymie takes us. (Yes, there will be more books – I asked.)

Jaymie Layton doesn’t have a regular nine-to-five job. She has many jobs and businesses and even manages to fit volunteer work into her busy schedule. She also seems to manage to fit murder investigations into her schedule as well. That is a good thing because it seems she just keeps finding dead bodies.

Living in the same town (and house) where she was born and grew up is perfect for Jaymie who is an introvert and has trouble being the center of attention. She has no desire to live anywhere else. She also has a diverse set of very good friends and a much wider set of close acquaintances, which makes investigating murders much easier.

Those same good friends are also handling the planning for her upcoming marriage to Jakob. Jamie is so in love with him and his little daughter and can hardly believe her good fortune. She’s had a number of love interests in the past, but none of them were right for her – some were actual jerks. Jakob is a definite keeper.

There are so many things going on in Jaymie’s life that she hardly knows whether she’s coming or going. So, when she and her sister, Becca, discover human remains in a trunk in the basement of an old house they are cleaning out, she is absolutely determined she will not become involved. However, as she learns the identity of the deceased and that it was a high school friend of her sister Becca, she becomes more and more curious. Then, the police chief asks her to see what she can find out about it because she is good friends with many of the people who went to high school with the girl.

Then, there is a second body discovered in the river and the remains are identified as a girl who also disappeared on the same day as the first girl. Undoubtedly their disappearances and deaths are related – but – they weren’t friends and didn’t know each other — or did they?

The investigation takes Jaymie back in time to the 1980’s to learn more about her sister’s high school days. The investigation, reading the diaries of many of those involved, and talking to the friends about those times brings Jaymie and Becca even closer. The investigation takes many twists and turns and you’ll be guessing right up to the end.

One of my favorite parts was the wedding. You could just feel the love in the room and I also felt as if I were in attendance. I loved that the little dog was the ring bearer!

I did wish there was more of Jakob in the book and that he was involved in the investigation – at least a little. While the love between he and Jaymie was plain to see, it almost seemed like they were each doing their separate things and never the twain shall meet. Maybe in future books, he’ll be more involved because then they will be living in the same house.

Another thing I thought was odd and unworkable, especially with a young child, was their intention to live part of the year in Jaymie’s house and part of the year in Jakob’s house. I know they both love their homes and neither wants to give theirs up, but the switching all the time would seem to be unworkable to me.

“I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

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No Perfect Magic By Patricia Rice

No Perfect Magic: Unexpected Magic Book FiveNo Perfect Magic: Unexpected Magic Book Five by Patricia Rice

Barbara Rogers rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Unexpected Magic #6
Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Delightfully entertaining and witty with a perfect hero and heroine. Any book that has a beginning paragraph like “Dead meat, lemme, lemme, oh no, heel! Yummy bite, wiggle, flower lady now, please. . .” just has to be a delightful read!

I have loved the entire Unexpected Magic series. Each hero and heroine are perfectly matched to compliment the others ‘powers’. This is another match-up of an Ives male and a Malcom female, so you know sparks fly. It is part of a series but could be read as a stand-alone book. However, I would strongly suggest reading the entire series from beginning to end because it is wonderfully delightful and the characters are so very interesting.

Lady Aurelia is the daughter of a duke. She lives in pampered luxury with lots of love and every material want or desire completely fulfilled. Yet, she is a prisoner in all that luxury. No, she isn’t a physical prisoner but is imprisoned none-the-less. Aurelia has ultra-sensitive hearing and sounds from everywhere bombard her so much that she cannot focus or even carry on a normal conversation. Aurelia stays at their country estate because she cannot tolerate all of the cacophony in London.

William Ives-Madden is the bastard son of a marquess and half-brother to the current marquess. William is quiet, very quiet. He seldom speaks and spends all of his time with the dogs that he trains for others. His dream is to purchase his own property where he could train the dogs rather than traveling all over the country to do it. He also has the lady he plans to marry all picked out. His life is all planned out and set and he’ll have enough money saved to buy the property he wants within the next year. William not only trains the dogs, he ‘communes’ with them. He can read their thoughts and send them commands with his thoughts.

William is training a dog for Aurelia’s father at their country estate when Aurelia comes running out to him just at dusk. She is very upset and says she hears a child crying in great distress and they must hurry to find her. Will hears nothing, but since Aurelia is so distressed, he decides to help her conduct the search. Will sees this as an excellent opportunity to work Argyle (the duke’s dog) further. At first, Argyle cannot pick up the sounds either, but finally, between Argyle and Aurelia, they find a badly injured little girl and her also badly injured pet.

That is how the mystery began – and quite a mystery it is. The search for the little girl is hindered by the fact that she is deaf and mute and very, very frightened. You’ll love the search for her family and what happened to them. It is filled with twists and turns and leaves you guessing right up to the very end!

During the course of their investigations, Aurelia discovers that William has a dampening effect on all of the noise that tortures her life. When Will is around, she can actually focus and carry on a conversation. Will admires Aurelia but knows that there is no chance of him ever being able to marry the daughter of a powerful duke. It would also require him to live in London, which he hates and there wouldn’t be a place to train his dogs. So, what is a girl and guy who have complimentary ‘gifts’ to do? Read the book and you’ll see.

A delightful read that I’m sure you’ll enjoy!

“I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

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Once Upon A Spine By Kate Carlisle

Once Upon a Spine (Bibliophile Mystery #11)Once Upon a Spine by Kate Carlisle

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Bibliophile Mystery
Publication Date: June 6, 2017

ONCE UPON A SPINE is the eleventh book in the Bibliophile Mystery series by Kate Carlisle. I seem to enjoy this series more and more with each new book. Brooklyn grows and matures more with each book and her relationship with the handsome, debonair Derek is heading toward the next level with their upcoming wedding. I can hardly wait!

I love books – and this is a book (and series) about books – what could be more perfect. Brooklyn is a book binder and antiquarian and each book in the series centers around a rare edition. This one features rare, first edition copies of ‘Alice In Wonderland’.

Brooklyn and Derek love their neighborhood and certainly don’t want it to change and become urbanized, so when the lovely group of businesses across from their apartment are vandalized and then a murder happens they simply MUST investigate. The businesses have been tagged by graffiti and nobody can catch the culprit. Then, when the cobbler is murdered things really heat up.

To add to the stress and confusion, Derek’s parents are visiting from England. This is the first time Brooklyn has met her future in-laws and she has been stressing out over it. Her main stressor isn’t meeting them, it is worrying about their reaction to her whacky, flower-child mother. She expects them to be very nice, but stuffy, dignified and very proper English parents. Boy does she get a surprise.

There are suspects aplenty for the murder and Brooklyn, Derek and both sets of parents are knee deep in investigating. Who in the world would have wanted to murder the very nice, sweet cobbler? Was the cobbler the real target of the murderer? Is someone trying to scare the business owners into closing their businesses so real estate developers can take over? Where did these extremely rare copies of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ come from and who really owns them? So many things to investigate and so little time to do it.

The only thing I didn’t care as much for in this book is that Brooklyn’s mom wasn’t her normal wacky self. She only did one ‘spell of protection’ and that was done very calmly with none of the weird stuff she usually does along with it. She’s usually way over the top for my taste, but this time she was too subdued. I know – no pleasing me.

This is a delightful addition to the series and I recommend it if you enjoy mysteries and romance.

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Murder On Black Swan Lane By Andrea Penrose

Murder on Black Swan Lane (Quill Mystery, #1)Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Quill Mystery #1
Publication Date: June 27, 2017

An impeccably written, exciting, intriguing, engrossingly tangled and twisted regency mystery. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. The characters are fully developed and deep with flaws and secrets I’m sure we’ll learn more about as the series goes on. I am so very excited that this is a series and we will get to know them all better. If you are a fan of Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, you will absolutely LOVE this one.

This is the first book I have read by Andrea Penrose or any of her other pen names — Cara Elliott for Grand Central and Andrea Pickens for NAL, but I can’t wait to read more of this series and to also check out her other Regency mystery series.

I have to admit that my two favorite characters in the book are the two street urchins – Raven and Hawk. They are intelligent and wise beyond their years and even though they have lived their lives, alone, in the stews of St. Giles, they still have sweet and innocent hearts. It will be interesting to see if, over time, they give up being street urchins and let Charlotte care for them.

Since the series is named Quill Mystery, I assume that the main character will be Charlotte Sloane, also known as A. J. Quill. She is the most popular satirical cartoonist in England, but she must guard her identity and gender. She is very intelligent, feisty and not afraid of anything – at least she thinks she isn’t. One of the facts that is uncovered in this mystery is the facts behind the death of her talented artist husband Anthony. She also has another, even bigger, secret in her past and it is hinted at, but not revealed in this book.

The Earl of Wrexford has a brilliant, logical scientific mind and thinks he is incapable of any of the softer feelings. He is also a brilliant chemist – although he keeps that part of his life well hidden. All is logic with Wrexford. So, when everyone thinks he’s the person who murdered a Reverend he’s been publicly feuding with, he decides that he must solve the murder in order to save himself. His first order of business is to uncover the identity of A. J. Quill who has been skewering him in cartoons. The drawings are absolutely too accurate and therefore the artist must know something. There is also some hinted mystery with the death of Wrexford’s brother and I came to feel as if that was what caused Wrexford to close himself off from the softer feelings in life.

Although there is no romance in this book between Charlotte and Wrexford, they do develop a friendship and I hope it will develop into a romance over the course of the series. We do see a bit of ‘softening’ in Wrexford over the course of the book.

The secondary characters in the book are also great and it will be fun to watch their growth over the course of the series. There is Wrexford’s valet cum lab assistant who is smart and sassy. Then, there is Wrexford’s friend who is always short of funds and isn’t thought to be particularly intelligent. We also have a Scot doctor who does the autopsies and is gifted at interpreting what he is finding – Oh shades of St. Cyr Mysteries with their Scot anatomist.

The mystery is full of twists and turns and people with intertwining plots. You’ll have a time figuring out who murderer is and how all of the plots fit together.

“I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

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Bad Housekeeping: An Agnes and Effie Mystery by Maia Chance

Bad Housekeeping: An Agnes and Effie Mystery (An Agnes & Effie Mystery)Bad Housekeeping: An Agnes and Effie Mystery by Maia Chance

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Agnes and Effie Mystery #1
Publication Date: June 13, 2017

This is the first book in the new Agnes and Effie Mystery series by Maia Chance. It was delightfully warm and witty and had a pretty good mystery to go with it. The series ‘stars’ are pudgy, twenty-eight-year-old Agnes Blythe and seventy-something, former super-model Great-Aunt Effie. Add in a former high school sweet heart and a girl-crazy cousin and you have quite a cast of characters!

Agnes is very insecure about her body image, mostly because of an incident in high school. She was never the svelte and supremely confident person her great-aunt Effie is and when someone posted a nasty sign about her weight on her locker at school, she skipped the last two weeks of high school. That insecurity stayed with her and even affected her choice of fiancé – who is a really stodgy, self-centered piece of work. So, when said fiancé dumps her, she flees to her father’s house. (Note: I picture Velma from Scooby-Doo.)

Great-Aunt Effie, who has just inherited a condemned old inn in their town, sweeps in and just engulfs Agnes. Effie is a former super-model, is very rich, and has had several husbands. She is a chain smoking force of nature!

The banter between the characters is funny as in:
“He was going to give us the little lady treatment,” Effie said.
“What?”
“You know, like John Wayne. Treating us like lobotomy patients because we haven’t got boy parts.”

The morning after Effie arrives in town and Agnes moves back to her dad’s house, they stumble upon the dead body of a nasty woman that both of them had a confrontation with the day before. They, of course, become the prime suspects and end up investigating the murder themselves. A few bodies and several close calls later, they have their murderer! However, getting there is filled with car chases, confrontations, people in strange liaisons, blackmail – you name it and it is there!

Then, there is Otis Hatch, Agnes’ high school crush. He’s still a first-class hunk and keeps showing up wherever Agnes happens to be. I think we’re going to see a full-fledged romance there and maybe see Agnes overcome some of her body image issues.

Of course, I’m thinking the ex-fiancé, Dr. Roger Hollins, will go forward with the series as well. Maybe just as a counterpoint to Otis. Not that there will be any competition between Roger and Otis – Roger will be more the comic relief.

So, we have a great set of characters set up for the following books in the series. I can’t wait to see what Agnes and Effie get into next!

“I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

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