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Monday, December 18, 2017

Murder for the Books

A Murder for the Books: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery
by Victoria Gilbert

A Murder for the Books: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series

Crooked Lane Books (December 12, 2017)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683314394
E-Book ASIN: B072396C2L

Fleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia. She quickly busies herself with managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons. The last thing she needs is a new, available neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.
Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, who was an outsider. It quickly became water under the bridge, until she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families... including her own.
When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in A Murder for the Books, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries.

What I Thought:

This is the first book in a new series and by a new to me author.  I really enjoyed reading this one as I enjoy books that are set in the state next to the one I live in.  I also like books about libraries.  In this one, there are two mysteries, one that happened in the 1920s and one in the present.  I enjoy books where the characters are trying to solve mysteries from the past.  This was a well-written, fast-paced book that kept my attention from the very beginning.  I thought the plot was believable and I loved the characters in this story.  I that the ending was wonderful and the author kept me guessing till the very end.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

About the Author

Victoria Gilbert, raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. She has worked as a reference librarian, research librarian, and library director.
When not writing or reading, Victoria likes to spend her time watching films, gardening, or traveling. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers, and is represented by Frances Black at Literary Council, NY, NY.
Victoria lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats. This is her first Blue Ridge Library mystery.

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Character: Amy Webber from A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS

If I had a dollar for every time someone has told me, “But you don’t look like a librarian,” I’d be able to quit my job as library director for the Taylorsford Public Library tomorrow.

Not that I want to quit my job. It’s just frustrating that after all this time, a lot of people still cling to the stereotypes about librarians. You know—they picture an older woman who pulls her hair into a tight bun and wears staid sweater sets, calf-length skirts, and glasses on a beaded chain.
Of course, this stereotypical librarian is also a spinster with a shapeless figure.

Okay, so I’m thirty-three and single, but that’s the only point of comparison. And let’s be real—no one talks about thirty-somethings being “spinsters” anymore. (At least I hope not). I happen to be rather curvaceous, thank you very much, and I wouldn’t wear a sweater set or dowdy skirt unless my other option was to run around naked. I’m more of a jeans and well-worn concert tee kind of girl. Of course, I must wear more professional clothes at work, but even there I opt for slacks and a simple top. (I admit I hate pantyhose, so I try to avoid skirts or dresses except on special occasions). “Sensible shoes” is the one area where I might fit the stereotype, but even then I prefer sneakers or loafers to pumps.

Actually, I’ve been told that I resemble my great-grandmother, Rose Baker. I guess that’s okay, although I hope I don’t have any trace of her personality. From what I’ve been told, she was quite a b… bad-mannered individual. Here’s a photo of her from back around 1925, when she became embroiled in a sensational murder trial. (She was a witness for the prosecution, not a suspect, as my family always likes to remind me).
Honestly, I don’t see the resemblance, although like my mom, I do have Rose’s dark hair and eyes. Well, I guess I also have the same basic face shape and features. But both mom and I are a lot… curvier.
Anyway, I don’t fit the librarian stereotype, that’s for sure. But then, neither do most librarians I know, many of whom are actually men! Basically, just like everyone else in every other profession, a librarian can be any size, shape, race, or gender.
The other misconception about librarians that drives me a little nuts is that we are all quiet and reserved. This is certainly not the case. Honestly, in the current library environment, which requires extensive patron interaction in person, online, or on the phone, being too much or an introvert can pose problems. You really can’t “hide out” at the library. In fact, librarians are likely to deal with a wider range of personalities, including difficult or troubled people, than many other professions. There’s no sitting quietly reading books in today’s library, at least not for the librarians! We have to reach out and engage with all types of people on a daily basis. We also have to offer literacy programs and homework assistance, lead information sessions and other programs, and even use performance skills to entertain our younger patrons during story times. So if someone is looking for a profession where they don’t interact with people very much, a library career is not the best fit.
We must be tech savvy too. Libraries are one of the few places where the public can freely use the internet, so we have to be prepared to offer technical help as well as research assistance. Also, despite the media’s tendency to depict card catalogs, they have been replaced by online catalog and circulation systems, even in the smallest libraries.
So don’t be surprised that I don’t look or act like a librarian—or at least not like the old-fashioned shy, bespectacled, spinster sitting behind a desk shushing people. The truth is, I doubt you’d find one of those types in any library today. In fact, I’d bet you’re more likely to see a librarian with piercings and tattoos than that old stereotype!
I may not look or act like the stereotype, but I definitely have a librarian’s love of research and an insatiable need to solve mysteries of all kinds. Maybe that’s the reason why I’ve found myself helping with some murder inquiries recently…

Friday, December 15, 2017

Honey-Baked Homicide

Honey-Baked Homicide (A Down South Café Mystery)
by Gayle Leeson

Honey-Baked Homicide (A Down South Café Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting - Virginia
Berkley (December 5, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1101990827

The owner of a delightful Southern café tastes the sharp sting of suspicion in this delectable comfort food mystery . . .

It’s fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers’ Down South Café has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she’s happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon’s body outside the café early one morning.

As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects—and they’re all buzzing mad. She’ll have to use all of her skills—and her Southern charm—to find her way out of this sticky situation...

What I Thought:

 This was another great installment in the Down South Café Mystery Series, and it was just as good and entertaining as the first tow in the series.  I really enjoy visiting Amy and her family and friends and the Down South Café in Winter Garden VA.  In this one, Amy agrees to let a local beekeeper display his honey in her café.  When he winds up dead in her parking lot, she, of course, has to find out who the killer is.  This was another well-written story from Gayle Leeson.  The plot was well thought out and believable.  This one kept me guessing and the ending is a total surprise.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

About the Author

Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. I also write as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series.
The cake decorating series features a heroine who is starting her life over in Southwest Virginia after a nasty divorce. The heroine, Daphne, has returned to her hometown of Brea Ridge to open a cake baking and decorating business and is wrestling with the question of whether or not one can go home again. She enjoys spending time with her sister, nephew, and niece, but she and her mother have a complicated relationship that isn’t always pleasant. Daphne has also reconnected with her high school sweetheart and is pursuing a rekindled romance while desperately trying to put her past behind her.
Kerry Vincent, Hall of Fame Sugar Artist, Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show Director, and Television Personality says the series is “a must read for cake bakers and anyone who has ever spent creative time in the kitchen!”
Says Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author, “One day I found myself happily reading . . . mysteries by Gayle Trent. If she can win me over . . . she’s got a great future.”
The Embroidery Mystery series features a heroine who recently moved to the Oregon coast to open an embroidery specialty shop. Marcy Singer left her home in San Francisco, along with the humiliation of being left at the altar, in order to move to Tallulah Falls and realize her dream of owning her own shop. She takes along her faithful companion, a one-year-old Irish wolfhound named Angus O’Ruff. She makes many new friends in Tallulah Falls, but she also makes a few enemies. Thankfully, her best friend Sadie MacKenzie and her husband Blake run the coffeehouse right down the street from Marcy’s shop, the Seven-Year Stitch; and Detective Ted Nash always has her back.
Publishers Weekly says, “Fans of the genre will take kindly to Marcy, her Irish wolfhound, Angus O’Ruff, and Tallulah Falls. This is a fast, pleasant read with prose full of pop culture references and, of course, sharp needlework puns.”
Pat Cooper of RT Book Reviews says, “If her debut here is any indication, Lee’s new series is going to be fun, spunky and educational. She smoothly interweaves plot with her character’s personality and charm, while dropping tantalizing hints of stitching projects and their history. Marcy Singer is young, fun, sharp and likable. Readers will be looking forward to her future adventures.” (RT Book Reviews nominated The Quick and the Thread for a 2010 Book Reviewers’ Choice Award in the Amateur Sleuth category)
I live in Virginia with my family, which includes her own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff. I'm having a blast writing this new series!





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Character Guest Post – Aunt Bess – Honey-Baked Homicide by Gayle Leeson

Why Don’t Young ‘Uns Trick-or-Treat Anymore?

Back when my daughter Jenna was a little girl, she used to go trick-or-treating with her friends. They'd all gather together--we didn't live here in Winter Garden then, we lived in Pocahontas, Virginia--and go around the neighborhood gathering treats. We all enjoyed the young 'uns showing off their costumes. We didn't care if they were homemade or store-bought outfits, as long as it made the children happy and they could see, hear, and move around all right in them.

The tradition continued a while when Amy was a little girl, but somewhere along the way, trunk-or-treats and going to stores to get treats became the things to do. Of course, you know why stores offer treats to kids--to get their parents through the door to buy something. Trunk-or-treats is a thing they started doing at churches so they could be sure the young 'uns would be safe. That's a sorry commentary on the world when a body can't trust her neighbors to be good to children.

Now when Halloween rolls around, I mostly see costumes on television or online. I don't even recognize most of the characters anymore. Back in my day, you had witches and ghosts, and that was about it. When Jenna was growing up, there was Barbie, Superman, princesses, Dracula.... Jenna got really creative with Amy's costumes. One year, Amy was dressed in purple with balloons taped all over her--she was a bunch of grapes. Another time, she was a sunflower. And she teamed up with three of her friends one year, and they all went as a different color crayon--Amy was pink.

So, tell me, do you still have trick-or-treaters come to your house? And, if so, could you send them my way next year? I miss seeing them.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Of Murder and Men

Of Murder and Men (A Cat Latimer Mystery)
by Lynn Cahoon

Of Murder and Men (A Cat Latimer Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Kensington (November 28, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496704399
Audio ISBN-13: 978-1541460300

Love is in the air in Aspen Hills, and it’s making a terrible mess of Cat Latimer’s writers’ retreat—especially when blood stains the plot . . .

Ever since her business partner, Shauna, fell for a wealthy landowner in town, Cat has been working double time to keep her writers’ retreat running. And with the January session almost underway, that spells trouble. As if scheduling mishaps aren’t disastrous enough, Shauna skips out on kitchen duties one morning, forcing Cat to serve unsuspecting guests store-bought muffins . . .

But best laid plans really go awry when Shauna discovers her beau missing from their bed. When his body later turns up in the horse barn, they quickly find out the victim’s scandalous lifestyle left many dying for revenge. While balancing an eccentric group of aspiring writers and a suspect list for the record books, Cat soon finds herself on the heels of a killer—and authoring her most deadly conclusion yet . . .
What I Thought:

This was the first in the Cat Latimer Series that I have read, but not the first book by Ms. Cahoon.  She is an excellent writer who and this one was no exception.  This was a fast paced story that kept me turning pages.  It was well written with a well thought out plot.  In this one Cat has to help her friend whose new boyfriend is found dead in a horse barn.  Along with this, Cat is also juggling her aspiring writers group and her own writing.  I enjoyed the setting of this story and also the characters in this one.  There were many twists and turns in this story that kept me guessing.  I look forward to more in this series and will probably read go back and read the first two. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

About The Author

Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. Guidebook to Murder, book 1 of the series won the Reader’s Crown for Mystery Fiction in 2015. She’s also pens the recently released, Cat Latimer series. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Altered to Death

Altered To Death (A Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery)

by Christina Freeburn

Altered To Death (A Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery)

Cozy Mystery

6th in Series

Henery Press (November 28, 2017)

Paperback: 276 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1635112795

E-Book ASIN: B0758DG23P

Looking for a craft cozy so memorable you’ll stay up late scrapping about it? Well, welcome to the town of Eden.

Faith Hunter, who is supposed to be planning her wedding, instead finds herself distracted by the town scrapbook she was commissioned to create. Eden’s oldest mystery, the founding family’s exodus nearly a hundred years ago, remains unsolved.

A search through the family’s abandoned mansion leads to the uncovering of bones on that very property. And then ex-boyfriend Steve Davis announces a surprise heir has staked a claim.

How can Faith not be distracted? Now she’s determined to dig up the truth left behind.

Because scrappers are multi-taskers extraordinaire, Faith can’t say no when family friend Wyatt Buford asks her to look into his deadbeat father’s disappearing act and his connection to the murder.

Her quest for answers unearths secrets past and present that some would prefer stay buried at any cost. Faith’s resolve to present the facts and nothing but about Eden’s history could lead to her own future being cut short.

See what I mean about memorable? Delve in to Eden and you’ll find a cozy you won’t soon forget.

 What I Thought:

I always enjoy reading this series as it is set in my home state, West Virginia.  I really like the characters Faith, she is very tenacious when she wants to find something out.  In this one, she is asked to create a town scrapbook.  While doing this, she starts investigating why the town's founding family hightailed it out of town all those years ago, and when doing research at their abandoned mansion, the remains of a dead body are found.  On top of these mysteries, Faith is also planning her wedding.  This was a well written book with a great plot that kept me turning pages.  This is a series that, to me, never gets old.  Can't wait for more in this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

About the Author

The Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series brings together Christina Freeburn’s love of mysteries, scrapbooking, and West Virginia. When not writing or reading, she can be found in her scrapbook room or at a crop. Alas, none of the real-life crops have had a sexy male prosecutor or a handsome police officer attending.

Christina served in the JAG Corps of the US Army and also worked as a paralegal, librarian, and church secretary. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, children, a dog, and a rarely seen cat except by those who are afraid or allergic to felines.

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