*** Please note that various posts will contain affiliate links for Amazon. Purchases from these links will make me a small percentage in store credit. ***

31 August 2015

Agatha Christie's The Man In The Brown Suit

About a zillion years ago (or, you know, in the late 1980s) a movie adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Man In The Brown Suit hit the small screen. I knew then that it was highly adapted since it took place in the present and not in the 1920s but, of course, I watched it anyway. I hadn't read the book but, as I've said before, many of my early years went by without my "read before you watch" obsession. TV favorites Tony Randall & Rue McClanahan took part and Stephanie Zimbalist played the main character. I absolutely loved her in Remington Steele.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable enough movie. Absolute made-for-tv fluff. And one that I remember just enough of years later to the point of not being in a hurry to read the book. I put it on my 20 Books of Summer list since I'm aiming to read all of Christie's novels in order and it was next ... and ...

Holy. Crap.

If you've read the book, don't be in a big rush to hunt down the movie (it's out of print ... but it is on YouTube if you MUST). If you saw the movie? READ THE BOOK.

In the book, Anne Beddingfield has led a rather boring and sheltered life, much to her dismay.

When she is suddenly orphaned after the death of her father she sees it as her chance to go out and become "Anne the Adventuress." [The book was actually serialized using this title, in fact.] A case of being in "the wrong place at the wrong time" leads her to snooping and poking her nose into two possible murder investigations -- including a cruise from England to Africa. It turns out that this is far more than "simply" murder but also of diamond smuggling and espionage.

One big ol' highlight for me: Colonel Race! I know Race thanks to Death On The Nile and Sparkling Cyanide and he is an absolute gem here in his first appearance! Even Anne thought so:

Of course, the idea of marrying him was gone just a short time later -- thanks to her deciding that someone else is even more worthy of her attention:

The "him" in question is one of several suspects (which, being a Christie tale, should come as no surprise) Sure enough, Anne gets into one heap of trouble after another trying to solve the mysteries at hand and, hopefully, clear his name. She is, after all, a Christie heroine. She's spunky. She's intelligent. She's unconventional. She's more than a little foolish at times. Through it all, though, she's fearless .... almost.

There's so much more to love about The Man In The Brown Suit than just Race and Anne (though I do lament immensely that Anne was a one-and-done character for Christie. She is really just so much fun). This is one of those books where even the annoying characters are at least enjoyably and purposefully annoying. The characters are wonderful ... the romance is darling (and I'm not a big fan of romance books as a general rule) ... and as for the mystery? Well, it's a Christie ....

Oooooh such a Christie.

In other words, she got me all sorts of discombobulated.

I thought I nailed it. I didn't trust at all that even if my recollection of the late 1980s was in tact that the outcome would be the same and, as it turns out, I don't remember the ending of the movie version at all. I was in middle school, after all, so I may have fallen asleep before it was finished.

Whatever. She tricked me.


And I loved every minute of it.

29 August 2015

Reading With John : Secrets of Droon # 1

Every year our favorite library has a huge book sale and a couple of years ago I grabbed the first two Secrets of Droon books for John in case they were something he would ever be interested in. We read the first one this week in 2 days and he's excited about reading the rest of them at some point!

For this review he asked for another fill-in-the-blank or form, so form it was! I made it at work Friday morning and that afternoon he got to work filling it out!

Title: The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet
Author: Tony Abbott
Year Published: 1999
# of Pages: 80
Main Setting (Time/Place): Plud/Droon and Eric's house (forgot time! "It's 1999, Mom!!!")
Main Characters: Eric, Julie, Keeah and Neal
What Happened In The Story: In the beginning, Eric, Neal and Julie go to clean Eric's basement. Then Neal kicks the soccer ball in the closet to Droon. After that, they meet Keeah and save her from Sparr.
Why Did You Give It The Rating You Did? I loved reading it because it was funny and exciting and I loved the flying carpet and sound effect words like "zam" and "fwap."

Being a big fan of drawing he was rather pleased with the box for a picture. I told him he could draw anything from the book he wanted to in it and he chose the character of Max.

28 August 2015

#BookBeginnings & #Friday56 - Heather Graham's Sacred Evil

It's Friday again! I'm still working on Heather Graham's Sacred Evil since this has been a week full of distractions, but it's a great read so worth the extra time. 

Friday56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences & your thoughts) is at Rose City Reader!
The top is from the very beginning of the book. It being the third in the series I couldn't help but wonder/worry if the "she" being stalked was a new character or one of the Krewe that I have come to care about!

The bottom is from the 56-ish-% mark. It kind of made me shake my head that even that far in they were still explaining the group to the main character ... but he is a bit set in his ways and thoughts. Knowing Graham's books as well as I do he'll likely snap out of his mocking skepticism before long.

21 August 2015

#BookBeginnings & #Friday56 & A Ramble : Dangerously Dark by Colette London

The second of Colette London's Chocolate Whisperer /mystery series, Dangerously Dark, is set for release on September 29th but I was able to read it early thanks to Kensington and NetGalley spoiling me with such things. I was pretty excited since I enjoyed the first in the series. You can read about that one HERE

Because the copy that I read is an e-ARC, the quotes I'm using for this week's Book Beginnings and Friday56 may differ in the final publication. I hope not, though, because they pretty much rock.

Friday56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences & your thoughts) is at Rose City Reader!
Dangerously Dark opens very shortly after our last encounter with Hayden had finished (with only a few casualties) and this time she's off to Portland, Oregon. She was actually on her way to Seattle to finally meet face-to-face her financial/business/whatever advisor whom she has a voice-crush on, but ended up going to Portland instead for a college friend's engagement weekend. At first she was dismayed at having to be in "girly" mode but that soon turned to relief about taking time off from chocolate-whispering and murder-solving and best-hunky-male-friend obsessing (who is not the same male she's voice-crushing. That would be too easy.).

This is where I would normally say something like "but, of course, this is a mystery series so it doesn't all go as planned and instead of relaxing Hayden is thrust into another murder investigation blah blah blah" .... but I feel like I say that about every cozy mystery (at least mentally). Of course, this is and it doesn't and she is.

Have I mentioned that Hayden still has "monkey brain" ... and, apparently, so do I? In the first book she compared herself to a monkey on No-Doz. I took my last Vivarin (with coffee) two hours ago so .... yeah.
***There's a reason I write "rambles" rather than "reviews."***
The monkey-ness is only one aspect of Hayden that screams "KINDRED SPIRIT" in my face. There's also the chocolate (love), coffee (love), ice cream (love), Converse (love), corpses (lov.....wait. No, that part's just her). We both also have a tendency to be socially awkward (while still being able to lay claim to the "people person" label). We also both tend to use a lot of parentheses .... and dots of ellipses .... and I'm pretty sure we both do it when we speak and when we "type" (this being a first-person narrative).
***If you feel like your brain is bleeding from reading this you should probably steer clear of the series. Just an FYI because I care.***
I'm not going to go into a drawn out "this is what happened and this is whodunnit and this is how it was figured out" deal. I never do. And since I'm not actually done with it yet I don't even know. What I will do is say that so far I'm loving the twists and the turns and the humor in this installment just as much as I loved Criminal Confections (maybe even slightly moreso).

By the way, you totally have time to order the first book and catch up in time for the release of Dangerously Dark.

You're welcome.

20 August 2015

William Ritter's Beastly Bones (a.k.a : the downside to ARCs)

It wasn't very long ago that I rambled on about the first Jackaby book and now the second one is coming out on September 22nd. Lucky me, I was given a copy by NetGalley to review.

Much of what I said about the first still applies. I still love Jackaby and Abigail and the returning secondary characters and the new secondary characters -- many of whom I hope we see more of in the future (since it has been confirmed that there WILL be a future). I have, however, rethought my original "huh?" feelings over the comparison to Doctor Who and how disappointed I felt I would be if it went all wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey on me.

As it turns out, throughout most of Beastly Bones I found myself picturing R. F. Jackaby resembling a young 1988-ish Peter Capaldi:
As for the wibbly-wobbly-ness, there's no time travel by Jackaby and Abilgail per se ... yet ... but there are some things from the past that come in to play in extraordinary ways and I didn't mind them one bit (except, of course, for when they made me catch my breath while my heart simultaneously attempted to leap out of my chest).

Of course, there were mysteries aplenty -- some more breath-catching than other.

(please note that since this IS an ARC the final text may be different than the screencaps below)

What do the R and F stand for?

What the heck is going on with our favorite ghost/housemate?

What sort of dangerous mess are they diving into this time?

How many odd looks will I get when I start rating everything on a scale of one to pomegranate?

What happened during Chapter Thirteen?

How much would Jackaby freak out (if he wasn't confined to the pages of a book) if I hugged him?

How much would it cost to add a third floor to my house? (duck optional -- but welcomed)

And so so so many more that you'll just have to read about for yourselves.

So, the whole "downside to ARCs" bit from the post title? Since Ritter is currently out and about doing book release/pre-release events and signings and conventions and whatnots, that means he isn't at home typing up a storm ... which means I'll have to wait far too long for the next installment and for some of the unresolved issues to be at least talked about again.

And I hate waiting. (Unless it's my own choice to do so, of course.)

18 August 2015

#TeaserTuesday # 24 - William Ritter's Beastly Bones (Jackaby # 2)

The Book & The Tease
(please note: the copy I'm reading is an ARC thanks to NetGalley;  
therefore, the text may be different with the final publication)

The Meme

14 August 2015

#BookBeginnings & #Friday56 - The Winter Garden Mystery

It's Friday again so it's time for Friday56 at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader!

The Book Beginnings rules are to share the first few sentences & initial thoughts while the Friday56 is to share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark.

Right now I'm 28.4% in to Carola Dunn's The Winter Garden Mystery, which is the second in her Daisy Dalrymple series (you can read my ramble of the first one here).

The "book beginnings" in the top left box is the whole prologue. It just didn't seem right (or necessary) to snip it short and it grabbed me right away! Who is the digger? What have they been digging? And, most importantly, what is it all going to mean to my dear Daisy (and, hopefully, Alec)?!?

As I said, I'm only 28% in at this point and I actually picked my snippets for the memes before I had even gotten out of the first chapter so I wouldn't forget. The Friday56 is the bottom quote and I'm not sure if it was Daisy speaking to Alec, or Alec speaking to her. All I know is that it's adorable and YAAAAYYYYY!!! Alec's back!!! 

(I'm quite fond of Alec, in case you hadn't guessed.)

13 August 2015

Caroline Dunford's A Death In The Highlands

It's August 1910 and Euphemia is back for her second story (you can read my ramble about the first one here). The first book was a quick and enjoyable read and the second proved to carry suit.

As the back cover says, she's still working for the Stapleford's and has been temporarily promoted to help oversee the ongoings during a hunting trip to Scotland. It was fun to see Effie and the others again and to be reminded who innocent and proper she is -- especially when it comes to dealings with the opposite sex.

The unconventional relationship between Bertram and Effie was one of the highlights of the first book for me and continued to be so in the second. With her being a maid and him being a master of the house it is unusual for them to have had a friendship much less one that sometimes seems to be bordering on more. (Of course, readers know that her social standing would actually be higher than his if her grandfather un-disowned her mother.) Sometimes Bertram treats her as a friend and confidant ... sometimes he treats her as he would any other member of the staff. Really, it causes me much consternation at times, too. For the most part, though, even when he is on one of his "Euphemia is just a maid" kicks he still treats her well -- especially when his brother and sister do not. He even offered her the chance to clean up in his personal wash room after she had to repeatedly clean muddy stairs thanks to his sister.

One doesn't always think of the little differences 105 years can make -- like Effie never having had a shower before! Well, one might ... but I didn't until this happened.

Rory, the new butler, also paid more attention to Euphemia than may have been considered proper which confused the poor girl even more. Really. As if she didn't have enough on her mind with concealing her true identity AND supporting her mother and brother AND solving murders all while trying to figure out how to properly manage a household? Now she has TWO men to try and figure out?

I can't wait to see how much more rattled she gets in the next book!

Oh, yeah. The mystery plot of it all. It's a nice change to have a mystery where I honestly had no idea "whodunnit" until the big reveal. Of course, it's all told in the first person by Euphemia so the reader really couldn't know until she did. But, still. It's fun watching it all unfold from the first person with only as many clues as they've been given. Watching her blunder her way through the rest of her life while dealing it was still more fun, though.

11 August 2015

Teaser Tuesday # 23 (& A Little Ramble) - Jenn McKinlay's Due or Die

The Tease & The Book

The Meme

The Ramble

Due or Die is the second in Jenn McKinlay's Library Lover's Mystery series. I had read the first one, Books Can Be Deceiving, pre-blog and, unfortunately, pre-caring about reviewing on GoodReads ... but I do remember that I loved it. A librarian as an amateur sleuth? What's not to love???

The main character of the series, Lindsey Norris, is the new director of the public library in the coastal town of Briar Creek, Connecticut. She's relocated there after dumping her cheating fiancee and being downsized out of her job as an archivist thanks to budget cuts. It's a tight nit community and she's already made it her home with a good group of friends and a potential love interest. She doesn't always think things through before she does them or says them and her loyalty to her friends and neighbors get her mixed up in crazy little things like murder investigations. 

As far as the mystery aspect goes, I had both books figured out before Lindsey did ... but they're still fun reads and fairly fast ones, at that. Nothing too mind-blowing strenuous, just cozy. Through and through cozy.

10 August 2015

MC Beaton's Death of a Gossip

I started Death of a Gossip this morning when I woke up shortly after 7am Sunday morning and it was finished by 5pm. It was that fast .... and that good!!!

 I think that most know how much I adore Charlotte MacLeod's Peter Shandy and Hamish MacBeth is so similar in feel and wit that I kept imagining what would have happened had the two ever crossed paths. I likely would have had trouble breathing from laughing so hard but oh how worthwhile the hyperventilation would be!

It definitely fits well into the "cozy" side of the mystery spectrum. There's a murder but there's no gore and the mystery aspect of it kept me guessing. It reminded me quite a lot of some of my favorite Agatha Christie tales where practically everyone you come across has equal means and motive. Hamish isn't even officially on the case, being just a small local "bobby." He can't bring himself to just sit by and do nothing, though, especially not when the girl he's crazy about puts a bug in his ear about it.

Of course, although she volunteers to follow him around with praise the problem is that her father quite dislikes Hamish and while he's a simple police constable, Priscilla comes from prestige.

While the relationship (or non-relationship) between Priscilla and Hamish is a minor blip in the grand scheme of the whole murder mystery deal, it's one that's driving me crazy. I was half tempted to go reading through synopses for books further into the series to find out if they end up together .... but I resisted the spoilers. 

For now.

07 August 2015

#BookBeginnings & #Friday56 - A Witch Before Dying

It's Friday again so it's time for Friday56 at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader!

The Book Beginnings rules are to share the first few sentences & initial thoughts while the Friday56 is to share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark.

Today's book is Heather Blake's A Witch Before Dying -- the second in her delightful Wishcraft series of paranormal cozy mysteries!
From the first book I already know that Darcy is a Jill-of-all-trades AND a witch who specializes in granting wishes (aka a Wishcrafter) so right from the beginning I had to wonder what sort of horrible job she was getting herself into now!

I'm actually only 30% in so I was very glad that there was nothing at the 56% mark to spoil anything for me ... and as an added bonus it gives anyone not familiar with the series a little more background on how things work with the Craft in the story!

05 August 2015

Leslie Meier's Candy Corn Murder

Yep. I've done the unthinkable (for me, anyway), and jumped from the 1st in a series straight to the 22nd. (It's my own fault for not being able to say "no" when NetGalley offers me something shiny!)

It's been kind of trippy. Like, taking a trip in a time-machine "trippy." 24 hours ago I was finishing up reading Mistletoe Murder and about Lucy and Bill and their lives in Tinker's Cove, Maine, with their three children -- the oldest of whom was only slightly older than my John is now. Now, here they all are again (and then some) in Candy Corn Murder with lives of their own far beyond Cub Scouts and Barbie dolls. So many series seem to just stand still time-wise -- updating cultural references but not character ages along the way. It was nice to see that I'll actually get to "watch" these kids grow up 20+ years when I backtrack through the rest of the series.

Back to the story, though.

It's fast approaching Halloween and Tinker's Cove is gearing up for its first pumpkin festival. Among the events is a pumpkin catapult contest (like a smaller scale Punkin Chunkin which I readily admit to looking forward to watching every year). Lucy's husband Bill is entering the contest with his friend Evan and having a blast getting ready for it all until Ev doesn't show up for the big event ... at least not alive.

You guessed it! Evan's been murdered and Bill ends up the primary suspect and, so, of COURSE Lucy has to thrust herself into the middle of everything in order to prove his innocence.

She fails miserably and Bill is carted away to prison and the kids never speak to either one again ..... and that is not at all how it goes. Of COURSE she succeeds and the Stone family gets their "Happily Ever After Or At Least Until The Next Book" ending. Don't be daft.

There are quite a number of flashbacks to 1979 and, while it took a while to tie those to the current events when the pieces all came together it all made sense. Not only the flashbacks, but also side stories of domestic violence, abortion rights, marijuana legalization and long covered-up family secrets -- all come together. There were some pieces of the story, though, that just seemed to be there as filler. Rather annoying filler, at that. (Not nearly as bad as the "filler" that made me freak the first time I read the first in the series, though!)

All in all, another good and fast read. If all of the books in the series fly by as quickly as these two have for me I could have them knocked off in less than a month! Alas .... I still have those 20 Books of Summer to work ....

04 August 2015

Revisiting Leslie Meier's Mistletoe Murder

The first time I attempted to read Mistletoe Murder was in December. It must have been the wrong time of the month for me to read it or something because I kind of freaked out, wrote a freaking out end to my blog post for it, and quit reading it.

Then a few weeks back came my beloved Kensington with an offer to read the latest in the series ahead of publication through NetGalley. I was torn. It was a pretty epic freakout and it would mean skipping straight to book # 22 in a series .... which I never ever do .... but .... in the end, I couldn't resist. So I downloaded # 22 and went back to reread # 1.

And I'm glad that I did.

Granted, the cause for my freakout was still there and still seems pointless. It could have been written in so many other ways without hurting the story, but when it comes right down to it, it ended up being a minor blip in an otherwise fun read.

By the end of the book (which took me less than a day to read -- including time spent sleeping and working) I cared about the characters and the town and decided to bump Candy Corn Murder up to the next book on my mental TBR ... and within just the first couple of chapters I'm already itching to backtrack and read the rest of the series in order as they should be.

Teaser Tuesday # 22 & Reading With John - Dead Boy

This week we're doing a two-fer with Teaser Tuesday and the latest Reading With John!

This was truly a wonderful book for the middle grade crowd .... and those of us who just enjoy really well written books even if we're decades older than the "written for" audience.  For something new I offered John the option of writing a letter to a character from the book. He more or less dictated it to me, but that works, too. They're still all his thoughts -- I just get them down on paper easier than he does right now.

First his letter, then the teaser!


Dear Crow,

I loved the book about you: Dead Boy by Laurel Gale. My mom got it early from NetGalley. I liked being able to read it before it comes out for real.

I thought it was funny when your body parts were falling off and maggots were coming out of your mouth, nose and ears, but the Meera and its tests might have scared me. Were you scared?

I think the Meera might have morphed into a cat. My cat, Cheerio. He bites at me and dad sometimes. Maybe there are two collars and his is invisible? If he offers me a wish I would ask for all different types of toys and apps for my iPad.

Melody seems like she is nice and kind and a good friend. The other kids were kind of mean. I hope they are nicer now.

I hope you liked this letter. I also hope you don't die too early again and don't have to see the Meera again.

Maybe some day I will write my own book!

Your friend,



The Tease & The Book
Dead Boy by Laurel Gale
(Because this is an ARC the text may be different in the final published copy.)

The Meme

03 August 2015

Deanna Raybourn's A Curious Beginning

What an apt title for the first in Deanna Raybourn's new Veronica Speedwell mystery series! It's set for a US release of September 1st. I received an advanced copy thanks to NetGalley and Penguin. As always, the freeness has in no way influenced my views. [Please note that since this is an ARC the quotes below may end up being different in the final publication. I hope not, though, because I only quote awesome.]

Set in 1887, Veronica is not quite the typical Victorian lady. She's brash. She's mouthy. She's promiscuous. She's adventuresome.

The story opens at the burial of her guardian -- an "aunt" of no blood relation who, with her previously departed sister, took in Veronica to raise after she had been orphaned. Now Veronica is grown and a world-traveler in her own right -- only returning home when needed by her aunts. With both of them gone, Veronica is set to take off with her butterfly net in search of her next great adventure.

Her adventure comes in an entirely unexpected way when her aunt's home is broken into, she herself is almost abducted, and a kind stranger offers to whisk her away to London where she can be protected. The stranger is a Baron who knew Veronica's mother once upon a time and Veronica agrees to go in order to satisfy her curiosity of who she came from (and the offer of free travel didn't hurt, either).

Once in London, the Baron drops Veronica off with his friend Stoker and asks for him to watch over her. Stoker owes a favor and this, apparently, is it. Like most people, he isn't quite sure what to make of Veronica after spending some time with her.

Extenuating circumstances and murder occur (don't they always?) and Stoker and Veronica head out to join a circus, of all things, under the guise of being married. Curiouser and curiouser!

And that, my dear fellow readers, is all you're getting out of me. Well, except to tell you that I quite enjoyed the book, of course. It's not a "normal" mystery with the majority of the plot tied up with investigations and whatnots. Instead, I would consider it to be more a story of Stoker and Veronica and their curious beginning -- which just happens to have some mysteries included along the way. It was a nice change of pace from my usual "whodunnit" fare, and I'll definitely be keeping track of when the next in the series comes around!