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

27 October 2016

Rambling About.. Alan Bradley's The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

The last time I read one of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce books was in March. Even though at the time I had said that "the very last sentence was the clincher that makes me itch to start the next book sooner than later," when it came right down to it, I couldn't dive right in.

I knew that there would be feels that I didn't necessarily want to embrace quite yet.

Holy fudge was I ever right!

This book hit me hard and hit me repeatedly and I really can't say much about it without giving away whole lots of the previous five books ... so I won't even try. If you've read any of the previous books, keep going ... IN ORDER ... and then grab a box of tissues when you get here. This is a crucial installment and should not be skipped under any cirsumstances. If you haven't read any of the others, do so. Especially if you love historical mysteries, but even if you normally don't. This series is so much more than that. Start with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

25 October 2016

No Witness But The Moon by Suzanne Chazin (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I honestly don't know why I'm so enthralled with Suzanne Chazin's Jimmy Vega books. They aren't pleasant. They aren't funny. They aren't cozy. There are no ghosts or vampires or faeries or wizards. They're intense and thought-provoking and I don't seem to be able to read them without a tightening in my chest and an almost constant lump in my throat. They make me uneasy and rarely are the feelings that they provoke warm and fuzzy ones.

No Witness But The Moon is the third Jimmy Vega book and just as emotionally disturbing for me as the first two were -- and just as gripping and "ohmygoodness I can't put it down." I suppose it's possible to read them as stand-alones, but you'll understand so much more about the characters and their issues if you read them in order. 

(click on the book covers to see the rambles)

In this latest installment, homicide detective Jimmy Vega is on his way to his immigrant-activist girlfriend Adele's place when he hears over his radio that there's a break-in nearby his current location. Since he's so close he arrives on the scene first and goes in pursuit of the suspect and, believing that the man has a weapon and is about to use it, shoots him. When it turns out that the suspect was an unarmed immigrant with no prior record, the media has a freaking field day tearing him apart. The whole ordeal torments Vega mentally and emotionally -- especially when he discovers that the dead man not only had ties to his girlfriend, but also to his mother whose murder has gone unsolved for two years.

Once again, Chazin delves deep into the psychological nuances of both the immigrant society and the members of law enforcement and their families brilliantly. She doesn't shy away from the hard topics or the uncomfortable feels in the world. I look forward to revisiting Jimmy again in the future and I'm hugely thankful to Kensington and NetGalley for making this available to me.

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is the first paragraph (or two) of a book being read now or in the future and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" from Books and a Beat asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read. 


21 October 2016

Haunting Me by Nikki LeClair (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice (today 56% on my Kindle app) 
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader

A week ago one of the authors I follow on Twitter retweeted a post from Nikki LeClair about her next book, Locking Up Santa, being available to pre-order for only 99 cents on Amazon. It sounds like great fun so I clicked the pre-order button immediately and then went and downloaded the first in the series, Haunting Me. I'm so ridiculously glad that I did -- in spite of the fact that it means I'm falling even further behind with my NetGalley shelf. Whoops!

Amazon Description
Phoebe Mercer has what most people envy; a wonderful boyfriend, fantastic friends and a job in the city’s top law firm. Getting engaged is just the honey in her tea! Then she gets run over by a hot dog cart, wakes up with a concussion and the ability to see ghosts. Well, one ghost. A loud, obnoxious woman who claims to have been murdered for her vast fortune.Soon, Phoebe is solving a mystery that not only threatens her relationships, but her career as well. As she begins to battle feelings for the ghost’s handsome nephew, she realizes quite a few people in her life are not as they seem. Slowly, Phoebe uncovers the secrets and lies around her, learning that in order to solve this mystery and be free of the ghost, she must lie herself. The only catch? The secrets Phoebe has kept from the people in her life could ruin everything for her, and her ghostly companion, in the end.
I've been waiting oh-so-impatiently for a follow-up to Kitty French's Melody Bittersweet and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency and do believe that this series will tide me over quite nicely.

Right now I'm less than a quarter of the way into it, but Phoebe and her new ghost nuisance boss client friend partner companion whatever, Edie, absolutely crack me up. Phoebe is the only one who has been able to see or hear Edie since her death and it takes a bit of ghost-trickery (walking through walls, appearing out of thin air, etc) for Phoebe to even believe that she isn't just some crazy posh elderly woman. Then not only does Edie tell Phoebe that she has to help solve her murder -- but she's convinced that Phoebe's uptight and horrific boss at the law firm is the one who killed her! And all of this thanks to Phoebe being run over by a hot dog cart ...

20 October 2016

Rambling About.. Holly Martin's Christmas Under A Starlit Sky

The fabulous Holly Martin has done it again! Just make sure that when you read this you have plenty of tissues nearby ... or at least the sleeve of a shirt you don't mind snotting all over!

I absolutely adored the first book in her A Town Called Christmas series, Under A Cranberry Sky. Under A Starlit Sky picks up immediately where that one left off. Like, within seconds ... so if you haven't read that one yet, go do so.

This is mostly the story of Neve and Oakley and Adam and Ivy (with a little bonus Luke action thrown in ... not enough Luke, but I'll take what I can get). Neve is the sister of Gabe -- the romantic lead from the first book. Oakley is the man she left behind when she came to manage the Stardust Lake Hotel for her brother. Adam is her assistant manager and only intends to stay on Juniper Island for a few months to help with the opening. Ivy is an artist who runs one of the village shops associated with the resort.

All four of them have been hurt in the past and that's standing in the way of them living in the present and causing all of them to just mess things up (like my mind, my heart, and my shirt sleeves) left and right! It's a rollercoaster of emotions and even when I hated how it was making me have all the feels all at the same time, I was loving every second of it.

I've said before that Holly was destined to write feel-good Christmas romances and she has another five-star winner with Christmas Under A Starlit Sky!

18 October 2016

Vivian Conroy's Diamonds of Death (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I don't typically read mystery series installments close together. I typically stagger them out so I can savor them and not have to so extended periods of time longing for another installment. Of course, this tends to get me into issues of being ridiculously far behind with things so when the second of Vivian Conroy's Lady Alkmene Callendar mysteries popped up on NetGalley I jumped on the request button -- in spite of the fact that I had only read (and hugely enjoyed) the first one just over a month ago.

Once again we see Lady Alkmene team up with reporter Jake Dubois to solve a murder. I loved the first book in the series and I've loved this one just as much and possibly even more. Alkmene's character is stronger here and, even though he's not as front-and-center, I felt that we get to know a lot more about who Jake is, as well.  

Anyway, Jake wants to solve the murder in question because he knows the accused -- a cat burglar who literally fell over the body while attempting to steal a safe full of jewels. He admits that Mac is a thief (and a talented one, at that), but believes that he wouldn't have killed Lord Winters even if caught in the act. He enlists Lady Alkmene's help in gaining entry to the house -- which shouldn't be too difficult since Lord Winters had been married to her mother's half-sister. Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Aside from the occasional unanswered correspondence from her cousin, Anne, Alkmene didn't associate with the family and had never met them. For Jake, though, I have a feeling that she would do just about anything -- especially if a little detective work is involved.

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is the first paragraph (or two) of a book being read now or in the future and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.  "Teaser Tuesday" from Books and a Beat asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read. (This week the tease is from the 10% mark.)

From the get-go things are uneasy at the Winter estate. Luckily, Jake is there with her posing as her driver so it isn't all dreadful. I love the relationship between Jake and Alkmene. They had a pretty rough start of it in A Proposal to Die For, but their relationship grew into a fun friendship and partnership and it's only strengthened during Diamonds of Death. They tease each other relentlessly, but also show signs of genuinely caring about each other. This is especially important here because there's still a murderer lingering about and, quite frankly, Alkmene's family is a bit on the whackjob side. Without Jake there, I'm not sure she would have survived the ordeal! There are so many secrets that come tumbling out about them all and it's difficult to discern who's being honest and who isn't. It seems as though spending any amount of "quality time" alone with them could turn anyone a bit crazy .... or dead ....

Once again, Vivian Conroy kept me guessing and kept me riveted to the very end. There's one more Lady Alkmene (and, of course, my book-crush Jake Dubois) book due out in November and certainly hope that there will be many more to come after that!

17 October 2016

Rambling About.. Mixing It Up by Tracie Banister

Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Manhattan upper-cruster Cecily Sinclair now uses that pricey utensil to dish up fancy French fare on her cooking show, Serving Romance. When there’s an executive shake-up at the network, she’s not worried. Not much anyway. Her show’s a hit after all. Why would the new CEO want to mess with success?
The driving force behind several buzzed-about networks, Devlin Hayes is considered to be a wunderkind in the television industry. Although his plans to rebrand CuisineTV and make Serving Romance more Millennial-friendly don’t thrill Cecily, her charming, blue-eyed boss is a hard man to say “no” to and she really wants to keep her job—even if that means sharing screen time with a loathsome blast from her past. 
Mercurial Italian chef Dante Marchetti a.k.a. “Il Duce” was once Cecily’s boss, and she has the PTSD to prove it. Now the owner of one of the hottest restaurants in town, Dante’s egomania knows no bounds and his constant attempts to provoke and upstage Cecily make her want to conk him on the head with a sauté pan. She thinks they’re toxic together, but viewers love their chemistry and clamor for more. 
As Cecily battles to maintain the integrity of her show, she finds herself scheming and manipulating right along with Dante and Devlin. Is she fighting a lost cause? Does she really belong on TV, or would her culinary talent be better served elsewhere? And could one of the men who makes Cecily’s blood boil ignite a passion in her for something other than food?

Poor, poor Cecily. All she wants to do is cook good modernized French food that shows off her Cordon Bleu training on her cooking show on CuisineTV. Unfortunately, the new network head wants to rebrand the network into Grub World and is ditching  popular shows with celebrity chefs in order to do so. Cecily's show is spared from the chopping block -- but only if she agrees to revamp it and add some spark. Unfortunately, this spark comes in the form of her former boss. Her grandmother and cousin both urge her to add spark to her personal and romantic life, too, but Cecily only cares about her career.

Food is, and always will be, my passion, not a man. (8%)

Yeah. We all know better than that, right?

Of course her current network boss, Devlin, and her former kitchen boss, Dante, are incredibly gorgeous and incredibly frustrating. Cecily doesn't trust either one of them, but she needs them both in her good graces in order to keep her show.

Now, I absolutely adore cooking shows and will often have one running even if only for background noise. It's a habit I gladly picked up from my aunt-in-law while John was a newborn and has only grown since. I record pretty much any cooking competition there is, but will watch (or, at least, half watch) anything food related. I'm not sure how Tracie Banister got to know so much about the behind-the-scenes action of the shows, but it seems as though she nailed it at every turn. I adored everything about the show making and network stuff... except for when Dante opened his mouth. The phonetic spelling of his Italian accent started to make my head hurt. To be completely honest, I almost stopped reading out of frustration a couple of times.

Aside from the pure love that I have for the food show aspect in general, most of the other highlights for me revolve around Cecily's cousin Dina and food stylist Paige. They're so different and so well written that they almost made up for the "eet"s instead of "it"s when Dante appeared. In fact, if Banister ever decides to write a book focusing on either character I'd snap it up in a heartbeat ... as long as there aren't any foreign accents involved.  I'd even be likely to enjoy a book about Devlin's "henchwoman," Jessica. I bet she has quite the story to tell!

The romantic bits were nice and kept me guessing. For someone so un-interested in being with somebody, Cecily sure did have her hands full ... but, for me, those stories paled in comparison to the rest. All in all, though, it's a lovely book that I recommend in spite of the annoyances. The good bits definitely outnumber the bad!

Rambling About.. Marry Me Tomorrow by Carla Burgess

Amazon Description
Twelve days. Two gold rings. One BIG secret…Emily needs a husband…fast. It’s just a few days until Christmas and to finally put a stop to her nagging mother’s matchmaking plans, Emily has convinced her that she’s already married!
And when her excited mum announces that she’s coming to stay, Emily can think of only one man to play the part: gorgeous ex-soldier, Sam. It’s the best part of her day, handing him a coffee every morning – but then, Emily never expected to offer him her hand in marriage, too…
All that’s left is for Sam to say ‘I do’ – it’s the perfect plan! So why then, do her ‘pretend’ feelings for Sam seem far too real?
Title: Marry Me Tomorrow
Author: Carla Burgess
Publication:  October 3rd 2016 by Carina UK

First Lines:
'Will you marry me?'
The question hung between us, as tangible as the snowflakes floating around our heads.

Favorites on 4s:
4% - 'It's not like it was his idea. I had to practically beg him to come with me.'  Lydia's eyes nearly popped out of her head in disbelief. 'You begged him? You begged?'
14% - He took a deep breath before letting it out as a sigh. 'I'm not happy about this.'  'Why? You get new clothes. Yay!'  'I hate shopping. And I hate taking handouts off people like you.'
24% - It was strange to have my flat full of people and to be busy preparing food for them. Mum's voice floated through from the lounge, and I could hear Sam laughing. I was amazed they were getting on so well. It felt like a strange dream.
34% - Of course I knew there was more to him than being merely homeless. He was a human being with a past and a story. He'd had a whole different life at one point. A happy one, judging by the photos in that book.
84% - 'Everyone's leaving,' I said, at last. 'As usual.' Sam shook his head. 'I was only ever temporary, remember.'


Marry Me Tomorrow is one of those rare books that I can see myself revisiting time and again. This is an honor typically only given to classics, the occasional mystery series, Garrison Keillor and Christopher Moore. Kind of like re-watching the same favorite holiday movies year after year, it's worth reading and re-reading and if I ever have the opportunity to get a non-digital copy of it I'm going to add it to my actual bookshelf. It's the first book from Carla Burgess and is such a fantabulous debut I found it hard to  believe that it really is her debut. Surely she's been writing and publishing for eons and this is just her debut with Carina. A debut really shouldn't be this good ... and yet, it is. The downside to this, of course, is that I'll be left waiting for an unknown amount of time until I can enjoy more from Burgess. I was hoping to have a pile of books to go searching for!

There's so much heart and humor woven into the pages of this book. I laughed. I cried. I laughed some more. (They are, after all, a pretty cheeky bunch.) And, of course, I swooned and "awwww"ed. From the very beginning I knew that I would absolutely love Emily and Sam. They're both damaged goods trying to make the best out of a very awkward situation. Emily's best friend, Lydia, is just the perfect blend of protective and supportive, and her mother Pamela is absolutely adorable. I couldn't help but cast them all into my new favorite hypothetical Hallmark Channel holiday movie as I read. Even the strange guy across the hall, Brian, got cast and I almost never mentally cast minor characters like that.

This is a special book. It tugged at my heart in much the same way Christmas in Connecticut always does (the original with Barbara Stanwyck -- not the travesty remake with Dyan Cannon). I definitely give it five enthusiastic stars and a huge thank you to Carina and NetGalley for making it available to me to read!

14 October 2016

The Christmas Cake Cafe by Sue Watson (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I'm determined to make a solid dent in my NetGalley shelf in spite of the fact that most of the books on it are Christmas-y and I've read over and over again how so many of you think it's too early for Christmas books. Feel free to bookmark this for when it's not "too early" and read it later .... but, if it helps at all, the first chapter of this one DOES start in October (the Book Beginnings blurb is from the Prologue)!

Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice (today page 56 of the epub) 
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader

Amazon Description
As the Prosecco chills and Bing Crosby croons, Jen Barker just knows that her long-term boyfriend is about to propose. But instead of a diamond ring nestled in her champagne flute, Jen finds cold flat rejection. Her once perfect life and dreams of a husband and family seem even further from reach.
A working holiday to the Swiss Alps with her younger sister Jody might not be the Christmas Jen had it mind, but it offers her the chance to recharge her batteries and recover from heartbreak.
When Jen meets handsome ski instructor Jon Zutter her hopes for a happy-ever-after seem within her grasp again. Jon is kind and gorgeous and as they bond over Sachetorte at the picturesque Cake Café, Jen thinks he might just be her perfect man. But a relationship with him comes with a catch – and there are some things even cake can’t fix. As the snow falls and Christmas approaches, could this be the place that restores Jen Barker’s faith in love?


[Release Date: 14 October 2016 -- Advanced copy provided by author]






I absolutely adored this story. The main character, Jen, is a librarian who has had lifelong dreams of being a baker thanks to a children's book she had called, you guessed it, The Christmas Cake Café. Her parents split when she was ten and has had thirty years of emotional baggage and relationship issues piling up around her ever since. She's been with Tim for the past ten years and each year she hoped for a big romantic proposal and then, finally, she got a big romantic dinner with a big not-so-romantic dumping.

Tim, needless to say, is a bit of an ass.

Her half-sister, Jody, convinces her to head out to the Swiss Alps over the holidays to work at a ski resort with her and some friends and it's here that Jen starts to heal ... and where she meets the dreamy ski instructor, Jon. There are so many laughs watching Jen re-learn how to loosen up and enjoy life -- and most of those involve the fact that her luggage was lost and she has to borrow clothes from her much-more-vibrant (and often obscene) travel companions.

And there are COW ONESIES!!!!

Of course, this got me reminiscing about the awesomeness that is Holly Martin's One Hundred Proposals and then lamenting the fact that I still haven't read the Christmas-themed follow-up to that one ..... but I'll hold off at least until the end of November. After all, I still have a lot more Christmas to get to before Hallowe'en. I warn you now, though ..... from late-November until Christmas this place is likely to be one giant schmaltz-fest (with the potential of a murder or two thrown in for good measure.) I even already have another Sue Watson Christmas book already waiting!

Sorry. Cow Onesies excite and distract me.

Anyway, cow onesies and other crazy outfits aside, this gem has a little bit of everything -- humor, drama, romance, self-discovery, and a handful of "something in my eye" moments. It's one of those rare books that I couldn't put down once I had started it. (Well, I could ... but only because I absolutely had to do something work-related.) By the time nine or so hours had passed, I had grown quite fond of the whole crew (even Jen's so-called psychic co-worker, Storm, back home in England) and finished the book with one giant satisfied wistful sigh. I'm going to miss these characters and would love to have Sue Watson revisit them in a future book (or three or four).

I've been meaning to read something from Sue Watson since I first fell for UK Chick Lit a year ago and now I'm simultaneously kicking myself for waiting so long and jumping for joy because I already have several more of her titles on hand. If the others are even half as delightful as The Christmas Cake Café, I'll have a lot more laughs and swoons to look forward to... even if I don't get to revisit the characters from this one right away.

11 October 2016

A Quiet Life in the Country by T E Kinsey (Tuesday Intro & Teaser Tuesday)

It's Tuesday again and this week I have had the extreme pleasure of reading T E Kinsey's A Quiet Life in the Country thanks to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley.  It follows Lady Emily Hardcastle and her lady's maid, Florence Armstrong, who have recently relocated from London to a "quiet life" in the small village of Litteton Cotterell outside of Bristol. Of course, quiet is boring and as soon as the pair stumble onto a dead body in a clearing they're determined to investigate the case and the fun just keeps on coming from there! 

I laughed hysterically at their antics and especially at their relationship. From the very beginning it's clear that they're much closer than normally expected of a Lady and maid in 1908, but there is very little "normal" about this pair. Flo was raised in the circus and Emily is a widow who just happens to dabble in moving pictures and once foiled an assassination attempt of a Bulgarian ambassador. They're an odd couple but great heaps of riotous fun. Even with murders (yes, it becomes plural), Lady Hardcastle and Flo remain an absolute delight to behold.  Snark, sarcasm and brilliance abound and I have already laid claim to Flo as my newest Spirit Animal. 

The next in the series is due out in December and I've already pre-ordered it. It'll be a long couple of months to wait, but I can already tell that these are stories I'll be able to pick up time and again whenever I need a good chortle.

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is the first paragraph (or two) of a book being read now or in the future and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" from Books and a Beat asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

The beginning:

When teasing each other about Flo giving Lady Emily a character reference:

07 October 2016

Love Connection by Camilla Isley (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice (today page 56 of the epub) 
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader
Have you ever wondered what might have been?
Gemma Dawson is at the airport, staring at two plane tickets to two different cities. Two different weddings. Two possible futures. She’s at a crossroads.
Be maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding or crash her ex’s?
Gemma’s decision, unknown to her, hinges on a delayed flight and a chance meeting. Now her life is about to go down two parallel tracks—will Gemma fly toward a life with her first love or a future with a man she’s not even met yet? 

Love Connection is a feel good Romantic Comedy about one woman, life’s infinite possibilities, and the destiny that lies beyond two different choices.


[Release Date: 8 October 2016 -- Advanced copy provided by author]






Funny. Heartbreaking. Hopeful. Different. <-- Those four words are the first four that spring to mind when thinking about how to describe Camilla Isley's Love Connection

The book begins with the main character, Gemma, debating which of her two airplane tickets to use -- the one for her best friend's wedding where she's to be the maid of honor ... or her ex-boyfriend's wedding in order to try and stop it even though they haven't spoken in three years.

What follows is a lot like the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow/John Hannah movie Sliding Doors with each chapter covering the alternating "what-ifs." (And now I take a minute to swoon privately over John Hannah and how underutilized he has been in the role of romantic lead ..... ) The big difference is that in Sliding Doors you pretty much always knew which reality would be the best one for Paltrow's Helen .... while in Love Connection every few chapters I found myself flip-flopping between which one I preferred!

I was a bit worried at first that the format would confuse me and that I would get all discombobulated with the changes, but as it turns out there was nothing to worry about. It's so well laid out and plotted that I never wondered which flight she had taken. 

Through it all -- regardless of flight -- the greatest highlight of the book for me was the friendship between Gemma and Amelia. Moving around as much as I did growing up I never really got those lifelong do-anything-for-you-no-matter-what friendships. It's been lovely living vicariously through Gemma and Amelia. Sure, there are friends from over the years that I still keep in touch with thanks to Facebook and whatnot ... but the bond that these two have is the stuff friendship dreams are made of. They're so flipping good for each other -- especially when the men in their respective lives may not be and especially when I want to slap Gemma (which happens with both flight paths but one more than the other as time went on).

All in all, a lovely story and while it's the first I've read of Isley's it certainly won't be the last! 

05 October 2016

Rambling About.. Jimmy and Fay by Michael Mayo

In the midst of Prohibition, Jimmy Quinn joins forces with screen siren Fay Wray to take on a King Kong–size case of extortion.

It’s March 2, 1933. King Kong is premiering at Radio City Music Hall, and Fay Wray is about to become the most famous actress on earth. So what's she doing hanging around a rundown Manhattan speakeasy? This Hollywood scream queen has come to see Jimmy Quinn, a limping tough guy who knows every gangster in New York—and does his best to steer clear of them all.
A blackmailer has pictures of a Fay Wray lookalike engaged in conduct that would make King Kong blush, and Fay's movie studio—with the cooperation of a slightly corrupt NYPD detective—wants the threat eliminated. Jimmy tries to settle the matter quietly, but stopping the extortion will cut just as deeply as Fay's famous scream, ringing from Broadway all the way to Chinatown.
Jimmy and Fay is the 3rd book in the Jimmy Quinn Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.

Now, I'm normally a bit of a snob when it comes to my insistence on reading things in order. I get a bit of a twitch if I knowingly skip over part of a series. I hadn't realized when I first requested Michael Mayo's Jimmy and Fay on NetGalley that it's the third Jimmy Quinn book. I hadn't realized it until I had started to read it and felt like maybe I was missing a little something about how Jimmy came to by a speakeasy owner during Prohibition who helps both the mob and the police.
Ellis's nasty smile disappeared and before I could name names, he jumped in. "I'm just saying that where the law in concerned, Quinn works both sides of the street. Hell, he runs a speakeasy. He has dealings ever day with guys who are not one hundred percent legit. They trust him, and I can promise you that he won't run off with your money. That's about all you can ask for in a go-between." (5%)
A handful of pages later and there were a couple of previous investigations mentioned. I started to twitch, did some digging, started to curse over it being the third and having the first two not listed in my library system, and considered putting the book down until I came across the others.

But I couldn't. Jimmy Quinn and his associates took me hostage from the get-go and wouldn't let me go.

Have I ever told you that I have a huge weakness for 1930s gangsters? Luciano, Capone, Siegel ... the whole beautiful crooked dirty bunch of them. Add to that my huge love of movies from the time and my love of mysteries? It's really not much of a surprise that Jimmy and Fay hooked me early and before long the twitch of skipping the first two books went away and I just went along for the fabulous ride.

It's a fun tale with details so vivid it's almost as if it's in Technicolor. I could easily see a tv series based on Jimmy Quinn and his associates becoming a huge hit and filling the void left when Boardwalk Empire ended. Until that happens, though, I'll just kick back and lose myself in the books -- especially since I just placed my order for the first two to be shipped to me.

04 October 2016

Teetotaled by Maia Chance (Tuesday Intros, Teaser Tuesday and a Ramble)

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is the first paragraph (or two) of a book being read now or in the future and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" from Books and a Beat asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.
After her philandering husband died and left her penniless in Prohibition-era New York, Lola Woodby escaped with her Swedish cook to the only place she could—her deceased husband’s secret love nest in the middle of Manhattan. Her only comforts were chocolate cake, dime store detective novels, and the occasional highball (okay, maybe not so occasional). But rent came due and Lola and Berta were forced to accept the first job that came their way, leading them to set up shop as private detectives operating out of Alfie’s cramped love nest.
Now Lola and Berta are in danger of losing the business they’ve barely gotten off the ground—work is sparse and money is running out. So when a society matron offers them a job, they take it—even if it means sneaking into a slimming and exercise facility and consuming only water and health food until they can steal a diary from Grace Whiddle, a resident at the “health farm.” But barely a day in, Grace and her diary escape from the facility—and Grace’s future mother-in-law is found murdered on the premises. Lola and Berta are promptly fired. But before they can climb into Lola’s brown and white Duesenberg Model A and whiz off the health farm property, they find themselves with a new client and a new charge: to solve the murder of Grace’s future mother-in-law.
Teetotaled, Maia Chance's sparkling new mystery will delight readers with its clever plotting, larger-than-life characters, and rich 1920s atmosphere.






I had requested Maia Chance's Teetotaled from NetGalley on a whim because of the adorable cover and the fact that on that particular day I was feeling a bit burnt out on Chick Lits. When I discovered that it was the second in a series I hightailed it to my library and checked out Come Hell or Highball (which I teased here and rambled about here). I fell in love with Lola and Berta and, of course, Ralph. CHoH was a wonderful start to what I was certain would be a wonderful series.

Reading Come Hell or Highball first isn't necessarily, well, necessary ... but I do highly recommend it. Several characters overlap and it was nice to know what to expect from them. Take Chisolm, for instance. Lola's ex-brother-in-law (her deceased husband's brother)/future-brother-in-law (as he's engaged to Lola's snippy sister) who runs the "health farm" that Lola and Berta end up at? There are reasons why Lola calls him the Prig, is constantly trying to avoid running into her mother and sister, and cringes whenever an article appears in the newspaper written by Ida Shanks. And, of course, reading Come Hell or Highball first would let you experience the beginning of her relationship with Ralph.

(Excuse me for a moment or two while I swoon ... because Ralph is definitely swoon worthy!)

Anyway, back to our Discreet Retrieval Agency. Lola and Berta have an amazing relationship that has definitely been enhanced since they moved past their original roles of employer and cook to the roles of partners. Berta does still call Lola "Mrs. Woodby" (... then again, so does Ralph at times ...), but having been so ensconced in the Society set for so long, this doesn't really feel out of place.  Berta is reliable and invaluable to the investigations, Lola's sanity, and keeping the story going. Granted, at times she keeps the story going in a direction you wouldn't expect a butter-loving cook in her sixties to take. (Just wait until you hit Coney Island with them!)  Lola, meanwhile, shows time and again how she's so much more than a typical Society Matron and able to hold her own with the rich and powerful as well as the goonish and seedy. (Not that there's always a distinct separation between them, of course.)

I've read a lot of mysteries over the years and have become quite a decent armchair/bus seat/curled-up-in-bed detective. There are several mysteries tangled up together in Teetotaled but it only ever gets confusing for the reader when it gets confusing for our dynamic duo (or trio if Ralph is tagging along). Maia Chance gives just enough information that everything makes sense without making it obvious and I love that. Too many times with cozies I feel like I've solved the crime in question before it's even been committed! That didn't happen with the first book in the series and it definitely didn't happen here.

And now I have to deal with the downfall of NetGalley. 

Reading things in advance or at the time of release has the horrid side effect of then needing to wait even longer for more. I only waited a month between Come Hell or Highball and Teetotaled and now I'll have to go through some serious withdrawal before the next one comes out. On the upside, Chance has a fairy tale based series I've been eyeing plus another series due to start this coming June. That will be plenty to keep me occupied while I wait to see what Lola and Berta get tangled up with next, right?

Golly, who am I trying to kid? The wait will be as bad as Lola without chocolate! Hurry up and write, Maia!