Yule Log Murder
November 2nd, 2018 by diane92345

Three novellas in bestselling cozy mystery series all involving yule logs and set in the Christmas season are told in the Yule Log Murder.

The Yule Log Murder is part of the Lucy Stone series. An assistant on a movie shoot is killed while transporting a yule log. It includes the recipe for the yule log at the end of the story.

In Death by Yule Log, the obnoxious boyfriend of the daughter of Hayley Powell is suspected of bludgeoning someone to death with a frozen yule log. The recipes included sound yummy.  They are:

  • Mom’s Christmas Morning Cocktail
  • Dustin’s Christmas Morning Cinnamon Muffins
  • Gemma’s Hot Chocolate
  • Mom’s Special Hot Chocolate (adds vodka and peppermint schnapps to Gemma’s recipe above)
  • Randy’s Crock-Pot Mulled Wine
  • Hayley’s Christmas Yule Log

Logged On tells the story of elderly Mrs. St. Onge, whose complicated Buche de Noel (yule log in French), is suspected of poisoning multiple people in the town. This tale is part of the Maine Clambake Mystery series. It includes the recipe for the Buche de Noel plus a warning by the author to find a professional baker to make the complicated recipe.  The author helpfully includes an easy recipe for Jewel Brooch Cookies for those of us that are not professional bakers.

While I enjoyed all three stories, Logged On was my favorite because of its unusual plot.  I liked it so much that I am beginning to read the Maine Clambake mysteries beginning with Steamed Open to be published on December 18, 2018. Many people read cozy food mysteries for the recipes.  The recipes in Death by Yule Log are much more likely to appear on my Christmas table. Lucy Stone is one of my favorite characters.  I feel like I am growing up (or old?) with her family and friends.

The Yule Log Murder is an excellent way to get into the Christmas spirit. Despite all the tales using a yule log, each one had an entirely different spin on the plot. It is recommended to cozy readers looking for a few light evening reads. 3.5 stars!

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.

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Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

United States of Murder Inc Vol 1
November 1st, 2018 by diane92345

With mob rats, mob war and President Kennedy’s killer, the United States of Murder Inc Vol 1 starts a new mafia graphic novel series off strong.

Valentine becomes a made man in the mafia like his father and grandfather before him. With his cousin Dino, he is sent to D.C. to deliver a package to a Senator. Valentine meets a beautiful redhead, Jagger Rose, on the train. She says she was a childhood friend of his sister. She states that the mob has sent her to keep an eye on him during his first task, but she is actually a mob hitman sent to protect him. After delivering the package, the Senator’s building explodes, killing Dino. Valentino’s mob bosses swear it wasn’t his case that detonated.

Valentine goes home to his mother. She tells him his great-grandfather shot Kennedy for the mob. When his mother tells him she birthed him to be a mob spy for her bosses in the FBI, Valentino is understandably upset.

Switching between present day and mid-20th century, the story has plenty of plot. The use of sepia tones in the flashbacks makes it easy to tell what time period is being described. The plot is reminiscent of The Godfather series. The mob families are fighting. The CIA is trying to get revenge on the senator’s behalf. Valentine and Jagger are ultimately alone and fighting for their lives.

While the United States of Murder Inc Vol 1 has an interesting story, it isn’t very unique. I hope that it will be developed more in future volumes. If you like mobster stories, this is a good read. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Jinxworld, and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: ,

Scarlet Book One
October 31st, 2018 by diane92345

Scarlet is convinced the world is broken in Scarlet Book One.

Scarlet and her boyfriend, Gabriel, are hassled by bad cop Gary Dunes. When he feels up Scarlet, Gabriel punches him. When Gabriel is shot by Dunes and framed as a drug kingpin, Scarlet vows revenge. But revenge doesn’t satisfy Scarlet. She starts a revolution to overthrow the corrupt leaders of the world.

The use of a female first-person narrative is innovative. But breaking through the fourth wall to make the reader her co-conspirator is genuinely brilliant. Plus the artwork is gritty and gorgeous. There is nothing here to dislike. Though originally created and published eight years ago, the plot seems entirely of the moment in the wave of the Trump and Kavanaugh protests.

Scarlet Book One collects the first five issues. With the recent collaboration between DC Comics and writer Bendis, new issues of Scarlet are being released. This book is a quick way to see Scarlet’s back story. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Jinxworld, and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with:

The Flash: Starting Line
October 30th, 2018 by diane92345

The Flash: Starting Line is a great value. It includes comics 0-12 plus the first annual for less than $25 on paper and even less digitally.

These episodes of The Flash hold up well. The drawing is bright with beautiful coloring. The plots are great.

I’ve never read some of the early stories. It was nice to read Barry’s backstory. The collection contains a great explanation of how he can move through solid objects and how he discovered that skill. Most of the best enemies are here.

The Flash: Starting Line is a great way to bring new readers quickly up to speed. It also is excellent to fill in blank spots for existing fans that may not have read the original issues. 5 stars!

Thanks to DC Comics and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: ,

Family Trust
October 30th, 2018 by diane92345

Stanley is dying. All any of his family are concerned about is whether he has set up a Family Trust and named them as trustees.

Stanley is the domineering and occasionally abusive father of Kate and Fred. Their mother and Stanley’s ex-wife, Linda, is concerned that Stanley will leave his substantial estate to his new younger wife Mary rather than their children. Linda, Kate and Fred have romantic issues. The siblings work in the high stress Silicon Valley. Kate as a manager in an Apple clone and Fred in corporate venture capital.

Family Trust is Crazy Rich American Asians set in San Francisco rather than Singapore. There is still the need for children to attend Ivy League schools, to have the best job titles and to leave a legacy behind. This book had more emphasis on careers, which I enjoyed. I especially liked Linda’s story of what it was like to be divorced later in life in Taiwanese-American culture. All the characters had intricate personalities that were totally believable and were well-matched to their actions.

Family Trust is perfect for fans of family pathos or anyone who wants to immerse themselves in a different culture than that which is in most books. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, William Morrow, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

Posted in Literary Fiction, New Books Tagged with: ,

Séances are for Suckers
October 29th, 2018 by diane92345

Séances are for Suckers is a humorous take on old school romantic mysteries like The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart.

Ellie is the youngest of a set of triplets. On her eighteenth birthday, her mother is killed and her sister descends into a vegetative state. Her brother is an elementary school gym teacher. To earn the money for her sister’s long-term care, Ellie works as a fake medium. Ridding families of their ghosts frequently means more psychological than psychic assistance.

When Nicholas approaches Ellie with a project, she can’t resist even though Nicholas knows she is a fake. He wants Ellie to prove to his elderly mother that her ghost, Xavier, is someone’s childish game.

Once at the family’s ancient estate, Ellie suspects everyone including Nicholas of causing the ghostly events. It doesn’t help that Nicholas is devilishly handsome and apparently rich too. Plus there is the man-of-all-work, Thomas, who is equally handsome but so much less complicated than Nicholas. When Ellie literally stumbles over a corpse who is gone before she returns with help, Ellie begins to believe that this particular ghost may be real.

I actually liked the romance more than the mystery. Like Ellie, I started to feel like part of the family and really wanted it not to be an intentional fake haunting for profit. Séances are for Suckers is a very enjoyable romantic read perfect for a cozy night in with only your cat (or dog, if you are one of those people) for company. 3.5 stars!

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Paranormal, Romance Tagged with: , ,

Lady in the Cellar
October 28th, 2018 by diane92345

A long-dead body is found in the captivating, and true, Lady in the Cellar.

In London in 1879, many people were looking to make their fortune by living together in boarding houses. In one, at Number 4 Euston Square, a well-to-do older woman’s body is found in the coal cellar. Her putrefied skeletal remains are clothed partially in silk along with a clothesline tied roughly around her neck. Though her time of death is years before, the London constabulary discovers through extremely thorough detective work her identity. The victim was Matilda Hacker. She was a wealthy heiress that never married. Despite being in her sixties, she dressed as a young girl. When her sister died, she seemed to have increasing mental issues. Convinced people were stalking her, she frequently used assumed names and moved around England. One such place she moved was Number 4 Euston Square.

I loved the great descriptions of how police work was done in England in 1879. Victorian England was a time of significant change in policing. Investigations were beginning to use the scientific method rather than intuition to solve crimes. The setting in London is vivid and makes the reader feel that they are there. However, the plot takes many wrong turns following what the police probably did at the time. It is disconcerting to spend fifty pages on a potential suspect only to have him eliminated in a few paragraphs.  Also, the resolution was not what I expected.  Some of my hesitancy in recommending Lady in the Cellar for its plot is perhaps my issue with being used to clear conclusions in fiction.  I do recommend this book for writers setting their story in the same location and time. 3 stars!

Thanks to White Lion Publishing and NetGalley for granting my wish for an advance copy.

Posted in Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,