Meg is helping her Grandfather run Owl Fest 2019 at the Caerphilly Inn at Christmas. When its 200 ornithologist guests are stranded by a snowstorm, one of the most cantankerous and least-loved professors is killed. Time for Meg to step in, with help of her extensive family, to solve the mystery in Owl Be Home for Christmas, the twenty-sixth entry in the Meg Langslow cozy mystery series.
I absolutely love this series. While this entry doesn’t involve the nuclear family dynamic as much as earlier entries, I still love returning to visit Meg’s crazy extended family. The new characters from ornithology were interesting. Each had a real personality and fit well into Meg’s humorous world. The mystery was solid and I enjoyed the twist at the end. Overall, Owl Be Home for Christmas is one of my personal favorites. 5 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
You don’t have to have lived in the 1950s to enjoy The Man that got Away. However, it is eminently easier to understand if you’re from England.
There is a murder, a con man, and a criminal mastermind in Brighton, a beach town on the English coast in1957. Only young Constable Twitten has a chance to solve the crime if his bungling co-workers don’t stop him.
I read many British mysteries. But this series continues to confuse me with Briticisms and product names available only in England. Possibly only in the past. My Kindle dictionary doesn’t even know what they mean. I also don’t like or relate to the bumbling policemen. They have an office cleaner who is really a master criminal. Their chief didn’t notice he was being conned by the local wax museum. Reading The Man that got Away forces the reader to totally suspend disbelief.
While I enjoyed this entry, the second, more than the first, I still believe it was only good—not great. Still the mystery itself was entertaining. Plus I enjoyed the delights and surprises of an English beach town. 3 stars.
Thanks to Bloomsbury USA and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
The game is afoot in the excellent Sherlock Holmes tale of spies and revolution, the Adventures of the Peculiar Protocols.
Sherlock Holmes’ brother Mycroft enlists Holmes’ help with a mysterious French manuscript. The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is ostensibly a book recording a conference of Jews describing their plan of world takeover. However, Holmes believes it is a fraud. Confirming the Jewish connection, the Home Office spy who died protecting it was killed with a knife bearing a Jewish star. Does the manuscript’s sudden appearance relate to the nascent Russian revolution? Is it an attempt to blame the entire revolution on the already frequently scapegoated Russian Jews?
The author’s Seven-Percent Solution is my favorite neo-Holmes tale so I snatched this one up as soon as I saw it on NetGalley. And I wasn’t disappointed. This book is equally good and feels like it was written by Doyle himself. The level of detail that matches the original stories is excellent! I most highly recommend the Adventures of the Peculiar Protocols for every Holmes fan. 5 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Scientific studies have shown that exercising your mind will keep you mentally young. The Best of Cryptograms is conveniently large-print for those of us getting older, which is all of us if you think about it. The large-print is also double spaced giving you plenty of room to write two choices for a letter if mistakes occur (and you are foolish enough to attempt these puzzles with a pen as I do).
Cryptograms are puzzles that substitute each of the 26 letters of the alphabet with another letter. They have been used for war, espionage and for fun as long ago as Julius Caesar. In this book, all of the puzzles are quotes—some from people and some from movies, books and plays. In fact, there are seven chapters: US History; Lines from Movies; Artists, Musicians and Actors; Authors, Writers and Reporters; Science and Technology; Books and Plays; and World History.
With 450 cryptogram puzzles, the Best of Cryptograms will give days of quality entertainment. The only downside to this book is that the puzzles are not graded as Easy, Medium, or Hard as in most puzzle books. I would recommend looking for puzzles that are on the long side and have many one, two and three letter words if you want a less difficult puzzle. You can also look for the author’s name to make the solution easier. For example, I found Martin Luther King Jr by seeing the two letter last word in the US History section. Once I had his full name, I had a thirteen letter head start by filling in those substitutions in the actual quote from him.
There is also a one-letter clue on a separate page from the entire answer that could be useful if you are stuck at the beginning of a puzzle. There is also an answer key in the back of the book. What is nice is the clue and the answer key are in regular print. You will know that you are “cheating” because you have to put on your reading glasses—aptly called cheaters.
The quotes are interesting. Many were new to me. Some were thought-provoking.
Okay, I admit it. I was somewhat addicted to cryptoquotes and logic puzzles from middle school through college. It has been a long time since I last did one. However, as I was doing these puzzles, I remembered why I enjoyed them. Now, thanks to scientific studies suggesting that doing puzzles will slow or prevent age-related thought issues, I can feel good doing what is enjoyable. I think you will enjoy the challenge and have fun too! 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
“All our thoughts [are] reflected in our bodies; the reverse is true as well.”—from the Art of Reading Minds.
Reading minds is achieved by reading body language—no New Age mumbo-jumbo is necessary. This book can make you a body language expert. “You already do it, but you could do it better.” You can use the skills taught here to read another person’s underlying feelings. You can also learn how to build rapport with others. By projecting the body language most likely to make someone feel comfortable with you, you can build a common ground even if you are disagreeing with their stated position.
The Art of Reading Minds works! It provides simple methods to build your mindreading skills. Mimicking the other person’s gestures, body position, and even voice characteristics will encourage others to feel you are on their wavelength. So you can test out the techniques, the author provides simple exercises. You can prove to yourself that pupils get bigger when a person is interested in you and your conversation. Another exercise uses an imaginary lemon to prove how your thoughts automatically impact your physical body. You can also discover if you are a visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or neutral (logical) thinker. If you emulate another person’s style in word choice, cadence and volume, it quickly builds an underlying rapport and a feeling of closeness between the two of you.
This is such a fun and useful book. Though it may feel initially manipulative, these techniques are invaluable tools to use with clients, bosses, and even with future mates. Let me reiterate, they work! 5 stars!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Better Watch Out (A Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery) by Christina Freeburn
Author Guest Post
Favorite Holiday Reads
By Christina Freeburn
It’s that time of the year, where I start making my list and checking it twice for the newly released and new-to-me holiday books. From November 1 until January 7, I only read novels (and pretty much watch Christmas movies exclusively) set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. There is just something about Christmas themed entertainment that cheers me up and boosts my spirit. I like to immerse myself as much as I can into the holiday season. My love of the Christmas/holiday season was one of the reasons my new series, Merry & Bright Handcrafted mysteries, features a heroine who loves the holiday and has built a crafting business around her love for Christmas.
Since 2011, I have posted holiday reviews on my blog (The Self-Rescue Princess) and I’m going to share with you my Top 10 holiday reads from 2011-2018. I can’t wait to see/read if my list will change for next year. Please comment with some of your favorites or any new holiday books coming out (fiction or non-fiction, children, teen, or adult). I’m not picky when it comes to holiday books, well except I prefer less angsty books and definitely want a happy ending.
Happy Holiday Reading!
My Top 10 Christmas Reads
On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Roberts
Orphaned Hearts by Shawna K. Williams
Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs
Santa’s Sleigh is on its Way to West Virginia by Eric James
Making a list. Merry’s life is Christmas chaos. Her divorce is still in question. She’s behind on crafting orders. Ebenezer is an escape artist. And with one day left, she hasn’t completed the line-up for the annual Christmas parade, thanks to one grinch. Once Merry knows the Christmas secret, she realizes Santa isn’t what’s coming to town.
Checking it twice. Santa’s naughty list, courtesy of Jenna Wilcox, will roll down Main Street with names of residents who deserve a lump of coal in their stocking. Saving the parade won’t be easy, but Merry is up to task. Or so she thinks until she discovers Jenna’s body stashed in Santa’s sack.
Going to find out. As facts are unwrapped, Merry finds the line blurred between who’s naughty and nice. As threats are aimed at her and those she loves, Merry dashes for the truth before the murderer puts her on the naughty list and crosses her off for good.
About Christina Freeburn
Christina Freeburn has always loved books. There was nothing better than picking up a story and being transported to another place. The love of reading evolved into the love of writing and she’s been writing since her teenage years. Her first novel was a 2003 Library of Virginia Literary Award nominee. Her mysteries series, Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery and Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mysteries, are a mix of crafty and crime and feature heroines whose crafting time is interrupted by crime-solving.
Christina served in the US Army and has also worked as a paralegal, librarian, church secretary, and golf shop pro. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, dog, and a rarely seen cat except by those who are afraid and allergic to felines.
What if I told you there was a way to stimulate your creativity? In My Creative Space, the author does just that with 48 ways to enhance yourself or your environment to encourage creativity.
My Creative Space explains how to make your home or office a space that encourages imagination and problem-solving. Many of the ideas are surprising. Staring at a bare light bulb, looking at family photographs, and making a fire can make you more creative. Many of the ideas are counterintuitive. Have a drink, make some noise, and work when groggy (or take a nap) are all scientifically indicated to boost originality. For each suggestion, the author lists what to do, why do it, why does it work, and how to do it. The studies supporting his suggestion are fully spelled out if further research is desired. All the suggestions are accompanied by many photographs showing how people have implemented the suggestions in real life. They are gorgeous and definitely encourage readers to try to do the suggestions themselves.
Overall, this is an excellent and original book on an unusual topic. It would be useful to anyone trying to solve problems or complete a creative project. Writing a book or illustrating a graphic novel? Solving programming or other analytical problems? Painting a picture or quilting a memory quilt? All of those activities can be assisted by being done in a more creative space. 5 stars!
Thanks to the author and Skyhorse Publications for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Read and Buried: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates
Character Guest Post
Into the Center of the Earth
By Lucy Richardson from the Lighthouse Library Series by Eva Gates
My employment contract says “other duties as assigned”.
I guess descending toward the center of the earth qualifies. Although I’d rather it didn’t.
Let me explain. The Bodie Island Lighthouse, in which our library is situated is old and in need of repair. After a lot of fund-raising (as described in Something Read Something Dead) the library community came up with the needed funds and work began.
Work was well underway and all progressing well when suddenly… it wasn’t.
Deep in the earth at the base of the lighthouse tower, the crew found a tin box. Just a box (thank heavens they didn’t find a skeleton or old bones) but it is a potentially historical relic, after all it wasn’t put there yesterday. So someone from the library had to go down and get it.
Bertie James, our director, refused outright. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her face quite that shade of pale. It seems she’s severely claustrophobic. Who knew?
In her panic. Bertie turned to the closest person, shoved the hard hat at her, and ordered her to descend into the pit in her place
That closest person just happened to be me. Conscious of my interrupted performance review, I reluctantly did as I’d been asked. It wasn’t too awful. I didn’t care for the sense of the earth closing around me, but Zack went ahead of me and we didn’t have too far to go. We got the box and carried it up. Now we’ll all troop into the library to open it and see what we have. It might be quite exciting. We don’t know if the box was deliberately buried there or someone dropped it and didn’t care enough to go in after it.
I only hope whatever it is it doesn’t lead to another murder at the Lighthouse Library.
Don’t forget to read my review of this book here and enter the giveaway for one signed hardcover copy of Read and Buried below!
Librarian Lucy Richardson unearths a mysterious map dating back to the Civil War. But if she can’t crack its code, she may end up read and buried.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library Classic Novel Book Club is reading Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne while workers dig into the earth to repair the Lighthouse Library’s foundations. The digging halts when Lucy pulls a battered tin box containing a Civil War-era diary from the pit. Tucked inside is a hand-drawn map of the Outer Banks accompanied by a page written in an indecipherable code.
The library is overrun by people clamoring to see the artifact. Later that night, Lucy and Connor McNeil find the body of historical society member Jeremy Hughes inside the library. Clearly Jeremy was not the only one who broke into the library–the map and the coded page are missing.
Lucy’s nemesis, Louise Jane McKaughnan, confesses to entering the library after closing to sneak a peek but denies seeing Jeremy–or his killer. When Lucy discovers that fellow-librarian Charlene had a past with Jeremy, she’s forced to do what she vowed not to do–get involved in the case. Meanwhile, the entire library staff and community become obsessed with trying to decode the page. But when the library has a second break in, it becomes clear that someone is determined to solve that code.
About Eva Gates
Made with Repix (http://repix.it)
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than thirty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea By The Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Year Round Christmas mysteries for Penguin Random House, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series and, as Eva Gates, the Lighthouse Library books for Crooked Lane.
Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It crime writing festival. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.
“Don’t worry. I promise to stay completely out of it this time.” are the last words spoken by Assistant Librarian Lucy in Read and Buried before she gets involved up to her neck in the mystery and murder.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library is being renovated to shore up its crumbling foundation. Workmen find an old tin box buried under the lighthouse. In it is an old, but unimportant, fishwife’s diary. Hidden within the diary’s pages is a map and a coded legend to decipher the map. Before anyone can solve the puzzle, a break-in occurs, the map and legend are stolen, and someone is killed in the library.
In Read and Buried, there are two mysteries. Who killed the victim and why? Plus where or to what does the coded map lead? Is there a connection between the library’s book club book, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and the coded map?
I love the Lighthouse Library mysteries. The characters are like friends and family now. I read each book to catch up on their lives. The mysteries in this book were especially challenging. There were many red herrings in plain sight but the real perpetrator can be found with enough investigative skill. Overall, an excellent addition to an excellent series. I’m already looking forward to the next one. 5 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review. Stay tuned for a guest post tomorrow on my blog with amateur sleuth, Lucy Richardson from this series. See what she really thinks of her job!