Witch Way to Murder by Shirley Damsgaard & Artistic License by Katie Fforde

Another night of difficulty sleeping and so I read two more books off of my TBR list.  Witch Way to Murder by Shirley Damsgaard, which is the October read for the Cozy Mystery Corner book club on Goodreads.  This book was so much better than I expected!  I can’t wait to read more.  Often paranormal cozies are too cutesy for me but this was not at all. In fact, the paranormal elements were almost downplayed to highlight believable characters and a well crafted mystery that involves a very current issue, methamphetamine production.  I liked the protagonist, Ophelia.  Despite her cool, reserved persona I really connected with her.  She reminds me slightly of Miss Zukas from the Jo Dereske series, which I also love.  I will definitely be reading more of this series.

 

My second book was Artistic License by Katie Fforde. I should say from the outset that I always love Katie Fforde’s books.  I find it very easy to immerse myself in the world she creates for her characters and this book was no exception.  Thea Orville is a young woman who was unlucky in love and her career and became a landlady for a boarding house for students.  She meets an almost equally unlucky artist and decides to make some changes in her life, to become “unstuck” from the disappointing life she was living.  There are numerous twists and turns and more than one love interest and a charming young boy looking for a mother. Katie Fforde always writes about relationships and the effects people and their decisions have on others and their lives.  Her books celebrate how messy life can be and yet always there is  always this thread of hopefulness that makes them lovely and charming to read.  I recommend this book and any others by Katie Fforde.

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Sundays in Bed with Midnight Book Girl

Somehow my bloglovin’ and my reader dropped the feed from Midnight Book Girl and so I’ve been missing out on Sundays in Bed, this meme that is hosted by her.

My Sundays in Bed read is one that I am reading for my One Drink Minimum Book Club, not really a light and fluffy read, but very interesting.

Beyond the Sky and the Earth:  A Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa

“Mountains all around, climbing up to peaks, rolling into valleys, again and again. Bhutan is all and only mountains.  I know the technical explanation for the landscape;…It is easier to picture a giant child gathering earth in great armfuls, piling up rocks, pinching mud into ridges and sharp peaks, knuckling out little valleys and gorges, poking holes for water to fall through.”

Panic Button by Kylie Logan

This is the third book in the Button Box Mystery series by Kylie Logan.  I read and enjoyed the first book in the series when it was the selection of the month for my Cozy Mystery Club on Goodreads.  I picked up the second one on my own and was somewhat disappointed as it was very focused on the theme, button collecting, which is not really an interest of mine.  I am very glad that I gave, Panic Button, the third in the series a try, it is the best so far!

 

The protagonist, Josie, is asked to appraise a “cursed” button charm string and the curse does seem to follow it as the owner is killed.  There is more than one mystery going on, the murder and also the “curse” of the charm string.  Several possible villains are suggested as Josie does her sleuthing with her sidekick, Stan. I did figure out the piece behind the charm string prior to the reveal in the book, but it did not lessen my enjoyment of the book.  I found the book well written and paced with enjoyable characters.  I particularly like the relationship developing slowly between Josie and Nev, it seems very realistic, not overly rushed or part of some convoluted love triangle.  Josie’s ex is still in the picture, but just as someone she is concerned about not a romantic interest.

 

Fun, fast cozy mystery read, this is definitely the best in the series so far.

Insomnia Mystery Reading Fest

I  Really couldn’t sleep last night and so I finished a stack of mysteries due back at the library anyway.  The first was Murder in House by Veronica Heley.  I am reading this out of order, having read the rest of the series a while ago, my library just didn’t have this one and now they do. 🙂 I love the character of Ellie Quick; she is complex, likable, intelligent and brave, all packaged in the body of a middle aged woman.  Initially, when I began this series I thought of it as a cozy but I would say that it definitely progressed to more of a soft-boiled and this book in particular certainly has dark themes and events.  The plot was complex but what really drives Veronica Heley’s books are the characters. They have complicated, messy relationships, just like real life. The prime example is Ellie and her daughter Diana, which was prominent in this book.  Because the series is so character driven, I would strongly recommend reading it in order (even though I didn’t), as relationships change and develop over time.  If you enjoy cozies with a darker feel or soft boiled mysteries, this is a great series, driven by a great protagonist.

Moving on to the next book, The Burglar in the Rye.  from the wonderful mystery writer,Lawrence Block.  This is another series I read as I came across the books in the library, not necessarily in order.   I have really enjoyed this series and when I came across this one in the library, I didn’t remember the title so I picked it up, but after reading a couple pages I realized that I had indeed read it before.  Disappointing, I thought I had a new Bernie Rhodenbarr Mystery to enjoy.  Anyone who has not tried this series definitely should, Bernie is a funny, irreverent protagonist and the cast of recurring characters only adds to the fun.  A quote from the book illustrates Bernie’s thought patterns:  “But old habits die hard, and I’ve never been able to look at something of great value without trying to  figure a way to rescue it from its rightful owner.”

Bernie is a burglar, but with a good sense of right and wrong and loyalty to friends, that makes him a lovable rascal type of character.  He also happens to own a bookshop, so people who like to read books about other bibliophiles have that to look forward to in this series.  His best friend and drinking companion is a lesbian, who owns a pet grooming business.  All in all eclectic, well drawn characters and excellent mysteries with humor drive this wonderful series.

Moving on to M.C. Beaton’s, Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came.  Agatha finds herself bereft when James  and Charles both abandon her,but she acquires a new “partner in crime” in the form of a new neighbor to help with the sleuthing.  This book focused on Agatha working with her new neighbor to solve a murder.  There are red herrings to follow and Agatha gets chastised by…just about everyone for her antics in crime solving.  The mystery  is well done and solved very satisfactorily.  Agatha’s personal life is still a shambles, very much in Agatha Raisin fashion.  I’ve begun to give up hope that she will ever find stability with a partner she loves, but I will keep reading to see if she does.  Charming, cozy mystery series that includes elements of comfortable village life and a more worldly view.  Agatha is really an incomparable character.  She brings much of her grief upon herself, at the same time you can’t help but feel for her as she fumbles through life.  Anyone who has offended someone unintentionally or had their life upset repeatedly can certainly relate to her.  In the end, she is intelligent and well meaning and certainly a capable sleuth.

Thinking of You by Jill Mansell

 

I was on Twitter the other night and Jill Mansell tweeted about Thinking of You being available for $1.99 on Kindle so I picked it up.  I have read several of Jill Mansell’s works and enjoyed them and this one does not disappoint.  The character of Ginny was easy for me to relate to, a divorced mother whose daughter had left for university, separating them for the first time.  I loved the relationship between Ginny and Jem, mother and daughter and best friends.

Ginny suffers seriously with “empty nest syndrome” compounded by another loss and we follow her through a series of upheavals, new relationships, and betrayals.  Meanwhile, Jem gets herself involved in an inadvisable romance away at college and we follow mother and daughter’s separate misadventures.  Lovely, light chick lit with a well drawn cast of characters that you could meet around your own neighborhood.  A fun read, a plot that stretches belief in places, but it is chick lit after all.  Fans of light romantic reads will enjoy this.

Thursday Thirteen

Going through a rough time, so I thought I’d list 13 things to look forward to (in no particular order):

  1. The weekend 🙂
  2. Broadchurch finale tonight at 10 on BBC AmericaImage from BBC America
  3. Christmas
  4. Book Club meeting Oct. 9
  5. Daughter coming home December 13th
  6. Catching up with the Agatha Raisin series and Hamish MacBeth
  7. Thanksgiving Break image from busymom.net
  8. Two week long Christmas Break this year
  9. Lunch date with family member I haven’t seen in a long time
  10. Receiving retro pay
  11. Receiving estate settlement
  12. Malice Domestic
  13. Retirement

Mrs. Pargeter’s Point of Honour by Simon Brett

 

Just finished another in the Mrs. Pargeter’s series, the sixth and final book to my knowledge.  In this outing, Mrs. Pargeter is trying to do a favor for the widow of one of her deceased husband’s friends…return all the artwork he had “acquired” during his career to the rightful owners.  We follow Mrs. Pargeter and her loyal band of ex-associates of her husband, Hedgeclipper Clinton, Truffler Mason, Gary the driver and some new additions.  In this book, we also meet a DI Wilkinson, who spent most of his less than illustrious crime fighting career trailing along in Mr. Pargeter and crew’s wake.

The story takes twists and turns and more than one villain is uncovered along the way.  Mrs. Pargeter weathers it all, maintaining herself as a lady despite the company she keeps.  The book is humorous in places, Mrs. Pargeter’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge that her husband was a criminal, and thrilling in others, the hiccups in the well laid plans.  I have enjoyed this series immensely both as a humorous cozy and as a social satire.