I really like the Advice Column Mystery Series by Roberta Isleib. Preaching to the Corpse is the second book in this three book series. In this segment, a member of a church team charged with hiring a replacement minister is murdered and Dr. Rebecca Butterman is called in to counsel the minister who found her and may or may not be a suspect and to replace the murdered woman on the committee. Detective Meigs features prominently in this book as he did in the first, although perhaps not in a way you would expect.
Although I am not at all religious and often find religious themed books insufferable this book managed to have a church related mystery without being preachy. I like the character of Dr. Butterman as the sleuth a great deal, she uses her background to analyze the suspects in a believable manner. I really liked the resolution of the Rebecca and Meigs storyline and Rebecca’s personal life in general. The mystery was well done and I didn’t guess the culprit at all, in fact I had a completely different idea for at least part of the book. This series does not necessarily “read” like a typical cozy but it is lighter mystery with interesting and updated themes. I will be finishing the series with the third book when it comes out on Kindle.
How to Bake a Perfect Life is a women’s fiction selection told from varying viewpoints. Ramona is a single mother of an adult married daughter, Sophia, the result of a one time encounter as a young teen. Sophia is pregnant with her husband’s child while her husband is deployed, and Katie is Sophia’s step daughter who needs a place to stay while her mother is incarcerated. Ramona is also the proprietor of a struggling bakery business located in a town in which her family owns a series of food related businesses organized under the management of her estranged father. This was an okay read. I really didn’t get the whole estrangement thing, it seemed she was picking and choosing, blaming the family for siding with her ex in one breath and then still having relationships with her mother and brother in the next. I just didn’t really connect with the characters to a point where I cared about them.
These are three of my latest reads, A Christmas to Remember and Hard As You Can were both courtesy of the NJ Romance Writer’s conference. Romance is not my go-to genre for reading but I do read it sometimes, usually romantic suspense.
A Christmas to Remember is a collection of short stories that are Christmas themed and are written by popular romance authors. These were fun and quick to read, something to put the reader in the Christmas spirit. I feel like Kristen Ashley’s story really doesn’t work as a stand alone, you need to have read some other books set in her universe to “get” the whole story. I have read one of her other books and so pretty quickly had a handle on the characters, the relationships and the world they inhabited. My favorite of the stories was Molly Cannon’s Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas. I liked the character development, evident even in a short story and the plot was interesting. A variety of styles of romance in one collection, a little something for everyone!
Hard as You Can is actually the 2nd in a series and I will admit that I did not read the first. The story is set in a dark universe of gangs and organized crime, strip clubs and sex slavery. The protagonist is trapped in a life due to circumstances beyond her control and the damaged ex-special forces hero swoops in to save the day, not initially but eventually. This had a fast paced plot, with building tension along with the budding romance. Sexual situations, torture and abuse are all warnings for this book. Good escapist read.
Brass in Pocket was the monthly read over at the English Kindle Mystery Club on Goodreads. I nominated it because the title and the concept, references to late 70’s music interested me, having lived through them. The protagonist, Inspector Drake, is an intriguing character with some time of OCD condition. His partner just seems to muddle along ignoring it for the most part. The book starts off with a bang, and a double homicide of two police officers on a lonely Welsh road. The pace rushes along from that point on slowing occasionally. I thought that it felt a little rushed rather than fast paced. I also found that the relationship between Inspector Drake and his family was uneven, there seemed to be tension and then there wasn’t with no real explanation. Perhaps this is because this is the first in a series and the family relationships will be expanded upon later.
My biggest issue with the book actually is the hook that got me to buy it, the songs. There are multiple references to the songs in relation to the murders but the lyrics or even lines from the song that the characters are reading are not in the book. I guess this was due to some copyright laws, but it was immensely distracting for me. Every time they mentioned a song I wanted to stop reading and google the lyrics, so it pulled me out of the story. Overall, I liked Inspector Drake and the mystery plot itself, but some of the other characters and family relationships were weak and the book seemed short and rushed. I am not sure if I will read another.