Review: A Scone To Die For by H.Y. Hanna

When an American tourist is murdered with a scone in Gemma Rose’s quaint Oxfordshire tearoom, she suddenly finds herself apron-deep in a mystery involving long-buried secrets from Oxford’s past. Armed with her insider knowledge of the University and with the help of four nosy old ladies from the village (not to mention a cheeky little tabby cat named Muesli), Gemma sets out to solve the mystery—all while dealing with her matchmaking mother and the return of her old college love, Devlin O’Connor, now a dashing CID detective. But with the body count rising and her business going bust, can Gemma find the killer before things turn to custard?

Review

A Scone to Die For is the first book in the Oxford Tearoom Mystery by H.Y. Hanna. I thought this book was a cute and light cozy mystery. Jane Austen’s fans are certainly going to recognize a little influence of her novel Persuasion. I liked the plot, and I was surprised with the twist in the end. Gemma’s character is likable and down-to-earth. I really liked the interaction between Gemma and Devlin and hoped for more in this book, but I’m certain that the relationship will be better explored in the next books in the series. Another thing that I liked about this book was all the descriptions of food and the English life. The English scone recipe at the end of the book is certainly a plus. This book is an easy-read, cozy mystery that I recommend to the fans of the genre.


About The Author

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H.Y. Hanna is an award-winning mystery and suspense writer and the author of the bestselling Oxford Tearoom Mysteries. She has also written romantic suspense and sweet romance, as well as a children’s middle-grade mystery series. After graduating from Oxford University with a BA in Biological Sciences and a MSt in Social Anthropology, Hsin-Yi tried her hand at a variety of jobs, before returning to her first love: writing. She worked as a freelance journalist for several years, with articles and short stories published in the UK, Australia and NZ, and has won awards for her novels, poetry, short stories and journalism. A globe-trotter all her life, Hsin-Yi has lived in a variety of cultures, from Dubai to Auckland, London to New Jersey, but is now happily settled in Perth, Western Australia, with her husband and a rescue kitty named Muesli. You can learn more about her (and the real-life Honey and Muesli who inspired the characters in the stories).


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Review: The Silence of The Sea by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

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In The Silence of the Sea, the sixth installment in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series, a luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik harbor with nobody on board. What has happened to the crew, and to the family who were on board when the yacht left Lisbon? What should Thora make of the rumors saying that the vessel was cursed, especially given that when she boards the yacht she thinks she sees one of the missing children? Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht’s former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore? The most chilling novel yet from Yrsa Sigurdardottir, an international bestselling author at the height of her powers.

Although The Silence of The Sea is the 6th book in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series, it is definitely a book that stands alone. I can’t remember how I heard about this book, but I can tell you that I searched a few libraries for it and had to wait a few days for my inter-library loan to arrive. I’m glad I requested this book. This is my first novel from Icelandic author Yrsa (pronounced UR-suh) Sigurdardorttir (pronounced SIG-ur-dar-daughter). Wow! That’s a mouth full, so when you get passed all the different spellings and difficult sounding names in the novel what you get is a book with a great start and a great hook. Sigurdardortti’s narrative starts out slow and creepy. She sets a great vibe and atmosphere with her chilling descriptions of Iceland in the winter and an abandoned yacht. This book has a feel that is partially ghostly/paranormal and partially thriller/crime.

The book’s narrative alternates between Thora’s accounts of the events and how she gets involved in the investigation and the description of the events that are happening in the Yacht, told by one of the passengers named AEgir. I really liked this novel. It reminded me a bit of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and towards the end when the mystery is about to be solved, I felt an element of Scooby-Doo with “and I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for….”

I’m definitely recommending this chilling, suspenseful novel. I was very impressed with Sigurdardortti’s writing and I’m looking forward to reading her other novels.

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Review: The Night Bell by Inger Ash Wolfe

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The new novel in this acclaimed series is brilliantly paced, addictively suspenseful—the author’s best yet. Hazel Micallef (played by Susan Sarandon in the recent film of the series’ debut, The Calling) has become one of crime writing’s most memorable detectives. The Night Bell moves between the past and the present in Port Dundas, Ontario, as two mysteries converge. A discovery of the bones of murdered children is made on land that was once a county foster home. Now it’s being developed as a brand new subdivision whose first residents are already railing against broken promises and corruption. But when three of these residents are murdered after the discovery of the children’s bones, frustration turns to terror.While trying to stem the panic and solve two crimes at once, Hazel Micallef finds her memory stirred back to the fall of 1959, when the disappearance of a girl from town was blamed on her adopted brother. Although he is long dead, she begins to see the present case as a chance to clear her brother’s name, something that drives Hazel beyond her own considerable limits and right into the sights of an angry killer.

It seems that lately I have been giving books in a series a try. I used to only read books in a series if they were the first book in the series or if I had read the previous books. Well, The Night Bell doesn’t fall in either one of my categories as it is book number four of the Hazel Micallef series, but I still gave it a try. This novel employs the narrative technique of past and present times. The book starts in 1957 when Hazel was a young girl and introduces the story of the unsolved crime of child, which Hazel’s brother may or not have been a part of. Wolfe does a good job at telling these two parts of the story, the past 50 years ago, and the present times in 2007 and skillfully merges these two parts of the story for the great finale. Overall, this is a great mystery book with wonderful twists and an intricate plot. Does it do a good job as a stand alone novel? I didn’t think so. By book 4 of a series, there were a lot of characters that jumped in the story and that I had no clue who they were. It would’ve worked better if the author had re-introduced some of the characters for the people (like me) unfamiliar with the previous books. My bet is if you read the other books in the series you are going to love this new installment.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

3 star

Review: The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham

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Seven people might have murdered Eric Crowther, the mysterious recluse who lived in the gaunt house whose shadow fell across the White Cottage. Seven people had good cause. It was not lack of evidence that sent Detective Chief Inspector Challenor and his son Jerry half across Europe to unravel a chaos of clues. The White Cottage Mystery was Margery Allingham’s first detective story, published initially as a newspaper serial.

I love mystery novels and I absolutely adore Agatha Christie, so I couldn’t help but give Margery Allingham’s most acclaimed work The White Cottage Mystery a try. This book is a very fast, easy, and cozy mystery to read. I really enjoyed the plot and the twists. I have to admit that parts of this book reminded me of Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and considering that The White Cottage Mystery was published in 1928 a couple of years after Agatha Christie’s novel, Allingham was probably influenced a bit by Christie’s work. In that respect, I can’t say that this book was very original.

Overall, there were some elements of nostalgia in regard to the language and manners that are outdated in this day and age. I liked it, though. I was really happy with the surprising twist at the end.  Great and quick summer read.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

3 star

Review: Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

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Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery is rarely alone. Visited by people whom others can’t see and haunted by prophetic dreams, she has never been able to control or understand the things that happen to her. When Finley’s abilities start to become too strong for her to handle – and even the roar of her motorcycle or another dazzling tattoo can’t drown out the voices – she turns to the only person she knows who can help her: her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic living in The Hollows, New York.

Merri Gleason is a woman at the end of her tether after a ten-month-long search for her missing daughter, Abbey. With almost every hope exhausted, she resorts to hiring Jones Cooper, a detective who sometimes works with psychic Eloise Montgomery. Merri’s not a believer, but she’s just desperate enough to go down that road, praying that she’s not too late. Time, she knows, is running out.

Wow! That’s the word that came out of my mouth after reading Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger. Lately, between grad school, two children, a dog, and a full-time job, long were the days I could finish books in one day, let alone in one sitting. When I picked up this book I had no idea how addicting, thrilling, and exciting this reading would be. I only have praise for Unger. From the very first pages, you are drawn into this intricate web that mixes psychological thriller, crime, and paranormal. I found this story to be very disturbing, but surprising. Every time I thought the story was going in one direction, bam! The author takes you on a completely different route.

Extremely refreshing, chilling, borderline horror (really!), page-turner, can’t-put-it-down sort of book. I highly recommend this book to fans of the genre.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published June 7, 2016.

5 star

Review: Valentina: A Hauntingly Intelligent Psychological Thriller by S.E. Lynes

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When  Glasgow journalist  Shona McGilvery moves with her partner  Mikey  and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness.But with Mikey working offshore, the  frightening  isolation of the Aberdeenshire  countryside begins to drive her insane…That is until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina. She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she? As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears…

This is the story of Shona, a mid-twenties journalist who has to move to the isolated countryside of Aberdeenshire, Scotland for her husband Mikey’s job. When Shona and baby Isla arrive in Aberdeenshire, she realizes that with her husband’s schedule she and baby will have to spend a significant amount of time alone in this idyllic cottage in rural Scotland. The thought of being alone and isolated in her new home makes Shona apprehensive. Melancholic and in dire need of adult social interaction Shona meets Valentina at a local baby nursery. Valentina is a charming Australian with a small baby of similar age to Isla. Valentina and Shona strike an immediate friendship and things seem to be finally working out for Shona in her new life until a web of deceit starts to unravel threatening this “perfect” friendship.

Valentina is the debut novel of author S.E. Lynes and let me start by saying what a strong debut this novel is! I loved how captivating this novel is from the start and it never disappoints. The characters are well developed and complex. I loved the way she told this story from different perspectives, and although part of the plot was a bit predictable, Lyne still managed to finish the book with a surprising finale. 5-stars! I’m definitely recommending it!

I’d like to thank the author and Blackbird Digital Books for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published on July 1, 2016.

5 star

Review: Earthbound Bones: A psychic Seasons Novel by ReGina Welling

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After being tossed out of heaven, former guardian angel, Galmadriel isn’t like any other angel. Not quite human, yet not fully an angel, the best thing the PTBs can think to do with her is bounce her around so she can solve supernatural problems.

Ghosts that need to find their way home or that purposefully take the wrong path are her bread and butter. To add insult to injury, she is assigned a fledgling pair of guardian angels to train. Julius and Estelle are ready and willing to learn, but they also have a secondary agenda. One that Galmadriel is never supposed to find out about.

Helping the ghost of young Ben Allen find his way home reconnects Galmadriel with Kat, Amethyst, Gustavia, and Julie in the first of many adventures to come.

This is my first book by ReGina Welling and it is a spin-off of her other series. Although I didn’t read any of her previous books, this book sucked me right in. I loved the main character Galmadriel and I really enjoyed the fact that this book combined paranormal, romance, and cozy mystery. This is a fun and light read. A great start of a series. I’m looking forward to her next installments.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.3 star

Review: Arsenic With Austen by Katherine Bolger Hyde

cover82927-mediumArsenic With Austen is my first book by Katherine Bolger Hyde. The novel starts with the return of Emily Cavanaugh to the little town of Stony Beach, Oregon to inherit a fortune from her great-aunt Beatrice. What Emily is not counting on is having to solve a murder mystery and face and old flame, Luke, who she hasn’t seen in 35 years.

Hyde’s novel has a great premise with a whodunit style of crime and a love story. There is, however, very little Austen in the book except for the fact that each chapter opens with a quote from Jane Austen’s more famous novels (Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility…). I’m a huge Austen fan and I think that had a lot to do with my first interest in this book, however, the Austen connection ends there. The characters although nice are a bit flat and stereotypical, the love story between Emily and Luke seems unrealistic and the murder mystery, although cozy, is quite predictable.

Arsenic With Austen is book number one in a series called Crime With The Classics, and although I couldn’t rate it more than 3-stars I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next books in the series.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published on July 12, 2016.

3 star

Review: Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

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On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

The book starts with a small plane that falls in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with 11 people on board. Scott, a struggling middle-aged artist, and a four-year-old boy are the only survivors. The crux of the book is finding out the cause of the crash and events that led to the disaster.

I really enjoyed reading this book by Noah Hawley. The first couple of chapters are suspenseful and impossible to put down. There is a great message about the ridiculous power of media covering tragedies. It does slow down a bit as it alternates between the aftermath of the crash and the lives of the passengers before the accident (the fall), but overall a great summer read.

Before The Fall by Noah Hawley is one of those great suspenseful books that you can read in one sitting. A fast-paced, page-turner that keeps you guessing until the end. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of the genre.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published on May 31, 2016.

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Review: Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig

 

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Death Before Decaf  by Caroline Fardig is a Java Jive Mystery novel and the first book in a series.  Juliet Langley is a fun and believable thirty-year-old singer who is returning home to Nashville after her fiancée breaks up with her. She takes a job as a manager at a friend’s coffeehouse, Java Jive. On her first day at the job, Juliet gets into an argument with Dave (the cook) over some health code violations and next thing you know Dave is found dead in the dumpster. In order to prove her innocence, Juliet sets out to investigate the crime.

Although the book started out a little slow for me, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the mystery was not as easily to solve as I had first thought. Juliet is an adorable character and I’m looking forward to her next books.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

3 star