Tag Archive | review

July Explodes with Mystery!

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I love summer.  That usually means relaxing by the pool, going to the beach or at least vacationing somewhere for at least one weekend.  And with those weekends come a chance to read some amazing authors.  There are so many great cozies out this month. In cases like this, I wish I could clone myself so I could read them all. But alas, I am only one reader.

Do you have any particulars you are excited about? I know I do!  Take a look at this great list for the month of July.  If you know of others, feel free to post them in the comment section below.  I am always looking for new and interesting mysteries. 

Happy July, happy reading and….don’t forget to leave a review for the books you read.  A sentence or two mean the world to the guys and dolls who’s works we read. 

Allyson K. Abbott: A Toast to Murder
Lorraine Bartlett: A Basket Full of Bargains
Laura Bradford: 30 Second Death
Lynn Cahoon: Killer Party
Laurie Cass: Wrong Side of the Paw
Peg Cochran: Sowed to Death
Gary Corby: Death on Delos
Kathi Daley: Camp Carter
Kathi Daley: Second Look
Lindsey Davis: The Third Nero
Mary Feliz: Dead Storage
Jean Flowers: Addressed To Kill
Alexia Gordon:Death In D Minor
Victoria Hamilton: Muffin to Fear
Joan Hess  & Elizabeth Peters: The Painted Queen
Victoria Laurie: A Panicked Premonition
Mary Marks: Knot What You Think
Alyssa Maxwell: Murder at Chateau Sur Mer
Catriona McPherson: Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble
Sandra Orchard: Over Maya Dead Body
J.R. Ripley :To Kill a Hummingbird
Denise Swanson: Lions and Tigers and Murder, Oh My

Death in Advertising; Review

Death in Advertising by Laura Bradford

Death In Advertising CoverStarting a business is a difficult venture. It takes time, money, devotion, money, clients, more money and an extremely good support system. Tobi Tobias knows all about this as head of Tobias Ad Agency and part time employee at a local pet shop. Her luck seems to take a turn when the owners of Zander Closet Company end up in her conference room wanting to hire her for their new campaign.

The desperation that Tobi has to make her business survive after having a bad experience working with the last company she was with is palatable. Laura writes this character with feeling to where you are anxious right along with her from the beginning. When you meet the Zander brothers, Andrew and Gary, you’re not quite sure what to think of them. Tobi takes the job and work begins on their new ad campaign to make Zander’s closets a household name.

At the photo-shoot in the custom-Zander built closet of the wealthy Mr. Hohlbrooks,Skeleton.in.closet tragedy strikes and a dead body is discovered tucked away like an organized pair of shoes or dress slacks. This does not bode well with the new slogan, “When we’re done, even your skeletons will have a place.” Talk about killing sales…

Tobi is a woman trying to keep herself together when things are at their worst. She relies heavily on her friends and family to help emotionally and without this support system, I can’t fathom how she would be able to end up as strong as she does at the end of the book. With each break in the case, each friend or family member lends themselves to something she lacks. Carter, for instance, has a bit of flair and outgoingness that she lacks. Without him in her life, I think some of the evidence that she comes upon would go unnoticed. The bird, Rudder, is even a helpful “friend” that is critical to her figuring out the murder.

Laura brings together several fundamental human elements in this cozy mystery. They help one to realize just how the people around us assist to make us stronger. Tobi not only faces the murder that has happened, but learns to overcome bullies from the past by helping others through their struggles and moving past her own. Death in Advertising had depth and is highly entertaining to read. I hope there is a follow up to this book.

About Laura:

As a child, Laura Bradford fell in love with writing over a stack of blank paper, a box of crayons, and a freshly sharpened number two pencil. From that moment forward, she never wanted laura1 to do or be anything else. Today, Laura is the national bestselling author of several mystery series, including the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, the Amish Mysteries, the Jenkins & Burns Mysteries, and the upcoming Tobi Tobias Mystery Series. She is a former Agatha Award nominee, and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award in romance. A graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, baking, and being an advocate for those living with Multiple Sclerosis.

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BTB Review of The Passed Prop by Anne Hagan

The Passed Prop

by Anne Hagan

Review

passed-propI might just live in this small town that Anne has written about. Morelville, Ohio is a small farming community with people who know all the people’s private business and a downtown that needs reviving. Everyone went to school together, have worked together and have been annoyed at people together. Throw in a dead body found in the haunted house during a fund raiser and we have some great gossip and a list of suspects for this little town.

After the body of a trouble-making townsman is found in a haunted house, replacing the original manikin body prop, the town starts to question their safely. Enter Faye Crane who had been seen and heard arguing with the now dead man the night before. After her daughter, Sheriff Melissa Crane, has her mother questioned by the detective, Faye is sent on a personal mission to clear her name. After all, who could go about instigating such a gruesome death? Come to find out, a lot of people. Oh how I love small towns and their drama.

Town’s people seem to start dropping like flies and Faye asks her best friend to help her figure out who is staking the victims to death. The big surprise is where the murderer/s get the wood from and where they find the manikin prop the first time. Chloe Rossi and Faye Crane start asking questions around town, realizing not many people liked the people who are being murdered off. All of the gossip and evidence seem to be leading to the same conclusion and the connection is horrifying. I would not want to cause any problems in Morelville, let’s just say that.

Being the good sleuths they are, in true Lucy and Ethel style, they form a plan and execute it. The spy scenes are truly hilarious. Just wait until you read them. Faye and Chloe are comical. The ending is striking. It’s not a big surprise as to who did it as we have been along for the ride with these two ladies, but the take-down is cleaver. I want to high-five these ladies.

If you like snickering, being in suspense and just need an amusing book to read, this is it. I look forward to future outings with these two ladies and I hope for my sake and yours that they get into more trouble.

About The Author

anne-aAnne Hagan is an East Central Ohio based government employee by day and author by night. She and her wife live in a tiny town that’s even smaller than the Morelville of her first fiction series and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Anne’s wife grew up there and has always considered it home. Though it’s an ultra-conservative rural community, they’re surrounded there by family, longtime friends and many other wonderful people with open hearts and minds.

Anne and her wife enjoy spending time with Anne’s son and his wife, with their nieces and nephews (and their great-nephews that they’re really still too young to have but, it is what it is) and doing many of the things you’ve read about in her bestselling books or that will be ‘fictitiously’ incorporated into future Morelville Mysteries and Morelville Cozies series books. If you’ve read about a hobby or a sport in one of her books, they probably enjoy doing it themselves or someone very close to them does.

Anne is a member of the Golden Crown Literary Society (under her legal name) and the Lesbian Author’s Guild.

The ladies together are the co-owners of a commercial haunted house, Hagan’s House of Horrors. Much as her dream has always been to write fiction, her spouse’s dream has been to create it through the medium of horror.

Author Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAnneHagan

Website: https://annehaganauthor.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Anne_Hagan

 Buy “The Passed Prop”

BTB Review of Michelangelo’s Ghost by GiGi Pandian

Michelangelo’s Ghost by GiGi Pandian

Review:

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I have not had the pleasure of reading any of GiGi Pandian’s works before so I went into this read completely blind. The cover is what captivated me and from there I went to the description. That’s when I knew I wanted to read it. Being a fan of mystery and exploration, a character such as Jaya Jones was going to help me escape on a much-needed vacation and explore my need for an exotic location. I grew up watching Indian Jones and always thought the females in his movies seemed pretty week. The thought of a female exporter fascinated me. I only hoped Jaya lived up to my expectations.

We have two females who are the main characters and focus of this story. Yes, there is a brother, his girlfriend and Jaya’s two love interests that form an uncomfortable love triangle, but I’m not sure those are the focus really.  So, I am focusing on the two main ladies.  One ends up dying, people thinking her a fool and dreamer while one goes on to explore this dreamer’s theories. There are lots of plots and twists in the book, but these two ladies and how their relationship is with each other is the thing I would like to focus on.

Lilith Vine was once an impressive professor of Jaya’s, but she and others left professor Vine behind in fear of having the stigma of “crazy dreamer” put upon themselves. After all, a real researcher can’t have that shameful of a person them around. Her fifteen minutes of famed discovery was over and she was a has-been, right? Yet, when professor Vine calls up Jaya and tells her about a connection between a world-famous artist and a set of carved statues in Italy, she can’t seem to pull herself away. Even after leaving her behind, Jaya knows deep in her heart that she looks up to Lilith Vine and that the quirkiness of her ideas makes her adventurous heart skip a beat with anticipation of the unknown.

Unfortunately, a prominent death occurs that puts a damper on the research but this drives Jaya even harder to find out if there is truly a historical connection. She is led to Italy to talk to the distant family of the artist in question and finds out of the shame associated with him, the scandal of his work and just how far people will go to manipulate others to get what they want.

I loved the adventure, the characters, the scene setting and development that goes on in Michelangelo’s Ghost. Jaya goes from a researcher who is not sure of herself to one who gains a full head of steam toward her better self. The character of Jaya did not disappoint.

Anyone who likes adventures and strong female characters will fully envelope this book. I was constantly “watching my back”, trying to figure out who was after who and if people where truly who they said they were. There is no sense of security for Jaya in this book and it’s an spree to the very end. I can’t wait until the next installment. I’m now a huge Jaya fan and plan to read the prior ones now.

About the Author:

gigi-pandian-bw-headshot-14-webres-rgb-7x8SA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the the southern tip of India.

She graduated with honors from Pitzer College, studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh, and went on to graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Bath in England. Before completing her PhD, she realized she was much better suited to writing about the fictional adventures of academics than being one herself. She left academia for art school, and began writing the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series.

Artifact, the first book in the series, was awarded the William F. Deeck Malice Domestic Grant, hit the USA Today bestseller list, and was named a “Best of 2012” Debut Mystery by Suspense Magazine.

The Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries continued with Pirate Vishnu (awarded the Left Coast Crime Rose Award), Quicksand, and Michelangelo’s Ghost. 

Gigi also writes the Accidental Alchemist Mystery Series. The first book in the new series, The Accidental Alchemist, won a Lefty Award. The Masquerading Magician was released in 2016, and The Elusive Elixir will be published in January 2017.

In addition to novels, Gigi loves writing locked-room mystery short stories. Her story “The Hindi Houdini” was shortlisted for Agatha and Macavity awards.

Gigi’s publishing journey was kicked into high gear by a cancer diagnosis. A month after her 36th birthday, Gigi was diagnosed with breast cancer. To get through her treatments, she decided to throw herself into her mystery writing. She’s doing well, but life is still uncertain, so she plans to have a lot of fun in life as she travels the world with her husband, camera, and notebook for writing mysteries.

Gigi sits on the board of Sisters in Crime, is a member of Mystery Writers of America, and is an avid participant in National Novel Writing Month

Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GigiPandian/

Twitter @GigiPandian

Email: gigi@gigipandian.com

Website: http://www.gigipandian.com/

 

Buy “Michelangelo’s Ghost”

Review of Hearse and Gardens by Kathleen Bridge

Hearse and Gardens by Kathleen Bridge

Review:
hease-and-gardensI now want to live in the Hamptons. Meg Barrett has taken me into her world of interior design, as well as cozy bungalows and I am now ready to hire her to decorate one for me to live in beside the ocean.

Kathleen Bridge has once again painted the picture of utter beauty that is the Hamptons. The lifestyle, elegance of the people and nature of living by the ocean have been sold to the reader. We get to see new locations that astound and amaze in the second installment of the Hamptons Home and Garden Mystery as we are taken to the grandiose home that is Sandringham. Oh what an amazing place!

In the process of helping clear out some older bungalows we find our first of many mysterious hidden rooms. This one, however, has the skeletal remains of a man that has been missing for some twenty years. This is only the beginning to Sandringham’s many mysteries. As Meg and Elle continue working with the family, more secrets ooze from the walls. Meg is literally the grown up Nancy Drew in this book. I found myself reading this, jealous of her pursuits of such a fantastic riddle.

skeleton-on-wallThe story was gripping, full of literal twists and turns and enough family secrets to keep one researching for years. The question throughout the story was always who had Uncle Harry’s best interest in mind and who was after the lost Warhol painting, the money and estate. The guilty would start looking innocent and the innocent, guilty. It was a wonderful rollercoaster of confusion. To add to the confusion, I had to question the fictitiousness of the writing. It all sounded so plausible that such a painted existed that I had to ask Kathleen. Who knew!

This story was not only a mystery on the surface with the sleuth, victims and suspects, but ran much deeper for me. It was psychological. It seemed that the hidden passages, discovery of bodies and the unknown fate of her housing situation showed the outward appearance of what Meg was struggling with inwardly. As an interior designer, she goes searching for the past, for items to fill a void in not only a person’s space, but also their life. She helps them create a story, a world that they want to live in and to escape to. At the same time, it fills voids in her own life.

She misses having a place to call home, a person to call her own after a bitter separation and she is mentally trying to figure out these hidden nuances in her personality and come out on the other end like one of her design creations, a beautiful statement that is one of a kind and looks put together with everything in the perfect spot. That is hard to do as a human and I think she will realize this as she comes into her own. But, I think she is making great progress in this book and I look forward to seeing her continue to develop as a character in the hands of Kathleen Bridge.

Synopsis:

To keep her mind off the legal battle over the oceanfront cottage she’s trying to buy, Meg agrees to help her friend inventory and clear out furniture from the massive Montauk estate of wealthy art broker Harrison Falks. But the job takes a terrifying turn when Meg discovers a skeleton in a hidden room in one of the estate’s many bungalows. The remains turn out to be those of Harrison’s son, who went missing nearly twenty years ago—along with one of his father’s Warhol paintings.

As Meg delves into the Hamptons’ pop art past, she gets drawn into the sketchy goings-on and family drama at the estate. But when Meg makes no bones about solving the crime, she just might become the subject of the killer’s next installation.

About The Author:

kathleen-bridgeKathleen Bridge, author of Hearse and Gardens and Better Homes and Corpses, started her writing career working at the Michigan State University News in East Lansing, Michigan. She is the author and photographer of an antiques reference guide, Lithographed Paper Toys, Books, and Games.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and has taught creative writing classes at Bryant Library in Roslyn, New York. Kathleen is also an antiques and vintage dealer in Long Island, New York, and has contributed to Country Living magazine.

Author Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorkathleenbridge/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/KathleenBridgeG/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kathleenbridge

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorkathleenbridge/

Blog: http://weekendinthehamptons.blogspot.com/

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Buy The Book, Feed The Author, Leave A Review:

*And don’t forget to leave a comment here on my blog. I love to hear what YOU think.*

“Death of a Toy Soldier” Review, Interview and Giveaway!

Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara Early

Review:
death4Excuse me while I run around like a kid in a toyshop writing this review for “Death of a Toy Soldier”. Oh wait; it takes place in an actual toyshop. Goodie, goodie for me. Finally, someone writes a book that I can relate to when it comes to my obsession with old toys, seeking them out and buying them. In this case, Liz McCall and her dad, Hank sell the toys at their amazing New York shop, Well Played. Fabulous name Barbara, fabulous!

Hank McCall is a retired police chief who has taken his hobby to the next level and opened a vintage toy shop and runs it with the help of his daughter Liz. All is well and good until a man who had visited the shop previously to check on the price of some super rare tin toys turns up dead in a pool of blood amongst the playful relics on the toy shop floor.

Hank is suffering amnesia from the night of the incident for an unknown reason and the McCalls are forced to try and put the pieces together to a puzzle that just gets weirder and weirder.   Hoping to get her father off the hook and back into the store he has put his heart and soul in to, Liz turns to friends and family in order to try and figure out who the mystery man was who ended up dead in their store. 

As if a game of Clue is in play, another man ends up dead who might be associated with the dead mystery man. The more they investigate, the more secrets are revealed about neighbors, friends and people they thought they knew. So, who did kill the man in the toy store with the dart. Yes, for sure a game of Clue is afoot.

The story did not stop the entire time. I was expecting a lull where I would lose interest and then have to force myself back into it because honestly, kids interrupt me while I am reading.   There was never a problem picking up where I left off because the characters weren’t flat. I felt like I knew Liz, Hank, Cathy, Jack, Peggy and those adorable sisters, Irene and Lenora.

I was able to jump right back in and the story just kept developing in new dimensions. Right when I thought I was going one way, Barbara took me somewhere else. I loved it! The killer threw me for a loop however. I had two people that I just knew did it. I kept thinking, “Oh Barbara, you made this too easy. You tried to throw me off, but I caught you.” Nope, I was so wrong. I didn’t see that one coming at all.

If there was one complaint I had, it was that I didn’t get to see inside the doll room. She kept describing Cathy, the other worker, peaking out and such but the reader doesn’t get to go in. Do you know what that does to a doll person Barbara? I wanna go in!

This series is exciting for me and I hope the second book comes out quickly after the release of this one. What a great set of characters, setting and descriptive writing. I was hooked. If you love toys, collecting old vintage memorabilia and love a good mystery go ahead and order this book. You need it in your life like I need another doll. And I DO need another doll by the way….

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Interview:

BTB-Do you or have you ever collected vintage toys?

BE-At one time, I had quite a collection: a huge assortment of Fisher Price with all the original wooden Little People, an early Mr. Potato Head, a virtual fortune in real wood Lincoln Logs, and a pretty good selection of Pez dispensers. Colorforms. Slinkies. View Master with a bunch of disks. You may have already figured out where I’m going with this. This was forty some years ago. Most of them were passed down to younger cousins or siblings or sold by my mother at garage sales.

But no, I wasn’t a collector before I started writing the series. And except for a few fun pieces and some small things I’m using to decorate my Christmas tree, I’m trying to keep my collection on Pinterest. But, like Liz McCall, I am an avid board gamer, and I do own some vintage board games. Some I’ve bought used and others I’ve just had for long enough that they’re actually worth something–which is kind of sad, because it makes me hesitant to play them. And that’s their value for me.

trainBut the fun part of the series is that you don’t have to be a collector or even an enthusiast to enjoy reading about the toys. They spark a lot of nostalgia. When we see pictures of, say, a Mrs. Beasley doll on Facebook, or a vintage Scooby Doo lunchbox we may have taken to school, those images inspire all kinds of feelings and memories. We all relate to toys. They were part of our childhood and are key parts of our formative memories.

BTB-How did you do research for “Death of a Toy Soldier”

BE-The idea for the series came from the town first. I’ve visited East Aurora (Yes, it’s a real place!) any number of times–it’s only a little over half an hour from my house. It’s such a quaint town, the kind you read about in cozy mysteries. It has brick-paved Main Street with every kind of store you might imagine in a cozy mystery: a quirky five-and-dime, a cupcake shop, a yarn shop, a vintage theater selling gourmet popcorn, a chocolate shop, and a variety of eateries, many with tables spilling out onto the sidewalk. There’s even an Amish furniture store. And yes, a toyshop. It carries a lot of classic toys, but it’s not a vintage toyshop.

But the whole town is truly darling. I supposed the normal reaction is to want to shop and sightsee. My first reaction was, what a great place for a murder!

So I really wanted to set a mystery there. When I searched the town’s history, I learned death5-copythat it has long been called Toy Town, because of the manufacture of toys in the area. Fisher Price (now part of Mattel) still remains, but there were once a number of different toy manufacturers clustered around the town. Sad are the things I just missed: there used to be a toy parade and a toy museum. Neither of those exist any longer. But since I write fiction, I reserve the right to resurrect them.

When I started digging around a little more, I discovered that, while vintage toyshops are a little rare, dealers and collectors do a bit of trade at vintage toy shows, and I found a few in my area. They’re starting to recognize me, even though I do more talking and picture taking (with their permission) than actual buying. But going to the shows always feels more like play than research.

BTB-What inspired the name of the book?

BE-I never get to keep my titles. I thought I was going to be able to this time. The working title was MURDER WELL PLAYED. In my mind, it was perfect. Vintage toys. Well Played. And every title could have “play” in it, in some form. And that’s the title it was subbed as. But the publisher who bought it wanted to change it. They wanted something more visual–which I understood, at least as soon as I got over my initial disappointment. It was my agent who actually came up with the title, which resonated with the publisher right away–and led to some changes in the story to accommodate it. I wasn’t initially sold–but I’ve learned to trust the instincts of those with experience in the industry. They were so right! And then they came up with that cover, which is absolutely fantastic. I love those eyes! So each book will likely feature an iconic type of toy.

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BTB-In the book, there is a lot about vintage games as they gather for a regular vintage game night in the toyshop.  What is your favorite board game?  Do you have a favorite piece you play, color, etc.?

BE-I have a lot of favorite board games, depending on my mood. Right now it’s a strategy game called Power Grid. I’m also fond of Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, and Settlers of Catan. Those three have apps that allow me to play against the computer, which is nice because I like to play far more often than I can find people to play with. I also picked up another fun one called Liebrary, where you’re given the title and brief synopsis of a real book, and then all the players have to come up with a first line. Those lines get shuffled together with the real first line, and then everybody has to guess which one is genuine. As a writer, it can be a lot of fun. Sometimes, though, it starts feeling like work.

As far as playing pieces, I tend to pick green, for some reason. And in Monopoly, yeah, I like the racecar. Boring, I know.

BTB- There is a lot about family and trust in this book.  Can you speak as to why this was such a heavy theme?  It’s unusual to have a father and daughter sleuth team.

BE-When we start thinking about the toys of our childhood, we tend to think of the circumstances of our childhood. And I wanted Liz’s childhood to be interesting. (The opposite is boring, and nobody wants that.) Giving her an alcoholic parent was an easy choice for me. I can write that with authenticity, sadly. The strong bond between Liz and her father was born from this shared adversity. Their relationship wasn’t perfect, but they’re very much there for each other now. They have each other’s backs and are more alike than either would probably care to admit.

Perhaps it’s because I never had a close relationship to a father, I tend to explore this idea in fiction. The close relationship between Hank and Liz is more similar to the one my husband and our daughter share. It’s very sweet and fun to watch.

BTB-I have to ask about the monkey in the book because every time I read about it, it vintage-monkeyseemed to represent something inside of Liz that she was dealing with psychologically.  Was the monkey used as a metaphor or am I over analyzing?  Was the monkey just a monkey?

BE-Sometime a monkey is just a monkey. I’ve always found them a little freaky. But like Liz, sometimes I can get a little nervous around toys with eyes. It comes from that one Twilight episode with a talking doll, and then a made-for-TV horror movie about a killer doll–that I was too young to watch at the time. I still have a low tolerance for horror, unless it’s something campy, like Sharknado.

But those early experiences gave me a bit of a doll phobia myself–nothing too severe–which I’ve given to Liz, because it’s a fun problem to have if you work with them every day.

BTB-So, I know we are just now getting a taste for this book, but anything you want to reveal about the next one?  Can we expect to go into the doll room….yes?  no?  Hahaha! I really wanna go in.

BE-Crooked Lane contracted three books, so I’m writing the second one now, which takes place at a model train and toy show. And model trains are such iconic toys. (Although there’s a lot of adults who would cringe at me calling them toys.) The working title which, given my track record (pun unintended) will probably change, is Strangers on a Toy Train. We’ll see. I’m thinking dolls for book three, although they’ve always been in the series. It’s not blatantly obvious, at risk of being too cutesy, but Liz McCall shares the same full name as an iconic paper doll, Betsy McCall. Her sister-in-law, Cathy, can be a bit chatty. There’s a potential love interest named Ken. And the author–just don’t call me Barbie. I HATE being called Barbie.

BTB- Thanks Barb for stopping by, chatting and letting us into your brain. You are quite fascinating and so is this little toyshop of yours.

About The Author:
barbara-early

Barbara Early authored the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries (as Beverly Allen) and now writes the Vintage Toyshop Mysteries. She lives in Western New York.

Facebook Author Page : https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraEarly/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BarbEarly
Alter Ego Beverly Allen:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeverlyAllen
Blog:  http://www.inkwellinspirations.com/

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Giveaway:

We didn’t get a chance to go into the doll room, but you have a chance to win somethingwaldapubdom from the doll room. May I introduce, Jillian! She is what us doll collectors call a Walda doll. She was sold back in the 70s and 80s as an antiqued (not antique) doll to look like the older porcelain dolls of yesteryear. They have glued on wig caps, painted facial features of rosebud lips and different colored eyes, painted black boots and usually come dressed in a prairie looking dresses with a hat and bloomers.

Her head, arms and legs are made of porcelain and her body is stuffed with cotton rags. No Walda looks like another so collectors look for these for their distinct personalities. We have one (of course) in our collection. She was given the name Courtney and she joined our family in the early spring while my daughter and I were out antiquing. My daughter fell in love with her so we brought her home immediately, no questions asked. For information on Walda dolls, click HERE.

I was so excited when Barbara sent a photo to me of her find. I then flooded her with my doll knowledge. Lucky you! Just click below to be entered to win you very own “Walda” doll named by Barbara. Jillian is excited to come live with you.  She is complete and in collector condition which is hard to find.  Most are missing their hats.  Good luck!

Win “Jillian” The Vintage Walda Doll!

(named after the assistant museum curator, Jillian Hatley, in “Death of a Toy Soldier”)

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Buy “Death Of A Toy Soldier”

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It’s Your Party, Die If You Want To by Vickie Fee

Review:
Nothing says woman’s business retreat like a ghost hunt, pagans dancing naked around its-your-partythe fire and the dead body of a community member whose had an affair with just about every man in town. Dang Vickie! What was in your tea when you were writing this? It’s Your Party, Die If You Want To is a non-stop trip of having your mouth hanging open and I loved it!

Small towns are amazing because there is always something going on and everyone knows about it. Dixie Tennessee is just like any other small southern town except a lot more scandalous. Liv McKay, a party planner and her friend, Di Souther, the local mail carrier are in the perfect professions to know everyone’s business in a more intimate way. And can I just say the names, Liv and Di for murder mystery characters are brilliant! I love that to the moon and back.

During the Professional Women’s Alliance of Dixie retreat (PWAD), one of their members who “gets around town”, if you catch my drift, ends up dead with a look on her face that would turn ones blood cold. All this happens during a ghost hunt and the homecoming of Dixie’s very own celebrity ghost hunter, Lucinda Grable. With this twist in the retreat, no one is allowed to leave and everyone starts pointing fingers at each other. Between Liv and Di, they come up with a plan to ensnare the killer at the Halloween fundraiser during a stage performance of “Clue” after Di notes several clues of her own along the way.

These characters were sassy and not afraid to show their crazy at all. When that happens, the reader can’t tell who is naturally crazy and who is mentally crazy and needs to be put in a mental ward. Between the bickering, joking, unusual alliances and backstabbing, I just couldn’t keep up. Have I met these people before? Nah…..okay, maybe.

The ending was just as climatic as my first Clue game. My mouth was hanging open; I was fidgeting and really nervous as the plot was revealed. It was exciting, the dialogue that occurred between them all as the guilty parties were outed.

The details that Vickie uses throughout the book to describe the scenes are what make the book really come to life. I felt like I was at the parties. I could envision everything around me, smell the food and felt like I was right in with Liv and Holly doing the decorating and mingling. I was anxious with them as they were preparing each location for the big night. I learned about a new poison I had never heard about and that fascinated me. How Agatha Christie is that? She didn’t just tell a story that was entertaining, she kept me informed, involved me as a reader and even educated me.

its-your-party2This story went above and beyond just a story. Yes, it was a cozy mystery, but it has so many layers. It was like watching a movie in my head more so than some of the books I read. I love detail and love it when writers use it to help me along. I am not in their head when they are writing so it helps me understand their vision. So, if you don’t like a lot of description and detail, this wouldn’t be the book for you. But if you do, Vickie Fee is your author. It’s Your Party, Die If You Want To needs to be on your bookshelf.

About Vickie Fee:
Vickie Fee grew up on a steady diet of Nancy Drew, daydreams and sweet iced tea. Like vickiefeemost people born and raised in Memphis, she didn’t tour Graceland until she was in her 30s – and then only as a host to out-of-town guests. She now lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with her husband, John. If she cranes her neck slightly, she can see Lake Superior from her office/guestroom window.

After earning a journalism degree from the University of Memphis, she spent many years as a reporter covering small Southern towns populated with colorful characters, much like those in her books’ fictional town of Dixie, Tennessee. She’s a past president of the Malice in Memphis chapter of Sisters in Crime and current member of the Wisconsin Sisters in Crime and the Guppies chapter. When not writing, Vickie enjoys reading mysteries and watching B movies from the 1930s and ‘40s.

She’s currently working on the next book in the Liv and Di in Dixie mystery series, published by Kensington.

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