Tag Archives: Cozy Mystery

Murder in the First Edition

Addison Greyborne’s eyes glistened with the reflection of the glimmering snowflakes hanging from the delicate fairy lights she’d retrieved from her aunt’s attic. – First Line – Murder in the First Edition.

The back cover of this book says – Lauren Elliott devoured Nancy Drew before graduating to Agatha Christie. Eventually she tried her hand at penning a novel herself and is currently working on the next Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery. I do like to see if there is any information about why the author chose to write a book or series. I tried unsuccessfully to find more information about this author.

This is a new series to me and I broke my own rule by not starting with the first in the series. I chose this book by the cover and that it was set around Christmas time and wanted a holiday book to read. From the blurb, I went on to purchase a second in this series set in January. It is part of my January to be read list.

This series involves a character who inherited her aunt’s book store and all of the characters she meets in the small town in seaside New England. We learn that she had been engaged but her fiancé died. In this book, his father shows up and at first she is excited to think that he wanted to spend time with her over the holiday since it appears she has no family. We learn fairly soon that she wants to like him but he has secrets that she fears make him not such a wonderful person. When she realizes he didn’t come mainly to see her, her excitement dims. She had already determined that he liked his ladies and when he attracts the eye of a local friend, she becomes concerned that he will break the woman’s heart.

When Teresa Lang, a local woman who was in charge of a charity auction that Addie had donated a first edition of -A Christmas Carol, falls down a flight of stairs to her death while the book disappears. Addie suspects murder because the book had been valued at $60,00, plenty reason for some people to kill. Because her fiancé’s father, who also has an interest in books may have been the last person to see her alive, Addie fears he could have had something to do with her death. Several other questionable characters come on the scene and she starts to question their true identity. Addie sets up a white board and notes what happened, with suspects and clues. A couple close friends get involved in the investigation with her.

Besides investigating a murder, she juggles two suitors, a past love, a local police officer, and a local doctor. Both are currently involved in the Teresa Lang death. The police officer tells her to leave it alone and let the police handle it but, of course, she ignores him. The doctor became involved by examining the body. There is plenty of sparring between the two prospective lovers and personally I might have liked this sub plot better if Addie had actually made a choice between the two men.

I can’t say I will commit to reading the whole series but since I bought the book set in January, I will read that one. Hopefully the author will resolve the romantic sub-plot and leave me feeling better at the end of that book. This book was well written but it felt fairly predictable. I feel most cozies do tend to do that and most of the time I am okay with that as long as they sprinkle a few surprises along the way. If you haven’t read this series and like the cozy genre, I would suggest you check it out maybe with the first in the series. I may have missed something by not starting at the beginning. If all goes well with the next book, I probably will do that too. If you have read this series, let me know what you think.

I look forward to sharing more reads with you in 2021. Celebrate safely and have a very Happy New Year!

Until next time,


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Posted by on December 31, 2020 in Uncategorized


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Moon Signs – Book Review

Moon Signs by Helen Haught Fanick

This was an enjoyable read. The lead characters are sisters who are in their late fifties, early sixties. One is a widow the other never married. Their niece is working at a lodge in a mountain range on the east coast that had been owned at one time by the sister’s family. There is a rumor that there are a couple of Monet‘s stashed away there that belong to the family.

A sister and brother now own the lodge. He is romantically involved with the niece and his sister doesn’t like it. The lodge owner’s sister is a disagreeable character and they soon discover that not many people like her. Shortly after they arrive someone kills her. There are a slew of diverse characters who all make great suspects.

This is a cozy so not much violence but there are plenty of threats to the co-protagonists and twists and turns to make you keep guessing. I liked the idea of moon phases affecting the story line and the author did mention it a couple of times but then nothing more. Would have liked to see more of that connection, especially with the title being ‘Moon Signs’.

I would recommend to anyone who loves cozy mysteries.

Not sure what I will read next. So many books, so little time.

What are you reading?


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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Book Review


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Who Do Voodoo? – Book Review

I happen to love stories with a paranormal twist.  It is the first in a series of Mind for Murder Mysteries by Rochelle Staab.

It took me a little while to really get into the story and there was one time that I almost set it aside to not finish. Then I saw it sitting on my nightstand with a bookmark in it and decided, what the heck, I’ll give it another try. What drew me to this story was the fact that it involved tarot cards. I have taken a few classes to read tarot myself and wanted to see how the author would use that in the story.

With my second attempt to read this book, I did get hooked. The protagonist, Liz Cooper, is a psychologist whose best friend, Robin, an assistant for a talent agent, is threatened by someone who has been leaving tarot cards taped to her front door. They aren’t just any tarot cards; they are the same tarot cards used in a reading the night Robin’s husband died.

The protagonist spends most of the book investigating the murder of a Voodoo priestess who didn’t get along with Robin. The two argued, the night she was murdered and Robin became a suspect. So as any best friend would do, she had to prove her friend’s innocence.

  • While investigating, Liz discovers a cursed spell book.
  • She becomes romantically involved with her brother’s friend, Nick Garfield, a professor who lectures on the occult.
  • Her brother, who is a police officer, discourages her from getting involved in the investigation and with his friend because he doesn’t think she knows what she is doing and he thinks his friend will break her heart.
  • Her ex-husband, a professional ball player, who played around on her tries to get back into the picture and her tarot card reading mother attempts to play cupid with them because she liked him more than Liz did.

This story is a cozy mystery with a paranormal twist and though the characters are not as well rounded as those in a more literary novel, it meets the standards of this genre. It had a satisfying ending that even made me feel good. The story-line was well plotted and it kept me guessing right up to the reveal. I will watch for the next one in this series.

Happy writing and reading.



Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Book Review, What I'm Reading



Murder Most Persuasive – Book Review

Thanks to Librarything I just finished reading Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely. It is an entertaining story about Elizabeth Parker, the protagonist who has a penchant for everything Jane Austen. When her great-uncle Martin dies her family comes together for the funeral. His not so grieving widow leaves the next day for a health spa and the family who purchased one of their homes digs up the pool and finds a body that was placed there the last time Elizabeth’s family got together, several years earlier at a fourth of July celebration. That was the night Elizabeth’s cousin Regina broke her engagement with the murder victim. It was also the night the victim attacked Elizabeth’s other cousin and Reggie’s Sister Ann. After that night, the family had assumed the victim had decided to get as far from them as possible, especially since they discovered his theft of a million dollars. The situation places everyone at the scene of the crime and all as possible suspects.

Like an Austen character, Elizabeth not only finds time to solve the mystery, she also does a little matchmaking.

It was a well written, enjoyable read with characters that are nicely developed. I had noticed the covers from this series before but had just not gotten to reading any of them. I will keep them in mind in the future and would recommend them to anyone who loves a cozy mystery.

Happy reading and writing,


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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in Book Review


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Meet Jennie Bentley

Jennie PhotoDo you like to read and are you a do-it-yourself type person? If so, I’d like to introduce Jennie Bentley, the author of the DIYseries.  Along with a most satisfying read, especially if you are a cozy mystery fan, she provides do-it-yourself advice that she used in the story.  In Spackled and Spooked she shows how to make a peek a book shower curtain and how to turn a dresser into a bathroom vanity, among other creative suggestions.

I will be reviewing Spackled and Spooked later this week.  In the meantime, here is my interview with Jennie:

Spooked and Spackled

Virginia – Where are you from?

 Jennie –I was born in Northern Europe and came to the US in my late teens. Yes, English is a second language for me.

 Virginia – How long have you been writing?

 Jennie – Um… forever?

 I remember writing and illustrating a little six-page volume about a black poodle named Top before I started school. In first grade, my teacher warned my parents I’d grow up to be an author. The impetus was a book—a notebook—I filled with the adventures of a small elf in green pajamas.

 More recently, I started writing A Cutthroat Business—the book that started it all—in 2005. That was when I got serious about wanting to be published. A Cutthroat Business will be released next summer, but before I found a publisher for it, it crossed the desk of an editor at Berkley Prime Crime, who offered me the opportunity to write a series of Do-It-Yourself home renovation mysteries for them. The time from I started writing the book until I signed the contract for three other books took about two years. 

 Virginia – What do you write?

 Jennie –Funny, romantic mysteries. Specifically, the Do-It-Yourself home renovation mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime, and—starting in June 2010—the Cutthroat Business mysteries for PublishingWorks. The DIY-books are sweet and cozy; the Cutthroat Business mysteries a little less sweet and a little more sexy, but still on the traditional or cozy end of things.

 Virginia- Tell us a little about your publisher and agent.

 Jennie-Ihave two publishers: Berkley Prime Crime is an imprint of the Penguin Group, the second largest publisher in the world. They publish the DIY Home Renovation mysteries featuring Avery Baker and her boyfriend and business partner, handyman Derek Ellis, who renovate houses in the tiny—and fictional—town of Waterfield, on the coast of Maine. They also publish a lot of other, similar, crafty-type cozy mysteries.

 PublishingWorks is a smaller, independent publisher which has only recently ventured into genre publishing from children’s books and non-fiction. They have all the departments and outlets the bigger publishers have—sales, marketing, etc.—but on a much smaller scale. The benefit is that I get more input on things like cover art and marketing, which I don’t get with the bigger publisher, where everything is more automated.

 My agent is Stephany Evans, president of Fine Print Literary Management. She represents mostly women’s fiction, and is especially interested in anything health-related.   

 Virginia- How many books have you published so far?

 Jennie-Two books published, Fatal Fixer-Upper & Spackled and Spooked, both in the DIY series. Four more are under contract. DIY#3, Plaster and Poison, will be released in March 2010, with DIY#4 and DIY#5 in the pipeline. A Cutthroat Business, first in the Cutthroat business series, is coming in June 2010. One more book in that series is written, with a third about halfway done. 


 Virginia- What is your writing day like?

 Jennie-Assuming I don’t haveanything to do besides write—like a signing or TV interview or similar—I get up around 6 am, get the kids ready for school, take them there—or send them off with my husband—and sit down at the computer. By then it’s about 8 o’clock or so. I spend 20-30 minutes checking email, Facebook, Twitter, any blogs I’ve posted recently… what have you. Then I get down to business. I read over at least some of what I wrote the day before to get into the voice and the flow of things, and then I’m off. Usually I take a break for lunch sometime around 11 or 12, although I don’t always remember. By 2:30 I have to stop to go pick up the kids from school again. After that, it’s family time until they’re in bed around 8:30. If I’m under deadline—and I usually am—I’ll put in another hour or four at that point, depending on how close to deadline I am and how far away I am from finishing. Some days I manage 1,000 words, some days 6,000. The word count grows exponentially the closer I get to having to hand the manuscript in, I’ve noticed.

 Virginia- Can you tell us how you found a publisher and/or agent?

 Jennie-I found my agent through, which is a very useful website. I sent the traditional cold query: I’d never met my agent, didn’t know anyone who knew her, didn’t have an introduction—she agreed to represent me based on the query letter and manuscript I sent her. Both publishing contracts came through her efforts in sending out the manuscript to editors.  

 Virginia- Do you have anything that just came out?

 Jennie-Spackled and Spooked, DIY#2,  was released on August 4th.

 Virginia- What are you working on now?

 Jennie-I’m promoting Spackled and Spooked, revising Plaster and Poison, and writing DIY#4, tentatively titled Mortar and Murder. If I can finish by the end of the year, we might be able to get it out by the end of 2010! After that it’s on to DIY#5 and finishing Cutthroat #3. I’ve also got a YA mystery that I have to work on to get that ready to submit.

 Virginia-Do you have some words of wisdom for us unpubs?

 Jennie-Besides reading a lot and writing a lot, I have two:

 1)      Finish the manuscript you’re writing. The new, bright, shiny idea you just had sounds great, and would undoubtedly be great fun to write about, but if you never finish a manuscript, you’ll never get published. Later on in the process you’ll be able to sell on proposal only, but at first, having a completed manuscript is essential.

2)      Learn as much about the business end of writing as possible. By which I mean the ins and outs of getting that finished manuscript from the computer to the bookstore. You don’t want to do what I did back in 2001 or so, when I got a two-page rejection letter from an editor at Harlequin, detailing everything that was wrong with the synopsis I had sent her and giving me suggestions for how I could remedy the problems. Now I know that this is code for “Fix this and send it back to me,” but then, I put the letter in a drawer and never looked at the synopsis again. Please don’t make that mistake. I’m still kicking myself. Not because I didn’t get published anyway, a few years later—once I figured out where I’d gone wrong the first time—but because it was an opportunity, and those should never be squandered. 

 My website is I blogat the Good Girls Kill for Money Club every other Monday, and at the Working Stiffs the first Friday of every month.

Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview.  I look forward to more adventures with Avery.

Until next time,



Posted by on August 9, 2009 in Author Interview


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