Book Review: Egg Drop Dead by Laura Childs

egg-drop-deadEgg Drop Dead
A Cackleberry Club Mystery #7
Laura Childs
Berkley Prime Crime, December 2016
ISBN 978-0-425-28170-3
Hardcover

From the publisher—

In Laura Childs’s New York Times bestselling mystery series, Suzanne, Petra, and Toni—co-owners of the Cackleberry Club café—are back to track down another bad egg…
 
Maintaining good personal relationships with their suppliers is one of the secrets of the Cackleberry Club café’s success, so Suzanne doesn’t mind going out to Mike Mullen’s dairy farm to pick up some wheels of cheese. She’s looking forward to a nice visit with the mild-mannered farmer before heading back to their hectic kitchen.
 
But when she arrives, Mike’s nowhere to be found. The moaning of his cows leads her to look in the barn, where she discovers a bloodcurdling sight—the farmer’s dead body. Apparently not everyone was as fond of Mike Mullen as the Cackleberry Club.
 
Churning with grief and outrage, Suzanne, Petra, and Toni vow to find the farmer’s murderer—but as they get closer to the truth, the desperate killer gets whipped into a frenzy and plans to put the squeeze on them…

Why on earth would anyone want to brutally kill a quiet, likeable dairy farmer? Cafe owner Suzanne has no idea but her best friends and partners, Toni and Petra, push her to do her own unofficial investigation. Reluctant at first, Suzanne caves in, mainly because she found the body and, to her way of thinking, she’s already involved because of that.

One thing about this series that amuses me is that those who are supposed to be investigating know they shouldn’t let Suzanne stick her nose in but they also recognize the futility of such a lofty goal, especially since she’s engaged to the doctor who’s called to the scene. Sheriff Doogie won’t actually volunteer information if he can help it but he doesn’t try awfully hard to keep her out of it so Suzanne sets out to snoop, aided and abetted by Toni and Petra.

Unfortunately, life goes on for all (except poor Mike) and sleuthing has to be crammed into a busy schedule of Halloween festivities, afternoon teas, a pizza party and planning for the big wedding Sam has in mind. Suzanne soon discovers that potential motives and suspects abound including a teen with odd behavior and an overly protective mother, a land developer and the local drug trade but it’s Suzanne herself who makes a really bad move.

As with nearly all cozies, our intrepid sleuth does some things that make me shake my head in dismay and her cohorts act a bit more clueless than they should but I really enjoy the folks of Kindred. Egg Drop Dead proved to be as entertaining as I’ve come to expect in this series and the included recipes sound just plain scrumptious. I think I’ll be trying Suzanne’s Chicken Pickin’ Stir-Fry first 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2017.

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To enter the drawing for a gently
used advance reading copy of
Egg Drop Dead by Laura Childs
, just
leave a comment below. The winning

name will be drawn on Monday night,
January 23rd. This drawing
is open
to residents of the US and Canada.

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Book Review: Lantern by Chess Desalls

Lantern Tour Banner

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Title: Lantern
Author: Chess Desalls
Publisher: Czidor Lore
Publication Date: December 11, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

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Goodreads

Links to get your free copy:

Barnes & Noble // iTunes // Amazon

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LanternLantern
Chess Desalls
Czidor Lore, December 2015
Ebook

From the author—

Five days before Halloween, all sixteen-year-old Tori has on her mind is vacationing with her family and scoring lots of candy. Her grandmother’s estate, with its Gothic spires and trails that lead out to the woods, holds an unexpected secret: a lantern that lights up for Tori and nobody else. Certain that it’s a ghost or a prank, she investigates further and discovers a mysterious life that shines in the darkness.

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Chess Desalls has other books under her belt, none of which I’ve seen, and I’m curious now as to whether Lantern is reminiscent of those or totally different. It definitely is not what I was expecting but that’s not a bad thing.

Sort of a modern-day fairy tale, sort of a romance (although a light one), Lantern is a sweet story, I might say even sugary, the story of a girl who believes in the impossible. That “impossible” includes a family dynamic we’re never likely to see in real life in which teenaged Tori is always happy to look after her 3-year-old brother and her perfect relationship with her parents is marred only by a brief episode of rebellion.

Jared is another oddity, a young man who barely questions his transition from another world to this one and he fits in astoundingly well. Miraculously, he speaks Tori’s language and dresses much like any young man in our society despite being from a world that exists  somewhere out there.

I like everyone in Lantern and enjoyed the story even though it’s much fluffier than my usual fare…but I still have no idea what actually happened 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2016.

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About the Author

Chess DesallsChess Desalls is the author of the YA time travel series, The Call to Search Everywhen. She’s a longtime reader of fantasy and sci-fi novels, particularly classics and young adult fiction. Her nonfiction writing has led to academic and industry publications. She’s also a contributing editor for her local writing club’s monthly newsletter. The California Writers Club, South Bay branch, has awarded two of Chess’ stories first place for best short fiction. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys traveling and trying to stay in tune on her flute.

Travel Glasses is YA fantasy filled with metafiction and other literary twistiness. Sign up for Chess’ newsletter to receive updates on giveaways and new releases.

Author Links:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Reviews: Strong Light of Day by Jon Land and Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews

Strong Light of DayStrong Light of Day
A Caitlin Strong Novel #7
Jon Land
Forge, October 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3512-8
Hardcover

Author Jon Land, in the seventh adventure featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, once more takes the reader on a breathless thrill ride of a story. As is his method, Land ties Caitlin’s present day case to an operation her father began years ago. Strong Light of Day has its roots in the 1980s–the historical aspect more recent than most of the series, and the enemy, aside from a home-grown psychopath who just might scare you to death, are Russian.

Caitlin is drawn into the story when thirty high school students disappear while on a camping trip. One of the students is Luke Masters, the son of her lover, Cort Wesley Masters. At the same time, not far from the campers last position, a herd of cattle die, with only bones left to tell the tale.

Where are the kids? What happened to the cattle? Why are there dead fields? And why is billionaire oilman Calum Dane and his conglomerate buying the land up? This is the mystery Caitlin has to solve, and she’d better do it quickly because when the Russians join Dane and close in, time is about to run out.

This is a Caitlin Strong novel. Expect a mile-a-minute pace and a high body count. Not that the bad guys don’t deserve it. Expect Caitlin to get a lot of help from a recurring cast of characters, including Cort Wesley Masters, Captain Depper, and especially, Colonel Paz, a seemingly indestructible giant of a man who, through a sort of supernatural tie, has appointed himself her guardian. And thank goodness for that!

With the historical ties played down in this outing, I appreciate the short excerpts from Texas Ranger archives and some of the best researched non-fiction that Land always includes at the front of the chapters.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, August 2015.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.

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Lord of the WingsLord of the Wings
A Meg Langslow Mystery #19
Donna Andrews
Minotaur Books, August 2015
ISBN 978-1-250-04958-2
Hardcover

It’s Halloween in Caerphilly.  Meg, who heads the Goblin Patrol, AKA the Visitor Relations and Police Liaison Patrol, is mildly puzzled to hear that Dr. Smoot’s Haunted House has been burgled. What is there to steal?  She’s more upset when a fake body part turns up in her grandfather’s alligator exhibit during her six-year-old twins’ school visit.  But when two Goblin Patrollers find a real body, she goes into full investigative mode.  Is the body connected to her brother Rob’s latest computer game release? Or to one of the “treasures” in Dr. Smoot’s local history museum? Or to one of the many, many costumed tourists who have flocked into Caerphilly’s town-wide Halloween bash?

Strange occurrences abound, stranger friends and relatives dive in to help out (or not), and Meg copes with everything with her usual humor and competence.  Not even a horde of LARPers and the Rancid Dreads, a truly awful rock band, can get her down.

I’m so glad I got to review this book.  Despite other glowing reviews, I’d avoided the series because I have a thing about overbearing families.  I hate seeing a heroine pushed around. Boy, was I wrong.  Meg’s wildly eccentric family is a delight–to read about, anyway, and seeing Meg deal with their antics is enormously entertaining.  I rushed to the library for Murder with Peacocks and devoured it.  I’m just about done with We’ll Always Have Parrots now, and I have the next two right by my comfy-chair, ready to go.  Thank you, Donna Andrews, for writing such cheerful, funny, fascinating books.

I highly recommend Lord of the Wings.

Reviewed by Marilyn Nulman, September 2015.

Book Review: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

The Accident SeasonThe Accident Season
Moira Fowley-Doyle
Kathy Dawson Books, August 2015
ISBN 978-0-552-57130-2
Trade Paperback

For eleven months of the year, Cara, older sister Alice, her ex-step brother Sam and her mother don’t worry about anything unusual, but come the first of October, everything changes. That’s when the Accident Season begins. Cara’s not exactly sure what started this evil situation, but eight years ago, her father was killed, her favorite uncle died under mysterious circumstances four years later and every year there have been broken bones, scrapes, cuts, gouges and sprains.

This time around, Cara is edgier than usual for reasons she can’t quite explain. Things begin to escalate when she realizes that a strange and ghostly girl in her year (the story is set in the United Kingdom) named Elise appears in every single picture she has. Sometimes she’s fully visible, in others, she’s represented by an arm, a bit of her blouse, etc. When Cara realizes this and shows her siblings as well as her witchy tarot-card reading best friend Bea, they try to rationalize it, so Cara becomes determined to confront Elise at school. Easy to decide to do so, but when she tries to find Elise who has been responsible for the secret box in the library, typing up other students’ deepest, darkest secrets on an ancient typewriter for as long as Cara can remember, the girl cannot be found. Odder still, nobody, not even the teachers seems to remember her.

As Cara becomes more determined to solve this mystery, she’s also wrestling with how she feels about her ex-step brother, what’s happening with her best friend who seems to be slipping away and worried about Alice’s relationship with a musician who is four years older. Most of all, she wonders just exactly how real is the accident season.

This book unfolds like someone might be reading it in an old house by candlelight while a full moon hovers outside the window. There’s an extremely surrealistic and poetic quality to it and these, coupled with the ever-shifting convolutions as Cara and the others try to find Elise, survive the Accident Season as well as throw one of the oddest Halloween parties ever described in a book, will grab not only teens, but many adults as well. Granted there is a bit of profanity, drinking and references to sex, but those pale in comparison to the way this debut novel was written. It would be a perfect one to read on Halloween Night.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS

Book Review: Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs—and a Giveaway!

Gossamer GhostGossamer Ghost
A Scrapbooking Mystery
Laura Childs
Berkley Prime Crime, October 2014
ISBN 978-0-425-26666-3
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Carmela Bertrand knows that Halloween in New Orleans means a week of rabble-rousing, costumed craziness—and she can’t wait to get the party started. But when a local antiques dealer turns up dead, Carmela suddenly finds herself in a real-life danse macabre…

An evening’s work deciding on the class schedule for her scrapbooking shop has put Carmela in the mood to kick up her heels. But after some strange noises draw her into Oddities, the neighboring antiques shop, Carmela’s night is abruptly put on hold when a bloody body falls out of a curio cabinet—and into her arms.

While shop owner Marcus Joubert was known for being an eccentric with a penchant for eclectic merchandise, Carmela never thought he was the kind of man who could inspire the passion required to kill. But when Marcus’s assistant—and fiancée—Mavis reveals that a priceless death mask was also stolen, it becomes clear that murder wasn’t the culprit’s sole intention.

Carmela can’t resist the urge to investigate the growing mystery, but as the list of suspects increases, she realizes it’ll take every trick in the book to unmask the killer thief before there’s another night of murderous mischief….

Carmela is one of those protagonists who appeal to me even while they sometimes make me gnash my teeth. In an earlier book, she plucked my last nerve with her reckless snoopiness but I continued to follow her adventures and became a bit more accustomed to her ways somewhere along the line. So, yes, she’s snoopy when she thinks something might be wrong in Marcus’ shop but I just rode along with all her excuses and thought nothing of it. And, don’t you know it, her nosiness turns out to be justified. I also enjoyed the thought of the body falling into her arms and I LOVE this—

And still Carmela continued to scream.

When nobody showed up to help, when nothing seemed to be accomplished by her loud screeches of protest, she let out a garbled cough and closed her mouth with a snap.

That is Carmela—scenestealing, loud, annoying, and then she pulls herself together for the job at hand. And with that, she calls her boyfriend, Detective Edgar Babcock, who just happens to be on the scrumptious side as well as eternally patient with his girlfriend, and then immediately dials her friend and sleuthing partner, Ava Gruiex.

So, why would anyone want to kill Marcus? Granted, he was kind of weird but was that enough, along with the theft of a priceless artifact, to make someone want him dead? Carmela being Carmela, this clearly calls for a little sniffing around and, next thing you know, she and Ava are mixed up with Carmela’s least favorite countess, an antiques dealer with a fake British accent and a shady pawn shop operator, not to mention the Zombie Crawl and the Witches Run.

Fans of Ms. Childs—and they are legion—will love this return to Carmela’s exploits. Besides a cracking good mystery and a lot of engaging characters, one thing I’ve always loved about this series is the setting in New Orleans and Gossamer Ghost is no exception. Ms. Childs has a deft and colorful hand with her descriptions and she transported me right to Halloween with all its festivities and joie de vivre. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting this wonderful city just once, many years before Katrina, and Gossamer Ghost reminds me of that time. Ms. Childs makes me want to go back and I think a Halloween trip might be in my future travel plans. I just wish Oddities, my kind of shop, really existed 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2014.

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You have two chances to enter the drawing
for a hardcover copy of Gossamer Ghost by
Laura Childs. Leave a comment below and
then again tomorrow, October 9th, after an
interview with Laura. Two winning names will
be drawn on the evening of October 12th.
Open to residents of the US.