Review: Tall Tail (A Mrs. Murphy Mystery) by Rita Mae Brown | #BookReview





Print Length: 352 pages

Publisher: Bantam (May 17, 2016)

Publication Date: May 17, 2016

Sold by: Random House LLC

ASIN: B014BR46N4

Purchase Link: Amazon

 

FictionZeal’s Review:

Mary Minor Haristeen (Harry) is a farm owner in beautiful Crozet, Virginia within the Blue Ridge Mountains.  She loves her animals.  Mrs. Murphy; Pewter; and Tee Tucker tend to go with her wherever she travels.  At the beginning, she barely manages to swerve her truck out of the way of a car going way to fast on this curvy road.  The car lands in a ditch.  Harry recognizes the driver as Barbara Leader.  Barbara is now dead.  She had been a nurse for former Virginia governor Sam Holloway.  Initially, the cause of death appeared to be a heart attack, which was odd because she’d been in perfect health.  Upon an autopsy, they found a lethal drug in her system.  This concerns Susan Tucker, Harry’s dear friend and Sam Holloway’s granddaughter, as she’s afraid that he may be in danger.

The novel is the present (2016) with flashbacks to 1784, when Francisco Selisse was said to have been killed by his slave, Moses.  Francisco had an evil temper.  The Afterword of the book was more like an ‘after thought’, adding details about the characters that may have been better incorporated into the story.  Although Tall Tail can be read on its own, it may be better to begin with the first in the series and work up (this is the 25th).  I found that I really didn’t know the main characters as well as someone who began with the first in the series.  I did like Harry and her relationship with the people of the community and her animals.  Before chapter one, there was a cast of characters and they were a small legion.  They included characters from the present (2016); characters and slaves from the late eighteenth century; and animals from both 2016 and the eighteenth century.  The dialogue was delightful, both between the humans and among the animals.  Rating: 3 out of 5.

3 spectacles

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Review: The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor | #BookReview





Print Length: 448 pages

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 7, 2016)

Publication Date: June 7, 2016

Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

ASIN: B00Y889Y9S

Purchase Link: Amazon

 

FictionZeal’s Review:

Hazel Gaynor’s newest novel is set just prior to and after the Great War.  When the prologue opens, its March 1916 in Lancashire, England and Teddy Cooper is saying goodbye to Dorothy (Dolly) Lane.  He’s ready to go, boasting, “They won’t know what’s hit them when we arrive.  Look at us. Tough as old boots!”  But, her heart is breaking as she’s afraid she’ll never see him again.  When the story begins, we fast forward to 1923 in London.  It’s mentioned that she’d been walking with Teddy.  So everything feels right!  Right?  Not so fast.  We find out that Teddy had been in Maghull Military Hospital in Lancashire.  The problem?  He’s suffering shell shock.  His nurse reads him Dorothy’s letters, but he doesn’t remember those times; he doesn’t remember Dorothy.

In 1923, Dorothy is running late to interview for a job as a chambermaid at The Savoy, London’s grandest hotel.  She runs, literally, into Perry Clements.  The initial meeting, however clumsy, was also a comfortable and rather playful moment.  She has no idea that when she answers an ad seeking a ‘muse’ that it would be for Perry.  He is a songwriter.  His sister, the rather famous actress, Loretta May, is living the life that Dorothy would like to emulate.

There are three narrators in The Girl from the Savoy – Dolly, Loretta, and Teddy.  Each offers their own perspective into their lives at the time as well as bits of their past.  It was interesting that Loretta knew the struggles Dolly was going through by her own earlier struggles.  The premise and the historical value of this novel were excellent.  I’ve read two of Gaynor’s prior novels, and what she does faultlessly is the research necessary to bring the reader right into the era.  However, I felt the pacing was a bit lagging and the character depth was weak.  Rating: 3 out of 5.

3 spectacles

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Book Beginnings – 05/27/2016 – The Murder That Never Was by Andrea Kane | #BookBeginnings

*Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.  *Taken directly from Rose City Reader’s Blog Page. 

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This week’s book beginnings comes from The Murder That Never Was by Andrea Kane.  I received this book from Partners In Crime for review purposes.  

Chapter One

Lincoln Park

Chicago, Illinois

May 17th

Lisa Barnes couldn’t believe how quickly her luck had changed.

A week ago, she’d been in poverty-stricken hell.  Now, she had a job, a place to say in a nice Chicago neighborhood, and maybe, just maybe, a future.

 

My Thoughts:

I can’t give too much away from the beginning piece because I started it yesterday and understand more than what you see laying on the surface.  I like this beginning, though.  It did well to pull me into the story because I was curious as to how her ‘luck’ played out.

Blurb of The Murder That Never Was by Andrea Kane:

A serendipitous crossing of paths between two women leaves one of them dead and the other a fugitive— hiding behind one lie after another to escape a cold-blooded killer.

A 16-year-old female gymnast’s dream of Olympic gold is shattered when the “supplement” she has been taking turns out to be a designer performance enhancing drug.

Her trainer, Julie Forman, is furious at the people who victimized her star pupil, and goes on a personal crusade for the truth. That crusade is interrupted by a serendipitous crossing of paths between Julie and Lisa Barnes, a down-on-her-luck woman seeking a job. This chance meeting lands one of them six feet under and the other hiding behind one lie after another.

In a twisting tale of medical research gone awry, bodies are piling up between Chicago, New Jersey and Vermont as a megalomaniacal genius will stop at nothing to eradicate the research error and everyone involved.

My review of The Murder That Never Was will be posted Friday, 06/03/16.

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Review: Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan | #BookReview





Chasing the North Star

Print Length: 321 pages

Publisher: Algonquin Books (April 5, 2016)

Publication Date: April 5, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ASIN: B013JBH89C

Purchase Link: Amazon

 

FictionZeal’s Review:

Johah Williams is a slave on a plantation in South Carolina.  It’s 1850; well before the Civil War and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.  He’s Mrs. William’s house slave serving her two children.  When the children are taught their lessons, Jonah listens.  From those lessons, he teaches himself to read … it was illegal for a slave to read.  Mrs. Williams catches him with a book he’d borrowed from their massive library.  He thought he’d be beaten.  Instead, she arranged for Jonah to read to her from the Bible every day.  It was their secret.  She even gave him a Bible of his own.  This Bible “had letters the size of gnats and hairs.  But it was the prettiest book he’d ever seen ….”  While Mrs. Williams was away visiting her sister, Jonah was reading in the barn loft.  Mr. Williams caught him, accused him of stealing the books, and beat him.  It was then that Jonah decided he would seek freedom.  That night, he took the jar of coins his mama had collected; a knife from the kitchen; and a hat and headed northward.

When he could, he’d travel by night.  When men with guns and dogs were after him, he’d seek water to throw off his scent.  After a few nights, he happened onto a ‘Jubilee’.  He saw a fire blazing and other Negroes dancing and chanting.  It’s there he met Angel.  She was also a house slave.  The master was using her as his bed warmer.  She decided if Jonah could run away, she could run, too.  He tried a few times to leave her behind, but she always managed to reappear back in his life.

The character of Jonah was so well-crafted that I could believe he was real as opposed to fictional.  He literally traveled by foot, boat, wagon, and train on his journey seeking freedom.  The trip was hard not only because he’d be beaten and possibly killed if he were captured and returned to Master Williams, but also because the terrain was perilous and the weather unforgiving.  Angel added something very special to this story.  As much as Jonah was ‘book smart’, she was ‘street smart’.  They complimented each other in ways that Jonah refused to acknowledge.  When the synopsis tells us that Angel manages to find Jonah even though he tried to leave her behind, I thought this would be too coincidental to be believable.  But it was all very convincing.  If you like books in which you can emotionally immerse yourself, you’ll love this story of Jonah’s arduous pursuit of freedom.  Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 spectacles

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Book Tour: Murder at Morningside (A Missy DuBois Mystery) by Sandra Bretting

Murder at Morningside

Title: Murder at Morningside

Author: Sandra Bretting
Publisher: Lyrical Underground
Genre: Mystery
Format: Ecopy
Purchase Link: Amazon
Synopsis:

Hat designer Missy DuBois opened her shop, Crowning Glory, along Louisiana’s Great River Road to cater to the sophisticated Southern bride. But bless her heart, who knew creating stylish wedding veils would lead to murder?

Hired to craft a veil for a socialite getting married at Morningside Plantation means Missy can bask in the height of antebellum atmosphere. But when the bride is found dead in a women’s bathroom, Missy the milliner finds herself entangled in one unfashionable murder.

With the list of suspects thicker than the sweltering Louisiana heat, including a gaggle of bridesmaids shedding nary a tear and a family with no shortage of enemies, it seems anyone at the mansion may have done away with the bride-to-be. While Missy has Southern charm to spare, she’s going to need more than manners and a manicure to put a hat pin on this murderous affair . . .

Review: Dorothy Parker Drank Here by Ellen Meister | #BookReview

Dorothy Parker Drank Here

Dorothy Parker Drank Here by Ellen Meister

Print Length: 326 pages

Publisher: Berkley (February 24, 2015)

Publication Date: February 24, 2015

Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

ASIN: B00L9AXSUE

Purchase Link: Amazon

 

FictionZeal’s Review:

Dorothy Parker was a real person of 1920’s fame, but this is not historical fiction, per se.  It is more about Norah Wolfe who works for TV talk show, Simon Janey Live.  The company is failing and if they don’t soon secure a phenomenal interview with someone ultra-famous, the show will be cancelled.  When Norah was thirteen, she’d read Dobson’s Night by famous author, Ted Shriver.  The story resonated so much with her, she became obsessed with him.  But several years ago, he seemed to drop off the face of the earth after a scathing accusation of plagiarism.  She now knows he’s hiding out in a room at the Algonquin Hotel.  She also knows he’s gone there to die as a brain tumor ravages his mind.  She knows … OK, she’s hoping … that if she could get five minutes of his time, she could convince him to come forward in an interview.

It’s at this historic hotel Norah meets Dorothy (Dotty) Parker.  At first Norah thought the hotel had hired ‘look-alikes’ to dress and act like the famous authors who’d signed the commemorative guest book.  Those authors were dubbed ‘The Algonquin Round Table’.  They used to lunch together frequently at The Algonquin during their day.  Slowly, it begins to dawn on Norah that this is THE Dorothy Parker.  Parker refuses to go to the light.  She can remain in bodily form as long as the guest book remains open.  Dorothy knows Ted and if she can get him to sign the guest book, he can keep her company after he dies.  Everyone else has chosen to ‘cross over’.  Dorothy conspires with Norah – her version of ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’.  Can they both get what they want?

Author Ellen Meister does a great job of carrying forth the wisecracks and classic witticism that would likely have come from Dorothy Parker’s mouth.  It’s also a very moving and emotional story that I didn’t quite expect.  I loved the cameo appearances made by Tallulah Bankhead, Lillian Hellman, Groucho Marx, and even Dotty’s poodle, Cliché.  Just when you think you’ve got the story figured out, there’s a tender little twist that ‘ups the ante’ for the reader.  This is Meister’s second Dorothy Parker book, the first being Farewell Dorothy Parker.  It’s a fun, almost magical, journey into ‘what if’.  Rating: 4 out of 5.

4 spectacles

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Book Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Madness of Mercury (A Zodiac Mystery) by Connie di Marco

The Madness of Mercury by Connie di Marco Tour Banner

The Madness of Mercury

by Connie di Marco

on Tour May 7 – June 3

Madness of MercuryBook Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: June 8, 2016
Number of Pages: 312
ISBN: 978-0738749129
Purchase Link: Amazon

 

Synopsis:

Astrologer Julia Bonatti never thought her chosen profession would bring danger into her life, but her outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, makes her the target of San Francisco’s recently-arrived cult leader, Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. The followers of the power hungry preacher will stop at nothing to quell the voices of those who would stand in his way and Julia’s at the top of his list. She’s willing to bet the charismatic Reverend is a Mercury-ruled individual, and she knows all too well that Mercury wasn’t just the messenger of the gods, he was a trickster and a liar as well.

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Book Beginnings – 05/20/2016 – Tall Tail (Mrs. Murphy Mystery #25) by Rita Mae Brown | #BookBeginnings

*Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.  *Taken directly from Rose City Reader’s Blog Page. 

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This week’s book beginnings comes from Tall Tail (Mrs. Murphy Mystery #25) by Rita Mae Brown.  I received this book in order to review it for BreakawayReviewers.  

1

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Flaming sword in hand, the Avenging Angel, bestride a monumental tomb, looked over the rolling land toward the Blue Ridge Mountains.  His mouth set hard, his eyes piercing, he was not the promise of peace, repose, and eternal joy with the Almighty.

My Thoughts:

Well, I think I can see the scene — a somewhat grand monument standing amidst the graves, seeing nothing, but looking out at what must have been a majestic scenic view of the mountains.  I’ve seen this series around quite a bit on blogs and such, but this will be the first book I’ve read in that series.  I didn’t realize until searching for this beginning that at least part of the series is historical fiction.  In the beginning of the book, they have a character reference list.  The list includes present day characters, eighteenth-century characters, animals of the present and eighteenth-century and the historical portion includes slave names.  I’m most curious to begin reading.

Blurb of Tall Tail (Mrs. Murphy Mystery #25) by Rita Mae Brown:

At any moment a perfect summer day in Crozet, Virginia—nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains—might turn stormy and tempestuous, as Harry knows too well when a squall suddenly sweeps in. In a blink, Harry’s pickup nearly collides with a careening red car that then swerves into a ditch. Harry recognizes the dead driver slumped over the vehicle’s steering wheel: Barbara Leader was nurse and confidante to former Virginia governor Sam Holloway.

Though Barbara’s death is ruled a heart attack, dissenting opinions abound. After all, she was the picture of health, which gives Harry and her four-legged companions pause. A baffling break-in at a local business leads Harry to further suspect that a person with malevolent intent lurks just out of sight: Something evil is afoot.

As it happens, Barbara died in the shadow of the local cemetery’s statue of the Avenging Angel. Just below that imposing funereal monument lie the remains of one Francisco Selisse, brutally murdered in 1784. Harry’s present-day sleuthing draws her back to Virginia’s slave-holding past and the hunt for Selisse’s killer. Now it’s up to Harry and her furry detectives—Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tee Tucker—to expose the bitter truth, even if it means staring into the unforgiving eyes of history and cornering a callous killer poised to pounce.

My review of Tall Tail (Mrs. Murphy Mystery #25) will be posted Saturday, 05/28/16.

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Book Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway: Asleep by Krystal Wade

AsleepBlast

Hello readers!

Are you looking for your next read?

Well, let us help make things easier for you!

Welcome to the Book Blast for

Asleep by Krystal Wade

presented by Blaze Publishing!

Check out the teaser below,
and be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

As a special treat, we’ve got another book that may tickle your fancy…
What is it? Read on, dear reader, read on!

AsleepCover

 

“To cure fear, you must use fear.”

Rose Briar claims no responsibility for the act that led to her imprisonment in an asylum. She wants to escape, until terrifying nightmares make her question her sanity and reach out to her doctor. He’s understanding and caring in ways her parents never have been, but as her walls tumble down and Rose admits fault, a fellow patient warns her to stop the medications. Phillip believes the doctor is evil and they’ll never make it out of the facility alive. Trusting him might be just the thing to save her. Or it might prove the asylum is exactly where she needs to be.

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Asleep by Krystal Wade
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Blaze Publishing

Purchase Link: Amazon

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Review: The Bitter End (Em Ridge #2) by Linda Hall | #BookReview

Bitter End

Print Length: 268 pages

Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0987761390

Publisher: Linda Hall (November 8, 2015)

Publication Date: November 8, 2015

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ASIN: B017RM1R9G

Purchase Link: Amazon

 

FictionZeal’s Review:

Wanderer was the name of Captain Em Ridge’s sailboat, and wandering was often the way she felt as a widow since the death of Jesse, her husband, two and a half years before.  She takes on many different jobs sailing from Maine, where she lives, to wherever the job takes her.  In this 2nd book of the series, we begin in The Bermuda Triangle.  Dr. Papa Hoho had hired Em to sail these ominous waters as he searched to prove that some of the Bermuda Triangle mysteries are true.  He’s recording the events by video, preparing for a reality TV show.

The effort finally proved to be fruitful after twelve days, as they discover what appears to be a ‘ghost boat’ in the distance.  As they get closer, Em’s anxiety grows.  She knows this boat, now with ripped mainsail, and the lone black cat on board.  The boat is the Wandering Soul and belongs to her Uncle Ferd.  Where is he?  She manages to find a note that she assumes he may have left for her.  But, even still, there’s something strange about the note, too.  She brings in help from the Coast Guard and her friend, Ben, from the police.  When she begins digging into what happened, she not only discovers great danger but also a few well-hidden family secrets.

I loved the personal connection this adventure held for Em.  After reading the first in the series, Night Watch, I already felt like I knew her character and I knew she’d do everything in her power to solve this new mystery before her.  New readers to the series can read this without spoiling anything from the first book.  Enough of the Em’s background is provided so that this story can stand on its own.  Reading between the lines, I would assume that Ben will be more in Em’s romantic spotlight in future issues of this series.  With a few twists added in, this novel hits the spot for mystery lovers who also enjoy a nautical environment.  Rating: 4 out of 5.

4 spectacles

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