Month: July 2021

Book Review: A Wild Ride by Jane Tesh

First, I have to say that I don’t usually choose to start a series with the sixth book. However, that’s just what I did with “A Wild Ride”. Why, you might ask? It’s simple…because of the author! While I’m new to the Madeline Maclin series, I’m a huge fan of Jane Tesh’s “Grace Street Mysteries”, so when the opportunity to read this one arose, I was happy to take it!

As a reader who is new to this series, I can honestly say that the book works fine as a standalone. Obviously, you’ll know more about what happened in the past if you’ve already read books 1-5, but I had no trouble figuring out who everyone was, and how they relate to each other. Speaking of the characters….they’re great! Ms. Tesh has created some very clear, well-defined major characters. Many of the minor characters were unique as well, and all added something important to the story.

The main mystery was very well-written, with plenty of clues, suspects, and red herrings for the reader to follow along with Madeline. Since she’s actually a PI, she has an established and logical investigating style, which I found enjoyable. As an added bonus, the major case in this installment centers around the theft of paintings from an art gallery….which means lots of focus on the art world and the unique characters that inhabit it. I found this setting fascinating! There were some smaller/side mysteries as well, and those were also handled perfectly. For added fun, a local reporter has decided to create a You Tube show about Madeline’s life and career. He adds a dash of humor and joy to each scene in which he appears.

All in all, a great mystery! I plan to read the earlier volumes of Madeline’s adventures when time permits, and eagerly await the next book!

Five out of five dollops of the creamiest cream cheese!

Book Review: A Glimmer of a Clue by Daryl Wood Gerber

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review “A Glimmer of a Clue”, the second book in Daryl Wood Gerber’s “Fairy Garden Mystery” series. I have to say that I loved everything about it….this installment definitely lived up to the high standards set by book 1, and I eagerly await the next book in the series.

Main character Courtney comes across as a genuine, real person. She’s smart, hard-working, kind, and loyal; she seems like the kind of person you could meet (and really like) in real life. The fact that she can see and talk to fairies adds a fun element to her character, and to the story. It’s a tribute to the author that these magical realism elements fit right in with the narrative, and feel believable within the parameters of the story.

The mystery element (in this case, the murder of a woman that virtually nobody liked) was very well done. I enjoy Courtney as an amateur sleuth, because she actually makes an effort to investigate. She is methodical and focused in her approach, and talks openly to the police. (Of course, they want her to stay out of things, but since she’s finding clues they didn’t, they can’t complain too much.) Due to the victim’s disagreeable personality, there is no shortage of suspects and motives for Courtney to research. The mystery takes front-and-center stage in this book, which I really appreciated.

However, all the normal cozy elements are represented as well. The reader will spend time at work with Courtney in her shop, and as she interacts with her friends and pet. There are plenty of lighter moments to offset the murder investigation, and I enjoyed them very much. Some side plots from the first book are addressed (a friend’s missing daughter, Fiona’s quest to earn her wings, Courtney’s relationship with her father), but I don’t think anyone starting the series with this book would have any trouble picking up on what’s happening.

All in all, an EXCELLENT cozy mystery with a bit of magical flair. Five out of five slices of perfect provolone!

Book Review: Under the Blood Tree by P.J. Grondin

I enjoyed reading “Under the Blood Tree”, a suspense novel by P.J. Grondin. First, the characters were very well-written. All of the major characters had very clear, unique personalities, and it was easy to keep everyone straight. I enjoyed “meeting” them as children during the back story part of the book, them comparing those early impressions to the adults they became by the “present day” part of the story. It was interesting to see how each one matured, and was affected by the events of the past.

The mystery itself was also very well-plotted. There were a lot of intricate details that all fit together perfectly as new clues were uncovered and new evidence came to light. Everything made sense in the end. The main thing that I have to say is that I was so impressed and pleased with the level of detail and interconnected plot points throughout this novel. It was so INTRICATE…the author obviously devoted himself to making sure all the tiny elements worked together properly, and that not a detail was out of place. If you’re expecting a good mystery/suspense story, you won’t be disappointed. But this book is so much more….the detail, the many small connections, the intricacy….this book was a breath of fresh air!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the detailed descriptions of the trailer park, the local area, and the lake. I felt like I could close my eyes and actually see what the characters were seeing. The weather plays a big role in the plot, and I appreciated seeing the effects that it had on the characters and town.

All in all, I can happily rate this book five out of five chunks of spicy Pepper-Jack cheese!

Book Review: The Very Nice Box by Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman

“The Very Nice Box” tells the story of Ava, a woman dealing with significant grief who works as an engineer at an IKEA-like company (STADA). First off, Ava’s character is incredibly well-drawn and detailed. The reader will gradually get to know her as the story progresses…everything from her back story to her current life to her various quirks and character traits. She feels very much like a real person, and becomes more and more endearing as the story unfolds.

The actual story is also excellent. Ava’s world is populated primarily by co-workers and her beloved dog Brutus. With the introduction of a new boss, the authors successfully wreck havoc with Ava’s carefully structured life. In addition to personal drama, STADA itself is having issues, as a group of protestors is trying to halt progress on a new building. I felt like I was “with” Ava every step of the way as her relationships change and she works through past issues and deals with present changes. All along, I was invested in her happiness, and found I really cared about what happened to her.

The jacket cover promises a surprise, so I was trying to figure out what it was as I was reading. I was right about part of it, but I didn’t see other parts of it coming. I highly recommend this book….for the great character portrait, for the action, and for the fun of trying to figure out the twist.

Five out of five scrumptious chunks of pepper jack!