Welcome to my blog where I share book reviews
and life along the winding road

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Keeping Track of Book Series

I came across this site today that keeps track of book series and will notify you when a new book comes out.


Another good site for searching for both authors and their series is Fantastic Fiction

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Last Templar by Michael Jecks

The Last Templar by Michael Jecks is the first book in the First Knights Templar Mystery series. It's set during the Middle Ages - 1316 and puts the reader in the midst of English serfdom and the quest of a medieval  knight vowing justice for the death of his fellow knights.

One thing that bothered me was while trying to solve the crime, the Bailiff and Knight asked villagers/villeins where they were during a specific time period, but how did they know what time it was? Clocks didn't appear to be in general use during Medieval Period and instead, people relied on the sun, church bells, which didn't ring every hour, or candles. The phrase we use "o'clock" differentiates between time using the sun as a reference or "of the clock." During the latter part of the 14th Century, mechanical clocks were used in monasteries or church towers , but would not have been affordable for poor villagers.

From the cover:
Simon Puttock has not been bailiff of Lydford Castle long in this year of 1316, when he is called to a nearby village to examine a burned-out cottage and the dead body within. But it is the newly arrived knight, Sir Baldwin Furnshill, who discerns the deceased was no victim or a tragic mishap; he was, in fact, murdered prior to the blaze. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fete Fatale by Robert Barnard

Fete Fatale by Robert Barnard was one of the books that I bought when I splurged at Half Price Books during their sale. The cover is deceiving, because it seemed like a 1930s setting, but is set much later. In fact, I'm still not sure of the time period. It appeared to be set in the 1960s judging by some of the references to Mary Quant and other well known personalities popular during that time, but occasionally a reference would be thrown in of the 1980s. The book was originally copyrighted in 1965 and published in Britain as Disposal of the Living and was later published in the U.S. in 1994 which might bring some light as to the later references perhaps peppered in by an editor.

I wasn't surprised to read that Robert Barnard was a fan of Agatha Christie as his book has the delightful typical traits of a cozy mystery. I'll be looking out for more of his mysteries.

From the cover:
When Father Battersby, the Bishop's appointee to the newly vacant post of vicar in Hexton-on-Weir, turns out to be professionally celibate, the town's female population unites to force him out. As the local veterinarian's wife, Helen Kitteredge observes, "It's the women who rule Hexton." A vicar without a wife is unthinkable, and certainly unacceptable.

While the women choose sides as to whether to boycott the new vicar, at a village fete an alarming murder occurs.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Grand Affair by Charlotte Bingham

Charlotte Bingham is a gifted writer and Grand Affair takes the reader on a delightful journey. I found the book at Half Price Books and the Cornish setting attracted me to the story, but I was disappointed that, in fact, the setting could have been anywhere - the beauty of Cornwall was not portrayed in the book. Nevertheless, it was a good story and Ms. Bingham did a great job at weaving the characters together.

From the Cover:
Unaware of the misery that surrounded her birth, for the first four years of her life all Ottilie Cartaret knows is love. And when her mother, Ma O'Flaherty, moves her family to what she believes will be rural bliss in St. Elcome in Cornwall, their fortunes seem set fair.

Tragedy strikes when Ma dies and young Ottilie soon finds herself in unfamiliar surroundings. Adopted by the Cartarets, the wealthy couple who run the Grand Hotel, she grows up pampred and spoilt, not only by her adoptive parents but by all the visitors - with the exception of the mysterious annual guest, nicknames the "Blue Lady" with whom Ottilie is unknowingly and inextricably linked.

Note: If you enjoy mysteries set in Cornwall, try my Lowenna Cozy Mystery Series

Friday, March 31, 2017

Iced Under by Barbara Ross

I saw Iced Under as a recommendation on another blog and picked it up at the library not realizing it was part of the Main Clambake Mystery series. But Barbara Ross did a great job at introducing the characters to a new reader seamlessly and it can definitely be read as a stand alone book.

From the cover:
The snow is deep in Maine's Busman's Habor and the mighty rivers are covered in ice. Snowdon Family Clambake Company proprietor Julia Snowden and her mother, Jacqueline, are hunkered down for the winter when a mysterious package arrives - heating up February with an unexpected case of murder. . .

My thoughts:
I enjoyed this cozy mystery and especially liked the characters. I also liked how Ms. Ross threw in some history about ice companies and how they operated (before refrigeration) by cutting the winter ice from rivers, packing it in straw and sending it south to hotter regions. I did get a little confused with all the family ancestors and descendants when she started working on the family tree and found myself mapping out a family tree on paper to figure out how everyone was related. Definitely another book to add to my 2017 favorite read list.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tex Thompson Writing Workshop

Our local library often has author guest speakers and last week Tex Thompson showed up - complete with red cowboy hat - to talk to us about First Page Writing Sins.

She likened each "sin" to Dante's Inferno along with humor and passion for the written word.

"Tex" writes Fantasy Westerns and if her workshop is anything to go by, they're sure to have a punch of humor thrown in.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City, was chosen for our local library book club read. Although as gruesome as the Hannibal Lector stories, it is not a work of fiction, but of H.H. Holmes who was thought to be the first American serial killer. Holmes is only one of  Herman Webster Mudgett's alias names. Although his killing spree mostly took place in a strange Chicago hotel, later called the Murder Castle, he is known to local Fort Worth historians as O.C. Pratt which is the name he used when, after marrying Minnie Williams a railroad heiress, he tried to construct a second Murder Castle in Texas on the property Minnie Williams had inherited (thought to be on the corner of Rusk and Second Street).

The Chicago hotel he built had windowless rooms, angled doorways and stairs leading nowhere. Doors could only be opened from the outside and some rooms had ducts through which he spewed murderous gases. The basement was designed as a torture chamber and crematorium.

H. H. Holmes' confession after he was captured in 1896 and admitted to 27 murders (the true toll is thought to be over 200) was:
I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to song.

He felt the need to murder and mutilate early in his "career" starting with animals whom he performed surgery on. He stole bodies from Michigan Medical School then took out insurance policies on the deceased and made their deaths look like accidents. When the World's Fair opened in Chicago, he lured visitors to his hotel and advertised for hotel workers who soon disappeared. But it was fraudulent insurance schemes that led to his demise.

Production for The Devil in the White City movie starring Leonardo Di Caprio is in the works.