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review 2018-07-22 16:57
Death of an English Muffin
Death of an English Muffin (A Merry Muffin Mystery) - Victoria Hamilton

Merry has inherited her father and uncle's castle and she was originally going to sell the place, but until it could be sold she had to do something to make money in order to pay taxes and upkeep. She agrees to host for a couple of months some women from New York and she has started calling the Legion of Horrible Ladies. It seems that one of the ladies is from England and acts very entitled and says things that should never be said. She is at the point of being forced to leave Wynter Castle because of her behavior, right down to demanding the room of Merry. The women she is with are just as bad at times. Finally, one day during tea, she disappears into the bathroom and they have to break in and find her dead. The sheriff and Merry work together to find out who murdered her and injured another lady. In fact, Merry and one of the ladies daughters get along so well, that she convinces her to start selling her baking goods in the town. 


The story was pretty good and there were some slow moments where I lost attention. But on the whole, it was a pretty good story. 

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review 2018-07-19 18:56
Likely to Die (Alexandra Cooper #2)
Likely to Die (Alexandra Cooper Mysteries) - Linda Fairstein

The second book in this series got a bit off track (when Mike and Alex fly to England for a two day conference) but for the most part this was an interesting read.


Alex is called into a case where a world renowned neurosurgeon, Gemma Dogen, is found murdered. The police believe that Gemma was also raped, so Mike calls Alex to come to the scene with the hope this new case will get her out of her exile since the events in book #1. 

Alex is feeling gloomy and honestly you may want to smother her a bit in this one. I liked that Fairstein's secondary character who is friends with Alex even blew up at her. Alex still feels raw and betrayed after realizing her ex-boyfriend was cheating on her. She sits around a lot of the book wondering why is she alone. She does meet someone in this one, but starts to question things way too early after only meeting this guy twice and having just a handful of phone conversations. 


I still find it weird that Alex's parents and siblings are missing in action. I do love that her close friends check in and call and leave each other messages. My friends and I do the same so that seems realistic to me. 


We get some more details about Mercer in this one (thank goodness) but I started to feel that this book and book #3 which I am in the middle of are repetitive. I already know Alex's, Mercer's, and now Mike's backstory. We don't need to get into it every time. I know that Alex and Mike like to bet on final jeopardy questions. Let us not go into the backstory on every little thing. The only reason why I say this is because this case was so good. Fairstein does a great job with not showing her hand until you realize what is going on. Honestly though if I were Mercer, I would start calling out Mike for never seeming to be involved with police work, but is there to go to England with Alex (which I still called BS on by the way). 


Mike. Still an ass.

The book's setting is mostly the hospitals in the New York area. We read a lot about the differences between neurosurgeons and other doctors. 

The ending was really good and I didn't see it coming. I do hope though this doesn't mean that Alex is going to be in peril in every book. It doesn't seem that realistic to me. There is a dangling loose thread after we get to the end of this book, so that did surprise me. I wonder if we will see this character again. 

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review 2018-07-19 18:38
Vanilla Beaned (#8)
Vanilla Beaned - Jenn McKinlay

This is the 8th book in the Cupcake Series. I divide time on this to get the book "read" by reading when I am not driving and listening when I am in my car driving somewhere. When the audio is playing the girls enjoy listening to the book. They enjoy several of the moments that just make you laugh. 


The Mel, Angie, and Tate are headed to Las Vegas, on the Elvis competition weekend (unknowingly) and they are there to meet the first person who wants to buy into their franchise of Fairy Tale Cupcakes. When they get to the hotel, they find out that this is the weekend that all the impersonators come to Las Vegas and so the hotel is filled with impersonators. Angie and Tate run out to explore and when it is time for the meeting with Stewart (the lawyer), Scott (the realtor) and Holly (the woman who wants to buy in), they are MIA and Mel is furious. She didn't want to franchise and when she sees Holly, who is drop dead gorgeous, she becomes mean and takes her anger out on Holly. They go to the location and finally, Holly has had enough and runs away crying. Stewart tells Mel that he knew she didn't want this, but that he didn't know she was going to be this mean. When she realizes that is exactly what she has been, she goes and talks with Holly and discovers that she does like her a little. When the location she wants to use blows up, injuring Scott severely and Stewart, she finds that she likes her even more. They eventually end up at Holly's home and learn some of the things that she hadn't told, her daughter and how she wants to have her more than just on Monday's (her off day). She is also being stalked and threatened and she is scared that her stalker is doing these accidents to her. The whole group comes together (even Marty and Oz and Manny come to town to help keep the girls safe). 


I laughed so hard at the very end of this book as something that happened in the book was also part of my life. I loved this book and can't wait to try some of these recipes. 


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review 2018-07-19 18:20
Dead, Bath and Beyond
Dead, Bath, and Beyond: A Victoria Square Mystery - Laurie Cass,Lorraine Bartlett

Katie Bonner quit a job working for a horrible boss, Josh, to run her own business, Artist's Mall. She has become very good and is earning a good living. She spends time with her friend and lawyer, Seth, floating on his boat in Lake Ontario. Josh from everything we learn, is not a good person and is living for free in her friend's B&B, that is still being worked on. She goes to their place and when she learns that they are considered suspects in the murder of Josh, found dead in a bathtub in the B&B and has a knot on his head and lake water in his lungs. She feels the need to snoop and help find out who really murdered Josh and left him. Along the way, she learns about others who have a boat and their issues with boats and wants to help them all out, becoming their friends. 


The story was okay, but I like the Booksellers stories more and may or may not try another in this series. 

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review 2018-07-19 16:28
Even / Andrew Grant
Even - Andrew Grant

David Trevellyan is a Royal Navy intelligence operative who usually works undercover, sometimes with the approval of his masters—and sometimes not. On a seemingly normal evening, he takes a lonely late-night walk between a restaurant and his New York City hotel. A familiar huddled shape in the mouth of an alley catches his eye—a homeless man has been shot to death. Trevellyan steps forward…and a cop car arrives. A split second too late, Trevellyan realizes he’s been set up.

But Trevellyan isn’t worried. He’s a hard man from the shadowy world of Royal Navy Intelligence. He’s been in and out of trouble a thousand times before. But the NYPD quickly hands the problem to the FBI. Trevellyan is sucked deeper into the system. And the British Consulate tells him: You’re on your own now, mate.

With no idea who’s a friend and who’s a foe, he penetrates deep into a huge international conspiracy. The price of failure will be death, and the reward for success will be redemption, both for himself and the huddled corpse from the alley. The motivation will be his cherished life-long belief: You don’t get mad—you get EVEN.


***2018 Summer of Spies***

It’s nice when two different reading plans come together. I’m trying to read at least one book by each of the special guests coming to the When Words Collide conference in Calgary in August and I’m spending my summer concentrating on Spy fiction. So I was delighted to find out that Andrew Grant has written a spy trilogy.

If you are a fan of fantasy spy thrillers like The Bourne Identity or Ian Fleming’s fiction, I think you may also enjoy Grant’s adventures of David Trevellyan. If you lean more towards the John Le Carré or Len Deighton style, you may find this tale a bit ridiculous (as I did). Notably, this author is the younger brother of writer Lee Child of Jack Reacher fame (and he’s probably sick and tired of people pointing that out). Several years ago, my real-life book club read a Jack Reacher novel during our Year of Reading Fluff. We hooted with laughter, speculating about Reacher wearing his underwear inside out or backwards to make it last longer without a wash and were amused by the general unreality of his circumstances. In that regard, it is obvious that Grant and Child share DNA—you need to be expert at suspending disbelief to get into this one!

My biggest hurdle was the “evil genius” Lesley (a Bond type evil villain if there ever was one). This woman ran a supposedly intricate empire and kept her minions (all men) in line by threatening castration. In fact David Trevellyan actually witnesses one of these events about halfway through the book. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I was a guy I wouldn’t be working for someone who punished her employees this way. I’m thinking she would need an all-female staff, as men would be gone as soon as the possibility was mentioned.

So, this is spy-fiction lite, as much fantasy as espionage. Lots of action, lots of violence, not much relation to reality. Dick lit, as opposed to chick lit. I will be very interested to hear Mr. Grant’s thoughts at the conference in August.

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