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Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe

Los Angeles, CA United States | Member Since 2017

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  • 349 reviews
  • 651 ratings
  • 1185 titles in library
  • 129 purchased in 2018
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  • Key to Savannah: Made in Savannah Cozy Mysteries Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Hope Callaghan
    • Narrated By Valerie Gilbert
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (59)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (54)

    Months after the untimely death of mafia-made man Vinnie Garlucci, his devoted wife, Carlita, discovers a mysterious key in one of his pockets while sorting through his belongings. With help from her daughter, Mercedes, she sets off to find out what the mysterious key belongs to and soon discovers she has inherited property in historic Savannah, Georgia. Carlita views the property as a sign and remembers Vinnie's dying words to her to get their family out of the mafia.

    jey cee says: "Key to Savannah"
    "A gripping listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Carlita Garlucci said goodbye to her husband, Vinnie, a few short months ago, promising him on his deathbed that she would pull their three sons out of the Mafia family business in Key to Savannah by Hope Callaghan. Now as she finally is sorting through her husband's clothes, she finds a key to a safety deposit box, which she takes her daughter, Mercedes, to check. At the bank, they learn that Vinnie added Carlita's name to the account the same day he died -- was murdered? -- and open the box. There they find a deed to property in Savannah, Georgia and a dozen incredibly valuable-looking gems. So Carlita and Mercedes make up their minds to move from Queens to Savannah, to the strong opposition of Carlita's sons.

    Taking off on the spur of the moment to check out their new property, the women find an abandoned restaurant and grocery store with two apartments above them that is supposed to be haunted. They also meet their new neighbor, the tattoo artist SteveO. From him they learn that the former owner, George del Mario, was murdered six years earlier and the place left vacant ever since. After getting estimates on the work needed to fix up the place, they return home to find that someone has tried to torch their house, not the first break-in since the death of Vinnie. While putting their house on the market and getting ready to move, they find that life is still a challenge as they try to set out for a new life.

    The first half of this book kept me riveted from the start. I found the plot intriguing and the characters clever. I do wonder how accurate the depictions of the wife and daughter of a member of the Mafia were. Are they really as sheltered as Carlita and Mercedes appear? Would the wife of a Mafia member really use the word "shoot" instead of the stronger expletive? However, as drawn, these women seem perfectly natural in their behavior, as Vinnie kept his wife and daughter very sheltered. The last third of the book was less exciting. The plot shifted from less of a mystery to more of a drama.

    I really enjoy the performance Valerie Gilbert gives of the audiobook. She voices the characters cleverly, using distinct New York accents for the Garluccis and light Southern accents for SteveO and his sister, Autumn. I would have expected a stronger accent for the Georgia natives, but they still sound clearly distinct from the Garluccis.

    I have mixed feelings about Key to Savannah. Much of it kept me drawn to the story. But I lost some of my interest the last third or so. I will probably listen to book two of this series because I loved the characters and see a lot of potential for future books. I give this book four stars.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Strangled in Soho: Cassie Coburn Mysteries, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Samantha Silver
    • Narrated By Patricia Santomasso
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    When a woman is found strangled in the London borough of Soho, the police think it's a suicide, but Violet Despuis knows better, and Cassie knows that if Violet thinks it's murder, it's murder. The two women find themselves needing to prove not only who committed the crime but also that a crime was committed at all. As Cassie joins Violet in investigating the crime, they quickly find themselves embroiled in a controversy that lands them on the front page. And just in case that wasn't complicated enough, Jake is being secretive, and Cassie is pretty sure someone is following them.

    Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe says: "Another delightful book"
    "Another delightful book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In Strangled in Soho by Samantha Silver, Cassie Coburn wakes up one day to find herself in the hospital. It turns out that she ate some brownies sitting on the shelf of her beat friend, Violet duPris, and passed out, only to wake up in the hospital. Violet had baked them with belladonna, a previously untreatable poison, in order to test her new possible treatment for belladonna. Rushing Cassie to the best, but farther off hospital in London, by calling in a favor and a helicopter, Violet saves Cassie's life with her new treatment.

    Then, Cassie gets a roommate in her hospital room, hearing the woman need the defibrillator twice in the first ten minutes. Out of curiosity, Violet goes to the other side of the room to check out the woman and comes back, pushing the nurse call button to demand that the nurse call the police because the woman was the victim of attempted murder, not attempted suicide, as the police have been claiming. When Detective Inspector Carlson comes to the hospital, he is furious to be told by Violet hat he made an inaccurate assumption about the crime and storms out, ordering the private detective] to stay out of his business. Detective Chief Inspector Williams, Cassie's ally, can't help her because he is overwhelmed by a set of diamond thefts that he must solve.

    When the woman, Amelia Waters, dies during the night, it becomes a murder case. Upon interviewing Amelia's roommate, her Oxford college advisor, and her best friend, Violet discovers that three of the four members of a math research team have been killed in manners that don't appear to be murders. They must race to locate the murderer before he or she can strike again.

    I found the plot of this book to be very compelling, keeping me drawn to the fascinating plot. The storyline passed very cleverly and made me want to keep listening to it straight through without stopping. It kept me attached to the book and made me want to keep listening. The plot was exciting and put interesting feelings together.

    The characters make this book especially fun. Violet has a strong nature that makes us appreciate her and all her quirky details. Her arrogance over her superiority to the rest of the world comes across as humorous instead of annoying, as it could be I appreciated a statement of Cassie's to Violet: "It's time for you to sit down and stop annoying people." Cassie as always plays the voice of reason, and both women get along well. We also enjoy getting to see the minor characters, especially their landlady, Mrs. Michaels, whom we've met before but who plays a more significant role in this book. We learn more about the octogenarian who reminds me a lot of the character of Mrs. Hudson as portrayed in the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock. Mrs. Michaels used to be involved in theft but has reformed and helps Violet in the solution.

    Patricia Santomasso does a terrific job of performing this book in its audio version. She really embodies the nature of Cassie, who serves as narrator of the book, and she gets into the characters of Violet and the others highly effectively. She used great voices for each and does a good job of shifting among Cassie's American accent, Violet's French accent, and the irt people's British accents. Santomasso significantly adds to the enjoyment level of experiencing this book.

    I have loved all the books in this series, but I found Strangled in Soho to be an especially fun and clever book. It is perfect for when you need a smile and something to take your mind off the groom realities of life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and give it five stars!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Single Malt Murder: A Whisky Business Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Melinda Mullet
    • Narrated By Gemma Dawson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (315)
    Performance
    (286)
    Story
    (283)

    When Abi inherits her uncle's quaint and storied single malt distillery, she finds herself immersed in a competitive high-stakes business that elicits deep passions and prejudices. An award-winning photojournalist, Abi has no trouble capturing the perfect shot - but making the perfect shot is another matter. When she starts to receive disturbing, anonymous threats, it's clear that someone wants her out of the picture.

    bethany says: "Great mystery plot, but main character annoying"
    "A very pleasant surprise!!!"
    Overall
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    Story

    In Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet, internationally recognized photojournalist Abigail Logan inherits the Abby Glen whiskey distillery in the Scottish Highlands from her Uncle Ben, who brought her up when her parents were killed when she was seven. Traveling to Scotland with her best friend, Patrick, for Ben's funeral, Abi starts getting messages that turn from warnings into death threats. Upon arriving in Scotland, Abi finds that everyone expects her to sell the distillery, one of the best in the world. To make matters worse, Abi learns that the distillery has been a target of sabotage, likely in an effort to force her to sell cheaply. Abi gets through the funeral in a daze and then drinks up a bottle of whiskey, so Patrick fills her up with coffee to sober her up. Now wide awake, the pair go to the distillery to inspect for further sabotage. While searching through the building, Abi spies a barrel of whiskey in which floats a dead body. When she discovers that the body is that of Duff, the friendly bartender, and that the police officer is inclined to call it an accident from trying to sabotage the distillery, Abi determines to use her investigative skills as a photojournalist to get to the truth.

    In the midst of her research, Abi gets to know the people of the Scottish community. She meets a woman older than 100 who teaches Abi all about the distillery. She tells Abi about how Ben saved it when he bought the distillery 14 years earlier, with the use of his marketing and other business savvy. But even further, the old woman tells Abi about the earliest days of the place and how her husband took a big risk to make and market a special whiskey that the manufacturing board didn't believe in and was unwilling to invest in. It turned out to be a tremendous success, now worth thousands of pounds a bottle. Though most locals greet Abi with hostility other than trying to woo her to sell the distillery, Hunter, the caretaker of the place, diligently takes over seeing to Abi's care. Further, after getting past their rough start, Abi and Grant, one of the top people in the distillery, become friends and do some investigating together. Finally, Abi's greatest ally, Liam, the wheaten terrier given to Abi by Ben not long before he died, does not want to leave her side and serves as her great protector.

    I really had a good time listening to this book. Before I started reading Single Malt Murder, I knew absolutely nothing about whiskey, but the book does a good job of teaching us readers about the distillation process and how whiskey is created, from start to finish, without making us feel stupid. Those who know everything there is to know about making whiskey will not become bored with the lessons on the beverage either. The material taught us about whiskey before getting used in the plot of the book does make the book all the more fascinating.

    The plot takes interesting turns and kept me drawn to the book. We keep wondering what is going on and whom we can trust. Which people are behind the sabotage, and what exactly are they trying to manage with this?

    The characters in the book are well- drawn and ones we get invested in. We feel connected to Abi and want her to succeed in the whiskey business against the threats of people who seem to want to scare away a woman from ownership of the distillery. We also feel empathy for the murdered Duff, even as we learn some potentially negative things about him. But my favorite character in the book is Liam. The dog really endears himself to all who meet him and to us readers. He serves as Abi's chief protector, living up to the meaning of his name that was given to him by Ben when he gave the dog to Abi.

    Gemma Dawson performs the audiobook of Single Malt Murder, and she does a strong job of bringing this book to life. She creates strong accents and voices for each of the characters. The expressions Dawson uses make the book believable and enhance the experience of listening to the audiobook, opposed to reading it on our own.

    I thoroughly appreciated the book Single Malt Murder. I enjoyed learning about the whiskey distillation business, a topic I had never found to be of interest before. It blended into the plot perfectly and gave an extra element of fun to what was already a strong and clever plot. I loved the book so much that I already bought book two in the series! I give it five stars!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Citizen Insane: A Barbara Marr Murder Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Karen Cantwell
    • Narrated By Nan McNamara
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (39)

    If you think PTA meetings are boring, then you haven't attended one in Barbara Marr's neighborhood, where murder is on the agenda. Always one to stumble into trouble, Barb learns the hard way that a seemingly innocent yearbook scandal is actually part of a seriously sinister and deadly plot. Join soccer mom and movie lover Barbara Marr in this second laugh-out-loud, chaotic mystery, where high-profile crime and suburban living collide in an unexpected fashion.

    Adam Shields says: "Suburban housewife finds more than she expected"
    "A Wild Adventure"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In Citizen Insane by Karen Cantwell, in the community of Rustic Woods, Barbara Marr and her friends Roz and Peggy are heading for a pedicure when they spot heir neighbor, Bunny Burgen, wandering around completely in a daze. They deliver Bunny back to her house, where Barb sees Howard, her own husband who works for the FBI. He is waiting on duty without the women's being told what the FBI are there for.

    In the middle of the night, Barb gets a frantic call from Bunny and gets in her mini van to go find Bunny, only to realize that she has hit someone. Looking at what happened, she spies Michelle, Bunny's best friend whom she was spotted arguing with at the PTA meeting. But when the police arrive, they find that Barb only lightly side-swiped Michelle. Instead, the woman ends up in the ICU because she has been shot.

    I had a very fun time listening to Citizen Insane. It's rare to get to call the experience of reading a book an adventure, but this book was a wild adventure. I felt like I was getting on a rollercoaster and didn't want to get off until the very last second of the book. The plot is so unpredictable that it was exciting to wait to see what would happen next.

    The characters all have lots of fun features and are highly original. We find out with surprise who the bad guys are and enjoy the details of each person's nature, whether that person is good or bad. Barb just wants to be a typical soccer mom, but events in life prevent her from doing so. So does her annoying mother, who scares away everyone from Barb's house when she comes near.

    I enjoyed the narration of Nan McNamara as she performed the audio version of this book. McNamara does an effective job of making the crazy events of the book seem reasonable, despite their being so ridiculous at times. She makes the listening experience all the more delightful.

    I really enjoyed Citizen Insane and appreciated the fun details of the book. I listened to this on an afternoon when my migraine was especially bad, and this book did an effective job of keeping me entertained and distracted from my pain. I give the book five stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fixing to Die

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Miranda James
    • Narrated By Jorjeana Marie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    It's autumn down south, and An'gel and Dickce Ducote are in Natchez, Mississippi, at the request of Mary Turner Catlin, the granddaughter of an old friend. Mary and her husband, Henry Howard, live in Cliffwood, one of the beautiful antebellum homes for which Natchez is famous. Odd things have been happening in the house for years, and the French Room in particular has become the focal point for spooky sensations.

    Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe says: "The best Ducote sisters book so far "
    "The best Ducote sisters book so far "
    Overall
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    Octogenarians An'gel and Dickcee Ducote return with their 19-year-old ward Benjy in another adventure in Fixing to Die by Miranda James. The trio, along with their dog, Peanut, and cat, Endora, travel to Natchez, Mississippi to help Mary Turner Catlin, the granddaughter of the sisters' old friend. Mary Turner has inherited Cliffwood, her family's antebellum mansion, that her parents turned into a bed and breakfast in the 1970s. Now Mary Turner and her husband Henry Howard run ther B&B, but recently she they have had problems with strange occurrences that could indicate that the house is haunted. Thus, she has turned to the two women she can trust to get to the bottom of this problem. As they enjoy their lunch after arriving, a stranger named Primrose Pace comes in and announces she is a psychic medium who will get rid of their ghost problems. So Cliffwood gets another guest.

    Soon after the group arrives, the sisters are greeted by strange occurrences themselves, such as a shadow that suddenly disappears and the moving of An'gel's clothing in her bedroom. Then, the first afternoon, An'gel opens the door to a belligerent young woman who insists on being let into the house. Her lawyer, Mr. Truss Wilbanks, explains that Serenity Foster (whose name most definitely doesn't fit her character!) is a cousin (as in fifth cousin) and needs to talk to her brother, Nathan Gambol. However, since Nathan refuses to see her, Serenity has come to Mary Turner's house, knowing that Nathan intends to visit his cousin that day. Nathan is obsessed with the French Room, which was decorated with items from France for his ancestor and which he believes is his rightful inheritance. Nathan controls Serenity's trust fund, and she needs him to release money so she can afford to get custody of her young sons. Nathan's arrival causes a fight between the siblings and leads to both brother and sister, along with the lawyer, who obviously is in a relationship with his client, insisting on staying at the house. An'gel even gives up the French Room to Nathan to keep the peace.

    The next morning, An'gel, Dickcee, and the others come down to breakfast before 8:00, but Nathan doesn't come down. So Henry Howard goes up to the French Room to check on him and finds him dead. They immediately call the police, but as soon as Serenity hears about the passing of her brother, she accuses Mary Turner in front of the police. The rest of the book involves all sorts of searches for the one behind the hauntings and the murder.

    The plot of Fixing to Die gives an interesting trip through the investigations of the Ducote sisters and Benjy. The storyline is creative, and though I miss the people of Athena, I enjoyed the events and people in Natchez.

    While the plot of Fixing to Die is creative and fun, the characters in this book bring it to life in an especially delightful way. You can't help but love the Ducote sisters, who don't act as if they are in their 80s and who have sharp, clever minds that do a great job of getting to the bottom of their mysteries. I must admit to getting a kick out of the way the 80-year-old women text secret messages to each other. How many other octogenarians even know how to text, let alone feel comfortable doing it like these two do? The books in this Southern Ladies Mystery series are a spin-off of James's Cat in the Stacks series, where we first met An'gel and Dickcee. In general I like the other, longer- running series better, but this book was especially good. Benjy and the animals add fun to the book, as do the lesser characters.

    I appreciated the narration of Jorjeana Marie in the audiobook. She has a voice well-suited to performing both female and male parts. This book also has some sections in which An'gel ponders the possibilities, and those sections have potential to become tedious if not read by a capable performer. Jorjeana Marie takes these sections with expression and creates interest. I'm impressed with her performance in this book.

    I really had a good time listening to Fixing to Die. I was really excited to see that this book had finally been released on audiobook, since at the book's initial paperback and Kindle publication, there were no plans to record the book. So when I came upon this at the Audible site, I was excited. This book didn't disappoint me for a single second. I give it five stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shoot From the Lip: A Yellow Rose Mystery, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Leann Sweeney
    • Narrated By Danielle Ferland
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (33)

    Private investigator Abby Rose returns for her fourth Yellow Rose mystery in Shoot from the Lip. Word has gotten out about Abby, and a reality show has enlisted her to help pair up birth families with adoptees. But the show may be more interested in ratings than reality, and Abby's got to figure out the truth beneath multiple layers of deception.

    Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe says: "Exciting mystery with a missing baby"
    "Exciting mystery with a missing baby"
    Overall
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    Story

    In Shoot from the Lip, Abby Rose of the Yellow Rose Detective Agency gets visited by the host of the Reality Check television show, which intends to build a new home for 23-year-old Emma Lopez. Emma has been guardian of her two younger brothers and sister since she was 16, putting herself through college and now putting the older of her brothers through college. Venture, the parent company of the television show, received an anonymous letter nominating Emma for Reality Check and stating that Emma had a baby sister who disappeared years earlier. Venture wants to hire Abby to look into the case, but Abby refuses to help the TV show. However, she goes to see Emma to see if she can be of service to the young woman, taking along her psychologist sister, Kate. Abby's lawyer can't get Emma out of her contract, so they witness the demolition of Emma's derelict old house left to her by her soldier father, who died in the bombing of the military base in Beirut before Emma was born. Under the house the demolition experts discover the remains of a baby. Could they have just found Emma's missing baby sister?

    Abby gets involved in investigating the case, using the help of Duchet Peters, the police partner of Abby's boyfriend, Jeff, while Jeff is busy doing personal business in Seattle. Abby gets the idea of looking at cold cases in the event that Christine O'Meara may have been murdered. A reconstruction of the body that might have been Christine's looks identical to the photograph Emma has of her mother. In the meantime, Venture's more high profile show, Crime Time, wants to feature Emma's story and starts following Abby around as she tries to get to the truth.

    I have yet to read a book by Leann Sweeney that I haven't loved. Shoot from the Lip has a riveting plot that kept me on my toes the whole time I was listening to it. It has so many twists and turns that I found myself having surprise at the events that took place. I had fun seeing the way Abby deals slyly with the television people, for whom she has real contempt, as we see their fake personae. The book kept me loving it throughout the whole text.

    I appreciated the characters of this book, getting to revisit with Abby and Kate. I really enjoyed the character of Duchet, who works with Abby in the absence of Jeff. Duchet likes being a ladies' man, giving compliments to Abby, Kate, and other women. I was happy to see Kate break up with Terry, her former live-in boyfriend who controls Kate's behavior too much. However, Kate immediately starts seeing a new man, Clint Rourke, a pharmaceutical sales rep, which Abby feels is too soon to start dating again. We have empathized with Abby's clients in the past, but Emma is especially one we connect with, a strong young woman determined to fight for her rights and those of her family.

    This book is very ably performed by Danielle Ferland, who serves as a strong narrator of the books in this series. She sounds just like the ideal Abby, with strong other voices for the other characters. In addition, she uses strong expressions, interpreting the book in a way that I really appreciated.

    I really had fun with listening to Shoot from the Lip. Though Sweeney is known for her cozy mysteries, this book does not fit that category as well, with some bad language and a little more violence than typical for a cozy. However, despite my preference for cozy mysteries, I really enjoyed this book a lot. I give it five stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Playing With Poison : Cue Ball Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Cindy Blackburn
    • Narrated By Caroline Miller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (145)
    Performance
    (128)
    Story
    (128)

    Pool shark Jessie Hewitt usually knows where the balls will fall and how the game will end. But when a body lands on her couch, and the cute cop in her kitchen accuses her of murder, even Jessie isn't sure what will happen next. She also isn’t sure how to catch a killer, but she's about to learn.

    hellkatjen says: "Engaging and amusing"
    "Good but not thrilling mystery"
    Overall
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    In Playing with Poison by Cindy Blackburn, Jessica Hewitt answers her door to find her neighbor's fiance, Stanley Sweetzer, stumble in, mumble the name of Candy, his fiancee, and die on Jessie's sofa. Detective Rye comes to investigate, but Jessie feels that she is treated as a suspect in what is soon discovered to be murder with the drug phenobarbital. Then the tabloid television "journalist," Jimmy Beak, learns that Jessie, who writes bodice-ripper historical romances under the name of Adele Nightingale, starts following her around, accusing her on video of having committed the murder. Jessie's publicist, Louise, is delighted at this occurrence, as it brings Jessie's sales up. So Jessie is horrified to see a nationally-syndicated gossip star talk about her as "the chief suspect" and that her books are "borderline porn." Then the airheaded Candy, 20 years Jessie's junior, gets arrested, along with her ex-boyfriend whom the police find her with. Certain that Candy isn't capable of having committed this murder, Jessie works to find the true killer.

    This book has an interesting basic premise, but I confess not to have been drawn into the book as much as I would have liked. The plot had its strong points at times, but until the denouement, I felt that the book was a little too straightforward. And then the conclusion threw in details the rest of us had no way of knowing. Granted, Jessie did come to the conclusion without having this significant information, but even her conclusion used less significant details that we had no access to knowing.

    Only a couple of the characters in Playing with Poison have vivid characters. Jessica comes across as a likeable person, though I had to keep reminding myself that she is about 55 and not 35, especially given the way she is a pool shark who cannot lose at the game, in addition to her methods of questioning suspects. The other character who comes across as real is Detective Rye, who works hard to solve the case but also shows subtle signs of interest in Jessie, coming to visit her perhaps a little more than necessary.

    Caroline Miller performs the audio version of this book. She adds flavor to the book and does good voices for each of the characters. She uses clear expressions as she reads the book, helping to make it more appealling.

    Playing with Poison has some interesting elements, especially with a strong beginning. It really catches the attention to start the book with a dying man come staggering into Jessica's house. However, I did struggle to connect personally to the book. Thus, I give the book three stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stork Raving Mad

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Donna Andrews
    • Narrated By Bernadette Dunne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    Meg Langslow is pregnant with twins when Michael asks if she wouldn't mind having a houseguest. One of his doctoral students is directing his new translation of a play by a minor Spanish playwright, who will come to town for the production. Señor Mendoza turns out to be a partygoer who loves to spend raucous evenings among adoring students...at Casa Langslow. Into this chaos arrives the dean of the English department, who insists the play be canceled. Then the dean is found murdered.

    Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe says: "An especially funny book with a good murder plot"
    "An especially funny book with a good murder plot"
    Overall
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    In Stork Raving Mad by Donna Andrews, Meg Langslow is weighed down by twins due any day and a house completely full with at least two dozen drama students and a bunch of computer student interns crowded into sleeping bags in every spare room. The furnace in Caerphilly College has been broken for over a month, creating frigid conditions unsafe for the student living facilities, so Meg and Michael are doing their part to help with the crisis by letting many of Michael's drama students hunker down in their home. Then, Dr. Wright, an English department dean, and Dr. Blanco, an employee of the administrative services department, arrive unannounced to see doctoral candidate Ramon Soto. The student has translated and will be directing a play by Señor Mendoza, a Spanish playwright heretofore believed killed by Franco but who has arrived to see the play, adding another visitor to Meg and Michael's house.

    The pair have arrived to announce that because the drama department is a sub-department of the English department, Ramon's dissertation must be disqualified. After all, despite the fact that Ramon's own work is in English, the source material came from Spanish, and they are an English department. Upset at what seems to be yet another attack on the drama department, Meg gets Michael, who risks putting his own tenure on the line by organizing a meeting with the two drama professors who were given tenure years before the English department started its attacks on the drama department. Dr. Wright and Dr. Blanco go to separate parts in the house to work on their own issues before the drama professors arrive for the planned meeting. When the drama professors arrive and get ready for the meeting, Meg goes to inform Dr. Wright they are all ready, but finds her dead, apparently of a blow to the head.

    Stork Raving Mad is the 12th book in the Meg Langslow series and just as much fun as the other books in the series. I especially had fun hearing how Meg and Michael, deciding not to know the sex(es) of the twins, call them silly names of pairs, such as Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, Rosencranz and Gildenstern, or Woodward and Bernstein. Meg's descriptions of having to deal with carrying twins also have plenty of humor to them.

    The plot of this book has lots of great angles to it, and it really keeps us guessing as to the identity of the murderer, jumping from suspect to suspect as the plot develops. There are so many creative twists to the book that I was kept drawn to the book, only reluctantly putting it down for a few minutes. I have enjoyed every book in this delightful series, but this is an especially strong one.

    As with all the books in the series, the characters really keep this book fun. Not only do we get all the usual creative, vividly drawn characters, but we get plenty of fun new characters to add to the cast list. The situation of dozens of students living in the house, added to the lively character of Señor Mendoza, gives us lots of people to enjoy.

    Bernadette Dunne continues as narrator of this audiobook series. She serves as a terrific narrator, giving real life to the book. Dunne uses such great expression as she reads, using strong timing and inflections. She also uses creative voices for each character, which is especially valuable for this book because of the many unique characters.

    I really loved listening to Stork Raving Mad. This book exemplifies the madcap fun of the series and keeps us guessing about the murderer and also about Meg's babies, as we wonder about their sexes and real names (since I rather doubt they will be named Chip and Dale!). I give this book five stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Death at the Dolphin

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Ngaio Marsh
    • Narrated By James Saxon
    Overall
    (102)
    Performance
    (50)
    Story
    (51)

    When the Dolphin Theatre is given to Peregrine Jay by a wealthy but mysterious patron, he is overjoyed, but puzzled. When he is also given a glove that belonged to Shakespeare, Peregrine displays it in the dockside theatre and writes a play about it, which is an enormous success. But then a murder takes place, a boy is attacked, and the glove is stolen. Could it be that oil and water don't mix? Inspector Roderick Alleyn is determined to find out.

    Carrie says: "Not tops for Marsh, but worth listening"
    "Strong theater mystery"
    Overall
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    Peregrine Jay has discovered the old Dolphin Theater that was glorious in its heyday but is now a ruined wreck after having lain disused for years and then suffered bombing damage in the Blitz 25 years earlier in Ngaio Marsh's 1967 novel Death at the Dolphin. Excited to get to visit the old theater, Peregrine gets a key from the estate agent and goes inside to explore. Enchanted more and more by the theater, Peregrine doesn't pay close enough attention and falls through a trap door on the stage that opens to a well of fetid, stinking water that has collected since the bomb. Just as he feels that he cannot hold on any longer and will drown in the slimy mess, a man comes in and pulls him out, getting his chauffeur to undress Peregrine and cover him with a heavy rug from the car. The man keeps apologizing and accepting the blame for Peregrine's accident, taking him to an elaborate, elegant house, where the valet runs a bath for Peregrine and gives him a brand new set of high quality clothing.

    It is now that Peregrine discovers he is in the house of Mr. Vassily Conducis, one of the richest and most reclusive men in the world. And Mr. Conducis owns the Dolphin Theater. In shock over his experience and a bit drunk, Peregrine makes an impassioned plea to save the theater and renovate it instead of turning it into a commercial building, his excitement's inspiring Mr. Conducis to show Peregrine a beautiful old portable desk. Inside this desk are hidden two very old pieces of paper and an ancient glove. The papers indicate that the glove was made by William Shakespeare's father, who made gloves for a living, for Hamnet Shakespeare, the Bard's son who died just after he wore it on his 11th birthday.

    A few days later, Peregrine is astonished to be given a commission from Mr. Conducis to refurbish the theater and manage it. Amid the work of fixing up the theater, Peregrine, inspired by the glove, writes a play about it and gets his close friend and roommate, Jeremy Jones, to do the set design and costumes for it. He gets a famous actor, Marcus Knight, to play Shakespeare and has another famous, but notoriously troublesome actor, Hartley Grove, thrust upon him as another character in the play. With the results of the glove's authentication indicating that the glove is really genuine, the world keeps its eyes on the Dolphin Theater and The Glove as they both open.

    For six months, the show runs with a display of the Shakespeare glove until the last night the glove is scheduled to be there. Peregrine and Emily Dunne, the actress in his play with whom he has fallen in love, go to the opening of a local restaurant after the show and rush back to the theater after dinner to get in out the rain. There they find Henry Jobbins, the night watchman, killed. Further, the annoying Trevor Vere, the child playing the role of young Hamnet, who has spent the evenings after each show tormenting Jobbins until his mother gets off her nightclub job, lies unconscious after having been hit by one of two heavy dolphins commissioned by Mr. Conducis to go with the reopening of the theater. Further, the glove, along with rye accompanying documents, has been stolen! Thus enters Detective Chief Superintendent Roderick Alleyn to investigate the case with his usual suavity and intelligence.

    Usually I don't like Marsh's theater books, probably because the characters come across as shallow and overly emotive. But Death at the Dolphin is the strong exception to this opinion. I really enjoy all aspects of this book. I find the plot highly original. I like the characters (or like to dislike them). And I enjoy getting to see Rory Alleyn investigate the case.

    The plot comes across as unique and imaginative, and we experience along with Peregrine the feeling of sinking into that well of filthy water and the way that this experience shapes the rest of his life. The whole idea of Hamnet Shakespeare's getting to have a glove made by his grandfather that he wore only once before dying at a tragically young age catches our imagination and seems plausible the way it is presented. Plus, Marsh's career- long, probably lifelong, love affair with all things Shakespeare that comes out so obviously in all her writings, adds to the credibility of this. Remember that while we now know Marsh for her Inspector Alleyn books, her main claim to fame came from establishing the live theater in her native New Zealand, so she knew well of what she wrote in her theater-based books.

    The characters in all of Marsh's books are always drawn vividly and with great personality. Her real genius was in depicting her characters in lifelike images and basing the solutions to her cases upon this reality. We really seem to know Peregrine and feel the pressure of putting on his play, especially with the knowledge that he wrote about a real glove that he could tell no one about until Mr. Conducis gave him permission, just before the running of the play. In contrast we come to find Grove irritating and young Trevor positively annoying. It is in getting to understand the workings of the characters that we come to understand the motive of the murder.

    And, as always, it is a delight to watch Alleyn and his trusty Inspector Fox investigate the murder. They don't have as much face time in this book, as the murder and theft don't happen until the second half of the book, but they still please the readers when they appear, and their methods of solving the case are of interest as always.

    James Saxon performs another great narration job in Death at the Dolphin. He uses strong expressions and terrific voices for the characters, making the book lively and of great interest.

    I really enjoy listening to Death at the Dolphin. I have listened to this book several times and seem to enjoy it more each time. This book has so much imagination and fun to it that I give it five stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wedding Cake Crumble

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Jenn McKinlay
    • Narrated By Susan Boyce
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (33)

    With Angie and Tate's wedding just around the corner, it's a happy time for Melanie Cooper and the bakery crew. Not only are they finessing the last-minute details of the big day, but their bakery, Fairy Tale Cupcakes, has just been hired to bake cupcakes for the blockbuster book signing of a controversial author who wrote a steamy best seller filled with juicy local gossip. But one by one, the people Angie has hired to work the wedding begin turning up dead. As the body count rises, the best-selling author is the next to bite the dust.

    S. Richardson says: "Audio Problems"
    "Angie finally gets married"
    Overall
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    In Wedding Cake Crumble, the newest book by Jenn McKinlay, Angie and Tate have just one week until their wedding. Angie and Mel go to give payments to the wedding vendors when they find the body of their photographer, Tate's close friend Blaze, strangled by his camera strap. When they discover that the limo driver was murdered the previous night, the police decide that these murders can't be a coincidence and that somehow Angie and Tate's wedding may be targeted.

    Then that same day, Mel gets a call from her bookstore owner friend, Cassie, begging her to bake 500 cupcakes for a special event the next day. Elise Penworthy, divorced from a rich, controlling man, has written a "fictional" tell-all account of life in The Palms, the rich area of Scottsdale and has a book signing. It isn't until the book signing that Mel learns that the original baker died, and Cassie had scheduled Blaze and the same limo driver. It becomes obvious that the target was not Angie and Tate's wedding, but rather Elise's book opening event. Mel and Angie are unable to convince Elise to leave the book signing and give a sigh of relief when it is over. But then Elise announces she is going to the bar, but when they follow, it takes time to locate Elise, and she has been stabbed in the back with a pen. When she comes to consciousness for a short while, she states that Cassie did it, so when Elise dies, the police arrest Cassie. Mel finds herself working hard to find evidence to vindicate Cassie, while getting everything ready for the wedding this week.

    This book was another fun addition to the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series. The plot has intrigue, along with the relationship drama connected to Angie and Tate's wedding. Jenn McKinlay's books really should be read in order because they deal so much with relationships as they develop. I do think that they have really unnecessarily dragged out the span of the relationships. This is book 10 in the series, yet despite the fact that both Angie and Mel have been in love with their men since the age of 12 and get together with them early in the series, neither has yet made it to the altar, though not without trying, I might add.

    This book will have appeal mostly to those who have been devoted to the previous nine books in the series because we get excited to see Angie and Tate finally getting married. But of course, that can't happen without plenty of drama, especially since it's Angie's wedding. However, the wedding and its last week's preparations take up a significant portion of the book, taking away from the time the book can spend on the murder. McKinlay does work discussion of the case into the wedding preparations, as Angie would much rather discuss the murder than think about her wedding, which she worries about. I just found the total murder plot to be a little weak on content, yet that is disguised by all the excitement of finally getting to see the pair get married. Longtime fans will revel in the wedding scenes, but a cozy mystery lover who picks up this as her first cupcake series book might not appreciate it as much.

    As with all the books in this series, the real strength is in its characters. And this book brings back some of the characters from previous books, such as Manny, who moved to Las Vegas to be with the woman who opens their first franchise. The original Fairy Tale Cupcake Shop pair, Angie and Mel, each has her own method of dealing with life and crimes. Mel is the especially nosy one, taking personal risks to find out clues. The employees of Fairy Tale Cupcakes also have great personalities, and we enjoy the crazy brothers of Angie, who are highly protective of their younger sister in the voluble manner of their Italian family. Since the pair getting married own a cupcake shop, of course they have wedding cupcakes instead of cake, and Oz, a young goth man with tattoos and piercings, makes special cupcakes as his gift to the couple.

    The audio version of this book is performed by Susan Boyce, who does a great job of exuding energy and fun with this series. She creates vivid voices for each character, making them suit each person in the book. My one concern is that the audio recording has periodic breaks in it, seeming to cut off words occasionally and then pausing before continuing in the book. It becomes a distraction on occasion when this occurs.

    It was fun to finally see Angie and Tate approach their longtime-planned wedding in Wedding Cake Crumble. We can vividly picture all the characters and events, as McKinlay has a gift for description. This book kept my attention throughout the whole thing. I give the book four stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Death Comes to the Village: A Kurland St. Mary Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Catherine Lloyd
    • Narrated By Susannah Tyrrell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (172)
    Performance
    (158)
    Story
    (157)

    A wounded soldier and a rector's daughter discover strange goings-on in the sleepy village of Kurland St. Mary in Catherine Lloyd's charming Regency-set mystery debut. Major Robert Kurland has returned to the quiet vistas of his village home to recuperate from the horrors of Waterloo. However injured his body may be, his mind is as active as ever. Too active, perhaps. When he glimpses a shadowy figure from his bedroom window struggling with a heavy load, the tranquil faade of the village begins to loom sinister....

    Sara says: "A Happy Surprise!"
    "Interesting but not gripping"
    Overall
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    In Death Comes to the Village by Catherine Lloyd, Major Robert Kurland has been lying in bed for months after getting severely injured during the Battle of Waterloo. Dependent upon his butler, Mr. Foley, and valet, Bookman, who served during the war as Robert's batman (soldier servant to an officer), the major tries to find something to entertain himself out the window. One morning, his regular visitor, Lucy Harrington, the 25-year-old daughter of the rector and childhood playmate of Robert, comes to help entertain him in his lonely sickbed. He tells Lucy that the previous night he saw the figure of someone carrying a big sack and skulking about. Curious about the happenings, he enlists Lucy's help in trying to solve the riddle, not being physically able to search for himself.

    Lucy enjoys her chance to do some discreet poking around Kurland St. Mary because life is really miserable for this spinster (can you imagine being considered a spinster at 25?). Her selfish father has put all the responsibilities of the household on her since the death of Lucy's mother while giving birth to twin boys a number of years earlier. In doing so, he gave her plenty of responsibility without any authority and seems to expect her to stay his slave for life instead of trying to find a husband and setting up her own establishment. Then Lucy discovers that Mary, her housemaid, has disappeared without waiting for her pay. And soon she learns that another young girl from the village has also disappeared. People assume the girls ran away to London together, but Lucy is still unconvinced. In addition, Kurland St. Mary has had a rash of thefts lately. So is there a connection between the missing girls, the strange midnight goings-on, and the thefts?

    I enjoy a good historical mystery, and Death Comes to the Village creates interest, but it didn't greatly excite me. The plot seems a bit weak. The book spends a significant portion of its time talking about Robert's recovery from his injury, which has interest but drags out and is not as compelling as it could be. Though the book is historical fiction, it does not have a lot of historical details in it, which disappointed me.

    Only the characters of Robert and Lucy come across as well-rounded, We connect with Robert's difficulties in recovering from his injuries and the emotional challenges he faces after spending nine months in bed. As he begins to wake up to himself and make progress, we cheer him on. And we feel for Lucy as she serves as a type of slave to her father, with all her extra responsibilities and inability to move on with her life because her father doesn't want his free housekeeper to marry. We appreciate the way Lucy serves to help Robert find himself, and in the process she finds her own self.

    Susannah Tyrrell performs the audio edition of this book. She contains a soothing voice, which was suitable for a somewhat slow book like this, though I think she does not fit for mysteries in general. I think her voice is more fitted for less dramatic books than mysteries. However, she does a fine job with this book.

    I liked Death Comes to the Village reasonably well, but I wish the events of the conclusion, which was exciting, were foreshadowed better in the major part of the book. Further, I would have liked to see more mystery plot, since much of the book does not deal with the mystery. Then, what mystery it does deal with seems to be so minor. And in addition, I would have liked to see more historical details in a historical fiction mystery. Thus, I give this book three stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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