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Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe

Los Angeles, CA United States
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  • Granny Pins a Pilferer: A Fuchsia, Minnesota Mystery

  • The Fuchsia, Minnesota Mysteries, Book 5
  • By: Julie Seedorf
  • Narrated by: Beth Kesler
  • Length: 6 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Granny is at it again! When Granny accompanies her friend Mavis to the next to the last resting place nursing home to visit Mavis’ sister, Beulah, both women are shocked to find the new resident dead. Granny, being the amateur detective she is, suspects foul play, and soon she and her entire family concoct a plan to investigate possible shady doings at the nursing home. Granny will enter the home incognito and attempt to determine how Beulah met her suspicious demise. All this happens while Granny’s new husband Silas is entangled in his own dangerous mess.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another silly but clever mystery

  • By Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe on 08-16-18

Another silly but clever mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-16-18

In <strong>Granny Pins a Pilferer</strong> by Julie Seedorf, Mavis gets Granny to go with her to visit her sister, Beulah, at the Next to the Last Resting Place, known to Granny as the Wrinkle Farm. When the women arrive, they find Beulah dead. There seems to be a mystery behind the death, making Granny determined to go undercover at the Wrinkle Farm to get to the bottom of things.

In the meantime, Granny is starting out her married life with Silas Crickett, whom Granny likes to call Mr. Supercilious. But on one of their first mornings together, Silas's house explodes, showing that Silas's previous job as a detective in Alaska may not be completely unresolved.

To gain admittance to the Next to the Last Resting Place, Granny pretends to have memory problems. Taking with her a hatpin for protection, Granny enters the dreaded Wrinkle Farm, where she meets an eclectic group of women living there and a hostile employee. As part of her ruse, Granny keeps insisting that she is not Hermiony but rather Amelia, the name of her identical twin sister. With her usual crazy and wild antics, Granny sets the Wrinkle Farm ablaze with energy and adventure as she searches for the truth behind the unexplained deaths.

As with every book by Seedorf, <strong>Granny Pins a Pilferer</strong> is full of hilarity and silliness, making me laugh throughout the whole course of the book. The plot has plenty of creativity and excitement, with new twists throughout the whole thing. I especially enjoyed the wild adventures as Granny's friends figure out what she is up to and break her out of the Wrinkle Farm for an evening of fun at the local casino.

Many of the especially beloved characters from the previous books return to <strong>Granny Pins a Pilferer</strong>, making it especially fun. Granny, whose real name is Hermiony Vidalia Criony Fiddlestadt Crickett, is, as always, the star of the book, with an exuberance for life and catching bad guys. We enjoy Mavis, Granny's neighbor, who lives with George and spends her life putting on bizarre pretend reality shows. Silas Crickett and his sometimes adversarial/ sometimes loving relationship with his new wife, Granny, further adds to the glee we experience as we listen to this book.

Beth Kesler performs the audio edition of this book and does an excellent job in her role replacing Priscilla Finch, whom I had come to love. Many times it is hard to adjust to a new narrator in a beloved series, but Kesler does a good job of making the book her own without differing too much from the spirit created by Finch. Kesler helps to add to the delight of getting to listen to this book. I listened to this when I was lying in bed in worse than usual agony from my migraine, and it did a lot to help me relax and have some pleasure despite the severity of my pain.

All books in the Granny series, including <strong>Granny Pins a Pilferer</strong>, are very silly and full of fun. Sometimes, such as during my recent migraine we need some silliness in our lives to make them more bearable. I do recommend that if you are new to the series, you begin with the first book, <em>Granny Hooks a Crook</em>, though that book starts off rather confusingly. But if you stick with it, you'll appreciate the conclusion and be able better to enjoy the rest of this delightful series. I highly recommend this book and give it five stars!

<em>Disclaimer:</strong> I received this book from the author for review purposes, but that had no influence on the content of my review.

  • Dressed to Kilt

  • Scottish Highlands Mystery Series, Book 3
  • By: Hannah Reed
  • Narrated by: Angela Dawe
  • Length: 7 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 110
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 99
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 100

Winter is leaving the residents of Glenkillen snowbound, but Eden isn't about to let the weather dampen her spirits. With only a little time left in Scotland, she's determined to make the most of it - starting with attending a fancy whisky tasting with local looker Leith Cameron. But her classy date turns into a major party foul after a woman is found drowned in one of the vats of alcohol. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 stars

  • By Beatrice on 06-23-18

I want more!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-16-18

In <strong>Dressed to Kilt</strong> by Hannah Reed, Eden Elliott is nearing the date of her six- month stay in Glenkillen, Scotland. She is surprised to get an invitation to a highly exclusive whiskey tasting at the distillery owned by Bridie Dougal, chieftain of her branch of the Dougal family. But when Eden meets Bridie the day before the tasting, she is disturbed to find that Bridie knew Eden's grandfather and wants to talk about him and Eden's father. Eden harbors a lot of anger towards her dad, who never returned home from Scotland when Eden was six, just as her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

As the whiskey tasting event arrives, Eden goes with her friend, Leith Cameron, who looks especially good in a kilt and has inspired the sex scenes in her romance novels despite their never having had a physical relationship. At the event they find that a boorish American, Janet Dougal, has crashed the party. But no one notices Henrietta MacLeod, the younger though still senior, companion of the nonagenarian Bridie. Then, Eden spots a body hanging out of a whiskey cask. Someone has held Henrietta's head under the whiskey and drowned her in the cask. As a special constable, which is a volunteer constable in the UK, Eden gets involved in the investigation, along with Inspector Jamieson and the newly minted Constable Sean Stevens, the new love interest of Vicky MacBride, the friend on whose property Eden lives. This investigation proves to be even more dangerous than anyone can imagine, but even further, Eden discovers that she has a family connection to this crime, making it personal for her.

<strong>Dressed to Kilt</strong> is a fun book with great plot lines, sympathetic or undesirable characters, and a vivid depiction of the land of Scotland. The story kept me drawn to it, not wanting to put it down. I enjoyed seeing Eden investigate the aspects of the crime and also look into her own family history.

The characters of this book were compelling, and I found myself especially wanting to see things work out for Eden. I have come to see Vicky and Leith as well as Sean and Inspector Jamieson as family. I also see just why certain individuals have given my nationality the reputation as "ugly Americans," as Janet expects everything to be like it is for her at home and offends all around her by her sense of entitlement and speech, such as her insistence on calling the locals "Scotch" instead of "Scots." I found myself cringing at Janet's behavior and hoping I don't run into such Americans myself. But beyond the people, the land of Scotland serves as a delightful character in this book. The imagery of the winter in Scotland adds a lot of flavor to the book, and the snow actually serves as a key plot device.

Angela Dawe performs the audio edition of this book. She uses effective accents for the different characters from around the world and voices that suit each one. Bringing a unique sense of energy to her outside, Dawe truly makes the book come to life.

I have come to feel a part of Eden Elliott's life in Glenkillen over the course of this series, and <strong>Dressed to Kilt</strong> left me craving more. It's too bad that Reed hasn't written any more. Let's hope she gives us more reading and listening enjoyment because I give this book a wholehearted five stars!

  • Murder in Profile

  • Last Word and Testament Mysteries
  • By: Kay Hartford
  • Narrated by: Kay Hartford
  • Length: 6 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2

Gracie Michaels owns a publishing company in Hollywood. She specializes in publishing the manuscripts of recently deceased authors. Sometimes getting their projects to the finish line can be murder. Annie Forsberg met her soulmate online. When he’s killed in a plane crash, she inherits his unfinished book. But what Scott wrote will put her own life - and Gracie’s - in jeopardy. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A good listen

  • By cosmitron on 08-10-18

A manuscript leads to murder

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-16-18

In <strong>Murder in Profile</strong> by Kay Hartford, Gracie Michaels runs a publishing house that publishes books by only people no longer alive. One day she gets a manuscript from a woman named Annie Forsberg, who was given the book by the police upon the death of its author in an airplane crash. Annie explains that she met Scott Moore on Facebook, but just as things started to heat up between them, he went black. A little while later, the police gave the manuscript to Annie. In it, Scott admits to being really Peter Larson and explains his whole process for catfishing women and getting them to give him money. But after Scott gets killed in a plane crash, the police see Annie's name on his manuscript and give it to her as his heir. She has now approached Gracie to publish this book as warning to other women. As Gracie and her significant other editor, Ed, become closer to Annie, they discover that the manuscript comes fraught with danger.

<strong>Murder in Profile</strong> is filled with anticipation over the happenings in Annie's life, events that have repercussions in the lives of Gracie and Ed. The plot keeps moving, but not so fast as to make it an intense thriller. It offers a couple significant twists in the middle that make the listener gasp. There are several significant characters in the book, but only Annie, Gracie, and eventually Ed come across as well- rounded characters. However, they are all that is needed to give the book depth.

The audiobook is narrated by the author, Kay Hartford. I suspect the book would have been more effective had it been performed by a professional narrator with greater expression, but it still provided enjoyment. With careful deliberation, Hartford holds back, keeping the pace from speeding up in a wise move.

<strong>Murder in Profile</strong> was a creative book that deals with a genuine problem, that of Internet scammers and stalkers. We learn some important lessons without the book's having been at all didactic. I appreciated the exciting book and give it four stars.

<strong>Disclaimer:</strong> I received this book for free for review purposes, but that had no influence on the content of my review.

  • The Secret of Chestnut Hall

  • A Blooms, Bones and Stones Cozy Mystery, Book One
  • By: Olivia Swift
  • Narrated by: Becky Boyd
  • Length: 3 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

Jasmine Summer - or "Jazz”, as her friends and family call her, takes on a contract to restore an intriguing old garden for her client, Evan Sutherland. Evan is quite a famous mountaineer who is trying to leave behind a shattered life and an ex-wife who almost ruined him. Evan’s house and garden have a mysterious past that intrigues Jazz and Evan. The discovery of a secret grotto leads them both into situations they would never have dreamed about...and into unforeseen dangers. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A sweet, fun mystery

  • By Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe on 08-16-18

A sweet, fun mystery

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-16-18

In <strong>The Secret of Chestnut Hall</strong> by Olivia Swift, Evan Sutherland has just moved into a small mountain community in Colorado and bought Chestnut Hall, which has remained vacant and off the market for the 30 years since the previous owner died. He has hired the gardening firm of Jasmine (Jazz) Summer to put the gardens back in good shape. Very soon the two discover a strong attraction to each other as they work together. There have been rumors of murder, treasure, and everything in between surrounding this mysterious property. So it is with excitement that Jazz finds a piece of wood that, when she moves it, reveals a grotto that no one knew existed. A secret nighttime intruder, a couple old discoveries, and a skeleton uncovered when they were trying to dig a 8hpond lead to many elements of a 30- year- old mystery.

I enjoyed listening to <strong>The Secret of Chestnut Hall</strong>. It is a short book (3 hours, 6 minutes), so it doesn't have a lot of room for complex mystery details. On the other hand, it is ideal for someone who doesn't want to take the time to listen to a typically 6-8 hour cozy mystery. Despite the short length, the book has some creative moments and fun characters. I also liked the setting of working in a garden, making this book all the more enjoyable.

Becky Boyd performs the audio edition of this book. Adding a touch of charm to this already enjoyable book, Boyd certainly increases the listening pleasure with her performance. I did notice a lilt to her reading that didn't always seem natural, but it was not very distracting, and I still think this book is better off listened to than read visually.

I appreciated getting to listen to the fun <strong>The Secret of Chestnut Hall</strong>. It was a creative, light- hearted mystery with some interesting details and sympathetic characters. This book was nice, gentle reading, and I give it four stars.

  • Ukulele Murder: A Nani Johnson Mystery

  • Aloha Lagoon Mysteries, Volume 1
  • By: Leslie Langtry
  • Narrated by: Susan Marlowe
  • Length: 8 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7

Nani Johnson thought she had it made when she moved from Kansas to the resort town of Aloha Lagoon, Kauai. In spite of her certifiably crazy mom, Nani is determined that nothing will stop her from becoming a ukulele virtuoso! But when one of Nani's competitors drops dead right after a public feud, Nani becomes the police's main suspect. A missing murder weapon, mysterious threats, and a heck of a frame-up job all have Nani worrying she'll be trading in her flowery muumuus for prison orange.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Take a Trip to Hawaii

  • By Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe on 08-08-18

Take a Trip to Hawaii

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-18

In <strong>Ukulele Murder</strong> by Leslie Langtry, Nani Johnson has moved to Aloha Lagoon, Kauai from Kansas to play her ukelele, which she studied at Juilliard. After playing for a bar mitzvah, Nani goes to a concert of the top ukulele musician on the island, Alohalani, where she runs into the two other native ukelele musicians, Kua and Leilani, both of whom are antagonistic towards Nani for not being native Hawaiian and, if truth be told, for being a better musician than they are. After an argument with Kua, Nani goes to sit in front and then leaves as soon as the concert is over.

But not long after arriving at home, Nani gets visited by a police officer. Detective Ray informs her that Kua has been murdered, bludgeoned over the head, and Leilani claimed that Kua left the building with Nani in a heated argument. Unable to provide an alibi, Nani gets nervous, but Detective Ray doesn't arrest her. . . yet. The next day the officer returns with news that Kua was bludgeoned with kwila wood, a very hard native tree, a type of wood that Nani had a special ukelele made from. What is worse, that ukelele has gone missing. Now Nani is a genuine suspect.

With the help of her best friend, Binny, and the blind date her mom set her up with, Nick Woodfield, Nani has to stand up for herself in investigating things before she gets arrested. Or killed. Things becomes even scarier when more people get murdered, each in a different manner. And each murder is enacted to frame Nani.

I earlier enjoyed listening to Langtry's first four Merry Wrath books, so I was excited to see that <em>Ukelele Murder</strong> has recently been released on audio. I was most definitely not disappointed. The plot kept me drawn into the story, with its creative side trips and clever details. The path that Nani travels in her search for the truth takes us through some interesting plot points.

However, as much as I enjoyed the plot, it is the characters who truly bring this book to life. Nani was a believable, likable character with whom we can completely identify and really want to see succeed in her life and in her ability to find the real murderer in order to stay out of prison. Binny serves as the perfect best friend, and we come to like Nick, though we understand Binny's concern over Nick's over- eagerness and find ourselves wondering about his motives. But the most lively character is Nani's alcoholic, borderline mental case of a mother. The woman lives to her own drum and decorates the living room with random objects found on the island, so Nani never knows whether she'll walk in to find coconuts or hula girls filling her living room. But further, the island life itself serves as another character in the story. We see views of the island and images of life there, from the music to the surfing and everything in between.

Susan Marlowe performs the audio edition of this book, with a strong alto voice that adds to the sense of music behind the book. She uses good voices for the various characters, both the women and men characters. The expression she uses adds to the humor that the book already contains. Marlowe effectively helps the book take us to Kauai and enjoy the experience oft1 listening to the ukelele. Pp

I really enjoyed listening to <strong>Ukulele Murder</strong>. The story was full of fun, but the characters took it to a higher level of delight. The book gave me a strong picture of Kauai and made me interested in the ukulele as an instrument. I give it five stars!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Sharpe Mind

  • Cozy Suburbs Mystery Series, Book 3
  • By: Lisa B. Thomas
  • Narrated by: Kelley Hazen
  • Length: 6 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17

Former-teacher-turned-reporter Deena Sharpe craves more adventure than covering dull city council meetings in the small town of Maycroft, Texas. But when she follows a hunch to investigate a story lead, she finds a dead woman strangled by a knitted scarf and becomes suspect number one.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not a Dull Moment!

  • By HeatherY on 08-04-17

Fun investigation

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-18

In <strong>Sharpe Mind</strong> by Lisa B. Thomas, Deena Sharpe covers the local government news of Maycroft, Texas for the Northeast Texas Tribune after having given up a 38-year career teaching journalism to high school students. At the latest city council meeting, Deena notices that Marty Fisk tries for the third time to get the city to condemn a large part of the city. Curious about Fisk's motives for this move, especially when she discovers that these are the only proposals or votes Fisk has made during his entire time as councilman, Deena decides to look into the development in her position as reporter.

Deena's research takes her to the pawn shop owned by Fisk, where she gets confirmation that Fisk himself has his own plans to develop the land that he has been trying to get condemned. This is clearly a conflict of interest, so Deena strikes out on her own to look into the case. Having learned that the main holdout against Fisk's efforts to purchase the land is Barbara Wild, Deena goes to interview Barbara, only to find the senior woman murdered. Going against her boss's order not to involve herself in the investigation, Deena finds herself looking for a new job. Almost immediately she gets offered a position as investigator for the lawyer on the case, Ian, who is married to her best friend, Sandra. Soon Deena finds herself teaming up with Dan Carson, the chief reporter at the Tribune, to get to the bottom of the murder and also Fisk's effort to buy up all the property using eminent domain.

I appreciated the experience of listening to <strong>Sharpe Mind</strong>. After having enjoyed the previous two books when they first came out, I jumped on the opportunity to buy the next book in the series when I saw that not only book 3, but book 4 was released. So I happily bought both books (look for the review of book 4 soon!). The book's strengths are in its delightful characters. Deena comes across as a strong woman with her own strengths and weaknesses, making her human. I enjoyed getting to know Ian, as we have come to know Sandra before now.

Kelley Hazen performs the audio edition of this book, doing a good job of making the book interesting and exciting. The book uses a lot of third person narration, and this has potential to become tiresome, but Hazen keeps things moving with strong expression and effective inflections of the text. She gives the book creative elements of interest, making the listening experience enjoyable.

<em>Sharpe Mind</strong> was a fun book, and I liked seeing a middle- aged woman as the protagonist instead of a young sexy thing. The plot had interesting elements and kept me listening eagerly. And the characters drove the book in a fun manner. I give the book four stars.

  • Apple Strudel Alibi

  • Oxford Tearoom Mysteries, Book 8
  • By: H.Y. Hanna
  • Narrated by: Pearl Hewitt
  • Length: 6 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39

When Gemma’s romantic holiday with her boyfriend is cancelled, the tearoom sleuth finds herself heading to Vienna instead with her cat Muesli and the nosy Old Biddies for company. And it’s not long before they stumble across a murder right in the heart of Austria’s historic capital. A handsome art critic dies suspiciously at their hotel, and the Old Biddies are determined to sniff out the killer. Is it the bitter hotel owner nursing a grudge? The critic’s jealous mistress wanting revenge? Or even the American horse trainer who seems inexplicably nervous around the police? 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great Cozy Mystery!

  • By Ka Ma Ma on 08-13-18

Another great mystery by H.Y. Hanna

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-06-18

In <strong>Apple Strudel Alibi</strong> by H.Y. Hanna, Gemma Rose is upset to learn that her boyfriend, Devlin, has to work in his job as the top detective for the Oxford CID and can't go on their planned trip to Malta. So she finds herself changing her plans to go to Vienna to receive an award for the best scones in England. When she arrives at the airport, she discovers that the four senior women collectively known as "the Old Biddies" are traveling with her and have reserved a suite with Gemma in the new hotel opened by Sophia, a close childhood friend of Gemma's mother. At the hotel, they meet ? Wagner, a lifestyle critic notorious for his cruel, scathing reviews, and he schedules a dinner date with Glenda, one of the Old Biddies. But when Glenda goes downstairs to meet Wagner, he doesn't show up, causing Glenda to look for him in the music room of the hotel. With a scream, Glenda comes rushing out after having discovered Wagner lying dead on the concrete beneath the balcony of the music room.

The police soon declare the death a suicide after having found what passes as a suicide note. However, when Gemma sneaks into the office where the police are keeping the note, she notices it seems weird and doesn't end with a complete sentence. The Old Biddies especially feel certain that this is a murder and lure Gemma into their crazy schemes to investigate.

<strong>Apple Strudel Alibi</strong> is the eighth book in the Oxford Tea Room series, and Hanna does not disappoint as she continues this incredibly fun and clever series. The plot is creative, though it doesn't have as much depth and twists and turns as the previous seven books. However, the standard set by Hanna was so high that the mystery is still creative and well done. Further, the setting details and fun scenes make the book a great delight. One of the highlights is a visit to an Austrian spa with the Old Biddies, who are as excited about all the coed nudity around them as Gemma is horrified.

The characters continue to come to life as in all of Hanna's books. Besides Gemma, who narrates the book and has a fun personality, especially in the horror she feels at some of the schemes of the Old Biddies. These octogenarians are the highlight of the book, with wild ideas and nosiness in everything that they get into. The "guest characters" provide a lot of fun as well. The Chinese family, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Chow and their 8-year-old daughter, Mei Mei, seem sadly realistic based upon my own experiences working with Chinese international students. Mrs. Chow does not like her daughter's amazing gift for art and love of animals because she is determined that Mei Mei will become a successful lawyer, and art and animals do not figure into those plans. The other characters have as much flair as the Chow family.

Pearl Hewitt performs the audiobook of <strong>Apple Strudel Alibi</strong> and does another fantastic job that brings the book to life. Her voices for the characters have plenty of diversity, and she handles the accents well. I was especially impressed that the British narrator is so successful with the American accent of Randy, a horse showman from Florida. Few British narrators handle American accents very believable, usually making them Texan. Hewitt further does a good job at voicing the expressions of Muesli, Gemma's mischievous cat, who goes with Gemma to Vienna.

I had a lot of fun listening to <strong>Apple Strudel Alibi</strong>, which has a creative plot and an especially interesting setting. This includes the famous dancing Royal Lipizzaner horses, a spa where men and women mingle sans any clothing, and secret passages in the mansion turned into a hotel. The Old Biddies particularly add to the delightful flavor of the book. I give this fun book five stars.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Escape Claws

  • Cat Lady Mystery Series, Book 1
  • By: Linda Reilly
  • Narrated by: Callie Beaulieu
  • Length: 8 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 14

For the first time in sixteen years, Lara Caphart has returned to her hometown of Whisker Jog, New Hampshire. She wants to reconnect with her estranged Aunt Fran, who's having some difficulty looking after herself - and her eleven cats. Taking care of a clowder of kitties is easy, but keeping Fran from being harassed by local bully Theo Barnes is hard. The wealthy builder has his sights set on Fran's property and is determined to make her an offer she doesn't dare refuse.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent and enjoyable book

  • By Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe on 08-06-18

Excellent and enjoyable book

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-06-18

In <strong>Escape Claws</strong> by Linda Reilly, Lara Caphart drives from Boston to Whisker Job, New Hampshire when she gets word that her Aunt Fran is having difficulties after having had to retire early from teaching due to serious knee problems. It has been 15 years since Lara has seen her aunt, a situation they discover was created by Lara's father's suppression of their letters to each other. Fran has become the community cat-lady, with 11 cats that she has rescued, and she has started to let things go. Lara works hard to get things fixed up in the house and help her aunt get back on her feet.

Then one night, Lara hears noises outside but eventually goes back to bed. The next morning, however, Lara goes to her aunt's property line and stumbles over a rebar buried in the ground but bent all the way over when someone clearly tried to remove the rebar that marks the property line. The man who owns most of the local real estate has been trying to coerce Aunt Fran to sell him part of her property, which he needs in order to complete his major development. The project would evict his many local tenants, making Theo Barnes a decidedly unpopular man in town. So when Lara finds Theo at her feet when she trips over the rebar, there is no shortage of suspects in his murder.

I really loved listening to <strong>Escape Claws</strong>, which was full of life and pulled me into the story, keeping me raptly listening and not wanting to turn it off. The plot had creative elements to it, including numerous red herrings and twists and turns. It contains a slight paranormal element, with a cat named Blue whom Lara knew as a child and finds there again. But Aunt Fran tells her that no one else has ever seen Blue, and it becomes apparent that others can't see the cat, who does a lot to help guide her in her detection.

I enjoyed the characters in this book, who have true human and feline flavor to them. I really appreciated the fact that Lara does not get involved in the mystery case out of a desire to snoop or be nosy. Instead, she is happy to leave the case to the police until reluctantly responding to pressure to look into the situation. Lara's relationship with her Aunt Fran seems very realistic, with their ups and downs. But the cats in particular steal the scenes in the book. We don't get to know personally all 11 of Fran's cats, but we do get to know several of them, learning of their unique traits that make the cats a delight.

Callie Beaulieu ably performs the audio edition of the book. She does a great job of voicing the different characters. In particular, her acting of the denouement scene with the murderer was highly effective. The emotions drawn out in the scene come across dramatically and with power. The timing used in this performance adds to the strength of the audio version.

I had a good time listening to <strong>Escape Claws</strong>, with its fun setting and creative character development. I enjoyed the details of the book and the fun relationship between Lara and Aunt Fran, with all 11 (or does the mysterious Blue make 12?) cats. I give this book five stars!

  • The Uninvited Corpse

  • Food Blogger Mystery Series, Book 1
  • By: Debra Sennefelder
  • Narrated by: Callie Beaulieu
  • Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12

Hope's schedule is already jam packed with recipe testing and shameless plugs for her food blog as she rushes off to attend a spring garden tour in the charming town of Jefferson, Connecticut. Unfortunately, it isn't the perfectly arranged potted plants that grab her attention - it's the bloody body of reviled real estate agent Peaches McCoy.... One of the tour guests committed murder, and all eyes are on Hope's older sister, Claire Dixon - who, at best, saw Peaches as a professional rival. And suspicions really heat up when another murder occurs the following night.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • WHEN IS THE NEXT ONE?

  • By Debbie Lacey on 08-06-18

Murder of a Realtor

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-06-18

In <strong>The Uninvited Corpse</strong> by Debra Sennefelder, Hope Early makes her living as a blogger writing about recipes and lifestyle. The former editor of a major New York- based magazine and then runner-up in the reality show cooking contest called the Sweet Taste of Success, Hope gave it all up to move back to her hometown of Jefferson, Connecticut. One March afternoon, Hope's lifelong close friend, Audrey Bloom, hosts a garden tour to introduce the newest in her series of gardening books, and an uninvited guest shows up. While Audrey has been fighting hard to keep development out of Jefferson, Peaches McCoy has served as realtor to the large firrn that is trying to build major projects in the town. Further, she has gained a reputation as a poacher of other realtors' clients, in particular Hope's sister, Claire Dixon, who seethes upon seeing Peaches crash the party. Then, just after Peaches gets her free copy of Audrey's new book, she disappears. It is only when Hope and her newspaper reporter friend go into the office of Harrison, Audrey's husband, where they see the place ransacked, that they find the body of Peaches, with her head bashed in by a rock lying next to the body.

Detective Reid soon shows up to handle (read: dominate) the scene, and he sets his sights firmly on Claire. After he makes his intention of proving Claire guilty, Hope takes up the challenge of her former classmates in their mystery readers club to try to solve the case herself. But little does she know that doing so will cost another life and put her own in grave danger.

I enjoyed listening to <strong>The Uninvited Corpse</strong>, which had an interesting storyline and setting. The plot provides various possibilities for the solution, keeping us guessing what happened. The setting with a cut- throat realtor and a blogger was of interest.

The characters were numerous, making it a challenge to follow the details at times. I also didn't connect to the character of Hope very much. She gets really pushy in asking questions, alienating people in the process. Further, the detective in the case is both hostile and incompetent, which I didn't appreciate. Cozy mysteries by definition focus on an amateur, but they can do so without making the police seem like nasty idiots. To balance the terrible Detective Reid, Hope has a budding relationship with Police Chief Ethan Cahill, who comes across as sympathetic and intelligent. I was happy to see one good police officer.

Callie Beaulieu performs the audio edition of this book. She uses effective- sounding voices and elements of expression. One problem I did have with the recording is that the volume was not even throughout, making me turn up and then turn down the volume periodically.

<strong>The Uninvited Corpse</strong> turned out to be an interesting book. I appreciated the angle of focusing on a former reality show star who both hates and uses her celebrity for the benefit of her investigation. I give this book four stars.

  • Hummus and Homicide

  • Kebab Kitchen Mystery Series, Book 1
  • By: Tina Kashian
  • Narrated by: Rachel Dulude
  • Length: 6 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11

When Lucy Berberian quits her Philadelphia law firm and heads home to Ocean Crest, she knows what she's getting - the scent of funnel cake, the sight of the wooden roller coaster, and the tastes of her family's Mediterranean restaurant. Lucy could do without Heather Banks, though. The Gucci-toting ex-cheerleader is still as nasty as she was back in high school...and she's just taken over as the local health inspector. Just minutes after eating at the Kebab Kitchen - where she's tallied up a whole list of bogus violations - she falls down dead in the street.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Really good

  • By Beatrice on 05-06-18

A unique culinary mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-02-18

In <strong>Hummus and Homicide</strong> by Tina Kashian, Lucy Berberian has just returned to her hometown of Ocean Crest on the Jersey Shore after quitting her job as a patent lawyer in Philadelphia. Immediately, Lucy gets dragged into waitressing for the Kebab Kitchen, her parents' Mediterranean restaurant. On her first day home, Lucy goes to a bar with her longtime best friend, Katie Watson, with whom she is staying while in town. At the bar, they encounter a former high school bully, Heather Banks, there with her boyfriend, the best selling thriller novelist Paul Evans. Heather throws insults at Lucy, creating a scene between the two women that comes back to cause trouble for Lucy and her family when Lucy discovers that Heather is the new health inspector who uses her position to settle vendettas and possibly get bribes.

Heather then shows up at the Kebab Kitchen after lunch and finds ridiculous and expensive things she expects the restaurant to fix within five days or be shut down. Lucy has learned that her parents are hoping to sell the restaurant because it is getting difficult to handle. If the Kebab Kitchen gets shut down, this could jeopardize the Berberians' ability to sell it. As Lucy stresses over the inspection, she is astonished to see Heather walk in and announce she plans to eat dinner there. All she wants, however, is pita bread and the all-you-can-eat hummus bar. That night, Lucy goes to take out the trash, only to stumble over the body of Heather. The medical examiner thinks she died of cyanide. Worse, the detective on the case, a former high school boyfriend of Lucy's sister, Emma, who holds a grudge against Emma for cheating on him, won't look past Lucy as his only suspect. Thus, Lucy realizes she has to investigate the case herself to find the truth in order to clear her name and save the Kebab Kitchen.

I really enjoyed listening to <strong>Hummus and Homicide</strong>, with its unique twists and turns. We are kept wondering about the identity of the murderer, but even more how the cyanide got administered to Heather. The book is filled with the aromas and tastes of Mediterranean food and made me crave hummus and baklava and other Mediterranean food.

The characters are drawn very effectively, with the family's having realistic family dynamics. The parents seem like traditional parents who try to map out their children's lives. Their desire for Lucy to get married and give them more grandchildren came off as very typical of many parents.

Rachel Dulude performs the audio edition of this book. Using strong expression, Dulude does a good job of making this book enjoyable. The voices she uses for each character suit the characters well. I was pleased to notice that she made each one realistic without making the women's voices high pitched or the men's voices unnatural.

I thoroughly appreciated getting to listen to <strong>Hummus and Homicide</strong>. I liked the setting of the Mediterranean restaurant, a different take on the traditional culinary mystery, which usually seems to happen in a bakery. The characters especially made the book fun, in particular Lucy's mother. This was a strong book all around, and I give it five stars!