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Kathleen C.

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  • Killer Transaction

  • Cindy York Mystery Series, Book 1
  • By: Catherine Bruns
  • Narrated by: Amy Deuchler
  • Length: 7 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 4

All struggling real estate agent Cindy York wants is the home listing that was promised to her. But her deceitful co-worker, Tiffany Roberts, has other ideas, and she always manages to get what she wants. Tired of being manipulated, Cindy tells her to back off - or else! But when Cindy stumbles upon Tiffany’s lifeless body, she suddenly finds herself front and center in a deadly investigation. Now everyone from her kids' classmates to her monstrous mother-in-law is sold on the idea that Cindy's guilty.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Earns 5/5 Cozy Commissions, Thank you, Karma!

  • By Kathleen C. on 12-10-18

Earns 5/5 Cozy Commissions, Thank you, Karma!

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

Reviewed: 12-10-18

I am a big fan of Catherine Bruns who skillfully wields “Karma,” and in “Killer Transaction,” the first book in her Cindy York Mystery series, she has given karma a lot from which to choose. Cindy York is a real estate agent who just wants to provide the best service to clients wishing to sell their home and make a fair living for herself and her children. However, a demanding boss who owes her coffee and lunch money and a “scruples free” colleague costing Cindy commission on a big sale is her biggest obstacle. But she'll regret standing up for herself with a message ending with “Unless you want to die soon,” when she finds the dead body. Ok, Karma, thank you!

The mystery was clever with enough twists and turns, motives and opportunities to challenge my inner amateur detective, and the well-written narrative kept me engaged. However, it's the insights into Cindy and her family in which I have invested my interest. Catherine provides rich characters to solicit varying emotions and satisfaction…some profess innocence too loudly, others deserve a “karmic bite,” teenage angst sounds familiar, sibling antics need a time out, a husband’s support enduring, and lots of buyers and sellers to round out the fun. When the first in the series has you eager for more…you know it's good!

I am a multi-tasker extraordinaire and a big audiobook fan, so I was eager to listen to the new release of Catherine Bruns’s Cindy York Mysteries, “Killer Transactions.” Amy Deuchler, narrator extraordinaire, is a very talented voice artist enriching Bruns’s work and my experience. She isn't challenged by accents, but she did very well performing the different American dialects and speech patterns to highlight the various female characters. She really nailed the annoyances of Tiffany and is that a Jersey Donna? As for the challenge to mimic male voices, kudos, she made a valiant effort. I love Jacques! Amy Deuchler does a great job, and this is an entertaining way to enjoy Catherine Bruns’s work!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Dark, Witch & Creamy

  • Bewitched by Chocolate Mysteries, Book 1
  • By: H.Y. Hanna
  • Narrated by: Pearl Hewitt
  • Length: 6 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 144
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 132
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 133

Caitlyn's world changes when she learns that she was found as an abandoned baby and adopted by her American family. Now, her search for answers takes her to a tiny English village where a man has been murdered - and where a mysterious shop selling enchanted chocolates is home to the "local witch".... Soon Caitlyn finds herself fending off a toothless old vampire, rescuing an adorable kitten and meeting handsome aristocrat Lord James Fitzroy...not to mention discovering that she herself might have magical blood in her veins!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Earns 5/5 Chocolate-Covered Pearls...Excellent!

  • By Kathleen C. on 10-28-18

Earns 5/5 Chocolate-Covered Pearls...Excellent!

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

Reviewed: 10-28-18

Some books are worth revisiting, and when Pearl Hewitt is the one to read it to you, it is entertainment X 10! H. Y. Hanna penned a marvelous introductory to her Bewitched by Chocolate series that earned from me a 5/5 rating and a nod as a Top Ten all-time favorite series. Caitlyn Le Fey is shocked to discover she is adopted learning she had been born in the Cotswold village of Tillyhenge. Curiosity wins over the pleas for caution from her cousin, and she decides to visit and explore her roots, but the revelations about her family and background are more than she could ever imagine…a witch? Then there's the mysterious death, ancient stone circle, vampire bodyguard, handsome Lord of the Manor, and everything mouthwatering chocolate.

I am so deliciously in love with this book (and the series): descriptive third-person narrative, entertaining banter, engaging characters (some quirky), and a mysterious secret that begins to develop. And listening to it with the artistic talent of my favorite narrator Pearl Hewitt, Hanna’s vision now has audio! Emotions, tone, and personalities all come alive. Pearl has always entertained me with her ability to perform various British dialects along with American, and here she is at the top of her game with Hanna’s various characters from the villagers to the Manor household, from female to male, young or old, good or bad, and even a couple of “fur” friends, too. Everyone seemed different and very entertaining! It was Caitlyn’s vampire protector Uncle Viktor’s East European accent, however, that I was eager to hear…she nailed it! Audiobooks are not just a convenient way to multi-task with your favorite book, narrators take your favorite book and bring it to life! Pearl Hewitt has breathed life into H. Y. Hanna’s marvelous stories…a partnership that I get to enjoy.

"Disclosure: I received an ARC. My review is voluntary with honest insights and comments."

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • 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 166
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 158
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 156

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? 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Holiday fun with a twist

  • By April Goldman on 08-20-18

5+/5 Strudel-ishious Murder Mystery

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

Reviewed: 09-28-18

Ahhh, Vienna! The thought brings up images of a romantic waltz, Von Trapp family, museums, palaces, mouthwatering desserts, and…murder? Gemma Rose gets a marvelous surprise. Her tearoom scones were secretly entered in the Euro Tearoom Baking Contest and won! A few wrenches pop up, but she decides to travel to Vienna to pick up the award with Muesli and the Four Biddies in tow. There they are confronted with a hotel filled with delightful, some suspicious, guests, pompous critic known for scathing reviews, friends, foes, and hotel owners hoping to build a good reputation for their hotel. These all collide into murder, and Gemma with her octogenarian entourage take on the case.

H.Y. Hanna doesn't disappoint with her signature clever mystery, well-written descriptions, engaging dialogue, and rich, well-developed characters from all walks of life. I enjoyed the change of setting from the comfortable British countryside to the hectic European city, and much like what one would find in a book one, she spends extra time immersing the reader into the culture and history before diving into the murder mystery. It took a bit longer than I normally like for the “dead body” to arrive, but I didn't mind the delay because I enjoy Gemma and the “Biddies,” and was very entertained following them around the city. But, Hsin-yi doesn't rely on the narrative alone nor turn it into a travel log, she offers entertaining banter between the “Biddies” and Gemma. Ok, Mable is such a hoot! Although this is the eighth book in the series, there aren't any spoilers and enough background and characters connections to make this an entertaining standalone. But…do not miss the rest of the series! You'll love it!

You'll love the audiobook version even more! The key to an audiobook’s popularity and review ratings is how well the narrator reads the story and captures the interest of the listener. Is it a traditional basic performance, or do they provide more of a radio-play with accents, dialects, tone, and sound effects? Pearl Hewitt’s extraordinary voice artistry greatly has enhanced H.Y. Hanna’s first-person narrative giving an entertaining voice to Gemma Rose’s dialogue and inner thoughts including bringing out her emotion and personality. She effortlessly changes between each of the different British dialects and tone to illustrate the four octogenarians, Gemma’s mother, and along with a good effort at the tricky “woman doing male” voices (kudos on Herr Wagner!), she performed varying delightful Austrian accents, varying tourists like a Chinese family and Americans, and Museli’s “Meorrw!” All marvelous attributes for an entertaining experience courtesy of Pearl Hewitt!

The only negative, which isn't much, is the fact that the wonderful traditional British Tearoom treats found in print and eBook copies is missing in the audiobook. I vote for Pearl reading the recipe for the Traditional Apple Strudel in this print/eBook copy. I can write it done on a recipe card. Just saying…

  • Gypsies, Traps & Missing Thieves

  • Bohemian Murder Manor Mystery Series, Book 1
  • By: Rachael Stapleton
  • Narrated by: Sarah Breidenbach
  • Length: 5 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20

Fortune Teller Madam 'Nana' Vianu and her gifted Bohemian Lake girls, Mallory and Danior, have an unparalleled weekend planned for the guests of their family-owned-and-operated lakeside manor resort. Or so they think until a dead body is found at the bottom of the manor's secret staircase. Rumors abound of past indiscretions and a ghost's revenge. It could all be part of the show but as the weather worsens so do their chances for survival. Snowed in with a killer, the Vianu girls must use their paranormal gifts and follow the clues to decipher what is real in this game of make-believe.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Such a fun audiobook!!

  • By tarafarah7: Tara Brown on 07-01-18

5/5 Magical Spells...Clever and Engaging!

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

Reviewed: 09-23-18

Mystery murder weekend? Real murder weekend? A bit of witchery? Entertaining. Engaging. Rachel Stapleton has woven together in her third-person narration the perfect blend of magic with a clever murder mystery to challenge one’s inner Sherlock. Several possible conclusions were available, and I thought I'd figured it out, but the final reveal turned out to be a delightful surprise! The characters are enjoyable and seemingly well-developed for a first in the series which I attribute to the writing talent of Rachael Stapleton. Mallory is a favorite, but I really enjoyed Nana’s attitude and personality. All of this was greatly enriched by the voice artistry of Sarah Breidenbach.

I am a big fan of audiobooks, and this one was produced extremely well with 5/5 stars in all categories. At five hours, it is well worth the price of a credit, and the perfect length for a quiet couple of days. However, it was Sarah’s performance that made it hard to stop and finish household chores or go to bed. She went well beyond a traditional reading out loud with speed and emotions to add to the suspense, tone and accents (excellent voice for Nana’s Romanian dialect) to illustrate personality, and although the male voices can be tricky and some I've listen to have struggled with that, Sarah made a valiant effort for which I commend her. Her variety made it easy to recognize each character. The audio version was very reminiscent of a radio play adding some sound effects like phones ringing, dogs barking, the approaching storm to increase the overall enjoyment of the performance. I highly recommend Rachael Stapleton’s book in any form, but I was so entertained by Sarah’s voice talent, I recommend you go for the audio version!

"Disclosure: II received an ARC. My review is voluntary with honest insights and comments."

  • Another One Bites the Crust

  • Oxford Tearoom Mysteries, Book 7
  • By: H.Y. Hanna
  • Narrated by: Pearl Hewitt
  • Length: 7 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 176
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 161
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 161

Oxford summer balls are one of the highlights of the calendar and tearoom sleuth Gemma Rose is looking forward to taking a break and slipping into something gorgeous for the evening. But when the night ends with a celebrity chef murdered by his own whisk, Gemma finds herself plunged into a new mystery - and the nosy Old Biddies keen to help with the investigation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fun and Light

  • By Beatrice on 06-10-18

5+/5 Dozens of Custard Tarts…Sinisterly Delicious!

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

Reviewed: 09-11-18

H. Y. Hanna and her Oxford Tearoom Mysteries are at the top of my favorite list, and WOW! here we go with another marvelous page turner to enjoy. The Little Stables tearoom received a rave review comparing their custard tarts to those created by a celebrity TV chef. It is a big ‘coup’ and not bad for their bottom line, but the chef turns out not to be a cordial mentor-style personality with accusations of recipe stealing and using his name for self promotion. Complications arise with women scorned, competing chefs, and then…murder. H.Y. Hanna, has ‘baked up' another clever murder mystery supporting the idea ‘Karma’ exists…at least in literature, but with enough twists and turns, and ample motives and suspects to a final reveal, with Gemma often in peril. Characters, albiet well developed, continue to grow and entertain, Gemma’s and Devlin’s romance may be derailed, and Muesli is always there to ‘meorrw’ in some bother. All of this is topped off with an informative Glossary of British Terms, fascinating banter about British tearoom culture, an excellent understanding of scones in England vs the United States, how clotted cream is made, addressing the debate over whether scones should be slathered first with jam (Cornwall-style) or first with clotted cream (known as Devonshire cream tea), and an easy-to-follow recipe for Egg Custard Tarts!

It's H. Y. Hanna’s story, entertaining and engaging on many “delicious” levels, that has made me a loyal fan, but it's Pearl Hewitt’s voice artistry that makes the audio version my favorite way to enjoy Hanna’s work. Pearl’s talent as a narrator greatly enhances the experience going well beyond the traditional reading style. Her American and various British accents from educated to quirk, female to male, thirty-something to octogenarians illustrate well each character’s personality, as well as offering an emotion and tone to enrich the story. Even the occasional meows of an anxious Muesli. With football season starting and the heat too high to head outside, I am fine…I have Pearl Hewitt reading H. Y. Hanna to keep me company!

  • Her Royal Spyness

  • By: Rhys Bowen
  • Narrated by: Katherine Kellgren
  • Length: 8 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 10,542
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,367
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9,337

Georgie, aka Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, cousin of King George V of England, is penniless and trying to survive on her own as an ordinary person in London in 1932. So far she has managed to light a fire and boil an egg... She's gate-crashed a wedding... She's making money by secretly cleaning houses... And she's been asked to spy for Her Majesty the Queen.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I’ve Been Charmed

  • By Em on 06-11-12

5/5 Royal Fluffy Dusters...Bloody Brilliant!

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

Reviewed: 08-01-18

In 1932, Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenia (Lady Georgie), cousin to the Prince of Wales and thirty-fourth in line for the crown of England, finds herself in an all too common predicament…unmarried at twenty-one. She has turned down a few candidates, so there aren't many suitable possibilities left, but when her half-brother, the second Duke of Glengarry, sets up a meeting with Prince Siegfried of Romania, she bolts off to London. Her attempts to fend for herself and lasting only one day employment at Harrod’s have been an eye opening experience, but determined to find an independent income, she presents herself in the Classifieds as a charlady with Coronet Domestics. She finally sees somewhat of a glimmer in this ‘dark tunnel,’ but it all comes crashing down when a dead body is found in her family’s London residence, the Duke has done a runner, and her alibi is not one she is eager to share. For a royal, even of a minor family, cleaning houses might be more disgraceful than murder.

This first book in Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series is a gem for any Anglophile or fan of Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs. The story was very entertaining with marvelous characters, although It took awhile longer than I prefer for the body to be discovered and subsequent investigation to start. I really enjoyed the background tale of Georgie’s family, explanation of 1930s mores, Georgie’s experiences with common everyday chores, and her meeting the Honourable Darcy Bryne O’Mara. But most important is how Katherine Kellgren enriched my experience with her expert voice artistry. She was brilliant mimicking the cockney dialect of Georgie’s maternal grandfather, her BFF Belinda’s upper crust educated English, and O’Mara’s Irish brogue. She performs well changing tone to show emotion, personality, and gender. I loved every minute of Katherine’s performance, and Rhys Bowen’s series is now a favourite!

  • Lady Justice and the Ghost Whisperer

  • By: Robert Thornhill
  • Narrated by: George Kuch
  • Length: 3 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 16

What do a Confederate soldier who died on the field of battle, a woman who was driven from her home by the ravages of the Civil War, and a man who perished in a turn-of-the-century asylum have in common? They all contact private investigator, Walt Williams. A bizarre series of events surrounding these paranormal visits culminate in the discovery of a terrorist plot to detonate bombs at a crowded festival. Once again, Lady Justice pairs Walt with forces from beyond the veil to solve mysteries hidden for decades and bring evil-doers to justice.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic!

  • By Book Junkie on 10-22-18

Lady Justice and the Ghost Whisperer earns 5/5 Ghostly Whispers!

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

Reviewed: 06-02-18

It's a “Doozy”!

I am a recent, now very eager, convert to the talent of George Kuch, the signature voice narrating the Lady Justice series penned by Robert Thornhill. His narration style is a tad more than just traditional reading and very entertaining. His deep voice changes in tone and energy to illustrate the personality and emotions of a plethora of rich characters including the very enjoyable first-person account of Walt Williams, septuagenarian retired Kansas City police officer. And as evident with Willie and a few Confederate soldiers, he offers a few accents. Ok, he isn't as successful with some of the delicate female voices, but his effort is noteworthy. I really enjoyed the audio version of Lady Justice and the Ghost Whisperer!

Ghost Whisperer? Yes, Robert Thornhill’s story offers four intriguing tales converging due to connections from beyond the veil. Due to a news story dubbing Walt and his brother-in-law Kevin as paranormal investigators, they are approached by several “kooks,” but when a friend, bribing with free pie, asks the two to just listen to his niece Mandy’s story, they at least agree to look into her claim her great, great grandmother appeared in her dream sharing the location of a locked box. From there they explore the Civil War history of the area—Union and Confederate troops, Battle of the Little Blue River, General Order #11, lands confiscated, families ripped apart—sending me on an informative Google journey. Enlisting the talents of Christopher Wheeler of Psychic Solutions, a docent at a haunted mansion and old jail, and his team of retired cops the paranormal meet the contemporary with an engaging tale of unfinished business, saving a business, stopping terrorist business, and offering new business opportunities. All were clever and the visions were not juvenile hocus-pocus…it all fit! The realism continues as Robert Thornhill himself is inserted as a character with whom Walt is friends and whose stories detail Walt’s adventures. Previous stories were referenced without spoilers providing background for some reoccurring characters and predicaments. All in all a very enjoyable three hours and fifty-two minutes!

  • Four Puddings and a Funeral

  • Oxford Tearoom Mysteries, Book 6
  • By: H.Y. Hanna
  • Narrated by: Pearl Hewitt
  • Length: 7 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 195
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 187
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 187

Business is going well at Gemma Rose’s quaint English teashop, and she's delighted about her first big catering job at a local village funeral...until the day ends with a second body and one of the Old Biddies accused of murder! Now, the resourceful tearoom sleuth must find out which delicious pudding contained the deadly arsenic - and who might have wanted the wealthy widow dead....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another clever, thoroughly enjoyable mystery

  • By Laurie I on 04-20-18

Earns 5/5 Sticky Toffee Murders!

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

Reviewed: 05-12-18

Murder Is Better with an English Accent!

Gemma Rose has expanded into catering with her first function the funeral reception of Rex Clifford. His wife, dubbed a ‘floozy’ by his daughter, has inherited the entire estate making this somber event…murderously tense. Everyone is delighted with Gemma’s food, but all goes sour when the widow coughs, sputters, and collapses…another murder? Gemma is back at the center of an investigation, but her CID boyfriend takes a back seat to an incompetent Detective ‘Pratt.’ Then there’s a long lost heir from China, one of the “Old Biddies” is a person of interest, a little hedgehog causes trouble, and everyone enjoys a few boxes of enchanting chocolates from Tillyhenge—a delightful reference to Hanna’s new series “Bewitched by Chocolate.” All this and murder, too?

“Four Puddings and a Funeral,” the sixth book in the Oxford Tearoom series, has been released in audio format. H.Y. Hanna’s story is clever and entertaining on its own with rich well-developed characters, but greatly enhanced by the artistic voice talent of Pearl Hewitt. Pearl masterfully mimics a variety of English dialects that illustrate the tone, personality, and emotions of the various characters adding to my enjoyment. I love Adele Clifford, gold digger extraordinaire, with a low-brow accent delightfully dropping all of her “Hs.” Then, there is Gemma’s lilting English, the Old Biddies’ proper speech like English grandmothers, and of course…Muesli’s “Merrow!” to enjoy. For me, when I am reading the books myself, I hear Pearl Hewitt’s voice in my head. I love it!

  • The Oxford Tearoom Mysteries Box Set Collection I

  • Prequel + Books 1 & 2
  • By: H.Y. Hanna
  • Narrated by: Pearl Hewitt
  • Length: 17 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 446
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 392
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 392

"Scones, a tea shop in England, a kitty and a murder...yes, please!" Enjoy the first three books in the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries, in one handy collection! Join tearoom sleuth Gemma Rose, her mischievous feline Muesli, and the nosy Old Biddies as they tackle murder and mystery in the beautiful city of Oxford - not to forget the delights of delicious baking and afternoon tea in a quaint English village!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My Favorite Series! Earns 5+/5 Posts of Fun!

  • By Kathleen C. on 03-07-18

My Favorite Series! Earns 5+/5 Posts of Fun!

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

Reviewed: 03-07-18

Murder Seems Better with an English Accent! Deliciously Fun!

H.Y. Hanna is my all-time favorite author of my all-time favorite series! I’ve enjoyed connecting with her down under and being part of her advanced reader team. It is very entertaining joining Gemma Rose and the ‘bloody’ delightful mysteries H.Y. Hanna has created. She delivers clever murder mysteries often with an entertaining British flair, fun and some quirky characters, and Gemma always seems to find some danger before the killer is brought to justice. Romance? Yes, it starts out as a big question to whom Gemma will give her heart, but I enjoy the romantic dance of ups and downs, wading in slowly or jumping into the deep end. This series satisfies my Anglophile appetite as I learned how to make traditional scones to serve with a perfect pot of tea. Cornish or Devon? I decided I’ll have my cream tea the Devonshire way…clothed cream, first, then jam! And in the back of the book there is a Glossary of British terms and an easy to follow recipe that has a connection to that book. Which English recipe will be your favorite?

Pearl Hewitt is the delightful voice of H.Y. Hanna’s Oxford Tearoom and earns my personal stamp as Narrator Extraordinaire. Her voice artistry enriched my enjoyment, and has stuck in my head enough that when I read one of H.Y. Hanna’s books, I hear Pearl’s voice. Her British accent is the perfect dialect for Gemma's educated manner, and the tone changes helped add to the emotions and personality of the other characters: proper English for the 'old biddies" and the Oxford Dons, street English for the pub owner and some questionable villagers, and she mastered a few Americans, too. She kept me totally engaged, eager to listen again, and giggling at the British tone I so enjoy...even murder sounds great with an English accent!
**********
“All-Butter ShortDead” earns 5+/5 Cups of Earl Gray with Lemon!
We join Gemma Rose on her long flight having made the decision to quit her high paying job in Sydney and move back to Meadowford-on-Smythe to open a traditional English tearoom. She engages a woman in conversation to pass the time, but when the woman leaves a beautiful scarf behind, she questions whether to get involved. She should have reconsidered. Returning the scarf she is met with the woman, who had indulged in too many double vodka martinis. Gemma assists the woman back to her hotel room safely, then…is unwittingly dragged into her first murder investigation when the woman ends up dead. She is having some obstacles finalizing the details for her tearoom, but this casual friend does deserve justice. This was an excellent prequel! Since most fans have read the other full-length novels, going back in time is an entertaining look into Gemma’s first arrival home and getting ready to embark on her new venture with the tearoom. For those just starting off on the Oxford Tearoom Mystery journey, the prequel is a great place to get introductions to Gemma, her BFF Cassie, her mother (OMG, her mother!), the ‘Old Biddies” (stewed prunes and all), and the engaging style of H.Y. Hanna. The only thing missing in this book is a recipe…how do I make traditional English shortbread biscuits—rich and crumbly?

"Scone to Die For” earns 5+/5 Traditional Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam!
It is not important to start with book one, but the story moves forward with Gemma Rose opening her Little Stables Tearoom offering traditional English fare. She becomes a popular destination for tourists who desire to experience a proper English Tea, but, a nasty American causes a ‘kerfuffle’ in the tearoom and later ends up dead with a scone stuffed down his throat. The supporting characters become more developed as Gemma relies heavily on her BFF Cassie, a very bossy mother, my favorite octogenarians dubbed the “Four Ol’ Biddies,’ handsome former college flame turned detective Devilin O’Conner, and Museli her cat. Gemma’s investigation techniques consist of tracking down clues at her Oxford University alma mater, local pubs, and even finds herself fibbing a bit to get the key piece of evidence. H.Y. Hanna kept me engaged with a truly delightful story with more than a few quirky characters, provided marvelous descriptions of the village that I almost felt like an ex-pat residing alongside the locals, and gave me a bit of a lesson in Oxford University etiquette. With a few unforeseen twists and a reference to my favorite detective dramas—Morse and Midsomer Murders—I was hooked! And the recipe for the Traditional English Scones was the perfect little extra.

“Tea With Milk and Murder” earns 5+/5 Slices of Velvety Cheesecake!
The journey continues, and I'm thrilled it does. However, Gemma Rose is not thrilled about the art exhibition she is attending. BFF Cassie Jenkins is having her first exhibition courtesy of gallery owner and new boyfriend, and although Gemma is not a fan, friends will do almost anything for a friend. Her opinion of him seems validated when she overhears him plotting in the shadows, and his self-proclaimed girlfriend shows up causing a scene, flails, and collapses on the ground…dead. Gemma once again meets up with CID Detective Devilin O’Conner (sparks fly, but not sure if that's good or bad), and the "Old Biddies” add their own insights with a few covert explorations finding hidden flats, lacy thongs, and more suspicions. This ranks right at the top of my favorite list with another tantalizing story to challenge my inner ‘Sherlock.’ Gemma Rose is a strong female character delightfully clever, and even though she has some confidence issues, I find her quite entertaining. There’s a bit of a romantic triangle, cat antics, interesting mother-daughter dynamic (No, I didn’t order that!), and four octogenarians who steal the scene. The recipe in this second book is for Gemma’s mother’s Velvety Cheesecake…delicious!
**********
Many know I've always been a fan of all things British, so I am in ‘seventh heaven' with all the references to Oxford University and the local haunts, Meadowford-on-Smythe, traditional fare for tea and treats, and an easy-to-follow recipe included for my own afternoon tea menu. It is 'jolly good’ fun!

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • The Hanged Man's Noose

  • A Glass Dolphin Mystery
  • By: Judy Penz Sheluk
  • Narrated by: Suzanne T. Fortin
  • Length: 6 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25

Journalist Emily Garland lands a plum assignment as the editor of a niche magazine based in Lount’s Landing, a small town named after a colorful 19th-century Canadian traitor. As she interviews the local business owners for the magazine, Emily quickly learns that many people are unhappy with real estate mogul Garrett Stonehaven’s plans to convert an old schoolhouse into a mega-box store. At the top of that list is Arabella Carpenter, the outspoken owner of an antiques shop, who will do just about anything to preserve the integrity of the town’s historic Main Street.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A nice easy read.

  • By cosmitron on 06-09-18

Earns 5/5 Visits with Karma..Murderously Engaging!

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

Reviewed: 03-04-18

Emily Garland, freelance writer for Urban-Huntzberger, has been given an extended assignment which includes a permanent position, salary, and benefits, but the caveat is she needs to relocate to Lount’s Landing and act as the editor-in-charge of a local magazine “Inside the Landing.” While there she is to covertly investigate Garrett Stonehaven, a real estate developer with questionable, if not criminal, dealings connected to him, but nothing could be confirmed. He is preparing to present to the town his proposal to revitalize the Main Street area with most of the town’s leaders on board. However, there is a lone holdout, Carter Dixon isn't convinced the change in the original proposal will be agreed upon by the town. But, when he ends up dead, seemingly from anaphylactic shock, the path seems clear. Well, until a few more bodies litter the way.

Judy Penz Sheluk has penned a very creative and clever tale of greed amid a small town community struggling to survive, but the motives behind the mayhem aren't as clear as one would think. I was so engaged by all the connections between characters slowly revealed totally muddying the suspect pool. In this case, the past may have caught up with everyone. Judy’s stories always include a clever mystery, excellent pace revealing the often “Oh my!” clues, a realistic investigative style, and a change in third person point of view that is clever. I really was fascinated by the interesting historical references to Samuel Lount, discussion on appraisals and antique verifications (real vs fake), and explanations of financial scams. However, it's the characters she has created that invests this reader in the story. Emily Garland is an intelligent woman with her own demons, but she has an excellent reporter’s nose providing an air of legitimacy with all her interviews and interrogations. Arabella Carpenter has all the earmarks of a great BFF or main character herself, and other Main Street merchants and town resident’s round out a very realistic cast of characters. It's a great story with entertaining twists and turns is well worth it, but the realistic characters are the frosting! And the Treasontini? The recipe for The Hanged Man’s signature cocktail, can be found on Judy’s website.

Although I also have the eBook, my enjoyment was greatly enriched following along with by Suzanne T. Fortin’s narration in the audio version. She used her entertaining voice artistry to go beyond the traditional reading style. She did well interpreting personality and emotions of the characters, but without obvious dialects or accents the differences between female characters or male voices were less effective. However, this didn't effect my overall entertainment. It is definitely a great way to enjoy Judy Penz Sheluk’s work!

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