Friday, June 15, 2012

Great source for Free Mystery E-Books is a great resource to find free mystery e-books. Here is the link:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Happy Reading to You, Until We Meet Again!

It’s been fun! But I’ve decided to take a hiatus from this blog. I’ll keep reading because I love to read. However my attention and energy needs to be focused on the next stage of my life - moving our family and possessions almost 2,000 miles across the US.

It’s been a dream of my husband and mine for so many years to live in the Pacific Northwest. As you can imagine, we are very excited and happy for the dream to finally become reality!

Until then, there is so much work to do. And I want this blog to be fun - and not more work. So I will take a break and hope someday to be back.

I will leave you with this quote:

"To read is to empower 
To empower is to write 
To write is to influence 
To influence is to change 
To change is to live." 

~ Jane Evershed ~
"More than a Tea Party"

To me, this quote says "To read is to live".

Take care everyone - LadyPI

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The First Amateur Female Detective in Print

Since I love reading about female-sleuths, I found myself wondering about the first female-sleuth ever to appear in a book solely devoted to her. Who was she?

I thought back to my own reading experiences and guessed that it would be Nancy Drew or Miss Marple. So I did a little research on both (from Wikipedia):

Nancy Drew: “The character was conceived by Edward Stratemeyer, founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Stratemeyer had created the Hardy Boys series in 1926 (although the first volumes were not published until 1927). The series had been such a success that he decided to create a similar series for girls, with an amateur girl detective as the heroine. While Stratemeyer believed that a woman's place was in the home, he was aware that the Hardy Boys books were popular with girl readers and wished to capitalize on girls' interest in mysteries with a strong female heroine. The first four titles were published in 1930 and were an immediate success”.

Miss Marple: Agatha Christie’s famous sleuth made her first appearance in a full-length novel named “The Murder in the Vicarage”. This book was also published in 1930.

Hollywood capitalized on the success of both characters and put them in the movies: Miss Marple’s first appearance was in the early 1960’s film “Murder, She Said”, and Nancy Drew showed up in “Nancy Drew - Detective” from the late 1930’s. I’ve seen both films and they are enjoyable.

In a strange coincidence, four films were made from each book series.

They are:
Nancy Drew - Detective - 1938;
Nancy Drew - Reporter - 1939;
Nancy Drew - Trouble Shooter - 1939;
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase - 1939

and Miss Marple in:

Murder She Said - 1961;
Murder at the Gallop - 1963;
Murder Ahoy - 1964;
Murder Most Foul - 1964.

Does anyone know of a book about a female-sleuth pre-dating 1930? Again, one that would have a book solely devoted to her, and not just be a character in another book.

If so, post a comment and share your knowledge please!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

“This Pen for Hire” by Laura Levine

I opened up the paperback version of this book to find the inner cover listing several quotations praising the book from various sources: authors, famous people and the media, including Garrison Keillor, Publishers Weekly, author Carolyn Hart, author Leslie Meier, a writer from the old “I Love Lucy” TV show and even the executive producer for “The Simpsons” TV show.

So I read the book with high hopes. It wasn’t until I was almost done that I opened up the back cover to read about the author, Laura Levine. She is a comedy writer who has written for several classic TV shows including “The Bob Newhart Show”, “Laverne & Shirley”, “The Love Boat”, “The Jeffersons”, “Three’s Company” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”.

That explained like I was reading a script for a Bob Hope movie. It’s almost like a comedy with a mystery thrown in for good measure.

“This Pen for Hire” is the first in the series featuring female-sleuth Jaine Austen - first name pronounced “Jane”. Her mother liked author Jane Austen, but couldn’t spell.

Jaine is 36, divorced, and works as a freelance writer who will write just about anything for money. Her business is called “This Pen for Hire”. Jaine used to work in advertising. She is working on a slogan to further promote her business: “Jaine Austen, Discreet Inquiries: Work Done with Pride, Not Prejudice”.


So one day a guy named Howard Murdoch contacts her for help. He has not been blessed in the looks department, and doesn’t seem to have much going for him. He asks Jaine to write a personal love note to an attractive aerobics instructor named Stacy. At first Jaine says no, but when Howard triples her fee she accepts.

Jaine goes on about her business until one day when she is shocked to see the news on TV: Stacy has been murdered and the police think Howard killed her. Jaine just knows that Howard couldn’t have done it, and sets out to prove the smug police detective wrong. And she does.

If you like your mysteries sprinkled with lots of jokes (mostly one-liners), this is the book for you. I enjoyed it but I wish the mystery had more depth to it.

You can buy the book here:

Friday, August 27, 2010

“String of Lies” by Mary Ellen Hughes

This is book number two in the Craft Corner mystery series featuring recent widow and craft store owner Jo McAllister.

We find Jo wondering about the fate of her store as she hears that wealthy businessman Parker Holt is buying up local real estate, including several stores on the street where Jo’s Craft Corner is located. Jo tries to reach him by phone, but he has a very protective secretary and she never hears back from him.

Since Jo’s best friend’s husband, Dan is working on a home improvement project for Mr. Holt, she decides to pay Mr. Holt a visit and asks Dan for the address. When Jo arrives she sees a car in the driveway but nobody answers the doorbell. She notices a side door is ajar. When she steps inside, she sees that Mr. Holt has fallen down the stairs and appears to be dead.

The police arrive and rule Mr. Holt’s death a homicide based on the evidence they find at the scene. Unfortunately suspicion is thrown upon Dan and his employee, Xavier. Jo knows this can’t be true so she sets out to find the truth.

Complicating matters is the fact that Parker Holt’s wife is the niece of the town’s mayor. Jo thinks the murder investigation will be wrapped up quickly, without looking at other suspects since the mayor is involved.

So Jo enlists her set of trusted helpers: her students from her craft classes. This time she is teaching a beading class. She lets them know what she’s uncovered and they help her ask questions of potential suspects and make sense of it all.

And they have an addition to the class - Vernon, the town’s butcher. He’s retired and is looking for a hobby. Turns out he’s got a knack for the craft and comes up with some beautiful beaded jewelry, even better than most of what the women make. One classmate jokes and says that Vernon didn’t know what he was getting into when he signed up for this class, which should be called ‘Beaded Earrings and Murder 101’.

We also find Jo on a first-name basis with police Lieutenant Russ Morgan. Their interest in each other is deepening. I’ve noticed a few books in this genre have the amateur female-sleuth and the male police-investigator become romantically involved. They each rely on the other.

I thought this was a good read as the book really held my interest. You can buy it here:

Friday, August 20, 2010

“The Chocolate Bear Burglary” by JoAnna Carl

Now for the last book I read on my recent trip out-of-town. “The Chocolate Bear Burglary” is the second entry in the Chocoholic mystery series featuring Lee McKinney. Lee is a former Texan who moved to the resort community of Warner Pier, Michigan after her divorce to help her Aunt Nettie run the family business, TenHuis Chocolade.

It’s winter in Warner Pier and the local Chamber of Commerce has decided on a “Teddy Bear Getaway” to help bring tourists and customers to the town. So several local businesses are using the teddy bear theme in their promotional activities. For example, the local bed and breakfasts have filled their rooms with teddy bears. Restaurants are serving honey cakes. A local theater group is even putting on a play called “Teddy and His Bear”, a comedy about the hunting exploits of President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.

For it’s part TenHuis Chocolade is selling several varieties and sizes of molded chocolate teddy bears. They are also displaying several antique chocolate molds, many of which are in the shape of bears. And my favorite - gift certificates held in the backpacks of cuddly adorable plush teddy bears.

The antique chocolate molds are owned by a local woman whose grandfather used them in his chocolate business in the early 1900’s. The story goes that he sold his business, along with the molds, to the Hershey Company in 1910.

Late one night TenHuis Chocolade is broken into and one of the chocolate molds in the shape of a teddy bear goes missing. Soon after someone is murdered and Lee is chased by a menacing person riding a snowmobile. That was quite suspenseful!

The mystery is complicated by the arrival of Lee’s former stepson from Texas, who won’t say why he suddenly left college and drove all the way to Michigan in the winter with just a few dollars in his pocket. He always seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, a fact the police have noted.

And Lee and local hunk Joe Woodyard are working through some tough times in their romance. Lee struggles to understand why Joe won’t take her out in public, but he had been married to a famous person before and had some bad experiences with the press. So he’s determined not to live out his love life in the media again. Lee wonders if that’s just an excuse to not take her out on a date! I suspect we will find out in later books in the series.

I enjoyed this book and some of the chocolate trivia included within. You can buy it here:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

“Slay It With Flowers” by Kate Collins

This book is the second in the Flower Shop mystery series featuring female-sleuth Abby Knight. And it’s the second book I read on my recent out-of-town trip.

Abby owns “Bloomers” which is located in the small downtown of New Chapel, Indiana. She is a law-school dropout who used the proceeds of her grandfather’s college trust fund to purchase Bloomers. I say ‘purchase’ lightly because Abby has a large mortgage to pay. The trust fund only paid for a down payment.

Abby’s friends and coworkers think she meddles too much in things. She likes to deny this. In her opinion, she’s a curious, caring person who doesn’t like the injustices of the world. She refuses to play politics, just as her father did in his former job on the New Chapel police force. It cost him some promotions, but he always felt like he did the right thing.

Abby’s father is her hero.

“Slay It With Flowers” finds Abby working on her cousin Jillian’s wedding flowers. Jillian is engaged for the umpteenth-time and Abby really hopes this particular wedding is not called off. Mainly because Jillian’s parents are wealthy and the profit from the wedding flowers would help pay Abby’s bills.

However it looks like there may not be a wedding since one of the groomsmen is missing. Eventually another person in the wedding party is found dead, and Jillian begs for Abby’s help to try to solve the case. So Abby does what comes naturally: she meddles.

Abby has always been asked to be a bridesmaid for Jillian’s weddings and she has a closet full of bridesmaid dresses to attest to that fact. For that reason she hopes this wedding goes off without a hitch.

Plus she’s tired of playing those silly games at Jillian’s shower. They always play the one where you have to come up with a sentence or phrase using all the letters in Jillian’s new married name. The best phrase wins a prize. This time it’s Jillian Knight Osborne, and Abby comes up with “Kill no bones in a jig, Ruth”. It doesn’t win any prizes.

And then there is another mystery: the one of the Emporer’s Spa - a new massage parlor in town. Why are no women allowed in the place? Why does an old cruel-looking man guard the door? Do they give more than just massages there?

But Abby’s meddling pays off as she manages to solve both puzzles. Another fun read in the series.

You can buy the book here:

Monday, August 16, 2010

“Finger Lickin’ Fifteen” by Janet Evanovich

I was recently out of town and had a lot of time on my hands. So I read three books. This is the first of the three.

"Finger Lickin' Fifteen" is the 15th installment in the popular Stephanie Plum bounty hunter series by Janet Evanovich.

Here we see Stephanie helping her bounty hunter mentor Ranger with his security business which is located in Trenton New Jersey. Several of his client’s homes and businesses have been broken into and that’s not good for business - or for Ranger’s reputation. So he asks Stephanie to help him figure out who is stealing the secret pass codes. She does.

Stephanie and Ranger are also wildly attracted to each other. Does she give into temptation? I’m not telling!

In another side-plot Lula, Stephanie’s sidekick, is the sole witness to a murder and we see her getting chased by the bad guys. The man that was killed was a TV chef who was going to sponsor a local barbecue cook-off contest. Lula is convinced the killers will show up for the contest so she decides to enter it. This leads to a lot of jokes about getting gas from eating lots of meat with barbecue sauce on it.

Stephanie’s goofy Grandma Mazur is recruited to be Lula’s assistant chef and that leads to all sorts of comic complications and messes.

At one point Lula and Grandma Mazur are at Stephanie’s parent’s home testing a new barbecue recipe. They serve the food to Stephanie’s dad, at which point he asks “What the Sam Hill is this?”

I know firsthand what this expression means. Sam Hill was an actual person who had dreams of building a Quaker settlement along the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state.

Unfortunately the land he purchased was dry and desolate, and he couldn’t convince folks to join him.

Sam Hill even built a home for his wife there, but she refused to live in it. Local residents were evidently astonished by what Sam was doing, and so the phrase “What in the Sam Hill?” was born.

Eventually the home was dedicated as a museum, called the Maryhill Museum. You can read more about it at their site:
Maryhill Museum. I’ve been to the museum and I thought it was pretty nice.

To wrap up, I thought this book was quite interesting for the first half. But the second half was a let down for me. There were a lot of good ideas that didn’t really go anywhere and I found that to be a disappointment.