American imports, cozy crime, series

Series: Library Lovers

This Friday it’s another cozy crime series – and another from Jenn McKinlay. I wrote about her Cupcake Bakery series about a year ago, and now we’re on the other side of the US with her Library Lovers one.

Our sleuth is Lindsey, library director in the small coastal town of Briar Creek. At the start of the start of the series she is recently arrived in town and getting to grips with her new job and the characters and rivalries at the library. As the series progresses Lindsey gets more and more established in town and develops a group of friends and love interests. Obviously there is also a murder each book – not always in the library thank goodness, because otherwise who would dare borrow a book – but some how Lindsey is always involved enough to start detecting – I mean it wouldn’t be a cozy otherwise, would it!

I’m only seven books in to the series – there are fourteen – because they’re relatively hard to get hold of over here – but so far there’s enough progression in the running strands to stop them getting repetitive (or annoying) and the murders are pretty varied too. I don’t like them as much as I like the Cupcake mysteries, but they still make for a nice comforting read when you need that sort of thing.

If you’re in the US, you should be able to get hold of them fairly easily. If you’re in the UK, it’s trickier because they’re not available on Kindle if you have a UK account. But I think I have spotted them in bookshops on occasion- and obviously Amazon have the paperbacks…

Happy Friday!

romance, series

Romance series: Chance of a Lifetime

With a new Kate Claybourn novel out this week, it seemed like the perfect time to talk about her Chance of a Lifetime series which I read over the last couple of months – and yes, like so many things it would have been quicker if I hadn’t gone on the Meg Langslow rampage. So sue me.

So this is a trilogy featuring three friends who win a lottery jackpot after buying a ticket on a whim. Each book features one of the women finding love and a happily ever after. Beginners Luck is about Kit, a materials scientist who has spent her adult life building herself the stability that her chaotic childhood didn’t have. She uses some of her lottery win to buy a fixer-upper to turn into her first real home. But standing in her way is Ben who has returned to his home town to try and recruit Kit for a corporate gig. Book two is Luck of the Draw, featuring lawyer Zoe who uses her winnings to quit the job she hates and to try and make it right for some of the people whose cases she was involved in. Aiden’s brother died in a wrongful death case that Zoe worked on – but when she turns up at the family home to try to make amends instead of sending her away he asks her to pretend to be his fiancée to try and help him buy a campground as part of his brother’s legacy. And finally Best of Luck is Greer who uses her winnings to go back to college and try and finish the education that she missed out on and to prove to her overprotective family that she’s independent. But when she discovers a problem that might stop her graduating. Alex is a world renowned photographer and Kit’s brother – and back in town for her wedding – and finds himself agreeing to help Greer with the photography projects that she needs to complete to get her degree.

I had trouble picking my favourite – I lurch between Kit and Zoe, but maybe give it to Zoe because the set up for her romance is so difficult that I wasn’t sure it was going to be fixable. I mentioned the fact that Ali Hazelwood has blurbed Georgie, All Along yesterday and if you like heroines with jobs in Stem, definitely go for Kit and Beginner’s Luck. I liked Greer’s story – but I did mostly want to strangle her family who take infantilising her to whole new levels, even if there is some reason for it. Of course there is a chance that I came to Greer’s story having read too much Meg Langslow where there is a tight knit family, but it all has a humour about it, that these don’t have so it may be a me thing.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a romance trilogy to read, these would be a good choice. Equally if you’ve just read the new Kate Claybourn and want more – these would be a good place to go to. As you’ll see I managed to buy one of the series twice, but I got them all on offer so I don’t begrudge it. And it made me laugh that I managed not to have a matching set despite owning one of them twice. Anyway, these are easily available from your ebook vendor of choice – Kindle has the three book omnibus for £3.99 at the moment, but the single books are £1.99 for book one and three or 99p for book two as I write this.

Happy Reading!

Best of..., book round-ups, series

Series of the Year 2022

So this is the point where I look back on the series I’ve read this year and pick out some highlights for you.

Let’s start with a new to me discovery – Her Majesty the Queen Investigates. These were fun cozy Murder mysteries with a royal twist. As I said in my series post about them, I think they work best in slightly closed settings – or at least not London – but I liked the characters and the tone a lot. It’s a shame there’s a year until the next one.

Moving on to Richard Osman. This year we got the third Thursday Murder Club book and they continue to be both clever and witty and fun but occasionally heartbreaking. This is the series that spawned the copycats that are popping up all over the place at the moment – I’m reading my way through some of them so you don’t have to!

I really enjoyed the Nanette Hayes mysteries, but I wish there were more of them. I am still looking for more 90s crime series that I missed out on (too young at the time!) and can catch up on now because they do seem to work for me – see some of the Fahrenheit series I’ve enjoyed. And I have another of the Liz Evans books waiting that I picked up from the charity book stall at the shopping centre. If you have any suggestions please do whack them in the comments please.

I’ve also carried on working my way though some of the other series I’ve been reading for years. I’m up basically up to date on the Kate Shackleton series now, as well as Dandy Gilver. It continues to be tricky to find new historical-set mystery series that I don’t wish to throw across the room, but I’m still trying. I hope Carola Dunn is having a happy retirement but I do miss her and the prospect of a new Daisy Dalrymple. But I’ve basically binged the Mary Russell series over the last two years, which has been good, but that age gap still annoys me. Royal Spyness continues and Kerry Greenwood has written a new Phryne that I’m saving for a special occasion. All hail Kerry.

Roll on 2023!

Christmas books, series

Bingeable series: Holidays with the Wongs

Continuing my festive-y seasonally appropriate sort of theme in a way, this week’s series is the Holidays with the Wongs novella collection by Jackie Lau.

This is a four novella collection based around holidays – starting with (Canadian) Thanksgiving, then Christmas, Chinese New Year and Valentines day. The premise is a set of siblings trying to avoid the matchmaking attempts of their parents, but finding love in the process. In trope terms we have only one bed in the Christmas story, where the hero and heroine get stuck in a snow storm, fake relationship, sort-of second chance and then no strings relationship turns real. I really enjoyed these – they’re funny as well as being romances and the Wong family are a hoot across the whole series. And as an added incentive, this series of novellas has just had the film rights bought – so you never know, you might be seeing them on a movie channel near you in the next few years

If you haven’t read any Jackie Lau before, they’re a really nice place to start. Lau writes really fun Canadian-set romances. And she has several other Christmas-set novellas too if you like them as well as full length novels. I recommended Donut Fall in Love in my late holiday reading post, but there are several of her books that I’ve really enjoyed over the last couple of years.

So you can buy these individually, but they’re also available as a bundle of all of them on Kindle and Kobo which is actually the best value way of doing it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

series

Series reminder: TE Kinsey

As I mentioned in the Kindle deals post – the series is on offer at the moment – and it turns out it’s because the new one is out on the 29th, so this Friday I’m taking the opportunity to remind you about the series as well as give you a quick review of the new one – as far as I’m able without spoilers!

You can get the full lowdown in my series post here from June, but the quick set up is that these are late Edwardian/early 1910s murder mystery novels featuring an eccentric widow (but not as old as you think when you see widow!) with a mysterious past and her maid who start solving mysteries after they move to the countryside and stumble upon a body. As the series goes on, extra strands get added and the core group of character widens, but they’re basically pre-World War One historical cozy crime stories.

In the new book, number nine in the series, we’ve reached 1911 and our intrepid duo are at the theatre celebrating Lady Hardcastle’s birthday when murder victim is discovered on stage at the start of the second half. Of course they’re soon investigating and trying to discover what’s going on behind the scenes of the theatre company that could have led to murder. I read it across about 24 hours and really enjoyed it – it was just the break from the day to day that I needed this week. I don’t think you need to have read the rest of the series to enjoy it, although if you have it will obviously work better for you. And as the rest of the series is on Kindle Unlimited at the moment, you can try the series in the next few days ahead of this coming out if you want to.

I got my copy from NetGalley – hence why I’m able to review it a few days before publication – but it looks like it’s going into KU when it comes out as well, so it may just be on Kindle to start with at least. And I’m never sure where this series lands in ease of getting hold of hard copy terms – there is a paperback listed of this new one, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of them in the flesh. I will try and remember to check Foyles next time I’m in there though! And if you want more books set in theatres, I have a whole post of those for you too!

Have a great weekend everyone.

binge reads, series

Bingeable series: Her Majesty The Queen Investigates

The latest of these came out last week and as I recently binge read the three books I thought it would be a good time to make a post about them.

So the premise – as the series name suggests – is that the (late) Queen subtly helps solve some murders that have occurred in her vicinity. Set a few years back – when she was in her early 90s, she uses her assistant Rozie to do the investigating she can’t do. In the first in the series, The Windsor Knot, the victim is an overnight guest at Windsor and it’s a bit of a closed group sort of thing. In the second, our the victim is a staff member, found dead by the side of the Buckingham Palace swimming pools. And in the third it’s the brother of a neighbouring aristo to the Sandringham estate.

I think the first book and the third book are stronger than the second, but given that I binge read the series I can’t say that the issues with the second book put me off. For me these work best when the problems they are solving seem the most organic – I can’t quite work out why but the second book felt much more contrived and complicated than the first one – and the third one, for all that the third is out and about all over Norfolk.

But they are all easy to read, with nice details about the royal residences involved (there really is a swimming pool at Buckingham palace – who knew?!) and enough real bits and bobs about the Queen’s life and family to feel like the person you think you know through the media. I did wonder what would happen now that Elizabeth II has died, but they are set in the mid 2010s and at the end of book three it says there is a fourth book coming so there will be one more at least, and I will be looking out for it.

As I said earlier, the new book is out now in hardback – in fact as I write this Amazon has the hardback as a Black Friday deal. I do think you need to read them in order though – but the good news is that the first in the series is in Kindle Unlimited at the moment – so if you’re a member you can read it for free. The second one has a different title in the US – so be careful of that because it’s easy to think it might be a fourth one you haven’t spotted, but the actual fourth one isn’t out until early 2024. But if you’ve enjoyed things like the Royal Spyness series, this might be the contemporary cozy crime equivalent you have been looking for.

Happy reading!

mystery, series

Crime Series: Nanette Hayes

Am I starting a new series strand? Maybe. I nearly called this retro crime series, but I didn’t want to limit myself too much. Anyway, I have a couple of crime series in mind for this – stuff that is a little older, but not Golden Age old. And these have got a gorgeous reissue recently – which is what first brought them to my attention.

Nanette Hayes is a saxophone-playing street busker, whose mum thinks she has a proper job. At the start of the first book, her boyfriend breaks up with her and a fellow busker she invites to sleep on her couch ends up murdered in her kitchen. The dead man was an undercover cop – and Nanette ends up doing some investigating of her own to try and make sure she doesn’t end up being blamed. In the second book she’s in Paris, trying to track down her missing aunt and in the third and final novel she finds herself investigating the murder of a woman who made a voodoo doll that Nanette is given by a friend.

This are just incredibly stylish and evocative. Nanette is strutting her way through a jazz infused world where seedy peril is always lurking on the periphery. There’s just something about her that makes you want to read about her, even when she’s being foolhardy or stupid. The books are relatively short, but they pack a lot in. The mysteries are good but Nanette is the star.

I picked the first of these up a couple of months back after seeing them looking gorgeous in Foyles – and I went back for the other two because I enjoyed it so much. Nanette’s New York (and Paris) are so cool that I’m annoyed that there aren’t more of them to read. But the three there are are worth it – and you could probably read them all back to back in one weekend if you wanted, which is a treat in itself

You might need to order these in, but as I said the Big Foyles had all three of these in stock so you might get lucky. I have no clue what the original UK release was like – but I don’t recall having seen these in a second hand book store. Doesn’t mean they don’t turn up though.

Happy reading!

Book of the Week, romance

Book of the Week: When Stars Collide

We’ve made it to November – the year is nearly over. And I’ve got all the usual goodies this week for the end of the month – quick reviews tomorrow, stats later in the week and book of the week today when I’m back in my happy place of romance.

When Stars Collide is the latest in the Chicago Stars series – about players at a (fictional) NFL team in the Windy City. I’ve mentioned these before – as many of them are variants on my favourite enemies to lovers trope and this is no exception. And there’s no actual football in this really as all the action takes off in the off season.

Our football player is Thad, the team’s back up quarterback, who has had been sent out on a publicity tour for a luxury watch brand who sponsor the team. Unfortunately, there is someone else on the tour too: Olivia, an internationally renowned opera singer. He thinks she’s a diva, she thinks he’s an uncultured jock and has a grudge against him. But of course over the course of the tour things change. Because this is a romance!

This has got a bit of a suspense plot line to it – maybe more minor peril than actual romantic suspense but it adds a little extra something to the romance plot, although I would say don’t expect it to follow the Rules of mystery stories if that makes sense and isn’t too much of a spoiler. I really liked that Thad was never rude about opera – in fact he likes Olivia’s singing right from first hearing it – and that both of their careers are taken equally seriously. I’m fed up with romances where one or other of the partnership abandons all their long held career dreams because: love. This is definitely not that. What it is is a well put together romance with an interesting hero and heroine with just enough obstacles in their way for the reader to understand why it takes them a whole book to get together.

When Stars Collide is currently £1.99 on Kindle and Kobo. I suspect you probably won’t be able to get hold of it in a shop without ordering it it as it’s order only on Foyles website and has a two week lead time. But it should be orderable from your local if you want it.

Happy reading!

bingeable series

Bingeable series: Harper Connelly

Continuing with the Halloween-y theme from the Recommendsday post, this week’s series is Charlaine Harris’s Harper Connelly series, which as I mentioned in the kindle offers posts, is mostly on offer this month.

So the set up here: Harper was struck by lightning as a child, and she has been left with the ability to sense dead people and see the last moments of their lives. She makes her living helping track down bodies – and across the course of the series she tackles four jobs that get her in more trouble than usual. She’s accompanied by her stepbrother Tolliver – who is her best friend and business manager and Definitely Not Her Blood Relation. Tolliver’s dad married Harper’s mum, blended their existing families and had two more kids together. The parents were also drug addicts and Harper and her sister Cameron along with Tolliver did a lot of the work to bring up the babies, while their older brother Mark moved out and tried to earn money to help. All this came crashing down when Cameron when missing. Eight years on, Harper is still searching for her sister’s body.

I’ve actually tested the bingeable nature of this series this week – because once I started rereading the first one at the start of the week ahead of writing this post, I ended up reading all four of them back to back. If that doesn’t make them bingeable what does. Yes I still have some resignations about the turn the series takes in romance terms – although on the reread the signposting is clearer – and the first sex scene remains not great – but I got sucked back into the individual cases and really into that overarching story of the series.

Aside from Harper’s special ability, there’s not a lot of other paranormal or supernatural action in this – in fact a lot of the time Harper meets with extreme scepticism about her abilities and her job lands her in both trouble and danger quite a lot. But there’s also a connection to one of Harris’s other series: Manfred Barnado appears in this in increasing frequency through the books and of course he’s the main character in the Midnight, Texas series where it becomes clear that Harris is working in an extended universe type situation, which adds to the Halloween appropriate-ness of it all.

Anyway, they’re very readable, and as I mentioned in the Kindle deals post the other day, three of the four are 99p at the moment, so although you will have to pay more for the first one, you can get the whole lot for less than £9, so the average price is pretty good

Have a great weekend everyone.

bingeable series, Series I love

Series I love: Kate Shackleton

The new book officially came out yesterday – and I was lucky enough to pick up a copy in Foyles earlier in the week, so it seemed like an ideal time to talk about Frances Brody’s historical mystery series. I’ve written about a couple of these individually in the past, but not the series…

Kate Shackleton is a private investigator in Yorkshire in the 1920s. The first book is set in 1922 when she is still finding her feet after her husband was reported missing, presumed dead in the Great War. Her father is a fairly senior policeman so she has some connections which can help her at times, but she also has a male ex-policeman assistant who can go to places that she can’t and a housekeeper who also helps in some of the investigations.

I found the first book in the series a little slow going, but they have really grown and developed across the course of the thirteen novels we’ve had so far. The mysteries are on the cozy side of things, but the settings – mostly around Yorkshire – and the set ups are clever and a bit different. They often feature industrial or semi industrial settings and there is a lot less of the rich people problems – more middle class people problems.

In the new book we have reached 1930, when Kate receives a letter from a stranger asking her to meet him because he has important information. But when she arrives in the mill village, his body has just been discovered. What seems like a tragic accident at first is soon discovered to be rather more than that and Kate is soon investigating…

They should be fairly easy to get hold of if you want to – as well as all the usual places to buy them from, I’ve often spotted them at the library.

Happy Friday everyone!