Publisher: Midnight Ink

Book Review #15: A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes

Posted 8th November 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 19 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #15: A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen HughesA Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes
Series: Keepsake Cove Mystery #1
Published by Midnight Ink on November 8th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 264
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Callie Reed makes a long overdue visit to her aunt Melodie, who lives in a fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, home to a bevy of souvenir and collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of her music box shop. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being called accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she there in the middle of the night?

As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection.

A Fatal Collection is my first experience of Mary Ellen Hughes and it certainly won’t be my last! I was a bit worried because this started at breakneck speed, and I thought it would continue that way and be a nightmare pacing wise; but it was really enjoyable.

The mystery starts almost straight away. Callie is visiting her Aunt Melodie for the first time in years, they spend an evening catching up; but the next morning Callie awakes to find her Aunt dead in her own store. Her death is quickly ruled an accident, and as Callie is preparing to return home she’s told that she has inherited everything.

She sees this as an opportunity for a fresh start and to leave her deadbeat boyfriend (I’m so glad he only featured in phone calls!) But she’s unsettled by how quickly everything was resolved, and wonders if there’s more to her Aunt’s death.

Keepsake Cove is a community of people with stores that sell collectibles (I found that a bit ridiculous, but I guess perhaps somewhere it could be a thing). Melodie’s store sells music boxes, and Callie takes her time to learn all the stock in the shop and goes on a mission to meet the other shop owners in the area.

There’s some interesting small community dynamics going on here, with some bickering between parties and some suspicious folk around. I enjoyed the secondary characters and I hope we see more of them in the future. There’s also a slight hint at a potential romance that was pretty cute, but in no way impacted on the main plot.

I liked that Callie wasn’t chummy with the police, and indeed, they barely featured at all. I did peg the murderer soon after meeting them, they just didn’t seem right to me. And I do enjoy being right haha

After the initial ‘whoa this is happening really quickly!’ moment at the start, the pacing turned out to be great. It flowed at a steady pace and the writing certainly kept me engaged.

This was a really enjoyable cozy mystery, though a bit predictable. I’m definitely looking forward to continuing the series!

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
three-half-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: 3.9

Tags: , ,


Book Review #8: Pressed to Death by Kirsten Weiss

Posted 2nd October 2017 by Wattle in Reviews / 11 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #8: Pressed to Death by Kirsten WeissPressed to Death by Kirsten Weiss
Series: A Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum Mystery #2
Published by Midnight Ink on March 8th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 338
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: three-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Paranormal museum owner Maddie Kosloski has the perfect exhibit for the harvest festival—a haunted grape press. But when she’s accused of stealing the press, and her accuser is murdered, all eyes turn to Maddie. Knowing the perils of amateur sleuthing as she does, Maddie is reluctant to get involved . . . until her mother insists she investigate.

Does her mom have a secret agenda? Or is she somehow connected to the murder? Facing down danger and her own overactive imagination, Maddie must unearth the killer before she becomes the next ghost to haunt her museum.

For the love of…this one was a victim of my site move it seems, I thought I had reviewed it already but I hadn’t!

So here it is, my long overdue review (I’m so sorry!)

And the first note I have on this book is: ‘The continuity is shite.’ Oh my.

I’ve had this problem with a couple of cozies lately, now that I think about it. A character will say they’re going to do something later, or tomorrow, or the next day. Then in the next chapter the time passes and they never do it! With this one it could be because it was an ARC though, so I suppose I can let it slide…even it does seem sloppy.

The first book of the series, The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, was a strong start. But Pressed to Death suffers a little from second book syndrome. It was a quick read, but it was also entirely forgettable. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, and I really do like Maddie as a main character, but I never really connected to the story. It felt a bit slow, and like we were treading water for a while, waiting for something interesting to happen.

The second half of the book was better than the first. I like that there’s a mystery in the present, and one in the past, however there wasn’t really much paranormal about this one. It was a little disappointing after enjoying the first book so much. There weren’t enough twists, and it focused on Maddie’s love life a bit too much.

While I will be continuing the series when the third book comes out, that one will make it or break it for me. So far it’s promising, but just hasn’t delivered like I thought it would.

Rating Report
Plot
three-stars
Characters
two-half-stars
Writing
three-half-stars
Pacing
two-half-stars
Overall: 2.9

Tags: , ,


Book Review #1: The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum by Kirsten Weiss

Posted 27th December 2016 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 8 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #1: The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum by Kirsten WeissThe Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum by Kirsten Weiss
Series: A Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum Mystery #1
Published by Midnight Ink on March 8th 2016
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 290
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A Perfectly Proper Murder

When Maddie Kosloski’s career flatlines, she retreats to her wine country hometown for solace and cheap rent. Railroaded into managing the local paranormal museum, she’s certain the rumors of its haunting are greatly exaggerated. But then a fresh corpse in the museum embroils Maddie in murders past and present, making her wonder if a ghost could really be on the loose.

With her high school bully as one of the detectives in charge of the investigation, Maddie doubts justice will be served. When one of her best friends is arrested, she knows it won’t be. Maddie also grapples with ghost hunters, obsessed taxidermists, and the sexy motorcyclist next door as outside forces threaten. And as she juggles spectral shenanigans with the hunt for a killer, she discovers there truly is no place like home.

I was 110% mortified when I realised I hadn’t reviewed this yet 🙁 I thought I had, since I’d starred it on Goodreads, but I must have forgotten to actually post it. Fail. I so fail. And I feel terrible about it.

So finally, here is my review of this rather fun cozy mystery!

I love cozy mysteries, but I’m also really fussy about them. They are pretty formulaic and predictable in general (like most genres, I suppose) and it can get boring quickly if the writing isn’t engaging, the characters are flat and the mystery is just going through the motions. Thankfully The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum is not one of those!

Kirsten Weiss has done a wonderful job with the main character, Maddie, who is unemployed when we meet her. Her friend, Adele, owns a building for her tea house and a Paranormal Museum that the Mayor won’t allow to close; Maddie is pressured to take over and ends up doing so. Everything goes to hell when a body is found on the property, Maddie is determined to find the killer and clear her friend, who has become a suspect, in the process.

The other characters we meet are good, but not yet fully realised, so I’m hoping we get to know them a bit better in future instalments. GD Cat (ghost detecting cat!) is totally my favourite. I’m a huge sucker for animal characters. Also one fun aspect of this story was that it was a mystery within a mystery (bookception!) and I found them both interesting.

Now, some of you may remember that in the past I have bitched and moaned about murder mysteries and how predictable they are, and how often I can pick who did it within the first ten pages. This one? NO idea, it took me quite some time to figure it out and I love it when that happens; because in the meantime I suspect everyone haha

There is a hiiiiint of romance, that I’m hoping becomes more as we go along. I know, who am I? Wanting romance? O_O the horror! But seriously, my fingers are crossed it eventuates because I love, love, love romance plots that aren’t the focus of the story; they’re just there in the background, making you think how cute it all is.

Ugh maybe Christmas has affected me more than I thought, I’ve become mushy.

One issue I did have with this was the formatting of the eARC was a bit terrible and that took away some of the reading pleasure initially, as it felt so choppy. I had a look at the preview on Amazon and it seems to be the same (though that might just be the preview?) but it does even out after a short while, it was super jarring when you’re trying to get into a book though.

All in all this was a fun, quick read and I really enjoyed the story and the writing style. I’m definitely looking forward to continuing the series!

Rating Report
Plot
three-half-stars
Characters
three-half-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: 4.1

Tags: , ,