I have really enjoyed the Maggie Hope cozy mystery series by Susan Elia MacNeal and was thrilled to get the latest one through Net Galley. In this third installment (the previous two were reviewed earlier), expert mathematician and British spy Maggie is being dropped over enemy lines into WWII Germany. In a parallel story, her mother’s daughter (Maggie’s half-sister) is working as a nurse and discovers that children with developmental and physical disabilities are being secretly sent to gas chambers by the Nazi’s and vows to work against the Nazi’s (and her mother). In yet another storyline, Maggie’s dear friend David is being pressured by his parents to marry, but he is gay. And finally Maggie’s former fiance who everyone thinks is dead awakes and finds himself in a German hospital.
What will happen? Will Maggie survive behind enemy lines? Will Elise, her half-sister, save the children? Will Maggie and Elise meet? Will David have to renounce the man he loves and enter into a marriage of convenience? And will Maggie find herself in a love triangle with John, her lost love, and Hugh, her current flame? Of course, you need to read to find out!
I really enjoy this series. It’s a historical cozy, my favorite kind, and Ms. MacNeal certainly does her research! I have chatted with her on Twitter and Facebook and even asked if she time travelled in order to get the details so right (FYI – she doesn’t). The Maggie Hope books are fun to read and are one of my favorite genres (WWII). I particularly like how the story continues across books. I recommend them to those who like cozies, especially of this period. Looks like another book will be coming out next year!
Thank you to Net Galley and Bantam Publishers for my copy! You can see it on Amazon where I am an Associate (it publishes on 5.14.13):
As you know, I love, love, love Hamish Macbeth and MC Beaton’s series of cozies about him. In this latest one, Hamish solves the mysterious death of a woman who first reports her sketchbook missing, then winds up dead. There are lots of suspects but not many motives. Who did she see and why would they feel she was a threat to them? One note to regular readers of this series: Hamish’s love life is again center stage as he struggles with the Priscilla/Elspeth love triangle and a new fling. Personally, I’d like to see him make up his mind! Not my favorite in the series, but a fun, quick read nonetheless.
See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate. I got mine from the library!
Love, love, love.
I picked up this short mystery while at the library and read it on the plane to California two weeks ago. At first I was a bit skeptical – Willa Cather and Edith Lewis solving mysteries?? But I have to say, I really enjoyed this delightful delving into the personalities of Willa and Edith and the “Cottage Girls” of the early 20th century.
About fifteen years ago I went through a “Cather phase”, where I read all her writings and some biographies on her. I found her so interesting and such a gifted writer. Edith Lewis, for those who don’t know, was Willa’s partner and closest friend. This book made them come alive, along with their other female friends, a group of independent and educated women who summered on Grand Manan in the 1920′s and were known collectively as the “Cottage Girls”.
The mystery itself was enjoyable and well-plotted, I thought. In essence, Edith is painting one day when she witnesses a body plunging off a cliff to the rocks below. Is it an accident – or murder?
Highly recommended to those who enjoy this historical genre, and to fans of great women authors! I’ll be curious to see if Ms. Hallgarth has this as the start of a series or not. She is an expert on Cather and clearly “knows” her well.
See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:
Always one to love a good crime novel, I got “Room No. 10″ through Net Galley to review. This book has been translated from Swedish (and I apologize that I was not able to type Mr. Edwardson’s name properly with the “A” with the Swedish notation on top). I had tried to read Steig Larssen in the past, but found the graphic violence too disturbing, so I thought I’d give Edwardson (a popular Swedish author) a try.
The story starts with a death – an apparent suicide that’s really a murder. A young woman is found hanging in a hotel room (room no. 10), her arm painted white. Our protagonist, Erik Winter, is reminded of a missing person (again a woman) from twenty years earlier who had also been in this room. The two events don’t seem to be related — but are they?
Winter revisits the past and opens up old memories for both him and the families involved. Meanwhile, he is investigating those close to the murder victim, including an odd young man, a skittish best friend, and parents that seem to be keeping a secret. When the victim’s mother also turns up dead, Winter knows he has to work fast to tie all the pieces together and stop a murderer.
I really enjoyed this novel (which wasn’t too violent/graphic/disturbing for me). My only beef is that it wrapped up so quickly, I had to re-read the last chapter to make sure I knew exactly what had happened!
I could see this made into a movie – maybe with a title change. Apparently there are other books by Edwardson featuring Chief Inspecter Winter, too.
Thanks, Net Galley and Simon and Schuster, for my copy!
See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:
Another recent Net Galley find for me was “Garden of Stones” by Sophie Littlefield. This story starts with a murder in modern-day Los Angeles with an unlikely suspect (an elderly and humble Japanese American women) and then travels to the past.
Fourteen-year-old Lucy Takeda is taken with her mother to the Manzanar internment camp at the outbreak of WWII. Lucy has recently lost her father and has the huge adjustment of going from being a confident and pampered child of privilege to a camp resident. Lucy’s beautiful mother, whose emotions and moods are both vulnerable and unstable, suffers from the harshness of camp life and the unwanted attentions of the male camp guards. Lucy is determined to adapt and make the best of their situation and to continue her studies. She befriends Jesse, another young internee, and finds her feelings growing for him. Then tragedy strikes and Lucy must learn to cope and to survive in the ever-changing and harsh world.
I enjoyed reading this novel, though there were several story lines in it (which all eventually come together). The present day focus is on the murder and the suspicion of Lucy as the murderer. Her daughter Patty is determined to prove her mother’s innocence, but first she must come to learn about and discover her mother’s true self and her past. Then we have the camp storyline, with Jesse’s story and Lucy’s mother’s story and a murder woven in. Next there is the “after camp” storyline of Lucy making a way for herself as a chambermaid in a motel. Eventually all the storylines converge in the present and all the questions are answered.
I’ve read several stories of internment camps, most of them as first person memoirs and often written for YA readers. Ms. Littlefield has done her research here as many of the harsh aspects of the camps are included. To me, the story would have stood by itself with just the storyline of the camp, and Lucy’s journey from being a protected child, to a camp refugee, to remaking herself after the war. I really didn’t need the murders or mysteries included, though I’m sure many readers will enjoy them. It was enough for me to read of the resiliency of the people who lived through these times.
Due to themes of abuse I wouldn’t say this is one for the kids, but I think adults will enjoy it. I just have to say,too – I love, love, love the cover!
Thanks to Net Galley and Harlequin for my copy – you can see it on Amazon where I am an Associate:
A few months ago I read “Princess Elizabeth’s Spy” by Susan Elia MacNeal (see my review here: http://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/quick-review-princess-elizabeths-spy-by-susan-elia-mcneal/ . I really enjoyed this period cozy mystery about Maggie Hope, a code breaker and typist to Churchill during WWII. I decided to go back and read the first book in this series: “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary”. I purchased the book from Amazon for my enjoyment (technically my husband purchased it for me because I ordered through his account while he was in Europe on business – lol).
This book introduces Maggie Hope, a British-born but American-raised twenty-something, living in London and working as a typist during WWII. Maggie has a host of friends, both male and female, all with their own subplots/developments. Her parents are deceased for many years and she has been raised by her aunt in Boston. Maggie is a math whiz, and she yearns to be a code breaker. Instead she is a typist. The more Maggie works, though, the more she uncovers. Is there a spy amongst them? What really happened to her father? And is there a coded German message right in front of their faces?
I really enjoyed this first story of the series! MacNeal is a strong writer and I enjoyed how much I learned from reading this novel. This is a cozy mystery in that it is not overly violent or graphic; however, there is a wealth of (what I presume is well-researched!) information about London during WWII, espionage, and life in the 1940′s.
I look forward to more Maggie Hope mysteries from Ms. MacNeal.
You can see this one on Amazon where I am an Associate:
Oh how I love Flavia! The eleven-year-old protagonist and chemistry wizard is the heart and soul of Alan Bradley’s cozy mystery series; and like Anne of Green Gables and Jo March, she is so artfully depicted that I just want her to be real. “Speaking from Among the Bones” is Bradley’s fifth Flavia deLuce mystery, and I really enjoyed this installment, especially since the character development continued with the other family members into much greater depth than ever before.
When Flavia discovers the church organist dead and wearing a gas mask, tucked inside the organ case, the exhuming of St. Tancred (for his 500th anniversary) is halted. Flavia has to do her usual undercover sleuthing, while using her vast knowledge of poisons, etc. to figure out who is involved and why. Along the way, various suspects and interesting characters cross paths, but none so interesting as Flavia herself and her family: her rather distracted father, and terrorizing older sisters Daffy (Daphne) and Feely (Ophelia).
Bradley’s writing makes me laugh out loud and Flavia’s voice is strong and unique. She is one of my favorite characters of all time.
While the first installment, “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”, is still my favorite of this series, this story is a close second. But readers beware: there is a MAJOR cliffhanger at the end!
See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate. And THANK YOU to Net Galley and Delacorte Press for my ARC!!
This book comes out at the end of January.
Here’s what I had to say about the first in the series:
Since I loved “Gone Girl”, my brother-in-law gave me “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn for Christmas. This is an earlier novel by her, her debut novel in fact, but it has the same fast-paced, can’t-put-it-down quality that “Gone Girl” has.
“Sharp Objects” follows Chicago reporter Camille Preaker as she returns to her hometown and dysfunctional family to cover the murders of two young girls. Camille has never fully dealt with the death of her young sister years ago, and she has never truly met or bonded with her step-sister who is thirteen. The deaths of the two victims are both bizarre and disturbing, and Camille gets far too involved in the investigation. Camille’s own ghosts come back to haunt her. She’s a former “cutter” – carving words into her body. She has a promiscuous past. She has serious issues with her relationship with her mother. The list goes on. The more Camille unveils the darkness underlying the relationships in her town, the more she revisits her own past and inner self.
This book was a fascinating read for me as it felt like both a psychological thriller and a mystery story. Right when things became so uncomfortable that I almost had to put the book down and stop reading, there’d be a reprieve. There were some disturbing things in here – but they almost always were more hints of malice and depravity as opposed to graphic descriptions.
Gillian Flynn is a gifted writer. I liked this book but I can’t say I “enjoyed” it — I “enjoy” things that are lighter and happier. It certainly stayed in my mind after reading it, much like “Gone Girl” did.
If you liked “Gone Girl” then you will most probably enjoy “Sharp Objects”, too.
See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:
Here’s what I had to say about “Gone Girl”:
As you all know, I love my cozy mysteries! I recently read two new ones: one which I got at my library and one which I received from my husband for Christmas.
“Hiss and Hers” is the latest Agatha Raisin mystery. I just love cranky yet vulnerable Agatha! In this installment, Agatha, along with half the village, has a mad crush on the local gardener. Sadly he turns up murdered. Agatha is determined to figure out who killed him, but as she investigates she learns that just about every but her had been sleeping with the victim. There is no shortage of suspects, along with a couple of subplots as well. While I do love these Agatha mysteries, this one had me a bit befuddled in its quick wrap up and in the number of people I was trying to keep track of, though I had guessed the murderer early on. The “hiss” refers to the murder “weapon” – poisonous snakes.
For Christmas I received “The Twelve Clues of Christmas”- the latest Royal Spyness mystery. I do so love reading historical cozy mysteries (this one is in the early 1930′s in England). Georgie Rannoch, our heroine, has just the right amount of spunk, intelligence, and awkwardness to make her likable. For this story, Georgie is staying at a manor house and serving as a hostess during their “Aunthentic English Christmas” event. Unfortunately, locals start turning up dead on a regular basis. Georgie joins forces with the dashing Darcy to uncover just what is happening in this sleepy little town. One thing I loved about this book is that Georgie and Darcy’s relationship is finally progressing – yeah! I thought this novel was cleverly plotted – though perhaps a bit far-fetched. It was an enjoyable read. And can I just say how much I love the character of her maid, Queenie?
See these books on Amazon where I am an Associate:
Lady Georgiana is at it again, in this prequel to one of my favorite historical cozy mystery series! Georgie is invited to a masked Halloween ball at a posh manor house and discovers it is planned for her to meet an intended suitor that her family has selected. Instead she meets the elusive and charming Darcy O’Mara, Georgie’s love interest in future books, and gets involved in adventure.
This book – more of a novella – is short — about 50 pages! It reads quickly and will give you an idea if you want to read more of the series. If you are like me and have read the series, it provides more back story and character development.
I got mine via kindle for $2.99.
See it on Amazon where I am an Associate: