The Butler Did It

1.5 Stars
Whisper Lake-Not really sure what to make of this
Whisper Lake - James Melzer

Ok, so I'm assuming that the author wrote this as a joke or maybe to win a bet.  I'm really hoping this wasn't meant as a serious writing endeavor.  The blurb says "In the tradition of 80’s slasher films and old school horror." Well yes, but not in a good way.  Not in a way that says "Hey, let's all laugh together at the stupid teenagers in the lakeside cabin being killed by a psycho." More in a way that says, "I want to be clever but I'm coming off incompetent." 

Basic plot, teenagers who are into alcohol and pot go to the lake to clean up their grandmother's cabin so it can be sold.  While there they plan to do everything they shouldn't do and so a madman kills them.  I don't think I spoiled anyone with that synopsis.  I'm just going to quote a few lines and then I'll let this one go.

"watching her friend Sarah die was enough of a shock to bring her back to reality and say, 'Hey, I better do something or else I'm going to end up like her.'"

"Yeah, her boyfriend had just been murdered and that was hard to deal with, but for crying out loud they were all fighting for their lives now."

"His entire face looked like melted cheese clinging to a piece of bread, with breaks in the skin that made him think of pepperoni pizza."

Ok, enough.  I'm going with the idea that this was written as a joke.

This was given to me by the author in exchange for a review through the librarything member giveaway. 

5 Stars
The Tomb in Turkey-My newest Simon Brett fix
The Tomb in Turkey: A Fethering mystery - Simon Brett

I'm a huge fan of Simon Brett and I may not be capable of giving him less than 4 or 5 stars.   He's one of the five authors I would take to a desert island.  So realize as I write this review of his newest Fethering mystery that I am a huge fangirl.  All that said, I think this one lives up to what I've come to expect of him. It's fun and twisty and the characters are colorful. Jude is as free a spirit as you'll ever meet and Carole is as uptight as a person can get. Does traveling together really seem like a good idea?

Jude gets the opportunity to use the villa of an old friend for a vacation. The villa happens to be in Turkey. Carole is not at all sure that this makes any sense, she hates to leave her granddaughter and she's sure she will be sick the whole time but after much shilly-shallying she decides to go. Packing her Imodium, of course. As she suspects, the old friend is an ex-boyfriend of Jude's who's wife is a bit on the jealous side. Jude starts to wonder if she's made a terrible decision, inviting Carole to go. It should be a great vacation. I love to travel so the plot already had me intrigued. It does, however, have a little different feel than most of his other writing because usually his books are so very British and this is set in Turkey.

There are murders, there are suspects galore, there are weird neighbors, there is an exotic setting and there is the fabulously witty writing of Simon Brett. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review but I would have bought it when it came out if I hadn't been able to get it from them.  Yeah, lifelong fan of Simon Brett.

5 Stars
Ben Jonson's Plays and Masques-Better than Shakespeare?
Ben Jonson's Plays and Masques: Texts of the Plays and Masques, Jonson on His Work, Contemporary Readers on Jonson, Criticism - Ben Jonson

I only read two plays in this collection so that is all I’m commenting on. They were both great. The two were Volpone and Epicoene and I read them for my British Drama class. Again, as with other classics I’ve read, a good professor can make all the difference in the world when you are reading things that may seem a bit foreign to a contemporary audience. My prof made these plays come alive! I would love to see them performed but I think I’ll have to leave my little corner of Kansas for that.


Volpone is set in Venice and is a story of a bunch of greedy people. Volpone is a rich man with no heir and he has a succession of other well-off people trying to insinuate themselves into his will. They constantly bring him gifts, which only makes him richer. None of them seem to have this scam figured out. Volpone has a “parasite,” a servant, who does most of the actual work on this scam. Volpone likes to pretend he is on his deathbed to get everyone’s hopes up and then he pretends to recover. In the end, everyone gets what they deserve. There are twists and turns and I don’t want to give those away but it’s a funny and clever play.


Epicoene takes the art of scamming to the next level. Dauphine is the nephew of a rich man who has no heir but the uncle, Morose, does not want to leave his estate to Dauphine. Morose also cannot stand the sound of anything except his own voice. He wants to marry a silent woman and have a presumably silent heir so that Dauphine will get nothing. Dauphine and his friends want to keep this from happening. The shenanigans they pull and the way they just keep twisting the scam make a hilarious plot and the other characters in the play are great fun. This was thoroughly enjoyable to read.


Ben Jonson is considered to be a technically better playwright than Shakespeare. He doesn’t leave all the memorable quotes and doesn’t have the same brilliance with language but his plays are well plotted, tight and satisfying. He leaves no loose ends. They are works of technical genius. Now, to find out where I can see them performed!

4 Stars
Designer Dirty Laundry-A stylish contemporary cozy
Designer Dirty Laundry - Diane Vallere

I'm a fan of Vallere's Mad for Mod series but I may be an even bigger fan of this series.  This is the first book of the series and I really enjoyed it.  It has the characteristics of a cozy mystery but to me, it has a little bit more style and polish than some other series, it feels a bit more contemporary.  No crafts, no homemade jelly, no candlemaking classes.  Lots of fashion and gorgeous shoes.

Samantha Kidd has quit her job as the shoe buyer for a New York department store to move back to her home town and work as the Trend Specialist for the local department store.  She's also buying her parent's house as they have decided to move someplace warmer in retirement.  Her first day of work starts with a bang as she finds her boss dead in the elevator and no one seems to know that she's been hired.  Obviously, both of these situations present difficulties for Samantha.  Since she is back in her old home town, she runs into old friends from high school as well as people she knew in New York as she attempts to keep herself from being arrested for murder and to make her mortgage payment at the same time.  It's a lot of fun (for us, not for her)!

I've always loved seeing behind the scenes of things we're only supposed to see the front of so the behind the scenes look at a department store are very interesting to me.  I loved Samantha as soon as I met her and the characters she encounters are well-developed.  The mystery is good, the characters are likeable.  The book has several flaws.  She doesn't tell the police what they need to know.  She gets herself into situations that are not very believable.  She doesn't just march into the HR department of the store and figure out what's going on.  But the storytelling and characterization overcome those flaws and I just found it highly entertaining.  Another win for Diane Vallere.

5 Stars
Doctor Faustus-A cautionary tale
Doctor Faustus - Christopher Marlowe, Sylvan Barnet

While everyone may not know the actual play of Doctor Faustus, almost everyone knows of the concept of selling your soul to the devil.  That's exactly what Doctor Faustus does in exchange for 24 years of knowledge and power.  He has big plans for what he can do as the smartest, most powerful man in the world.  He can put the rightful leader back on the throne in Germany.  He can protect Germany from invaders.  He can cloth all the students at his university in silk.  (I wasn't sure what the point of that one was!)  He can know all the secrets of the universe.  Mephistopheles can be his best buddy. 

Only as the years go on, that's not exactly what happens.  Yes, he has power and knowledge but somehow all the wonderful things he planned to do with it never get done. He ends up using his power of invisibility to play pranks on the Pope.  He plays tricks on common people he meets just to vex them.  He wants accolades from the aristocracy and so become little more than a party clown for them instead of doing all the wonderful things he believed he would do. 

Faustus never seems to actually realize that Mephistopheles isn't his best buddy.  He seems to think they are just kicking around the world together having a good time.  He doesn't seem to believe that in the end, yes indeed, Mephistopheles is going to take him to hell as the agreement they made said he would.  Many people throughout the play tell Faustus to repent and ask forgiveness from God but he never does.  He seems right on the verge of it at times but never crosses that line.  He always backs away from asking forgiveness.  At the end, he says that he is too wicked for God to forgive but it comes across as boasting, not regret. In fact, the whole play seems to be about Faustus' arrogance. 

This play is set in an interesting time because it's the beginning of the Renaissance and Marlowe was not a Christian and yet, this play seems to be saying that man should not try to grasp higher than his station.  That seems to go against what the Renaissance was all about.  It's a fascinating play with so much room for thought and interpretation.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

3.5 Stars
With Vics You Get Eggroll-As much fun as it sounds
With Vics You Get Eggroll - Diane Vallere

With Vics You Get Eggroll continues the fun and the good quality of writing that I've enjoyed in the first two books of this series. It also gives us growth and development of the characters.  That's a pretty good thing in the world of today's cozy mysteries.  It's a win with me.

Madison Night, the ultimate Doris Day fan and mid-century modern designer, barely has time to recover from her last detective adventure when women start being abducted in the Dallas area someone is try to implicate her friend and potential love interest, Detective Tex Allen  in the crimes.  Tex takes a leave of absence from the police so that he won't hinder the investigation but, of course he is determined to find the killer and, of course, Madison is determined to help him.  She's also in the middle of a job, restoring a Cliff May home to its original mid-century appearance.  I'm a huge fan of mid-century modern so I looked up Cliff May homes on google and wow!  They are gorgeous!  And probably much easier to heat than my big ol' Victorian.  Anyway, because cozies are nothing without coincidence, Madison's client becomes a victim of the kidnapper.  It has a satisfying ending with plenty of clues along the way.  I figured it out the same time Madison did.

The love triangle gets settled and that can only be a good thing!

(show spoiler)

I think the characters in this series are really solid compared to some of the fluffier cozy series out there.  They don't feel cardboard, they feel flesh and blood.  Madison has a lot of introspection in this book and a lot of character growth.  That the author manages to do that in a fun mystery is fairly rare. 

I always want to go find a Doris Day movie as soon as I finish a book in this series.  As long as the author keeps writing them, I'll keep reading them.

Book provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

4 Stars
Pillow Stalk-Que sera sera
Pillow Stalk (Mad for Mod Mystery Series) - Diane Vallere

I'm actually a huge fan of Doris Day.  I have my DVR set to auto-record her movies.  What fun to find a cozy mystery series that celebrates her! 

I'm sure that sounds pretty cheesy but this series is not.  I had already read the second one in the series so I knew a little about where some of this was going but that did not change my enjoyment of the book.  It's a just a really fun concept and series.  Madison Night is an interior decorator specializing in mid-century modern which happens to be my favorite style of furniture and architecture also.  Yes, this series seems custom-written for me.  Madison has moved to Dallas to get away from a failed relationship and her decorating business is doing well.  She has a trick knee but she's coping with it and she has her dog Rocky.  Life seems fine until a string of murders involving Doris Day look-alikes brings her world crashing down. Her very competent and very attractive handyman seems to be involved somehow and the very competent and very attractive police lieutenant investigating her involvement seems to know more than he is saying.  It's a clever mystery with an ending I wasn't expecting but which did have clues sprinkled throughout.  There is good character building without it feeling it's all exposition.  A talented author creating a fun new series.

If there are flaws, they are the ones most mysteries have to have to play out.  A few too many coincidences.  Some times Madison keeps too much to herself and makes herself look foolish for not going to the police immediately. The seeming beginning of a love triangle.  These things seem to come up in most cozies. Even with these, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys cozies.  I read them for fun and relaxation and this book and this series brings both.

Provided by Netgalley in return for an honest review.

4 Stars
Front Page Fatality-Restores my faith in the contemporary American cozy genre
Front Page Fatality - LynDee Walker

I am usually scrupulous about reading a series in order.  In fact, my sister and I have had this discussion several times because she is willing to run willy-nilly through a series in any way she wants and I insist on going from start to finish. This series, however, I read out of order.  And it didn't matter.  I loved them all.

Front Page Fatality is the first of the Headlines in High Heels series.  Nichelle is the crime and court reporter for the Richmond Telegraph and she loves designer shoes. She also loves beating her main rival, the reporter at Channel 10, to the big stories.  This one begins with a boat accident.  It happens while she's out having dinner with a friend so she's late to the scene and her rival is already on television with the story.  This story, however, goes a lot deeper than just a boating accident and as Nichelle digs deeper, someone is trying to stop her from finding out that rest-of-the-story that she is sure is there.  It doesn't help that her supportive boss has a heart attack and she's left dealing with a very non-supportive replacement that wants to give her job to his girlfriend.  Add a sexy mafioso that shows up in her living room and Nichelle is having an interesting week.

This series has all the fun a cozy mystery reader is looking for along with the atmosphere I like.  It also draws you into Nichelle's world in a way that lesser writers miss when trying to write this genre.  I read the 2nd, 3rd and 4th books in the series because I had gotten them from Netgalley.  As soon as I finished the fourth one I logged right onto Amazon and bought this one.  It enjoyed it that much.  I felt like this one may have had a few more f-bombs in it, which I hate, than the next 3 but I don't count them so I don't know for sure.  They aren't pervasive but I don't like them at all.  Anyway, this is a series that restores my hope for the contemporary American cozy.

Another question for you book listers

Is there any way to add a note to the books on a list?  For instance, on my lists of award winners I would love to be able to add what year they won the award.  Is there any way to do that?

5 Stars
Creative Napkins and Table Settings-Beautiful fantasy for me
Creative Napkins and Table Settings - Jimmy Ng

This book is pure fantasy for me. I love to entertain but our parties tend to run to burgers on the grill with kids running all over and the adults finding a quiet spot to eat. I think my parties are fun but wow, they are nothing like the beautiful scenes in this book. This is what I aspire to as time and resources allow. Not all the time, I still like the burgers and the running kids but sometimes the elegance of these place settings would be so fun and satisfying.


Jimmy Ng shows ways to fold a napkin that I couldn’t have imagined. Every example has a gorgeously photographed picture and step by step instructions. I didn’t know napkins could do some of the things he shows! He has examples for baby showers, Fourth of July dinners, weddings and dinner parties. He has Easter and St. Patrick’s day, just about any occasion you would give a dinner for. I think if I owned the proper napkins and had that little bit of extra time, I could actually do this.   At least the book makes me think I could do this and that’s what this type of book should do. Inspire me to do more than I’ve done before. He also shows wonderful place settings that give me plenty of ideas on how to use some of those things that I never pull out of the china closet.


We’re hosting Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas at our house this year and I’d really like to try some of these ideas. I’d like to see if I could bring a little bit of this fantasy to my dining room.


Provided by Netgalley for an honest review.

5 Stars
Everyman-Some fun medieval drama
Everyman and Other Miracle and Morality Plays (Dover Thrift Editions) - Anonymous

I just read two of the plays in this book for my British Drama class so I’m just commenting on those two, Everyman and The Second Shepherds’ Play.


Medieval drama is not something I was completely familiar with though I knew a few of the conventions. These are two really interesting examples of the genre. Everyman is a morality play and The Second Shepherd’s Play is a miracle play.


Everyman is the story of a man who’s been called to give his account to God and he’s not ready. He wants more time. When Death comes to deliver the message, he realizes there is no more time. He starts asking various people if they will go with him on this journey. This is an allegory so the people are actually things like Fellowship, Kindred and Goods. None of them are willing to go with him to meet God. He asks his Good-Deeds to go with him and this ends up being the only one that goes all the way to the end with him.   Knowledge stays a while and so do a couple of his other traits but in the end, only Good-Deeds goes all the way.


It’s definitely a way to teach the audience some good Catholic doctrine and there was a plug for how wonderful the priests were, probably coming at a time when some of the corruption in the church was starting to come to light. A play like this is so enjoyable for a modern audience whether they are religious or not. It’s just a really clever, thought-provoking piece of writing.


The Second Shepherds’ Play is a miracle play. It’s part of the cycle of Bible stories that were presented at festivals. It deals with the shepherds out watching their flocks when a fellow they know stops by to visit. They know him to be dishonest but they let him stay if he will sleep in the middle of them. He still manages to steal one of their sheep and take it home to his wife. When the shepherds come looking, he and his wife conspire to hide the sheep in a crib and pretend it’s a new baby. Much hilarity ensures. I mean that truthfully, not sarcastically. In the end, the shepherds find out the truth and do not punish the thief to the degree they could have. When they return to the fields, they are met by the angels who tell them of the Saviour’s birth and they make their way to Bethlehem. There are so many parallels and contrasts between the first part of the story and the second part of the story that it’s just fun to discuss and think about.


Medieval drama will never be my love but it’s pretty cool once in a while.


5 Stars
Gracious Living: Home Design for Your Future-Something I was needing right now
Gracious Living: Home Design for Your Future - Naomi Neville, E. Ashley Rooney, Dr Jill M Bjerke

This book is about the concept of aging in place, a concept we are dealing with very personally at our house. My mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s has moved in with us. While she is in pretty good health currently, she is 84 and losing her ability to reason and remember so modifying the house is something we think about a lot.

We have and are doing a lot of remodeling to accommodate her issues and this book is a great reminder of how these things should be done and what is actually necessary to make a home livable for those with issue to do aging or disability. The pictures are beautiful! It shows how much you can still keep the wonderful, warm cozy feeling of a home while adapting it to suit the needs of someone with mobility issues.

Why things are done the way they are done is laid out very well. Explanations of why you need certain adaptations are always given with the pictures. I’m getting many ideas that reinforce what I was already considering but show me how to do it gracefully, without the house looking like a nursing home. This is one book where I do find myself reading every page and every caption even though it could be used as a reference book.

It does focus mostly on new construction and less on remodeling but it does include some examples of renovated spaces and they are pretty amazing. I also appreciate that a lot of what they are saying doesn’t include extensive remodeling as much as thoughtful use of what you have such as making sure there are clear walkways through the house with no clutter in them and good lighting to prevent stumbles.

The chapters are The House, The Kitchen, Bedrooms, Bathrooms and Outdoor Spaces. The subtitle is Home Design for Your Future. I really enjoyed this one and will highly recommend it to anyone with concerns about these issues.

I received this through Netgalley and appreciate the opportunity to read and review it.

4 Stars
My Cooking Coach-Step by step cooking guide
My Cooking Coach: Cooking Knowledge at Your Fingertips - Charles Delmar

Perusing through this book shows me that it lives up to it's name.  A cooking coach is exactly what it is.  It has the in-depth details that many cookbooks assume you already know.  It explains how ingredients are used, how cooking techniques operate and how to best used frozen foods.


If you are a beginner you will appreciate how detailed this book gets.  I'm not a beginner and I'm seeing plenty of things that will change my kitchen techniques for the better.  I can imagine giving this to a young person just setting up their own household or a person that loves to cook for more inspiration. 


I haven't tried any recipes out of it yet but to me, a book like this isn't really about the recipes, it's about giving you the know-how so that every recipe you try turns out great. 


The only reason I gave this 4 stars is because he gives bits of nutritional information throughout with nutritional recommendations and I didn't always completely agree with his recommendations. If you stick to the cooking advice, 5 stars.


I received this book from Netgalley and I appreciate the opportunity to read and review it.






Stopped by the sale table at the library yesterday...

You know the one with .25 books?  Yes, that one.  Here's what I came away with. 


Patricia Cornwell-Hornet's Nest


Patricia Cornwell-All that Remains


Faye Kellerman-Gun Games


Marcia Muller-Burn Out


Michael Crichton-Pirate Latitudes


Michael Crichton-The Terminal Man


One issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine


Mary Higgins Clark-The Second Time Around


Mary Higgins Clark-We'll Meet Again


Mary Higgins Clark-No Place Like Home


Most are really nice hardbacks.  I've not reach much Patricia Cornwell or Faye Kellerman or any Marcia Muller.  I'm a fan of Michael Crichton.  Mary Higgins Clark is one of my secret vices.  I love my public library.



2 Stars
Steam City Pirates-Way too weird
Steam City Pirates - Jim Musgrave

I so wanted this book to be good.  The cover is beautiful and intriguing.  The blurb sounds very cool.  All my friends are into steampunk. But no.  And I should have known better because I had really not enjoyed the other book I had read in this series.  It's a shame but this just really misses the mark with me.

The premise is that a group of really diverse and, dare I say it, weird friends work together as detectives to try to stop something they think is going to happen in the future.  They do this with the help of a 12 year old boy who can fly, become invisible and is half angel.  I should have stopped right there.  He is a mazikeen.  And that word, in italics just like that, is used over and over.  Drove me crazy. I've said in other reviews that foreign words in italics should be kept to a minimum or they are just a distraction.  And this word was.  We also have the madame with the heart of gold, the Irish detective with a very strong dialect and a mystical Jewish rabbi.  Was I wrong in saying weird?  I don't think so.  The mazikeen can see into the future but just a little bit. Enough to tell them something bad is coming.  The group wants to stop this bad thing and luckily they have a time machine in the basement of the Jewish temple.  Now, I could go on but what would be the point?  I think you see the issues here.

One of the strong issues is that you need to have read all the other books in the series or so much of this is even more nonsensical than it would be otherwise. There are constant references to other characters and other plots that I hadn't read.  Not really suited to be a stand-alone, definitely meant to be read in order. 

I'll say this about it.  It's well proofread.  These days that's enough to get it 2 stars from me.  The truly bizarreness of the rest of it just leaves me shaking my head.

I received this from the author and from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Getting the award winning book lists up

School is pretty intense right now but I've been working on getting the lists of mystery award winners put up here on Booklikes.


Agatha Award Winners


Anthony Award Winners


Edgar Award Winners


Golden Dagger Award Winners (not quite complete yet)


I will be adding more award winning lists because I'm really shocked at how few of these I've read.  I've been reading mysteries since I was 12 and have missed a lot of the really good ones somehow.  Oh well, it just makes my TBR pile higher and better!