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Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton

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Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton
Series: Scottish Bookshop Mystery #2
Published by Minotaur Books on April 4, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
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Delaney Nichols has settled so comfortably into her new life in Edinburgh that she truly feels it’s become more home than her once beloved Kansas. Her job at the Cracked Spine, a bookshop that specializes in rare manuscripts as well as other sundry valuable historical objects, is everything she had dreamed, with her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, entrusting her more and more with bigger jobs. Her latest task includes a trip to Castle Doune, a castle not far out of Edinburgh, to retrieve a hard-to-find edition of an old Scottish comic, an “Oor Wullie,” in a cloak and dagger transaction that Edwin has orchestrated.

While taking in the sights of the distant Highlands from the castle’s ramparts, Delaney is startled when she spots a sandal-clad foot at the other end of the roof. Unfortunately, the foot’s owner is very much dead and, based on the William Wallace costume he’s wearing, perfectly matches the description of the man who was supposed to bring the Oor Wullie. As Delaney rushes to call off some approaching tourists and find the police, she comes across the Oor Wullie, its pages torn and fluttering around a side wall of the castle. Instinct tells her to take the pages and hide them under her jacket. It’s not until she returns to the Cracked Spine that she realizes just how complicated this story is and endeavors to untangle the tricky plot of why someone wanted this man dead, all before getting herself booked for murder.

I liked Of Books and Bagpipes much more than the first in the series. Delaney has been in Scotland for a while now and has come to care about the people she works with and her friends. I felt like her reason for investigating felt more natural this time around, a combination of natural curiosity and wanting to help.

As a mystery, it worked well. There were plenty of clues and suspects and secrets that went back decades. It takes a lot of unraveling and I was surpised by the whodunnit, although I felt the motive was bit weak. And of course, Delaney gets herself trapped, but I didn’t feel like it was because of stupidity on her part, which was nice. Sometimes female amateur detectives annoy me by taking risks that no sane woman would. Delaney didn’t do that here. She has someone with her when there’s a potential for danger, and always lets someone know where she is going. I like a woman with some common sense.

The characters are an interesting mix. Each has his/her own quirks but they fit well together. Delaney’s bookish voices weren’t too obtrusive. They add an interesting touch to the story. She hears voices from books she’s read that are kind of like her subconscious guiding her. It’s a bit odd, but it works, at least for me. The dialogue is well done. A couple of folks speak in a Scottish dialect, but it was easy to follow and words that were unfamiliar were explained, since they are unfamiliar to Delaney too.

I do admit that a large part of the appeal of this series for me is the setting. What could be a more perfect setting for a cozy mystery than a bookstore in Scotland? It makes me want to visit the castles, and library, and pub. And of course, hang out at the bookstore.

About Paige Shelton

Paige studied journalism at Drake College in Iowa. She has only ever wanted to be a writer. She’s had good jobs, bad jobs, great bosses, and terrible bosses, but through it all she has only wanted to write. She’s grateful to have the opportunity now.
Paige and her husband currently live in Arizona and have a college-age son.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Cozy Christmas Shorts from Gemma Halliday Publishing

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Cozy Christmas Shorts from Gemma Halliday Publishing Cozy Christmas Shorts by Gemma Halliday, Leslie Langtry, Kelly Rey, Jennifer L. Hart, Gin Jones, T. Sue VerSteeg, Traci Andrighetti, Anna Snow, Jennifer Fischetto, Janel Gradowski
Series: Tahoe Tessie #1.5, Greatest Hits #8, Amelia Grace #2.5, , Franki Amato #2.5, Southern Pasta Shop #1.5, Working Stiff Mysteries #2.5, Culinary Competition #2.5, Helen Binney Mysteries #3.5, Jamie Winters #1.5, Gianna Mancini Mysteries #1.5
Published by Gemma Halliday Publishing on September 5, 2016
Source: Purchased
Genres: Anthology, Cozy Mystery, Christmas
Pages: 544
Format: eBook
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11 holiday themed cozy mystery short stories by New York Times, USA Today, and National Bestselling authors! Short holiday bites perfect for enjoying while waiting in holiday lines or binge-reading over a cup of hot cocoa.

This LIMITED TIME collection includes the holiday short stories from some of our most popular series:

Baby It's Cold Outside (Tahoe Tessie Mysteries) by Gemma Halliday & Sue VerSteeg

Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (Greatest Hits Mysteries) by Leslie Langtry

Sleighed at Castle Rock (Amelia Grace Rock 'n' Roll Mysteries) by Anne Marie Stoddard

The Blonde Before Christmas (Barb Jackson Mysteries) by Anna Snow

Rosolio Red (Franki Amato Mysteries) by Traci Andrighetti

Christmas Al Dente (Southern Pasta Shop Mysteries) by Jennifer L. Hart

Ornamental Danger (Working Stiff Mysteries) by Kerri Nelson

Christmas Canapés & Sabotage (Culinary Competition Mysteries) by Janel Gradowski

A (Gingerbread) Diorama of Death (Helen Binney Mysteries) by Gin Jones

Motion for Mistletoe (Jamie Winters Mysteries) by Kelly Rey

Christmas, Spies & Dead Guys (Gianna Mancini Mysteries) by Jennifer Fischetto

This was my last Christmas read for the season. Like most anthologies, it has its ups and downs. Each of these short stories fits into a series, but the only series I had read before is the Southern Pasta Shop mysteries. I will say that each story gave a good feeling for the main character and style of mystery and I’d like to read more of a few of them.

Most of the mysteries were cute and fun, but I did have a few favorites. I didn’t really hate any of them, but there were a couple that I wasn’t fond of.

Favorites:

“Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas” by Leslie Langtry – The Bombay family may be assassins, but they are funny, pragmatic, inventive and really care about each other. And I loved the spin they took with And Then There Were None.

“A (Gingerbread) Diorama of Death” by Gin Jones – Helen, the main character, seems like an interesting lady, even though she’s one of the people who seem to attract murders. I loved some of the descriptions of the gingerbread houses and even though the mystery was wrapped quickly and maybe too easily, it was a short story so that’s forgivable.

“Motion for Mistletoe” by Kelly Rey – I just loved the characters in this one. And the bit of Christmas magic.

Least Favorites:

“Rosario Red” by Tracy Andrighetti – Grandma’s missing and of course her granddaughter the PI comes home to investigate. I just didn’t like where the plot went, it all seemed a bit silly.

“Sleighed at Castle Rock” by Anne Marie Stoddard – This one actually took place in the summer, with a “Christmas in July” theme. I didn’t care for the characters and the mystery was blah.

Overall, this collection was a good Christmas read. The mysteries are light and easy to read and I liked the little sparks of romance in several of them. They are short stories, so the plots are not overly involved and a couple are barely mysteries, but I enjoyed it.

 

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Murder al Dente by Jennifer L. Hart

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Murder al Dente by Jennifer L. Hart Murder Al Dente by Jennifer L. Hart
Series: Southern Pasta Shop #1
Published by Gemma Halliday Publishing on August 21, 2014
Source: Purchased
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 237
Format: eBook
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Andy Buckland has always dreamed of being a chef. But after a live studio audience is stricken with food poisoning during her debut cooking show, she finds herself blacklisted in the culinary community. The only job open to her is working in her family's southern pasta shop, and, to make matters worse, her first assignment is serving baked ziti to her former lover and his spoiled bride-to-be at their engagement party! But a broken heart and a bruised ego are the least of Andy's troubles when she discovers a dead body at the party with the words "welcome home" written in flour next to it. Is it a warning? A threat? Or a frame-up job? Andy is determined to find out. With the help of her over-the-top Italian family, Andy will prove that she has what it takes to not only cook the best dish in town but also catch a killer, too!

I am amazed at how well Murder al Dente combined two of my favorite things – pasta and mystery. The romance was nice too, kind of like cheesecake for dessert after spaghetti and sauce. And parts are laugh out loud funny – no wonder I liked it.

Looking at Murder al Dente solely as a mystery, it doesn’t fare that well. There aren’t really enough clues and not that much actual sleuthing goes on. The whodunnit was a bit of a surprise, mostly because we don’t have enough background to have even come close to guessing. Thankfully, the killer gives the requisite speech so we know why things happened like they did, while our female amateur sleuth’s life is in danger because she went out on her own without making sure someone knew where she was going and who she was meeting. Why do they all do that?

But, overall I really enjoyed it. The characters are great. Andy is fun and caring. Her family is awesome. Her love interest is sexy and has a few secrets of his own. The town is supportive of her, even if she did poison an entire studio audience. It’s a good start to a series, but it’s just as much a romance as it is a mystery.

And there’s lots of food – and recipes. I actually tried the Chunky Tomato Mushroom Sauce and it was pretty yummy. I’ll probably try a couple more of the recipes – I do love pasta. For the record, though, your husband and daughter will look at you funny if you tell them you got the recipe from a murder mystery book.

spaghetti

Spaghetti with Chunky Tomato Mushroom Sauce

About Jennifer L. Hart

Jennifer L. Hart knows that surviving as military spouse takes persistence, comfort food and a stellar sense of humor. Her books often focus on people who’ve lived the military lifestyle and zany antics of neurotic heroines, who like to eat, drink and have fun. Her works include the Misadventures of the Laundry Hag mystery series, the Damaged Goods mystery series and the Southern Pasta Shop mysteries.

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