Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Book Review: Midnight Spells Murder by Mary Angela


Spirit Canyon’s annual Spirit Spooktacular weekend is on, and for local amateur sleuth Zo Jones, it’s boomtime for business at her Happy Camper gift shop . . . until a murderer drops in for a browse.

To celebrate Halloween at the Happy Camper, Zo schedules a talk by successful author and self-proclaimed witch Marianne Morgan. Although Marianne’s benign brand of witchcraft is more about feminine empowerment than black magic, her presence is still not welcomed by everyone. Then on a midnight stroll home, Zo spots what seems to be a new Halloween decoration propped up outside the Happy Camper. What she finds is not a mannequin but a dead Marianne, her lifeless body dressed in traditional witch’s garb. But why would someone send this good witch back to the spirit world permanently?

Soon Zo realizes that plenty of folks have motives for murdering Marianne. What’s worse, nosy TV newsman Justin Castle plans to broadcast a report associating Marianne’s murder with the Happy Camper. Zo calls on her partner in sleuthing, local forest ranger Max Harrington, to help her find the culprit before Justin’s report airs. Otherwise, Zo’s business just might go bust. But to catch this killer, Zo will have to risk much more than just her reputation.


Halloween. Murder. Yes, please. Midnight Spells Murder by Mary Angela is the second in the A Happy Camper series, the started with Open For Murder. Yes, it is the second but if you haven't read Open For Murder, you don't need to. I didn't read it, and I made it through Midnight Spells Murder perfectly fine. I am sure I missed some character history, such as the growing relationship between Zo and Max, but it did not take away from the story.

Zo is the owner of The Happy Camper, a gift shop in Spirit Canyon. She hosts an author book signing as part of a town-wide Halloween celebration, and when it is over finds the author dead dressed as a witch. She sets out to find the murderer before she is blamed for the crime. It is exactly what you want in a cozy mystery, however typical they usually are.

Ok. I will admit it. I totally chose this book because of the super sweet Halloween cover. I couldn't resist, it called my name. I know I should never pick a book based on the cover ( I bet you have also... tell me you haven't and I probably won't believe you LOL), but this time it worked out for me.  

The writing in the story is engaging and easy to read, making it quick and fun. The characters all seemed to have a purpose in the story, and for me, the secondary characters really played strong roles and added much humor to the story. There was also a secondary story, that involved Zo and her necklace, which was one of my favorite parts of the book.

The setting was perfect and it had me dreaming of cooler weather as I read ( It has been over 100 degrees here since we arrived home from San Diego and their 75-degree weather ) and the author's description of all the towns Halloween decorations and the seasonal parade had me craving some good ole pumpkin spice.

So turn up your AC, grab a cozy blanket, and some pumpkin spice whatever it is you drink, and sink in for a fun, cozy Halloween read with Midnight Spells Murder.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Book Review: Much Ado About Nauticaling by Gabby Allan


After far too many years in the Los Angeles corporate world, Whitney Dagner has come home to Santa Catalina Island off the California coast to help her brother Nick run Nautically Yours, the family tourism business. Between gift shop shifts selling all manner of T-shirts and tchotchkes and keeping her feline Whiskers in fine fettle, she pilots the Sea Bounder, a glass-bottom boat showing tourists the underwater sights of aquatic plants, marine life--and a murder victim?

The self-proclaimed Master of the Island, Jules Tisdale was a wealthy man with business interests throughout Catalina who was about to be honored as Person of the Year before someone strangled him with his own tie and tossed his body into the water. That someone appears to be Nick, who had a raw deal from Jules and no alibi the night of his murder. To clear her brother's name, Whit will have to investigate Jules' shady associates and not exactly grief-stricken family members--with the unwelcome help of Felix Ramirez, police diver and Whit's ex-boyfriend who's looking to rekindle their relationship


Gabby Allan’s debut book Much Ado About Nauticaling is a Feldmans good cozy mystery, perfect for a summer beach read.

Whitney and her brother Nick own and operate a flat bottom boat named Nautically Yours on the island of Catalina in California. One of Catalina’s promenade residents is murdered and Nick gets the blame. It doesn’t help that he runs and stays hidden throughout the book casting even more suspicion on him, so it is up to Whitney to clear his name.

The story takes off early, catching your attention and keeping it, in fact, you will find yourself finishing it before you realize it. The writing is clear and engaging and Gabby Allan’s description of Catalina is so visual you can practically see it in your mind. I also loved the times she wrote about them giving tours on the boat. I love sailing, and even though the boat wasn’t a sailboat, I could still visualize the smell of the ocean and the feel of the salty water stinging on my face as it sailed on the wind.

Allan’s characters are all well written. Quirky characters abound in this book and you will quickly find a few favorites, mine was her grandmother Goldie, I could picture her so visibly in my head with the help of Allan’s writing. Several of the secondary character you will also find that you will dislike, for me, Nick was one of them, for the mere reason, he ran off making him look guilty and leaving poor Whitney with running the boat business, her own gift store business and trying to solve the mystery to clear his name. The story wasn't impossible to figure out, but the writer did well at making you doubt yourself on several people.

Much Ado About Nauticaling is the first book in a series by Gabby Allan titled  Whit and Whiskers Mystery and I enjoyed Much Ado About Nauticaling enough to want to pick up the second one when it comes out to revisit the island of Catalina and see what Whit has gotten into next.