Saturday, February 28, 2015

Death of a Dog Whisperer by Laurien Berenson

Image from Goodreads

Title: Death of a Dog Whisperer
Author: Laurien Berenson
First Published: August 2014
Published By: Kensington
Format Read: Trade Paperback, ARC
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Read: Feb 27 2015
Rating: 3/5

I received an ARC of Laurien Berenson’s Death of a Dog Whisperer as a bonus to a giveaway winning book, from the publisher. 

Death of a Dog Whisperer is the 17th novel in the Melanie Travis series by Laurien Berenson. It follows a dog lover who has a knack for solving canine related mysteries. In this installment Travis is on the hunt to uncover the truth regarding the death of a dog whisperer by the name of Nick Walden, a man she was introduced to by her ex-husband Bob. 

I admit that I was reluctant to read this because I try to stay away from books with animals in them. The reason for this is because I am a sap and they normally break my heart. Lame, I know but that’s me. I decided to go ahead and read it because it is considered a cozy mystery, a genre that is known to be light and easy. I have not read any of the previous books in the series and although it did make reference to past cases for the most part Death of a Dog Whisperer could be considered a stand-alone. The pace of the writing moved along well making it a quick read. It was nice to read about a crime solving woman who is actually smart and has a head on her shoulders, instead of an air head who gets herself into the same situations time and time again. Example: Stephanie Plum. Judging from what the reader learns of Melanie Travis’s past, it is clear that her live has progressed and changed over the many years this series spans. I believe this is wise on the author’s part, otherwise it would become stale. The mystery storyline itself kept me interested however it wasn’t as exciting and action packed as I had hoped, which leaves me undecided if I will go back to read more of the series. 

I would recommend Death of a Dog Whisperer to cozy mystery and dog lovers alike.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Secrets of Islay- Golf, Marathons and Single Malt by Robert Kroeger

Image from Goodreads

Title: The Secrets of Islay- Golf, Marathons and Single Malt
Author: Robert Kroeger
First Published: December 2014
Published By:
Format Read: Ebook
Genre: Non-fiction
Read: Feb 18 2015
Rating: 4/5

I was sent a copy of The Secrets of Islay- Golf, Marathons and Single Malt by the author Robert Kroeger in exchange for an honest review.

Islay (pronounced Eye-Lah) is a mostly Gaelic speaking island which is part of Scotland and the setting for this non-fiction book penned by Robert Kroeger. This island is known for its single malt whisky (yes spelled without the e) which is referred to as “the water of life”. While on a tour and tasting of a local distillery in 2011 the visitors begin their quest to find truth, “Quid est veritas”. This poses the question “Can a person excel in both golf and marathon running?” As a result the Lords of the Isles Challenge was created. Most of the book follows the organizer of the challenge known as Caballo Blanco as he travels all over the island of Islay meeting many locals and searching for veritas. Readers follow along on his journey learning about the ancient history, the lords who ruled, its many former golf courses and of course its distilleries. The marathon part of the challenge was referred to as the Single Malt Marathon was held for the first time on April 13 2014 and helped raise money for a local school on the island. 

I admit I was a bit daunted by the task of reading this book for the following reasons: a: I can’t remember the last time I went golfing, b: over my dead body could I ever see myself running a marathon and c: I don’t drink. However I was so excited that an author had asked me to read and review their book that I jumped at the chance. Lucky for me there was a lot more to this book than golfing, running and drinking. One of my favourite genres to read is history. Islay is chalk full of a long history that dates back to Mesolithic times. So naturally this part really interested me. Even though this is non-fiction, the style of writing is witty which made for an interesting read that wasn’t dry like a textbook. Several pictures were included that helped me to form a better picture of the setting. I had never heard of Islay before, but the descriptions of the weather certainly reminded me of Newfoundland. Another similarity of the two places is in their strong sense of culture. This is evident in the amount of people who volunteered their time to make the marathon happen and to celebrate afterwards infusing their own traditions. It was touching to learn that Blanco wasn’t the only member of that original distillery tasting, who kept on the quest for their own veritas. The accomplishments of these people and how their lives changed only further added to the purpose of the story.

For those who think that this book isn’t for them due to the title, I would suggest giving it a try because there is more to it than one would expect. I walked away from The Secrets of Islay feeling uplifted and inspired to do better for myself. Perhaps I could find my own veritas.

For more information on the author and Islay visit the following websites:

Lochindaal Lighthouse, Islay
Image from

Peat cutting on Islay for distilleries 

Image from

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Death Comes to London by Catherine Lloyd

Image from GoodReads

Title: Death Comes to London
Author: Catherine Lloyd
First Published: November 2014
Published By: Kensington
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Historical Fiction
Read: Feb. 17 2015
Rating: 4/5

I received a copy of Death Comes to London from a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is the second in the Kurland St Mary mystery series by Catherine Lloyd. However unlike in the first installment, we join the main characters in London, not Kurland St Mary. Main character Lucy Harrington leaves her hometown after helping to run the household of an injured war hero named Major Kurland. The young woman accompanies her sister Anna to town to partake in the social season, in hopes of finding husbands. Not long after her departure, Major Kurland learns that he is to receive a baronetcy from the prince regent, so he too makes his way to London. While there a dowager countess (the grandmother of the Major’s friend Broughton) un-expectantly drops dead at a social ball. It is determined that she had been poisoned and Kurland and Lucy take on the task of uncovering the mystery.

The first page of this book includes some quotes of praise, the first book in the series has received. It was here that I realized that Death Comes to London is set in the regency period. To be honest this is not my favourite era to read about. I have yet to enjoy a book set in this time period. Next I read quotes that compared the characters to Jane Austen’s Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, a novel I found insufferable. So needless to say I was quite sceptical going into this story. However I am thankful to have been sent it to, so I was determined to read it. I was also concerned that I wouldn’t understand parts because I have not read the first book. 

Much to my surprise I quite enjoyed Death Comes to London! Aside from the fact that I’m not particular on this time period, it didn’t feel as stuffy as I had thought it would. Thankfully there was more to this story than just the proper societal etiquette of the ton. The mystery “who-done-it” storyline kept me interested throughout, even after I had figured it out for myself. Lucy came across as quite meddlesome, which was slightly annoying at times. However this is how the character is supposed to be portrayed. I enjoyed reading more from Major Kurland’s perspective than Lucy’s. Although there were parts that referred to the mystery in the first novel, I would say that Death Comes to London could be a stand-alone. 

I hope to purchase a copy of the first book in the series Death Comes to the Village soon as I’m interested in learning more of the back story readers caught of glimpse of in this second installment. A third book titled: Death Comes to Kurland Hall is due out later this year.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries with a historical setting.