Karen Rose Smith: Murder with Earl Grey Tea

Daisy’s Tea Garden #9

I have enjoyed many volumes of Karen Rose Smith’s Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery series, and the ninth addition is no exception. In Murder with Earl Grey Tea our heroine Daisy Swanson is having to juggle a bunch of events in her life. Her daughter Vi is moving to her own place with her family, and starting to move forward with planning her own wedding. Vi is marrying her boyfriend Jonas, and Daisy’s tea garden is preparing to host a large Alice in Wonderland themed event. Over all things seem to be going well for her and her family. The only drama on the horizon is her aunt Iris being put into the predicament of having to start to face having to choose between two suitors, but that all changes with the traumatic discovery of the body of a friend. read more

Olivia Matthews: Hard Dough Homicide

Spice Isle Bakery #2

Hard Dough Homicide is the second book by Olivia Matthews, and it follows Lindsay Murray and family at their Caribbean themed restaurant, Spice Island Bakery. When Lindsay’s mother quit her old job at the local school to focus on the bakery she thought, and hoped, her interactions with her old boss were behind her. Principal Emily Smith was a nasty piece of work who was demeaning and abusive to her employees and extremely self-centered. Yet when she decides to retire, she wants her celebration dinner held at the Spice Island Bakery. At first the Murray family wants nothing to do with it, but the money is literally too good to refuse, and they decide to take a chance. Turns out the guests are just as uncomfortable with things as the Murray family, and things go from tense to downright disastrous when Emily dies shortly after the meal begins. read more

Emmaline Duncan: Flat White Fatality

Ground Rules #3

Flat White Fatality is Emmeline Duncan’s third book in her ground rules series. First, I feel I would be remiss in saying that heroine Sage is every barista’s dream manager as she is passionate about coffee and cares for her employees, as well as sticking up for them. Anyone who has worked behind a steaming espresso machine will appreciate the realism of Emmeline Duncan’s descriptions of running a coffee establishment – including the customers who get unreasonably angry over having ordered the wrong thing and not wanting to admit it. In such situations, Sage’s managerial prowess also shines as she deescalates the situation and stops the customer from abusing her baristas. Ground Rules is currently just a coffee cart, but is expanding to a brick and mortar building due to its popularity. Given how innovative Sage is about her product, their growing popularity isn’t a surprise. read more

Summer reading: Book Club picks & dates

Join us this summer for some reading!  In June, we’ll read S.J. Bennett’s All the Queen’s Men, meeting in person on Sunday, June 25 at 2 p.m. and on zoom on Wednesday, June 28 at 7 p.m.  In July, Allison Montclair will be joining us on zoom on Sunday, July 23 at 2 p.m. to discuss her new book, The Lady from Burma.  While it’s not necessary to have read any of Ms. Montclair’s books before the discussion, I recommend them highly!  It’s a wonderful series set in London just post WWII.  And spoiler, Allison Montclair is a pen name – tune to discover her (?) true identity.  In August, we’ll be reading the much award nominated Shutter by Ramona Emerson, meeting in person on Sunday, August 13 at 2 p.m. and on zoom on Wednesday, August 16 at 7 p.m.  Anyone is welcome – please message us on facebook or twitter or email us at store (at) auntagathas.com for more info or for a zoom link. read more

Claudia Gray: The Late Mrs. Willoughby

Mr. Darcy & Miss Tilney #2

Fans of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility will guess from the first the victim of Claudia Gray’s latest murder mystery, The Late Mrs. Willoughby.  As the second novel in Gray’s Mr. Darcy & Miss Tilney series, it’s pretty clear that Gray is working her way through Austen’s unrepentant rakes – or at the very least their families. It opens with Lizzie and Darcy’s son, Jonathan, being summoned to Willoughby’s newly inherited house for a visit. read more

Amita Murray: Unladylike Lessons in Love

Marleigh Sisters #1

Unladylike Lessons in Love is the first book in a new series of Regency mysteries by Amita Murray.  The protagonist, Lila Marleigh, is the daughter of a British earl and his Indian mistress.  She and her sisters lived in India until their parents’ death when Lila was seven.  Then they came to London to live with their cruel stepmother, Sarah Marleigh, who has died before the events of the novel, and their half-brother Jonathan, the new earl, who is one of the most loathsome characters I have encountered in a long time.  He has no redeeming characteristics whatsoever, except a certain charm he shows to people when he wants something, and even that is false. read more

Frank Anthony Polito: Rehearsed to Death

Domestic Partners in Crime #2

I have always insisted I don’t read fantasy novels, but I actually do, because I read cozy mysteries. While the stories themselves are set in more than recognizable places, the behavior of the amateur sleuths in most of them enters the realm of the fantastical.  I could care less.  The world is a hard cold place, and a cozy novel provides respite, comfort, and very often laughs.  Sign me up!  The best of them have characters that have emotional truth and often seem very much like our own friends and neighbors, with the added super power of solving crimes. read more

Ashley Weaver: Playing it Safe

Electra McDonnell #3

If Nancy Drew had lived during WWII and had the skills of a safecracker, she might have grown up to be Ashley Weaver’s appealing Electra McDonnell.  Electra, or Ellie, has been trained by her safecracking uncle and in the first book is recruited by the government to put her skills to a more patriotic use.  While Ellie’s past is criminal, her present is in the service of her country, and as the book opens, she’s given an assignment with few details other than “get to know the locals.” read more

Our Book Club celebrates 30 years!

Aunt Agatha's Book Club
One of our last meetings in the store
Book club pre-covid at a restaurant, with author Jess Montgomery

Our book club is celebrating 30 years!  When we first opened the store, we didn’t have a book club, but requests led to a club being founded the second year, when we started off with Marcia Muller’s Edwin of the Iron Shoes.  This is not the complete list (far from it!) but this list contains the books we loved, the books that sparked a great discussion of one kind or another, and many of them are favorites because the author actually attended and were so charming and funny (like Thomas Cook) or adorably brought their mothers (like Denise Swanson), that those events generated an interest by members of the book club wanting to read future installments.  We were lucky enough to take Louise Penny and her husband to dinner with the club when A Fatal Grace (book 2) came out.  Reading Raymond Chandler attracted perhaps the most men to ever attend a group; the discussion of Dorothy Sayers’ Gaudy Night brought a passionate and feisty bunch of women, some of whom had read the book dozens of times.  When the store closed, I knew I wanted to keep the club going, and we started out meeting at a restaurant.  Then COVID hit and we moved to zoom – we are now on zoom in the colder months, and we meet twice in the warmer months, once in person and once on zoom.  A giant advantage of zoom is that authors are able and willing to join us which has been delightful – we’ve welcomed Mariah Fredericks, Naomi Hirahara and Paige Shelton.  I’m looking forward to many more years of discussing what we love to read, and all are welcome to join – just message me at store (at) auntagathas.com if you’d like a zoom link.  I keep the website updated with the current book club read, just search on “book club.”  I feel lucky to know this group of passionate readers.  Thanks guys, for the many, many great discussions! read more

Joshilyn Jackson: With My Little Eye

Before picking up and reading Joshilyn Jackson’s latest stand alone, With My Little Eye, I had never come across the term domestic suspense before. A quick Google search revealed that, as a mystery reader, I’m probably alone in that camp. Jackson has written more than one, for starters. That focus on the relationships and on the everyday life of the characters is what With My Little Eye is really most about.

At its heart, it’s the story of minor celebrity Meribel Mills and adopted daughter, Honor. The two have just been forced to move to a new city thanks to the year-long stalking of Meribel. The stalker hasn’t given up, either. Preteen Honor has dubbed him “Marker Man”, and he sends disturbing, graphic, and always illustrated letters to Meribel by the bunches. He does it in scented marker, no less. read more