The Dress Shop of Dreams

December 30, 2014

The Dress Shop of Dreams
By: Menna Van Praag
336 Pages
Reviewed By: Betsey Broks

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.-- publisher description

Menna VanPraag's newest book "Dress Shop of Dreams" is a treat for any mystery lover. It is packed full of twists and turns with just a bit of magic. I would just think I had the answers and there would be a couple of twists, a turn or two and a fascinating  character. 

Ettaa Sparks' dress shop has been in her family for generations. Her creations are made of rich fabrics in any color one can imagine. Each dress is unique and Etta is always ready to add a very special stitch.
Ettaa's granddaughter, Cora, has been raised by her since the tragic death of Cora's parents. Cora's parents were scientists and Cora shares their passion and drive. Dr. Baxter and Cora have a grant to develop ways to feed underdeveloped nations. Etta is concerned that Cora is burying herself in the laboratory . Walt, a life long friend of Cora's, has told Etta that he loves Cora, but she is oblivious. Etta encourages Walt and gives him a little bit of magic to help him. This does not work out the way Edda had hoped.

While celebrating Cora's birthday Edda tells her that she doesn't think her parents death was an accident. Hearing this Cora decides to investigate. She meets detective Henry Dixon and together they discover some conflicting information. Visions from Cora's early childhood begin to pop up . Following the clues brings Cora to a shocking conclusion.

Block off a quiet time, find a comfortable spot and dive in. There are skeletons in several closets, a diary written in code, a patient priest, a police inspector with a little magic of his own and romances both old and new. Enjoy!

Geared For The Grave

December 2, 2014

Geared For The Grave
By: Duffy Brown
304 Pages

Evie Bloomfield is desperate for a job promotion. So desperate she has agreed to go help her boss's father. What she didn't know before leaving was that getting Rudy's Rides back on it's feet was going to take her on the ride of her life. Mackinac Island is not what Evie thought it would be, and when a loathed, but wealthy, resident is found dead by Evie, everything changes. Suddenly, being the new "fudgie" in town is the least of Evie's worries.

Readers!!! I'm so excited to share this first book in a series with you!! If you love cozy mysteries, you will want to check out Geared For The Grave. If you are a fan of the unbelievably talented Duffy Brown, you will love her newest series! Her writing style is fun and full of spunk. She knows how to bring the characters to life. I felt that early on in the book, the characters stopped being "characters", and felt more like people I interact with often. I didn't want to stop reading them!!

Duffy Brown has created a new world to get to know on Mackinac Island. Here Rudy has his bicycles-to-rent shop, Rudy's Rides. However, as quaint as the island may seem, (did I mention there are no cars allowed on the island?) Rudy's life is about to go from bad to worse. Several residents would like to see his shop close. One lady, Bunny, was rather vocal about her desires to have him closed down. The fact that Rudy wasn't a fan of Bunny's wasn't a well hidden island treasure, either. So, when Bunny is found dead, it doesn't take long before Rudy becomes the prime suspect.

Evie is on Mackinac Island to help Rudy, but also get a much wanted promotion at work. Helping the boss's father has to count for something, right? However, Evie had no clue what she was walking into. Before long her, and her "black cloud", are in thick of things. Trying to prove Rudy's innocence won't be easy since she's the new girl. And "fudgies" aren't embraced that much.

You are going to love the characters. You are going to love the hilarious lines and sayings! I was giggling, laughing, and chuckling my way through the whole book! I didn't want to put it down, or finish it! You have Irish Donna and her thick Irish accent. Irma is one of many who own a fudge store. However, her no good husband left her for the competition- taking with him their recipes. Watching Irma come out of her shell reminded me that, sometimes, revenge is sweet. You will find Rudy as a big teddy bear. And you will melt at the tension between Evie and the temporary Police Chief with a background of his own, Nate Sutter. Did I mention there's a resident who has been nicknamed Jason Bourne? Just wait until you find out why! 

I hope you rush out and buy this wonderful book! Curl up and get acquainted with Mackinac Island, Evie, and all the island residents. You are in for such a fun treat! (Just stir clear of the fish sticks, if you know what I mean.)  You will love Geared For The Grave as much as I did. I'm looking forward to the next installment in this delightful series!! 

P.S.- if you are new to the delightful Miss Duffy Brown, I highly recommend you read her other series, The Consignment Shop series. You will love this series and all it's Southern Charms!

If You've Got It, Haunt It

If You've Got It, Haunt It
By: Rose Pressey
304 Pages
Reviewed By: Betsey Brooks

Cookie Chanel has opened her own vintage clothing boutique, It’s Vintage, Y’All, in the charming town of Sugar Creek, Georgia. Always on the lookout for stylish second-hand steals, she attends the estate sale of deceased socialite Charlotte Meadows. But she gets a lot more than she bargained for when Charlotte’s ghost appears before her—offering fashion advice and begging Cookie to find out who murdered her.
As the persistent poltergeist tags along and a possibly psychic pussycat moves into the shop, Cookie sorts through racks of suspects to see who may be hiding some skeletons in the closet. Do a clothing store owner and a disembodied socialite have a ghost of a chance of collaring a killer—or will Cookie’s life be the next one hanging by a thread? --- Publisher's Description
What  a delightful time I've had reading Rose Pressey's new book, "If You Got It, Haunt It".  Cookie Chanel owns a vintage clothing store in the small quaint town of Sugar Creek, Georgia.  Vintage clothing is Cookie's passion and her business. Dressed in her own vintage collection, Cookie is a walking advertisement for her store "It's Vintage Y'all!"

Charlotte  Meadows was one of the wealthiest people in Sugar Creek and, was recently found strangled. She has returned as a ghost and wants her killer found.  Finding help is not easy, especially when no one sees or hears her.  Charlotte's house is having a real estate sale and Cookie is there looking for bargains.  Imagine Charlotte's surprise when she came face to face with Cookie and Cookie smiled.  Charlotte knew she had finally found help.

It took a  lot of talking, badgering, and singing to convince Cookie that teaming up with a ghost to find a killer was a good idea.  A fake psychic, more bodies, a charming detective, and a card playing cat appear to try and help catch Charlotte's illusive killer. Meanwhile the killer has a bag of surprises waiting for them.

This book was a great read from the first sentence to the last. There are lots of wonderful descriptions of vintage fabrics, clothes and accessories. I would love to be able to visit  "It's Vintage Y'all". So curl up in comfortable spot with a nice cup of hot chocolate and join Cookie on this most unusual mystery.

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