Mini Book Reviews

Below are the most recent books (along with a brief synopsis and review) that I have read in the last week.

Needle and Dread
A Southern Sewing Circle Mystery

By Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Published in 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Rose and Leona open a sewing store in the small town of Sweet Briar, South Carolina. They are having their first group of tourists come for a sewing lesson. Rose and Leona have invited the members of their sewing circle to help out. Things seem to be going well until an obnoxious, rude, complaining, and hateful customer is found dead in the work room with a sewing machine cord around her neck. Now all of the tour guests are suspects. Tori, Margaret Louise, and Charles, who are friends of Rose and Leona, begin investigatin’ to find out who-dun-it. Apparently the sheriff is totally useless in catching criminals, according to the book.

I found this cozy mystery to be extremely boring. The only bright spot was Margaret Louise, the overweight grandmother, jersey outfit wearer, and southern belle. I won’t read another one of these mysteries. I gave it 2 of 5 stars solely because Margaret Louise was such a character. If it hadn’t been for her, I would have been hard pressed to give the book even 1 star.


A Dark and Stormy Murder
A Writer’s Apprentice Mystery

By Julia Buckley

Published: 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery

This mystery is the first in a series by Julia Buckley. Lena Landon wants to be a suspense mystery writer, like her idol, Camilla Graham. Through a friend, Lena is hired unexpectedly to be Camilla’s new assistant. She is ecstatic and makes the move west to a small town in Indiana. She is welcomed by Camilla who owns an old Gothic house on the edge of the lake. Lena will be Camilla’s gofer, and will help edit Camilla’s new suspense novel. This is a win-win for Lena. Expecting the little town to be peaceful, Lena finds herself in the midst of trouble. First, she is the gossip of the town when she befriends her cranky, recluse of a neighbor. Supposedly, he has made his wife disappear when their marriage fell apart, maybe even murdered her! Lena doesn’t believe the man is guilty. (She believes in her instincts which tell her this.) Secondly, she finds a murdered man on Camilla’s lake front property. This small town is anything but peaceful!

This cozy was very good. Lena actually did some real investigating, getting in the sheriff’s way, of course. Plus she has two men who are interested in her. Who will she choose? I am not telling. The story line was good. There were some good characters. This book was a pleasure to read. I gave it 3.5 stars of 5. I am moving on to the second novel in the series.


The Bean Trees
By Barbara Kingsolver

Published: 1988
Genre: Fiction

This book has been around for some time. After all, it was published in 1988. It has been sitting on my shelf to be read but, but not since 1988! Marietta Greer comes from a poor part of Kentucky, and when she reaches young adulthood, she decides it is time for her to move out and travel. She changes her name to Taylor, has a rickety car, and a few dollars in her pocket. Her plan is to drive west, and where the car dies, that’s where she will live. After having made a stop in Oklahoma at a restaurant, a woman comes to her and thrusts a bundle into her arm, telling her to take it and leave. The bundle happens to be a Native American toddler. Though she tries to give the child back, the woman won’t take it and drives away. She dubs the child “Turtle” and drives on, praying her car won’t break down in Oklahoma. She definitely does not like Oklahoma.

On her first night with the child, she tragically discovers bruises in several spots and the child has been molested. She promises Turtle that she will always keep her safe. Taylor’s car breaks down in Tucson, Arizona, and there she starts her new life. She lived a pretty sheltered life in Kentucky, and now she has her eyes opened to things she never would have imagined.

Taylor is a feisty girl who gets things done, though she is mystified at suddenly having a little child to raise. The story is intense with a little humor laced in. It is more depressing than anything. The author’s Poisonwood Bible was awesome. This one is not her best. I gave it 3.5 of 5 stars. It’s not a keeper, so it is finally off my shelf for good.

About the Reviewer


Hello, I’m Vicky. I’ve been a bibliophile since I first read Raggedy Ann and the Nancy Drew mysteries as a child. Though I have graduated to reading “grown up” books, I do occasionally still enjoy a walk down memory lane with The Hardy Boys and The Boxcar Children.

My idea of the perfect day is relaxing in my “Lazy Girl” chair, listening to rain pouring down outside, nose buried in a book, with a chocolate bar pressed to my lips.

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