Book Review: Shopping is Murder by Carolyn Arnold

Black Friday should be all about shopping and discounts, but when Sean and Sara only have a few more items left to buy, screams fill the mall—and for good reason. A man has fallen to his death from the second level. 

But what exactly happened isn’t that straightforward, and normally, Sean and Sara would leave this matter to the police, but the widow was a childhood friend of Sara’s. While the police are leaning toward the belief the man intentionally took the leap, the widow is adamant her husband would never jump and asks Sara for her help. 

Despite the fact there is an unresolved past between the friends—in which Sara feels she let her down—Sara can’t turn her back on her now. Fueled by guilt and the need to find answers, Sara convinces Sean they should look into the man’s death. 

But the answers aren’t all coming quickly. Mall security has dropped the ball and there’s no seeming motive for murder. To find out the truth will take unconventional means, a little undercover work, and the help of their friend Jimmy. And if it all comes together, they just might have this case wrapped up in time for the holidays. Maybe even with a pretty little bow.

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My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Sean and Sara McKinley used to be detectives in New York but they were able to quit their jobs after Sean received a windfall. Now it seems that murder mysteries fall into their laps and, of course, they can’t help themselves but to try to solve them.

Even though Sean and Sara could have someone do their Christmas shopping for them, they want the gifts to be personal, so they go to the mall on Black Friday. Suddenly, someone goes over the railing and the distressed widow turns out to be an old friend of Sara’s. Even though Sean thinks they shouldn’t get involved, once they talk to the widow, they decide to look into it. It takes some problem solving and a little help from their friends, but they find themselves on the right path but with a twist at the end.

The McKinley Mysteries are cozy mysteries which is a little different from Carolyn Arnold’s other series. Shopping is Murder is a quick and fun read that does stand alone. I like Sean and Sara’s relationship and their friends who help them out on cases. I’m looking forward to reading more of these.

About the Author

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™. Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

Find the author on the following sites…
Website  Facebook  Twitter  Google+  Pinterest  Goodreads  Amazon Author Page

Book Review: The Man Who was Death by Pat Herbert

Dave Allison is a man with a secret, several secrets, none of them pleasant.

The year is 1968. The Reverend Paltoquet takes on the handsome Dave as his gardener to tend the graveyard as well as the vicarage gardens, and very soon he has the female population in a tizzy, not least among them the vicar’s usually imperturbable housekeeper, Mrs Harper. To outward appearances, he has everything going for him, but there is a dark side to his character. He has the ability to see people’s auras, and whenever he sees a black one around a person’s head, he knows that person will die.

Four years prior to working for the vicar of St Stephen’s in the borough of Wandsworth, he was employed as gardener to Lord and Lady Mountjoy at Mountjoy Court in a small Kent village. Following the demise of the lord of the manor in suspicious circumstances and the equally suspicious death of Lady Mountjoy’s lover, Paul Brierley, Dave is forced to leave and pick up any odd jobs he can to survive.

So, with his new family, he sets up home in Tooting and is soon working in and around the area, and this is when he comes to the attention of Bernard Paltoquet who is looking to replace his old gardener who is well past retirement age.

Dave is popular everywhere he goes, especially with the women, but he is a married man now with a little boy on whom he dotes. But back into his life comes Lady Mountjoy and with her his sordid past rears its ugly head.

Dr Robbie MacTavish, Bernard’s close friend, falls for the charms of Lady Mountjoy when she appears on the scene, unaware that she is a cold-blooded killer.

Slowly the story of Dave and Lady Mountjoy unravels, culminating in both getting their just desserts.

Titles in the Reverend Paltoquet Mystery Series are:

The Bockhampton Road Murders
Haunted Christmas
The Possession of November Jones
The Witches of Wandsworth
So Long at the Fair
The Man Who Was Death
The Dark Side of the Mirror 

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My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy from the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

This is the sixth book in the Reverend Paltoquet series. I’ve read them all and enjoy them. They have a bit of a dark side and a touch of paranormal along with some quirky regular characters. The other characters in The Man Who Was Death are rather pitiful.

The regulars: Bernie (Reverend Paltoquet) can be a bit selfish, but he usually realizes that and tries to change and be more Christian-like. Robbie is a good doctor and believes himself to be a ladies’ man. My favorite recurring character is Mrs. Aitch. She seems cantankerous, but those close to her know that she’s got a big heart. I love that she speaks her mind no matter the consequences.

The other characters in The Man Who Was Death include Lord Mountjoy, his wife, his housekeeper, and his gardener. Theirs is a tragic story but it was hard for me to feel sorry the Mountjoys. They not only ruin their lives but the lives of the housekeeper and gardener as well. The gardener, Jed, is the one to pity the most. He is a good man, but death is always nearby. He loses his parents at a young age, and that’s just the beginning of his grief. What makes it worse is that he can see a black aura around someone if they’re going to die.

The ending was quite a surprise although it was the right ending for this book. I definitely recommend the Reverend Paltoquet books. They do stand alone but I enjoy them even more because I feel like I know the main characters well.

Book Review & Giveaway: We're All Not the Same, But We're Still Family by Theresa Fraser & Eric E.W. Fraser

This story was written for adoptive families to explore the benefits of adoption openness. The main character, Deshaun, loves his family but always wondered about his biological family. Does he look like them? Did they love him? With the support of his adoptive parents, Deshaun gets to meet his biological family. They develop an ongoing relationship, so Deshaun feels more stable in his adoptive family, but also develops a comfortable relationship with his birth family. Deshaun and his family are reminded (as we all are) that family can include biological, adopted, foster and kin members.

After reading this book, a child and their family will be able to:
– Discuss feelings about adoption
– Imagine what openness might mean for them
– Acknowledge similarities and differences among family members
– Discuss if an expanded sense of family is possible for their circumstances

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

This story about Deshaun and his adopted and birth parents is a good book for both children and adults to read who are involved some way in the adoption process. I’m sure many adopted children have a lot of questions about their birth parents, and the way Deshaun’s parents dealt with those questions are exceptional.

As the author points out at the end of the book, openness is very important but the adoptee needs to be taken into consideration. My mom was adopted, always knew she was adopted, and she didn’t want to know anything about her birth parents until late in her life, mainly for medical reasons.

My favorite line in the book is, “Finding his birth family made a big difference in how Deshaun saw himself.” We’re All Not the Same, But We’re Still Family is what the perfect circumstances would be for Deshaun. Both families love him and finding his biological father improved his life. Such a heartwarming story!

There are many children’s adoption books that address the important themes of identity, attachment, grief and loss; however, very few approach the topic of openness for older children in the in-depth manner that Theresa and Eric do in their book. The emotions that Deshaun describes are typical of many adopted children and could help normalize universal feelings for young adoptees. I would highly recommend this book for all adopted children and will certainly be using it in my practice.
–Tecla Jenniskens, M.S.W., R.S.W., adoption social worker

Many foster and adoptive parents fear the consequences of introducing their children to birth parents. This story offers a redemptive look at how parents can remain history keepers for their children by helping them answer important questions about themselves and their origins. This book is a beautiful example of how fearless curiosity and compassion can lead to increased coherence in a child’s story and an expanded sense of family for everyone.
–Paris Goodyear-Brown, LCSW, RPT-S, clinical director of Nurture House, executive director of the TraumaPlay Institute and author of A Safe Circle for Little U and Trauma and Play Therapy

We’re All Not the Same, but We’re Still Family is a lovely book that tackles issues adopted children really think about when they question their identity and place within a family. The authors describe the process of a boy’s search for his biological family, with the full support of his adoptive parents, and the events that brought him into the child welfare system. The illustrator’s rendition of the Skyped meetings between the two families is captivating, while the text gives careful attention to the unification process. I applaud the authors on their inclusion of realistic steps in this complicated process, as we witness a child’s journey to find and complete his family.
–Laurie Zelinger, PhD, ABPP, RPT-S, board certified psychologist and author of Please Explain “Anxiety” to Me!

From Loving Healing Press www.LHPress.com

Available to buy from…

Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble   GPlay   Paperback   Hardcover 

Inside the book
Deshaun meeting his birth family over a Skype call

About the Authors

Eric Fraser is 17 years old and adopted. Like Deshaun, he found some of his birth family when he was in middle school. He likes lacrosse, skateboarding, and, ice-skating in the wintertime. He is a public speaker and talks about what kids need and value from helping relationships.

Theresa Fraser is Eric’s mom. She and her husband fell in love with Eric the second they saw him. He is an amazing teenager who carries around the love he received from his birth family and ancestors as well as his chosen family.
In her work as a therapist, Theresa believes strongly that families can be defined in many different ways, and often this includes foster/adoptive and birth family members. How blessed all family members are when contact can be shared and it is positive for the child.

Theresa has a variety of certifications that enable her to work effectively with people across the lifespan. She is a Trauma Specialist, Certified Play Therapist, Registered Psychotherapist (Ontario) and Certified Counselling Therapist (Nova Scotia). She has experience using a variety of evidenced based interventions. She has won provincial, national and international awards and has many publications.

You can also follow Theresa here…
Website   Facebook   Twitter  Goodreads

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I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.

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