Cover Image: For Whom the Book Tolls

For Whom the Book Tolls

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I really liked this book. This was a quick, fun read. I enjoyed the writing style and i will read more books by this author.
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This book had a lot of potential but failed to live up to that potential. I was excited to read about the antiquarian bookstore but unfortunately, that was misleading. Baxter's Book Emporium seems to be a used bookstore. Uncle Frank occasionally came across an antique gem, researched it, sold it privately or put it up for auction. The mystery was pretty easy to solve who and why. I wasn't 100% positive because I was sure it couldn't be THAT obvious. It's a really long novel and takes too long to solve. Jenna's initial mystery in Charlotte is never resolved but I'm sure it's actually easy. I think her sleazy fiancé set her up to take the fall. That's why all the secrecy. Who else would steal Jenna's log-in to embezzle funds? I did like the local color and the funny history of the town. I would love to visit and stay in the hotel! I did have some issues with historical accuracy though. Sadly, peep shows and adult films DID exist in the year 1900 (nickelodeons were films, technically speaking) even though I don't think the city council would go for that. Also and most importantly, women didn't wear makeup c. 1900! At least not respectable women and not much. Ladies' maids were for helping get into and out of clothing, caring for clothing and styling hair. Unless the women visiting the hotel are planning to pretend to be ladies of ill repute, Rita shouldn't be working there as a makeup artist.

I found the characters kind of difficult to like. Jenna was hard to warm up to. While I felt Detective Frank Sutter was unfairly cruel to her and knew she didn't kill her uncle, her past troubles make her a rather gloomy person. I have no doubt Jenna loved her uncle and their estrangement was typical of young adults. I adore my only uncle and only talk to him and see him on holidays now. She has a good reason to investigate but she sure lacks people skills and good instincts. Jenna should be less trusting and naïve since her experience in Charlotte but she seems to latch on to certain people and trust them and not trust other people who seem untrustworthy. She's warned several times to be careful who she trusts and doesn't listen. If she listened to what people are telling her, she would have known whodunit and why. I didn't understand why she kept talking to the nasty detective without a lawyer or even try to find herself a lawyer? She shouldn't have answered his questions. One minor quibble is her comments about tea. First, yes you make tea with boiling or almost boiling water. Second, you don't use BAGS and if you do, you don't DUNK it (GRRROOOOSS). You let the tea brew for the required number of minutes, take the bag (cringe) out, stir, sweeten, stir and drink. It won't burn your mouth if you do it properly, unlike coffee, which is nasty.

Uncle Frank was a good person. He loved his family, especially his late wife Irene, to whom he was devoted. He enjoyed owning a bookstore in the small community and was excited about some rare find. He didn't deserve to die. I did not like how resistant to modern technology he was and how disorganized he kept his shop. How did he expect to sell anything that way? 

The secondary characters are flat. Detective Sutter is the bad cop. He's stupid and he's mean and I'm tired of this trope. He bullies Jenna and tries to get her to confess to crimes she didn't commit just because he wants to wrap up the case quickly and neatly. Detective Keith Logan is NOT from the Pacific Islands, perhaps his ancestors were from there? There's no indication he himself is from anywhere except Hoakes Folly. Of course the good looking detective has to be the nice one. He's very kind but doesn't seem to be doing much investigating since Sutter seems to be the lead detective. Why doesn't Logan go to his superiors and tell them Sutter is not doing a good job and bullying Jenna? The romance angle didn't work for me either. It was too sudden and random. 

One secondary character I did like was Horace Grimes, Uncle Frank, now Jenna's lawyer. He was also Uncle Frank's best friend, however, so I think if Sutter really wanted to nail Jenna, he would refuse to accept Grimes as her legal council. Horace Grimes is above and beyond a nice guy. He's very, very kind and accepting of Jenna. He never questions her innocence. The only other person to truly believe in Jenna is Rita. I don't trust Rita. She's too nice and too eager to befriend Jenna, a much younger woman, based on instincts. It's like instalove but in this case instafriendship. She had a past relationship with Uncle Frank. Could she have killed him in revenge? Elmer Peabody is the town's only crime scene cleanup person. He seems to be conspicuously missing. Where is he and why hasn't he cleaned up the shop? Could he be the murderer? Gladys Washburn is the regular cleaning lady. Why hasn't she cleaned up the crime scene if Elmer didn't do it? She can identify a suspect. Is she afraid?

There are two remaining descendants of the town founder. Miss Olivia Hoakes and her sister, Miss Ophelia. Livy has two personalities. Most of the time she's mean and nasty. The town crank. Some of the time she's friendly and open. She's the Miss Havisham of her town and her poor sister feels the effects. Philly is very sweet and kind. Livvy is mostly interested in the town history and their vintage shop, to the point of near obsession. Philly is much put-upon and doesn't know how to live her own life. I was waiting for her to kill her sister. I think they're both viable suspects but no one else seems to think so.

The most obvious suspects are Steve Jergis and Barbie. Steve Jergis is a real estate developer who wants to put a shopping mall on the outskirts of town. The city council opposed it and now he's angry. Steve is slimy, bullying and hangs out with a human Barbie doll. He's too eager to get his hands on the shop and NO ONE seems to like him. He's the easiest person to pin the murder on. The police never check to see if he had an alibi since Detective jerk is so set on pinning the crime on Jenna. The police suspect Mason Craig, one-time employee of Baxter's Books, fired for stealing. Mason seems like a confused kid who needs guidance and help. I don't think he's a murderer but he was in town on the wrong day and never explains why. He could be hiding something. Linus Talbot, Director of Antique (should be rare) Books at the Hoakes Folly Community Library, is the only person besides Frank who had any idea of Frank's important find. He must have some inkling, even though he denies knowing anything. If anyone had a motive to kill, it was Linus Talbot. Please let's not have the rare books librarian be a murderer! BAD stereotype!

The best suspect for murder is Norman Childers. He claims to be Frank Baxter's illegitimate son, therefore, heir to Frank's millions and property. Norman is a sleazy, disgusting womanizer who should be arrested for sexually harassing Jenna and the customers. I would have called the cops on him when he went after the customers. There's no way he didn't have something to do with Frank's murder and no way he was Frank's son. He must be lying, especially since he isn't too eager to do  DNA test. CAN you do a DNA test on a dead and buried person? Jenna isn't related to Frank biologically and Frank didn't have children or siblings so... how are they doing this DNA test? Elliot Burke, manager of the swanky hotel, knows the secret passages and knows who is staying in which room. One guest, in room 412, is especially difficult. Could he have gotten rid of an unwanted guest?
Are there two murderers?

Ultimately, this book was too long and easy to figure out whodunit for me but I would be interested in reading another book now the set-up is over and we can get more into the books!
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There was a darkness about 'For Whom the Book Tolls' that was unappealing to me.  There was no clarity with the main character Jenna Quinn.  The back story of her previous charge of murder was not satisfactorily explained so the entire book just seemed off balance and formulaic.  There is some promise with the book, but there will need to be more lightness to completely engage me.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.  The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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This is a good start to another cozy mystery series. It involves books and a book store, plus history. Jenna arrives at Hoke's Folly, hopeful for a new start after a nightmare experience in Charlotte. Unfortunately trouble follows her as on her first day she discovers the body of her uncle. An interloper tries to steal her inheritance and ends up dead too. One detective is chomping to pin both murders on Jenna, while the other seems to have an interest in her. My favorites were Rita and Mason. I thought the treasure part of the ending fell flat.
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Jenna Quinn understands trouble. She has fled Charlotte, North Carolina, escaping the untrue accusations of embezzlement and murder. Thrilled when her Uncle Paul invites her to spend some time with him in his book store in Hokes Folly, she leaps at the opportunity. But before she even has a chance to unpack, she discovers her uncle's body at the bottom of a staircase. Crushed by this tragedy, she soon finds herself his sole heir and the sole suspect for his murder. A terrific start to a new series. Looking forward to what the author has in store for Book 2
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This is the first book in a new series that hopefully is here to stay.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and the writing was excellent.
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You can't go wrong with a cozy mystery that features a bookstore.  This was a fun mystery and even after I guessed who did it, I still enjoyed the rest of the book.  I would read more in this series.
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For Whom the Book Tolls was an okay start of a new series. The main character was likeable and relatable and the plot had quite a few of the regular ingredients for a cosy mystery. There wasn't necessarily anything wrong with this cosy, but after reading quite a few cosy mysteries, I just didn't find it quite unique enough for me, although I enjoyed the bookstore setting of course.
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this is a new Author for me. Such a great read. The author writes with such inspiring words, that the plot kept the reader intrigued of what was next. Would definitely read another book by This author.
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This is the first book in a new series.
It has all the standards of a cozy, protagonist starting over with a family member’s help, a bookshop and murder.
It was interesting but nothing special.
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.
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This is the first book in the antique bookshop series. Jenna Quinn comes to Holkes Folly with the intention of staying with her uncle until she gets back on her feet. What she doesn't expect is to find him dead at the bottom of his stairs. The police think she killed him. She is determined to find out what happened.

I liked this book. I thought Jenna was a very likable, relatable character. One of the detectives was just horrible and every time he was in a scene, I just wanted him to go away, while his partner was nice and more along the lines of what I had expected. The mystery was ok. I had figured out who the killer was half way through the book because it was completely obvious. If not for that, I would have given this book 4 stars. I received this ARC from net galley in exchange for an honest review.
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What attracted me to this new cozy was the cover. Just loved it. And the description of the book, I was hooked that it was taking place in a bookshop.

 Jenna Quinn is coming back to Hokes Folly to help her uncle run his bookshop just what she needs after what she has been through.  Until she finds her uncle dead at the bottom of the stairs.  She becomes the prime suspect. Already accustomed to being falsely accused and incarcerated she is determined to find the killer.  Until another man shows up looking in to her inheritance and ends up dead. With help from her neighbors, Rita and Mason they begin to search for clues for her uncles death until she finds his killer.

There where some twist and turns to keep you guessing, I didn't figure out the killer which is always fun. I will definitely becoming back to Hokes Folly to see what Jenna and her friends are up too!
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I had a few minor issues with the book, but overall I think it's a good start to a cozy series! The main character is well-written and definitely relatable. I didn't see the villain coming until the book was right on top of the reveal, which is a huge plus for me since most of the time I can see them coming.

Also, honestly I'm a sucker for mysteries that take place in a bookshop. If you're a sucker like me, definitely read the book. I look forward to more books in the series.

(But please author, stop using the word "Gads". It's just weird!)
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A great who donut book! Jenna goes to help her uncle at his book store only to find him dead. Short and simple synopsis. This is the first book in the series and I look forward to the next one.
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This is the first book Antique Bookshop Mystery series by Laura Gail Black, and I am looking forward to more in this series. Jenna Quinn is trying to forget her past, but people are not making it easy for her, so her uncle suggests that she come visit him and help out in his bookshop. But when Jenna gets there she finds her uncle dead. This leads the cops to think that she murdered her uncle, it also does't help that he left her as the sole benefactor of his bookshop, and his money- a total of of millions of dollars. I wasn't a fan of the good cop, bad cop- especially  since the bad cop was just so horrible it took away from the storyline. I did enjoy the book and did not figure out who the murderer was till the end.
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I received this Arc from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I throughly enjoyed reading For Whom the Book Tolls! When Jennas uncle invites her to stay with him and help him run his book store it seemed like the perfect time to say yes. Jenna arrives in the early early morning hours and assumes her uncle is asleep. When she wakes up the next morning she finds his body at the bottom of the stairs leading from his upstairs apartment to the bookstore. When the police are called she is immediately a suspect, made even more so when she finds out that her uncle has left her basially everything he had including the bookstore. 
I love books that have bookstore in them. They mystery was done very well.. I had a suspect early on, then changed it to someone else.. However then that guy ends up dead.. I didn't end up figuring out what was really going on until it was revealed in the story. I loved all the characters and will definitely be buying this book when its released, and continueing on with this series..
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I loved this new series with interesting characters, interesting town and several 'second-chances'.  

Jenna Quinn is someone that I could 'root for' as I kept finding myself hoping that things would settle down for her.  I love that most of her neighbors seem ready to accept and believe in her.

The mystery is well-developed and certainly has some twist and turns to keep it interesting.  This kept me reading very late into the night.
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This is the first book in the Antique Bookshop Mystery series by author Laura Gail Black and I found it to be a good start.  What drew me to this particular book was the vibrant color and the fact it was centered around a bookstore.  As an avid reader, any cozy mystery involving libraries, book stores or book retreats are an automatic try for me.

Jenna Quinn is an interesting character.  She comes to Hokes Folly hoping to leave a painful period in her life behind her only be the person to find the dead body of her uncle at the bottom of the stairs in his apartment.  Automatically, she is considered the chief suspect by a detective who I found to be too lazy to do his job so he looked for the easy way out.  I liked that Jenna stood up for herself and decided, with the help of some good secondary characters, to try and find out what happened to her uncle.  The cast of secondary characters is diverse, but not too many to overwhelm or to leave room for new ones to join in future books.  There is a bit of romance blossoming for Jenna with a local police officer, who doesn't think she killed her uncle.  This was the one part of the story that felt a little too soon for me.  I would have also liked some resolution to Jenna's past problems in Charlotte that led her to take up her uncle's offer to come to Hokes Folly.

The mystery carries throughout the entire story.  There were a good number of suspects to choose from and it took a bit to determine just exactly what Jenna's uncle was killed for.  I was surprised that I was able to guess the identity of the killer and a partial motive.  Maybe, just maybe, I'm getting better at solving crime (doubtful).  It didn't detract from the enjoyment of the story and it is always fun to see how the author has the protagonist discover whodunit.

This was a solid start to a new series and I think I would like to see where the author takes the characters in future books.

I voluntarily read a digital advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, through Netgalley.
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In Her Shadow
Kristin Miller

Colleen feels all her wishes and dreams have come true. She has a man who loves her, she is carrying his child and he going to provide a home for them all.  Her life is going to be perfect or so she thinks. 
She has a beautiful mansion to live in, servants to do the cooking and cleaning and all she is required to do is rest. What more could she want? It should be perfect but it’s not.  All she hears is how wonderful the missing wife was and how she was so loved. Colleen wants to be loved too but it is hard to feel loved when you are living in the shadow of another person.  It seems everyone resents her. There are secrets that she is not privy to, rooms that are locked and then when a body is found near the house things begin to get scary.
A chilling, suspense filled book that will hold you until the shocking end.
Don’t pass this one up!
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With nothing left her her in Charlotte, Jenna accepts her uncle's invitation to stay with him for a while in Hokes Folly. Before she can even get settled, she finds him unresponsive at the base of the stairs that connects his bookstore to his apartment. 

Before Jenna has time to grieve, she learns she is her uncle's beneficiary. He left her the bookstore, apartment and a large sum of money. But when a second man ends up dead, Jenna becomes the prime suspect in both murders. As Jenna gets acquainted with Hokes Folly, she realises she needs to find her  uncle's murderer or her time in Hokes Folly will be a repeat of the last few months in Charlotte. 

For Whom the Book Tolls was a decent whodunnit mystery but also a little predictable. The characters were pleasant but development was lacking and they were not as complex as I would have liked. My favourite thing about this book was the use of setting. Every building and even the town itself played a role in the story. 

My main issue with this book is a line about "druggies" while it doesn't affect the overall story I was bothered with the lazy generalization and depiction of drug users. There are better ways to mention and include potential negatives about drug use without speaking negatively about the users.
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