Acquired Book By: Quite happily, my path with Ms McGivens crossed in early July, 2021 wherein I messaged her via Twitter and we struck up a conversation which led me to booking her for @SatBookChat and I received her first novel for the Katie Porter Mysteries in the mail. I had fully intended to read and review this novel closer to the time in which I spoke with her during my chat but sadly, that simply wasn’t in the cards. This August I started to resume my readerly life after a difficult Summer wherein I had a complete disconnection with both my reading life and my blogging life. Mysteries, especially Cosy Mysteries have always been the backbone of my readerly interests – thus, I had a feeling that if I returnt to reading this lovely to jump-start my #CrimeFicFridays again alongside other selections I’ve been blogging about during #WWWednesdays, I might find myself in happy cycle of reading more Crime Fiction before year’s end.
I received a complimentary copy of “The Secret at Sunset Hill” direct from the author K.T. McGivens in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I wanted to read The Katie Porter Mysteries;
I was looking at the chapter sampler for the first Katie Porter Mystery “The Secret at Sunset Hill” and I was loving it. I have a soft spot for newspaper reporters… grew up on Lois Lane in one version or another and my fascination always stuck. Plus, like McGivens, I loved Nancy Drew as I cut my teeth on Mysteries quite young devouring the case files and reading the Hardy Boys too. By 8 or 9 I was given my first Miss Marple anthology of stories and I was literally in awe and set for life to be a Mystery, Suspense & Thriller reader. Although, I carry my Cosy sensibility with me as I don’t like anything too overtly violent or graphic, plus I’m not into overly peppered vulgarity in stories either.
And, then when I realised it was going to become a fully developed series with multiple installments, I knew I had to interview Ms McGivens on my chat as I felt this series and Katie Porter in particular would be a wicked good fit for @SatBookChat. As I have had the tendency of focusing on strong women & imploring narratives across genres which interest me most as a reader. There was something wicked clever, too, about Katie Porter – about how she’s quite the everywoman heroine and someone you can relate, too.
Similar in vein to how we all cross-identify with Nancy Drew but also with women like Anna Blanc but in a different capacity of course, as Ms Blanc’s life is a bit grittier than Katie & Nancy’s but evenso, there is a thread of connection between them in finding strong women set in historical eras who were choosing to live their lives on their own terms and just finding themselves able to solve mysteries as if they were bourne to it. Of course, this also brings to thought and mind the characters within Jennifer Lamont Leo’s novels & stories, too!
We could always use another wicked awesome heroine in our lives and for me, right now, that new heroine has arrived in the form of Katie Porter!
Set in year 1947, Katie Porter is a 21 year old newspaper reporter who finds herself caught up in various mysteries while researching and writing articles for her hometown paper, the Fairfield Gazette. Set before modern technology such as cellphones, computers, and the Internet, she must rely on her courage and wits to discover the truth and capture the culprits. She has a wide circle of friends who help her and her adventures are filled with friendship, loyalty, suspense, danger, tenacity, problem solving, and romance! Each book builds on the previous one as the reader helps Katie and her friends solve yet another case. Life in the town of Fairfield and Katie’s ancestral home, Rosegate, is never dull! And the mysteries continue...
1. The Secret at Sunset Hill 2. The Mystery at the Mystic Museum
3. The Plot at the Pearson Playhouse
4. The Ghost of Golden Joe
5. The Murder of Major Pennington
6. The Disappearance of Devlin Douglas
7. The Passing of Preston Peabody
8. The Case of the Casual Killer
9. The Mystery at Maplewood Hall
10. The Incident on Ivory Island 11. The Odd Appearance of Anneliese Abbott
12. The Crime at Covington Corner
13. The Body in Bounty Bay
Converse via: #HistoricalMystery or #CosyMystery
as well as #KatiePorterMysteries
Borrowed Book By:My path first crossed with Ms Kincaid during the #12DaysOfCozies Twitter chats hosted by @cozymysteryclub in December, 2020. It was a chance to interact with Cosy Mystery writers in a kick-off celebration of Cosies as a lead-up into the Christmas holidays. During the chats themselves there were several bookaways, wherein this novel was one of the prizes however I was meant to win a copy of another Cosy story in an anthology – however it never arrived by post. I did however receive a swag pack of bookmarks and stickers by the hostess of the chats and I have been using her #Sleuther bookmark to read all the lovely Cosies I borrow through my library whilst the other bookmarks I use either for books in my personal library or review books I receive for review consideration.
The chats were a benchmark of my 2020 Christmas celebrations as it allowed me to celebrate Christmas in a keenly special way last December whilst I was able to interact and seek out new series of Cosies to read this New Year, 2021 as well. I have quite a long list of stories and series I want to dive inside and this particular book marks the start of those readings. Ms Kincaid and I just happened to hit it off quite well and I knew I wanted to host her via @SatBookChat. This review is both a continued nod of celebration to #12DaysOfCozies and of course, a happy introduction to a new Cosy series I was thankful I have had myself courtesy of my local library!
I borrowed the hardbck copy of the novel “To Kill A Mocking Girl” direct from my local library. I was not obliged to post a review and am sharing my review on behalf of this novel for my own edification as much as continuing to share my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
This review has been a long time in coming to Jorie Loves A Story!! I’ve been wanting to host Ms Kincaid via #SatBookChat for most of Spring however, the timing for both the author and myself had to work out a few kinks. With my return to working full-time earlier in Spring and with some health afflictions in mid-Spring, we both decided to push this forward into June. I was grateful I finally had a chance to bring her into #SatBookChat’s community as I’ve been reading this novel off/on for as many months as we’ve been working on the schedule! Each time I thought I was close to finishing the novel, I had to boomerang the book back to the library! Laughs.
The joy for me on the morning of #SatBookChat today was waking up early enough to make more headway into the story and to find myself at the halfway mark before the chat began! It was my intentions to sneak into the book whenever I had an hour or so to spare to read it whilst hoping no one in my community wanted to read it this week as I had to re-fetch it! Smirks. Thankfully the stars aligned and whilst I wasn’t working, I happily tucked into the lives of Quinn, Sister Daria and Aiden.
For me, the character who stole my heart is Sister Daria and until I had the convo this morning with Ms Kincaid I couldn’t sort out why I leant more towards her than Quinn. Until of course the author pointed out Quinn is sweet and all but she’s a bit dull and mundane in comparision to Daria and I believe that’s true! Sister Daria is a renegade nun in so many ways – from her background and backhistory to how she approaches the sisterhood with ideals and beliefs that are not in-step with the rest of her sisters. I celebrated finding that inclusive of her storyline but again, it isn’t a conventional character and I think that in of itself is why I love her as much as I do!
After the chat, I quickly dove back into the story – I knew with an afternoon shift I didn’t want to put off reading more of the book or if I could, get into the ending as I was dearly curious about who was ‘behind’ the whole sequencing of events. This is one thinking mystery I was appreciating see develop because it didn’t seem to be an obvious choice in regards to whom the person was behind the crime. If you factor in the fact, Quinn was labelled as a person of interest early-on in the storyline, I knew I was ready to see where Kincaid would take us next to root out the truth and solve the case alongside Quinn and her family.
Why I enjoy Cosy Mysteries (Contemporary & Historical):
When it comes to Mysteries, stories of Suspense and even Thrillers, I have the tendency to read through the centuries as I appreciate a wicked good Contemporary as much as a thrillingly brilliant Historical which you can intuit from my Story Vault. (mind, its not updated for awhile) Focusing on the topic today, Cosy Mysteries (yes, I purposely spelt it this way!) have been my jam since I was quite young. I’ve openly discussed how much I struggled with reading when I was a young girl – before and after I learnt I was dyslexic and when it came to reading, Mysteries were a constant companion.
I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys before I quickly moved into Adult Cosies with Agatha Christie and her lovingly brilliant Miss Marple! I wouldn’t discover Poirot until an adult – through the film adaptations and series; whilst it is a goal of mine to read his stories at some point. Cosies have a particular fondness for me because I’m not a reader who enjoys gritty and gruesome scenes of violence nor do I enjoy heavy pepperings of vulgarity (see also Review for a recent read that went over the top). I’d much prefer to get into the heart of the investigations, follow the central lead and supporting characters’ journeys and settle into the setting of the mystery as well. Small townes are an especially favourite of mine because of how quirky they are by nature and how cleverly their organised by writers to be full of interestingly diverse and ecelctic characters.
I read Contemporary Suspense novels which are writ similarly to Cosies – as their with a faith-based imprint (ie. Love Inspired Suspense) but in general, I tend to categorise those separately from ‘Cosy’ as Cosy has its own guidelines and perimeters to adhere too, themselves. I do count Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mysteries as Cosies but I know their just ‘this side’ of Hard-Boiled, too. I like to peer into a Cosy’s characters’ life, take up residence there and enjoy the respite from other genres I regularly read. Cosies also have a cosy-comfortable vibe about them and you tend to get attached to the characters and/or the setting quite immediately.
When it comes to Cosy Historical Mysteries – I sometimes put a few ‘nearly Hard-Boiled’ lovelies into that category, too, such as the Susan Spann Hiro Hattori series I regularly have read through the last several years. For Historicals, rather than having myself feel anchoured into our modern world with pop cultural references which I devour in stories due to the fact it opens a lot of my geeky doors of delight – I prefer to feel more attached to the timescape in History. Similar to why I love reading Victorian, Regency and Edwardian Romances. I like to feel as if I’ve removed myself into that portal of the historical past and can see/sense everything I might have if I were physically removed.
The best bit of course is the suspension of reality to tuck close to a Cosy character, peer into the investigative processes and see if I can either guess or root out the culprits along with the sleuths in the story. Whether their professionals or amateurs, I love following along and seeing where the writer has chosen to take us through their own vision for the set-up and the reveal. Even the motivations for the characters who are villains is of interest as sometimes that can explain so much about the story and also, in the case of series, how that affects the characters who will return.
Cosy Mysteries are just a part of my bookish heart as much as Science Fiction, Fantasy & Historical Fiction – I rotate through genres on the regular and as you will denote by the events I co-host and/or participate inside every year, there is a genre of interest or flavour of story that might tempt you as you read the chronicles of my readerly life here on Jorie Loves A Story. It is harder to explain what led me into Cosies originally because my earliest memories of reading outside the moments I was listening to Mum (ie. the original narrator in my life) read to me were of Mysteries!! They’ve just always ‘been’ there, you know!?
My Connection to the Author: Harper Kincaid
Ms Kincaid and I truly loved interacting during the #12DaysOfCozies Twitter chat event during December, 2020. It sparked a wonderful connection between two writers and two avid readers wherein we found we share a heap in common with each other. and so, naturally a friendship started to develop. We’ve remained in contact over the months since as our schedules have allowed and I have been grateful to find someone I can relate too who is also celebrating being GenX through her series of Cosy Mysteries as the Bookbinding Mysteries is for readers who like GenX (and/or GenY) sensibilities in their stories.
I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with her ahead of reading her novels. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. This is also true when I follow-up with them on future releases and celebrate the book birthdays which come after their initial publication.
Quinn Victoria Caine is back in her quirky town of Vienna, Virginia, starting her new life as a bookbinder in her family-owned, charm-for-days bookshop, Prose & Scones. With her trusty German Shephard RBG-‘Ruff Barker’ Ginsburg by her side, what can go wrong? Okay, sure, bumping into her ex, Scott, or her former high school nemesis, Tricia, is a drag. It certainly doesn’t help they have acquired the new hobby of shoving their recent engagement in her face every chance they get. But that doesn’t mean Quinn wanted to find Tricia dead in the road. So why does half the town think she may have done it?
Quinn is determined to find Tricia’s killer, even if it means partnering with her cousin-turned-nun, Sister Daria, and Detective Aiden Harrington, her older brother’s too-movie-star-handsome-for-his-own good, best friend. They believe she’s innocent, but of course that doesn’t influence the police, who peg her as their prime suspect. Or, at least until she’s poisoned.
But there is no way Quinn is going to stop now. Vienna is her town and-for better or worse-Tricia was one of their own. Someone may have killed the mocking girl, but no one’s going to stop the notorious QVC.
Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in  whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in  before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By  as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. Thereby it was with the Dream Horse Adventures series I decided to mark my return and was quite thankful this was a series she was celebrating through her touring company.
I received a complimentary copy of “Death and Decluttering” direct from the author Nancy McGovern in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
It was meant to be a Cosy kind of ending to 2020:
I quite wickedly stumbled into an online event called: #12DaysOfCozies (you’ll find the badge and links to this in my blog’s sidebar) wherein Cosy Mystery authors & readers were readily able to engage directly with each other during 12 wicked wonderful days of December wherein a Cosy Mystery devout reader, blogger and social motivator (Angela @ Cozy Mystery Book Club) brought us all together – for chats and bingo cards and the best bit of all – the chance to unwind into a spontaneously spun chat wherein we ‘met’ #newtomeauthors of Cosy Mysteries, found new stories and/or series to add-on to our library hold queues and dearly gave us a wickedly delight of a start to December after such a hard-won year!
I had fully planned to read a sampling of those authors stories & series during the second half of December (if not over the Christmas & New Year’s holidays directly!) whilst curating some #25PagePreview posts rolled into my #blogmas schedule! However, December had other plans for me and sadly, despite being able to fetch a sleighfull of books from those lovely authors from two different libraries (ie. local and regional alike) I had to push forward those plans into January (and most likely February at this junction!) as my holidays were an insanely rescheduled affair after my Mum worked over 135+ emergency shifts at work as she’s in home health! Our holidays were not calm & festive but we found small joys and little ways of ringing in Christmas & New Year’s despite the adverse ways in which the holidays were unconventionally celebrated this year.
I even had to postpone my favourite binge reads for #ChristmasReads which (as I’m eyeing the calendar,…) I still aim to accomplish by releaseing a few last #blogmas posts before February springs itself on me!
Thereby whilst I awaited the arrival of “Death and Decluttering” my entire mindset in December was blissfully set in a Cosy kind of headspace because I was *devouring!* the #12DaysOfCozies chats and scouring my libraries card catalogues online to see what I could to put into queue next! I even found the group read book for the Cozy Mystery Book Club! Top cheers to Jorie, eh!
If you’ve been a follower and/or fervent reader of Jorie Loves A Story, you know I generally disappear off into the Cosy Historical Mystery worlds of intrique moreso than Contemporary Cosies – however, in recent years that has been changing – with my passionate love of Love Inspired Suspense novels with Mum, my JOY of discovering the witchy Cosies by Leanne Leeds and the quirkified world of the Wonky Witch (my dearly beloved Alf!) and the Wonky Inn — you could definitely say I have a stronghold on the Cosies which are keeping me wickedly entertained and heartily in love with Indie Cosies!
It is my absolute joy in welcoming the Sparks and Joy Mysteries to Jorie Loves A Story and I cannot wait to knit together my remarks on behalf of the series already in progress of being read as I itch towards #Witchathon & #WyrdAndWonder this New Year, 2021!
Joy Russo loves chaos. From her life as a busy reporter to her brawling, coffee-obsessed Italian family, there’s nothing she loves more than her messy, little life. Then the weird, slightly out-of-this-world Aurora Sparks arrives, whose life seems to revolve around creating order out of chaos.
The two of them have somehow ended up as roommates in the small Upstate New York town of Bent River, and the old adage that says “opposite attract” couldn’t be further from the truth! Sparks fly & tempers flare as each young lady tries to deal with the other’s eccentricities while not compromising their own values. Much easier said than done.
But when a man is found dead and Joy’s father is the prime suspect, the two must put aside their differences if they want to help him. They soon find that Joy’s tough, no-nonsense demeanor and Aurora’s ordered, structured nature perfectly complement each other when it comes to ferreting out clues. And, thankfully so, as the danger threatens to escalate unless they can sort through the facts and solve this mystery in a hurry!
Death & Decluttering is the first cozy mystery adventure in Nancy McGovern’s new series, "Sparks & Joy”!
Notice the ostrich? Due take stock of the bird! Quite a pivotal side character!
Death and Decluttering (book one)
Alibis and Arranging (book two)
Suspects and Sorting (book three)
→ I will be reading the second & third book in this series post-tour! ←
Ahead of reading my reactions to “Death and Decluttering”
ENJOY this short extract of the novel:
Joy shot up out of bed as she heard the phone ring. The digital alarm clock beside her bed read 3:04am. Ricci House was one of the few houses in Bent River to still have a landline, mainly because her Nonno had insisted on it. He’d liked the fact that it was tied down in one place. A mobile phone was far too easily lost in the mountain of clutter all around the house.
Now, Joy realized with a sigh that the phone was still in her Nonno’s room. The room she’d hardly ever entered after he died. The room she’d thoughtlessly let Aurora settle into earlier that day.
The ringing stopped. Joy shrugged on a robe and tied the belt around herself. Her hazy mind had begun to clear, and panic was marching its icy feet down her spine. A call at 3am could only mean bad news. Gearing herself up mentally, Joy walked down the hallway and rapped on what was now Aurora’s door.
Aurora swung it wide open almost immediately. Her eyes were wide and panicked. “Joy…it’s…it’s for you.” She pointed behind her and Joy raced to pick up the phone. She closed her eyes for a second and took a breath – the fear that something bad had happened was now certainty.
“Joy, sweetheart.” It was her mother. Oh no. “Something terrible has happened.”
“It’s Dad, isn’t it?” Joy’s throat was so tight she could barely talk. Aurora came up behind her and put a sympathetic hand on her shoulder.
“It’s…me, actually,” her mother said. “I’m calling from the police station. Oh, Joy…could you come? Quickly? I think I might need a lawyer, too. I just…”
“You’re at the police station?” Joy blinked. “What?”
“I’m being questioned,” her mother said. “Joy…it’s not looking good.”
“You? Questioned by the police?” Joy was baffled. “At 3am?”
“Chip Goggins is dead.” Her mother’s voice was strangely emotionless and flat.
“Where’s Dad?” A new suspicion had begun to dawn on Joy.
“I don’t know. The police have gone to get him, too. Joy, can you please just come? Tell Uncle Pietro and the others, will you?”
“Sure. Sure. Of course,” Joy said. “Don’t you worry, Mom. We’ll sort everything out soon. Just stay strong.”
“Your time is up,” an official sounding voice said in the background.
“Just one more min-” Joy heard her mother protest just as the phone was cut off.
Aurora gave her a questioning look as Joy placed the phone down.
“I have to go,” Joy said, pushing past her and rushing to the door. No…wait…she had to call her uncles first. Struggling to remember where she’d put her purse, Joy ran to her room and began searching around. Her phone, wallet and keys – she really needed them right now.
This is a Self-Published Cosy Mystery series!
Converse on Twitter via: #CosyMystery OR #CozyMystery
as well as #SparksAndJoyMysteries and #IndieAuthor
About Nancy McGovern
I'm a mother, wife, homemaker, pet lover, teacher, student, reader, writer, drinker of tea & wine (depending on the time of day) and sleep-deprived dreamer. I live in Northern New Jersey with my husband (a veterinarian and writer), our three children and too many furred & feathered friends to list!
Please visit my website for more information about my books and to sign up for my newsletter!
This particular series has been on my radar for the past few years – it was a series I was grateful to have found as I love finding Cosy Historical Mysteries! I have enjoyed tucking into Historical Mysteries moreso than Contemporaries (with a few exceptions) as I love getting the chance to see the historic past as a portal of a glimpse into what it might have been like to live during the moments bursting to life whilst being explored through the setting of the mysteries. Mysteries are a lot of fun to read as well – seeing if I can keep pace with the sleuths and their methodologies of uncovering the truth whilst seeing which of the characters I feel left the strongest impression on me.
I have the tendency to seek out more stories featuring strong women as lead sleuths than men but there are some series out there where a male is in the lead role and I love it as dearly as the women I’ve found over the years who are giving me a charming dose of mystery with a setting and/or a plot that gives me a heap of joy to be reading!
What I find endearing about the Lady Evelyn series is how she has a fiancé and how he worries after her as she seems to have the luck of placing herself in pickles of danger! I know I haven’t yet had the joy of reading one of these lovelies – but from the prior blog tour and this one, I’ve been gaining more information about the series and am finding it a sweet fit as a #mustread! I love when Mysteries can afford themselves a secondary thread of connection – such as through a romance and/or a relationship which continues to build through the different installments.
The full rounding of a character’s life and their motivations is what inspires me the most to be reading these kinds of stories. I like seeking out Mysteries which are charming to read and give me a healthy dose of mystery which isn’t easily resolved and/or solved. I truly look forward to gathering these stories in print (although the inventory seems to be quite low right now) and starting to read them from start to finish. For this conversation I wanted to dig into the heart of the story whilst pulling forward the author’s writerly process and for her to talk about the different components of both this latest release and the series overall.
Be sure to brew yourself a cuppa
and let’s discover more about this series together!
The Quality of Mercy Subtitle: A Lady Evelyn Mystery by Malia Zaidi
After years spent away, Lady Evelyn is at long last back in her home city of London and she has returned with a rather controversial plan. The Carlisle Detective Agency is born, and it does not take long for the bodies… ahem, cases, to start piling up. With her friend and assistant Hugh, Evelyn embarks on the quest to solve the crimes. Yet the London she encounters is not the London of her coddled youth, and she is forced to learn that there is more to discover than the identity of a murderer. It isn’t only her city which reveals it is not what she always believed it to be, but the people she encounters as well. Secrets are revealed that have her thinking twice about everything she thought she knew about the society in which she grew up.
Evelyn’s love for her hard-won independence confronts her with yet another mystery, whether she is ready or willing to give up any of it for marriage. And then there is the arrival of rather a familiar face in London, one Daniel is none to pleased to see. Evelyn must find not one but two murderers, as well as make a decision that could determine her future. From the mansions of Mayfair to the dark alleys of Whitechapel, can Evelyn catch the killers before another life is taken?