Summertime…and the TBR pile is calling!

By Lois Winston

A Crafty Collage of Crime, the 12th book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, released six weeks ago. After a multi-week blog tour to promote the book, I’ve now officially entered the period I call “me” time, a mini-vacation I permit myself after each new book leaves the security of the laptop womb and before I begin seriously thinking about the next book. Much of that “me” time is spent binge-reading (especially since it’s too hot to leave the house!) I’m trying to make a sizable dent in my virtual TBR pile before I add another book to my Kindle library. Here are the books I’ve read so far (in the order I read them) and what I thought.


Murder at the Pontchartrain by Kathleen Kaska

Kathleen Kaska always delivers, and once again she doesn’t disappoint in Murder at the Pontchartrain, the sixth book in her delightful 1950s era Sidney Lockhart Mystery Series. This time Sidney and Dixon are in New Orleans, having decided to elope, but it doesn’t take long for a dead body to show up in their hotel room, delaying the nuptials and plunging them into yet another murder investigation as the bodies begin to pile up and Dixon finds himself locked up. Kaska had me guessing whodunit until the very end, and those are the best murder mysteries.


The Tiffany Girls by Shelley Noble

A brilliant blending of fact and fiction. When a Parisian woman artist is forced to immigrate to New York, she secures a position at the Tiffany Glass Works, working beside the real women responsible for many of the designs and much of the work attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany. Noble has woven a well-researched historical novel that will draw you in and keep you turning pages.


The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis

A fascinating look at an American woman who worked as an OSS operative in Spain during WWII. I just wish the author had delved more into her life in this biography and spent less time celebrity name-dropping. I also wanted more narrative action and less dry summarization of events.


Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

For such a prolific playwright, so little is known of William Shakespeare’s life and family, including the circumstances of his young son’s death. In Hamnet, the author weaves an engaging tale of what might have occurred and how it may have become the catalyst for one of Shakespeare’s greatest works.


Dead Men Need No Reservations by Terry Ambrose

The latest edition to Terry Ambrose’s Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mysteries doesn’t disappoint. I always love spending a few hours with these characters, especially Alex, the precocious thirteen-year-old wannabe sleuth. If you’re in the mood for a light mystery and a few chuckles along the way, this book will give you both.


Going Rogue by Janet Evanovich

No matter the lemons in your life, spend a few hours with Stephanie Plum, and you’ll be sipping lemonade. Going Rogue is just as entertaining as all the other books in the series and will certainly make you forget your cares–at least for a little while–as you slip into Stephanie’s world.


The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I had never gotten around to reading this acclaimed Christie mystery, but I did figure out whodunit before the denouement, so for me that was a bit of a disappointment. However, what’s not to love about Monsieur Poirot?


Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel this book lived up to the first in the series. I really enjoyed Magpie Murders, but this sequel seemed forced, contrived, and often plodding. I’m someone who enjoys the “book-within-a-book” format when it’s done well, but that wasn’t the case here. The style works best when the two stories alternate, not when the entirety of the second book is dropped into the middle of the other. However, he did keep my guessing whodunit until the end.


In addition, I’ve read several mysteries for a contest I was judging and one where I was asked to write a blurb, but since the contest winners have yet to be announced, and the blurb book is not yet published, I can’t mention anything about them.

Now I’m off to tackle the next book on my list…but before I go, If you’re planning a road trip and looking for an audiobook to pass the drive time, I still have a few promo codes available for a free download of A Stitch to Die For, the fifth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series. Post a comment about your summer reading for a chance to win one.


USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

16 replies
  1. Dru Ann Love
    Dru Ann Love says:

    I love the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast mystery series by Terry Ambrose.
    Enjoy your “me” vacation.

  2. Kathleen Kaska
    Kathleen Kaska says:

    Thanks again for the mention of Murder at the Pontchartrain. I ordered The Tiffany Girls and have the others on my list. Christie’s Murder of Roger Ackroyd is Agatha at her best. Years ago, I wrote an article about this book. It’s one of those mysteries you must re-read.

  3. Janet Alcorn
    Janet Alcorn says:

    Your mini-vacation sounds lovely–and a great way to care for yourself and avoid burnout.

    I’ve been rereading (well, re-listening-to) Charlaine Harris’ wonderful Lily Bard series. I’m also reading The Blue Bar by Damyanti Biswas, a literary thriller set in Mumbai.

  4. Marilyn Levinson
    Marilyn Levinson says:

    I enjoyed reading your reviews. I find it so interesting that some people will love a book that others don’t and vice versa. For example, I loved The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Moonflower Murders but I didn’t like the style of Hamnet and didn’t finish reading it. Something to remember when it comes to how readers respond to our books.:)

    • Lois Winston
      Lois Winston says:

      Marilyn, I learned a long time ago that an author is never going to please every reader, and it’s futile to try. There are books, like Hamnet, where I may not necessarily care for the style of writing but get so caught up in the story that it doesn’t bother me. Just as we often have to suspend disbelief, we sometimes have to overlook the stylistic choices of others. My biggest problems with literary fiction is all the “head-hopping” and omniscient point of view, two things those of us who write genre fiction are told never to do.

  5. Kathryn Lane
    Kathryn Lane says:

    Thanks for the wonderful reviews and suggestions you’ve given us. I will order Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell and the Christie book that I’ve never read either.

    I’ve been binging on Brad Thor mysteries this summer. I also read books by Saralyn Richard (loved them – Murder in the One Percent, A Palette for Love and Murder, and Crytal Blue) and Donnel Ann Bell’s excellent Until Dead.

  6. Gay Yellen
    Gay Yellen says:

    I just read Ackroyd. Like you, Lois, I guessed correctly the identity of the murderer. I think mystery writers have a stronger chance to guess right because we understand a thing or two about how mysteries go. However, I still marveled at the complexity of Christie’s plot, and Poirot is so much fun! The Alley Theater is producing a new Christie-estate approved adaptation of the book right now. I went to hear the playwright, Mark Shanahan, speak at Murder by the Book about how he managed all those characters. I’ll be attending the play in the next few days. Can’t wait!

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