Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Telephone Line by Julie Mulhern

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books which will publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

Telephone Line by Julie Mulhern

Series: The Country Club Mystery #9

Published by Henery Press

Publishing date: June 18

Genre: Historical Mystery

Synopsis: A killer is calling, and Ellison’s life is on the line.

Ellison Russell is planning the event of the season—and she’s stressed. Why not yoga?

Because the yoga instructor gets murdered during class—and Ellison’s stress level rises exponentially. Now, in addition to raising a ridiculous amount of money, she’s babysitting a deranged cat (named after the devil himself), taking ten million phone calls (most of them from Mother), and finding more bodies (they’re popping up like dandelions after a spring rain).

There’s no such thing as balance when the killer makes it personal. Can Ellison catch a murderer or will her next namaste be her last? 

……………………………………….

This is one of my favorite mystery series. I still need to read book 8, but should have time to do that before June.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Back Stabbers by Julie Mulhern

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books which will publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

back-stabbers-by-julie-mulhernBack Stabbers by Julie Mulhern

Series: The Country Club Murders #8

Published by Henery Press

Publishing date: October 23

Genre: Historical Mystery (1970’s Kansas City)

253 pages

Synopsis: All Ellison Russell wanted was an update on her stock portfolio. Instead, she found her broker dead.

With an unexpected out-of-town guest at her house, Ellison is too busy for a murder investigation. Only this time, Detective Anarchy Jones wants her help, and she can’t deny the handsome detective. Can Mr. Coffee supply her with enough caffeine to keep her brain sharp and everyone else happy?

Juggling bodies (one, two, three, four), two-faced friends, her social calendar, and a cat (yes, a cat) is taxing but Mother might be the biggest challenge of all.

With a killer drawing closer, can Ellison put together the pieces or will she be the one getting stabbed in the back? 

……………………

I finished book 7 in this series a week or so ago and it is excellent. I’m really looking forward to reading this book next month!

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Shadow Dancing by Julie Mulhern

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months.

I love finding out about books which will publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

shadow dancing by Julie mulhernShadow Dancing by Julie Mulhern

Series: The Country Club Murders #7

Published by Henery Press

Publishing date: June 19, 2018

Genre: Historical Mystery, cozy

Synopsis: Visiting a psychic is outside the norm for Ellison Russell. Finding bodies is not. Unfortunately, the psychic’s crystal ball says she’ll soon be surrounded by death. Again. 

Drat. 

Now there’s a corpse in the front drive, a witchy neighbor ready to turn Ellison and her (not so) little dog into toadstools, and a stripper named Starry Knight occupying the guest room. 

How did 1975 go so wrong so quickly? 

Ellison must handle Mother (who’s found a body of her own), make up with a certain handsome detective, and catch a killer, or the death surrounding her might be her own. 

……………………………………….

I don’t read many cozy mysteries, but I love this series. They’re really fun to read without being silly. I’m all caught up and looking forward to this book!

Watching the Detectives by Julie Mulhern

watching-the-detectives-julie-mulhernWatching the Detectives by Julie Mulhern

Series: The Country Club Murders #5

Publication date: May 23

e-ARC (from NetGalley and the publisher)

–All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Historical Mystery (1970’s Kansas City), Cozy

Ellison Russell wanted a decorator, not a corpse. Too bad she finds Mrs. White in the study killed with a revolver. Things go from bad to worse when she finds Mr. White in the dining room killed with a candlestick. With so many bodies, is it any wonder Detective Anarchy Jones’ new partner considers Ellison a suspect?

With the country club gossips talking a mile a minute, an unexpected cocktail party, a visit from Aunt Sis, and a romantic decision, Ellison hardly has time to think about murder. Unfortunately, the killer has plenty of time to think about her.

…………………………

My thoughts

I’ve read these books since Julie Mulhern started publishing them in 2015. They are such fun books to read. They have a lot of humor, but also sometimes a very serious side which is the case with this book. It’s a cozy and historical, but Mulhern adds some serious issues. I like that.

Ellison Russell

Ellison Russell has a strong voice. Mulhern does a good job through these books showing Ellison from the first book when she’s an unhappy wife, protective mother and downtrodden daughter, not too sure who she is to the present loving mother and daughter who is very much her own woman–self-confident and willing to stand up to her strong-willed mother. With each book Ellison comes to know herself a little more.

With Watching the Detectives Ellison makes some decisions about her future, deals with her disapproving mother, her rebellious daughter, infuriating Aunt Sis and two very different suitors. And, of course, Ellison finds more murders which a new detective teamed with Detective Anarchy Jones finds very suspicious.

Clue aka Cluedo

I like the use of “Mrs. White in the study with the revolver”–reminiscent of the board game Clue. (Called Clue in North America, but originally begun as Cluedo in 1949 in the UK. I had never heard of Cluedo before!) Although the book doesn’t explicitly mention the board game Aggie at one point tells Hunter, “Mrs. White in the study with a revolver.” (Note: This may have changed in the final copy).

1974 Kansas City, Missouri, USA

The historical aspect–1974 Kansas City, Missouri in the United States–makes this series especially interesting. Ellison comes from a wealthy background where people are expected to marry well, belong to the Country Club, where husbands golf, wives play bridge and don’t have jobs and no one causes scandal. Secrets are kept in families. However, times are starting to change: the 1960’s have already happened with the Vietnam War, peace protests and perhaps the biggest change–birth control. Women can have control of their bodies and even start having careers. They don’t have to get married and have a husband take care of them. However, I think the country club set was probably slow to change–especially the older generation such as Ellison’s mother.

The mystery

I thought the mystery was well written. There are contradictory clues plus I didn’t know what to think of Mrs. White. Not knowing the character of the victim made it harder to guess the why and who of the mystery. I did guess before the end of the story who did it, but it didn’t take away my enjoyment of the book at all.

If you haven’t read the preceding books in this series, you really should read them before reading this book–mostly because they are so good. I was a little unsure about Ellison in the first book–The Deep End–because I thought Ellison let so many people walk all over her. However, she grows a backbone as the series continues and becomes a character I love.

I hope there are more books in this series!

Book Rating: B+

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Clouds in My Coffee by Julie Mulhern

clouds-in-my-coffeeClouds in My Coffee by Julie Mulhern
Series: The Country Club Murders #3
Genre: Historical Mystery, cozy
Setting: Kansas City, Missouri
Published by Henery Press
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: May 10)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
256 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: When Ellison Russell is nearly killed at a benefactors’ party, she brushes the incident aside as an unhappy accident. But when her house is fire-bombed, she’s shot at, and the person sitting next to her at a gala is poisoned, she must face facts. Someone wants her dead. But why? And can Ellison find the killer before he strikes again? Add in an estranged sister, a visiting aunt with a shocking secret, and a handsome detective staying in her guesthouse, and Ellison might need more than cream in her coffee…

Initial impressions

  • This series gets better and better. Ellison is a smart character and I’ve enjoyed reading each book to find out what Ellison and the other characters are doing in these books…plus the mystery is good, too!

The story

  • Ellison’s sister and her aunt are both in town and neither want to stay with Ellison’s mother so Ellison is stuck with them.
  • Her sister has decided to leave her husband. And then the husband arrives so Ellison has to deal with him, too, since her sister refuses to do so.
  • A woman seated next to Ellison at a dinner dies after she drinks from Ellison’s glass. Ellison is convinced it’s just an accident.
  • But more “accidents” happen until Ellison has to admit maybe someone is after her. But the question is why? Ellison decides she better investigate.

Pluses

  • This has quickly become one of my favorite mystery series since I began reading it about six months ago.
  • I love the historical feel of the 1970’s with country clubs, Watergate and Richard Nixon’s resignation.
  • The humor in these stories is spot-on. Humor isn’t easy to do well, but Julie Mulhern manages to get it right.
  • Even though there’s humor and this is a cozy series, it’s not silly. Ellison has been through serious problems and is stronger because of that. She’s discovering who she is and what she wants from her life.
  • I like the relationship Ellison has with her high school age daughter Grace. Life  hasn’t been too easy for them since Ellison’s husband and Grace’s father was murdered.
  • I love Anarchy Jones’ name! And he’s a good character, too.
  • There’s a bit of romance in these books, but Ellison isn’t ready to trust a man too far yet–plus she has two men she likes who would like to become her significant other.
  • Other characters are fun to read about, too. I really like Ellison’s father and, of course, Ellison’s mother is over-the-top, but she loves Ellison even if she doesn’t always like what Ellison does and tries to control Ellison’s life.
  • I love the covers for each book in the series.

Minuses

  • Ellison almost goes over the edge between being smart and being dumb when she refuses to believe someone might be trying to murder her.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I’m looking forward to the next book!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Julie Mulhern always wanted to be a writer. She spent her childhood creating pen names and dreaming of exotic, mysterious, romantic places. To that end, she went to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia (because, when you’re from the Midwest, the South is both exotic and romantic). There she earned degrees in politics and French. She even spent a year living in Paris. But the Midwest beckoned and she returned home. Now she lives with her husband, two daughters and a dastardly dog. It might not be exotic or mysterious but it is romantic.

Reading Challenges

Guaranteed to Bleed by Julie Mulhern

Guaranteed-to-Bleed-Julie-MulhernGuaranteed to Bleed by Julie Mulhern
Series: The Country Club Murders #2
Genre: Historical Mystery (cozy)
Setting: Kansas City, 1974
Published by Henery Press, 2015
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: October 13, 2015)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
268 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: With his dying breath, Bobby Lowell begs Ellison Russell, “Tell her I love her.”

Unable to refuse, Ellison struggles to find the girl the murdered boy loved. Too bad an epically bad blind date, a vindictive graffiti artist, and multiple trips to the emergency room keep getting in the way.

Worse, a killer has Ellison in his sights, her newly-rebellious daughter is missing, and there’s yet another body in her hostas. Mother won’t be pleased.

Now Ellison must track down not one but two runaway teenagers, keep her promise to Bobby and elude the killer—all before her next charity gala committee meeting.

Initial impressions

  • I enjoyed this book even more than the first book in the series!

Cheers

  • I like the mystery and Ellison’s involvement–finding the body (she drops her expensive lipstick under the bleachers) and trying to find out who the girl was in Bobby’s life (Bobby asks Ellison to “Tell her I love her”)–is realistic.
  • I feel Ellison has grown as a person and character in this book. She’s more her own person even though her mother still tries to control her life.
  • I also feel Ellison and Grace’s relationship is more realistic. Grace is a teenager and she’s still hurting from her father’s death. Ellison is more relieved he’s out of their lives, but her daughter mourns him so they’re at odds about that until Ellison is able to acknowledge her daughter’s grief.
  • When Grace and one of her friends runaway, Ellison is scared for the two girls. Ellison’s friends rally around and help her with her fear for the girls.
  • Ellison is learning about who she is as she explores her life as a single mother. For the first time in her life she has more control over her life–she isn’t letting her mother control her and her philandering husband is dead.
  • I love the humor in these books. There’s a truly hilarious blind date!
  • I don’t really mind that two men are interested in Ellison. She isn’t ready to have another man in her life.
  • Ellison’s mother tries to control Ellison and her actions, but when Ellison needs her she is there to support Ellison. And Ellison continues to gain independence and strength.
  • I like that Ellison paints and that it’s more than a hobby.
  • Ellison tries to do what’s right for herself and for others.
  • I like the historical feel of life about 40 years ago when there were no cell phones, social media and Richard Nixon had resigned. And well-to-do women spent their days playing bridge and golf at the country club (maybe some still do!)
  • I love the covers they’ve done for this series.

Jeers

  • Not really a jeer, but I wish Ms. Mulhern’s next book was the third book in the series (though I admit the new book sounds like it will be good, too!)

And a few thoughts . . .

  •  I really enjoyed this second book in the series and look forward to the next book. I want to know how Ellison grows and changes as well as read the next mystery.
  • However, Ms. Mulhern’s next book is A Haunting Desire which takes place in 1902 New Orleans and sounds like both a romance and a mystery. The publication date is July 28, 2016.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Julie Mulhern always wanted to be a writer. She spent her childhood creating pen names and dreaming of exotic, mysterious, romantic places. To that end, she went to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia (because, when you’re from the Midwest, the South is both exotic and romantic). There she earned degrees in politics and French. She even spent a year living in Paris. But the Midwest beckoned and she returned home. Now she lives with her husband, two daughters and a dastardly dog. It might not be exotic or mysterious but it is romantic.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl

Review: The Deep End by Julie Mulhern

the-deep-endThe Deep End
by Julie Mulhern
Series: The Country Club Murders #1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: 1974, Kansas City
Published by Henery Press, 2015
E-book, purchased
255 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Swimming into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress tends to ruin a woman’s day, but becoming a murder suspect can ruin her whole life.

It’s 1974 and Ellison Russell’s life revolves around her daughter and her art. She’s long since stopped caring about her cheating husband, Henry, and the women with whom he entertains himself. That is, until she becomes a suspect in Madeline Harper’s death. The murder forces Ellison to confront her husband’s proclivities and his crimes—kinky sex, petty cruelties and blackmail.

As the body count approaches par on the seventh hole, Ellison knows she has to catch a killer. But with an interfering mother, an adoring father, a teenage daughter, and a cadre of well-meaning friends demanding her attention, can Ellison find the killer before he finds her.

“Do you remember the part in The Wizard of Oz when the witch is dead and the Munchkins start singing? Think that kind of happiness. I swear every woman there was ready to break into song. Maybe a few of the men, too.”

Cheers

  • I really enjoyed this mystery. It looks like it’s a debut mystery!
  • I love the cover.
  • I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue reading this book at first when I read about Ellison’s interactions with her mother. Ellison is a complete doormat where her mother’s concerned and it’s painful to read about a grown woman doing things she doesn’t want to do because her mother tells her to. However, Ellison does grow and change during the course of the book. I like watching that happen.
  • Her mother isn’t terrible. She’s a dominant personality and thinks she know best.
  • I like the historical elements–remembering Richard Nixon, for example. No cell phones which changes many things. The fashion popular at that time. Little things dropped in to give nice background for the time period.
  • The fact this is a historical period and that it’s 1974 is quite unique.
  • Everything revolves around the country club in this book. That does seem pretty strange to me, but these are all women who don’t work so I guess they have to spend their time doing something!
  • At least Ellison paints so her life doesn’t revolve completely around the country club.
  • I like the humor in this book.
  • I like that Ellison finds she’s stronger than she thinks she is.

Jeers

  • It’s almost by accident that Ellison finds clues and figures things out. I like Ellison enough (after she grows a spine…lol) for that not to bother me too much!

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I think I saw this book on Greg’s blog–Book Haven. I was immediately attracted by the cover. It looked like the perfect summer book and it is.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Julie Mulhern always wanted to be a writer. She spent her childhood creating pen names and dreaming of exotic, mysterious, romantic places. To that end, she went to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia (because, when you’re from the Midwest, the South is both exotic and romantic). There she earned degrees in politics and French. She even spent a year living in Paris. But the Midwest beckoned and she returned home. Now she lives with her husband, two daughters and a dastardly dog. It might not be exotic or mysterious but it is romantic.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • COYER Scavenger Hunt–hosted by Fantasy is More Fun, Because Reading, and Books, Movies, Reviews.Oh My!
  • COYER–The Scavenger Hunt–#37, Read a book with water/or the ocean on the cover (3 pts)
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (a book based entirely on its cover)