Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos

Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos

by Donna Andrews

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Every year, Yorktown, Virginia, relives its role in the Revolutionary War by celebrating the anniversary of the British surrender in 1781. This year, plans include a re-enactment of the original battle and a colonial craft fair. Meg Langslow has returned to her home town for the festivities–and to sell her wrought-iron works of art. Except, of course, for the pink-painted flamingos she reluctantly made for her mother’s best friend–she’s hoping to deliver them secretly, so she won’t get a reputation as “the blacksmith who makes those cute wrought-iron flamingos.”

Besides, she has taken on another responsibility–making sure none of her fellow crafters ruin the historical authenticity of the fair with forbidden modern devices–like wrist watches, calculators, or cell phones. She’s only doing it to keep peace with the mother of the man she loves. And Michael himself will don the white-and-gold uniform of a French officer for the re-enactment–what actor could resist a role like that?

Meg’s also trying to keep her father from scaring too many tourists with his impersonation of an 18th century physician. And to prevent a snooping reporter from publishing any stories about local scandals. Not to mention saving her naive brother, Rob, from the clutches of a con man who might steal the computer game he has invented. It’s a tough job–at least, until the swindler is found dead, slain in Meg’s booth with one of her own wrought-iron creations.

Now Meg must add another item to her already lengthy to do list: “Don’t forget to solve the murder!”

Fortunately, the more trouble Meg faces, the more fun the reader will have–and Meg faces plenty of trouble in this lighthearted and funny novel.

Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos is the third book in the Meg Langslow’s mystery series by Donna Andrews. This installment has Meg and Michael participating in the local history fair and reenactment. I am a history nerd and this is definitely the main reason why I enjoy this story. I am fascinated with reenactments and the details about the period costumes were enthralling. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good battle!

The body of a disliked man is discovered in Meg’s metallurgy booth with a knife in his back. He was a well-known scam artist who had his sights set on Rob’s new video game, so Meg is determined to protect Rob and keep him from trouble with the local law. Of course, hilarity ensues. Meg’s Dad is determined to be a murder suspect, the cannons sound through the night, and Meg is stuck keeping the peace between her fellow artisans and Michael’s mother, the tyrant in charge of the event.

I love the characters, the quick pace of the story, and the ‘ah ha!’ reveal at the end of the book. Donna Andrews is my favorite cozy mystery writer. Her stories always make me laugh and are my go-to when I’ve had a rough week. I continue to read them over and over; they are perfect for a trip to the beach! But, Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos offers more than a fun mystery and good laugh. This novel provides more character development, especially in the relationship between Meg and Michael. We see more interaction between the two, learn more about the competition between the two mothers, and delve in to more of Dr. Langslow’s odd hobbies.

Once again this is a quirky cozy mystery. You’ll probably figure out who-dunnit well before the reveal. You will read about some outlandish highjinxs. Do not pick up Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos if you are in need of a serious sophisticated read., but DEFINITELY read it if you’re craving a bit of fun. I promise you will want Meg’s wrought-iron flamingos by the end of the story!

Happy reading!

Lindsay

Happy Books

I have always been the type of reader who goes where my mood takes me. Science Fiction today? Yes please! Classic Western tomorrow? Of course! A good Mystery next week? Oooooooo…. I have always enjoyed my love for multiple genres because I rarely bore with reading. But, it makes it hard to stick with a set TBR because I never know where my mood will take me.

I started off the month reading Winter, the final novel in the Lunar Chronicles, just like I had planned in my March What to Expect. It’s pretty good despite being REALLY long. The only thing was, it wasn’t making me laugh. But to be fair, it wasn’t written for that. I REALLY needed a good laugh because life was determined to make me cry last week.

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Funny books to the rescue! I have a list of go-to authors for when I need a good laugh. Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series is full of sarcasm and sass. Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow series always delivers with wild antics. And Janet Evanovich’s Barney series lets me enjoy a good summer setting and the power of sheer dumb luck. Plus, all offer a good mystery to take my mind off any woes.

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Slowly, I reemerge from my funk. Having a good laugh will do wonders for you! Don’t worry; I’ll return to my planned reading after detouring for a few books. I’m laughing it up right now. Thank goodness for writers with a sense of humor!

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What books do you read when you’re feeling blue? Which authors do you turn to for a good laugh? Happy reading and keep laughing!

Lindsay

Murder With Puffins

Murder With Puffins

By Donna Andrews

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Winner of the St. Martin’s Malice Domestic Award in 1997 for her first work Murder With Peacocks, Donna Andrews brings back her zany characters and disastrous events.

In an attempt to get away from her family, Meg Langslow and her boyfriend go to a tiny island off the coast of Maine. What could have been a romantic getaway slowly turns into disaster.

Once there, they are marooned by a hurricane and that is only the beginning of their problems. Meg and her boyfriend arrive at the house only to discover that Meg’s parents and siblings, along with their spouses are all there. When a murder takes place, Meg realizes that she and her boyfriend can no longer sit by a cozy fireplace, but must instead tramp around the muddy island to keep try and clear her father who is the chief suspect.

Murder with Puffins is the perfect quickly cozy mystery for reading on cold overcast days. I am a fan of Donna Andrews, so feel free to check out my Review Page for reviews of her other novels.

Murder with Puffins is the second book in the Meg Langslow Mystery series. Meg is back and is in need of some quality alone-time with her hunky sweetheart, Michael. She decides that a winter weekend spent at her Aunt Phoebe’s summer home is the perfect romantic getaway, but it quickly turns in to a typical Meg adventure. They arrive on the island to a house full of family, a looming hurricane, and the murder of a man no one is mourning. Meg and her crazy family keep me coming back to these books. I am always guaranteed a laugh and a happy ending when I read a Donna Andrews cozy mystery, which are definitely good reasons to keep reading! I love Meg’s stubborn and blunt personality and the awkward interactions with her family members. They are all so quirky that their antics leave me giggling. The Murder with Puffins mystery is fun, the setting is dreary and wet, and the murder is an interesting one.

Andrews’ pacing is always a little scattered but the pacing of Murder with Puffins is downright frantic. This is because of how Meg handles the entire situation. She is upset at her family’s intrusion, angry at being shot at, irked at the miserable weather, and ashamed of her mother’s scandalous past. All of these points left me feeling mentally tired by the end of the story, but I was impressed by this feeling instead of discouraged. Feeling just as tired as the main character means I was immersed in the story. Plus, I was really happy a certain person is murdered in the story!

My only real complaint is how law enforcement is treated by the characters. (Y’all may have noticed that this is a pet peeve of mine) I am ok with the local volunteer force being completely clueless but I prefer the official force be treated with respect because that is one tough unappreciative job. I was not too keen on Meg covering up part of the evidence. Yes, I know she did it to protect her family but it was still a little irksome. I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s a cozy mystery!

I do recommend Murder with Puffins. It isn’t my favorite Meg Langslow mystery but it is the perfect read for a cold rainy day! Are you a fan of Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow mysteries? Tell me all about your favorite!

Lindsay

Six Geese A-Slaying

Here are the reviews of the two Christmas stories I finished last month.  Sorry it took so long to get these to you!  Enjoy!

Six Geese A-Slaying

by Donna Andrews

 Six Geese A-Slaying (Meg Langslow, #10)

Meg and Michael’s house is serving as the marshaling point for the annual Caerphilly Christmas parade. The theme is “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and it features twelve drummers from the school marching band, eleven bagpipers, ten leaping lords costumed in medieval finery from the college drama department, etc. There are also assorted Christmas-themed floats, a live nativity scene on a flatbed truck, the Three Wise Men on Caerphilly zoo camels, and Santa Claus in a bright red horse-drawn sleigh (eight reindeer were beyond the zoo’s scope).  Meg has been volunteered to organize the parade, which is to proceed from her house to the local campus, where Santa will take up residence to hear the Christmas wishes of the town’s children. Of course, getting all the camels, pipers, leapers, and drummers in order is proving every bit as difficult as Meg feared it would be. Then her nephew Eric, wide-eyed and ashen-faced, whispers, “Meg, something’s wrong with Santa.”  The local curmudgeon, whose beard and belly made him a natural for the role, has been murdered. Now Meg and Chief Burke, who is playing one of the wise men, are faced with the two-fold mission of solving the murder and saving Christmas!

Meg is the Mistress of the Revels, the woman in charge of the Caerphilly Holiday Parade.  This means that she is responsible for wrangling the town, and most of her family, in order to deliver the perfect parade.  All is surprisingly working out until Santa Claus, played by the rather unsavory Mr. Doleson, is murdered in the pig barn.  Meg’s farm is now a crime scene.  To make matters worse, it turns out that that Mr. Doleson has been blackmailing most of the town.  Everyone in the parade is a suspect, so Meg does her own snooping while keeping a big city reporter at bay.  It’s just a typical Caerphilly Christmas!

I always enjoy Andrews’ cozy-mysteries.  The curious and brutally honest Meg is a kindred spirit!  Just remember, these are cozy-mysteries, so don’t worry about how many murders occur on Meg’s farm over the series; just go with it!

Six Geese A-Slaying is the tenth book in the series and was just not as funny as I had expected.  The first novel in the series, Murder with Peacocks, had me crying I was laughing so hard.  This installment was good but I didn’t laugh until I peed myself.  Instead, I giggled some, smiled, and enjoyed a pleasant chapter or two each night.  The writing felt a tad rushed and the novel had a difficult time holding my attention with all the holiday craziness happening around me.  Also, the e-book version that I read had numerous continuity errors when it came to spelling, but I am sure this is not an issue for the printed copy.

I love the cast of characters, and that folks, is the reason why I keep coming back to this series.  The characters are wonderful and I feel like I am meeting up with old friends each time I read one of these books.  I adore Meg’s crazy family and her sweet husband.  My favorites are Meg’s dad and stubborn Meg!  These characters are real, funny, and just sincere through the entire series.  Here is one of my favorite excerpts (so much funnier in context):

 

“I was still standing on the back porch, adjusting to the cold and looking around for Clarence, when I heard Michael’s voice.

“This is Ernest,” Michael was saying.  “Our first llama.”

First llama?  I’d been referring to him as ‘the’ llama.”

This was the perfect Christmas cozy-mystery.  I enjoyed the description of the parade preparations and what could be better than the police chief riding a camel, Santa on a motorcycle, and 36 geese a-laying?  Are you a fan of Donna Andrews?  Which book is your favorite?

Lindsay

 

Murder with Peacocks

Murder With Peacocks 

by Donna Andrews

Murder With Peacocks (Meg Langslow, #1)

When Meg Langslow is roped into being a bridesmaid for the nuptials of her mother, her brother’s fiancee, and her own best friend, she is apprehensive. Getting the brides to choose their outfits and those of their bridesmaids (and not change their minds three days later), trying to capture the principals long enough to work out details, and even finding peacocks to strut around the garden during the ceremony – these are things Meg can handle. She can brush off the unfortunate oaf who is smitten with her, and take philosophically her disappointment when she learns that the only eligible man in her small Virginia town (and a delightful hunk he is) is of questionable sexual preference. But even Meg is taken aback when the unpleasant former sister-in-law of Meg’s soon-to-be stepfather disappears and is later found dead.

Lets start this review off with a disclaimer:  I am not a wedding person.  Period.

So you can understand how odd it is that I love a book whose plot works through THREE weddings.  I first read Murder with Peacocks while planning my own wedding, and it was the perfect escape from the stress that comes from a mixture of excitement surrounding the pending nuptials and the pain of pleasing all family members involved in the ordeal.  Meg Langslow and I were struggling through similar situations and her humor throughout the story kept me grounded and laughing for hours.

Meg’s unique family members are what makes this book so enjoyable.  I find myself waiting for them all to march through my front door with food and ice tea with each turn of the page.  Andrews is a master at taking the faults of each character and making them enduring traits.  Readers feel like they are reconnecting with old friends when they open the next book in the series.  I am still giggling at Dr. Langslow, Meg’s father, staking out Jake from a dogwood tree; I am exasperated at the missed ‘love connections’ experienced by Michael, the hunky dress store manager.  I am left cheering for Meg, who is somewhat of a kindred spirit, as she fights off the advances of the burly Barry and struggles to wrangle the flighty brides!  Add a few dead bodies and sabotage to the mix and it makes for an interesting summer for our heroine.

Just a few things to keep in mind:  There are a lot of details about weddings, so be prepared to read about cakes, flowers, and dresses.  Luckily, Andrews’ writing is far from tedious for readers.  There is not a lot of detecting; Murder with Peacocks is less like a detective story and more a tale of life with a few dead bodies thrown in.   The end ‘who-dunnit’ announcement may seem too abrupt for some people, but those who focus on the small details while reading will realize the characters were investigating throughout the entire story.  At times the family’s craziness can seem unbelievable for some; I suggest reading something else if this is an issue for you.  The Langslow family personalities are what makes these novels so entertaining and they only get wilder as the series progresses!

I picked Murder with Peacocks up for a second time specifically for this review, and it was just as enjoyable as the first time!  I am actually sending a copy of the book to my mom for her birthday; she requested a book that would leave her laughing!  Expect to see more Meg Langslow books on Sand Between the Pages!   Take the time to visit Donna Andrews website at http://www.donnaandrews.com and let me know what you think of Murder with Peacocks or this review!

Lindsay