Second Street Station: A Book Review

9780553418927A historical mystery featuring the witty and wily Mary Handley, the first woman detective in Brooklyn, as she tries to prove herself in a man’s world while solving a high profile murder.
Mary Handley is a not your typical late-nineteenth century lady. She’s fiery, clever, daring—and she’s not about to conform to the gender norms of the day. Not long after being fired from her job at the hat factory for insubordinate behavior, Mary finds herself at the murder scene of Charles Goodrich, the brother of a prominent alderman and former bookkeeper of Thomas Edison. When Mary proves her acumen as a sleuth, she is hired by the Brooklyn police department—as the city’s first female policewoman—to solve the crime. The top brass of the department expect her to fail, but Mary has other plans. As she delves into the mystery, she finds herself questioning the likes of J. P. Morgan, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla. Mary soon discovers the key to solving the case goes well beyond finding a murderer and depends on her ability to unearth the machinations of the city’s most prominent and respected public figures, men who will go to great lengths to protect their secrets.

Much like Mr. Churchill’s Secretary and Maisie Dobbs, Second Street Station presents a portrait of a world plunging into modernity through the eyes of a clever female sleuth. Mary Handley is an unforgettable protagonist whose wit, humor, and charm will delight readers from the very first page.

My Review: This book was right up my alley. It had all the elements I love in a cozy mystery. A likable, feisty amateur detective, an intriguing plot and a great setting. I thoroughly enjoy books set in this time period and location.

Mary Handley is a strong, clever and witty character. She is quite likable and often surprised me with her quick wit and sense of humor. She is a bit bolder than characters I’ve read in similarly-styled novels. I suspect that she will be quite entertaining to follow throughout this series! I thought it was an intriguing twist to include historical figures such as Thomas Edison in this novel. I loved that element of weaving a bit of reality into a work of fiction. It definitely makes you pause to consider how true to character these real-life historical figures might be.

The rest of the characters were well developed and interesting. The mystery itself had many layers, and I can say that I was a bit surprised by the outcome. I think the author did a great job with attention to detail and in describing scenes so that you can really visualize them as you are reading. A very well written debut and a great mystery. I look forward to continuing in the series.

* I received a copy of this book free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.



LAWRENCE H. LEVY is a highly regarded film and TV writer who is a Writers Guild Award winner and two-time Emmy nominee. He has written for various hit TV shows such as Family Ties, Saved by the Bell, Roseanne, and Seinfeld. Second Street Station is his first novel.


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Center of Gravity: A Book Review

_140_245_Book.1624.coverWhat if everything you think is true and real about your life is a lie?

Ava’s life in the coastal South appears nearly perfect after her recent marriage to the powerful and handsome Mitchell Carson. She loves her husband and the family they have created. Even Mitchell’s young son from a previous marriage, Jack, with his superhero ambitions, can’t imagine life without Ava. Outwardly, Mitchell appears to be a caring husband and doting father, but as Ava soon discovers, there is a dark side to Mitchell Carson that she never imagined.

When Graham Thomas, a lawyer with a secret past, stumbles into Ava’s life, everything changes. Mitchell’s jealous streak emerges after an innocent encounter between Graham and Ava, and Mitchell soon convinces himself that Ava is unfaithful. When Mitchell starts divorce proceedings and a custody war, Jack is caught in the middle, which soon makes him question Ava’s pure intentions. As Ava searches for a way to save her family she begins to uncover her husband’s secret past and capacity for unhinged jealousy and rage.


My Review: When I first chose this novel for review, I had absolutely no idea that this was Laura McNeill’s debut novel. Now that I am aware of this fact, I am even more impressed with her work.

The premise of this story sounded intriguing, and it definitely lived up to it’s description. I would describe it as a psychological thriller, and a very good one at that! The book switches between the perspectives of all the main characters, so you get a wonderful variety of viewpoints. This book does a really good job of introducing you to the characters, so even though the narration is shared by multiple protagonists, you are never left feeling confused about whose perspective is currently being shared.  The author does a tremendous job of gradually intensifying the story, building it piece by piece and keeping you intrigued throughout.

I loved the character of Ava. She was such a strong woman and her love for her children was fierce, pure and selfless. Graham is an intensely creepy character, and the author does a great job unraveling him throughout the story. My favorite character had to be Jack. He’s such a brave, strong little boy and he was definitely a hero in this story.

This book is subtle in it’s intensity, perfectly timed as it develops and thoroughly engaging. It will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. It is a fast-paced book, and very hard to put down. I could have easily read it in one sitting, if I had the opportunity to do so. I am rather glad that I was able to savor it over a few days time though. I really can’t say enough good things about this book! It is well written, satisfyingly chilling and completely captivating. I highly recommend this author, and she will definitely be one to watch.


*I received a copy of this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.


About the Author

Laura McNeil is a writer, web geek, travel enthusiast, and coffee drinker. In her former life, she was a television news anchor for CBS News affiliates in New York and Alabama. Laura holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is completing a graduate program in interactive technology at the University of Alabama. When she’s not writing and doing homework, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time at the beach. She lives in Mobile, AL with her family.

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Murder Freshly Baked, A Book Review

_233_380_Book.1608.coverWhen delicious baked goods become lethal, it’s time to find a killer.

Kindness is a virtue Meanness is a sin Better watch your bakery pies For poison I’ve slipped in

The Amish Artisan Village in Middlebury, Indiana, has been decorated with every color of balloon and flower for the Race for a Cure. As manager of the Village, Amber Bowman is thrilled to see the turnout-and relieved to have something to distract her from the “Poison Poet”-an individual who has been sending notes containing bad poetry to warn of poisoned baked goods.

Then Ryan Duvall crosses the finish line of the race-and falls down dead, murdered in broad daylight. But who did it? And why? The police suspect Preston Johnston, but Amber refuses to believe her employee could do such a thing.

Amber once again looks to her young Amish friend Hannah Troyer to help her find the killer-and to determine if it’s the same person leaving the cryptic poems and pies. Can they help the police before the Poison Poet strikes again? Both Amber and Hannah will need to draw on their faith as they fight to preserve the peaceful community they’ve built at the Amish Artisan Village.

My Review: This is the third installment in Vannetta Chapman’s Amish Village Mystery series. What I love about this series is that it is such a unique combination. A perfect blend of Amish fiction and cozy mystery.

The main characters again unwittingly find themselves in the role of amateur sleuths, as another murder has taken place in the peaceful village. I enjoyed the style in which this book was written. It started at the end of the story, and then took us back to the beginning to watch it unfold. I cringed at the thought of poison in any delicious pie, but I loved the creativity behind the story idea!  In this third novel, I really felt like the characters have flourished and become more engaging and endearing. I am definitely enjoying watching as their stories unfold and their lives continue to intertwine. I love the close bond that has developed between the group of main characters. Collectively, they make for an unlikely pairing, but they have become a tight knit group. The fact that they have created their own little family amongst themselves is heartwarming and dear. They are a great reminder that family isn’t always blood, it’s those who love you no matter what and accept you for who you are.

The mystery aspect of the story kept me interested and guessing. I had my suspicions as to “who-dun-it”, but I still enjoyed reading the outcome as it was revealed. I loved that this book highlighted some very real life issues, and generated awareness of them. I also love the inclusion of a new canine character! I hope Mocha stays at the forefront of future novels in this series.

I had a few moments where my interest waivered, mainly involving the flashback scenes, but I understand what the author was attempting to achieve with them, so it may have been my fault for being less absorbed in those parts.

All in all, a solid continuation of a very enjoyable series.

* I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review by BookLook Bloggers. 

About the Author

Vannetta Chapman is author of the best-selling novel A Simple Amish Christmas. She has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. In 2012 she was awarded a Carol Award for Falling to Pieces. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania. Visit Vannetta’s webiste: Twitter: @VannettaChapman Facebook: VannettaChapmanBooks

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