Book Review: Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisle

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Deck the Hallways (A Fixer-Upper Mystery, #4)Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Deck the Hallways is the 4th book in Kate Carlisle’s ‘A Fixer-Upper Mystery’ series. This one has a Christmas theme as Shannon and her construction crew renovate a home for multiple low-income families to move into over the holiday. As a feel-good, cozy story about a small town and the fun inhabitants, I enjoyed this book. As a mystery, it fell short for a few reasons. Let’s dive in.

All the makings of a fine whodunit are in place. Shannon and several people clash with the executive from the bank who’s making their lives miserable as they rush to close on the renovations. A mysterious woman claims a Santa Claus helper inappropriately touched her during a meeting. Jewelry has been stolen. Many people want that banker to leave for good. At about 20% in, we’re prepped for a wonderful mystery full of culprits and side stories. Then things kinda fell apart for me, which is unusual. Rather than kill him off at the normal place in a story, it doesn’t happen until almost 50% into the book, allowing for more people to show potential motives. I would’ve been okay with this except more suspects kept creeping up rather than exploring the 4 or 5 already noted. And then the book quickly jumped through 7 days to get to Christmas Day, giving maybe a page to a few lines of narrative telling us what happened each day. There were lots of those “***” markings noting scene changes which didn’t work well in this style of book.

By the time the villain was revealed, it was a little too much for me. I normally try to find the reasoning and get on board, but in this book, it felt like this was rushed way too quickly. I saw several other methods including starting the book closer to Christmas, fleshing out 1 or 2 stories in more detail rather than add 4 or 5 odd red herrings, and adding more twists to the core action. A few items were also left a little too open, and I was jarred out of reading because of the frequent scene changes. All that said, it’s not bad… just not the normal caliber I’ve seen from the author. It felt sort of average, so I ended up with 3 stars on this one. Worth a read to see character growth, learn all about the remodels, and find some good mystery elements… just not complete enough to say it’s better than others.

On the good side, Shannon’s relationship with Mac changes. I loved the bonding scenes with her father. She and her core group of friends have a solid connection. The town feels real. I like the potential change between Whitney’s and Shannon’s tension, although it could go in either direction based on what happened in this book. I’ve already ordered the next one to read soon. I’m sure it was just a one-off, but I look forward to getting back on track.

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Book Review: Crowned and Moldering by Kate Carlisle

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Crowned and Moldering (A Fixer-Upper Mystery, #3)Crowned and Moldering by Kate Carlisle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Crowned and Moldering is the 3rd book in Kate Carlisle’s ‘A Fixer-Upper Mystery’ series, also adapted as a TV show on the Hallmark channel. I haven’t caught the shows yet, but as soon as I catch up on the books, I will check it out. I don’t want it to alter my perspective until I’m current. As a stand-alone book, this one was good and I’d recommend it to all cozy readers.

Shannon Hammer inherited a construction business from her father in California. She’s doing well, but a former high school student returns home and tries to put Shannon out of business. While she’s renovating the lighthouse home for new love-interest, Mac, she finds a dead body jammed into a unique, early twentieth century home feature. It’s actually just a skeleton that’s nearly ten years old. Unfortunately, one of her employees realizes it must be his long-lost sister. Without trying to get in the way, Shannon ultimately falls into the same social circle as the deceased girl when she visits the high school on career day. Was it the guidance counselor? The principal? A rival student? A secret older boyfriend? A teacher? This one is packed full of suspects and had a lot of complex angles to consider.

I enjoy the descriptions of the houses and construction projects. The characters are all good. None are super amazing stand-out, but they work well and make me want to read more of the books. The writing style is simple and clean making it a quick 3-hour read for me. I began and finished this one on two flights and a layover last weekend. Although there is a typical 3-way romance building that will push readers to choose sides, it’s not thrown directly at us, which makes the story-line easier to accept. I do like how genuine and kind Shannon is, allowing me to root for her despite how close she is to the investigation. I plan to get the next book at the library over the weekend.

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Book Review: This Old Homicide by Kate Carlisle

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This Old Homicide (A Fixer-Upper Mystery, #2)This Old Homicide by Kate Carlisle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Old Homicide is the second book in Kate Carlisle’s ‘A Fixer-Upper Mystery’ series about a young female contractor named Shannon who took over her father’s construction business in California. Shannon finds her elderly neighbor, Jesse, dead when she checks on him in his house. At first, it seems like natural causes, but as the cops investigate the holes in the walls and clutter all about the place, they know someone burglarized the joint. Could Jesse have found an expensive piece of jewelry during a recent underwater dive? There had been a Spanish shipwreck in the area many years ago!

This series is built on the friendship of five woman who supporting one another through babysitting, construction, store operations, heartache, and a whole lot more. Although we focus on Shannon, it’s a wonderful group of people to get to know throughout this series. This is one of Carlisle’s strengths in terms of building characters. Each feels unique, as do the remainder of the supporting cast from Shannon’s ex-boyfriend to her petty high school friends who still like to torture her. She will waffle between the mysterious writer and the handsome cop, find plenty of new murders in each of the houses she repairs, and develop ties to a seaside town in need of tourists. All the makings of a fine series… and of the two I’ve read, I preferred the first one, but this had a strong mystery.

I look forward to picking up the third book next month once I can get through the ~10 blog tours I signed up for this quarter. That’s the goal… to get current on this series before the end of the year. Anyone else reading them? Then, I can watch the TV show based off of these books. That sounds like fun to me!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are three books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, and Flower Power Trip. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Murder on Tyneside by Eileen Thornton

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If you’re a fan of British crime thrillers, cozy mysteries, Agatha Christie-esque puzzles, or charming women who are inadvertently thrown in the middle of a murder, Murder on Tyneside is a book you will enjoy. Author Eileen Thorntondelivers quite a caper with a wonderful side slice of charisma and old-fashioned wit with the launch of her Tyneside mystery series. The book was published in late 2016 amidst a sea of her other fun-sounding stories, but this had the most appeal when I decided to sample a Thornton novel. At the time, I hadn’t realized it was a series nor did I know what Tyneside was, but its premise drew me in. Now I’ve been happily clued into both!


Recent widow in her mid-50s, Agnes Lockwood, travels back home to try to figure out what’s next in her life. From the very first chapter, you can tell she misses her husband, but she’s also practical enough to want to enjoy the rest of her life despite the recent loss. I fancy her as a cross between Nancy Drew and Miss Marple… not quite young enough to be a funny, flirtatious girl about town, but not old enough to seem like a nosy aging neighbor. She’s witty and smart, but cautious and curious all the same. Someone I’d love to have a few drinks with and study the people sitting in the room around us. And that’s basically how she solves the crimes. What starts off as a series of jewelry heists in the hotel where she’s temporarily residing turns into a couple of murders. A mysterious man has been following her, and sometimes he seems innocent, yet at others we clearly know he’s got ulterior motives. When Agnes meets a former high school friend AKA potential new love interest, she finds herself privy to all the information on the case given he’s the lead detective doing the investigating. It’s always good to have that kind of access to the clues, right?

Thornton has an easy, breezy writing style that makes you feel invested yet not over-stimulated. It’s not quite a cozy or a thriller, but a fine balance of good old-fashioned detection and intuition combined with a few fun chase scenes, double crossing curious dialog and a tad of necessary romance. At times, it felt like I was sitting there with Agnes re-telling me the story days after it happened. It was driving me a bit nuts trying to guess how the thief was breaking into the hotel rooms given all the facts we learned about access cards, keys and background checks. Thornton cleverly leads us on a path to miss the obvious. I’m usually good at guessing the how, but this time I was stumped. I was certain who the criminal was, and I am glad I at least got that part right!

I’m curious where the author plans to go with the series, as I know there is at least one other book already published, but what about the future! Some clues were left behind in this series debut, and I’m sure there’s a secret about Agnes’ husband’s death at some point, not to mention what’s really going on with her sons’ sudden move to Australia. She tells us why she chose not to go with them, but not much more… a good way to invest readers in the characters without knowing too much about their lives. Throw in a few areas of conflict with the other members of the police, a peculiar hotel setting, and a lovely woman who needs a new purpose in life, you’ve got all the makings of a strong following.

I’m glad I bought this book when it was on-sale last month, and I believe it will be again sometime later this year. Mark it on Amazon or other book sites so you can catch the sale and enjoy a new series. Now I need to figure out what book might be next for me from this author… another Tyneside or should I chance a completely different stand-alone book from Thornton’s body of works.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.