Aurora Teagarden: Real Murders movie and book discussion

realmurdersbookAurora Teagarden, played by the incredible Candace Cameron Bure, is coming to Hallmark Movies and Mysteries for her second movie, based on the first book in the series by Charlain Harris. Real Murders premieres in one week, on July 26.

As a member of the Cozy Mystery Corner on Good Reads, I’ve sort of kept to the sidelines until now. But after discovering Hallmark’s new mystery lineup is based on popular mystery books, I made the leap from lurker to participant and asked if anyone wanted to read and discuss any of the books that were being made into movies. There was some interest in reading Real Murders so we decided on starting the discussion on Monday, August 3 to give everyone time to read the book and/or see the movie.

If anyone is interested in joining in and is a member of Good Reads you will need to join the Cozy Mystery Corner group and look for the discussion thread under buddy reads.

Here’s all the pertinent info:

Real Murders will be shown on Hallmark Mysteries and Movies on the following dates and (Eastern) times:

Sunday, July 26 9pm

Tuesday, July 28 7pm

Wednesday, July 29 9am

Friday, July 31, 9pm

Saturday, August 1, 5pm

Real Murders was published in the early 90’s and should be readily available as print or ebook, from libraries or book stores. There is also an audio version. Please consider joining the discussion. Alternately, feel free to leave comments on the book vs. the movie here.

REAL MURDERS: AN AURORA TEAGARDEN MYSTERY - The second "Aurora Teagarden" mystery movie starring Candace Cameron Bure ("Christmas Under Wraps," "Dancing with the Stars," "Full House") and five-time Golden Globe® nominee Marilu Henner ("Taxi," "Signed, Sealed, Delivered").  Bure reprises the role of Aurora "Roe" Teagarden based on the character created by New York Times #1 bestselling author Charlaine Harris.

REAL MURDERS: AN AURORA TEAGARDEN MYSTERY – The second “Aurora Teagarden” mystery movie starring Candace Cameron Bure (“Christmas Under Wraps,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Full House”) and five-time Golden Globe® nominee Marilu Henner (“Taxi,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”). Bure reprises the role of Aurora “Roe” Teagarden based on the character created by New York Times #1 bestselling author Charlaine Harris.

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Picture Book Mystery – The Skunk

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I took my granddaughter to the “big library” (as compared to the rural one that I work at) in a nearby city today and discovered this book, The Skunk on the new book shelf. This picture book was created by a mighty team from the world of children’s literature. Mac Barnett is the best-selling, award winning author of books such as Extra Yarn, Chloe and the Lion and President Taft is Stuck in the Bath.

Patrick McDonnell, awarding winning children’s book author and illustrator and creator of the Mutts comic strip, illustrated The Skunk. I am a fan of both Barnett and McDonnell, so I happily added this book to our pile.  Then, this evening I sat down and read the book. Illustration and text are both simple so it only took me a few minutes. My reaction was that this was a mystery that anyone could understand. Almost a psychological thriller. In a picture book. What fun! This would be a great book for a mystery lover to share with a young friend.

The book, told by an unnamed man, begins “When I left my house, there was a skunk on the doorstep.” The man, being appropriately cautious, eases past the skunk and goes about his business. The skunk follows.

“I thought it was funny that a skunk and I could be going in the same direction. But after a mile I realized I was being followed.”

A chase begins, with the man trying to lose the skunk in various ways.  What does the skunk want and why is it following him? At last, the man goes to great lengths to lose the skunk. But does he succeed? I won’t give away the twist at the end. (Or perhaps I should say ‘the twisted end.’)

But here’s a bit from the middle.

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“It was a dead end.”

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Hallmark celebrates Christmas in July

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Both the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries is celebrating Christmas in July. This isn’t the best month for mystery lovers but tomorrow, July 5, at 8:00pm Central time Hallmark Mysteries and Movies is showing the 2011 mystery movie Deck the Halls starring Scottie Thompson and Kathy Najimy. Scottie Thompson’s character Regan Reilly is based on the character of the same name written by Carol Higgins Clark. I’m not familiar with the book series so I’m not sure if the movie is based on a book or if they just used the detective character for an original movie. If it is based on a book, the title has been changed. Does anyone know if there is a book that goes with this movie?

The HMM July schedule also includes several showings of Signed Sealed Delivered for Christmas. I consider the Signed Sealed Delivered series to be “mystery lite.” The characters, who work at the dead letter department for the post office investigate packages/letters that have been damaged and are undeliverable. Of course there is always a mystery to be solved but rarely any crime so not the kind of mystery we traditionally associate with the genre. Besides that, the premise of the show is pretty unbelievable. However if you can suspend disbelief you’ll find that this is a delightful series of the heartwarming kind. Great soundtrack, too. The first July airing of the movie is scheduled for 2:00pm Central time on July 5th. Check listings for other times.

Happy fourth of July and if you choose to celebrate, Happy Christmas in July!

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Mystery Writer Maia Chance

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I just finished listening to the audio version of Snow White Red Handed by Maia Chance. She is a new writer that I think I am going to be watching. I am a huge fan of fairy tales from the Disney movies to the 10th Kingdom miniseries. Just ask me about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. No don’t –you don’t have time to listen to all I have to say about it.

I did not think murder mysteries and fairy tales were compatible but Maia Chance has proved me wrong. Her delightful first novel brings together two American actresses posing as servants, a gardener who is more than what he seems and a cynical professor who believes in more than  he lets on and pits them against a ruthless gambling hall kingpin, a lawman looking for a scapegoat or two, a dangerous huntsman and assorted goons and thugs in the Black Forest of Germany in 1867. Throw in a cottage that may have belonged to Snow White, a dwarf’s skeleton, a fairy tale ball, and a middle aged lady determined to transform herself into Snow White and you have quite a tale.

The second book in this series, Cinderella Six Feet Under, is due out in September. Besides this series from Berkeley, Chance has another new series from Minotaur, set to premiere in September: Come Hell or Highball, the first book in the Discreet Retrieval Agency Mysteries.  Here’s the blurb: 31-year-old society matron Lola Woodby has survived her loveless marriage with an unholy mixture of highballs, detective novels, and chocolate layer cake, until, her husband dies suddenly, leaving her his fortune…or so Lola thought. As it turns out, all she inherits from Alfie is a big pile of debt. Pretty soon, Lola and her stalwart Swedish cook, Berta, are reduced to hiding out in the secret love nest Alfie kept in New York City. But when rent comes due, Lola and Berta have no choice but to accept an offer made by one of Alfie’s girls-on-the-side: in exchange for a handsome sum of money, the girl wants Lola to retrieve a mysterious reel of film for her. It sounds like an easy enough way to earn the rent money. But Lola and Berta realize they’re in way over their heads when, before they can retrieve it, the man currently in possession of the film reel is murdered, and the reel disappears. 

Both Cinderella Six Feet Under and Come Hell or Highball are on my reading list and Maia Chance is definitely an author to watch!

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Review: The Wolfe Widow by Victoria Abbott

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The Wolfe Widow is the third installment in the Book Collector Mysteries. Jordan Bingham’s job is to help the formerly wealthy Vera Van Alst improve her vast mystery book collection, while finding deals on other mystery books that they can sell and make a profit on. It is her dream job in spite of the fact that she must put up with a cranky, sharp-tongued employer, an accident-prone and attention deficit Uncle Kevin, who has been hired as maintenance man and gardener and the Senora, Vera’s elderly cook who is constantly urging them to “eat, eat” her delicious Italian food. But after one visit from the mysterious Muriel Delgada, Jordan finds herself fired and cut off from everyone at the Van Alst Mansion. Jordan believes that Muriel is up to no good and she intends to prove it.

But Jordan finds herself on her own as her best friends seem to have gone AWOL and her loving but thoroughly shady Uncles are busy with a “project.” (Better not to ask.) To make matters worse, Tyler “Smiley” Decker is away for police training and not even allowed to use the phone. So Jordan channels her current fictional mentor, Archie Goodwin, to help her get to the bottom of this mystery.

The Book Collector Mysteries are fun, fast-paced, funny adventures with a literary twist. They have witty dialogue, quirky characters and lovable, if not always well-behaved pets. This series is a real treat for cozy mystery lovers. I believe The Wolfe Widow can be read on its own, but I’d recommend starting at the beginning with The Christie Caper and following up with The Sayers Swindle before moving on to The Wolfe Widow. And if you are already a fan – great news – the next installment of this series, The Marsh Madness, is due out in September. I am not familiar with the spotlighted author, Ngaio Marsh. Hopefully I can be up to speed by September. I am hoping to see Dashiell Hammett and/or Raymond Chandler featured in upcoming books.

The Book Collector Mysteries are written by Victoria Abbott, the mother-daughter team of Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini. This is Victoria’s first mystery series but Mary Jane is the author of books starring Camilla MacPhee, Fiona Silk and Charlotte Adams.

I listened to the audio version of this series, narrated by Carla Mercer-Meyer. She has narrated over 50 books and won an audioFile earphones award. Mercer-Meyer did a great job of voicing the many different characters. Her comic timing and pacing were perfect. She has also narrated Heather Blake’s Magic Potion books.

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Hallmark Mysteries – Next in Series

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Hallmark has a great line up of mystery movie series right now. Here’s the scoop on what’s coming up next.

Real Murders: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery

Aurora finds a member of her crime buff group, the Real Murders Club, killed in a manner that eerily resembles the crime the club was about to discuss. As other brutal “copycat” killings follow, Aurora will have to uncover the person behind the terrifying game. Premieres July 26, 8:00pm Central Time

Gourmet Detective: A Healthy Place to Die

When Henry is invited as a guest speaker at a luxury resort spa, he quickly finds himself at the center of another murder. With Maggie at his side, our favorite duo must not only find the killer but be careful they don’t become his latest victim. Will premiere in August.

 Garage Sale Mysteries: The Wedding Dress

Coming in September of this year (2015)

Murder She Baked: Plum Pudding Murder

Scheduled to run during the holiday season of 2015.

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Life in the Enchanted Village

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The fifth Wishcraft mystery, Some Like it Witchy by Heather Blake, was recently released. So of course, I just managed to finish #4, The Goodbye Witch, this weekend. I’ve been listening to this series on audiobook, narrated by Coleen Marlo.

The series is set in The Enchanted Village, a “themed” town that caters to tourists with magical fantasies. Beneath the kitschy facade, true magic is wielded by witches.

Two other series that I enjoy, the Witchcraft mysteries by Juliet Blackwell and the Magical Bakery mysteries by Bailey Cates also feature witches. Those series do a great job of showing real witchcraft traditions and practices. Heather Blake goes in a delightfully different direction. Her witches would be more at home with Sabrina and Bewitched’s Samantha than with true followers of the craft. Blake has invested time in some serious world building, inventing her own system for magic with unique rules.

Magical ability runs in families and each family has a magical “specialty.” The main character Darcy, as well as her sister and aunt are “wish crafters” meaning that they grant wishes – as the rules allow. Other crafters have talents that help them to grow robust and exotic plants, craft beautiful objects with their hands, bake incredible breads and desserts and so on. Crafters often take on a vocation that suits their magical gifts.

Witches have a choice upon their death – proceed to the afterlife or stick around in the form of an animal. The Enchanted Village’s reincarnated residents include a parrot who was previously an actor, a mouse who works as a tailor and a dog with secrets.

One of the rules that creates a bit of trouble is the rule of secrecy. Non-witches are not allowed to be in on the magical secret. The exception to this rule is if a mortal marries a witch, the witch is allowed to share the secret with the spouse – providing that the witch gives up his or her magical talent from that time forward.

The Wishcraft mysteries require solid sleuthing skills as well as magical know-how to solve the crime. Darcy gets some help from hunky police chief Nick. Together they make an unbeatable team. Heather Blake seasons her mystery with friends and family and a touch of romance all stirred together within a storybook setting. What more could a reader want! I am ready to pack up and move to the Enchanted Village. Perhaps they need a librarian.

Read my review of the audiobook at Good Reads.

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