Monday, October 14, 2013

Virtual Book Tour for Murder at the Maples by Joanne Phillips

Join author Joanne Phillips on her Virtual Book Tour for Murder at the Maples, presented by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours from October 7 – October 22, 2013.  Please leave a comment or question for Joanne to let her know you stopped by. 

Books I Love by Joanne Phillips

As a writer I suppose I’m always learning from the books I read. If I think a plot line or character doesn’t work too well I can’t help but analyse why, and I almost certainly do this automatically. Which can get a bit tiring, to be honest. Sometimes I just want to read for pure pleasure, to turn off my ‘writer’s brain’ and lose myself in the story.

The best kind of books for me to relax with are mysteries because I’m so busy trying to work out who dunnit I forget to notice all the other stuff! And then there are the books I read again and again. Sometimes there is a real comfort in knowing what’s coming – does anyone else enjoy certain films more the second time, once the tension of knowing how everything turns out is gone? Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes after I’ve raced to the end of a really great book I turn back to page one and begin again, savouring every word.

Some authors have an almost magical ability to create characters that live on in your mind. Great characters are essential for those memorable books I’d read again and again, or the book you’ll recommend to all your friends. A few reviewers of my debut novel said that the lead character Stella was a friend they’d love to have, and I consider this the best praise possible. One of my favourite cozy characters is Leigh Koslow from the ‘Never’ series by Edie Clare. I’ve just finished number 5 in the series and the feisty heroine is still going strong. Writers I can always rely on to delight and inspire me include Linda Gillard, Anne Tyler and Anita Shreve.

Murder at the Maples (A Flora Lively Mystery: Book 1)

Publisher: Mirrorball Books Release Date: September 16, 2013

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Number of Pages: 274

Add to Goodreads

Book Description: 

A tragic death. A reluctant sleuth. A childhood prank that went horribly wrong.

When Flora Lively inherits her father’s business she’s totally out of her depth. Shakers Removals is in trouble, and manager Marshall isn’t helping one bit – the ex-pat American delights only in winding her up. But Flora has other things on her mind, like Joy: surrogate grandmother and resident of the Maples Retirement Village. When Joy’s pet pug has a brush with death, Flora is pulled into a series of bizarre incidents at the Maples, where fear is starting to take hold.

Could harmless old Mr. Felix really be the boy from Joy’s past, determined to exact his revenge, or is it Joy’s guilty mind playing tricks on her? And what about the Captain’s death? Accidents happen, even to the most careful people, but Flora’s not convinced the old man simply fell down the stairs … Playing detective seemed like a good idea at first, but before long Flora realises the stakes are far higher than either she or Joy imagined.

Full of warmth and humour, this gripping puzzle will appeal to fans of M. C. Beaton and Edie Clare.

Buy Link:  Amazon 

About The Author

Joanne Phillips lives in Shropshire, England with her husband and young daughter. She’s the author of commercial women’s fiction Can’t Live Without and The Family Trap, and the Flora Lively series of cosy mysteries. Can’t Live Without was an Amazon top 100 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists. Joanne blogs about writing and publishing

Author Links:

My Review

The first book in a new cozy mystery series, Murder at the Maples by Joanne Phillips, is an old fashioned mystery set in the British countryside.  A quirky and well developed main character, strange and interesting secondary characters and the question of whether there was, or wasn’t, a murder kept me turning the pages.  If you’re a fan of Elizabeth Peters, Agatha Christie or Charles Todd, I think this is a book you’ll want to check out.

Twenty nine year old Flora Lively has lost both of her parents and inherited the family business, Shaker’s Removers, during a challenging economic period.  Burdened with Marshall, her father’s handpicked American manager, and her uncle’s stepson, Flora finds solace in her friendship with Joy, an elderly client she helped move into The Maples, the local retirement community.  When strange and dangerous things begin to happen at the Maples, Flora finds herself conducting a private murder investigation.

Ms. Phillips does a very good job developing Flora’s character; she’s young, trying to make a success of her father’s dream (at the cost of her own) and trying to build a life of her own.  Stuck with male employees who don’t really understand why a woman wants to run a “man’s” business, Flora is naturally a little bit defensive and determined to be in charge.  She’s also trying to get over the emotional loss of her parents, which is still very fresh one year after their deaths.

The secondary characters, from Joy, an octogenarian with more get up and go than some forty year olds, to Marshall, whose obstinacy is really a disguise for his attraction to Flora, and the resident’s of The Maples are all well written and contribute a lot to the story.  I also enjoyed Joy’s little dog, Otto, who has a personality of his own.  While the story is told mostly from Flora’s viewpoint, Ms. Phillips covers a broad range of topics through Flora’s observations and musings; she learns about love, loss, grief, and the celebration of life as we age. 

Will Flora discover who’s behind the series of “incidents” at The Maples?  Will her newly inherited business be able to contend with their biggest rival?  You’ll have to read Murder at the Maples to find out.  I enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next book in this series.

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 Crowns 

FTC Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a blog tour in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour so you can enter the tour wide giveaway.

Tour Participants
October 7 - My Devotional Thoughts - - Guest Post
October 8 - Traveling With T – Interview
October 9 - Socrates' Book Review Blog – Review, Guest Post
October 10 - readalot – Review
October 11 - Shelley's Book Case – Review
October 12 - Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review, Guest Post
October 14 -  Queen of All She Reads – Review, Guest Post
October 15 - Chloe Gets A Clue – Interview
October 16 - rantin' ravin' and reading – Review, Guest Post
October 17 - Brooke Blogs  - Review, Interview
October 18 - StoreyBook Reviews - Review
October 20 - A Chick Who Reads – Review
October 21 - THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK – Review
October 22 - Dru's Book Musings – Guest Post


  1. Thanks so much for having me on your blog today as part of my virtual tour! I'm so glad you enjoyed Murder at the Maples, and for an author it's always so lovely when a reviewer really 'gets' what you were trying to say with a book - which you did :) Really glad to have discovered your blog as well, I'll be signing up for a subscription so I don't miss out on any more great reads. Jo x

  2. Thank you for being part of this tour!!

  3. I read purely for pleasure but I agree with you Jo about our writers' brains never completely turning off. There are so many books that I get to the end of and think 'I wish I'd written that!' I've never started a book straight after finishing it - I always feel there are too many books out there and so want to get on with the next one, however I do have some favourites that I go back to even if it's a few years later.

  4. Wonderful review! This book sounds fantastic!
    Barbara Thompson

  5. Groan - I do not need another book to read. Looks like I've found one anyway. I'll add this to my growing TBR.