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If Walls Could Talk

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Melanie Turner has made quite a name for herself remodeling historic houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. But now her reputation may be on the line. At her newest project, a run-down Pacific Heights mansion, Mel is visited by the ghost of a colleague who recently met a bad end with power tools. Mel hopes that by nailing the killer, she can rid herself of the ghostly pres Melanie Turner has made quite a name for herself remodeling historic houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. But now her reputation may be on the line. At her newest project, a run-down Pacific Heights mansion, Mel is visited by the ghost of a colleague who recently met a bad end with power tools. Mel hopes that by nailing the killer, she can rid herself of the ghostly presence of the murdered man-and not end up a construction casualty herself...


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Melanie Turner has made quite a name for herself remodeling historic houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. But now her reputation may be on the line. At her newest project, a run-down Pacific Heights mansion, Mel is visited by the ghost of a colleague who recently met a bad end with power tools. Mel hopes that by nailing the killer, she can rid herself of the ghostly pres Melanie Turner has made quite a name for herself remodeling historic houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. But now her reputation may be on the line. At her newest project, a run-down Pacific Heights mansion, Mel is visited by the ghost of a colleague who recently met a bad end with power tools. Mel hopes that by nailing the killer, she can rid herself of the ghostly presence of the murdered man-and not end up a construction casualty herself...

30 review for If Walls Could Talk

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    I liked these things in the enjoyable If Walls Could Talk: 1. Woo-woo element unobtrusively woven into the narrative. 2. Nifty descriptions and atmosphere of the San Francisco setting. 3. Heroine adopts a rescue dog. 4. Warm portrayal of her family life and friends. 5. Lots of interesting details about doing old house renovations.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    I really enjoy cozy mysteries. I've read reviews where people complain of the predictably of them, but that's the kind of books they are. Just like romances, they are completely predictable. It's the characters that make these mysteries what they are. I wanted to give this series a chance since I completely loved The Paris Key by Blackwell. I admit there were moments that kind of bored me, mainly all the house construction talk. (I only enjoy that if The Property Brothers are on) But I did, howe I really enjoy cozy mysteries. I've read reviews where people complain of the predictably of them, but that's the kind of books they are. Just like romances, they are completely predictable. It's the characters that make these mysteries what they are. I wanted to give this series a chance since I completely loved The Paris Key by Blackwell. I admit there were moments that kind of bored me, mainly all the house construction talk. (I only enjoy that if The Property Brothers are on) But I did, however, liked the characters and the ghost angle to the mystery. I debated on giving this 3.5 stars but decided on 4 since it makes me want to read more of this series. I do hope that Mel gets more into talking with ghosts since now she knows she can:)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Juli

    Melanie Turner remodels homes. Not just any homes....historic San Francisco homes. Rejuvenating properties to their former glory is Melanie's favorite thing to do. She's taken on a problematic project this time. A dilapidated Pacific Heights mansion needs a makeover. The property owner attempts a drunken DIY session that ends with a death by power tool. Melanie steps in to help finish the remodel work, but the dead man's ghost won't leave her alone. She begins investigating to save her reputatio Melanie Turner remodels homes. Not just any homes....historic San Francisco homes. Rejuvenating properties to their former glory is Melanie's favorite thing to do. She's taken on a problematic project this time. A dilapidated Pacific Heights mansion needs a makeover. The property owner attempts a drunken DIY session that ends with a death by power tool. Melanie steps in to help finish the remodel work, but the dead man's ghost won't leave her alone. She begins investigating to save her reputation as a contractor and rid herself of a pesky spirit. I listened to the audio book version of this story and enjoyed every minute of it. The background theme (historic homes restoration), characters, and mystery were all interesting. I'm not sure how I would respond to the situation (death by power tool is pretty gruesome), but Melanie stepped right in to try and help. I like her as a MC. She is intelligent, very good at her job and feisty when required. It would be difficult to be a woman in a typically male job, but she pulls it off with gusto. This book is definitely a cozy. While the death is a gruesome, it isn't described in graphic details. There is no sex, cussing or otherwise distressing moments. The story is a nice mix of humor and mystery. I like the combination of historic home renovation and murder mystery. It just works well. And wouldn't that be a fun job?? So much history! And getting to bring an old home back to life. It would be so interesting! Lots of work....but rewarding! There are seven books in this series. I'm definitely going to be reading my way through the rest! This was a fun book to read! Juliet Blackwell writes several other cozy series including Witchcraft Mysteries, and Art Lover's Mystery series. Moving on to book two -- Dead Bolt!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andree

    So, this one took me more time to get into than the series about a witch who runs a vintage clothing store. But once I did, I might like it better almost? IDK. There's something about a former anthropologist/academic who (after an incomplete PhD and a messy divorce) runs a construction company that specializes in renovating older homes. And can apparently talk to ghosts, due to hereditary gifts. IDK. It's working for me. So, this one took me more time to get into than the series about a witch who runs a vintage clothing store. But once I did, I might like it better almost? IDK. There's something about a former anthropologist/academic who (after an incomplete PhD and a messy divorce) runs a construction company that specializes in renovating older homes. And can apparently talk to ghosts, due to hereditary gifts. IDK. It's working for me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Surprisingly good for a cozy mystery. There is a lot of San Francisco history, such as The Emperor, brought in to buttress the plot. The prosaic details on the high levels of renovation were well done, too. I get the feeling the author actually spent some time redoing an old house as the general contractor or involved homeowner. It made for a unique, interesting setting. The more gritty details, such as actual construction weren't nearly as well done. For instance, there's no need to set up a tab Surprisingly good for a cozy mystery. There is a lot of San Francisco history, such as The Emperor, brought in to buttress the plot. The prosaic details on the high levels of renovation were well done, too. I get the feeling the author actually spent some time redoing an old house as the general contractor or involved homeowner. It made for a unique, interesting setting. The more gritty details, such as actual construction weren't nearly as well done. For instance, there's no need to set up a tablesaw while still tearing out the plaster. A nail gun is barely possible, although a screwgun is more likely to be used. Still, it wasn't too bad & I liked the arguments over building 'green' versus rehabbing existing structures. The mystery was suitably twisty & the characters well drawn. Good dialogue that was well narrated, too. There were a lot of good touches such as combing junk stores & the ghost bit was just icing on the cake. It added a lot of humor. Definitely recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Quenya

    This is one of those books that I wasn’t sure what I thought about it while I was listening to it and then when it was over I started to immediately think about getting the next one. The more I thought I about it the more I realized I actually really liked it. The characters were interesting, the case was interesting and the narrator was good. Mel has got to be one of the most unique individuals in books that I been introduced to recently. I enjoyed her chemistry with the other characters, her v This is one of those books that I wasn’t sure what I thought about it while I was listening to it and then when it was over I started to immediately think about getting the next one. The more I thought I about it the more I realized I actually really liked it. The characters were interesting, the case was interesting and the narrator was good. Mel has got to be one of the most unique individuals in books that I been introduced to recently. I enjoyed her chemistry with the other characters, her values and her love of historic homes. Which is perfect for the setting of San Francisco as that is a great city for history. The cast of supporting characters are all also compelling except for Graham her love interest – he is a little dry but maybe the author develops him more later on. The case starts with a bang and has many twists and turns but the author blends all of these well into the finale and you don’t feel cheated by the solution. I look forward to the next book in the series.

  7. 5 out of 5

    SheriC (PM)

    The only other cozy mystery series I’ve tried was not very satisfying, so I had low expectations coming into this one. But what a pleasant surprise! The author introduces each character with descriptions that drew a clear picture in my mind and also gave some hint of what was to come. I learned a little history and felt some of the MC’s enthusiasm for her work in restoring historic homes. The whodunnit was not especially difficult to figure out before it was revealed, but the journey to get ther The only other cozy mystery series I’ve tried was not very satisfying, so I had low expectations coming into this one. But what a pleasant surprise! The author introduces each character with descriptions that drew a clear picture in my mind and also gave some hint of what was to come. I learned a little history and felt some of the MC’s enthusiasm for her work in restoring historic homes. The whodunnit was not especially difficult to figure out before it was revealed, but the journey to get there was plenty of fun. Audio version, purchased via Audible. Although there’s not a lot of differentiation between her male characters’ voices, Xe Sands’ performance is very good in terms of pacing and emotion. Previous Updates: 6/20/17 6%: Preceded by a subtle fog of expensive perfume, the two women looked to be in their early sixties, blonde, well coiffed, and attractive. One tall and lithe, the other petite but with torpedo-style surgically enhanced breasts. 6/20/17 15%: Well. This is unexpectedly gory for a cozy mystery. I like it. 6/21/17 43%: I'm really enjoying this. If the author is leaving clues about the murderer, I'm really not able to put them together.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kim Kaso

    A really fun book involving restoration of historic homes, ghosts, and myriad mentions of my extended neighborhood, the Bay Area. Interesting characters, fast, light read. Perfect for alternating with something heavier, a mood enhancer. I will read more in the series. Recommended if you like not-quite cosy mysteries--work boots & buzz saws rather than knitting and a quiet poisoning.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Davenport Public Library

    Mel has been asked to assist her Rock Star friend in a home renovation. Mel has taken over the reigns of her father's construction company that specializes in restoring old homes to their previous glory. Upon entering her friend's newly purchased home, she finds him passed out on the couch and an unbelievable mess. A man is dead after a "Home Demolition Party" and Mel is now haunted by his ghost. Who killed Kenneth? This was my first experience with cozy mysteries and I am hooked! If you are int Mel has been asked to assist her Rock Star friend in a home renovation. Mel has taken over the reigns of her father's construction company that specializes in restoring old homes to their previous glory. Upon entering her friend's newly purchased home, she finds him passed out on the couch and an unbelievable mess. A man is dead after a "Home Demolition Party" and Mel is now haunted by his ghost. Who killed Kenneth? This was my first experience with cozy mysteries and I am hooked! If you are interested in this title, it can be found on Overdrive in e-book and through Rivershare Libraries in Regular Print. -Brittany

  10. 5 out of 5

    TheGeekyBlogger

    Read/Listened for Fun (Physical Copy, Kindle, and Audible) Overall Rating: 4.00 Story Rating: 3.75 Character Rating: 4.25 Audio Rating: 4.50 (Not part of the overall rating) First Thought when Finished: I was actually redoing a room while listening and this just added to the fun factor! Story Thoughts: Poor Melanie! All she wants to do is disappear to France and go native for a bit. Family responsibilities though prevent that and so she is now running the family's remodeling historic houses business. Read/Listened for Fun (Physical Copy, Kindle, and Audible) Overall Rating: 4.00 Story Rating: 3.75 Character Rating: 4.25 Audio Rating: 4.50 (Not part of the overall rating) First Thought when Finished: I was actually redoing a room while listening and this just added to the fun factor! Story Thoughts: Poor Melanie! All she wants to do is disappear to France and go native for a bit. Family responsibilities though prevent that and so she is now running the family's remodeling historic houses business. She also can see ghosts. These two combine to make for quite a fun way of solving a murder, discovering clues, and looking like your crazy! Actually I felt a bit bad for her as those pesky spirits could just pop up when it is inconvenient. Overall, the case is pretty solid and there were a few twists/turns. Not being able to figure out who did it immediately was great! Though you will figure it out before Mel, you will still have fun watching her come to the realization of who was behind it! Character Thoughts: I really liked Melanie. Her forthright behavior, backbone, and smarts made her a very strong woman. She was just quirky enough to identify with and knew when to stand her ground. She was also loyal to everyone: family, step-children (previous marriage), and friends. She is the kind of person I would want to have as a friend. Graham, I am not sold on yet but their eventual love match wasn't played up to much in this book. So I can take time to get to know him just as Mel will again. Audio Thoughts: Narrated By Xe Sands / Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins Xe is one of those narrators that truly sounds different in every book they do. She tends to merge with the characters and bring out their quirks, behaviors, and insecurities. She is fantastic at pacing, nuances, and emotions. I loved her as Mel! She just got her really well. I can't wait to get book 2! Final Thoughts: Great beginning to a fun series. I just wish I had half the remolding gumption as Mel!

  11. 4 out of 5

    C. (friends, please call me by name)

    Juliet Blackwell is gifted. She seamlessly mixes information and inner thoughts, into what a protagonist says. Very studious research goes into the careers of her heroines and real history around them. Within her brightly-coloured covers, are subjects worth delving into, authored with excellence. I like Juliet’s boldness. If she creates a series about witchcraft, then by gum, the adventures showcase the craft full-throttle. She doesn’t dangle themes to emptily entice buyers. “If Walls Could Talk” Juliet Blackwell is gifted. She seamlessly mixes information and inner thoughts, into what a protagonist says. Very studious research goes into the careers of her heroines and real history around them. Within her brightly-coloured covers, are subjects worth delving into, authored with excellence. I like Juliet’s boldness. If she creates a series about witchcraft, then by gum, the adventures showcase the craft full-throttle. She doesn’t dangle themes to emptily entice buyers. “If Walls Could Talk” follows a heritage home renovator around San Francisco, USA. It is a murder mystery, with nothing ‘cozy’ about the classification. Career-themed fiction tends to mention bodies without a natural sense of horror. Corpses shouldn’t be commonplace. ‘Mel Turner’ cradles a table saw victim and is realistically shocked by a severed hand. We are startled quickly but the well thought-out premise lapses until page 172. It is enjoyable all the way through, including moulding an identifiable home life for our character. But rather than balance this with pertinent portions, there was too long a break from major events. Mel met people for lunch more than she entered the story’s principal house. Ghostly interaction was sedate until the end; first encounters that should rivet and permeate us with an atmosphere of wonderment. Hints about a metaphysical family background did the story justice but arrived late. Not bearing fruit at all was a treasure-chasing vibe that was introduced. There is nothing like deciphering a code, diary, or map to build excitement but information came from newspaper archives. Seeking relics was pointless and there was no poignant purpose for inserting a dog. It was clever to fool us with people who made sense as culprits but their very interesting storyline was clipped off without closure. These notations bring about a four-star conclusion but I very much loved the novel.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Grey853

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I didn't like this book as much as I wanted to. Unfortunately, it's all the rage these days to take a perfectly fine cozy and throw in the supernatural element, a ghost, a vampire, something. I'm not fond of that trend. In this one the main character runs a contracting firm. After taking over a job, she starts seeing the ghost of a man killed on the site. That's not the main problem with the book, though. There's no real focus. One minute she's freaking out about seeing dead people, then she's t I didn't like this book as much as I wanted to. Unfortunately, it's all the rage these days to take a perfectly fine cozy and throw in the supernatural element, a ghost, a vampire, something. I'm not fond of that trend. In this one the main character runs a contracting firm. After taking over a job, she starts seeing the ghost of a man killed on the site. That's not the main problem with the book, though. There's no real focus. One minute she's freaking out about seeing dead people, then she's trying to find the killer, then she's worried about the job. It's all over the place. It just didn't hold together well for me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    3.5 I really enjoyed this one but I like her other series slightly better. Of course I’m going to continue with the series! Are You Afraid of the Dark Prompt: Animal on the Cover, Red Cover

  14. 4 out of 5

    Berit Talks Books

    This was a fun paranormal cozy mystery.... Melanie is in the business of renovating historical houses, but her latest project might be cursed and definitely is haunted... really liked Melanie, her father, and her probable love interest.... I also really enjoyed the way the ghost part of this was done, quite realistic.... funny enough the most character growth in the book was with the ghost, I guess that dying teaches you some life lessons.... looking forward to see what direction this series take This was a fun paranormal cozy mystery.... Melanie is in the business of renovating historical houses, but her latest project might be cursed and definitely is haunted... really liked Melanie, her father, and her probable love interest.... I also really enjoyed the way the ghost part of this was done, quite realistic.... funny enough the most character growth in the book was with the ghost, I guess that dying teaches you some life lessons.... looking forward to see what direction this series takes, definitely going to read more in the series and from this author.....

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Melanie Turner, who remodels old historical homes in the San Francisco area, had a heart desire to go to France. But instead she has taken over her family’s restoration & renovation business. She has just taken on restoration of a mansion in the Pacific Heights area. A horrible occurrence happens at the Mansion with a man losing his life. Her friend, Matt ends up in jail after the man dies. But Matt is innocent and Melanie is going to prove it. The ghost of the dead man comes to Melanie. She discovers t Melanie Turner, who remodels old historical homes in the San Francisco area, had a heart desire to go to France. But instead she has taken over her family’s restoration & renovation business. She has just taken on restoration of a mansion in the Pacific Heights area. A horrible occurrence happens at the Mansion with a man losing his life. Her friend, Matt ends up in jail after the man dies. But Matt is innocent and Melanie is going to prove it. The ghost of the dead man comes to Melanie. She discovers that she has a special gift plus her mother did also. Murder, ghosts, history, descriptions of the various styles and ornamentation bring the whole story alive. The characters are all well developed, well created and intriguing. The plot is well written making the story suspenseful with plenty of drama, humor and a touch of romance. A Highly Recommended Read!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This paranormal cozy has an interesting premise: home renovation meets haunted house. Protagonist Mel, as in Melanie, Turner is a thirty-eight year old divorcee who takes over her father's construction business after her mother passes away. She has an apparent love for returning grand old homes in the San Francisco area back to their former glory. She gets along great with her crew and suppliers. Still, she is quick to say that she hopes her dad will come back to the business soon so she can ret This paranormal cozy has an interesting premise: home renovation meets haunted house. Protagonist Mel, as in Melanie, Turner is a thirty-eight year old divorcee who takes over her father's construction business after her mother passes away. She has an apparent love for returning grand old homes in the San Francisco area back to their former glory. She gets along great with her crew and suppliers. Still, she is quick to say that she hopes her dad will come back to the business soon so she can return to her post- divorce moping in a small Parisian apartment. (Her constant yearning for Paris life amidst her happy and satisfying life in San Francisco gets old quickly.) Enter the ill-advised demolition party of a friend's newly acquired property. Mel checks in on her pal the morning after to discover one of the party-goers near death. Her friend is soon suspected as the attacker and Mel sets to work renovating the home and helping to clear her friend of the crime. The plot was pretty interesting, but I was too distracted by Mel's spurts of misplaced self-pity to invest in the character. There were several vocabulary and grammar gaffes that distracted from the story as well. Overall, I expected more from this author that I've heard a lot of good things about. Here's hoping the next in the series gets the full to-the-studs demolition and proper final polish that any good renovation deserves.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Minna

    Thid was a surprise. I picked it up not expecting anything at all, I just thought construction urban fantasy sounded like fun. It was a grounded, non-flippant story with a pinch of the paranormal. And I liked it. The characters felt real, they were multidimensional and had problems and made mistakes and everything was not great and fluffy all the time. It felt less goody-two-shoes and vomit-worthy than many other of its genre mates.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Reads

    I really liked this book!! I've had it in my bookcase for several years~~ I'm now reading the whole series. :) Just a great story line all the way around. A chick who is running a construction company, knows how to use power tools, and a gun!! Plus, she can see, talk to, and hear ghosts!! My kinda gal!! I really liked this book!! I've had it in my bookcase for several years~~ I'm now reading the whole series. :) Just a great story line all the way around. A chick who is running a construction company, knows how to use power tools, and a gun!! Plus, she can see, talk to, and hear ghosts!! My kinda gal!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    ✨Susan✨

    This is a cute, cozy series that has a good murder mystery to give it some weight. Good characters that are not too silly and can carry a ghost story. Xe Sands is so great with these cozy's. Perfect cadence with interesting voices to bring all to life. This is a cute, cozy series that has a good murder mystery to give it some weight. Good characters that are not too silly and can carry a ghost story. Xe Sands is so great with these cozy's. Perfect cadence with interesting voices to bring all to life.

  20. 5 out of 5

    IslandRiverScribe

    The Rule of Three has hit Melanie Turner pretty hard in the last two years. First, there was her divorce after a 10-year rocky marriage. Then, her beloved mother died suddenly of heart failure. And thirdly, Melanie had to take over the reins of Turner Construction after her mother’s death devastated her father so deeply that he no longer wished to run his own company. Fortunately, Mel grew up at her father’s side in the company and knows her way not only around tools but around the paperwork sid The Rule of Three has hit Melanie Turner pretty hard in the last two years. First, there was her divorce after a 10-year rocky marriage. Then, her beloved mother died suddenly of heart failure. And thirdly, Melanie had to take over the reins of Turner Construction after her mother’s death devastated her father so deeply that he no longer wished to run his own company. Fortunately, Mel grew up at her father’s side in the company and knows her way not only around tools but around the paperwork side as well. And since Turner Construction specializes in restoring historical properties, this fits in quite well with – and probably led to – Mel’s education and career as a cultural anthropologist. Then a second Rule of Three manifests itself. And it doesn’t take two years this time; it only takes two days. On the first day, the death occurs. A friend of Mel’s has gone into the business of remodeling and flipping historical properties. His business partner has talked him into having a “demo party” like those shown on reality DIY programs. When Mel goes to check on Matt the next day, she finds evidence of a drunken bash scattered among the power tools and Matt nursing a nasty gash between his eyes. Realizing the error of his ways, he begs Mel to have her company do the remodel. Within minutes of agreeing to draw up a contract, Matt’s business partner stumbles into the room, having been repeatedly shot with a nail gun and his hand amputated by a saw. And neither Mel nor Matt has heard a thing. The second event was finding out that “Turner Contracting” had already applied for and received a building permit for the remodel. Since Melanie IS Turner Contracting, she realizes someone has forged her signature somehow and well before the death. And thirdly, Cal-OSHA has shown up at the site. Even though it was not her employee who died and the power tools involved did not belong to the company, that building permit is still in her name, forged or not. Even though Mel cannot, in any way, control what a homeowner is going to do with his own tools, OSHA can shut the job down, shut her company down and even take her contractor’s license. And the OSHA agent in charge is none other than Graham Donovan. Mel had been in love – unrequited love – with Graham a decade ago when he worked for her father. By the time Graham told her that he was interested after all, Mel had moved on and was only a week from her wedding date. And now, the man she left behind holds the future of Turner Construction in his grip. And this threesome of dire events doesn’t even include the ghost of Kenneth, the dead business partner, who starts showing up in Mel’s peripheral vision minutes after his death. Having read Blackwell’s Lily Ivory/Witchcraft series, I was well prepared for her style of writing. While witches and wizards are a more appealing storyline to me than psychics and ghosts, I wanted to try the Haunted Home Renovation series once I learned that Blackwell had written a crossover novella involving Lily Ivory. And I was not disappointed in her basic style. From the beginning, there was plenty of action and mystery, a plausible entry into the main character’s ability to see ghosts, and good editing. What did disappoint me was Blackwell’s artistic license, which brought into the storyline a series of flaws that, piece by piece, eroded the overall effect. First, and early on in the story, Blackwell made sure that we knew Mel’s marriage had been a rocky one from the start and that her divorce 2 years prior had taken a real toll on her emotionally. Mel avoids dating and tells herself that she will not ever marry again. What Mel – and Blackwell – never tells us is why. Not once is any reason given for the divorce, although the aftereffects of it are repeatedly beat into us right to the end of the book. Secondly, we are told early in the novel that a building permit and a construction lien have been issued for a property that Mel’s company is NOT yet contracted to work on. Forgery involving these types of documents is a serious offense and can cost a business its very existence. But Mel, who is experienced in running a construction business, does not have either her business manager or her lawyer investigate the situation. Instead, Blackwell has Mel stumbling around, just wondering why, how and who could have done such a thing instead of actively pursuing who had deliberately sabotaged her business. And in conjunction with this breach of business acumen, Blackwell makes continual reference to how Mel dresses on the job – dresses, skirts and steel-toed boots. These references are tied to Mel’s divorce, how she is rebelling against the conservative faculty-wife dress that she had been confined to during her marriage. While trying to emphasize Mel’s attempt at independence, this artistic device is actually just plain stupid. Being intimately familiar with home construction, remodeling and flipping, I know for a fact that over 75% of construction activities involve climbing, bending over, kneeling and crawling. Not only would wearing a skirt during these activities cost a woman the respect of both her workers and her clients, it is a safety hazard. Safety glasses and steel-toed boots are only part of the work attire. Protecting certain body parts and lower body skin is the exact reason why virtually all construction workers wear denims or Carhartts, even in the heat. If a subcontractor came to my site wearing a skirt, they would be dismissed immediately, just to protect my insurance premium, if for no other reason. And since Blackwell publically admits that she runs a remodeling business for a day job, this makes her artistic license here even more inappropriate. Finally, at the end of the book, the storyline is incomplete. While Blackwell does not leave us with a cliffhanger – she just leaves us. Oh, we find out who the murderers are and they get arrested. And, as happens in most of these plotlines, the main ghost character gets satisfaction and goes into the light. But there were more bad guys in the flipping scheme than just the murderers. We never find out whether the secondary, but important, character who assaulted, tied up and locked Mel in a warehouse was ever arrested or exactly what his part in the overall scam and murder was. We never find out who nearly killed Mel and Graham at the storage facility nor who mugged Nico and put him in the hospital for days. Sure, we can guess and we would probably be close, but that’s not the point. The point is that we are left, on the last page, with a feeling of incompleteness in the plot and the words “Huh? That’s it?” on our lips.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    If Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell, Xe Sands (Narrator) is a 2013 Tantor Media publication (first published in 2010). It is the first of eight primary works in the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series. The premise of this book sounded fun, more so than some cutesy cozy mysteries that I’ve come across. A woman who renovates historic houses, sees ghosts, and lands herself in a murder mystery involving a project she’s working on. While I liked the book overall, some things fell short for me. If Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell, Xe Sands (Narrator) is a 2013 Tantor Media publication (first published in 2010). It is the first of eight primary works in the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series. The premise of this book sounded fun, more so than some cutesy cozy mysteries that I’ve come across. A woman who renovates historic houses, sees ghosts, and lands herself in a murder mystery involving a project she’s working on. While I liked the book overall, some things fell short for me. Melanie “Mel” Turner is now running her dad’s historic home renovation company following the death of her mother and her failed ten-year marriage. Mel grew up involved in her dad’s business and knows the ins and outs of this trade. In fact, this career suites her better than her almost doctorate in cultural anthropology. The story starts with Mel dropping by a reno project being managed by her friend and former business associate Matt and his business partner Kenneth. Mel’s had issues getting along with Kenneth in the past because he tended to cut corners on projects, and since Matt part in the reno’s are more of a public relations nature while Kenneth runs the jobsite, she stopped doing joint projects with them. Mel finds the reno house in a mess, Matt with a cut on his face lying on the floor and learns of the drunken demo party bash that had taken place the night before. While she is talking with Matt, Kenneth stumbles into the room covered in blood and clutching his stomach. Mel comes to his aid, and he is rushed to the hospital where he dies of his injuries (severed hand, multiple nail gun shoots to the abdomen). Mel agreed to help Matt out by taking over the project, once he had been held by the police who suspected him of murdering Kenneth. Incidentally, Matt’s son is staying at Mel’s house where she lives with her father. Just so happens, Mel’s teenage ex-stepson is friends with Matt’s son and is also staying with her. So, the next day Mel sees Kenneth’s ghost who starts following her around. He says he doesn’t remember much about when he was killed. Kenneth helps Mel by telling what he remembers and tagging along as she investigates the crime. Background info is revealed about how Mel has this ability with ghosts that is quite plausible and reinforces the story premise. Then some peculiar things start happening. Legal papers for the project turn up with Mel’s forged signature and naming her company as being in charge. She finds a person from the demo party snooping about the reno house during the time it had been closed off for the police investigation. She learns of a buyer for the project when the house had not been on the market. Break-ins occur, a fire is set, a man is assaulted and robbed – it seems someone is looking for something or trying to cover up something. An involved backstory about a former homeowner of the reno house from generations ago is told. It’s woven into the current story, and it helps support the paranormal elements of the story. While this is interesting, it really does nothing to further the plot. Curiously, a former love interest of Mel’s happens to be the OSHA agent sent to investigate whether work-related violations had occurred on the reno project. She knew Graham years ago when he worked for her father. It seemed to be a case of unrequited love for Mel. This element did provide a layer of interest to the story, but, again, it did nothing to further the plot. Plenty of time is devoted to describing historical homes, architectural details, the scope of historical preservation that would likely appeal to some readers. Some factors in the story could have been omitted altogether or better explained. Matt’s background as a former rock idol seems out of place with the story. We don’t need to know about his failed marriage(s), drinking issues, or problems caring for his teenage son. None of this side info furthered the plot or enriched the story. After several references to Mel’s failed marriage and her stepson staying with her, I thought we may learn more about both. The reason the marriage failed is not stated, and why the stepson is staying with her isn’t clear either. Although, much is said about Mel’s choice of clothing being different from what she wore during her marriage, how she broke out of the conservative mode her former husband expected she fit. But this bit about her clothes doesn’t further the plot and doesn’t seem practical in her daily tasks on the job. These parts detracted from the murder mystery in my opinion. And Mel’s character seemed to be a dichotomy. For all the talk about Mel being independent, competent, intelligent, and a successful businesses woman, she fails to do what would seem to be obvious research given the situation. For example, when she learns about the first questionable document citing her overseeing Matt’s project, she does nothing except used a document signed by the suspected forger to see if it matched. One might think she would have immediately accessed all legal documents involving this project to see what else may have been falsified. But she does nothing when she learns about the second document surfaces. Additionally, she is supposed to be good with shooting a gun, having learned from her father, and even carried a gun with her, but she leaves the gun out of her reach when she would likely need it. She made more than one poor choice that put her in a situation to be threaten or almost killed. Her actions don’t match the claims about her successes. While the pacing was consistent, there were several unnecessary side story trips that could have been avoided to focus on the plot. In fact, while the murder is revealed, a couple of loose ends are left hanging. We don’t find out what happened to a person who tried to help Mel by leaving her in a questionable situation. Nothing is finalized regarding Mel and Graham. Perhaps these threads will be continued in book 2. Overall, there was too much going on with side stuff that was unnecessary to the plot. In the end, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I’ve come away with a meh feeling that doesn’t spur me on to read the next book in the series. However, the audio narrated by Xe Sands was excellent and definitely recommended for anyone interested in the story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rachel- Goodbye Borders

    3.5* Mel (Melanie) had dreams of moving to Paris after her divorce. But, life has a way of changing that. After her mom's sudden death and he dad's step back from his construction company, she finds herself in change. She has a knack/talent for restoring historic homes. After agreeing to help out a friend (Matt), the murder of Matt's business partner happens. Mel finds herself being visited by Kenneth's ghost. It turns out her mom had some type of ability and as a child Mel had a friend no one el 3.5* Mel (Melanie) had dreams of moving to Paris after her divorce. But, life has a way of changing that. After her mom's sudden death and he dad's step back from his construction company, she finds herself in change. She has a knack/talent for restoring historic homes. After agreeing to help out a friend (Matt), the murder of Matt's business partner happens. Mel finds herself being visited by Kenneth's ghost. It turns out her mom had some type of ability and as a child Mel had a friend no one else could see. I liked that Mel is in an unconventional profession for a woman and she is good at what she does. People take direction from her. The interaction between Mel's dad and his friend Stan, Mel's (ex) stepson Caleb and his friend Dylan was fun to read. Decent mystery and I liked Mel's acceptance of her ability. I did think she was too trusting at times. Be interesting if anything happens with Graham.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    So, I thought I would give this series a chance as I really like Juliet Blackwell's other series, A Witchcraft Mystery. For me, this one didn't fully hit the mark. It was a little bit all over the place, as the main protagonist, Mel, has a lot going on in her life, and maybe that's why it felt a bit disjointed. Mel has gone through a messy divorce that she is not totally over, her mother has passed away, and she has inherited her father's renovation business temporarily, supposedly. She longs for So, I thought I would give this series a chance as I really like Juliet Blackwell's other series, A Witchcraft Mystery. For me, this one didn't fully hit the mark. It was a little bit all over the place, as the main protagonist, Mel, has a lot going on in her life, and maybe that's why it felt a bit disjointed. Mel has gone through a messy divorce that she is not totally over, her mother has passed away, and she has inherited her father's renovation business temporarily, supposedly. She longs for a simpler life in Paris, but it seems that life has other plans for her… I guess, to solve mysteries. I love San Francisco, I love learning things about the area, I love old houses, I love home restoration, I love dogs, and I am pretty interested in ghosts, if there is such a thing, so I am going to give this one another shot and read # two in the series, and will try to keep an open mind.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Janet Robel

    Mel Turner loves remodeling homes. She dons a toolbelt with her dresses and doesn't care. She is asked to help restore a mansion in the San Francisco area. A demolition party goes horribly wrong. Now, a man is dead, and Mel has started seeing his ghost. He won't leave her alone, so she must help solve his murder. I really liked this book a lot. Mel is easily likable, and along with the fact that she can see ghosts will make for an interesting series. The mystery had me guessing all the wrong gues Mel Turner loves remodeling homes. She dons a toolbelt with her dresses and doesn't care. She is asked to help restore a mansion in the San Francisco area. A demolition party goes horribly wrong. Now, a man is dead, and Mel has started seeing his ghost. He won't leave her alone, so she must help solve his murder. I really liked this book a lot. Mel is easily likable, and along with the fact that she can see ghosts will make for an interesting series. The mystery had me guessing all the wrong guesses, and I even felt sorry for the ghost. This is the first book in the series. I'm looking forward to reading more of them.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mystereity Reviews

    Between 3.5 and 4 stars I actually read this one a few years ago, but I have no memory of it (and I tend to remember each book I read like the memory of an old friend.) but I rated it 1 star. I'll rate this one higher, probably because I read the latest in the series pretty recently and enjoyed it a lot. It was pretty typical for the first in a series, spending time fleshing out the main characters while slogging through the plot. I did enjoy the plot but I'm not sure it was enough to carry the bo Between 3.5 and 4 stars I actually read this one a few years ago, but I have no memory of it (and I tend to remember each book I read like the memory of an old friend.) but I rated it 1 star. I'll rate this one higher, probably because I read the latest in the series pretty recently and enjoyed it a lot. It was pretty typical for the first in a series, spending time fleshing out the main characters while slogging through the plot. I did enjoy the plot but I'm not sure it was enough to carry the book. Around halfway through I was getting bored and it was hard to keep my interest (which is why it took me 2 months to finish it.) Overall, not as terrible as my original rating but doesn't rank up there in the close-circle-of-book-friends-etched-in-my-memory.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kate Powers

    A solid 3.5. A home renovation mystery with ghosts - I’m in! It was fun to listen to on audio because it felt like semi-spooky “story-time” for 7 hours. This would have been a 4 for me if the main character wasn’t a total “Tom girl who grew into her looks” stereotype. There was so much emphasis on her scandalous outfits in the beginning - I had to check back to see if the author was actually a male.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tami

    This was a pretty fun read for a rainy week in October. The story involves the renovation of a historic haunted house, a severed hand, a mysterious death and sightings of ghosts. It sounds really scary and gory, but it's really a fun read. I was surprised that there were actually passages about the process of restoring old homes included in the story. Reading this was like watching the Halloween version of an HGTV episode. This was a pretty fun read for a rainy week in October. The story involves the renovation of a historic haunted house, a severed hand, a mysterious death and sightings of ghosts. It sounds really scary and gory, but it's really a fun read. I was surprised that there were actually passages about the process of restoring old homes included in the story. Reading this was like watching the Halloween version of an HGTV episode.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    When I started reading and was about 11-12 pages in I just wasn't sure I was going to like this book but then it just hit me and I couldn't put it down. What a great read and a very interesting mystery. And add a very funny ghost, some history on gems and diamonds and you have a great cozy. Mel takes over the family construction business after her mother died and her father couldn't handle it. Mel checks on the renovations of her friend Matt's new house only to have one of their friends die. Eve When I started reading and was about 11-12 pages in I just wasn't sure I was going to like this book but then it just hit me and I couldn't put it down. What a great read and a very interesting mystery. And add a very funny ghost, some history on gems and diamonds and you have a great cozy. Mel takes over the family construction business after her mother died and her father couldn't handle it. Mel checks on the renovations of her friend Matt's new house only to have one of their friends die. Even though the cops think it is a construction accident, Mel isn't convinced and when she is visited by the ghost of the dead man she decides she needs to find out who killed him so he will leave her alone. There are some interesting characters (good and bad) through out the book. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Betty

    I read this book first in 2014. It was my first paranormal and I didn't understand the story. I read it again just recently for a group read. while I enjoyed it, this time, I still felt the descriptions of all architectural took from the story. The ending was not complete and there were loose ends left. The are several subplots that do not hang together. Melanie is meeting her client at an old Victorian house. There they find a person who has been shot with a nail gun and his hand is gone. The po I read this book first in 2014. It was my first paranormal and I didn't understand the story. I read it again just recently for a group read. while I enjoyed it, this time, I still felt the descriptions of all architectural took from the story. The ending was not complete and there were loose ends left. The are several subplots that do not hang together. Melanie is meeting her client at an old Victorian house. There they find a person who has been shot with a nail gun and his hand is gone. The police treat like an accident and released the house. Melanie sees the spirit of the person in the house. She learns her Mother had a "Gift" to sense ghosts and she has inherited the "Gift". The ending will surprise. I more of this series.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    Love, love, love the setting of San Francisco and the surrounding areas. The location descriptions are right on, and I definitely appreciate the background/historical factoids. We have not been able to live in the City for years, and this brought back all the happy, warm feelings. I loved the MC's occupation, as well as her competence and confidence. The story was engaging with just the right amount of paranormal presence. I already have the second one downloaded. Love, love, love the setting of San Francisco and the surrounding areas. The location descriptions are right on, and I definitely appreciate the background/historical factoids. We have not been able to live in the City for years, and this brought back all the happy, warm feelings. I loved the MC's occupation, as well as her competence and confidence. The story was engaging with just the right amount of paranormal presence. I already have the second one downloaded.

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