Location scout Kate Sharp is thrilled to be part of a scouting trip to the historic city of Bath, England to research the location for a Jane Austen documentary. But before Kate gets a chance to stroll the elegant boulevards where Austen once lived, murder cuts the sightseeing short. Now Kate must rearrange her itinerary and find the killer before she and the production are shut down permanently.
Kate Sharp is a location scout. She’s currently back in England working on a Jane Austen documentary in Bath. She’s thrilled to be back in England and working, but unfortunately the crew that she works with, specifically the Producer, Elise, and the Director, Cyrus, are at it again. They don’t agree on aspects of this particular production and it’s making the rest of the crew miserable listening to their verbal sparring sessions.
When the crew finally settles into the Bath Spa Hotel and begins their scouting work for the production, one of the crew members winds up dead and leaves them all scrambling to clear their names.
I almost forgot how much I enjoyed the first book in this series. Even though this is book 4 and I skipped ahead, it was still easy to follow and could easily be a standalone. I loved all the references to Jane Austen’s life and books throughout the story. The location, Bath, heightened my interest in the mystery. I’ve enjoyed several of Jane Austen’s books and I fondly reflected on those memories as I listened. The descriptions of locations in Austen’s books was a plus.
The mystery itself played out well. With almost every character there was at least a hint of suspicion. The actual revelation was clever and believable.
The audio narrator has a voice suitable to cozy mysteries. It’s calm and soothing and excellent for this series. I looked forward to hearing her tell the story.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I would definitely recommend the Murder on Location series.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Death in an Elegant City. My opinions stated in this review are entirely my own.
Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Isabelle and Alexander blog tour. I hope you enjoy my review of this astounding book.
It’s Isabelle Rackham’s big day. She’ll be departing her family’s home in the country to reside with her soon-to-be new husband, Alexander Osgood, a handsome, financially secure man who, although a bit taciturn in nature, seems adequate in affability. Even though her beloved cousin, Edwin, regards Alexander as “chilly”, Isabelle isn’t overly concerned. Compared to her cousin’s warmth and character anyone could be considered cold. An arranged marriage can hardly meet every expectation at the start. The families’ business interests are of primary importance, not Isabelle’s personal preferences. Of this she manages to convince herself.
Once at home with her husband, Alexander is practically mute in Isabelle’s presence, and she’s growing more lonely every day. She misses her Edwin. Her husband is only interested in work at his cotton mill. Isabelle is trying hard to be noticed by her aloof husband-—initiating conversation and dressing up for his arrival home from the mill. And although she believes she detects a glimmer of interest during her attempts to cajole Alexander, he always reverts back to his stoic and brooding nature. Isabelle is confused. Alexander’s house staff and doctor regard him in a much more favorable light. There must be good in him. Why can’t she be the one to bring it out?
A trip to Alexander’s country estate, Wellsgate, brings some promise. There may be hope for their union after all. But then tragedy strikes and new challenges of which Isabelle is not well equipped are presented to the couple. During this formidable time Isabelle learns of the reasons for her husband’s acerbic nature from his gracious family doctor. Armed with these new revelations, Isabelle is determined to do all that’s necessary to care for and win her husband’s love, and in the process she might just learn a few life lessons of her own. —————- Isabelle and Alexander was a delightful read. I relished the time spent looking on as the couple navigated the many obstacles they faced, wondering if they had the fortitude and inner strength to overcome them. Alexander was a complicated character that required patience and understanding to break through the rough exterior that ultimately overshadowed his true self. I admired Isabelle. The challenges she faced required an immediate maturity, and she rose to the occasion. In doing so she adopted a new perspective on life, as well as her relationships, including the one she shared with her cousin, Edwin.
A few words about some of the secondary characters…
The house staff, mill workers and friends that made appearances throughout the book contributed nicely to the development of the plot. Collectively, they played a significant role in propelling the story forward, maintaining my interest. One of the characters, a young girl named Glory who had some challenges of her own, but was nevertheless a great asset in many ways, was unique, complex and very likable. My favorite characters were the family doctor, Dr. Kelley, followed by the housekeeper, Mrs. Burns. Her gentle words of wisdom, along with Dr. Kelley’s, were like a healing balm to Isabelle. Glory’s parents, the Kenworthy’s, are also noteworthy. Their obvious love for Glory and their warm regard for Alexander moved me. Also, Yeardley, Mr. Osgood’s faithful butler, while mainly quiet and relegated to the background, was a loyal servant who was of great help on many occasions involving Mr. Osgood. Mr. Connor, Alexander’s engineer, also deserves an honorable mention. His dedication to the Osgood Mill gave new meaning to the words Work Ethic. I have hurriedly dismissed from my mind the two villainous characters, Dr. Fredericks and Nurse Margaret. I shudder thinking of them. Their gruff demeanors and heartless treatment of their patient left much to be desired. Even the Osgood Mill was like a character in my mind’s eye. The description of the various features and functions brought it to life. I could hear the noise and smell the pungent materials within its walls. The efficient way it operated, and the workers’ genuine concern for its owner was heartwarming.
In conclusion, I loved Isabelle and Alexander, and I highly recommend it. I believe the ending certainly leaves the door open for a sequel, and if that is the case, I will look forward to reading it. I’d love to know what further becomes of Alexander and Isabelle, as well as Edwin and his enigmatic bride, Charlotte.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars
A huge thank you to the Publisher, Shadow Mountain, and blog organizer, Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose, for a complimentary copy of Isabelle and Alexander. My opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Rebecca Anderson is the nom de plume of contemporary romance novelist Becca Wilhite, author of Wedding Belles: A Novel in Four Parts, Check Me Out, and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. Isabelle and Alexander is her debut historical romance novel.
High school English teacher by day, writer by night (or very early morning), she loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies. She is happily married and a mom to four above-average kids.
“Anderson’s first foray into historical romance is an atypical, yet satisfying story set in Victorian Manchester’s upper middle class. Hand this to readers looking for a book that navigates the peaks and valleys of two strangers attempting to make a life together despite the hardships life throws at them.”— Library Journal
“Isabelle transitions from an unaware, leisure-class woman to a more enlightened spouse and supporter of the working class. Intimacy and romance develop between Isabelle and Alexander because of simple gestures, like a long look or a thoughtful gift, and their conversations. Their slow, stately courting is reader appropriate for any age or audience. Manchester also gets its due as a place of grit and incredible production. Descriptions of bustling mills reveal their impact on the couple’s family and its fortunes. Isabelle and Alexander is an intimate and touching romance novel that focuses on women’s lives in the business class of industrial England.”— Foreword Reviews
“Isabelle must use her quiet spunk, busy mind, and compassionate spirit to woo her husband in a wholly new way. Anderson’s debut is a lovely northern England Victorian romance about confronting the seemingly impossible and the power of empathy. Anderson also addresses the time period’s treatment of physical and intellectual disabilities. Most of all, she beautifully depicts love in its many forms beyond romance, such as compassion, patience, and vulnerability; and her characters illustrate the ways that these expressions of love carry us through even the darkest hours. Isabelle’s loving and persevering fervor and devotion will resonate with any caregiver’s heart.”— Booklist
The Cypress library in South Carolina is about to fall victim to a technology overhaul which will eliminate all of its physical books, replacing them with a digital catalog. The head and assistant librarians, as well as many of the patrons, are not happy about this new development. Although their disapproval is openly expressed, their feelings fall on deaf ears. The library conversion will take place. But in the midst of this transition the town manager who was in favor of the new changes is found dead, crushed under the weight of an overturned shelf of DVD’s. There are several suspects, including the assistant librarian, Trudell Beckett, who loved the library’s precious books. Admittedly, Tru has some secrets of her own, but she insists she’s innocent of this crime. Nevertheless, she remains on the suspect list. Tru has a few theories of her own about who may have killed Duggar Hargrove, and sadly her best friend, Tori, is on her list of suspects. So when someone is arrested and taken into custody for the murder, Tru should be relieved. Unfortunately, she isn’t convinced of the culprit’s guilt, and she’s intent on finding who the real killer is. Will she get to the bottom of what really happened before someone shuts her up for good?
I enjoyed this cozy mystery. The cast of characters were lively and diverse—from young to old, ditzy to feisty. Their personalities were entertaining and I found myself chuckling out loud on quite a few instances. I had difficulty determining who the murderer was which added to my enjoyment of the book. A number of the characters had motive, and the revelation at the end was both believable and creatively executed. And what’s a cozy mystery without an animal’s presence? Dewey (short for Dewey Decimal), Trudell’s brown tabby cat, was a nice addition to the story.
The audiobook narrator had a pleasant voice and I was impressed by how well she performed both male and female characters, young and old. My only complaint is that her breathy inhalation’s were noisy and distracting at times. If editing could somehow remedy this issue I would give her an A+.
Overall, I was very pleased with The Broken Spine and would definitely recommend it.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of The Broken Spine. My opinion of the book expressed in this review is entirely my own.
Currently, Tessa’s home life isn’t the greatest, so she’s hopeful about her escape to the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York with her two children, Katherine and Ben, for the summer. She’s left her husband, Kyle, at home. Pine Cottage doesn’t compare to the sprawling beach homes surrounding it, but Tessa is determined to show the kids a good time. And things might be looking up. Rebecca Finlay is vacationing in one of those large houses next to Pine Cottage, and she has three kids: Zoe, Charlotte and Max, who are in the same age range as her two kids. Rebecca and Tessa couldn’t be more different. Rebecca is perfect in every way—incredibly poised and always impeccably dressed, self-assured and confident with an air of sophistication, attractive and well-off financially. Tessa, on the other hand, is none of those things. Yet, she’s attempting to form enough of a connection with her next door vacation neighbor so that the following three months will be tolerable, maybe even enjoyable, for her and her kids. But things aren’t always what they appear to be. As the summer progresses on both women will have to face troubling realizations about their lives, and they’ll pay a heavy price doing it.
The Secrets We Keep pulled me right in. Kate Hewitt is one of my favorite authors so that didn’t surprise me. There was an element of suspense that intrigued me and kept me glued to its pages. I could feel the tension building as I read on and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen. But then the focus shifted in a direction I wasn’t expecting and things slowed down a little for me. The book was still good but I felt like the narrative lingered in some parts and wasn’t comprehensive enough in others. I was left with questions that needed answers. I hope there’s a sequel. It felt like a lot of leading up to what I thought would be this tantalizing revelation, but that fell a little flat for me in the end.
The Secrets We Keep is still a solid four stars and I did enjoy reading it.
What does an actress, village doctor, servant girl, lawyer, farmhand, teacher, spinster and auctioneer have in common? A love of Jane Austen and a strong desire to preserve her legacy. When these people from all walks of life come together to attempt to keep Jane Austen’s memory alive in Chawton, Hampshire, (the place where she spent the final decade of her life), by forming The Jane Austen Society, they are met with various forms of opposition. It won’t be easy competing against the greed-filled motives of others who are more interested in profit than in keeping Jane Austen alive through the valuable remnants she’s left behind. Add to it the Society members’ own inner struggles, conflicts and tragedies, and you have an astounding tale that will keep you eagerly turning pages into the night. And this is before the unexpected twist that took me by surprise and elevated my initial impression to an even higher level of delight!!
I LOVED this book!! Initially, I have to admit, I was hesitant to read it. It had been compared to another book which story I was not particularly drawn into, so foolishly I declined an ARC of The Jane Austen Society. That was a mistake I now regret. 🤦🏽♀️ Thankfully, I’d received a complimentary audiobook copy for review and decided one day to give it a listen. Not only was the story completely engrossing, but the narrator, Richard Armitage, is MAGNIFICENT!! His was the perfect voice to tell this incredible story. He managed to transport me back to a bygone era and awakened my inner Jane Austen. I found it very comforting during these difficult, uncertain times.
I highly recommend this book. The setting, characters and, if you decide to listen to it, the narration, will be worth every minute you spend on it. I had the greatest feeling inside when it was done, and I’m sure you will, too.
Thank you, Laurel Ann Natress, for arranging a complimentary audiobook of The Jane Austen Society for my review. My opinion of it is entirely my own.
Fiona Harrison (Blackwell), the youngest of the Harrison clan, has gone to Montana where her extended Blackwell family resides, seeking a husband. She’s using the dating app, PartnerUp, to find someone with a lucrative career who’s marriage material. She wants to please her father, Rudy, who thinks she sets her dating standards too low. Arranging to meet her dates at the Silver Stake, a local restaurant and bar where handsome bartender Simon Clarke works, isn’t helping her dilemma. When he criticizes her use of the dating app to find a suitable partner and agrees to find dates for her, she’s a bit stupefied by the gesture. After all, Simon would make a great match if only he was more ambitious. Fiona senses a mutual attraction, but she can’t contemplate marriage to a bartender as part of her future; she needs someone with higher aspirations to please her dad. But Simon has a secret, and when it’s divulged Fiona feels betrayed. Was the love of her life right in front of her all along, or is he shaping up to be just like the rest of the disappointments she’s given up on?
It was a joy returning to Montana and visiting with the Blackwell clan. Fiona’s navigation through the shaky start with her newfound relatives, along with her quest to find the perfect guy, kept me engrossed in the story. The appearance of Big E and Rudy in the book is always a highlight of this series, and the exciting ending has me looking forward to the fifth and final book in the series, Montana Wedding by Cari Lynn Webb. I enjoyed Montana Match and recommend it highly.
Montana Dreams by Anna J. Stewart is the third installment in the Blackwell Sisters series and it focuses on Peyton Harrison (Blackwell). Peyton is the workaholic sister who prefers her world neat and orderly. But a complication arises when her life is suddenly in jeopardy. And if being assigned a bodyguard, albeit a very attractive one, weren’t enough, Peyton’s life is about to change in an even more substantial way. Her boss insists that she take a short leave from her city job for her own protection, as well as her colleagues’; and she won’t take no for an answer. But how will Peyton do that? Where will she go? Someone knows exactly where Peyton will go, and she’s not happy about it one bit.
I love it when Big E makes an appearance in these books!! He just seems to pop up out of nowhere, and his presence as a character is so believable that it feels as though he’s a true, living person. Anna Stewart’s description of the Montana Ranch caused me to put the book down and ruminate on the beauty I could visualize in my mind’s eye. She brought the characters and landscape to life. Reading about the horses and the details she provided made it seem as though someone with real horse experience wrote those pages, or a good amount of research was involved in writing them. I relished reading about the time that was spent between Matteo the bodyguard and his son, Gino. Gino’s youthful speech was spot-on, and his father’s obvious pride in, and adoration of his son was endearing. Add to that a mystery that kept the pages turning, and of course a happily-ever-after, and you have all the elements that make for a tender, heartwarming read. Loved it.
The Nantucket Inn is the story of widowed mother, Lisa Hodges, and her four grown children: twins Kate and Kristen, son Chase, and youngest daughter, Abby. Now that Lisa’s husband is gone, she’s struggling to stay afloat in her home on Nantucket Island. Brian, her late husband, made poor choices resulting in financial ruin for Lisa. Her age and skill set are not exactly working in her favor, but since she’s an excellent cook with a home that has unused rooms, she accepts the idea of turning her beloved home into an Inn. In doing so she finds more than just a way to keep her finances in order.
The Nantucket Inn is a clean, fast-moving, simple read. It’s the kind of book that’s uncomplicated and tells a nice, comforting story. Lisa and her female adult children’s lives are the focal point. Since that’s four separate scenarios I at times had to pause a moment to keep everyone straight, but happily it wasn’t difficult. Lisa’s male son didn’t have much space in the book, but I think he occurs more prominently in at least one of the subsequent books.
I enjoyed this book. The length was just right, the audio narrator was pleasant, and overall it was mellow and satisfying.
Circa 1870’s. What is a Buffalo, NY, girl doing in Penance, Dakota Territory? Agnes Pratt is running away from the man she loves, that’s what. Why? Because she doesn’t want to reveal a secret that’s sure to ruin their chances of ever being together. Accepting a teaching job in a remote territory where James Harris could never find her seemed the best option. But Agnes is no frontier woman, or so she thought. She’s managed to establish herself in Penance; gaining the admiration and respect of many of the residents in the small town. Just maybe she can say goodbye to the life she once dreamed of and hello to this new life. It’s been six years since she left NY. Surely she can accept her fate and embrace her role as teacher and spinster. That is until the new doctor shows up in Penance and threatens to change the trajectory of her future.
A Life Once Dreamed can be summed up with one word: delightful. It was a gentle read that took me on a journey to the Midwest and gave me Little House on the Prairie vibes that put me in a good mental space during this pandemic. It was well written with rugged, endearing characters and enough calamities and adventures to keep the story moving forward. I enjoyed reading it.
Thank you, Revell Books, for the gifted copy of A Life Once Dreamed. My review of it is entirely my own.
I…..LOVED…..THIS….BOOK!! Do you hear me? I LOVED it!! Montana Wishes has just become one of my absolute favorite Heartwarming books!!, and I’ve read A LOT of them. Amy Vastine knows how to write a sweet romance story. But this was even more than that. This book was full of surprises that were perfectly timed to provoke every emotion imaginable within me!! I was happy, sad, hopeful, mad, glad….it was like an emotional medley of feelings. If time had permitted, I could have read the entire book in one or two sittings. That’s how invested I was in the characters and their outcome, especially since I knew it would be a good one. Heartwarming books always result in a happily- ever-after. My imagination ran wild as I envisioned the various scenes—the road trip, the Blackwell ranch, the animals (including Amanda’s Irish Wolfhound, Clancy), the cowboys, the romantic tension, and finally, the unveiling of secrets…. it was creative and realistic and entertaining, and it made me want to jump on an airplane to Montana to meet each and every character 😊. They’ll all be alive in my memory where I’ll be hoping to revisit them in the next Blackwell Sisters installment, Montana Dreams, by Anna J. Stewart.
And now, my brief summary of what it’s all about…
In Montana Wishes, the focus is on Amanda Harrison, a triplet of five sisters; identical twin to Lily Harrison and fraternal twin to Georgie Harrison. Peyton is the oldest sibling, and Fiona, the youngest. Got that? These are actually The Blackwell Sisters, but that’s a story for another time. To say that Amanda is going through trying times in her life would be an understatement. This poor woman has received a quadruple whammy of distressing news and she’s trying to take it all in stride. She’s on her way to Montana from California to help her sister Lily who she believes is about to make the biggest mistake of her life. Meanwhile, she’s traveling with her best friend since middle school, Blake Collins, who’s the greatest catch ever, but who’s recently become engaged. Amanda’s harboring devastating news that she’s just received and will have to deal with when she returns from her trip, and she’s trying to come to terms with recent revelations about her family history. At 29, is Amanda’s life story a series of unfortunate events, or is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
I can’t say enough good things about Montana Wishes, or The Blackwell Sisters series thus far, other than that I highly recommend it. You won’t be disappointed.
I really enjoyed Montana Welcome. There was a satisfying mixture of comedy, adventure and sweet romance that I relished from beginning to end.
Lily Harrison becomes a bride on the run when she finds out, on her wedding day, that her groom to be isn’t in love with her. At almost the same time she learns that she’s not who she thinks she is, but a part of a much bigger family that she never could have imagined. She suddenly finds herself in a motor home on her way to Montana. She’s on a quest for answers about her true identity, but unbeknownst to herself there’s a search party closely following on her heels. Along the way Lily finds friendships in the form of two very dramatic young women; regains confidence in her abilities, acquires a horse and donkey and falls in love with a cowboy.
I love the Blackwell series, and this was a very good start to The Blackwell Sisters. It was great getting reacquainted with the elusive Big E (Elias Blackwell), and the rest of the Blackwell brothers who were sprinkled throughout the pages of Montana Welcome. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
This book tells the true story of Chris Watts and what happened leading up to that infamous day when he ended the lives of his family.
Chris Watts’ family seemed ideal from the outside looking in. He had a beautiful wife who was expecting their third child, and two adorable little girls, Bella and Celeste, who loved their father dearly. Chris’s wife, Shanann, appeared ecstatic about her relationship with her husband. Her Thrive business was successful and her constant social media presence portrayed a family that was the envy of those who knew her, as well as those who followed her online. So what went wrong? Why did Chris Watts end the lives of his beloved family? Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. People are known to hide the negative aspects of their life from those around them. In the Watts’s case, there was debt, control, in-law problems, illness, infidelity and other stresses that apparently contributed to the devastating outcome that shocked their family, friends and an entire nation.
When I saw this story on the news I was shocked and dismayed by what happened to pregnant Shanann and her two little girls. This book gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the not-so-perfect Watts family, including the introverted, anti-social Chris Watts, who went from intensely loving his wife and children, to wanting nothing more than to be free of them.
This is how I felt while listening to this book…
Still many unanswered questions, but I suppose Chris Watts will take the absolute truth with him to his grave.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of The Perfect Father. All opinions expressed about it are my own.
Are you familiar with the Chris Watts story? What did you think of it? Were you in disbelief like I was?
Finola, the eldest of the trio, is a morning-show host who’s blindsided by her husband’s betrayal with a young, famous singer, on her own television show! Just when she was ready to go ahead with a major plan for their marriage, it’s shattered in a moment.
Zennie, the middle sister, feels comfortable being alone. She dates, but always seems more satisfied relaxing at home by herself. She’s content with her job and her friends. Her recent sort-of boyfriend senses her lack of enthusiasm about their relationship and breaks off whatever it is they have together. Zennie is a bit caught off guard by this, but only mildly affected. A free agent, she decides to do her best friend a favor—she’s going to be her surrogate! But did she realize what she was getting herself into? And why does she find herself missing the man she pushed away?
Ali is the youngest of the three sisters and feels the smallest in comparison to Finola and Zennie, both in attractiveness and in accomplishments. Her fiancé didn’t even dump her for another woman, he just didn’t want to be with her anymore. To add insult to injury, he didn’t even have the decency to tell her himself, his brother broke the news to her, and he’s been so helpful in helping her get her life back on track. Why is he doing that?
I enjoyed this book about three sisters who reinvented their lives after breakups. While single they took a closer look at themselves and went after what they believed in, even if their actions weren’t immediately received favorably. But of course, in Susan Mallery fashion, each woman’s story ends on a positive note. ☺️
Luke Bosworth is consumed by the clutches of grief after losing his young wife two years ago. He prefers to stay stuck in the past where memories of Jenny remain constant; he’s neglecting his two small children as a result, and can’t get his anger issues in check which could cost him his job if he doesn’t get help. So he does, and while doing so he’s reacquainted with the annoying woman with the out of control dog who he seems to keep running into. Sarah Jensen is also trying to overcome the grief that’s caused her to lose her focus and drive; and although she’s grappling with feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, she can help Luke’s children in so many ways if he’d stop being so overly-protective and prideful. She has her mind set on a monumental project that involves Luke’s children, but all she ever gets from him is anger, rage and negative feedback. The man needs serious help. But as it turns out, Luke is also a multifaceted person with many talents, including an ability to discern the motives and emotions of others, as Sarah soon learns during one of their grief-counseling therapy sessions. Both Sarah and Luke have issues that aren’t obvious to themselves, so why are they so apparent to each other?
I loved this book! It gave me all the feels. It was a tender, emotional story with an excellent cast of characters that continue to linger in my mind. I always enjoy reading Catherine Lanigan’s books. Her depth of knowledge and wisdom shines through in them. You can sense her life experience from the various objects, places, and expressions of human emotions and advice that’s written. There’s substance within its pages, and not superficial fluff. The contents gives me pause for reflection. I appreciate when there’s an obvious maturity level existent in a book because not only do I enjoy the story, but I learn new things as well.
Overall, Love Shadows was a great read that exceeded my expectations. At times it seemed borderline Inspy fiction, IMO, with the religious backdrop and views, so I’m giving you a heads up on that aspect of it. Nevertheless, I highly recommend it and look forward to reading more books in the series.
Thank you, Catherine Lanigan, for a complimentary copy of Love Shadows. All thoughts expressed about it are my own.
Have you tried reading a Harlequin Heartwarming book? Do you like sweet romance? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Stay tuned for my upcoming Heartwarming giveaway, and thanks for visiting Cozynookbks. Have a great week everyone. 😊
Amelia Moore and her younger sister, Clara, are in a terrible predicament. Both of their biological parents have passed on and the young women are living in Brighton under the charge of their stepfather, Lord Gray, who constantly reminds them that they are a burden, and that he cares for them financially solely because of the promise he made to their mother, Arabella. Amelia is determined to secure a husband for her younger sister before sickly Lord Gray perishes from his illness, leaving them destitute. Amid hopelessness, an invitation is finally extended to the young women by Sir Ronald Demsford of Hampshire to attend a house party. His estate is impressive, and the mere thought that Clara could find happiness with Sir Ronald as his wife, fills Amelia with exhilaration. Surely a match can be made. That is if the sniffy, impertinent Mr. Peter Wood doesn’t curtail Amelia’s plan for Clara with similar intentions for his own younger sister.
I…LOVED….this book!! 😃 What splendid writing! Ms. Walker’s Regency era novel exudes a freshness; its language is pleasant and easy to decipher, yet not simplistic. The scenes flow effortlessly, and the speech, manners, architecture, landscape and costumes all mirror the time period for which it was intended. I enjoyed the casual development of the admiration between Peter and Amelia; it was natural and convincing. The adept balance of wit and seriousness further compliments this artfully contrived story. Mr. Wood’s charismatic, and at times, impertinent manners gave me the giggles, and the glorious ending left me thoroughly contented and bubbling over with warmth and happiness amidst these uncertain times we’re currently living in.
Lakeshire Park is a lovely tale that I thoroughly savored from start to finish. I will be looking out for more books written by Megan Walker. Very highly recommended.
Thank you, Laurel-Ann Nattress and Shadow Mountain Publishing for a complimentary copy of Lakeshire Park. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
My first Susan Mallery book and I absolutely LOVED every minute spent reading it!! Seriously, I was immersed in this book, and when it was finished I was so impressed that it’s still sitting prominently in my book room because I can’t bear to part with it. That’s how much I loved it. I have a small collection of Susan Mallery’s books because I’d heard she’s a great writer, and because her marketing skills are top notch, but I still hadn’t read any of them mainly because of other reading commitments. Then two things happened: 1) I was surprised with a free mass market paperback copy of The Girls of Mischief Bay because I follow Susan Mallery’s Facebook group, and (2) my author buddy, Jill Weatherholt, suggested that I read a Susan Mallery book because she thought I’d like it. Consequently, I resolved to read her book. I am so glad I did! Thank you, Jill, for the recommendation. And thank you, Susan Mallery, for your generosity in providing me with a free book to enjoy. Since I already owned The Girls of Mischief Bay, I’m giving away my gifted copy (see below for details).
The Girls of Mischief Bay is about three women who became friends while attending yoga classes at the yoga studio that one of the women owns. Since there is approximately a ten year age difference between each woman, they are at different stages in their lives and dealing with various challenges incidental to their particular age group; some major and some fairly common, but nevertheless difficult. We learn how each woman responds to her particular plight, and how the friends rally together to support one another during each others’ times of distress. The process of working on their trials reveals their strengths, vulnerabilities and ultimately the outcomes of their situations.
I absolutely LOVED this book!! I laughed, I cried and I stayed up nights eager to know what would happen next with Pam, Shannon and Nicole. I connected with Pam’s character, and I was inspired by the wisdom that she imparted to her friends. I had an inkling that Pam’s wise words possibly echoed Susan Mallery’s own treasures of knowledge and wisdom acquired over the years. That’s just my guess. The emotional parts of this book were so eloquently written I wish I could tear out the pages and read them over and over again. But I dare not destroy this precious book. Incredible writing.
In conclusion, I liked everything about this book and I didn’t want it to end. When it was over I teared up and marveled at the perfect ending. I already ordered and received the next book in the series because I have to know how these ladies move forward with their lives. That’s how invested I’d become with these characters. Highly recommended.
Giveaway!! (U.S. only)
To enter for a chance to win the above prize pack which includes a copy of Susan Mallery’s The Girls of Mischief Bay, a book sleeve made by yours truly and a homemade bookmark, like this post and answer the following question:
Have you ever read a book(s) by Susan Mallery, and what did you think of it? Which Susan Mallery book or series do you recommend? (Optional)
Winner will be announced in the coming weeks when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and I’m able to visit the post office to mail out the prize.
After losing her job and her boyfriend, Dillon Michaels heads back to the place she’s always known as home, her grandparents’ farm in Oregon where she grew up. Her grandpa lives there alone since her grandma passed away about a year earlier. Deciding that her grandpa could use some help and cheering up, she says goodbye to her roommates and heads to Oregon where she plans to spend quality time with her grandfather while figuring out what she should do with her life. But when she gets there she discovers that her elusive mother has beaten her to it. Dillon’s comfy little room has been taken over by her mom who’s experiencing relationship troubles of her own, and Dillon is relegated to the lumpy couch. This, she decides, will not work. As she contemplates leaving the farm, her grandfather surprises her with an old, rundown camper that Dillon sees as a diamond in the rough that she can fix up and live in while staying on the farm. She’s beginning to feel super excited about fixing up her camper, the handsome hardware store owner, and the progress she’s making on the strained relationship she has with her mother. Things are looking up. But when her ex-boyfriend shows up unexpectedly, proclaiming his undying love at a very inopportune time, could his crazy antics cause Dillon to lose out on the prospect of a new love?
I truly enjoyed The Happy Camper. It didn’t hurt that I love everything associated with RVing and cute little vintage campers. So when I saw this book I knew I had to read it, and I was not disappointed. It contained so much that made my little heart happy—sweet romance, camp trailers, a farm, an adoring grandfather, a contrite mother, a cute set of young twin girls and so much more. I read intently and envisioned one old, neglected camp trailer carefully restored, inside and out, and then meticulously decorated to appease the new owner, who made it into a cozy, cute living space for herself. I could picture the interior with its turquoise and orange accessories and original appliances. It was a vintage camper-lover’s dream book! The pace of the book was even with many sweet scenes that brought a smile to my face. And although it ended a bit abruptly, it contained all the makings for a lovely story that was fun and uplifting.
Thank you, Revell Books, for an ARC of The Happy Camper. All opinions expressed about it are my own.
Sarah Rock is thirty-nine, a wife and mother of two children, and is feeling unsettled. Her husband, Eric, has sent her children away to boarding school against Sarah’s wishes. She’s seeing a therapist but Eric is trying to convince her that it’s not helping and that she needs more extensive treatment. Sarah’s sure that Eric is having an affair and wants to get rid of her, but he ignores her assertions of his infidelity. He’s rarely home, and with the kids gone during the week now, she feels lonely in their NYC apartment. She finds solace in visiting a nearby children’s park where she reads and meets Lawrence, a handsome man who enjoys conversing with her. He’s making her feel wanted and needed and before long she looks forward to seeing him there in the park. Her therapist only knows minor details that Sarah has shared about Lawrence, and Sarah’s even managed to hide her indiscretions from her friend, Laura. But when a woman in the park goes missing all fingers point to Sarah. Can she prove her innocence, or is she in fact guilty of a heinous crime?
This book will have you questioning your own sanity!! I was caught up in trying to decipher what was real and what was imagined regarding Sarah’s experiences. The author did an excellent job keeping me in suspense, and I was mesmerized by Sarah’s actions, her mental state and the outcome of the story. This book was just the right length and flowed so well from start to startling finish. Recommended.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of this book.
When Poppy Lancaster inherited a cottage house and gardens she was thrilled, but maintaining her inheritance hasn’t come easy. She’s in need of some extra cash, so when a wealthy couple offers her a job sprucing up their garden for a generous amount of money, it’s an offer she can’t refuse. But when the nosy neighbor next door gets poisoned, Poppy wonders who could have murdered the meddling menace.
H.Y. Hanna’s cozy mysteries are always fun and addictive, and Silent Bud Deadly was no exception. I love how she effortlessly and cleverly weaves in the back story so that you won’t feel lost no matter where you enter the series. The recurring characters are a pleasure to revisit. I was glad to see that Bertie, Poppy’s neighbor who invents strange things that he tends to try out on unsuspecting people, was back in book 2. His antics brought many chuckles during the story. My favorite cat, Oren, the very vocal tabby, and its owner, the enigmatic writer, Nick Forest, were also present in book 2 to my delight.
I also learned much about various poisonous houseplants. Discovering something new while reading an H.Y. Hanna mystery is always a highlight.
Overall, this whodunnit was plausible and highly enjoyable. I definitely recommend this series, especially if you like intelligent cozy mysteries with fun, quirky characters and a great plot.
Grayson and Mandi are meant for each other and even made it to the altar, but Mandi had second thoughts and jilted Gray there. Ouch!!
A few years later a sad occasion reunites them. Gray is deeply committed to his veterinary practice on the quaint island of Turtleback Beach in the outer banks of NC, while Mandi is set to start her new advertising career in NYC. Both are still fighting their feelings for one another, but Mandi is reluctant to get involved again with a reticent, guarded man who doesn’t seem to trust her. She’s unaware that Gray is in a witness protection program, and that disclosing this information could be deadly. Meanwhile, Mandi’s manipulative father dislikes Gray and is determined to keep the two apart. His meddling, though, could have disastrous consequences.
This second chance romance story tugged at my heart strings. I desperately wanted Gray to tell Mandi that he couldn’t open up to her because it would be too dangerous. That bit of conflict in the story kept me guessing how things would turn out for them. The clever way the revelation took place was highly satisfying. Gray was such a likable character; a vet who cared for sick and injured animals. Who couldn’t love a man with such tender compassion for animals and wildlife?
There’s a lot to love about Almost a Bride: lovable animals, hidden secrets, necessary lies and a HEA that will leave you feeling all happy inside. It’s always gratifying to read a book by Rula Sinara because you’ll almost always learn something new and exciting about animals and preservation, and that alone makes her books worth the investment.
I loved this book!! I’ve FINALLY read a book by Colleen Hoover and I can see why readers love her. Regretting You pulled me right in and I became emotionally bonded with the characters through the rich narrative that so fully captured their personas. As I progressed through each chapter I was surprised by secrets, lies, misunderstandings and misinterpretations that kept me eager to press on. And then there was the sweet expressions of blossoming young love that had me all flushed and giggly and happy—reminiscing about what it feels like to be in love when you’re young and relatively carefree from the adult pressures of life.
Overall, Regretting You was a great story that I enjoyed with excellently developed characters and a delightfully satisfying ending that I highly recommend. Loved it!!
From #1New York Times bestselling author ofIt Ends with Us comes a poignant novel about family, first love, grief, and betrayal that will touch the hearts of both mothers and daughters.
Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to benothingalike.
Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.
With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.
While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.
Alice Lake is a middle-aged single mother of three boisterous children and three unruly dogs. Her home is a chaotic mess, but it’s warm and sufficient. She lives by the ocean and one day sees a strange man sitting outside on the beach in the rain, cold, with no jacket and looking bewildered. Curious, Alice approaches him, offers him a jacket and learns that the man has lost his memory. He doesn’t even know his name. Against her instincts and her children’s objections, she invites the lost man to stay in her vacant rental unit. He agrees. Who is this man and could he be dangerous?
Carl and Lily Monrose
Carl and Lily Monrose have been married three weeks before he up and vanishes one day. Lily knows something is wrong when he’s more than an hour late getting home from work. Carl is never late. He can’t wait to get home to her. Lily knows virtually no one where they live in England. They’ve lived there a short time, and she’s from Kiev, Ukraine, so she has no friends or family nearby to reach out to. The police are not taking her too seriously about her husband’s supposed disappearance. They figure she’s some mail order bride, and that her husband has gone off voluntarily. Lily waits the requisite period and when a policewoman finally fills out a report on Carl she’s slightly relieved. She hands over her husband’s passport for the police to inspect and goes home. But soon afterwards she receives a phone call with information that sends her searching for answers about her missing husband.
The Ross family
Gray and Kirsty are traveling with their parents to the same old cottage they’ve been going to for years on vacation. They’re teens now and would rather not go, but they have to. Gray observes how his sister is growing up into a young woman and he feels a brotherly affection for her; the need to look out for her and protect her from men who think like he does about attractive women. He sees how men look at his sister, especially the man called Mark Tate, who winds up in close proximity to them on the beach, close enough to charm Gray and Kirsty’s parents into coming over his aunt’s sprawling home, where he’s staying, for tea and cake. The parents immediately accept the invitation and Gray is furious. Mark’s eyes seem to linger on Kirsty, and Gray doesn’t like it one bit. What does this Mark character, who’s 19, want with his 15 year old sister?
These are the three narratives that play out in I Found You. Each storyline makes slight progress as the scenes revolve from one to the other. And then the three narratives converge into one jaw-dropping revelation.
I immediately started on I Found You after finishing my first Lisa Jewell book last week. It was so good I needed another, and this one did not disappoint. It had the right amount of suspense and kept me guessing throughout until the conclusion, when it all came together.
Between the two books, I enjoyed Then She Was Gone more than I did I Found You, because it wasn’t as raw and felt more plausible. However, you will get a well developed, excellently constructed suspense story with either one.
In The Clergyman’s Wife we find ourselves intruding upon the lives of William and Charlotte Collins. This Pride and Prejudice-inspired novel begins a few years after Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth Bennett’s cherished friend, marries awkward, harried Mr. Collins and settles down in the quaintly comfortable Hunsford parsonage in Kent. Charlotte, having hastily recommended herself for marriage to Mr. Collins when Elizabeth adamantly rejected him, has resigned herself to her melancholy existence as his wife. She’d perceived her marital prospects as slim given her lack of natural beauty and inconvenient social standing, which elevated her above the neighboring hopefuls thanks to her father’s favoring vanity over economic prudence, and now she recognizes the gravity of her impetuous decision. If this weren’t enough, their benefactress, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, of whom William Collins is ridiculously solicitous, diligently oversees nearly every aspect of their living arrangement, to Charlotte’s dismay. So when Charlotte witnesses her sister, Maria’s, excitement over her betrothal to the man she actually loves, irrespective of how their family or acquaintances view his humble profession of Apothecary, her own decision to settle for security over love leaves her with a degree of regret and sadness. Can anyone restore her initial grateful countenance?
Mr. Travis, a tenant farmer, has been commissioned by Lady Catherine de Bourgh, to beautify the Hunsford garden with roses. No botanist or gardener himself, but the son of one who painstakingly tended to the gardens of Rosing’s Park, Lady Catherine’s estate, Mr. Travis sets out to accomplish the task for which he’s been assigned. His work in the Hunsford garden necessitates regular visits to the Collins’ home of which Charlotte has grown accustomed. She is consciously aware of her anticipation of Mr. Travis’s visits and tries her utmost to appease herself with excuses for her imprudent feelings towards the man. Mr. Travis awakens her sensibilities in a way that her husband never has, and she is at once delighted by her thoughts and distressed by the impropriety associated with them. Charlotte is torn between loyalty to her well-meaning but emotionally distant husband and the anticipatory exhilaration in keeping congenial company with Mr. Travis. His apparent interest in her daughter, Louisa, her love of novels and sketching has enlivened Charlotte’s mundane existence, and has subsequently broadened her activities as a parson’s wife, impelling her to make visits upon the widows and elderly—bringing them gifts and conversing on a regular basis. Charlotte’s disposition has improved on account of Mr. Travis, and owing to this fact, her feeling of mortification and shame both chides her and spurs her on. What’s a loyal, morally upright woman to do?
If you loved Pride & Prejudice, or enjoy historical novels, you won’t want to miss The Clergyman’s Wife. Ms. Greeley’s melodious prose is descriptive and atmospheric; I could smell the damp leaves on the forest floor and hear the rustle of the dry leaves in the trees as the wind kicked up before a menacing downpour. I could see the Hunsford garden’s vibrant flowers swaying in the breeze while toddler, Louisa, squealed while frolicking. Events in the book evoked feelings of poignancy and mirth, and there was a nice balance between the two. The Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine de Bourgh characters so accurately embodied their familiar personalities from Pride and Prejudice that I found myself chuckling at their mannerisms and dialog, which was a real treat.
The Clergyman’s Wife is an even-paced, gentle read that elicits a feeling of longing to transport oneself back to the Regency era where gentility and propriety were the norm.
Thank you, William Morrow, for a free ARC of The Clergyman’s Wife, in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.
This book kept me on the edge of my seat!! Here’s why…
Paul and Laurel’s daughter, Ellie, goes missing one day at the age of 15. She just disappears. Years later the effect of her disappearance has taken a toll on the family. Laurel is divorced from Paul, and their two other children, Hannah and Jake, have moved on with their lives, trying to put the past behind them. Laurel works a job a few days a week, visits her elderly mum in a nursing home and exercises regularly in order to keep some semblance of normalcy to her life. But then more devastating news comes, and Laurel struggles to find a way to keep going.
Things start looking up when Laurel meets Floyd and they begin a relationship. Floyd has two girls of his own; Sara Jade, 21, and Poppy, 9. Poppy is a precocious child who Laurel feels drawn to because of her resemblance to Ellie. Laurel might be on her way to finally putting her life back together. But then she begins to have doubts about her relationship and the man she’s dating. She’s not sure if she can trust him. She’s finding out things about Floyd that cause her to feel suspicious about him. Is he the man she thinks he is? Is her life in danger?
Then She Was Gone is psychological suspense at its best!! This was my first Lisa Jewell book and it was phenomenal!! The build up was intense, and I was thoroughly engaged in the narration from beginning to end. The characters were all very well developed and there was an amazing twist I didn’t see coming.
Regarding Lisa Jewell, I finally know what all the hoopla is about. She is an excellent writer!! I already started on another one of her books. I highly recommend Then She Was Gone.
When Ryan Gracey gets an unexpected phone call from her older sister, Wendy, who’s out of town, asking her for a huge favor, Ryan is alarmed. Something sinister has transpired and Wendy insists that Ryan travel to her home and care for her two young daughters until further notice, a tall order from her near-perfect sibling, the mother of her two nieces of whom Ryan knows very little about. Stunned and confused by her sister’s instructions, Ryan finally relents and heads to Florida where their mother is currently watching her nieces, Holly and Noelle. The girls are taciturn, odd little precocious children, and Ryan quickly realizes the enormity of her decision. As days turn into weeks with very little contact from Wendy, Ryan begins to put her sleuthing skills to work to find out what’s going on with the sister she hardly knows. When the pieces of the puzzle begin taking shape will Wendy turn out to be an innocent victim, or a mastermind of deception?
Wowza!! I devoured this book. A Family of Strangers was like patiently awaiting a light rain transform into a thunderous storm. As the storm intensified I could feel the tension mounting and the mystery unfolding, relieving me of the unanswered questions that lurked in my mind. Why was Wendy refusing to come home? How would Ryan find out what happened to her? Was Wendy the golden girl everyone made her out to be, even her parents? Why were Ryan’s nieces so peculiar? As the story
unfolded I got the answers to all of these questions and more.
I connect easily with Emilie Richards’ writing voice. I love the dialog between characters, and the length of her books allows for excellent character development, which makes for a great story.
There’s so much to love about A Family of Strangers; excellent character building, a thoroughly satisfying mystery, an enormous twist I didn’t see coming, intrigue, a little romance, an amazing dog and a couple of kids who eventually stole my heart. A great read.
Thank you, Emilie Richards, for a complimentary ARC of A Family of Strangers in exchange for an honest review which I have given.
Have a great day everyone, and thanks for reading. 😊
Polly Waterford has taken up residence in a four story lighthouse and oversees two bakeries for which she works many grueling hours and days per week, but wouldn’t have it any other way. She loves the thrill of observing the reactions of people from near and far gushing over her creations and forming lines to sample them. That feeling is worth more than all the money in the world. Besides that, she has her boyfriend, Huckle, to enjoy her spare time with; and of course, Neil, her pet puffin. Polly is feeling content with where she is in her life. But when Mrs. Manse, the owner of the little beach street bakery dies, the change in circumstances drastically affects Polly’s life and livelihood. And to make matters worse, a former acquaintance returns to Mt. Polbearne and Polly is incredulous to learn that they may soon be close neighbors—VERY close. This will put Polly in a very awkward predicament. She’s even feeling guilty about keeping Neil as a pet, regardless of his seemingly happy state. Pressures are mounting in every direction of her life. Much is at stake and Polly will have to make many difficult decisions to stay afloat financially. Can she navigate the many challenges she’s facing and regain everything she stands to lose?
I was excited to read Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery. I wanted to return to Mt. Polbearne, the little Cornish seaside town to see what my old chums were up to after having read The Little Beach Street Bakery and falling in love with the characters, the pet puffin, Neil, and the quaint picturesque resort town with the causeway that separates it from the mainland. I wasn’t disappointed. As I listened to the various trials Polly was facing in her life I admired how she persevered. She was uncertain and downright afraid about some of her choices, but she was determined to continue doing what she loved and her diligence paid off in the end.
I prefer the audio version of Jenny Colgan’s books because her books tend to be a bit long winded. She includes every thought, expression and action which translates well when I’m listening as opposed to reading. I learned this when I almost DNF’d the first of her books I’d tried reading before inadvertently switching to the audio version and enjoying it so much more. I’ve been a fan ever since. Although, I am disappointed that she tends to use expletives that are unnecessary and detract from the overall sweet tone of her stories that end on a happy note.
Audio narrator review:
Read by: Alison Larkin
Alison Larkin was pleasant to listen to and reflected Polly’s character and the tone of the story very well. It took some getting used to the voices of some of the male characters. A few were over animated and exaggerated and gave them a cartoon-like persona. They sounded a little dork-like to me, particularly the Dubose and Huckle characters. As the story progressed I finally became used to the sound of their voices and it was tolerable. Overall, a very good job with the audio.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery. All opinions expressed are my own.
This has been a tough year. We had to say goodbye to our sweet boy on Sunday, 11/10/2019. Needless to say I am heartbroken and shedding tears even as I compose this post. Kit-Kat was a member of our family for nearly nineteen years. We adopted him from a shelter when he was three months old. Last week he became quite ill and began rapidly declining four days before we made the tough decision to say goodbye. He was put to rest at home, the last gift we could give him.
I know we were blessed to have had him for so long, and I am truly grateful for that. We thought we might lose him a time or two before this, but he always pulled through. That was the fighter in him—he never gave up. I often teased him about his incredible determination. He was my buddy and constant companion. I talked to him, hugged, kissed and loved on him each and every day. He tolerated me during those tender moments, being a cat, and I will continue to miss him terribly.
Thank you, Kitty-baby, for bringing joy and happiness to our lives for so many years. We sure did love you!!
When Poppy inherits Hollyhock Cottage and its adjoining garden from her deceased grandmother whom she never knew, she’s thrilled, albeit a little overwhelmed. Her current situation is that she doesn’t have her own place and she’s low on cash. If that weren’t bad enough, she’s impulsively quit her job after her unreasonable boss made a rude, insensitive comment, leaving Poppy in an even worse financial predicament. Fortunately, this inheritance has come upon her at the right time. However, there are stipulations that go along with taking possession of the property and Poppy feels unsettled about it. The cottage and garden have been neglected for some time and she’s far from having a green thumb. So how can she restore it and bring it back to its former glory? Poppy’s circumstances move her to take a chance on the old cottage and grounds. It’s a huge undertaking, but not more life altering than finding a dead body in the garden.
H.Y. Hanna has delivered another deliciously clever mystery with book 1 of her English Cottage Garden Mysteries series, Deadhead and Buried. I enjoyed this story immensely, having moved swiftly through it. I was caught up in the imagery of the cottage and surrounding garden, as well as the various plants and flowers that were named and described for me to envision. I learned about an exotic flower in this book, which I gained much joy from briefly researching. As is usual with an H.Y. Hanna mystery, the characters were interesting, quirky and fun, and there were pets to enjoy with their lovable antics and unique characteristics.
The audio narrator, Pearl Hewitt, is masterful in portraying both humans and animals. She adds so much delight to an already enjoyable, creative and plausible murder mystery. I highly recommend this book and look forward to the next one in the series.
Thank you, H.Y. Hanna, for a complimentary download of Deadhead and Buried. All thoughts expressed in this review are my own.
Decidedly bored, flighty Maxine Vaughan has just abandoned another perfectly respectable man. With no money and nowhere to live, she shows up on older sister, Janey Sinclaire’s, doorstep. Janey has her own problems. Her husband up and disappeared one day after only a few years of marriage and hasn’t been seen for the past two years. Janey, distraught and bewildered by her husband’s sudden departure, tries to carry on with her life and thriving flower shop in Trazale, Cornwall, not knowing whether she’s been abandoned or widowed.
Meanwhile, breathtakingly handsome widower and celebrity photographer, Guy Cassidy, needs a nanny. His beloved wife, Veronique, is gone, and Guy is estranged from his father. When Maxine finds out Guy’s predicament, she’s determined to score, not only the job, but a chance at Guy. She’s not in the least bit domestically inclined, but nevertheless winds up getting the job with a little help from her sister, vouching for her character. At least she’s out of Janey’s hair for the time being. If irresistible Maxine isn’t around, maybe Janey will have a chance with Bruno, a restaurant owner to whom she delivers flowers on a biweekly basis. Janey feels guilty about her growing feelings for Bruno; she’s still married after all, even if she hasn’t seen her husband for two years.
Maxine is stumbling through her nanny duties, being scolded by Guy regularly but loved by his two young children. Then she makes an almost unforgivable mistake. Janey falls hard for Bruno, but will she ultimately regret it? Secret relationships and odd pairings abound, but will anyone find happiness?
I loved this book! The story introduced me to interesting, contrasting characters with complicated relationship dilemmas. I thought the fifteen hour length would be daunting initially, but it allowed for greater character development which lent to my enjoyment of the book. The insecurities Janey felt because of her sister’s superior beauty, I thought, was a realistic sibling scenario. I was entranced by all of the characters, and was fully invested in what was going on in their lives. When the book ended I felt dismayed and could easily have listened longer.
The audio narrator, Charlotte Anne Lore, did an excellent job portraying each character. I felt like she was made to tell this story. Fabulous!
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Sheer Mischief. In exchange I have provided an honest, unbiased review.
According to Brad Cooper, Nancy Cooper’s husband, Nancy went out for a jog one morning and didn’t come back. The Cary, NC mother of two beautiful little girls was in the process of divorcing her husband. This was no secret. Nevertheless, Nancy, according to her associates and friends, didn’t seem depressed or sad. So what happened to her and why didn’t her husband report her missing when she didn’t return home from jogging? Nancy’s identical twin sister, Krista, believed something sinister happened, and her suspicions were aimed at Nancy’s husband, Brad. “What happened to Nancy?!” she pointedly asked him. But he denied any involvement in her disappearance. Krista never understood what her sister saw in Brad. They were so different. Nancy was vivacious and outgoing, and Brad is reserved and antisocial. So what really did happen to the beautiful young housewife?
I’ve always been fascinated by true crime stories. To me it’s like reading an episode of Investigation Discovery (I.D.). And while Love Lies drew me in initially I can’t say it kept me glued to its pages like some other true crime stories, particularly those written by one of my favorite true crime writers, Ann Rule. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think the structure of this story wasn’t as appealing. At times I felt like it pattered on and that I wasn’t getting anything of substance to keep me fully invested. Perhaps it was partly due to the characters. From what was revealed about them I had a bit of a hard time relating to them on some levels. I asked myself, based on the information that was relayed in the book, why the couple got married in the first place. They didn’t seem in the least bit compatible. And while the book had its moments, I also think it could have been shorter in length. The conclusion of the story left me feeling more curious about what really happened to Nancy than when I started the book. So ultimately I was left somewhat unfulfilled. I did feel sad that Nancy’s life was cut short.
This was an audiobook read by Chloe Cannon. Admittedly, since this wasn’t one of my favorite true crime stories, I’ve thought about whether or not it had something to do with the narrator. Chloe Cannon’s voice was steady and clear, but I think I would rather hear her reading a romance novel than a true crime book. I found that her audio interpretation of Nancy’s sister, Krista, could get a bit cloying after a while, and this detracted from my listening pleasure since Krista took up a good amount of dialog in the book.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Love Lies. The opinions stated in this review are all my own.
When Joshua Carlson comes to stay at the Black Bear Inn for an entire month Faith is surprised. Most guests only stay for a quick weekend of skiing. That name, Carlson, sounds familiar to Faith, but Joshua isn’t saying much about who he is or why he’s there. She won’t press. After all, he did help her out in a tremendous way respecting her young daughter, Bella, as soon as he’d arrived.
Eventually, Faith finds out about Joshua’s real intentions and she’s heartbroken.
Presently, living in the little cottage on the Inn’s property has been home for Faith and Bella. Thinking about having to say goodbye to the property is overwhelming. But focusing on that while trying to manage the Inn’s restaurant is counterproductive, so instead Faith pours her energy into finding a way to keep her home.
Bella is getting attached to Joshua, and Faith is getting worried. But is she concerned about little Bella’s feelings for “Mr. Joshua,” or her own?
There’s so much to love about A Father for Bella. The wintry setting drew me in with its ski resort and cozy inn. Little Bella was adorable, and Faith’s reluctance to let go of the memory of her deceased husband while also fighting her attraction to Joshua kept me engaged in the story until the end. Add to that an accident, a calamity and a bit of mystery, and you’ve got a story that will keep you guessing and entertained until the final page.
If you enjoy a sweet read with a HEA that will leave you feeling relieved and fully content, then A Father for Bella is for you.
And if you enjoy Jill’s book, look out for her current release, A Mother for His Twins. I just spied it in my local Walmart. 😊
My recent absence from Cozynookbks
For those of you who have been following my blog for a while you will have noticed that I haven’t posted here for about two months. My mother suddenly became critically ill and we almost lost her. Since receiving that dreadful news I haven’t had the presence of mind or the time to read books. Since my mom was living over eight hours away at the time it was very difficult trying to balance everything. She was in the hospital for about six weeks and completed rehabilitation about a week ago. I am so happy to report that she is alive and making bits of progress each day.
Thank you for reading, and I hope to be catching up on the host of books and audiobooks that have been patiently waiting for me. I sure have missed all of you. 😊
The Silent Patient begins with Alicia telling us how much she loves her husband, Gabriel. But Gabriel dies and Alicia stops speaking and is locked away in a psychiatric institution, having been accused of his murder. A psychotherapist becomes fascinated with Alicia’s story and wants desperately to try to help her. Can he break her silence and find out what really happened on the night Alicia was accused of Gabriel’s murder?
This story is told from Alicia and the psychotherapist’s points of view. We find out much about both of their lives from first-person accounts.
My feelings about this book are hard to summarize. I was enticed by the plot and eager to get through the book to see what happened, but somehow happy when it concluded. I didn’t form a sympathetic attachment to any of the characters, except the elderly therapist, Ruth. The ending was somewhat predictable but still worthy of an enthusiastic nod.
Overall, this Psychological Thriller was a bit dark and menacing, but I think it was written well since it held my attention, minus the unnecessary foul language that ruined my true enjoyment of it. Owing to that I would not read this author’s books again, so I can’t recommend it.
This was an audiobook obtained through my local library.
Evie Bloomfield considers herself the loser of the Bloomfield family as the least accomplished one. But she finally has a chance to impress her boss and secure a promotion that will boost her family’s opinion of her—or so she thinks. So off to Mackinac Island she goes to assist her boss’s father with his struggling bicycle shop, Rudy’s Rides, while he recovers from a broken leg. Going from Chicago to a little Michigan island with no cars, only horses, to get you from place to place seems outrageous enough. But when one of the wealthy locals is bumped off, and the murder is pinned on Rudy, Evie finds herself on a mission to clear her newfound friend and find the real killer before her boss finds out.
This book is HILARIOUS! With a cast of characters that includes Irish Donna, with the thick Irish accent; Jason Bourne, a presumed hit-man; Angelo, an elderly ex-mobster; and others, this story kept me chuckling from beginning to end.
I was very fortunate to have received a complimentary audio version of Geared for the Grave from Tantor Audio since the highly talented Ceit M. Zweil narrated. She did a stupendous job with the various characters’ voices, and her ability to vocally entertain me was impressive. The audiobook was a true compliment to my personal paperback copy. Highly recommended.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Geared for the Grave. All opinions about it are my own.
Paul Grayson has decided that he needs to unite his family. He feels that his three daughters are somewhat estranged from one another. Not intentionally, but nevertheless they don’t spend enough time together. So he decides to buy the island where he met his wife at camp decades ago, and who is now deceased, in order to bring his children back together again. His daughters think he is suffering from Dementia proposing this scheme and are initially resistant to the thought of helping him get situated on this delapidated island. The project of reconstituting the old Camp Kicking Moose seems immense. But as they all begin assisting and becoming more intimately acquainted with the real assets of the island, its people, each sister will not only help to mend one another, but also themselves in the process.
On a Summer Tide started off strong. It was full of laughs and drew me in, but for some reason the momentum didn’t hold up for me and I was having trouble getting through it. The book flashes back to when the sisters were young; each sister’s part gives us a glimpse into her life and what shaped her into who she is present day. The focus was mainly on the oldest sister, Cam. Those snippets were enlightening but somehow came across to me as haphazardly included. Also, there were a couple of parts in the book that seemed implausible to me and I couldn’t suspend disbelief in order to accept those occurrences as believable. From that point on I truly struggled to finish the book. I enjoyed a few of the characters, including the sisters, but I felt like something was missing, and that the book concluded somewhat abruptly, leaving some untidy loose ends.
Overall, I truly enjoyed parts of the book, but it didn’t keep me glued to its pages.
Thank you, Revell Books, for a complimentary copy of On a Summer Tide. In exchange I have provided my honest review.
Well, he’s done it again folks. This book!! 😃 I didn’t think he’d be able to top his last hit, Don’t Believe It, but this one certainly measured up. Charlie Donlea is quickly becoming my favorite suspense writer. I’ve read and loved all four of his books. They are page turners. I won’t attempt to summarize Some Choose Darkness for fear I might accidentally disclose spoilers, so here’s the description from Goodreads…
The truth is easy to miss, even when it’s right in front of us. As a forensic reconstructionist, Rory Moore sheds light on cold-case homicides by piecing together crime scene details others fail to see. Cleaning out her late father’s law office a week after his burial, she receives a call that plunges her into a decades-old case come to life once more.
In the summer of 1979, five Chicago women went missing. The predator, nicknamed The Thief, left no bodies and no clues behind—until police received a package from a mysterious woman named Angela Mitchell, whose unorthodox investigation skills appear to have led to his identity. But before police could question her, Angela disappeared. Forty years later, The Thief is about to be paroled for Angela’s murder—the only crime the DA could pin on him. As a former client of her father’s, Rory becomes reluctantly involved with the killer—though he continues to insist he didn’t murder Angela. Now he wants Rory to do what her father once promised: prove that Angela is, in fact, still alive.
As Rory begins reconstructing Angela’s last days, another killer emerges from the shadows, replicating those long-ago murders. With every startling discovery she makes, Rory becomes more deeply entangled in the enigma of Angela Mitchell—and in The Thief’s tormented mind. Drawing connections between past and present is the only way to stop the nightmare, but even Rory can’t be prepared for the full, terrifying truth that is emerging . .
The suspense is incredible in this thriller! There’s a dual timeline and both plots kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t intrigued by one part and bored with the other, as is sometimes the case when authors write parallel plots.
Charlie Donlea is a master of twists. Each time one is revealed it leaves you wide-eyed, with mouth agape wondering how he pulled it off so effortlessly without your catching on to it. The twists in his books never cease to amaze me. His writing style is ultra-appealing—fluent, crisp, and without extremes. You won’t find excessive, unnecessary foul language and sex scenes in this book. Just great writing. The amount of research that goes into his books is evident, and I love his use of flawed characters which make his stories more realistic and relatable. I’ll be waiting patiently for his novels to be made into movies. 😌 They’re just that good. Period. Very highly recommended.
Thank you, Kensington Books and Netgalley, for a complimentary e-book copy of Some Choose Darkness. All opinions stated in this review are my own.
Bad Blood is a startling account of how young Theranos founder, Elizabeth Holmes, used misleading information, persuasive speeches and downright lies to advance her start-up company’s interests by pulling the wool over the proverbial eyes of investors who collectively contributed to the nine hundred million dollars she amassed before finally relenting and succumbing to the accusations of fraud, which eventually caused her net worth to plummet to zero dollars. Elizabeth Holmes maintained that her mini-lab invention would revolutionize healthcare. With her striking blue eyes, unusually deep voice and Steve Jobs-like work attire, Elizabeth’s charismatic charm and convincing sales pitch mesmerized audiences and won her listeners over, time and time again. Her staff was impressive both in size and credentials, although turnover was high. Nevertheless, the money poured in. There was only one problem. Elizabeth’s invention didn’t work.
Before I started listening to this book I wondered how the author would keep me interested in a start-up company’s downfall for a whopping 11 hours, 37 mins.! I underestimated his ability and the intensity of the story. This book blew my mind!! I had so many emotions while listening, but the foremost one was disbelief. I was astounded by how long Elizabeth Holmes was able to fool so many people with what amounted to a product that never advanced from the prototype stage, but that nonetheless made its way into a major drugstore chain.
I want to believe that Elizabeth had good intentions in the beginning, but that perhaps greed slowly began to crowd out her vision, and as a result, somewhere along the line her actions belied the very cause she set out to advance. Maybe she got caught up in the fervor of being the successful female entrepreneur that so many people were rooting for. Perhaps in her quest for fame and fortune she stopped considering the human factor involved and the lives she could harm by pushing her invention when she knew it had failed miserably.
The fake it ‘til you make it tactic worked for an impressive amount of time, but eventually the jig was up, and it was all downhill from there. In the end, Elizabeth had a good idea, but she couldn’t implement it. The question that still lingers within me is did she ever think she really could?
This book was incredibly well written and kept me immersed in the narrative the entire time. Very highly recommended.
First, I’d like to thank Kensington Books for a complimentary paperback ARC of Thread Herrings. And Tantor Audio, for the free audio download. What a privilege to have both versions to enjoy.
When a tattered, badly damaged coat of arms embroidery piece catches Angela Curtis’s eye while at an antiques auction with her friend and antique shop owner, Sarah Byrne, Angela is determined to own it. In its dilapidated state few people seem interested in it and Angela easily wins it. She’s curious about its origin, particularly because of the piece of paper from a foundling hospital she finds tucked inside. So when she’s presented with an opportunity to find out more about the embroidery and its contents by appearing on television, she accepts the invitation. But when a seemingly harmless investigation into the coat of arms embroidery turns deadly, Angie’s life, as well as her family’s, is soon in terrible danger. Who’s behind the death threats, and why would anyone want her dead over an old piece of embroidery?
Thread Herrings is another keenly plotted cozy mystery in the Mainely Needlepoint series. These stories are always well developed and full of depth, both in plot line and characterization. I always learn something new when I read a book in this series, and I can count on a unique story of a high calibre that will keep me entertained and in suspense. Thread Herrings delivers. Recommended.
Thanks for stopping by. Here are a couple of pictures of my 18.5 year old cat, Kit-Kat. 😊
Dax Calder is in over his head. He’s taken a job in Kenya, far from the U.S., where he lives with his eleven-year-old identical twin girls, Ivy and Fern. While in Kenya, Dax is desperate to find someone to look after his girls while he works on a new project for the oil company that’s employed him. Upon observing a young, attractive woman, Pippa Harper, patiently giving a tour to six children, he makes her an offer she can’t refuse. He’ll pay her an inflated wage if she’ll watch his girls until he can find a nanny to replace the one who just quit. Did I mention she is nanny number seven (or eight)? Pippa is no fool. The money will help her to expand and accelerate the education program she provides to village children who wouldn’t otherwise be given an opportunity to learn how to read. But these twin girls are no ray of sunshine in the behavior category. They’re starving for attention, as Pippa will soon learn.
Having grown up in Kenya with her mom on the Busara Elephant Research and Rescue Camp, Pippa’s all about preservation and environmental conservation and all that. Meanwhile, Dax is selling his soul by abandoning his true love of researching seismic activity in exchange for the large paycheck he’ll receive developing subterranean maps so that the oil company can drill or frack in Kenya’s wilderness, which could stir up earthquakes. Dax is cautiously withholding that information from Pippa, but his heart is another matter. What will she think of him if she finds out who he’s working for and what he’s doing? Can feelings supersede principles?
I loved this book!! Rula Sinara is an amazing storyteller who knows how to develop a convincing love story. The evolution of Dax and Pippa’s relationship was so beautifully orchestrated. Ms. Sinara is also very good at educating us about foreign affairs and unfamiliar cultures. I am always enlightened and fulfilled by her stories.
There is only one book left in this series beyond The Twin Test, and I will be so sad to see it end. The first book in the series, The Promise of Rain, was the first Harlequin Heartwarming book I ever read and I haven’t looked back since.
I highly recommend this book, and the entire series. I look forward to the sixth and final book, The Marine’s Return.
Have a great week everyone!! And thanks for reading. ☺️
Kirsty Rawlings is beside herself with fear. She overheard something on her child’s baby monitor that horrified her. She summons the police and informs her husband of her suspicions. But her fears seem unfounded.
Kirsty is feeling a bit insecure. After their baby, Daisy, came along, her relationship with her husband, Dominic, has become mostly platonic and less romantic. Money is tight, and her nerves are on edge after a mess of strange, unexplained occurrences have happened. Paranoia grips her. She’s always harried and suspicious of everyone around her. Neighbors regard her cautiously. Do they think she’s crazy? Is somebody trying to take her baby? Is her husband involved with someone else? Has her best friend betrayed her? Is she delusional?
This book!! I have to admit that when I first started it I thought it was going to be just another predictable psychological thriller. I was wrong. I did not anticipate the twists and turns that left my mouth agape and my mind whirling. And that epilogue!!
This was my first Shalini Boland book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I purchased this audiobook from Audible. The narrator, Katie Villa, was excellent and contributed to my enjoyment of the book. Recommended.
When four of her employers go out of town without informing her, or paying her, sassy domestic worker, Blanche White, is forced to write a few bad checks that land her in hot water. She might be headed off to prison. Fortunately, a commotion surrounding an unfortunate event involving the county commissioner enables Blanche to make her escape from the courthouse without notice. What will she do? Where will she go? She finds herself in the home of a wealthy family, disguised as a former worker. Blanche figures she can make some money in the meantime before she’s found out and then move on with her life. But she’s chosen the wrong house to get lost in. Things are not what they appear to be in the household. So when two murders happen within her short stay at this hideout home, Blanche will need her quick wits to get away safe, and to uncover who did away with her newfound friend.
This book immediately drew me in. It was creative right from the start, which hooked me. And then Blanche’s personality, which mimicked some women I’ve encountered in real life and in the movies, entertained me. How can I explain her character? 🤔 It was a little like a mix of Octavia Spencer’s character, Minnie, from The Help, and Madea from one of Tyler Perry’s movies. One of my favorite characters was Mumsfield, a mentally challenged man with a big heart, a love of cars, and an instant attachment to and wholesome affection for Blanche. Mumsfield, although autistic, was very keen in many ways, and there was just so much to love about him.
I would not characterize this book as a cozy mystery because it contains some mature themes and serious subject matter; material that’s best suited for adult readers. It was not the comedic mystery that I thought it would be based on the cover. The setting was the Deep South, and if you are particularly sensitive about outspokenness regarding racial inequalities and prejudice, I’d think twice before picking up this one. Blanche can be a bit salty with her tongue, and other characters are not shy about expressing their feelings about minorities and using condescension in their tones. Nonetheless, the mystery aspect was top-notch, and I was both impressed and surprised by the outcome.
The audible narrator’s performance given by Lisa Reneé Pitts was OUTSTANDING!! She imitates male and female voices, dialects and accents with ease. As the villain, her maniacal laugh was priceless. I look forward to listening to other books she’s narrated.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary audio download of Blanche on the Lam. All opinions expressed about it are my own.
He broke her heart back then, will he be worth the risk ten years later?
Alicia didn’t want to see Jeff ever again after he took her to the senior prom, ditched her there, and took up with some other girl he thought he liked. Alicia was crushed. They were best friends. They confided in each other about everything. How could he do that to her?
It’s ten years later and Alicia and Jeff run into each other. He’s never forgiven himself for doing her wrong so many years ago. Alicia’s reluctant to give him a chance to make it up to her. She’s already got her hands full trying to care for her mom who’s a hoarder with serious mental health issues. Alicia’s made tremendous sacrifices and difficult decisions to deal with that situation. Does she want to possibly bring more heartache into her already complicated life?
I love a good knight-in-shining-armor-like story. 😃 Jeff was a jerk to Alicia back when they were in High School when he left her at their prom, and he knows it. She’s always been the girl he’s cared deeply for. His superficial, brief relationships since then are a testament to that. But now he’s been given a chance to make things right between them. How he goes about doing that is sweet and endearing and made for a tender love story that warmed my heart.
The audio narrator, Ann Marie Gideon, did an excellent job portraying Alicia and the other characters. She helped me to feel connected to the story.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Worth the Risk. All opinions expressed about it are my own.
Gemma Rose gets the opportunity of a lifetime when a wealthy talent show creator, Monty Gibbs, chooses her Little Stables Tearoom to provide the daily catering for his show, From Pleb to Celeb.
A menagerie of contestants ranging from the talented to the eccentric, eager to get their chance at fame, are practicing their talents in preparation for their big chance at winning the show.
Gemma isn’t too keen on the show’s creator. She’s figured out that behind his magnanimous facade is an ambitious businessman more interested in sensationalism than the welfare of his contestants. He’s even resorted to embellishing their backgrounds and exploiting them for the benefit of ratings. And although some may have checkered pasts, Gemma is adamant that it’s no reason to take advantage of them. So when one of the contestants is found dead behind the stage, Gemma wonders just how far Monty Gibbs might go to advance his show. Or might there be some other killer lurking amongst them?
H.Y. Hanna has done it again. I was thoroughly entertained by The Dough Must Go On. The “old biddies” characters are always comical….
“The police are as effective as a chocolate teapot.”— Old Biddies
One of the highlights of this series is revisiting some of my favorite characters. Gemma’s geeky friend, Seth, always teaches some interesting scientific fact or lesson that enlightens me. And Gemma’s uppity but harmless, sweet mother is a great character whose appearance in the books always makes me happy. These Oxford Tearoom Mysteries never fail to provide a hilarious scene or three, and I can count on a great mystery and a top-notch narrating performance from the inimitable Pearl Hewitt. The Oxford Tearoom Mysteries is one of my absolute favorite cozy mystery series.
Thank you, H.Y. Hanna, for a complimentary download of The Dough Must Go On. All opinions expressed about it are my own.
I have to admit, I thought it might seem odd listening to the memoir of someone so young, but after hearing what Trevor Noah had to say I concluded that he’s lived a more colourful and hazardous life than many people twice his age.
Trevor Noah is fortunate to be alive to tell his story. He talks of growing up in South Africa as a “coloured” child (a child of mixed race) during Apartheid and its aftermath, with a mother who was determined to defy the government that sought to oppress her. He was somewhat of a menace and juvenile delinquent during the impressionable years, and narrowly escaped his abusive step-father who almost killed his family.
Trevor spoke a lot about his mother, Patricia. She is an incredible woman, strong and determined, who surmounted many formidable obstacles including poverty, racism and abuse, and yet still managed to teach Trevor many valuable lessons that no doubt shaped him into the highly intelligent and talented individual he is today. She didn’t stifle his exposure to grander things in life, but rather she expanded his world by teaching him and showing him that he could achieve a better life than she’d had.
I was impressed to learn that Trevor Noah speaks several African languages, including Afrikaans. Knowing English, as well as these other languages, was of great benefit to him in many ways in South Africa. If you want to know how, you’ll have to listen for yourself. 😉
Trevor’s transparency in sharing details about so many aspects of his life endeared me to his story. I see where he gets some of the material for his comedy shows.
I didn’t know much, if anything, about Trevor Noah before “reading” this book, but after having listened to him tell his story I have developed a deep respect for him. He’s overcome many challenges and has prevailed, and considering all he’s been through, that is truly amazing. EXCELLENT!!
EXCELLENT writing!! This story is a gradual build-up. I felt like the writer was taking me on a leisurely stroll through time, casually relating events in the lives of three women, blood relatives. As we continued to walk along I could feel the tension mounting until it reached a crescendo, and I couldn’t bear to abandon it until I turned the last adventure-filled page!
We Hope for Better Things is set in and around Detroit, MI, and follows a triple timeline—Lapeer County, 1861 (civil war); the 1960’s (civil rights movement and Detroit riots); and modern day Detroit.
When Journalist, Elizabeth Balsam, is given a camera and the promise of some old photographs to deliver to a great aunt she’s never known, by a black man who claims his uncle was married to her aunt, her interest is piqued. The photos, which were allegedly taken during the ‘67 Detroit riots, are just the thing Elizabeth could use to develop the kind of story that aligns with her reputation as one who exposes corruption and neglect. Recently fired, Elizabeth is eager to get her hands on the elusive photographs, but first she has to visit with their rightful owner, her old great aunt, Nora Balsam. Nora lives in the old family house in Lapeer County, Michigan, which was also the home of Nora’s great-grandmother, Mary Balsam. All three women, Mary, Nora and Elizabeth, are linked by blood, and as Elizabeth stays on at the Lapeer house and gets to know Nora through the many objects in her home, where she finds treasures from the attic to the cellar, she’s intrigued. What does it all mean? Close-lipped thus far, Elizabeth hopes that in time Nora will open up and contribute to her story in her own words. As time goes on, and Nora starts talking, secrets about the past overshadow Elizabeth’s career ambitions and she becomes more determined to devote herself to contributing to her family’s legacy.
Forbidden relationships, racism, secrets, lies, betrayals, tragedy. Yup, it’s all in there, cleverly constructed with each little fragment eventually coming together to form a unique, atmospheric tale that was impressive. I couldn’t believe this was the author’s first book.
Here’s another thing that I loved. Although there were tumultuous scenes and turbulent times depicted, there was not one profane word or gruesome account. That’s what I call excellent writing. When I can envision what a riot must be like through dialog or prose, without having it described to me in expletives, I consider that the mark of a great writer. Very highly recommended.
Thank you, Revell Books, for a complimentary copy of We Hope for Better Things. All opinions expressed about it are my own.
I have to admit that based on the cover I didn’t know this book was non-fiction. It quickly became apparent to me that it was. This is an emotional read that left me with a tear-stained face several times. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve read thus far.
Brad Tidd, thirty-four, could not have known when he left his house one morning in 2007 that a single decision would immediately change his life, and then end it. Catherine, his wife, thirty-one, and the mother of their three small children, would spend her eleventh wedding anniversary planning her husband’s funeral. She details the agony of that experience, along with the surreal feelings that followed her husband’s sudden death and the ways it affected her life. She chronicles the many stages of grief she experienced, and she does it candidly and in a poignant, yet inspiring way.
Tidd talks about many pertinent aspects relating to the grieving process, and gives excellent advice to widows, as well as to friends, relatives and associates of widows, emphasizing what to say, what to avoid saying, and how to help. I found her advice very practical and beneficial since I’ve had the awkward experience of feeling at a loss for words when speaking with newly widowed friends. She recites her journey through the beginning stages of widowhood, and shares her experiences and feelings about dating, her in-laws, counseling, anxiety, the widow stigma and much more.
This book had a profound effect on me. As I listened to the author recount the sudden loss of her husband it shook me to my core and made me uncomfortable. It forced me to think about what it might be like to lose my own husband, or for him to lose me, a thought I try to avoid. My heart went out to Catherine because she was so young when it happened to her, and it was totally unexpected. Having to plan a funeral, deal with feelings of intense loss, raise three children under the age of five, alone, and become the sole breadwinner after having been out of the workforce for several years would feel overwhelming to anyone. And yet, she eventually confronted her fears, got her life in order and triumphed.
Confessions of a mediocre widow was gripping, moving and memorable. If you’re a widow, young or old, this book will likely resonate with you and stir up many raw emotions. If you have not yet come to terms with your widowhood status, this book might be a bit difficult for you to get through, but I can say confidently that it will be informative and affirming as well. For the rest of us, especially those who are married, if you read this book you will look at your spouse in a very different way. I felt the need to make a conscious decision not to take any days that I share with my husband for granted. Very highly recommended.
After reading this book, as regards the title, Confessions of a Mediocre Widow, I’m convinced that the author is anything but.
Narrator – Celeste Oliva: I cannot think of a better narrator for this book. Celeste Oliva’s voice was composed, mellow, and pleasant to listen to; comforting, but not weak. Many times I had to remind myself that the voice was that of a narrator and not the author herself. She sounded so convincing, as though she was telling her own personal story. She was appropriately animated when necessary, which brought the author’s feelings to life. Excellent!!
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Confessions of a Mediocre Widow. In exchange I have provided an honest review.
When bike shop owner, Mackenzie “Mac” Almeida, stumbles over handyman Jake Lacey’s body on the path behind her micro-home on Cape Cod, suspicion initially falls on her. Mac’s frustration with Jake over the low-standard job he did on her roof repair raised the eyebrows of Westham Police Chief, Victoria Laitinen. Might Mac’s dissatisfaction from the shoddy roof job be a motive for murder? Mac is not overly concerned about proving her own innocence. But how can she explain away the murder weapon that belongs to her brother, Derrick? Sure, Derrick’s had some alcohol problems in the past, but that doesn’t make him a killer. And he’s over all of that now….isn’t he? As Mac and the Cozy Capers book group, of which she is a part of, start piecing together clues in the hopes of finding out who murdered Jake, Mac learns things about her brother that raises concerns about his innocence. Could Derrick really do such a thing? Mac’s sleuthing, along with help from the Cozy Capers, directs her attention to a few individuals who may have had a motive for wanting Jake out of the picture, for good. But can she find out which one?
The Cape Cod setting, plausible suspects and little red herrings kept me guessing and jumping from suspect to suspect trying to identify the culprit. The author’s menagerie of characters was an indication that she heartily embraces diversity in many forms. There might have been a little over-eagerness to portray this, but it made for interesting reading. There’s an African grey parrot named Belle that I loved, and the descriptions of Cape Cod made me want to go there.
Murder on Cape Cod is a refreshing start to a new series.
Thank you, Kensington Publishing, for a complimentary copy of Murder on Cape Cod. All opinions expressed about it are my own.
Thanks to the publisher I have an extra ARC copy of Murder on Cape Cod to give away. (It is currently being sold exclusively at Barnes & Noble.)
Comment below for a chance to win. U.S. residents only. 😔 Winner will be announced on 1/18/19.
This book is about a young reporter’s unceasing quest to find out what happened to Amy Mihaljevic.
Amy Mihaljevic disappeared in 1989 when she was ten years old. In early 1990 her body was found. James Renner, around the same age as Amy at the time, had been following the story about the cute little girl with the side ponytail. When Amy’s body was found James was devastated. The perpetrator was never caught. Sixteen years later, James, now a fledgling reporter for Scene magazine, revisits the story about Amy, hoping to uncover what really happened to her. As he gathers information from family members, friends and detectives who worked on the case, James quickly discovers there were a number of viable suspects who walked away, a few of them still living, and that one of them could be responsible for Amy’s death. As his investigation intensifies and he tracks down and interviews some of the suspects, along with those who knew them, James is struck by the deviance and depravity that surrounds him, and he becomes obsessed with finding Amy’s abductor.
James Renner’s tenacity in pursuing the Amy Mihaljevic case was captivating. Although a fledgling reporter at the time, Renner’s interviewing techniques were impressive. He cautiously spoke with anyone he could find that was connected to the case or considered a suspect, regardless of the danger to his own life. Each new chapter seemed to present another suspect or perspective regarding what happened to Amy, and I couldn’t stop listening to this book until I’d devoured the entire second half in one sitting. The suspense was such that I couldn’t tear myself away from it. There were real-life bogeymen, conspiracy theories, cover-ups, and almost too many suspects to keep straight. Some of it was very sad too though, like the impact that Amy’s death had on her mother, Margaret. She’d appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1992—the show was about unsolved child murders. Margaret had a rough go of it after Amy died. I won’t divulge what happened to her, but it was sad.
It’s fascinating to me how some seemingly ordinary people are really cold, calculating, and manipulative at their core; capable of committing heinous crimes. People we see in restaurants or who we have casual conversations with as we go about our daily lives are these same people. It’s frightful imagining the number of disturbed individuals who lurk among us. Renner’s book exposes us to some of the personalities of such characters.
This book was compelling. In the end, I was hoping to learn that justice had been served for little Amy, but it was not to be. I didn’t receive the closure that I thought was sure to come. The investigation is still ongoing nearly thirty years later. Nevertheless, the story gripped me, enlightened me and educated me in a way that I won’t easily forget.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a free download of AMY, by James Renner. The author, whose voice is somewhat monotone but serene and welcoming at the same time, did a great job narrating his book.
What do you get when you have a small town full of busybodies? Rumors and gossip that spread like lightening. And in small-town Bloom, TX, the folks thrive on them. So when Jennie Sue Baker, daughter of wealthy businessman, Dill Baker, and snooty southern belle, Charlotte Baker, is seen getting off of a Greyhound bus looking ratty and carrying a single suitcase, rumors start flying. What happened to her charmed life in NY, and why is she back in Bloom? Opinions vary about Jennie Sue. Some think she’s a spoiled brat who deserves to know what it feels like to suffer adversity. Others see her as a loving, caring individual who’s nothing like her stuck-up, snobbish mother who’s more interested in keeping up appearances than she is of people. Who’s right?
Cricket Lawson, a farmer’s daughter who grew up alongside Jennie Sue, chooses to despise her and doesn’t mind letting her know.
Jennie Sue was like….
Cricket’s brother, Rick, disagrees with his sister’s assessment of Jennie Sue. In fact, Rick has always had a bit of a crush on her.
There’s one thing that everyone living has in common whether they’re good, bad, rich or poor—unforeseen occurrences that can change our circumstances in an instant. And when that inevitably happens, to Jennie Sue and others, everyone’s true colors come to the fore.
There’s much to love about this book. The small-town setting where everybody knows your name (and situation🙄); the highly developed characters, including my favorites, a pair of feisty, sassy old sisters (octogenarians) who have Jennie Sue’s back; life-altering tragedies and redemption.
I chose this book because of the title, cover and positive reviews. And thanks to Amazon’s offering me a 3-month Kindle Unlimited trial for 0.99¢ a month that I couldn’t pass up, I was able to download both the e-book and audiobook for my reading and listening pleasure. 😌 This was a great way for me to discover a new author, Carolyn Brown, and I’m glad I took a chance on her. I see more of her books in my future.
When Clara Maxwell finds out about her boyfriend’s secret she’s devastated. Feeling hurt and betrayed she makes the rash decision to buy and move into a little country cottage, sight unseen, in the village of Merryknowe. when it turns out to be a dilapidated mess and she needs help to get the cottage in habitable condition, she recruits Henry Barnett, a widow and handyman, who lives in a converted van with his six-year-old daughter, Pansy. Henry is still clinging to the memory of his dead wife and he won’t let Pansy out of his sight, not even to start school. He’s got many issues of his own to work through.
Meanwhile, as Clara becomes familiar with village life in Merryknowe, she takes note of a young woman, Rachel Brown, who’s working in her mother’s bakery and tearooms making delicious cakes and pies. Rachel, only in her mid-twenties, always looks tired, battered and older than her years. Although Rachel is a common sight to others in the village, Clara takes an interest in finding out what’s going on in the young woman’s life. In doing so she makes friends with an elderly acquaintance, Tassi, who lives across the street from the bakery and tearooms and knows about Rachel’s situation. As Clara gets a clearer picture of Rachel’s circumstances she becomes determined to help the young woman.
While Henry works on Clara’s cottage, both begin to realize that pain and loss is a part of each of their narratives, and that with Tassi’s help they might find a way out of their own grief and fear, and into each other’s arms.
Starting Over at Acorn Cottage was an enjoyable story. The book focused on the lives of three of the characters, all of whom needed help to cope with the traumas that were ruining them. Each character had a complex situation which held my interest—I wanted to learn what would become of each one of them. The author delivered in concocting a story that kept me engaged to the very end.
My only niggle was with the ninety-year-old character, Tassi. She was very superstitious in nature and commonly spoke about the future or what different objects or animals meant. I had no interest in hearing her talk of the dead or anything else relevant to it, and I found myself feeling irritated whenever she spoke in the book. All the superstitious rhetoric became tiresome to me. While this was not a predominant element of the book, it was enough to annoy me. I wish she was just a wise old lady possessing practical wisdom that was doled out when necessary to help the other characters with their lives.
Overall, Starting Over at Acorn Cottage was a very good book that I enjoyed reading.