This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 – 4.5 stars

Sometimes a single incident in our life can change everything we’ve ever dreamed of, and that was certainly true in Essie Phillips’ case. This Could Change Everything expounds on the lives of three main characters whose lives converge, and in so doing, inadvertently change Essie’s life, and their own lives, in ways they could have never imagined.

When a scathing round robin (newsletter) gets sent out to everyone in Essie’s address book, her recently acquired idealic life is reversed overnight. Left with no boyfriend, no job and nowhere to live, things look hopeless. But when a chance encounter with an 83-year-old, spunky, eccentric woman, Zillah Walsh, occurs, things start looking up. In fact, losing her boyfriend and everything that went along with him, may be the best thing that’s ever happened to Essie. She soon learns that forming relationships with those who can impart wisdom and valuable lessons is priceless, and that helping others brings true and lasting happiness.

There were so many little brilliant facets within this story that steered my emotions from elation to sadness and back again. The three-dimensional characters drove the story forward and kept me thoroughly immersed. Admittedly, in the beginning the concept of a newsletter being sent out as a joke by an adult seemed quite far-fetched, and I wasn’t sure if I could suspend disbelief enough to enjoy the book. But the narrative took a quick turn and I became completely absorbed in the story.

This was an audiobook and the narrator, Esther Wane, was a perfect fit for telling this book. She brought the characters to life, especially Zillah’s character, which I enjoyed the most. The skillful narration most definitely enhanced my enjoyment of this book. Definitely recommended.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of This Could Change Everything. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

I’ve got lots of catching up to do. 🤦🏽‍♀️

Enjoy your day everyone, and thanks so much for stopping by. ☺

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Giveaway Winners announced!!

Jill. Congratulations Jill!! Jill has been contacted and has chosen prize #2:

Winner #2 is….

Holly B. Congratulations Holly!! You have won prize #1:

And the four runner-up winners are:

– Kathy’s Cottage

– Kentucky Book Lover

– Jennifer Tar Heel Reader

– Zahra Hassan

Each of you will receive a copy of The Rancher’s Second Chance:

Thanks for participating everyone. I’ll be contacting you via e-mail, and then getting your prizes out to you as soon as possible, so don’t worry..

Have a great day!! 💕

The Happiness Pact Giveaway Winners announced!

Cyn. Cyn, you have won this:

I will be contacting you via email shortly. Congratulations. 🎊🎉

But wait, we have two runner-up winners. I have two other books to give away by Liz Flaherty, who so generously provided them.

And the runner-up winners are…

Lghiggans

Lraines78

You will each receive a copy of Back to McGuffey’s by Liz Flaherty.

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I adored Back to McGuffey’s. (See my review of it here .) I will contact you via email.

Thanks everyone!! If you didn’t win this time, don’t despair. Winners of my other giveaway will be selected and announced on 7/9. Perhaps you’ll be one of them.

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

⭐️⭐️ – 2-stars

Simply put, this book wasnt for me. I didn’t like it at all. It became a tedious cat and mouse chase and I lost interest early on. The characters, including the main ones, were all one dimensional, and there wasn’t much to imagine outside of them. No engaging secondary characters, no atmosphere, no interesting landmarks, no development. Nothing. There was just no substance. It’s like everyone and everything existed in hazy outline, and I didn’t really care about anyone or anything, except maybe the dog, Peggy. And those silly Russian Dolls. 🙄 I didn’t particularly care for how it was structured either. There was quite a bit of introspection and first person narrative. I felt like it kept going in circles. Very repititious. It picked up a bit towards the final 20% of the book, but only briefly. I was just too tired of the whole thing to care by that time anyway. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I was hoping for a climactic ending, but alas I found it disappointing and implausible.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the plot…

Finn McQuaid’s girlfriend, Layla, goes missing during a rest room break while on their way back to Devon, England, from their trip to France. Finn is devastated, but eventually he begins to accept that Layla is gone forever and he grows attached to Layla’s sister, Ellen. In the twelfth year of Layla’s disappearance, Finn gets engaged to Ellen and when their engagement becomes public knowledge clues begin popping up to suggest that Layla might still be alive and close by.

Initially, Finn paints this blissful picture of his relationship with Layla, but then there’s this undertone of discontent and animosity that existed. What really happened the night Layla disappeared, and has she really come back?

I’m sorry. I didn’t like any of it. That is all.

I want to thank St. Martin’s Press for a complimentary copy of Bring Me Back in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

Have a wonderful week everyone.

Croissants and Corruption by Danielle Collins

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🥐🥐.5 – 2.5 croissants
fullsizeoutput_bbaI don’t typically review books here unless they’re at least three stars, but since I’d already written part of a review for this one, I decided  to just finish it.  ✍🏽
Margo, bakery owner of The Parisian Patisserie, has agreed to look after her sister’s step-daughter for the summer since she’s having difficulties with the nineteen year old, Taylor. Renee would like for Taylor to work in the bakery while she stays with Margo. Aside from the legitimate complaints from Taylor about being at the bakery at 3:00 a.m., things seem to be heading in a positive direction. That is until Margo and Taylor dine at a popular Italian restaurant one evening and one of the servers continues to harass Taylor, both inside and outside of the restaurant, and then later turns up dead with Taylor’s prints on the murder weapon. Turns out Taylor has been keeping secrets from her aunt. But will Margo’s faith in her niece’s innocence be enough to clear her name?
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I was looking for a quick, light, cozy mystery, so I figured this novella-like audiobook of about 3 hrs., 18 mins., would fit the bill. But honestly, I wasn’t really feeling it. I almost abandoned it a few times but decided to stick it out since I was partway through it and had invested too much time in it already. Never should it take over a week to finish a book this short. I think the audio narration is what annoyed me the most about it. The narrator was too dramatic and seemed to over emphasize each and every word. It was painful. The characters’ voices were too exaggerated and I could only listen for brief periods. She was killing me!! But I finally got through it. I think the mystery aspect was mediocre.
I can’t say I recommend this book because I didn’t think it was very good, but since the audio narrator may be responsible for my lack of enjoyment, feel free to try it for yourself if you’re feeling ambitious enough to tackle it. Incidentally, the reviews are very good for this cozy, so maybe the audio version just ruined it entirely for me.
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Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of this book. In exchange I have provided an honest review.
Have a great day!! And thanks for visiting.

The Happiness Pact by Liz Flaherty and **Giveaway**

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💚💚💚💚 4-hearts

fullsizeoutput_ac2Libby Worth and Tucker Llewelyn have known each other since they can remember. In fact, they’re only 27 minutes apart.  As handsome as Tuck is, Libby sees him as her forever friend, not imagining that they could ever be anything more. Tuck is closer to her than her own brother, and he’s seen her through the most difficult times of her life. (Or so he thinks. He doesn’t know about “the viper.”) Now the two have turned thirty-four, and each wants something different to happen in their life. Tuck realizes he wants a nuclear family, and Libby wants to add some adventure to her rather ordinary life. So they make a pact to help fulfill each other’s desires. Since each knows everything there is to know about the other it should be a rather easy task. But what’s that odd feeling Libby gets when trying to pair Tuck up with other women? And why does Tuck feel compelled to do whatever it takes to add adventure to Libby’s life in order to make her happy?  Tucker senses that Libby is hiding something, something that’s weighing her down. Is her secret the obstacle that restrains her heart from committing to a loving relationship?
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This sweet story pulled me in within the first few pages. Tragedies have affected both of the main characters, but Libby has had a more difficult time coping, unbeknownst to her best friend, Tuck.  The Happiness Pact touches on the effects that tragedy can have on ones mind and body, and how trying to tackle our own fears is not always the best route to take. But mostly it shows how the love of friends, family and a close-knit community can help us to overcome our challenges so that we can feel free to love, and to enjoy living.  And, of course, since this is a sweet romance book, there’s an endearing love story.

The Happiness Pact is a testament to how love can triumph despite hardships in life. Liz Flaherty has an inventive imagination. The scenes in her books envelop you in warmth and comfort.  Recommended for those who enjoy light, sweet romance stories with a smidgen of more complex themes.

Liz Flaherty has kindly supplied me with a prize pack to give away.  To enter, LIKE this post, and then tell me if you enjoy sweet romance stories, and if you do, what do you appreciate about them?  Contest open to U.S. residents only. 😔  Winner will be announced on 7/7/2018.

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Thanks, as always, for visiting Cozynookbks.

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Off Kilter by Hannah Reed (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

🐑🐑🐑🐑.5 – 4.5 bleating sheep

Eden Elliott, 38, is off to the Scottish Highlands to get the proper atmosphere for her first novel, compliments of her best friend and established romance author, Ami Pederson. While traveling to Glenkillen, Eden meets a young woman named Vicki MacBride on the plane who is on her way to Scotland to bury her father. The women quickly bond and Eden learns of Vicki’s harrowing situation regarding her father’s inheritance. Her siblings’ bitter rivalry stems from their resentment of Vicki’s inheriting the entire sheep farming operation when they’ve been the ones overseeing it while Vicki, their half-sister, was living in London. Eden is sympathetic to Vicki’s plight and provides a listening ear and shoulder to cry on. But when the two women stumble across the body of Vicki’s supposed friend, Gavin Mitchell, a sheep shearer, Eden is left with doubts regarding her newfound friend.

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Scottish heather

What an engrossing, atmospheric, cozy mystery! The setting, with its highland cattle, country lanes, lush mountains, low stone walls, rolling green farmland and purple heather was captivating. The kilt-wearing handsome Scot, Leith Cameron, and his dog, Kelly, were prominently featured characters and I adored them. The Scottish idioms and lilt made me chuckle. (The audiobook narrator for Off Kilter, Angela Dawe, gave an outstanding performance. The accents sounded authentic and realistic, which enhanced my enjoyment of the story.) Vicki’s west highland terriers, Cocoa and Pepper, that were constant companions to Eden in parts of the book were always a welcome addition to the storyline.

Off Kilter was an enjoyable cozy mystery with a setting that’s described so distinctly that you will feel as though you’ve been transported to Scotland in your mind’s eye. Definitely recommended.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a free download of Off Kilter.

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Highland cattle

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Giveaway Time!!

ADC65146-0D21-4961-A676-6E9411F938F4Many of you who follow my blog probably already know that I enjoy reading books set in the U.K., so I thought, “Why not do a little British inspired giveaway?”

So I put this together to give away….

PRIZE #1

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If you win, you’ll get:

  • The Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant
  • Cute rooster hook bookmark
  • English breakfast tea
  • Book mug (my favorite)
  • English custard cream cookies (yum!)

But wait, I’m feeling generous, so because I value all of those who follow my blog, read my posts, and/or regularly comment, I wanted to offer another chance to win something. So I put together this too…..

PRIZE #2

If you win, you’ll get:

  • An ARC copy of My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley
  • Cranberry Pistachio Italian cookie
  • Cocoa Butter hand & body lotion
  • Radish mug (my favorite)
  • New England Breakfast Blend coffee

But I’m still not finished. For the four runner-ups I’ll be giving away one each of these….

PRIZE #3

(Winner #1 gets to choose prize #1, #2 or #3)

All you have to do to be entered to win one of these prizes is Like this post, and then tell me one or more of your favorite books in the comments section. That’s it. Winners will be picked at random. Unfortunately, due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. I’m so sorry. 😔

Winner will be announced on 7/9.

Thank you for following Cozynookbks and for reading my posts, commenting, and sharing so many wonderful things with me. I truly appreciate and value each and every one of you. Have a wonderful week! 😉

Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties by Camille Pagán

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4-stars

What could be worse than finding out that your husband of 27 years is leaving you for a younger woman? Maggie Harris, 53, will learn that there IS something worse, and it will be difficult to accept. Being blindsided by her husband’s affair and subsequent departure leaves Maggie in a state of uncertainty and insecurity. How does a woman go about starting anew when she’s been relatively comfortable and stable in her life for nearly the past three decades?

When I began reading Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties, I thought it was about why women of a certain age feel invisible in this world because of society’s obsession with youth and beauty; and how difficult it is attempting to navigate life amongst those who hardly acknowledge a middle-aged woman’s existence. But really, it was less about that and more about how a mature woman struggles to regain her confidence, redefine herself and reshape her life after her husband leaves her.

I enjoyed this book. I was interested to know what direction Maggie would go in her life. I loved seeing her character develop throughout the course of the book, and I feel that the author portrayed Maggie’s challenges and the choices she ultimately makes in a realistic way. The ending brought tears to my eyes. Nicely done.

Thank you Netgalley, Lake Union Publishing, and Camille Pagán for a complimentary, Advance Reader Copy of Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Until next time….

Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea – **Top Pick**

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 5 stars

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In the words of Joe Kenda of Investigation Discovery: “Well my, my, my.”

Charlie Donlea certainly knows how to spin a tale.

Following is confirmation that I loved this book:

1. I couldn’t wait for an opportunity during the day to read it

2. I couldn’t stop thinking about it

3. I kept inundating my husband with details about it

4. I opened it up at 3:00 a.m. and started reading instead of going back to sleep after using the bathroom

5. I wasn’t longing for it to be over so I could read something else

6. I kept thinking to myself, “this guy can write!” as the book progressed and I was flipping pages faster than my little arthritic pinky finger could handle

7. The final sentence sent a wave of exhilaration coursing through my body, making me wish I could call up Mr. Donlea ASAP and gush about my thoughts

8. My e-reader showed I’d reached 100%, but I was still attempting to find more pages

9. I’m poised to add it to my Best Reads list for 2018

Need I go on?  If those reasons don’t convince you, then I highly suggest that you read this book and see for yourself. (Don’t Believe It releases in the U.S. on May 29th.)

And now here’s a very brief summary of the plot….

Julian Crists’s body is washed up on Sugar Beach, part of an island resort in St. Lucia, where he was vacationing with his girlfriend, Grace Sebold, who is found guilty of his murder and spends a decade in a St. Lucian prison cell, all the while proclaiming her innocence. She’s exhausted her appeals and it looks likely that she’ll be living out her days locked up. Desperate, she reaches out to a former acquaintance, Sidney Ryan, by means of letters written continually asking for her help. Sidney is a documentary film writer whose films have exonerated a couple of wrongly convicted criminals. Sidney makes the decision to help Grace by producing a real-time documentary of her findings regarding Grace’s case; new episodes airing each week revealing her findings from the previous week’s research. The documentary is a monumental hit for Sidney, and fans of the show loyally tune in to find out the fate of Grace Sebold. Will Sidney’s instincts prove true regarding Grace’s innocence?

There’s so much more content, but this is all I can share without giving anything away. Charlie Donlea truly delivers with this one. And I just love his writing. His stories are riveting. He’s a new favorite suspense writer for me. Highly recommended.

Thank you Netgalley, Kensington Books, and Charlie Donlea for an e-ARC of Don’t Believe It. In exchange I have provided an honest review of my thoughts about it.

Have an awesome day everybody! And thanks so much for visiting Cozynookbks. 💕

Meet Me on the Midway by Amie Denman

🎡🎡🎡.5 – 3.5 Ferris wheels

The ribbon cutting ceremony is underway for the new Starlight Point Marina. Evie Hamilton, part owner of the Starlight Point Amusement Park along with her two siblings, is convinced that the new Marina and eventual renovation of the century-old Lake Breeze Hotel will be the answer to Starlight Point’s financial struggles. Everything is set to go for the grand opening of the Marina until the fire inspector puts the brakes on, citing violations and refusing to sign off on an occupancy permit. Evie is worried. Revenue from the new Marina is necessary for the success of Starlight Point, and this project is exactly what’s needed to attain it.

Scott Bennett, fire inspector and the bane of Evie’s existence, is taciturn and distant. He seems displeased with any projects Evie plans to undertake to improve Starlight Point. Evie is convinced that Scott’s difficult and off-putting demeanor stems from something in his past that he’s keeping to himself, but what? Behind the brooding exterior is a caring, loving, protective man. He’s demonstrated these qualities with injured Starlight Point patrons and his sister, Caroline, an officer at the Point. Evie’s seen this side of Scott and it’s hard to deny the attraction she feels toward him. But are her instincts correct regarding his appealing qualities, or is she headed for further disappointment from the man who seems to live for the sole purpose of frustrating her plans?

I enjoy the Starlight Point series and it’s amusement park setting. Imagining the rides, games, food and crowds is fun and entertaining. However, in Meet Me on the Midway, it was a little difficult for me to envision Evie’s romantic interest in Scott when he presented nothing but trouble for her. I think there was just a bit too much conflict, and consequently the romance didn’t develop quite enough to be convincing to me.I did really like the behind the scenes look at the complexities of owning and running an amusement park. There are medical emergencies, fires, fights, malfunctions. We are rarely aware of these goings-on when we visit amusement parks. There’s so much happening during a typical jam-packed amusement park day, and I found myself thinking about how it’s at all possible to operate one smoothly. I wished the romance between Scott and Evie was as inspiring as the amusement park details.

Meet Me on the Midway was a good, wholesome read. But I have to admit that it wasn’t my favorite of the series because I thought the romantic element was lacking. However, I still enjoyed many parts of it, and I’m looking forward to reading book 4 in the series.

A picture from our somewhat recent trip to Myrtle Beach, SC.

Enjoy your day everyone!

I made a Wacky Cake!!

Hi all! For those of you who recently read my review of Do or Diner , I included a picture of a Wacky Cake because I’d never heard of one before and took an interest in it after reading about it in the book.

So I attempted it Wednesday night and wanted to share my results with all of you. Ready?

One dish with all ingredients mixed together in it….

2 2/3 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 2/3 cups cocoa, 1 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. baking soda, 2 tsp. vanilla, 2/3 cup vegetable oil, 2 tsp vinegar, 2 cups water

Add dry ingredients to ungreased baking dish or pan. Make three wells in the dry mixture and put the vanilla in the first well, vinegar in the second well, and oil in the third well. Pour two cups of water over everything and mix with a fork until incorporated.

Bake on 350° for at least 40 minutes (mine took longer, but since ovens vary, look at the cake after 40 minutes).

My Wacky Cake after 50 minutes in 350° oven

It’s rather decadent by itself so I decided not to frost it. I just sprinkled a little confectioners sugar on top. I love that deep brown color from the cocoa (I used Hershey’s).

So there you have it. It’s rich, moist and delicious. In fact, I’m having trouble keeping myself away from it. 🤦🏽‍♀️ Seriously folks, you should definitely try it. No eggs, butter or milk, and perfectly respectable results. We loved it!

What do you think? Look good?

Have the best weekend ever everyone!!

Do or Diner by Christine Wenger

🥞🥞🥞🥞 – 4 pancake stacks

When Trixie Matkowski’s uncle dies, leaving her aunt Stella alone and uninterested in running their famed Silver Bullet Diner, Trixie finds herself the proud new owner of the Silver Bullet, her aunt’s vacated Victorian home, the bait shop, and twelve vacation cottages along Lake Ontario, in Sandy Harbor, New York. Aunt Stella is moving on with her life in a comfortable retirement home. Trixie’s elated about her new properties, known as the point, but upon sifting through a mass of mail that includes many past due bills and a list of violations by the health inspector involving the Diner, Trixie realizes that the Silver Bullet could be shut down faster than she can assume responsibility for it. Trixie begins to feel as though she’s taken on more than she bargained for. Since aunt Stella is on a cruise around the world and inaccessible, Trixie makes her way over to the Diner to do damage control. But on her way there she learns that the health inspector appears to have died in the Silver Bullet. Who killed Marvin Cogswell III, and can Trixie help solve the mystery before news spreads of the fatality and she’s put out of business for good?

I enjoyed this cozy, especially Trixie’s character. She didn’t have a clue about how to run a Diner, who her employees were, or much of anything else when the book started. But she was tenacious, generous and hardworking, and those qualities served her well. There was a handsome Deputy Sheriff, Ty Brisco, who Trixie kept referring to as Wyatt Earp in the book. 😂 He made all of the ladies swoon when he called them darlin’ and tipped that cowboy hat when departing from their presence. I had many chuckles while reading parts of their dialog. In fact, there were quite a number of LOL moments throughout this book. What I liked most was that it flowed really well, made me laugh, had fun characters, and kept me guessing as to who killed the inspector. The reveal was not earth shattering, but it didn’t change my overall enjoyment of the book. Definitely recommended.

Oh, and I learned something new. Does anyone know what a wacky cake is? Well, if you don’t, the short answer is it’s a cake that you can whip up with a few ingredients, without eggs, milk or butter, in just one pan. Apparently people prepared it during the Depression when food was in short supply. I’ll let you know how it turns out as I’m determined to try it.

Wacky cake

Thank you, Kathy, of Katie’s Cottage Books, for doing a buddy read with me, even though you’re a much faster reader than I am. 😉

Thanks for reading everyone.

Death in the English Countryside by Sara Rosett – (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

A85657FC-69E1-4623-B1F4-CB3CFE01ED88⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars
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When Kevin Dunn, owner of Premiere Locations, a small location scouting firm, goes missing in the quaint village of Nether Woodsmoor in England while scouting out locations for their newest project, a Pride and Prejudice adaptation, Kate Sharp, Kevin’s employee, is sent from their office in California to locate her boss. Kate and the office manager, Marcy, are the only two who are aware of Kevin’s alcohol addiction and the problems it has caused him in his professional life in the past. Not wanting to stir up unnecessary negative publicity for some trivial impropriety and risk losing a project from a top Director, Kate heads off to England to find her boss and bring him back to California. But when she finally locates Kevin he’s not inebriated, he’s dead.
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There was so much to love about this book; all of the references to Pride and Prejudice, the beautiful location with its undulating green fields, golden stone cottages, groves of trees, flowering hedgerows and lush gardens; the snooty characters that made me feel like saying…
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It’s always an added bonus when I learn new things while reading a book. This book taught me a lot about location scouting, which I found quite interesting.  It was a unique profession that I’ve never seen used in a cozy mystery.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well the mystery was developed.  The ending was satisfying, although I did find it slightly difficult to piece together.  The audio narrator, Sarah Mollo-Christensen, has a soothing voice that was exceedingly pleasant to listen to, and aided in my complete enjoyment of this book.
I will be inquiring about book 2 in the series, Death in an English Cottage. That’s how excited I was about this book. Highly recommended.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of this book. In exchange I have provided an honest, unbiased review.
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Have a great week everyone, and thanks for visiting Cozynookbks. 😊

Hetty’s Farmhouse Bakery by Cathy Bramley

🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰 5 cake slices

Don’t let the sweet little innocuous cover fool you. Sure, there’s a sheep farm, homemade pies and a quaint little village called Carsdale in Cumbria, England, that’s filled with caring neighbors….

My vision of Hetty’s farmhouse

But there’s also secrets, bad decisions and the resultant consequences that will astound you…

When Hetty Greengrass learns that her daughter, Poppy, is inspired by her aunt Naomi, and not her own mother, Hetty feels inadequate and slightly jealous. She’s a sheep farmer’s wife, while Naomi runs the successful Sunnybank Farm Shop that she built from the ground up. Hetty re-evaluates her life; she wants to be her daughter’s role model. So instead of living to appease everyone else’s wishes and desires, she decides to finally put her own first. What can she do? Folks rave about her homemade sweet and savory pies, including Poppy, so she’s determined to bake pies, not just recreationally for charities and the village fete, but for profit. Everyone is supportive except the one person whose support means the most: her husband, Dan. He relies on Hetty to help with farming duties, and expresses his reluctance to allow her to pursue this new venture. But when she gets entered into the Cumbria’s Finest competition without her knowledge, Hetty’s life begins to change, in more ways than one.

I loved this book!! I learned a lot about the goings-on of a sheep farm. I got lost in the imagery of the beautiful Lake District with its rolling hills, valleys and meadows. And although there are witty and heartwarming scenes, there’s also the complexities of life that will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I’m so glad I purchased this book, even if I had to wait for it to arrive all the way from across the pond. I think you will love it too. Highly recommended.

The beautiful Lake District

Do you enjoy books set in England and written by British authors? Please, share your thoughts.

Have a great day. And thank you for visiting Cozynookbks.😊

Four Puddings and a Funeral

Four Puddings and a Funeral is book 6 in the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries series (but can be read as a stand-alone), and it’s another clever murder mystery with entertaining characters, keenly placed red herrings, relationship troubles, a mischievous little tabby cat named Muesli, an inquisitive little hedgehog, and more Oxford University insight.

Here’s a peek at what happens……

Gemma Rose, owner of the Little Stables Tearoom, is excited to be catering a funeral reception for the late Rex Clifford at the Parish Hall. It will mean greater business opportunities in the future. While setting up for the event, she overhears Rex’s daughter, Rachel, angrily lamenting about being excluded from her father’s will. She accuses his widow, Adele Clifford, nearly twenty years Rex’s junior and married to him for a mere three months prior to his death, of somehow being responsible for her exclusion from the will.  When Adele keels over after sampling a variety of puddings at the reception, and one of Gemma’s dear friends is suspected of murdering her, Gemma takes it upon herself to investigate.  What she finds is that there are secrets within the family, and she’s determined to get answers. But the truth is, she could use a few answers herself about the blond woman who’s been seen on numerous occasions with her boyfriend, Devlin. There’s been trouble in paradise for the couple, mainly because Gemma continually nags Devlin, trying to force him to impress her snobbish, posh mother with precise manners and distinct social etiquette, and it’s becoming rather exasperating for the poor man. Can Gemma solve the murder mystery, save her friend and mend her relationship before it’s too late?

How author, H.Y. Hanna, manages to weave these intricate tales and then churn them out in such quick succession is beyond comprehension. But seriously, if you haven’t tried this series yet, you’re missing out. Four Puddings and a Funeral is an excellent cozy mystery, and Pearl Hewitt, the audio narrator, is exceptional. I’ve enjoyed every book in the series up to this one, and look forward to book 7, Another One Bites the Crust.  Highly recommended.

Thank you, H.Y. Hanna, for a complimentary download of Four Puddings and a Funeral. In exchange, I have provided an honest and unbiased review.

Have you read any books in the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries series?

Have a lovely day!!

Our Little Secret by Roz Nay

5-stars

Our Little Secret was a page-turner and a brilliant read. I seriously never got bored reading it. The chapters are short and conclude in such an enticing manner that I could have read the entire book in one sitting if I’d had the time.

It begins in a police interrogation room with a Detective Novak questioning his detainee, Angela Petitjean (pronounced Peti-SHON), about the disappearance of a woman named Saskia. Angela informs the detective that she doesn’t have any information regarding Saskia’s whereabouts, but proceeds to tell him all about HP, who appears to have been her childhood best friend and soul mate. Through Angela’s account of her relationship with HP, we learn about her formative years; including her life at home with her parents, her time away at a prestigious University, and how things start to spiral downward in her life, which is when Saskia’s identity is revealed. All of these revelations take place in that interrogation room. I kept wondering if Angela was a reliable narrator. Was I justified in taking pity on her? Who was being deceitful? Who betrayed whom? These were some of the questions I kept asking myself as I read Our Little Secret.

Since I don’t want to give anything away accidentally, let’s just say this is psychological suspense at its finest; thrilling and well-written with characters that kept me questioning my opinions of them.

The ending had me like…

Very highly recommended.

Thank you, St. Martin’s Press, for a complimentary ARC of Our Little Secret. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Has anyone read Our Little Secret? What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a lovely day, okay? ☺

The Duke Mansion

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’s Sweetshop of Dreams (Audiobook-Tantor Audio) **Top Pick**

I know I’ve loved a book when:

-The audiobook version is 13 hrs. long and I’m utterly disappointed when it ends

-I find myself chuckling throughout the day recalling random scenes

-I start researching other books by the author so I can add one to my tbr

-I stalk the author online and follow their social media posts

This is how I felt after devouring Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’s Sweetshop of Dreams. I enjoyed this book immensely. The audiobook narrator, Beverley Crick, did an outstanding job portraying the various characters, both male and female, in the book. An incredible performance. This book checked off all of the boxes that make for a thoroughly satisfying read.

And now a peek at the plot…..

Rosie Hopkins, age thirty-one, is an auxiliary nurse living in a tiny London flat with her status-quo boyfriend, Gerard, age thirty-six. She’s convinced herself that she’s satisfied with her life, but her friends and family consistently suggest otherwise. Angie, Rosie’s mother who lives in Australia, has commandeered her to move to the English countryside to care for her elderly great aunt, Lilian, who used to run a sweetshop but is no longer up for the task since a terrible fall has taken its toll on her. Rosie’s job is to transform the neglected, abandoned shop into a proper sweetshop so that it can be sold and aunt Lilian placed in a comfortable senior home to live out her days. Rosie resists with numerous excuses as to why she shouldn’t go, but after considering having the most favorable circumstances amongst all of her relatives, along with her inner desire to have a break from Gerard, acquiesces and decides to go.

Rosie eventually settles into village life with its quirky residents and beautiful landscape. She even gets the opportunity to demonstrate her adept nursing abilities on a few occasions. Subsequently, she’s beginning to feel useful in the small town of Lipton. When Gerard finally gets around to visiting, she realizes what a disappointment he really is; his idiosyncratic ways so clearly visible and pathetic when compared with the rugged men she’s met out in the country. Rosie is reevaluating her life, and just where will she end up? Can she find love and a new life in the little town of Lipton, or will she choose to return to her familiar life in London with Gerard?

I adored this book. It was so well crafted. An excellent story. The audio narrator brought it to life and I didn’t want it to end. Be warned though, there is a bit of language in this book here and there, but overall it’s a cozy, sweet read with loads of British wit and charm. Fabulous!

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’s Sweetshop of Dreams. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Have a lovely week!!

Hummus and Homicide by Tina Kashian (Audiobook-Tantor Audio) **Top Pick**

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5-stars   5-stars

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I absolutely loved Hummus and Homicide!! The completely convincing suspect list, sleuthing tactics and loyal family dynamic; including the cultural traditions the Berberian family so tightly clinged to, were all factors that made the book worthwhile. I cracked up many times while listening. The pace never wavered, and the ethnic dishes that Lucy’s mother prepared in Kebab Kitchen made my mouth water!!

And now a little summary of the book…

When Lucy Berberian returns home to Ocean Crest, NJ, after her professional life in Philadelphia as a patent attorney takes a nosedive, her parents welcome her with open arms and a waitress uniform so she can get right to work at their family-owned Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen.

Before long Lucy bumps into former classmate and nemesis, Heather Banks. When Heather introduces her boyfriend, famous suspense writer Paul Evans, to Lucy and then exclaims “Lucy’s parents are foreigners who own that Mediterranean restaurant,” Lucy is mortified by Heather’s tactless, erroneous statement (her parents are citizens) and corrects her in front of Paul. The two women exchange words and Lucy later regrets the tiff after learning that Heather is the new health inspector, replacing her father who’d given Kebab Kitchen’s inspection a pass every year for the past 30 years. Heather inspects Kebab Kitchen shortly thereafter and cites the restaurant for several infractions and demands corrective action within 7 days or she will shut Lucy’s parents’ beloved restaurant down. So Lucy is surprised when Heather comes back to Kebab Kitchen to eat the following afternoon, engulfing various varieties of hummus from the very hummus bar she’d verbally assaulted just a day earlier. But when she’s found dead in the restaurant’s parking lot, Lucy comes under suspicion and must act quickly to find out what really happened to Heather before the negative publicity destroys her parents’ health and livelihood, and she gets put away.

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Audiobook narrator, Rachel Dulude, did a fabulous job with the storytelling and numerous accents and dialects in the book. Her performance most definitely added to my enjoyment of it, being that I’m originally from NYC and thus familiar with various cultures, I felt that her imitations were quite realistic and thoroughly entertaining, making the book that much more enjoyable.  I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Stabbed in the Baklava.

Very highly recommended.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Hummus and Homicide. In exchange I have provided an honest review

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Hummus plate

Have a wonderful weekend!!

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

Look what I found. The U.K. edition:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫- 4.5 stars

The Perfect Nanny gets off to a chilling start and then takes us back to what leads up to its tragic beginning.

The nanny, Louise, does everything right. EVERYTHING! The delicate-looking, dainty woman is much stronger than she appears, and handles domestic chores with ease while still proficiently looking after Myriam and Paul’s two young children, Adam and Mila. Myriam feels relief that she can pursue her career goals again now that Louise keeps things running smoothly and efficiently at home. She does get in the way sometimes though, when Myriam wants to spoil and nurture her children. And Louise’s quirks can be a bit irksome at times. But Myriam can’t deny the confidence she has in the woman’s adeptness and dismisses any concerns that crop up along the way. That is until some of her noticeably bizarre behavior becomes unsettling. Why are the childrens’ parents delaying in taking necessary steps to dismiss her? They will pay the ultimate price for their callousness.

Sometimes when things appear too good to be true, they really are….

The Perfect Nanny is a psychologically gripping page-turner. Incredibly, this book is not laced with violence and profanity, just a subtle creepiness that gives you pause. Tidbits dispersed throughout the book help us to piece together how and why the nanny may have become deranged. The author wants us to draw on Louise’s life circumstances to reach our own satisfying conclusion regarding her ultimate insane act. Initially, I was thoroughly miffed about the ending. I felt like why did the author do this to me, ….

But after a few days of ruminating on it I started to feel much better about it, to the point of actually liking it. (Thank you Holly B of Dressed to Read, my reading buddy, you were right!!) 😉

Holly also alerted me to the fact that this book was inspired by true events.

Some scenes were a bit wordy at times, and the litany was causing me to feel like, ALRIGHT ALREADY! I GET IT!! But overall, this book was an excellent read. Just keep in mind that it’s the journey that will amaze you, not the destination. Recommended.

Thank you Edelweiss for a complimentary copy of The Perfect Nanny. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Has anyone else read The Perfect Nanny? I’d love to hear what you thought about it.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!!

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage (Book 2—Tales From Ivy Hill series) by Julie Klassen

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-stars

I was thrilled to be reconnecting with these courageous, strong and determined women. Rachel Ashford takes center stage in this book. She is a displaced gentlewoman of meager means since her deceased father’s estate is now home to his distant cousin, Nicholas Ashford, where he and his mother reside (entail laws and all that). Fortunately, Rachel has been invited to live with her friend, Mercy Grove, and her aunt Matilda at Ivy Cottage. With few other options available to her, Rachel accepts the generous offer and tries her hand at teaching the pupils at Mercy’s girls school on the premises, since she needs an occupation. That venture proves unsuccessful as she is not particularly skilled at the art of instruction. Meanwhile, Nicholas Ashford desires Rachel’s hand in marriage. Although accepting him would secure her future and place her back in the beloved Thornvale where she grew up, she continues to put him off. Meanwhile, there might be hope in the way of a proposal from Sir. Timothy Brockwell. Brockwell’s interest in Rachel is not new, and the circumstances surrounding the possible suitor seem more favorable now since they don’t involve her friend Jane Bell, the woman presumed to marry Sir Timothy. Their recently reconciled friendship is highly valued by both women. Still, Lady Brockwell has higher aspirations for her son in the way of a marriage partner. Rachel is fiery and feisty, dodging Lady Brockwell’s subtle assaults at her. But even if Sir Timothy defies his mother and asks for Rachel’s hand, how might it affect her friendship with Jane?

During her first meeting of the Ladies Tea and Knitting Society, Rachel’s impoverished predicament is shared with the attendees by Mercy Grove. These progressive women suggest that Rachel earn her livelihood by starting a much-needed circulating library in Ivy Hill with her father’s extensive library, which Rachel inherited but is forbidden to sell off. This endeavour proves promising and Rachel is on her way to sustaining herself in the meantime while living at Ivy Cottage.

Mercy Grove has more or less resigned herself to spinster status. She doesn’t think herself attractive and doubts that any man will find her so. Solace comes in the form of her recently attained ward, Alice, one of the little orphaned girls that attends her school. The two are attached to each other. So what will Mercy do when a person from Alice’s mother’s past threatens to sever their relationship?

I love the propriety, etiquette and decorum of the Regency period. The slow pace of life is a welcome diversion from today’s fast world. Despite the improprieties of the upper crust—their infidelities, indiscretions and scandals, Julie Klassen does not deliver them to us in the same way we’d receive them from a dime novel. In contrast, her prose is all manners and grace, indicative of the time period. The visual impact of her stories is what keeps me coming back to her books.

If you love historical fiction involving revitalized friendships, swoon-worthy romantic moments, an atmospheric setting with fully developed characters, this book is for you. But do yourself a favor and begin with the first book in the series, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Highly recommended series.

Thank you Bethany House publishers for a complimentary copy of this book. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day.

Throwback Thursday – A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson

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Throwback Thursday is hosted by Renee of It’s Book Talk.  This meme was created to share old favorites and/or books published over a year ago.  Today I’m going to be sharing an excellent mystery, A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson.

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Why I chose this book:

I was astounded by it. This was an audiobook and I was impressed by the narration. As far as the book itself, it was the characters, the mystery, the incredible setting (it was set in a castle in rural England, I mean c’mon, awesome!).  The main character, Hugo Hawksworth, was my first audiobook character crush. This book was just such a great listen and I remember feeling like this ….

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See my review of it here.

I googled the author, intent on letting her know how much I enjoyed it. I was DEVASTATED to learn that she had died a few months before I’d read the book.  Seriously, I was so sad when I learned that.

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If Ms. Edmondson was still with us today, I’d tell her that I absolutely loved her book, and that it remains one of my favorites to this day. 💐

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Thank you for visiting. 

Lending a Paw by Laurie Cass (Audiobook-Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 3.5 stars

Lending a Paw is Book 1 in the Bookmobile Cat Mystery series. It was an enjoyable cozy with a believable suspect list and a few red herrings to point me in different directions along the way. Eddie, the mischievous cat, is a lovable character. I liked that he’s an ordinary cat with God-given animal instincts and doesn’t possess any magical abilities.

Here’s a little of the plot….

Minerva (Minnie) Hamilton, a Librarian with the Chilson (MI) District Library, drives the Bookmobile with her naughty but decidedly helpful and intuitive cat, Eddie. Eddie followed Minnie home from the cemetery one day, and surreptitiously made his way onto the bookmobile on the day of its maiden voyage, and subsequently lead her to her friend’s dead body. Minnie was fond of Stan Larabee, a major contributor to the library. But further digging uncovers unfavorable accounts of Stan’s character and business dealings. Many people hated the man. Who really was Stan Larabee, and why were so many folks’ attitudes that of good riddance instead of poor Stan?

This is my second book in the Bookmobile series. Admittedly, I had to get well into the book before it truly started to hold my attention. Once it did, I was eagerly anticipating the unveiling of the killer. This was an audiobook and the narrator did a pretty good job as Minnie. Her voice sort of reminded me of Jane Fonda, and it took me a little while in the beginning to equate her to 33-yr. old Minnie. But after listening for a time I got used to her voice and it was fine. Overall, I liked this cozy and I would try another book in the series.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a free download of Lending a Paw. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Have a great week everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

Throwback Thursday – Sailing in Style by Dana Mentink

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Throwback Thursday is hosted by Renee of It’s Book Talk.  This meme was created to share old favorites and/or books published over a year ago.  Today I’m going to be sharing Sailing in Style by Dana Mentink.

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Why I chose this book:

I read this book a few years ago and it is one of my favorite Heartwarming books, and I’ve read many.  It’s a comedic romp with zany characters and suspense thrown in for good measure.  Dana Mentink is more popularly known for her suspense and intrigue books, so it’s no wonder she can pull off adding this element to a romance novel. She’s also very funny, so many times I found myself like this while reading it…

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Yes, it was that funny.  You can read my full review here.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy sweet romance, mystery, intrigue and comedy rolled into one. It was a memorable book for me and I still think about it to this day. And although I recently donated my Heartwarming collection to our local library, I couldn’t part with this one. That says a lot.

95212C12-817B-4C1B-A257-93333F3C6CC2.jpegThank you for reading. Have a wonderful day.

Biscuits and Slashed Browns by Maddie Day

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4-stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  7BD5D20D-CAE9-43D2-9FA3-73FB724AA54A

It’s the National Maple Syrup festival in South Lick, Indiana. Robbie Jordan, local chef and proprietor, holds the kickoff culinary competition in her restaurant and vintage cookware store, Pans ‘N Pancakes. One of the judges, a disagreeable Professor, Warren Connolly, suffers a choking episode, nearly turning a fun day into a disaster if not for Robbie’s beau, Abe O’Neill, who comes to the man’s rescue. Thankfully he was there since Robbie observed that those in close proximity to the professor didn’t move an inch to help him. Tragically, when said professor is found dead soon thereafter, Robbie recalls some of the instances of quarreling between Connolly and a couple of her friends and acquaintances before he met his demise. One of those acquaintances has gone missing, and Robbie’s friends are quickly moving up on the suspect list. Can Robbie find the killer and absolve her friends before she winds up toast herself?55670466-E84F-4EEF-816D-1EA4F767255DBiscuits and Slashed Browns is Book 4 in the Country Store Mystery series, and I enjoyed it. There were viable suspects and overall it was a good mystery. I chuckled at the Hoosier dialect and comical sayings, such as, “…with a lawyer stuck to him tighter than snot on a hot oven door.” LOL. I have read three of the four books in this series, and while this one was not my favorite, it’s still recommended. For the best experience I would suggest getting acquainted with the characters by starting with Book 1 in the series.

Thank you to the publisher, Kensington Books, and Netgalley, for an E-ARC of Biscuits and Slashed Browns in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

Have you read any books in this series? What did you think? Feel free to share. I warmly welcome your comments.  

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My backyard a couple of weeks back

Thank you for visiting. Have a lovely day!!

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

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4-Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Four women wonder who the presumably single woman is who moves onto their family-friendly Pleasant Court street. And why does she feel comfortable speaking to them so familiarly almost immediately, as though she’s known them all for years? Perplexed, they watch Isabelle, wondering what her intentions are. Essie’s mother has misgivings about the mysterious neighbor from the start. She’s different from their little clan, and vague about her background, so why did she move from Sydney to Melbourne and into their neighborhood?

Each of the three families on Pleasant Court has its own secrets and insecurities that tidily remain hidden within the confines of their own homes, while outside appearances paint a very different, more pristine picture. They’re keeping secrets from their families, and secrets from their neighbors. But the women are slowly becoming unhinged by the various complexities affecting their lives. Fran is trying to run from her problems—literally; subconsciously burning through the fear and regret that prods her every day. Essie is detaching from her familial obligations; her husband and mother worrying about her, especially since her frightful episode a few years back. In their minds she’s fragile and unstable. Ange’s guilty conscience is eating her alive, even though she is the one everybody envies—the one with the great career, gorgeous husband, immaculate home and well-mannered kids. Little do they all know that Ange is insecure about said husband whom she can never seem to track down, and who gives her a niggling feeling about his activities when he’s not at home. What is everyone hiding, and who is the stranger on Pleasant Court?

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I like the way The Family Next Door starts out mellow, builds, and then reaches a crescendo. But after that it ends rather abruptly. The psychological buildup was intense, but the end result was tamer than I’d anticipated in some instances. Specifically when it came to the enigmatic neighbor. I think there could have been a little bit more dramatic effect in some cases. However, the story advanced forward easily overall, and I was eager to turn pages. But as far as the conclusion goes, I wanted just a bit more. Other than that it really was a great read. The way and time in which secrets were revealed was excellent. Each revelation came when I wasn’t expecting it and I was blown away by how the author executed those parts. It was very well done. I would definitely recommend this book.

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an E-ARC of this book, in exchange I have provided an honest review.

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The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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After devouring Now That You Mention It recently, and loving it, I felt compelled to squeeze in another book by Kristan Higgins. So I went with the first book in her Blue Heron series, The Best Man.  She’s two for two now folks.  I loved this book too!  It’s more romance than women’s fiction, but equally enjoyable. Here’s a little glimpse into the plot…

Faith Holland’s fiancée, Jeremy Lyon, dumped her at the altar, and Faith blames his best man, Levi Cooper, for the breakup. To escape the humiliation of her failed nuptials, Faith flees to California intending to stay until the gossip subsides. Three years later her sister, Honor, calls her home to help out with a situation involving their dad. It won’t be easy facing the pity that well-intentioned friends will dole out, but Faith is looking forward to returning home to her family, their vineyard and Jeremy. Jeremy?! Besides, as an architectural landscaper she can do some renovation work on the family’s old barn and acquire other projects that will keep her occupied. She’ll need the distraction since she still loves Jeremy despite what he did to her. But wouldn’t you know it, the first person she runs into when she gets back to her hometown is Levi, now the police chief of Manningsport. She still hates him, and is forthcoming about her feelings towards him. He’s never seemed to like Faith and judging from his reactions to her arrival that hasn’t much changed. He is ruggedly handsome though, she can’t deny that. And when Faith finds herself in need of assistance on more than one occasion, it’s Levi who comes to her rescue. Might their hostilities be masking something that they’ve both been unwilling to confront for many years?

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Ahh….the enemies to lovers trope. I loved it!! There were so many great things about this book: watching the romance develop, the fully fleshed-out characters, the humor, the secret that Faith carries and how it affects her life with her family, her relationship with Jeremy, Faith’s adorable dog, Blue, and the surprise visitor who shows up in Manningsport and threatens to destroy everything. It all kept the plot moving. I enjoyed every component of the story. Kristan Higgins’s stories are like a jigsaw puzzle; a lot of little pieces that need to come together to form a complete picture. How she manages to reconstruct those pieces so effectively is what has me coming back for more.

The Best Man will make you laugh (I cracked up at the ladies’ verbal jabs at poor Levi), it will make you sad, it will have you rooting for the underdog. But in the end you will feel gratified that you’ve spent time with the Blue Heron family of characters. Definitely recommended for lovers of romance.

Are you a fan of Kristan Higgins?  What do you think of her books. Please share. I’d love to hear what you think. And thanks, as always, for visiting. Have a great day!!

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Throwback Thursday – The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

3CD4CC19-0762-495B-B2A2-A7110029C80CThrowback Thursday is hosted by Renee of It’s Book Talk.  This meme was created to share old favorites and/or books published over a year ago.  Today I’m going to be sharing The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.


Why I chose this book:

Who could resist that beautiful cover? Reviews on this book are mixed, but to me The Little Paris Bookshop was profoundly introspective. I stopped to ponder many times while reading it. Made up of a host of eccentric characters, I felt as though I was being taken on an adventure ride each time I began reading. This book stayed with me long after it was over. See my full review here.

There was a uniqueness about The Little Paris Bookshop that made it a favorite. The nature of it was unlike anything I’d ever read before, and I remember I kept thinking ….

I really enjoyed this book. It had a mysterious quality that intrigued me. It still holds a place on my bookshelf, and I remember it fondly.


Have you read The Little Paris Bookshop? What did you think?  I’d love to know your thoughts.

Thank you for reading. Have a happy day!

Éclair and Present Danger by Laura Bradford (Audiobook)

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫—3.5 Stars

Winnie Johnson has just inherited a vintage ambulance and a brown and white tabby cat, Lovey, from her elderly deceased neighbor, and friend, Gertrude. This is not what Winnie was hoping for, and she realizes that her bakery, Delectable Delights, won’t be salvaged financially after all. The increase in rent on the bakery by her landlord is too much for her to keep it running. When her neighbor, Bridget, unwittingly gives Winnie the idea for her emergency dessert squad service, things begin looking up. Using the ambulance to get delectable desserts with whimsical names like NEVER GIVE UPside Down cake, into the hands of people who are experiencing varying situations in life, can be a real hit. But in the midst of all the excitement with her new business, a dear friend on Winnie’s street is murdered, smothered with a pillow in his home, and Winnie feels an obligation to help find out who killed him so that her elderly friends on Serenity Lane can sleep better at night.

The Emergency Dessert Squad is a fun idea and it made me chuckle thinking about the ambulance coming to the rescue of people going through rough times and needing a sweets fix. There are desserts for celebrations too and that’s how Winnie meets a potential beau, Jay Morgan, a man who is not put off by her choice of friends. Winnie is an interesting character in that she’s a young woman but prefers elderly companionship. Her best friend, Reneé, and the men she usually meets have a difficult time understanding this. But Winnie doesn’t care. She loves the older ones who’ve embraced her and made her feel welcome in Silver Lake. I loved this aspect of Winnie’s personality. She readily defends her senior friends and lets her male acquaintances know that they can take a hike if they can’t understand why she prefers them as friends. Lovey the cat is a hilarious animal character in the book. She’s friendly with most people, but no matter what Winnie does to warm up to her, Lovey responds with an audible hiss. One wonders why Gertrude entrusted the cat’s care to Winnie.

Overall, I liked this cozy. Although at times I felt like the dessert squad and Winnie’s love life overshadowed the murder mystery in the book, it was still pretty good. I personally didn’t think the murderer was too hard to figure out, likely because there weren’t a whole lot of suspects, but it was still entertaining finding out the person’s motivation behind the killing. The audio narrator did a good job with the book. It took me a little time to warm up to her voice for some unknown reason, but once I did I determined she was okay.

Thank you, Tantor Media, for a free audio download of this book. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

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Have you read any books by Laura Bradford? What did you think dear readers? Have a wonderful day!!

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins – **TOP PICK**

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-Stars

First I want to say that Kristan Higgins is hilarious. I spit out my drink more than once while reading this book. Hysterical. Her witty internal dialogue cracked me up too.

This was my first Kristan Higgins book and it was amazing. If it’s any indication of how well written her other books are, then she’s a new favorite author.

Here’s a little synopsis…

Poor Nora Stuart. Growing up her life was tragic for so many reasons, so she immersed herself in academics, determined to excel and thus win the coveted Perez scholarship to Tufts University, wherein she’d be gone from the town that ignored and taunted her. If that weren’t enough, she finds herself the most hated citizen of her native Scupper Island, Maine, through no fault of her own. But she eventually got her life together and became an attractive, successful doctor with a swoon-worthy boyfriend, great friends and an apartment she loved. Things were going great in her adult life until a “big bad event” happened and turned her safe, comfortable little world upside down. In addition, Nora has been devastated by her boyfriend, Bobby, when she overhears him talking about their imminent breakup while flirting with a colleague as Nora lay semi-conscious in the ER after being hit by a van. Hurt (both mentally and physically) and discouraged, she immediately ends the relationship and takes a trip back to Scupper Island, where her mother still lives, and where the folks still remember what happened to make her the most hated citizen there. Nora plans to convalesce on the island while attempting to forge a bond with her taciturn, stoic mother. Nora’s beloved father left their family when she was a young girl, never to be heard from again, and she hopes to get information that will lead to his whereabouts after all of these years, and hopefully come to finally understand from her mother why he left. Her teenage niece, Poe, lives with Nora’s mother, since Nora’s sister, Lily, is in jail. Poe isn’t the least bit enthused about her aunt’s visit. Undeterred, Nora presses on, determined not to allow her niece or her sister, who has made it clear that she’s not interested in hearing from her, or Scupper Island’s residents, further ruin her stint there. Can Nora find her true self and the love, acceptance, security and happiness she so desperately craves?

The highly-developed characters, which is what I loved most about this book, along with the vivid scenes bring this story to life in a way that will make it dwell indelibly in your memory-bank long after you’ve finished reading it. It was poignant, yet simultaneously humorous, suspenseful, and emotional. There was a bit of zany romance too. It seemed to have a little of everything, and it all fit together perfectly. Kristan Higgins is one hip lady, and she writes in a way that anyone, regardless of background, could easily relate to her storytelling. It was unputdownable and never dragged. I highly recommend it.

Thank you so much, Netgalley, and HQN Books, for a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

Have you read any books by Kristan Higgins? What did you think? Thanks, as always, for visiting. And have a wonderful day!

The Wife Between Us

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 3.5 stars

I will dispense with summarizing the plot on this one because it’s too difficult to do without spoilers.

My initial reaction to this book was confusion when I first started reading it, yet I was also intrigued. I was intent on figuring out what was truly taking place with a wife, a husband and a mistress, since the back of the book said this:

WHEN YOU READ THIS BOOK, YOU WILL MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement—a woman who is about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.

You will assume you know the anatomy of the relationships. Assume nothing.——————

So I did. I assumed nothing. I dismissed from my little brain what appeared to be the obvious and waited patiently to understand what was really going on with these three characters; and I waited….and waited….. And there lies the challenge I had with this book. It peaked and then waned. I felt like not much was happening in the middle and I was getting too easily distracted away from continuing on with it. By this time I was feeling like….

At one point I put it down to start another book, but I continued on with this one and eventually finished it. In the end, I didn’t feel that the main character’s actions were enough to carry this book. Perhaps more involvement from secondary characters or external factors would have made it more exciting?? I don’t really know. It was enticing in some ways at times, but not enough to make me long to pick up where I left off until maybe the last seventy pages or so. And by then I just wanted to know what the supposed surprises would be. There were a few clever twists, but unfortunately the greatest twists took too long to be revealed and I had a feeling of too little, too late.

Overall, The Wife Between Us had wonderful potential, with a few great twists, but to me it was a little disjointed. Had the execution been different I think I would have enjoyed it more. The conclusion didn’t quite compensate for the lead-up. The authors used a fair amount of subterfuge to set things in motion, but by the time I got to the end I felt a little cheated. Apparently from the ratings I am not in the majority as to my feelings about this book, so maybe it just wasn’t for me. Please don’t let my review stop you from giving this book a try since so many others seemed to enjoy it.

Thank you, St. Martin’s Press, for a complimentary copy of The Wife Between Us in exchange for an honest review which I have given. Until next time. Thank you for reading.

Every Serengeti Sunrise by Rula Sinara

img_4322-1💚💚💚💚💚 – 5 stars

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Every Serengeti Sunrise is Book 4 in the From Kenya, With Love series, and it has become my new favorite.

There’s still trouble in Kenya with poachers and native villagers killing elephants and leaving orphaned calves behind. The Busara Elephant Research and Rescue Camp provides care to these orphaned, injured young elephants. In book one, we met one of the camp’s operators, Anna Bekker, and her daughter, Pippa, who was four at the time. Pippa is all grown up now, and so is Haki, the son of the co-operator of Busara. Pippa and Haki’s relationship seems to have progressed to the next level. The two were always very close since they grew up together at the camp, along with Pippa’s cousin, Maddie, who often visited Busara and who is now a junior lawyer in Philadelphia, PA. Tension arises when Maddie is assigned to the Native Watch Global (NWG) case to defend the native Masai villagers in Kenya, while Haki and Pippa are allies of the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS), wildlife conservationists. Busara and its advocates are aware of the plight of the Masai farmers who have suffered crop damage and destruction from hungry wildlife, but they don’t believe killing the animals in retaliation is the solution to the problem. The villagers may even be contributing to the illegal ivory trade by selling the elephants’ tusks to poachers in compensation for their losses.

Haki has initiated a proposal that would impose stiffer fines on Masai farmers that kill elephants. Maddie is working with her law firm’s office in Nairobi to block the proposal. Haki is frustrated. What happened to the Maddie whose eyes widened with excitement at the wild animals roaming this land? To make matters worse, Haki and Maddie, despite being on opposing sides, can’t seem to keep their intense feelings for one another at bay. But what about Haki’s devotion to Pippa? What’s a guy to do?

This story pulled at my heartstrings. I loved so much about it—the rich descriptions of the Kenyan landscape with its sweeping views and wildlife all create an atmospheric quality that stimulates the imagination. The strong family dynamic that exists is endearing. I cried from both sad moments and happy ones. The intense ending had me an emotional mess, but in a good way. It was exciting and heartwarming. I can’t wait to see what happens in book 5.

I highly recommend this book. You will get the greatest enjoyment from it by starting with book 1, The Promise of Rain. You’re sure to love that one too. One of my absolute favorite Heartwarming books.

Thank you, Rula Sinara, for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

Throwback Thursday – Bluebells in the Mourning by KaraLynne Mackrory

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Throwback Thursday is hosted by Renee of It’s Book Talk.  This meme was created to share old favorites and/or books published over a year ago.  Today I’m going to be sharing a Pride and Prejudice variation that I enjoyed immensely.  Bluebells in the Mourning by KaraLynne Mackrory.


Why I chose this book:

I was in the mood for a historical novel at the time so I requested this book from the publisher based on the description on the back cover. It sounded interesting. I didn’t know what to expect since I’d never heard of KaraLynne Mackrory. When I received the book I began reading and I was pleasantly surprised by this beautifully written Pride and Prejudice continuation. It blew me away with its tender, emotional scenes and lyrical prose. I couldn’t believe how incredible it was. See my review here.

I was particularly touched by a scene between Elizabeth Bennett and her mother, it made me feel like this …

Yes, it was deep. A poignant scene that truly moved me. Excellent writing.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy historical fiction. It was an outstanding read for me. So much so that it’s stayed with me and brings back fond memories whenever I think about it. It remains on my bookshelf to this day.


Have you heard of KaraLynne Mackrory or read any of her books, including this one?  What did you think?  I’d love to know your thoughts.

Thank you for visiting. Happy reading.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Hello all. I’m getting back into the swing of things after 10 days of vacation in and around NYC. I’m hoping to get to share some great moments with you in a future post.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5 stars for sure I have to applaud Jodi Picoult for writing a book that would shine a spotlight on a topic that most people are reluctant to give thought to, discuss or acknowledge, institutional racism and white privilege in America. And she did this knowing that she’d get pushback from both blacks and whites; blacks because they wouldn’t feel that she could portray the black experience accurately, and whites because she will have exposed their privilege in such a blunt and transparent way that it will make them uncomfortable. I commend her for the immense research she put into this book in an attempt to shed light on this very delicate topic as accurately as her accumulated information and knowledge could allow. I think she did an excellent job. Her intention was not to use her status to bring awareness to the black community, since they already know how racism affects their daily lives. But her desire was to inform the white community, so that they might get a different perspective on the privileges they naturally possess, and how their achievements and accomplishments are sometimes at the expense of those who have been denied the same opportunities in life that could likely have propelled them to the same levels of success.

And now, a peek into the plot….. Ruth Jefferson is a highly skilled Labor and Delivery nurse. One day while performing routine duties on a newborn infant she notices the parents’ reluctance to talk to her or acknowledge her instructions. When the father, Turk Bauer, finally speaks, he orders Ruth to get away from his wife, and then demands to see Ruth’s boss and indicates that he and his wife, Brittany, do not want Ruth, or anyone who looks like her, to touch their baby, Davis. Ruth is black. A closer look at Turk’s exposed arm indicates a confederate flag tattoo. So that’s what this is about. Turk is a white supremacist.

Even though Ruth was told by her boss not to have contact with the infant, Davis was left in Ruth’s charge when an emergency erupted elsewhere in the hospital while they were short staffed. The baby went into distress but Ruth hesitated to intervene since she was told not to touch him. Although she aids other doctors to save his life, he dies. Turk overheard the doctor telling Ruth to “loosen up” on the chest compressions, so he blames Ruth for his child’s death. Before long, she is dismissed from the hospital and arrested as a criminal, charged with the murder of the Bauers’ son, Davis.

Jodi Picoult’s book is deep on so many levels. It’s definitely one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read. It encompasses so much that it’s difficult to summarize into a review of reasonable length. Mostly, it expounds upon the harsh realities of racial inequality and prejudice (particularly black vs. white), and it depicts some of the animosities, hostilities and judgments that exist, mainly due to ignorance, stereotypes, and misinformation. At times hard to read, but not at all difficult to relate to for persons of color, Small Great Things continually highlights negative situations that confront black people on a daily basis. I think Ms. Picoult tried to include as many of these scenarios as she possibly could to show white America the challenges that blacks are faced with, and how this has, and continues to, stifle their progression; a reality that’s difficult for some to comprehend, which is understandable since it’s not their reality. Nevertheless, Jodi Picoult humbly acknowledges (in the author note portion) her former ignorance regarding racial issues and prejudice, her own natural-born privilege and entitlement, and how she has chosen to use it as a force for good—to bring awareness to racism. A small, great thing.

Jodi Picoult pulls no punches in her portrayal of these calamities facing our society today. Small Great Things will get you riled up at times, but I think that’s the author’s intention. This is a grown-up book for sure with a mature theme. Ruth’s trial was captivating and dynamic. At times this book shook me to my core. It was heart wrenching. It angered me. It frustrated me. This book will probably not go over well with persons who are very sensitive about race issues. Mostly during reading I felt like this…

Compelling, provocative, and emotive, Small Great Things is a book you will not easily forget. This was my first Jodi Picoult book, and it was an amazing read. Ms. Picoult is certainly a gifted writer.

Have you read Small Great Things? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts if you’re so inclined.

Have a great day!!

It’s Giveaway Time Y’all!!

It’s an Upswing in Followers giveaway. To celebrate all of the new followers to Cozynookbks, as well as my long-time loyal followers, I thought it would be nice to host a giveaway. This is what I put together to give away….

If you win, you’ll get:

  • Perfectly Undone by Jamie Raintree
  • Bookmark – “Books are better with a cup of tea”
  • Scented wax cubes – Banana Pumpkin Bread
  • Burt’s Bees glossy lip pencil-Outback Oasis
  • Comfy, soft slippers-size medium/large
  • Yankee Candle-Apple Pumpkin

Do you like it?  If you do, then all you have to do to be entered to win is Like this post, and then tell me why you enjoy reading. Or, what’s your favorite book genre, and why? That’s it. Winner will be picked at random. Unfortunately, due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Sorry. 😔

Winner will be announced on 12/22.

Thank you for following Cozynookbks. I appreciate each and every one of you. Have a great day!!

Throwback Thursday – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

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Throwback Thursday is hosted by Renee of It’s Book Talk.  This meme was created to share old favorites and/or books published over a year ago.  Today I’m going to be sharing an incredibly profound book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

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Why I chose this book:

This book was unlike any other I’d read.  I don’t read or post a lot of non-fiction books, but when I was perusing an independent book store while on vacation a while back, and it was on display and highly recommended to me by one of the workers, I decided to download the audiobook and listen to it.  I’d heard of it, but wasn’t sure what it was about.  O….M….Goodness.  I was blown away.  I couldn’t believe that Henrietta Lacks could have possibly affected my own life, and/or the lives of my loved ones.  My emotions were all over the place while getting through this book, but mostly I kept thinking this …

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Henrietta and her family were wronged in so many unimaginable ways.

Rebecca Skloot spent approximately a decade researching and writing this book before it was published.  It involves a young, underprivileged black woman who died of cervical cancer, but her cancer cells kept multiplying after her death in 1951, and they continue to live on in laboratories today.  They’ve been used to develop treatments and vaccines that many of us have probably benefited from.  Apparently the cells are so prolific that at last count they could wrap around the Earth several times.  But there’s much, much more to this story.  Although so many people, including medical professionals, profited from Henrietta’s cells, her family languished in abject poverty, some without medical insurance.  AND, consent from Henrietta or her family was never given to use Henrietta’s cells for research or otherwise.  See my more in-depth review here.

You might recall that the movie was released on HBO earlier this year.  Oprah Winfrey starred in it as Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah Lacks.  It was a good effort, but the book is exceedingly more detailed.  I recommend this book to the entire world.


Have you heard of, or read, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks?  What did you think?  I’d love to know your thoughts.

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Thank you for stopping by.  Have a wonderful day.

 

His Baby Dilemma by Catherine Lanigan

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ – 5 hearts

Grace Railton had a crush on Mica Barzonni ever since they shared a kiss as teenagers, but she didn’t get the sense that the attraction was mutual. Twelve years later when Grace’s aunt Louise has back surgery and Grace leaves her home in Paris to come help out at The Louise House, her aunt’s ice-cream shop in Indian Lake, Indiana, Mica and Grace get reacquainted. He’s still unimaginably handsome with his black hair and Mediterranean blue eyes. The only difference is that he’s lost the use of his left arm and shoulder after an injury he suffered while trying to repair his mother’s car. The two become caught up in emotions, but their cozy reunion is short lived. Grace returns to her career in Paris and Mica doesn’t hear a word from her until fifteen months later when she is back in Indian Lake, about to present Mica Barzonni with the shock of his life—their six month old son, Jules.

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My concept of Mica Barzonni

After this shocking revelation, is Grace serious about wanting Mica to take care of Jules for a few months while she goes back to Paris to nurture her current career opportunities? Mica isn’t happy about this proposition, and he makes his thoughts on that clearly known. There’s no doubt he still has feelings for Grace, which he doesn’t make known, but their goals are so dissimilar. Mica’s a farm boy interested in farm equipment and machinery. Grace is a fashion designer who grew up in pursuit of the next beauty pageant. Mica has always downplayed Grace’s ambitions, considering them foolish. In his mind they could never be compared to the hard work and dedication that’s needed to run a farm. But after observing her at work one day, in her element, he’s forced to admit that there’s a lot more to the fashion world than he’d realized. Might he have misjudged her? His feelings of anger and betrayal are being replaced by admiration and love. But Mica’s reluctance to express his feelings might cause him to lose Grace forever. And he may be running out of time since it seems there’s an interested Frenchman on Grace’s heels ready to snatch her up.

I have to admit that I wasn’t crazy about Grace when I started reading this book. She was a difficult character to assess initially. I felt like her work ambition was eclipsing her role as mother to little Jules. But as the book progressed she redeemed herself. I saw how much she loved her baby and how conflicted she was. I recognized that Mica was unsure of himself, mostly because of his accident and the perceived limitations it imposed. Also, he’d been a loner and a brooder for most of his life and it was difficult for him to be vulnerable with anyone, including Grace. The two of them drove me nuts at times, suppressing their feelings for each other, but I grew to love them. The scenes with Mica and Jules were so utterly heartwarming that it made me feel, momentarily, like I wanted to have a little baby around again. Well…a grandbaby maybe, LOL.

I LOVED this book. It touched me. And Catherine Lanigan’s worldliness with regard to subject matter—fashion and machinery in this case, gave me insight which I appreciated since I love learning new things when I read. Her knowledge, wisdom, and/or research shines through in her books and gives them a depth that I find particularly enjoyable. Definitely recommended for lovers of sweet romance.

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Thank you for reading. Have a great day!!

Summit Lake by Charlie Donlea

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

On Friday, Feb. 17, 2012, pretty, young law student, Becca Eckersley, died. Why did somebody take her life in such a passionate way? And why are the state police tight-lipped about any details surrounding Becca’s Murder?

Kelsey Castle, True Crime book author and journalist for Events Magazine, has just returned to work prematurely after a six-week leave-of-absence, having survived her own, as yet undisclosed, traumatic life event. Her boss informs her that he’s sending her to Summit Lake, a small town in the foothills of the beautiful blue ridge mountains of NC, to formulate a story about what might have happened to Becca.

Blue Ridge Mountains

Rewind fourteen months and we are introduced to Becca’s three best friends, and then we’re given a sequential account of Becca’s daily activities which consequently led to her demise. At the same time, Kelsey Castle is tracing Becca’s steps in Summit Lake; questioning her acquaintances, friends and significant others in an attempt to learn more about the girl that she’s becoming psychologically attached to. As she digs deeper into Becca’s life, she unmasks secrets, coverups and deceptions that just might explain what caused Becca’s death.

This book was perfect for me. It had just the right amount of mystery and suspense, and a more subtle thriller factor which I personally prefer. I really appreciate it when an author can create an amazing story without having to resort to needless shock value content in the way of excessive foul language, gratuitous violence or explicit sex scenes. Charlie Donlea accomplished this in a skillful way. There were a couple of unexpected twists that had me like …

Yup, I couldn’t believe it. Totally caught me off guard. I love it when an author can pull that off successfully.

This book was excellent. I was impressed, kept in anxious anticipation of what would happen next, and would jump at the chance to read another mystery/suspense book by Charlie Donlea. Highly recommended.

And finally, below is a trailer for Summit Lake.  Thanks, as always, for stopping by Cozynookbks.  Have a great week.

Throwback Thursday – The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

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Throwback Thursday is hosted by Renee of It’s Book Talk.  This meme was created to share old favorites and/or books published over a year ago.  Today I’m going to be sharing a favorite of mine, The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.

IMG_3658Why I chose this book:

This book was truly amazing.  I was totally immersed in the story and I literally gasped when I found out what the secret was.  I was like….

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I loved how the author introduced each character’s story and then weaved their lives together, each one playing a significant part in the life of another.   It was masterfully done.  And to this day I haven’t read a more compelling epilogue.   Seriously, I think my mouth was open the entire time I read it (or listened to it as this was an audiobook).  The Husband’s Secret received five-stars from me without hesitation.  It has remained one of my favorites. See my review of it here.


Now you.  Have you read The Husband’s Secret or any other book by Liane Moriarty?  What did you think?  Please feel free to share.

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Thanks for visiting. See ya’ next time…

Am I Normal? (for those of you who really know me, don’t answer that)…

September 30th, 2017 was my twenty-third wedding anniversary.  Yay!!  We decided not to venture out too far from home to celebrate this time, and so we settled on staying at The Ivey’s Hotel, which is roughly 30 minutes from where we live.  It recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and it is stunning.  Here’s some pictures of the interior…

Pretty ritzy, right?  It was pure opulence, and the epitome of luxury.  There was even a library on our floor that we had twenty-four hour access to…

This was my favorite place to go while we were there.  (That’s my hubby reading in there.)

fullsizeoutput_ac2So here’s why I want to know if I’m normal.  We were supposed to spend four glorious nights there, but after the third night I was ready to go home.  I told my husband and he was just fine with going home early too. So we went home, and we spent the next seven days that he had off from work in the comforts of our own home, occasionally going out to dinner or to the mall, the movies, or just wherever.  We had an amazing time just being in each others company, which is where we are happiest.   And I was thinking….

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That’s not to say we don’t enjoy going away on vacation.  There have been places we’ve gone where we’ve extended our stay.  But not this time.  So, I ask you, is it normal to want to leave a swanky hotel prematurely and go back home?  Have you ever gone away on vacation or for some other occasion and longed to go home?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Thanks for reading!!

Throwback Thursday – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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Throwback Thursday is hosted by Renee of It’s Book Talk.  This meme was created to share old favorites and/or books published over a year ago.  Today I’m going to be sharing The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

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Why I chose this book:

This book was INCREDIBLE!  It had such an emotional effect on me.  This is how I felt while reading it…

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It was one of the books that reinvigorated my love of reading.  In fact, I don’t think I was writing book reviews yet when I read The Kite Runner, so I don’t have a review to attach to this post.  All I can say is it was a book that stayed with me for weeks afterwards, and it remains a favorite.  Definitely a five-star read.


Have you read The Kite Runner?  What did you think?  Please feel free to share.

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Thank you for reading. Until next time…

Home Delivery Meal Kits – Yay or Nay?

We’re seeing them everywhere. Meal kits delivered to your door, ready to prepare. There are so many options you can choose from, including: vegetarian, gluten free, paleo, vegan, organic and so on. And since most companies offer your first box at a reduced price, I decided to try one. I settled on Home Chef since their meals seemed more suited to my family’s taste. There are times when I forget to take something out of the freezer to prepare for dinner, or I just want to try something new, so I thought this might be a good way to do it.

The following is my experience with Home Chef’s meals:

Bone-in Pork Chop with Candied Walnut Butter

My result:

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This meal was excellent! We were very pleased with the results. And bonus, I was introduced to acorn squash which was very delicious.

Four Cheese Baked Ziti


My result:


This dish was very good. I liked the addition of spinach in the pasta. It made me feel better that there was a healthy element to it. Granted, I could have easily made this myself, but adding the spinach and different variety of cheeses was new to me so overall I was happy about this recipe and the results.

Mongolian Beef with Ribeye Steak

 My result (minus the peanuts):

This dish was delicious!! I have to admit I was a little skeptical when I was preparing it. It looked like it might be dry, and I had no idea how Chinese broccoli would taste. It looked like green aluminum foil pieces when I took it out of the oven. But when it was incorporated into the dish, it was a perfect fit. One of my favorite meals.


These three meals were my favorites. I prepared three others that were *meh* at best, a bit too bland for my taste and I was like….


This is an example of how you receive your ingredients in the mail:

Four Cheese Baked Ziti contents:


And they give you this cool recipe binder to keep all of your recipes in:

So far I’ve cooked about six meals, and I’d say we loved 50% of them.  The others were just okay.

THE VERDICT….

Pros:

  1. Just about everything you need to prepare a meal in less than an hour at your fingertips. Convenient.
  2. Discovered new recipes that we enjoyed, including food items that I may never have tried otherwise.
  3. Ability to suspend shipments at will. If you don’t like meal choices for a particular week you can skip that week.
  4. Meal options are displayed on the website weeks in advance so you can plan out your deliveries accordingly.
  5. Decent meal variety.
  6. Good customer Service.

Cons:

  1. Thoroughly satisfied with only about half of the meals I prepared.
  2. Expensive—all things considered.
  3. Some meals were too labor intensive; too many steps, pots and pans.
  4. A massive amount of packaging material!!
  5. Limited time period to prepare meals once received.

Overall, my experience with Home Chef was pretty good. I don’t regret trying them out.  I had originally cancelled after my first shipment but they gave me an incentive to give them another shot so I did. I will probably discontinue my membership though. The pros ultimately don’t outweigh the cons. I’ll let you know if I change my mind after I prepare my latest meals.

Regarding all of that packaging material from my first shipment, I repurposed some of it into a cat bed for Kit-Kat (a.k.a. Kitty-baby). He LOVES it!! All you need to add is an old t-shirt, pillowcase, and a few safety pins.


I actually wound up double padding it so it’s really soft inside. It can be washed easily so that’s a plus. Just remove the t-shirt and pillowcase and wash them. To give you an idea of the actual size, Kitty-baby is about 12 pounds.

So tell me, have you tried any of these home meal delivery kits? What was your experience like? If you haven’t tried one, would you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Killer Jam by Karen MacInerney – **TOP PICK**

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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I chose this cozy mystery to listen to on a whim, having downloaded it a while back from Amazon Prime Reading (audiobook version). What a pleasant surprise it was! I looked forward to my morning walks so that I could get caught up on what was happening with Lucy Resnick and Dewberry Farm. Here’s my synopsis of what it’s about….

Lucy Resnick, former Austin, Texas reporter turned homesteader, has purchased her grandparents’ farm in Buttercup, Texas. It had been sold 15 years prior after Lucy’s grandfather died. The new owner, Nettie Kocurek, has recently sold it to Lucy. But unbeknownst to Lucy, she was only sold the surface rights (what’s on top of the soil), and not the mineral rights (what’s beneath the soil). Nettie Kocurek wants to perform an oil exploration in the middle of Lucy’s pastureland with future plans to install an oil well if any oil is found there. Nettie is nursing a grudge against Lucy’s family because she was dumped by Lucy’s grandfather over 60 years ago. When Nettie turns up dead at the Founders’ Day festival and Jam-off, Lucy becomes a prime suspect. But with so few sympathetic reactions to the old woman’s plight from the Buttercup community, how will Lucy ever uncover the true killer and clear her name?

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I loved so many things about this book. The perfect country setting, Dewberry Farm in Buttercup, Texas, with residents that have names like Ursula, Opal, Rooster, Bessie Mae and Tobias. Lucy’s cow, Blossom, formerly known as Heifer #82, and her overweight, bald poodle, Chuck. The ongoing rivalry between the citizens of Czech and German descent, and laugh-out-loud moments reading about things like Lick Skillet Day, a bus that runs on fry grease, the real estate agent with the license plate that says BUY BUTT on it, and the mention of lots of kolaches. The murder mysteries were on point, and the colorful, quirky characters were amusing to say the least.

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I LOVED Killer Jam. Karen MacInerney is a new favorite cozy author. Extremely highly recommended.

Have you ever read a cozy mystery by Karen MacInerney?  I’d love to hear what you thought about it.

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Throwback Thursday – Betrayed by Donnell Ann Bell

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Throwback Thursday is hosted by Renee of It’s Book Talk.  This meme was created to share old favorites and/or books published over a year ago.  Today I’m going to be sharing Betrayed by Donnell Ann Bell.

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Why I chose this book:

I won this book in a giveaway a few years ago and I started reading it without much prior knowledge of the author.  It drew me right in. The author’s voice and writing style spoke to me.  I just connected with it.

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I liked the short chapters, how she depicted the characters, and although this was not a humorous book, there were funny parts that I just got, if that makes sense.  I read it four years ago and I still remember it fondly. It’s definitely still a favorite.  It was a keeper and I still have it. See my review of it here.


Have you ever heard of or read any of   Donnell Ann Bell’s books?  Please feel free to share.

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See ya next time…

Under an Adirondack Sky by Karen Rock


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Summary:

Rebecca Day’s job is in jeopardy. She works in the public school system as a school psychologist for at-risk teenagers, but it’s unlikely that her tenure will be approved since faculty and parents are not thrilled about her low-key disciplinary methods. Determined to prove her worth and retain her position, Rebecca proposes a retreat to Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks with the school’s troubled adolescents, initiating a pilot program that she feels will help them with their behavioral issues. For one of the troubled students she counsels, Connor Walsh, this program’s success is particularly important because if he doesn’t make significant progress he will be expelled from school. Aiden Walsh, his older brother and guardian, is too busy working long hours at the family business to give Connor the attention he needs. Rebecca observes Aiden’s distracted presence at meetings pertaining to his brother’s future and pegs him an uninterested workaholic. Aiden thinks Rebecca’s methods are overly lax and ridiculous. The two don’t hit it off very well, especially when Rebecca makes Aiden aware that he’s required to accompany Connor on their Adirondack adventure. Things start out rough, but time away from their everyday lives reveals unique circumstances and positive qualities that neither realized the other possessed. But can Aiden make his brother the priority when his heart is being pulled in another direction?

If you can imagine 20 troubled teenagers in the wilderness, and the verbal exchanges that take place amongst today’s youth, then you can get a pretty good picture of what’s taking place here. There’s irritability, competitiveness and quarreling. But in time the kids learn to interact together and they begin to see the value of teamwork and that life can still be worthwhile without their smartphones. I liked how the teens personalities are portrayed through their dialogue. You get a good sense of each character. The descriptions of the setting are great, and Karen Rock is definitely skilled in writing convincing romantic scenes that are suitable for a Heartwarming book.

I enjoyed this book. It had a down-to-earth feel that I think many would appreciate. I did.

Throwback Thursday – The House on Primrose Pond by Yona Zeldis McDonough

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Throwback Thursday is hosted by Renee of It’s Book Talk.  This meme was created to share old favorites and/or books published over a year ago.  Today I’m going to be sharing The House on Primrose Pond by Yona Zeldis McDonough.

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Why I chose this book:

Yona Zeldis McDonough was a new-to-me author.  I won her book, and when I received it I began reading, not knowing what to expect, and was immediately immersed in the story.  It was so interesting that I couldn’t put it down.  There were very emotional parts that brought me to tears.  It was my favorite read of 2016.  See my review here.

I was so elated that I contacted the author to let her know how much I enjoyed reading her book.  She was very kind, and since then I’ve purchased another book she’s written.  Unfortunately, it’s gotten lost in my TBR pile….fullsizeoutput_ae0
… but I have every intention of reading it once my review commitments are over.  If you like contemporary fiction with a little historical fiction included (the protagonist in the book is a novelist), you will probably really enjoy this book.  I highly recommend it.


Have you ever heard of or read any of Yona Zeldis McDonough’s books?  Please share your thoughts if you’re so inclined.

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Happy Reading!!

 

 

WWW Wednesday, October-25-2017

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. The three W’s are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

The idea is for book lovers to share their answers to these questions with other book enthusiasts. Just leave the link to your own WWW Wednesday post in the comments section. No blog? No worries. Just answer the questions in the comments section for others to enjoy. Here’s mine…

Currently Reading:

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Under an Adirondack Sky

Harlequin Heartwarming books are sweet, tender romances that I always find time to read since they are great stories but without the draining effect of some other books.  So when I’ve finished a particularly angst-ridden or psychologically challenging read, a Heartwarming book is just the thing for me. And sometimes I just go on a Heartwarming binge since I enjoy them so much.

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Killer Jam

I love Cozy Mysteries, especially during the colder months for some unknown reason, so I chose Killer Jam to read since it’s been on my TBR pile for some time.

Recently Finished:

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Heart’s Refuge

I loved this book! It was just what I needed. I can’t get enough of that sweet cover!! That dog is so cute!! The protagonist won me over in this book. Cheryl Harper writes great stories.

What I might read next:

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Planted

Planted is a cozy mystery book that I received for an honest review from the author. It sounds interesting and I’m looking forward to reading it.

So there you have it.  What do you think about my selections?  This is my first WWW Wednesday so it might be slow going at first with regard to commenters.  But hopefully it will gain momentum as time goes on.  I’m really interested in what everyone else is reading, has read or plans to read, so please share your WWW Wednesday post, or just comment below.  So…..

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Enjoy!!

Muffins and Mourning Tea by H.Y. Hanna

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My synopsis: It’s May Day, first day of Spring in England, and Gemma regretfully agrees to celebrate it with her best friend, Cassie. The Oxford University tradition is to gather on Magdelan bridge (pronounced Maudlin) and listen to choristers sing from the Bell Tower above Magdalen College during the wee hours of the morning. When a young man hurls himself off of the bridge into the river Cherwell below Gemma isn’t initially alarmed since that is somewhat the custom. But until now everyone has succeeded in emerging from the river unscathed. Charlie Foxton was not as fortunate. A likeable young man by all accounts, Charlie didn’t seem the sort to participate in such foolish antics. It’s no wonder that what was initially deemed an accident quickly turned to a suspicion of murder.

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Kids jumping off of Magdelan Bridge into the river Cherwell below

My Thoughts:  HY Hanna delivers another stellar, clever mystery with international characters that add intrigue and spice to the story. (Her audible narrator, Pearl Hewitt, does an exquisite job at imitating the accents for the various Russian characters in the story.) I can depend on a solid mystery and some laugh-out-loud moments whenever the “old biddies” interfere in the murder investigation. Their practical, albeit unconventional sleuthing methods, are hilarious. The luscious tidbits about Oxford University and the surrounding area are always a plus in this series.  I liked Gemma’s transition from normally mild-mannered girl to imposing figure at times in this installment. There’s an inkling of trouble in paradise with Gemma’s boyfriend, Devlin O’Connor, and the suspicion still lingers beyond the conclusion of the book. Overall, I absolutely loved this cozy mystery (I think it’s my new favorite one of the series), and I look forward to the next book in the series, Four Puddings and a Funeral.  Extremely highly recommended.

Have you ever read, or listened to, any books in the Oxford Tearoom Mystery series?  If so, what did you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Bell Tower at Magdelan College – Oxford University

Heart’s Refuge by Cheryl Harper

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫  4.5 stars

Sarah Hillman’s no-kill animal shelter, Paws for Love, is in dire need of funding. Desperate for help, she reaches out to Will Barnes, a former H.S. classmate, and owner of Barnes Financial. Trouble is, Sarah was formerly the little rich, snarky, mean-girl who taunted her classmates, including Will, and “Beanpole Barnes” doesn’t feel much compassion for daddy’s little rich girl when she approaches him for assistance—at least initially. Sarah verbally taunted Will’s sister, Jen, too. And Jen and her two friends are the source for the funds needed to keep Paws for Love running. But Sarah seems to have changed, there’s no denying that, and Will’s attitude towards her begins to soften. Could it be that the shift in financial status since Bobby Hillman skipped town, leaving his shady luxury auto business behind and his daughter broke, has humbled her? Only time will tell, but meanwhile Paws for Love is a worthy cause and Will feels an obligation to seek aid for the foundering shelter. Sarah may be slowly winning his heart, too. Can Sarah be trusted, or is she putting on an act to get what she wants?

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How can you grow to love a mean-girl character? A former bully?  In Heart’s Refuge, Cheryl Harper makes you do it. This story stole my heart. The sweet shelter animals, the main character’s transformation and the community support were all reasons why I enjoyed Heart’s Refuge so much. This book is part of a series, and I suspect that a few loose ends will be tied up in the next book. Even so, I loved it and would definitely recommend this sweet, heartwarming story.

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Until next time….