The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea

[I’m trying to get back on a regular reading schedule amid doctor’s appointments and other life complications. Thank you for being patient with me as I play catch up with reading your posts and posting reviews. You guys are the best!! 😊]

Charlie Donlea sets the bar incredibly high for suspense novels. His books are compulsively readable. They are automatic buys for me, and I’ve read all three of his releases. His writing style is uniquely appealing, and I connect with it immediately. From the first few pages a mental picture develops and evolves into a vivid story that’s so engrossing that I’m completely immersed until the last page.

Phew! Now that I’ve finished gushing about Donlea’s writing skills, here’s a look at The Girl Who Was Taken….

Two girls go missing one night from the same beach party. One girl, Megan McDonald, escapes her abductor and returns home. The other girl, Nicole Cutty, is still missing. The book opens about a year after the girls were taken. Livia Cutty, Nicole’s older sister, has not given up looking for her. She’s a fellow in forensic pathology and is hopeful that she will find her sister and put an end to the mystery of what happened to her. As Livia intensifies her investigation into Nicole’s life she discovers many bizarre things about her sister and the activities she was involved in—shocking things.

Nicole has been all but forgotten by the general public, whereas Megan is in the spotlight, receiving accolades and recognition from her bestselling book, Missing, about her ordeal. And while Livia can’t help feeling bitter about Megan’s lot, she also couldn’t resist buying and reading Megan’s book, hoping that she would somehow discover clues leading to her sister’s whereabouts. What Livia doesn’t expect is to perform an autopsy on a man who is linked to her sister. What, if any, clues can come about from this discovery?

The Girl Who Was Taken was spectacular!! Seriously, I was on the edge of my seat, especially toward the end when the chapter lengths shortened and the tension amped up. I felt as though I was on an exhilarating joy ride that refused to slow down and release me, and it was wonderful.

I loved the plot development. Intricate details are successively woven throughout the chapters that begin to paint a picture of the lives of the abductees. I was in eager anticipation of the twist I knew would come, and I was not disappointed. And while the book left me with a few questions, it in no way detracted from my overall opinion of it. Excellent read. Highly recommended.

(Warning: There’s some teenage foul language, and detailed forensic descriptions in this book.)

Have you read a book by Charlie Donlea?

Thanks for reading everyone!!

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A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

Thank you, Baker Publishing Group and Revell Books, for a complimentary paperback copy of A Sparkle of Silver.

And Tantor Audio, for the free audio download.

This pairing made for a perfect book reader experience. ☺️


Camilla “Millie” Sullivan is heartbroken. She’s being forced to move her beloved grandma Joy from the assisted living facility where she’s being cared for because her memory loss has worsened, necessitating more specialized care. Millie is strapped financially and can hardly afford to take care of herself. She’s out of options and feeling hopeless and dejected until her grandma mutters details about a long-held family secret that might help Millie to get the funds she needs. It involves her great grandmother, Ruth, an opulent Chateau and a diary containing a treasure map that’s hidden somewhere within the Chateau’s walls. Fortunate to get part-time employment at the Chateau, Millie sets about snooping to locate Ruth’s diary. Her efforts are thwarted when security guard, Ben Thornton, catches her and threatens to expose her. Desperate to escape dismissal, Millie recruits Ben to help her, promising to split whatever treasure she finds with him. Ben, carrying his own load and in need of money as much as Millie, agrees to help her. Together, Ben and Millie become a formidable team, uncovering more than a few secrets, and in the process, learning that love is more valuable than money.

In this book we find treasure hunts, thefts, homicide, scandal, romance, and lots of mystery. I enjoyed the dual narrative aspect, taking us from the present and back to 1929, just before the Great Depression when Millie’s great-grandmother, Ruth, and her friend, Jane, both bank tellers, were invited to be summer guests at the Dawkins Chateau on St. Simons Island, GA, by Mr. Dawkins’s “particular friend,” 🙄 Lucille Globe. (Mr. Dawkins’s wife and child were back in Chicago at their permanent residence.) The elusive diary describes Ruth’s activities in and around the Chateau during her visit.

The juxtaposition of high-society socialites and the working class guests mingling at the Chateau was fun to observe—the common folks enamored with the lives of the elite. Ruth was a poor farm girl from Central Georgia. Nineteen at the time, she was a fickle young girl who was confused about where she should direct her affection. I anxiously awaited which way Ruth’s heart would steer her. Would it be towards the lowly, solicitous gardener, George? Or the handsome, debonair, wealthy Claude?

This book is categorized as Christian fiction, but it is not strewn with bible verses or dominated by the author’s own interpretations of scripture, which I appreciated. It was not didactic at all, but simply lacked foul language, violence and immoral activity.

Audiobook: The audio narrator’s sugary sweet southern accent took some getting used to initially, but once I acclimated myself to it I was able to relax and enjoy her performance. She did a very good job with the characters’ voices and her pace was just right.

I loved this story that required me to suspend disbelief; to accept the far-fetched plot and coincidences. I liked the balance of unscrupulous characters and benevolent ones throughout the story, and how the romances within were convincingly developed. Recommended.

Thanks for visiting everyone! Have a beautiful day. 😊

Apple Strudel Alibi – Oxford Tearoom Mystery series – Book 8 – by H.Y. Hanna (Audiobook)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5- stars

H.Y. Hanna has done it again. Apple Strudel Alibi is another successful installment to the Oxford Tearoom Mystery series. In it we find ourselves on a trip to Vienna, Austria, where we’re introduced to a few new characters that become suspects in a murder investigation that Gemma Rose and the Old Biddies find themselves entangled in.

When Gemma’s planned holiday for a trip to Malta with her beau, Devlin O’Connor, is derailed yet again because of a last-minute work assignment she’s devastated. That is until her mother convinces her that it’s a perfect opportunity for Gemma to attend the rewards ceremony in Vienna. Gemma’s Little Stables Tearoom has won a contest for the best scones in Oxfordshire thanks to her dear senior citizen friends, the “Old Biddies,” who entered her tearoom in the contest without her knowledge. Gemma takes her mother’s advice and heads off to Vienna, availing herself of the invitation to stay in her mother’s friend’s newly-opened, pet-friendly hotel at a reduced rate, if ever she were in Austria. So Gemma finds herself in Vienna, sharing a suite with Muesli and the Old Biddies, and things seem perfect. That is until an art critic is murdered at the hotel, and the suspect could still be amongst them.

I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy mystery. I learned much about Austrian cuisine, culture, architecture and art. Of particular interest to me were facts about the Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt, and the Spanish Riding School where Lippizaner horses are trained to perform. Listening was like receiving a brief history lesson pertaining to these subjects and I loved it. Equally satisfying were the new characters, as well as those that’ve been present from the start of the series. And the mystery kept me in suspense until the jaw-dropping denouement. I appreciate H.Y. Hanna’s subliminal message of love, honor and respect for all humanity, and how everyone’s contributions to the world benefit all of mankind. It has been enlightening and gratifying becoming acquainted with characters from various countries and backgrounds while reading many of the books in this series.

Regarding the audio narrator, Pearl Hewitt, her voice is absolute perfection. Her depictions of the various characters, (including Muesli the tabby cat’s audible expressions), is incredible. Her masterful narration brings this series to life in a way that can only be fully described if you listen for yourself. Extraordinary talent. I always look forward to listening to Ms. Hewitt’s narration. I highly recommended Apple Strudel Alibi.

Thank you, H.Y. Hanna, for a complimentary download of Apple Strudel Alibi. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!! Thanks for stopping by. 😊

The Rancher’s Rescue – Return of the Blackwell Brothers – Book 2

What would you do if you were saddled with debt and jobless even though you are a licensed veterinarian but not in the state where you just found out that your ex-girlfriend’s sister was having your baby and you know she would never consider leaving the state where you’re not licensed to practice even though you vowed you’d never return to said state unless it was to sit through the reading of your grandfather’s Will but meanwhile you’ve been called back there because your beloved brother needs your help to try to save your grandfather’s ranch that you grew up on but that your grandfather has run off and abandoned leaving behind mounting debts that you’re not in a position to shore up and the only person who can help you to access some of your grandfather’s assets to temporarily save the ranch is one of his ex-wives who is a judge that grandpa was married to for five days who you believe still hates you for blowing out her truck’s tires when you were a kid and who refers to you as “Day Two” but who you need help from desperately because you don’t want to let your brother down in his time of need?

Are you still with me? Welcome to Ethan Blackwell’s life! He’s got a lot going on, but he’s not willing to stay in Falcon Creek longer than what’s necessary to help his brother. But what about Grace Gardner and his baby dilemma? Someone has to be willing to compromise, but neither seems likely to budge on their convictions. Will Ethan “stop running” and find that what he’s looking for is right in front of him? And will Grace recognize Ethan’s true feelings and get to fulfill her dreams in the only place she’s destined to call home?I loved this book!! The fully fleshed-out characters endear you to this series. I liked the build up to Ethan’s finding out he was going to be a father, along with the suspense of learning how Grace’s sister, Sarah Ashley, would react to the news that her sister is carrying her ex-boyfriend’s baby. I didn’t know what to expect but the way the author tidies up all of these seemingly impossible scenarios was truly impressive. And again, those characters!! Judge Myrna Edwards was one of my favorites. The way the scene played out between her and Ethan put a smile on my face. I can’t provide any more details because I don’t want to give too much away. This book has substance. And that epilogue! 😂

All I can say is I am enjoying this series to the point that I’ve thrust aside a couple of other reading commitments to squeeze these books in because I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Thank you so much, Cari Lynn Webb, for a complimentary copy of The Rancher’s Rescue. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Have a great one everybody!! Thanks for visiting Cozynookbks. Your support is so greatly appreciated. 😊

Miranda’s Big Mistake by Jill Mansell (Audiobook-Tantor Audio)

Goodreads Description:

Miranda is thrilled when she meets Greg at a cocktail party. He’s gorgeous, he’s funny – and he’s very keen. Just what a girl needs to put some sparkle in her life. Heavens, he’s practically perfect! Greg likes Miranda a lot. She’s young, she’s pretty, and she never talks about babies. Of course he hasn’t told her everything about himself – even the sweetest girls can be a bit funny about a man who’s just left his newly pregnant wife. But there’s no way she’s going to find out – or is there?

Luckily for Miranda men are like buses – you don’t see any for ages then three come along at once. She just needs to catch the right one…

I’m sorry folks. I DNF’d this one, so I didn’t write my own description or rate it. After listening to about 10 hrs., (the last 1.5 hrs. of which felt like torture), with another nearly 4 hrs. to go, I decided that life’s too short and I quit. I’m so disappointed because it got off to a splendid start and I was in my happy place enjoying the characters and the storyline tremendously. But then something odd happened. That wonderfully plotted story ended and a mishmash of silly themes began to emerge and I quickly lost interest. I began to despise the main character and her multiple love-interests to the point where I realized that I no longer cared about what happened to any of them.

I believe this book would have been successful had it been roughly half as long with the focus on the one major plot which stole the show in the initial part of the book. Had it retained that theme and those secondary characters, a couple of which I adored, I would have rated it 4.5 stars. But sadly it lost steam when it veered off in a direction that left me feeling like…

Another pet peeve I had is that Mansell uses the expression “Oh, God” too much! Perhaps this is a common British expression but it annoyed me. And the expletives! 😡 I don’t like profanity. There, I’ve said it. So even when it occurs infrequently, it’s too many times for me. I wanted to say to the author…

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So there you have it. I loved the first Jill Mansell book I read, This Could Change Everything. But as for this one, well…😔 I won’t give up on Jill Mansell because I know what she’s capable of.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Miranda’s Big Mistake. The audio narrator, Gabrielle Baker, did an excellent job!!

Have a great week everyone!! Thanks for visiting.

The Rancher’s Twins by Carol Ross

💚💚💚💚💚 5-stars

Single father and owner of the JB Bar Ranch, Jon Blackwell, needs help. Badly. His twin girls, aged five, can’t keep a babysitter, and Jon doesn’t have time to supervise them while working his cattle ranch. In addition, he’s having to make decisions regarding his grandfather’s ranch since he’s run off somewhere with his fifth wife, Zoe, leaving behind unpaid bills and frustrated employees. So Jon requests a nanny with a country background, only to be sent a city girl from Philadelphia. He doesn’t have time to train her, and he’s not about to experience a repeat performance of his ex-wife’s disdain for ranch life. So despite how attractive she is, and how well she gets on with his girls—teaching them, cooking delicious meals, organizing things, etc., he decides it’s necessary to let her go. Lydia is devastated, not only because she feels qualified for the job, but because she’s harbouring a secret and needs the seclusion of the Montana ranch and nanny job to stay safe. Lydia manages to talk her employer into giving her two weeks to convince him that she can learn to be everything he needs. Will she succeed in convincing him to let her stay, or will her past catch up to her and sabotage her plans?

I absolutely adored this rancher story!! It immediately drew me in and then it captured my heart. Jon’s twin girls were absolutely adorable. Here’s an excerpt of dialogue between them and their new nanny, Lydia…

“You don’t look nothin’ like a old pear.”

Lydia looked at Genevieve. “Excuse me?”

“It’s noth-ing, Gen,” Abby said. “Not nothin’.”

“I know that, Abby, but I like the way Tom says nothin’.”

Abby rolled her eyes at her sister. “Well, I think you should say you don’t look anything like an old pear.” Face taut with concentration, she studied Lydia. “But she’s right, you don’t.”

“Who told you I did? And are we talking about fruit or boots?”

“Tom,” Gen answered.

“Fruit,” Abby said.

“Tom said I look like an old pear?” Lydia asked.

Abby explained, “No, Tom said we were getting an old pear. It’s a fancy name for nanny.”

Ah. Lydia smothered a laugh. “Actually, it’s au pair not old pear.”

Gen frowned. “Oh. What’s an oh pear? That don’t make no sense.”

I enjoy learning about new things when I read, and this book gave me a glimpse into the difficult life of cowboys. They work hard from sun up to sun down. Jon had to keep those animals in line and cared for, assist with calving, mend broken fences, and the list goes on and on. I liked to envision him riding his horse.

I loved so much about this book: the suspense of Lydia’s past threatening to catch up with her; Jon, the handsome, rugged cowboy 😍; the farm animals and ranch dogs; the secondary characters. It all worked, and the story flowed seamlessly from beginning to end.

Thank you, Carol Ross, for a complimentary copy of The Rancher’s Twins. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Have a great weekend everyone! And thanks for visiting cozynookbks. 😊

Death Over Easy by Maddie Day – Audiobook (Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 4 stars

The Bill Monroe Bluegrass Festival in Beanblossom, IN, is underway, and Robbie Jordan, owner of Pans n’ Pancakes, is excited since the venue will provide opportunities for a few musicians and dancers to stay at her newly opened B&B. Her boyfriend, Abe, is one of the performers at the festival, and she feels proud watching him from the audience. But when she and other observers see him arguing with one of the band members, and then that same member is found dead the next day, Robbie gets involved in the investigation since the suspects include her boyfriend, her father and a couple of guests staying at her small B&B.

Death Over Easy is Book five in the Country Store Mystery series. I enjoyed it despite having absolutely no knowledge of bluegrass music, banjos and whatnot. One of my favorite things about this series is revisiting with recurring characters, particularly Lt. Buck Bird, a tall, lanky Detective with a bottomless pit appetite and a deep Hoosier accent.

I liked that several of the characters were potential suspects, and it was interesting how various characters had different opinions of the victim; some thought she was a great person, others thought she was awful. I kept trying to ascertain her true nature. And even though I had an inkling of who the murderer was fairly early on, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story.

I had a niggle with the occasional instances of sexual innuendo in the book. It was unnecessary. And since the audio narrator had a very senior voice those instances sounded a little ridiculous. The flirty exchanges between Robbie and Abe sounded like an overgrown school girl with a dirty old man and it was not appealing.

An issue I had with the audio narrator, Laural Merlington, was that her voice was not that of a person in her twenties or thirties, which I believe was the age of the protagonist. She sounded, at the very least, to be a woman in her sixties, maybe even seventies. It’s not that the narrator wasn’t perfectly capable or articulate, it’s just that she sounded much older than some of the characters, and as a consequence I found it difficult to connect with some of them. I kept thinking to myself that she’d be a lot more convincing as the voice of Jessica Fletcher, or possibly the book (not movie) version of Agatha Raisin—but not Robbie Jordan. I’d wished I had a paperback copy in addition to the audio version so that I could switch up when her voice began to harass me.

All things considered, Death Over Easy was an enjoyable cozy mystery and I will be on the lookout for further additions to the series.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a free download of Death Over Easy. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Thanks for visiting everyone. 🤗

A Home Come True by Cheryl Harper

💚💚💚💚 4-hearts

Luke Hollister must’ve been out of his mind thinking that he could manage his hectic life by moving from Austin, TX, to small-town Holly Heights. Having left behind his demanding Austin Police Detective job to bring his expansive, needy family to Holly Heights was shaping up to feel like more than he could handle. But his foster siblings, his little niece, and his grief-stricken mother need him, and he feels an obligation to help them. And there’s more pressure now that he’s working on a case involving a local woman’s missing father, Big Bobby Hillman, who’s running away from the consequences awaiting him for a non-violent crime he’s committed. Luke has been harassing Sarah Hillman, Bobby’s daughter, and one of Holly Heights’s own, to get answers regarding her father’s whereabouts; but Sarah’s loyal friends are not having it, and they’ve put up a protective wall around her that he’s finding hard to penetrate. One of these friends, Jennifer Neil, is Luke’s next door neighbor and she’s tough as nails. Even though Luke’s mother has dubbed her “the crazy lady,” he finds her decidedly attractive, and even at her feistiest, he has trouble resisting his desire to kiss her. Then Jennifer makes a mistake that affects Luke’s family, causing him to question his feelings for her when she’s finally beginning to see the good qualities he possesses.

I enjoyed A Home Come True. I was entertained by the way Jen initially reacted to Luke—always referring to him as “Hollister,” and refusing to give him the time of day. And it was heartwarming to see the effort Luke put into taking care of his entire family after his father died, even though it was difficult and mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. I also appreciated the strong bonds of friendship that existed among Sarah’s friends, and how despite the discord and aggression that was present with the characters in the beginning of the book, the end result was a HEA that left me contented and in anticipation of my next Heartwarming book.

Have a great day bibliophiles!! 😉

Thread and Gone by Lea Wait

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-stars

Lea Wait is my go-to author for highly intelligent, well-constructed cozy mysteries. Her intricately woven plots are so impressive that I often forget that I’m reading a cozy. I can always look forward to acquiring new and interesting facts when I read her books. There’s usually some historical facts that factor into the mystery, and I always come away feeling wiser about fascinating subjects I wasn’t previously familiar with. In Thread and Gone, I received a lesson in who Mary, Queen of Scots was, and how needlepoint was a major part of her life. I also learned about Marie Antoinette and several other facts that made me think of how much research went into preparing this mystery for the reader’s enjoyment.

And now a glimpse into the plot…

Angela Curtis and the Mainely Needlepointers are on a quest to find out the details about a unique piece of delicate embroidery that was brought to them for analysis by Mary Clough, a seventeen year-old girl, who found it in the attic eaves of her family’s old house. At least one of the Needlepointers believes it could date back to 16th century Elizabethan times and may even have been stitched by Mary, Queen of Scots. If so, it’s quite valuable, so Angela proposes that the embroidery be secured within an attorney’s office for safe keeping since Mary’s fiancé voices his concerns about it getting lost or even stolen by the Needlepointers. 🙄 But when the safe is broken into and the embroidery is stolen along with some valuable jewellery, and the attorney is found dead, the Needlepointers find themselves with more than a needlepoint mystery on their hands to solve.

Lea Wait is a heavyweight in this genre. If you enjoy a solid mystery, but without the profanity and gratuitous violence present in some traditional mysteries, I highly recommend that you try Lea Wait’s Mainely Needlepoint series. You will NOT be disappointed.

Christina Delaine did an impeccable job narrating this cozy. Her voice fits perfectly with this series and I’m always anticipating my next opportunity to listen when she narrates.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Thread and Gone. In exchange I have provided my honest, unbiased opinion of it.

Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful day! 😊

Summer at the Shore by Carol Ross

Coast Guard petty officer, Jay Johnston, is leading too complicated a life to pursue an interest in attractive Veterinarian, Mia Frasier. With five siblings to parent, along with his work, there’d be no time to nurture a relationship.

Mia’s father was a Naval Officer who took virtually no interest in her, and moving the family from place to place didn’t help her loneliness. Mia determined that she’d never enter into a relationship with anyone in the military. But how can she resist the attraction she feels for the guarded, handsome coast guard officer who saved her life?

Summer at the Shore started off perilous, jolting me to attention and glueing me to its pages. It mellowed into a steady pace with dysfunctional family dynamics, irresistibly loving animals, a little mystery and a very satisfying HEA.

I can’t go wrong with a Heartwarming, sweet romance book. They’re tender, warm reads that leave me feeling comforted and in anticipation of my next one.

My Heartwarming Collection 😌[[[[[[

Thank you for reading. 😊

📚Mills & Boon Bookclub📚 A very special offer just for you!

If you’ve been following Cozynookbks for any length of time you know that I enjoy reading books written by British authors and set in the UK.

Well guess what? I’ve recently become aware that Mills & Boon (a subsidiary of Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.) has a bookclub, and I’m so excited to tell you all about it.  It is the UK’s BIGGEST romance bookclub, offering eight themed series for members to choose from.  Each month members get very special goodies along with their books—from exclusive special offers, discounts, competitions and prizes, to the members-only Romance magazine and exclusive Mills & Boon merchandise.  Members also get a first look at monthly series titles before they hit retail stores and shops.  Best of all, prices start at as little as £11.98 per month, with the option to pre-pay for an annual subscription on the Mills & Boon website (MILLSANDBOON.CO.UK) and save up to 25%!  Doesn’t that sound wonderful?!

This is a sample of what a typical True Love series parcel looks like…

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A typical True Love series parcel

Isn’t that an amazing assortment of books and swag?!  It includes:

    • four books from the True Love series
    • some Mills & Boon goodies
    • a sample from the recent Regency Bestsellers collection
    • the most recent edition of a members-only Romance magazine and newsletter

Although the bookclub ships to the UK only, everything else on the Mills & Boon website ships internationally.  Would you like to save 30% off your total order at MILLSANDBOON.CO.UK until September 30, 2018?  Then use my special code, COZYNOOK30 at checkout.  (PLEASE NOTE, THIS DISCOUNT EXCLUDES BOOKCLUB PRODUCTS WHICH ARE ALREADY DISCOUNTED.)

I hope you find this information helpful booklovers, and that you may be able to take advantage of this very special offer.

Thank you Mills & Boon and HarperCollins for the AMAZING True Love series parcel.

Have a great day everyone!!

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The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 3-stars

Sad to say, this is my least favorite book thus far by Jenny Colgan. The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris was a well-written story, the story just wasn’t for me. The beginning of the book drew me in, and I really liked the main character, but I didn’t feel much of an attachment to any of the other characters. And since this was a dual narrative, the other characters were a major component of the storyline. When I pick up a Jenny Colgan book I’m expecting a warm, funny story with a bit of conflict. This book was more poignant with one serious accident, one dying woman and a morbidly obese man. (no spoilers here…this is revealed in the beginning of the book). I didn’t want to feel sad while reading a book about a chocolate shop and Paris. Also, I was confused about a couple of significant statements that were made. I didn’t understand what was being alluded to until further along in the book. I wanted to say to Ms. Colgan..

Anyway, here’s a brief synopsis..

Anna Trent, 30, works in a chocolate factory. She has a serious accident on the job and finds herself in the hospital for several weeks. During her convalescence, Anna is reunited with her former French teacher, Claire, who’s receiving chemotherapy treatments. Anna worries about how her own life will proceed now that she can’t return to the factory, is boyfriendless, and partially disabled from her accident. Claire mentions that she used to know someone in Paris who worked in a Chocolate Shop, and she arranges for Anna to work there. Here’s where the story changes time-periods to show the connection between Claire and the owner of the chocolate shop.

I did like a few things about the book. I loved hearing about the process of making fine chocolate, and I enjoyed Anna’s character development. I wished the book was about her life alone, and not Claire’s too, because it’s what made it depressing. Claire’s breathy, wisp of a voice was harrowing sometimes. Beverley Crick, the audio narrator, did a good job portraying dying Claire’s voice. Maybe too good, because hearing it made me want to cry.

Overall, this book was just okay to me. I know this because I was getting anxious for it to end. Will I read another book by Jenny Colgan? Absolutely! I’d already purchased two others before finishing this audiobook and feel confident that I’ll enjoy them.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of this book. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Have a great day everyone! Thanks for visiting Cozynookbks. ☺️

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage


😩😩😩😩= 4 frightened faces

WARNING: MEAN, CREEPY CHILD ALERT!!

If you’ve ever seen the 1956 movie, The Bad Seed, the little girl in Baby Teeth is a younger version of that disturbed child, but worse!! Hanna’s behaviour makes it clear that there’s something seriously amiss with her, but her father refuses to acknowledge it since she’s all sunshine and roses when she’s with him. Consequently, her mother’s accusations about their daughter fall on deaf ears. Sweet little Hanna couldn’t possibly be as bad as Suzette asserts. Or could she? Suzette is a nervous wreck, trying to find out what’s wrong with Hanna. Everything she says to her daughter is taken as a personal affront, and Hanna lies in wait for the perfect opportunity to retaliate. She wants her father to herself, but has she gone too far to achieve her goal?

I was scared y’all. While reading Baby Teeth I had mixed emotions. But mostly I was feeling like…

Hanna’s devious, demented mind made me stop and ponder what I’d do if I had a child like her. Sometimes I felt like shouting at Hanna’s mother….RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!

At other times I wondered what Suzette could have done to make her daughter feel the way she did. 🤔

I enjoyed this book. It was well-written and compulsively readable. I felt intrigued, horrified, angry, compassionate and sad while reading it. I did have a couple of issues with the book. For one thing, Hanna’s internal dialog, at times, seemed too mature for a seven-year-old child, even a precocious one. I had to suspend disbelief to believe that she could contemplate and then execute some of the dastardly things she did. Another issue stemmed from the author’s occasional use of vulgar language which was entirely unnecessary. I’d be reading along happily and then BAM!, I would get hit with a vulgar word or statement and I thought, “what just happened here?!” 😡 Omitting those parts would not have changed the highly satisfying quality of the book.

Overall, Baby Teeth was a very good thriller that kept me in suspense, frightened me and left me with a contented smile on my face at the end.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an ARC of Baby Teeth. All opinions about the book are honest and entirely my own.

Have a great day everyone, and thank you so much for visiting.

**TOP PICK** Midnight Snacks Are Murder by Libby Klein – (A Poppy McAllister Mystery – Book 2)

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😂😂😂😂😂 5-laughing faces

Although this is book 2 in the series, it’s not necessary at all to read the first book to enjoy it.

Midnight Snacks Are Murder is HILARIOUS!! There are consistent laugh-out-loud moments throughout the entire book. Think of this: a pair of rival, macho men vying for the protagonist’s affection; an anxious little old lady who keeps popping pills whenever a stressful event occurs; a general contractor named Smitty who keeps breaking things and then declaring, “I can fix that!”; a diva ex-mother-in-law who gets on everyone’s nerves and can’t get the contractor’s name right; a cat named Figaro with a mind of his own; and a host of wacky, secondary characters with their own peculiarities that lend to the humorous tone of this book. A Cozy mystery masterpiece.

Here’s a glimpse into the plot….

Poppy McAllister’s 80-ish great aunt Ginny has been under a lot of stress lately. As a consequence of all of the renovations happening in her Queen Anne Victorian in Cape May, NJ, to transform it into the Butterfly House B&B, aunt Ginny’s nerves have been on edge. Her doctor has prescribed some medication to calm her nerves and help her sleep at night. But when the side-effects from the medication take her on a sleepwalking sojourn into her neighbors’ homes, nibbling on their snacks and pilfering knick-knacks, aunt Ginny finds herself a suspect in a local resident’s murder. The victim’s ransacked kitchen resembles other neighbors’ who’ve had a nightly visit from aunt Ginny. But could she really commit a murder in her sleepwalking state, or is someone looking to frame the little old lady?

I loved this cozy!! I think there must have been at least one comical line or incident on every page!! The mystery was so cleverly crafted that I didn’t come close to guessing the culprit. One teensy issue I had with the book was that in some instances a few of the suspects seemed a little too forthcoming with information when Poppy questioned them. She was just an ordinary person, so if I were them I would be thinking, “who’s this chick to be asking me all of these questions?!!” But this little niggle pales in comparison to the hilarity and overall enjoyment of the book, so I subtracted nothing from my 5-star rating.

Midnight Snacks are Murder was an excellent read. I highly recommend this book for lovers of humorous cozies with villains that keep you guessing to the very end.

Many thanks to the author for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

If you need a good laugh, read this book y’all. Have a great day, and enjoy your weekend. 😊

Another One Bites the Crust by H.Y. Hanna – (Oxford Tearoom Mysteries – Book 7)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-stars

img_6499Another One Bites the Crust is cozy mystery done right. HY Hanna always delivers on a solid mystery with plenty of red herrings, engaging characters, an atmospheric setting (in and around Oxford, England), at least one amusing animal and a totally plausible outcome. There’s so much to love about this book, including the sub-plots which keep the story moving along at a pace that keeps you in anticipation of the next revelation.

When famed celebrity chef and former Oxford student, Josh McDermott, (aka “Posh McDishy”) is special guest at the Oxford University Ball, doing a live cooking show, the college ball committee and Josh’s fans are beside themselves with anticipation and admiration. Gemma’s friend Cassie, who attended the same College as McDermott, isn’t enthused. She’s always thought of him as an obnoxious snob who thinks he’s God’s gift to women. His ex-girlfriend would agree with that assessment since Josh dumped her. And then there’s rival chef, Antonio Casa, who believes Josh tried to sabotage him. Clearly, Josh McDermott had foes as well as fans. But when Gemma finds Josh dead before the cooking show competition even begins, she dons her sleuthing cap to determine who might have despised him enough to do him in.

I loved this book. You don’t get to book 7 of 8 in a series if you don’t enjoy it. The audio narrator, Pearl Hewitt, brings the characters to life. The unique voices she uses to portray each character makes it easy to recognize who’s speaking, and the emotions and actions are always performed in an entertaining, realistic way—even the animals! She’s one of my favorite audio narrators, and her skill and proficiency enhanced my enjoyment of this book.

I received a free download of this book in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

Have a great day everybody, and thank you for visiting. 😊

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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. ☺

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!!