Deadhead and Buried (English Cottage Garden Mystery ~ Book 1) by H.Y. Hanna

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-stars

When Poppy inherits Hollyhock Cottage and its adjoining garden from her deceased grandmother whom she never knew, she’s thrilled, albeit a little overwhelmed. Her current situation is that she doesn’t have her own place and she’s low on cash. If that weren’t bad enough, she’s impulsively quit her job after her unreasonable boss made a rude, insensitive comment, leaving Poppy in an even worse financial predicament. Fortunately, this inheritance has come upon her at the right time. However, there are stipulations that go along with taking possession of the property and Poppy feels unsettled about it. The cottage and garden have been neglected for some time and she’s far from having a green thumb. So how can she restore it and bring it back to its former glory? Poppy’s circumstances move her to take a chance on the old cottage and grounds. It’s a huge undertaking, but not more life altering than finding a dead body in the garden.

H.Y. Hanna has delivered another deliciously clever mystery with book 1 of her English Cottage Garden Mysteries series, Deadhead and Buried. I enjoyed this story immensely, having moved swiftly through it. I was caught up in the imagery of the cottage and surrounding garden, as well as the various plants and flowers that were named and described for me to envision. I learned about an exotic flower in this book, which I gained much joy from briefly researching. As is usual with an H.Y. Hanna mystery, the characters were interesting, quirky and fun, and there were pets to enjoy with their lovable antics and unique characteristics.

The audio narrator, Pearl Hewitt, is masterful in portraying both humans and animals. She adds so much delight to an already enjoyable, creative and plausible murder mystery. I highly recommend this book and look forward to the next one in the series.

Thank you, H.Y. Hanna, for a complimentary download of Deadhead and Buried. All thoughts expressed in this review are my own.

Sheer Mischief by Jill Mansell – (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

Decidedly bored, flighty Maxine Vaughan has just abandoned another perfectly respectable man. With no money and nowhere to live, she shows up on older sister, Janey Sinclaire’s, doorstep. Janey has her own problems. Her husband up and disappeared one day after only a few years of marriage and hasn’t been seen for the past two years. Janey, distraught and bewildered by her husband’s sudden departure, tries to carry on with her life and thriving flower shop in Trazale, Cornwall, not knowing whether she’s been abandoned or widowed.

Meanwhile, breathtakingly handsome widower and celebrity photographer, Guy Cassidy, needs a nanny. His beloved wife, Veronique, is gone, and Guy is estranged from his father. When Maxine finds out Guy’s predicament, she’s determined to score, not only the job, but a chance at Guy. She’s not in the least bit domestically inclined, but nevertheless winds up getting the job with a little help from her sister, vouching for her character. At least she’s out of Janey’s hair for the time being. If irresistible Maxine isn’t around, maybe Janey will have a chance with Bruno, a restaurant owner to whom she delivers flowers on a biweekly basis. Janey feels guilty about her growing feelings for Bruno; she’s still married after all, even if she hasn’t seen her husband for two years.

Maxine is stumbling through her nanny duties, being scolded by Guy regularly but loved by his two young children. Then she makes an almost unforgivable mistake. Janey falls hard for Bruno, but will she ultimately regret it? Secret relationships and odd pairings abound, but will anyone find happiness?

I loved this book! The story introduced me to interesting, contrasting characters with complicated relationship dilemmas. I thought the fifteen hour length would be daunting initially, but it allowed for greater character development which lent to my enjoyment of the book. The insecurities Janey felt because of her sister’s superior beauty, I thought, was a realistic sibling scenario. I was entranced by all of the characters, and was fully invested in what was going on in their lives. When the book ended I felt dismayed and could easily have listened longer.

The audio narrator, Charlotte Anne Lore, did an excellent job portraying each character. I felt like she was made to tell this story. Fabulous!

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Sheer Mischief. In exchange I have provided an honest, unbiased review.

Steamy weather and bugs all around in NC.

Thanks for reading! ☺️

Love Lies by Amanda Lamb (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 3.5 stars

According to Brad Cooper, Nancy Cooper’s husband, Nancy went out for a jog one morning and didn’t come back. The Cary, NC mother of two beautiful little girls was in the process of divorcing her husband. This was no secret. Nevertheless, Nancy, according to her associates and friends, didn’t seem depressed or sad. So what happened to her and why didn’t her husband report her missing when she didn’t return home from jogging? Nancy’s identical twin sister, Krista, believed something sinister happened, and her suspicions were aimed at Nancy’s husband, Brad. “What happened to Nancy?!” she pointedly asked him. But he denied any involvement in her disappearance. Krista never understood what her sister saw in Brad. They were so different. Nancy was vivacious and outgoing, and Brad is reserved and antisocial. So what really did happen to the beautiful young housewife?

I’ve always been fascinated by true crime stories. To me it’s like reading an episode of Investigation Discovery (I.D.). And while Love Lies drew me in initially I can’t say it kept me glued to its pages like some other true crime stories, particularly those written by one of my favorite true crime writers, Ann Rule. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think the structure of this story wasn’t as appealing. At times I felt like it pattered on and that I wasn’t getting anything of substance to keep me fully invested. Perhaps it was partly due to the characters. From what was revealed about them I had a bit of a hard time relating to them on some levels. I asked myself, based on the information that was relayed in the book, why the couple got married in the first place. They didn’t seem in the least bit compatible. And while the book had its moments, I also think it could have been shorter in length. The conclusion of the story left me feeling more curious about what really happened to Nancy than when I started the book. So ultimately I was left somewhat unfulfilled. I did feel sad that Nancy’s life was cut short.

This was an audiobook read by Chloe Cannon. Admittedly, since this wasn’t one of my favorite true crime stories, I’ve thought about whether or not it had something to do with the narrator. Chloe Cannon’s voice was steady and clear, but I think I would rather hear her reading a romance novel than a true crime book. I found that her audio interpretation of Nancy’s sister, Krista, could get a bit cloying after a while, and this detracted from my listening pleasure since Krista took up a good amount of dialog in the book.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Love Lies. The opinions stated in this review are all my own.

A Father for Bella by Jill Weatherholt – and my recent absence from Cozynookbks….

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

When Joshua Carlson comes to stay at the Black Bear Inn for an entire month Faith is surprised. Most guests only stay for a quick weekend of skiing. That name, Carlson, sounds familiar to Faith, but Joshua isn’t saying much about who he is or why he’s there. She won’t press. After all, he did help her out in a tremendous way respecting her young daughter, Bella, as soon as he’d arrived.

Eventually, Faith finds out about Joshua’s real intentions and she’s heartbroken.

Presently, living in the little cottage on the Inn’s property has been home for Faith and Bella. Thinking about having to say goodbye to the property is overwhelming. But focusing on that while trying to manage the Inn’s restaurant is counterproductive, so instead Faith pours her energy into finding a way to keep her home.

Bella is getting attached to Joshua, and Faith is getting worried. But is she concerned about little Bella’s feelings for “Mr. Joshua,” or her own?

There’s so much to love about A Father for Bella. The wintry setting drew me in with its ski resort and cozy inn. Little Bella was adorable, and Faith’s reluctance to let go of the memory of her deceased husband while also fighting her attraction to Joshua kept me engaged in the story until the end. Add to that an accident, a calamity and a bit of mystery, and you’ve got a story that will keep you guessing and entertained until the final page.

If you enjoy a sweet read with a HEA that will leave you feeling relieved and fully content, then A Father for Bella is for you.

And if you enjoy Jill’s book, look out for her current release, A Mother for His Twins. I just spied it in my local Walmart. 😊

———

My recent absence from Cozynookbks

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while you will have noticed that I haven’t posted here for about two months. My mother suddenly became critically ill and we almost lost her. Since receiving that dreadful news I haven’t had the presence of mind or the time to read books. Since my mom was living over eight hours away at the time it was very difficult trying to balance everything. She was in the hospital for about six weeks and completed rehabilitation about a week ago. I am so happy to report that she is alive and making bits of progress each day.

Thank you for reading, and I hope to be catching up on the host of books and audiobooks that have been patiently waiting for me. I sure have missed all of you. 😊

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 4 stars

The Silent Patient begins with Alicia telling us how much she loves her husband, Gabriel. But Gabriel dies and Alicia stops speaking and is locked away in a psychiatric institution, having been accused of his murder. A psychotherapist becomes fascinated with Alicia’s story and wants desperately to try to help her. Can he break her silence and find out what really happened on the night Alicia was accused of Gabriel’s murder?

This story is told from Alicia and the psychotherapist’s points of view. We find out much about both of their lives from first-person accounts.

My feelings about this book are hard to summarize. I was enticed by the plot and eager to get through the book to see what happened, but somehow happy when it concluded. I didn’t form a sympathetic attachment to any of the characters, except the elderly therapist, Ruth. The ending was somewhat predictable but still worthy of an enthusiastic nod.

Overall, this Psychological Thriller was a bit dark and menacing, but I think it was written well since it held my attention, minus the unnecessary foul language that ruined my true enjoyment of it. Owing to that I would not read this author’s books again, so I can’t recommend it.

This was an audiobook obtained through my local library.

Have a great weekend everyone!! 😃

Geared for the Grave by Duffy Brown – (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5 stars

Evie Bloomfield considers herself the loser of the Bloomfield family as the least accomplished one. But she finally has a chance to impress her boss and secure a promotion that will boost her family’s opinion of her—or so she thinks. So off to Mackinac Island she goes to assist her boss’s father with his struggling bicycle shop, Rudy’s Rides, while he recovers from a broken leg. Going from Chicago to a little Michigan island with no cars, only horses, to get you from place to place seems outrageous enough. But when one of the wealthy locals is bumped off, and the murder is pinned on Rudy, Evie finds herself on a mission to clear her newfound friend and find the real killer before her boss finds out.

This book is HILARIOUS! With a cast of characters that includes Irish Donna, with the thick Irish accent; Jason Bourne, a presumed hit-man; Angelo, an elderly ex-mobster; and others, this story kept me chuckling from beginning to end.

I was very fortunate to have received a complimentary audio version of Geared for the Grave from Tantor Audio since the highly talented Ceit M. Zweil narrated. She did a stupendous job with the various characters’ voices, and her ability to vocally entertain me was impressive. The audiobook was a true compliment to my personal paperback copy. Highly recommended.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Geared for the Grave. All opinions about it are my own.

Have a great day everyone!! 🚴🏽‍♀️

On a Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 3.5 stars

Paul Grayson has decided that he needs to unite his family. He feels that his three daughters are somewhat estranged from one another. Not intentionally, but nevertheless they don’t spend enough time together. So he decides to buy the island where he met his wife at camp decades ago, and who is now deceased, in order to bring his children back together again. His daughters think he is suffering from Dementia proposing this scheme and are initially resistant to the thought of helping him get situated on this delapidated island. The project of reconstituting the old Camp Kicking Moose seems immense. But as they all begin assisting and becoming more intimately acquainted with the real assets of the island, its people, each sister will not only help to mend one another, but also themselves in the process.

On a Summer Tide started off strong. It was full of laughs and drew me in, but for some reason the momentum didn’t hold up for me and I was having trouble getting through it. The book flashes back to when the sisters were young; each sister’s part gives us a glimpse into her life and what shaped her into who she is present day. The focus was mainly on the oldest sister, Cam. Those snippets were enlightening but somehow came across to me as haphazardly included. Also, there were a couple of parts in the book that seemed implausible to me and I couldn’t suspend disbelief in order to accept those occurrences as believable. From that point on I truly struggled to finish the book. I enjoyed a few of the characters, including the sisters, but I felt like something was missing, and that the book concluded somewhat abruptly, leaving some untidy loose ends.

Overall, I truly enjoyed parts of the book, but it didn’t keep me glued to its pages.

Thank you, Revell Books, for a complimentary copy of On a Summer Tide. In exchange I have provided my honest review.