A Family of Strangers by Emilie Richards

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

When Ryan Gracey gets an unexpected phone call from her older sister, Wendy, who’s out of town, asking her for a huge favor, Ryan is alarmed. Something sinister has transpired and Wendy insists that Ryan travel to her home and care for her two young daughters until further notice, a tall order from her near-perfect sibling, the mother of her two nieces of whom Ryan knows very little about. Stunned and confused by her sister’s instructions, Ryan finally relents and heads to Florida where their mother is currently watching her nieces, Holly and Noelle. The girls are taciturn, odd little precocious children, and Ryan quickly realizes the enormity of her decision. As days turn into weeks with very little contact from Wendy, Ryan begins to put her sleuthing skills to work to find out what’s going on with the sister she hardly knows. When the pieces of the puzzle begin taking shape will Wendy turn out to be an innocent victim, or a mastermind of deception?

Wowza!! I devoured this book. A Family of Strangers was like patiently awaiting a light rain transform into a thunderous storm. As the storm intensified I could feel the tension mounting and the mystery unfolding, relieving me of the unanswered questions that lurked in my mind. Why was Wendy refusing to come home? How would Ryan find out what happened to her? Was Wendy the golden girl everyone made her out to be, even her parents? Why were Ryan’s nieces so peculiar? As the story

unfolded I got the answers to all of these questions and more.

I connect easily with Emilie Richards’ writing voice. I love the dialog between characters, and the length of her books allows for excellent character development, which makes for a great story.

There’s so much to love about A Family of Strangers; excellent character building, a thoroughly satisfying mystery, an enormous twist I didn’t see coming, intrigue, a little romance, an amazing dog and a couple of kids who eventually stole my heart. A great read.

Thank you, Emilie Richards, for a complimentary ARC of A Family of Strangers in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

Have a great day everyone, and thanks for reading. 😊

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 4 stars

Polly Waterford has taken up residence in a four story lighthouse and oversees two bakeries for which she works many grueling hours and days per week, but wouldn’t have it any other way. She loves the thrill of observing the reactions of people from near and far gushing over her creations and forming lines to sample them. That feeling is worth more than all the money in the world. Besides that, she has her boyfriend, Huckle, to enjoy her spare time with; and of course, Neil, her pet puffin. Polly is feeling content with where she is in her life. But when Mrs. Manse, the owner of the little beach street bakery dies, the change in circumstances drastically affects Polly’s life and livelihood. And to make matters worse, a former acquaintance returns to Mt. Polbearne and Polly is incredulous to learn that they may soon be close neighbors—VERY close. This will put Polly in a very awkward predicament. She’s even feeling guilty about keeping Neil as a pet, regardless of his seemingly happy state. Pressures are mounting in every direction of her life. Much is at stake and Polly will have to make many difficult decisions to stay afloat financially. Can she navigate the many challenges she’s facing and regain everything she stands to lose?

I was excited to read Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery. I wanted to return to Mt. Polbearne, the little Cornish seaside town to see what my old chums were up to after having read The Little Beach Street Bakery and falling in love with the characters, the pet puffin, Neil, and the quaint picturesque resort town with the causeway that separates it from the mainland. I wasn’t disappointed. As I listened to the various trials Polly was facing in her life I admired how she persevered. She was uncertain and downright afraid about some of her choices, but she was determined to continue doing what she loved and her diligence paid off in the end.

I prefer the audio version of Jenny Colgan’s books because her books tend to be a bit long winded. She includes every thought, expression and action which translates well when I’m listening as opposed to reading. I learned this when I almost DNF’d the first of her books I’d tried reading before inadvertently switching to the audio version and enjoying it so much more. I’ve been a fan ever since. Although, I am disappointed that she tends to use expletives that are unnecessary and detract from the overall sweet tone of her stories that end on a happy note.

Audio narrator review:

Read by: Alison Larkin

Alison Larkin was pleasant to listen to and reflected Polly’s character and the tone of the story very well. It took some getting used to the voices of some of the male characters. A few were over animated and exaggerated and gave them a cartoon-like persona. They sounded a little dork-like to me, particularly the Dubose and Huckle characters. As the story progressed I finally became used to the sound of their voices and it was tolerable. Overall, a very good job with the audio.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery. All opinions expressed are my own.

Goodbye Kit-Kat – 2000-2019

2000 – 2019

This has been a tough year. We had to say goodbye to our sweet boy on Sunday, 11/10/2019. Needless to say I am heartbroken and shedding tears even as I compose this post. Kit-Kat was a member of our family for nearly nineteen years. We adopted him from a shelter when he was three months old. Last week he became quite ill and began rapidly declining four days before we made the tough decision to say goodbye. He was put to rest at home, the last gift we could give him.

I know we were blessed to have had him for so long, and I am truly grateful for that. We thought we might lose him a time or two before this, but he always pulled through. That was the fighter in him—he never gave up. I often teased him about his incredible determination. He was my buddy and constant companion. I talked to him, hugged, kissed and loved on him each and every day. He tolerated me during those tender moments, being a cat, and I will continue to miss him terribly.

Thank you, Kitty-baby, for bringing joy and happiness to our lives for so many years. We sure did love you!!

Here’s a glimpse into Kit-Kat’s life with us…

Thank you for reading. ❤️

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.

Feels Like Home by Olivia Miles – (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 3.5 stars

Margo Harper is done. She won’t stay committed to a cheating husband. So after ten years of marriage she packs a couple of suitcases and heads straight back to the place of her youth, Oyster Bay, Maine, expecting to recapture happy memories and comforts from her past. However, when she gets there Margo finds that things aren’t what they used to be. Her sister has kept some very important information from her about her grandmother and the beloved home they grew up in. And why didn’t anyone tell her Eddie Boyd, her childhood crush, was back in town? Margo is not the only one having to deal with setbacks and relationship issues in her life. She finds that her sisters are having their share of challenges as well.

I liked this contemporary story. I thought it was going to be a sweet romance but there wasn’t really any romance in it AT ALL. Even though there was a happy outcome for all of the characters, I was left feeling a bit underwhelmed by the whole thing.

Overall, this book was pretty good, but if I had to pin down what I loved about it I’d struggle to come up with an answer. Some parts were entertaining and kept me invested for sure. I just wish the author had focused on developing a single character’s story since the book wasn’t long enough to elaborate on additional characters or subplots. In the end it was a little lacklustre for me.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Feels Like Home. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Enjoy!!

Some Choose Darkness by Charlie Donlea – **TOP PICK**

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5 stars

Well, he’s done it again folks. This book!! 😃 I didn’t think he’d be able to top his last hit, Don’t Believe It, but this one certainly measured up. Charlie Donlea is quickly becoming my favorite suspense writer. I’ve read and loved all four of his books. They are page turners. I won’t attempt to summarize Some Choose Darkness for fear I might accidentally disclose spoilers, so here’s the description from Goodreads

The truth is easy to miss, even when it’s right in front of us. As a forensic reconstructionist, Rory Moore sheds light on cold-case homicides by piecing together crime scene details others fail to see. Cleaning out her late father’s law office a week after his burial, she receives a call that plunges her into a decades-old case come to life once more.

In the summer of 1979, five Chicago women went missing. The predator, nicknamed The Thief, left no bodies and no clues behind—until police received a package from a mysterious woman named Angela Mitchell, whose unorthodox investigation skills appear to have led to his identity. But before police could question her, Angela disappeared. Forty years later, The Thief is about to be paroled for Angela’s murder—the only crime the DA could pin on him. As a former client of her father’s, Rory becomes reluctantly involved with the killer—though he continues to insist he didn’t murder Angela. Now he wants Rory to do what her father once promised: prove that Angela is, in fact, still alive.

As Rory begins reconstructing Angela’s last days, another killer emerges from the shadows, replicating those long-ago murders. With every startling discovery she makes, Rory becomes more deeply entangled in the enigma of Angela Mitchell—and in The Thief’s tormented mind. Drawing connections between past and present is the only way to stop the nightmare, but even Rory can’t be prepared for the full, terrifying truth that is emerging . .

The suspense is incredible in this thriller! There’s a dual timeline and both plots kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t intrigued by one part and bored with the other, as is sometimes the case when authors write parallel plots.

Charlie Donlea is a master of twists. Each time one is revealed it leaves you wide-eyed, with mouth agape wondering how he pulled it off so effortlessly without your catching on to it. The twists in his books never cease to amaze me. His writing style is ultra-appealing—fluent, crisp, and without extremes. You won’t find excessive, unnecessary foul language and sex scenes in this book. Just great writing. The amount of research that goes into his books is evident, and I love his use of flawed characters which make his stories more realistic and relatable. I’ll be waiting patiently for his novels to be made into movies. 😌 They’re just that good. Period. Very highly recommended.

Thank you, Kensington Books and Netgalley, for a complimentary e-book copy of Some Choose Darkness. All opinions stated in this review are my own.

Bad Blood by John Carryrou – **TOP PICK**

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-stars

Bad Blood is a startling account of how young Theranos founder, Elizabeth Holmes, used misleading information, persuasive speeches and downright lies to advance her start-up company’s interests by pulling the wool over the proverbial eyes of investors who collectively contributed to the nine hundred million dollars she amassed before finally relenting and succumbing to the accusations of fraud, which eventually caused her net worth to plummet to zero dollars. Elizabeth Holmes maintained that her mini-lab invention would revolutionize healthcare. With her striking blue eyes, unusually deep voice and Steve Jobs-like work attire, Elizabeth’s charismatic charm and convincing sales pitch mesmerized audiences and won her listeners over, time and time again. Her staff was impressive both in size and credentials, although turnover was high. Nevertheless, the money poured in. There was only one problem. Elizabeth’s invention didn’t work.

Before I started listening to this book I wondered how the author would keep me interested in a start-up company’s downfall for a whopping 11 hours, 37 mins.! I underestimated his ability and the intensity of the story. This book blew my mind!! I had so many emotions while listening, but the foremost one was disbelief. I was astounded by how long Elizabeth Holmes was able to fool so many people with what amounted to a product that never advanced from the prototype stage, but that nonetheless made its way into a major drugstore chain.

I want to believe that Elizabeth had good intentions in the beginning, but that perhaps greed slowly began to crowd out her vision, and as a result, somewhere along the line her actions belied the very cause she set out to advance. Maybe she got caught up in the fervor of being the successful female entrepreneur that so many people were rooting for. Perhaps in her quest for fame and fortune she stopped considering the human factor involved and the lives she could harm by pushing her invention when she knew it had failed miserably.

The fake it ‘til you make it tactic worked for an impressive amount of time, but eventually the jig was up, and it was all downhill from there. In the end, Elizabeth had a good idea, but she couldn’t implement it. The question that still lingers within me is did she ever think she really could?

This book was incredibly well written and kept me immersed in the narrative the entire time. Very highly recommended.

Thread Herrings by Lea Wait (audiobook – Tantor Audio, and ARC – Kensington Books)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

First, I’d like to thank Kensington Books for a complimentary paperback ARC of Thread Herrings. And Tantor Audio, for the free audio download. What a privilege to have both versions to enjoy.

—————

When a tattered, badly damaged coat of arms embroidery piece catches Angela Curtis’s eye while at an antiques auction with her friend and antique shop owner, Sarah Byrne, Angela is determined to own it. In its dilapidated state few people seem interested in it and Angela easily wins it. She’s curious about its origin, particularly because of the piece of paper from a foundling hospital she finds tucked inside. So when she’s presented with an opportunity to find out more about the embroidery and its contents by appearing on television, she accepts the invitation. But when a seemingly harmless investigation into the coat of arms embroidery turns deadly, Angie’s life, as well as her family’s, is soon in terrible danger. Who’s behind the death threats, and why would anyone want her dead over an old piece of embroidery?

Thread Herrings is another keenly plotted cozy mystery in the Mainely Needlepoint series. These stories are always well developed and full of depth, both in plot line and characterization. I always learn something new when I read a book in this series, and I can count on a unique story of a high calibre that will keep me entertained and in suspense. Thread Herrings delivers. Recommended.

Thanks for stopping by. Here are a couple of pictures of my 18.5 year old cat, Kit-Kat. 😊

Have a great day.

The Bad Seed by William March – Read by Elizabeth Wiley (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5 stars

Rhoda Penmark is not your ordinary little girl, and her mother, Christine, senses that something is off about her child. There’s a cold, calculating way about Rhoda that makes her mother uneasy and hesitant to confront her innermost fears regarding her daughter. Others are troubled by Rhoda’s odd behavior and shy away from her. Even the devious, troublemaking maintenance worker, LeRoy Jessup, senses that there’s something amiss about Rhoda. When he catches her alone he taunts her and lets her know he’s got her all figured out. Does he? But then there’s Christine’s wise and intelligent neighbor, Monica Breedlove, who’s intimately acquainted with Rhoda and adores the child. Who’s assessment about little Rhoda stands true? After all, she can be quite sweet with those whom she likes. But it’s quite different when the reverse is true, or if you have something she wants.

I loved listening to this book!! It took me back to the 1956 film of the same name starring Patty McCormack as young Sociopath, Rhoda Penmark. The book was written in 1954, and it was excellent!! Slightly different from the movie version and a bit more detailed. The author is a highly proficient writer and I was frequently caught up by his expressions and viewpoints on various topics and subject matter. Although Rhoda’s behavior factors prominently in the story, this book is not about a child’s murderous rampage. It was written in 1954 after all. It equally focuses on Rhoda’s mother and how she handles the truth about who her daughter really is.

This book was excellent and I highly recommend it. The audio narrator, Elizabeth Wiley, did an INCREDIBLE job portraying each character—both male and female. Her portrayal of Rhoda was so similar to how the young girl sounded in the movie I was enthralled. Fantastic job!

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of The Bad Seed. All opinions about it are honest and entirely my own.

Have a great day everyone!! 🦋

The Twin Test by Rula Sinara – (To Kenya, with Love series – book 5)

💚💚💚💚💚 – 5 hearts

Dax Calder is in over his head. He’s taken a job in Kenya, far from the U.S., where he lives with his eleven-year-old identical twin girls, Ivy and Fern. While in Kenya, Dax is desperate to find someone to look after his girls while he works on a new project for the oil company that’s employed him. Upon observing a young, attractive woman, Pippa Harper, patiently giving a tour to six children, he makes her an offer she can’t refuse. He’ll pay her an inflated wage if she’ll watch his girls until he can find a nanny to replace the one who just quit. Did I mention she is nanny number seven (or eight)? Pippa is no fool. The money will help her to expand and accelerate the education program she provides to village children who wouldn’t otherwise be given an opportunity to learn how to read. But these twin girls are no ray of sunshine in the behavior category. They’re starving for attention, as Pippa will soon learn.

Having grown up in Kenya with her mom on the Busara Elephant Research and Rescue Camp, Pippa’s all about preservation and environmental conservation and all that. Meanwhile, Dax is selling his soul by abandoning his true love of researching seismic activity in exchange for the large paycheck he’ll receive developing subterranean maps so that the oil company can drill or frack in Kenya’s wilderness, which could stir up earthquakes. Dax is cautiously withholding that information from Pippa, but his heart is another matter. What will she think of him if she finds out who he’s working for and what he’s doing? Can feelings supersede principles?

I loved this book!! Rula Sinara is an amazing storyteller who knows how to develop a convincing love story. The evolution of Dax and Pippa’s relationship was so beautifully orchestrated. Ms. Sinara is also very good at educating us about foreign affairs and unfamiliar cultures. I am always enlightened and fulfilled by her stories.

There is only one book left in this series beyond The Twin Test, and I will be so sad to see it end. The first book in the series, The Promise of Rain, was the first Harlequin Heartwarming book I ever read and I haven’t looked back since.

I highly recommend this book, and the entire series. I look forward to the sixth and final book, The Marine’s Return.

Have a great week everyone!! And thanks for reading. ☺️

The Child Next Door by Shalini Boland – (Audiobook)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

Kirsty Rawlings is beside herself with fear. She overheard something on her child’s baby monitor that horrified her. She summons the police and informs her husband of her suspicions. But her fears seem unfounded.

Kirsty is feeling a bit insecure. After their baby, Daisy, came along, her relationship with her husband, Dominic, has become mostly platonic and less romantic. Money is tight, and her nerves are on edge after a mess of strange, unexplained occurrences have happened. Paranoia grips her. She’s always harried and suspicious of everyone around her. Neighbors regard her cautiously. Do they think she’s crazy? Is somebody trying to take her baby? Is her husband involved with someone else? Has her best friend betrayed her? Is she delusional?

This book!! I have to admit that when I first started it I thought it was going to be just another predictable psychological thriller. I was wrong. I did not anticipate the twists and turns that left my mouth agape and my mind whirling. And that epilogue!!

This was my first Shalini Boland book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I purchased this audiobook from Audible. The narrator, Katie Villa, was excellent and contributed to my enjoyment of the book. Recommended.

Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely – (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

When four of her employers go out of town without informing her, or paying her, sassy domestic worker, Blanche White, is forced to write a few bad checks that land her in hot water. She might be headed off to prison. Fortunately, a commotion surrounding an unfortunate event involving the county commissioner enables Blanche to make her escape from the courthouse without notice. What will she do? Where will she go? She finds herself in the home of a wealthy family, disguised as a former worker. Blanche figures she can make some money in the meantime before she’s found out and then move on with her life. But she’s chosen the wrong house to get lost in. Things are not what they appear to be in the household. So when two murders happen within her short stay at this hideout home, Blanche will need her quick wits to get away safe, and to uncover who did away with her newfound friend.

This book immediately drew me in. It was creative right from the start, which hooked me. And then Blanche’s personality, which mimicked some women I’ve encountered in real life and in the movies, entertained me. How can I explain her character? 🤔 It was a little like a mix of Octavia Spencer’s character, Minnie, from The Help, and Madea from one of Tyler Perry’s movies. One of my favorite characters was Mumsfield, a mentally challenged man with a big heart, a love of cars, and an instant attachment to and wholesome affection for Blanche. Mumsfield, although autistic, was very keen in many ways, and there was just so much to love about him.

I would not characterize this book as a cozy mystery because it contains some mature themes and serious subject matter; material that’s best suited for adult readers. It was not the comedic mystery that I thought it would be based on the cover. The setting was the Deep South, and if you are particularly sensitive about outspokenness regarding racial inequalities and prejudice, I’d think twice before picking up this one. Blanche can be a bit salty with her tongue, and other characters are not shy about expressing their feelings about minorities and using condescension in their tones. Nonetheless, the mystery aspect was top-notch, and I was both impressed and surprised by the outcome.

The audible narrator’s performance given by Lisa Reneé Pitts was OUTSTANDING!! She imitates male and female voices, dialects and accents with ease. As the villain, her maniacal laugh was priceless. I look forward to listening to other books she’s narrated.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary audio download of Blanche on the Lam. All opinions expressed about it are my own.

Worth the Risk (Pine Valley novel – book 1) – by Heather B. Moore (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

He broke her heart back then, will he be worth the risk ten years later?

Alicia didn’t want to see Jeff ever again after he took her to the senior prom, ditched her there, and took up with some other girl he thought he liked. Alicia was crushed. They were best friends. They confided in each other about everything. How could he do that to her?

It’s ten years later and Alicia and Jeff run into each other. He’s never forgiven himself for doing her wrong so many years ago. Alicia’s reluctant to give him a chance to make it up to her. She’s already got her hands full trying to care for her mom who’s a hoarder with serious mental health issues. Alicia’s made tremendous sacrifices and difficult decisions to deal with that situation. Does she want to possibly bring more heartache into her already complicated life?

I love a good knight-in-shining-armor-like story. 😃 Jeff was a jerk to Alicia back when they were in High School when he left her at their prom, and he knows it. She’s always been the girl he’s cared deeply for. His superficial, brief relationships since then are a testament to that. But now he’s been given a chance to make things right between them. How he goes about doing that is sweet and endearing and made for a tender love story that warmed my heart.

The audio narrator, Ann Marie Gideon, did an excellent job portraying Alicia and the other characters. She helped me to feel connected to the story.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Worth the Risk. All opinions expressed about it are my own.

The Dough Must Go On: (Oxford Tearoom Mystery – Book 9) by H.Y. Hanna

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-stars

Gemma Rose gets the opportunity of a lifetime when a wealthy talent show creator, Monty Gibbs, chooses her Little Stables Tearoom to provide the daily catering for his show, From Pleb to Celeb.

A menagerie of contestants ranging from the talented to the eccentric, eager to get their chance at fame, are practicing their talents in preparation for their big chance at winning the show.

Gemma isn’t too keen on the show’s creator. She’s figured out that behind his magnanimous facade is an ambitious businessman more interested in sensationalism than the welfare of his contestants. He’s even resorted to embellishing their backgrounds and exploiting them for the benefit of ratings. And although some may have checkered pasts, Gemma is adamant that it’s no reason to take advantage of them. So when one of the contestants is found dead behind the stage, Gemma wonders just how far Monty Gibbs might go to advance his show. Or might there be some other killer lurking amongst them?

H.Y. Hanna has done it again. I was thoroughly entertained by The Dough Must Go On. The “old biddies” characters are always comical….

“The police are as effective as a chocolate teapot.”— Old Biddies

One of the highlights of this series is revisiting some of my favorite characters. Gemma’s geeky friend, Seth, always teaches some interesting scientific fact or lesson that enlightens me. And Gemma’s uppity but harmless, sweet mother is a great character whose appearance in the books always makes me happy. These Oxford Tearoom Mysteries never fail to provide a hilarious scene or three, and I can count on a great mystery and a top-notch narrating performance from the inimitable Pearl Hewitt. The Oxford Tearoom Mysteries is one of my absolute favorite cozy mystery series.

Thank you, H.Y. Hanna, for a complimentary download of The Dough Must Go On. All opinions expressed about it are my own.