Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe by Jessica Redland

Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Cafe is a reprinting and updated version of Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Cafe. The author added additional material to the middle and end of the original story giving the updated version a more all around, year through theme while still emphasizing the holidays.

I absolutely adored the book, enjoy Redland’s writing very much and the characters and story plot were perfect especially for this time of year. I have not read the other books in the Whitsborough Bay series and this worked fine as a stand alone. However, I fully intend to back track and read the first six in the series now. Enjoy!

Twelve Weeks Til Christmas: The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere

WHOO HOO – it’s that time of year! It’s time to celebrate the holidays with my annual Twelve Weeks ‘Til Christmas reading countdown. Each week I will highlight a new holiday themed book that I think you might enjoy reading during the festive season.

cover195439-medium

The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere is one of many in a long line of Christmas themed books she has written over the years. I’ve read a few here and there not realizing that it was, more or less, a series. It is, however, one of those series that features a different person in each book so that you can read them as a stand alone feature. Some of the characters will be familiar if you have read her other books and some are newly introduced. Regardless, it is an endearing story featuring a dual timeline, the 1970s and 2012, a kitchen table and recipes that have been lovingly  written for someone’s daughter. How the two timeline’s merge and the importance of the table is beautifully told and intertwined. I loved the story, thought it was wonderfully and carefully written and enjoyed the recipes at the end of the tale.

I was not forewarned that VanLiere’s books are Christian based and I think it is important to know this. There are many people who celebrate the holidays, Christmas, or who are religious but do not believe the same way as others. In this particular book it wasn’t so overt that I felt uncomfortable, but I do wish these types of books were marked accordingly. That said, I did like the book and do recommend it for your holiday reading.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for my copy of #TheChristmasTable.

Happy Pub Day to #TheVacation by T.M. Logan

It’s publication day for one of my favorite suspense/thrillers of the summer: The Vacation!

cover179109-medium

Four best friends have planned a dream vacation in a semi-secluded beach house. Their families are joining them for a week of fun, food and relaxation. However, these four gals are bringing a LOT of baggage with them including suspicions, old rivalries and jealousy and that does not even touch the problems their families have packed away. There are so many secrets, so many lies, so much drama so that when one of them is found dead it isn’t even a surprise. The surprise is who it is and who did it – and why!!

I love Logan’s writing, the way he brings each and every character to life through vivid descriptions. The atmospheric prose puts you, the reader, onto the beach, on the edge of the cliff with each of the characters themselves. It’s marvelous. But what I love most is his ability to keep you guessing and in the dark until the very end of the book. You may think you know who but the why is always a surprise – or vice-versa. The Vacation is a perfect summer read and a fabulous suspenseful book. I highly recommend it!

Thanks to #Netgalley, the author and #Stmartinspress for my copy of #TheVacation

Mums and Mayhem by Amanda Flower

Gardening and floral design are passions of mine so when I stumbled across Mums and Mayhem and realized that it was book that included both and was set in Scotland, I knew I had found myself a really good cozy read. I was absolutely right!

cover182910-small

A famous fiddler has been kilt. A magic garden’s left to wilt. Does Fiona Knox’s father hold the guilt? Will florist Fiona’s blood be spilt?

Fiona Knox, owner of the Climbing Rose Flower Shop is an American who moved to Scotland to care for her inheritance, a secret garden that is passed down to each generation of caretakers. Unsure why she has been chosen, Fiona has made Scotland her home to find answers, care for the garden and solve a mystery or two. In this edition, a world famous fiddle player has returned to his hometown for a homecoming concert only to be brutally murdered. Fiona’s parents also arrive from America and, surprisingly, Fiona discovers that her parents, her deceased godfather and the dead fiddler were once great friends. The more Fiona digs into the murder, the more questions she has about her own past and identity. What she discovers will leave her and the reader shocked.

I absolutely adore this cozy mystery. The villagers are all so cranky and wonderful and Scottish and marvelous and Fiona is a great protagonist.The garden itself is magical but to the point where you will gag on cloying fantasy and paranormal. It’s mystical properties are “just right.” There’s a hint of romance, a well written plot and good character development set in a dear little town. What more could you ask for in a cozy mystery?

B1qN9ZxMr-S._SY300_

Mums and Mayhem is the third in A Magic Garden Mystery series but I read it as a stand alone without any problems. It did, however, make me want to read the first two books: Flowers and Foul Play and Death and Daisies which I readily found at my local library. I heartily recommend all three of these delightful books to you today.

@Netgalley @CrookedLaneBooks

 

 

The Pact #LindaCastillo

I just started reading books by Linda Castillo and I’m absolutely loving the series. I never thought I would read books about an Amish community; the books my local library carries had turned me off of them forever I thought. But, I was asked to review a book by Castillo and loved it! Now I can’t read them quickly enough when they hit the shelves which is why I was thrilled to see this little novella pop up before her next book is released.{5B70EB37-D56F-49E8-BBAC-14210C5DD0BA}Img100

The Pact is a short mystery about two young boys who are lost/run away in the deep woods just as a snow storm in approaching. Burkholder is called out to the search and, as always, does her due diligence to solve the mystery/crime. This is actually a rather sweet story and I think that younger middle school aged children would enjoy it as well as fans of Castillo. It’s well written, especially since it is so short. Lots of action packed into those few pages. I definitely recommend it.

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

What You Wish For is a feel good, make you happy book written Katherine Center, author of Things You Save in a Fire. Unfortunately, it didn’t make me feel good or happy but, rather, bored and underwhelmed. Please note that I am very aware that I am the fish swimming against the current and that every female reader who I know has “loved” this book. You can read their reviews if you’d like.

51168993._SY475_

Sam is a pleaser, you know the kind, the gal who wants everyone to happy all of the time and goes out of her way to make sure that you always have a smile on your face. The beginning of the story tells of her love of her job as a librarian in Galveston, TX (have you been to Galveston lately?) the perfect couple she is living with, her nerdy friend with math joke t-shirts, and her beautiful school where everything is perfect – the kids, the library where she works, just simply everything until the principal of the school and one half of the perfect couple mentioned above dies at the anniversary party Sam has planned. Whew. But, hey, no problem because Sam never allows anything to get her down and she will cheerfully take care of everyone, including the new principal who is who her old, once fun boyfriend who is now a curmedgeon set on “destroying” her beloved school. I will just stop here and say…. enough.

Here’s the thing. I have read hundreds of books since COVID19 began infecting the world. I understand that many readers want happy, go-lucky, cheerful books to keep their mind off of reality. This book, with one glaring exception, will hit the mark for you. It is, literally, made for television happy. But that is not what I needed or still need. I’m sick of overly happy, cheesy women (and men) who walk around with smiles on their faces when there is nothing to be happy about right now. I’m not a stick in the mud or bitter but I cannot do fake and insipid either. The fact is that library funding – school and local – is shrinking. Schools, especially in Texas, are not coping with the demands of the 21st century learning curves. They have taken science out of their science classes and facts out of their history classes so I’m a little cynical when I read about this perfect school set in a city where I know it’s a fallacy and all we need to do is make the principal remember how much fun he used to be. Right. But it’s fiction, you say. Sure, or maybe it should listed in the fantasy section. Regardless, I’m not going to write a review that says RAH RAH when I tried twice to read this book and couldn’t finish it either time. I read silly books. I read fun books. I didn’t find this to be either. Whether you read or enjoy it is totally up to you.

Trust No One by Debra Webb

cover178448-medium

I’m already a fan of Debra Webb, love her Undertaker’s Daughter series, so I was excited to get an early look at her newest series involving detectives Devlin and Falco. Set in Birmingham, AL, Trust No One revolves around a multiple murder case with connections to the city’s powerful elite as well as having deep reaching tentacles into the past. Devlin and Falco are an interesting partnership, one straight-laced and the other just emerging from years undercover, but their personalities play well off of each other, strengths to weaknesses, and you know that they will make for good reading in the future. There was just enough familiar introduction and past revelations so that we, the readers, could better know why the detectives reacted as they did in certain situations. Yes, this was and will be a good detective series, one a I highly recommend and look forward to reading more of in the future.

The Darkness We Hide: The Undertaker’s Daughter, Book 3 by Debra Webb

Debra Webb has become one of my “go-to” authors when I want to read a good crime fiction novel. Several of her series, and she has several, fall into my top favorites. The Darkness We Hide is the third installment of the Undertaker’s Series and was a marvelous conclusion to a story arc that has been building throughout the previous two books.

cover178448-medium

Dr. Rowan Dupont is the “undertaker” for Winchester, TN like her father before her and his father before and so on. She lives in a beautifully restored Victorian mansion that also serves as the funeral parlor. To say that her life is and always has been unusual is an understatement, and not just because of her eclectic career choice. Rowan’s mother hung herself from the chandelier of the mansion, her twin sister was murdered and unusual murders have surrounded her family all of her life. Friends and allies have betrayed her leaving her with more questions than answers and with secrets piling on top of one another until it appears that the final murder just could be Rowan’s.

The characters, as with all of Webb’s series, are very well written. We know them intimately by this point and can feel their anxiety, fear and anger seeping through the pages. Although I thought I had this one all figured out after the second installment, I was completely off base – good thing I read this one! It was a great crime fiction read and a satisfying end to the story – or is it? Who knows with Debra Webb!! I want to note, again, that this is the third book and it really is necessary that you read the first two in the series before reading this one. You will be lost, confused and frustrated if you don’t. Otherwise, I highly recommend The Darkness We Hide.

The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane

The body of an elderly woman is found in a derelict asylum on the banks of the Thames. As Detective Lew Kirby and his partner begin their investigation, another body is discovered in the river nearby. Are the two murders connected and, if so, how are they related to the asylum that is slated to be torn down?

53714160._SY475_

The Bone Jar is the debut crime fiction novel by S W Kane featuring Detective Lew Kirby who, thankfully, is just a normal detective. He isn’t a drunk, he isn’t cheating on multiple women, no drugs, isn’t on the take. I swear, I haven’t read a crime fiction novel that didn’t feature a messed up detective for so long that I, literally, kept waiting for the shoe to drop. It never did. It was refreshing and quite wonderful. The Bone Jar is a really good, well written, atmospheric detective story like they should be but rarely are any longer. It features an asylum that is written so vividly that it becomes a character in and of itself. There are marvelous secondary characters who could tip over into the nuisance variety, but never do. They actually are helpful, quirky and wonderful. I would love to see them back in future books. The ending left the reader on a bit of an edge but, for me, that was a fun twist at the end. I’m very much looking forward to the next installment in this new series.

Thanks to Amazon Publishing UK and Netgalley for my copy of #TheBoneJar

Broken Genius by Drew Murray

It takes a genius to write a book this well written and researched and Drew Murray reached the mark!

cover180433-medium

I love (!!) both tech thrillers and crime fiction. Put them together and you have Broken Genius, the debut book by author Drew Murray. This is a thriller that kept me up all night long reading from cover to cover and that is no exaggeration.

Will Parker was a twenty something tech genius set on a meteoric course for becoming one of the most successful tech gurus in the world – and the richest. Just as he is flying to Japan to ink the deal that will launch his new “invention,” his program is inexplicably hacked and a young girl is murdered while millions watch in real time. Parker is finished. He sells his shares in his now failing company and hides in the shadows in shame. The FBI recruits him for his computer skills and thus our adventure begins.  Set at a Comic-Con in Indiana (my home state, how could I not love this book? We have Gen-Con, for the record, not Comic Con) Will has been assigned a murder case to solve while searching for a missing supercomputer chip. Through his impressive technical skills and intellect, Will will attempt to out-maneuver the best of the best from all over the world.

Broken Genius is definitely a “must-read” for techies but it is a well written crime fiction novel as well. There is terrific character development, great dialogue in addition to fast paced action. I highly recommend Broken Genius and can NOT wait for Murray’s next book to hit the shelves!!