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Thursday, December 12th, 2019
Dead in Dublin by Catie Murphy

First, so you know, I got Dead in Dublin from Netgalley. Also, Catie’s a friend and I love her books in general, and pounced on this one super fast because it sounded so good and did I say I love her books? She’s an amazing writer.

Now, onto the book. Here’s the backcover copy:

In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, murder occurs at the feet of sweet Molly Malone . . .

Ferrying tourists around Dublin for the Leprechaun Limo Service makes quite a change after years in the military. Still, Megan Malone is enjoying her life in Ireland. She likes the scenery, the easy pace, the quirky, quick-witted locals. Everything—except having one of her clients drop dead at the statue of fabled fishmonger, Molly Malone.

Most restaurant critics notch up their share of enemies. Elizabeth Darr, however, was a well-loved international star. She and her husband, Simon, had just had dinner when Elizabeth collapsed, and spoiled seafood is the first suspect. The restaurant’s owner, worried her business is doomed, begs Megan to look into it. Between her irate boss and a handsome Garda who’s both amused and annoyed by her persistence, Megan has her hands full even before she’s cajoled into taking care of two adorable Jack Russell puppies (which she is almost definitely not keeping). But if cockles and mussels aren’t to blame, can Megan find the real culprit . . .before another fishy death occurs?

I’m going to start with why I wanted to read this book. Catie lives in Dublin. Having her character be an American living in Ireland really grabbed me, because I felt like it would give me a really good sense of the place from an American perspective, but without any obnoxious judginess. Megan appreciates Dublin and the Irish people and culture. Her point of view makes it so an American reader can easily understand the differences and sometimes quirkiness of Ireland, but without it being condescending and obnoxious.  I felt like I was in Dublin and I could almost hear people speaking.

This is a cozy mystery, so it moves at a slower pace than other mysteries, and yet this one felt like it moved at a quick clip. I was hooked by the mystery and hated having to set the book down to do anything else. I appreciated that Megan’s involvement in the mystery happened so organically, and that she wasn’t looking to horn in at all. She was a fresh take on the amateur sleuth. But then between her boss and the grieving relatives, she feels compelled to help solve Elizabeth’s murder. The little bits of information she tracks down for them pull her deeper and deeper into the mystery.

I really liked her developing friendship with Detective Bourke. He’s very real and takes the information she gives him without a lot of bitching about how she shouldn’t be involved. He points out she shouldn’t be, but he’s the type of detective who wants to solve a case and so the clues she finds are useful. Also, she doesn’t get in the way or ‘t withhold information from him, or treat the Gardai like an enemy.

Megan is a really likeable character. She’s good at her job, reasonable, thoughtful, generous, and a good friend. She cares about people, even strangers, and she’s smart. I really loved this book and I strongly recommend it. It’s perfect for a rainy day by the fire. By way of teasing me, the first chapter of the next book was included, and I was very very very disappointed that I couldn’t get it right now.  Sigh.

Monday, October 7th, 2019
Book Review: Jo-Ann Carson’s The Perfect Brew

I’ve been doing a bit of reading on and off as I can squeeze it in around the rest of life–when I was younger, I seemed to have a hell of a lot more time in a day. What happened to it all? Anyhow, I finished The Perfect Brew today, and I want to share.

First, the back cover copy:

When a witch inherits trouble …

An unexpected inheritance turns Cassie Black’s world upside-down, and she finds herself the owner of a sentient coffee-house that comes with an inter-dimensional portal and a side of ancient curse. When Cassie is summoned to attend the funeral of her great-aunt Ophelia, she finds the picturesque village on the edge of the ocean is not at all what it seems. Her benefactor’s death is suspicious, and to make matters worse, after Ophelia’s lawyer explains her will to Cassie, he drops dead in a plate of cookie crumbs. That makes two unexplained deaths, which is two too many for a good witch to swallow.

Up to her neck in mysteries, and weighed down with a curse, Cassie canvases the town to find the murderer. Of course, there are many unusual suspects, a tall, dark and annoying human detective keeps getting in her way, and a seductive warlock offers his assistance.

Will Cassie catch the villain before he kills again? Will she be able to free herself from the curse? Will Sid, her beloved cat familiar with a naughty mind, convince her to play dirty with the boys?

My review:

This is the first in a cozy mystery series–I’m not sure how long the series is intended to be. It does read somewhat as a standalone, but it leaves a lot of major questions hanging, which is frustrating. I liked the story, I liked the characters a lot, and I liked the writing. Cassie is a great character. Everybody expects her to be goody-goody, but she’s got a lot more going on and is refreshingly snarky for a girl who appears to be the proverbial girl next door. The love interest characters are definitely interesting, particularly Sanjay, and I really liked Cassie’s familiar, Sid (short for Obsidian).

A murder happens shortly after Cassie arrives in town, and she decides to track down the killer, but though that was the storyline that wrapped up in this book, it felt like it was just a subplot. The real plot was Cassie discovering her aunt’s history, that she was murdered, more about magic, and the Perfect Brew–a sentient coffee shop, which, by the way, is a very cool place. I love it.

For me, though I enjoyed the book, I feel like it wasn’t robust enough. That it really needs to be read with the other books in the series to get a better sense of the meatier part of the story, which I really want to know more about. I do plan to get the other books, because I really do like the book. It wasn’t a cliff-hanger ending, by any means, but it just felt like the end of the opening scene of a play, and that there’s a lot left unanswered and undeveloped.

Thursday, September 12th, 2019
Book Review: Kennedy Kerr’s A SPELL OF MURDER

Hello Everyone! I’ve been doing a bit of reading here and there and this one I’ve just finished. A SPELL OF MURDER is a supernatural sort of cozy with witches. Before I get into my thoughts, here is the back cover copy:

In the sleepy town of Lost Maidens Loch, people sometimes disappear…

Down a quiet lane in town sits a little shop full of oddities you’d probably miss if you weren’t looking for it. This is Love’s Curiosities Inc., and its owner, Temerity Love, is sought by experts all over the world for her rare and magical gift: the ability to find lost things and learn their stories.

When Lost Maidens’ pretty local school teacher is found murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, a strange antique hand mirror is discovered nearby. Temerity – with the help of witchy sister Tilda, their cats Scylla and Charybdis and the lovingly eccentric local townspeople – is determined to divine the story behind the mirror and its part in Miss Molly Bayliss’ untimely death.

If only grumpy out-of-towner Angus Harley of Lost Maidens Police wasn’t on the scene. Temerity can’t solve the crime without him, but he’s distracting, and in more ways than one. Can this unconventional duo solve the most mysterious murder ever to blight Lost Maidens Loch before the killer strikes again?

 

My thoughts:

There’s something I really like about small town mysteries with busybodies, smart country cops, and quirky denizens. This book falls into that category. Temerity is an engaging characters and I like that she has friendships throughout the community and that she’s known for being a psychic antiques expert. Specifically, she’s known for tracking the provenance of antiques that nobody has any idea about. She’s world-renowned, actually. However, despite being so famous, she rarely leaves the village, even to be the keynote speaker at a major upcoming conference.

A murder happens soon within the story–a local school teacher–and Temerity gets involved with the local police chief asks for her help, as she’s helped before with missing persons and so on. She ends up working with a new deputy who she finds offputting and a bit rude, although very handsome. There’s  a bit of romance in this book between them, but not much.

One of the things I like about this book is that everybody’s smart and nobody’s bumbling. I wasn’t as much a fan of the overall mystery as I could have been because for the murderer, there’s not really any clues. The background of the story and the reasons for the murder aren’t terribly simple or obvious, which I appreciated. I just wanted a few more clues sprinkled in.

Overall, though, it’s a fun read. The characters are engaging and the magic and locale are unique and interesting. I loved the animals, particularly the cats and the parrot. I loved that Angus wasn’t at all stereotypical as the handsome potential love interest. He was smart and interesting and didn’t ever get weirdly high and mighty or put Temerity down. She was confident and strong, and yet vulnerable in a couple of ways, but not in a way that irritated me.

I’ll definitely look for the next book in the series.

Sunday, June 2nd, 2019
Book Review: THE DARK BONES

I recently read The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White. It’s a romantic suspense, and I’ve got to say, it’s just about a perfect book.

First, the back cover blurb:

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
Book Review: Somebody to Love By Aurelia Fray

About the book:

An unlikely pair, an impossible mission, and a hilarious hunt for somebody to love.

Henry was only tasked with fixing the leaky office pipes. So, when a crazy woman barges in and confesses all her secrets like a challenge, he’s faced with two choices: Tell her he’s not the man she’s looking for, or roll with it.

Rachel knows there’s something amiss about her new shrink–he’s far too handsome for starters–but she’s desperate to straighten her life out. With only three weeks to find a date to her best friend’s wedding, she’s willing to try anything. Even rely on a complete stranger to help her find love.

My take:

I’ll be honest. I was a little put off at first by Cassy, who I was afraid would be a more prominent character in the book, but luckily, she wasn’t. Mostly she was really obnoxious and Rachel took it laying down in the beginning, which I found annoying. But then she walks into the office and she’s so funny, and so real, and she’s not at all flat or one-dimensional. She’s got some hangups as we all do, but she’s also talented and smart and not at all a doormat. AND she stands up to Cassy at the end, which made me very happy.

I like Henry. Clearly he was an asshole and knew it, but meeting Rachel made him reevaluate himself and his friends. It wasn’t an instant transformation, but one where he grows into love, same as Rachel. His family is amazing, and I’m really hoping Taylor and Neil figure things out. His friends are both obnoxious and wonderful, which I found delightful.

Nobody was perfect, and Henry showed his true colors in a dramatically embarrassing and realistic moment and I may have fallen a bit in love with him at that point, too.

The story is well written, fun, breezy, real, and feel good. It’s fast and I really love Rachel and Henry as people and as a couple. Definitely read this book. I’m going to look up other books by Fray for sure.

 

Thursday, April 25th, 2019
The Dogs Complain

Dear R.J. Blaine. What’s wrong with you? You’re making our mom neglect us. She kept reading that stupid book—Hypnos—and hardly noticed us. Breakfast was late. Dinner was late. We went to bed late. She barely pet us or talked to us like we weren’t even there. We’re practically skin and bones, right now. So we’re writing to ask you—please, please, please, stop writing books. They are too distracting and she doesn’t need distracting. We are the goodest of boys and deserve better than her lackadaisical care of us. She’s supposed to be at our beck and call 24/7. But your stupid books suck her right in and she wouldn’t put the book down no matter how much we licked, barked, played, or nudged. Those ALWAYS work.  We checked her Kindle. She has MORE unread books from you. We tried to delete them but we have no opposable thumbs. If you don’t comply, we will be forced to take drastic measures. Nobody wants that. Well, Merlin does but he’s naturally violent.

Sincerely,

Crowley, Merlin, and Vodood

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
Review: American Witch by Thea Harrison

I first learned of Thea Harrison when Patti Briggs said I should read her books. Sadly I was slow to get around to that, but discovered I love her writing very much. Still, with so much going on, I didn’t get to read very many of her books, though they remain waiting in the TBR mountain.

American Witch is her upcoming release, and you can get your hands on a copy on April 29th. I suggest you preorder.

So first, what it’s about. From the back cover copy: 

Power can change a person…

For months Molly Sullivan endures the inexplicable: electrical surges, car breakdowns, visions. She even wonders if she might be the cause… and wonders if she might be crazy. Then she discovers her husband has cheated on her. Again. Now Molly realizes she is a newly awakening witch and a woman pushed over the edge.

Revenge can shape a person…

Josiah Mason is a Powerful witch and the leader of a secret coven with a shared goal: to destroy an ancient enemy who has ruined many lives. Josiah lost years to this man, and his sole focus is revenge. He’s prepared for every contingency—except encountering a beautiful new witch who understands nothing of the immense Power building within her or the attraction she wields over him.

Danger can bring them together…

When divorcing her husband, Molly uncovers a dangerous secret he’s willing to kill to protect. She turns to Josiah for help, and they discover a connection between Molly’s husband and Josiah’s enemy.

As they work together, a spark ignites between them that threatens to become an inferno. But Molly is done compromising herself for any man, and Josiah’s mission is his top priority. And the enemy is cunning, cruel, and drawing ever closer.

As the danger escalates, so does the tension between them. Is a lasting relationship possible? Will either of them live long enough to try?

My thoughts:

I loved this book. Found it hard to put down, in fact, which says a lot since I’ve been having trouble reading through to the ends of books for awhile now. This was a compelling read for me.

Molly was an amazing character. Strong, stubborn, flawed, and wholly likeable. She wasn’t a doormat. She’s sharp as hell and brave as well.

Josiah wasn’t your typical asshole. He came off as focused and an ends-justifies-the-means sort of guy. He’d suppressed most of his emotions and to a large extent his humanity over years of seeking his end goal.

Also, neither are super young. They have scars and have earned those scars.

Then he runs into Molly. At first he sees her as a tool, but she doesn’t let him view her that way. She thinks and she argues and she refuses to put up with his habits of being in charge and telling people what to do. This startles him into looking at himself and he doesn’t like what he sees. Their relationship isn’t easy and grows out of respect and admiration. It’s very organic.

The path to their HEA isn’t an easy one and both are willing to walk away at various times, and then they feel compelled to do so for very good reasons. You don’t read the situation and roll your eyes and say oh, please, this could be solved with a simple conversation. No, the obstacles are real and require them both to find ways to bend if they are going to work things out.

I love the magic of the world and the intrigue of the story. There’s more to it to come in future novels. That’s clear. A struggle that will be ongoing and building toward a crescendo at some point. I’m totally planning on being on board for that ride.

I also love the descriptions of their attraction and the sex because its so very emotional. It’s not about the sex and not so much graphic as powerfully written, if that makes any sense.

I highly recommend this book and hope everyone out there will go grab a copy because it’s just that good.

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018
Book Review: Once Upon a Duke

I’m reviewing a short Christmas novel/novella by Erica Ridley. Normally I love her books, but this one didn’t work as well for me. Part of it was I had a hard time believing in a town devoted to Christmas in that time period, so that may be all my fault. This is the back cover copy:

Beware romantic spirits from Christmas past…

Due to the terms of an estranged relative’s will, the Duke of Silkridge must revisit the cold, unforgiving mountains where he lost everything he once loved. As soon as he restores his family legacy, he’ll return to London where he belongs. He definitely won’t rekindle the forbidden spark crackling between him and the irresistible spitfire he’d left behind…

Noelle Pratchett is immune to charming scoundrels like the arrogant duke. He stole her heart, stole a kiss, and then stole away one night never to return. Now he’s back—and they both know he won’t stay. But how can she maintain her icy shields when every heated glance melts her to her core?

 

So as I said, I didn’t buy the setting. The relationship between Silkridge and Noelle is believable, but for me, there’s too much exposition, and so much depended on long ago events. There wasn’t enough time or space to really build the romance. I felt like there needed to be more time, more conflict.

I also wanted to kick Silkridge’s dad’s ass. And I had a hard time with him being so beloved by everyone and the fact that he was a total asshole to his son. Surely the servants would have known and the town would have known. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t revere him for what he did for them, but I felt they would also have some awareness. The lack thereof was silly.

There were some other things that bothered me, but I liked a number of the characters, the stipulation in the will (I kept expecting there to be some significance to this–that his father figured out he was an ass and had try to make amends somehow. Nope. Not even.

In the end, it just wasn’t a satisfying read for me. Won’t stop me from picking up her other books . . . those I haven’t read.

Thursday, October 26th, 2017
Book reviews

I’m so behind on book reviews, but here are three to start getting caught up.

I’m in the mood lately for lighter fare, though I’m also loaded up with mysteries, so we’ll see if I go there soon. Anyhow, first books first. I received these from Netgalley, so you know.

This first is actually a paranormal mystery: Hide and Seek by Allie Harrison. (FYI–the publisher is the same as some of my books). It’s available now.

Here’s the back of the book blurb:

Can she stop a killer before he takes over her thoughts?

As a child, Tess Fairmont learned the horror of her psychic gift—the ability to not only see, but experience the last moments of a murder victim’s life when she grasps their hand. Now, as an adult, Tess has learned to live with the curse of her ability and does what she can to help the Chicago PD solve murder cases.

But when she uses her talent to help stop a serial killer, she finds there are things more terrifying than her visions . . . like a serial killer who can connect with her psychically. She soon finds the only place she is safe is in the arms of the medical examiner, Dr. Michael Adams.

Until the killer makes her his next physical target and forces her to play a deadly game of hide and seek.

 

I really liked the premise of this book and Tess’ talent is really unique engaging. This is a romance as much as a mystery, and I enjoyed both sides of the story, though Michael comes off a little as too good to be true. The killer is creepy and his interactions with Tess become increasingly tense and scary. I do wish there’d been a little bit more obvious connection between the killer and the victims, but the backstory did fit and made sense, plus since Tess is a random element to his story, it works. All in all, it’s a fun read (well, also creepy) and I recommend it.

4/5 stars

Next is a cozy mystery with a CORGI! Can you guess why I requested to review the book? I mean, a corgi. Anyhow, this book is Much Ado About Murder by Elizabeth Duncan, available in November 2017.

Description:

The show ruthlessly goes on as costume designer-turned-amateur sleuth Charlotte Fairfax investigates the death of a disagreeable director in award-winning author Elizabeth J. Duncan’s third Shakespeare in the Catskills mystery. Costume designer Charlotte Fairfax has another murder on her hands as she prepares for the latest performance of the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company,Much Ado About Nothing. The company’s steady growth enables them to cast star British actress Audrey Ashley, who arrives on scene to play the lead role of Beatrice. But things immediately get more complicated when Audrey insists the company replace the current director with new, up and coming British director Edmund Albright. Edmund plans to change the popular romantic comedy, which alienates several people associated with the production. And the list of people he upsets only grows: the laid off former director, the hotel owner’s secretary, and even Audrey herself. Just as Edmund’s plans are about to come to fruition, his body is discovered on his sofa, holding a gun in his hand. His death is quickly ruled a suicide but Charlotte thinks otherwise. Why would Edmund, on the brink of greatness, kill himself? And in such an American way? With a whole cast of characters to investigate, Charlotte is determined to unmask each one before it’s final curtain call on the whole production in award-winning author Elizabeth J. Duncan’s third Shakespeare in the Catskills mystery,Much Ado About Murder.

 

First, I read this a couple months ago so I’m a little fuzzy on the details, except the corgi is Rupert and very cute. Anyhow the setting for the book is a lot of fun and I really like that Charlotte is not a young thing. The relationships between the characters are real and quirky and I really felt like I was there at the inn and theater. I’m afraid I figured out the murderer a long way in advance, but that’s okay because it was more about the process and the characters than the whodunnit for me. I enjoyed this book too (if I’m honest, I find myself putting down a lot of books I don’t care for these days, but I don’t write about them because my reason for not liking them is more about where my head is right now than the books).

Anyhow, if you like cozies, this book is for you. It’s good. 4/5 stars.

I finished The Christmas Holiday today. Yes, I’m in the mood for Christmas stories. I’m fond of romances and sap and Christmas stories tend to be full of both. Maybe I should explain that a little. By sap, I mean heartwarming, with friends and family and of course, an HEA.

The Christmas Holiday by Maxine Morrey is available now, and is a fun book. It’s got a British flair, which I enjoyed. Plus it had exotic elements as the characters travel to a variety of places.

But before I say more, the description:

Fall in love this winter on a romantic trip around the world ending in a fairy-tale winter wedding!

As winter comes to London, journalist Mia Walker is desperately hoping for her big break as a travel writer, dreaming of exotic locations and sun-soaked beaches. When she’s invited to write a romantic travel piece that ends in a huge winter wedding in London, she jumps at the chance. The only trouble is, the photographer is renowned adventure-junkie Hunter Scott, who Mia last saw five years ago when she ended their engagement.

It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, and Mia knows she’d be mad to say no – even if it does mean spending weeks travelling round the world with the one man she never wanted to see again! But as the wedding approaches, and the magic of Christmas begins to take hold, Mia can’t help looking out for mistletoe – and wishing she hadn’t cancelled her own engagement after all…

I wasn’t sure at first how much I was going to like this book I liked Mia, but some of her bickering with Hunter seemed to go on far too long and seemed a little juvenile on occasion. But then Morrey seemed to settle in to the story more, and I really enjoyed the romance. This is not steamy at all, for those of you who want to know. There are kisses, but everything else is off the page.

I enjoyed the interactions between Liv and Sandy a lot, and between those two and our unhappy couple, Hunter and Mia. This book was a slow build and the solutions and sorting out the problems didn’t come quickly. It felt very real because of that, and yet I didn’t get bored for that slower pacing. I will say that at first I thought that the whole problem between them could have been solved long ago with a conversation, but as things developed, it became clear that a conversation wouldn’t have really done enough. Both needed to grow up some, and both needed to learn some life lessons of their own.

I definitely liked this book and I recommend it if you’re looking for a relationship read, with the emphasis on relationship. 4/5 stars.

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Monday, June 26th, 2017
Book Review: The Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop by Tracy Corbett

I received this book from NetGalley.

This is a terrific book. Let’s start there. I’ll give you more below, but just know it’s a really good book and you should read it.

So to begin, The Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop by Tracy Corbett and available July 3, is kind of a romance, but while romance is a part of the book, it’s really about people figuring out their lives and going through difficult times and finding each other as friends and family. So if you’re looking for a strong romantic narrative, it’s not going to be coming. Doesn’t matter. It’s a fabulous read.

Back of Book Blurb:

Evie is busy running the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop and praying for an uplift in sales as soon as possible. She might be in the market of selling romance, but for Evie a new man is the last thing she needs!

That is until plumber Scott Castillo turns up to fix her boiler. She’s definitely not interested. But then, why does she keep ogling his rather attractive forearms? She’s been fooled before – she isn’t about to fall head-over-heels for some smooth-talker, right?

When he isn’t trying to balance paying the bills with caring for his sick mother, Scott has stepped in to help parent his 18-year-old nephew, Ben. Between that and working full time Scott doesn’t have time for romance. Until he meets Evie . . .

Love doesn’t always bloom the way you expect but for the customers of the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop it might just be the perfect time for romance . . .

Set in Britain, the book follows Evie’s journey back to independence after a bad relationship. She’s running her dream flower shop, but she’s got a time crunch hanging over her head. She’s got only so much time before she’s got to buy the shop or lose out on her dream forever. She’s also got a chip on her shoulder and is terribly suspicious of men. Scott is a delightful guy, but bogged down in several crises of his own. He’s given up his business and his life in London to care for his disabled mother and his nephew, who’s mom–Scott’s sister–can’t seem to be bothered. His ex-fiance blew him off when he decided to care for his mother, and so he’s skittish of new relationships, but he’s also eager to know Evie.

Things quickly go wrong for both. Corbett follows each through their separate lives, then bumps them up against each other, often with disastrous results. Each of them are putting up fronts so nobody knows just what is going on behind the facades and how difficult things have been and are, and both are afraid of what the other might think. Gradually their secrets come to light and they share, growing closer as friends and maybe something more.

Woven through their growing relationships and acting as foils, are the crumbling marriage of Evie’s best friend Laura and her husband Martin, the passionate and devoted relationship of Scott’s nephew Ben and his soon-t0-be bride Amy, the troubled marriage of Patricia and David Robinson, and the quirky and delightful courtship of Josh and Saffy.

Layered on to these relationships are the friendships that help teach each of the characters–not just Evie and Scott–how to grow and how to hold firm to what they most need and desire.

This story is a relatively slow build, but the pacing is really perfect and the story so well woven that the end is incredibly satisfying. You don’t get any of those “too-stupid-to-live” moments, and when Evie seems determined to be blind or to react irrationally, Cordelia or Laura or Saffy or others are there to catch her up short and point out that her reality is different from what she understands. But you sympathize with her because you see that those reactions are realistic for where she’s been and she owns her mistakes and she doesn’t hide from growth. The other characters find both heartache and happiness–but in the end, it’s all perfect. 

I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading Corbett’s next book.

 

 

 

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