Books

Books

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

NEWS! Purrfectly Bookish Book Reviews are MOVING!

 


I have decided to merge my book reviews with my lifestyle blog and YouTube channel, Finding Harmony. In an effort to "find harmony", I am trying to simplify things. Posting to only TWO blogs (I still have my piano studio blog) instead of THREE is one step in that direction. New book reviews will still post on Tuesdays on the new site and will be categorized to make them easy to find. For the foreseeable future (I have a lot of old book reviews, y'all), old book reviews will be added to the new site every Friday so they can all eventually be found in one place. 

Thank you for following my book reviews all these years! I really hope you will choose to make the jump and continue to follow along at my new site. There, you can also sign up to be notified of new blog posts each week! 

To jump straight to the blog on my new site, click here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Witches, Spiders, and Schemes (Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic, #4) by Elizabeth Pantley

Witches, Spiders, and Schemes (Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic #4) by Elizabeth Pantley

Publisher: Better Beginnings, Inc.

Publication date: November 10th 2021

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


The link above is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through it, I will receive a small amount of the sale, at no cost to you. It helps me make a little money to support my book reviewing hobby. Thank you! 


Publisher's description:


A magic mirror to an enchanted world... A mysterious ghost... A hilarious, perpetually annoyed witch... A brave, sassy cat... Two unexplained deaths and a mysterious community filled with secrets... Can Hayden and the people of Destiny Falls solve the mystery and return the community to its peaceful, enchanted existence? Hayden’s adventures in Destiny Falls continue in book four of the Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic series. Starting with a strange old woman at a cave and her father’s mysterious ferry journey, there are secrets to be unwound. The enchantments in Destiny Falls are showing cracks, and Hayden suspects that it is tied directly to her family, which has a history that’s more complex than she realized. When two bodies are found floating in the bay it’s clear that the mysteries surrounding Gladstone and the ferry are more dangerous than people realize. And then . . . those spiders. Luckily, Hayden and her sassy sidekick, Latifa have developed a group of family and friends in this enchanted place who are all ready and willing to help solve the mystery, and release Destiny Falls to resume its normal, amazing, enchanted existence. Hayden’s many adventures in Destiny Falls will keep you guessing with each book in this intriguing series.


My review:


I received a free copy of the ebook from the author in exchange for my review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.


More answers AND YET... more questions. Another installment in a fun, cozy mystery series. I usually read series that are already out so I don't have to wait between books! I do not like waiting! I want to know what happens next!!! I love how this one is building and building on itself. I would say these books can't be read stand-alone very well or, probably, shouldn't be read stand-alone. But that's okay... you'll want to read them all if you are a fan of cozies with elements of magic. I appreciate the level of intrigue and peril in these books... not too much. And balanced with a message of family and community. I honestly look forward to each book being published and it jumps to the head of my long to-read list when a new one is released.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Cookie Dough or Die by Virginia Lowell




Cookie Dough or Die (Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery #1) by Virginia Lowell

Publisher: Berkley Books

Publication date: April 5th 2011

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars


The link above is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through it, I will receive a small amount of the sale, at no cost to you. It helps me make a little money to support my book reviewing hobby. Thank you! 


Publisher's description:


My review:


This book is the October pick from the Cozy Escape Book Club. This choice was a bit different for me since I prefer cozy mysteries with either a paranormal element or with cats... bonus points if it has both. This book does have a cute, little dog though!


It was a fun read, though it took some time to really get into it. Sometimes the dialogue between the two main characters was a struggle to figure who was saying what line. This did become a bit easier as you got to know the two characters better. As with many first-in-a-series, the world-building was a bit clunky at times and trying to do too much all at once. In particular, I felt like the main character Olivia could have been better developed. There were hints at her personality, but I never felt like there was a full picture of her created. Her business partner and best friend, Maddie, and her quirky mother, Ellie, were well-developed and delightful characters.


While the way the crime was solved was clever, I'm not sure how an entire series can be built on cookie cutters. Some of the choices the characters made in pursuit of answers seemed even more sketchy than usual for cozy mystery heroines. As is my usual practice, I will read the second book in the series at some point to see how it continues to build. I always like to read at least the first two books before I make a final decision on continuing a series. However, I didn't like it well enough to pick up the second book immediately. I'm pretty hit or miss on culinary cozies so I can't say if my "meh" status on this book is the genre or this particular book. I'll let you know later once I get back around to the second book.




Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Knifed In Nice (Travel P.I. Book 1) by Zara Keane




Knifed In Nice (Travel P.I. Book 1) by Zara Keane
Publisher: Beaverstone Press
Publication date: October 5th 2021
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The link above is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through it, I will receive a small amount of the sale, at no cost to you. It helps me make a little money to support my book reviewing hobby. Thank you! 

Publisher's description: 

“I hadn’t planned on a trip to the French Riviera, but then, I hadn’t planned on shooting a London crime lord in his well-padded derrière.”

Meet Angel Doyle, a semi-reformed thief, and accidental P.I.

During an unfortunate incident at her first legit job in years, Angel fires a ketamine dart into one of London’s most notorious gangsters. Now she’s in disguise and on the run. With a bunch of thugs on her tail, she embarks on a mad chase across France, determined to stay one step ahead of the villains.

At least, that was the plan.

The moment out-of-work actor Sidney Foggington-Smythe sits next to her on the train to Paris, Angel has no idea she’s just met the second half of their crime-solving duo. How can a fashion-obsessed posh boy be anything but a hindrance? When fate forces the two twenty-somethings into the same stolen Mercedes, Angel is hampered by an unwanted sidekick, a kidnapped cat, and a corpse with a tendency to pull a Houdini. Now Angel and Sidney are in a race against time to reach Nice, find the killer, and clear their names before their next destination is the morgue. 

My review:

I received a free copy of the ebook from Netgalley in exchange for my review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Angel has had a bad, bad day and it just keeps getting worse. Fortunately, she at least doesn't have to go through it all alone when Sidney Foggington-Smythe befriends her on her get-away train and tags along for a whirlwind weekend adventure with a high body count of bad guys, a catnapped exotic pet, a feckless relative, and more. 

Angel and Sidney are delightful and their chemistry with one another is fantastic. The book is a wild, wild ride of adventure and coincidences. I couldn't put it down. It definitely had far more dead bodies than I'm used to in a cozy mystery (and with the punny title and cover - it definitely looks like it is trying to fit itself into the cozy category). It had lots of "aha" moments and many "Oooooooohhhhh" ones as well. Loved it and I can't wait to continue on with Angel and Sidney's adventures in the next in the series.

Author's Website


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

By Familiar Means (Witch's Cat Mystery #2) by Delia James


By Familiar Means (Witch's Cat Mystery #2) by Delia James

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: September 20th 2016

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


The link above is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through it, I will receive a small amount of the sale, at no cost to you. It helps me make a little money to support my book reviewing hobby. Thank you! 


Publisher's description:


In the latest from the author of A Familiar Tail, a witch and her familiar find trouble brewing at a coffee house. After discovering her mystical heritage—and being adopted by furry feline familiar Alistair—artist Annabelle Britton has decided to make picturesque Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her new home. Now, she can take the time to figure out her new abilities and welcome her grandmother, who is visiting Portsmouth, and her old coven, for the first time in thirty years. But being a witch doesn’t magically put money in the bank. When she’s hired to paint the murals for a new coffee house, it seems like a wish come true. But then a series of spooky sounds and strange happenings convince the owners that their new shop is haunted. They want Anna and her coven to evict the restless spirit before the grand opening. Annabelle is certain the haunted happenings at the shop are just hocus pocus. But when her search reveals hidden smugglers’ tunnels beneath the shop—and a dead body—Annabelle, Alastair, and the coven suddenly find themselves in a cat and mouse game with a killer...


My review:


Anna is in the thick of it again when her "Vibe" helps her uncover a body under suspicious circumstances. Alistair is still my favorite character, but Grandma BB is coming in at a close second. I love that she is on the scene now. Her return to Portsmouth brings old hard feelings back to the surface and creates an interesting side plot to the main story.


I love that Portsmouth is a real city so I can look up photos to help me build a mental picture of the town. It is adorably quaint and Ms. James's descriptions of it make you want to visit it. Too bad there isn't really an out-of-the-way "secret" coffee shop filled with hippies (or is there?!).


There were times when there seemed to be too many threads to the murder plot and it got challenging to juggle them midway through the book. Ultimately, the ending wasn't super surprising though it still had a couple entertaining twists. There is one more book in the series, which I plan to read (since it seems to focus MORE on cats - I do love cat cozies), but it is the last in the series. The third book was written in 2017 so I am guessing there won't be more to the series after that, unfortunately. 


As usual, a magic + cat cozy is high on my enjoyable meter.  I'm predictable in that regard... unrepentantly.  




 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Mango, Mambo, and Murder by Raquel V. Reyes



Mango, Mambo, and Murder: A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery by Raquel V. Reyes

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publication date: 12 Oct 2021

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


The link above is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through it, I will receive a small amount of the sale, at no cost to you. It helps me make a little money to support my book reviewing hobby. Thank you! 


Publisher's description:

Cuban-American cooking show star Miriam Quiñones-Smith becomes a seasoned sleuth in Raquel V. Reyes's Caribbean Kitchen Mystery debut, a savory treat for fans of Joanne Fluke and Jenn McKinlay.


Food anthropologist Miriam Quiñones-Smith's move from New York to Coral Shores, Miami, puts her academic career on hold to stay at home with her young son. Adding to her funk is an opinionated mother-in-law and a husband rekindling a friendship with his ex. Gracias to her best friend, Alma, she gets a short-term job as a Caribbean cooking expert on a Spanish-language morning TV show. But when the newly minted star attends a Women's Club luncheon, a socialite sitting at her table suddenly falls face-first into the chicken salad, never to nibble again.


When a second woman dies soon after, suspicions coalesce around a controversial Cuban herbalist, Dr. Fuentes--especially after the morning show's host collapses while interviewing him. Detective Pullman is not happy to find Miriam at every turn. After he catches her breaking into the doctor's apothecary, he enlists her help as eyes and ears to the places he can't access, namely the Spanish-speaking community and the tawny Coral Shores social scene.


As the ingredients to the deadly scheme begin blending together, Miriam is on the verge of learning how and why the women died. But her snooping may turn out to be a recipe for her own murder.


My review:


I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.


What a delightful cozy! I can’t wait to read more. It is very different than many cozies I have read, but it also hits many of the main points of “coziness” that I love and keeps me coming back to the genre. I liked the Spanish dialogue. I took four years in high school and college and have played around on keeping up my Spanish on Duolingo but I am nowhere near fluent. I was able to keep up with the Spanish dialogue fairly well though and the author provided enough contextual clues to figure out any of the more complex bits. 


The main character, Miriam, and her best friend, Alma, were wonderful. Miriam is so sweet and very real. There are so many likable characters… and, of course, a nemesis or two, though thankfully, one of those got their comeuppance in this first book in the series (I will NOT miss that character going forward). AND, there’s a cat… and kittens… so you know that always adds bonus points in my book. I learned a lot about Cuban cuisine as well. I had to look up so many things and… YUM! 


First installments often have clunky world-building but Ms. Reyes did a fantastic job of building all the various worlds in which Miriam finds herself. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series. 


Fun stuff: 


Sign up for the author’s newsletter here: http://rvreyes.com/newsletter/  She promises there will be recipes! 


About the author:


Raquel V. Reyes writes stories with Latina characters. Her Cuban-American heritage, Miami, and the Caribbean feature prominently in her work. Raquel is a co-chair for SleuthFest. Her short story “A Star Goes Dark” is in the 15th Malice Domestic anthology.


Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus




Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

Publisher: Celadon Books

Publication date: July 13th 2021

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


The link above is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through it, I will receive a small amount of the sale, at no cost to you. It helps me make a little money to support my book reviewing hobby. Thank you! 


Publisher's description:

How might your life be better with less? Imagine a life with less: less stuff, less clutter, less stress, and debt and discontent—a life with fewer distractions. Now, imagine a life with more: more time, more meaningful relationships, more growth, and contribution and contentment—a life of passion, unencumbered by the trappings of the chaotic world around you. What you’re imagining is an intentional life. And to get there, you’ll have to let go of some clutter that’s in the way. In Love People Use Things, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus move past simple decluttering to show how minimalism makes room to reevaluate and heal the seven essential relationships in our lives: stuff, truth, self, money, values, creativity, and people. They use their own experiences—and those of the people they have met along the minimalist journey—to provide a template for how to live a fuller, more meaningful life. Because once you have less, you can make room for the right kind of more.


My review:


I received a free copy of the ebook from Netgalley in exchange for my review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.


This is the most comprehensive book on minimalism and intentional living I have ever read. This book is NOT about getting rid of physical clutter (though there is some of that in there). It's about being a better person to yourself, to your loved ones, to society. It's about living intentionally, creatively, fiscally responsibly. And it puts you to work. After Joshua Fields Milburn educates, Ryan Nicodemus sets you to action items to bring yourself into alignment with a more intentional life. Love! Love! Love! 

Grab a journal or a binder and some loose-leaf paper. Find your favorite pen. Schedule time to read and absorb this book and work through the tasks presented. There is so much to process and learn here.