Books

Books

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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld #32; Tiffany Aching #2) by Terry Pratchett

A Hat Full of Sky book cover


A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld #32; Tiffany Aching #2) by Terry Pratchett

Publisher: Corgi Childrens

Publication date: April 29th 2004

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: WE SEE YOU. NOW WE ARE YOU. No real witch would casually step out of their body, leaving it empty. Tiffany Aching does. And there’s something just waiting for a handy body to take over. Something ancient and horrible, which can’t die. To deal with it, Tiffany has to go to the very heart of what makes her a witch . . .


My review:


I checked this book out from my library via the Libby app. All opinions shared are 100% my own.


I forget just how much I enjoy Terry Pratchett's humor. And the Mac Nac Feegle are super entertaining... especially trying to read their accents in your mind. I am a huge Douglas Adams fan but, honestly, I'm always reminded after a Pratchett read that I probably like Pratchett better as fantasy fiction is more my bag than scifi. In any case, this was a fun, enjoyable fantasy fiction read in Pratchett's signature style of puns, parodies, allusions, cultural references, sidebars, tangents, and a wild ride of silliness. I haven't read one of his books yet that I wouldn't heartily recommend for an adventurous tale that will have your giggling to yourself.



Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Give Away and Pre-Order Discount: The Tacos and Chocolate Diet by Drew Myers

The Tacos and Chocolate Diet: How to Live A Bold, Adventurous, And Intentional Life

I want you to find joy. I want you to live the best life you can live. Most of all, I want to help you accomplish both of these. In The Tacos and Chocolate Diet it’s my goal to generate hope, inspire action, and remind you to start making the important things important - starting with YOU. Everything you're looking for can be attained with the action plan inside these pages. Everything comes down to you. I wrote this book to help people start living a bold, adventurous, and intentional life. That’s what we all want, right? We want to live on purpose. We want to make a small change that helps us start living the life we want. Let's get started living life to its fullest. Don’t be confused by the title. This is not a book to help you lose weight. The Tacos and Chocolate Diet is about taking action to live your best life. And I'll be there, right along with you.

ONLY $.99 during pre-order and release week!

Buy on Amazon Buy everywhere else

Enter to win the TACOS AND CHOCOLATE GIVEAWAY

5 Winners!! e-Book Signed Hardcover “Be Bold” T-Shirt Audiobook Neurographic Art Postcards Live on Purpose Challenge Coin “Be Bold” Coffee Mug $100 donation to a non-profit of their choice How to enter – Fill out the form below. Must be 18+ Continental US address to win.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn


Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication date: 07 Sep 2021  

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: Raised by conservative parents, 18-year-old Meg Hennessey just found out her entire childhood was a lie. Instead of taking a gap year before college to find herself, she ends up traveling north to meet what’s left of the family she never knew existed.


While there, she meets Micah Allen, a former pastor’s kid whose dad ended up in prison, leaving Micah with his own complicated relationship about the church. The clock is ticking on Pastor Allen’s probation hearing and Micah, now 19, feels the pressure to forgive - even when he can’t possibly forget.


As Meg and Micah grow closer, they are confronted with the heavy flutterings of first love and all the complications it brings. Together, they must navigate the sometimes-painful process of cutting ties with childhood beliefs as they build toward something truer and straight from the heart.


My review:

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


“I can’t pretend to understand this compulsion you guys have to hide your humanity at the risk of appearing human.”


 I spent 15 years of my youth in the Deep South - the Bible Belt. I grew up in a pretty progressive Catholic church in a family of very strong women so I didn’t personally experience crazy pressure to be the perfect, little church girl growing up. I went to high school with a lot of girls who did though. It was absolutely ludicrous how much pressure was put on the girls to be pure and how boys were just being boys. This book addresses this issue from a Christian author. I would actually recommend reading the Author’s Note first. It came at the end of my ebook copy so I read it last. I had enjoyed the book, but I loved the book even more after reading the author’s raw emotions in her story of how she came to write the book and the trouble she had finding a publisher because of her forthright questioning of how the church treats girls. I thought the author did a brilliant job with her story of the real struggles of youth caught between being human and being “church pure”.


This was an odd choice for me to pick up as I’m a Unitarian Universalist now and served as a professional youth advisor in my faith for five years. Let’s just say how UUs treat their youth and how fundamentalist Christians treat their youth are VERY different. (The UU Church offers comprehensive sexuality education, called Our Whole Lives. It is literally life-saving). It breaks my heart to think of all the girls who are made to feel that their god doesn’t love them because of their very humanity. The author states that her book isn’t quite secular but is definitely not inspirational. I would argue it is very inspirational. I wish my friends back in high school all those years ago and every “good little church girl” out there now would have had a voice like Ms. Hahn’s to let them know that their god’s grace covers them no matter what. 


Fun stuff:

Book Club Discussion Questions


About the author: 


ERIN HAHN is the author of You'd Be Mine, More Than Maybe, and Never Saw You Coming. She married her very own YA love interest, who she met on her first day of college, and has two kids who are much, much cooler than she ever was at their age. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a.k.a. the greenest place on earth, and has a cat named Gus who plays fetch and a dog named June who doesn’t.