Books

Books

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Dogged by Death (A Furry Friends Mystery #1) by Laura Scott

 


Dogged by Death (A Furry Friends Mystery #1) by Laura Scott

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publication date: July 13th, 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:

In Laura Scott's Furry Friends series debut, veterinarian Ally Winter must collar the killer of a shifty lawyer. Does the dead man's dog know who committed the arf-ul crime?

Ally Winter is going through a ruff patch. The thirty-something veterinarian lost her fiance, her clinic, and her savings in rapid succession. So when Ally's grandfather undergoes hip replacement surgery, she moves back to Willow Bluff, Wisconsin, to care for him. She arrives home, tail between her legs, only to find sleazy lawyer Marty Shawlin murdered in his home office. And the only witness was Marty's faithful boxer, Roxy.

Quick as a greyhound, Noah Jorgensen is on the case. The good news is, he's the best detective around. The bad news, at least the way Ally sees it, is that Noah is still just as fetching as he was back in high school. He also just happens to have witnessed every embarrassing incident that befell accident-prone Ally--including the fire-ant attack that set tongues wagging and won her the unshakable nickname Hot Pants.

Meanwhile, true-crime aficionado Gramps fancies himself a sleuth, and he is doggedly determined to sniff out the culprit himself...with Ally's reluctant help, of course. Ally has no choice but to team up with Noah--and the irrepressible Roxy--to solve the case while keeping Gramps on a short leash.

Ally had better learn some new tricks, lickety-split. Because if she can't bring the killer to heel, she won't just be playing dead.

My review:

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

I really loved the characters. Gramps (Oscar) is, well, a real character  -- a Vietnam veteran who watches too much Dateline and reads too many true crime books and fancies himself an amateur detective. His granddaughter, Dr. Ally Winter, is a veterinarian (yes, a vet & a vet) who returned to her small hometown after her ex-husband steals their money and runs off with the vet tech from their joint veterinary practice in the big city. She winds up getting dragged into a murder investigation in an attempt to keep her meddlesome grandfather safe. Ally, Gramps, and Noah, the ACTUAL detective in charge of the case, are all likable characters. Of course, Roxy the boxer is the best character and she ultimately helps solve the case. 

This definitely smacks of “first in a series”. I find that a lot of cozies (and probably other series but I don’t read many other serial works in other genres) suffer from the same first in the series tropes. It always seems like the characters make some of the most outlandish of choices in these first forays. Ally and her grandfather both keep digging and digging and poking their noses in places even after some pretty dangerous and threatening things have happened. The motive for murder also seemed weak to me. While the world-building and character development were good, I think the basic murder mystery plot left a bit to be desired. However, I liked the characters enough to read more when the next book is released. I am quite certain that the balancing necessary for the first book in a series is a tough one so I try not to judge too harshly on the first books. 

All in all, it has the potential to be a fun cozy mystery with a lot of animals involved since the main character is a veterinarian. There was a definite hint to some romance with the detective. I really hope the teensy tiny hint to another possible love interest doesn’t go anywhere since I am definitely not a fan of love triangles. Time will tell on that front. I didn’t realize until I read the author’s bio that she is considered a Christian fiction author. Nothing in the book seemed overtly Christian to me. It was a pleasant, clean cozy mystery with the potential for a lot of intriguing adventures in the future. 

About the author:

From the bio page on her website: I'm often asked when I started writing and I have to be honest, I can't remember when I wasn't writing. I loved books as a kid and like many authors, I ran out of stories that I liked to read so I began to make up my own. I wrote my first teen novel when I was thirteen and my first romance when I was seventeen. Of course, neither manuscript was very good, but I never gave up and after I finished Graduate school I decided to take some time for myself and get back to my writing. I'm so glad I did!

I grew up reading faith-based books by Grace Livingston Hill so writing for Love Inspired Suspense is a dream come true. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.

I currently live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with my husband of thirty-three years. My daughter Nicole is married to a wonderful man named Mike and my son Jonathan is a Registered Nurse at the same hospital where I work. I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful family. 

I'm a dog lover and had to put my Westie named Mac down a year or so ago. I still miss him but now have a chance to dog sit for my sisters and brother. I try to incorporate pets in my stories as much as possible

In May of 2017, I was the humble recipient of the Wisconsin Romance Writers Lifetime Achievement Award. I'm blessed to be a member of such an amazing group!


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Chasing The Taillights by Kate Larkindale



Chasing The Taillights by Kate Larkindale

Publisher: Evernight Teen

Publication date: 26 Feb 21

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:

Lucy and Tony share nothing except genes. Tony’s the champion diver destined for greatness. Lucy’s biggest concern is getting Cute Guy from the burger joint to ask her out.


After an accident kills their parents, the siblings are forced to rely on one another—and decide whether to reveal their secrets.


Lucy can’t tell Tony what she knows about the accident for fear of destroying the tentative bond between them. If she doesn’t confess, she might lose her mind. If she does, she might lose the only person she has left who loves her.


Tony has problems too. Between diving practice, classes, and concealing the crush he has on his best friend Jake, Tony needs to find room in his life for his sister, but his own stability dwindles with every passing day.


As the siblings struggle to overcome a lifetime of past conflicts and jealousies, they discover they might have more in common than a love of rock music


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.


What a heartbreaking and compelling story. As a mom, I just wanted to scoop both of these kids up and hug them and just BE there for them. I also wanted to yell “You need counseling!!!” so many times. Who leaves a couple of children to not only fend for themselves physically but also emotionally and mentally, after both of their parents die?! Their lousy uncles, that’s who? 


This was a particularly heartbreaking story to me because I see my own two kids’ distance from one another as similar to Tony and Lucy. My kids are also four years apart, older brother/younger sister. It just makes me so sad when they argue and push each other away. Your sibling relationship will be the longest relationship you have in your life! It should be cherished. My sister and I - ten years apart in age - have always been there for one another. It gets better as they get older, right? 

While many questionable choices were made by different characters, all in all, the story of navigating grief, learning about love and family, and finding yourself shines through. It does feature some triggering situations (parental death, car accident, homophobia, alcoholism, deteriorating mental health) so I don’t think this book is for everyone, but it is a well-written and respectful handling of complex issues. 


Fun stuff:

Author’s blog: http://katelarkindale.blogspot.com/ 


About the author:

From the author’s blog: Author of CHASING THE TAILLIGHTS, AN UNSTILL LIFE, STUMPED and THE SIDEWALK'S REGRETS, I am a writer, marketing executive for a national film agency, film reviewer, and mother to two boys. As you can imagine, with all that going on, I don't sleep much.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

GIVEAWAY: A Blueberry Bay Giveaway from Whiskered Mysteries


Another super cute giveaway from Whiskered Mysteries. Enter today to win a a paw-some prize pack inspired by Blueberry Bay including a blueberry muffin-scented candle, an animal lover's mug, a muffin-in-a-mug kit, a plush Puffin, and a $10 Amazon gift card!

 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Never Say Never by Justine Manzano

 


Never Say Never by Justine Manzano

Publisher: Sword and Silk Books

Publication date: 15 Jun 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:


Brynn Stark is NEVER going to fall in love.


After she walks in on her mom doing the horizontal mambo with a man that's decidedly not her dad, Brynn Stark swears to never fall in love. One of her friends—Val— reveals her true identity—Aphrodite, goddess of love, and promises to show Brynn why she shouldn't lose faith.


But when Brynn realizes she's beginning to fall for Adam, Aphrodite's boyfriend, Brynn's forced to decide if she'll choose her goddess-given fate, or risk it all for the wrong-but-right guy.


One thing's for sure. Love sucks. And it's all about to blow up in their faces.


My review:


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


What happens when you find out your best friend’s foster sister is actually the Greek goddess, Aphrodite? And you’re falling in love with her boyfriend? That’s where Brynn finds herself during her senior year of high school. The more she tries to deny her feelings, the more circumstances keep putting her on a path with Adam and in conflict with Val/Aphrodite. 


It definitely takes some willful suspension of disbelief to buy into an ancient Greek goddess hanging out in high school, but overall, it’s a cute story about friendship, family, and the power of love. There are some tense moments (particularly when a certain high-powered “Dad” gets involved). It’s a fun ride though with a sweet ever-after ending. There is a lot of typical, high school drama that is all dealt with in mature, positive ways. A few potentially upsetting themes are parental divorce, a parent committing adultery, an asthma attack, and people being caught outside in a lightning storm. 


Fun stuff:


The author shares some fun extras, like a character interview and social media graphics on her website here: https://justinemanzano.com/never-say-never-extras/ 

About the author:


Justine Manzano is a YA author who prides herself on her ability to juggle motherhood, writing, editing, and the very serious businesses of fangirling and multiple forms of geekery. When she’s not flailing about her favorite characters and actors, she struggles to create her own characters with the hopes someone will flail about them one day. Her debut novel, The Order of the Key, a Young Adult Urban Fantasy, is available everywhere books are sold from Black Rose Writing. Reviews have called it “Season 5 of Buffy meets the X-Men,” and Justine will likely live happily off of that description alone for the rest of her days. It was a finalist in the 2020 IndiesToday Awards. 


Her sophomore release, Never Say Never, a Young Adult Contemporary Romance with Fantasy Elements, will be released on June 15, 2021.



Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Adventures of Dagobert Trostler by Balduin Groller

 


The Adventures of Dagobert Trostler by Balduin Groller

Publisher: Kazabo Publishing

Publication date: 28 November 2017

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:

Dagobert Trostler is the Sherlock Holmes of Vienna . . . with a twist. Like Holmes, he's the most famous private investigator in Vienna. Unlike Holmes, he's a bit of a party animal. While he loves a good mystery, he also loves good food, good company and a good time. He's a bon-vivant and right at home in the brilliant social scene of Vienna in the heyday of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

These stories, written by Balduin Groller and published in Vienna between 1889 and 1910, are a glimpse into the sparkling, forgotten world of turn-of-the-century Vienna. Hugely popular in the German-speaking world, they are now available in English for the first time exclusively from Kazabo Publishing. If you love Sherlock Holmes, you need to read these stories!


Contents:

"The Fine Cigars"

"The Great Embezzlement"

"Anonymous Letters"

"An Arrest"

"The Cheat"

"The Mysterious Box"


"The Adventures of Dagobert Trostler" is the first in a series. Watch for The Memoirs of Dagobert Trostler and The Casebook of Dagobert Trostler.


My review:


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


I have never read Sherlock Holmes before so I can’t really say how well this book compares to the books from that series. It was told in an interesting manner. Rather than the reader being privy to the action, for the most part, Dagobert’s adventures are told to the reader as the hero himself tells his stories to his friends in their salon after dinner. And rather than bringing the wrongdoer to civil or criminal justice, Dagobert favors solutions that allow everyone involved to “save face”. Propriety is of utmost importance in turn-of-the-century Venice apparently. 


It was an interesting read and definitely different than anything I have read before. Certainly, there were lots of whodunnit aspects to keep a mystery lover engaged and reading. I doubt personally I will read more in the series, but it was an entertaining peek into another time and place. 


About the author:


Balduin Groller is the pseudonym of Adalbert Goldscheider (1848 – 1916), an Austrian journalist and author as well as the founder of the Austrian Olympic Committee.


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

 


Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Penguin 
Publication date: June 3rd, 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:

Evie Thomas doesn't believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.

As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything--including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he's only just met.

Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it's that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

About the author:

Nicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star. She is a National Book Award finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient and a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner. Both her novels have been made into major motion pictures. Nicola grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, novelist David Yoon, and their family.

My review:

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

Oh... so many tears. I love magical realism and this one balanced the magic with the realism really well. But, oh, there is some heartbreak in here. The premise of Evie being able to see couple's relationship stories is an interesting one and well-executed. How she got this skill was a little odd but since I can't come up with a better way, I won't criticize.

The ending is not expected. Of course, there are obvious plot paths that run in a typical literature fashion, but there are also twists that leave you breathless. I would have liked a couple of plot points to be explained a little better (Shirley's backstory for one), but all in all, I really enjoyed this book and read it pretty quickly as I was so engrossed in the story. 

I recommend it to anyone who is a bit of a hopeless romantic and anyone who likes magical realism. It is a clean romance.