Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A GLIMMER OF DEATH by Valerie Wilson Wesley

Publisher Date published ISBN Genre Book format (E-book? Mass Market Paperback? Trade Paperback? Hardcover?) Obtained via: Publisher Gift Library Self-purchase Reviewed by name (5 hearts) (4.5 heart) (4 heart) (3.5 hearts) (3 hearts)

 

 

Publisher:      Kensington

Published:      January 26, 2021

ISBN:      978-1496731722

Genre:     Cozy Mystery 

Format:     Print from Publisher

Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina  myreviewbooks@aol.com

 

THREE HEARTS

 

 

 Odessa Jones, know to those closest to her as Dessa has had a run of sadness and with the scent of nutmeg in the air, it doesn’t seem like it will improve any time soon.  While most might find the scent of nutmeg appealing and portending something pleasant, for Dessa it smells out something unhappy.  Some, including her dear aunt Phoenix consider Dessa’s special skills a gift. For Dessa they mostly seem a burden.  You see, she senses when someone is going to have something awful, like death, befall on them.  After Darrell, her husband of all too few years, and the love of her life died about a year ago so many of her dreams fell away. Faced with having to support herself she got a job at Risko Realty.  Things at Risko aren’t the greatest and she’d gladly work somewhere else if she could find another job, but for now, it is what it is.  That is until she walks in one morning to the smell of nutmeg….her warning that something is about to go awry.  It’s not long after Charlie Risko, the owner of the company, is found dead in his office.  Things go from bad to worse when not one, but two more employees are found dead. Rather than bury her head in the sand…or real estate ads, Dessa decides to find the killer before yet another co-worker…or even worse, herself, are found dead.

 

Valerie Wilson Wesley kicks off her new series with A Glimmer of Death featuring Odessa Joes, a mature woman with psychic abilities she’d rather not have.  She’s an interesting character because of her unique skills and ability to do what needs to be done with only a little internal griping. Even though she doesn’t particularly like her co-workers, she is ready to step up to help them.  I never really warmed up to her or the other characters.  That may have been by design from the author – Dessa initially kept her distance from them and through the story she went from not wanting anything to do with them to caring for them.  If so, it’s a unique way to make readers feel part of the story.  I liked that she is a basic, down home, get the job done kind of person. She has her “dumb” moments of going somewhere she should know not to go, but relies on her own smarts to come out okay.

 

My favorite character was Jupiter. I always find having a cat or dog as part of a story makes for some fun aspects. And Parker, the bird, added a bit more, especially when Dessa brought him home.

 

I felt the reason for the initial murder could have played out a little better.  There were enough red herrings that, through Dessa, readers scope out the killer. There were points I felt the author wasn’t sure who she wanted the killer to be. 

 

I got a strong feel about the neighbourhoods that Dessa travels into, especially the ones that had fallen on hard times. I will say they are not neighbourhoods I would willingly move into, but they certainly added an element of danger to the story.

 

 

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

 

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Sunday, February 21, 2021

MURDER AT THE BEACON BAKESHOP by Darci Hannah

 

Publisher:      Kensington

Published:      February 23, 2021

ISBN:      978-1496731722Genre:     Cozy Mystery 

Format:     Print from Publisher

Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina  myreviewbooks@aol.com

 

FIVE HEARTS

 

 

After walking in on her fiancé with his assistant in a compromising position in his famed New York restaurant kitchen Lindsey Bakewell quit her high powered job and moved to Michigan where she bought a lighthouse.  Not just any lighthouse but the old, run down Beacon Point Lighthouse. Lindsey doesn’t see a crumbling structure.  What she sees is a chance to live out her dream of having a bakery where she can indulge in her passion for cooking.  As she sets about restoring the old lighthouse along with her loveable New Foundland, Wellington, she meets many of Beach Harbor’s townsfolk and quickly becomes a member of the community.  On the recommendation of her real estate agent and all around community cheerleader Betty, Lindsey hires Dylan who turns out to be an amazing baker and all around hard worker.  She also meets and begins to spend some significant time with her hunky neighbour, Rory Campbell.  Even the rumoured lighthouse ghost is on board with Lindsey being successful. Everything is moving along and looking toward a successful opening of the lighthouse bakery including the arrival of Lindsey’s best friend, Kennedy who is a major social media influencer.  When opening day dawns a crowd is ready to enjoy the tasty treats. But there is a fly in the ointment…Lindsey’s former fiancé and his current girlfriend, Mia, are also in the crowd and they aren’t there to celebrate Lindsey’s success. Mia immediately begins disrupting the celebration but within minutes of doing so she collapses, dead. Given Lindsey’s connection to the dead woman it doesn’t take the local police long to take aim at her as their number one suspect.  Not one to take things lying down, Lindsey begins to dig into just who killed Mia.

 

I read Darci Hannah several years ago, the Exile of Sarah Stevenson which also features a lighthouse.  As someone enthralled with lighthouses, traveling out to our nearby Point Reyes Lighthouse at least once a year just to admire its beauty, when I saw Hannah’s new series, the Beacon Bakeshop Mysteries, and that they feature a lighthouse I had to read it. Not only does the series center around a lighthouse—it has a hunky hero side kick, a loveable dog and a ghost!  Not only are the elements I just can’t resist, there are some fantastic characters that will hopefully continue to appear in the books as the series continues.

 

Hannah gives her readers a good mystery—who killed Mia and why? There are just enough red herrings and clues to who the killer is to keep you turning the pages without wanting to put the book down.  Her characters are all terrific…even slimy, ex-fiancé, Jeffrey, is enjoyable to read.  Rory Campbell is a dream hero—good looking, smart and loves dogs.  Cozies seem to have a rule that somewhere along the way there is a love triangle that usually shows up around books three or four. I can see the start of one in this series and hope it doesn’t deteriorate into that direction. In my book club if there is one thing that turns us off on different series is when that annoying love triangle shows up.

 

Lindsey’s friend Kennedy is a hoot. She lives in New York and loves that fast paced world but I hope we see more of her in future stories. Normally my favorite character in any book is when there is a dog or cat, especially if they add to the story but in this case, I have to say Lindsey is the best.  She’s smart, creative, practical and pragmatic. She’s the kind of character you wish was a real friend in your life.

 

With some recipes that seem simple to make as well as delish included this series is off to a great start and I can’t wait for book two.

 

 

 

 

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

 

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

THE FOREVER GIRL BY Jill Shalvis

 

A Wildstone Novel Book 6

January 12th, 2021

978-0-06-289785-5

Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Paperback ARC

Reviewed by Dawn (love2read28@gmail.com)

Obtained by Publisher

3.5 Hearts

 

Maze is returning to Wildstone for the wedding of her BFF, estranged sister of her heart and it will be the reunion of the group of friends she had there until a tragedy tore them apart and scattered them into the wind. Now, back together as adults, there are secrets and resentments struggling to come out into the open and everyone instantly reverts to their roles in the group: Maze was the leader, Cat was the den mother, Heather was the baby sister and Walker was their man of mystery. But life has given each of them hard knocks and as changed them all in some way as Maze and Cat must figure out if they can salvage their friendship or end it permanently and can Maze act on her attraction to Walker that never really went away? When can the past that needs healing tear them all apart or will it heal and become stronger? Family isn’t just blood but what you make of it.

 

THE FOREVER GIRL introduces the readers to four friends who scattered after a fall out that broke their once strong group into he winds. Maze is back in Wildstone for Catherine’s wedding and Cat is determined to heal her family from childhood. What IO love about Jill Shalvis’s books is how family and friendships play an important part within the story and the characters that revolve around that theme are so diverse and unique. I loved all the Wildstone books and I got to say this one just melted my heart more than once. The storyline flowed smoothly, and the characters just are spot on, beautifully written and leap off the pages. There is a bit of romance, yes but for the most part, the author centers on the family these four made with one another and how to heal those rifts that continue to cause them pain.

 

THE FOREVER GIRL is delightful, the characters really melted my heart and captured it and I got to say, the author does an amazing job capturing all these unique personalities within the book. They are all so different yet work so well together. They gave some depth to the story and kept it flowing smoothly. If you never read a Wildstone book, don’t worry as each book stands alone within the series and you won’t need to read the past books, but I do recommend you do as they all are delightful. If you love family, friendship and more then I highly recommend this series to you and in particular, THE FOREVER GIRL. I cannot wait to see where she goes next in the Wildstone series and look forward to more by this author.

 



This is an objective review and not an endorsement.

 

CHAPTER 1

Now

 

Text Box: You’ve got this, Cat told herself. But note to self: she so did not in fact have this. Her nerves had taken over—her own fault, of course. She’d done a thing. A big thing. And though her heart had been in the right place when she’d done that thing, butterflies were revolting in her gut, telling her she’d be the only one who’d see it that way. It was times like this that she missed Michael the most, because he would’ve been her ally in this, she was sure. Back then, even at half her height and weight, he’d been her shadow. The cutest shadow on the planet. Over time, she’d gotten used to being without him, but it’d never

gotten easier.

Twin piglet-like snorts distracted her, and she looked down at her fiancé’s “babies.” The pug brothers had huge buggy black eyes and little round bodies and vibrated like they needed their batter- ies changed. Roly was black and Poly tan, both with black faces, black curly tails, and little black feet.

They snorted at her until she gave in and scooped them up, one in each arm, having to smile at their smushed-in faces. “Okay, guys, listen up. We’ve got a lot to do today.” She took a good, hard look around the old cabin that had been in her family’s possession since the early 1900s. It sat right on Rainbow Lake, about twenty minutes outside of Wildstone, a small ranching community on California’s central coast. She had a lot of good memories here: visiting her grandparents, learning to swim . . . she’d even run away here a few times in her dramatic teens.

Her grandparents were gone, and her parents now lived in South Carolina, where both of them were college professors. They were thinking of selling this place, but had agreed to let her live here until her wedding. At least that was the official reason. The unofficial one was that she was losing her collective shit and had needed the safety net.

The problem was that there were still a few vital pieces missing from the puzzle of Caitlin’s life: the most important pieces, the corner pieces, the ones you couldn’t do without. And since Michael was an angel now—and damn, her heart still squeezed painfully every time she thought about him, which was a lot— she was really counting on the wedding to bring the other vital pieces back to her. Those pieces named Heather, Walker, and Maze.

The estrangement between them all felt like a huge, gaping hole. It’d started at Michael’s grave three years ago and had only gotten worse. Hence the thing she’d done.

No one was going to thank her. And it was entirely possible it would all blow up in her face. But she’d had to try. Just thinking about it had the butterflies in her belly escaping and taking flight in her nervous system, giving her the shakes. But that might have been the five cups of coffee she’d consumed. She set down the pugs, much to their snorting, squealing dis- pleasure, and got to it. Running around like a madwoman for the next few hours, she changed the sheets on the beds in the spare bedrooms, swept the wood floors, washed the towels so they’d smell fresh . . . all while fielding call after call from her boss, Sara.

Cat managed the Wildstone deli that Sara owned. Cat also made all the hot food, which was actually the only part of her job she enjoyed, because the deli itself was a nightmare. She’d taken three weeks off for the wedding, but Sara, who’d missed her calling as the passive-aggressive queen of the universe, had been in contact almost every day in the guise of needing something, while really just wanting Caitlin to know of her every little mistake or misstep.

So when her phone buzzed in her pocket yet again while Cat was folding clothes in the laundry room, she ignored it.

“Caitlin?” came Dillon’s voice. “Can you bring me my laptop?”

She transferred another load into the dryer, turned it on, blew a stray hair off her sweaty face, and poked her head out of the laundry room to find Dillon sitting on the couch in the living room, feet up on the coffee table, Roly and Poly curled up on his lap.

“Are you kidding me?”

He flashed her the charming smile that had caught both her attention and her heart a year ago. “Sorry,” he said. “But my ankle’s bothering me again. Do you mind?”

Hard to, when his twisted ankle was actually her fault. She’d seen a Cosmo post online titled “The Top Ten Ways to Spruce Up Your Sex Life.” Feeling ambitious, she’d gone with number one: “Seduce Your Man in the Shower.” What could she say? The illustrations had looked intriguing.

Turned out attempting intriguing things in the shower was dangerous.

Feeling guilty, she ran up the stairs and got his laptop, stopping to straighten out the mess he’d left on the desk. When she got back downstairs, he was standing at the front door with his golf bag slung over his shoulder.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Just got a call from Mom. Her golf date bailed and she needs me to do the back nine with her.”

“But your ankle.”

“We’ve got a cart.” He handed her the pugs.

Juggling the soft sausage loaves while trying to avoid the inevitable face kisses—a big no-thank-you, since they had a fondness for licking each other’s butts—she stared at Dillon. “You said that you’d be here to meet my family and have dinner with us.”

“Babe.” His face softened. “I’m your family. Me and my mom, and your parents.”

“You know that’s only technically true,” she protested. She and Heather and Walker and Maze might not be blood, but they were something even deeper. A self-made family, and yeah, okay, maybe it was a very dysfunctional one, but it felt more real than anything else in her life.

“Come on,” Dillon said, putting his hands on her hips and giving her a frustrated smile. “When’s the last time you heard from Maze or Heather”—he set a finger against her lips when she tried to speak—“where you didn’t contact them first. I mean, have they offered to help you with the wedding? They’re in it—you insisted on them over your local friends—so . . . where have they been?”

She could admit that he had a point. They hadn’t been together since their fight in front of Michael’s grave. Heather had vanished, just gone dark for a whole year before suddenly responding to Caitlin’s texts again as if nothing had happened. But she still hadn’t been back to Wildstone and wouldn’t give Caitlin much in- formation other than that she was okay and “working on things.” Whatever that meant.

Caitlin hadn’t seen Maze either, and not for a lack of trying. But they’d texted and had a few strained calls. And to give Maze credit, she always responded when Caitlin reached out, even with her busy life that was now in Santa Barbara, two hours south of Wildstone.

But Caitlin had, however, seen Walker. Sparingly, but he’d been gone on the job nearly nonstop the past three years. She missed him. She missed all of them and wanted them back together.

 And as the self-appointed bossy older sister of the fam, she was determined—and, okay, also slightly desperate—to make it hap- pen. And yeah, maybe, maybe, she’d rushed her wedding along, knowing it was the one thing that could bring her siblings of the heart back together. She couldn’t help herself. For whatever rea- son, the four of them had synced and melded into a core family that long-ago year, but they were losing each other, and that scared her. She’d already lost Michael; hell if she’d lose the others too. She needed this so badly she couldn’t even explain it to Dillon. But the truth was the last time she’d felt vibrantly alive had

been when they’d all been in her life, and she was just desperate enough to play with fate to make it happen.

Please stay, Dillon.”

He studied her face and sighed, his eyes lit with affection as he cupped her jaw. “I promised Mom, but I’ll get back asap. Take care of my babies?”

It was the best she was going to get, so she nodded. He brushed a nice, warm kiss across her lips, and then he was gone.

 

From THE FOREVER GIRL by Jill Shalvis, published by William Morrow. Copyright © 2021 by Jill Shalvis. Reprinted courtesy of HarperCollinsPublishers https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-forever-girl-jill-shalvis?variant=32218755694626