Wednesday, May 9, 2018

What Should Be Wild
by Julia Fine

Whatever she touches dies. If she touches it again, she can bring it back.  Maisie Cothay has grown up knowing this.  She killed her mother, after all.  She can feel the pull of the forest, the cursed forest into which a few women have disappeared throughout history.   What is the curse of this forest?  Why is her father so worried about her journeying into it? As Maisie grows into a young woman, she decides she can make decisions and finds herself on a quest that could put everyone she has grown to love into serious jeopardy, including herself.

Fine’s debut is dark and mystical.  It begins slowly as the author lays out the foundation of the story and before you realize it the story has buried its roots into you and you cannot put it down or look away from Maisie’s journey.  Teen fans of Alice Hoffman will gladly sink within the pages of this mythical adventure.  Fine has woven romance and a touch of the mystic into a tale of a young woman reaching out to break the bonds of childhood to become her own woman. #harpercollins  #whatshouldbewild  #juliafine

I wish to thank the generosity of the publisher for providing an advanced reader’s copy for my approval.

PUB:  Harper, HarperCollins
PUB DATE:  May 8, 2018
ISBN:  9780062684132

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Fantasy

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Beyond the Pale
by Clare O’Donohue

Hollis and Finn are professors married for ten years who have settled comfortably into their routine.  At least Finn thinks, so.  Hollis, on the other hand, is beginning to feel antsy, a need to roam.  When she is approached by a former beau, who is now CIA, to acquire a manuscript believed to be counterfeit, Hollis’s past comes in handy as she pushes her husband to step outside the box and help her out.  As they embark on their little jaunt to Ireland, it quickly becomes evident they might be in over their head and who the ‘good guys’ are is murky at best.

This is a smooth, gentle read that is easy to follow and not stressful at all.  NOT!  It moves along at a steady pace but O”Donohue constantly throws loops and curves at you.  You don’t know who to trust and just as you begin to feel comfortable and think you have figured it out, she tosses you to the wolves.  Good story and a fun read.  I look forward to more adventures with Hollis and Finn.

I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Readers Copy for my honest review.

PUB:  Midnight Ink
PUB DATE:  May 8, 2018
ISBN:  9780738756509

Genre:  Mystery/Thriller

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Chief Inspector Gamache Series
by Louise Penny
Audio Version

I don’t often choose books that deal with contemporary issues.  I’m not a ‘ripped from the headlines’ reader.  If I wanted to read about those issues, I would read them in the newspaper.  I’m finding, however, if I get vested in the characters and the author doesn’t dwell too heavily on the dark themes, I can get involved in the books.  If the author creates characters that are relatable and I can connect with them, I will stick with them.  I don’t like a main protagonist that is darker than the story its self.  Don’t give me a divorced, alcoholic, drug dazed protagonist. 

I hesitantly began the Chief Inspector Gamache novels by Louise Penny.  The stories often take place or involve the residents of the small, hidden community of Three Pines located an hour outside Montreal.  If I could, I would move to this fictional community.  I would love to sit in front of the fire at the Bistro and have Gabri or Olivier bring me a cocktail while I read a book I picked up at Myrna’s used bookstore. To overhear the conversation at the next table between Ruth and Clara and try not laugh out loud when Ruth loudly renders her opinion. 

Then we have the Chief Inspector of the Suerté-du-Quebec himself, Armand Gamache.  Calm, steady and quick with the wit, he is a rock to his team.  His second in command, Jean-Guy (pronounced Sean-Gee) Beauvoir who is quick to emotion but would follow Armand into the fire if necessary.  Also key to these novels are Armand’s wife, Reine-Marie (pronounced Ren-Marie), and their adult children.  Throughout there are other characters that you will follow through the natural progression of rising through the ranks at the Suerté-du-Quebec.

Ralph Cosham has been the primary narrator of the audios of this series.  He brings Gamache’s calm presence and dry wit to the surface. Each character is given a distinctive personality and you have no problem with conversations between them.  This talent has allowed me to become vested in the characters.  The added plus is an authentic pronunciation of the French names of people and places. 

In an interview, Penny stated she didn’t see her series as cozy mysteries.  Granted, cozy mysteries, as a rule, don’t have so much meat within their pages.  I have to agree and disagree with her.  The cozy mysteries I read and continue to the next installment are ones that I’m reading because of the author and the characters.  Her themes are gritty and deal with nasty people but I continue to read them because I feel as if I am catching up with old friends. 

Penny is one of those authors who is not afraid to throw her characters into the fray.  After completing one such novel, I had to call a friend who had read the books and scream and rant for a quarter of an hour just to get over the ending of that one.  There have been scenes that drew me to tears.  Not because of a terrible scene but because it was so sweet. 

Pick up a couple or better yet, listen to the audios.   I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Books Published by Minotaur
Audios Produced by Macmillan Audio

1.   Still Life (2005)
2.  Dead Cold aka A Fatal Grace (2006)
3.  The Crueliest Month (2007)
4.  The Murder Stone aka A Rule Against Murder (2008)
5.  The Brutal Telling (2009)
6.  Bury Your Dead (2010)
7.  A Trick of the Light (2011)
8.  The Beautiful Mystery (2012)
9.  How the Light Gets In (2013)
10. The Long Way Home (2014)
11.  The Nature of the Beast (2015)
12.  A Great Reckoning (2016)
13.  Glass Houses (2017)
14.  Kingdom of the Blind (2018)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Murder in the Locked Library
by Ellery James

As the construction finally begins for the upscale spa Jane Steward has wanted to add to Storyton Hall, her hopes are put on indefinite hold when her twin boys notice a skull dangling precariously from the backhoe’s bucket.   The timing of this discovery couldn’t be worse as participants for the Rare Book Conference will be checking in before the day is finished.  As it turns out, the conference is fortuitous when the discovery of a rare, historical book is discovered with the body.  Jane invites one of the participants to help with the investigation into the history and origin of the book but soon realizes her mistake when he ends up dead.

This is the fourth installment of the Book Retreat series.  The storyline is original and the main characters are easy to engage.  I enjoyed the overall mystery that James has laid out, however, there are references to characters within the storyline that are not covered with a backstory.  For a reader who is new to the series, I would advise you to pick up the first book before reading this.  I believe it would make the events within this volume clearer and help define the background and history of Storyton Hall and its inhabitants.  It is stated that Jane and her ‘employees’ are part of something bigger and very important, but it isn’t explained.   #MurderinTheLockedLibrary #netgalley

I wish to thank the generosity of the publisher and NetGalley for providing an advanced reader copy for my honest review.

PUB:  Kensington Publishing
PUB DATE:  April 24, 2018
ISBN:  9781496715630

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Suitors and Sabotage
by Cynthia Ann Antsey

Imogene’s father has strongly suggested she get acquainted with Mr. Ernest Steeple, as he finds the young man perfect for her.  However, as the week unfolds, Imogene finds herself more drawn to Ernest’s brother, Benjamin.  Things are complicated further when it becomes apparent that someone means to harm Benjamin. 

Fans of light romantic tension will relish Antsey’s story.  Teens who enjoy the drama of the first romantic encounter and mistaken romantic intentions within a historical back drop will rejoice.  Readers will cherish their ability to make their own decisions as Imogene is locked within the expectations and inherent acceptance of the behaviors of young ladies and gentlemen of polite society.  You realize that helicopter parenting is not something new and teens will identify with Imogene’s struggles. 

I wish to thank #netgalley and the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Readers Copy for my honest review.

PUB:  Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan Publishing
PUB DATE:  April 17, 2018
ISBN:  9781250145659

Genre:  Historical Romance/Young Adult

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bad Neighbors: An Agnes and Effie Mystery
by Maia Chance

Rebounding from being dumped by her ex-fiancé, Agnes is beginning to feel at home again in Naneda. Sort of.   She’s been dating the good looking, love of her life, Oits Hatch and the romance was moving right along.  Sort of.  She’s also been helping her great aunt Effie renovate the historical Stagecoach Inn that was beginning to look respectable.  Sort of.  They weren’t ready for guests but when they receive a call that a tour bus full of leaf peepers has broken down, they are asked to take in a few tourists that need a roof over their heads.  Agnes reluctantly agrees to go pick up the stranded tourists only to arrive just in time to see her beloved Otis being helped into a police cruiser.  In hand cuffs, no less!  She soon learns the body of Hatch Automotive employee, Mikey Brown was discovered with his head bashed in and Otis is their numero uno suspect. As the leaves unfold in all their glory, Agnes and her Aunt Effie start their own investigation, eagerly assisted by their stranded tourists. 

The adventures of Agnes and her Aunt Effie are even better in this second installment of the Agnes and Effie mystery series.  I really enjoy books that give you a good story and great entertainment without taking itself too seriously.  You root for the good guys and curl your lip at the snarky ones.   Readers who enjoy their stories laced with a little push-pull of romance will enjoy the angst and self-doubt that is Agnes’s life.  And how can I not bring up Chester?  We all have a cousin like Chester or we want one.  Our friends are glad we don’t. Love him.  Chance delivers an overall good book that makes us all a little glad we don’t have an Aunt Effie in our lives.  But then again.  .  . 

I wish to thank #netgalley and the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Readers Copy for my honest review.

PUB:  Crooked Lane Books
PUB DATE:  April 10, 2018
ISBN:  9781683315414

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Lord of the Pies: A Palace Chef Mystery
by Nell Hampton

This is the second in Hampton’s Palace Chef series and it is just as satisfying as the first.  At least Chef Carrie Ann, personal chef to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, doesn’t have a body in the royal garden this time, just her lemon pie.  Face down in her lemon pie.  The pie is left over from a bridal shower she catered for a school friend of the Duchess that happens to be the sister of Carrie Ann’s best friend.

Hampton’s knowledge of the workings within Kensington Palace gives you a realistic peek behind the scenes.  Her continued rendering of the egos of the different chefs is fun and adds to the ongoing story.  Everyone loves the drama!  Hampton’s recurring characters are easy to like and you want to meet.  At least those who are friendly.   The prickly ones make you glad you don’t have to work with them.  The recipes at the end sound good.  I would like to see more included.  (I’m not a pie person.  Cookies perhaps?)

I wish to thank #netgalley and the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Readers Copy for my honest review.

PUB:  Crooked Lane Books
PUB DATE:  April 10, 2018
ISBN:  97816813315599

Genre:  Cozy Mystery