Back to McGuffey’s
by Liz Flaherty
From Harlequin’s Heartwarming books comes Back to McGuffey’s by Liz Flaherty. This was my first in this genre of books, and it lived up to expectations. If you are interested in a steamy romance where the characters jump from shaking hands to bouncing in the bed, you will be disappointed. If, however, you want to focus on relationships and emotional needs, then Back to McGuffey’s fits the bill.
Kate Rafael is in her late thirties and hears her biological clock ticking. Ben McGuffey, having broken up with Kate, his longtime sweetheart, thirteen years earlier, still has feelings for her. Kate has lost both her house (to a fire) and her job. She is caught at a crossroads as she want to find a direction she can be passionate about. By the end of the book you will feel like you know the McGuffey family intimately, maybe wishing you could be a part of the Irish-rooted clan and their pub.
The characters are well-developed and interesting. I especially enjoyed the side story of Jayson, a young man with Down syndrome being cared for by his sister and the impact he has on others in the book. Another character whose story is gradually revealed is Mrs. Hylton-Wise, a harsh woman, secretive about her past.
I liked the book and was prepared to rate it as a four star book. I was so impressed, however, with the surprise ending that my rating jumped to five stars. After providing an adrenaline rush, the author wraps things up nicely for the McGuffeys and for the reader.
I would like to extend my thanks to blogger Laurie at cozynookbks.wordpress.com, author Liz Flaherty, and Harlequin for providing this book to me in a giveaway with no expectations at all.
Kate joined her, feeling useless—this woman was crying and there was nothing she could do but listen to the splintery sound of heartbreak.
He was hard on one’s patience. But he was loving and kind and he felt things with every bit as much intensity as someone who didn’t have Down syndrome.
The question caught him unaware, a condition he thought he might as well get used to because it was happening all the time.
Chardonnayed to Rest
by J. C. Eaton
Chardonnayed to Rest is a fun, cozy mystery authored by the husband and wife team that goes by the name J.C. Eaton. It features wineries in Penn Yan, New York. The winery owners there support each other and collaborate on various projects such as the Federweisser celebration which is slated this year to be held at the Two Witches Winery. Norrie, a successful screenwriter is maintaining her career while taking over supervision of the family winery for a year for her sister who is hunting an elusive bug in Costa Rica. With an experienced staff, what could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, a murder occurs at the winery across from Two Witches.
Norrie does some unofficial sleuthing with friends Don and Theo of the Grey Egret winery. Along the way she meets a handsome lawyer and a likable entomologist. There are also some attempts on Norrie’s life. Someone is arrested for the murder, but Norrie is convinced that they have the wrong person, and she is determined to prove it.
Chardonnayed to Rest moves quickly and has lots of suspects and a resolution I didn’t see coming. Some parts were amusing and some caught me laughing out loud. I can’t wait to see what adventures await Norrie in the next book in the Wine Trail Mysteries.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: # 2 in the Wine Trail Mystery Series, but works as a standalone. There may be a few references to characters who are not actually a part of this book, but that will in no way hinder your enjoyment of or understanding of this book.
Publication: September 25, 2018—Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)
Rosalee had told me Marilyn was somewhat of a drama queen, but she seemed to have reached full empress status by the time she placed the call to my number.
If my mouth opened any wider, every insect in the county would’ve had a new home.
I was no stranger to good-looking guys, but the minute my eyes landed on Bradley Jamison, it was as if all the other men I’d ever seen were reduced to toads. That was how gorgeous this guy was. Sandy blond hair, cobalt blue eyes that matched his tie, and a physique that could put Chuck Norris to shame.
The Escape Artists
by Neal Bascomb
War is such a horrible thing—vicious, destructive, and despicable. It brings out the worst and the best in man. We see both in Neal Bascomb’s true recounting of the largest escape of WWI by the British at one time—twenty-nine officers of whom ten actually made it out of Germany to Holland without being recaptured.
Bascomb’s well-researched tale The Escape Artists is divided into four major sections. In the first, “Capture,” he provides a glimpse into the personalities and lives of some of the major players in the escape, their role in the military, and the circumstances of their capture.
The second section, “All Roads Lead to Hellminden,” describes a number of interment camps but focuses especially on notorious twin commandants, Karl and Heinrich Niemeyer. Both prisoners and commandants could be transferred at whim in Germany and being transferred could be positive or negative for a prisoner. This section details life in the camp and shows a better situation for officers than that experienced by enlisted soldiers who were put in labor camps. Officers, instilled with the patriotic drive to do whatever they could to hinder the enemy and return home to fight again, spent a lot of their energy devising and executing escape plans. If their attempts were unsuccessful or they were recaptured, the punishment was generally a long and uncomfortable time in a small isolation cell—dark, very hot or very cold, dirty, overrun with vermin, and little food. This trial on the body, mind, and spirit might last several days, weeks or months. Nevertheless, instead of deterring escape attempts, it prodded the officers into yet more clever tries.
“The Tunnel” describes the huge group effort spearheaded by an officer named Gray to construct a very long tunnel and plan how to proceed once outside the walls of Holzminden. All of the background material in the first two sections was essential, but at this point the story really takes off and you will want to keep reading until finished. The last section. “Breakout,” shares the actual escape attempt.
To write this book, Bascomb read a lot of books on the escape and the interment camps, interviewed descendants of the officers, and relied greatly on primary documents including memoirs and letters from the time. His narrative style is effective and the subject matter is interesting. Having read several books on labor and death camps, it was interesting to read about the British officers, drawn from all over the globe. Many of them were young pilots from exclusive schools and families. They had little training, but were very patriotic and had a honed sense of duty and honor. One surprising detail for me was that the imprisoned officers were able to write to their families and receive packages and money from them. Not everything went smoothly in that process, but they were better off than those in labor camps. They even had orderlies from the enlisted ranks of prisoners to make their beds, etc. This was not a luxury situation by any means, and the men were quite bored and frustrated whiling away time when they felt they should be fighting.
Neal Bascomb is a former journalist who turned to writing nonfiction books full-time in 2000. He is the award winning author of nine books for adults and three for young adults.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Publication: September 18, 2018—Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The greatest resistance of all would be to escape.
None of the diplomats gathered in The Hague in 1899 or 1907 could have anticipated the vast populations of prisoners that would come out of industrialized total war—nor the challenges this would involve. In the first six months of World War I, 1.3 million soldiers became POWs across Europe.
The arrival in December of Harold Medlicott had bolstered the mood throughout the camp. The officers believed that if anybody could escape Holzminden and humiliate Karl Niemeyer, it was Medlicott. A legend even to the German guards, he had broken out of nine camps already, never using the same method twice.
Harvey might not get another chance to escape, but in aiding Cartwright, as in countless other efforts to help his fellow prisoners, he found freedom within. In his own way, he was a breakout artist.
Dark Tide Rising
by Anne Perry
I know that Anne Perry is a celebrated author with two main series and many other books to her credit. Therefore, I was really looking forward to reading this work of historical fiction, a genre I have come to enjoy recently. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. A lot of Dark Tide Rising centers around a betrayal that is central to understanding the kidnapping and murder of Kate Exeter. When I say “a lot,” I mean Perry belabors the points to the extent of redundancy. Also, I figured out the identity and motive of the murderer early on in the book. The last courtroom scene of the book is interesting as it establishes proof of the murderer and motives for the actions of some of the minor characters. Another overly emphasized point is that Monk’s wife Hester served with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War. Although Nightingale has long had my admiration, I do not think any and every association with her needs to be touted as proof of a woman’s fortitude. On a positive note, I did enjoy learning about the Thames River Police.
Although I was anxious to bring this book to a close, I am open to reading another by this author. I want to determine if the problem is this particular book or if Perry’s books are just not a good fit for me.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Random House (Ballantine) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Notes: #24 in the Monk series, but works as a standalone
Publication: September 18, 2018—Random House (Ballantine)
Monk himself ached in every bone, but how much was bruising and minor cuts, and how much the torture of utter failure, he did not yet know.
And what other secrets would the search lay bare? Perhaps it was selfish in the face of such grief to think of personal fears, not yet realized, but he could not discard them. When he lay alone and silent in the dark, there was nothing to hold them at bay.
by Annette Dashofy
Readers get to ride along briefly with Zoe Chambers as she completes her nonstop shift as a Monongahela County EMS paramedic responding to a machete attack. As interesting as that is, it only gets more so as the characters involved are soon also identified as part of murder scenarios. In Cry Wolf, Annette Dashofy continues the personal tale of Zoe and her boyfriend, Pete Adams, who is Vance Township’s Chief of Police. The network expands to include Harry, Pete’s father with Alzheimer’s and Jason Cox, Zoe’s newly discovered half-brother.
Zoe’s boss is hospitalized, and she has to take over his coroner’s duties putting her closer to the investigation of both murders. Meanwhile the folks at Golden Oaks retirement home help out with the sleuthing, and Pete tries to come to grips with this newly found family relationship of Zoe’s. Vance’s small police force is currently undermanned due to a young officer’s reluctance to serve after his first police shooting results in a death.
Cry Wolf has a complicated plot with lots of interwoven threads and action scenes and a little humor thrown in. The characters are interesting and well-developed. This is a book you won’t want to put down until its surprise ending and satisfactory conclusion.
I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #7 in the Zoe Chambers Mystery Series, but the author does a great job of bringing the reader up to speed on the characters.
Publication: September 18, 2018—Henery Press
“Kristopher was livid. He has a very clear picture of how he wants his life to be. When anyone or anything interferes with that vision, he throws a temper tantrum to rival most two-year-olds.”
Zoe wondered what her dad would have been like in old age. On one hand, she’d been spared watching time and illness ravage his mind and body. On the other, she’d give just about anything to have him in her life, no matter what shape he’d be in.
Life on the Leash
by Victoria Schade
If you want a fun, relaxing novel, try Victoria Schade’s Life on the Leash—especially if you like dogs and chick lit. Schade is an animal trainer, and Life on the Leash is her first novel. Her main character, Cora, left the corporate world to do what she loves—teach pet parents how to train their dogs in a loving fashion. Her clientele in Georgetown can afford her services, and she can afford to be choosy.
Cora tries to be professional in all of her sessions, but that is hard to do with flirtatious Charlie whose girlfriend is out of town. Complete this love triangle with Eli, the slightly geeky boy-next-door who works for one of her clients. Cora toys around with the idea of her own dog training show in opposition to one hosted by Doggie Dictator Boris Ershovich who claims to “fix” dogs through his harsh methods.
Life on the Leash made a light-hearted read in the wake of several suspense novels. I found myself chuckling at some of the characters’ antics, gasping at a few unwise decisions, and sympathizing with Cora’s pet friendly stances. I found myself wishing that a few of her tips and tricks could have been explained thoroughly, perhaps in an addendum so as not to interrupt the story.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Women’s Fiction
Notes: Expletives are sprinkled throughout the book.
Publication: September 18, 2018—Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster)