Have a Deadly New Year
by Lynn Cahoon
Today was a great day to read a novella—short and complete in one sitting. Lynn Cahoon’s Have a Deadly New Year found Angie Turner and her staff of chefs at The County Seat restaurant offsite at a combination catering event and retreat. After providing a fancy multi-course meal to kick off a famous band’s reunion, the chefs were looking forward to a week’s working vacation in the huge, glamorous mansion. Complications arise when one of the band leaders is murdered and no one can go anywhere. The house is in a remote area, a blizzard strikes, and they are mandated to stay until the police return from another emergency. Are they under lockdown with a murderer and who might it be?
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: This is a Farm to Fork novella. I love this series, and I normally find Lynn Cahoon’s books effective as standalones. I would not recommend it for this novella, however. It is just too short to comprehensively make all of the connections necessary for full enjoyment.
Publication: December 3, 2019—Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)
“I have a personal motto that it’s all about me.” “You’re the leading man in your own play.”
“I suppose you’ll be doing New Year’s resolutions during your week? Make sure they’re about you and not what others think you should do.”
“Negative energy never produces a positive outlook.”
I haven’t read any of these books, but I have trouble passing up a bargain. For several more days these books are available. Offer expires on April 24, 2020. According to my source, they don’t expire once you have downloaded them. They are translated into English from the original language. There is a link on Amazon’s page for those who are not in the U.S. If this applies to you, I hope you are in one of the countries listed.
Personal Update: 4/20/2020 When I got past the original excitement and my desire to share this opportunity with others, I actually looked at each book and scanned the reviews on Amazon. I only came away with three books that I think I will enjoy. The others for various reasons did not appeal to me or there were too many negative reviews regarding the interest level of the books. As with any offer, each one of you will probably find something you want to read, just not necessarily what appeals to me. I hope there is a treasure or two waiting for you.
Murder for Good
by Veronica Heley
As with other books in the Ellie Quicke Mystery Series, Veronica Heley’s Murder for Good is an excellent mystery and a fun read. This is a series that does not need to be read in order as it is so easy to pick up on the characters as critical information is provided contextually. I have only read a few from the series, but I was immediately reengaged with the likable Ellie Quicke, who chairs a charitable trust fund and her husband Thomas, a semi-retired clergyman with a strong personal sense of right and wrong.
Although the plot goes off in many interesting directions, it begins with two main threads. Thomas is receiving bequests from a number of people who have passed away, some of whom he doesn’t even know. Also Thomas offered the use of a third story suite in his home to Hetty, a down on her luck woman that misfortune seems to follow. What was supposed to be a temporary arrangement has been interpreted as permanent by their houseguest. A loud and intrusive person, and a bad cook to boot, Hetty is being very stubborn about leaving.
Life gets complicated and even dangerous for Thomas and Ellie. Will Thomas be accused of murdering the elderly souls who list him in their wills? Can Ellie be strong in dealing with Hetty and others who try to bend her mind to their way of thinking? Ellie’s determined daughter Diana is caught in the middle of personal, health, and financial issues. Will Diana go so far as to accuse Ellie of murder when Ellie won’t agree to use trust funds to rescue her?
This was a fast and enjoyable read, mostly because of my desire to discover what would happen next. I knew who was behind the shenanigans long before the end of the book, but was unsure, as was Ellie, of just how far the culpability extended. Murder for Good left me satisfied with this story, but eager for another in the series.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #19 in the Ellie Quicke Mystery Series, but can be read as a standalone
Publication: December 2, 2019—Severn House
Oh dear! Ellie knew that ring. Her daughter Diana always rang the bell as if the Hounds of Hell were on her heels. Ellie hastened to open the front door, and yes, it was Diana.
She didn’t want to go in for proper dieting. Yes, it would be good to go down a dress size but she believed in moderation in all things. Well, most things, anyway. And if she wanted to binge on a chocolate orange every now and then, well, that was her concern and no one else needed to know about it.
…but am I personally up to dealing with such a huge responsibility? Dear Lord, grant me the wisdom to decide how to handle this. Oh, and the strength to stick to my decisions.
The Oceans Between Us
by Gill Thompson
A very good storyteller, Gill Thompson discovered a story that needed to be told and related in such a way that it reached past the bare facts. In The Oceans Between Us, she has done just that.
I was pulled into the story relating to each of the characters as we explored them and their part in making history. Molly and Jack are British mom and son separated when a wartime bomb is detonated destroying their home. They end up oceans apart and although the thread flowing through the book is their longing for each other, their lives continue on with highs and lows. Other themes are institutional abuse and racial discrimination. Those are hard and cold terms that come alive as we watch them played out in this story. The events are a part of history I was unaware of. You’ll want to read this book to see one author’s view of how it may have played out on a personal level and discover if justice was actually ever served.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Headline for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Historical Fiction
Publication: March 21, 2019—Headline
Everything seemed out of kilter. Like when she’d tried for hours to do a jigsaw here at Warlingham, only to realize half the pieces came from another set.
Jack was a frozen child, forever trapped in her mind in his five-year-old body. Molly could no more imagine him at eighteen than she could fly.
But the lawyer in him resisted the child. He couldn’t risk his career before it had started. Bindoon had given him brawn but it hadn’t robbed him of a brain. Besides, you didn’t fight violence with violence. You fought it with cunning.
The Confession Club
by Elizabeth Berg
As a group of women, representative of all ages, convene each week, we get a glimpse into their pasts and their presents, their hopes and dreams for the future. The members of the Confession Club eat, drink, talk, laugh, and cry as they share their most secret moments with each other. There is joy and also an underlying sadness as we experience poignant moments of human desires and frailties. The meetings tie together the characters; but their stories extend into other chapters, and their lives overlap outside the club and with others who are not a part of the group.
My favorite characters are Iris, who teaches a baking class, and Maddy, Iris’ landlady. I also enjoyed Maddy’s daughter, Nola, a precocious seven year old with an insatiable appetite for learning, life, and fun. Although unstated, a current flows through the book pointing to the concern that everyone is going through something. The characters are realistically portrayed with frailties and strengths that make you want to know them. The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg is a quick read with a tale that draws you in and keeps you coming back. Berg is a master of both storytelling and language, This is the third book I have read by her, and it just makes me want to return to the well of literary magic found in her writing.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Random House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: General Fiction (Adult)
Notes: Though I wouldn’t officially consider this a series, there are characters and references in it that originate in The Story of Arthur Truluv and Night of Miracles. It is certainly not necessary to read either to enjoy The Confession Club.
Publication: November 19, 2019—Random House
“They’re snobby. The displays are so fancy you don’t feel you can touch them. You stand in front of the cheeses and it’s like they’re whispering to one another about you, in French.”
The filing of citizenry out from coffee shops always reminds Iris of cattle coming out of a barn in the morning, in their slow, blinking line. Not the most flattering of images, but for her, it’s calming, suggesting a kind of optimism about at least one thing in the world. A new day. A new start.
She envies Nola for the way she is always in a rush to do everything, the way she rises so quickly to the possibility of joy. Most of all, she envies Nola her default setting of goodwill toward man, beast, or weather.
Frozen Stiff Drink
by James J. Cudney
Both clues and motives for murder abound in Frozen Stiff Drink, the latest addition to James J. Cudney’s Braxton Campus Mystery Series. With each book, I think the plot threads can’t get more tangled than in the previous books, but they do! With a cast of characters that will intrigue you, draw you in, and evoke strong reactions, this cozy mystery will provide you with all the distraction you need during this time of shelter in place.
Kellan has a history of finding dead bodies since he returned to Wharton County; but his girlfriend, Sheriff April Montague, has finally begun to accept that he doesn’t go looking for trouble. With the series’ usual large number of characters, this book holds a challenge when trying to sort through the many relationships, but the author helps out with a list of characters including their connections to other characters.
I enjoyed Frozen Stiff Drink all the way to the conclusion where my jaw dropped as the many plot threads were resolved, and several new issues dramatically appeared beckoning me into delightful anticipation of the next installment in the series.
I would like to extend my thanks to author James J. Cudney and to Gumshoe (Next Chapter) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #6 in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series—could be read as a standalone, but the reader would need to be ready to work a little at sorting characters and absorbing backgrounds.
Publication: March 18, 2019—Gumshoe (Next Chapter)
Constance’s frightening premonition cracked holes in the perimeter of my skull like a determined woodpecker in search of its next meal.
“That girl is as useless as a pair of chopsticks scooping pebbles in a bowl of soup while riding a scooter on a high wire.”
“I am not the bread bowl. I am the dessert. The last thing you want and the only thing you need. The part you will remember for the rest of the night.”