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Professional Reader 80% Reviews Published 2016 NetGalley Challenge 25 Book Reviews

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Lover Come Hack–mad for mod

Lover Come Hack

by Diane Vallere

Lover Come HackI am not particularly interested in fashion, interior design, or retro looks from the 50’s, but that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying Diane Vallere’s Lover Come Hack which features Madison Night, an interior decorator who channels Doris Day. Buying up estates to increase her inventory of vintage clothing for herself and furniture, appliances, and knick knacks for her clients, Madison creates original and fun interiors for a certain niche of mid-century aficionados through her business Mad for Mod.

The irony of this story is that as Madison is increasingly becoming twenty-first century digital, the high tech world is about to do her in.  She finds herself juggling two boyfriends, figuratively stabbed in the back by a good friend and colleague, under investigation for murder, and competing in a design competition. The action and complications in Lover Come Hack just keep coming. The characters are interesting and will keep the reader guessing as to motivations and psychological frame of mind. The ending is a surprise, but believable. Just be ready to rent a few Doris Day movies in the aftermath of your immersion into a 50’s culture in a 21st century setting.

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.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #6 in the Madison Night Mystery Series. This is my first in this series, but worked well for me as a standalone.

Publication:  October 30, 2018—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

As I drove home, I couldn’t help feeling like an untethered balloon. I didn’t lack direction, but the changing winds of today’s events had scrambled my emotions.

The recent rains had let up indefinitely, replaced by a post-storm glow. It was as pretty a day as any I’d experienced recently, with the exception of the black cloud over my head.

…it was far more powerful to know the truth than to live in the shadows of lies and willful ignorance.

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Deadly News–small town editor with big city roots

Deadly News

by Jody Holford

Deadly NewsIn Deadly News, the start of a new series by Jody Holford, Molly Owens accepts the editor’s job at the Britton Bay Bulletin. Owner Alan introduces her to the staff: old-timer Vernon with an insulting attitude and nothing good to say, reserved and polite Elizabeth, lecherous Clay, and enthusiastic intern Hannah. It is immediately obvious that it will take some time to fit in, but Molly is determined.

One of the staff members is murdered and Molly feels responsible. She also thinks it is important to follow up on that reporter’s last assignment. The waters get muddied quickly as Molly follows various leads, and someone in town makes it clear she is not welcome there.

The characters are interesting, and the mystery provides a challenging puzzle to solve. Romance is thrown into the mix in the form of Sam, whose dazzling smile attracts lots of attention. There is even a cute stray dog who plays an important role in directing Molly to a clue. Molly is likable and you’ll want to see her succeed in her job…and in staying alive.

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.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #1 in the Britton Bay Mystery Series

Publication:   October 30, 2018—Kensington Press (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

Word of mouth was the fastest form of communication in any place with less than a dozen stoplights.

Sam’s smile made her feel like she’d just snuggled into a warm jacket on a cold day.

“We should do something fun this weekend. Do you like to camp?” Molly scrunched her nose up. “Only when I’m pretending I can’t afford a night in a hotel.”

Yeast of Eden–secrets in Wildwood cove

Yeast of Eden

by Sarah Fox

Yeast of EdenThe Flip Side is Wildwood Cove’s favorite place for breakfast with hours extending until 2:00 PM. Now Waffle Kingdom, owned by obnoxious former resident Wally, is opening up to challenge that position. Owner Marley is determined to keep that from happening by continuing great, friendly service and delicious, creative dishes. Marley doesn’t worry for long as she discovers Wally’s body in his restaurant and her own chef there as well. Certain that Chef Ivan, although formidable, is not a murderer, Marley sets out to prove his innocence by finding out who really killed Wally.

Yeast of Eden by Sarah Fox also contains an interesting subplot in the form of a local town mystery: the story of two dead young women and a missing mayor’s son. Marley, who obviously is addicted to amateur sleuthing, determines to solve this cold case as well.

Readers will enjoy following Marley as she pursues various leads in both cases while getting to know various interesting townsfolk who populate Wildwood Cove. There are a lot of people with strong motivations as no one actually likes Wally. After a second death, you have to wonder if Marley will discover the killer before there are even more victims.

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.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: # 4 in the Pancake House Mystery Series but works well as a standalone. She has included some yummy recipes in the back.

Publication:   October 30, 2018—Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)

Memorable Lines:

“My eyes are more dull gray than blue.” His arms snaked around my waist from behind and he kissed the side of my neck. “There’s nothing dull about them. They’re like the ocean. Sometimes stormy gray, sometimes blue, and always full of depth.”

Back Stabbers–families, investments, and murder

Back Stabbers

by Julie Mulhern

Back StabbersIf you are part of the Country Club set in Kansas City, Missouri, in the 1970’s, certain things are expected of you—the right clothes, the right committees, and the right friends. In Ellison Russell’s case, expectations are that she will find yet another dead body. Ellison really doesn’t want to be involved in murder investigations. She wants a simple life with her teenage daughter Grace, her art work, her country club friends, and her blossoming romance with Detective Anarchy Jones. Between being in the wrong place at the wrong time and having friends who expect her to help when they have a crisis (especially of the criminal type), Ellison’s life is anything but simple and uncomplicated.

When she discovers her investment advisor murdered in a compromising position and in an office where secretaries are treated like sex objects, Ellison is drawn into an investigation in which this is just the first of several crimes to be discovered. As always in the Country Club Murder series, Back Stabbers is set in shades of harvest gold and avocado with shag rugs making an appearance.  Mr. Coffee with his liquid ambrosia makes multiple appearances.

Ellison’s half-sister Karma (from the “wrong side of the blankets”) pays a visit to meet her sister, and they have more in common than they would have thought. Lots of other interesting characters populate this book. The plot has humor, multiple threads, and a surprise ending. Fans of Julie Mulhern’s cozy mysteries will not be disappointed.

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.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes:  1. #8 in the Country Club Murders. It will work as a standalone, but is perhaps more enjoyable with nuances provided by more background.

  2. A minor criticism for one of my favorite cozy mystery writers: the humorous Mr. Coffee references were overdone in this book. I’m not suggesting they be deleted entirely, just that there should be fewer of them.

Publication:  October 23, 2018—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

The squirrels stopped their chittering and stared at me. A robin leveled a most serious gaze my way. The other birds (there were many) silenced their tweeting. It was as if I was Snow White, the envelope was a poisoned apple, and the park animals were telling me not to bite.

If Mr. Coffee had a fault, it was that he couldn’t steam milk. Not that I’d ever tell him such a thing. I wouldn’t hurt his feelings for all the steamed milk in the world.

“Daddy, this is a really bad idea.” It was an epically terrible, bring-about-the-apocalypse bad idea. Rivers would run backward. The locusts would descend. Mother’s face would melt.

FREE Download: Academic Curveball (1st in Braxton Campus Mystery Series)

All TREAT and no TRICK for readers–Free ebook (10/30-11/1)–it’s an awesome cozy mystery, the first in a new series.

This Is My Truth Now

Academic Curveball, the first book in my new series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, is FREE for 5 days from 10/30 thru 11/3. You can buy the Kindle e-read version via Amazon @ http://mybook.to/ACurveball — SHARE everywhere you can to help promote the book.

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Book 2, Broken Heart Attack, is currently with the publisher for final review and will launch in December 2018. You won’t have to wait long to find out what happens in this cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic and nosy residents.
Overview / Description:
 
When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and…

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The Christmas Prayer–Christmas surprises

The Christmas Prayer

by Wanda E. Brunstetter

The Christmas PrayerWanda Brunstetter has a little gift for readers in her sweet novella The Christmas Prayer. Departing from her usual Amish fare, Brunstetter creates a tale of three families headed west in a tiny wagon train over the Sierra Nevada mountains with a goal of California: a businessman with his fiancé and her mother, a capable blacksmith in search of gold, and a widower traveling with two young children traumatized by the death of their mother.

Given the length of the book, there is not much opportunity for either plot or character development. The ending is predictable, but overall the novella is a nice addition to the genre of Christian historical fiction.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Barbour Publishing (Shiloh Run Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Christian, Historical Fiction

Notes: novella

Publication:  September 1, 2018— Barbour Publishing (Shiloh Run Press)

Memorable Lines:

Is it always going to be this way—Walter treating me like a piece of property and acting like he owns me?

Despite their situation, it seemed that God was intervening, giving hope each time they felt defeated.

She didn’t want anything to spoil the day—something she knew Walter was capable of doing in just a matter of seconds.

Love Life Again: Finding Joy When Life is Hard

Love Life Again: Finding Joy When Life is Hard

by Tracie Miles

Love Life AgainI can’t think of anyone who hasn’t encountered some difficult circumstance or season in their life. In Love Life Again: Finding Joy When Life is Hard, Tracie Miles offers a different perspective on life for the person struggling. She walks the reader through many aspects of looking to enjoy the life you have even if it is not the life you hoped for. This is not a list of tips and tricks, although each chapter does end with a challenge, questions to reflect on, an action item, a prayer, and an invitation to smile.

Tracie comes alongside you as a friend, one who has experienced the depths of desperation herself. She encourages you to recognize Satan as the enemy and to fight back by drawing closer to God. She shares the importance of loving and valuing yourself and reaching out to help others. She advocates forgiving yourself, if needed, and forgiving those who have wronged you. As you work through the book, Tracie will help you focus on God and the people God puts in your path. She will show you how to turn complaining into praising and convert stressful thinking into thankfulness. Tracie Miles is not offering an instant remedy, but she is sharing a road to contentment through faith in Christ and by drawing close to his sheltering love.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Christian, Nonfiction

Notes: written primarily for women

Publication:   August 1, 2018—David C. Cooke

Memorable Lines:

Sweet friend, you don’t have to search for a different life in order to enjoy life; you simply have to embrace the one you have by putting Christ at the center and asking Him to help you enjoy life, despite life.

There came a time I had to accept that my life had not turned out the way I thought it would and no amount of wishing it were different was going to change it.

All too often we think our enemy is society, people, circumstances, or hardships. But the reality is that Satan is our enemy, not people or circumstances. While he is not in control of this world and what happens, he can wage war on our hearts and minds. He can convince us that we have a right to be grumpy and no reason to be joyful. He can feed us nagging lies to keep us discouraged, angry, unforgiving, or without hope.

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