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Crêpe Expectations–unauthorized sleuthing

Crêpe Expectations

by Sarah Fox

Crepe ExpectationsGood, but not excellent—that’s how I rate Crêpe Expectations by Sarah Fox. Unlike the other two cozy mysteries I have read by this author, I just didn’t find this to be a page turner. Despite that, I do plan on reading the next book Sarah Fox publishes.

In this book, Marley McKinney, owner of the Flip Side pancake house, spends her spare time trying to solve a cold case after she discovers a skull in the woods near the Wildwood Inn, a B&B that is about to open. Demetria, who disappeared when she was eighteen years old after a party, was assumed to be in New York starting a modeling career. So even the original investigation was delayed. At the same time she is investigating the murder, Marley is trying to discover who sabotaged the local amateur chef competition by making several contestants sick. Could the crimes be related?

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:  4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #5 in the Pancake House Mystery Series but the author brings the reader up to speed even as she starts the action of the current plot.

Publication:   May 28, 2019— Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)

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The Secrets of Paper and Ink–God’s working it out

The Secrets of Paper and Ink

by Lindsay Harrell

The Secrets of Paper and InkThe lives of three women cross in Lindsay Harrell’s novel The Secrets of Paper and Ink. Sophia is a women’s therapist in Arizona who finds herself in the need of therapy. Ginny is a formerly rich American who abandoned that life to follow her husband to Cornwall, England, to open a bookstore. Their lives cross when Sophia, who needs more healing time, answers Ginny’s ad for a vacation rental. They find a notebook with the story of Emily Fairfax, a woman who lived in the mid 1800’s. Sophia becomes obsessed with learning more about Emily.

Each of the three main characters has to deal with a problem particular to women—abuse, abandonment, and discrimination. The author handles all of these issues with respect. The plot pops back and forth with each chapter focusing on one character, but with Ginny and Sophia’s stories overlapping in real time. Both ladies are impacted by Emily’s story, and there is a delightful surprise ending. Readers who delight in all things bookish will particularly relish this book as it includes a wonderful bookstore, journaling, and a female author in a time period when that was unacceptable. Readers who enjoy a good Christian romance will take pleasure in the gentle ways in which the characters’ interest in God is reawakened. Lastly, historical fiction buffs will appreciate the inclusion of Emily’s story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Romance, Women’s Fiction, Christian Fiction

Publication:   February 26, 2019—Thomas Nelson

Memorable Lines:

But no matter what she felt, she knew deep down that her story did matter. She had to fight against the lie that it didn’t. And if she didn’t protect her own story or have the courage to write it down, no one else would. No one else could.

My senses rang with the cacophony of the muffin man’s bell, the clamor of the clarinet player on the corner, and the clickety-clack of the pattens on ladies’ feet.

Someone had finally noticed me drowning and offered to point me in the direction of the shore. Now it was up to me to keep stroking through the water until I reached the sandy beach beyond.

Restaurant Weeks are Murder–competition in the kitchen

Restaurant Weeks are Murder

by Libby Klein

Restaurant Weeks are MurderOnce again Libby Klein treats her readers to the adventures of Poppy McAllister, creator of wonderful, gluten free pastries and owner of a B&B, and her octogenarian Aunt Ginny, a spunky lady with an attitude. In Restaurant Weeks are Murder, Poppy competes on her ex-boyfriend’s team of three with other restaurant teams on a taped production of a competition. Chefs are provided baskets of mystery ingredients which must be incorporated into the culinary creations. What could go wrong? Plenty!

The characters in this series are always fun, and there are a variety of romantic attractions. Restaurant Week is a full seven days which makes the story perhaps a tad too long, but with different disasters occurring each day, and with complicated backgrounds and motives, attention stays high. A cozy mystery to pique your interest and appetite!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Poppy McAllister Murder Series, but works as a standalone.

Recipes are included.

Publication:  February 26, 2019—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

I plopped down on the floor in the sunroom and ran a brush through Figaro’s black smoke fur. He hummed like a Harley, his copper eyes slitty like two winter crescent moons reflecting on the Atlantic.

When I’m with Gia, I feel like my heart explodes, and my brain goes mush. But when I’m with Tim, I’m home again. He’s all I’ve ever wanted, and the years just melt away.

“Don’t be salty with me. I’ve seen you without makeup.”

I could tell Miss New Jersey was trying to wrap her brain around what Gigi was saying. The strain of it was making a wrinkle in her perfect forehead. I had to intervene before she passed out from the stress.

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.”

Back to McGuffey’s–over the years

Back to McGuffey’s

by Liz Flaherty

Back to McGuffey'sFrom 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.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Romance

Publication:  2014—Harlequin

Memorable Lines:

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.

Murder at the Mushroom Festival–beautiful setting for terrible mayhem

Murder at the Mushroom Festival

by Janet Finsilver

Murder at the Mushroom FestivalMurder, poisoning, blackmail, theft, destruction of Native American lands, assault, and threats! There’s plenty of action in Redwood Cove, a coastal town in northern California where lots of folks are gathering for the Mushroom Festival. Kelly Jackson, new manager of the Redwood Cove Bed-and-Breakfast finds herself in the middle of trouble when she and the Silver Sentinels, a group of amateur sleuths with wisdom and connections on their side, try to find a murderer and determine if the other crimes are related.

Murder at the Mushroom Festival kept me wondering at the identity of the villain as suspicion was thrown on various characters. The solution is much more complicated than one might imagine. Kelly and her Miss Marple-like fellow sleuths are likable. Two children, several dogs and a truffle snuffling pig add further interest. I enjoyed learning about mushrooms and about sinker redwood as the mystery progressed.

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 Kelly Jackson Mystery Series, but worked well for me as a standalone.

Publication:   April 17, 2018—Kensington Press (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

He parked, and we got out in what I felt was an enchanted forest. I breathed in the life of the woodland around me. Musty, sweet, earthy, topped off with a sprinkling of salt from the nearby ocean. Spears of sunlight cut through the towering redwoods like beacons to highlight certain areas. A raven cawed, loud and raucous, as we walked through a sunlit glen. A hawk drifted overhead, soaring on the wind currents.

The waves varied in intensity. When a strong one hit the rocky shoreline, water exploded high into the air. The rise and fall of the swell, like a creature breathing, made the ocean a living body.

People who were sure their way was the only way could make life unpleasant.

Bad Neighbors–another fun ride with Agnes and Effie

Bad Neighbors

by Maia Chance

Bad NeighborsGrab your hat for a whirlwind ride with Agnes, a self-professed nerd, and her wacky Aunt Effie in Maia Chance’s new cozy mystery Bad Neighbors. Agnes, recovering from the breakup of a long term relationship, has still not unpacked her boxes as she continues to try to figure out her future. Meanwhile Agnes, Effie, and cousin Chester take on their first four guests at the Stagecoach Inn, which they have only barely begun to remodel. Their four nonpaying guests are part of a tour group who have come to small town Naneda to view the changing leaves. Unfortunately their bus broke down. The whole town scurries to accommodate the tour bus participants because the town is also hosting their Harvest Festival along with the obnoxious judge of a yearly contest among towns in the area.

With this autumnal backdrop, the plot thickens as one of the locals is found murdered and Agnes’ old high school flame Otis is a suspect. Along the way there is a lot of suspicion thrown on various characters, and Agnes picks up a lot of ridicule from various townspeople who resent her sleuthing. Her arch rival turns out to be the snarky cupcake queen Delilah who sets her eyes on Otis.

Agnes, Effie, and their gaggle of equally quirky guests engage in numerous adventures in the name of investigations. Agnes has some close brushes with death and seriously considers leaving the craziness of the Stagecoach Inn behind to return to graduate school. What will it take to discover the murderer and to invest Agnes fully in life in Naneda? The end of this fun and humorous cozy mystery will reveal all.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Agnes and Effie Mystery Series, but works as a standalone

Publication:  April 6, 2018—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines: 

…in my “new” car. This was a fifteen-year-old whitish minivan that looked like a cross between a handheld Dustbuster and the Space Shuttle. Its undercarriage was about two inches from the ground and bumped and scraped on every last pebble. At speeds over forty-five miles per hour, it felt in danger of disintegration.

To say I had butterflies in my stomach is an understatement. It felt as if I had pterodactyls swooping around in there.

Over the past weeks, our new relationship had felt like a fragile, enhanced bubble. I had made sure not to get too comfortable, because if I got comfortable, settled in, made myself at home, it would hurt that much more when the bubble inevitably popped. 

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