The Dress Shop of Dreams

December 30, 2014

The Dress Shop of Dreams
By: Menna Van Praag
336 Pages
Reviewed By: Betsey Broks

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.-- publisher description

Menna VanPraag's newest book "Dress Shop of Dreams" is a treat for any mystery lover. It is packed full of twists and turns with just a bit of magic. I would just think I had the answers and there would be a couple of twists, a turn or two and a fascinating  character. 

Ettaa Sparks' dress shop has been in her family for generations. Her creations are made of rich fabrics in any color one can imagine. Each dress is unique and Etta is always ready to add a very special stitch.
Ettaa's granddaughter, Cora, has been raised by her since the tragic death of Cora's parents. Cora's parents were scientists and Cora shares their passion and drive. Dr. Baxter and Cora have a grant to develop ways to feed underdeveloped nations. Etta is concerned that Cora is burying herself in the laboratory . Walt, a life long friend of Cora's, has told Etta that he loves Cora, but she is oblivious. Etta encourages Walt and gives him a little bit of magic to help him. This does not work out the way Edda had hoped.

While celebrating Cora's birthday Edda tells her that she doesn't think her parents death was an accident. Hearing this Cora decides to investigate. She meets detective Henry Dixon and together they discover some conflicting information. Visions from Cora's early childhood begin to pop up . Following the clues brings Cora to a shocking conclusion.

Block off a quiet time, find a comfortable spot and dive in. There are skeletons in several closets, a diary written in code, a patient priest, a police inspector with a little magic of his own and romances both old and new. Enjoy!

Geared For The Grave

December 2, 2014

Geared For The Grave
By: Duffy Brown
304 Pages

Evie Bloomfield is desperate for a job promotion. So desperate she has agreed to go help her boss's father. What she didn't know before leaving was that getting Rudy's Rides back on it's feet was going to take her on the ride of her life. Mackinac Island is not what Evie thought it would be, and when a loathed, but wealthy, resident is found dead by Evie, everything changes. Suddenly, being the new "fudgie" in town is the least of Evie's worries.

Readers!!! I'm so excited to share this first book in a series with you!! If you love cozy mysteries, you will want to check out Geared For The Grave. If you are a fan of the unbelievably talented Duffy Brown, you will love her newest series! Her writing style is fun and full of spunk. She knows how to bring the characters to life. I felt that early on in the book, the characters stopped being "characters", and felt more like people I interact with often. I didn't want to stop reading them!!

Duffy Brown has created a new world to get to know on Mackinac Island. Here Rudy has his bicycles-to-rent shop, Rudy's Rides. However, as quaint as the island may seem, (did I mention there are no cars allowed on the island?) Rudy's life is about to go from bad to worse. Several residents would like to see his shop close. One lady, Bunny, was rather vocal about her desires to have him closed down. The fact that Rudy wasn't a fan of Bunny's wasn't a well hidden island treasure, either. So, when Bunny is found dead, it doesn't take long before Rudy becomes the prime suspect.

Evie is on Mackinac Island to help Rudy, but also get a much wanted promotion at work. Helping the boss's father has to count for something, right? However, Evie had no clue what she was walking into. Before long her, and her "black cloud", are in thick of things. Trying to prove Rudy's innocence won't be easy since she's the new girl. And "fudgies" aren't embraced that much.

You are going to love the characters. You are going to love the hilarious lines and sayings! I was giggling, laughing, and chuckling my way through the whole book! I didn't want to put it down, or finish it! You have Irish Donna and her thick Irish accent. Irma is one of many who own a fudge store. However, her no good husband left her for the competition- taking with him their recipes. Watching Irma come out of her shell reminded me that, sometimes, revenge is sweet. You will find Rudy as a big teddy bear. And you will melt at the tension between Evie and the temporary Police Chief with a background of his own, Nate Sutter. Did I mention there's a resident who has been nicknamed Jason Bourne? Just wait until you find out why! 

I hope you rush out and buy this wonderful book! Curl up and get acquainted with Mackinac Island, Evie, and all the island residents. You are in for such a fun treat! (Just stir clear of the fish sticks, if you know what I mean.)  You will love Geared For The Grave as much as I did. I'm looking forward to the next installment in this delightful series!! 

P.S.- if you are new to the delightful Miss Duffy Brown, I highly recommend you read her other series, The Consignment Shop series. You will love this series and all it's Southern Charms!

If You've Got It, Haunt It

If You've Got It, Haunt It
By: Rose Pressey
304 Pages
Reviewed By: Betsey Brooks

Cookie Chanel has opened her own vintage clothing boutique, It’s Vintage, Y’All, in the charming town of Sugar Creek, Georgia. Always on the lookout for stylish second-hand steals, she attends the estate sale of deceased socialite Charlotte Meadows. But she gets a lot more than she bargained for when Charlotte’s ghost appears before her—offering fashion advice and begging Cookie to find out who murdered her.
As the persistent poltergeist tags along and a possibly psychic pussycat moves into the shop, Cookie sorts through racks of suspects to see who may be hiding some skeletons in the closet. Do a clothing store owner and a disembodied socialite have a ghost of a chance of collaring a killer—or will Cookie’s life be the next one hanging by a thread? --- Publisher's Description
What  a delightful time I've had reading Rose Pressey's new book, "If You Got It, Haunt It".  Cookie Chanel owns a vintage clothing store in the small quaint town of Sugar Creek, Georgia.  Vintage clothing is Cookie's passion and her business. Dressed in her own vintage collection, Cookie is a walking advertisement for her store "It's Vintage Y'all!"

Charlotte  Meadows was one of the wealthiest people in Sugar Creek and, was recently found strangled. She has returned as a ghost and wants her killer found.  Finding help is not easy, especially when no one sees or hears her.  Charlotte's house is having a real estate sale and Cookie is there looking for bargains.  Imagine Charlotte's surprise when she came face to face with Cookie and Cookie smiled.  Charlotte knew she had finally found help.

It took a  lot of talking, badgering, and singing to convince Cookie that teaming up with a ghost to find a killer was a good idea.  A fake psychic, more bodies, a charming detective, and a card playing cat appear to try and help catch Charlotte's illusive killer. Meanwhile the killer has a bag of surprises waiting for them.

This book was a great read from the first sentence to the last. There are lots of wonderful descriptions of vintage fabrics, clothes and accessories. I would love to be able to visit  "It's Vintage Y'all". So curl up in comfortable spot with a nice cup of hot chocolate and join Cookie on this most unusual mystery.

The Look of Love

November 25, 2014

The Look of Love
By: Sarah Jio
286 Pages

Jane Williams may not be one of the few women who struggle in the love department. However, she is one of the rare women who has the ability to see love before her eyes. That's right. She's able to tell if a couple having dinner really love each other, or are just going through the motions. But now that she's been made aware of this gift, she has a challenge she must meet. Identify the 6 types of love, or her gift will become a curse that will prevent her from ever having real love in her life. 

I have to say, that I felt Sarah Jio wrote a different kind of book than I'm used to her writing. While it did take me longer to get into this book, once I did, it was a marvelous read. 

Jane has been seeing a neurologist most of her life for blurred vision. Going on the theory that she has a tumor on part of her brain, Jane never had any reason to doubt what her doctor told her. Yet, everything changes when she receives a random card on her birthday- from a lady she has never met. Upon meeting Colete Dubois, Jane learns that her blurred vision has nothing to do with a tumor, and everything to do with a gift she received from Colette on the day she was born, Jane can see love. Now she has one year to identify six types of love within her life. If she fails to do it, then she will never know love in her own life. 

It isn't long before the lives around her start demonstrating various examples of love. Everything from adulterous love, to love with a stranger, Jane begins to see it all. And Jane isn't the only one who will discover love during the year she has. Her brother introduces her to a friend, and a connection grows. However, like many types of love, all is not smooth sailing for them. Can they overcome the obstacles they encounter? Will they be a type of love?

While I admit to not enjoying this book as much as her other books, Sarah Jio has written a book that you will want to read. The idea of being able to see love in front of you has such potential, how can you not see what story it will unfold?! It may not be a book you can't put down, but you will want to see what happens and how each love scenario plays out.

If The Shoe Kills

November 10, 2014

If The Shoe Kills
By: Lynn Cahoon
153 Pages

As owner of Coffee, Books, and More, Jill Gardner looks forward to the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers. But when the mayor ropes her into being liasion for a new work program, ‘tis the season to be wary. Local businesses are afraid the interns will be delinquents, punks, or worse. For Jill, nothing’s worse than Ted Hendricks—the jerk who runs the program. After a few run-ins, Jill’s ready to kill the guy. That, however, turns out to be unnecessary when she finds Ted in his car—dead as a doornail. Detective Greg King assumes it’s a suicide. Jill thinks it’s murder. And if the holidays weren’t stressful enough, a spoiled blonde wants to sue the city for breaking her heel. Jill has to act fast to solve this mess—before the other shoe drops…
                                                                                   --- publisher's description

Jill and the gang are back for the third installment of the delightful Tourist Shop Mystery Series. I have loved every book in this series, and If The Show Kills was no exception. You have the chemistry between all the characters. You have the romance between Jill and Greg. What isn't to enjoy?!

The Holiday season is upon South Cove. Thanksgiving is only weeks away, and Christmas is already being planned. The tourist town has decided to do something different this year: each business will take on an intern. It's a win-win situation! The businesses get extra help during the holiday rush, and some struggling people may get a new direction in life. What you will quickly find is that no one is a fan of Ted Hendricks, the man running the company supplying the interns. When he is found dead, the list of possible shooters grows longer before it gets shorter. 

Yes, Ted has an unsavory reputation. From questionable romances, to a wife who was believed to have been kidnapped. Not to mention all the alive people who would like to see him out of their lives on a permanent basis. 

As Jill tries to figure out who is responsible for doing in the no good doer, her life is about to get even more stressful. Enter in the much heard about ex-wife of her boyfriend, Greg. As if planning a big Thanksgiving dinner wasn't enough to worry about?!

You are in for a fun read. I didn't want to put the book down when I was reading it. Every time I read this series, it's like visiting old friends. So, get comfy, and ring in the holiday season with cheers and jeers. South Cove style. 

Hannah's Hope

October 18, 2014

Hannah's Hope 
By: Karen Kingsbury
103 Pages

Hannah Roberts is used to coming home to an empty mansion. What she isn't used to is finding out the man she always thought was her father, really isn't. Now she's on a desperate mission to find her real father. Will she be reunited with the man she hasn't seen in 11 years? 

This was my first Karen Kingsbury book, but I can assure you it won't be my last. I was immediately sucked into Hannah's story. Karen knows how to tell a moving story, all while keeping you glued to the book. Her characters are all real, and you become invested in them. The story was a moving one that breezed you through one emotion after another. You may not know what will happen next, or how the story will end, but you don't give up hope- just like Hannah didn't.

Hannah Roberts is the daughter of political parents. Her father is the US Ambassador for Sweden, and her mother has political aspirations of her own. Only in the same country as Hannah twice a year, Hannah has learned to keep herself so busy she doesn't have time to be lonely.

But everything changes when she receives an email from her mother informing her they won't be coming home for Christmas. Her response isn't what her Mother was expecting. It finally dawns on Carol, Hannah's mom, that her daughter may be lonely. Her solution? To inform Hannah that the father she always thought was her dad really isn't. Sending an envelope with the news, a few pictures, and very little else, Carol thought this would ease the loneliness. Instead, Hannah's search for her father, who enlisted in the Army, goes on National TV as part of a campaign to air messages for the soldiers to see overseas. 

Mike Meade has spent the past 11 years never forgetting his daughter. When searches for her turned up fruitless, he just kept going. Everywhere he went, his brown bag of mementos from her went with him. As the years passed, his hope in ever seeing her again did as well. Throwing himself into his pilot job for the Army, Mike grew a successful career. Never did he think when he set off for the most dangerous mission of his career that he had anything to lose. In fact, he insisted on going because he had no family waiting for him to return. But he sees the video message- just before he leaves. 

Mike's mission goes horribly wrong. He's captured. Once again, his hope of ever seeing Hannah again begins to fade. But, God works miracles for those who believe. And what he does for Hannah and Mike is nothing short of the Christmas miracle Hannah prays for.

I think you will love this Christmas book as much as I did. Like me, you will get lost in this story and have to remind yourself to breathe. Karen Kingsbury has been given a tremendous gift by God, and she uses it to illustrate His love. It comes shining through in Hannah's Hope. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and that you read more of her work. I know I will.

Mr. Miracle

October 12, 2014

Mr. Miracle
By: Debbie Macomber
272 Pages
Reviewed by: Betsey Brooks

I just finished reading "Mr. Miracle", Debbie Macomber's newest Christmas Angel book. What a treat you are in for. This angel's assignment is nothing like it sounds.
Harry Mills has just gotten the best job for Christmas: being a guardian angel! He is sent to help Addie Folsom and Erich Simmons celebrate Christmas. Harry figures this is going to be a cinch. Much to his surprise he discovers that Addie loathes Erich. This guardian angel business is definitely not the cinch Harry thought it would be. It 's a good thing he finds some help, but in a most unusual person.

Abbie arrived home to surprise her mother for Christmas and planned on staying so she could get her life together. She is greeted by a weeping mother who's plans to go on a Christmas cruiser with her best friend has just fallen through. Her friend is Erich Simmons' mom. Erich was in an accident and now needs some help. His mom just can't go off and leave him to fend for himself. After much soul searching, Addie volunteers to help Erich so the moms can go on their cruise. This doesn't set well with either Erich or Addie, but they come to an agreement. After all they are adults.

Harry has his hands full teaching at the local college, and trying to bring Addie and Erich out of the past and into the joys of Christmas. Lots of changes must come about on this Christmas assignment, including changes in Harry.

Debbie Macomber's "Mr. Miracle" is a wonderful Christmas tale at it's best. I smiled all the way through and didn't want to put it down. Snuggle in for a great Christmas read.

Miracle at the Higher Ground Cafe

September 23, 2014

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe
By: Max Lucado, Eric Newman & Candace Lee
176 Pages
Christian Fiction

Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.
Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea's door, and with him, an even curiouser string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They've come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life's biggest questions.
When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask, and heaven answers in a most unexpected way. -- publisher's description
Max Lucado has made a name for himself within the Christian world as a force to be reckoned with in Bible Studies. Many praise his writing and how beautiful it is. Not ever having done one of his Bible Studies, I came into this fiction book with a blank canvas. Blank and in desperate need of a good book to take me away. It didn't take me long to realize Miracle at the Higher Ground Cafe delivered.
Readers are quickly introduced to Chelsea. As if she doesn't already have enough on her plate (impending divorce, running the cafe she inherited from her Mother), she's now got to make room for a heavy IRS tax bill. One that must be paid within 30 days. At the rate Chelsea's going, she's going to need a miracle to be the next thing to come through her cafe door. But would she recognize one, if it did?
Enter The God Blog. The Higher Grounds Cafe becomes a direct connection with the Almighty above, and customers line up to ask Him their one question- and get an answer to it. Throw in employee extraordinaire, Manny (aka Chelsea's Guardian Angel), coffee artist Katrina, and you have the magic combination that saves The Higher Grounds Cafe. 
But, like with all good books, the good story has to have it's share of obstacles. And Chelsea has several in her way- including herself. Ex-husband-to-be, Sawyer, comes to town wanting to fix the family he broke. Chelsea isn't in the forgiving state of mind, but Sawyer refuses to give up. It will take a miracle to give this family a happy ending.Che;sea's father has been a source of emotional strain for most of her life. Caught up in his own selfish desires, her father left scars that were more than emotional. With him within reach, can a miracle bring a father and daughter back together?
Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe will keep you looking for the next miracle within it's pages. You will curl up in this book and get lost within the pages. I didn't want to put it down, and I didn't want it to end. I loved this touching story so much, I'm hoping there's a sequel. I enjoyed all the characters, and becoming friends with them as I watched their stories unfold. 
Curl up with a cozy blanket, a couple of cookies, and read the magic that is Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe.

Fake It (Rule Breakers #2) by Jennifer Chance

August 15, 2014

Jennifer has done it again in "Fake It" - another winner in my book! From start to finish, the story line was smooth, easy to follow, and one that is guaranteed to suck you right in! Even though it's the 2nd book in it's series, it can very well work as a stand alone book. 

Anna Richardson is a workaholic and has always been one. Her college best friend is getting married and when her fake boyfriend is supposed to come with her, she finds herself in a pickle. Her ex (who wants her back) is supposed to be there and she's tired of trying to be set up by a friend. What's a girl to do?

Jake Flynn, a biker boy who is fixing up his grandma's house nearby, oozes hotness! He has been watching Anna strut by his place for the longest time while not saying anything. Overhearing Anna's situation, he quickly volunteers for the job. Though both Anna and Jake have longed for one another and have admired each other from far away, they are complete opposites! However, when they are with one another over the beach wedding weekend, they realize that the weekend is not enough time for them. But considering they've talked for under a week, is it too fast for them?!

"Fake It" is a whirlwind romantic adventure full of finding happiness, romance and some major chemistry! It also makes you realize what your priorities should be and leaves you smiling with the final ending. I definitely recommend this fun romance to anyone looking for a fun and easy read. This was my 2nd book I've read by Jennifer and I look forward to reading many more!

How to Marry a Cowboy (Cowboys & Brides #4) by Carolyn Brown

August 4, 2014

When you finish a book in under 2 days there is one word to describe that book: AMAZING! From start to finish I couldn't put it down. Did that stop me from going to the gym? NOPE! I read that bad boy on the elliptical and time flew by! I was honestly sad to see it end, I didn't want my little cowboy filled bubble to be over yet. This was the first story I read by Carolyn Brown and it certainly won't be the last! I was invited to read this book and I am so thankful! I haven't read a story that captivated me so much like this book did in a long time.

This story starts off with two twin girls, Lily and Gabby, who find Annie Rose on their porch in a wedding dress. With it being their 9th birthday (and their mom passed away before they could remember) they thought it was their gift. After realizing where Annie Rose was, she was scared at first. You find out quickly that she was running away from an abusive ex-boyfriend, not from her own wedding :) She soon meets their dad, Mason Harper - a manly rugged cowboy with a body I can only imagine! When he agrees to take her own as the girl's newest nanny they quickly nickname her "Mama-Nanny" Given their "reputation" around town, it's no surprise that Mason has the nanny agency's number on speed dial. Annie Rose quickly realizes that being with the Harper family starts to feel like home to her. She connects with the girls so well and she feels comfort and chemistry with Mason! However, despite Mason's attraction to her he still holds feelings for his dead wife and he doesn't want to cheat on his memory. But with two little rascals running around, how long can he hold out?

After reading this book, I'm on a mission to find myself a cowboy! This was such a cute and captivating read and I look forward to many more stories by Carolyn Brown!

Summer Reading Recommendation: Mission To Murder

July 31, 2014

Mission to Murder
Lynn Calhoun
238 Pages

Jill Gardner, proprietor of Coffee, Books, and More, has discovered that the old stone wall on her property might be a centuries-old mission worthy of being declared a landmark. But Craig Thomas, the obnoxious owner of South Cove's most popular tourist spot, The Castle, makes it his business to contest her claim. When Thomas is found murdered at The Castle shortly after a heated argument with Jill, even her detective boyfriend has to ask her for an alibi. Jill decides she must find the real murderer to clear her name. But when the killer comes for her, she'll need to jump from historic preservation to self-preservation.-- publisher

Summer has arrived! And while I am late with my own summer reading recommendations, I present you with a great one to start off! Mission to Murder will have you glued to your beach chair as you read on to see how everything unfolds. 

Mission to Murder is book 2 in Lynn Calhoun's Tourist Trap Mystery Series. I loved the first one, and was excited to rejoin my beloved characters to pick up where Guidebook to Murder left off. In this installment, Jill Gardner not only battles to prove her newly discovered wall is a historical relic, but also has to battle against one guy who is willing to play dirty so he doesn't have to share money. As you read, you will see just how far greed can drive a person. And in the case of Craig Thomas, is drove him far. However, after 2 unfortunate (but well deserved) shouting matches between Jill and Craig, he is found dead. Now Jill has to prove she shouldn't be suspect #1 on top of proving the authenticity of her wall.

It was fun to see the sparks still  flying between Jill and her boyfriend, detective Greg King. I love their relationship and the dynamic between them. Readers will get to see best friend, Amy, embark on two relationships. One will a character you can't wait to be rid of. The other, you can't wait to read more about. 

I hope you enjoy reading Mission to Murder as much as I do. I am anxiously awaiting the next book's release. If The Shoe Kills releases on Nov. 10, 2014) 

Real Murder (A Lovers in Crime Mystery) by Lauren Carr

July 29, 2014

This was my 4th (or maybe 5th?) book I've read by Lauren Carr and she never fails to disappoint! I thoroughly love to read her mysteries and how each story plays out throughout the book!

While there are many characters throughout this book, the main two are Joshua Thorton and Cameron Gates.

Spanning several decades are murders which occurred and mysteries left unsolved. This book has everything you need: a little romance, many suspects, ice cream, dead bodies, humor, and of course: people trying to cover up their past. Joshua and Cameron are determined to find the killer as well as uncover the truth behind the story! Will they be able to solve the mystery before someone else gets hurt!?

I really enjoyed reading Real Murder and I look forward to reading more of Lauren Carr's stories! The plot of the story was detailed, yet not confusing, with a great ending. Lauren has developed an amazing read that will leave the readers satisfied! If you love mysteries, I highly suggest you pick up a copy!

Never Say Goodbye bye Susan Lewis

July 25, 2014

This was my first book I read by Susan, and although it took me some time to finish it, it was an amazing read! I found myself laughing while getting emotional at times. The characters were very likable, realistic, and characters you can really connect with.

There are 2 main story lines in this book - Josie and Bel.

Josie and her husband, who have a son (in jail) and a daughter (engaged), are currently struggling to make ends meet. At this critical point in their lives, Josie discovers some heartbreaking news: she has cancer. This condition leads her to connect with a younger woman named Bel, and their friendship continues to grow from there. Bel becomes more like family to Josie! Bel on the other hand, is a woman of wealth and had a sister who passed away from cancer. After the death, she became more active in watching her niece and nephew to help out her brother-in-law. Although the book was absolutely heartbreaking to read at points, the friendship that bonds these two women together was truly extraordinary. Even with a slow beginning, I began to see myself racing through the story line to see what happens next!

As the story evolves, we learn more about each of of the characters. The writing was well-done and very easy to connect with, especially with it being a serious topic. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a beautifully written story about the healing powers of friendship, I look forward to reading more by this author.

NIne Lives to Die

June 24, 2014

Nine Lives to Die
By: Rita Mae Brown
272 Pages
Reviewed By: Betsey Brooks

Winter has come to Crozet, Virginia, bringing with it a fresh blanket of snow. Harry and her husband, Fair, are hip deep in their usual end-of-the-year activities: distributing food to needy residents, and shopping for outfits for the Silver Linings youth organization’s annual fundraising gala. But buried beneath the white stuff are dark secrets from Crozet’s past—and Harry and her posse of pet detectives are determined to sniff them out. 

Two Silver Linings mentors have been found dead in suspicious circumstances. If that weren’t enough to chill the bones of the locals, a pair of severed human fingers has turned up in a pencil jar in the bookkeeper’s office at St. Cyril’s church. What does this grisly display have to do with the mysterious disappearance of Harry’s voluptuous high school Latin teacher, a quarter of a century ago? Maybe nothing. But when the animals make another gruesome discovery in the woods behind Harry’s farm, it becomes clear that terrible crimes have been committed in Crozet—and somebody’s gone to great lengths to cover them up. It’s time to stop shoveling snow and start digging for clues.

The truth will be revealed. A cold case will be solved. And a twenty-five-year-old love triangle is about to get untangled. The weather outside may be frightful, but Harry and her four-legged friends refuse to be spooked off the case. --- courtesy of the publisher

Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown have once again created a fascinating tale of murder in Nine Lives To Die.  The town of Crozet, Virginia is preparing for the holidays. Along with all the shopping and decorating there are two big events everyone is participating in.  Silver Linings, a non profit for disadvantaged boys, is having it's big fundraising. The community churches have been collecting used clothing and food for those in need and are getting ready to deliver them as Christmas gets closer. Several snow storms add to the holiday spirit. 

In the midst of all this, two prominent community leaders are found in their cars dead each missing two fingers. Next three checks come up missing from the Silver Linings books. Another surprise turns up when a storm blows over an old tree and a skeleton is exposed. With the help of Harry Holstein's pets, a corgi named Tee Tucker and her two cats, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, the skeleton is brought to everyone's attention.  

Who would want to kill these two men and who could this old skeleton be? These are just a few questions Harry, her husband Fair and their friend Deputy Cynthia Cooper are asking. So many questions and no clues.

I love this series . Each book is uniquely different and "Nine Lives to Die" is a great addition.  It drew me in immediately and kept me guessing right to the end. So find yourself a comfy reading nook and prepare to join the adventure. I definitely recommend Nine Lives to Die for your summer or travel reading.  Be sure to read and enjoy more of Rita Mae Brown's Books. They are great.

Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison

June 8, 2014

I haven't read a good mystery in a long time and this book definitely hit the spot! With each character in each scene, I was captivated by who they were and what they brought to the story. I found myself reading one chapter after another just to find out what happens!

Kat Stanford, a former TV star, is all set to launch a new career as the proprietor of an antique toy store. During this time, she discovers that her mother, Iris, has purchased a run down carriage house located on the estate of Honeychurch hall. Kat lives in London, hundreds of miles away, and promised her dad before he passed away that he would take care of her. Kat knows what she has to do and drops her things to go see her mom and convince her to return home. On Kat's ride into town, she meets a woman named Gayla who is waiting for a taxi. While looking paranoid to death, Kat promises she will call a taxi just when she gets to the carriage house. However, when Kat wakes up the next morning and Gayla is rumored to be missing since her luggage was found left behind, everyone is worried. Things get more complicated when the nanny turns up dead! Who is to blame? Where should they start looking? What other secrets are unearthed on their mission to resolve this murder? 

Murder, suspense, and plot twists are great words to describe this book! I look forward to reading the next book in written by Hannah Dennison! A must read by any mystery lover!

Laugh (Burnside #2) by Mary Ann Rivers

June 1, 2014


Dr. Sam Burnside is convinced that volunteering at an urban green-space farm in Lakefield, Ohio, is a waste of time—especially with his new health clinic about to open. He only goes to mollify his partner, suspecting she wants him to lighten up. Then Sam catches sight of Nina Paz, a woman who gives off more heat than a scorcher in July. Her easy smile and flirty, sizzling wit has him forgetting his infamous need for control.

Widowed when her husband was killed in Afghanistan, Nina has learned that life exists to take chances. As the daughter of migrant workers turned organic farmers, she’s built an exciting and successful business by valuing new opportunities and working hard to take care of her own. But when Sam pushes for a relationship that goes beyond their hotter-than-fire escapades, Nina ignores her own hard-won wisdom. She isn’t ready for a man who needs saving—even if her heart compels her to take the greatest risk of all: love.

This was the 2nd book I have read by Mary Ann Rivers, the first being Burnside's #1 "Live." Although I didn't get quite as captured as I did with the first book I still enjoyed it. Even if you haven't read the first book in the series, you will still catch on to the story line! While the first book is about Des Burnside, this book centers on the eldest of the Burnside siblings, Sam. This focuses on Sam's journey and understanding himself and opens his eyes to the way he acts with his family and friends. Sometimes he goes about things all wrong, and has a hard time expressing himself, but his heart is in the right place. 

Along with Sam, Nina is a starting role in this book. When Sam meets Nina, there is an instant spark between them! Things move fast between them, not only physically but emotionally as well. Since Nina is a widow, she does her best to not get so involved and resists him. However, it isn't long before they are exploring one another outside and inside (little more graphic then I would have liked honestly). 

What I loved most about this book most was Sam. In the previous book he was very unsympathetic and whose sole purpose was to make everyone around him miserable. In this story you really see a different side of him, he opens up to Nina and to his friends and family that is both welcoming and refreshing! With a couple bumps along the way, the ending of this book is nothing but perfect! I can't wait to read his brother Paul's book, aka PJ. I know that will be another good one in this series!

Goodnight June

May 27, 2014

Goodnight June
By: Sarah Jio
301 Pages

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Songs) is an adored childhood classic, but its real origins are lost to history. In Goodnight June,Sarah Jio offers a suspenseful and heartfelt take on how the “great green room” might have come to be.
June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness. Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store’s papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown—and steps into the pages of American literature. --Courtesy of the publisher

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Sarah Jio cannot write a bad book!! It's genetically impossible! Once again, Sarah has a literary delight for her readers to devour! And make no mistake, devour you will. Yet again, she has spun an ingenious idea that will captivate you from the first page. 

I think it's safe to say that the majority of book lovers have heard of the beloved children's book, Goodnight Moon". In her newest book, Sarah finds a way to bring the author of the classic, and the book's creation, into her vision. And I have to say, the combination is so good you don't want to put it down.

June lives in New York. A doctor has recommended she slow her fast-paced life down when panic attacks enter into the picture. Bound and determined to forge on, June doesn't adhere to the advice until she learns of her beloved Aunt's death. All of a sudden, Jun realizes she's been so busy running from her old life, and carving out a new one, that she left her favorite relative behind. The point is driven further home when she learns her Aunt Ruby leaves her the bookstore she's owned, Bluebird Books. 

The intention is to fly out to Seattle and settle the estate. She has no need for a well-known bookstore in her New York executive life. However, plans may change once she gets there. As she goes through the store, deciding what to keep or toss, she finds strategically placed letters. As she reads them, she comes to see they aren't you average letters. These letters are from her Aunt Ruby and "Brownie", MWB. It isn't long before June learns Brownie and MWB are Margaret Wise Brown- THE Maraget Wise Brown. That's right the author of countless children's classics, including the eternally loved Goodnight Moon, and June's Aunt Ruby were very good friends. The more letters she finds, the more of a look into both womens' lives she gets. The love affairs. The struggles with career and family. All of it play out for June to read.

It also hits home, because June has her own struggles with her sister, Amy.  A feud that has yet to be resolved, remains that way 5 years later. June has no desire to forgive her sister, but the letters slowly chip away the ice. June also sees Margaret's struggles with her writing. Having made a name for herself writing books for children, the author desperately wants to write a taken seriously novel. 

One of the most shocking revelations the letters hold for June is the side of her Aunt they reveal. A love affair she never knew about comes to light- and it's aftermath. This comes in handy as June navigates a romance with the owner of the Italian restaurant next door. 

It isn't long before the letters help shift June's world, and what she values and prioritizes. Aunt Ruby and Margaret's letters help her take stock of her life. They give her the courage to really analyze how happy she is- and isn't. Can she and her sister forgive one another before it's too late? Is her fast paced, automatic life in New York really what she wants? And what happened to the child she learns her Aunt had?

Readers will be glued to the pages, eager to see what will happen on the next page. You won't want to stop reading. Fans of Sarah Jio will embrace Goodnight June with open arms. Fans of Goodnight Moon will love how, decades later, the book still lives on. This book is among my favorites from Sarah Jio. I hope you love every word, too.

Camp Payback by J. K. Rock

May 24, 2014


Alex has big plans for camp this year, starting with making it the best summer ever. Having fun and breaking some rules will get her the payback she wants against her parents and her ex-boyfriend. Because of his disgusting texts, she's headed to a super strict all-girls school in the fall. 

Then she meets Javier and revenge doesn't seem nearly as important as getting to know the troubled loner determined to keep a low profile at camp. But Alex's trouble-magnet personality and Javier's need to stay in the background don't mix nearly as well as their irresistible chemistry. 

With her home life eroding under her feet and her last year of summer camp speeding to a close, Alex wants to make her mark on the world and squeeze every bit of fun out of her time with Javier. Too bad her old plans for revenge turn back on her just in time to ruin everything. Will she lose Javier too?

This book was the 2nd in its series but if you didn't read the first one you will catch on perfectly! When I originally read the summary, I thought it would be a cute and fun read. I have never been to a summer camp myself so it seemed like adventures and laughs were in store for the main character, Alexandra. 

There are 2 main characters in this book:

Alex, who is also known as the main character in her family's wholesome blog as being the troublesome teenager, is almost rebellious when she first comes to camp. Knowing that her family would be sending her to a boarding school after the summer is over, she's determined to make the most of her summer! Her plan is to have a fun wild summer would in turn be payback to her parents. 

Javier, on the other hand, has been raised in foster homes while his mom has been in jail for issuing bad checks. He feels responsible and sometimes lets his temper get the best of him. He's been given a second chance working in the kitchens at camp and he looks forward to helping his mom when she soon is released. He already knows he has to be on his best behavior and not get into any trouble. 

Enter Alex! 

The way they meet was shocking and surprising to Javier! Alex was trying to get back at her ex , Vijay, for being a dirt bag by walking straight up to Javier (who she never knew) and planted a kiss on him! However, the chemistry that follows is unexpected and surprises them both! Thinking of someone else than herself, she finds herself and who she wants to be; however, she still manages to unintentionally get into trouble. 

While I found this book captivating at the beginning, it slowly faded as I progressed into the story. Some parts were dragged out a little too much but overall I enjoyed reading this book! I loved the plot of the story and I loved the determination that Javier possessed. He came across as very warm and strong in-spite of living such a difficult life thus far. I look forward to the next book in the series!

The Lincoln Myth

May 20, 2014

The Lincoln Myth
By: Steve Berry
448 Pages
Reviewed By: David Nelissen

September 1861: All is not as it seems. With these cryptic words, a shocking secret passed down from president to president comes to rest in the hands of Abraham Lincoln. And as the first bloody clashes of the Civil War unfold, Lincoln alone must decide how best to use this volatile knowledge: save thousands of American lives, or keep the young nation from being torn apart forever?

The present: In Utah, the fabled remains of Mormon pioneers whose nineteenth-century expedition across the desert met with a murderous end have been uncovered. In Washington, D.C., the official investigation of an international entrepreneur, an elder in the Mormon church, has sparked a political battle between the White House and a powerful United States senator. In Denmark, a Justice Department agent, missing in action, has fallen into the hands of a dangerous zealot—a man driven by divine visions to make a prophet’s words reality. And in a matter of a few short hours, Cotton Malone has gone from quietly selling books at his shop in Denmark to dodging bullets in a high-speed boat chase.

All it takes is a phone call from his former boss in Washington, and suddenly the ex-agent is racing to rescue an informant carrying critical intelligence. It’s just the kind of perilous business that Malone has been trying to leave behind, ever since he retired from the Justice Department. But once he draws enemy blood, Malone is plunged into a deadly conflict—a constitutional war secretly set in motion more than two hundred years ago by America’s Founding Fathers. --courtesy of publisher

In The Lincoln Myth, we return to the action-packed life of Cotton Malone to have Steve Berry challenge some of our knowledge of history. This time the mystery focuses around Lincoln, the American Civil War, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It starts, as usual, with Cotton doing a favor for his former boss (seriously, you would think he would have learned his lesson by now). He needs to meet and help a Magellan Billet agent near where he lives, and... yep, a religious fanatic (there is always at least one in Steve Berry books) causes bad things to start happening. Multiple characters and plot angles are followed, ranging from Europe to the USA, and an agreement between Abraham Lincoln and the leaders of the Mormon faith are discovered.

The book was very much like previous Cotton Malone books int hat the action was well paced and easy to follow, with the the critical information of the plot spread out in chunks which always seem to leave me wanting to know the entire story right away. The plot was interesting and gave a lot of information about the Latter-Day Saints that many people may not know. As always, Berry added a "Writer's Note" at the end to let us, the readers, know where he embellished in the story.

All in all, this books was good. It had me involved in the characters. It had me imagining some wonderful sights in Europe. It also introduced a new interesting character that we may see in later books. It especially had me involved in the plot. I, personally, do not believe this is the best Cotton Malone book I have read, but it was definitely worth reading if you like the character of this genre.

Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched by Kim Barnouin

May 12, 2014


For the second time in just a few short months, Clementine Cooper’s professional reputation hinges on one restaurant review. Clementine’s No Crap Café is poised to score the Holy Grail of publicity—a mention in the New York Times Sunday travel section—if Clem’s veggietastic lasagna can bowl over the food critic.

Clem has no time for distractions. Or surprises. But when her meat-eating millionaire boyfriend Zach Jeffries shocks her with a sweet and romantic marriage proposal, of course she says yes! Now she has to plan the most important menu of her life while fending off her domineering future mother-in-law’s extravagant plans for the wedding.

As if there wasn’t enough on her plate, Clem decides to open a second restaurant on her parents’ farm—Clem’s No Crap Outpost— against Zach’s advice. Just when she needs his support the most, Zach grows distant. The only person who really seems to understand is Clem’s friend and biggest competition, the cute vegan chef Alexander Orr. Putting out fires in the kitchen is easy—but in her relationship? Suddenly, her time with Alexander feels . . . hotter . . . than usual, and Clem starts to wonder if the charming carnivore she’s engaged to is really the man she should spend her life with

Not going to lie, the second I read the title I KNEW I had to read this book! I was cracking up before I even read the summary, and after I scanned it - I was hooked! This was the 2nd book in its series and you wouldn't have guessed, you catch on the story very quickly and easily. 

Clementine is a vegan and has owned her own restaurant "Clementine's No Crap Cafe" for 2 months. She is dating Zach Jeffries, this gorgeous looking man (or that's how I envisioned him), who is very wealthy with his own company. As she is trying to keep everything moving and flowing, Zach surprises Clem and pops the question with no other response than "YES!" That's when the fun begins: his mother acting as a wedding planner (who she once referred to as "Dominiquezilla"), her idea to open up a secondary restaurant, her newly engaged best friend with a guy Clem's not a fan of, and finally a surprise that shocks both Clem and Zack. 

This book I couldn't put down! I enjoyed it from beginning to end, especially with Clem and her bitchy-yet-polite ways. Some of the comments that were said in the book had me rolling, and the food sounded delicious! I'm far from being a vegan but those dishes I wanted to scarf up myself! This book is a must read!

Plain Jayne by Laura Drewry

April 30, 2014

Wow - what a story! I couldn't put it down - this was a cute and easy read that leaves you with a big smile on your face!

Can a guy and girl be just friends? That's the question. Well Nick and Jayne have been best friends since Kindergarten. Jayne's always loved Nick but being clueless as ever, he never knew. Jayne grew up with her Gran, who never loved her. She treated Jayne so horribly and forced her to move away right after high school. Jayne was away for about 12 years, only returning to attend the funeral of Abby, Nick's wife. After learning that Jayne's Gran passed away and left her the bookstore, Jayne returns and starts getting things in order for her to re-open (not realized that Gran left the place a completely disorganized mess!) Being a knight in shining armor that Nick is, he lets Jayne stay at his place while they clean up the bookstore (with a connecting apartment for her a quick 13 steps up a flight of stairs). As days pass and they start getting accustomed to one another's company, Nick starts to realize that he cares deeply for Jayne and when he starts referencing her as "my Jayne" he starts to question himself. However, his girlfriend Lisa is very caring and Jayne tries her best not to come between them. Can Jayne tell Nick how she feels without losing him? Will Nick realize how he feels about Jayne? 

This was my first book I read by Laura and I loved it!! It's such a great story and the way she describes the characters and how they feel is really captivating!This is a must read and you won't regret it!

What Follows After by Dan Walsh

April 27, 2014

In October 1962, Colt Harrison and his little brother, Timmy, hatched a plan. They would run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt's house in Savannah, Georgia, and refuse to come home until their parents got back together. But things go terribly, terribly wrong. Colt's mother and father must come to grips with years of neglect and mistrust in order to recover their beloved sons, their love for one another, and their broken marriage. 

In this emotional story, Dan Walsh takes readers on a jo
urney to rediscover the things that matter most in life--love, truth, and family.

I can honestly say I couldn't put this book down! This was an amazing read and Dan Walsh really has an amazing way of telling a story and the transitions between one scene to the next. I felt connected with the characters and could easily relate to them. This book allows you to determine what is really important in life and to learn your priorities. One of my favorite lines was one which was said at the end, "No one fixes broken things better than God." And I couldn't agree more! 

Set in the 1960's, Colt and his little brother Timmy decide to leave school after their mom drops them off. They take a bus to visit their Aunt and Uncle which would end up being a couple hour drive for them. They stop at a cafe and after Colt goes to the bathroom, he returns to find that Timmy is gone. A man with comic books apparently bribed Timmy away and they ended up getting on a different bus. After the FBI gets involved, they learn the main reason the boys ran away: apparently his parents have been separated close to a year now. The family has been living a lie in public (school, family events, etc) acting like a perfect family. After a Christmas party 10 months earlier, everything changed for their family. Will this kidnapping situation bring them together as a family or end things completely? 

This book had me on the edge of my seat! I kept telling myself after the next chapter I would stop for the night, well a couple chapters later I was still reading. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more! 

The Day He Kissed Her by Juliana Stone

April 18, 2014

He can’t wait to leave…

Mac Draper finally has everything he’s always wanted: An amazing career. A New York City apartment. He’s this close to being free of his past forever. But a mind-blowing encounter with the sexy yet tough-as-nails Lily St. Clare has him delaying his plans to put Crystal Lake in his rearview mirror for good.

When I first read the summary, I was intrigued off the bat and I knew I had to read this book! At my first opportunity, I dived right into it! "The Day He Kissed Her" is the 3rd book in its series, the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake, but it works great as a stand alone novel - you catch on very quickly! When I first read about Mackenzie Draper, oh man was I hooked! The way Juliana described him had me picturing all sorts of hotness!
Mac Draper is a typical bachelor with the life he has always wanted: living in New York, getting any woman he wants, successful, and can come and go as he pleases! Mac had a hard upbringing: his father wasn’t shy in hurting him and he spent countless nights at his friends’ houses. However, he turned his life around and was making it happen for him.

During a family get together after he returns to Crystal Cove for the summer (to help his friend Jake on a project), he reconnects with Lily St. Claire. He first met Lily on New Year's Eve as a result of a one night stand. Lily St. Claire is somewhat of an heiress. She has a sister with a reputation of her own (not a good one at that), and she is very close to Jake who she bonded with after she lost her brother. So when Mac sees Lily he was immediately attracted to her again. He pursues her and is drawn to her to bees to honey! They mutually decided to start an exclusive but no strings attached relationship. Their chemistry is undeniable! However when they start to develop stronger feelings for one another, will it scare them away? Or will their family scare them away first?

I honestly couldn’t put this book down! It was captivating from start to finish. Juliana has a way of transitioning from Mac’s viewpoint to Lily’s flawlessly and the description she creates allows a reader to imagine the scene perfectly. I look forward to reading more books written by Juliana!

Guidebook to Murder

April 17, 2014

Guidebook to Murder
By: Lynn Cahoon
160 Pages

When Jill's elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily's gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill--along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit--especially if it gets her closer to South Cove's finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she's on the case--and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently. . . --Publisher Description

I love  a good cozy mystery and Guidebook to Murder was just that! I have found a new series to visit, full of new characters I call friends.

Jill Gardner has just inherited Miss Emily's house and money. Being South Cove's resident grump, Miss Emily wasn't loved by many. In fact, the city council has been after her property for years. The City Council wants to tear down her house to make way for a retail store, she isn't willing to give it up. The fight has turned nasty and involved threatening letters. Now a big city developer is involved, and playing hard ball. So when Jill finds Miss Emily in her bed, dead, foul play is her first thought. but is it the right one?

There may be more to Miss Emily's property than a run down house. The rumor is that it's built on the same property as an old mission once lied. Could a gold coin fortune also be there?

Jill struggles to get the house renovated before her deadline. However, numerous people complicate her mission. Miss Emily's only living relatives were a greedy nephew and his even greedier wife. Neither were pleased to learn they got nothing from her estate of any monetary value. The town Mayor is a shady character, as is the people he deals with.

Everything takes a dramatic turn when Jill's best friend, Amy, goes missing. A regular to surf trips. was her disappearance a planned trip, or did something else happen? Can Jill  get all the answers she needs, and still run her beloved book/coffee shop, Coffee, Books, and More, before her Aunt Jackie takes over completely?

This book was a great introduction to this new series. It got to the point of the story quickly. You had fun meeting the characters- both primary and secondary. The action was on balance with the story. The only downside I saw in this particular book was that it seemed, at times, like you were reading a book in an already established series.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to the next installment of this series. The first chapter is included at the end of Guidebook To Murder, but I'm trying hard not to read it now. I'd rather have the whole book to read at one time. I think cozy mystery lovers will embrace this series.

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