My Reviews My Words

My Reviews My Words

You want to know how much I love reading? Daily, I carry 2-3 books, 2 Kindles (an ereader and tablet) and an iPad. Now who does that??? My favorite genres are fiction, mystery/thriller/suspense and cookbooks.

Review
3 Stars
Poppy Harmon Investigates - Lee Hollis

 

 

Not only is Poppy Harmon grieving the death of her husband, she learns he has gambled all of their money and left her penniless.

 

Poppy, a former 80's television actress on a detective show is now in her early sixties and doesn't have a clue where to start looking for a job to support herself.  After throwing herself a pity party her sexagenarian best friends, Iris and Violet suggests she open a detective agency because she loves to solve mysteries on screen and in books.  At first she thinks the idea is ridiculous, however seeing a picture in your mind of being homeless and hungry will change a thought process.  Just because she had a role on a tv detective show will she have the skills to be a detective in real life?

 

I enjoyed the idea of the author writing this cozy mystery with a "seasoned" protagonist however, that's where my enjoyment stops.  The mystery happened fifty percent into the story.  I felt Poppy should have let her voice be heard more and not be so laid back.  I didn't feel any connections with the remaining characters and didn't agree with the role of one of the characters.  

 

Once the story's pace gets moving, all the suspicions and suspects come into play.  Although there were multiple story lines which added more twists and turns they did connect and were easy to follow. The ending was a total surprise.

 

Poppy Harmon Investigates by Lee Hollis is the first in the Desert Flowers Mystery.  I hope to see the future releases in this series to have stronger character development and a less lingering of the plot.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Kensington for the advanced reader's copy in exchange for my honest review.

Review
3 Stars
The Loyal Wife - Natalie Barelli

 

 

 

 

 

Tamra Mitchell knew she had the perfect catch when she married the handsome and wealthy, Mike Mitchell. She loved him and her life in her eyes was perfect. Until she learns Mike has had an affair. She’ll do whatever it takes to keep her marriage and keeping secrets will come back to haunt them. How far will your loyalty go?

The Loyal Wife is a quick read. The chapters are short and development of the story flows pretty smoothly. I found the characters believable, but at times I found Tamra to be naive. 
There were many twists and turns, moments where I didn’t know who to believe and some predictable. 

An easy and quick domestic thriller to read.  

Review
4 Stars
Deep Fried Trouble - Tyora Moody

 

Widowed, retired and with grown children living on their own, Eugeena Patterson searches for ways to make her life less mundane. For three years she headed her neighborhood watch and just recently a handsome widower, Amos Jones moves in next door and they both are interested.

On one of Eugeena's daily walks she notices her once close friend's dog running loose in the yard. Knowing that's unusual, she looks into the situation and discovers her friend dead. Still shaken from the murder so close to home, Leesa, Eugeena's daughter visits with her children, but disappears without any explanation, leaving Eugeena to take care of her grandchildren. Determined to find out who murdered her estranged friend, she also probes into the whereabouts of her daughter disappearance and why.

I enjoyed this first in the Eugeena Patterson mystery series. Eugeena's character was relatable. I connected well with her character, because I'm a mother and grandmother and will do whatever it takes to protect the ones I love. Most of the characters were represented well, but a couple of them
I wished were developed more. Whenever Eugeena and Amos were together, I felt a smile cross my face.

I was pleased with the beginning of the story. No fluff to build up to the plot, straight to the point. The story flowed smoothly without any need to read over or skip pages to find out what happened next. However, discovering the murderer needed more strength. I knew who it was right away in the story and I like to be challenged.

If you enjoy a good, warm cozy mystery or a mystery in general, I recommend Deep Fried Trouble. A story of friendship, family and a sprinkle of romance.

 

Review
3.5 Stars
The Belles - Dhonielle Clayton

For the year 2018 I thought I would step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to read a genre new to me.  Not knowing where to turn or how to begin this new journey, I took to Youtube and Bookstagram for inspiration and after watching many book hauls, book reviews and lurking on many Bookstagram pages, I chose fantasy.  I mean, I enjoy watching movies of magic and mystical powers and enchanted universes, why not read about them.

 

To kick-off my new adventure I chose a YA fantasy, The Belles by Dhionelle Clayton.  I'm going to forego the synopsis because I'm sure many of you have already read it, so I'll begin my review.

 

TWs: sexual assault, gay killing, body shaming.

 

One of the reasons I wanted to read this novel was because of the captivating cover.  Beautifully detailed, I was anxious to begin reading.  The vibrant map on the inside of the cover is an extra bonus.

 

The author poured out her heart and soul on every page.  From the picturesque surroundings, to the kaleidoscopic garments, mystical creatures and delectable cuisines, I took pleasure imagining all that was taking place.  However, many times throughout the book the descriptions were overpowering and the moment dragged on.

 

Powerful characterization from the author and with each character's mannerism, I experienced a different emotion.  Annoyance, anger, empathy just to name a few. I'd love to have read more building up of some characters and less of others.  

 

Although the plot was interesting and intriguing, it didn't draw me in right away.  It was a slow start due to the overly detailed paragraphs and I didn't become involved until the middle of the book.  At times the story lacked balance.  Some parts of the story dragged and some parts were rushed.  The subplot was a nice added a touch of mystery.

 

I'm glad I chose Dhonielle Clayton's YA fantasy novel, The Belles, as a new genre for me to explore.  Inside there's magic and fascination, but the author also touches on body shaming,  how one perceives beauty and the depth people endure to achieve it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review
4 Stars
Bad Neighbors - Maia Chance

 

 

 

Bad Neighbors is the second installment in the Agnes and Effie Mystery series.  The story takes place in fictional Naneda, New York.  A town filled with quirky neighbors and every knows your name.  

 

Agnes and her kooky great aunt Effie are restoring their family bed and breakfast the Stagecoach Inn.  It's leaf-peeping season In Naneda, the tourists will be arriving soon and the Stagecoach Inn needs a major overhaul.  When Effie gets a phone call that a bus carrying seniors has broke down and the seniors need a place to stay until repairs are made she accommodates them at the inn.  Upon Agnes's and Effie's arrival they learn Agnes's new boyfriend, Otis is in police custody for the dead body found at his auto repair shop.  Agnes knows Otis is innocent and it's up to her and Effie to prove his innocence.

 

Plenty of humor and comical characters made this cozy mystery an enjoyable read.  Aunt Effie is that one aunt in every family....swanky, funny, witty, bizarre, full of life. The seniors' high-spirited and lively characterizations reminded me of the roles played in the movie, Cocoon.  Some of the neighbors would never be invited over for coffee.

 

As the mystery unfolds and I put two and two together, Chance cleverly steers the mystery in another direction without missing a beat.

 

Bad Neighbors by Maia Chance was a delight to read.  I'm looking forward to reading more books by this author.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

 

Review
4 Stars
Fiction Can Be Murder - Becky Clark

 

 

Mystery author Charlamagne "Charlee" Russo meets her writer friends weekly for their critique session.  She is the most experienced in the group of authors in various genres and her opinions are usually highly favored.

 

Charlee receives a disheartening phone call that her "eat nails for breakfast' publisher has been murdered.  Already upset by the tragic news, Charlee is in for more shock when she learns her publisher's death was caused by a scene from her manuscript making her the main suspect.  

 

The detectives on the case believes it's a slam dunk, but Charlee doesn't agree when the group has read her manuscript as well as a few others.  She kicks-off her own investigation and in the process may ruin a few friendships.

 

I enjoyed Charlee's character.  She quirky, lovable, hard-headed with a case of the butterfingers.  Her friends are comical, especially her ride or die friend, AmyJo.  There's a good, even pace from scene to scene with humor scattered throughout the book.  I was stumped when the murderer was revealed because I'm usually good at solving mysteries....I always wanted to be a detective.

 

Becky Clark's debut mystery, Fiction Can Be Murder is a good-humored enjoyable story. 

 

Thank you Netgalley and Midnight Ink for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

 

Review
3 Stars
One House Over - Mary Monroe

 

 

Joyce was born late in life to her parents. Living in Alabama in the 1930's during the Jim Crow era, her parents did well for themselves as Black owners of a grocery store in their predominately black neighborhood.  They adored Joyce and did their best raising her and giving her the best. Joyce's parents showered her with praises for being intelligent and a hard worker, but berated her for not being married and unattractive.

 

 

While on one of Joyce's weekly visits to her father's store, she's introduced to Odell, who works stocking shelves.  A swindler and fast talker, Odell needed money and working as stock boy wasn't going to make him rich quick.  His ticket of out poverty is staring him in the face and the charm begins.  Life is going well for the married couple until lies, deceit and blackmail takes center stage.

 

I didn't like one character in the book.  Joyce's parents not once cared about her feelings with their underhand compliments.  Joyce's high-and-mighty attitude....hmmm...maybe that's her defense mechanism since people were always looking down at her, prevents her from noticing her tranquil life is about to be shaken.  Odell's character is straight out conniving.

 

Mary Monroe is one of my favorite authors.  Her writing is descriptive and pulls you into the characters.  Her plots are well thought and engaging.  For me One House Over fell short.  The story was rushed and unexciting.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Kensington for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Review
3 Stars
The Friend: An emotional psychological thriller with a twist - Teresa O'Driscoll

 

 

Sophie's life was at a stand still.  She adored taking care of her family, but after having her son Ben and being a stay at home mother and housewife, the excitement and adrenaline once felt from working outside the home was sorely missed.

 

Emma and her son Theo are newcomers to Tedbury.  When she and Sophie cross paths, a budding friendship begins . Sophie admired Emma's energy and spontaneity; traits she wished she had inside her.  But what happened in Emma's past that make her secretive?  What evil has she brought with her to Tedbury?

 

The Friend by Teresa Driscoll is written in chapters of the past and present.  The story's pace was strong and engaging in the beginning, however it slowly loses steam.  The "past" chapters took too long to get to the thrill of the plot and the end of the book whizzes on by.

 

I didn't form any connections with the characters and Sophie annoyed me with her passive attitude.

 

There's a good plot in The Friend, but unfortunately it took longer than I wanted to get to the point.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Review
4 Stars
Marinating In Murder - Linda Wiken

 

Marinating in Murder is the 3rd book in the Dinner Club mystery series.

 

When Alison, a cop and a club member of the Culinary Capers Dinner Club find herself in hot water for the murder of her ex-husband, she must rely on the investigation of the police department to solve the case.  Event planner J.J. Tanner and also a club member doesn't have faith in the swiftness of the department to protect Alison's innocence, so she hashes an investigation of her own.  

 

Cooking or food-themed cozy mysteries are one of my favorites to read.  I love to read the delectable dishes the characters are eating and the recipes the author normally adds at the end of the book.  

 

The characters were easy to like and imagine, however at times I felt J.J. to be a little naive about her instincts and affairs of the heart.

 

Though I knew early in the story who committed the murder that didn't lessen my curiosity because the writing was steady and likable and it's always fun to figure out the motive.

 

This is my first time reading books written by Linda Wiken and I will add the first two book in the series to my ever growing reading list.  

 

I recommend Marinating in Murder to all cozy mystery readers especially those who love food-themed mysteries.  This cozy mystery is a light read for beginner cozy readers, too.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Berkley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

Review
3 Stars
The Girlfriend: A Novel - Sarah  Naughton

Trigger Warning:  Child Abuse and Rape

 

Mags enjoys the life she has in Las Vegas.  She's a bull-dog defense attorney and firmly plays by her rules.  But when she gets the news her brother, Abe has been seriously injured in a fall, she leaves for England to be by his side.  When Mags arrive at the hospital, she meets Abe's girlfriend, Jody who seems to be the only one who witnesses Abe's accident.  

 

Jody's account of the accident doesn't set well with Mags.  There's something that Jody isn't telling and Mags conducts her own investigation since she's not getting much help from the police.

 

This book started off very slow for me.  My rule for reading a slow book is if the first fifty pages of a book doesn't grab and hold my attention, I will not complete it.  I have so many other books I need read.  However, I thought I would give it another chance, set it aside and read something light and cheerful to cleanse my reading palette.  The story did pick up its pace a little after the first fifty pages, but not by much.

 

I had a difficult time connecting with the characters.  I didn't find Mags likable throughout most of the book, but she slowly redeems herself on the last twenty-five pages of the story.  The plot is good with gripping situations, however I felt some areas in the book needed more buildup.

 

If you like a dark, psychological thriller, Sarah Naughton's The Girlfriend may be the book for you.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

Review
4 Stars
Color Me Murder - Krista Davis

 

 

Color Me Murder by Krista Davis debuts as the first installment in the Pen and Ink cozy mystery series.  As an added bonus the front and back covers are colorable.

 

Florrie Fox enjoys working and managing the Color Me Read bookstore.  She takes delight in helping the customers and making them happy with their book finds.  After a long day at work, Florrie loves to unwind with her cat, Peaches and design adult coloring books.  

 

Living in Reston, Virigina, Florrie is looking for a place closer to work. When the owner of the bookstore, Professor John Maxwell offers his empty carriage house rent free, Florrie jumps at the proposition, but she must take residence right away before his "good for nothing" nephew, Delbert takes claim on it.  One morning after opening up the bookstore, Florrie finds Delbert dead and the evidence points to dear, old Professor Maxwell.  Florrie knows he didn't kill his nephew and with paper and pen in hand, Florrie sketches out the clues to free Professor Maxwell.

 

Color Me Murder is a quick, enjoyable read.  The chapters are short and the pages are colorful, sprinkled with a little humor.  The author vividly describes each character and scene. My image of the bookstore is vintage and musty with tables of books in the center aisles and a sliding book ladder.  The characters are lively and well portrayed.  Florrie is my favorite character.  She's giving with a dash of spontaneity.  There are many characters in this cozy mystery, but they're easy to follow and each play an intricate part.  Both the plot and subplot are fast paced, yet smoothly flow into each other.

 

In the future, I'm looking forward to reading more of the Pen and Ink series.  I recommend Color Me Read to cozy mystery lovers or not who love to read book-themed mysteries.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Kensington Books for the ARC.

 

 

Review
3 Stars
Down the River unto the Sea - Walter Mosley

 

 

New York Detective First Class Joe Oliver was a good and fair cop who played by the book.  A family man who loved his wife and his daughter, Aja-Denise.  However, Joe had one weakness that he could never shake; the opposite sex.  His infidelity caused the downfall of his career as detective and landed him in Rikers.  After being released from a place which broke his spirit he begins to heal.  He opens a private detective agency and his daughter is helping him run it.  However, when he gets involve with two new cases, the fair and good cop who once played by the rules has a new set of rules.

 

I enjoyed the relationship between Joe and his daughter.  She helped pull him out some dark moments when he thought about the injustice and brutality he suffered while in prison.  She brought him pure happiness and helped in his healing.  

 

Although the two plots in the story were strong, I felt they were competing against each other to see who will win at capturing my attention.  There were too many characters to try and keep up with.  I found myself having to go back and read a section again to understand the reason behind that character.

 

The recipe for a great mystery was included with the police corruption, unsavory characters and graphic violence.  Even with all these components, there was a lull in the story that was hard to overcome.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Mulholland Books for the arc for my honest review.

 

 

 

 

Review
4 Stars
Perish (A Gardiner and Renner Novel) - Lisa Black

Cleveland's police forensic scientist, Maggie Gardiner is called to the most gruesome murder scene imaginable.  The victim, a CEO of a mortgage lending firm has met a horrible death and it's Maggie's job to help police detective, Jack Renner catch the murderer.  Without any clues to go on, the deranged psychopath hones in on his next victims.

 

Perish is the first book I've read by author, Lisa Black.  It is the third book in the Gardiner and Renner series. I would benefit reading the first two books in the series to understand the secretive and strange relationship between Gardiner and Renner; even though flashbacks were given to figure it out.

 

Thirty percent into reading, I began to pull away from the story.  There was so much detailed writing about mortgage lending and unsavory practices which I didn't understand. However, Ms. Black soon redeemed herself and the "meat and potatoes" were served again.

 

The elaborate specifics of the murder scenes are attributed to Ms. Black's expertise as a forensic scientist and latent print examiner.  The descriptive, gruesome murder scenes and gathering evidence procedures could only be told by an expert....impressive! 

 

I truly enjoyed reading Perish by Lisa Black.  I will definitely read the first two books in the Gardiner and Renner series.

 

Thank you NetGalley and Kensington for the ARC for my honest review.

Reading progress update: I've read 7%.
Perish (A Gardiner and Renner Novel) - Lisa Black

 

 

The beginning pages...gruesome....but I like!!!

Review
4.5 Stars
WOW!!!
The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

 

The Wife Between Us is a mind-blowing psychological thriller on steroids.

 

To Vanessa, her life is a fairytale come true.  She marries Richard, a handsome and successful man.  She adores the way he dotes on her and lavishes her with beautiful things.  However, not all fairytales have happy endings.  The light that once glowed brightly has now diminished, leaving Vanessa in a sea of emotions.  Richard has moved on with his life and Vanessa is still picking up the pieces of her shattered life.

 

Nothing about this story is predictable.  There were a couple of times I had to reread a part to believe what I just read.  The twists and turns are cleverly written and the characters were dramatic and intriguing.  The story moved steady, allowing me to absorb every stirring moment.

 

If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, I suggest you give The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen a try.

 

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC

Review
4 Stars
The Chalk Man
The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor

 

 

 When you're twelve years old, playing with your friends and having fun is all that matters.  That's what Eddie and his four childhood friends did when they were around each other.  They even had an unusual way of communicating with each other at times; leaving messages in chalk.

 

The story begins in England, 1986.  A dismembered body is discovered.  A mysterious man comes to town.  Let's move forward to 2016.  Who's sending chalk messages?

 

First, I must say this novel has the potential of becoming a good screen psychological thriller. I was held captive once I began reading.  This story is intense and gripping.  Nothing is what it seems and with all its twists and turns, stopping at the end of a chapter wasn't an option.

 

 Tudor didn't skimp on the characterization.  Each character strongly described and just enough sub-characters to keep the story balanced.  

 

I'm glad I read The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor.  I look forward to reading more of this author's novels.

 

*Thank you Netgalley and Crown Publishing for the ARC.