Thursday, September 29, 2022

{I've Been Reading} Gone for Gouda

Gone for Gouda by Korina Moss

Cheesemonger Willa Bauer has high hopes for her shop's latest event, but as soon as celebrity chef Phoebe Winston arrives, things start getting complicated. The chairs for the audience are wrong. The ingredients Willa purchased for the cooking demonstration are wrong. Still, Willa is hopeful that the event will bring attention and  extra income to her shop -- until the guest of honor is found dead.

I enjoyed this one. The characters are fun to spend time with, the mystery was intriguing, and the setting had me wanting to put the book down just long enough to make myself a cheesy snack. One of my favorite things about cozy mysteries is the chance to step out of my own day to day life and this one definitely fit the bill. 


Seams Like Murder by Dorothy Howell

Abbey Chandler arrives in Hideaway Grove just in time to be the prime suspect in a hit and run homicide. Her car is white, and has a dented fender, and has been impounded by the local police until they conclude their investigation. To keep herself occupied, she takes over a charity sewing project, even though her only experience with a sewing machine was as a teenager and it seems like everyone in town remembers the awful dress she made. It took me a little while to warm up to this one, but by the second half of the book the mystery element and Abbey's enthusiasm for pillowcase dresses had both started to become more central parts of the plot. 

 The New Couple by Alison James 

This is one of those books where the tone of the book itself is different from the back cover description. The facts all match up, but instead of reading about the woman who isn't Stephanie Hamlin, we're plunged into the story of her middle-aged neighbor. Jane is a judgmental woman who likes to use big words. She lost me when she saw two neighbors having sex in another neighbor's garden and described it as "animalistic coitus." She's got a lot of opinions about a lot of people, including the couple who just won their house in a fund-raising raffle. Her newest neighbors, Stephanie and Richard Hamlin, aren't who they claim to be, but there's a lot of conflict in the neighborhood even before the new couple moves in.

The first third of the book is all from Jane's point of view and moves slowly until, about a third of the way through, it switches to another character and finally gets more interesting, until we switch to a third character's point of view. The middle of the book had me intrigued, but the ending was a disappointment...and the characters I was most interested in were almost completely left out of the plot. 

Disclosure -- The publishers provided me with advance review copies. This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

{I've Been Reading} The Guest House

 The Guest House by Robin Morgan-Bentley 

This domestic thriller gets off to a frightening start and then keeps escalating from there. A romantic weekend get away before their first baby is born turns into a nightmare for Victoria and Jamie. The plot opens just as things begin to go wrong, but you won't find out what actually happened until much later in the book. Plenty of hints kept me turning the pages to find out. Chapters alternate between the couple's experience in the guest house and a few weeks later as they try to hide what happened. I had to keep checking the dates on the chapter headers and to do some math to figure out how much time had passed. I absolutely loved this one.  

The Stolen Child by Emily Shiner 

This one kept me turning pages! The chapters alternate between Emily, a blogger with a carefully curated life, and Bethany, one of Emily's online fans. Bethany has gotten just close enough to her idol to discover the one thing that Emily is hiding from the world and she's determined to use that thing to force her way into her new best friend's life. It was fascinating to watch the whole thing play out, even though I don't think the situation was all that plausible. People can make up explanations to explain things. They can out and out lie...but Emily doesn't. She just panics. 

Emily thinks of herself as a successful influencer, even though she's only managed a couple of brand details and her husband asks her to stop sharing so many details online. Success is just a viral post away!  She definitely doesn't want to be friends with Bethany, who wears an unflattering shade of lipstick and faded clothing.  In case you can't guess, I didn't care for Emily much.  Underneath that pretty exterior, she's mean. And she doesn't seem too bright.   Bethany, on the other hand, is just plain nuts. 

Watching the two interact was completely entertaining. The author lost me at the very end, but I had so much fun getting to that point that I don't mind one bit. 

Disclosure -- The publisher sent me an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links. 

Thursday, September 08, 2022

{I've Been Reading} The Nanny


The Nanny by Ruth Heald

I absolutely loved this one. A woman and her husband decide that taking in a lodger is the best way to ease the strain on their finances. It's an idea that they've discussed and decided against before, but they're running out of choices and the young woman who comes to look at the room seems absolutely perfect. It has to be a coincidence that she looks like someone Hayley had spent twenty years trying to forget. Not even Hayley's husband knows the story of "Bangkok's Killer Nanny"...but suddenly a lot of people are curious about her gap years and what happened in Thailand twenty years ago.

The book alternates between past and present, always from Hayley's point of view. The story gradually unfolds, finally revealing what happened to baby Chloe and what's going on now, but the pace never drags and I never felt like the author was deliberately stretching things out or hiding things from the reader.  It was an engrossing read that has me wanting to track down the author's earlier books as soon as I can. 

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, September 01, 2022

{I've Been Reading} Please Join Us


Please Join Us by Catherine McKenzie

Panthera Leo,an exclusive women's networking group, promises life changing results. The high-powered members of each five-member pride take care of each other, doing what it takes to ensure that they all succeed. Nicole has never heard of the group before receiving an email from them, but she jumps at the sudden invitation to join. 

The description was promising, but I had a hard time getting into this one. Nicole is tired because of men. She's angry because of men.  Her husband doesn't have the same drive to succeed as she does and doesn't work as hard as she does. She's underperforming at her job. The apartment she and her husband love is being taken by another member of his family. She wants changes in her life and apparently isn't about to ask any questions about what she'll have to do to repay all of the favors the other pride members are doing for her. 

The plot shifts back and forth between a present situation and a few months earlier when Nicole first joined the group. It builds slowly and by the time things really started to happen I didn't care if Nicole was going to be okay or not. 

No Parm No Foul by Linda Reilly 

Carly Hale has cooked up the perfect grilled cheese on pumpkin bread for an annual Halloween food competition. She's not too worried about a rival sandwich shop owner. Ferris Menard is rude and unpleasant and angry that one of his employees has quit to work at Carly's shop...and then he's found dead in his own restaurant kitchen with a steak knife sticking out of his chest. 

After reading this one, I wanted to run out and buy some fancy bread and cheeses so I could make myself a sandwich half as good as the ones in the book sound. It's a fun read with lots of atmosphere and a plot that twists and turns in some unexpected directions. 

A Colorful Scheme by Krista Davis

This has absolutely become one of my favorite cozy mystery series. The last book, which featured a screaming skull, was so much fun that I plunged into this one without even pausing to look at the cover  copy. If it's about adult coloring-book creator and bookstore manager Florrie and her friends, I want to read it. This one starts with a missing bride and quickly escalates to a mysterious death.  There's a whole lot to enjoy in these pages, including one new character who I hope to read a lot more about in the next book. 

The Housekeeper by Joy Fielding

Jodi is stretched too think, trying to care for her aging parents and hold a full time job as the bread-winner for her own family. Something has to change and hiring a housekeeper to help her parents seems like the perfect solution, especially when she meets Elyse. The woman is almost too good to be true, stepping in immediately to solve most of Jodi's problems. At first. Then things start to change and Jodi realizes that Elyse is wearing her mother's jewelry. The beginning hooked me and, even when I  felt like the plot was starting to lag a bit, the writing style kept me reading until the end. 

Disclosure -- This post contains affiliate links. The publishers provided me with advance review copies. 


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