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Picture Perfect Frame–art with a twist
Picture Perfect Frame
by Lynn Cahoon
Spring has arrived in South Cove, a small coastal town in California. Tourists are showing up, and businesses are gearing up for the St. Patrick’s Day Street Fair and the many festivals that will follow. Jill, avid reader and owner of Coffee, Books, and More, stays busy juggling her personal life centered around Emma her Pomeranian and Greg her boyfriend who heads up the police department. Her staff, including a new member Evie, work well together sharing responsibilities and functioning as a family. Jill’s best friend Amy is a bit of a bridezilla as she sets ups a second attempt at the perfect wedding; her fiancée’s family cancelled on the first scheduled ceremony.
Despite Jill’s acclaimed lack of creativity, she and Greg attend a painting event at the new Drunken Art Studio. Jill is unable to follow the directions that should result in a seascape, but her strengths as a nosey informal investigator are in full display when one of the guests shows up dead at the studio the next day.
Esmeralda, who handles administrative tasks for Greg, is a self-proclaimed psychic and also Jill’s neighbor; she is accused of the murder. Jill is convinced that the laid back Esmeralda, who catches flies and drives them to the mountains to release them, is innocent. Jill devotes herself to finding the real killer. In the process she discovers that some of her suspects have pasts they want to keep hidden as well as motives for killing the victim. Clearly, one of them is a murderer, and the identity is a surprise. There is also a happy personal twist at the end of Picture Perfect Frame that both provides closure and segues into the next book in the series.
I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: 1. #12 in the Tourist Trap Mystery Series. Lynn Cahoon is good at providing background so it could be read as a standalone, but there are a lot of references to characters in previous books. My advice: Go back and read some of the earlier books in the series first. It is worth the time and effort.
2. Includes a delicious sounding recipe for “Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake.”
Publication: March 16, 2021—Kensington
“As a lawyer, a lot of times the decisions the courts made weren’t about the truth. I don’t want someone to die and have the wrong person in jail for it. Or worse, for no one to be brought to justice. It doesn’t seem right.”
“I’ve always heard you can’t run from your problems because everywhere you go, you’re still there.”
“Of course we’ll schedule that lunch.” And then she opened the book and started reading. As a reader, I knew a dismissal when I saw it. I’d done it to others before too.
Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop–home and business in a van
Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop
by Rebecca Raisin
Personal Note: Fall is bringing glorious temps in my area along with some hints of winter to come. Days are too short and dark is uncomfortably extended. It’s the perfect time to mix up my stringent standards of reading books, excepting book club tomes, in the order in which they were published. It’s also a good time to again acknowledge that I am fearfully behind in my reading queue, but I am gradually catching up, mainly because I am requesting about half the number of Advanced Reader Copies that I did when I lived in Mexico. What does my sudden free-spiritedness have to do with this review?
I just finished reading Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop, a fun romance and the first in a series that focuses on some nomadic souls. I’m going to jump into the next one tomorrow, soon to be followed by the third, which has a Christmas theme—perfect!
My Review: It’s Rosie’s birthday and she just turned 32. Her husband Callum has a surprise for her, but it is not a pleasant one. As the sous chef at a famous London restaurant, she works long hours, has almost total independence in creative decisions, but gets no credit for her contributions to the restaurant’s fame.
Can she be successful personally and financially as a Van Lifer, someone who lives out of a van, travelling with no schedule, following fairs and special events or his or her personal whim? Does she have what it takes to strike out on her own, preparing and selling special teas and comfort food in her tiny kitchen at these events? Can she recover from Callum’s betrayal and find love with either sensitive Ollie whom she met on the Internet or with hunky nomadic Max who draws her outside her cocoon of contentment with adventures?
I obviously enjoyed this book. Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop has romantic themes, but it also addresses the serious events that the main characters have experienced that make them the way they are. Rosie is a really nice person and all through the book I wanted only the best for her, although life doesn’t always work out that way. Rosie is a planner with OCD tendencies. She has not had much time for friendships so interacting with romance book loving, free-spirited, kind hearted Aria is a challenge. I can’t forget to mention Poppy, Rosie’s fuchsia pink van; Poppy is as important to Rosie and to the plot as any flesh and bones character! The next book in the series will focus on Aria and her Travelling Bookshop; I’m hoping for a very bookish romance with some adventure and fun thrown in as Rosie and Aria continue their Van Life travels.
I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to HarperCollins for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Notes: 1. #1 in The Travelling Shops Series 2. When I posted my review on Amazon on 12/6/2021, the Kindle version of this book was on sale for $.99.
Publication: February 16, 2021—Harper Collins
“The right person is out there, you just have to take the leap and find him. But first you need to figure out what makes you happy, and then have it in spades.”
“Anomaly is just another word for extraordinary, and who wants to be ordinary, anyway? To me you’re a shining light in a crowd of beige.”
And now I see with such life-altering clarity, that all those material things did the exact opposite of fulfilling me, they held me back, kept me in debt, kept me working to maintain a lifestyle that didn’t satisfy me at all.
An Ale of Two Cities–bookish at its best
An Ale of Two Cities
by Sarah Fox
I found some relief from the pandemic news in An Ale of Two Cities by Sarah Fox. It is a fun, serious, puzzling cozy mystery with some action and excitement included. Although setting and atmosphere usually take a backseat to plot and characters in this kind of mystery, all of the elements are important here. The bookish setting is the Inkwell, Sadie’s pub decked out with bookshelves, literary decor, and special cozy rooms such as the one dedicated to Agatha Christie. Special literary-themed drinks are offered and, with two chefs, food has been added to the menu. Sadie has organized genre book clubs that meet monthly as well. All of this takes place in Vermont where our Tennessean main character has to adapt to the snow and cold weather.
The deadly mischief begins at the Winter Carnival’s Ice Sculpting Competition. Mel, one of Sadie’s employees, is competing and discovers a minor crime in the theft of her tools; but the plot turns deadly when Freddy, an unpleasant former denizen of the tourist town, is found dead in the snow. The evidence initially points to Mel, but there are lots of people with motivations to cut Freddy’s life short. Sadie investigates hoping to find the murderer thus clearing Mel’s name. In addition to the trauma of discovering dead bodies, Sadie has to deal with her growing attraction to Grayson who owns a local brewery. Winter Carnival appeals to her competitive nature as she organizes a hockey team representing her pub in ugly, mustard-yellow sweaters and learns how to snowshoe in preparation for the big race.
I highly recommend An Ale of Two Cities for its humor, plot, and all-around good reading fun. If you love books, then you’ll probably give this mystery bonus points for its bookish nature.
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.
1. #2 in the Literary Pub Mystery Series, but could be read as a standalone.
2. Recipes are included for some cocktails as well as Paradise Lox.
Publication: November 26, 2019—Kensington Books
When my cat wanted his breakfast, he wasn’t about to let anything get in his way, especially not five more minutes of heavenly slumber for his human servant.
I had to take a long, hot shower and drink another cup of steaming coffee before I could declare myself completely thawed out. Once I no longer felt like a close cousin of one of the ice sculptures out on the village green, I headed downstairs to the Inkwell to get ready for the workday.
Spreading rumors was her superpower. It didn’t matter if they were true or not. As soon as Gretchen got hold of some tasty tidbit of fact or fiction, there was no stopping its spread through town.
Memories and Murder–scamming seniors
Memories and Murder
by Lynn Cahoon
The name of the series, Tourist Trap Mysteries, doesn’t begin to describe this bookish set adequately. Memories and Murder is the latest installment in which Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books and More in little South Cove, drinks coffee, eats sweet treats, and reads her way through relationship and murder issues. There are lots of threads to this plot. Aunt Jackie has called off her engagement to Harrold and gone silent. Deek is a new barista in the coffee shop; he is more perceptive than psychic, despite his heritage. He has great ideas for book clubs and follows through with implementation. Jill juggles investigating a murder and a scam and finds herself in deadly trouble.
The story is told from Jill’s point of view, and first person narration works well here. The pace moves along snappily in this cozy mystery. Don’t be deterred by Memories and Murder being the tenth book in the sequence. Author Lynn Cahoon is a master at bringing readers up to speed on characters and background. In the first chapter you will learn almost everything you need to know to enjoy this book while the storyline gets underway. There is perhaps a little too much description of who ate what, when, and where, but other than feeling like I needed to accompany Jill and her dog Emma on their beach runs, those details were not truly excessive. In fact, I’m looking forward to joining the South Cove family of friends in their next adventure.
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.
Notes: #10 in The Tourist Trap Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone.
Publication: November 12, 2019— Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)
Fighting with my boyfriend had not been one of the things on my to-do list today, but you had to make room for impromptu items.
Operation Harrold Wins Jackie Back was going to work. It had to work. All the best books and movies had a happily ever after. Real life should too.
…he’d assured me that the sun would turn to ice before he left me for her.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek–the blue librarian
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
by Kim Michele Richardson
Two tales woven seamlessly into one—that’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, a work of historical fiction carefully researched and crafted by Kim Michele Richardson. Cussy Carter is a blue-skinned young woman, strong, determined, and the subject of suspicion, hatred, and discrimination in the backwoods of the Kentucky Appalachians in the 1930’s. She is also a Book Woman, a librarian who travels by mule to deliver books to the far reaches of the mountains to patrons who otherwise would have no reading options. Cussy, also called Bluet, knows her place in society as does her Black friend Queenie. They are both considered “colored.” Most people are disgusted by looking at Cussy and certainly avoid any kind of touch.
Richardson paints a moving portrait of Cussy and what it must be like to be an object of ridicule and perhaps the last of her kind. You will be hoping for the best for Cussy who, as a coal miner’s daughter, lives in poverty but shares freely with her even more impoverished patrons. Her father, also a Blue, suffers from lung issues and horrible working conditions.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a work you will read with your heart in your throat, amazed at the struggles and sufferings of Cussy, her pa, her patrons, and those who dare show kindness to her. At the same time, the book is uplifting because there are good people included in the story and Cussy always stands as a model of someone who does what is right because it is right and in spite of those who would hurt her.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Sourcebooks Landmark for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Historical Fiction
Notes: There are helpful Author’s Notes at the end of the book discussing the rare condition called methemoglobinemia. Richardson also gives background on the Pack Horse Library Project and courting candles. She explains that she altered one fact regarding dates so that she could include certain medical information.
Publication: May 7, 2019—Sourcebooks Landmark
I lived for the joy of bringing books and reading materials to the hillfolk who were desperate for my visits, the printed word that brought a hopeful world into their dreary lives and dark hollers. It was necessary. And for the first time in my life, I felt necessary.
I couldn’t help notice again how the students waited for me, looked up at me, all quiet and not a single fidget or wiggle, as hungry for the stories in these books as they were for the food that always seemed sparse in this real land.
Nary a townsfolk, not one God-fearing soul, had welcomed me or mine into town, their churches, or homes in all my nineteen years on this earth. Instead, every hard Kentucky second they’d filled us with an emptiness from their hate and scorn. It was as if Blues weren’t allowed to breathe the very same air their loving God had given them…
The Library of Ever–unforgettable library adventures
The Library of Ever
by Zeno Alexander
Lenora is a rich, privileged, eleven year old, cared for by a nanny in the absence of her vacationing, neglectful parents. With a nanny absorbed by shopping and tech devices, Lenora is understandably bored, but that changes quickly when she escapes the nanny’s unwatchful eye in the LIBRARY. To her delight, she is hired to work there. What follows is a series of magical librarian adventures. With each one of them, Lenora proves her worth and advances from Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian up through the ranks.
The adventures are fun and scary in this amazing library created by Zeno Alexander in The Library of Ever. Lenora is set on tasks by Malachi, the Chief Answerer, and she bravely confronts the Forces of Darkness who want to destroy Light in the world by destroying knowledge. The scary features are appropriate to Middle Grade readers with transporting by tubes, shrinking and unshrinking, dark caverns, holes that suddenly appear, evil men in bowler hats who can chill a room, and robots with spinning swords for arms. There are lighter moments too. Lenora becomes a cat in a diorama to rescue a lost kitten. Lenora is ever helpful, for as a librarian that is her job. Her good deeds include resettling a colony of penguins and helping a kindly robot find a lost memory. The plot moves quickly from adventure to adventure and is an appropriate length for Middle Grade readers. As an adult reader I enjoyed it too, smiling over antics and anticipating each new adventure along with each promotion for Apprentice Librarian Lenora who has always enjoyed the adventures to be found in books.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Children’s Fiction, Middle Grades
Notes: Ages: 8-11
Publication: April 30, 2019—Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Malachi burst onto the scene looking rather disheveled, meaning a wisp of hair had escaped from her bun and her badge was ever so slightly askew.
“This isn’t the Complaints Desk,” said Lenora shortly. “The Complaints Desk is down the stairs, across the hall, over the bridge, past the waterfall, then you take the fifth left after the third right and straight on ’til morning.” Lenora had no idea if there was a Complaints Desk. “You’ll also need ice skates.”
Remember, Lenora, you are not alone in this fight, even if it will feel like that sometimes. You have allies, and you can rely on them to help you with the battles you are not yet ready to fight.