Mango, Mambo, and Murder (A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery #1) by Raquel V. Reyes

Pages: 336

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: October 12, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Hardcover

My Review: If you know me, you know I am a foodie. Give me a book with a culinary theme and recipes and I am in heaven. Currently I am ready to book a flight to Miami and try the food mentioned in this book. I am drooling reading the recipes.

This was an excellent start to a new series and I am ready for book two pronto. The characters are colorful and fun. The scenery described is beautiful. The food I’ve already mentioned.

There are a lot of Spanish phrases and sentences throughout the book. Most I understand from my limited high school and college Spanish but a few I had to look up. Since I read a NetGalley I am not sure if the final printed book will have a glossary. I would love to listen to the audiobook if one is recorded.

This is set to release in October and I suggest you pre-order now. It is that good.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

From NetGalley: Cuban-American cooking show star Miriam Quiñones-Smith becomes a seasoned sleuth in Raquel V. Reyes’s Caribbean Kitchen Mystery debut, a savory treat for fans of Joanne Fluke and Jenn McKinlay.

Food anthropologist Miriam Quiñones-Smith’s move from New York to Coral Shores, Miami, puts her academic career on hold to stay at home with her young son. Adding to her funk is an opinionated mother-in-law and a husband rekindling a friendship with his ex. Gracias to her best friend, Alma, she gets a short-term job as a Caribbean cooking expert on a Spanish-language morning TV show. But when the newly minted star attends a Women’s Club luncheon, a socialite sitting at her table suddenly falls face-first into the chicken salad, never to nibble again.

When a second woman dies soon after, suspicions coalesce around a controversial Cuban herbalist, Dr. Fuentes–especially after the morning show’s host collapses while interviewing him. Detective Pullman is not happy to find Miriam at every turn. After he catches her breaking into the doctor’s apothecary, he enlists her help as eyes and ears to the places he can’t access, namely the Spanish-speaking community and the tawny Coral Shores social scene.

As the ingredients to the deadly scheme begin blending together, Miriam is on the verge of learning how and why the women died. But her snooping may turn out to be a recipe for her own murder.

Wait for It by Jenn McKinlay

Pages: 333

Publisher: Berkley Books

Published: August 10, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: E-book from Public Library through Libby/Overdrive

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Large Print Library Binding, and Paperback

My Review: Oh my, another somewhat steamy romance for me. You know what, I am not upset by that. This was a great read that I needed. It let me escape, laugh, and sigh with happiness.

In a way I can sympathize with Nick and Lexi. Just like them, my brother and I are back in each others life after 30+ years of not being. He is currently fighting covid and the thought of losing him is scary.

The romance between Nick and Annabelle is fun. Who wouldn’t want to torment an “old” rich guy who has too many rules. It would definitely bring out the sassy side of me.

If your a cozy mystery fan of Jenn’s you definitely need to give her romance books a try. I’m ready to go buy Paris is Always a Good Idea.

From Goodreads: A woman looking for a new lease on life moves to Arizona where she rents a guest house on a gorgeous property with a mysterious owner–a man who teaches her about resilience, courage, and ultimately true love, in this funny, bighearted novel about hope and healing from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay.

Stuck in a dreary Boston winter, Annabelle Martin would like nothing more than to run away from her current life. She’s not even thirty years old, twice-divorced, and has just dodged a marriage proposal… from her ex-husband. When she’s offered her dream job as creative director at a cutting-edge graphic design studio in Phoenix, she jumps at the opportunity to start over.

When she arrives in the Valley of the Sun, Annabelle is instantly intrigued by her anonymous landlord. Based on the cranky, handwritten notes Nick Daire leaves her, she assumes he is an old, rich curmudgeon. Annabelle is shocked when she finally meets Nick and discovers that he’s her age and uses a wheelchair. Nick suffered from a stroke a year ago, and while there’s no physical reason for him not to recover, he is struggling to overcome the paralyzing fear that has kept him a prisoner in his own home.

Despite her promise to herself not to get involved, Annabelle finds herself irresistibly drawn to Nick. And soon she wonders if she and Nick might help each other find the courage to embrace life, happiness, and true love.

Virgin River (Virgin River #2) by Robyn Carr

Pages: 386

Publisher: MIRA
Published: March 27, 2007

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Paperback from Personal Library (bought at Wal-Mart)

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, Paperback, and Mass Market Paperback

My Review: Oh my, is it steamy in here or is it just this book? Y’all know me, I read my sweet little Amish romances so Virgin River was steamy for me. My hubby is a sweet talker but Jack, oh my…

I love the show. So much so, I re-watch it until the next season. Although the book was different, it was a good different. I cannot wait to get book 2 started.

I really want to gather up some candles, treats, and coffee and run away to a secluded cabin and binge read the series. 

From Goodreads: A Netflix Original Series!

Welcome back to Virgin River with the book that started it all…

Wanted: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against a backdrop of towering California redwoods and crystal clear rivers. Rent-free cabin included.

When the recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees this ad, she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache, and to reenergize the nursing career she loves. But her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving—the cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realizing she’s made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning.

But a tiny baby abandoned on a front porch changes her plans…and former marine Jack Sheridan cements them into place.

The Push by Audrey Audrain

Pages: 307

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Published: January 5, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Hardcover from Local Public Library

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Large Print Paperback

My Review: What the heck did I just read? I am blown away by this fictional suspense book. It was dark, grim, twisty, and felt like it could be real. I was appalled by the husband. Personally, I think he is a waste of space.

Trigger warning: suicide, death of child, mental illness, parental neglect

Plenty of curse words used and sex is mentioned. Not a book for the faint of heart or delicate nature.

I listened to some of the audiobook and the narrator was OK. She used too much of a babyish voice when reading the kids parts. Still a good audiobook though.

From Goodreads: A tense, page-turning psychological drama about the making and breaking of a family–and a woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing at all what she hoped for–and everything she feared.

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had.

But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter–she doesn’t behave like most children do.

Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.

Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.

The Push is a tour de force you will read in a sitting, an utterly immersive novel that will challenge everything you think you know about motherhood, about what we owe our children, and what it feels like when women are not believed. 

Murder by the Bookend (An Antique Bookshop Mystery #2) by Laura Gail Black

Pages: 304

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: September 7, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Hardcover

My Review: Jenna is teaching me that old and rare books are dangerous. Poor girl cannot catch a break. Her grand reopening proves to have a killer of an ending. Now she must find the killer before her livelihood and town are destroyed.

My favorite was the addition of Eddy, the victim’s dog. He was a treat. I hope his character presence increases in the series. He brings out an even sweeter side of Jenna.

You can read this book without reading the first but as always with a series, you get more if you start from the beginning.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the above are entirely my own.

From NetGalley: Antiquarian bookseller Jenna Quinn sleuths again when a pair of glass bookends puts an end to a librarian’s life, in this second installment of Laura Gail Black’s cozy series.

The quaint warehouse district of Hokes Folly, NC, is hopping despite the drizzly November chill. The occasion? The mountain town’s beloved antiquarian bookstore, Twice Upon a Time, is throwing a bash for its grand reopening. But bookseller Jenna Quinn’s peace of mind is shattered when the local library’s Director of Antique Books turns up dead in the parking lot–his head bashed in by a glittering pair of vintage glass bookends.

As they examine the murder scene, Jenna and her police detective boyfriend happen upon the only witness–the victim’s dog, who flees the scene leaving a trail of bloody footprints behind. If only dogs could speak, Jenna might be able to make quick work of the murder case and get back to stocking her bookcases.

Alas, finding the killer won’t be so easy, even though this is not Jenna’s first murder investigation–indeed, she inherited Twice Upon a Time from her slain uncle. The suspect list is voluminous–the late librarian had not-so-friendly run-ins with numerous guests–but suspicion eventually centers on three unsavory individuals who left the party shortly before the victim did.

Now, Jenna must edit her inventory of suspects from three names to one, before the bloodthirsty bookend-wielder becomes the author of Jenna’s demise.

It’s Better This Way by Debbie Macomber

Pages: 301

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Published: July 13, 2021

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Source: Audiobook through LIbby from Local Public Library and Hardcover from Local Public Library

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Large Print Paperback

My Review: This is not my favorite Debbie Macomber but it is still a good romantic read.

I opted to listen to most of on audiobook although I had the book to read. I think that helped me get more into the story.

The story almost felt too perfect at times but that is what I expect from a romance book. I was able to let myself be lost in another world for a few hours. The narrator was very good and kept me entertained.

From Goodreads: After divorce shatters her family, one woman’s struggle to pick up the pieces finally leads to a new beginning–but is the past truly behind her? #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber explores the powerful intersections of love and family in this poignant novel.

It’s been nearly six years since Julia Jones had her heart broken. After her husband became involved with another woman, she did everything she could to save their marriage, to no avail. Their two daughters continue to stand by Julia in the wake of their father’s behavior–and they’ve had a tough time getting along with the other woman who became their stepmother. Distraught after selling the family home, Julia moved into a condominium complex that offers the warmth and charm of a fresh start. Now, having settled into her new community and sold her successful interior design business, she’s embraced a fulfilling new life, one that doesn’t seem to need a man in it. Her beloved father’s trusty saying is ringing truer than ever: It’s better this way.

But when Julia meets a handsome new resident in the building’s exercise room, she can’t help but be drawn to him. Heath Johnson is a welcome change from the men she’s encountered on the occasional–mostly disastrous–dates her sister has eagerly planned for her over the years. As she and Heath, a divorcé himself, begin to grow close, their friendship blossoms into a love neither of them had expected. However, they soon realize that combining families, even with four adult children, presents inevitable challenges.

When a dramatic revelation threatens the happiness they’ve found, Julia and Heath must reconcile their love for their children with their love for each other. If they can’t, their bright future together may be nothing but a dream. 

The Summer of Lost Letters from Hannah Reynolds

Pages: 384

Publisher: Razorbill

Published: June 15, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Hardcover from Local Public Library and Audiobook through Libby from Local Public Library

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Hardcover

My Review: I love books that are about World War 2 and am a sucker for books that deal with found letters. This would have been a book that I would have devoured in my teens so it was no surprise I devoured it now. It was even better that it took place in Nantucket which is a city that I am in love with currently. It was neat to see it from a teenager’s view versus the adult view I normally read.

A great view on WWII from a stateside angle. I could not imagine coming to America as a child knowing no one and realizing you would never see your parents again. I can only imagine how hard it would be to talk about the horrors you saw as a child and the grief you felt.

I would recommend it for older teenagers but with a warning that there is a few adult scenes (or what I think are adult, I realize teenagers now are more grown-up) and some language.

From Goodreads: Perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Ruta Sepetys, this sweet, summery romance set in Nantucket follows seventeen-year-old Abby Schoenberg as she uncovers a secret about her grandmother’s life during WWII.

Seventeen-year-old Abby Schoenberg isn’t exactly looking forward to the summer before her senior year. She’s just broken up with her first boyfriend and her friends are all off in different, exciting directions for the next three months. Abby needs a plan–an adventure of her own. Enter: the letters.

They show up one rainy day along with the rest of Abby’s recently deceased grandmother’s possessions. And these aren’t any old letters; they’re love letters. Love letters from a mystery man named Edward. Love letters from a mansion on Nantucket. Abby doesn’t know much about her grandmother’s past. She knows she was born in Germany and moved to the US when she was five, fleeing the Holocaust. But the details are either hazy or nonexistent; and these letters depict a life that is a bit different than the quiet one Abby knows about.

And so, Abby heads to Nantucket for the summer to learn more about her grandmother and the secrets she kept. But when she meets Edward’s handsome grandson, who wants to stop her from investigating, things get complicated. As Abby and Noah grow closer, the mysteries in their families deepen, and they discover that they both have to accept the burdens of their pasts if they want the kinds of futures they’ve always imagined.

Breaking Silence (Kate Burkholder #3) by Linda Castillo

Pages: 302

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Published: June 21, 2011

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Audiobook on the Hoopla App from Local Library and Hardcover from Local Library

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: A riveting read and audiobook. I love the series for days I have a lot of chores that require an audiobook. The hours fly by. The narrator has a great voice and keeps you engaged.

I am enjoying the slow romantic progress between Kate and Tomasetti. I think we still have a lot to learn about the background of both characters and something big is to be revealed.

The characters feel like friends when you open the book and you as the reader cannot wait to catch up with them.

From Goodreads: Police Chief Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of a horrific tragedy on a peaceful Amish farm.

The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death—clearly, foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs’ children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?

Having grown up Amish, Kate is determined to bring the killer to justice. Because the other series of attacks are designated hate crimes, the state sends in agent John Tomasetti, with whom Kate has a long and complex relationship. Together, they search for the link between the crimes—and uncover a dark secret at work beneath the placid surface of this idyllic Amish community.

A Christmas Engagement: An Amish Romance by Linda Byler

Pages: 240

Publisher: Good Books

Published: September 21, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital and Hardcover

My Review: The author is an active Amish member and writes Amish fiction and romance. Her novels don’t have the finesse of Beverly Lewis or Wanda Brunstetter but they are just as good. They feel authentic.

I read an interesting article the other day that mentioned she writes them long hand and mails the notebooks to her editor. They type them up as is and make very few changes.

A Christmas Engagement is a sweet, quick read. Perfect for a quiet night by the fire with a cup of tea or cocoa to get you in the Christmas spirit.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Good Book, through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

From NetGalley: Bestselling Amish novelist Linda Byler spins a sweet tale of heartache, disappointment, and ultimately hopes fulfilled at Christmastime.

Liz had been in love once, had even been engaged. In fact, the wedding had been planned, the barn cleaned, and the celery was set to be harvested to make the traditional wedding soup. Just two weeks before the day she was to exchange vows with her beloved, he changed his mind, and that was that.

The humiliation was almost as bad as the heartbreak. The whole community had celebrated her engagement, had participated in the wedding planning, had started giving her advice on keeping a home and raising children. When the wedding was canceled, no one knew what to say. She had to bear the pitying looks and awkward glances for many months. She vowed never to be such a fool again, never to trust her heart to a man who could just up and leave her with hardly an explanation. She’d rather be an old maid than go through that again.

Years pass, and Liz has made peace with her life as a single woman, a “leftover blessing” as the Amish say. She can admit to herself that Matthew, the owner of the Amish restaurant at the market where she works, is handsome. And she is aware that he is single. But she reminds herself over and over that it’s not worth feeling anything for the man. He’s her boss and that’s it. So why does she look forward to work so much every day? And why can’t she make her heart beat at a normal pace when he comes near?

Linda Byler is beloved for her skillful story telling and true-to-life descriptions of Amish food, faith, and culture. As an Amish woman herself, she can share details of Amish life that few can replicate. In this charming novel, Byler shares intimate details of day-to-day life in an Amish community while spinning a sweet tale of love and hopes fulfilled at Christmastime.

Partners in Lime (Seaside Café Mystery #6) by Bree Baker

Pages: 336

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Published: August 31, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Mass Market Paperback

My Review: I am horrible when it comes to reading and I know a series is ending. I will drag a book out forever. It too me almost two weeks to read this and it wasn’t because it wasn’t good. I don’t want to leave Everly’s world. I love her tea shop, her aunts, her best friend Amelia and her bookshop, and of course Grady. Oh, how can you not love Grady?

In Partners in Lime, Everly tries to clear her friend Matt of a horrific murder of a previous competitor. At the same time she is helping Amelia’s boyfriend plan a surprise birthday party. Neither is going as planned.

I’ll go ahead and warn you to get a box of tissues for the last ten percent of the book. I found myself bawling in the middle of the night while my hubby slept beside me.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

From NetGalley: Everly will have to go against the tide to crack this case!

It all seems to be smooth sailing for Everly Swan. The island of Charm, North Carolina is hosting tons of fun summer events, her iced tea shop is a hit, and best of all, she’s finally dating the handsome Detective Grady Hays. But their romantic bubble bursts when tragedy strikes: a surf-pro is found murdered on the beach, killed with a theater prop.

Grady follows the evidence, all of which points to Matt, Everly’s friend and one-time fling. As Grady does his job, so does Everly—her unofficial chef-turned-sleuth-job, that is. She’s determined to clear her friend’s name but the arrival of a fancy new teashop and The Town Charmer, a gossip blog determined to rock the boat, complicates things. As Everly tries to keep rumors at bay and investigate the murder (and her new tea rival), the killer leaves a message in the sand…

Partners in Lime, the sixth book in Bree Baker’s critically acclaimed Seaside Café Mystery series, is sure to make waves among fans of cozy mysteries!