Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen

Pages: 323

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Published: February 11, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle Unlimited

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: I admit I do not know much about the monarchy in England so I didn’t realize that this was based on a real Queen and some of her life experiences. I think if I had known that I would have gotten a little more out of the story.

The book was enjoyable and I really liked the main character. Isabella (Helen). Her spunk and gumption was fun. I like that for the most part she was portrayed as a strong heroine.

What I did not like was the crime did not occur until the last 20% of the book. I kept expecting it to occur much sooner. When it did occur it felt rushed.

This is my first Rhys Bowen book and my appetite is whetted for more.

From Goodreads: A single twist of fate puts a servant girl to work in Queen Victoria’s royal kitchen, setting off a suspenseful, historical mystery by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and The Victory Garden.

Isabella Waverly only means to comfort the woman felled on a London street. In her final dying moments, she thrusts a letter into Bella’s hand. It’s an offer of employment in the kitchens of Buckingham Palace, and everything the budding young chef desperately wants: an escape from the constrictions of her life as a lowly servant. In the stranger’s stead, Bella can spread her wings.

Arriving as Helen Barton from Yorkshire, she pursues her passion for creating culinary delights, served to the delighted Queen Victoria herself. Best of all, she’s been chosen to accompany the queen to Nice. What fortune! Until the threat of blackmail shadows Bella to the Riviera, and a member of the queen’s retinue falls ill and dies.

Having prepared the royal guest’s last meal, Bella is suspected of the poisonous crime. An investigation is sure to follow. Her charade will be over. And her new life will come crashing down—if it doesn’t send her to the gallows.

Blind Tiger by Sandra Brown

Pages: 512

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Published: August 3, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Hardcover Public Library Book

Available Format: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: Oh, what an emotional, romantic read. I love reading historical fiction and you add some good romance and I am all googly-eyed. This was not your typical Sandra Brown book and that made it all the better. It was a perfect palate cleanser.

I learned more about Prohibition than ever. I did not know Texas was a big moonshine state. I always associated it with Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. I’ve never had an interest in trying moonshine but after reading Laurel’s story maybe I’ll take a sip one day.

There is a lot of cursing but it goes with the atmosphere of the era. A couple of steamy sex scenes but if you read Sandra Brown then you expect this. I would have been disappointed if it wasn’t present.

A must-read for all Sandra Brown fans.

From Goodreads: The year 1920 comes in with a roar in this rousing and suspenseful novel by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown. Prohibition is the new law of the land, but murder, mayhem, lust, and greed are already institutions in the Moonshine Capitol of Texas.

Thatcher Hutton, a war-weary soldier on the way back to his cowboy life, jumps from a moving freight train to avoid trouble . . . and lands in more than he bargained for. On the day he arrives in Foley, Texas, a local woman goes missing. Thatcher, the only stranger in town, is suspected of her abduction, and worse. Standing between him and exoneration are a corrupt mayor, a crooked sheriff, a notorious cathouse madam, a sly bootlegger, feuding moonshiners . . . and a young widow whose soft features conceal an iron will.

What was supposed to be a fresh start for Laurel Plummer turns to tragedy. Left destitute but determined to dictate her own future, Laurel plunges into the lucrative regional industry, much to the dislike of the good ol’ boys, who have ruled supreme. Her success quickly makes her a target for cutthroat competitors, whose only code of law is reprisal. As violence erupts, Laurel and—now deputy—Thatcher find themselves on opposite sides of a moonshine war, where blood flows as freely as whiskey.

The Last Chance Library by Freya Simpson

Pages: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Published: August 31, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Hardcover Public Library Book

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book but a few things irked me. The biggest was that it was portrayed that it is not OK to be happy to come home to a quiet house and enjoy your books away from people. It is perfectly OK for some as they need that time to decompress. Yes, human interaction is needed but us introverts enjoy that quiet time. June got her interaction by working in the library.

My favorite was the portrayal of a library as a basic need in our community. How true this is. Libraries are much more than just books. If you don’t agree I challenge you to go to one in any city and see the life being experienced. Free classes, job interviews, GED classes, computer usage, and a place for someone to feel safe for a few hours.

This book shows us community at its best and worst but it shows how if we work toward a common goal we can achieve anything.

A good read for booklovers.

From Goodreads: June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way.

Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother.

Joining a band of eccentric yet dedicated locals in a campaign to keep the library, June opens herself up to other people for the first time since her mother died. It just so happens that her old school friend Alex Chen is back in town and willing to lend a helping hand. The kindhearted lawyer’s feelings for her are obvious to everyone but June, who won’t believe that anyone could ever care for her in that way.

To save the place and the books that mean so much to her, June must finally make some changes to her life. For once, she’s determined not to go down without a fight. And maybe, in fighting for her cherished library, June can save herself, too.

What the Cat Dragged In (A Cat in the Stacks #14) by Miranda James

Pages: 297

Publisher: Berkley

Published: August 31, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Hardcover Public Library Book

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

My Review: A little history, a little murder, and a little family drama. What more can you ask for? As with all the books in the series I was hooked from page one. I just don’t think I could be as calm when finding a skeleton. I know for a fact that Charlie and Diesel would hear me scream.

Diesel and Ramses make plenty of appearances and keep us on our toes. I feel sorry for Ramses as he never gets to join in the fun and investigate. I hope when he gets older he gets to be more involved. He has the perfect teacher in Diesel.

I was a bit disappointed Helen Louise was off on a girls’ weekend but found it very intriguing that she and Charlie can’t come to an agreement on where to live. A real-world problem for older engaged couples. Both Charlie and Helen Louise have valid arguments. I am vested to see the decision. I vote that they live at Charlie’s since that is the home of Diesel and Ramses and they rent her house out to his borders.

I am already wishing the next book was available NOW. That is the problem with being caught up on a series…the wait.

From Goodreads: Librarian Charlie Harris and his faithful feline companion, Diesel, have inherited Charlie’s grandfather’s house, along with a deadly legacy: a decades-old crime scene, in this all-new mystery in the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series.

Charlie has always believed that his grandfather had sold his house to his longtime tenant, Martin Hale. So when Martin dies, Charlie is surprised to discover the house was not left to Martin but instead belongs to Charlie. As he and Diesel check out the house he remembers fondly from his childhood, he is pleasantly surprised that it is in better condition than expected. That is, until they find a literal skeleton in a closet.

While the sheriff’s department investigates the mysterious remains, Charlie digs deeper into the past for clues to the identity of the bones and why they are there. But the cold case heats up quickly when Martin’s grandson is found dead on the farm.

As Charlie delves into his own family history, he encounters many people who might have been motivated to take a life. But Charlie and Diesel know that things are not always what they seem, and that secrets seemingly lost to time have a way of finding their way back to haunt the present. 

Death on the Shelf (The Haunted Library Mysteries #5) by Allison Brook

Pages: 320

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: November 9, 2021

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Hardcover

My Review: I have to admit I almost DNF’d this book at the beginning and I’m glad I did not. For the first 30% or so it read very amateurish and not at all like I am used to for this series. It was infuriating to me. I kept reading and somewhere along the way after Angela’s wedding it got better. It was back to the writing style I am used to in this series.

Evelyn, the ghost, appears asking Carrie for help with finding her brother. While the storyline here is good, I’m just not sure it fits. It was almost like the author couldn’t figure out how to use Evelyn in the main murder mystery.

The main murder mystery was very intriguing and I for the life of me couldn’t figure it out.

If I could rate it as 3.5 stars I would but did bump it up to 4 (Goodreads and NetGalley do not let you rate in 1/2 stars). The ending is surprising.

I do look forward to the next installment even though this was my least favorite of the series.

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

From NetGalley: Librarian Carrie Singleton sleuths a murder at her best friend’s wedding in Agatha Award nominee Allison Brook’s fifth Haunted Library mystery.

Clover Ridge librarian Carrie Singleton is thrilled to attend her best friend Angela’s wedding, but Angela’s family can be a bit…much. Angela’s wealthy cousin Donna hosts an extravagant bridal shower at her resplendent home, but the celebrations turn to gossip as the guests notice Donna’s surgeon husband, Aiden, spending a bit too much time with Donna’s cousin Roxy. At the wedding reception, the sweet occasion turns darkly bitter when Aiden topples into the chocolate fountain–dead.

The suspect list is as long as the guest list, and as difficult to sort out as the seating chart. A few of the top contenders on Carrie’s suspect list are the flirtatious Roxy, emotionally unstable since her recent divorce; Angela’s grouchy brother, who feels Aiden betrayed him; and Roxy’s scorned ex-husband. Even Donna may have had reason to want her husband dead. And Aiden’s gossipy office manager has plenty to say about them all.

Then another member of Angela’s family is murdered, making Carrie more determined than ever to find the killer. Can library ghost Evelyn and library cat Smoky Joe help Carrie solve the murders before she becomes the next of Angela’s wedding guests to head to the grave?

A Season of Change (Amish Inn #3) by Beth Wiseman

Pages: 336

Publisher: Zondervan

Published: October 5, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: Excuse me while I finish sniffling. I am NOT OK! This book was nowhere near as lighthearted as the first two but oh it was just as good. A moving tale of overcoming your past to find love.

If you have read the previous two books you know the nitpicking and poking Lizzie and Gus do to one another. They continue that sparring but we come to understand more of the reason why. From the beginning of the series, Gus has been my least favorite but by the end, he became my second favorite. We learn so much about Gus and realize he has a heart under that tough exterior.

My favorite character is Rose. She just needs love and understanding to find her way and what better place than the Peony Inn.

I suggest you read this series in order so you can experience the full emotional range of all the characters. If you chose not to read in order you will be ok.

Warning: Do not read the last 20% in public unless you want others to see you ugly cry.

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

From NetGalley: Finding peace means letting go of the past—and embracing the change that is to come. 

Sisters Esther and Lizzie have a new employee, Rose Petersheim, to help them tend to The Peony Inn. But their old matchmaking ways have stayed the same. The sisters focus their efforts on the lovely twenty-five-year-old Rose. Though Rose is witty and outspoken, her nervous chattering makes her the best match for someone calm and good at listening. Someone like Benjamin—the handsome handyman who recently moved to town. 

But when Esther receives an anonymous love letter and flowers, Rose’s love life is no longer the only one capturing the sisters’ attention. As they sleuth around searching for Esther’s secret admirer, they uncover that their grumpy renter, Gus, has a secret of his own that could bring about a difficult change in all their lives. And their continued meddling in Rose’s affairs reveals she, too, is hiding something—an old wound that could threaten her future happiness. 

As Rose, Lizzie, Esther, and Gus struggle to release the weight of their pasts, they discover that although people are complicated, love doesn’t need to be. 

This charming third installment of the Amish Inn series from bestselling author Beth Wiseman is a picture of loss and healing in which forgiveness will prove to be the greatest act of love.

Marriage Can Be Mischief (An Amish Matchmaker Mystery #3) by Amanda Flower

Pages: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Published: November 30, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Paperback

My Review: Another wonderful-good mystery with Millie and Lois. I need to hook up with these two and I would be guaranteed to laugh and have some fun. They do not need a murder to get into trouble.

The mystery was grabbed me from the start and has a surprising conclusion. I picked up on who the murderer was not the reason why. I don’t want to mistakenly give away anything so I am not going to say too much.

Even though it is the third book in the series, you can pick up any book and be just fine. No sex, no cursing, and no extreme detailed violence. A clean cozy mystery for any age.

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

From NetGalley: Set in the fan favorite Amish village of Harvest, Ohio, USA Today bestselling author Amanda Flower’s newest Amish Matchmaker novel brings back the unlikely sleuthing duo of an Amish widow and her zany, thrice-divorced best friend. Will appeal to fans of cozy mysteries, small-town mysteries, wholesome romance, inspirational fiction, and readers of Jennifer Beckstrand, Charlotte Hubbard, Rachel J. Good, and other authors of Amish fiction
 

Millie Fisher may be widowed, but she leads a full life in her Amish hometown of Harvest, Ohio. There’s her quilting circle, her Boer goats, her gift for matchmaking—and the occasional murder…

Millie is happy that her childhood friend, Uriah Schrock, has returned to Harvest after decades away. He was sweet on Millie in their school days, but she only had eyes for her future husband. Now, there’s a new spark between them, so Millie is concerned when Uriah doesn’t show up at the Harvest concert series—or for his job as the Village square’s groundskeeper. Perhaps Millie has been involved in too many murder investigations, but she has a sinking feeling. And when she and her best friend, Lois, find Uriah with the police, it seems she’s right…

A film crew is in Harvest to make a movie about a forty-year-old unsolved murder. A skeleton has been found at the bottom of a ravine—and Uriah is certain it’s his sister, Galilee. Right before Uriah left Ohio, she disappeared, and her harsh husband, Samuel, was found fatally stabbed with a knitting needle. The sheriff declared that Galilee killed him and ran away. Uriah never believed the theory, and he’s come back to Harvest hoping, Gott willing, Millie will help him stitch together the truth…

First Christmas on Huckleberry Hill (The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill #10) by Jennifer Beckstrand

Pages: 352

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 28, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Library Binding, and Mass Market Paperback

My Review: What a beautiful romance. It was time we learn the love story of the greatest matchmakers in fiction, Anna and Felty.

I really connected with Felty because his stories of the Korean War were so similar to the stories my dad tells of his time in the Korean War. To this day my dad doesn’t like the extreme cold.

My heart hurt for the cruelty Anna experienced from the others in her community. She was trying her best without a mom to guide her. I loved her perseverance to keep putting one foot in front of the other and how her fun-loving spirit never truly wavered. The cruelty she experienced shows us how no matter your community unkindness still exists.

If you have not read this series, you should check it out. You will laugh your way through and find a smile on your face long after the last page.

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

From NetGalley: The endearingly mischievous matchmaking grandparents Anna and Felty Helmuth have helped generations of their Wisconsin community – including many of their own grandchildren – find love over the course of USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Beckstrand’s beloved Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series. Now, in this heartwarming prequel set in 1952, Anna and Felty’s own love story takes center stage as the young couple spends their first uncertain Christmas together.
 

Before irrepressible eighty-somethings Anna and Felty Helmuth became Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin’s most-beloved matchmakers, they were mismatched young lovers facing seemingly impossible obstacles…

She can’t cook, sew, sing, or clean. And no matter how hard young Anna Yoder tries, she’d much rather help people in trouble than be a well-behaved pretty face and properly perfect Amish maidel. So she instantly reaches out to her old schoolmate, Felty Helmuth, when their Amish town ostracizes him for his Korean War army service. He’s still the only one who’s ever understood Anna—and liked everything from her green Jello carrot salads to her love of books. And this holiday season, she can’t help hoping that somehow she and Felty can find a way to be the perfect match…

Felty sensed he was called by Gotte to serve his country, though it went against his community’s peaceful ways. Troubled by his wartime experiences, he is resigned to being an outsider avoided by most eligible Amish girls. But lively, intelligent Anna has grown into a warm-hearted generous woman who accepts Felty for who he is. And in the face of family and community opposition, he and Anna will take a leap of faith to prove they are made for each other—and a lifetime of happiness.

Slashing Through the Snow (Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #3) by Jacqueline Frost

Pages: 304

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: October 12, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Hardcover

My Review: We all have our favorite Christmas cozies and this series is mine. It gets me in the spirit every time. Hmm…murder at Christmas gets me in the spirit? Wonder if my hubby should be worried?

Frost did an excellent job in providing plenty of red herrings to keep me guessing. I had no clue and was flabbergasted at the big reveal. My one complaint was all the hoopla with Meg and I did not feel much closure with her character. Maybe I missed it being so flabbergasted.

The ending was beautiful. That is all I will say about that as my lips are sealed tighter than gorilla glue.

This is a series you can pick up at any book and you will ok. I suggest some peppermint cocoa while reading next to the Christmas tree. Snow optional.

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

From NetGalley: Maine innkeeper Holly White returns to sleuth another seasonal slaying in the third Christmas Tree Farm mystery from bestselling author Jacqueline Frost.

Reindeer Games Christmas Tree Farm is going into the B&B business, and Holly White is looking forward to her new role as innkeeper. Even better, Mistletoe, Maine’s sheriff, Evan Gray, has deputized his little sister Libby to help Holly wrap presents for Mistletoe’s toy drive. But a cold wind ruffles the cheery holiday decorations when a new guest checks in: Cleo, a vicious B&B critic, who could make or break the new inn. And the short December days turn even darker when Evan and Libby find Cleo’s dead body in the gift-wrapped toy donation box.

The suspect list is longer than Santa’s naughty list, and local resident Cookie is on it, since her fingerprints are all over the murder weapon, a metal nutcracker that she gave to Holly. So is Libby, who recently moved to town from Boston in less-than-savory circumstances. But cranky Cleo was an oh-holy-nightmare to lots of the townsfolk, such as Evan’s reporter friend Ray; Christopher, the inn’s former contractor; and confectioner Bonnie, whose Gum Drop Shop was a direct target of Cleo’s scathing prose.

To figure out the killer’s identity and clear Cookie’s name, Holly and her friends brainstorm at The Hearth, the farm’s café, while her mother keeps them fueled with Christmas goodies fresh from the oven. But if they can’t put the culprit on ice, Holly may never see another Christmas.

At Lighthouse Point (Three Sisters Island #3) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Pages: 320

Publisher: Revell

Published: May 4, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: An excellent conclusion to the trilogy.

In Book Three we get Blaine’s, the baby sister, story. I will be the first to admit I couldn’t stand Blaine in the first two books. I thought she was childish and selfish. I wanted to reach in the books and spank her bottom like you would an unruly child. She exemplifies how going away can help one grow up and become who they should be.

There was a lot going on in this book but it was never overwhelming. I loved all the Bible references on controlling anger. Personally I needed those reminders. Funny how the right book lands in your lap at the right time.

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

From NetGalley: Blaine Grayson returns to Three Sisters Island with a grand plan–to take Camp Kicking Moose to the next level. Her dream starts to unravel when she discovers Moose Manor’s kitchen has been badly remodeled by her sister, Cam, who doesn’t know how to cook. Added to that blow is the cold shoulder given by her best friend, Artie Lotosky, now a doctor to the unbridged Maine islands.

As old wounds are opened, Blaine starts to wonder if she made a mistake by coming home. Little by little, she must let go of one dream to discover a new one, opening her heart to a purpose and a future she had never imagined. 

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the coast of Maine for a story that reminds you to release what doesn’t matter and cling to what does: faith, family, and friendships.