Still Me (Me Before You #3) by JoJo Moyes

still me

Pages: 388 (Hardcover)

Publisher: Viking, An Imprint of Penguin Random House

Published: January 30, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Louisa Clark has taken the job as a personal assistant to a NYC rich housewife and she is in for a fast paced learning experience of what it is like to live in NYC. As she starts making friends with everyone from the grouchy next door neighbor in the building to the owners of a local retro clothing shop she starts learning who she really is and starts moving on from the depression that overtook her after Will’s death. When her year is up what will Lou decide: go back home across the pond or stay in NYC?

I was hesitant to start the third book in the series since I was so disappointed in the second but I really wanted to know what happened when she moved to America. Am I ever so glad that I did read this book. It was wonderfully funny and heart wrenching at times as I followed Louisa through her time as a personal assistant. She has a lot more class than I would have had at one point (you will see what I am talking about when you read the book). I got to watch her grow into herself as she started coming out of the depression fog from Will’s death and started making friends and going out on dates. It was great to see her start taking an interest in her quirky clothing again as that is when you really see her come alive. The stripy tights make a great comeback! How can you not love her stripy tights?

My suggestion: only start this book when you have time to read it in one sitting as it was so hard to put down and not think about while working. I kept wanting to know what was going to happen next. If you read Still Me and are hesitant like I was to start Still Me take the plunge I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Death by a Whisker (A Cat Rescue Mystery #2) by T. C. LoTempio

death by a whisker

Pages: 318 (eBook)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: February 13, 2018

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Since returning to Deer Park, NC, Sydney has been helping her sister run the Friendly Paws Animal Shelter. They are in need of money to keep the shelter running and provide much needed upgrades. A fundraiser has been planned with a famous author at the local bookshop. Unfortunately, the author experiences a nasty accident and is unable to attend. They decide to turn to Ulla Townsend, a local girl who made it big. While at the fundraiser, Ulla falls victim to a fatal accident. Can Sydney solve the crime without upsetting someone who is close to her?

This is a fast-paced cozy mystery that can be read quickly. I thought it was good but not one of my favorites as it did not hold my interest exclusively. I cannot pin point why as the writing and plot were good. Maybe my interest was not as keen since it was not a culinary cozy, which are my favorite.

I have not read the first book in the series but I did not feel as if I missed anything nor did I feel lost as I was reading. The author did a great job giving brief backgrounds of the characters. It does appear there could be a love triangle brewing for the main character, Sydney. I’m not sure Will is her “ride or die”. It would be interesting to follow this particular story line.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for a copy to read in exchange for an honest review in my own words.

Kale to the Queen (A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery #1) by Nell Hampton

kale to the queen

Pages: 288 (eBook)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: April 11, 2017

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Carrie Ann has decided to follow her dream of becoming a personal chef and moving from Chicago to London to become the Royal family’s personal chef at Kensington Palace. In following her dream she leaving the love of her life behind. Once Carrie Ann gets settled at Kensington Palace she accidentally discovers a body in the greenhouse attached to her kitchen. For Carrie Ann this is a shock and a nuisance. Now she has to move to Chef Butterbottom’s kitchen, a chef who dislikes her without knowing her. Will a surprise visit from her love convince her to return home to America or will the murder mystery be enough to keep her in London?

I have totally fallen in love with this series. Books that are based on anything culinary make me a happy reader. What is not to love as you have new recipe ideas given to you as the reader that make you want to jump up and start creating in your own kitchen. You experience the tastes and smells when the writer is great at explaining those tastes and smells. You experience the happiness the recipient of the food experiences. Nell Hampton does all that in each book of this series. I’ve never been one much for wanting to try British food but this series has made me want to experiment.

You do have a small love triangle (not my favorite thing in books) but it is more of a side note at this point than a main story line. I will say I want Ian to win. He makes me swoony reading about him.

I am happy that I did not figure out the murder suspect until it is was revealed. Nell Hampton does an excellent job in not letting clues reveal themselves too soon.

This series is definitely one I am putting high on my list to keep up to date with as they are released.

After You by Jo Jo Moyes

after you.jpg

Pages: 352 (Paperback)

Publisher: Penguin Books

Published: September 29, 2015

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

After You picks up over a year later from where Me Before You ends. Louisa is living in a flat she bought with the money Will left her and working in an airport bar. She is just existing not living. One night after a round of solitary drinking she makes a misstep on her rooftop garden and finds herself looking into the beautiful eyes of a paramedic trying to save her life. This is what begins an awakening in Louisa. As she starts to live again she finds herself involved once again with Will’s family.

Hmmm…after praising Me Before You I have found myself disappointed with After You. The story is great but the telling of the story was s…l…o…w. At times I didn’t want to pick the book back up but I did because I was curious how it would end. The last quarter of the book was very good. I wish all of it could have read as easy as it did.

I’m very hesitant to start Still Me with my current disappointment but I will as I want to see what life has to offer Louisa. Maybe the best way to read this series is to read them back to back and let the emotions from Me Before You carry you along.

Even though I’m disappointed with After You I recommend it if you like dark, twisty emotional reads.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

the great alone.jpg

Pages: 448 (E-book)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: February 6, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An emotional and gripping read that will keep you up all night.

The book opens with 13 year old Leni listening to her parents arguing. Leni reflects how this normal in her home especially since her dad came home from Viet Nam. Her dad is notified a comrade he served with in Viet Nam has left him his homestead in Alaska. Leni’s dad thinks the best thing for his family is to move to the homestead and learn how to live off the land and provide for themselves. He tells them it will help him emotionally. Off the family goes to Alaska in the VW van with nothing more than the clothes on their backs pretty much. We follow Leni and her family as the learn what it takes to be a true Alaskan and a family that is riddled with abuse with nowhere to go.

I cried happy and sad tears as I read late into the night each night. Last night I read until my eyes could not focus as I wanted to finish the book. Just like she did with The Nightingale, I questioned what I would do in similar circumstances and if I had to the guts and strength to survive what the female characters survive. How much are you willing to love someone whether it be blood or not? Is blood love the strongest of love? You will find yourselves wrapped up in the characters so much that you will take a moment to refocus and remember where you are in the real world.

The description of the wilds of Alaska is beautiful but at the same time Hannah is not afraid to show the ugliness of Alaska either. Alaska is not for the faint of heart. It takes a special person to survive.

Run to the nearest bookstore, library or e-reader and pick up your copy today and make the time to read it over the weekend. I think you will be glad you did.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a copy in exchange for an honest review in my own words.

Lord of the Pies (A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery #2) by Nell Hampton

lord of the pies.jpg

Pages: 320 (eBook)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: April 10, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Carrie Ann Cole is enjoying her role as Chef at Kensington Palace to Kate, William and the kids. She has been asked to cook for the bridal shower of her best friend’s sister. Unfortunately, someone did not fair so well later that night. The next morning a waiter if found face first in her lemon meringue pie. All eyes look to Carrie. Can she clear her name before another body is found?

I have not read the first book in the series, Kale to the Queen, but you can guarantee that I will be very soon. I have fallen in love with Kensington Palace and the chefs. Carrie Ann is a spunky American who seems to find herself in quandaries quite often. Luckily for her she has Chief Ian to rescue her when needed. Chief Ian is the head of security at Kensington Palace. It is strongly hinted that there may be a romance brewing between Ian and Carrie. Only time will tell. Hopefully by the time the romance does brew the gardener, Jasper, will have blown away with the wind. Yes, as you can tell I am not a fan of Jasper’s.

I was totally surprised at the conclusion as I had guessed who the killer was incorrectly. To me that makes a perfect cozy mystery. I do not like to figure out the who and why too early as it ruins the book for me.

If you are a foodie you will enjoy this book as it talks about the different types of pies between America and Britain. There are recipes in the back of the book if you would like to try cooking some of the food mentioned.

Get you a spot of tea and curl up by the fire and immerse yourself in a warm mystery for a cold night.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for a copy in exchange for my honest review in my own words.

Amish Cooking Class – The Celebration by Wanda Brunstetter

the celebration

Pages: 322 (eBook)

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Published: February 6, 2018

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Once again we join Heidi Troyer’s cooking class in Ohio. This time she is teaching kids how to make simple dishes such as fruit salad, egg salad and mini corn dogs. Heidi has just an interesting group with her kids and she has had with her adult students in the past. One student has lost his mom to cancer, one is a spoiled brat, and one is learning how to fit in the area after moving from Kentucky. That is just a few of the students. All the way Heidi and Lyle are navigating the channels to adopt their two foster children, Randy and Marsha. Pull up a chair and join Heidi and her class as yummy recipes teach more than just filling up bellies.

Anytime I need a warm hug from a book, I turn to Wanda Brunstetter. You will feel the love and warmth the minute you open the book. Wanda’s Amish Cooking Class series has been a true joy to read. I honestly cannot pick a favorite of the three as whatever one I am reading at the time is my favorite.

I have come to love Heidi and Lyle. I want to move and be their neighbors. I would be over at Heidi’s house as much as she allowed to soak up her recipes and friendship. Of all the Amish novels I have read she is the most comforting and friendly character. I hope to see more of her in future books of Wanda’s.

For those interested in reading the series, they are as follows in order:

1. The Amish Cooking Class: The Seekers
2. The Amish Cooking Class: The Blessing
3. The Amish Cooking Class: The Celebration

Thank you to NetGalley and Shiloh Run Press for a copy to read in exchange for my honest review in my own words.

Survival of the Fritters (Deputy Donut #1) by Ginger Bolton

survival of the fritters

Pages: 256 (eBook)

Publisher: Kensington

Published: January 30, 2018

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Emily and her father-in-law run a donut shop in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin named Deputy Donut. The shop is named after Emily’s cat who was given the name by her deceased husband, a fallen Fallingbrook police officer. One Monday morning, one of her most loyal customers, Georgia, does not show up for her morning of knitting with the Knitpickers. After a fretful day Emily and the Knitpickers go to Georgia’s house and find her dead along side donuts from Deputy Donut. Emily is determined to figure out who murdered her friend since she failed Georgia five years ago. Will Emily find herself on the wrong side of the law?

I liked this book and really wanted to give it four stars but there was too much lacking in the character development. I was left wanting more in the way of how the characters fit with each other and what their importance was to the story and series. I felt like the author wanted us to know everyone in town in the first book but not for us to get to know them. It was like, oh here is so and so and then bam onto something else in the story.

I adore Deputy Donut, the cat, she is a furry character that adds the cozy. Emily, the amateur sleuth, is interesting and I like that her background has some sadness and depth. I think it will play will into any romantic situations that may develop in the series.

I will be giving this series another chance when the second book, Goodbye Cruller World, is released. I am hoping the other characters are more developed and more necessary to the story.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington for a copy to read in exchange for an honest review written in my own words.