The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

Pages: 355

Publisher: Dell

Published: January 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: E-book via Overdrive via Public Library

It is Thursday, January 12, 1888, and the Dakota Territory and Nebraska are experiencing what they call a “warm” winter day. Every one leaves woolens at home for light coats and shawls. Enjoying a day to let everything breathe and air out. As the morning turns to afternoon an ominous dark cloud moves across the prairie bringing a dangerous blizzard with it. The prairie teachers have a decision to make: send the students home and pray they make it before it gets too bad or keep them at the school and pray they have enough fuel to heat the schoolhouse.

I first heard about this blizzard through the children’s I Survive series and became interested. When I realized Melanie Benjamin was releasing a book on the event I could not wait to request it from my local library. I was not disappointed. My interest was piqued from page one. I did not want to put the book down. The decision the prairie teachers had to make was not an easy one. A literal “between a rock and hard place” decision.

Benjamin did a great job in making you feel what each character was thinking, feeling, and experiencing. A must-read for historical fiction fans.

Triggers: Racism, Child Abuse, Child Slavery, Prostitution

Judgment in Death (In Death #11) by J. D. Robb

Pages: 353

Publisher: Berkley

Published: September 2000

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Paperback from Personal Library

In book 11, Eve is tracking down a cop killer. In the process, she learns more about her past. Will Eve Dallas find the killer or become the next cop killed?

This series keeps me coming back for more. I am so invested in learning more about Eve’s past. Plus I adore the romance between Eve and Roarke.

This book was a little eerie to read with the state of our country. Police corruption and killing of police. Politics aside it was a good read.

Triggers: Murder, Incest, Cursing, Prostitution

Eggs on Ice (Cackleberry Club #8) by Laura Childs

Pages: 300/8 hours 4 minutes

Publisher: Berkley/Dreamscape Media, LLC

Published: December 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Hoopla via Public Library

It’s Christmastime at the Cackleberry Club! Suzanne stumbles upon a murder during a rehearsal for A Christmas Carol. Can Suzanne find the killer before she gets iced?

I have enjoyed getting caught up on this series just in time for the release of book 9, Egg Shooters, on January 26, 2021.

I can’t say this is a favorite series but it is good and keeps me coming back for more. Book 8 did not seem to have the punch and pizazz as the other books did but it was still a 4 star read for me.

Scorched Eggs (Cackleberry Club #6) by Laura Childs

Pages: 320 (book) or 8 hours and 23 minutes (audiobook)

Publisher: Berkley (book)/Dreamscape Media LLC (audiobook)

Published: December 2014

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Hoopla via Public Library

As Suzanne is getting her hair dyed she smells smoke. At first, she thought a customer in the salon hair was on fire but she quickly realizes that the County Services building next door was on fire. She soon learns that the fire was intentionally set and a friend of Petra’s was killed. Can Suzanne find the arsonist before she becomes scorched?

Overall, I enjoyed book six of the Cackleberry Club. My biggest issue was with Petra. She was very unlikable. She was bossy and grouchy. It could have been because her friend was murdered or maybe I am just now noticing her bossiness.

It was interesting to learn the history behind scorched eggs and to learn in current times we call them scotch eggs. I have never had one and the next time we go to our local Irish restaurant I will have to try one.

Scorched Eggs is a solid addition to the series with a beautiful surprise at the end.

Stake and Eggs (A Cackleberry Club #4) by Laura Childs

Pages: 273

Publisher: Berkley

Published: November 2012

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Paperback from Personal Library

Winter has its grip on Kindred and the Cackleberry Club is focusing on the annual Fire and Ice Festival. That is until Suzanne finds the local banker beheaded behind the cafe. Can the Cackleberry Club solve the murder before they find themselves on ice?

I am finding myself getting hooked on this series. I can’t wait to see what Suzanne, Petra, and Toni are up to. The beheading of the local banker threw me for a loop as I believe it is the first time I’ve read about a beheading in a cozy. There was very little gore but it made for interesting reading.

Stake and Eggs was a fast-paced read that kept my interest. There was plenty of red-herrings to keep me guessing. Along the way there plenty of laughs when it comes to Toni’s husband Junior. As frustrating as he can be he brings some good laughs.

I highly recommend this series to fans of culinary cozy mysteries. Recipes are included.

Ink and Shadows (Secret, Book, and Scone Society #4) by Ellery Adams

Pages: 304

Published: January 26, 2021

Publisher: Kensington Books

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

It’s Halloween time in Miracle Springs, NC. A time for festivals, pumpkins, and trick-or-treating. Although it appears there are more tricks than treats happening. A local mom group has made it their passion to target all shops that do not meet their strong moral code. Unfortunately, Nora’s bookstore has made that list along with a new shop specializing in CBD oil. Before the CBD shop can celebrate its opening both the owner and her daughter have been murdered. Can Nora book the murder into the local jail before becoming the next victim?

Please tell me I am not the only reader who purposely slowed their reading pace down in order to stay in Miracle Springs longer. This series has been a joy to read even though it tackles some very tough and series issues. Nora feels like a friend and I really want to meet her.

Ink and Shadows made me cry and leap for joy before the end of Chapter 3. I suffer from fibromyalgia and very few people get it. They like to shake their head and murmur what they think is the correct murmurs but you can look in their face and see the scorn of disbelief. EA got it! She made me feel seen and understood. She got the days where getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other is all you can do. She got the days that even someone breathing on you brings you to your knees. Thank you, EA for Sheldon’s character.

I would think you could pick up this series at any point and fall right into the story but you really should read from the beginning. I suggest this series to anyone I can get to listen to me. It is one I can re-read and never get tired of reading.

Another top ten for me!

Warnings: witchcraft, murder, out of wedlock pregnancy, slight cursing, a hint of sex

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

Sabotaged (Alaskan Courage #5) by Dani Pettrey

Pages: 325

Published: February 2015

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Recorded Books via Hoopla via Public Library

Join Kirra and Reef as they work the Iditarod. Kirra’s uncle disappears during a leg of the race and Kirra and Reef join forces to find him. Danger lurks around every corner. Can they survive the cold to find a loved one?

Sabotages is the fifth and last book in the Alaskan Courage series. A series I found exciting to read. Following the McKennas as they find love amidst danger made for good reading. I liked how the author waited until the last book to tackle the hardest of the siblings, Reef. He had the most to gain but he had to want it.

As with each book, Sabotaged is a clean Christian suspense. Easy to read. All five books are also available on Hoopla from your local library if they participate.

Life with Lily (The Adventures of Lily Lapp #1) by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher

Pages: 277

Published: October 2012

Publisher: Revell

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle Book I Owned

Follow along with six-year-old Lily as she navigates learning the importance of watching her younger siblings, the first day of school, and making friends (some nice and others not so nice). She will have you laughing and feeling compassion at any moment.

I have always been fascinated by the Amish and getting to read about their life from a child’s point of view was refreshing and interesting. I like how the series is based on the real-life adventures of Mary Ann Kinsinger.

My favorite scene in the book is when Lily’s Grandma Miller shows her how to make the Lily of the Valley flower change colors and compares it to the making of friends. A wonderful lesson for kids and adults.

Life with Lily is a perfect read-aloud book for your younger kids especially those interested in the Amish life.

Bedeviled Eggs (A Cackleberry Club #3) by Laura Childs

Pages: 302

Published: December 2010

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Paperback from Personal Library

Are two murders, a dogfighting ring, and a prison break all related? Leave it to the ladies of The Cackleberry Club to figure out just in time for the town to have fun at the Halloween party.

This is a series I have dabbled in for several years and really enjoy. I am always left with the wish I could hop in the car and visit The Cackleberry Club for some breakfast and leave with a book or three. Who knows I might even take time to learn knitting.

As with most cozies, Bedeviled Eggs is a clean read with no cursing and no violent murder scenes. There is an allusion to sex between an unmarried couple.

A solid read leaving me wanting to grab the next book.

Witness in Death (In Death #10) by J.D. Robb

Pages: 338

Published: 2000

Publisher: Berkley

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Physical Book I Own

Roarke has convinced Eve to take a night off and attend a live theater production but unfortunately, before the final curtain, it turns into a night of work. The lead actor was killed live on stage. Will Eve find the killer or will the killer exit stage left ready for the next production?

I started this series many years ago with my mom. She bought the first book solely based on the fact it was written by Nora Roberts alter ego. With her recent passing in 2020, I decided to start reading the series again in order to feel closer to her. At one time I thought 2059 was a lifetime away and now it is closer than I want to admit.

Witness in Death held my attention and I did not guess the killer until the big reveal. I am still trying to figure out which clues I missed. I am liking how we are getting more of Eve’s background and seeing a softer side of Eve with Peabody, Nadine, and Dr. Mira. Eve is still one tough cookie but she does have a heart.

Warnings: Incest, Rape, Sexual Scenes, and Cursing