The Body in the Beauty Parlor (A Jazzi Zanders #6 by Judi Lynn

Pages: 204

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Published: March 2, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Hoopla (Public Library App) Audiobook

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Paperback

My Review: Wow, there was so much going on in this book and it kept my interest from beginning to end. I finished in less than 24 hours as I was hooked.

I opted to listen to the audiobook through my library’s Hoopla app and was not disappointed. The narrator was wonderful. Perfect accent for Indiana and read all parts with the correct tone.

I found it very interesting that the last several books have focused on babies and Jazzi keeps saying “in the future.” Hmm…could it happen sooner than later? I’m all for it as long as Jazzi keeps being represented as a strong woman with a career. I wish I had even half her talent as a remodeler.

Book six takes place around Easter and has two main murders and a cold case. The author did great in connecting them in different ways.

A quick entertaining read for cozy mystery lovers.

Goodreads: In addition to her house-flipping talents, Jazzi Zanders is breaking ground as a sleuth. But she’s going to need every tool at her disposal to solve two crimes . . .

In their hair salon, Jazzi’s sister Olivia and mother are savvy businesswomen whose creativity brings fashion and flair to the folks of Rivers Bluff, Indiana. So when their newest hairstylist Misty is caught scamming clients’ debit cards and selling beauty products during off hours to pocket the profits, Olivia fires her. But Misty retaliates by hitting back with a defamation lawsuit—which she is more than happy to drop if Olivia pays her ten grand.

But neither blackmail nor courtroom fees are accrued after Misty’s body is discovered in the salon with Olivia’s scissors stuck in her chest. Olivia may be the number one suspect, but her murdered employee had a reputation for making enemies.

Then Jazzi’s ex Chad appears, asking for help with his marital strife. This already awkward situation worsens when Chad’s wife vanishes and the police investigate him. Now, it’s up to Jazzi to clear both her sister’s and ex’s names while the killer—or killers—could be a mere hair breadth’s away . . . 

Boiled Over (Maine Clambake #2) by Barbara Ross

Pages: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Published: May 6, 2014

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle E-book

Avaiable Formats: Digital, Large Print Paperback, and Mass Market Paperback

My Review: Oh, my stars, what a great mystery. I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough. The ending makes me what to chuck everything else I need to read and read book three pronto.

I enjoyed how real Julia is with her concerns about if she should stay in Busmans Harbor. She enjoyed her life in NYC but understands her family needs her. Plus she has begun a relationship with her childhood crush. Does one stay for love? Is she in love?

The mystery was very interesting. Shows how people are connected in so many ways. I didn’t guess the murderer.

I really enjoyed learning about the town’s history and about blueberry harvesting.

Several yummy recipes are included. I have plans for two already.

Goodreads: For Julia Snowden, the Founder’s Day summer celebration in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, means helping her family’s clambake company to prepare an authentic taste of New England seafood. Any Mainer will tell you that a real clambake needs wood for the fire . . . so why is there a foot sticking out of the oven?

The townspeople want to pin the murder of the RV park owner on Cabe Stone, a new employee of the Snowden Family Clambake Company–who bolted from the crime scene and disappeared.

Julia knows having another murder associated with her family’s business is a recipe for disaster . . . but who is the killer? Cooking up a proper investigation doesn’t leave much time for the rest of Julia’s life, and this is one killer who’ll do anything to stop her from digging up clues . . . 

A Christmas Courtship (Berlin Bookmobile #3) by Shelly Shepard Gray

Pages: 317

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: October 19, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: I don’t think I have read an Amish book by SSG yet that I have not loved. They are clean, wholesome, romantic reads that make your heart happy. Definitely, books that Atlee should read for romance ideas. This entire series has become a favorite that I will reread in the years to come. The covers are gorgeous and inviting.

The only aspect I did not like in this book was I thought Sadie’s children were very spoiled and whiny. BUT, I am not sure I would have raised my children any different after the abuse they experienced with their father. Yes, you read that correctly. Abuse. It touches every community even the Amish. Again, a great book to teach us not to judge. You never know someone’s entire story and you never know how you would react until you experience their life.

You can read the series in any order as each book is written as a standalone.

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

NetGalley: In this endearing Christmas tale, a bookmobile librarian knows just the novel to help an Amish bachelor woo his next-door neighbor in the latest installment of the “charming” (Carla Laureano, RITA Award–winning author of Five Days in Skye) Berlin Bookmobile series.

A solitary sort, forty-two-year-old Atle Petersheim spends his time hard at work in his wood shop. But as the days get long, he realizes just how lonely he’s become. When his longtime crush, Sadie Mast, a widow and mother of three, asks him to help her build a room in their barn for her son Cale, Atle can’t say no. Eager to pursue Sadie at last, he turns to bookmobile librarian Sarah Anne Miller for courting advice. More than happy to help, Sarah Anne decides the best way to learn about love is through books—romance novels to be precise.

Between completing holiday orders for her flourishing food business, helping Cale navigate a dramatic new relationship with his boss’s daughter, and coming to terms with the trauma her late husband had inflicted upon her and her children—not to mention Atle showing up at her door with flowers—Sadie is in over her head. Though Atle’s efforts are initially clumsy and his declarations a bit awkward, Sadie can’t help but be charmed by him. He’s patient and kind…and at times even seems to know far more about romance than he’s let on.

Another delightful romance about the “transformative powers of love, hope, and faith” (Publishers Weekly), A Christmas Courtship is the perfect holiday read.

Deck the Donuts (Deputy Donut Mystery #6) by Ginger Bolton

Pages: 256

Publisher: Kensington

Published: October 26, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Format: Digital and Paperback

My Review: A wonderfully sweet and cozy mystery for the holiday.

I found myself flying through this mystery as it flowed beautifully and the mystery was very intriguing. I never guessed the murderer until seconds before the big reveal.

The ending is so perfect. I was so happy I just sat there with my kindle wrapped in a hug and a big smile on my face.

You can pick this series up with any book and be ok. Be prepared to crave donuts.

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

NetGalley: In the sixth criminally delicious Deputy Donut Mystery series by Ginger Bolton, ’tis the season for the delectable desserts Emily Westhill and her cuddly cat serve up at their donut shop—but someone naughty on Santa’s list has come to town…

It’s Christmastime again in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin. Emily has truly decked the halls of her donut shop and decorated her donuts with festive designs from green and red frosting to snowflake sprinkles. For the annual Ice and Lights Festival, she’s commissioned a sculpture with three ice-carved donut shapes to form a holey snowman, Frosty the Donut. She has one Christmas wish this year—to spend some time under the mistletoe with a certain detective.

But the holidays just aren’t the same without an unexpected disaster or two. A tour bus on its way to the festival has crashed and a snowstorm has left all the shaken passengers stranded and shivering. Emily and her friends open their homes to shelter the traveling families, while the bus driver is admitted to the hospital for his injuries. But the following morning, Emily discovers his body—buried beneath Frosty the Donut.

The bus passengers show little sympathy for the man who dashed through the snow so badly, some claiming he was under the influence while behind the wheel. Emily also discovers that the driver had a history with folks in Fallingbrook. With multiple motives for murder piling up, it will take a Christmas miracle for Emily to solve this crime…

Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop by Shelley Shepard Gray, Rachel J. Good, and Loree Lough

Pages: 312

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 28, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital and Paperback

My Review: A Christmas Cake for Rebecca – A sweet middle-age tale of second chance romance.

Best Christmas Present Ever – My favorite of the three stories. Guaranteed to warm the coldest heart.

The Christmas Cupcake – A story that shows us to always treat others with kindness. You never know what others are going through.

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

NetGalley: USA Today bestselling authors Shelley Shepard Gray, Rachel J. Good, and Loree Lough celebrate the spirit of the season, the warmth of simple traditions, and of course, the joy of holiday treats, with this faith-affirming collection of three connected holiday novellas about the Christmas surprises in store for those who work and shop at a charming Amish bakery.

As the most joyful holiday draws near, three couples discover the recipe for love includes faith, hope, and the sweetest blessings…

A CHRISTMAS CAKE FOR REBECCA by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Shelley Shepard Gray
When carpenter Aden returns to Lancaster after twenty years away, bakeshop owner Rebecca is dismayed to find he’s still as handsome and kind as ever. He broke her heart when he left the community back then. Will a holiday emergency provide a second chance at love, this time forever?

BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER by USA Today Bestselling Author Rachel J. Good
When a lonely widower with a sick daughter and a new cake decorator meet at the bakeshop, they discover they were once childhood playmates. But as each of them helps the other care for family, their neighborly kindness inspires a gift that only love could make possible…

THE CHRISTMAS CUPCAKE by USA Today Bestselling Author Loree Lough
A builder who never learned to read believes he must hide his fond feelings for a kind schoolteacher. But after they run into each other at the bakeshop, she offers to teach him—and as Christmas approaches, each of them learns a lesson about the great gift of love…

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?