Beaches, Bungalows, and Burglaries (A Camper & Criminal Cozy Mystery #1) by Tonya Kappes

camper

Pages: 286

Published: May 25, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I can’t believe it took a round of book bingo to get me started on this series. It’s perfect for me as it takes place in a campground, set in Kentucky, and is a cozy mystery.

I laughed so much while reading. Mae West is a breeze of fresh air. She may be a little clueless but she definitely provides entertainment.

I was shocked by the murderer. I had it wrong all along. I’m trying to figure out what clues I missed.

Book two is definitely in my near future.

Goodreads: Welcome to Normal, Kentucky~ where nothing is normal.

Mae West, a far cry from the Hollywood actress, has been thrown for a loop. Her plush lifestyle in the big city of New York comes to a screeching halt after the FBI raids her mansion and arrests her husband, Paul West, for a Ponzi scheme that rips people out of millions of dollars.

Mae finds herself homeless, friendless, and penniless. All hope isn’t lost…the only thing Mae got to keep that the government didn’t seize is a tourist campground, Happy Trails, in Normal, Kentucky, and an RV to live in. One problem, Mae’s idea of camping has room service.

By the look of the brochure, Happy Trails has plush Kentucky Bluegrass, a crystal clear lake, a beach chair with her name on it, and thoughts of how much money it could bring her after she sells it. Mae figures she’ll take a couple weeks vacation with her toes dipped in the lake. Things aren’t always as they appear. The Kentucky Bluegrass is nothing but dirt and the crystal clue lake is murky with green slime on top.

Mae quickly finds out that Happy Trails and the citizens of Normal were also victims of Paul’s schemes, making her lower than the lake scum in the residents’ eyes. Mae doesn’t think things could get much worse, but as luck would have it, Paul West has escaped from prison and is found dead, murdered, floating in the Happy Trails mucky green lake.

Mae is the number one suspect on Detective Hank Sharp’s shortlist. After all, Mae has the perfect motive as a kept wife who has been scorned to ashes, embarrassed to death and seeking revenge.

Time is running out for Mae to prove that she’s innocent and nothing like her husband. If only she could get someone to believe her and talk Detective Sharp into looking at other residents who’ve lost all their savings to Paul’s Ponzi scheme before the curtain is closed on this Hollywood namesake.

Nacho Average Murder (Country Store #7) by Maddie Day

nacho

Pages: 258

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 30, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I find it fun to read at least one book in a series where the main character takes a vacation. It makes them more real to me.

In book 7 of the Country Store series, we go to California with Robbie for her high school reunion. It was the perfect vacation to take with Robbie during the Covid-19 restrictions. We get to visit sunny Santa Barbara and “taste” some very yummy food and my favorite were the dishes with avocado as I am always looking for new ways to eat avocados. Of course, it would not be a cozy mystery without an unfortunate murder. This one had me guessing to the big reveal. I liked the addition of her high school best friend as her investigating sidekick but I will be happy to have the regulars back in book 8.

I listened to a few chapters of the audiobook from my library app, Hoopla, and I was not fond of the narrator. She is not bad but her voice did not match how I think Robbie sounds.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher, Kensington, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Robbie Jordan is temporarily leaving Pans ’N Pancakes, her country store in South Lick, Indiana, to visit Santa Barbara, California—where wildfire smoke tinges the air, but a more immediate danger may lie in wait . . .

While looking forward to her high school reunion back in California, Robbie’s anticipation is complicated by memories of her mother’s untimely death. At first, she has fun hanging out with her old classmates and reuniting with the local flavors—avocados, citrus, fish, and spicy Cali-Mex dishes. But then she gets wind of rumors that her mother, an environmental activist, may not have died of natural causes. With the help of friends, Robbie starts clearing the smoke surrounding the mystery—but what she finds could make it hard to get back to Indiana alive . . .

Includes Recipes for You to Try!

South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber

buttonwood

Pages: 330

Publisher: Forge Books

Published: July 21, 2020

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

My Review: Have you ever read a book that left you feeling peaceful and happy but at the same time angry for the injustice a character received? South of the Buttonwood Tree has left me with those feelings.

There is so much I want to say but I don’t want to ruin a moment of this book by giving too much away. Webber had my attention captivated from the beginning. I made myself slow down in reading so i wouldn’t miss a thing by reading too fast.

The moral of the story is perfect right now. Don’t judge others as you probably don’t know the whole story. Plus a little love and compassion can go a long way in helping someone.

The book is full of magical realism which if you follow my book blog I’m not normally a fan of but when it is done right I love it. This is the second magical realism book this month for me and both have been very good.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Forge Books, through Netgalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: USA Today bestselling author Heather Webber’s South of the Buttonwood Tree is a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town Southern charm.

Blue Bishop has a knack for finding lost things. While growing up in charming small-town Buttonwood, Alabama, she’s happened across lost wallets, jewelry, pets, her wandering neighbor, and sometimes, trouble. No one is more surprised than Blue, however, when she comes across an abandoned newborn baby in the woods, just south of a very special buttonwood tree.

Sarah Grace Landreneau Fulton is at a crossroads. She has always tried so hard to do the right thing, but her own mother would disown her if she ever learned half of Sarah Grace’s secrets.

The unexpected discovery of the newborn baby girl will alter Blue’s and Sarah Grace’s lives forever. Both women must fight for what they truly want in life and for who they love. In doing so, they uncover long-held secrets that reveal exactly who they really are—and what they’re willing to sacrifice in the name of family.

Murder in Waiting (Tourist Trap #11) by Lynn Cahoon

waiting

Pages: 175

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 30, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Murder in Waiting was a good addition to the Tourist Trap Mystery series.

Even though the book is centered around an upcoming trip to celebrate Amy’s upcoming wedding we do not see a lot of her in this story. Even Jill’s aunt is not as prevalent in the story. I’m used to them taking up as much story time as Jill so I kind of missed them.

I either missed a lot of clues or the red herrings were expertly placed as the killer was not who I thought. I like a mystery that keeps me guessing.

I listened to some of the Audiobook and the narrator is one of my favorites and does all the characters justice. She keeps you interested from the beginning.

I’m glad I picked up this series on a whim a couple of years ago as it has been a good one. Filled with plenty of full-length stories and novellas.

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

NetGalley: In the latest Tourist Trap mystery from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lynn Cahoon, bookshop café owner Jill Gardner contends with a best friend-turned-bridezilla while trying to solve a local historian’s untimely date with death . . .

At Coffee, Books, & More, Jill’s the boss. But as Amy’s maid-of-honor, she can barely keep up with marching orders–and now she’s in charge of organizing an epic bachelorette! Adding to Jill’s party-planning panic, the South Cove Heritage Society just unceremoniously dumped her historic landmark bid. While vying proposals rush in from a loaded land developer and a pushy travel guide company, Jill finds an unexpected ally in Heritage Society expert, Frank Gleason. But their happy union is cut short when Frank is mowed down in a suspicious hit-and-run. With Amy’s big day on the horizon, Jill vows to catch the killer before she has to catch a bouquet.

The Diva Spices It Up (Domestic Diva #13) by Krista Davis

spices

Pages: 270

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 28, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Another delicious mystery with our favorite domestic diva. Book 13 is filled with lots of murder, intrigue, and food.

I’m always worried about a series after ten books as I’m afraid things will get repetitive and stagnant but I have yet to feel that way about this series. I enjoy how Davis grows all her characters whether they are the main character or secondary characters. I keep hoping Sophie and Mars work out their differences and find the path back to love. This book gave me hope that maybe we are testing that path. Only the author knows.

This book includes many yummy fall recipes that I am already bookmarking to try as soon as it cools. The idea of drinking pumpkin spice latte or eating pumpkin soup when the heat index is above 105 degrees makes me melt. The pumpkin bundt cake sound absolutely divine. Oh boy, do I have my tummy growling in anticipation.

The Diva Spices It Up is available now at your favorite retailer and hopefully (open) library.

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

NetGalley: She’s a young Martha Stewart…in Old Town Virginia!
New York Times bestselling author Krista Davis delights with the 13th in her enormously popular and completely charming Domestic Diva Mystery series. When a celebrity ghostwriter dies on the job, it’s up to Sophie Winston, Old Town, Virginia’s favorite entertaining expert, and sporadic sleuth, to whip up an impromptu investigation…

Sophie never considered ghostwriting as a side gig, until former actress and aspiring lifestyle guru, Tilly Stratford, trophy wife of Wesley Winthrope, needs someone to write her celebrity cookbook. Sophie agrees, hoping she’ll earn enough bread on this assignment to finish her bathroom renovations. But as it turns out, Sophie isn’t the first foodie to get a taste for recipe ghostwriting, and if the marginalia is any indication, this project could be a killer…

Wesley claims professional ghostwriter, Abby Bergeron, suddenly abandoned Tilly’s cookbook with no warning. But Sophie quickly discovers that Abby may be more ghost than writer now…and her disappearance was no accident. So Sophie cracks open a fresh investigation but sifting the seasoned murderer from this sampling of salty suspects won’t be easy. Will Sophie savor another case closed or will the culprit simply melt away?

Piece by Piece by Laura Bradford

piece

Pages: 276

Publisher: Kensington

Published: July 28, 2020

Rating 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Warning: Do not read without boxes of tissues by your side.

The author personally reached out to warn me this book might be hard for me to read so soon to my mama’s death. She was right BUT it has been the most healing book I have read.

Through Dani’s grief, I was reminded of how my mama is still with me every day. She is in my memories and my heart. Just like Dani’s mom, my mom was always there for me. Oh, the times I called her at 3am because I couldn’t sleep because of worry. She’d listen patiently, talk me through it, and tell me to get sleep and it would be better when I woke up. You know what? She was always right. My mom was my rock. She was right up to almost the very end.

Both Dani and Lydia’s stories will touch your soul. When you turn the last page you will feel as Laura Bradford says in the book that Dani and Lydia are your friends and are the “…rainbow after a storm.”

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review entirely my own.

NetGalley: A grieving mother learns to heal in Amish country, in this heartfelt, beautifully told novel from national bestselling author Laura Bradford.

Danielle Parker is a gold-medal mom—the kind who volunteers in her children’s classrooms, shuttles them between activities, throws legendary birthday parties, and has a remedy on hand for any emergency. Whatever her husband, Jeff, and their children need, Dani is there, always.

Except for one day.

On that day—the day that Dani reluctantly takes some “me time” while her mom and Jeff drive the children to the park—the unthinkable happens. The car crash leaves no survivors. Somehow, Dani gets through the funerals and visits, accepting neighbors’ sympathy and dropped-off meals. All the while, guilt and grief make her wish the accident had claimed her life too. Then a call comes from Lydia Schlabach, an Amish woman Dani befriended in childhood. In addition to condolences, Lydia offers Dani something more: a place to escape to.

In Pennsylvania’s Amish country, Dani’s days take on a new rhythm, marked by the clip-clop of buggies and the bustle of chores. Lydia gives Dani space to mourn, to think, and to realize how long it’s been since she felt like a person in her own right. And with the help of friendships old and new, Dani learns about the ways life continues to surprise us—even after the deepest loss—with joy, love, and second chances. . . .

How to Save a Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

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Pages: 301

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Published: July 14, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: It is a sign of a good book if I am interested from page one on a genre that I am not normally interested in, magical realism. I have found I am liking it more and more and this book solidified that thought. I could not put this book down and only because I had to be an adult did I.

The story of Dom and Mia is tragic, to say the least, and you pretty much know what is going to happen each Thursday (Groundhog Day) but you still find yourself hoping and pleading for a better outcome.

I loved the message at the end of the book.

A quick read that will have you hooked immediately.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Lake Union Publishing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: The bestselling authors of The Good Widow deliver a modern, suspenseful twist on Groundhog Day that asks the question: How far are you willing to go to save the life of someone you love?

Dom is having a very bad day—one he literally can’t escape.

When Dom bumps into Mia, his ex-fiancée whom he hasn’t seen in almost a decade, he believes they’ve been given a second chance and asks her out. When Mia dies tragically on their date, Dom makes a desperate wish: to be given the chance to save her life. And when he wakes the next morning to the shock that she’s alive, he thinks his wish may have been granted. But day after day, no matter what he changes about their time together, she still meets a terrible fate.

Dom frantically searches for answers to save his beloved Mia and rekindle their former love. But the further he digs, the more obsessed he becomes, making him realize that slowing down time may be the only way to see things clearly. As he’s forced to confront the truth about himself and those he’s closest to, Dom vows that he’ll watch Mia die a thousand times if it means he can save her once.

Murder on Pleasant Avenue (Gaslight Mystery #23)

pleasant

Pages: 332

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group

Published: April 28, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I enjoyed this book but realized very early on that I need to read the series in order. It took me much too long, in my opinion, to understand some of the reoccurring characters. I have read one book previously and had forgotten that was my conclusion then.

Being of Italian descent I found this book very interesting especially regarding the difference in the Calabrians and Sicilians. My grandfather was from Sicily and passed away when I was 2 so I never had the chance to ask him about his heritage.

A word of warning this book deals with the kidnapping of children and the sexual assault of women. There are no detailed scenes of sexual assault. This is a cozy mystery with more of a bite to the story. While reading I do not have the light, airy feel as I usually do while reading cozies. I am already on the hunt for book 1 so I may understand this series better.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Berkely Publishing Group. through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: When Gino Donatelli is accused of a brutal murder, beloved sleuths Sarah and Frank Malloy have to catch a killer who is out to destroy their innocent friend’s life in the latest installment of the national bestselling Gaslight mysteries.

A victim is found, brutally murdered and the police are certain they’ve caught the killer. Their only suspect: Gino Donatelli.

Frank and Sarah know Gino is innocent but the police have a one-track mind. Once Frank struck it rich and left their ranks taking Gino with him, there has been a simmering resentment in the department. And now, someone has pulled out all the stops to make it look like Gino is the only one who could have committed the crime.

With the clock ticking and evidence mounting against their friend, Sarah and Frank will try to unravel a treacherous plot before Gino is sent up the river for good.

Light Shines on Promise Lodge (Promise Lodge #5) by Charlotte Hubbard

light

Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: March 31, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I enjoyed this series as it showed a side of strong Amish woman that you do not see a lot in Amish fiction. Light Shines on Promise Lodge is a great ending to the series. You are not left with any cliff hangers and as with every book in the series, it is a clean read.

I really enjoyed seeing Gloria’s character grow up through the series and come into a fine young lady. She is a character that will stay with you and make you see the younger generations in more understanding light. She reminds us that we were all younger at one time and might not have made the best decisions.

Each book can be read as a standalone but I think you get more from the series reading in order.

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

NetGalley: Readers who have fallen in love with Amish Romance legends such as Beverly Lewis and Cindy Windsmall, will be charmed by this heartfelt conclusion to Hubbard’s Promise Lodge series, as the progressive ways of the Promise Lodge community are threatened by dark times… until the light of truth and love lifts them up…

For abandoned wife Annabelle Beachey, Promise Lodge is a refuge where she’s gained confidence and self-sufficiency. But she and others are dismayed when newly arrived Bishop Clayton King claims the community is too progressive and sets out to change its ways. Worse, her husband, Phineas returns, expecting her to give up her faith as he has. And he won’t leave Promise Lodge without her . . .

But little by little, Annabelle’s determination and new forthrightness make Phineas realize his mistakes—and truly hear his wife for the first time. Meanwhile, Annabelle finds herself feeling compassion—and even renewed love—for her newly humble, more caring husband. And as Bishop Clayton’s attempt to control Promise Lodge threatens everything its residents have built, Phineas and Annabelle must work together with unshakeable courage to save their new home—and their opportunity for forever happiness.

 

Promises of Tomorrow (Walnut Creek 4.5) by Shelley Shepard Gray

promises

Pages: 100

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: July 6, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A perfect ending to a beautifully written series that touches on topics that will make you take stock of your life.

Without giving anything away, you know by the end of the novella that the Eight will be ok. Each book and novella is written as standalone reads but I heavily suggest you start with Friends to the End and read in order. You will get so much more out of the books. I have needed tissues with every story but that is good for me as it means that it was a memorable read for me.

Beth’s story touches on the thoughts I had in the early dating stages of my husband. If something tragic happens early on, how do you grieve? Sometimes you know from the beginning that you have found your person. I wanted to reach into the novella and comfort Beth with lots of hugs.

A quick read for an afternoon but one that stays with you long after.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Gallery Books, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Two years have passed since their friend Andy’s death, and the Eight is still struggling to cope with their loss. In an attempt to give the group some time to reconnect with one another, remember their friend, and reflect on the last two years, Marie decides that a relaxing couple’s getaway is just what they need before the craziness of the holiday season begins. When their large cabin in the woods turns out to be more rundown than rustic, though, Marie fears that she’s ruined everything, but at least, she thinks, the trip can’t get any worse—that is, until a lost English girl named Beth appears at the cabin. And with such heavy snow, the Eight is forced to take her in for the next twenty-four hours.

Although Marie feels as if all her planning and good intentions were for nothing, she has no idea that Beth will give the group a gift they didn’t know they needed: the reminder that life may not always be fair and sometimes it’s painful, but there’s always another day.

With Shelley Shepard Gray’s signature “thought-provoking, emotional” (Patricia Davids, USA TODAY bestselling author) prose, Promises of Tomorrow is a moving story of love, friendship, and faith.