Nogged Off (A Maine Clambake 4.5) by Barbara Ross

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Publisher: Kensington

Published: October 29, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: This was my first visit to Busman’s Harbor, Maine and I am hooked. I have already downloaded several books from the series to my Kindle. Fingers crossed the first one can be used during this most recent round of Book Bingo.

Nogged Off takes place the week before Christmas and starts when Julia goes to NYC to get the rest of her belongings from the apartment she has sublet to Imogen. From the minute Julia enters everything she thought was planned out goes to stink.

The ride is wild and the conclusion is anything but Christmassy.

If you have questioned entering the world of the Maine Clambake series or if this is your first time hearing of the series, Nogged Off is the perfect entry. Bonus: two cookie recipes included in the novella.

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: Previously published in the collection Egg Nog Murder.

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and Julia Snowden’s escape from New York has just hit a snag. Fresh off accidentally poisoning half her colleagues with her “Killer Eggnog,” Julia’s would-be subletter, Imogen Geinkes, is now jobless and homeless—leading Julia to invite the young woman home for the holidays in Maine. But when they unload the rental truck in Busman’s Harbor, they find something that wasn’t on anyone’s packing list: the body of Imogen’s former boyfriend.

Suddenly, the wordplay in Imogen’s name—“I’m a jinx”—isn’t so adorable. But for all the calamities that follow in Imogen’s wake, Julia’s certain she’s no killer. As Julia digs into the case, the appearance of the ex’s brother—his identical twin—doubles the confusion. Has Imogene been double-crossed by an evil twin? Was the eggnog “accident” no accident at all? If Julia doesn’t unwrap the murderer’s true identity soon, one of the twelve days of Christmas could be her last . . .

A Wedding on the Beach by Holly Chamberlin

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Pages: 448

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 3 stars

NetGalley:

A summer wedding, a college reunion, a gorgeous Maine beach house—it’s the ideal setting for bestselling author Holly Chamberlin’s captivating novel about the connections that shape us, sometimes break our hearts, and forever change our lives . . .

Bess Culpepper has long been sure of two things—that her group of college friends would stay close, and that love is worth the wait. At forty-two, she’s found the right man, and she’s celebrating her upcoming wedding by inviting her best friends to beautiful Kennebunkport.

Bess has always been at the helm of these reunions, herding everyone together despite distance and outside commitments. As usual, Marta and Mike journey from their home near New York City, while Chuck and his husband, Dean, travel from Los Angeles. But Allison, half of a devoted couple since college, is making the trip from Chicago without her husband, Chris. None of the others knows the reason for their impending divorce. There are other tensions too. The usually level-headed Marta is conspicuously on edge, and Chuck reveals devastating personal news.

As reality encroaches on her dreams of the perfect gathering, Bess begins to second guess her assumptions about friendship and fidelity. If relationships like these, nurtured over decades, can flounder, how can any couple stay committed? Is it possible to truly know the ones we love—or even to predict where one’s own path will lead?

My Review:

I hate rating books below 4 stars but I could not rate this book any higher.

Major reasons why I was not thrilled with the book:

  1. It was never-ending. I felt like it went on and on and I was reading every single minute of their lives.
  2. For Bess, to be in her early 40’s she sure was whiney and self-centered. I understand it is all about the bride but this went overboard. She acted like everyone had to run their lives by her or it was poor pitiful left out me.

I normally like Holly Chamberlin’s books and plan on reading more. Give this a whirl if you love summer beach weddings, you may find it a favorite.

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

Town in a Cinnamon Toast (A Candy Holliday #7) by B. B. Haywood

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Pages: 311

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

Published: February 2, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

The much-anticipated wedding of local resident Maggie Tremont and popular baker Herr Georg has stirred up the usually quiet coastal town of Cape Willington. To make sure the wedding of the year goes off without a hitch, the participants gather at a pre-wedding dinner—everyone, that is, except the best man…

Worried, Candy, the maid of honor, goes looking for him, finally tracking him down to the upstairs archive rooms at the English Point Lighthouse and Museum. There’s only one problem: he’s dead, struck over the head with a bottle of champagne, the same exclusive brand that was ordered for the dinner. Before the wedding plans fall flat, Candy rushes to find the murderer, unearthing a conspiracy that could spill over into the whole town…

My Review:

I am sad. Why? Because I know after this book I only have one left in the series. I have thoroughly enjoyed every book in this series. Candy and her dad, Doc, feel like old friends when I open up the book and start reading. I feel comfortable and content while reading.

In book 7, Candy’s BFF, Maggie, and old boss, Herr Georg are getting married. For long-time readers of the series, this is a happy occasion. Maggie finally deserves some happiness after her rotten ex-husband. Unfortunately, the best man is murdered before the wedding. As we come to learn he had information on a mystery that has run throughout the entire series. We finally learn all the secrets involved in that mystery by the end of the book.

As always, the story is a clean read with no foul language, no sex and no grisly murder scenes that make your tummy roll. Please read the series from the beginning or you will not understand exactly what is going on with the secondary mystery.

Now, if you will excuse me I am going to go ponder if I should read the last book immediately or wait until I need a farm book for my next cozy mystery book bingo on Goodreads and savor the thought that there is one book left for my enjoyment.

The Root of Magic by Kathleen Benner Duble

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Pages: 216

Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishing

Published: June 11, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Willow knows the unknown is scary. Especially when your little brother has been sick for a long time and nobody has been able to figure out why. All Willow wants is for her brother to get better and for her life to go back to normal.

But after a bad stroke of luck, Willow and her family find themselves stranded in an unusual town in the middle of nowhere and their life begins to change in the most unexpected way. Willow soon discovers that the town isn’t just unusual—it’s magical—and the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined.

Will Willow find that this could be the secret to saving her family—or discover that the root of magic could lead them to something greater?

My Review:

Would you want to know what each day would bring before it happened? This is the question Willow must answer when a terrifying accident brings her and her family to Kismet, Maine.

The Root of Magic is a story filled with the wonders of magic, love, and acceptance of yourself and others.

Appropriate for children of ages 8 – 12. There is no foul language and no sex (a first kiss only). It would make a great read-aloud for families. Discussions will abound.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Children’s Publishing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Pray for the Girl by Joseph Souza

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Pages: 352

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 30, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:Lucy Abbott never pictured herself coming back to Fawn Grove, Maine. Yet after serving time in Afghanistan, then years spent as a sous chef in New York, she’s realized her only hope of moving on from the past involves facing it again. But Fawn Grove, like Lucy herself, has changed.

Lucy’s sister, Wendy, is eager to help her adapt, almost stifling her with concern. At the local diner, Lucy is an exotic curiosity—much like the refugees who’ve arrived in recent years. When a fifteen-year-old Muslim girl is found murdered along the banks of the river, difficult memories of Lucy’s time overseas come flooding back and she feels an automatic connection. At first glance, the tragedy looks like an honor killing. But the more Lucy learns about her old hometown, the less certain that seems.

There is menace and hostility here, clothed in neighborly smiles and a veneer of comfort. And when another teen is found dead in a cornfield, his throat slit, Lucy—who knows something about hiding secrets—must confront a truth more brutal than she could have imagined, in the last place she expected it . . .

My Review: I had to take my time with this one because it rocked me to the core. I’ve cried, felt outraged, and helplessness while reading. Definitely not for the faint of heart but a must-read for fans of suspense.

I could not imagine the life Lucy has experienced. This book made me look at her experiences in a whole new light. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to give the suspense and surprises away.

If you are sensitive regarding the LGBTQ community please be warned this book may be upsetting. Personally, I suggest you read it to get more understanding.

There are violence and curse words in the book but not unnecessarily.

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

On a Summer Tide (Three Sisters Island #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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Pages: 308

Publisher: Revell

Published: April 30, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Sometimes love hurts–and sometimes it can heal in the most unexpected way.

Camden Grayson loves her challenging career, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. “Moving on” is Cam’s mantra. But there’s a difference, her two sisters insist, between one who moves on . . . and one who keeps moving.

Cam’s full-throttle life skids to a stop when her father buys a remote island off the coast of Maine. Paul Grayson has a dream to breathe new life into the island–a dream that includes reuniting his estranged daughters. Certain Dad has lost his mind, the three sisters rush to the island. To Cam’s surprise, the slow pace of island life appeals to her, along with the locals–and one in particular. Seth Walker, the scruffy island schoolteacher harbors more than a few surprises.

My review: I am a huge fan of the Amish books by Suzanne Woods Fisher and now I’m a huge fan of her contemporary works. On a Summer Tide blew me away.

Direct quote “Planning doesn’t make the wedding. And the wedding doesn’t make the marriage. The marriage is what we live with, day in and day out.” Oh, how I wish engaged couples would read this book just for that quote. It is so true! Look beyond the glitz and glam of the ceremony and reception and look toward your future. Where do you want your marriage to be in ten, twenty years?

There is religion in this beautiful work of art but it is expressed serenely and at the most appropriate moments. It makes the reader sit back and reflect before moving on.

At the end of the book is a recipe for chocolate chip cookies using rice crispy cereal that I plan on making this weekend and a discussion guide. This book has just about everything in it.

I am looking forward to reading the next installment of The Three Sisters series.

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

In Peppermint Peril (A Tea and Read Mystery) by Joy Avon

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Pages: 285

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: November 27, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Callie has moved back to Maine to help her Great Aunt with Book Tea. A fun tearoom that is filled with sweet bookish clues from beloved mysteries. They’ve agreed to cater a small party at Haywood Hall for Dorothea so she can make an announcement regarding her will. Unfortunately, several things occur, one of which is murder, that prevents the announcement from happening. Callie has taken it upon herself to find the killer. Will she succeed?

My favorite part of the book: Daisy, the Boston Terrier. I wish she had made the cover of the book. As a Boston Terrier owner, I am a sucker for books with one on the cover or as a character. Daisy doesn’t do much but eat and sleep but alas that is the life of a Boston.

As a debut cozy this series has a lot of potentials. I am curious how the town will progress, the direction of Callie and Deputy Falk’s friendship and Callie’s job at Book Tea. I was disappointed no recipes were shared at the end of the book. As a culinary cozy mystery, I have come to expect them. I would have enjoyed learning more about Iphy’s “The Duel”. It sounded yummy to eat and look at.

I will definitely be reading the second book in the series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crooked Lane Books through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #2) by Jacqueline Frost

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Pages: 309 (eBook)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: November 13, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Holly White has barely recovered from her almost death last Christmas while investigating a murder when another murder finds her this Christmas. The town lothario winds up stabbed to death and left in the town square’s gigantic peppermint candy bowl. Unfortunately Holly’s best friend and town cupcake maker, Caroline, is the main suspect. Can Holly solve this murder before becoming a repeat customer of the “almost dead” club?

This series is my guilty Christmas pleasure. Holly and her family are what you think of when you think of Christmas. First, they live in Mistletoe, Maine where the twelve days of Christmas is celebrated with the Reindeer Games. You have blindfold gingerbread house building and snowman building contests. The town plays Christmas music and every store is decorated. A little murder is thrown in to make things even more interesting.

You will laugh, scream and cry with Holly at every turn. Her love life is interesting. She is kind of dating the local sheriff but they have yet to get on the same page at the same time.

In book two, Holly’s family is building an inn at the Christmas Tree Farm and I am interested to see how the dynamics change in future books with this addition.

If you love Christmas and murder together you need to get this series ASAP.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crooked Lane Books through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Town in a Sweet Pickle (Candy Holliday #6) by B. B. Haywood

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Pages: 338 (Paperback)

Publisher: Berkley

Published: February 3, 2015

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In book six, Candy Holliday finds herself questioning the balance between working as interim editor of the newspaper and working the blueberry farm with her dad. Candy and her arch nemesis and co-worker Wanda have organized an event for the local amateur cooks to show off their talent. They were even able to snag a popular cookbook author to be a guest judge. As Wanda goes around helping collect the goodies for the event she finds herself on the wrong end of a tasting. As she recovers, Candy is left to handle the event on her own. Things turn worse when a local favorite drops dead at the event consuming a pickle. Is someone targeting the event or all of Cape Willington?

I continue to enjoy this series the more I read it. Candy is so down to earth that you cannot help but like her. Her love for her dad and the farm is a beautiful addition to the story. Family plays a great role in cozies and this series highlights that wonderfully. The blueberry farm has very little role in this book and I did miss it.

I was saddened by the death of a particular character. I won’t mention who but if you have kept up with the series you will be saddened as well. There is a funeral in this book that will have you laughing and wondering do such things really happen?

Several recipes are included at the end of the book and I cannot wait to bake the Harvest Cookies for my hubby.

A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson

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Pages: 176 (eBook)

Publisher: Revell

Published: September 4, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wendy and her son, Jackson, have been living in Cincinnati, OH and trying to cope with life after the death of her husband, his dad. Wendy’s grandfather passed away and left her his home in Seaside, Maine. Wendy plans on updating the home and selling it ASAP. They drive to Maine over Thanksgiving break and both fall in love with the house and town. Jackson wants to live there but Wendy sees no way to make a living and insists they must go back to Cincinnati. Will the townspeople, one in particular, change her mind and give a young boy his Christmas wish?

What a heartwarming, beautiful Christmas read. Melody Carlson writes with such love and hope that you can’t help but fall in love with Seaside. She makes the reader wish we could experience the Christmas season on the Maine coast with mornings of shelling, days filled with creating beauty within our home and evenings filled with delicious seafood meals.

I would like to see a return visit to Seaside with one of the other characters with an update to how Wendy and Jackson are doing.

I received a complimentary copy of this story from Revell through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.