A Fatal Appraisal (Antiques and Collectibles #2) by Ellery Adams

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Pages: 645

Publisher: Beyond the Page

Published: January 22, 2015

Rating 4 almost 5 stars

Amazon:

In the world of antiques and collectibles, it helps to have a sharp eye for quality, a good ear for gossip, and a nose for murder.

Molly Appleby loves her job at Collector’s Weekly covering auctions and estate sales all over the South. When her latest assignment takes her to Richmond, Virginia, to interview the staff of the hit TV show Hidden Treasures, she’s expecting a quick, fun trip. But when one of the show’s appraisers is found murdered, Molly realizes that once again she’ll have to put on her detective’s cap until the culprit is captured.

As Richmond locals flock to the show hoping their family heirlooms turn out to be valuable antiques, Molly’s busy behind the scenes interviewing the show’s staff and tracking down clues. When yet another staff member is killed and Molly herself is threatened, she’s determined to discover which of the expert cast members of Hidden Treasures might be hiding a sinister secret, because no matter how priceless, she knows that no antique is literally to die for.

My Review:

“Fewer and fewer Americans possess objects that have a patina, old furniture, grandparents’ pots, and pans – the used things, warm with generations of human touch… – Susan Sontag, On Photography

Ellery Adams opens chapter 1 with this quote and I tell you I was blown away. It hit me like a ton of bricks because it is so true. Everyone wants new, new, new and nothing from their parents or grandparents. The thought is, “Just throw it away.” I look around my house and I have a lot of hand-me-downs from my parents and grandparents and those items seem to be my favorite things to use. I am currently using a blender and food chopper from my great aunt who bought them new in the early 80s. Every time I get them out I think of her and miss her. I feel as if she is in the kitchen with me. This is what Adams does when she writes, she makes you think and reflect on your life. I have no idea if she is aware she does that but she does.

A Fatal Appraisal is one of her earlier books she originally published under Jennifer Stanley. I really liked it and you can see she has always been a gifted writer. Molly, her main character, in The Antiques and Collectibles series is a gem. She is, what I call, average size, but she thinks she is too heavy and is wanting what most of us what in life, someone to love and share our daily life with. Unfortunately, her current interest gets called away on a family emergency to Ohio and she gets to sent to North Carolina to write an article on an antique and collectible show. Of course, she finds a dead body or two.

I could not put this book down and then when I finished I listened to the audiobook. I wanted to see how well the narrator portrayed the characters and I was impressed. Either way, you read this book I do not think you will be disappointed. I suggest starting with the first book in the series, A Killer Collection but you do not have to.

Christmas In Evergreen: Letters to Santa by Nancy Naigle

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Pages: 264

Publisher: Hallmark Publishing

Published: July 16, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Return to Evergreen, the town where Christmas wishes come true… But only if you know what your heart really wants.

When Lisa takes a last-minute Christmas trip to her hometown of Evergreen, she finds that the historic general store has closed. The place was a beloved local tradition, and she decides to use her skills as a professional retail designer to bring it back to its former glory. She charms a local contractor, Kevin, into working with her, and the pair find themselves facing one surprise after another.
One of the biggest surprises of all is finding the mysterious 25-year-old letter to Santa that never made it to the North Pole. Who really wrote it, and will its request come true at last? And will Lisa and Kevin figure out what they’re truly wishing for?

This sweet small-town romance includes a free Hallmark original recipe for Incredible Apple Dumplings.

My Review:

A great follow-up to the novel Christmas in Evergreen. A sweet, feel-good story that will leave you with a smile on your face. A perfect story to show what grit and determination can help you achieve.

An easy read that is perfect for several generations of the family to share.

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

Judge Thee Not (A Quaker Midwife Mysteries #5) by Edith Maxwell

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Pages: 327

Publisher: Beyond the Page

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Quaker midwife Rose Carroll must fight bias and blind assumptions to clear the name of a friend when a murderer strikes in nineteenth-century Massachusetts . . .

No stranger to judgmental attitudes in her small town of Amesbury, Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is nonetheless stunned when society matron Mayme Settle publicly snubs her good friend Bertie for her nontraditional lifestyle. When Mrs. Settle is later found murdered—and a supposed witness insists Bertie was spotted near the scene of the crime—the police have no choice but to set their sights on the slighted woman as their main suspect.
Rose is certain her friend is innocent of the heinous deed, and when Rose isn’t busy tending to her duties as a midwife, she enlists the help of a blind pregnant client—who’s endured her own share of prejudice—to help her sift through the clues. As the two uncover a slew of suspects tied to financial intrigues, illicit love, and an age-old grudge over perceived wrongs, Rose knows she’ll have to bring all her formidable intelligence to bear on solving the crime. Because circumstantial evidence can loom large in small minds, and she fears her friend will soon become the victim of a grave injustice . . .

My Review:

This is the second book I have read in the series and I really need/want to read the ones I have missed. Rose is a spitfire whose escapades I enjoy.

I find I not only learn about midwifery and how people lived in the 19th century but I also learn about the Quaker faith. The Quakers are very interesting and I have high respect for how they stood up to others to stay true to their faith.

Maxwell is not afraid to touch on themes such as lesbianism and rape. She handles them with such poise. I like how she includes them but does not feel the need to make it the focal point.

The Quaker Midwife series is a noteworthy addition to the genre of cozy mysteries.

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

A Down Home Christmas by Liz Talley

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Pages: 302

Publisher: Hallmark Publishing

Published: July 2, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Country music star Kris Trabeau heads to Charming, Mississippi, to convince his aging aunt to sell her farm and move into a nice retirement community. She’s not having it, and she enlists her neighbor Tory Odom to help her remind Kris why the farm means so much…especially at Christmas.
After being dumped by her longtime boyfriend, Tory’s not feeling the holiday spirit. Still, she agrees to co-chair a children’s concert and silent auction to benefit the after-school center where she volunteers. As Kris helps her with the concert and spends time with the kids, the attraction between them becomes harder and harder to ignore. Can he trade spotlights and city lights for the place where the music began?

My Review:

A fun, entertaining Christmas read filled with love and the importance of family. Be prepared to laugh within the first five minutes of reading. Hint: Chickens and sweaters. I love Christmas books that feel real and A Down Home Christmas gives you that feeling right from the first page.

For fans of fruitcake, you will love the recipe for Jingle Bell Fruitcake Cookies included at the end.

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

NetGalley:

Jessica Sterling’s candlelight-themed nuptials promises to be the perfect kick-off to the summer’s first official holiday weekend. Stella’s thrilled to have been chosen to provide the decorative centerpiece for the wedding ceremony: a two-foot-tall scented unity candle—a symbol of the happy couple’s love. But it looks like the bride-to-be’s uncle won’t be walking his niece down the aisle after he’s found dead. The murder weapon is Stella’s seemingly indestructible candle, now split in two.

When a beloved local bartender is arrested, Stella’s sure a visiting police captain running the case made a rush to justice. With superstitious brides-to-be canceling orders and sales waxing and waning at her store, the Wick & Flame owner decides to do some sleuthing of her own. Abetted by a charming reporter and challenged by the town’s sexiest cop, Stella’s determined to shine a light on the truth and uncover a killer who’s snuffing out her own flame.

My Review:

Nantucket is on my bucket list of places to visit so anytime I can read a book set there I jump. Murder’s, No Votive Confidence is a great addition to the Nantucket setting. I was pleased the author went to the roots of Nantucket and had Stella own and operate a candle store.

I am looking forward to the next installment in The Nantucket Candle Making series. I’m interested in seeing how Stella’s love life progresses. Andy, in my opinion, is not out of the running. The jury is still out if I like Peter.

If you are looking for a new series with a different cozy setting than small-town landlocked America and a theme different from culinary then I suggest you grab this book. It is a fast-paced read that has no problems holding your interest.

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

Blessed by Sherry Robinson

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Pages: 256

Publisher: Shadelandhouse Modern Press

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

A STORY OF HOPE AND THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS
Grayson Armstrong’s vision for a dying church has everyone in small-town Mercy, Kentucky, talking. The truth is everyone has been talking about Grayson ever since this dark-haired twenty-eight-year-old preacher with shoulder-length hair and an ill-fitting suit drove into town twelve years before in his silver convertible with his pretty wife and two rambunctious boys. It’s his untimely death, though, that has everyone trying to understand who they thought he was.

This vivid, poignant, and heartbreaking story is told by multiple characters whose paths intersect with Grayson: a homeless Vietnam veteran haunted by demons of war; the local diner’s young waitress grappling with her family’s dark history; aggrieved and supportive congregants and townspeople confronting change and the power of love and hate; and Grayson’s wife and his coming-of-age gay son, struggling to understand their own feelings about Grayson.

During a time when communities and countries are split apart, Robinson’s calming prose and timely story encourage us to put aside our fears, hate, and biases and to open our hearts and challenge our perceptions. Blessed is ultimately a story of hope and of the power of forgiveness.

My Review:

A deeply moving novel that makes you look into your soul and analyze your beliefs. You will be forced to think about how you treat others, not just those close around you but everyone you come in contact within your life. You will be forced to ask yourself, “Are you following God’s word?” and “Would God be proud of you?”

I expect this book will be with me for a long time and will jump into my thoughts when I least expect it. The question you need to ask yourself is, “What do you think being BLESSED means?”

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher, Shadelandhouse Modern Press. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Nouns Say “What’s That?” by Michael Dahl

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Pages: 32

Publisher: Capstone Publishing

Published: August 1, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Tour groups, exhibits, paintings, sculptures … The museum is teeming with common and proper nouns, everywhere you look! Person, Place, and Thing make sure readers not only discover factual grammar basics inside, but also lots of fun, laughter, and adventure.

My Review:

As a substitute teacher, I LOVE this book. It is easy and fun to read with colorful eye-catching characters. I loved the fact that each noun (person, place, or thing) was assigned a color so when that type of noun was mentioned you knew which noun was being discussed.

I am already excited to order this book for myself and my teacher friends. The littles are going to love it. This would be the perfect book for families to read-aloud together to teach and learn nouns.

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

 

 

Strangled Eggs and Ham (A Country Store Mystery #6) by Maddie Day

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Pages: 295

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

While Robbie scrambles through breakfast orders for her expanding clientele at Pans ‘N Pancakes, tempers run as high as the sticky August heat in South Lick, Indiana. Real-estate developer Fiona Closs plans to build a towering luxury resort at one of the most scenic hilltops in Brown County, and not everyone can see the sunny side of the imposing proposition—including Robbie’s furious Aunt Adele, who doesn’t waste a minute concocting protests and road blockades. When tensions boil over and a vocal protester is silenced forever at the resort site, Robbie ditches the griddle to catch the killer. But if slashed tires are any indication, she’ll need to crack this case before her own aunt gets served something deadly next . . .

My Review:

I alternated between reading and listening to the audiobook for this addition to the series. I much prefer to read the books than listen as I am not a fan of the narrator on the audiobook. She makes Robbie sound a lot older than she is and it kept throwing me off as I thought Aunt Vera was talking.

Book six is a strong addition to the series. Plenty of red-herrings to keep you guessing who the murderer could be. You can read each book as a standalone with no problems. Day does such a good job of describing the area around Bloomington, Indiana that you can’t help wish you could drop in and visit with Robbie and eat some pancakes at Pans-n-Pancakes.

A clean read in that there is no foul language, sexual situations or overly grisly murder scenes.

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

The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

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Pages: 315

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Published: July 23, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.

Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.

My Review:

An intriguing, fast-paced read.

My BFF called me on release day and said you have to get this book immediately. So of course, I did and I promptly finished within 24 hours.

I enjoyed the chapters alternating between Free and Captured. I felt it added to the suspense of the train wreck of Lila’s life. I could imagine this being made into a movie. I think it would capture the attention of the audience right away.

If you are sensitive to coarse language (F word) then beware as it is present in this book. It does not feel excessive though. Don’t let that stop you from reading this intriguing book.

A perfect read for the last few summer weekends at the beach or lake.

Tilling the Truth (A Garden Squad Mystery #2) by Julia Henry

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Pages: 298

Publisher: Kensington

Published: August 27, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

While Lilly digs into a town beautification project, her friend Tamara O’Connor has greater concerns than well-pruned geraniums. The real-estate firm owner hasn’t been shy about blaming perennial grouch Gladys Preston for thwarting her many attempts to sell off a beautiful beachside property. But accusations fly when Gladys is suddenly found dead—and Tamara is caught standing over the body with a bloody weapon in her hand . . .

As Tamara becomes the prime murder suspect, Lilly and the Garden Squad ladies set out to prove that someone planted the evidence. With a potpourri of alarming clues scattered around Goosebush, cracking this case means confronting a calculating culprit with a penchant for cutting down anyone who gets in the way . . .

My Review:

I’ll be honest, I picked this book to read as I needed a gardening book for a book bingo I participate in throughout the year. I really did not think I would like it but I did. In fact, I have already downloaded the first book from my local library.

I do agree with another review I read that it would have been better to have read the first book in the series. A few times I felt lost in the character development but the author did a great job in giving just enough information for me to figure it out.

Tilling the Truth has made me look around at neighboring gardens and appreciate the time and patience people put into them. I do know I would not know one poisonous plant from another.

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