Death by Dumpling (Noodle House #1) by Vivien Chien

dumpling

Pages: 331

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: March 27, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

Welcome to the Ho-Lee Noodle House, where the Chinese food is to die for. . .

The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that a return to the Cleveland area to help wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband.

Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.

My Review:

I finally read book one of this delectable series. Vivien Chien is a true delight to the culinary cozy mystery world. I have devoured every book like a starving reader.

In Death by Dumpling we meet Lana, learn how she started her hobby of amateur sleuthing, and how her relationship with Detective Trudeau began. Chien gives her characters depth from the beginning. I like that Lana is strong but still has reservations and questions where her life is at this moment in time. It makes Lana as it is human nature to be reserved after a tough breakup. The fact that she does not let it knock her down completely is a sign she has inner strength. Inner strength she needs to deal with the murders she runs into.

Each book in the series can be read as a standalone but as always you get more from the series read in order. Cozy mystery lovers who love culinary series will be a fan of this series. Hurry by the first four books in the series as a gift for the reader in your life.

The Long Call (A Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves

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Pages: 382

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his estranged father’s funeral takes place. On the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.

Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck stabbed to death.

The case calls Matthew back to the people and places of his past, as deadly secrets hidden at their hearts are revealed, and his new life is forced into a collision course with the world he thought he’d left behind.

My Review:

The Long Call is my first Ann Cleeves book and the first in a new series. I admit the first 30% or so was so slow. Mainly because of the introduction of all the characters. Once I got that under my belt I flew through the book.

I get the same feeling I do when reading The Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. A dark, brooding detective that is quietly processing the crime and when he speaks you listen. He doesn’t waste words on unimportant things.

Perfect for fans of mystery and suspense. No detailed sex scenes but there are talks of rape. If you prefer not to read about LGBTQ characters this probably is not the book for you. The main character is gay.

I’m looking forward to continuing The Two Rivers series.

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

Wonton Terror )A Noodle Shop Mystery #4) by Vivien Chien

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Pages: 300

Publisher: St. Martins Press

Published: August 27, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

In the fourth in Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop delicious mystery series, Ho-Lee Noodle House is ready to take the Cleveland night market by storm—until a brand-new food venue literally explodes onto the scene.
Lana Lee is all smiles when the first evening of Cleveland’s Asian Night Market kicks off the summer. The weekly festival is always good for business, packed with locals and tourists, and this year, some stiff new food-truck competition. Wonton on Wheels, run by old friends of Lana’s parents, promises to have customers lining up for their delicately wrapped delights—until the truck blows up at evening’s end.
Lana’s boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau, had been planning a birthday getaway for the two of them but, lo and behold, Lana must assume the role of amateur sleuth yet again. With one proprietor of Wonton on Wheels dead, it’s beginning to look more like murder and less like an unfortunate accident. And as they begin to unwrap layers of disturbing secrets, Lana’s own family erupts into new drama. Will Lana be able to solve this crime—or has she jumped from the wok right into the fire?

My Review:

This series started off entertaining and delightful and keeps getting more so as each new book is released. Lana and her family are what I consider a typical American family no matter the ethnicity. They have their drama and yes sometimes everyone within 20 feet hears that drama but at the same time, they love just as deeply as they disagree. Lana wants to be independent and live her own life but her mom has a hard time letting go. I think a lot of young woman from close-knit families find in their twenties that is a common growing pain. I know I did.

You will be craving everything from wontons and dim sum to Asian noodles as you read. I admit I have never had dim sum and it isn’t for lack of want. I’m just not sure where to get it in my city. Lana makes it sound very delicious.

The only wish I had for this series…recipes for some of the dishes. I am a sucker for trying recipes that are included in my cozy mysteries.

Whether you are looking for a delicious read or a murder mystery, Wonton Terror is the book for you.

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

Under Currents by Nora Roberts

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Pages: 436

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: July 9, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon:

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers―and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back…

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.

My Review:

This book is more about Zane than Darby but Darby’s character ended up being a powerhouse.

If you are sensitive to any type of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, etc.) then read with caution. There are sexual situations and coarse language but nothing irrelevant to the story.

Book a vacation day ASAP and dive into this book. I promise you will not be able to put down.

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

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Pages: 308

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: August 13, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon: Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s a total pro at other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to give up her whole life and move to Boston, Cassie suddenly has an emergency of her own.
The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew—even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the infatuation-inspiring rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because love is girly, and it’s not her thing. And don’t forget the advice her old captain gave her: Never date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…and it means risking it all—the only job she’s ever loved, and the hero she’s worked like hell to become.

My Review: Things You Save in a Fire is my first Katherine Center book and will not be my last.

The beginning was a little slow (50 pages) but once it picks up, it takes off with the speed of a sports car. You will not want to put down. As a matter of fact, for two days my husband had to eat sandwiches for dinner. I was not stopping to bother with cooking.

This book has all the feels: anger, shock, sadness, laughter, and love. It is true to life where one moment we are happy and then something happens to make us realize how short life really can be.

Things You Save in a Fire has some foul language (F word every so often), a few sex scenes (not too in depth) and adult situations.

Put this on your TBR list and a reminder on your calendar to pick up your copy on 8.13.19 from your favorite book retailer. I just know you will like this book.

I received a complimentary copy from St. Martin’s Press. Any and all opinions expressed the above review are entirely my own.

#thingsyousavebook

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

mother law

Pages: 347

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: April 23, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, she knew she wasn’t the wife Diana had envisioned for her perfect son. Exquisitely polite, friendly, and always generous, Diana nonetheless kept Lucy at arm’s length despite her desperate attempts to win her over. And as a pillar in the community, an advocate for female refugees, and a woman happily married for decades, no one had a bad word to say about Diana…except Lucy.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana is dead, a suicide note found near her body claiming that she longer wanted to live because of the cancer wreaking havoc inside her body.
But the autopsy finds no cancer.
It does find traces of poison, and evidence of suffocation.

Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her children, and their spouses? And what does it mean that Lucy isn’t exactly sad she’s gone?

My Review: This is my second Sally Hepworth book and both have been amazing reads. It was a close 5-star read.

A perfect book to show how money can ruin lives.

Would I recommend this book for a teenage reader? No, as it has many adult situations (not sexual) that might be too much. This would make a perfect book club book. I wish I was in one just to have some animated discussions in the plot.

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

Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer

meghan

Pages: 374

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: April 9, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Edge of your seat medical thriller.

NetGalley:
Some would say Becky Gerard is a devoted mother and would do anything for her only child. Others, including her husband Carl, claim she’s obsessed and can’t stop the vicious circle of finding a cure at her daughter’s expense.
Fifteen-year-old Meghan has been in and out of hospitals with a plague of unexplained illnesses. But when the ailments take a sharp turn, clashing medical opinions begin to raise questions about the puzzling nature of Meghan’s illness. Doctors suspect Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare behavioral disorder where the primary caretaker seeks medical help for made-up symptoms of a child. Is this what’s going on? Or is there something even more sinister at hand?
As the Gerards grow more and more suspicious of each other and their medical team, Becky must race against time to prove her daughter has a deadly disease. But first, she must confront her darkest fears and family secrets that threaten to not only upend her once-ordered life…but to destroy it.

My review
Saving Meghan is an edge of your seat medical thriller that will keep reading into the wee hours of the night. This book has everything from medicine, family, love, and destruction.

With chapters being broken down into different points of view it added a good dramatic touch. It kept me guessing until the end. I had no inkling of what was happening.

Fans of Jodi Picoult should definitely pick up DJ Palmer’s Saving Meghan and give it a well-deserved read.

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

Murder Lo Mein (A Noodle Shop Mystery #3) by Vivien Chien

lo mein

Pages: 304

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: March 26, 2019

Rating: 4 stars

Amazon
Lana Lee’s stake in her family’s Chinese restaurant is higher than ever now that she’s been made manager. So when she enters Ho-Lee into Cleveland’s Best Noodle Contest, Lana makes it her business to win―at all costs. But when a local food critic receives a threatening note in a fortune cookie and is later found dead, face-down in a bowl of lo mein, all bets are off. . .
Now, along with her sweet-and-sour boyfriend Detective Adam Trudeau, Lana decides to take matters into her own hands and dig into the lives of everyone involved in the contest. But when she receives an ill-fated fortune, Lana realizes that in order to save the reputation of her restaurant, she needs to save herself first. . .

My Review
Murder Lo Mein was a delicious read that I did not want to put down. Constantly while I was reading I wanted nothing more than to be sitting in Ho-Lee Noodle House, eating noodles and reading this book. I definitely will pass on the fortune cookies though. Beware while reading you will want Asian noodles ALL THE TIME; breakfast, lunch, little lunch (snack) and dinner.

Lana is the girl we all want to be friends with but we realize if we are we will be dragged into a murder investigation. No dull moments with Lana around. Even when she tries she cannot stay out of trouble. Every time her mom shows up I know I am in for a good laugh.

I am so happy for an explanation of why Adam and Lana’s relationship is slow to get off the ground. I was almost hoping Peter was going to give Adam a run for his money but glad Lana shut him down. Adam is a great guy even if a little overprotective.

I received a complimentary copy from the author. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own. No compensation was provided.

Drawn and Buttered (A Lobster Shack Mystery #3) by Shari Randall

drawn

Pages: 301

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: February 26, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:
The Lazy Mermaid’s business has slowed to a snail’s pace—until a monster lobster claws his way onto the scene…

With the high season behind them, ballerina on-the-mend Allie Larkin and Aunt Gully are finally lying low. But then an unexpected guest arrives at the lobster shack: a crustacean so huge he’s dubbed Lobzilla around Mystic Bay and on social media. Soon, with everyone showing up for a peek in their tank, Allie and Aunt Gully have more on their plate than they can handle.

Meanwhile, another local establishment finds itself in hot water. In exclusive Rabb’s Point, a strange burglary breaches the elegant home of Royal Parrish. Allie takes it upon herself to help with the investigation but, before she can get to the bottom of the case, another alarm sounds: the Lazy Mermaid’s Lobzilla has gone missing and is on the loose! And bodies are beginning to pile up. . .

My Review:
A delightful read that is full of quirkiness and laughter that you will not want to put down. Aunt Gully is the aunt we all wished we had in our lives. She is supportive, loving and ready to jump into the fray with you.

Drawn and Buttered is the third book in the Lobster Shack Mystery series but you can jump into the series at any time. Beware, once you take the plunge you will never want to leave. The series is your typical cozy mystery series with clean language, no gory detailed violence, and no offense sex scenes.

The vivid descriptions of Aunt Gully’s lobster rolls and chowder will have your mouth watering and your mind convincing you that you need to drive to the Connecticut coast immediately. Pretty soon I think my phone is going to automatically book me a plane ticket.

One of my favorite characters is Bronwyn and I keep hoping she makes more of an appearance that an occasional one. She is a great balance to Allie and Verity.

I hope you take a chance and visit my friends in Mystic Bay, Connecticut. I really think you would enjoy.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Previously reviewed on my website:

  1. Curses, Boiled Again (Book 1) January 2018
  2. Against the Claw (Book 2) July 2018

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

rain

Pages: 240

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: October 30, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Linden is in Paris to celebrate his father’s birthday with just the family. Unfortunately, Paris is flooding at a rapid rate due to neverending rain and both parents get sick. As Linden tries to care for his father at the hospital he starts realizing he may not have much time left to bond with his father.

My feelings have run from I did not like the book at all (2 stars) to wow, what a powerful message (4 stars). After sitting here a couple of hours after finishing I have decided on a four-star review. I started this book thinking it was mainly about the flood and how it would bring the family together but it is about so much more. The moral I got out of the book is tragedy makes you see things you gloss over in life or refuse to see due to your own shortsightedness. Instead of assuming what others think or see about you, ask them. It is much better than letting the wrong thoughts fester for years. You may lose out on something remarkable being shortsighted.

There are no steamy sex scenes but there is a gay storyline. I don’t remember a lot of obscene language so if there is any it must be minimal and feel right for the story. Of course, tons of Paris landmarks are mentioned so allow yourself time to look them up if you are not familiar with them.

This was my first book by Tatiana de Rosnay and I have already bought Sarah’s Key to read soon.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.