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.

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.

The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

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Pages: 364

Publisher: Berkley

Published: June 4, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Amazon:

Ten years ago, Lena Donohue experienced a wedding-day betrayal so painful that she fled the small town of Watersend, South Carolina, and reinvented herself in New York City. Though now a freelance travel writer, the one place she rarely goes is home—until she learns of her dad’s failing health.

Returning to Watersend means seeing the sister she has avoided for a decade and the brother who runs the family’s Irish pub and has borne the burden of his sisters’ rift. While Alzheimer’s slowly steals their father’s memories, the siblings rush to preserve his life in stories and in photographs. As his secret past brings Lena’s own childhood into focus, it sends her on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.

My Review:

A beautifully written story on a horrible disease. I could not imagine losing bits and pieces of my dad daily. I have a hard enough time dealing with normal memory loss as he ages.

Be prepared to be shocked, happy and then crying so hard the pages in your book become water-logged.

A must-read in 2019 new releases!

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.

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

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Pages: 329

Publisher: Forge Books

Published: July 16, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Bookbub:

Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Cafe.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the cafe and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.

As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.

My Review:

Evocative. Magical. Heartbreaking. Hopeful.

A beautiful novel that will move you to your core. Heather Webber is a fresh voice to women’s fiction. You will want to eat this novel up in one sitting but I promise you it is worth taking your time and savoring every bite. Let the story seep into your soul and fulfill you.

Fans of Southern fiction will not want to miss this. I am already missing my time at the Blackbird Cafe.

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

Jealousy Filled Donuts (Deputy Donut #3) by Ginger Bolton

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Pages: 281

Publisher: Kensington

Published: August 27, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon: It is a truth universally acknowledged—cops and donuts go together. Exhibit A: Deputy Donut Café, owned and operated by detective’s widow Emily Westhill and her father-in-law, the retired police chief of Fallingbrook, Wisconsin. Named after Emily’s adored and adorable tabby, the donut shop is a favorite among cops, firemen, and EMTs, as well as tourists and townspeople. So when Fallingbrook needs donuts for their Fourth of July picnic, Emily’s shop gets deputized.

But a twisted killer has found another use for Emily’s treats. At the picnic, a firecracker is hidden in a stack of raspberry-filled donuts and aimed at the unwitting queen of the festivities. When it explodes, she is killed. Having her jelly donuts involved puts Emily in a sticky situation, and when a shady shutterbug tries to frame her with incriminating photos, she finds herself in quite a jam. To preserve her freedom and her shop’s reputation, Emily needs to solve this case—before the fuse-lighting felon goes off again …

My Review: The ending is so romantic and swoon-worthy for a cozy mystery. I LOVE the fact that there is not a romantic triangle for Emily. I am already jonesing for the next book in the series!

I admit the first book in the series was not a home run for me but the second was good and this one is REALLY good. How can you not like a cozy mystery set in a donut shop with the most adorable cat ever written? I am not a big donut eater but this series is making me rethink that. I am ready to try the maple cheddar donut with some bacon.

Emily is the friend we all wish we had and were to others. Sincere, caring and joyful to be around. I like the addition of Jocelyn and hope to see more of her.

I suggest reading the series in order just so you get the full effect of the ending of this book. This series is clean in the romance department and language. Murder, of course, occurs but I wouldn’t say it is gory. A good series to start reading cozy mysteries if you haven’t read them before.

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

 

Beach Weekend Wedding by Rachel Magee

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Pages: 298

Publisher: Hallmark

Published: May 15, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: When Brody broke up with Paige and went to Europe, he suggested that someday, they’d pick up right where they left off. A hopeless romantic, she believed him. But when they meet again, Brody’s dating a gorgeous actress. They’re all going to attend the same wedding, and Paige plans to win Brody back. She even enlists her best friend’s brother, Aiden, to pretend to date her and make her ex jealous. A breezy, charming restaurant owner, Aiden actually avoids serious relationships, but as a fake boyfriend, he’s perfect. As old friends and exes take part in wedding preparations and enjoy the beauty of the Florida coast, they begin to see themselves—and each other—in a new light.

My Review: When I want a good-hearted romance I turn to Hallmark Publishing. Their books are as sweet and comforting as their movies. Paige and Aiden’s story is the perfect story to read as you relax on a hot summer weekend.

This book is a good one for the teenager in your life that wants to read romance older than young adult. It has no foul language and no sex scenes (mild kissing). Also a good book for your elderly grandma.

A bonus: the book includes a recipe for BBQ Brisket Tacos with Sunshine Slaw. I am thinking of making this summer.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hallmark Publishing through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

The Summer Guests by Mary Alice Monroe

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Pages: 368

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: June 11, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only a few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

My Review: Mary Alice Monroe is my go to Southern writer every summer. I live for her view of the beach, sea life and Southern family drama. It allows me a vacation when I can’t take one.

The Summer Guests is a different summer southern read. The focus is on how a hurricane displaces more than people. Families have to find shelter for their pets from million dollar horses to the tiniest puppy. Living so far from the ocean, these are concerns I do not think about when listening to the news. Monroe does an exceptional job of letting one know about this issue.

Fans of southern fiction need to add this to their “must read” list for the summer. You will not be disappointed.

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

The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young

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Pages: 184

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Published: May 21, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: At the end of every summer, Madeline Island hosts its famous pumpkin race. All summer, adults, and kids across the island grow giant, thousand-pound pumpkins, then hollow one out and paddle in it across the lake to the cheers of the entire town.

Twelve-year-old Billie loves to win; she has a bulletin board overflowing with first-prize ribbons. Her best friend Sam doesn’t care much about winning, or at least Billie didn’t think so until last summer’s race when his pumpkin crashed into her as she was about to cross the finish line and he won. This summer, Billie is determined to get revenge by growing the best and biggest pumpkin and beating Sam in the race. It’s a tricky science to grow pumpkins since weather, bugs, and critters can wipe out a crop. Then a surprise visit from a long-lost relative shakes things up, and Billie begins to see her family, and her bond with Sam, in a new way.

My Review: A beautifully written book showing young readers how the world around them isn’t always about them. Billie is very self-absorbed but I don’t think any more so than other children her age. This her summer of growing and learning for the next stage of her life.

I was very impressed with how the author weaved science and math into the story without the reader feeling like they just received a lesson.

I would definitely recommend this book to any on my middle-grade readers with confidence.

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

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

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Pages: 320

Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS/Landmark

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.
Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.
Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

My Review: Wow, what a learning experience while reading Cussy’s story. When a book teaches me something I enjoy it even more. I knew about Pack Horse Librarians but never thought about the dangers they faced daily or the extreme weather conditions they traveled through to reach their customers. Dedication at its best.

Cussy will find a way into your heart. It’s hard to imagine what she and other “blue” people experienced. Discrimination on all points is wrong no matter who you are.

There are a few semi-violent scenes but they add feeling to the story and show what was happening at the time. Faith is strong throughout the story. A book I would share with my older, mature teenagers. The perfect book for book clubs.

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