Friday, October 26, 2018

Review: The Telltale Turtle

The Telltale Turtle The Telltale Turtle by Joyce Lavene
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is one of the worst books I have ever read. Ridiculous from start to finish.

The MC is annoying. Which I could possibly forgive if the mystery was solid, but it was not. It's my fault for assuming a "pet psychic" mystery would not be ridiculous. Come on, now. She's getting clues from the turtle to solve the crime. Seriously one of the dumbest ideas and plot lines I have ever encountered.

Oh, P.S. I hate, hate, hate books that constantly tell you what people are wearing. I do NOT care that she was wearing an flowing orange blouse with a green vest and a long purple skirt and dangling earrings. Go away with that nonsense. If you had removed the superfluous descriptions, the book would have only been about 45 pages. 1 star. I recommend to no one, not even a mortal enemy.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Review: From Sand and Ash

From Sand and Ash From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was lovely, as I expected it would be. It ticks all of the boxes: Historical fiction. Forbidden love. War. Family. Secrets. Resolution.

Eva and Angelo grew up together as brother and sister. She's an Italian Jew, and he's an American Catholic, but none of that mattered until the war broke out. We journey with them over the years, seeing Eva and Angelo take separate paths but still remain connected. Until the atrocities of WWII turn everyone's lives upside down. Like I said, lovely. Close to 5 star territory for me. It felt like it should be a tremendous tear-jerker, and there were heart-wrenching parts, but I felt it was just slightly sanitized for the audience. I wanted more realism on what was happening to the Jews. Hit us in the face with it, Amy. We know it happened. It was absolutely awful. But it felt uneven in places. Sometimes I felt I was reading novel for young adults, and other times I felt I was reading the gritty, ugly war-torn novel aimed for adult audiences. I wanted to have a good cry, but left only depressed and a little angry.

Still, it is lovely writing with interesting, complex characters. 4 stars.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Review: The Life We Bury

The Life We Bury The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Came highly recommended, but just hit enjoyable for me. I also was surprised to see it touted as first in a series for a character who barely appears. Interesting strategy.

We follow Joe Talbert, college student who has had a bit of a tough upbringing but is pulling himself up by his bootstraps, friends. You are meant to like him instantly. He's a good guy with a crappy mother and an autistic brother. Joe has to write a biographical story and chooses to write about some random person in a nursing home. Luckily for him, a convicted murderer is spending his last dying days there, and we are off to the races with a series of unfortunate events. Oh, and Mr. Nice Guy Joe is all about his neighbor, and he eventually nice guy's his way into her life, as you might expect. Odd partners in crime, but they determine the killer is wrongfully convicted and run off to accuse the real killer. That's as bad of an idea as it sounds, for sure.

It was decent enough for 3 stars and I would tell you to give it a read if you like mysteries and characters who don't always make good decisions.

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Review: Ghost Story

Ghost Story Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harry, Harry, Harry. Even in death you have the worst luck.

My boy Dresden has been taken out by an unknown assailant. Magical or human? Man or beast? We have no idea, and neither does Harry. But he's caught in the in-between after taking out the Red Court. We get lots of flashbacks in this one, and a small appearance from a lot of our friends, but not all of them. Not enough Murphy for my taste, but I enjoyed Butters and better understood Molly by the end.

If you are up to book 13, you don't need me to tell you that Harry is awesome and you should listen to these only on audio because James Marsters IS Harry in my mind. Not sure how I will cope when this series ends. 4 stars.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Review: Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti

Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti by Bailey Cates
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This series is quickly losing its charm. Katie is getting dumber and the characters are all a bit over the top. But the real low point for me was the love triangle, natch. Also, what is up with the nosy neighbor? I totally thought she was going to be the killer because she is written so poorly.

We still have the bakery and all of its magic, but Katie was trying to investigate a crime, and doing it poorly. She has a knack for putting herself and others in danger. I'm quickly tiring of the insta-love between Declan, Steve, and Katie. Calm down, all three of you.

I'm not sure how many more I'll read. 2.5 stars.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Review: The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints

The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints by M.V. Carey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my favorites! I think this must be the first one I bought at a Scholastic Book Fair and hooked me on Jupe and the boys. I mean, come on, who doesn't want a secret hideout with gadgets and tunnels in a junk yard? His aunt and uncle are a very odd mix of strict and lenient.

We have an eccentric old potter, flaming footprints, a secret past, and a mystery to solve. The boys band together to get to the bottom of things, Jupiter figures it all out (natch) and he's a little less obnoxious in this one. It's a good one, to be sure.

Remember, I read them again so you don't have to! Or go ahead, because I like this one the most. My poor paperback is nearly falling apart at this point. 4 stars.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: Scandal in Skibbereen

Scandal in Skibbereen Scandal in Skibbereen by Sheila Connolly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We travel back to Ireland to see how Maura is adjusting to her new life, and her new bar. Americans continue to be painted in a ridiculously bad light. We get it, you hate us.

This time some crazy lady (American, naturally) comes barging into Leap and pisses everyone off with absolutely zero interpersonal savvy and situational awareness. She's looking for a missing piece of artwork to convince the family to sell, or show it, or something. It's a Van Dyke, people! Anyway...a murder happens. Poor citizens of Leap. No wonder they are leery of Americans. Maura is a jinx. And she's actually pretty boring as well. But things inexplicably fall together, the police listen to Maura a little too much again, and the bar has quirky characters.

Yes, I'm complaining, and yes, I'll read the next book in the series. 3 stars.

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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Review: Endangered Species

Endangered Species Endangered Species by Nevada Barr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Anna, Anna, Anna. Forever alone. Forever independent. Forever on the side of truth, justice, and the American way. She's like the NPS version of Superwoman. I also am convinced she's Kinsey Milhone's long lost sister. They have the same sort of life.

This time we are fighting fires on Cumberland Island, Georgia. We have baby turtles. And drug runners. And a plane crash. And Anna gets knocked around, duped, then saves the day. Go on, girl, with your plucky self.

And nothing surprised me at the end, but it was still an enjoyable ride. 3 stars, as usual.

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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Review: Assaulted Pretzel

Assaulted Pretzel Assaulted Pretzel by Laura Bradford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I traveled back to Heavenly to check in on Claire and see if she has gotten her life back together. I give her a C+ on her journey so far. Girl, do you have to be in an impossible love triangle?

This time we have the annual Amish food festival happening, and everyone is excited. It is a tourist draw, for sure. But (gasp) another murder! Claire, I think you are a magnet for bad luck. They are going to shun you soon. A toy manufacturer wants to produce a line of Amish toys and it will bring lots of business to our friends in Heavenly. But then he's murdered, we find they might or might not have been bamboozled by the contract, and fingers are pointing everywhere. Oh, and a break in at the Inn causes her aunt turn into a totally different person. I definitely didn't like how such a strong woman could become meek and tearful. Come on, Aunt Diane. You're better than that.

Claire continues to annoy me with her constant introspection and waffling between both worlds. This series could benefit from more effort on the mystery and less effort into what Claire is thinking all the time. Hey, my internal dialogue is boring and inane too, but I don't put it out there for everyone to know. Still, giving it 3 stars but can see that sliding to 2 if the next book doesn't pick up.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Review: The Chalk Man

The Chalk Man The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I came in wanting to be creeped out, but I wasn't. Barely a thriller.

This is a debut novel by C.J. Tudor, and the bones are there. Tragedies in the past with multiple deaths. A group of young friends and mysterious happenings that are not solved at the time but everyone moves on, as life does. Here's my issue. There is too much happening. We have a doctor under fire in the community. We have a hot headed reverend who has his own secrets. We have an albino teacher who makes questionable decisions. We have schoolyard bullies. We have a group of friends who don't seem to really like each other. We have a seemingly unreliable narrator. And lots of flash forwards and jumps to the past. This book is disjointed and tries to do too much. At the end you can see the threads but they end up in a knot instead of smoothly tying it all in a bow. Plus I really couldn't stand the MC, and that's a deal breaker for me.

But please, read this anyway. I'm giving it 3 stars and I would like to talk about it with you. Change my mind, because I wanted to love it but just ended up liking it a bit instead.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Review: The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright

The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Tessa Dare. I'm just in like with this sweet novella. Nothing too objectionable, but also nothing too memorable.

Eliza Cade is being held back "in society" so her sisters can find suitable husbands. Ok, nothing weird there, but (gasp) there was a scandal way back when she was 14, and her parents are afraid she might tarnish her sisters' chances. Eye roll, but probably was a thing back then.

Enter Harry Wright. He's got a bad reputation all-around, and he happily wears the bad boy mantle. Harry, I'm on to you, though. And so is Eliza. We know you are hiding a heart of gold inside.

Tessa Dare writes unconventional, smart heroines and strong but loving heroes, and I love both of those things so I will keep reading her books. 3 stars.

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Review: Buried in a Bog

Buried in a Bog Buried in a Bog by Sheila Connolly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We are off to Ireland with Maura to visit her grandmother's village to fulfill her dying wish. This book was ok despite Maura, who I found to be a huge bore and a bit rude.

She hops on a plane with little notice and even less thought and is welcomed with open arms by these lovely people. She thanks them by being surly, suspicious, and kind of dense, tbh. But you can tell exactly where this is going because it's book 1 in a series. You know she's going to stay in Ireland, you know there will be a love triangle (even though it's barely hinted at in this one, I'm kind of a cozy expert, so sorry to future spoil you, friends). The mystery ends up making sense in the end and the setting is quaint with some strong supporting characters so I'm in for book 2 at least.

3 stars and you'll probably want to book a trip to Ireland, bog bodies and all.

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Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish

The Last Mrs. Parrish The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wow - terrible people doing terrible things. This was hard to get through in places. I was left vaguely unsatisfied at the end.

Amber is an awful, conniving person. You can see that from the beginning. Her thoughts, her actions, it's all bad. You are meant to hate her and not feel any sympathy because she gets what she deserves. She's after Jackson Parrish, and she worms her way into his life through his wife, Daphne. We get to see the story first through Amber's eyes, then through Daphne's. Part three wraps a bow on the saga but fell a little short to me.

Definitely worth the read, but not the best book I've read this year. If you like books about hateful people doing hateful things, you'll like this one. A bit of a slow start, but it will be worth it if you stick with it. 3 stars.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Review: The Mystery of the Silver Spider

The Mystery of the Silver Spider The Mystery of the Silver Spider by Robert Arthur
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The boys are off to Europe to go undercover. It's as ridiculous as you might expect.

Lame plot about Jupe, Bob, and Pete who inexplicably make friends with a young Prince in a near-miss fender bender. They bond immediately and are invited to the coronation festivities, compliments of our dues ex machina, Mr. Hitchcock. Lots of silliness, climbing up and down the sides of buildings, hiding out, and silver spiders. Throw in a dose of 1970's amnesia as a plot device and you've got a hot mess of a stew going, baby.

I usually love these books but this one misses the mark for me. I'll continue reading through the series so you don't have to. Only 2 stars but I still love you, boys.

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Review: The Cutting Season

The Cutting Season The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, book, I wanted so badly to love you. You came highly recommended, and, on the surface, checked all of my book love boxes. Two mysteries for the price of one. One in the present, one in the past. Historical storyline interwoven with the modern day. A grisly murder. Plenty of suspects. Add in some racial tensions, economic divides and family baggage and you would think this book would be my jam.

Sadly, I was just a bit underwhelmed, and held a vague dislike for Caren throughout the entire book. I wanted to like her. I should have liked her. But I didn't. I liked the modern day mystery but I wanted a different ending. I would have pursued it, Caren. But I'm not a quitter like you. 3 stars.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Review: Survival of the Fritters

Survival of the Fritters Survival of the Fritters by Ginger Bolton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As we cozy lovers know, you need to follow a formula to kick off a new series. Take a spunky heroine (seems to usually be a woman, but sometimes a man). She has an odd job (shopkeeper, artisan, juggler). Place her in a small town locale full of quirky characters. A yet unestablished love interest, and usually a love triangle brewing on the horizon that may or may not get resolved sometime around book 3. A murder occurs (gasp!). And the heroine is going to stick her nose in it and solve it before the trained police force. Oh, and usually part of the love triangle is one of the cops, naturally. This formula stays pretty true most of the time.

Here we have small town Wisconsin. Emily owns a donut shop. She's a widow and she is oddly devoted to her cat and describing his every move. And I can see the author got feedback on it, because she is super careful to point out in great detail the care and safety of the cat at all times. You don't need to explain why it's ok for our chirpy heroine to leave the cat alone for a couple of hours with his litter box and cat jungle gym and toys and treats. Stick to the mystery, woman.

We have a dead body that Emily and her nosy friends discover. It's a friend, so I guess the setup is ok. Then some nonsense and some things that make zero, and I mean zero sense, the smatterings of attraction between two male characters, and the big reveal. Plus some recipes that I will never try but wish I would because hey, donuts are delicious.

It was pretty ok, all things considered, so I'll give it three stars and probably read the next one. Now I desperately want a donut.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Review: The Shoemaker's Wife

The Shoemaker's Wife The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a lovely journey from the mountains of Italy to life as an immigrant in the United States. I loved it.

Chiro and Enza are star-crossed lovers. They meet in tragedy and sorrow, meet again and circumstances and time continue to keep them apart, until it is right. I'm a sucker for a good story, rich in history, complicated relationships, and deep family ties. This book was like unwrapping a lovely gift. I listened to the audio, and really enjoyed it. In fact, I'm still thinking about this story. It's that good.

A tearjerker for me, and I highly recommend it for people who love history and love. If you don't like those things, you won't like this one. 4.5 stars.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Review: The Upheaval

The Upheaval The Upheaval by Erica Stevens
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This book was a real stinker. Editing issues abound. The characters have the worst dialogue and are mostly unlikeable. I couldn't muster enough emotion to really care about any of them. Possibly weird Carl by the end, but that's a stretch.

Basically the world starts to meltdown. Earthquakes, tsunamis. volcanic eruptions. We are in the Northeastern US but it's most likely world-wide. Maybe the other books will explain more, but this mystery will not be solved for me, because I'm content to leave them all on this ridiculous cliffhanger.

1.5 stars. Giving a half star because I finished and Carl kinda grew on me. Kinda.

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Review: The Mystery of the Fiery Eye

The Mystery of the Fiery Eye The Mystery of the Fiery Eye by Robert Arthur
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I adore riddles! We get a fun one in a cryptic message this time. I beat Jupe to the punch and figured it out before him. Sorry, Jupiter. Better luck next time.

We have a missing jewel, some mysterious busts, a riddle, and a boy named August August. (Really? So dumb). Anyway, the Three Investigators are on the case, and when I say the Three Investigators I mean Jupiter Jones, with a little bit of Bob Andrews thrown in for basic library research. Pete, you are dead weight, my friend. I fail to see you investigate anything. More like One Investigator and his Tag Along Friends, amirite?

The mystery is a good one and I remember this one fondly. Remember, I am re-reading the whole series so you don't have to! You're welcome. 3 stars.

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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Review: The Secret of Skeleton Island

The Secret of Skeleton Island The Secret of Skeleton Island by Robert Arthur
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jupe, Pete, and Bob are on their way to a movie set to catch a ghost and search for treasure. Oh, and do a little scuba diving, too. Why can't I be one of the Three Investigators?

Pete's dad is connected. I think that's how they met Alfred Hitchcock, right? Anyway, these boys have a pretty decent life regardless. They are headed from sunny California to the East Coast to play in the Atlantic, the land of the pirates. Gar! Throw in some period-appropriate racism, an armored car heist, and some general villainy, and you've got yourselves a mystery, folks.

The mystery is a little loose, as usual, but I enjoyed it. Someday I will finish reviewing all of these books so you don't have to. 3 stars.

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Review: Caroline: Little House, Revisited

Caroline: Little House, Revisited Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, Laura Ingalls Wilder, you have given me so many years of enjoyment. As fictionalized and whitewashed as your family story is, I love it so much. So when I heard someone had been authorized by the estate to tell Caroline's story, I knew I was in. I was not disappointed.

You see, I am a pioneer at heart. I love everything about Laura's story of life in Wisconsin all the way to South Dakota. I love Caroline and Charles. And I love Almanzo most of all (swoon!). And I've always had a not-so-wonderful picture of Ma Ingalls in my mind. I didn't dislike her, but she wasn't my favorite character. I always related to Charles and Laura's wild spirit, and need to continually move and explore the country. But this book changed that for me. Caroline, in this version, helps me understand her better. And I completely fell in love with her version of Charles. True or false, I loved this glimpse at the Ingalls family as they moved from Wisconsin to Kansas. Jack, Pet and Patty, the wolves, Mr. Edwards. All of it. It made my heart sing.

The writing was a little uneven and it wasn't a fast read, but I loved the story and my return to Little House. 4 stars. I want more.

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Friday, August 31, 2018

Review: The Cat Who Came to Breakfast

The Cat Who Came to Breakfast The Cat Who Came to Breakfast by Lilian Jackson Braun
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Qwill and the kitties take yet another vacation and bad things happen. This time they spend time on Breakfast Island (or Pear Island, Grand Island, or Providence Island, depending on who you ask). Anyway, a vacation is a vacation and Qwill is a huge skinflint, so he goes, natch. Breakfast Island is being overdeveloped for tourists, and this causes unrest, as you might imagine. There is lots of talk of fudge, which made me laugh. Go to any tourist trap place and you'll find fudge. How this started, I have no idea, but it is true. Or at least it used to be.

There's a murder, and his good friends Lori and Nick Bamba have opened an inn and invite him to stay. I'm surprised there is room in the cabin for Qwill, his mustache, the kitties, and his huge ego. Although he's a little off balance because the lovely Polly is off to Oregon and he's scared she will leave him forever. Qwill, you are an ass. He gets involved with one of the rich, original families on the island, ferrets out the mysterious ongoings, and saves the day with the help of Koko, as usual.

The end is silly, the mystery is weak, and you know damn well I will read book 17. Stop judging me. I love these books. 3 stars.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Review: Hearse and Buggy

Hearse and Buggy Hearse and Buggy by Laura Bradford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not too bad. I mean, I'm not packing up to move to Heavenly or anything, but I will read the next one.

Claire Weatherly gets out of a bad marriage and moves to her aunt's bed and breakfast in Heavenly, Pennsylvania, an Amish community. She opens a shop selling Amish artisan products, and life seems to be pretty good. But then her Amish neighbors who run the bakery start getting harassed, there are a couple of past scandals that seem to come into play, and in the midst of it all, murder. Hey, it's a cozy. We have to have a mystery, people. It's pretty true to the cozy formula. Amateur detective with quirky job who solves the crime. A dash of romance/love triangle. And colorful characters.

Decently written even though it was pretty obvious who the killer was, I will definitely read the next book in the series. 3 stars.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Review: Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Every year on January 1st, I spend time reflecting on my goals for the coming year. I also choose a word to guide me, and this year it was "mindful". This book a quick read to reset my inner clock for August. Like many of you, I move a million miles an hour, and if I don't add in things to get me to stop, reflect, and breathe, I miss out on life.

A few things that really stood out to me:
"The root cause of any internal formation is a lack of understanding." Pause, reflect, and seek to understand. This applies for most things in life. Try it.
"We would be much happier if we tried to stay in touch with the healthy, joyful seeds inside of us and around us. We should learn to ask, "What's not wrong?" and be in touch with that." Completely need to do this more. Instead of picking things apart, I need to ask what is right with the situation. Stay focused on the positive and that's how you will feel.
Blaming Never Helps - "When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look into the reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce." This applies to problems and relationships. Always strive to own your part of the situation and make things better. Or don't eat lettuce.

A short read that you can digest a section at a time, or read in 30 minutes and go back later when needed. 3 stars.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Review: Asking for Truffle

Asking for Truffle Asking for Truffle by Dorothy St. James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wow. This was a hot mess of a book. Unlikeable MC. Unlikeable townspeople. A mystery that really made no sense if you looked at it too closely. And dropped plot lines everywhere. Welcome to Camellia Beach, South Carolina. You won't want to stay too long. Just grab your chocolate and go.

Charity Penn is a rich girl with a serious chip on her shoulder and a ton of daddy (and mommy) issues. That, on the surface, shouldn't make her unlikeable. I enjoy my MCs flawed. However, when she mentions at EVERY turn that she thinks people are after her money, she needs to stop talking to anyone but her shrink. She's annoying, y'all. Oh, and she tells people her name is Penn. Just Penn. Not short for Penny. Just Penn. Like Madonna. Or Prince. Or Beyonce. Seriously, Penn, get over your damn self. P.S. take a detective class or something, because you are a big dummy who can't even be bothered to read what is handed to you in a very important envelope. Who does that? Well, I guess Penn, and Penn only. Common sense 101 wasn't taught at her prep school, clearly.

Also, the plot was dumb. We are supposed to think her friendship with Skinny is a deep one of trust, but then she knows nothing about him. Nothing, because she can't stop talking about how people want her money. And she calls the police and accuses like 200 different people, and they keep listening to her, because this universe is the most unrealistic one on the planet.

Secrets, lies, and nonsense abound. Plus a poor dog who desperately needs an obedience course before she has to be put down for biting the wrong person. Probably the dumbest part of a terrible book. 1.5 stars.

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Review: A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance

A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance by Marlena de Blasi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ah, Venice! You sound so lovely. Someday I will visit you with my love.

Marlena de Blasi grabbed life by the horns and left the US to marry a man she barely knew. Girl, you are brave and impetuous. You are out of control. They have some issues, for sure. Who wouldn't? But she is bold and they make it through...all in the beautiful world of Italy.

Do I recommend you marry a total stranger and uproot your life to a new country? No, but I do recommend you read this book, then go do something brave yourself. Follow your dreams. Treat yo'self. Really live! Life is short, and Marlena de Blasi seems to grasp this better than others.

3 stars and a re-read for me. I love travel memoirs!

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4th time reading this.  I absolutely love it, especially on audio.

“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.”

Weird confession. I like prime numbers. They make sense to me. I'm a tiny bit like Christopher, and I think that's why I love this book so much. On each re-read, I find something new to love.

What's it all about? It's an interesting perspective into the mind of a boy who is autistic, intelligent in many ways, but still immature to the ways of the world.

Journey with Christopher as he solves the mystery of his neighbor's dog. Travel with him as he strikes out on his own to discover what happened to Wellington, and why. Like me, you might be surprised by the ending. Christopher doesn't necessarily get the answers he wants, but instead gets a lesson in life.

I really enjoyed the different narrator voice from Christopher. I didn't find it gimmicky like some readers, instead I found it to be a delightful journey. Check it out for yourself and see what you think.

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Review: The Love Pirate

The Love Pirate The Love Pirate by Barbara Cartland
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Another stinker by Babs. Don't let the title fool you. This book had nothing to do with pirates and little to do with love. An all-around fail.

An unlikeable heroine. An unlikeable hero (a cad who cavorts with married women, a real "love 'em and leave 'em" type). An evil mother, and an even more evil aunt. Seriously, not a decent person in this whole book but the lovely lady in Malaysia who was kind to everyone.

I was going to give this book 2 stars, but the longer I reflect on this pile of trash, the more I subtract. I grant you one lousy star, Barbara. Better luck next time, because you know I'll be back. I just can't quit you.

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Review: The Selection

The Selection The Selection by Kiera Cass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How have I not reviewed this book before? I've read the series at least three times.

Welcome to Illea, formerly the United States after some craziness with China, debt, and some details that aren't really fleshed out in this book. Young Prince Maxon needs to select a bride, and the Selection is how his mother and father were married so hey, let's keep this antiquated idea rolling, folks! It worked like 20 years ago, so let's try again. P.S. it's a huge distraction for the country, because every province gets to send one girl, and it's a random lottery...or is it? And the country is experiencing some issues, so let's launch a reality show.

Throw in a caste system that makes my blood boil, rebels with a cause, and nonstop cat fights and you've got yourself a whopper of a YA dystopian love story. Oh, what's that? You can't live without a love triangle? Well, you are in luck, my friend, because that nonsense is here in spades. Can't wait to hear if you are #TeamMaxon or #TeamAspen. I'm #TeamAmerica, because this girl needs to run the country on her own.

3.5 stars, but it's probably unfair since I keep coming back to read it again. I'll leave it there because I do roll my eyes through most of the book, but I still love it.

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Review: Death of a Travelling Man

Death of a Travelling Man Death of a Travelling Man by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another day in Lochdubh, another murder. These folks need to watch their step. There is so much crime that Hamish finally got another copper with him, although he would rather clean than catch criminals.

Hamish, you are the laziest copper with the smartest mind around. You are the only one who notices the details, even when you get on the wrong track. Priscilla needs to snatch you right up. This time, we have some early-times van dwellers mooching off the good people of Lochdubh. This bugs Hamish, so he tries everything to run them off. They drive him crazy, then a vicious murder happens (particularly vicious for these books) and we are off to solve the crime. You know Hamish figures it out, because he always does.

The ending was what I have been hoping for, but I know my hopes and dreams will probably be dashed in book 10. Or not. See you soon, Hamish! 3 stars, as usual.

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Review: I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats

I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Short, funny read written from the cat's point of view. If you have ever had a cat, been around a cat, or been stalked by a cat, you should give this book a quick look. Also, there are extremely cute pictures of cats throughout the book, and a picture of a dog wearing clothes.

Some of spot on, some are a stretch (or maybe from the point of view of a cat I have never owned). All are short. Sometimes you just need a fun reading break, and this fits the bill for me. 3 stars.

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Review: Bossypants

Bossypants Bossypants by Tina Fey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tina Fey is funny, and this book wasn't a surprise. She's smart, she real, and she doesn't pull any punches. I like her.

You get lots of fun stories from her career. From improv with Second City, to writing for SNL, to acting on SNL, to 30 Rock. You get to hear about the long hours, the lack of glamour, the ugly side of it, but still with a dash of humor. You don't get nearly enough Mean Girls stories. Seriously, Tina, I wanted more Mean Girls dish.

I think we could be friends in real life, girl. Like a weird threesome of friends where we both love Amy Poehler best and we want her to love us the most, but we all three get along and the world is wonderful.

4 stars, and you should only buy this book on audio, because it rocks that way.

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Review: A Wallflower Christmas

A Wallflower Christmas A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Wallflowers are back together again. It doesn't quite have the magic of the others in the series, but I enjoyed it.

The girls are reunited for the holidays, and Lilian and Daisy's rake of a brother, Rafe Bowman, is visiting from America to meet the lovely Natalie. Rich and beautiful, she is on the hunt for a husband, and while she wants a peer this match might work for her too. Ah, the days of marrying for position and advantage, rather than love. So glad I live in these modern times where I can do and say what I want. But I digress.

What you have here is an unlikeable lead and a prim miss of a love attraction in Hannah. She puts up with way too much, but Rafe finally redeems himself and they all get their HEA, and you know that's my favorite part. This book needed to be about 100 pages more to really pull me in, but I still enjoyed it. 3 stars.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Review: The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild The Call of the Wild by Jack London
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh Buck! You and your friends went through so much.

A little emotional about this book. Jack London threw a lot at me. Buck, stolen and forced to work. Treated cruelly, starved, worked to the bone. I just can't. I wanted to grab a club and hit those men until they couldn't get up.

Along comes a bright, shiny savior. John Thornton is a good man, and he does his best for Buck. Too many spoilers lie ahead, so I will leave you with this advice. Read this when you want to have all the feels, and be ready for anger, sadness, and triumph. A good story with an unexpected ending. 3 stars. Hey, it's a classic for a reason. Read it, but have something ready afterwards that will make you happy, like chocolate and an episode of Parks & Rec.

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Review: The Help

The Help The Help by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I. Love. This. Book. When I initially read it I rated it 4 stars, but I am rounding up to 5 this time, because it's just that good. I think it is because I listened to it on audio, and it was excellent with multiple narrators. It brought the story to life in a different way, and I loved it.

Skeeter. Aibileen. Minny. Their world in the tumultuous South in the 1960s is about to be turned upside down. Skeeter is fresh out of college, full of ideas and itching to make her way into adulthood. Aibileen and Minny have been working for the white women of Jackson, Mississippi for their entire lives. As times are changing, so are a few attitudes, including Skeeter's. She's about to turn all of their lives upside down. She's an aspiring writer, you see, and she gets a wild idea to write about the lives of the black women who are "the help" in her town. Look out, Jackson. Skeeter's coming for you.

Filled with realities of a time I can't even wrap my brain around, the characters really come to life, the storyline is full of humor and drama (just like real life) and you will find yourself both glad you don't live in Jackson and wishing you could have been a part of this time of change. 4.5 stars that I'm rounding up to 5 because the audio is so amazing. Please read this book.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Review: Opal Fire

Opal Fire Opal Fire by Barbra Annino
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Really struggled to get through this one. It's about what you would expect from the cover art, though.

Stacy is a reporter, but she doesn't seem to be a very good one. She's also a witch, but she wants to ignore her magic (insert eye roll here). She lives in a small town and is surrounded by annoying people who I would never want to spend a minute with if they were real: a quirky witch family, a cousin named Cinnamon who is a brash bar owner with an awful personality -- this woman threatened to beat everyone up in the book without provocation, an annoying photographer at the paper. Come on, now. Why do you write such unlikeable, unrealistic characters?

The mystery was dumb, the characters were unrealistic, the dialogue stilted, and the love triangle unnecessary. 1.5 stars but rounding up because I do enjoy books with dogs.

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Review: Last of the Breed

Last of the Breed Last of the Breed by Louis L'Amour
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cold War. U.S. vs. U.S.S.R. Spy vs. Spy. Welcome to the 80's, my friends.

Joe Mack is an American Air Force pilot who is shot down behind enemy lines, captured, and taken to a Soviet prison camp. In Siberia, no less. I can't think of a more 80's plot line, so cue the Rocky IV soundtrack. Because he's American, but mostly Native American, he makes a daring escape and we spend the rest of the book running with him across frozen Siberia as he tries to make his way back home. He's tracked, of course. By the best of the best--another "native" tracker who always gets his man but can't be counted on to bring him home alive.

Survival, patriotism, and a glimpse at life in a harsh land. I've read this book 5 times at least and enjoy it every time. 3 stars.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Can't believe I haven't reviewed this book before. It's one of my favorites in the series. So much happening to Harry and his friends. Umbridge, Dumbledore's Army, the return of He Who Must Not Be Named. And at the center of it all is Harry, who should be putting all of his efforts into becoming the best wizard he can be, but does the silly rebellious teenager thing and doesn't stay focused.

There is loss. There are bad decisions. You will be angry and sad and frustrated by this book. But in the end you realize all of the things that happen had to happen to get us to the final pages of book 7. I had to go through all of the steps of grief while reading. I had to take a series break because I know what happens in the next book and I'm just not emotionally ready for it all.

Jim Dale really brings it all to life on audio. If you haven't listened to this series yet, you are in for a treat. 4 solid stars and an extra hug for Neville.

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Review: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An enjoyable entry to the series. I might have loved it even more if I hadn't started with book 3.

Ian Mckenzie has "issues". He is, for lack of a better term, autistic. He doesn't like to be touched. He doesn't look people in the eyes. He says the wrong things, speaks out of turn, and generally has a hard time getting along in the world. Misunderstood by everyone but his amazing brothers, he has adapted. Now he is facing an attraction that he hasn't experienced before and doesn't quite know how to proceed.

Luckily for Ian, Beth knows how to handle him. She's experienced true love before, being a young widow. She figures out his quirks, gives him space, and accepts him for who he is. Nice, right? Throw in some drama, false accusations, and a bit of a mystery and you've got yourself a find new series. If you love strong women, unconventional heroes, and historical romance, give this one a look. 3.5 stars.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Review: The Dark Horse

The Dark Horse The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wrote a long, long, review about this book. Goodreads was over capacity and ate it. I'm not sure I can muster the energy to repeat myself, but here we go.

You know how sometimes a book in a series you love just doesn't hit the mark? That's this one for me. I'm not sure why. It has all of the pieces you would expect in a Longmire mystery. Walt and Henry. Ruby and Vic and Lucian, but in very limited amounts. Some fun undercover moments for Walt. Lots of Dog. And horses. However, I'm left wanting more but can't figure out why. Maybe it was the constant time jumps. Maybe it was Walt trying to be undercover in his hometown. Seriously, Walt? You're pretty well-known. And Henry even more so. But anyway...

Walt is investigating a murder of a man no one is going to miss, and a bunch of horses that everyone will. And a missing horse, and a near-comatose wife who is in the middle of it all. You know Walt. He can't help but be involved now. It's just who he is.

Like I said, the components are all there, and it is actually pretty good, but not as great as some of the others. 3 stars.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review: I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was a wild ride! I went in expecting something totally different, but I loved this book.

Jasper Dent is the son of a VERY prolific serial killer. He is alone in the word (well, except for his crazy grandmother) and trying to convince himself that he can have a normal life. Dude, you stayed in the same small town and expected people to not look at you sideways? All the while your grandma is crawling all over the floor thinking she is under attack and other crazy things. Your life will never be normal, but I'm applauding your spirit. But you do have a great BFF in Howie and a wonderful girlfriend in Connie. You are lucky in a lot of ways. And I'm hoping not nearly as messed up as you seem to think you might be. Fingers crossed!

You get to follow along with Jasper and how he puzzles out a copy-cat killer while trying to work through his messed up emotions. It's really well-written, and I loved it on audio. You should check this one out. I think you'll like it. It gets a bit dark in places, especially for a young adult book, but how else can you write about serial killers? 4 stars.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Review: Elephants Can Remember

Elephants Can Remember Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's always a treat when I discover a Christie novel I haven't read before. Especially one with Poirot, since he's my favorite. Not sure how I missed this one.

We have a twisted case brought to us from Ariadne Oliver. She has a curious inquiry regarding a long-past case dropped in her lap by a pushy woman, and she can't stop thinking about it so she calls up her old friend Hercule Poirot. Hey, if I was friends with him I would do the same thing. Let him employ those little gray cells and help me sort it all out. And naturally, that is what happens. What else would you expect from Dame Agatha?

Red herrings abound, and I totally thought I had the case cracked 58% in but alas, Agatha fooled me again. You saucy minx, you really are the greatest mystery writer of all time. Subtracting a half star because no actual elephants are featured in the book. (Just kidding, Agatha, you earned all three enjoyable stars).

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Review: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Off to Botswana to solve some crimes with Mma Ramotswe. I think I'll stick around for a while.

Mma Ramotswe decides she will open a detective agency with her inheritance after her father passes away. It's safe to say it's risky - no one thinks a woman can be a detective. But of course she solves crimes with her common sense, so she makes a go of it. Each case with unique, with a common thread of her life in Botswana tying them all together. And I got the ending I was hoping to get, so I'm excited to start book 2.

Definitely fun for mystery lovers. Nothing too crazy, but a quick, easy start to a new series. 3 stars.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Review: Dark Of The Moon

Dark Of The Moon Dark Of The Moon by John Sandford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was set up on a blind date with Virgil Flowers by my good friend Lucas Davenport. We had a good time. I think we will go out again, but it isn't a love match. Probably just going to be friends.

Virgil is a good cop. He gets under people's skin, he puts the clues together, and in the end he solves the crime, even if he doesn't get his man in the traditional sense. In this one, we are investigating one crime outside of the Twin Cities, and get sucked into another one along the way. Coincidence? Probably not. He's a good cop, like I said, and he can put those clues together like a pro.

I thought I solved the crime a couple of times, but I was wrong in the end. Lots of red herrings in this one to throw you off the scent. Well-plotted, and typical Sandford. 3 stars.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review: The Many Sins of Lord Cameron

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, well, well, another new series for me. Very excited to dig into book 1, as I mistakenly started with book 3. I'm not even mad about it. Cameron is nearly too good to be true.

Cameron Mackenzie. Scottish rogue. Rich widower. Single dad. A natural horse trainer. And handsome in his kilt, to boot. He's a "love 'em and leave 'em with a fancy necklace" type of guy. Until he meets Ainsley Douglas. Widow with a past. Companion to the Queen. Picker of locks and all-around snoop. But with a precious heart of gold, just like Lord Cameron. You just know they are headed towards a happily ever after.

Yes, there will be bumps in the road. Otherwise the book would be 5 pages long. Yes, some of the bumps are very obvious, but there were enough pleasant surprises to keep me going. Plus, I'm a bit of a sap, as you know, so their banter and kisses warmed my marshmallow heart.

Looking forward to reading all of the Mackenzies and McBrides books. But I'll start at the beginning for the next one. 3.5 stars.

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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Review: The Last Time I Was Me

The Last Time I Was Me The Last Time I Was Me by Cathy Lamb
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Total fail for me. I absolutely hated the main character, the dialogue, and the writing style.

This book could have been 10 pages long if you removed all of the stupid dialogue and details. We go to the grocery store, and the author makes it a point to give us 5-10 full names of people we literally will never cross paths with again. And the names are all unique, and vaguely ethnic, so we can see the diversity of this random small town in Oregon.

Quirky characters? Sure. We have a weird woman who is obsessed with germs. Some migrant workers who are seriously stereotyped in the worst way. A main character who obsesses over shoes, and speaks her mind in a way that no one would want to be friends with her. Throw in the world's worst anger management counselor and a Gary Stu of a governor who inexplicably tolerates the MC's crap and you have a hot mess of a book.

I can't think of anything nice to say right now, so I'll leave it at: 1 star. Do not recommend to anyone.

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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We return to Hogwarts with lots of changes for Harry this year. First, the Tri-Wizard tournament. Very exciting. We get a glimpse of other wizarding schools. Tragedy strikes, and we end with a very satisfying set up for book 5.

We kick this installment off with the fun of the Quidditch World Cup. Harry attends with the Weasleys and has lots of fun until dark things happen, setting us up for what is to come. Harry is selected as a champion for the Tri-Wizard tournament. But, gasp! He didn't enter his name because he's not 17. As Fleur says, he's just a little boy! Danger abounds. And in the end, we are in a very dark place to take us into the next book.

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Review: Break In

Break In Break In by Dick Francis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another winner by Dick Francis. He never lets me down.

This one introduces us to Kit Fielding, champion steeplechase jockey. He's a fantastic everyman, like Francis writes so well. A good man who loves horses, justice, and his friends and family. He's brave (not to a fault like my boy Sid Halley, but still brave) and doesn't hesitate to do what needs to be done for his sister. While I am a bit lukewarm on Danielle, I love the Princess and understand why Kit is so taken with her. She's fantastic.

Read this one before you read book 2, naturally, or you won't care as much about what is happening in Kit's life. I wish Francis had written more about Kit, but sadly we only get 2 books. A good mystery and good racing. 3.5 stars.

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Review: Hello Stranger

Hello Stranger Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Garrett and Ransom's story was very satisfying. They definitely belong together.

Two unconventional people, who, on the surface, may seem a mismatch. However, they fit together like puzzle pieces. She's smart, strong, and independent. He's also smart, strong, and independent. Together, they resonate. It's good stuff. He's strong enough to appreciate her brains and independence. He's not intimidated by her career, in fact, he encourages her to be even more of who she is. She, on the other hand, doesn't bat an eye at his job and all that entails. She is probably the only person strong enough to handle him, and vice versa. A match made in heaven.

This story was everything I had hoped it would be. Really can't wait to read West's story next! 4 stars.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Review: Just Like Heaven

Just Like Heaven Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another rousing Smythe-Smith musical. Settle in for a night of entertainment. I loved Honoria’s story. Glad she gets her HEA. Plus, it’s always a pleasure to visit the Bridgertons again.

Honoria and Marcus have known each other their entire lives. She’s suddenly transformed from pesky little sister of his best friend to pretty, self-assured young lady, and now everything is different between them. Or is it? Too close to the situation, everyone can see where it’s headed but them. You, dear readers, will see it soonest of all, because we only read historical romance for the sweet happily ever afters.

Julia Quinn writes friends to lovers better than most. She’s an absolute favorite of mine. 4 stars

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