Category Archives: Fiction

Book Review: “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

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Synopsis (from BN.com):  For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life—until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

 

My thoughts:  Oh man . . . I really, really wanted to love this book . . . and have to be completely honest – I didn’t!   I almost feel dirty writing that out here in public as the publishing world, Reese Witherspoon’s book club, and the public were just raving about how good it was . . . it’s beautiful, lyrical writing . . . and on and on.

Yes the book was beautifully written, passages were lyrical . . . and I did enjoy learning about the nature of the marshes of North Carolina.

However, from the very first few chapters I simply couldn’t get past the absolute ridiculous unrealistic premise of the story.   Spoiler alert if you haven’t read the book.  Come on people, yes I know its a work of fiction . . . but a 6 year old child raises herself in the marshland of North Carolina, goes to the store in town with $ she’s made, goes to school one time . . . it’s set in the 1960’s and no social service agencies check on this child, . . . you get my drift.   This uneducated girl then grows up to write a number of scientific type nature books based on her life in the marsh.

Nope, I just couldn’t get past it.

And the chapters involving the murder investigation felt odd, forced, out of place . . . it was as if the two storylines didn’t fit together.

I should have known. . . books that are overhyped, all over the media and the public falls in love with – I typically will hate.

Oh well, simply not for me . . . for those that loved it I’m glad you are reading and enjoyed your journey!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

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Book review: “Scones & Bones” by Laura Childs (Tea Shop Mystery #12)

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Title:  Scones & Bones

Author:  Laura Childs

Series:  Tea Shop Mystery #12

Synopsis (from bn.com):  Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is attending the Heritage Society’s Pirates and Plunder show when a histroy intern is murdered amidst the gold earrings and doubloons. Even with that on her plate, Theodosia still has to attend Charleston’s Food and Wine Festival, where she’s hosting a tea and cheese tasting. But as her thoughts keep drifting to the victim, Theodosia knows she’ll have to whet her investigative skills to find the killer among a schooner of suspects.

My thoughts:   This is a very popular, well known cozy series indeed.   I’m working my way through the series oh so slowly, with stops at other books along the way.   This wasn’t my favorite in the series by any means . . . mostly because I just wasn’t a fan of the whole Pirate theme, but that is just me.   This one seemed to move really slowly . . .

Overall, a charming cozy mystery series . . . likable characters, warm cozy locations, one can learn quite a bit about the culture of Charleston . . . a win for me.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Filed under Book Reviews, Cozy, Cozy Mystery, Fiction, Laura Childs

Book Review: “By Cook or by Crook” by Maya Corrigan (Five-Ingredient Mystery #1)

9781617731389_p0_v2_s550x406Title:  By Cook or by Crook

Author:  Maya Corrigan

Series:  Five-Ingredient Mystery #1

Synopsis (from bn.com):

Take one burned-out city girl. Add a crusty codger, a pinch of gossip, and a dash of romance. Stir in a generous helping of murder and you’ve got the ingredients for one truly delicious mystery. . .

Haunted by the car accident that ended her career as a cookbook publicist, Val Deniston has traded in the chaos of New York City for a quieter life near the Chesapeake Bay. Living with her curmudgeonly grandfather in the tourist town of Bayport is hardly glamorous, but she enjoys working at the Cool Down Café at the local fitness club, and she finally has time to work on her long-planned cookbook. But when one of the club’s patrons is found dead, she’ll have to cook up a scheme to find the killer. As the number of suspects rises like crabs in a bucket, it’s out of the pan and into the fire for Val. If she can’t find the culprit soon, she might as well be chum in the water. . .

My thoughts:  Well . . . I was doing some shelving in my personal library the other day and was looking for a new series to read . . . alas I found this long lost book on my shelf and it fit the bill.

I want to say I loved this cozy mystery, but I just didn’t love it.  Yes, it has all the hallmarks of a cozy mystery – a cozy, beach location, a heroine who is trying to get over some devastating past, a murder that everyone gets involved in . . . but I just didn’t love or feel connected to the characters right away.   I particularly don’t enjoy the curmudgeon grandfather character – it is fine, he just strikes me the wrong way and I get irritated.

And it sounds odd, since this book is really only from 2014 but it is amazing in the last 6 years – how aged the book really seems – it struck me a couple times talking about a landline in the house and such.   Didn’t make or break the book for me, but I definitely noticed it.

I believe I have the second book in this series on my shelf already so I may go back for one more to see if I can connect with the characters . . . but that may have to be it.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Tide and Punishment” (Seaside Café Mystery #3)

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Title:  Tide and Punishment

Author:  Bree Baker

Series:  Seaside Café Mystery #3

Synopsis (from BN.com): 

No one dreams of a killer Christmas…

It’s Christmastime in Charm, North Carolina, and while Everly Swan would prefer to focus on decorating her iced tea shop for its first holiday season, Great-Aunt Fran has decided to run for mayor against her long-time nemesis. But when the other candidate turns up dead just before the first scheduled debate, all eyes turn to Fran as the suspect with the most obvious motive.

Everly knows her sweet, elderly Aunt Fran couldn’t have murdered anyone, but as she struggles to find the real killer, it begins to seem like this may be the last merry Christmas her family may ever have.

 

My thoughts:  I absolutely love this cozy mystery series.  I found the series “by mistake” if you will during a trip to the bookstore and perusal through the cozy mystery section – everytime I see the words “First in a New Series” chances are its coming home with me.   And this series ended up being a big winner.

What is not to love – great engaging characters, a seaside Iced Tea shop (man why don’t these cozy locations exist in my real life), descriptions of a beachside town,  . . . it is all just good and makes for a great cozy read.

And like any good reader . . . man now I have to wait until May 2020 for her next book in the series . . . A Call to Kelp!

Great read . . . go get it today 🙂

And remember . . . Books Are Life,

Heather

 

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Book Review: “A Finely Knit Murder” by Sally Goldenbaum (Seaside Knitters Mystery #9)

9780451471611_p0_v2_s550x406Title:  A Finely Knit Murder

Author:  Sally Goldenbaum

Series:  Seaside Knitter’s Mystery #9

Synopsis (from bn.com):

Seaside Knitter Birdie Favazza is thrilled that her granddaughter Gabby will be visiting for the fall and attending the Sea Harbor Community Day School. Gabby loves the school, with its newly-adopted progressive curriculum, and she loves that the Seaside Knitters are teaching knitting as part of the enrichment program. It’s a huge success, and on crisp autumn days, girls camp out on the terraces, knitting up hats for charity.

But not everyone is happy with the direction the school is taking. Outspoken board member Blythe Westerland has sparked tempers with her determination to unravel the current administration. Then, on the evening of an elegant school event, Blythe’s body is found near the school boathouse.

With a killer on the loose, Birdie is determined to keep Gabby safe. Working together, the Seaside Knitters carefully unravel the layers of Blythe’s complicated life, bringing faculty members and town residents under scrutiny. Before the cast-off rows are made on the students’ projects, the knitters will need to stitch together the evidence to see if a murderer has been walking beside them all along.

 

My thoughts:   Alright, bear with me as I make this confusing statement – this book is a typical cozy and not a typical cozy all in one.   Ok, what do I mean?  Cozy lover’s know that cozy mysteries follow a bit of a formula (heck, that is why we like them) – cozy, quaint location, there is murder, a group of normally women get somehow involved in solving the crime normally with a cast of characters including local law enforcement of some kind . . . happy ending.

This cozy is typical – in a good way (please don’t get me wrong) – in the cozy location . . . in fact that is one of the primary reasons I LOVE cozies, is spending time in these locations  . . . and yes I believe they are all real places in my mind 🙂  Well this series is set in a quaint beach town, overlooking the ocean, quaint restaurants which everyone always goes to, charming markets and locations . . . and classic in this series is the Friday night dinner on the deck – always featuring local seafood on the grill, a myriad of homemade dishes, wine . . . yummmmm.  When the heck am I invted?

This cozy was really not typical in that the characters didn’t really start jumping into “solving” the mystery if you will until about 80 pages before the end of the book, which makes this series a bit slow and drawn out at times.

Of course I will continue the series simply for the great location and will continue to hope for more sleuthing by these great characters.

And remember,

Books Are Life

Heather

 

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Book Review: “Desperate Creed” by Alex Kava (Ryder Creed K9 Mystery #5)

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Title:  Desperate Creed

Author:  Alex Kava

Series:  Ryder Creed

Sunopis (from bn.com):  A STORM IS COMING—

In Alabama: A deadly outbreak of tornadoes sends K9 handlers, Ryder Creed and Jason Seaver with their scent dogs, Grace and Scout to search for survivors. As storms intensify and Ryder and Jason race against time to save victims, they end up racing to save themselves.

—NOT EVERYONE’S STORM IS THE SAME—

In Chicago: Francine “Frankie” Russo is irritated when her young co-worker calls at 5:00 am for a video-chat and catches her in only a towel. She’s so annoyed with Tyler Gates that she’s barely paying attention when two men confront him on the street. In a matter of seconds, Frankie witnesses Tyler’s murder. Then the killers pick up the phone. And suddenly, they know what Frankie looks like, who she is, where she works and lives. She knows absolutely nothing about them. But one thing’s for certain—they’re coming for her next.

—WHEN THE STORM HITS—

Frankie calls the only people she knows can help: her childhood friend, Hannah Washington and Hannah’s business partner, Ryder Creed. Hannah tells her to “come on home,” and she arranges a meeting for Frankie to meet with FBI agent Maggie O’Dell.

 

My thoughts:  I absolutely love this series . . . as a fan of Alex Kava’s Maggie O’Dell series, I was ready to jump into her new series, although a bit leery as it had to do with a dog rescuer – not totally my thing.  I was pleasantly surprised however and always jump into this series when a new one comes out.

I will admit that at times in this one the plots seemed a bit misplaced for me.  What I thought was supposed to be the main storyline, actually became a subplot and a bit in the background.  And why for goodness sake did we have the odd chapters with the focus on the weatherman in it – was it supposed to bring us closer to the storm?  Well it didn’t and to me just seemed oddly out of place.

All in all a solid read.   Can’t wait for book #6!!  Bring it on!

And remember,

Books Are Life

Heather

 

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Book Review “19th Christmas” by James Patterson (Women’s Murder Club #19)

bookTitle:  19th Christmas

Author: James Patterson

Series:  Women’s Murder Club #19

Synopsis (from bn.com):

As the holidays approach, Detective Lindsay Boxer and her friends in the Women’s Murder Club have much to celebrate. Crime is down. The medical examiner’s office is quiet. Even the courts are showing some Christmas spirit. And the news cycle is so slow that journalist Cindy Thomas is on assignment to tell a story about the true meaning of the season for San Francisco.

Then a fearsome criminal known only as “Loman” seizes control of the headlines. Solving crimes never happens on schedule, but as this criminal mastermind unleashes credible threats by the hour, the month of December is upended for the Women’s Murder Club. Avoiding tragedy is the only holiday miracle they seek.

 

My thoughts:  I’d love to say this series is getting better and better, but it is just not the case.  In fact, this series seems to be getting weaker and weaker to me.  When it takes me a week to get through a James Patterson book, I know there is trouble.

The last couple books in this series have just been losing their steam.  19th Christmas seemed very disjointed and basically just boring.   I understand the author has books in the series that really focus on just one character of the Women’s Murder Club – in this case mostly Lindsey Boxer, but they are much better when all the women are featured and what they are working on fits together on the same case in some way.

In this book, the main story of Lindsey Boxer solving the big case was boring in and of itself, and then the story of Cindy the journalist writing some random story was completely disjointed from everything else and just seemed to go away instantly having no purpose to the story or the book.

Yuki – the DA – and Claire – the ME – were hardly featured at all.  And don’t get me started on the odd epilogue that had absolutely no place – random, random, random.

Overall, boring, seemingly forced, and disappointing!   Ugh!  I hate to even suggest that perhaps its time for this series to fade away!!!

Well, happy reading!

Books Are Life,

Heather

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