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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson




Bella's Christmas Bake Off
by Sue Watson (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, 314 pages
Published October 22nd 2015 by Bookouture

Goodreads synopsis: Two best friends. One big lie. The best bake off EVER. Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking - a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter 'Silver Fox' Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials. But this year things are going to be different. For Amy Lane, Bella's best friend from school, life hasn't held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy's husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever. Amy has watched Bella's rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella's latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy's mother's recipes, the gloves are off... After winning a competition to appear on Bella's TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember... A hilarious, heart-breaking and feel good read about best friends, baking and the magic of Christmas. What readers are saying about Sue Watson 'Laugh-out-loud funny, this book is exceptionally good.' Chick Lit Club 'I am a HUGE fan of Sue Watson and if you have a rather filthy sense of humour, and like a good giggle, her books don't fail to raise a smile.' Best Crime Books and More 'A talented chick lit author with fresh and unique voice and going on my list of all time faves.' This Chick Reads

***

Amy has always loved Christmas and she loves watching her old friend, Bella Bradley put on a Christmas feast very year on television. But there has been tension between Bella and Amy that tore their friendship apart. Amy tries to repair their friendship by sending cards to Bella each containing a recipe from Amy's mother. When Amy realizes that Bella's new cookbook is completely her own mother's recipes she loses it. And not only that, Bella claimed that Amy's mother was her own as well!

I started out this book really hating this Bella Bradley character. I was almost to the point where I didn't want to continue on because I did not like how Amy Lane was being treated. But I am glad I stayed with it because this book ended up being a pretty good read. By the end I wondered if it would be the beginning of a series with the same characters.

The tension between the characters was pretty tight and it reminded me of some of the people in my life. 

4 Stars.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from Net Galley in return for an honest review. I thank Net Galley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

BOOK REVIEW: Threads of Evidence (Mainely Needlepoint #2) by Lea Wait




Threads of Evidence (Mainely Needlepoint #2)
by Lea Wait (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 25th 2015 by Kensington

Goodreads synopsis: It's hard to imagine anything bad ever happening in picturesque Haven Harbor, Maine--until a famous face rolls into town and unthreads some very dark secrets. . .
   Angie Curtis and the Mainely Needlepointers are all too familiar with the Gardener estate. The crumbling Victorian mansion, known as "Aurora," has been sitting vacant for nearly twenty-five years--and some say it's haunted by the ghost of Jasmine Gardener, the teenage girl who died there in 1970 under mysterious circumstances... 
   Harbor Haven is abuzz with excitement when Hollywood actress Skye West decides to buy Aurora and sell off its furnishings. And Angie is intrigued when Skye asks her to appraise the estate's sizable collection of needlepoint pictures. But the more she examines the pieces, the more they seem to point toward Jasmine's murder--and the murderer--and it's up to her to stitch the clues together. 

***

This Mainely Needlepoint series is such a fun read for me. I am an avid cross-stitcher so I truly appreciate how these men and women can spend hours on end creating such wonderful pieces of art. And book two in the series is just as much fun and filled with excitement as the first book in the series. Sometimes following along with the action gave me a bit of stress.... because that is just how real the characters feel. It is actually like you're reading about a bunch of friends you haven't seen in awhile. So, if you're a cozy mystery love, definitely check this one out.

4 Stars

The mystery surrounds a new resident to Haven Harbor resident who just happens to be a Hollywood actress and someone who actually knew the previous residents of this historic mansion that has gone into ruin. Skye West buys this estate and decides to restore it. Then she calls in the Mainely Needlepoint crew to help restore a bunch of old needlepoint designs that are scattered throughout the estate. Skye has a second reason for being in Haven Harbor... she wants to solve the murder of her old friend, Jasmine who was the daughter of the original owner of the mansion.

This book starts at a point not far from where book one left off. Angie Curtis, a replant from the Phoenix area, still doesn't have the clothes for such a seasonal town and she hasn't completely decided if she wants to stay. Book one centered on the death and murder investigation of Angie's mother. And so, now she has a decision to make: stay or move on. Angie contemplates this fact many times during the course of the book. I do hope she decides to stay. I just love this Mainely Needlepoint family.

Definitely check this one out. Book two is just as good as book one.

I received this book as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from Net Galley in return for an honest review. I thank Net Galley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Lowcountry Boil (Liz Talbot Mystery #1) by Susan M. Boyer




Lowcountry Boil (Liz Talbot Mystery #1)
by Susan M. Boyer (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, 408 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Henery Press (first published September 13th 2012)

Goodreads synopsis: Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her.

***

This clever cozy mystery is one that anyone would love.

The whole book centers around the death of Liz's grandmother, Emma. Liz has been working as a private investigator in a different city and hasn't spent a lot of time with her grandmother. During the reading of the will, the entire estate is left to Liz, much to her cousin's dismay. This fact features prominently in the storyline. 

Liz is visited by the spirit of Stella Maris who ends up being her dead best friend, and together they solve the mystery of Liz's grandmother's death. Definitely pick this title up if you love a great mystery.

I found the characters and community of Stella Maris fully rendered beings. You don't see that a lot in novels these days. I loved that about this book. It was almost like you were reading about real people and just discovering what was going on in their lives. At times I even felt stress reading the book. Talk about true to life. 

There was a part where Liz was still yearning for her old flame Michael but I had a feeling that wouldn't pan out in the future. I think that is still up in the air as the book ends but I am holding out hope that Nate, her business partner, will have a bigger part in the second book. Can you say Love Triangle? lol

Definitely one on my must read list this year. Check it out.

4 Stars

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Murder on the Menu by Zanna Mackenzie




Murder On The Menu: A Romantic Comedy Cozy Mystery (A Celebrity Mystery)
by Zanna Mackenzie (Goodreads Author)
Kindle Edition, 243 pages
Published September 24th 2015

Goodreads synopsis: Lizzie Carter desperately needed to escape from the disaster of her old life but her new one is shaping up to be even worse! 
   After Lizzie's new boss, celebrity chef Armand, is stabbed in his own kitchen, Lizzie finds herself at the top of the suspect list. 
   Determined to clear her name she’s forced to enlist the services of her new neighbour, Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency (CCIA) special agent Jack Mathis, who’s been suspended from his duties for reasons unknown. 
   Given his reputation, Lizzie figures it’s best not to ask too many questions of him; she only needs the rogue agent to help her catch Armand’s real killer. The fact that Jack is a good-looking guy is not lost on her, but he’s clearly also trouble. And Lizzie’s got more than enough of that in her life already. 
   Can Lizzie save herself from getting arrested and manage to resist her special agent sidekick’s considerable charms and gorgeous smile? Will they solve the culinary murder mystery or will her new life land her in a prison cell? 

***

Lizzie Carter is hiding away from her old life and I think we can all relate to that. I found it easy to jump into this characters shoes and ride along with her during the stress of discovering she was the main suspect in the murder of a celebrity chef she was working for in a small farming community. Luckily, Jack Mathis, a CCIA (Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency) agent is helping out his brother in a neighboring farm. He has the know how to assist Lizzie during her time of need. 

This was no easy mystery to figure out. You had to stay with it until the end to find the true culprit. 

I thought it was a great mystery that really set the stage for the mysteries to come. I understand that this will just be book one in a series of novels. Cozy lovers definitely need to pick this one up.

4 Stars.

I received this ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from the author. I thank Zanna Mackenzie for allowing me to read this novel.

Monday, November 9, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: No Money Down - novella - by Julie Moffett




Kindle Edition, 90 pages
Published June 4th 2012 by Carina Press (first published January 1st 2012)

Goodreads synopsis: Me and the legendary Zimmerman twins--it's a friendship made in geek heaven. And it all started back when I worked for the NSA...
   My best friend Basia dragged me to the beach for her idea of a vacation. All those annoying people, sand in embarrassing places--not exactly R & R for a girl who doesn't like the sun, the ocean or bathing suits. I couldn't wait to get back to work.
   But things started looking up when I ran into Elvis and Xavier Zimmerman. We discovered we had a lot in common: gaming, anchovies, hacking. After that, the vacation was perfect--until I accidentally broke some poor guy's fingers. Then Broken-Fingered Guy disappeared, and things got really dicey. With the Secret Service and a bunch of thugs suddenly after me, all I wanted was to solve the mystery and enjoy what was left of my vacation--preferably alive.
   Prequel to No One Lives Twice.

***

 This book was a great addition to the Lexi Carmichael series. I am glad the author took the time to give us a bit of backstory as to how Lexi and the Zimmerman twins met. I think this really shows how Elvis came to truly adore Lexi and why he has this constant affection toward her. I enjoyed that aspect of the story.

The funniest part to me is alluded to in the first book in the series. At their first initial meeting she loses her balance, falls and takes Elvis's swim trunks with her. Love that.

This book was shorter than the others but it still contained a complete mystery with all the favorite characters we have come to love. This is a must read if you love the Lexi Carmichael series. Please add this one to your digital collection.

4 Stars

I paid for this title with my own money

Friday, November 6, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: No Woman Left Behind (Lexi Carmichael Mystery #6) by Julie Moffett




No Woman Left Behind (Lexi Carmichael Mystery #6)
Kindle Edition
Published June 1st 2015 by Carina Press

Goodreads synopsis: My mother's life goal has been to see me, geek extraordinaire Lexi Carmichael, happily married. So bringing my first boyfriend, Slash, home for dinner has me hyperventilating. Things get a lot worse when bullets start flying over our corn chowder.
   Now the entire alphabet soup of government agencies want my help finding the man behind the attack—Johannes Broodryk, a cyber mercenary I foiled on my last case. He wants revenge and he’s taken something of mine to ensure I’ll play, so it’s game on. But the government has its own agenda, and Slash is not on board with the plan. Things are a bit bumpy in paradise.
   Although I'm more comfortable with computer code than commandos, I've been assigned a team of navy SEALs to help bring Broodryk down. The question is, will they survive me long enough to solve his cryptic puzzles and save the day?

***

In this Lexi novel, you get to see more about Lexi's family since they are involved in the action at the very beginning of the novel. I really enjoyed that. We are also introduced to a bunch of SEALs in this book too. Hands is the leader and he likes to give everyone nicknames. So, Lexi's nickname becomes "Keys" since she is so computer savvy. Then the lady from the CIA who goes on the mission along with her because of her specialized knowledge becomes "Suit" since she is always so dressed up her her business best.

Lexi and Slash get forced into separation during this mission so Hands (and the other Seals) become her male counter-part. But do not fret, Slash and Lexi are reunited in the end. 

This one was an exciting ride that you will definitely want to check out.

4 Stars

I bought this book with my own money.

BOOK REVIEW: No Place Like Rome (Lexi Carmichael Mystery #3) by Julie Moffett




No Place Like Rome (Lexi Carmichael Mystery #3)
ebook, 117 pages
Published November 25th 2013 by Carina Press

   A Lexi Carmichael Mystery
   Italy might seem like a long way to go to hide after a disastrous date. But when sexy uberhacker Slash (no, that's not his real name) asks me to go with him to Rome on an investigation, the timing is sort of perfect. My messed-up love life becomes the least of my worries, though, after the dead body, the near-kidnapping and the discovery of a top secret encrypted file that even I can't hack.
   With time running out, there's only one thing to do: call in the legendary Zimmerman twins and my best fluent-in-Italian friend, Basia, to crack the code. Now if only someone could help me solve the mystery of whether Slash is flirting, or if all the kissing is just one of those "when in Rome" things...
   But when we finally uncover the secret someone would kill to keep, it's up to me to solve the case and save the lives of my best friends.
   Just another week in the life of geek-girl Lexi Carmichael.
   Read about Lexi's previous adventures in No One Lives Twice, No One to Trust and No Money Down.

***

This was a pretty exciting mystery. Lexi got her Indiana Jones on and was quite an explorer in this mystery/adventure. Slash wanted some investigating done on the DL and so, of course, he goes to Finn's firm where Lexi is now working. His family has been targeted and it is all hush hush since it involves the Vatican and Italian business that no one but the most important people need to worry about.

I really enjoy watching Elvis and how he is so bashful around Lexi. He nearly always gets involved in the investigation in some way. More Elvis would not bother me at all. This was probably my favorite book in the entire series. Definitely a book that many people could relate to. Pick this one up for sure

4 Stars

I paid for this book with my own money

Monday, November 2, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: No One To Trust by Julie Moffett




ebook
Published June 13th 2011 by Carina Press (first published May 18th 2011

Goodreads synopsis: SWFG: Single, White, Female, Geek.
   That’s me, Lexi Carmichael, a reformed hacker who was gainfully employed by the National Security Agency. But a series of extraordinary events led me to leave government life behind for a fresh start with a brand-new company and an incredibly sexy boss, Finn Shaughnessy. It may not be kosher to have the hots for your boss, but he seems to have the hots for me, too. If only things didn’t get so complicated… 
   Darren Greening, a genius researcher from Flow Technologies (our first client!) is missing, and his bosses think I’m involved. And they aren’t the only ones—the man who nearly snapped my neck in the parking garage thinks so, too. 
   Now I’m caught in the middle of a complex and dangerous case. I’ll have to use all my geek skills and a little help from my friends to solve the mystery of Darren’s disappearance before Neck-Snapping-Man makes a return visit…


***

I left the last book (book one in the series) with an affinity for the suave and oh, so Irish, Finn Shaughnessy. I mean, just think Irish James Bond, and you have Finn to a T. 
   Finn has started his new cyber security company and their first client is looking for a famous researcher who has disappeared. He is a geek, and since Lexi is all about the geek world, she knows exactly who he is. 
    Lexi is the head of the InfoSec division. And in reality, I think that mean she is her own department. There only seems to be three working there: Finn, Ben (a famous hacker) and Lexi).

Darren has left an intriguing clue with his bosses at Flow Technology. And Lexi seems to be the only one who can crack  the encryption. And the note says that they need to contact Lexi Carmichael immediately.

Lexi seeks the expertise of the Zimmerman Twins as well as Slash in this exciting adventure that really keeps you on your toes. If you like adventure/mysteries like Alias, Chuck, Castle, then this book series is for you. Definitely check out every book in the series.

4 Stars

I bought this book with my own money.