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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Fatal Finale by Kathleen Marple Kalb

A Fatal Finale

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2020 by Kensington Books

Goodreads synopsis: 
On the cusp of the twentieth century, Manhattan is a lively metropolis buzzing with talent. But after a young soprano meets an untimely end on stage, can one go-getting leading lady hit the right notes in a case of murder?

New York City, 1899. When it comes to show business, Gilded Age opera singer Ella Shane wears the pants. The unconventional diva breaks the mold by assuming “trouser roles”—male characters played by women—and captivating audiences far and wide with her travelling theatre company. But Ella’s flair for the dramatic takes a terrifying turn when an overacting Juliet to her Romeo drinks real poison during the final act of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi.

Weeks after the woman’s death is ruled a tragic accident, a mysterious English duke arrives in Greenwich Village on a mission. He’s certain someone is getting away with murder, and the refined aristocrat won’t travel back across the Atlantic until Ella helps him expose the truth.

As Ella finds herself caught between her craft and a growing infatuation with her dashing new acquaintance, she’s determined to decode the dark secrets surrounding her co-star’s fatale finale—before the lights go dark and the culprit appears for an encore . . .


4.5 Stars

This looks to be a standalone historic cozy mystery by Kathleen Marple Kalb. I do hope it will become a series.

I am totally intrigued by the relationship between the Duke Gilbert and Ella Shane.  That alone will keep me coming back for more.

Basic premise: A girl in the role of Juliet is found dead by an overdose of nicotine. Turns out the girl is more than she seems and is related to English royalty. She had been working for Ella’s theater company and she feels compelled to find the reason for her ingenue’s death. This introduces her to Duke Gilbert and an unknown assailant who wants Ella dead as well.

Loved the park scene with the velocipede, sort of like a big tricycle for adults. It was an incarnation of the bicycle. This helped to show how forward thinking Ella was and how the society was back at this time.

I was hooked the entire time. I relished the scenes where Ella and the Duke were together. Plus the whodunit was so spot on that I had  no clue who the bad guy was until the bad guy was revealed. Just one stellar read! I definitely want this to be made into a series… did I say that already?

If you love a good historic cozy mystery, definitely check this one out . You won’t be disappointed.

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

Monday, March 30, 2020

A Very English Murder (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery #1) by Verity Bright

A Very English Murder

Kindle Edition, 309 pages
Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by Bookouture

Goodreads synopsis: 
Move over Miss Marple, there’s a new sleuth in town! Meet Eleanor Swift: distinguished adventurer, dog lover, dignified lady… daring detective?

England, 1920Eleanor Swift has spent the last few years traveling the world: taking tea in China, tasting alligators in Peru, escaping bandits in Persia and she has just arrived in England after a chaotic forty-five-day flight from South Africa. Chipstone is about the sleepiest town you could have the misfortune to meet. And to add to these indignities – she’s now a Lady.

Lady Eleanor, as she would prefer not to be known, reluctantly returns to her uncle’s home, Henley Hall. Now Lord Henley is gone, she is the owner of the cold and musty manor. What’s a girl to do? Well, befriend the household dog, Gladstone, for a start, and head straight out for a walk in the English countryside, even though a storm is brewing…

But then, from the edge of a quarry, through the driving rain, Eleanor is shocked to see a man shot and killed in the distance. Before she can climb down to the spot, the villain is gone and the body has vanished. With no victim and the local police convinced she’s stirring up trouble, Eleanor vows to solve this affair by herself. And when her brakes are mysteriously cut, one thing seems sure: someone in this quiet country town has Lady Eleanor Swift in their murderous sights…


4.5 Stars

This is the first book in the A Lady Eleanor Swift mystery series by Verity Bright.

Wow, we have a feisty new heroine taking command in the historic cozy mystery genre! What a fun new character, she is. And her butler Clifford is this world’s Alfred. Totally digging this series so far!

Lady Eleanor returns to Henley Hall after the death of her favorite uncle.  Now she is the owner of the estate and the servants that come with it. There are quite a few people packed into Henley Hall. My favorites are of course, Clifford and the faithful dog, Gladstone. As she nears a quarry, Eleanor sees a man killed while she is out on a walk. She immediately reports it but the police don’t really take women too seriously during this time. Eleanor is quite an independent spirit and is a good model for women to follow in order to take back their personal power.
This book is quite entertaining and a bit forward thinking for the time. Nice to see people being pushed out of their comfort zones by a pretty lady.

If you love a good historic cozy mystery, definitely check this one out . You won’t be disappointed.

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

Murder to Music by Margaret Newman

Murder to Music

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: April 16th 2020 by Agora Books (first published January 1st 1959)

Goodreads synopsis: 
'You must have a curious taste, to love someone whom you believe to be capable of murder.’

Detective Superintendent Simon Hudson finds himself in a difficult position. Attending the Metropolitana Choir’s concert was intended to make him a supportive partner… not the head of a murder investigation. But when the conductor drops dead during the performance, Hudson winds up with a shocking list of suspects – including his girlfriend.

Unable to keep his professional and personal lives separate, Hudson finds himself embroiled in the peculiar hatreds and spiteful grudges that dominate the Metro’s managing committee. Desperate to ensure his girlfriend’s innocence, Hudson must work quickly to bring the murderer to light before it’s too late.

This melodic murder mystery, brimming with charm and wit, was first published in 1959 and was Margaret Newman’s first novel.


4.5 Stars

I am pretty sure this is a standalone novel. It is written by Margaret Newman.

After I read this, I discovered it was originally published in 1959. I was surprised by that since this book didn’t read as if it was written so long ago. It felt fresh and new. How awesome is that? That is the sign of a good writer!

I had a jaw dropping moment reading this when after the conductor is killed on stage, the detective has no qualms announcing that his girlfriend, who is in the choir, is a suspect. Considering he is most likely her alibi, I found that quite humorous.

The mystery was quite complex considering the killing was done in sight of everyone. I really liked the setting of being in a choir since that is a very familiar place to me since I am currently in a worship team. 

The characters were easily distinguished from one another but I was most curious about the relationship between Detective Hudson and Delia Jones. I wish there had been more interaction between the two of them. but that is just me wanting a bit more romantic suspense in my cozy. Overall, it was one great read.

If you love a good cozy mystery, definitely check this one out . You won’t be disappointed.

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

Tastes Like Murder (Cookies & Chance Mystery #1) by Catherine Bruns

Tastes Like Murder

Kindle Edition, 263 pages
Published August 30th 2015 by Gemma Halliday Publishing

Goodreads synopsis: 
Sally Muccio’s had her crosses to bear: a cheating ex-boyfriend, crazy Italian parents, and an unfaithful husband, just to name a few. After her divorce, she returns to her hometown to start a novelty cookie shop whose specialties include original fortune cookies, served with a sprinkle of foreshadowing. But there’s no warning when her ex-husband’s mistress drops dead on Sal's porch, and police confirm it’s a homicide. Determined to stop her life from becoming a recipe for disaster, Sal takes matters into her own hands. With two very different men vying for her affection, dead bodies piling up, and a reputation hanging by an apron string, Sal finds herself in a race against time to save both her business and life—before the last cookie crumbles.


4.5 Stars

This is the first book in the Cookies and Chance mystery series by Catherine Bruns.

Basic premise: Sally has opened a new bakery with her friend, Josie. She is recently divorced and wants to start anew. Then the woman who broke up her marriage shows up in the shop wanting to torment her. As if causing her to break up her marriage wasn’t enough of a slight. Then Amanda, ends up dead on her doorstep causing Sal to become suspect number one. In the meantime, a new detective has joined the force and has an eye for Sal. Not to mention, her old high school sweetheart who broke her heart is back in town.

This book was a great beginning to a series. There was nothing contrived about it either. It was just a fun and wonderful romp into this great cozy world. 

I did what I normally tend to do and read book two first.  Don’t ask me why. I’m just crazy that way. Then when I was blown away by book two, I knew I had to go back read book one. So I went backward to fill in the backstory. And I am so glad I did. Boy, it seems Sal just can’t win with all these crazy people in her life.

Sal’s parents are quite a hoot as is an elderly friend of her grandmother who shows up every day to taunt her and wanting a free fortune cookie that Sal offers at her store as a gift to customers. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these cookie notes show up to lead Sal onto the right path. Her Dad already seems to believe in their power of prophecy.

The storyline of the love triangle was nice although, I would like to see it extended somewhat. I kinda like the dynamic where two guys want her affection. The ending is a big of a cliffhanger and you don’t know which guy she chose in the end. Nice touch.

I am now officially addicted to this series. Already on book three!

If you love a good cozy mystery, definitely check this one out . You won’t be disappointed.

Baked to Death (Cookies & Chance Mystery #2) by Catherine Bruns

Baked to Death

Kindle Edition, 221 pages
Published January 13th 2016 by Gemma Halliday Publishing

Goodreads synopsis: 
Baker turned reluctant amateur sleuth, Sally Muccio’s, finally found the happiness that’s eluded her for years. She’s in love with a great guy, her bakery is thriving, and now she and her best friend Josie Sullivan are gearing up to appear on the popular reality baking show, Cookie Crusades. But a visit from Sal’s greedy ex-husband Colin, who's looking to cash in on the bakery’s dough, changes everything. Within a few hours Sal’s world—like the shop’s original fortune cookies—is broken apart when Colin turns up dead, and her boyfriend’s arrested for the crime. Now Sal’s mixing it up with vengeful ex-inlaws, a suspicious new employee, slippery baking competitors, and a greasy mobster who’ll stop at nothing to collect on Colin’s unpaid debt. Can Sal prove her man is innocent in time? Or is she about to get baked herself?


4.5 Stars

This is the second book in the Cookies and Chance mystery series by Catherine Bruns.

I think Kindle books get a bad rap sometimes. There is this misconception that they are bad or not edited or unprofessional. But this one totally bucks that system. This was an awesome representation of what Kindle should be and to a large extent is.

I picked this one up for the OWLs Readathon since it had a heart on the cover. I am so glad I finally read this! What an awesome book! This has to be a new favorite series for me. I had read Penne Dreadful sometime last year and loved that too. So, in a way, I was looking forward to this but it was lost in my kindle library.

Basic premise: Sally (Sal) Muccio runs a bakery with her best friend, Josie. She has finally gotten together with her high school sweetheart, Mike Donovan and things are good. Then her ex-husband shows up wanting half of her bakery even though he had nothing to do with its inception and a short time later, he ends up dead. Of course, Sal is the main suspect and her former boyfriend (not sure if boyfriend is the right word here) Detective Brian has her in his sights. He is still trying to win back her affection since he pursued her all through book one. 

I thought the running back and forth between New York and Florida was a bit of a stretch for me. Colin had been living in Florida and Sal’s bakery is in NY. The team was invited to be on a cookie bake off show in Florida and in between the tv show hijinks they were able to do a bit of sleuthing about Colin’s activities.

The characters are awesome and memorable. Sal’s parents are a hoot! Her mom is in her second childhood and her dad is looking for the perfect casket. You immediately feel a kinship with Sal when Colin tries to take her business away from her after she worked so hard to build it up after his betrayal.

I am now officially addicted to this series. Already on book three!

If you love a good cozy mystery, definitely check this one out . You won’t be disappointed.

The Last Human by Zack Jordan

The Last Human

Hardcover, 448 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by Del Rey Books (first published March 22nd 2020)

Goodreads synopsis: 
The last human in the universe is on the run from a godlike intelligence in this rip-roaring debut space opera.

Sarya is the civilized galaxy's worst nightmare: a Human.

Most days, Sarya doesn't feel like the most terrifying creature in the galaxy.

Most days, she's got other things on her mind. Like hiding her identity among the hundreds of alien species roaming the corridors of Watertower Station. Or making sure her adoptive mother doesn't casually eviscerate one of their neighbors. Again.

And most days, she can almost accept that she'll never know the truth--that she'll never know why humanity was deemed too dangerous to exist. Or whether she really is--impossibly--the lone survivor of a species destroyed a millennium ago.

That is, until an encounter with a bounty hunter and a miles-long kinetic projectile leaves her life and her perspective shattered.

Thrown into the universe at the helm of a stolen ship--with the dubious assistance of a rebellious spacesuit, an android death enthusiast on his sixtieth lifetime, and a ball of fluff with an IQ in the thousands--Sarya begins to uncover an impossible truth.

What if humanity's death and her own existence are simply two moves in a demented cosmic game, one played out by vast alien intellects? Stranger still, what if these mad gods are offering Sarya a seat at their table--and a second chance for humanity?

The Last Human is a sneakily brilliant, gleefully oddball space-opera debut--a masterful play on perspective, intelligence, and free will, wrapped in a rollicking journey through a strange and crowded galaxy.


2 Stars

This is basically a galactic soap opera. And if you like that sort of thing and can wrap  your mind around all the complexities in this, I think you will love this.

Basically, Sarya is the last human… maybe. She might be their only savior or the downfall of it all.

Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to wrap my mind around what was going on. It never felt like their was a “main” character I could latch onto and follow around. I usually am all in with a science fiction story but this one was too way out left field for me.

I considered DNF-ing it after a few chapters but I soldiered on and was left still feeling like I did in the beginning. I guess I just didn’t get it. And that’s okay. We all aren’t supposed to love everything we read. This book has mixed reviews. Some have loved it. And if you think you are in that camp, go for it! I think I had to use too much brain power to read this and I usually go for the reads that are relaxing and fun.

Definitely not my favorite but not awful either. Give it a go and decide for yourself.

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

Exit Plan (Kill Code: Book One) by Sheri Landry

Exit Plan
(Kill Code: Book One)

ebook, 340 pages
Expected publication: April 14th 2020 by Sheri Landry

Goodreads synopsis: 


Ten years ago, a covert government operation gone wrong separated Jack from Jessa, the girl he promised he would never leave.


Jack's special forces team receives a tip, leading them to a remote farmhouse in search of a group of hackers, led by the elusive Zane, who work for the same person he holds responsible for Jessa's death, ten years earlier.

Past and present collide as what was once lost is now standing in front of him and appears to be working for the very evil he is trying to end.

Jessa has been in hiding for the last decade. A traumatic event blocked out some of her memories and the information she needs to end her nightmare is hidden away in the only place she can't hack into, her own mind.

Everything is not as it first seems as years of secrets begin to unravel and all of the missing pieces are uncovered and put back in their proper places.

All but one.

Will the last piece, the answer to all of their problems, be found in time?


4.5 Stars

This is the first book in the Kill Code series by Sheri Landry

Basic premise: Jack thought Jessa died ten years ago. Now he is trying to find a group of hackers who were responsible for her death. It is then he finds that Jessa never died. In fact, she thought he was dead and had moved on with a family of his own (which was untrue). This group is lead by a horrific mad man who has his ties everywhere and seems unstoppable. Jessa has the key to his demise in her memory but she is blocking it all due to her earlier torture.

I thought this book was really great. It made you think and had you questioning everything at every turn. But I did think it was a bit to graphic in the horrific sense when they showed us the torture Jessa went through from Maxwell and then showed us it again when Logan was trying to “break” her. i thought that was unnecessary.

The point of view does jump around a bit and can be confusing at times but if you pay attention to the “voice” of the person, it should be easier to distinguish one from the other.

This is a relevant story and to my mind, a good one as well. Looking forward to seeing what other books in this series will look like. Definitely need some more Logan in my life.

If you enjoy a good mystery/thriller/romantic suspense, give this one a try, you won’t be disappointed! 

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

Friday, March 27, 2020

Pumpkin Spice Peril (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #12) by Jenn McKinlay

Pumpkin Spice Peril

Paperback, 272 pages
Expected publication: April 28th 2020 by Berkley Books

Goodreads synopsis: 
In the twelfth Cupcake Bakery Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay, the Fairy Tale Cupcake crew follows the clever crumb trail of a killer who's anything but cookie-cutter.

Life is all sugar and spice for the Fairy Tale Cupcake bakers--Melanie Cooper is engaged to the delectable Joe DeLaura, Angie Harper and her husband Tate are savoring married life, and the bakery is bustling with happy customers. Until one of their most valued cupcake connoisseurs ends up dead.

Local glass artist and cupcake lover Rene Fischer-Klein has always suffered from a wide variety of health issues. In an effort to cheer her up, her doting husband, Peter, brings her a four-pack of her favorite cupcakes every week. But when the police discover that Rene has been poisoned, there's no sugarcoating the fact that the last things she ate were the bakery's signature pumpkin spice cupcakes! With their lives and bakery at stake, it's up to Mel and Angie to find out who poisoned their artist friend and why, before their future is frosted for good.


4.5 Stars

This is the twelfth book in the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay.

Basic premise: At the beginning of the book cupcake baker, Melanie Cooper gets a serious tongue lashing from her good friend, local glass artist Rene. She accuses her of everything under the sun including stepping out with her husband. Melanie is floored. There is something seriously wrong wrong with Rene. And her paranoia is only growing. When she ends up dead, Melanie discovers she is high on the police chief’s radar since she has been connected to so many murders over the last few years. This forces her to do some investigation to clear her name and find out what really was wrong with her friend.

If you haven’t read this series yet, definitely pick this one up! Pumpkin spice is my go-to coffee drink at all times of the year. And McKinlay does a great job putting the pumpkin spice cupcakes in the spotlight. Are they the murder weapon? Maybe. You will have to read it and see.

The drama between Melanie & Rene and Melanie & the chief really make this book a standout. I felt so bad for the girl. Of course, that didn’t keep me on speculating on whodunit. I had an idea who I thought had a good enough motive but it turned out my guess was wrong. Love it when the author surprises us with who the killer is and why.

Definitely a series you should put on your must read list!

If you enjoy a good cozy mystery, give this one a try, you won’t be disappointed! 

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