Death in Kew Gardens by Jennifer Ashley

41867421In return for a random act of kindness, scholar Li Bai Chang presents young cook Kat Holloway with a rare and precious gift—a box of tea. Kat thinks no more of her unusual visitor until two days later when the kitchen erupts with the news that Lady Cynthia’s next-door neighbor has been murdered. Known about London as an “Old China Hand,” the victim claimed to be an expert in the language and customs of China, acting as an intermediary for merchants and government officials. But Sir Jacob’s dealings were not what they seemed, and when the authorities accuse Mr. Li of the crime, Kat and Daniel find themselves embroiled in a world of deadly secrets that reach from the gilded homes of Mayfair to the beautiful wonder of Kew Gardens.


Death in Kew Gardens is Jennifer Ashley’s third book in the Below Stairs Mysteries, featuring the fantastic Kat Holloway. The book starts with Kat, a cook who works for a wealthy family in Victorian England. One day Kat receives a gift from a mysterious Chinese man in return for an act of kindness. It is a rare box of tea, and that same night Kat’s next door neighbor, Sir Jacob Harkness is found dead. The secret Chinese man becomes a prime suspect, and now Kat and Daniel must run against time to find the murderer.

I did not read book one or book two and some of you, who have followed my reviews, know that I don’t particularly enjoy reading books that belong to a series I’ve never read before. Let me tell you that Death in Kew Gardens is an exception to that rule. Although it would’ve been lovely to know more about Kat and Daniel, I felt this story holds on its own just fine. Kat is such a robust character that I was able to get a sense of her even though I barely knew her background.

Death in Kew Gardens reminded me of both Downton Abbey and Grand Hotel, with a touch of Agatha Christie. I will definitely be reading the forerunners in this series and anxiously await for book number four.

I would like to thank Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: e-ARC
Published: Expected publication June 4th, 2019 by Berkley
ASIN: B07H73KSQT
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction

Emily, Gone by Bette Lee Crosby

42774228When a music festival rolls through the sleepy town of Hesterville, Georgia, the Dixon family’s lives are forever changed. On the final night, a storm muffles the sound of the blaring music, and Rachel tucks her baby into bed before falling into a deep sleep. So deep, she doesn’t hear the kitchen door opening. When she and her husband wake up in the morning, the crib is empty. Emily is gone. Vicki Robart is one of the thousands at the festival, but she’s not feeling the music. She’s feeling the emptiness over the loss of her own baby several months before. When she leaves the festival and is faced with an opportunity to fill that void, she is driven to an act of desperation that will forever bind the lives of three women. When the truth of what actually happened that fateful night is finally exposed, shattering the lives they’ve built, will they be able to pick up the pieces to put their families back together again?


The book starts forty-seven years ago in the small, fictional town of Hesterville, GA, where a music festival akin to Woodstock is about to take place at Harold Baker’s farm. The townspeople, apprehensive about the festival and the type of audience it will attract, try to prevent the festival from happening to no avail.

The Dixons live close to the farm where the festival is taking place. Rachel, George and poor baby Emily have endured several nights of loud music and very little sleep. On the last day of the festival, when the music seemed to be dying out, Rachel tucked in baby Emily in her crib and went to bed exhausted. Unbeknownst to Rachel and George, their paths were about to cross with hippies Vicki and boyfriend Russ Murphy who were driving back from the festival stoned and starved.

Vicki asks Murph to stop to get her something to eat, but when he fails to find a place that’s open late at night, Vicki convinces him to pull over by a house where she can trespass and get something to eat. Although Murphy is initially not on board with the idea, he agrees to it as long as Vicki can go in and out of the house without raising anyone’s attention. When Vicki enters the Dixon family’s home, she finds a lot more than food, and a crime of opportunity presents itself in a way that will change the course of the Dixon’s and Vicki’s life forever.

I loved this book. As much as I hated Vicki, I could also understand her pain and where she was coming from as a woman and a mother. Things are never as simple as they seem and this book will have you question your preconceived notions on this topic.

This book is a page-turner that had me crying. The theme of this book is every parent’s worst nightmare, and Crosby did a fantastic job of telling such a compelling story with love and compassion. A heart-wrenching, beautiful story about forgiveness and ultimately love.

Emily, Gone is scheduled to be published on April 30th, 2019. I want to thank the author for providing me a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.


Format: Paperback, 398 pages
Published: expected to be published April 30th, 2019 by Lake Union Publishing
ISBN:1542044928
Source: ARC provided by the Author
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

About The Author

Bette Lee Crosby

Bette Lee Crosby is the USA Today bestselling author of twenty novels, including The Twelfth Child and the Wyattsville series. She has been the recipient of the Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal, Reviewer’s Choice Award, FPA President’s Book Award, and International Book Award, among many others. Her 2016 novel, Baby Girl, was named Best Chick Lit of the Year by the Huffington Post. She laughingly admits to being a night owl and a workaholic, claiming that her guilty pleasure is late-night chats with fans and friends on Facebook and Goodreads. The Summer of New Beginnings, published by Lake Union, Took First Place in the Royal Palm Literary Award for Women’s Fiction and was a runner-up for book of the year. The sequel, A Year of Extraordinary Moments, is now available.

Website | Twitter |Facebook|Amazon

The Book Supremacy by Kate Carlisle

41832575Newlyweds Brooklyn and Derek are enjoying the final days of their honeymoon in Paris. As they’re browsing the book stalls along the Seine, Brooklyn finds the perfect gift for Derek, a first edition James Bond novel, The Spy Who Loved Me. When they bump into Ned, an old friend from Derek’s spy days, Brooklyn shows him her latest treasure. Once they’re back home in San Francisco, they visit a spy shop Ned mentioned. The owner begs them to let him display the book Brooklyn found in Paris as part of the shop’s first anniversary celebration. Before they agree, Derek makes sure the security is up to snuff—turns out, the unassuming book is worth a great deal more than sentimental value. Soon after, Derek is dismayed when he receives a mysterious letter from Paris announcing Ned’s death. Then late one night, someone is killed inside the spy shop. Are the murders connected to Brooklyn’s rare, pricey book? Is there something even more sinister afoot? Brooklyn and the spy who loves her will have to delve into the darkest parts of Derek’s past to unmask an enemy who’s been waiting for the chance to destroy everything they hold dear.


The Book Supremacy is the thirteenth book in the Bibliophile Mystery Series. I don’t usually read a book this far in a series if I haven’t read any of the previous books, but I decided to take a chance. I love cozy mysteries, and I kept hearing wonderful things about this series.

Indeed the plot was great! The mystery was good and not at all predictable. The pacing was just right with a narrative full of dynamic dialogues that made the story flow really smoothly. Brooklyn and Derek were great characters. Their relationship was cute–I just wished I knew more about their back story. I loved the fact that this book started in Paris and for the first chapters, I was really hooked. Having just visited Paris, it was a bit bitter-sweet for me, but Carlisle’s excellent descriptions of la Ville des Lumières really transported me back to one of my favorite cities in the world. Unfortunately, as the story went on, I just wasn’t as invested. The book has so many characters, friends, co-workers, and family members that had already been introduced in other installments, and since I’d never got to know these characters before, I had a hard time picturing them. I see why some people think this can be a standalone book. This book is a not a continuation of a previous story, per se, but I believe that for you to get into the story and appreciate these characters, you should read the earlier books in the series.

I received an early copy of this book for free from Penguin Random House First To Read in exchange for my honest review.


Format: e-ARC, 288 pages
Published: June 4th, 2019 by Berkley
ASIN: B07H72R95G
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Berkley, and Penguin Random House First To Read in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Cozy mystery

The Island Villa by Lily Graham

 

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When Charlotte’s husband James tragically dies, he leaves her an unexpected gift – her grandmother’s beautiful villa, Marisal, on the Spanish island of Formentera. As she begins to explore her new home and heal her broken heart in the warm golden sunshine, Charlotte discovers that her grandmother Alba has been keeping secrets about her life on the island. Intrigued by her family’s hidden history, Charlotte uncovers a devastating love affair that put many lives at risk and two sisters torn apart by loss. Can the heartbreaking truth of the island’s dark history finally be laid to rest? Or will the secrets of the past shake the new life and love that Charlotte is close to finding? 

Review

The book starts with Charlotte grieving her husband’s death and finding out that she has inherited a villa in the beautiful Spanish island of Formentera. The first part of the book started out slow and I thought the story was going to revolve around her grieving until she finds out that her grandmother Alba had some secrets Charlotte was about to discover. What attracted me to this book was the cover and the idea of reading a “feel-good summer read” and although the book was quite enjoyable, at times the narrative felt repetitive and stereotypical of what one thinks a Mediterranean island should look and smell like. Having lived in the Balearic Islands I thought a book about Formentera was going to transport me back to that time in my life, but it really didn’t. The historical part was very interesting, but overall I felt that the characters landed a bit flat on the pages and the middle of the story dragged a bit.

I would like to thank Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris

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A young British couple is driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again. Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part of his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She’s turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love. As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Review

Layla and Finn are coming back from a skiing vacation in France when Finn stops at a picnic area to use the restroom. Upon his return, Layla is gone.

The book starts with Finn’s recollections of that night some ten years ago. He gives the impression that the description you read in the book is what was told to the cops at the time, but that in reality, the truth about that night is very different.

Now ten years later, Finn is living with Ellen who just happens to be his missing girlfriend Layla’s sister.

I have to say that I really enjoyed Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris, and Bring Me Back was a book that had a solid four stars for most of the story, then it got to the end and I just could not believe how improbable the ending was. I was truly disappointed with the ending. I thought the story had such a great premise and I was completely hooked. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t believe the ending.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Love, Lies, and Wedding Cake by Sue Watson

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Since Faye met her gorgeous Aussie boyfriend Dan, they’ve traveled all over the world to meet in amazing, crazy and romantic locations. They’ve eaten gateaux in a chateau, chocolate torte in a moonlit port, and even had stöllen kisses in a sparkling Christmas market. Neither of them wanted to settle down… until now. When Dan asks Faye to marry him and to move to Australia it throws a real spanner in the works. Faye’s daughter Emma needs her here, so moving to the other side of the world – even for a hunk like Dan – simply isn’t an option. Is it? 

Review

Love, Lies, and Wedding Cake is a sequel to Love, Lies, and Lemon Cake, which I haven’t read, but also didn’t feel it was necessary in order to understand this story. The book starts with Faye and her hunk Australian boyfriend Dan enjoying themselves on a beautiful beach. Faye is a 46-year-old divorced grandma and Dan is a carefree, single guy in his 30’s. Life seems absolutely perfect to this middle-age grandma and her wonderful boyfriend until tragedy hits home and Dan has to move back to Australia leaving Faye all alone and wondering if their relationship can endure the long-distance.

I really enjoyed Sue Watson’s writing. I’m not sure I would call it hilariously funny, but I found myself laughing out loud several times. I loved Faye and her attitude towards life. The characters were well developed and this was an overall easy read. The only thing I didn’t care for was how Dan and Faye ended up. I’m not sure I would have been as forgiving, but Watson did a good job exploring that drama.

This is a delightful romantic comedy, and I’m looking forward to reading more books from this author.

I would like to thank Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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A Summer Scandal by Kat French

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When Violet moves to Swallow Beach, she inherits a small Victorian pier in with an empty arcade perched on the end of it and falls in love immediately. She wants nothing more than to rejuvenate it and make it grand again – When she meets hunky Calvin, inspiration strikes. What if she turned the arcade into an adult-themed arcade full of artisan shops?


Review

A Summer Scandal is a delightful romance. I loved Violet. She’s this super sassy character who inherits her grandfather’s pier and apartment in a seaside town in England. Violet soon moves to the apartment and gets a chance to know more about her grandmother and her secrets. She soon meets Calvin and a romance between the two begins to grow.  This was a very light read, and I really enjoyed reading it by the pool on a nice warm day in May. This book is much more than just a simple romance. This is a cute and funny chic-lit that will certainly please fans of the genre.

I’d like to thank Avon Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Still Lives by Maria Hummel

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A young editor at a Los Angeles art museum finds herself pulled into the disturbing and dangerous world of a famous artist who goes missing on the opening night of her exhibition.

Review

Maggie Richter is a frustrated journalist who works as an editor for the prestigious Rocque Museum. The museum is in severe financial problems, so part of Maggie’s job is to guarantee that Kim Lord’s new exhibition Still Lives is a success.

Kim Lord is an avant-garde, feminist, artist with a ground-breaking and controversial exhibition, Still Lives, which depicts herself as famous murdered women. On the day of her much anticipation exhibition, Lord goes missing and when Maggie’s ex-boyfriend Greg becomes the main suspect, Maggie decides to start her own investigation.

Everyone seems to be giving this book at least 4 stars, but in reality just like art is subjective so are books. I really, and I mean, really struggled with this book at least until 60% of the story. It’s not that it is a badly written book, it was just boring and slow. The other half of the book gets a bit better, but the ending did not wow me, and by the time I was done with the book I was tired of reading it.

I’d like to thank Edelweiss for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


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Blog Tour: Boy of Blood by Megan O’Russell #giveaway

Boy of Blood Banner (2)

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Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing

Series: Girl of Glass

Genre: YA Dystopia

Release Date: April 10, 2018

After Nightland’s vicious attack on the domes, the safety and perfection of the world within the glass has been contaminated. Desperate to rebuild, outsiders are allowed into the domes to help, breaking the cardinal rule: outsiders and Domers must always be separated. But the city is in shambles, crumbling into chaos without the Vampers of Nightland to keep order, and one name is carried on the wind: Nola. Clinging to Jeremy, Nola struggles to find a way to exist in the domes, turning her back on all she learned in the city. But when one of the outsiders brings the dark secrets of the domes to light, the line between survival and murder blurs against the specter of the dying world. Can Nola follow the dark path laid out by the Domes? Will the dangers of the night become her new sanctuary?

Review 

Boy of Blood starts where book one, Girl of Glass, left off. This is not a standalone story. You do need to read the first book in the series to truly appreciate this installment.

The book starts with Nola waking up after the attack on the domes, a perfect world inside glass walls created for chosen humans. The other half of the population is relegated to living on the outside of the dome to suffer and die.

In this dystopian sequel, we follow Nola as she tries to move on from the attacks on the domes and the heartbreak from Kieran’s betrayal. This book really takes the time to explain and develop Nola’s character and her relationship with Jeremy. I didn’t see this book as just another dystopian book. I’m actually tired of reading most of the dystopian YA novels out there because many of those books are so similar. What I liked about Boy of Blood is that this story mixes a little romance, a little paranormal fantasy with vampires and werewolves, and it all works really well.

This is a fast-paced book with a cliffhanger ending that leaves you wanting more. I highly recommend it.

I would like to thank the author and Fiery Seas Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About The Author

Megan O'Russell

Megan O’Russell is the author of the young adult fantasy series The Tethering, and Nuttycracker Sweet, a Christmas novella. Megan’s short stories can also be found in several anthologies, including Athena’s Daughters 2, featuring women in speculative fiction. Megan is a professional performer who has spent time on stages across the country and is the lyrist for Second Chances: The Thrift Shop Musical, which received its world premiere in 2015. When not on stage or behind a computer, Megan can usually be found playing her ukulele or climbing a mountain with her fantastic husband.

website | twitter | facebook | blog


PURCHASE LINKS:  Amazon | Barnes&Noble | KoboiTunes


Click here for Giveaway

Better Off Read by Nora Page

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When her best hope of saving her storm-damaged library is found murdered, senior librarian Cleo Watkins hits the road in her bookmobile in search of justice. Septuagenarian librarian Cleo Watkins won’t be shushed when an upstart young mayor threatens to permanently shelve her tiny town’s storm-damaged library. She takes to her bookmobile, Words on Wheels, to collect allies and rally library support throughout Catalpa Springs, Georgia. However, Cleo soon rolls into trouble. A major benefactor known for his eccentric DIY projects requests all available books on getting away with murder. He’s no Georgia peach, and Cleo wonders if she should worry about his plans. She knows she should when she discovers him bludgeoned and evidence points to her best friend, Mary-Rose Garland. 

Review

Better Off Read is the first book in the Bookmobile Mystery series. The main character, Cleo Watkins is a librarian who also runs a bookmobile, words on wheels, in the city of Catalpa Springs, Georgia. Cleo is desperately trying to fix the damaged library and prevent the young mayor, Jeb Day, from closing it down. Cleo soon comes across the body of an old patron, Buford Krandall, and evidence seems to point to her friend Mary-Rose, so Cleo decides to solve the murder on her own and clear the name of her best friend.

Ok, so this book was the classic example of judging a book by its cover. I mean, isn’t this cover super cute? I loved everything about it–a cute cat, a cute dog, a bookmobile, all the elements for a great cozy mystery. Unfortunately, this book was quite disappointing to me. The premise is great, a librarian fighting to keep the city’s public library alive, a murder needing to be solved, a small town setting, Southern cooking, you name it. The problem with the story is that although the premise was great, the characters were very unrealistic and poorly developed. Cleo, the main character, is supposed to be this seventy-year-old lady who really seemed more like someone in their forties or fifties. It is not to say that a person in their seventies can’t be as active and energetic as Cleo, but it just didn’t feel that way when you were reading the book.

The story as a whole did not hold my interest and I found myself putting this book down way too many times. I really wanted to love this book, but it just didn’t do it for me. Since this is book one in the series, I believe there is still hope for the other books to come.

I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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