Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies by Misha Popp

cover236344-mediumDaisy Ellery’s pies have a secret ingredient: The magical ability to avenge women done wrong by men…The first time Daisy Ellery killed a man with a pie, it was an accident. Now, it’s her calling. Daisy bakes sweet vengeance into her pastries, which she and her dog Zoe deliver to the men who’ve done dirty deeds to the town’s women. But if she can’t solve the one crime that’s not of her own baking, she’ll be out of the pie pan and into the oven.


Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies is a book that seems to have all the elements of a great cozy mystery. A cute cover, an awesome title, and an interesting premise.

Daisy is our main protagonist and she has this amazing power of infusing magic into her pies. This magic renders her pies deadly and once she found out she could kill someone with them after accidentally killing a man, she decides to make that her calling and goes on avenging women who suffered in the hands of evil men.

She soon starts a word-of-mouth free service she calls Pies Before Guys, calls herself an avenging pie maker, and goes on with her business of killing men who she deemed have done their share of evil in the world. Until one day she finds an anonymous letter threatening to expose her killer business, so she sets out to discover the owner of the letter.

I have to say that when I read the synopsis of this book I was really intrigued. I figured this was going to be a cozy and funny story with some mystery element in it. Unfortunately, the final product was quite different from what I had in mind.

The concept of being able to infuse pies with magical powers was a very interesting start. But as you read the story, you soon realize that there is nothing really cute about that and that in fact, Daisy is no better than any other gun for hire or even a serial killer. Although Popp tried really hard to make us sympathize with Daisy and her struggles growing up, I had a real hard time connecting to her or any other character in this book, except for Zoe, the dog.

Another thing that did not work out for me was the misrepresentation of the book genre. The synopsis, title, and book cover lead you to believe that you are embarking on a cozy mystery adventure, but the reality of the story is a lot darker than that. Once you get past this initial annoyance, the story does get a little better and the pie recipes at the end of the book are a nice addition, but not enough to pull off a 3-star rating from me.

Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies is scheduled to be published on May 10, 2022. I want to thank Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: Kindle edition
Published: May 10, 2022
ASIN: N/A
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 2 stars
Genre: Mystery

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

One nightSpending her thirtieth birthday alone is the last thing that dating columnist Cleo wanted, but she is going on a self-coupling quasi-sabbatical–at the insistence of her boss–in the name of re-energizing herself and adding a new perspective to her column. The remote Irish island she’s booked is a far cry from London, but at least it’s a chance to hunker down in a luxury cabin and indulge in some quiet, solitary self-care while she figures out her next steps in her love life and her career.

Mac is also looking forward to some time to himself. With his life in Boston deteriorating in ways he can’t bring himself to acknowledge, his soul searching has brought him to the same Irish island in search of his roots and some clarity. Unfortunately, a mix-up with the bookings means both solitude seekers have reserved the same one-bedroom hideaway on exactly the same dates.


One Night on the Island is my first novel by Josie Silver and one I’m struggling to review. At first glance, we have two strangers, Cleo and Mac, who luck will have it, happen to book the same cabin on an isolated Island. Neither of them wants to give up their reservation and seeing that this is an isolated island with only a weekly ferry boat, the couple is forced to spend the night together.

I’d like to start with the elements that worked for me in this novel. Silver did an excellent job at painting this picturesque, remote island off the coast of Ireland. I liked the depiction of a tight-knit community giving me Ballykissangel vibes. Cleo and Mac were overall good characters. Silver provided the reader with a good back story on the characters. Although, at times, Cleo got on my nerves I still really liked her. Mac’s story, on the other hand, was a much more complicated one. He was the most complex of the characters and that leads to the reason I find it so hard to properly review this book.

It is difficult for me to go into all of the reasons why ultimately this book didn’t work for me without giving out spoilers. Suffice to say that I struggled with some of the moral/ethical themes in this book. I am the first to admit that I was quite uncomfortable with the idea of this romance but that is by no means a reflection on the quality of Silver’s writing.

As far as romance goes, this book is a good romantic story that will have most readers experience feelings of sadness, happiness, excitement, and even surprise. I highly recommend it to fans of this genre.

One Night on the Island is scheduled to be published on February 15, 2022. I want to thank Ballantine Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: Kindle edition
Published: February 15, 2022
ASIN:B0991XG4TY
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Ballantine Books, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Romance

The Couple On Maple Drive by Sam Carrington

57652944Have you heard about the couple on Maple Drive?
Isla barely leaves the house after her brutal mugging. Her boyfriend Zach moved in with her after the attack. To look after her, but something else has happened now. Right on their doorstep.
I don’t want to say that someone’s out to get her…
I just hope they find out the truth before it’s too late.


The Couple On Maple Drive follows the story of Isla who has been suffering from PTSD and retroactive amnesia since being brutally mugged. Her dedicated boyfriend, Zach, moves in to help take care of her and soon Isla starts having flashes of memories from the night she was mugged. Determined to figure out what happened, Isla starts her investigation.

This is the first book I read by Sam Carrington and I was not very impressed. The narrative style alternates between Isla’s POV, her boyfriend Zach’s POV, and the transcript of a true-crime podcast, Christie’s Crime Addicts. This book managed to be a solid 2 ½ stars and I am sorry to say that even with all of the red herrings, I had the killer figured out by 20% of the book. I still managed to finish the book in hopes of a little redemption but as with any thriller, the moment you figure out the culprit there is not much you can do to carry on the story.

The Couple On Maple Drive is scheduled to be published on December 9, 2021. I want to thank Avon Books UK and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: Kindle edition
Published: December 9, 2021 by Avon Books UK
ASIN:000843638X
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Avon Books UK, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 2 ½ stars
Genre: Mystery, thriller

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

death-jane-lawrencePractical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town.Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him. By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to.


The Death of Jane Lawrence is a gothic/horror novel very much in the style of The Haunting of Hill House, Crimson Peak, and Rebecca. I have to admit that although I loved those stories, I was not very impressed with the beginning of this novel. Jane Shoringfield is this logical accountant who reaches a point in her life where  she sees the need for marriage. Not necessarily for the romantic aspect of it, but for convenience. She sets her sight on recluse, albeit good-looking, Dr. Augustine Lawrence. After convincing him that the marriage would be beneficial to both of them, they get married with the condition that she is never to set foot in Lindrige Hall, Lawrence’s family manor.

Needless to say, after a series of “unfortunate events” Jane finds herself at the entrance of Lindrige Hall, and instead of finding her dashing, and sharp new husband, she finds a weak and paranoid man who believes Jane is nothing more than an apparition and hallucination. 

From that point, we embark on the more gothic portion of the novel and the mysteries that surround Augustine and his manor. At about 50% of the book, the story takes a turn, and elements of the supernatural and the metaphysical come into play. 

I have to admit that I came into this story knowing this was primarily a horror/gothic/ghost story. What I initially thought set this story apart was the use of logic and the paranormal together. So when you take this novel for what it is, it’s certainly an interesting read, especially during the Halloween season.

The reason I couldn’t give it more than 3-stars was the fact that at times I felt Starling was trying too hard. This novel felt as if it wanted to be so many things at once and in the end, failed miserably. In terms of character development, there was none. All the characters were pretty 2-dimensional, but the novel is pretty gory with strong elements of the macabre which suits the genre.

Possible triggers include descriptions of miscarriage/infant death which may be a sensitive topic for some readers.

The Death Of Jane Lawrence is scheduled to be published on October 5, 2021. I want to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

Format: Kindle edition, 352 pages
Published: October 5th 2021 by St. Martin’s Press
ASIN: B08R2JKC2V
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Horror/Gothic

Murder By Page One by Olivia Matthews

Murder by page 1Marvey, a librarian, has moved from Brooklyn to a quirky small town in Georgia. When she’s not at the library organizing events for readers, she’s handcrafting book-themed jewelry and looking after her cranky cat. At times, her new life in the South still feels strange…and that’s before the discovery of the dead body in the bookstore.

After one of her friends becomes a suspect, Marvey sets out to solve the murder mystery. She even convinces Spence, the wealthy and charming newspaper owner, to help. With his ties to the community, her talents for research, and her fellow librarians’ knowledge, Marvey pursues the truth. But as she gets closer to it, could she be facing a deadly plot twist?


Murder By Page One is the first book in the Peach Coast Mystery series. This is a nice, light-hearted cozy mystery. As with most first books in a series, there are a lot of characters introduced and not enough time to explore each character in depth.
We have Marcella Harris, aka “Marvey” who has recently moved from Brooklyn to a small town in Georgia to work as a book promoter at a local library. She soon stumbles into a dead body and when her bestie gets incriminated, Marvey sets out to solve the murder.
This book has all the great elements of a cozy mystery featuring the love of books/library, cats, jewelry making, and small-town drama. Fans of the genre will certainly enjoy it.
Murder by Page One is scheduled to be published on March 23, 2021. I want to thank Hallmark Publishing and NetGalley for providing me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Format: Kindle edition
Published: March 23, 2021 by Hallmark Publishing
ASIN:1952210135
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Hallmark Publishing, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Mystery, Cozy-mystery

The Nesting by C. J. Cooke

The nesting Architect Tom Faraday is determined to finish the high-concept, environmentally friendly home he’s building in Norway – in the same place where he lost his wife, Aurelia, to suicide. It was their dream house, and he wants to honor her with it. Lexi Ellis takes a job as his nanny and immediately falls in love with his two young daughters, especially Gaia. But something feels off in the isolated house nestled in the forest along the fjord. Lexi sees mysterious muddy footprints inside the home. Aurelia’s diary appears in Lexi’s room one day. And Gaia keeps telling her about seeing the terrifying Sad Lady…
Soon Lexi suspects that Aurelia didn’t kill herself and that they are all in danger from something far more sinister lurking around them.


The Nesting is a novel that at first resembles Ruth Ware’s The Turn of The Key, but if you stick to it you’ll soon be in for a big surprise.  Some of the highlights of this book include Cooke’s ability to build a suspenseful, gothic novel. The Nordic folklore sprinkled in the story was certainly a plus. The themes of ecology and preservation were also extremely appealing to me, as well as the descriptions of Norway’s nature and landscape.

Unfortunately, this novel was the case of too many story lines that just were not well put together at the end. The story is told by an unreliable narrator, Sophie (aka Lexi), alternating with Aurelia’s pov and diary entries. Halfway through the book, the story takes a turn and slows down significantly.

Although this book started somewhat interesting, the excessive number of plot holes and the slow pace of the book had me struggling to finish it. I found the ending rushed and too convenient.

I want to thank HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: Kindle edition
Published: September 29, 2020 by HarperCollins
ASIN: B0818ZX2NY
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, HarperCollins, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 2 ½ stars
Genre: Mystery, thriller

The Little Bookshop of MURDER by Maggie Blackburn

Summer Merriweather’s career as a Shakespeare professor hangs by a bookbinder’s thread. Academic life at her Virginia university is a viper’s pit, so Summer spends her summer in England, researching a scholarly paper that, with any luck, will finally get her published, impress the Dean, and save her job. But her English idyll ends when her mother, Hildy, shuffles off her mortal coil from an apparent heart attack. Returning to Brigid’s Island, NC, for the funeral, Summer is impatient to settle the estate, sell her mom’s embarrassingly romance-themed bookstore, Beach Reads, and go home. But as she drops by Beach Reads, Summer finds threatening notes addressed to Hildy: “Sell the bookstore or die.” Clearly, something is rotten on Brigid’s Island. What method is behind the madness? Was Hildy murdered?


Little Bookshop of Murder is the first book in a new series by Maggie Blackburn. The story follows Summer Merriweather (no kidding!) as she returns to a small island off the coast of North Carolina after the death of her estranged mother. Upon arriving at Brigid’s Island, Summer finds her mother’s sudden death a little suspicious, so with the help of her aunt Agatha, they start an investigation of their own.

I like to start my reviews by pointing out the positives in a book. This book has all the right elements for a sweet cozy mystery. An excellent (although not novel) premise, a lovely cover, and who can resist books about cute bookstores? So, you are probably wondering why I gave such a dismal rating?

The first issue I had with this book was the fact that I could not relate to nor like Summer. It could be because this is book number one, and the author is rushing to introduce all the main players and somehow forgot to elaborate on her main character. But Summer is just simply put the flattest and most unsympathetic character in this book. Here we have a woman whose mother just died. She spends the entire book reminding us of how hard it is that her mother is dead, however, very little–if any, emotion is elicited from the pages. The reader does not get a feeling that this character is missing her dead mother, nor that she even truly cared about her mother. To make matters worse in the likeability rating, we get information early on in the story that Summer left some poor chap standing in the altar, but very little explanation as to why.

So, after you decide you are just going to ignore the poorly written main character and plow through the rest of the book, what you end up with is a very so-so mystery and a complete feeling of disappointment.

On a more optimistic note, this book is number one in a series, and the author has plenty of chances to make it up in the subsequent installments.

Little Bookshop of Murder is scheduled to be published on July 7th, 2020. I want to thank Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: Kindle edition
Published: July 7th, 2020 by Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B0818ZX2NY
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 2 ½ stars
Genre: Mystery, Cozy-mystery

The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife by Liese Sherwood-Fabre

52402618. sy475

Before Sherlock Holmes became the world’s greatest consulting detective…
A Scandal rocked the Holmes family. A cache of documents has been recently discovered detailing, in Sherlock’s own hand, his early forays into a criminal investigation. With The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife, the game begins as Sherlock faces his first case.
Only weeks into his first year at Eton, Sherlock’s father calls him and his brother back to Underbyrne, the ancestral estate. The village midwife has been found with a pitchfork in her back in the estate’s garden, and Mrs. Holmes has been accused of the murder. Can Sherlock find the true killer in time to save her from the gallows?


The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife is narrated in the first person by a young teenager we know as Sherlock Holmes. If an author takes another author’s beloved character to make a spin-off, is that considered a ding in creativity? The jury is still out, in my opinion. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it just doesn’t.

In the case of this book, the story starts with Sherlock, a young teenager, studying at the prestigious Eton College when he learns that his mother has been accused of murdering the village midwife. Holmes and his brother Mycroft return home, and it’s now up to young Holmes, to help prove his mother’s innocence.

Some things worked well in this book. Sherwood-Fabre captured the beautiful, witty essence of Sherlock Holmes and his complicated relationship with his brother Mycroft. Fans of Conan Doyle’s books will quickly recognize Holmes’s sharp, logical mind even at a young age. The mystery, however, left much to be desired. The story starts strong, and somehow the mystery becomes too predictable, and the ending fails to yield the sort of excitement you get with Doyle’s books.

I still recommend this book for both fans of Sherlock Holmes and fans of this genre. This book is volume one in a series, so there is hope that the stories will develop more with future books

The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife is scheduled to be published on June 30th, 2020. I want to thank BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: Kindle edition, 344 pages
Published: June 30th, 2020 by Little Elm Press
ASIN: B085WB5GGP
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, BooksGoSocial, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Mystery

Forgotten Bones by Vivian Barz

42931506When small-town police officers discover the grave of a young boy, they’re quick to pin the crime on a convicted felon who lives nearby. But when it comes to murder, Officer Susan Marlan never trusts a simple explanation, so she’s just getting started. Meanwhile, college professor Eric Evans hallucinates a young boy in overalls: a symptom of his schizophrenia—or so he thinks. But when more bodies turn up, Eric has more visions, and they mirror details of the murder case. As the investigation continues, the police stick with their original conclusion, but Susan’s instincts tell her something is off. The higher-ups keep stonewalling her, and the FBI’s closing in. Desperate for answers, Susan goes rogue and turns to Eric for help. Together they take an unorthodox approach to the case as the evidence keeps getting stranger. With Eric’s hallucinations intensifying and the body count rising, can the pair separate truth from illusion long enough to catch a monster?


Forgotten Bones is not your average crime thriller, and I will go over why. The premise of the book is excellent. Susan, a young detective upon responding to a car accident scene, comes across the body of a young child. Police quickly attributes the crime to a local pedophile. However, Susan is suspicious that there is more to the story and decides to embark on an investigation on her own. Parallel to Susan’s story we meet Eric, a geology professor going through a turbulent divorce who moves to California to get away from his ex-wife who dumped him for his brother.

Eric settles in at the new college and town in an attempt to rebuild his life. Eric is a known schizophrenic, and although he’s entirely compliant to his medication regime, he starts to worry that his illness is getting worse as he starts to have visions of a little boy in overalls. Eric and Susan’s paths will cross, and together, they will fight to discover the truth regarding the death of this little kid.

Barz alternates chapters between Susan’s story and Eric’s story. A technique that for most of the time, tends to chop the flow of the story. The reason this book is not your typical crime/mystery book is the fact that there are no red herrings. What you see, or better yet, who you suspect all along, is in fact, the culprit(s).

By the time I got to sixty percent of the book and had the mystery pretty much figured out, there was very little interest in the rest of the story. I honestly do not understand the author’s intention with making the answers to this crime so visible right off the bat. I kept hoping that the story was going to turn out a bit like a Scooby-Doo cartoon where the obviously mean, greedy, and weird were innocent, and the super lovely characters turn out to be the guilty ones.

Unfortunately, no! This novel was written with the intent to make the guilty quite evident from the start. The pitfall, however, is that once the reader has the mystery figured out there’s very little substance to carry on the rest of the book.

Some important trigger warnings to mention are pedophilia (although not explicit), child abuse, and neglect.

Forgotten Bones is scheduled to be published on August 1, 2019. I would like to thank Thomas and Mercer publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: e-ARC, Kindle 298 pages
Published: Expected publication August 1st, 2019 by Thomas and Mercer
ASIN: B07KF46YBG
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Thomas and Mercer, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Crime, Suspense, Mystery

 

 

Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale

42303291Lifestyle journalist Ella Skye remembers every celebrity she interviewed, every politician she charmed between the sheets and every socialite who eyed her with envy. The chance meeting with her husband, Damien; their rapid free fall into love; and their low-key, intimate wedding are all locked in her memory. But what she can’t remember is the tragic car accident that ripped her unborn child from her. Ella can’t even recall being pregnant. Hoping to find the memories of a lost pregnancy that’s left her husband devastated and their home empty, Ella begins delving into her past when she’s assigned an exclusive story about Nathan Donovan, a retired celebrity adventurer who seems to know more about her than she does him. To unravel the mystery of her selective memory loss, Ella follows Nathan from the snowcapped Sierra Nevada to the frozen slopes of southeast Alaska. There she discovers the people she trusts most aren’t the only ones keeping secrets from her—she’s hiding them from herself. Ella quickly learns that some truths are best left forgotten.


Ella Skye is a journalist who wakes up in a hospital with no recollection of her recent past, including the unborn baby she was carrying and lost during a tragic car accident. Resolved to understand the reasons behind her selective amnesia, Ella embarks on a journey through her past and events leading up to the fatal accident.

Last Summer is my first novel by Kerry Lonsdale, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure about it going in. I felt the premise of the book was a bit over the top, and honestly, I was getting tired of this book genre. Much to my surprise, this book turned out to be a great page-turner that I just couldn’t put it down. I liked the characters, and I felt the dialogue was dynamic and well-paced. The plot was intriguing and full of twists and turns. I don’t want to give too much away as this book has an ending you won’t see coming.

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


Format: e-ARC, Kindle 297 pages
Published: Expected publication July 9th, 2019 by Lake Union Publishing
ASIN: B07HNSYCGG
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Lake Union Publishing, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Chick-lit, Suspense

 

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