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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The Sunday Post

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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. A post to recap the past week, and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog…

There goes another crazy week. Lots of books to read, trying to plan my medical mission trip to Mexico, and just trying to finish this semester at the college. I’m happy to say that overall I got to read some pretty awesome books this past week. Last Tuesday I started the week by reviewing Our House by Louise Candlish, on Thursday I reviewed Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron and finished the week with the review of The Kiss Quotient By Helen Hoang.

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In case you missed it, here are last week’s book reviews:

Our House by Louise Candlish

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Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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  • Better Off Read by Nora Page

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  • Still Lives by Maria Hummel

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  • Boy of Blood by Megan O’Russell

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So, that’s my plan for this upcoming week. How about you? What have you read this past week? 🙂

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan.

Review

Stella loves math, she works as an econometrician (someone who uses statistics and calculus to help formulate recommendations to customers after they make a purchase online) has Asperger’s, is thirty years old, hates french kissing, and hates sex. It doesn’t help that her family is pressuring her to settle down and start having kids. So, in the most rational way she decides that in order for her to find the right person and settle down she needs to be good at sex and kissing. And just like that, she decides to hire a professional.

The Kiss Quotient is a delightful story that reads very much like a male version of “Pretty Woman”. What is really appealing about this book is the fact that the author, Helen Huong, also suffers from Asperger’s and has a real insight into the mind of people, especially adult women, who suffer from this syndrome. The result is that Stella is a character that never seems fake or impossible. Huong gives us a glimpse of what goes on in the mind of someone who suffers from Asperger’s, and by doing that she creates a character that jumps out of the page–someone you can relate to even if you don’t have the same condition.

This is really a delightful book and a pleasant read packed with lots of romance, humor and great sex. This is a sizzling romance that won’t disappoint fans of the genre.

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


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Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron

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It’s Mardi Gras season on the bayou, which means parades, pageantry, and gumbo galore. But when a flood upends life in the tiny town of Pelican, Louisiana—and deposits a body of a stranger behind the Crozat Plantation B&B—the celebration takes a decidedly dark turn. The citizens of Pelican are ready to Laissez les bon temps rouler—but there’s beaucoup bad blood on hand this Mardi Gras. Maggie Crozat is determined to give the stranger a name and find out why he was murdered. 

Review

The story starts with a body that turns up behind the Crozat Plantation B&B at the same time that the town is preparing for their Mardi Gras celebrations and beauty pageant. Maggie Crozat’s grandmother usually deals with the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen pageant, but now she is sick in the hospital and left it to Maggie to coordinate the event.

Maggie feels overwhelmed. She is not really a fan of beauty pageants and is determined to find out the identity of the body that turned up behind her family’s plantation. So, she starts a little investigation of her own. Her relationship with Bo, the official cop in Pelican, is rocky, her father is busy trying to win the Gumbo cookoff and when things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse, one of the judges at the beauty pageant is also found dead. Now Maggie and Bo have to rush against time to find out if these two murders are connected.

What I think worked well in this novel was Byron’s wonderful characterization of the South. The descriptions of the people, the foods, the preparations for celebration–everything was so on point that it transported me back to Louisiana. I love New Orleans, and I really enjoyed learning more about that culture and the fact that although most people are familiar with the more over-the-top Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, smaller towns in Louisiana celebrate what’s called Courir de Mardi Gras–which translates to “Fat Tuesday Run.” I really appreciated all the research she put in writing this story and all the bonus recipes at the end of the book.

Mardi Gras Murder is book four of the Cajun Country Mystery series, but I was able to follow along fine–even though I haven’t read the other books in the series. This is a great cozy mystery! I read the entire book in one sitting, and I really enjoyed the ending.

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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Our House by Louise Candlish

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When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other.

Review

Imagine you come back from a vacation, and you find that someone has moved into your house, except that your house was not for sale. This is how Our House by Louise Candlish starts. We are introduced to Fionna Lawson, aka Fi and her horror when she enters her house to find another family moving in and all of her furniture gone. Her children are nowhere to be found, and neither is her husband, Bram.

The magic of this book was Candlish’s ability to take you on this ride with Fi as her life spirals out of control and the reader feels every bit of desperation that Fi feels. Is she insane? Is she dreaming? Is this some prank someone is pulling on her? The premise of the book is genius and you can’t help but keep on reading.

What I enjoyed about this book was how the story was told from Fi’s perspective via a recording of the podcast The Victim, tweets that people posted based on Fi’s recorded story, and Bram’s word document explaining what had happened. I think this was an interesting, although not the first author to do it, way to tell a story.

Unfortunately, I felt that the story dragged on and on towards the end. Although the ending was surprising, when it finally came it was not strong enough to pull the story through.

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

 

Stacking The Shelves

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Stacking The Shelves is hosted at Tynga’s Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

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This week started off really well for me. I received a very nice gift from a friend–an 1894’s edition of the Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I love old books. I love books period–especially physical books. Truth be told, books take up a lot of space and it’s not always feasible to have several printed books.

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When I moved from suburban Florida to downtown Chicago, I had to downsize and sell/donate most of my books. It nearly broke my heart and there’s not a day that I don’t miss my books. Over the years I have managed to re-stock some of my books and acquire some more for my ultimate goal of building a library at my house.

ARCs for Review

A Summer Scandal by Kat French (NetGalley)

Better Off Read by Nora Page (NetGalley)

Bleeding Darkness by Brenda Chapman (NetGalley)

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris (NetGalley)

Love, Lies, and Wedding cake (NetGalley)

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (First to Read)

 

Purchased

The Wings of the Dove by Henry James

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Library Loan

Once Upon a Prince by Rachael Hauck

Triptych by Karin Slaughter

 

How about you? Don’t be shy and let me know what you’ve added to your shelves. Happy reading! 🙂

Dead Pretty by David Mark

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One girl missing. One girl dead. A stunning new novel from one of Britain’s most original crime writers, Dead Pretty finds Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy and Detective Superintendent Trish Pharaoh grappling with vigilantes, unsolved murders, and a killer far too close to home.

Review

This book was initially a little confusing to me. It took me some time to get used to David Mark’s writing, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is book five of Detective Sargeant Aector McAvoy and not having read any of the previous books in the series might have contributed to my initial confusion. Once I got into the book, I just couldn’t put it down.

I love a good crime story, and this is a great one. The story is a bit disturbing with some pretty descriptive scenes, but overall this is a gritty and riveting story that would’ve probably received 5-stars had I read the other books. I highly recommend this one. David Mark got me hooked, and his other books just made it to my TBR list.

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


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The Burning by S.O. Esposito

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Alice Leininger seems to have the perfect life. She’s happily married, has two beautiful children, a close-knit group of friends, and a cause she cares deeply about. But beneath the surface, her world of safety and comfort is unraveling. The periods of lost time she’s kept secret—even from her husband—are happening more frequently. She certainly doesn’t remember leaving her Sarasota home at three-thirty in the morning to burn someone alive. Now she sits in a Florida state mental institution, awaiting judgment on whether she’s fit to stand trial on charges of murder and arson. While a psychologist works to help Alice face her past, her future depends on the answer to one question: How far did she go for justice?

Review

I really liked what Esposito has done with this novel. This is her first take at writing a psychological thriller, and she did not disappoint. Alice Leininger seems to have the perfect life. She is married to a loving husband, has two adorable kids, and volunteers with her friends at Project Freedom–a project determined to help women leave a life of prostitution and sex-trafficking behind to rejoin society.

The narrative is fairly fast-paced and suspenseful. Alice is a great and likable character. It’s not so easy to figure out if she is a victim or a villain, and Esposito keeps you guessing until the end. I liked how she handled such sensitive topic, and I enjoyed the almost feminist flavor of this book.

I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About The Author

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S.O. Esposito began her writing career as a cozy mystery author under her full name, Shannon Esposito. She has four books in the PET PSYCHIC SERIES (misterio press) & two books in the PAWS & POSE SERIES (Severn House). But to keep her muse happy, she’s ventured into darker territory with her suspense debut THE BURNING.

Website

Sherlock Homes: The Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

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When Sir Charles Baskerville is found suspiciously dead, his friend, Dr. James Mortimer asks Sherlock Holmes to look into the death. While the cause of death is determined to be a heart attack, Mortimer suspects foul play and fears that Sir Charles’s nephew and sole heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, may be in danger next. At the center of the investigation is the curse of the Baskervilles, which dates back to the time of the English Civil War. Supposedly the family’s ancestor, Hugo Baskerville, sold his soul to the devil, and the family has been haunted by a large spectral hound ever since. Because Sir Charles was found with a look of horror on his face when he died, appeared to be running away from something, and large paw prints had been found near his body, there is reason to believe that the “Hound” may have returned. The details of the case spark the interest of Sherlock and he agrees to take up the case. “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” is the third of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and is widely regarded as one of his best. This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper.

Review

This is by far my favorite book by Sherlock Holmes and a true tour de force. I absolutely love the gothic and eerie feeling of this book. The narrative is based on Watson’s letters and diary, and through Watson’s eye we witness the implied threat of the moor, the foggy and gloomy weather, and the spectral hound.

Doyle creates this gothic and supernatural atmosphere that seems to give explanation for all the terrifying things that are happening on the moors. And it is this very atmosphere of doom that makes this such a suspenseful book.

It is hard to believe that Doyle got tired of writing this wonderful character. This book is a classic. Hard to imagine a world with Agatha Christie or her beloved detective, Hercules Poirot, without the contribution that Doyle and Sherlock Holmes made to this genre.

This book is on my list in The Classics Club Challenge.

 


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The Sunday Post

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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. A post to recap the past week, and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog…

Wow! This week went by so fast that I didn’t realize the week was already ending. I didn’t have a gigantic book haul this past week because I was still trying to read all the books I had acquired the previous weeks.

Work was intense this week and I didn’t get much time to exercise, which is one of the items on my Habit Tracker. I started a bullet journal a couple of weeks ago and my habit tracker is a great tool to keep track of things I’m determined to do every day or every week.

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In case you missed it, here are last week’s book reviews:

The Circle Game By Tanya Nichols

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Secret, Lies, & Crawfish Pies by Abby L. Vandiver 

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

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  • Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

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  • Dead Pretty by David Mark

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  • The Burning by S.O. Esposito

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So, that’s my plan for this upcoming week. How about you? What have you read this past week? 🙂

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