Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Another One Bites the Crust: A Bakeshop Mystery by Ellie Alexander

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Torte―the beloved small-town bakeshop run by Jules Capshaw―is set to hit the stage. But who would have guessed that murder would makes a surprise appearance?

It’s the role of a lifetime for Jules. The Shakespeare Festival has returned to Ashland, Oregon, for the season and Torte has been cast as the supplier of Elizabethan-era treats for the main event. But on the eve of opening night, a brawl between Jules’s friend Lance, the artistic director, and a strapping young thespian named Anthony almost brings down the house. . .and the next morning, Anthony is dead. Jules knows that Lance loves his drama―and his just desserts―but she also knows that murder is way off-script for him. Now it’s up to Jules to cut through a bevy of backstage betrayals and catty co-stars who all have their own secrets―before the curtain drops on someone else. . .

my thoughts:

I am seriously loving cozy mysteries this winter - they are my jam! I especially love when I'm reading a series - the familiar characters and setting always make for a fun read.  So, I was super excited when I received a copy of Ellie Alexander's latest book, Another One Bites the Crust, from her popular series, A Bakeshop Mystery.  Its the seventh book in the series and I think it may just be my favorite one.

The Shakespeare Festival is in town and Jules' bakeshop, Torte, will be providing the yummy treats - get ready for some mouthwatering descriptions of delectable desserts.  Reading about all that delicious food is one of the highlights of these books - I just love that the recipes are included, too.  Jules is a foodie and its obvious how much she enjoys her bakery.  Of course, she is super busy getting ready for the festival and dealing with the renovations on her basement - she's planning on expanding her shop even more.  So, she's a bit surprised to say the least when she notices how weird her BFF, Lance, is behaving.  He's directing the play at the festival - Antony and Cleopatra - but he's not happy with the actor playing Antony.  In fact, the two get into a huge fight on the eve of opening night - DRAMA! Unfortunately for Lance, the actor is found dead the next morning and he is considered to be the "prime suspect" - ack!! Jules knows her friend is innocent and sets out to find the real killer.  Talk about a suspense-filled mystery! I just loved learning more about Jules and her BFF; reading about all of the craziness behind the scenes of the Shakespeare Fetival; and trying to figure out whodunit.  This book is a terrific addition to the series - the characters seem to grow and develop more and you can't help but fall even more in love with Ashland, Oregon.  I absolutely LOVED Another One Bites the Crust.  I would happily recommend it to fans of the series and anyone looking for a new cozy mystery to get lost in - you will LOVE this book!!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

(Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

my thoughts:

What a gripping story! I seriously could not stop reading it. I found myself flipping pages long after midnight - I just had to find out who was lying.  Of course they all were, but why, and who was "the good liar"?

This is the story of Cecily, Kate, and Franny - three women whose lives were forever changed following an explosion that destroyed a Chicago building one year ago.  Cecily lost her husband and best friend; Kate fled from Chicago that very day; and Franny lost her birth mother, a woman she had been searching for.  Now Cecily and Franny are being filmed for a documentary about the aftermath of the explosion - their lies and secrets being teased out slowly by the filmmaker, Teo.  Kate is a nanny in Canada, hiding from her past and her self.  All three women's lives are about to intersect in ways they would never have imagined.  Told from alternating points of view, we get to know each woman and learn about their lives, relationships, and truths surrounding the explosion.  Their stories will shock and awe. And that is all I will say about the story  - its just so good and I don't want to give away any details.  Definitely check it out!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, January 12, 2018

My Friday Five...

1.  Flu.  I finally feel better! Its only taken two weeks to get better, but what does that matter, right?  No more coughing, fever, stuffy nose, etc. - Woo hoo!

2.  De-clutter.  I am in the midst of cleaning out my desk and bookshelves - OMG, why do have so many books! My desk is a nightmare. So many piles of papers, notebooks, pens, paperclips, folders, etc. I have no room to write - ack! I will be shredding papers all weekend long.  As for my bookshelves, they are overstuffed with books and its giving me a headache just looking at them. Plus, I keep bumping into the books that stick out (which is all of them!).  I need to get rid of some books or invest in more bookshelves...hmm.........

3.  Books.  Here are some mini-reviews:

I should have DNFed this one.  It started out weak and ended with a whimper.  Such a disappointing read.  This is a story about a young mom who discovers that her husband's family is beyond strange, but that her husband is a complete stranger.  Say what?  Yep, turns out the man she married is in love with his teen-aged niece - Yikes!  Secrets, infidelities, jealousies, and small town dramas erupt throughout this convoluted story about family, love, and loss.  The characters are awful and make caring about them impossible, which means you don't care to find out what will happen to them. All in all, a predictable story that goes nowhere.

A fun and quick read that made for the perfect companion on a rainy day.  Then again, who doesn't love to read a mystery/suspense thriller when they are sick with the flu, right? I know I enjoyed reading about Louise and her latest friend request on FB.  Turns out the "friend" is someone who died when Louise was in high school.  And Louise may or may not have had a hand in the friend's death.  Crazy! Seems that Louise was not a nice teenager - she was a teen bully!  She wanted to fit in with her friends, so she bullied the new girl and played an awful prank on her at the school dance - the same school dance that the girl died at. Ack!!  Fast forward to present day, Louise is now getting messages regarding that "friend" - the horror, the horror! Someone is torturing her about the past and she is starting to freak out!  And that is all I will say.  The story is predictable, but a total treat to read. Its fast-paced, filled with twists and turns, and has some pretty surprising elements.  All in all, I liked Friend Request.  

I debated not reading this one, because its been getting so many rave reviews - and, I tend not to like the "It" book of the moment.  Well, I should have gone with my gut and skipped this one.  The Last Mrs. Parrish is beyond predictable, which makes for a rather lackluster read - ugh! So disappointing. In fact, I can't figure out why everyone seems to love it so much - what did I miss?  This is the story of a woman who basically finagles her way into a rich couple's life in order to usurp the wife.  Except, surprise, the wife figured out what was happening and instead of ousting her nemesis decided to help her.  Of course the nemesis has no idea and believes that she has destroyed the wife's life.  Turns out she is in for an even bigger surprise once she starts her married life to Mr. Right.  Seems that the "Last Mrs. Parrish" may be the real winner in the end.  Sounds like a good story, right? Well it wasn't.  Too cliched, too boring, and too predictable = bad read.

I loved Luckiest Girl Alive, so I was really excited to read Knoll's latest book. Well, I wish I hadn't. Talk about a dud.  A reality show about millennials that turns dark when one of the stars dies.  Told through flashbacks, we get to find out what happened, why it happened, and whodunit.  Except, the more you read, the less you care about any of the characters - they are all liars, cheaters, and backstabbers.  Too many secrets to keep track of and too many obvious story lines to wade through.  This book was annoying, tiresome, and lame.  I should have DNFed it.

I will always read Kinsella, even when the story is not so good.  I can't help it, I love her Shopaholic series so much that I will read anything she writes.  So, I picked up her latest book and found myself underwhelmed by its lackluster drama.  This is the story of Sylvie and Dan - a married couple who find out that they are going to live very long lives.  Too long apparently - seems that decades of marriage is a frightening thought.  The same person, year after year - ack!  Of course, that is their initial reaction and then they realize that they do love each other and they will definitely get through this together.  Sylvie decides they should plan surprises for each other - to keep their marriage from falling into dullsville.  Except, all of the surprises don't turn out that great.  And, Dan is being rather secretive and distant lately. Hmm...seems like he's texting his ex-girlfriend, too.  What' s Sylvie to do?  In typical Kinsella fashion, mixed messages are sent and drama is piled on top of drama with unexpected revelations.  All in all, a mixed bag of a read.

What a waste of a BOTM book! Ugh! Such an awful read. Now, I normally love Sarah Pekkanen's novels, but this one was just not up to scratch.  I know she wrote the book with another author, but regardless, it just wasn't good.  I really wish I had DNFed it.  The story was ridiculous with its revelations  - too predictable!  I found the "wife" to be horribly dull and her story to be flat.  Plus, the abusive husband, rich lifestyle, naive wife, mistress, etc. - too many cliches to count. I would not recommend this book.

4.  TV.  The only show I'm watching is the new season of The X-Files. I can't resist Mulder and Scully - Trust No One.  I tried watching the Housewives, but they are so boring, so I might just skip this season.  I did watch the new Aurora Teagarden movie on Hallmark last Sunday - it was sooo good!! I love trying to figuring out whodunit alongside Ro and her Murders Club members. Can't wait for the next movie!

5.  Music.  I'm listening to the Stranger Things soundtrack, because its all 80s music and who doesn't love Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper and Peter Gabriel?

And now, I'm off to continue culling my books. Happy reading!!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Just Between Us: A Novel by Rebecca Drake

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Alison, Julie, Sarah, and Heather.  Four friends living the suburban ideal.  Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy.  They're as beautiful as their houses.  But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather's wrist.  She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage.  As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband.  Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that Heather's been killed.  But when that call finally comes, it's not Heather who's dead.  In a moment they'll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they'll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. 

my thoughts:

I absolutely love books about friendships, because they are always chock full of drama, secrets, and betrayal. So, I just knew that I was in for a treat when I received a copy of Rebecca Drake's latest book, Just Between Us.  A story about four friends keeping a secret that you just know is going to tear them apart - who could resist that?!

Alison, Sarah, Julie, and Heather are BFFs - or as close to besties as one can get in a foursome.  The group love to meet up for coffee after dropping off their kids at school - its their time to catch up, gossip, and vent with one another about work, spouses, and life in general.  One day, Alison notices a bruise on Heather and is quick to believe that her friend is getting abused by her husband.  However, Julie and Sarah think that Alison is jumping to conclusions and tell her to drop it.  Of course, another bruise appears and soon Julie and Sarah are beginning to pay attention to Heather's behavior and relationship with her husband.  The three friends decide to confront Heather and offer their help to her.  Heather denies anything is happening at first, but she eventually confides that her husband is beating her.  She tells her friends that she refuses to leave her marriage and begs them to keep her secret.  The trio are confused, angry, shocked, and stressed out over this news.  They want to help, but it seems their friend doesn't want any help.  And then, one night, Alison gets a phone call that will change all of their lives forever more.  Ack!!! Yep, turns out that someone has been shot in self defense and Heather will be needing her friends' help after all. Talk about testing the boundaries of friendship!

As the story unfolds, secrets are revealed that will shock and devastate friendships.  The past refuses to stay hidden.  Marriages are tested.  People are never who they seem to be.  And sometimes pretending a bruise is just a bruise is probably a good idea.  Just Between Us is a delicious read that will keep you turning pages til the wee hours of the morning. I absolutely LOVED getting to know these women and their stories.  I loved the twists and turns within their friendships that made for drama, drama, drama.  And I loved finding out the truth about Heather and her husband.  This is one book that I will happily recommend to fans of Rebecca Drake and to anyone looking for their next great read!!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Chalk Man: A Novel by C. J. Tudor

(Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

A riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut that weaves a mystery about a childhood game gone dangerously awry, and will keep readers guessing right up to the shocking ending

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.

That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

my thoughts:

What a thrilling read! I LOVED The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor.  Such a captivating story!

Its 2016 and Eddie has just received a "blast from the past" in the form of  a letter with the drawing of a chalk man on it.  Seems that someone wants to remind him that the past can't stay buried forever.  Creepy, eh?  Well, it seems that growing up in the 80s meant being so bored out of your skull that you decide to draw chalk figures.  Yep, Eddie and his gang use a bucket of chalk to communicate with one another. Each kid has their own color and each symbol means something different. Its a secret way to tell one another when its time to meet up to hang out or where they want to meet up at.  Its a pretty cool idea, until their secret form of communication gets discovered by the town bully.  Seems that his little brother (who happens to be a part of Eddie's crew) couldn't keep his mouth shut and told him all about the chalk drawings.  Let's just say Eddie has an unforgettable and traumatizing day at the park as a result.  Unfortunately, that's not the only horrifying thing that happens that summer in 1986.  Fast forward to 2016 and Eddie is thrown back into his past with mini-reunions, petty squabbles, unresolved issues, dark secrets, and the death of a friend.  So much to unravel and uncover in this suspense-filled mystery - I couldn't help but fall in deep.

I would happily recommend The Chalk Man to fans of mystery-thrillers and anyone looking for their next great read.   

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.