Sunday, February 14, 2021

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder

Book #27 in the Hannah Swenson series and man.... it just needs to stop. Two stars for me.


*I received a free copy of this novel from NetGalley and Kensington for my honest review.*

It's Easter in Lake Eden and Hannah has to supply everyone with Easter desserts. And solve a murder with Andrea as the prime suspect. 

I'm not sure why I keep reading this series. There is so much 'fluff' in the writing and it's hard not to end up just skimming to get the gist and get to the end to be done with it. I'm not sure when the 'internal monologues' in Hannah's head started becoming to prominent in the books, but it's a little ridiculous with how much it is used. The extra bits in the recipes become a little condescending to me - I can follow a recipe without having every bit overexplained and it seems to have gotten worse on the recipes I did skim through.

And really, the police force needs Hannah to investigate a murder? And it's not the first time that Mike has said that he needs her help, but she makes it out like it's the first time. And now she is living at Norman's house permanently and they argue about who will get up at 4AM and make breakfast? 

One good thing that came out of this book is a recipe for Hot Chocolate cookies and I am excited to make them. The books have started to lean more towards the recipes and everyone trying out new recipes and drinking massive amounts of coffee everyday. Maybe Hannah is dehydrated and should switch to water in the afternoon? I know that this is a very popular series and some of the books have been made into Hallmark movies. I just feel like there needs to be some new life breathed into them before Hannah is the one dead in her cookie shop.

Finlay Donovan is Killing It

 Another book from NetGalley and I absolutely cannot recommend it enough!! Five stars!!

*Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Minotaur Books for the free copy for my honest review.*

Finlay Donovan is a mess - recently divorced from a sleazeball husband and struggling to get herself together. Even though he is her ex, Steven seems to be running Finlay's life - firing her babysitter and basically doing everything he can to get custody of their 2 kids - and Finlay is just trying to keep it together and keep from having to pay back the latest advance on her book that is past due. When Finlay meets with her agent in a crowded Panera and discusses the murder in the book she is supposed to be writing, a neighboring diner mistakes her for a contract killer and hires Finlay to off her husband.

I felt like I could totally relate to Finlay except for the ex-husband and the kids. Knowing that someone is a sleazebag and having to kiss their behind anyway in order to keep them happy happens with everyone, but Steven seems to take pleasure in pushing Finlay around and holding money over her head. I loved it when Vero, the baby sitter stepped in and made a place for herself in Finlay's house and life. I really liked their chemistry and how supportive Vero is of Finlay and pushes her into doing things that maybe she wouldn't have done on her own.

I don't want to give too much away, but I loved this book and think that everyone should read it. It is funny and witty and such a unique storyline to me! Finlay gets herself into so many situations that I thought - well, that's it for her - and then things turn and she comes out just fine. I can't wait to read the next one!!

Now seriously - go get a copy and dive right in!!

Here Comes the Body and How to Raise an Elephant

 A couple of cozy mysteries - a new series and a favorite long time running series.

Mia's father is part of the Family in Queens, NYC and has just started managing a newly acquired event center. Mia has moved back to Queens from Florida, where her husband is presumed dead and she was a suspect, and she is going to help run the event center with her father while he tries to work a clean business away from the mob's direct control. Once a body is found during a couple of events, it is clear that the local police are going to try and pin the murder on Mia's father due to his ties to the mob.

I really enjoyed this book. The first in a new cozy mystery series and I felt like it was very smart and well written and the mystery was laid out quite well. A lot of room for the characters to grow over the series. And quite a few side stories that will add to the series as well - Mia lives with her Grandmother on a street with many other Italian families and traditions; moving back home and running into old friends and enemies; wanting to avoid local journalists; a realtor trying to relocate all of the older generations out of the street so she can make a profit on selling to younger people.... The list goes on and on and I can't wait to read the next in the series that is out next week! 

Five stars for me.

I really enjoy the laid back atmosphere of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series and I wish I could say the same goes for the audio version of this installment.

The basics of the novel are the same as the rest - tea is had by all, a trip to the orphan farm happens, Mma Makutsi increases her rank in the detective agency and rankles Charlie for just being - but there is a new narrator for this book and she is awful. The way she speaks Grace's and Charlie's parts are horrible. I almost stopped listening and switched to a different version, but I did make it through. I will know not to listen to the next book if the narrator is the same as this one.

Charlie rescues a baby elephant whose mother was killed by poachers and Mma Ramotswe and MR. JLB Mataconi and everyone else try to help the elephant without getting Charlie into trouble. And a distant relative asks Mma Ramotswe for money.

The story was good. The narrator was bad. Three stars for me - mostly due to the narrator.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Review - One to Watch

 Another rom com and I really enjoyed this one! I finished it last night and just had to write my review today!

Oh My Gah!!!! This book was everything!!!

It is Bachelorette with a plus size girl! It is everything that will never happen in real life!

Bea is a plus-size fashion blogger who has watched the latest season of Main Squeeze and, while intoxicated (of course!), she writes a scathing review that gets noticed by the showrunner. Bea plans on doing the show strictly to prove to the nation that plus-sized women are beautiful. But even best laid plans go awry.

As a plus size gal myself, I could understand everything that Bea went through on her journey with the show and I really connected with Bea through her struggles with meeting the men and trusting her instincts.

The attention to detail in the writing was fantastic! The author hit on every single episode in the season. There was no glossing over any episode to shorten the book and I loved that! I loved the text messaging and podcast narrations that were written into the story. The commercials for the podcast were absolutely amazing and I looked forward to each portion after the episodes. And the Main Squeeze fantasy league chat was quite humorous.

Way to go, Kate Stayman-London! I'm looking forward to your next novel already! Five stars!!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Review - The Happy Ever After Playlist and Paris is Always a Good Idea

 A couple of Rom Coms....

Sloane is still mourning the loss of her fiancé after 2 years. After she rescues a dog running in the middle of a busy road, she starts living for the dog and reclaiming her life. When the messages and texts she leaves for the owner go unanswered for 2 weeks, she is shocked to get a call from Jason, the dog's owner wanting the dog back. They begin a journey that neither of them expect.

While this is a rom-com novel, it is also a story about reclaiming your life after a huge loss and dealing with major depression. I like how the dog fit into the story. I enjoyed how it was from Sloane's and Jason's POV. The banter was very witty and the story moved at a nice pace. I'm looking forward to reading more from Abby Jimenez.

Four stars for me.

Chelsea took a gap year 7 years ago through Europe that was cut short when her mother got sick and passed away. Since then, Chelsea has thrown herself into her work fundraising for a cancer non-profit. When her dad announces he is getting married to a woman he barely knows, Chelsea flips out and has a very early mid-life crisis that sends her back to her old haunts in Europe trying to find herself.

If you can get past the first few chapters of depressed Chelsea, the book does turn around and you will get the witty banter and hilarious scenarios that I feel Jenn McKinlay is known for in her cozy mystery series. The time in Ireland seems a great way for Chelsea to start to unwind a bit. And the time in Paris is mesmerizing as she has a couple of unimaginable dates. Overall, quite a lovely rom com!

Four stars for me.