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review 2018-08-15 02:58
Midnight Snacks Are Murder - Libby Klein

 

After the death of her husband, Poppy McAllister returns to Cape May, New Jersey to take care of her elderly, purple-haired Aunt Ginny and also help her operate a bed and breakfast.  Keeping watchful eyes on Aunt Ginny and her wild and crazy antics; overseeing the remodeling of the bed and breakfast with all its blunders; the unexpected visit from her meddling mother-in-law; being wooed by two men for her heart, Poppy has become a sensation baking Paleo sweet delicacies.

 

Aunt Ginny’s night time medication has a startling side effect which causes her to sleepwalk and break into the homes of her neighbors, help herself to a midnight snack and take a trophy from her nocturnal escapades.  When Poppy and Aunt Ginny think all is well in the neighborhood, Aunt Ginny has been accused and arrested for the murder of one of Cape May’s humanitarians.

 

I have never snickered and laughed out loud so much while reading a book.  I enjoyed every page in this cozy mystery. Aunt Ginny’s shenanigans are hilarious and never-ending.  Her humor jumps off the pages. She reminds me of the “Golden Girls” Sophia with purple hair. What I enjoyed about Poppy’s character is that she’s a 40-something protagonist who has real daily struggles of living a healthy lifestyle and a dry sense of humor.  The mother-in-law’s character was entertaining, although I felt annoyed with her at times.

 

The author did an excellent job developing several plots and strategically connecting them.  It was easy to follow and the story flowed smoothly. The events happened in a timely manner without a rushed conclusion.  The romance wasn’t over the top and I hope in the next installment, we find out who will be Poppy’s love interest.

 

Midnight Snacks Are Murder by Libby Klein is the second installment of the Poppy McAllister series.  This lively story will have you doubled over with laughter. Also, at the end of the story are Paleo recipes which look very appetizing.  I look forward to baking a few of them.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Kensington Publishing for an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.



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review 2018-08-12 15:06
Guilty as Cinnamon
Guilty as Cinnamon - Leslie Ann Budewitz

Pepper is helping a friend, Tamara, set up the spice needs for her new restaurant. As she is working in her shop one day, another friend, Alex - Tamara's current boss, storms in furious that she had not forewarned him that Tamara was planning on leaving to start her own place. When Pepper figures out who told Alex, she fires her on the spot. This starts a set of problems for her. She finds another dead body, her ex-husband, Tag, is still trying to get back with her and Alex is arrested for the murder of Tamara. She helps Alex in trying to figure out who really murdered Tamara and along the way, she learns things that she didn't know. 

 

On the whole, the story was pretty interesting. I like quotes at the beginning of chapters the information on the spices. 

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review 2018-08-12 05:10
Read It and Weep by Jenn McKinlay
Read It and Weep - Jenn McKinlay

In this entry in the series, Violet La Rue is holding auditions for A Midsummer Night's Dream. The entire town is excited, and not just because many of them want a chance to shine onstage. It turns out that the role of Puck is going to be played by a friend of Violet's, a charming famous actor named Robbie Vine.

Lindsey doesn't want a part in the play, but she does agree to help with costuming. Meanwhile, Sully's helping build the set, and their friends hope that the close proximity will lead to them getting back together. There's definitely still a spark between them, but things become complicated when Lindsey finds herself drawn to Robbie. Sure, his personal life is a mess, but at least he talks to her and tells her how he feels. Unfortunately, something sinister is going on. Someone seems to want Robbie, and possibly anyone close to him, dead.

Mystery-wise, this was a bit weak. I correctly guessed the culprit a little more than halfway through the book and never saw any reason to change my mind. In fact, at one point I noticed a fairly obvious clue - the character made an offhand comment about an event that they shouldn't have known anything about. It took Lindsey quite a bit longer than me, but she finally noticed that comment and connected the dots, as well as a few minor ones I'd missed.

Relationship-wise, this book frustrated me. If it weren't for the library aspects (which were pretty decent this time around - a couple interesting stints at the reference desk for Lindsey) and the fact that this is one of the few series that I know people around me have read and that I can therefore talk to them about, I'd probably be quitting at this point.

I still believe that Sully breaking up with Lindsey at the end of the previous book was out-of-character for him, and this book didn't tell me anything that changed my mind. Sully's sister hinted that Sully had some deeper issues at play, but Lindsey stubbornly refused to let her tell her anything more, insisting that Sully had to tell her himself. Which, fine, except Sully's the quiet type who doesn't talk about himself much, so this left readers with nothing except "Sully dumped Lindsey because he thought her worry that her ex-fiance had been killed meant she still needed time to get over him." Never mind that it would have been weird and creepy if she'd been unmoved by the possible death of someone she'd known well, and never mind that Sully had spent the whole book up to that point taking Lindsey's fiance's presence and attempts to win her back in stride.

I remember rolling my eyes at Lindsey's worry, in the earlier books in the series, that she was reading more than she should into Sully's behavior, that he wasn't really attracted to her and it was all in her head. Still, I could understand it. Unfortunately, in this book she went right back to that state. You'd think she'd have gotten better at reading him - he was clearly still interested in her and displayed it in much the same way he had in the earlier books, only with the added awkwardness of the breakup standing between them.

The addition of Robbie Vine didn't make things better. I was fine with Lindsey having a bit of fun and flirting with him, but I was not on board with her seriously considering dating him. First, he was married. I hated how many of Lindsey's friends responded to that by saying "But only on paper!" Sorry, he was still married, had had years to see about getting a divorce, and never had. And his wife was in the play. It was a complication that Lindsey definitely didn't need. Second, his ex-girlfriend was also in the play and seemed to wish that they'd never broken up. Another complication Lindsey didn't need.

The big plot twist near the end, and Lindsey's reaction to it, did not bode well for the next book in the series. I don't buy that all of this was necessary to keep Lindsey's romantic life fresh and interesting. There are ways McKinlay could have kept Sully and Lindsey interesting as a couple without any of this mess - something from Sully's past could have cropped up, or Lindsey's brother could have stopped by and either gotten along really well with Sully or clashed with him, or...anything but what McKinlay actually gave readers. The plot twist really irked me, and I couldn't understand why Lindsey wasn't more bothered by it.

Extras:

  • The Briar Creek Library Guide to Crafternoons
  • Readers Guide for Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Card-making idea
  • Recipe for Nancy's Raspberry Petit Fours. Shockingly, although the book includes references to pumpkin squares, a recipe for them is not included.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-08-06 16:21
Poppy Harmon Investigates - Lee Hollis

 

 

Not only is Poppy Harmon grieving the death of her husband, she learns he has gambled all of their money and left her penniless.

 

Poppy, a former 80's television actress on a detective show is now in her early sixties and doesn't have a clue where to start looking for a job to support herself.  After throwing herself a pity party her sexagenarian best friends, Iris and Violet suggests she open a detective agency because she loves to solve mysteries on screen and in books.  At first she thinks the idea is ridiculous, however seeing a picture in your mind of being homeless and hungry will change a thought process.  Just because she had a role on a tv detective show will she have the skills to be a detective in real life?

 

I enjoyed the idea of the author writing this cozy mystery with a "seasoned" protagonist however, that's where my enjoyment stops.  The mystery happened fifty percent into the story.  I felt Poppy should have let her voice be heard more and not be so laid back.  I didn't feel any connections with the remaining characters and didn't agree with the role of one of the characters.  

 

Once the story's pace gets moving, all the suspicions and suspects come into play.  Although there were multiple story lines which added more twists and turns they did connect and were easy to follow. The ending was a total surprise.

 

Poppy Harmon Investigates by Lee Hollis is the first in the Desert Flowers Mystery.  I hope to see the future releases in this series to have stronger character development and a less lingering of the plot.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Kensington for the advanced reader's copy in exchange for my honest review.

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review 2018-08-05 11:37
Scratch the Surface
Scratch the Surface - Susan Conant

I don't know how this book ended up on my TBR; at a guess it was a freebie a bookseller threw into one of my orders, but it's about cats and I'd read the author's dog series years ago, and remembered enjoying it.

 

At first I didn't think I'd get through it - the mc struck me as shallow - but there's a strong satiric vibe to the story; a lot of tongue-in-cheek fun poked at cozy mysteries, their authors, and the preponderance of cats involved in mysteries.  The flagrant use and acknowledgement of all the cliches, as well as serious name and title dropping, kept me going.  And the cats of course.  They don't talk, thankfully, but there are a few chapters told in the third person, but from the cats' perspective.  Nothing unreasonable, but contributing to the plot's resolution.

 

The mystery of who killed the dead guy ends up solved accidentally - although the cats' get some credit, or course - and the solution didn't feel all that plausible.  Or, maybe it felt plausible but too abrupt to work for me.  Regardless, it was a decent read and I enjoyed it, just probably not enough to make any wild efforts to buy any further books (if there are any).

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