Tuesday TwoFer: MURDER BY PAGE ONE

I’m a sucker for a good, old-fashioned murder mystery. Add in books and literary references and it’s even better!

Marvella Harris, or Marvey, has recently moved to Peach Coast, Georgia from New York City, to take a job at the local library, working to increase community outreach and services. She’s made some friends and enjoys her job. She’s at her friend Jolene’s bookstore for an author signing when she and Jo and another friend discover one of the author’s has been murdered. The local sheriff deputies seem convinced of Jo’s guilt, so Marvey jumps in to prove there are other equally viable suspects.

This has plenty of colorful Southern characters and small town vibes. I liked the way Marvey dropped in mentions of other books, and her jewelry making hobby. She also has a cat, who doesn’t seem to enjoy their new home.

The murderer is nicely revealed with enough clues and red herrings so the reader doesn’t feel cheated.

Overall, I enjoyed this and recommend it. I’d gladly read the next in the series.

——

I received an advance copy of MURDER BY PAGE ONE from Hallmark Publishing, but it did not induce me to review it, favorably or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES

It’s finally here! I’ve been waiting for this book for awhile. I snagged an advance copy through NetGalley and now my own pre-ordered copy is here. I’m one happy reader.

If you love historical fiction, dual timelines, stories with a twist, strong female protagonists, and great writing, the you’ll love WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES.

Speakeasies, bootleg hooch, and mobsters. 1925 Chicago had it all. Honoree Dalcour was a dancer at the Dreamland Cafe, and rubbed elbows with Louis Armstrong, his wife Lil Hardin, and Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. Sawyer Hayes is hoping to interview her in 2015. Through a series of encounters, we learn the secrets each are keeping and how Honoree’s will impact Sawyer.

Bryce writes with an authentic voice, befitting the Jazz Age. She knows what she’s doing and it shows. I loved the characters, the story, the setting, everything.

I highly recommend this one!


I received a free advance copy through NetGalley but was not influenced to review it favorably.

Book Talk Tuesday: CAN’T BUY ME LOVE

Welcome back to Deep Haven! I’m so happy to be here again!

CAN’T BUY ME LOVE is the second entry in the Deep Haven Collection from Sunrise Publishing. I reviewed the first book, STILL THE ONE, in January, and have been waiting not-so-patiently for CAN’T BUY ME LOVE. It will be released March 16, but lucky me, I got an advance copy!

CAN’T BUY ME LOVE is an updated fairy tale, a Cinderella retelling, set in Deep Haven, on the shores of Lake Superior, in northern Minnesota.

Ella Bradley moved to Deep Haven looking for a fresh start. She’s a housecleaner, soap maker, small business owner, and budding entrepreneur. She just needs to get her foot in the door with the Vassos hotel chain to make her pitch. She doesn’t expect to meet the playboy son of the founder. And he doesn’t mean to lie about who he is. Not exactly.

I loved it and highly recommend it!

CAN’T BUY ME LOVE has everything I love about the Deep Haven series. A town that treats everyone like family. (Well, except for Ella’s landlord, that is.) A gentle romance that grows organically. Chocolate chip cookies. A spiritual growth arc.

The only sad thing now is waiting for book 3, CRAZY FOR YOU, out in May.


I received a free copy of CAN’T BUY ME LOVE from the publisher. This did not induce me to review the book, favorably or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: RESCUING HARMONY RANCH

This was a fun book from Hallmark Publishing and included the elements I’ve come to expect in a Hallmark book: a spunky heroine, a hunky hero, a good reason to keep them apart, but a fun time watching them fall in love and figure out a way to be together anyway.

Jocelyn and Mack were childhood sweethearts in Colorado, until her mother moved her to New York City. Their love story ended, although neither forgot the other. It’s been a decade, and when Jocelyn’s grandmother needs her help, Jocelyn drops everything to fly back to the ranch. After finding out the ranch is in trouble, Joss and Mack are forced to work together to save it. And they find out they still have feelings for each other. But how can they make a relationship work when her life is in New York and his in Colorado?

I enjoyed this entry in the Country and Cowboys series from Hallmark Publishing. I’ve read at least one other in the series, too. This was well written, and Jocelyn and Mack are both strong characters. There’s one cliched plot element I saw from the beginning and wished hadn’t been used, but I guess the author and her brainstorming team couldn’t find a way to keep the couple apart without using it.

Overall, I liked this one a lot and I recommend it!


I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher, but it did not induce me to review it, favorably or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: THE VINEYARD AT PAINTED MOON

I love Susan Mallery’s romance fiction, but I really, really love her women’s fiction. THE VINEYARD AT PAINTED MOON is her latest release and it’s wonderful. It’s full of all the things I love about Mallery’s books: warmth, family, friendship, love, and humor. And as the title implies, this one includes wine!

I read it an about a day and a half, I enjoyed it so much.

Mackenzie is a gifted winemaker, so it’s a good thing she married into a family with a winery and vineyards. The only thing she’s ever wanted is to belong to this family she loves so much. So it nearly breaks her heart when she and her husband realize their marriage is over. Mackenzie has to decide if that means she needs to also leave her job and home. Her sister-in-law is her best friend. Her mother-in-law employs her. Just how much is she willing to lose, along with her marriage?

This is set in Eastern Washington, a land growing in popularity for wine grape growing. A character from Mallery’s SISTERS BY CHOICE makes an appearance early in the story, and returns later on.

I enjoyed this one a lot. The characters feel like women I’d be friends with. Except for one who is truly evil, but I won’t spoil the story.

I highly recommend THE VINEYARD AT PAINTED MOON, and I suggest reading it with a glass of Syrah.


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but it did not induce me to review it, favorably or not. That was my choice.

Book Talk Tuesday: STILL THE ONE

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of this book and I’m so happy I did!
I love Susan May Warren’s Deep Haven novels and this was the perfect return to the Minnesota town. Megan Carter, single mom and wedding planner, is saving every penny to buy a venue for her business. Cole Barrett, former Army Ranger is returning to town long enough to sell his grandfather’s house and tie up the loose ends of his life. Unfortunately, his grandfather’s garage apartment has tenant who refuses to budge.
Megan and Cole were childhood friends until Cole moved away. Now adults and forced to work together, memories and sparks fly.
Rachel D. Russell nailed the essence of the Deep Haven books: the charm, the characters, and the caring they show for each other.
I loved this book and highly recommend it and can’t wait for my chance to visit Deep Haven again!

Book Talk Tuesday: Restoring Heritage Series

Happy Tuesday and talking about books. This isn’t a normal book review. It isn’t even a two-fer. It’s a four-fer. Or a two+two-fer.

I had the opportunity recently to read Tari Faris’s new series, Restoring Heritage. It consists of a prequel novella, then two novels, then an interim novella, while we wait for novel #3.

The books are set in the small town of Heritage, Michigan and like all the best series have characters who pop in and out of each others’ stories.

Heritage seems to be dying. Businesses are leaving, storefronts are empty, and houses are vacant.

In P.S. GOODBYE, Caroline and Leah Williams are trying to keep their family business afloat. Caroline is also trying to start a new business as a life coach. So when a wounded former Special Forces operator returns to town needing a job, they agree to help out each other. But it can’t be that simple, can it? No, it can’t.

The first full length novel, YOU BELONG WITH ME, is Luke and Hannah’s story. Best friends and next-door-neighbors in high school, they’re now all grown up and still friends, even though both of them want more, but believes the other doesn’t see them “that way,” and that they aren’t worthy of the other.

Hannah is a Realtor, desperate to save the historic homes and shops of Heritage, and somehow redeem her family’s tarnished name. But her every plan and idea is stymied by a local developer wanting to buy the downtown buildings and put in a strip mall.

Luke has his own reasons for helping Hannah and growing closer to her, then retreating. It takes news that shatters everything he thought he knew about his past to bring him to embrace his future. The local pastor, Nate, two sisters Janie and Olivia, and Hannah’s brother, Thomas, are secondary characters.

Novel #2, UNTIL I MET YOU, is Nate and Olivia’s story, along with Nate’s brother, a newcomer to Heritage and another newcomer. This is a story of second chances and redemption, and I’m afraid to say much more would be to give away too many spoilers.

The final installment (so far) is a Christmas novella, WHILE IT WAS SNOWING. This is about one of Olivia and Janie’s brothers Gideon and his friend and co-worker, Dan. That is Danielle. He suddenly realizes she’s a–gasp–girl–when he sees her for the first time at a wedding.

Danielle can’t get wait to get out of the dress and back to Gideon treating her like one of the guys. Although if she’s honest with herself, she kind of liked how he looked at her. Like something inside him was finally seeing her.

All four stories work great as stand-alones, but they mesh together well, too. I really enjoyed them. Faris does a fabulous job at weaving in spiritual truths without preaching. The stories are well constructed and well told.

I highly recommend them!

What’s your favorite small town series?

Book Talk Tuesday: HAPPILY THIS CHRISTMAS

If it’s Tuesday, this must be a book review. It’s been a while since I posted a book review. Not because I haven’t been reading, but after reading quite a few books for review, I took a break and read for myself. I did read some great books that I will review in the next few weeks, but I’m starting with a Christmas book. Of course. Since it’s officially Fall, there are only twelve weekends between now and Christmas. That’s twelve chances to curl up with some hot chocolate, or a latte, or tea, and this endearing book.

Susan Mallery takes us back to Happily Inc, the wedding destination town in the California desert. This is Wynn’s story. We’ve met Wynn in the other Happily Inc stories. She runs the graphic design and printing shop and she’s a single mom of a young teenage boy.

Wynn has kept her heart to herself and refused to consider a long-term relationship. Until the good-looking police officer, Garrick, moves in next door. They wave greetings occasionally and she watches him mow his lawn, but that’s it. Until he asks her to help him get his home ready for his adult daughter, Joylyn, to come stay. She’s pregnant and her husband is deployed. They’ve been estranged for several years and he has no idea why or what happened. He’s hoping this means they can heal the past and restore the loving relationship they used to have.

Of course, it’s not that easy.

I really enjoyed this one a lot. Of course, we all know I’m a huge Susan Mallery fan. And a huge fan of Christmas stories with Happily Ever After endings.

Wynn and Garrick had believable chemistry and they were cognizant that they both had their children living with them, so they didn’t tumble into bed at the first spark, disregarding that fact. Joylyn was a pill at first, but she softened and became likable. Some of our previous Happily Inc protagonists had cameos and walk-on parts, so we got to catch up with Renee and Jasper, Bethany and Cade, Carol and Matthias, and the others.

This was a fun addition to the Happily Inc library and I highly recommend it!


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but it did not induce me to review it, either favorably or not.

Book Talk: DEAD-END DETECTIVE

Dead-End Detective is another Hallmark Publishing cozy mystery. I enjoyed this one more than the previous one I reviewed. The story and the writing are both better.

Darby Piper is partner in a detective agency in a small town in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. She’s shocked when her partner is killed and even more shocked when she discovers she’s a suspect. Her car was the murder weapon. The evidence piles up and Darby has to admit it looks bad for her.

Her partner’s nephew (and heir–another shock) shows up. They join forces to find the real killer.

The story and clues are well told. The characters are finely drawn. There are enough suspects to be credible. Overall, I liked this one and would read another Piper & Porter Mystery from Hallmark Publishing.


I received a free advance electronic copy of this book from Hallmark publishing, but that did not induce me to review it, favorably or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: THE FRIENDSHIP LIST

Ellen and Unity have been best friends since forever. Now in their mid-thirties, the women are forced to acknowledge an unpalatable truth: they’re stuck.

TFLEllen has been immersed in raising her son, Cooper, alone, and working. That’s all she’s done for the last seventeen years. When she overhears Coop tell a friend that he can’t go away to his dream school for college because his mom needs him too much, Ellen realizes she has to make some changes.

Unity’s been a widow for three years. Everyone keeps badgering her to move on, but she’s fine with where she’s at: living in her dead husband’s childhood home and sleeping in his bed. She’s got her business and her friends at the local “older adults” housing development. She’s just fine, thank you very much, but she wants to help Ellen.

Unity comes up with a list of challenges that will force both of them out of their ruts. They’ll wear bikinis in public. Get a tattoo. Sing karaoke. Unity proposes the project to make Ellen feel that Unity is trying to move on, but she has no intention of actually changing in any ways that really matter. Sure, she’ll go indoor skydiving with a nice man, but there can never be anything more between them.

The friendship between the women is genuine. They have a big fight at the beginning, but then are able to work through it.

The two male love interests are great characters. Ellen’s story line is friends to lovers with her coworker and Cooper’s coach, Keith. Keith could be a little over the top in his reactions and interactions with his teenage daughter, but it was still entertaining. Thaddeus is the perfect romantic hero: tall, dark, handsome, charming, and rich. Unity knows he’s special and worth trying to change for. If only she could.

Of course, Susan Mallery is one of my favorite authors and this book is as good as I’ve come to expect. I enjoyed it a great deal and I’ll buy a copy for my friend who loves her, too.


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but it did not induce me to review it, favorably or not.