Murder at Redwood Cove by Janet Finsilver

Murder at Redwood CoveMurder at Redwood Cove by Janet Finsilver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bed, breakfast…and a body!

If it weren’t for the fact that she’s replacing a dead man, Kelly Jackson would love her new job managing the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast on the coast of Northern California. But Bob Phillips did plunge off the cliff to his death…and Kelly’s starting to think it may not have been an accident. Bob’s retired friends—The “Silver Sentinels”—are also on the case, especially when Kelly is attacked…and another body turns up. Kelly has her hands full with overseeing the B&B’s annual Taste of Chocolate and Wine Festival, but she’s also closing in on the killer…who’s ready to send Kelly on her own permanent vacation…

Ah, this is what the cozy mystery is all about. I really liked this book and am looking forward to continuing on with this series. Kelly Jackson is a spirited main character and I liked her immediately.

If you love the cozy and are looking for a book that will fulfill your desire for a good mystery but doesn’t feel like the plot is filled with overused devices, Janet Finsilver is your girl. I was impressed by her ability to make me care about both the main as well as the secondary characters. Even the dog–okay, especially the dog.

This novel is paced well, and has a good layered mystery to solve. I liked the Silver Sentinels, but wished they had been used for a larger part of the story. I loved their quirky interactions.

This book kept me up most of the night–because I refused to put it down. I’m excited to read more and encourage you to pick up this book and give it a try.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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A Duke but No Gentleman by Alexandra Hawkins

A Duke but No Gentleman (Masters of Seduction, #1)A Duke but No Gentleman by Alexandra Hawkins

The Duke of Blackbern and the Marquess Norgrave have always had the wildest of friendships. Best friends growing up, they bask in the pleasures the rich, opulent world that London has to offer, consuming drink and women at their leisure.

But Norgrave has always been a step behind. Blackbern can best him at anything—playing cards, riding horses, and bedding women. So when the stunningly beautiful but innocent Lady Imogen Sunter strays across their path, both men agree a friendly competition for the lady’s affections cannot hurt.

But when Blackbern’s feelings turn into something deeper and Lady Imogen’s desire become clear, Norgrave will do anything to win the wager. Only one man can lay claim to Lady Imogen’s heart… and one shocking act will change them all irrevocably…

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you like your romance steamy and filled with all kinds of tension–romantic and otherwise, this would be a great book for you to choose.

I love it when the hero is not perfect, but overcomes his own issues to be what the heroine needs. The villain is really bad, as all villains should be and the story is exciting. I thought the author did a good job on the love scenes, filling them with passion that seemed realistic and the chemistry between the characters was apparent early on.

There is a lot going on in this book and the threads were all tied together nicely at the end. Although there are a lot of different situations involved in this novel the characters were easy to keep separate so remembering who was who wasn’t a problem.

Imogene is a lovely heroine. She is smart and strong whilst at the same time being feminine. I also really enjoyed the dialogue between the various characters.

Overall I thought this was a great book from an interesting period in history. Good characters, imaginative story and excellent descriptions.

Thumbs up.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Doctor Death by Lene Kaaberol

Doctor DeathDoctor Death by Lene Kaaberbøl
From the New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Boy in the Suitcase, a gripping historical thriller and poignant coming-of-age story set in nineteenth-century France.

Madeleine Karno is an ambitious young woman eager to shatter the confines of her provincial French town. Driven and strong headed, Madeleine is set apart by her unusual occupation: assisting her father, Dr. Albert Karno, in his job as a forensic doctor.

The year is 1894, and a young girl is found dead on the snowy streets of Varbourg. Dr. Karno is called in to determine the cause of her death, but before he can examine the body, the girl’s family forbids the autopsy from taking place. The only anomaly he manages to find is in the form of a mite in her nostril. Shortly after, several other dead bodies are discovered throughout the city, and Madeleine, her father, and the city commissioner must use the new science of forensic evidence to solve the mysterious cases before they all become the next victims of a deadly disease – or of a heinous murderer.–Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. The author has given us once more a strong main character that is both intelligent and willing to get her hands dirty to get to the root of a mystery.

In the realm of early forensic science there have been quite a few recent novels, but most of them I felt were either using science too advanced for their time or not advanced enough. This book seemed to strike the right balance and also told an exciting story in the process.

The author did a good job of making her main character emotional enough that we feel her pain, and yet kept her sensible enough that she did not come off as silly and a damsel in distress.

Overall, I thought this was a great book with lots of mysteries to solve and characters that I could easily care for.


This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Finding Hope by Stacy Finz

Finding Hope (Nugget, #2)Finding Hope by Stacy Finz

The small mountain town of Nugget, California, is way off the beaten path. But somehow it helps the lost and lonely find a new beginning in life—and in love…

One solitary day at a time is the only way cookbook writer Emily Mathews can restart her life—and cope with consuming loss. Still, the former city girl is finding all kinds of odd inspiration and advice from Nugget’s proudly eccentric residents on everything from new recipes to opening her heart again. Especially when it comes to her rugged rancher landlord …

His no-drama new tenant is the first break Clay McCreedy has had in a long time. He’s got his hands full enough dealing with his wife’s scandalous death and his sons’ unresolved grief. Clay can’t help but be drawn to Emily’s quiet understanding and strength. When their fragile trust turns into passionate healing, he longs for much more. And when both their pasts come calling, he’s determined not to walk away…

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For being a contemporary romance, and me having read so many of them in the last year, I was pleasantly surprised that this author managed to make this book stand out from the crowd. Stacy Finz has created a warm and realistic environment for her characters to thrive in, and has a way of making them so lovable that they creep into the recesses of your heart and stay there.

I was particularly interested in the setting for this story as I only live a few miles from many of the areas the author described in the book. Her descriptions were, for the most part, accurate and made me feel a deeper appreciation for this story, knowing first hand of the places she spoke of.

The love story is complex enough to be interesting and keep you reading and doesn’t fall into the usual cliches to much. I liked that the author allowed us to see sides of the main characters that they did not show one another until a good way into the story.

Secondary characters in this story also have interesting lives and help to balance out the main love story.

This was a great afternoon read for a cold day. I recommend it to those who like love stories with a bit more depth. This book is part of a series, but can be read alone and still make perfect sense.

I liked it!

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.

The Christmas Ranch by RaeAnne Thayne

The Christmas Ranch (Cowboys of Cold Creek, #13)The Christmas Ranch by RaeAnne Thayne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It isn’t very often that I leave a five star review for a contemporary romance, let alone a holiday themed contemporary romance, but in this case I really felt this book deserved nothing less.

One thing I have said in the past and feel compelled to say again, is that you should never start a RaeAnne Thayne book before bed if you actually intend to get any sleep. She did it to me again (toothpicks holding the eyes open as I write this review.)

I liked this story because although some of it followed the usual romance formula, girl meets boy and there is some drama preventing them from being together–this book didn’t go exactly as I expected. Neither Hope nor Rafe responded to the big events in the book as I would have imagined and both characters remained mature throughout the story, which made me respect them.

I liked the Christmas theme in this case and didn’t feel that it overwhelmed the story. The characters seemed to fall into a natural rhythm and the story seemed to roll out without being forced. Plus I want a reindeer named Sparkle.

This is a charming story that involves a whole family, neighbours and good friends rather than just the two main characters. I’d recommend this to anyone who likes a good holiday romance. Magic.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

Escape from Witchwood HollowEscape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this story from the beginning. The author is clear, imaginative and gives life to her characters early on so the reader is able to get a good image of them mentally and identify with them easily.

The author did a good job of telling a multi-generational tale with a lot of unexpected twists. Some of this story reminded me a bit of Moll Dyer, especially early on in the book.

I’ve read a lot of books that fall into this genre in the last year, and many of them have been disappointing, but this one, filled with mystery and a bit of terror was really worth the time to read.

The ending chapters sealed the opinion that this is a stand out book. I liked the way the author made the reader think and do some solving of their own rather than just explaining everything to death.

Overall, I thought this was a great book, and would be perfect for a Halloween night read.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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The Winter Sea by Di Morrissey

The Winter SeaThe Winter Sea by Di Morrissey

Escaping an unhappy marriage and an unsatisfactory job, Cassie Holloway moves to the little Australian coastal town of Whitby Point. There she meets the Aquino family, whose fishing business was founded by their ancestor, Giuseppe, an Italian immigrant, some ninety years before. Life for Cassie on the south west coast is sweet as she sets up a successful restaurant and falls in love with Giuseppe’s great grandson Michael. But when the family patriarch dies, a devastating family secret is revealed which threatens to destroy her dreams. Cassie’s future happiness now rests with her quest for the truth.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully written and captivating novel that will not let you put it down until the last page has been read. This story begins many years ago and allows the reader to become acquainted with the family at the heart of the book before moving to the present.

Through multiple years and generations, this story bends and weaves around the D’aquino family as well as a main character that you can’t help but love for her personality and passion for life.

This is a book that I found it easy to get lost in and didn’t want to put down. It has been a long time since I got so involved in the lives and world of characters that I forgot about my own, but the break was appreciated.

This author has a certain talent for painting pictures with words and allowing you to really get a sense of the character’s intentions and emotions. If you are looking for a book with a quick pace and a lot of action, this will not be your thing, but if you enjoy generational family tales with secrets, amazing writing and a lot of heart, this will be perfect for you.

Simply put, it is a wonderful book.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and was provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane AustenFirst Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett

A thrilling literary mystery co-starring Jane Austen from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale

Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.

Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield.  Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.

In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is certainly a book that will pique the interest of Jane Austen Admirer’s as well as warm the heart of bibliophiles. It is a book very much about books, but also has an unexpected mystery at its core.

As a love story, I enjoyed this book for the fact that it showed many different facets of love, not just the romantic type that readers usually encounter.

Charlie Lovett is good with words. He knows how to bend them and craft them carefully until he has chosen just the right ones. This was true in his first book, and now again in his second. He seems to understand what we as readers, want to see in a character and a story and ensure that we do not leave disappointed.

I found myself caught up in this novel quickly and was more than pleased with it overall. Both of the stories were interesting and the way the author co-mingled the past and the present was sheer talent.

I’d definitely recommend this book to other book lovers.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley, all opinions are my own.

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The Carpathian Assignment by Chip Wagar

The Carpathian Assignment: The True History of the Apprehension and Death of Dracula Vlad Tepes, Count and Voivode of the Principality of TransylThe Carpathian Assignment: The True History of the Apprehension and Death of Dracula Vlad Tepes, Count and Voivode of the Principality of Transyl by Chip Wagar

Kalvary Istvan, widower and former Hungarian cavalry colonel, hopes for a quiet life when he accepts the position of chief of police in the Carpathian city of Bistritz. It’s no less than a man deserves after years of service to his Kaiser and king. Sadly, Istvan’s going to be disappointed. Someone or something haunts the streets of Bistritz and the surrounding Transylvanian mountains. Ask Istvan’s new colleague, Gabor Kasza of the Royal Hungarian Gendarmerie, and he’d say evidence points to a well-established serial killer, possibly hidden among the oppressed and reviled Roma, who call the nearby Borgo Pass home. Ask Freudian devotee Baron Krafft-Ebing and he’d agree, although his interest lies more in studying the psychopath’s mind than bringing him to justice. Ask the mountain people of the Carpathians, however, and they’d disagree. They’d point to the long history of killings and disappearances in the region, which stretch back longer than any one man’s lifetime. They’d speak in hushed voices of the Roma’s supposed master, and an abandoned castle where he lives with his demonic wives. The bravest residents might even risk whispering a name: Dracula. Kalvary Istvan, like Kasza and Krafft-Ebing, considers himself a modern nineteenth-century man, with little time for legends and superstitions, but as he and Kasza pursue their investigation, reason and deduction begin to give way to dark, ancient truths and local belief. At once a thrilling detective yarn and intriguing backstory to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Carpathian Assignment immerses readers in the rich setting of the Hungarian kingdom at the end of the nineteenth century, a nation in which science and logic clash with centuries of cultural conviction and superstition.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So…this is possibly the best sort-of-Dracula-like-book I have ever read. It is also possibly the worst ARC copy that I have ever bloody seen. Through no fault of the author, there are large chunks of text missing and most of the beginnings of each paragraph. The Final copy, of course will not look like this, so it is of no real concern to the final book readers, but I would have felt bad if I didn’t mention that there were parts of the book I did not get to read.

As far as the story goes, this is very well written and has the historical backing that most books of the sort completely lack. It is obvious that Chip Wagar is familiar with the geography of the places he writes about as well as the historical matter. This was a nice change from many books that simply have Dracula featured as a bloodthirsty vampire.

This story progressed nicely and at a good clip, with lots of mysteries to be solved and a villain that did not simply skulk off into hiding or get defeated at the drop of a….wooden stake. I liked that the historical angle was used to back up the story and flesh it out.

The only thing that irked me about this novel, were the sex scenes. It wasn’t that they were poorly written, but they seemed misplaced, as though they were an afterthought. People have been dying for years due to this monster, we should have sex! Really, it just didn’t work for me.

An entertaining romp into the remote Carpathian wilds, exciting for a girl from Romania. If you are interested in the historical Dracula, then you will likely enjoy this novel.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg

The Moonlight PalaceThe Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg

Agnes Hussein, descendant of the last sultan of Singapore and the last surviving member of her immediate family, has grown up among her eccentric relatives in the crumbling Kampong Glam palace, a once-opulent relic given to her family in exchange for handing over Singapore to the British.

Now Agnes is seventeen and her family has fallen into genteel poverty, surviving on her grandfather’s pension and the meager income they receive from a varied cast of boarders. As outside forces conspire to steal the palace out from under them, Agnes struggles to save her family and finds bravery, love, and loyalty in the most unexpected places. The Moonlight Palace is a coming-of-age tale rich with historical detail and unforgettable characters set against the backdrop of dazzling 1920s Singapore.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a lovely novel. The voice of the narrator is not only strong but makes you feel compassionate from an early point in the book. Those qualities, mixed with the exotic setting and torrid family history (although somewhat imagined–see chapter two) made this a very interesting book.

This was a story that I was sorry to see end. The main character is such fun and her observations about life and her family are often times hilarious. I felt like I was walking alongside a friend during this book and that made it special.

I loved the strong sense of family and culture in this novel. I never knew quite what to expect next as the story takes unexpected turns in places that I wouldn’t have imagined.

If you enjoy stories that come from true storytellers, this is a perfect example. The author has a gift for making you see pictures through her chosen words. I will happily read another book by this author and recommend that you check this out.

Really enjoyed it.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.