Monday, July 19, 2021

"Shortbread and Sorrow" by Agatha Frost

When Julia's mother, Dot, wins a free 5 day trip to a spa & resort in Scotland for 3, Dot, Julia, and her sister Sue are off to enjoy a relaxing vacation  at a Scottish castle. But shortly after they arrive, the owner of the property is murdered. Naturally, Julia can't just sit back and leave things to the authorities to solve, she needs to try and figure out who killed him and why.

This was another fun cozy mystery involving the feisty baker from Peridale. This was the 5th book in the Peridale cafe series, and every bit as enjoyable as the first 4. It was a quick read and a fun one. The characters are just as amusing as they were in the first part of the series. 

Anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries or any of the other books in this series would likely enjoy this book as well.

Monday, July 12, 2021

"A groom for Claire"
by Patricia PacJac Carroll

After losing her husband in a freak blizzard that had killed almost all of the men from the town of Last Chance, Claire, like most of the town's women, had placed an ad seeking a husband to come and help keep their town alive. Ethan Freemont was the librarian who had answered her letter.

He arrived on Christmas day, bringing gifts and much needed supplies that Claire had not asked for, but greatly appreciated nonetheless. But in her heart, Claire was not yet truly ready for a new husband so soon after losing her beloved  Thomas. Can she find a way to start over again with someone else? Or would it be better if he were to take her away from the farm to live in a city?

I have been enjoying this twist on the traditional mail order bride genre. It gives a unique perspective on a situation that many faced at one point. Marrying someone you had barely met is rare in today's world, yet at one point in our history it was all but a necessity to survive. This tale shows a great sensitivity towards both those who needed but didn't really want a new spouse, and those who wanted nothing more than to start a completely new life.

I think this book would appeal to anyone who enjoys mail order bride stories as well as to those seeking something similar but with a bit of a twist on the basic storyline. I have definitely been enjoying this series and am looking forward to reading more of the mail order husband tales.

Monday, July 5, 2021

"Castaways & Longer Days"
by Trixie Silvertale

It's time for the Summer Solstice festival in the town of Pin Harbor. The tourists are many, the floating Casino is operating on the lake, and Mitzy Moon is ready to enjoy the celebration just like everyone else in town. But things take an unfortunate turn when an unexpected tornado hits the lake, crashes through the boats, and into town.

During the devastation, the owner of the casino boat is killed, and Mitzy Moon is on the job, trying to solve the murder of a woman she doesn't really like.

Like the previous book in the series, I enjoyed this one. The characters are fun and amusing to read about. And seeing the town pull together to help each other get through this disaster was a great example of a small but very friendly town. Watching Mitzy  follow the clues in a puzzle that seems to be missing a few key pieces at times to try and catch the murderer all while dealing with continuing in her search for a way to free her "ghost ma" from the cursed gem trapping her spirit within it was well worth the short time it took to read this book.

The interplay between the characters was great. At times it reminded me of family & friends teasing each other while at the same time lifting them up when they needed a helping hand. All in all, it was a fun story with a great cast of characters.

Anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist should enjoy this book, especially if you've enjoyed any of the other books in this series.

Monday, June 28, 2021

"Retribution" by S.L. Stacy

This was the 4th book in the Reborn series about the halfling children of Greek Gods of Olympus still living among humanity. There is a war going on that most of the human population are unaware of as they believe the gods to be only ancient myths.  But some among the Olympians feel they should be ruling Earth as well as Olympus.

The reason that most of humanity isn't aware of this is that the two dimensions have been protected by a barrier between the worlds, guarded by the descendants of Nike, goddess of victory. But now the barrier is failing, and like it or not a war that humanity is completely unprepared for is coming to Earth. Not all of the Olympians are seeking to take over earth, just as not all of the halflings are siding with humanity. Can Earth be kept safe and protected? Or will it become an extension of Olympus, once again ruled by those we know of as the Greek Gods of ancient history?

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The story did not shy away from the harshness of being in a war, much less one that most weren't aware was even taking place until it fell right into their everyday lives. There were those who rose to become heroes as well as those who might be called traitors to one side or the other.

This was a complicated tale, with a number of twists and turns that added to its complexity. There were also quite a number of emotions that this story brings forth, as the reader can't help but feel for what the characters are facing and going through. I enjoyed it and I believe others will as well.

If you haven't yet read the first books in this series, I would strongly recommend starting at the beginning of the series as it will make much more sense than if you try starting here. But if you have already read the rest of the series, I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did. Just be warned that this is not a book meant for younger readers. The Greek Gods and their descendants were very sexual beings according to legend, and that is still quite true in this tale.

Monday, June 21, 2021

"Train to Colorado" by Florence Linnington

Margaret had lived with her mother, stepfather, and two young siblings for some time. It hadn't been a pleasant existence as her stepfather seemed to resent the financial burden of having her in the house after an accident had left her with a severe limp, making it impossible to find employment. After yet another unsuccessful day trying to find work, her stepfather informed her that she would be leaving the next day to marry a man she has never met in Stillwater, Colorado. She was not given a say in the decision,  but she realized she had no other options.

When she arrives in Stillwater, penniless and feeling lost, she discovers that the man she was sent to marry had given up on her & married someone else. What was she supposed to do now? Without the money to purchase a train ticket back home, and with the unlikelihood of her stepfather allowing her to stay there any longer, she needed to find another option. 

I felt this book was even better than the rest of the series so far. Margaret may start out seeming to be lost and scared, but she quickly proves that she is anything but weak or incapable of rising to a challenge. She has intelligence and bravery, and quickly proves herself to be a strong woman. 

While this book is not just her story, but also the story of William, the town's sheriff with a hidden past, I felt Margaret's tale was the strongest part of the book. Yes, there were the usual problems that came from misunderstandings, incorrect assumptions, and at times a lack of communication between the characters. But that seems to be a standard in all mail order bride stories. And as always, the book ends with the expected happy ending. It is the journey in getting there that made this book so enjoyable to me.

I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys mail order bride stories, romance, or simply a tale with a happy ending.

Monday, June 14, 2021

"Hairless Harassment" by Molly Fitz

Angie Russo is moving into her new home, which she had bought because of a promise made to Octo-Cat. It was the home that he had lived in with his previous owner until she had been murdered, and to him it was also the only place that would always truly be home to him.

But on moving day, the next door neighbor, a prominent & beloved senator is found dead, the victim of an apparent accident involving her two sphinx cats and a staircase. But was it really an accident or had the senator been murdered? And if so, who would do such a thing to someone so beloved by everyone and why?

This was the third book in the Pet Whisperer P.I. series. I enjoyed reading this cozy mystery immensely and had a difficult time putting it down to sleep at night. It was a fun and quick read, and my biggest complaint was that I wanted more!

The relationship between Octo-Cat & Angie is one that can be easily seen and understood by anyone who has ever been owned by a cat of their own, and I loved seeing the familiar behaviors between cat and human played out as clearly as I can see them enacted in my own house between each of our cats & their chosen human.

Anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries involving animals who are also the main characters should enjoy this book. I know I definitely did and am looking forward to reading book 4 in the series.

Monday, June 7, 2021

"The Triumph of the Fairy Queen"
by Gemma Perfect

Elsie has again been captured and kidnapped by Hardy, the man who had sought to find a way to take her rightful place as the kingdom's ruler. Unfortunately, things hadn't gone as he’d planned, and now his intent remains unclear, as killing her will clearly not win him the crown. So what exactly is he planning on doing with her?

This was the third and final book in the Fairy Queen Trilogy, and in my opinion, the best of the three books. With all that Elsie had to face and overcome, I found myself in tears at several points. I also couldn't put this book down. It was a quick read, but a very good one. (There is a lot that I would like to say, but I’m afraid that it would spoil too much of the story for anyone who has not yet read it, and they deserve the chance to experience for themselves all the emotional ups and downs provided within this tale.)

This book and series is a great suggestion for anyone who enjoys young adult fantasy novels, with this one in particular for anyone who enjoys having their heartstrings tugged while reading.

Monday, May 31, 2021

"Chocolate Cake and Chaos" by Agatha Frost

When someone new arrives in town who has a bit of an unhappy history with Detective Inspector Barker, unfortunate things begin happening. First a funeral wreath is left on the doorstep of Barker's cottage addressed to him, then before long, another officer is found dead in that same spot.

It seems that someone wants Barker dead, and the obvious suspect is the recently released prisoner staying at the local Bed & Breakfast. But if it wasn't him, as the man claims, then who is it that seems to want Barker dead and why?

This was the fourth book in the series, and I enjoyed reading it every bit as much as I did the first three books. It was well written and the story was entertaining enough to make it hard to put down at night.

Anyone who has read and enjoyed the first 3 books in the series should also enjoy this one, as would anyone who enjoys reading cozy mysteries. I would say it's definitely worth giving it a try, even if you’re new to the series.

Monday, May 24, 2021

"Spinster Mail Order Bride
and her Conflicted Suitor"
by Florence Linnington

Vivian arrived in a small Texas town to meet the man she had been writing to after he’d answered her mail order bride ad. Unfortunately, no one was there to meet her when the stagecoach arrived. He was sent for, but the man who arrived to meet his future wife was not the man she had been writing. The ticket office had sent her to the wrong place!

And things only got more difficult from there, as the next stage coach out wouldn't be leaving for another week, meaning Vivian would need to find a way to afford a hotel room for the week and buy another ticket elsewhere.

David, who had expected a different woman to arrive in another month was less than pleased at the mixup. He had sought a mail order bride to make his very ill mother's possible last days happy, knowing her son would soon be married. He wound up coming to an agreement with Vivian to pretend to be his fiance and make his mother happy until the next stage coach will arrive to take Vivian elsewhere.

Again, as with all her other mail order bride stories, I found this one just as enjoyable as the others. This one has a few extra elements of conflict that arise within the situation than most of Ms Linnington's previous tales, but they only add to the excitement of seeing the two main characters overcome their pasts and try to learn to trust in their own feelings as well as those of another person. 

This is another good book for anyone who enjoys mail order bride stories or any of Ms. Linnington's previous books.

Monday, May 17, 2021

"The Love-Haight case Files"
by Jean Rabe and Donald J Bingle

In a world full of the unusual, Thomas Brock is a lawyer running a small law firm that specializes in protecting the rights of what have come to be known as OTs… or Other Than humans. And San Francisco is certainly full of them. But things are about to get more difficult and stranger for Thomas and Evelyn, the law student interning with his office, than anyone could have reasonably expected.

This was an amazing story. The surprises, as well as the parts that I could see coming, really kept me hooked and wanting more. I had a very hard time putting it down. If you like stories that focus on the unusual, paranormal beings, and well written plots in your fantasy tales, you'll very likely enjoy this book. 

The one thing I will warn you about is that the ending leads perfectly into a sequel, and if you enjoy this story as much as I did. You'll be looking forward as much as I am to the next book. If you enjoy tales of the paranormal and unusual, you won’t want to skip this one.

Monday, May 10, 2021

"Bully 4 Love: A Rather Odd Love Story,"
by Steven Paul Levia

Adolfus didn't know it, but his life would be forever changed when a woman named Livinia walked into his Adult Education class. The changes wouldn't come directly from or through her, though something about her presence seemed to bring about great change in those whose lives she touched.   

This was an unusual story. In the beginning, I wasn't sure what to make of it. It's isn't your typical romance story. (Livinia is a very happily married woman, and there is no physical, romantic, or emotional relationship between Afolfus & Livinia.) This book more truly explores the story of Adolfus & Livinia's husband Eugene. 

But again, it is not a physical or romantic love story between these two men, but more a story of how their lives intertwined throughout the years. The two had known each other as children, and while in the beginning they seemed destined to destroy one another's futures, instead it turns out that they are meant to be each other's saviors.

I really enjoyed reading this story. It brings you through the full range of human relationships. This book at times made me laugh and at other times made me cry. This is a contemporary tale that you really won't want to miss.

Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys reading deeply personal stories about how the simplest of things can be the catalyst to forever alter the course of someone's life.

Monday, May 3, 2021

"Doughnuts and Deception" by Agatha Frost

This third tale of Julia and her cake shop involves yet another series of murders, though this time they are not taking place inside the town of Peridale. The murders are happening in an old industrial park where Jessie had stayed while she was homeless. And with all those who are being killed being members of the homeless community, no one on the local police force seems to be taking it seriously or investigating the deaths.

Being who she is, Julia can't just ignore it like so many others have, and she finds herself doing what she can to help the people there as well as trying to figure out who the killer is, how people are being murdered, and why.

Like the first two books in this series, I enjoyed reading this story. It was entertaining and well written, holding my interest throughout the book. The clues to solving the mystery are there if you watch for them, but figuring out what is actually happening is part of what I enjoy when reading a good cozy mystery. And as has been the case with her other books in this series, the author did not disappoint me.

I believe anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries will find this book an enjoyable read. The characters were interesting as well as entertaining, and their actions easily imagined as taking place in many small communities. I myself will be continuing on with reading the 4th book in this series to see what happens next for the characters.

Monday, April 26, 2021

"Fate of the Champion" by Clara C.Johnson

Serra and the others have arrived back in Adhelm. But it is not with the news of successful treaty negotiations that she was hoping to bring. Instead, she must return to the palace to inform the king and his counsel that Queen Kathryn of Crelia possessed an army of orcs and was preparing to attack. And she must somehow manage to convince them that it is the truth and that the orcs are more than fantastical story creatures. They are real and quite vicious, but most everyone generally considers them nothing more than story creatures used to frighten naughty children with scary tales. 

This was the third and final book in the Champion series. And though I felt that parts of it could have benefitted from another round with a proofreader, the story itself was very entertaining and kept me wanting to find out how it would end.  

There were a number of surprising twists in the story that I hadn't seen coming. These twists made it a more complex and well rounded tale that kept my interest and curiosity piqued throughout the book. Anyone who enjoyed the first two books in this series would definitely want to read this series finale. It closes out the characters' stories quite nicely.

Monday, April 19, 2021

"Dames & Deadly Games" by Trixie Silvertale

Mitzi Moon is off to enjoy a vacation with her boyfriend, Erick on the grand opening excursion of a luxury railroad line. They will be enjoying all of the first class luxury offerings and enjoying the chance to try to solve the murder mystery theme on this first trip.

It seems like it should be a very fun weekend trip, however things take an unexpected turn when one of the passengers involved in the murder mystery game is actually murdered.

This was an interesting and fun cozy mystery with a paranormal aspect. Though it was the 13th book in the series, it was written in such a way that it works well enough as a stand alone story. I do think I might have enjoyed it even more if I was already familiar with the series, but please don't mistake that to mean it wasn't enjoyable, because I did like it. I just felt like knowing more of the characters’ history together would have somewhat enhanced my enjoyment of the story.

This book was a quick and fun read, that left me wanting to know more of what had happened before the start of this story… so I've picked up a copy of book one in the series so that I can find out how it all started. I think that anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries, paranormal mysteries, or just a nice, fun story will enjoy reading this book, and likely this whole series.

Monday, April 12, 2021

"The Fall of the Fairy Queen"
by Gemma Perfect

Elsie and the others have won their rebellion against the forces of her cruel step parents. They are no longer a threat and as the only living heir, she will be the queen. But it appears that the question now seems to be will she actually get to be the queen and ruler or will Hardy continue to win the hearts of the people and find a way to have them declare him their king instead. Elsie knows he has killed before, so the question in her mind is more about how long before he no longer needs her around and finds a way to have her killed without implicating himself in her murder.

This book begins exactly where the first book ends. And not needing the setup or explanations that are necessary in any first book of a series, the pacing of this story was much quicker, and there was much more action happening overall.

I definitely enjoyed this book. The story kept me hooked all the way to the end, and was difficult to put down at night. I believe that it will appeal to anyone who enjoys stories with a bit more emotional conflict than there was in the first book. Though like book 1, it will likely also appeal to those who enjoy reading tales involving fairies.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens in book 3.

Monday, April 5, 2021

"It's a Charmed Life"
(The Grimm Files Book 1) by Selene Charles

Detective Elle (Arielle) is a siren who works for Grimm PD. Her specialty is solving cold cases, and her latest assignment sends her to the realm of Wonderland where she must work with Constable Maddox Hatter

The two of them need to solve both Elle's cold case involving two dead bodies found on the Charming Estate and Maddox's recently discovered dead body in Wonderland.

This was an interesting twisted fairy tale involving a number of recognizable characters from wonderland and other quite familiar stories. But these are not the familiar tales that we grew up reading involving these characters. 

This twist on both the characters and the places in this book I found to be very unique and I enjoyed the originality of this story. But be warned, while this is a twisted fairy tale, it is not necessarily one meant for younger readers. There is a significant level of descriptive nudity & sexual content contained within.

I believe this would be an enjoyable book for those who enjoy twisted fairy tales with a harder edge to them, or anyone who prefers that their fairy tales required a more mature audience.

Monday, March 29, 2021

"Healer Mail Order Bride
and her Wounded Banker"
by Florence Linnington

Martha lived in Germany. When her father died, she was left alone with no way to support herself. A friend of her father's placed an ad for her in a mail order bride catalog in the United States. She had just about given up hope when she received a letter from Luke McIver wanting to bring her to America to marry him. Unfortunately, that which seems too good to be true, often is.

When she arrived in the small town of Copperun only able to speak or understand a few words of English, she was directed to find Mr. McIver in the saloon. It turned out he was running the same con as he had in the past, inviting a woman to come and marry him, but instead forcing her to work as a scantily clad saloon girl and entertain the male customers. 

But once Martha began to understand what he expected her to do, she fled from the saloon leaving her few possessions behind. Fortunately she was rescued by Alexander, a man who was working to open a bank in the nearby town of Evergreen. Not being able to understand each other, he nevertheless realized she needed help and took her back to the hotel in Evergreen, where he knew she would find the help she needed.

As with Ms. Linnington’s other books in the series, I enjoyed this story. I was a little concerned at first when it began with a very similar plot device as an earlier book in the series. But from that point on it took a very different path. 

I enjoyed watching the main characters struggle to learn each other's language and seeing Martha find a place and a purpose that she had never dreamed of as being remotely possible. And as always, I enjoyed the expected ending to the book.

Anyone who enjoys mail order bride stories or stories written by Ms. Linnington would likely enjoy this book as well.

Monday, March 22, 2021

"A Groom for Carrie" by Marie Higgins

After most of the town's men died in an unexpected blizzard, the town's pastor had made it clear that the women all needed to either remarry or move elsewhere. From the letters they received after the town placed an advertisement in a matrimonial times, Carrie Porter chose to accept the proposal from Dr. Hamilton, as the town desperately needed a doctor. 

However after their wedding, she learned that he no longer intended to practice medicine, but instead planned on being a farmer. It also turned out that he was someone she'd known and been tormented by as a child. 

This was an interesting book to read. The characters had a lot to work through on their way to learning how to trust and care for each other. And as was to be expected, the journey wasn't an easy one. I enjoyed watching the characters work through their emotions and personal issues. Like most mail order bride stories, it is the emotional trials of the characters that is the most interesting.

As the second book that I've read in the Blizzard Brides series, I found this to be an enjoyable book. I believe that anyone who enjoys a good mail order bride story will like this one. It is a very quick read, but is also a nice, relaxing story.

Monday, March 15, 2021

"Goddesses Inc." By Autumn Bardot

Four immortal Goddesses are summoned to meet with Shee, their boss. The four women find themselves declared irrelevant and no longer needed in the modern world and suddenly find themselves fired. None of them even knew a goddess could be fired!

Mortal, they are now faced with all the needs, risks, and requirements of a mortal life. How will they support themselves?

What skills do they really have to survive in the modern world? What can an ancient ex-goddess even really do?

I loved reading this book. Mythology and history have always interested me, and this book combines both in a way that has you rooting for the 4 women who had & lost everything they thought was important, and needed to reinvent themselves in a modern world.  Watching them grow from shallow & relatively thoughtless to kind, thoughtful, and caring individuals was very enjoyable and cheered my day. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mythology and stories where the characters have to find ways to begin over again unexpectedly and without the advantages they never expected to be without. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

"Spirited Western Bride
and her Reformed Soulmate"
by Florence Linnington

The owner of the General Store in Littlegrove was surprised to have been invited to Clarissa's wedding and felt quite embarrassed to arrive almost too late to see the ceremony after his 3 hour ride into Evergreen. Yet the only one who seemed to be offended by his late arrival was the beautiful but cold Caitlin, younger sister to the wife of Peter, Evergreen's General store owner and Colby's friend and business associate.

Circumstances soon seemed to keep throwing Colby & Caitlin together as the two families attempted to find a way to help both towns make it through what looks to be a rough winter ahead. But after her previous misfortune with Kyle, the man she had thought loved her,  can Caitlin ever learn to trust any man other than her brother-in-law Peter?

This heart wrenching tale sucked me in quickly and several times caused me to tear up as I read. It was an amazing story of two people who believed themselves broken by their pasts came together to find hope in their future. But will that future be together? Or have they both been too damaged by their pasts to truly find love?

This was a story that highlighted how secrets from the past can cause harm in the future and why honesty is always the best way to move forward. As always, I love how Ms. Linnington takes her readers through a full range of emotions, yrt manages to end her stories with a happy and heartwarming moment.

I enjoyed this tale just as much as I have her previous books, and I believe this book will appeal to those who enjoy a good mail order bride story as well as those who are looking for something that they can trust to make them feel good after reading it.

Monday, March 1, 2021

"Lemonade and Lies" by Agatha Frost

After everyone in town receives an invitation to a garden party up at the nearby manor house, the rumors about what the big announcement is begin to fly. But no one expects that Katie Wellington-South, who is married to Julia's father, will be turning the location into a luxury resort spa.

Unfortunately, it seems that not everyone is happy with the idea, one of those people being Katie's brother Charles, who is very vocal about his opposition to the idea. And before the end of the party, his dead body is seen falling from a second story window. And Julia finds herself trying to determine who killed him, whether her father and his wife were involved in the death or not, and why.

Like the first book in the series, I found this one quite entertaining. There were a good number of twists and turns in this story, keeping me guessing most of the way through as to who really was the murderer. 

The plot was very well thought out, and like the first book in the series contains a side plot that definitely added to my enjoyment of the tale. I also enjoyed the british slang that was used in the story (which takes place in the small british town of Peridale.)

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries that aren't always merely a simple, quick read but are just a bit more complex than might be expected.

Monday, February 22, 2021

"Black Heart of the Dragon God"
by Jean Rabe and Craig Maerelle

Goranth the Mighty returns to the city of Barbertown at the request of an old companion, Rif the Barber. Rif promised him a fortune to help him capture a dragon. He planned to earn them all fortunes beyond imagination by raising, breeding, training, and selling dragons to other towns. After all, who wouldn't pay quite well to have a dragon to protect them?

However, the idea of catching dragons is very different from the reality of it, and far more dangerous. Can they actually manage it without getting themselves killed? And what other problems will arise when others learn what they are up to? 

I really enjoyed reading this book. Not only was it very well written, but it had me remembering some of the old Dragonlance books that I read back when I was in high school. This was sword and sorcery at it's best, written in a style that I haven't had the pleasure of reading in a long while. I look forward to reading more stories about Goranth the Mighty in the future. 

I believe that anyone who enjoys adventure stories, sword & sorcery tales, as well as reading about heroes who don't always set out to simply be a hero or who are even just trying to do the right thing, regardless of what it might wind up costing them\ will enjoy this book. I definitely recommend giving this one a try. I know I enjoyed it.

Monday, February 15, 2021

"Rise of the Fairy Queen" by Gemma Perfect

On Elsie's 16th birthday, she is finally released from her captivity at the castle. She is being sent for a political marriage overseas to a prince she has never met. She has not been allowed outside of her room for years, and the only person she has in her life is her handmaid, Meg, who was locked up with her.

But on her way to meet her future husband, Elsie learns the truth about what has been happening within the kingdom at the hands of her step parents, and she realizes that her homeland & people need saving from the atrocities being enacted upon them. And so she returns to her homeland, determined to find a way to help free her people.

I enjoyed reading this book. It was very different from the other tales of fairies that I have read. At times, the main character seems a little too trusting of the new people she meets, but then I have to remember that she is still young herself, and very naive with regard to other people's motives and their selfish desires.  Without having had any sort of life experience, how is she supposed to react to people who appear to only want to help & keep telling her that she can trust them? Naturally she is going to want to trust the people who appear to be helping her.

I enjoyed the chance to see this innocent young girl find her way in the world, learning to defend herself, and growing into the queen she wants to become. I think this is a story that will be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys reading twisted fairy tales and other young adult fantasy stories.

Monday, February 8, 2021

"The Blizzard Brides" by Christine Sterling

With many folks in the town of Last Chance, Nebraska running short of meat to see them through the long winter ahead of them, most of the town's men head out on a hunt for buffalo. They intended to be gone for about a week before returning with enough meat for everyone. 

Heather's husband was the tracker leading the hunt, with his wife taking care of the smokehouse when he was gone as well as acting as midwife to the town's women. While on her rounds one morning, the temperature begins to drop dramatically & a snowstorm rapidly blows in, trapping most everyone wherever they happen to be that can offer even slight shelter from the blizzard.

Based on the book's title, it should be no surprise that this book is about how anyone who found shelter survived the storm, though their husbands who were still out on their hunt were killed in the blizzard that caught everyone by surprise, and their decision to advertise in the Matrimonial Times for husbands to move to the town and help everyone survive.

I enjoyed this prequel story that leads into the following books in this series. It was well written, and though it does not have the happy ending that most mail order bride books have, it perfectly sets the stage for what each of the women whose husbands were lost in the blizzard must now face.

I will be continuing on with the series, as I am curious as to what will happen next, as well as to whether or not these women, who must remarry if they are to survive, will once again manage to find a happy ending to their stories, or if they will merely be able to survive what they have lost.

Monday, February 1, 2021

"Pancakes and Corpses" by Agatha Frost

Julia is a baker and the owner of a cafe in the small town of Peridale. It has always seemed like a quiet little town, but suddenly nefarious things are starting to happen. First, all the baked goods in Julia's cafe have begun disappearing overnight. Then one of Julia's regulars, Gertude, turns up murdered, with Julia being the one to find her body.

Though she is not a detective nor a member of law enforcement, Julia soon finds herself on the trail of a killer, determined to solve the mystery of who had killed Gertrude. Can she actually manage to figure out who did it?

I enjoyed reading this cozy mystery. It was an interesting little tale with some entertaining twists along the way. I will be continuing on with reading more books in the series in the future as I do enjoy reading lighthearted mysteries now & then.

I think anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries, especially those that are centered around baking or food, will enjoy this book.

Monday, January 25, 2021

"Battle Ground" by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden and pretty much everyone he has ever encountered in any of the other Dresden Files novels makes an appearance in this book.  This book finishes off what was started in the last one, “Peace Talks” and it's definitely one that if you've enjoyed the rest of the series, you don't want to miss.

I, for one, loved this book. It left me at times highly amused, and at others it made me want to (and yes, actually did make me) cry. I can't tell you any more about what it was that affected me so strongly without including some major spoilers, so you'll just have to read it for yourself if you want to know what I'm talking about. (Giving away spoilers for this book would be a huge disservice to anyone who reads or wants to read it in the future.) But I promise you, this story is well worth reading and does not disappoint. I cannot wait to see where Mr. Butcher takes Harry and the others next.

But my absolute favorite part of this book was the bonus Christmas story that was included after the end of the novel itself. It was a very sweet little tale of Harry on Christmas Eve, getting ready for the following morning that he’ll be spending with his daughter. Be sure not to skip reading this one either as it really is worth reading just as much as the rest of the book. Highly recommended.

Monday, January 18, 2021

"The Secret of the Grand Hotel du Lac"
by Kathryn Gaucci

This was a WWII story set primarily in France (with Some scenes in England.)  Much of it takes place during the latter part of the war and focuses mainly on the story of a few women who were part of the resistance movement. This book is a work of historical fiction, and while the characters are fictional, their tale is based on places that existed and events that happened during the war.

The women depicted in this book were brave and often took great risks to help free the people of France from German control and oppression. I was fascinated by their stories. Some sought to help by working as double agents, often appearing to be collaborators who were involved with high ranking German officials, but were in reality only doing so to gain useful information and offer aid to the French resistance.

Such actions were incredibly dangerous as discovery of the truth by the german officials would likely mean torture and death, yet as they were often acting in secret, their own countrymen often saw them as traitors to France, potentially also ending with their deaths.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories that have a basis in actual events as well as to anyone who enjoys tales of WWII resistance fighters. I greatly enjoyed reading this book. While there may be many stories of the resistance fighters in WWII, I have not read too many of them, and very few from perspectives such as were shown to us in this book.

Monday, January 11, 2021

"Mail Order Bride's Baby
and her Idealistic Lumberjack"
by Florence Linnington

After the death of Anna's husband, his brother decides that he is going to be her next husband, regardless of what she wants. Knowing that he was even more cruel than her husband had been, Anna places an ad as a mail order bride in the hopes of having some other path to follow.  

Only one man answers her ad, from the nearby town of Evergreen. Samuel is a lumberjack who is ready to start his own company, but knows that he and his sister will need additional help at home if he is to succeed. His sister, however, doesn't trust the new woman in their lives, making things more than a little difficult as they all try to adjust to the changing circumstances.

Like her other books, this one follows the usual mail order bride pattern, but is still a very enjoyable story. Despite their separate problems and issues, the three main characters must find a way to live together and to learn to trust and help one another. It is something that seems simple, but in reality rarely is.

As always, I enjoy a good mail order bride story, and Ms. Linnington’s are some of the best that I’ve come across. I can always trust that her books will have a happy ending that I will enjoy. Yes, they must face some difficulties along the way, but that is something that is true for everyone. But the endings of her stories always leave me with a smile.

Monday, January 4, 2021

"The Hole in the World"
by Brendann R. Hill-Mann

Kahrin & her best friend Innes are your average high school students. They have been best friends for almost their whole lives & spend most of their time together. But one wintry day on their way home from school, Innes narrowly avoids hitting an unknown girl who was standing in the middle of the road seeking help. Unfortunately, the accident winds up sending all 3 of them to the hospital with varying severity of injuries.

But there is something more than slightly unusual about the girl, Yelena, as well as the main claiming she is his sister. Innes takes an instant dislike to him, though Kharin isn't entirely sure what to make of him.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very well written & quite entertaining. Kharin and Innes are definitely your typical small town, high school teenagers. Their interactions with each other, as well as with their family & friends, is exactly what one would expect from a teenager.

The storyline was an original idea, though some aspects of it had me thinking of Peter S Beagle's "The Last Unicorn" and like that story did, this one managed to bring tears to my eyes towards the end of the book, though for completely different reasons. And it also left me feeling the way I did after finishing Peter S Beagle’s book as well as the movie that was based on his book. 

All in all, I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys tales involving unicorns and magic, especially to anyone who, like me, remembers and enjoyed "The Last Unicorn" (either the book or the animated movie.)  I really think you will enjoy it. I know that I did and am looking forward to reading more books by this author.

"Shortbread and Sorrow" by Agatha Frost

When Julia's mother, Dot, wins a free 5 day trip to a spa & resort in Scotland for 3, Dot, Julia, and her sister Sue are off to e...