Thursday, March 25, 2021

Book Review: Seven Up by Janet Evanovich


Jacque's Review:

Stephanie Plum is not your typical bounty hunter. She is all luck and minimal skill, but she always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Or maybe it is the wrong place at the wrong time depending upon how you look at it.

This time around she is after Eddie DeChooch. He is an elderly man with connections to the mob who skipped his court date for smuggling cigarettes. If you watched The Sopranos, I was picturing Junior. He is a feisty old guy with a lot of tricks up his sleeve. It doesn't make sense that he would run from the law for such a minor offense when you compare it with his usual dealings. Stephanie begins to realize there is more to the story when a couple of mobsters start following her around trying to get to Eddie first.

Two of Stephanie's friends, Mooner and Dougie, disappear without a trace and then her Grandma Mazur is nowhere to be found. She realizes she is in way over her head and calls in Ranger for assistance. Ranger is one of the other bounty hunters with Navy Seal level skills. I wouldn't want to cross him if I were a fugitive, but his assistance doesn't come without a price. While Stephanie is technically engaged to Joe Morelli, neither of them is ready to go through with it. Ranger is one of the nagging what ifs that is constantly in the back of Stephanie's mind. She is attracted to him, but he is not the marrying type. 

Overall, this is a light and funny mystery series. Each book is an independent story or case, but the characters and relationships do evolve. I would recommend reading them in order, but it isn't completely necessary. It is a VERY lengthy series with 29 books currently available. I'm not sure if I am in for the long haul or not, but I have enjoyed them so far and will continue plugging along. I am intrigued by the possible love triangle and want to see how that eventually plays out. I do not feel compelled to binge read the series, so I will continue reading one or two a year and hope I don't fall even further behind.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Book Review: One by One by Ruth Ware

 Goodreads Overview:

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?

Jacque's Review:

When I first started reading this book and could see where it was leading, it reminded me of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. A group of coworkers from Snoop, a tech company that started a music app, are trapped at a beautiful French chalet after an avalanche hits. One of the party goes missing during the avalanche, but then others start dropping just like the "ten little soldier boys" in Christie's novel. Nobody can be trusted, including the chef and housekeeper, who have done everything within their power to keep things moving forward during this crazy situation.

Topher and Eva are the founders of Snoop. They planned this holiday for their employees to soften the fact that Eva wants to sell out. Topher has bigger plans for the company and wants to hold out until their next update is launched. The two are trying to gain support from the other share holders and need Liz to cast the tie breaking vote. Liz is a former employee that left the company. She could use the money and wants to side with Eva, but she is loyal to Topher and is conflicted. 

When one of the party disappears during the avalanche, everyone assumes it was a tragic accident. When other members of the party start dying of unusual causes, nobody feels safe. Everyone is a suspect and even the original death starts looking less like an accident. With no method of communication to the outside world, they are trapped with a killer until they can either solve the crimes or help arrives. 

The story is told with an alternating point of view between Liz and the housekeeper Erin. Everyone has secrets they want to keep hidden. You could make a case that just about anyone in the party is the murderer, but I just couldn't figure out a motive that justified the extreme measures. The book was filled with suspense and had me sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation. I was absolutely shocked when I found out who was behind everything and why. I never would have guess in a million years, but it all made sense in the end.

I enjoyed Ruth Ware's The Woman In Cabin Ten and believe this book was equally as good if not better.  If you enjoy a good murder mystery, I have yet to go wrong with one of Ware's books. I will definitely check out some of her others.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Book Review: Love Is What You Bake Of It by Effie Kammenou



The only love Kally Andarakis is baking is in the form of the sweet treats she whips up in her cafe, The Coffee Klatch. Kally never believed herself to be a person worthy of love, but when an intoxicating man she considered out of her league pursues her, she risks everything to be with him. Later, when tragedy strikes, truths are revealed that leave Kally brokenhearted and untrusting. Eight years later, Kally is a successful pastry chef running the cafe she'd always dreamed of owning. With a home of her own, a profession she's passionate about, and the support and love of friends and family, Kally is content with the life she has carved out for herself. Until the day Max Vardaxis walks into her cafe...With arguing parents, meddling relatives, an overly energetic grandmother, a man-crazy best friend, and the long ago, mysterious disappearance of a grandfather, this new man in town is just one more complication in Kally's life, if not the main one.


Love Is What You Bake Of It was such a fun and cute read. I totally devoured the book in a little over a day and I am a card-carrying member of the Slow Readers Club. The story centers are Kally Andarakis and the small bakery/cafe that she owns in the town she grew up in.

Kally is afraid of love, she has been hurt, and she has vowed not to love again, but in walks Max, a local police officer. Max is good-looking and single. He is also afraid to fall in love and is concentrating on raising his daughter Athena, he is also Greek, which would please Kally’s big Greek family.

There were so many things to like about this book… Kally’s family was one. They are humorous and have Kallys best interest at heart, even though at times Kally herself doesn’t always realize this. I especially loved her grandma, who was a bit feisty and seemed to say what she wanted. Like during the romance book club meeting ( yeah Coffee Klatch held book club meetings, how cool is that? ) when she said :

The book needs more sex “………” What it is true. I might look old but inside the fire still burns…” 

For some reason, anytime she was mentioned in the book, Sophia from The Golden Girls popped into my head. 

I loved all the Greek traditions that were portrayed in the book, learning about another culture is always an added bonus to me when I read. They gave me the feeling of the tightness and importance of these traditions to the families that keep them alive, the same as so many in my own Jewish culture. This brought me so much closer to all the characters in the book, and the descriptions seem to just open up this new world that beforehand I had no idea about.

Both Kally and Max were very likable, though at times I wanted to bop Kally for being so stubborn. She was determined to set her own path away from her family and I really liked that strength in her. However, she always held her family close and would step up when needed, as when she went to Greece to help out a family member.

Max was a sexy single dad and I loved the relationship he had with his daughter Athena, and the determination he had to raise her properly. 

All in all, I found very little I did not like about Love Is What You Bake Of It, Effie Kammenou's writing weaves together a storyline that is clear and descriptive, she throws in well-developed characters that we all can relate to. The book was humorous, with strong family dynamics and just a sprinkle of mystery and suspense. OH! and I can’t forget one of my favorite parts…BAKING…mmmmhmmm you have to try some of the recipes that are in this book, the blueberry scones are to die for!

** I was gifted  this book as part of a blog tour with Kate Rock Book Tours **

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Book Review: Float Plan by Trish Doller


Critically acclaimed author Trish Doller's unforgettable and romantic adult debut about setting sail, starting over, and finding yourself...

Since the loss of her fiancĂ©, Anna has been shipwrecked by grief—until a reminder goes off about a trip they were supposed to take together. Impulsively, Anna goes to sea in their sailboat, intending to complete the voyage alone.

But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course.


I don’t even know where to begin with Float Plan the new romance by Trish Doller. It was nothing like I expected it to be, intact it was much more. By looking at the cover I expected it to be a light-hearted romance that somehow incorporated sailing. You know what they say…never judge a book by its cover. While the cover is a brightly covered happy yellow, the book does not always live up to the look.

The book begins with a suicide note, so you are instantly forced into the feeling of grief that Anna is feeling over the loss of her fiance Ben. She is devastated, she quits her Hooters-type waitressing job and decides to take the Caribbean sailing trip they had planned on Ben’s refurbished sailboat, visiting the islands that they had planned to see together. However, Anna soon learns she might not be the person to be off sailing the high seas by herself and she hires Keane, an Irish sailor to guide her on the rest of the trip.

Keane is struggling with a loss of his own, a freak accident that had left him without a leg, and the people he had sailed for in the past doubting his ability to continue his job.

Float Plan is an emotional ride, it is a heartbreaking and honest look at trying to start your life over after a loss, of any kind. Trish Doller’s writing is beautiful and compassionate, helping you feel the pain that Anna is feeling as she navigates her way into learning that it is ok to leave the memory of Ben behind and continue on with her life.

The descriptions she weaves of the islands that Anna and Keane visit are vivid and took me away from a freak winter storm, transplanting me into the warm tropical waters of the Caribbean.  The secondary characters, however short their time is in the book are unforgettable as they move in and out of Anna and Keane’s live, providing what they need physically and emotionally. And there is a dog…you can’t go wrong putting a dog to love in a book! 

The romance between Anna and Keane is a slow burner, as it should be. I would have been very disappointed in the book if the two were thrown into instant love. It starts with friendship, and learning to trust, and feeling the pain of liking someone and not knowing if you were being unfaithful to someone else memory.  Anna and Keane have great chemistry and they play well off each other with humor and kindness, and sometimes anger. It feels real, it feels raw, and this entire book will have you on a rollercoaster of laughing and crying. This book is real because that is exactly how life makes us all feel. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Book Review: Too Good To Be True by Carola Lovering


Skye Starling is overjoyed when her boyfriend, Burke Michaels, proposes after a whirlwind courtship. Though Skye seems to have the world at her fingertips―she’s smart, beautiful, and from a well-off family―she’s also battled crippling OCD ever since her mother’s death when she was eleven, and her romantic relationships have suffered as a result.

But now Burke―handsome, older, and more emotionally mature than any man she’s met before―says he wants her. Forever. Except, Burke isn’t who he claims to be. And interspersed letters to his therapist reveal the truth: he’s happily married, and using Skye for his own, deceptive ends.

In a third perspective, set thirty years earlier, a scrappy seventeen-year-old named Heather is determined to end things with Burke, a local bad boy, and make a better life for herself in New York City. But can her adolescent love stay firmly in her past―or will he find his way into her future?

On a collision course she doesn’t see coming, Skye throws herself into wedding planning, as Burke’s scheme grows ever more twisted. But of course, even the best laid plans can go astray. And just when you think you know where this story is going, you’ll discover that there’s more than one way to spin the truth.

Too Good To Be True, the new book by Carola Lovering is a psychological thriller that has all the things you want in one…a clever sociopath, revenge, and lies. But it is also hard to review because if you say too much you will give a lot away.

The book is definitely a page-turner that will keep you guessing and at times will have your jaw-dropping, unfortunately, that all seems to take place in the first half of the book, which ends with a huge twist. For me the second half of the book just didn't live up to the beginning, it seemed to fizzle out and was not as strong. I also thought the ending was a bit anti-climatic. 

The story moves back and forth between three narratives, and all three of the POV’s are compelling. The story will have you questioning the truthfulness of each character. You never seem to figure out who you can believe and who you can't which I think helped with the suspense of the book.

Lovering’s writing is fantastic and the character development is wonderful. The story is driven by the characters and their actions and is full of suspense that will thrill any thriller reader. Even with the slowness of the second half of the book, I think Too Good To Be True is a good read, and I would definitely recommend it to fellow thriller readers. I give it a solid three...I didn't hate it, I thought it was a good read, however I did not love it.

** Thank you NetGalley for the advance copy 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Book Review: Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova


Incendiary was the May 2020 Owlcrate selection. Below is a picture from their website showing what was included in the box. I am not really into graphic novels, so I put that book in my little free library to share with others.  I do use straws regularly and like having an additional set of reusable straws. I have some from Tervis Tumbler that I use, but those are fatter and don't fit in some of my cups with smaller openings in the lid. I have also found an additional set of pot holders to be useful. Overall, I was pleased with the gifts included in this month's box. 

Jacque's Review:

Renata is one of the Whispers, which is a group of rebels working to protect the Moria from the crown. Moria have various magical powers, but the King is trying to eliminate all Moria that are not directly within his control. It is believed the King now has a secret weapon that can strip them of their powers, so they must act quickly to destroy the weapon and get as many Moria to safety as possible.

Renata lived in the palace as a child and was once part of the King's prized collection of Moria. She has the rare ability to steal another person's memories. This skill can be beneficial if someone no longer wants to remember something unpleasant, but it can also be very dangerous. Removing too many memories can leave someone in a vegetative state. In addition, any memories Renata steals now plaque her memory.

The Whispers "rescued" her during an attack on the palace and she has been helping their cause ever since. She isn't trusted by most of the other members because they believe her skill is too dangerous. Dez, who is the leader of her group, believes she could be the key to their success and trusts her completely. 

Renata has witnessed the crown Prince leading the raids agains Moroi and burning towns in his wake. She believes he knows where the weapon is and is the real threat to the Moroi. When the Prince takes Dez captive, she knows it is her responsibility alone to free him. Things do not go as planned and Renata soon discovers there is far more going on behind the palace walls than she ever could have imagined. Her friends and enemies are no longer as clearly defined as she once believed.

I really enjoyed this story and can't wait to find out what happens next. It took a while for the plot to really take off, but when it finally did, we were left hanging in the balance. Everything Renata believed to be true was turned upside down. We finally know where everyone stands and then the book comes to an abrupt ending. 

There was a lot of history, world building, and discovery of Renata's past that took place within this book. I think Illusionary, which will be released on May 11th, should take off like a cannon. This is a duology and there is a lot that still needs to take place if Renata is going to save the Moria and the Kingdom. I am glad I did not read this book as soon as it was released. I now only have to wait a couple of months to see how this story will conclude.

This isn't a book I probably would have selected on my own, but it was another excellent pick by Owlcrate.