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30 June 2017

Curves, Kisses & Chocolate Ice Cream by Sue Watson (Tour, Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I loved the first book in this series, Ella's Ice Cream Summer, so I was thrilled when I saw this follow-up on NetGalley! I was even more thrilled when I grabbed a spot on the blog tour for its release week. Curves, Kisses & Chocolate Ice Cream is fabulous!
We're back at the ice cream cafe and although most of the characters from the first installment are present here, this time our focus is on an employee of the cafe named Dani. Dani has a lot of issues with relationships and food and, often, they go hand-in-hand. Each chapter starts out with a diary entry of a diet she has been on -- and the man involved. 
(Can't get much more of a "Book Beginnings" than the table of contents, can you???
Book Beginnings is hosted at Rose City Reader)
None of her past attempts have ever worked as intended. Now she's almost 40, back home in Appledore, and working at the ice cream cafe where she had worked as a teenager. She's determined to celebrate turning 40 slimmer, healthier and happier but it's a daunting task since she despises exercise as much as she loves food.

She joins a local gym and she meets its owner, Chris. Inappropriate comments and mishaps abound, but it's all good. At least she's going, right?

(Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. This week's 56 is page 56 of the ePub from NetGalley.) 
Dani is snarky and sarcastic and tries to turn everything into a joke -- often at her own expense. I get it. Say something bad about yourself as a "joke" before someone else can say it and "mean it" (although, really, you mean it, too). Chris is super serious and determined to help her reach her goals, though -- especially because it would be great for the gym's reputation to have her as a success story.

It was such a joy to watch both of them transform over the time spent together. He loosened up and she got more serious about her life choices. Of course, being a Sue Watson book, there were some sad face sniffley heartbreak moments ... but there were so many more laughs and heartwarming moments that I smiled a lot more than I sniffled. I also craved a lot of ice cream. (Luckily, I embraced my inner Dani and hit the exercise bike instead of the box of ice cream ... except for a spoon or two!)

Absolutely a 5 star read!

Buy from AmazonUK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2nD4RdH 
Buy from AmazonUS 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2thm4NR

Dani’s on a mission to get her life back on track by the end of the Summer. Running, rowing, aerobics and more, but perhaps all she needs are sweet treats and a second chance?

Twenty years ago, Dani fled Appledore with a broken-heart and a suitcase full of shattered dreams. Only now is she brave enough to put her past behind her and return for a summer selling homemade ice-cream and getting fit by doing sit-ups by the sea.

But the new-look cafe is filled with old memories of Jude, her teenage sweetheart-turned-sour. She thinks of him every time she swirls warm sauce onto a “chocolate-bockaglory” and even with the help of Chris, her gorgeous personal trainer, the urge to break her diet is everywhere she turns.

When Jude makes an appearance at the cafe on the eve of Dani’s birthday party, history threatens to repeat itself. Is Dani strong enough to say no? And is the love she’s been longing for much closer than she thinks?

A truly delicious, laugh out loud beach read that’s guaranteed to melt your heart. Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond, Jenny Colgan and Debbie Johnson.


Buy from AmazonUK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2nD4RdH 
Buy from AmazonUS 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2thm4NR

28 June 2017

Rambling About.. The House of Memory by Carolyn Haines

Oh. My. Gosh. If I thought that The Book of Beloved had knocked my socks off, then the follow up has taken my knickers, too.

Raissa James and Reginald Proctor have teamed up to form the Pluto's Snitch private investigation agency which specializes in supernatural spooky stuff. She can communicate with the dead and he's quite gifted at reading the living (don't ever get into a card game with the man unless you want to lose!). Together they've earned quite a reputation and are summoned to consult with Zelda Fitzgerald about a friend of hers in trouble.

We get to see a psychiatric hospital practicing treatments worthy of gothic horror movies, possible evil possessions, ghosts galore, and Raissa being awesome. Reginald isn't bad, but Raissa is pretty dang kickass. It's 1920 and she smokes, drinks, drives, protests, investigates the seedy underbelly of society and communicates with ghosts? I would love to see a movie or tv series made out of these!

First line: The bow of the steamboat Miss Vandy cut through the dark water of the Alabama River as we moved north against the current.

Faves on 4s:
4% - "Have you ever considered that maybe your dead don't want you pining for them? Maybe that's why they don't show up." It wasn't a thought that had occurred to me, but I liked it.
24% - Unbelievable. Nurse Brady was no one's fool, yet Reginald had charmed her into doing exactly as he wanted.
44% - I walked the perimeter of the room, calming myself, opening up to the possibility of some other entity in that space. My mouth was dry, and my heart beat furiously -- I was afraid.
64% - "Curses don't always work the way they're intended."
84% - Their eyes rolled up in their heads, revealing only the whites. "Go away." Jagged red lines appeared at their throats. They widened into horrible gashes, and blood poured out.

27 June 2017

Teasing two by Carolyn Haines (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I'm about 65% through the first of Carolyn Haine's Pluto's Snitch series, The Book of Beloved, and am tempted to just dive into the second, The House of Memory, as soon as I'm done. You might already know that I love her Sarah Booth Delaney series and this one is knocking my socks off even more!

There's a darker feel than the Sarah Booth books so far and, since the setting is the Southern US in 1920, that includes a lot of historical angst. The Civil War wasn't so long ago that there aren't still folks who remember and World War I is very much fresh in everyone's minds -- particularly those widowed young like Raissa James.

Raissa is a literature teacher and a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and J. Sheridan Le Fanu. She loves the creepy and mysterious and this all comes in handy when she's faced with dead bodies popping up -- both recently killed and the ghosts of those who have been long gone.

If you like history, intrigue, and things that go bump in the night, Carolyn Haines new series is definitely recommended!

I know ... "First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" from Bibliophile by the Sea is on vacation ... but I'm used to doing these two together so I'm just going to stick with it. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

20 June 2017

Summer at Buttercup Beach by Holly Martin (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I know ... "First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" from Bibliophile by the Sea is on vacation ... but I'm used to doing these two together so I'm just going to stick with it. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.



I started reading Summer at Buttercup Beach on my way in to work Monday night. I already knew the main characters somewhat, having had "met them" in Spring at Blueberry Bay. Roman's the brother of Bella, the heroine of Spring, and Freya's his best friend/employee at his glassworks shop. It was pretty clear in the last book that they were fighting feelings, because .... you know .... things are never simple.


I couldn't put this down once I started it (aside from getting my son ready for school). I carried my phone with me everywhere and even cut my post-work nap short so I could finish it and then try and find the right words for a good and proper review.

I can't do that, it seems, so instead I'm going to write an open letter of sorts to Holly.

Oh, my dear Holly Martin. I don't know how you always seem to know just what I need from a book. It's as though you've been teaming up somehow with my Kindle app and, I don't know, maybe my cat (I'm fairly certain he at least has his own Twitter or Tumblr). 

You've somehow niggled your way into my very being. 


Once again, you have delivered to me (via your brilliant publishers & NetGalley) a book that's hugged me close and let me snot all over its shirt (if a book wore clothing, that is) and whispered that everything really could work out in the end. You've made me shed an almost ridiculous amount of tears, followed by laughing until I snort beverages out of my nose, followed by more tears.

Once again, you have given me believable characters to love and root for. You've developed an amazing couple who are able to overcome past foibles and future fears to reach that happily ever after that seems so elusive at times. And even though we all know that it's where they'll end up, it isn't so contrived and cliched in its telling that is feels like you've just called it in.


So thank you, yet again, Holly. Every time I open one of your books my romantic sappy side grows a little bit stronger and my pessimistic side weakens. If you're ever in my area, I owe you a drink.

19 June 2017

Rambling About.. A Walk on the Dead Side by Lucy Quinn

Amazon Description
All Cookie James wanted was a romantic island picnic with her sexy handyman, Dylan Creed. What she got was a lobster trap full of drugs. As an ex-FBI agent, Cookie's determined to hand the evidence off to local authorities and stay out of the fray. But when a package arrives with a gory warning, she has no choice but to call in her former partner, Hunter O'Neil and investigate the case.
Hunter’s arrival brings more than crime fighting expertise. He'd like his connection to Cookie to finally be more than professional. There's no denying the sparks between them. Except with Dylan in the picture, Cookie's realizing someone else might be lighting her fire. Unfortunately, her love life is going to have to wait. Between kidnappings, attempted murder, and stolen kisses, Cookie James has a case to solve.


This is the third of the Secret Seal Isles Mysteries by Lucy Quinn (you can see my rambles of the other two here). I highly HIGHLY recommend reading them in order so you aren't completely lost as to who is who and what is going on.

In fact, if you haven't read the others yet you may want to hold off on reading this ramble until you've done so.

I'm just saying. Some things may get slightly spoiled. They may not. It's hard to tell sometimes, you know?

Just over a month has apparently passed between the first book and this one and, once again, it begins with Cookie's mom acting outrageously and Cookie and Dylan attempting to go on a proper first date -- to the same island they attempted the last time. This time they don't stumble upon a dead body ... but they do retrieve a lobster trap pull of cocaine which Cookie insists on keeping possession of until the local authorities can retrieve it. Of course, she also calls hunky former FBI partner, Hunter, back to the island to help out.

Poor Dylan. Last time I said that Cookie couldn't catch a break but maybe it's really Dylan we should be feeling sorry for here! Just when he thinks he finally gets a chance, something always seems to happen.

Dead people. Drugs. Body parts being delivered to the inn. Hunter. Cookie being flighty as heck.

Yeah, for a former FBI agent, the girl has some serious issues she needs to get in check.

It's a fast read at 181 pages according to Amazon. I was able to knock it out during a work shift while also actually doing my job and cavorting with friends online. As I was able to do all three simultaneously, you can probably guess that it's not a mentally strenuous read. Sometimes those are the type you need, though.

While I enjoyed the story and it kept me guessing as to what in the world would happen next, Cookie just wasn't as much of a star for me as she was probably intended to be. Yeah, she's the "main character" and all, but the more of these that I read the more I become enamored with her mom. I kind of wish they were her books and that Cookie was just a secondary character rather than vice-versa.

This woman has some seriously funny bits and I'm pretty sure that if it wasn't for her I'd be more or less "eh" about the rest. I kind of want to be her when I grow up ...

16 June 2017

Einstein by Miles Gibson (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

This isn't the book I'm actually reading at the moment ... but I'm saving all teasers for that one until it's publication date, so I'm teasing what I'll be reading next instead -- Miles Gibson's Einstein. It was a random NetGalley grab for me, but it sounds interesting and the opening and 56% mark are encouraging for it living up to that.

As always, Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings is at Rose City Reader.

13 June 2017

Double Cover Reveal! Vivian Conroy's #CornishCastle

I am beyond thrilled to be able to share with you the oh-so-exciting news about Vivian Conroy's upcoming Cornish Castle series! I have absolutely loved her Lady Alkmene books so jumped at the chance when she asked if I wanted to be part of the cover reveal for the the first book in her new series, Death Plays a Part.

What's even better than being part of a cover reveal?

Being part of a DOUBLE cover reveal!!! Especially exciting when the covers are this much fun!

And even better than a double cover reveal for books with super fun covers?

A double cover reveal with a sneak peek blurb!!!

I am so so SO excited about these books and the first one is out on July 7th! They've got some of my favorite things -- history, mystery & Cornwall plus a canine sidekick and all by an author I already adore!

Pre-order NOW!!!

Death Plays a Part

Welcome to Cornisea island and spend your summer holidays in a Cornish Castle.

Guinevere and her trusted dog Dolly have arrived on Cornisea island in Cornwall for the summer. But what should be weeks of cataloguing books and sunny walks on the beach turns deadly when murder strikes!
The first book in the Cornish Castle Mystery series with the second instalment RUBIES AMONG THE ROSES coming August 2017!

Rubies in the Roses

Welcome to Cornisea island and spend your summer holidays in a Cornish Castle.

Guinevere and her Dachshund Dolly are happily enjoying their summer by the Cornish coast - sun, sea and delicious food. Until a long-lost treasure and a mysterious death turns her holiday into a search for justice!
The second book in the brand new Cornish Castle Mystery series, don’t miss DEATH PLAYS A PART - the first in this new cozy crime series.

Unmasking Miss Appleby by Emily Larkin (Tuesday Intro & Teaser Tuesday)

This book was so much freaking fun! 
It's the story of Charlotte and Marcus. She's been granted the ability to change shape by a faerie godmother and he's an Earl with more than a few difficulties in life. Someone is out to ruin him (or maybe multiple someones are) and after his secretary is injured seeks a new one. Enter Charlotte, who has taken the form of a man named Christopher and applied for the job. Of course he gets it ... and of course she ends up falling for Marcus ... and of course she has to keep the truth of her ability a secret....ish.
It's part fairytale, part mystery, part romance and, as I've mentioned, so much freaking fun. I cracked up over Charlotte's naïvety and how she dealt with her new male bits ... swooned over the steamy bits (I know, right? I'm beginning to think that maybe I'm okay with the steamy stuff as long as it's pre-1900 .... and well-written) ... gasped over the violent bits. Amazingly, none of it was overdone so skimming was involved. I happily read every last word and will happily get my hands on anything else Emily Larkin has to offer!
I know, I know ... "First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" from Bibliophile by the Sea is on vacation ... but I'm used to doing these two together so I'm just going to stick with it. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

09 June 2017

Bad Housekeeping by Maia Chance (Book Beginnings)

I normally pair Book Beginnings with Friday 56, but today I'm only doing the beginning. I didn't want to snip the first paragraph down and, really, it's all I needed to know that I had a great book on my hands!

Bad Housekeeping is fourth Maia Chance book that I've read and the first in her new Agnes and Effie Mystery series. Unlike her other two series, this one has a contemporary setting and stars 28-year-old Agnes (who is definitely a kindred spirit for me) and her great-aunt, Effie. They live in a fictional town on a fictional lake in the not-at-all fictional Finger Lakes region of New York. (Instant love for me here since I live oooh so close!)  The two of them are hilarious and their blossoming relationship is far from boring. They snark at each other and practically everyone else on a regular basis and while I can see how this could get on some people's nerves, I love the snark. It's almost like a satirical cozy with so many over-the-top situations and shout-outs to some of the great pop culture mysteries -- Nancy Drew, Murder, She Wrote, Magnum PI, and my beloved Velma Dinkley. In fact, with the addition of Agnes' cousin and high school crush, it's almost like a dogless Scooby gang!

From the very beginning I knew that this was going to be another hit for Maia Chance. By the time I reached the end, I was anxious for the next book in the series! Of course, I'll have to wait a while... Bad Housekeeping comes out on June 13th!

Amazon Description
When 28-year-old Agnes Blythe, the contented bifocals-wearing half of an academic power couple, is jilted by her professor boyfriend for the town Pilates instructor, her future is suddenly less than certain. So when her glamorous, eccentric Great Aunt Effie arrives in town and offers a job helping to salvage the condemned Stagecoach Inn, what does Agnes have to lose? But work at the inn has barely begun when the unlikely duo find the body of manipulative Kathleen Todd, with whom Agnes and Effie both have recently had words. Words strong enough to land them at the top of the suspect list. 

The pair have clearly been framed, but no one else seems interested in finding the real murderer and Agnes and Effie's sleuthing expertise is not exactly slick. Nevertheless, they're soon investigating a suspect list with laundry dirtier than a middle school soccer team's and navigating threats, car chases, shotgun blasts, and awkward strolls down memory lane.

In Bad Housekeeping, the first novel in the Agnes & Effie cozy mystery series by Maia Chance, danger mounts, deadlines loom, ancient knob-and-tube wiring is explored, and the ladies learn a thing or two about the awful, wonderful mistake that is going back home.

Book Beginnings is hosted at Rose City Reader

06 June 2017

A Suitable Affair by Erica Taylor (Tuesday Intro & Teaser Tuesday)

Take any word I have ever used to describe a book that I have absolutely loved and apply it here.... and then grab a thesaurus and look up words I haven't thought to use yet and apply those also. Erica Taylor's A Suitable Affair deserves all of the good words and even ones that haven't even been created yet. (And Amberjack Publishing does, as well, for publishing this glorious book and making it available on NetGalley so I could read it before its release .... which just so happens to be today so go buy it!)

It's captivating and enthralling and hilarious and luscious and  .... captithrallious??? Sure. Captithrallious. That almost covers it, but even that doesn't seem good enough. 

Elizabeth and Darcy? Eh. Emma and Knightley? Nah. I'm over here swooning hardcore over Susanna and Westcott. I didn't even skim over the steamier bits and you know that never happens! It's a fabulous romance with a bit of mystery mixed in and Susanna and Ian kept me guessing and laughing and aww-ing all the way.

Even the supporting characters are amazing and had me begging the author on Twitter to tell me that we'll be seeing them again (and we will! Huzzah!)! I want prequels and sequels and .... sidequels? What have Susanna's siblings been up to while she's been running around being the heroine of this story? I need to know everything about everybody ... and, quite possibly, make up some more words along the way.

I know, I know ... "First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" from Bibliophile by the Sea is on vacation ... but I'm used to doing these two together so I'm just going to stick with it. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

02 June 2017

The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach by Kat French (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I have quite enjoyed Kat French's The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach , which really hasn't surprised me at all. See, Kat French = Kitty French and thanks to Melody Bittersweet she has quickly become one of my favorite chick lit authors. I hit the request button for this on NetGalley so hard I actually scared my cat a bit. 
This has so much of the same sense of fun and snark as my beloved Chapelwick Mysteries. There's a bit more romance which makes up for the lack of ghosts (although I was kind of hoping one would show up in the cellar), and I have to admit that some of the steamier scenes were almost skimmed over. Luckily there weren't too many and they weren't too long. (You know how I am about stuff like that in my books!)
All three of the main characters play off each other beautifully. The friendship between Winnie, Stella and Frankie was truly one of the highlights for me. It seemed that Winnie's individual story got a bit more attention than the others, but not so much to have me think of the other two as backup ... much. Maybe a little. I still quite enjoyed the book, though, and definitely wouldn't mind making another trip to Villa Valentina in the future!

Amazon Description
Winnie, Stella and Frankie have been best friends forever. When their lives unexpectedly unravel, they spontaneously decide to buy a gorgeous B&B on a remote Greek island.
Drenched in hot sun, Villa Valentina is the perfect escape from reality. But when Winnie meets Jesse, their brooding neighbour, she finds that Greece is full of its own complications – not least how attractive he is…
Meanwhile, Frankie and Stella are discovering that Villa Valentina has its own secrets – starting with the large supply of gin in the cellar and the arrival of a famous rock band. A band with one very good-looking member who just might distract Frankie from thoughts of her husband…

As always, Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings is at Rose City Reader.

01 June 2017

Rambling About.. Elizabeth, The Witch's Daughter by Lynda M Andrews

If you've been around me at all, it likely doesn't shock you to be told that I'm a ginormous anglophile. I frequently lament being born on the wrong side of the pond and have already informed my son that his life goal should be to get a good enough job to be able to send me on a cruise across the Atlantic. You probably have also figured out already that I'm a bit of a history nerd .... but ....

I kind of feel like I need to hang my head in shame for a moment or two.

When it comes to English history? I've only ever really paid attention to anything pre-1400s and post-1700s. I'm not quite sure how, but I've pretty much skipped 300 years of anything more than just basic knowledge.

Lynda M. Andrews is changing that, though, with Elizabeth, The Witch's Daughter. I knew (thanks to my basic knowledge) about Elizabeth I being "The Virgin Queen" and the daughter of Henry VIII. I knew he went through wives like some monarchs went through ... well ... not toilet paper because that's only been around since the mid- to late-1800s. You know what I mean, though. It was fascinating for me to get a glimpse into what her life might have been like growing up with a distant father and a revolving door of stepmothers after her own mother had been killed when she was just a toddler. She went from being told that the was a princess and would some day be Queen to a subject much like any other -- under the rule of her own half-brother and then her half-sister. She went from feeling in control and cherished to scrutinized and threatened. The poor girl was on a roller-coaster before they even existed!

I quite fell for Bess. She felt fiercely independent because she had to be and, at the same time, had a deep longing to have someone she could depend on as she probably would have been able to depend on her mother under normal circumstances. She did have Kat Ashley, her governess and companion for much of her early life, and that relationship was a joy to read .... most of the time. Any relationship Elizabeth had with anyone was bound to be rocky since she had such enormous trust issues and, as Kat pointed out on several occasions, she was definitely her father's daughter when it came to stubbornness and temper.

Really, my only complaint about this book is that I flew through it far too quickly. Granted, even if it was twice as long I'd still probably feel like it was too short. It's okay, though, because now I feel like I have to catch up on the missing 300 years worth of England's history via books, movies, and television series. It'll be the gift that keeps on giving.