Libby Morgan has worked hard to make partner in the law firm she works at sacrificing much including her marriage. She finally feels like the partnerLibby Morgan has worked hard to make partner in the law firm she works at sacrificing much including her marriage. She finally feels like the partner offer will come soon but instead, much to her dismay, she is laid off. It takes time to adjust to the idea of having to find a new job but she comes around, starting a new life - learning to knit, rocking babies, mentoring a troubled teenager, and making new friends. Even her love life is looking up thanks to Dr. Phillip Stone. Libby's life has changed for the better but will she revert back to her old habits?
"Starting Now" is a nicely done novel about a woman who discovers that there is more to life than working all the time. Libby is a nicely written character who flourishes when she has a chance to to redo her life - a very real character who stumbles along the road to change. Her romance with Phillip Stone is also nicely done - nothing is easy for these two but their romance is well-written and believable. Mixed in with the romance between Libby and Phillip (and a sweet secondary romance) there is a deep, moving, surprising, and unexpected plot line. I won't give it away except to say I admire the sympathetic way author Debbie Macomber treated Ava's character. Although this book is part of Macomber's Blossom Street series and fans of that series will enjoy meeting up with the characters from the Blossom Street books, (mostly Lydia and her family), this is a standalone book so if you haven't read any of her other Blossom Street books you can easily read this without feeling like you're missing anything.
"Starting Now" is a wonderful novel about a second (and even a third) chance at happiness. Well done!
After losing to the New York Yankees in the 2003 playoffs, the Boston Red Sox fired manager Grady Little and hired Terry Francona in his place. TheirAfter losing to the New York Yankees in the 2003 playoffs, the Boston Red Sox fired manager Grady Little and hired Terry Francona in his place. Their choice paid off quickly as the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and again in 2007. For a while all was well in Red Sox Nation but the good times didn't last as Francona lost control of the clubhouse and players and after a disastrous 2011 season Francona was fired. “Francona: The Red Sox Years” is the story of Francona's roller coaster years as Red Sox manager.
Written by Dan Shaughnessy and Terry Francona (Shaughnessy wisely writes in the third person and doesn't pretend the book is solely written from Francona's point of view), “Francona: The Red Sox Years” is an interesting look back at his years as manager of the Red Sox. If you are a diehard Red Sox fan you probably won't learn anything you didn't already know when reading this book, but it is still fun to look back at the excitement of two World Series wins and anguishing to read and relive the horrors of Tito's last season in Boston. While the Boston media has made much of the way Francona bashes Red Sox management in the book I found it not nearly as bad as portrayed in the media. Yes, Francona was upset at the way he was treated at the end and it is clear he is not a John Henry fan, but his biggest beef still seems to be about whoever told the media he had a “problem” with prescription drugs. Francona doesn't reveal anything in this book that isn't public knowledge - for example he acknowledges the breakup of his marriage but doesn't go into the details of why/how it happened. It is clear who his favorite players were - even David Ortiz who had his battles with Francona gets a pass in this book - and who he didn't like (not that Manny Ramirez probably cares!). Shaughnessy does an excellent job of quoting Francona - I could hear Tito's voice in my head while reading the book. In the end, I think despite the fact that Francona clearly has his opinions about Red Sox ownership, the book is pretty evenhanded. Francona admits that he made his share of mistakes and does appear to happen disinterested at times towards the end of his time in Boston.
“Francona: The Red Sox Years: may not have anything new to say but it is still an interesting look at the manager who brought a World Series win to Boston for the first time in 86 years. ...more
When her friend Violet La Rue decides to stage “A Midsummer Night's Dream” librarian Lindsey Norris has no intentions of auditioning but happily agreeWhen her friend Violet La Rue decides to stage “A Midsummer Night's Dream” librarian Lindsey Norris has no intentions of auditioning but happily agrees to work backstage. She's hoping being busy will help her get over her breakup with Sully but soon finds that impossible since Sully is also working backstage. However, actor Robbie Vine is willing to try and help her get over Sully. Before she can begin sort out her feelings for each of them, tragedy strikes and Lindsey discovers there is danger backstage and she may be the next victim.
“Read It and Weep” is the fourth book in Jenn MacKinlay’s Library Lovers cozy mystery series - a series that I like more and more with each book. Much of the action in the book takes place not at the library but at the theater where the group is putting on the play. This is a nice change of pace and offers some interesting behind the scenes glimpses of what it is like to put on a play. Four books into the series the characters are well-developed and feel like old friends -even Ms. Cole who added an unexpected bit of humor to the book. The mystery itself is well plotted (if a bit over-the-top) with the lot of twists and turns. Some of these twists are easy to figure out; others may seem a little unfair but did ultimately remind me of an Agatha Christie mystery. The one thing I didn't like about this book is the Sully/Lindsey/Robbie triangle which reminds me a bit too much of the romantic complications in McKinlay's Cupcake Bakery cozy mystery series - at times I found that the romance aspects were taking over the mystery aspects. Hopefully this will get settled in the next book(s) in the series.
“Read It and Weep” is a nicely done cozy mystery. ...more
It is Christmas time at the Pennyfoot Country Club and Cecily Sinclair Baxter is looking forward to her favorite things about the holidays - her frienIt is Christmas time at the Pennyfoot Country Club and Cecily Sinclair Baxter is looking forward to her favorite things about the holidays - her friend Madeline's exquisite decorations, the caroling, Phoebe Carter-Holmes Fortescue’s pageants (even if they usually end disastrously). One tradition she wouldn't mind not happening is the murder mystery that seems to happen each year. Alas, she won't get her wish as a body is found washed up on the shores near the Pennyfoot - and the death was no accident. Cecily is once again caught up in trying to solve a murder but will her actions put those closest to her in danger?
“Mulled Murder” is the last book in the series of Pennyfoot Country Club Holiday Cozy Mysteries. While I am sorry the series is ending, I am pleased with the way author Kate Kingsbury wrapped up the series. The storylines for most of the characters, especially the household staff, were tied up and many left a smile on my face. As for the mystery itself, it is nicely done. There are a lot of new characters in this book, many of whom have secrets, so there are plenty of suspects to keep readers guessing as to who the killer is. There are a lot of twists and turns in this book - not all involving the murder mystery - that will keep readers delighted. As for Phoebe's last pageant, you won't be disappointed :-)
“Mulled Murder” is a fitting ending to a long-running cozy mystery series that will be missed.
Danny Torrance battled the demons of the Overlook Hotel as a child and the demons of alcoholism as an adult. He is trying to turn his life around andDanny Torrance battled the demons of the Overlook Hotel as a child and the demons of alcoholism as an adult. He is trying to turn his life around and has pretty much tampered down his gift of the Shining when young Abra Stone gets in touch with him. Abra also has the gift of the Shining - much more so than Dan ever did. Unfortunately, she's attracted the attention of the True Knot a group of vampire-like beings who need her for her “steam”. Soon Abra and Dan unite to fight the True Knot and Dan will finally face all of his demons.
In his long career Stephen King has created characters that linger in readers minds long after they've finished reading the book and young Danny Torrance from “The Shining” is certainly one of them. At the end of “The Shining” there was a faint bit of hope that Danny would turn out okay; at the beginning of “Doctor Sleep” it is unfortunately clear that Dan has followed in dear old dad's footsteps. Unlike Jack Torrance, whom I root for every time I reread The Shining (hoping that somehow this time he'll find a way past the demons that haunt him), Danny is not a particularly likable character at the beginning of “Doctor Sleep”. King took a big chance with Danny's character but slowly redeemed him throughout the course of the book until I was finally rooting for him as much as I did his father. Abra is a nicely done character and shows King at his best - her Shining is powerfully strong and, while unbelievable in real-life, King manages to make readers believe there really could be someone out there with her abilities. Her connection with Dan is wonderfully done with a twist I really should have seen coming but didn't. As for the True Knot, while they did have some creepy and horrifying moments, they weren't as creepy as some of King's earlier villains. King does have some nifty tricks up his sleeve regarding them but he has mellowed in his old age and I can't help but think there would have been more bloodshed among the good guys if he had written “Doctor Sleep” when he was younger.
If I had to compare the two books, I'd have to say “The Shining” is the better of the two simply because it is scarier even after repeated readings (hedge animals anyone?). However, “Doctor Sleep” is a worthy sequel and Dan and Abra still linger in my mind even though I finished reading the book. ...more
Maggie Gerber and several of her friends belong to the Good Buy Girls a group that meets and strategizes frequently on how to find bargains. They willMaggie Gerber and several of her friends belong to the Good Buy Girls a group that meets and strategizes frequently on how to find bargains. They will have to strategize in a different way now - Claire Freemont, one of the members, has been accused of murder. She actually did have a reason to want the victim dead, but so did several others, and Maggie and the rest of the Good Buy Girls are determined to prove that Claire is innocent and find the real killer. The only problem is that Maggie has to deal with pesky sheriff Sam Collins.
"50% Off Murder" is the nicely done first book in Josie Belle's Good Buy Girls cozy mystery series (Belle is the pseudonym for cozy mystery author Jen McKinlay). I admit the book got off to a rocky start for me as, while I love sales, I am not fond of extreme coupon clipping, people who are too frugal, or those that shop just because it is on sale, but I quickly got over that and came to like the characters and set up. What I liked best about the book is the close friendship between the Good Buy Girls (Maggie, Ginger, Joanne, and Claire) and how they pulled together when one of them needed help. I also like the fact that they all, including Maggie, had secrets they were keeping from each other as this made them deeper characters. The one thing I didn't like was the rivalry between Maggie and Summer Phillips, which is way over the top (and reminiscent of the feud between Angie, Melanie, and Olivia Puckett in McKinlay's Cupcake Bakery cozy mystery series). I know it is meant to be funny but a little bit goes a long way. Finally, while the mystery is cleverly plotted, I wish there were more suspects and I honestly forgot the killer was even a character in the book.
"50% Off Murder" is a bit uneven but has a nice set up and some great characters and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. ...more
Abby Knight has her hands full. Not only is she busy running her flower shop, Bloomers, she is planning her own wedding shower to hold off interferencAbby Knight has her hands full. Not only is she busy running her flower shop, Bloomers, she is planning her own wedding shower to hold off interference by her cousin Jillian, her mother, and future mother-in-law. Although she has enjoyed helping her fiancé Marco Salvare, a private investigator, solve mysteries in the past she really doesn't have time for a case right now. However, when Jillian begs her for help she reluctantly agrees even though the case involves her ex-fiancé Pryce Osborne. Pryce's current fiancée is missing and Pryce is desperate to find her. Unfortunately, the missing person case turns into a murder case and Marco and Abby scramble to solve it before Pryce ends up in jail.
"Nightshade on Elm Street" is the 13th book in Kate Collins Flower Shop cozy mystery series and in some ways it is the deepest. While it is obvious that Abby loves Marco, she still has some unresolved feelings about Pryce and having a mystery centered around him and his family and friends is a brilliant idea. The flower shop mysteries are written in the first-person, narrated by Abby and, while longtime readers know how Abby feels about being dumped by Pryce, it was refreshing to get a glimpse of his side of the story. Abby's character was a bit annoying in this book- she insisted on doing everything herself, even throwing her own wedding shower - but Collins does an excellent job of having the other characters stopping Abby in before she became insufferable. We see a lot more of Jillian in this book - I find myself liking her more and more with each book (there is a running gag in this book, which I won't spoil, that kept me laughing throughout the book). The other characters surrounding Pryce tended to be a bit stereotypical. The mystery itself was well written and plotted with a nifty plot twist that made the book more interesting. There are plenty of suspects and readers will be kept busy trying to figure out who the killer is.
"Nightshade on Elm Street" is another fun cozy mystery by Kate Collins. ...more
Olivia Limoges thinks she has finally come to peace with her troubled childhood and past and in fact was thrilled to find that she had a half-brotherOlivia Limoges thinks she has finally come to peace with her troubled childhood and past and in fact was thrilled to find that she had a half-brother and has grown close to him and his family. Her peace, however, is shattered when Munin Cooper, known as the Witch of Oyster Bay, gives her a memory jug that may reveal things about Olivia's mother that Olivia would rather not know. Before Olivia can uncover many of the jugs secrets, Munin is found dead. Olivia isn't convinced the death was accidental and when another person dies she is sure there is a killer on the loose. Will Olivia and the rest of the members of the Bayside Book Writers Club ,including police chief Sawyer Rawlings, be able to catch the killer before someone else dies?
Often while reading a cozy mystery series I can tell when an author finally feels totally comfortable with her characters and "Written in Stone", the fourth book in Ellery Adams's Books by the Bay cozy mystery series is one of those books. Olivia has been a complex and fascinating character from the beginning and has grown with each book but in this book I felt she grew the most. Once prickly around people, she has finally learned to accept friendship and love and, while she'll never totally be a soft person, she is definitely less rough around the edges than in the first book. Adams continues to reveal secrets from Olivia's past (some of which she herself didn't know) and Adams reveals a doozy in this book (I'm still debating how I feel about Olivia's decision at the end of the book). Other characters are equally well done - in this book it is Millay who shines the most. And I can't forget Olivia's dog Captain. Haviland who is more human than some of the minor characters. As for the mystery itself, it was well plotted and I kept changing my mind as to who the killer was. There is a sense of real danger towards the end of the book. The only thing I missed in the book were the excerpts from the books being written by the members of the Bayside Book Writers Club - I hope they reappear in the next book in the series.
"Written in Stone" is another great book in a cozy mystery series that gets better with each book. ...more
The past few Christmases at the Pennyfoot Country Club have been anything but quiet but Cecily Sinclair Baxter is hoping that this year will be differThe past few Christmases at the Pennyfoot Country Club have been anything but quiet but Cecily Sinclair Baxter is hoping that this year will be different especially since her housekeeper, Mrs. Chubb, has been called away on a family emergency. Unfortunately, Cecily's wishes are quickly dashed as first her staff does not get along with the temporary housekeeper and second a guest at the Pennyfoot is murdered. Although her husband Baxter doesn't want her to get involved, Cecily wants the murder solved as soon as possible even if she is the one that has to solve it.
"The Clue is in the Pudding" is the delightful eighth book in Kate Kingsbury's Holiday Pennyfoot Hotel cozy mystery series and it is always a pleasure to visit the Pennyfoot at Christmas. I love catching up with Cecily, Baxter, Madeleine, Phoebe, Kevin Prestwick, and even Colonel Fortescue and of course it wouldn't be Christmas at the Pennyfoot without Phoebe's entertaining Christmas pageants which never go as smoothly as Phoebe and Cecily would like. In addition to Cecily and friends there are the stories of her staff. Some of the storylines have played out over several of the books in this holiday series and without giving too much away I'll say I was quite happy with the developments of some of the storylines in this book. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens in future books. The mystery itself is well plotted with plenty of suspects, some of whom have poignant reasons for wanting the murder victim dead. There are some genuinely suspenseful moments towards the end of the book that will have readers quickly turning the pages hoping Cecily can once again catch a killer without harm to herself.
"The Clue is in the Pudding" is another nice cozy mystery by Kate Kingsbury - a perfect break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. ...more
Carrie Rushton has just been named president of the Friends of the Library when her husband is murdered. The police seem to think Carrie is the killerCarrie Rushton has just been named president of the Friends of the Library when her husband is murdered. The police seem to think Carrie is the killer and aren't looking at many other suspects but Library Director Lindsay Norris and some other of Carrie's friends don't think she is the killer and decide to investigate. They need to be careful - the killer is not afraid to strike again.
"Due or Die" (the second book in Jenn McKinlay's Library Lovers cozy mystery series) is a delightful cozy mystery and a perfect example of why I love cozy mysteries so much. It has everything a good cozy should have - a resourceful heroine; a fun setting (the library); some close friends of the heroine; a cute dog; a hint of romance; even a bad storm. This is the kind of book I love reading in bed while curled up under the covers. I really did enjoy the library setting and characters, especially Beth who always has the right costumes for reading to children. Lindsay's ongoing battles with Ms. Cole made me chuckle. Lindsay is a nice heroine who bikes to work, cares deeply about her work and friends, is attracted to Sally (there is a great scene between the two at the end that had me saying "you go girl!"), loves animals, and isn't afraid of danger. The Connecticut setting is nicely done - as a New Englander I could picture the library and town and have lived through many a nor'easter myself so felt like I was right in the book with the characters. As for the mystery itself, while there were plenty of suspects I figured out early on who the killer was.
"Due or Die" is a delightful cozy mystery by Jenn McKinlay and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. ...more
While she is happy that her friends Lindsay and Lizzie Anne have found love, Katie Kauffman can't help but feel left out as she has yet to find true lWhile she is happy that her friends Lindsay and Lizzie Anne have found love, Katie Kauffman can't help but feel left out as she has yet to find true love. That seems to change as she grows closer to Jake Yoder while he is renovating the display cases at the Kauffman Amish Bakery. Jake seems to feel the same way about Katie but their love has a major problem - Katie is Amish, Jake is Mennonite and their love is forbidden. Will Katie and Jake have to sacrifice everything in order to follow God's path?
"A Season of Love", the fifth and final book in Amy Clipston's Kauffman Amish Bakery series and it is a fitting end to the series. Clipston's book is not just a romance novel but an insightful look into the Amish way of life including the sometimes harsh rules the Amish have to live by (Katie's father made me angry more than once). Clipston does an excellent job with Katie's character and she is a very believable character as she often feels like a fifth wheel when her friends find love and she doesn't (at least at first). Jake is also a good character - he is falling in love with Katie, doesn't want to hurt her, and wonders how they can have a future together. The romance between the two develops slowly but nicely and the anguish of a seemingly impossible future together is particularly well done. All of the other stories in the book are done nicely and while Clipston does a good job of wrapping up the series I still wouldn't mind finding out what happens to others in the book especially Jessica.
"A Season of Love" is an excellent novel of romance, struggles, faith, and hope. ...more
The Amish living in the town of Shipshewana are shocked when the body of a young woman is found floating in a local pond. They are devastated when ReuThe Amish living in the town of Shipshewana are shocked when the body of a young woman is found floating in a local pond. They are devastated when Reuben Fisher is arrested as a suspect in her death. Deborah Yoder is convinced he did nothing wrong and she, with the help of her English friend Callie Harper, sets out to try to prove his innocence. Their task won't be easy as Reuben refuses to speak about the case. When not trying to help Deborah, Callie is trying to help an elderly Amish man find the daughter he insists went missing years ago - a daughter no one else seems to know ever existed. Both Deborah and Callie have their hands full and the truth behind the Amish girl's death may be devastating for all involved.
After having read several Amish romances, I was curious to see what an Amish mystery was like and "A Perfect Square" did not disappoint. Author Vanetta Chapman has done an excellent job of blending the Amish life, their English friends, and the mystery. This isn't the type of mystery where you try to figure out who the killer is; instead you find out how the girl died, why Reuben won't talk, and why Samuel is hiding. Chapman takes her time unveiling the story and when the truth comes out it is truly heartbreaking. I think this book would be a good choice for a book club because there could be a prolonged discussion of the actions and decisions of some of the characters, especially Samuel and Reuben. At the end of the book, I'm still not sure whether or not I liked Samuel. After reading the book, my heart ached for so many of the characters. The one thing I didn't like is Callie's tangled love life - three love interests were two too many for my liking.
"A Perfect Square" is a perfect mystery set in the Amish Community. ...more
Sadie King has always done her best to live a good Amish life but she loves to sing and most music is frowned upon by the Amish community. Her RumspriSadie King has always done her best to live a good Amish life but she loves to sing and most music is frowned upon by the Amish community. Her Rumspringa has given her the chance to sing in a band but she is facing pressure from her family to be baptized which would mean giving up singing forever. Mike Trueherz, an Englisher, is in a similar situation - his doctor father wants him to become a doctor and eventually take over his practice but Mike doesn't want to become a doctor. As both Sadie and Mike struggle with deciding which world they belong to they become friends and soon more than friends which leads to even more complications as Amish and Englishers rarely marry.
I've read many Amish romances and "A Simple Spring" may be one of the best I've read. It is a moving, often heartbreaking look at two people who are trying to please their families yet follow their own hearts at the same time. Sadie's story is at the forefront and author Rosalind Lauer has created an achingly real character who loves the Amish way of life yet is lured by life in the city and her love of all kinds of music. Lauer does an excellent job of comparing Sadie's struggles with that of Remy McCallister's story in A Simple Winter: A Seasons of Lancaster Novel (the first book in the series) - of all the characters Remy understands the best the decisions Sadie has to make. Lauer never criticizes the Amish community but it is clear how strict Amish life can be and how strict Amish families and church members can be. Mike's story is in the background (a wise decision by Lauer as Sadie's story is far more compelling although Mike's story may be more familiar to readers) yet you still feel for him as he struggles to find the right way to tell his father he doesn't want to be a doctor. Lauer lets the romance between Sadie and Mike develop slowly and when it does develop it is a very sweet romance. I know there will be another book in the series and look forward to hearing more about Sadie and Mike and their families.
"A Simple Spring" is a moving, at times heartbreaking romance (keep tissues nearby while reading it). Highly recommended. ...more
Raised in a close-knit Amish family, Rachel Yoder did toy with the idea of not returning from her Rumspringa but she did, marrying Jacob. Jacob is deaRaised in a close-knit Amish family, Rachel Yoder did toy with the idea of not returning from her Rumspringa but she did, marrying Jacob. Jacob is dead now and Rachel and her daughter Katie have returned home to help her family. In New York, Ellie Shore is consumed with her public relations career to the point she ignores her love life and family at times. The two seemingly have little in common but when they discover they were switched shortly after birth and sent home with the wrong family, each decides to live with their biological families for a while to get a taste of what their life might have been like. Each of them will find themselves and their lives forever changed.
"A Plain and Fancy Christmas" is an interesting, at times thought provoking, novel about two women whose worlds unexpectedly collide. Author Cynthia Keller does lean a bit toward making the Amish lifestyle seem more appealing but she does do an excellent job of showing how such news can initially shatter each family yet ultimately pull them together and perhaps make them stronger. I thought the novel got off to a bit of a slow start as Keller built the characters of Rachel and Ellie, but once the switched at birth thing was brought into the book the pace picked up quickly and the book became quite interesting. Keller does an excellent job of showing how Rachel and Ellie cope in their new worlds (again since Keller seems to lean towards the Amish lifestyle, Ellie seems to adjust more easily than Rachel). The characters may handle the situation a bit too easily (Rachel and Ellie do seem to struggle with their changes - Rachel especially so - but their families accept things far too easily) but it is a Christmas novel after all. While Keller does guarantee a happy ending for all, she puts in an unexpected twist not seen in many Amish novels which is a very nice touch.
"A Plain and Fancy Christmas" is a nice holiday novel. ...more
Gideon Beiler and Mattie Eash have been in love with each other since they were children and many assumed they would eventually marry. However, when GGideon Beiler and Mattie Eash have been in love with each other since they were children and many assumed they would eventually marry. However, when Gideon gets devastating news he finds an excuse to break up with Mattie. Mattie's heart is broken but she moves on, opening her own cake decorating business and dating Sol Bender. Gideon too has gone on with his life but has never really stopped loving Mattie. Unfortunate circumstances have brought Mattie back home and into Gideon's life - will her return rekindle their romance or is it too late?
Set in the Amish community, "The Christmas Singing" is a nicely done, at times poignant, novel about someone who loves his girlfriend so much he is willing to do whatever it takes to save her from hurt, even if it means ending their relationship. This would make an excellent novel for book clubs as Gideon's actions, while noble, are ripe for discussion. Author Cindy Woodsmall does an excellent job of showing just how much not only the reason for Gideon's decision has cost him but how the decision itself has hurt him. Woodsmall also does an excellent job with Mattie's character. She is a bit scatterbrained (at times devastatingly so), a talented cake decorator, and worried about her mother's health. People, including Gideon, seem to want to protect her and don't realize how strong she is - Woodsmall does an excellent job of developing that aspect of her character. Also well done, if a bit sad, are the reasons Mattie is dating Sol. Again, all of this would make a good book for a book club discussion. Finally, having the novel set at Christmas adds a lot of magic to the story.