When Lila Moore inherits her grandfather's house, she finds herself in a small Midwestern town where margarine is never an acceptable substitution for butter, a coveted family recipe can serve as currency, and the friend who will take your darkest secrets to the grave will still never give you the secret to her prize-winning begonias.
Lila is charmed by the people of Auburn, from the blue-eyed lawyer with the southern drawl to the little old lady who unceasingly tries to set Lila up with her grandson. But when strange things begin to happen, Lila realizes some of her new friends are guarding a secret like it's a precious family heirloom. It's a dangerous secret, and it has come back to haunt them. Lila is caught in the middle, and her life may depend on uncovering it. But even if she can, can she stay in Auburn when not everyone is what they seem, and even the house wants her gone?
This was a fun cozy read. It would have been better if the paranormal aspect of it was left out. I also felt that there were many questions left unanswered. With that being said, I liked most of the character's and had fun getting to know them. I felt this story had so much more potential. Overall, I was entertained!
The formulaic elements were here for a good story but the author should have kept a town map in sight while writing. The first time we go to Grandpa Isaac's home we drive the old beast of a truck across town and a few chapters later the house is across the street and still later it's next door to Aunt Ada's!! Whaaatt???? Also, was the creepy pond behind Ada's or behind Grandpa's because the first time she got rescued they went into Ada's to get changed and the next time she's at the inherited Grandpa Isaac's house. Confusing!! I would have liked to have seen Aunt Ada's character fleshed out a little more, it was lacking some depth. Also, there was a dis-jointedness in the transitions that could probably be polished to make the story flow so much nicer. The last half was better than the first half. I would say to Ms. Randall and all other self-published writers; PLEASE stop believing your friends and family when they offer to edit/proof-read for you!! They ARE NOT unbiased! It's way too exciting to read something your family member, friend, writing group member, etc. wrote that all the little details are missed! Ms. Randall has the talent to be really good if she pays attention, or pays someone to pay attention, to the small details of the story, smoothes out her chapter transitions and makes sure ALL of her main characters have depth and meaning.
I agree with many of the other reviewers-- the story had an interesting premise (woman inherits home in grandfather's hometown, decides to start a life there). However, there were just way too many plot holes and the timeline of events was way too confusing.
In addition, I feel like the author spent way too much time talking about the baked goods rather than explaining some critical pieces of the plot- for example, I literally had no clue who Uncle David was until the very end (were we supposed to know all along it was Ada's husband?). Also, why was Lila so "lost"? I feel like they brushed over her past too much.
I also didn't like the supernatural aspect of the book. Like is this supposed to be a chick-lit romance? Or a mystery? Or sci-fi?
Overall, I finished this book because I wanted to find out what happens to Lila (and I'm stubborn about finishing books that I start), but getting through this one was a little painful.
(3.5 Stars) There's something so comforting to me about a novel full of mystery, small town characters, and delicious food. Lila inherits her grandpa's house and goes to live with her aunt in small town Nebraska, while deciding what to do with this house. It seems that someone wants her gone and between those threats and the mystery of the pond in her backyard, Lila thinks she's going crazy.
As Lila works through the mystery, these interesting characters, and this dangerous mystery, her true character, determination, and bravery are revealed. I think a lot of young people who are city dwellers would be bored with this slower-paced life, but Lila is an exception. Max, her neighbor's grandson, and his daughter, Juniper, have a lot of intrigue and mystery surrounding them, as well. I love the quirky characters and the peril is a fun twist, to what I thought was going to be just a smooth-sailing mystery.
I thought everything would be resolved by the conclusion, but some things are left open for a continuation in another book. I am curious to how everything ties together.
Content: mild violence; very mild romance.
*I won a copy through a giveaway, which in no way influenced by opinion.
First, I'll say that I thought there was a decent story buried in this book. Getting to it wasn't all that easy. The characters didn't seem to be very well developed and I found myself confused over the family tree. Part of my confusion was over the original ownership of the house Lila inherited and who chose the Raspberry Rumble paint color. Early in the book, "Phoebe" chose the color, but at the end of the book, "Grandma Elaine" was given credit. The whole pond thing seemed weird -- are we supposed to believe David was still alive or that his ghost haunts the pond?
Lila Moore is headed to the hometown of her deceased grandfather in the hope of finding the deep family connection she feels she is lacking. While she loved her grandfather deeply, she is aware there are holes in her family history. So she travels from Wyoming to Auburn Nebraska where she hopes to find some answers. Once there she is embraced by not only her aunt but also by the people of the little town. It takes no time at all for her to fall into a cozy routine. But tackling the renovation of the house left to her in her grandfather's will is another matter all together. She finds herself butting up against an malevolent presence and more questions than answers in her search for family ties. I really enjoyed this story. There are plot holes and logistical errors big enough to drive the ornery ancient pickup truck through that is as much a character as it's human counterparts. But the sweetness of the story comes through and the mystery is engaging. With some work this could be an engaging light series.
This was disappointing - I was so drawn to the title and the cover of this book. And I really enjoyed the characters and the feel of the town of Auburn. But unfotunately, there were just way too many problems. The chapter transitions were awkward and I found myself confused at times wondering if I missed something. There were also several inconsistencies in details and way too many gramatical errors and mis-spellings. If the author had found a better editor it really could have been a much better story. 2.5 stars though I'm rounding up to three since it has some good elements amidst the problems.
Just meh. I finished it a few days ago and have already forgotten most of the plot. It was a decent story that kept my attention but the relationships of the characters and the timeline seemed unnecessarily complicated; I also thought there was going to be more of a supernatural element.
First half could have been left out. So slow with too many unnecessary picnics and bake sales that don't help the reader know the characters any better after the fifth social outing. Weak. Unrealistic. Confusing. Inconsistent. Isaac's and Ada's houses are never in the same place twice--or the pond. Totally lost me on who is related to whom? Phoebe? Lila's dad? Who the heck is Ada's father and do we care? Nothing fully developed--including the Obit Society--and yet Randall is a decent writer if she tightened up an idea, then fully developed it and focused on consistency.
Don't let the cover fool you on this one--it's no sugar-sweet chick-lit novel about a group of ladies talking about obituaries. A group of ladies talking about obituaries does appear, but they're not really the focus. No, the focus is something completely different--a girl who just moved to her grandfather's home town to deal with his estate following his death, and who finds that her family history there is a little darker than she thought...and that it's haunting her to this day.
This was a great book. The main character is Lila, who takes on the task of renovating her grandfather's long-abandoned home while staying with her great aunt Ada. The longer she stays, the more involved she becomes with the town's other inhabitants including Gladys, one of Ada's best friends; Max, Gladys' grandson, and his quirky daughter Juniper; Asher, the handsome cinnamon-scented lawyer who offers to help Lila with her grandfather's house and estate; and a host of other minor characters who all lend Auburn its small-town charm. But beneath all the sweet cakes and savory "Rocky Mountain oysters," there's a bit of menace about Lila's stay in Auburn, and when someone else turns up dead, it looks like Lila is in far more trouble than a few rusty pipes and bad wires might merit.
Randall did a great job with the town of Auburn, making it seem like a real, charming place--though it came across to me as more southern that midwestern. Still, with church auctions and harvest festivals, Auburn was a cute place full of quirky residents, and felt very genuine. The characters had their own quirks and personalities and while not all of them fulfilled vital plot functions, none of them felt outright superfluous, which can be a problem with minor characters. As it was, Auburn felt very complete, and its presence went toward motivating Lila to stay, rather than just serving as a random place in the "stories have to take place somewhere, so this one will take place here" vein.
I don't want to say too much about the plot, because I don't want to spoil anything, but there were a few slight (SLIGHT!) issues I had with this one that I think I can touch on pretty easily:
-It needs a few more line edits. There are a bunch of cases of missing quotation marks, line breaks that make things more confusing, etc. that could easily be done away with, but overall it's very well edited for a self-published title.
-I didn't really see a point in Erica's character. I think tension with Max and Lila could have been built very easily without her coming back into the picture, and her involvement in the plot came across as a bit contrived.
-There's an element of supernatural here. I didn't dislike it, but it did seem a bit out of place in the story because there's really never any explanation given for it. I think this could have either been worked in better, or done away with entirely--the plot could have easily worked without a supernatural element if other bits had been tweaked just a tiny bit.
However, I would like to note that these are very minor complaints, and I really, really enjoyed this title. Randall has a companion novel out, The Stranger's Obituary, that I will definitely pick up the next time I fall into a reading slump, because I have no doubts it will be just as good as this one.
Lila Moore brings her dead grandpa home so he can rest with his family. The cozy little town of Auburn is charming and the first time in her life Lila feels like she belongs somewhere. She inherits the old house of her grandparents and thinks about staying and renovating the house and learning more about her family. Her great-aunt Ada lets her stay with her and soon she has two handsome men vying for her attention: the sleek lawyer Asher and the nerdy computer geek and single-dad Max. But there are many secrets out there and the pond in the backyard seems to be haunted and soon Lila is not sure if everybody is as welcoming as they seems..
What a cozy little book! I was absolutely smitten with the storyline and the writing and loved the mystery and the people of Auburn. The love story was more in the background and the big family secret was interesting but I guessed some of it early on. However, I liked the writing very much and have already downloaded the second book. I hope we get to see a bit more about the little girl Junie with her talents - seems to me like she can see ghosts but it was never really explained what her gift really is besides finding things nobody else can. Looking forward to the second book..
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were well fleshed out and I felt as though I knew most of the townspeople. Zany happenings, quirky folks and a really intriguing mystery filled out a wonderful story. This was a clean romance with a twist due to the mystery. The characters were "real" with everyday issues and as usual with a small town, everyone knew everyone and most of their secrets. I love the way the townspeople cared about each other and helped each other. There were laugh out loud moments and scary moments amidst the intrigue and romance. Excellent plot that is developed with a definite talent. Will be looking for more by Jessica L. Randall.
This story has a small-town cozy feel with plenty of interesting characters that I love in a good mystery.
"An old house is alive with ghosts. Each person that lived there made some kind of mark; if not in the choice of paint or cabinetry, then in a ding in the wall, a faucet with the handles installed backward, or a name carved out in the wallpaper behind the bed in secret. In some way, each voice that wandered its rooms whispers, "I was here."
I would have given the book a 5 but there were a couple editing mistakes that made the book confusing (the Letter had the biggest error involving who was married to Phillip. Also who originally painted the house pink/raspberry).
I enjoy stories about small USA towns. Nosey people, nice people, cute sassy elderly people. The joy of having or making the time to garden, bake and know your community. Especially if there are people who can become good friends. Then to have gossip, love, love affairs and murder all in the same story. This was a fun mystery book. I do have to agree with other readers, the family tree was a bit confussing on who's who. Easy read, I'd recommend it. Yes there are some mis-spelled words, that doesn't bother me as it does some other reviewers.
As much as I love reading about magical small town living, with quirky characters, and believe me, I really do, I wasn't convinced by this read. I tried to empathize with the characters, but they lacked a certain depth, they lacked genuine charm, and they weren't quirky - all factors that are so necessary to give the story that particular "zing", exactly the magic they are aiming for - if you know what I mean. I wasn't entirely convinced by the plot either. It felt a bit far-fetched at times. Too bad, because it looked really promising.
It's a whole new world out there in Smalltown, USA. Over here in the UK we don't have towns like Auburn. Unless I make it to the States one day I don't think I'll ever know for sure whether they truly still exist. It makes for an enjoyable story though. Things were a little slow at times, but in the world of Auburn that goes with the territory. If you have time to spare, just lay back, chill out and enjoy the baking. Stay away from the pond though.
Looking for light romance or a cozy mystery? This may be the book for you! The characters in this book are as charming, and unique, as the small southern town in which its set. Decent pacing and plot make it a nice read for a slow summer day, or trip to the beach. The book's major flaw is its numerous grammatical errors which I found distracting, and is why it earns a 3 rather than 4 stars --- please re-edit this work! It's a good read otherwise!
I loved this book. It was easy to read; simple yet complicated; just the right touch of mystery; lovable, eccentric characters; and more than one love triangle. If you like mysteries with a dash of romance, a touch of terror, and a surprise or two, you can't go wrong with this book.
Stuck on an airplane running 3 hours behind and had an enjoyable few hours with this book. I felt like I understood the characters and the little town by the time I was done. There as a vague supernatural undercurrent to the book which did not detract from the story. Will look into k for the second in the series.
This book started off slow and it took me a few sessions to finish it (school..such a drag), but I quite enjoyed it. Those last few chapters kept me hook. As I said it started off slow, so I didn't plan on following the series but I will definitely pick up the next book in the series. 3.5 starts.
3.75 stars Small town with interesting characters in the ladies social society. Add a little romance and mystery and it was a nice read. The writing was choppy at times so the flow was off for me and the main character(Lila) arc could have been fleshed out more.
Lila moves to the small town her grandfather is from after he dies and leaves her his old house. But weird things start happening there.
What I enjoyed: * Juniper was interesting but needed to be fleshed out more * The premise was interesting with Lila inheriting her grandfather's run down house in a small town she'd never been to (which is kind of weird since she had an aunt there).
What could have been better: * Insta love, seriously they barely know each other and by the end they are already * Not much detail into characters. I have no idea what Max or Lila's job are/were. Lila doesn't seem to know what she wants out of life. * The Obituary Society - do they actually do anything with obituaries? I know Ada puts them on the fridge, but as a group what do they do? * Characters were confusing. I had no idea David was Ada's deceased husband until the end
Twenty-something Lila inherits an old house in Auburn, Nebraska. She is the fourth generation of her family to live in this house painted pink by her grandparents. Aunt Ada and her group of friends live nearby, and Lila is surrounded by secrets as she tries to restore the house and sort things out. A quick read with the predictable romance and mysterious happenings. Kind of smaltzy, but okay.
“Her aunt Ada stood in the middle, wiping a tear with her hanky, her friends supporting her on either side. Lila’s chest ached as she stared at them. They were solemn-eyed, but hard-edged with determination, friends who would sit by your side and drink the lemonade with or without the sugar, all the way to the end
The warm, golden sun looked back on its glory days. The scarlet and yellow of the leaves bid a final farewell. Soon the trees would reach bare branches toward a bleak sky. When the gourds were all plucked and the corn stalks stood lifeless and brittle, the gardens would be barren. Fall was a person withered with age who noticed every detail, every childish laugh, and relished in every delight, aware that her life cycle would soon come to an end.
The first in the series. I really enjoyed this book. At first it didn’t seem like a classic mystery but then things start to happen. The main character moves to Auburn, Nebraska after her grandfather, whom she cared for til the end left her the family home. But the home has obviously been searched and her aunt doesn’t know , or won’t say, what the search was for. When she goes to the pond behind the house and wades in, something pulls her under and almost drowns her but she is saved by a neighbour and his daughter. The town knows what the history is but they aren’t telling. An excellent read. I look forward to the next in series.
I almost didn’t read this one because I didn’t like the title, but I did read it and I liked it. It’s mostly a sort of cozy story about life in a small Nebraska town but it also has some creepy, almost scary, parts too. It was a fun read.