Christmas at the Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant

30841881  I received a free ebook of this title, Christmas at the Little Village Bakery from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

This is book 2 in the Honeybourne series by Tilly Tennant. This book centers on Spencer and Tori who return to Spencer’s home in a small village in England for the Christmas holidays and to introduce the two sets of parents.  Spencer and Tori are engaged but with no date yet set for the wedding.  Although the book centers on their story, we meet plenty of other people who have their own issues, Millie and Dylan, Jasmine and Rich, Darcie and…well you’ll have to read it to see.  There are also the two diametrically opposed sets of parents (one set British and liberal and the other American conservatives) who set sparks (not the good kind) flying.  Throw in unplanned for snow storms, an AWOL soldier, a broody mother of triplets and there is plenty found here to entertain the reader.

Lots of fun Christmas and village life atmosphere to be found here.  I do think I would have enjoyed this more if I would have read the first book in the series.  It seems that there were many references to past events.   Cute Christmas read for romance fans.

An English Murder by Louise Doughty

1236550  This was an impuse buy.  I’ve never heard of the author or the book but just grabbed it off the shelf anyway.

This is less of a “who dunnit” and more of a “how and why dunnit”.  The murder(s) in question are a middle aged couple who mainly keep to themselves and live a reclusive life centered around the dictates of the husband and father, Mr. Cowper.  They have a teenage daughter Gemma who is now missing and the center of a search and rescue effort…or is it a manhunt?  Alison is a small time news reporter for a local weekly and lives just down the road from the famly. She is financially strapped and finding a big story which she could sell to the Nationals would provide welcome relief.  Between her job and the proximity of the murders, she takes a keen interest. Alison is mostly estranged from her own mother and father and has some limited contact with her brother.  The book winds its way through the family life of both the Cowper’s and Allison’s family drawing some parallels and yet not causing Allison reflect too closely.   .

The focus of this book is families.  The family that looks “normal” down the street, what do you really know about them?   How do events from your childhood shape the adult you are today?  What are the dangers of trying to live through your children?  Having your own hopes, dreams and expectations for them, that maybe they can’t or don’t want to live up to.  There is a lot of exploration with no pat answers.  The book is tension filled and engaging.  I would highly recommend for people who like their mysteries with more of psychological bend.


Eeny Meeny & The Girl They Couldn’t Steal

Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge is the first in the Helen Grace series.  The story is about  a serial killer who kidnaps victims in pairs and then turns them against each other as hunger and thirst set in driving them to commit horrible acts.  As the case evolves and more victims are involved DI Helen Grace races to find out the connection between the victims.  Why are these people being chosen?  is her primary question. If she can just discover the link, then she can prevent the next crime and capture the criminal.  Helen’s squad includes Mark, who is fighting his own personal demons throughout the case, Charlie, who just recently discovered she is pregnant and a Superintendent who has his own interests at heart.

Thrilling twists and turns throughout this fast paced thriller.  Helen Grace is a complex and well drawn character, who has her own demons but gives 110% to the job.  DS Mark Fuller is a tragic character, who is well written and provides an excellent counterpoint to Helen.  This is a compelling reading that kept me turning the pages until it was done.  I will definitely read the next in this series.

The Girl They Couldn’t Steal is a thriller involved with child abduction and trafficking.  Amy has always known she is adopted but has no information regarding her birth family.  Now that she has graduated medical school and has six months before buckling down to work she sets out to investigate who she really is.  She sets off a chain of events far bigger than she can imagine, involving multiple countries and criminals of all kinds and at all levels.  Russian Mobsters, Chechens, Old School English Gangsters, Retired British Military, and corrupt police,  Amy faces them all down in her search.  Parts of this were interesting and engaging, but at times Amy and other’s actions  seemed illogical and just not very smart.  The book ends up with many, but definitely not all threads tied up and has lead-ins to the next book in the trilogy.  Interesting read that made me want to know what happened. but I am not sure if I would read the two more books to find out.

Strictly My Husband by Tracy Bloom

30750114  I received a free ebook of this title, Strictly My Husband, from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

I was drawn to request this book by the description, not the reference to the popular TV show.  The book is about a marriage between the practical, analytical, data driven Laura and the more free spirited, creative, dancer Tom.  It seems like an opposites attract situation until Carly twirls into their lives.  Tom is on the staff of a theme park running the entertainment side of things and Carly is a new performer.  Not only is Carly with Tom at work, but she is renting a room in Tom and Laura’s home for the performance season and it goes without saying she is beautiful.  The plot also involves other mismatched couples, jobs in peril, laughter and friendship.  The story is on the surface about marriage and how to have a good one.   But it is also about asking for what you want or need, not just expect you partner to know and finally accepting that dreams change.  Your dream life at 20, may not be what you want or need at 40.

So, do marriages between opposites last?  Will Laura take that dance with Tom?  Who is Will secretly pining for?  To find out the answers you will have to pick up a copy of your own to read.  A fun romantic story and you don’t have to be a fan of Strictly to enjoy it!

Three Mysteries


I just finished these three mysteries, two cozies and a thriller novella.  Arson and Old Lace is the first in the Far Wychwood Mystery series.  I had already read the second one and there are no others.  Here we meet Catherine Penny, a recent divorcee who just relocated to Far Wychwood, England to live her dream life in an English village close to where her  married daughter lives.  The mystery surrounds an elderly man, who is Catherine’s neighbor and also the village pariah due to some old suspected criminal activity.  Catherine gets involved in his life and  his death.  She is a bright but impulsive sleuth and hurtles herself headlong into solving the mystery.  Well written mystery plot, charming setting and great cozy feel to it… think Agatha Raisin with an American twist.  I really liked both books in this series and am sorry that there were not more.

Be Careful What You Hear by Paul Pilkington is a very short novella.  I should be up front and admit that I am not a big fan of mystery novellas in general so I want to be as fair as possible reviewing this.  Georgina Adams has a new infant son and a husband and has been weathering a particularly bad case of Post Partum Depression.  She overhears something in a half asleep state and due to her recent medical history doubts herself. Did she hear it?  Does it mean what she thinks?  Who can she trust?    I don’t want to to say too much more because it will give too much away.  Here is my issue: (and this may just be my own preferences) the main character is fully fleshed out, the premise is scary and definitely engaging, the plot is well thought out and timely, and  the tension building is great,  but it is just too damn short.  This book racks in at just 77 pages and there was clearly enough going on here for a full length novel.  The short length makes it seem rushed and it is a shame that such a good idea was not explored fully.

To Sketch a Thief is the second book in the Portrait of a Crime series.  Here we welcome back the unusual partnership of Zeke and Rory, now joined by a canine sidekick, Hobo.  Rory and Zeke’s PI business is up and running and they are hired to look into a series of widespread dognappings.  While the dog nappings are what they were hired to solve, the murder is related.  There are lots of suspects and dogs here, so multiple crimes to consider.  Detailed investigation work  is shown here, with Zeke and Rory looking for connections and following leads.  There are also snippets of Zeke’s last case and his murder, which Rory is also trying to solve.

I enjoyed the first book in this series a great deal and I will read the the third and final? book as well.  I had one small complaint with this one and that had to do with Rory’s seeming animosity towards Zeke.  I felt she was harsh at times and she even seemed to acknowledge that.  Friendly bickering is one thing but this seemed off the mark.  Still a solid cozy mystery read and great premise!

On the Chopping Block by Jenny Kales

30063546  I have had this on my Kindle for a little while and randomly chose it last night.  I remember buying it because I found the cover so enticing!

The theme behind this cozy is a meals from scratch business with a Greek flavor, ran by the Callie of Callie’s Kitchen.  Callie is the protagonist and has a sidekick in the form of a lawyer pal, a curmudgeon of a father, a thorn in her side Detective, and a dead boyfriend.  Detective Sands is trying to leave no stone unturned, but Callie is determined to help solve the case because the future of her fledgling business might just depend on clearing her name.

The mystery had quite a few suspects and motives for Drew’s murder, enough to keep you guessing. The chemistry between Callie and Detective Sands was well done and speaks well for future development. The relationship between Callie and her ex was a breath of fresh air.  Too often in novels,  exes are demonized or were abusive or committed some crime or abandoned the protagonist.  This was handled very realistically, just two people trying to co-parent after divorce. The townspeople provide a colorful background cast and the setting of Wisconsin is new to me.

Enjoyable, quick cozy with a fun theme and well drawn characters.

To Helvetica and Back by Paige Shelton

25361854  This is the first in a new series revolving around a vintage typewriter and book repair shop, The Rescued Word, in Star City Utah.  Clare works with her grandfather in the shop alongside a cat named Baskerville.  An old friend of her grandfather’s brings in a typewriter to be repaired and it kicks off the mystery.  Soon there is a murder in the alley behind the shop and Clare finds herself involved in the investigation.   Her best friend is a police officer, which gives her an inside track as she gets follows the clues.  There is also a  romantic subplot developing along with the mystery.

A really engaging theme, at least to me having learned to type on a manual typewriter in Heidelberg Middle School back in the dark ages and I would think to lovers of anything vintage to do with books and writing.  The story starts slowly, it took a little bit to draw me in as the background was developed, but then it took off.  The last 2/3 of the book was great, fast paced and really interesting with references to the old mines, former crimes, mistaken identity and old secrets.  I enjoyed reading this and would recommend it to readers of cozy mysteries.