I didn’t officially participate in Dewey’s 24 Readathon this weekend, however I read when I could and managed to finish 3 books.
The Secrets You Keep by Kate White concerns Bryn, a self-help book writer, who has recently been in a serious car accident. During her recovery, she moves to a summer residence with her husband and begins to question her accident and the events leading up to it. A murder occurs in their town exposing more secrets and lies and making her doubt her husband and marriage.
The themes explored here in this psychological mystery are memory and secrets and once again the idea that we can never really know another person. The character of Bryn was well drawn and having been to Saratoga I found the setting interesting but it was not really a well-defined. Unfortunately the killer was obvious to me fairly early on and I wasn’t at all distracted by the red herrings presented. This was an okay read for me, but to be fair that might be because I feel like I’ve read a few very similar books.
Good as Gone by Amy Gentry details what happens to a family when a missing child returns. It explores the idea, taken right from the news, of whether or not the child really is who they say they are. I find this kind of book horrifying, the idea that your child can disappear and you might never know what happened to them. The damage done to the ones left behind is tragically laid out. The twist was not what you expect and elevated this book above the others that have similar plots. I didn’t really feel a strong sense of suspense, edge of your seat style, but I did want to get the end to figure out what happened and how it would resolve.
Death by Coffee by Alex Erickson is the first cozy I have read in a while and I picked it out on impulse due to the theme. The idea is really fun, a bookstore cafe with some puzzles and cats thrown in. The side characters are a quirky lot of the comical and theatrical variety. The victim is the guy that everyone could do without, not too many tears shed here and the plot had enough clues and misdirection to make it interesting. My issue was with the protagonist, Krissy. She is beyond pushy and brusque dealing with her suspects, no gentle hinting or forming relationships to help her solve the case. She is also a slacker at work and comes across as entitled, leaving her friend and co-business owner Vicky holding the bag more often than not. When I read cozies, I expect to like the protagonist and be rooting for them, not wincing at their behavior.
I received both of these romances at the NJRW Reader and Blogger Appreciation Luncheon.
If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins is a fun romance read based around the life of Jenny Tate, wedding dress designer and small business owner. Jenny has returned home after a divorce in New York City and opened a boutique wedding dress shop. She is both recovering from the heartbreak of her divorce and spending time with her sister, Rachel of the “perfect” marriage.
A romance that talks about sisterhood, about living the life you have rather than the one you dreamed of (or thought you had), secrets and honesty, and love after grief. The relationship between the sisters is well detailed and feels authentic, right down to striking out at people who make you feel safe. This relationship was very well done. The romance was lovely and full of the natural one step forward, two steps back progression that comes from two people scared of being hurt again. Bittersweet side plot involving a dog – yay for puppies! I really enjoyed this quick, sweet romance.
A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash takes place at the Jersey shore and that made it interesting to me right from the start. I am familiar with the locations talked about and I find that kind of connection fun in a book. Tori and Nick meet when she tries to hire him to bring the house she inherited up to code. Tori believes in magic and wants to open a magic – as in fortune-telling, palmistry, spells, and charms – shop. Nick is a builder and is thoroughly down to earth and doesn’t believe in anything Tori has to sell.
The story follows their on again – off again romance and connects it to Nick’s family and the issues he is having keeping them all in line. Nick and Tori both have tragic but very different histories and this is an opposites attract type romance story. A steamy romance and a touch of magic along with a well-developed sense of place!
I received a signed copy of Judging Joey from the author, Elizabeth John, at NJRW Reader and Blogger Appreciation Luncheon.
I skimmed the back cover blurb of Judging Joey and decided to start reading it right when I got home from the luncheon. Madeline White is a young teacher with a dark past returning to her hometown to help her uncle. Officer Joey O’Neill is a hometown Golden Boy, who just makes everything look so easy. Get ready for sparks to fly when the two meet again.
Madeline is a heroine who is easy to relate to and root for in this story. Hardworking police officer, dedicated teacher, villainous helicopter mother, and puppies, what’s not to love? Realistic depiction of school politics and the trials of being a non-tenured teacher set against a sweet, enemies-to-friends love story. I really enjoyed this small town romantic novella!
This was one of the reads this month over at the Kindle English Mystery Club on Goodreads. Pearl is returning to her dream of being a detective, but a private detective this time. She is already the proprietor of a successful seafood restaurant, but she had once been on the police force. Her new client mentions the name of a local to Whitstable, someone Pearl knows and even though she turned down the case she ends up immersed in it as she stumbles over bodies.
Cozy-esque mystery with a lovely setting that is well-defined. The book really does have a well-developed sense of place. A few quirky characters are sprinkled throughout the town and there might be a hint of romance to come. Pearl is intelligent and even though technically not a professional detective, she makes a believable sleuth with her background in police work. Slow to start, but an enjoyable read with a surprise resolution.
A Test of Wills is the first Ian Rutledge novel and the first Charles Todd that I have read. I found that Rutledge is an intriguing protagonist, struggling to put the war behind him and return to “normal” life. He worries that he has lost his detective abilities, that he may be losing his mind, and that he won’t get over the love of his life and his broken engagement. In the midst of all this, he is assigned a case that has the possibility of being a public relations and political nightmare. Enemies without waiting for him to fail and enemies within tearing at his sanity, Rutledge trudges on, unwinding the twists and turns of the case and discerning the liars from the truth tellers until the final reveal. Well written and paced mystery, I really enjoyed it.
At Bertram’s Hotel is an Agatha Christie with Miss Marple. It has all the red herrings, interesting characters and twists and turns to keep you guessing. I liked the setting of a hotel for a certain class of character in London, it reminded me of Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont in some ways, cozy and classic and yet dated and of a time gone bye. Miss Marple is a guest at the hotel and she picks up clues and nudges the police in the right direction to solve a case of a missing cleric and then murder. A great cast of interesting characters, who keep the story moving as they involve the reader in their exploits. Very good classic Agatha Christie read!
Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a slice of life novel, with the woman whose life we see a slice of being a famous photographer. Rebecca Winter is at the tail end of a career, running out of money, divorced and rather isolated. She sublet her NYC apartment and moves to a small isolated cabin as way to continue paying her bills. Once there, the substance of her life changes and she finds inspiration in the new world she inhabits. Wonderfully immersive, the details of Rebecca’s experiences are vivid and intriguing. The writing elevates this from what could be an ordinary story about a woman and her career to a story that captures the reader’s imagination and draws them into Rebecca’s world. Highly recommended.