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I received a free ebook of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

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This book was somewhat of a roller coaster ride for me.  As I first began to read it and was introduced to Elizabeth, the protagonist, my eyes rolled so hard I thought I was going to injure myself.  My knee jerk reaction was “here is this spoiled whiny princess who can’t just get her sh*t together”.  That really was just a knee jerk reaction.  The more I read of the book, and it really does suck you into her life, the more you realize there is much more nuance to her character.  As you watch her unravel and try to hold herself together through running, through stolen afternoons reading in a coffee shops, or going to a movie, the layers to her story shine through and you realize.  “Hey, I know this person or even perhaps I’ve been this person.”

When we meet Elizabeth, she and her husband and are gathering the paperwork to file for bankruptcy due to hundreds of thousands in medical debt mainly from the births of their children.  Elizabeth is a Phd in Literature, who teaches kids in a charter school.  The dream of full professorship at a University is a ship that has long since sailed in this era of Adjunct Professors.  Her husband’s job crashed and burned in the Lehman Bros. take down and he is building his own contracting business, but that is touch and go.

Through this whole financial and legal mess, Elizabeth, keeps tabs on her best friend from her idyllic childhood, a time she acknowledges of embarrassing wealth and privilege.  The information she sees is of the carefully curated Insta- variety and when Elizabeth finally reaches out to her almost on an impulse, obviously real life does not match.    The novel tracks Elizabeth and her relationship with her husband, her friends, her co-workers, and her parents as she struggles to hold on to a life that resembles something she wants.

This novel turns out to be so relatable and realistic.  Many people, who were raised even solidly middle class, now find themselves in a position where even a cup of coffee with a friend is a stretch to the budget.  As the title of the novel implies, there is this state of constant want because you can’t have even simple pleasures, there is never enough money or time or energy.  And that is juxtaposed with a feed of  Insta-culture  letting you know that others are managing to have it all, in perfectly curated lives. Great Read!

 

 

Cry Baby: A Tom Thorne Novel

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I received a free ebook of this title in exchange for a fair review from NetGalley.

This is book 16 in the Tom Thorpe series by Mark Billingham, but it is set back in 1996, so pre-  everyone has a cellphone and internet access and tons of CCTV and other resources to solve crime- era.  In his personal life, Tom is struggling with his ongoing divorce from Jan.  He is also dealing with his aging parents in the midst of this high profile case.

The case the book is centered on involves a kidnapping of a young boy.  The boy, Kieran,  disappears on a play date with a friend.  Two boys enter the woods and only one comes out.  Tom finds himself with an incredible amount of leads to follow up on and narrow down. There are plenty of red herrings and suspicious characters to engage the reader in the investigation along with Tom.  This was a suspenseful  and well paced police procedural.

On Borrowed Crime

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I received this title as a free ebook from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

This is the first in a new series, A Jane Doe Book Club Mystery.  In this we have the protagonist, Lyla Moody, who is an aspiring PI.  She currently works for her Uncle’s PI agency as a receptionist, much to the dismay of her very proper mother.  In her free time, she belongs to a true crime and mystery book club that calls itself, the Jane Doe Book Club.  Now one of the Jane Doe’s has turned up dead and  Lyla finds herself embroiled in a true crime and sets out to investigate.

I really enjoyed reading this first in this new series.  Lyla is a great character and there are hints that her life has not been smooth sailing but she has shown grit and determination.  The story was well plotted and the cold case connection gives the book a very up to date vibe.  I would definitely read another in this series.

Dead Wicked by Helen H. Durrant

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I received a free uncorrected proof of this from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

This is book 10 in the DI Calladine and DS Bayliss series.  This thriller involves ransomware, kidnapping, food tampering,  drug dealers, torture, and murder.  Definitely not for the faint of heart in places.  The story opens with the murder of a young man on the way home from a night out at the pub.  This gets DI Calladine involved and the case begins to move along swiftly.  The plots connect through interactions of the characters and there are also well done subplots involving their personal lives.  DI Calladine’s adult daughter is pregnant and her choice of donor has evoked rather complicated issues.  Meanwhile, Ruth’s family is coming apart at the seams.  A well done, fast paced thriller.

This is a series that vastly improved as it went on.  I had read book 2 as part of the Kindle English Mystery Book Club on Goodreads and I didn’t continue with the series at the time, but now reading this I see a substantial growth in story development and writing and would read more now.

 

 

The Rejuvenation Solution

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I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

I am interested in reading about health and healthy living so I requested this from NetGalley and was approved.  It is heavily focused on heart health as the author was once a cardiac surgeon.  It is an engaging read and the author uses a lot of anecdotal data to support and provide examples for his ideas.  There is some information that I have read in other sources regarding supplements like CoQ10 and the impact of sugar and gluten, etc. on inflammation in the body.  Dr. Willix does advocate for a vegan, alcohol free, and almost raw food diet, which is a bit more than I am up for.  The book is well written and the stories add a personal touch to keep it from being a dry informational text.  He provides footnotes and sources for his data for those interested in pursuing some of his suggestions.

The Rejuvenation Solution would be a good read for someone who is already vegan  or interested in making that change or someone who is exploring alternative medicines, such as Acupuncture and Ayurveda.

 

 

 

The Well of Ice

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I received a copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

I had already read the first in this series and was on the lookout for more by Andrea Carter as I did enjoy the world of the Inishowen Mysteries.  This is the third in the series and Ben’s legal practice in the town seems well established and her relationship with the Sergeant, Molloy is at least on somewhat solid ground.  The town and Ben are shaken by a series of acts, the pub burns to the ground, a barmaid and mother disappears, and the man who is responsible for Ben’s sister’s death is released from prison.  The story includes several of the members of the community and connections to the past as it unfolds.

A definite sense of menace and foreboding is developed  in the story along with feelings of isolation due to both  weather and location.  An intriguing mystery with a well developed sense of place.   I would definitely read another in this series.

 

June Reads…

 

Here are the few reads I squeezed in between all the work to  finish out the school year.  Some of these are Christmas reads, but they were borrowed books, so I’m reading them now.  It is almost Christmas in July anyway :).

Breaking the Mould is book 8 in the A Vintage Kitchen Mystery Series by Victoria Hamilton. I have always enjoyed this series and have followed Jaymie,  the protagonist, from when she was single and recently broken up with up until now when she is married and a stepmother.  In book 8, the town is putting on its annual Holiday festival, but not if the local Grinch has his way. He is a thoroughly unlikable character and when he ends up dead, there are plenty fingers pointing.   Jaymie has many clues and connections to investigate.   And all the while the festival still must go on. An enjoyable cozy read with a family life bend to it.

One Taste Too Many by Debra H. Goldstein is the first in a new series featuring sisters.  Sarah is the reluctant sleuth pulled in to the case as her sister, Emily, is accused of murdering Sarah’s miserable ex-husband.  The action centers around a cooking competition and exhibit with high tension and plenty of characters to consider as suspects.  A nice start to a food themed cozy series.

Wreath Between the Lines is book 7 in the A Cookbook Nook Series. This is a series I really enjoy and it has a dual theme of a bookstore specializing in cookbooks and cooking.  In this book it is the holiday season, Jenna is busy with the shop and with her sister, who has arrived in town with her family.   A man is murdered at Jake’s house and it seems like it may be a case of mistaken identity.  Jenna investigates to clear Jake’s name and to find the culprit before the succeed in killing Jake.  Fast paced cozy with lots of action.

St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets by Anna England Noblin seems from the cover and from the beginning to be a light rom-com type read.  It follows two timelines, the current one with Maeve and her recent string of bad luck, and the past timeline that led to her adoption at birth, so her mother’s story.  There are some silly moments, some romance, and some darker than expected story lines involving domestic violence. Themes of family, community, and motherhood are explored here.   This was an enjoyable read.

 

 

 

More reading…

 

 

A somewhat eclectic mix of reads😁

The Joy of Forest Bathing is a simplified approach to shinrin-yoku.  It includes ideas to engage in the practice and seasonal approaches.  A helpful beginning guide with light, less science heavy prose than some other books on the topic.  The illustrations are delightful and I can’t for the life of me put my finger on what they remind me of.  There is also some beautiful forest photography included.

Murder of a Lady is part of the British Library Crime Classics series.  It was actually number 12 in the sleuth Dr Hailey’s series of what would end up  being  27 books.  This is a locked room mystery with echoes connecting to a past crime.  All the elements you expect, an impoverished laird trying to keep up appearances, several people who have stories to tell and reasons to want the victim dead, and a waiting inheritance.   Certainly an unusual murder resolution here, I didn’t figure it out.  This was a  good read from the Golden Age of Mystery.

Dark Hollows by Steve Frech is psychological thriller.  The protagonist, Jacob Reese, is currently the owner of a vacation rental and coffee shop, but in his former life he was a low level criminal.  His past comes back to haunt him and he finds himself racing to uncover what is really going on as what he sees in front of him cannot be real, a woman he know died as a result of his inaction.  This was an engaging read even with a not entirely sympathetic protagonist.

And Then She was Gone was a free kindle read.   It involved the murder of a young pregnant  woman and a young man about to enlist who gets pulled into the investigation.  It  felt somewhat YA or NA, so perhaps I was not really the target demographic for this.

 

 

Latest reads…

I saw a tweet about Snare and picked it up on kindle.  The snare of the title refers to a divorced woman left destitute, who is ensnared into some illegal activities.  The story and the plot were really good.  The situation is believable in that desperation can lead a person into questionable choices and actions.  Sonia is a strong and resourceful character with a blind spot as far as personal relationships go, much like many people.  I will be reading the next in this trilogy.

Black Dog is the first in the series of the team of too-nice-for-his-own-good Ben Cooper and thoroughly unlikable Diane Fry.  I found the case interesting and resolution was quite good.  I loved the character of the retired miner, their rather recalcitrant witness, then suspect. Great local community color as well.  I just found every scene with Fry in it cringe inducing.  I don’t know if that is purposeful and that we are supposed to see these characters rub off on each other, inducing change over the course of a series or not.

A Killer’s Wife was a  good serial killer mystery with a good twist at the end.   Yardley becomes a prosecutor after she discovers her husband is a notorious serial killer.  Her ex-husband is now on death row appealing his conviction and a copy cat is starting to reenact his crimes.   As she investigates the copy cat hits closer and closer to home putting her and her daughter’s lives in danger and increasing the chance that her ex’s appeal will be successful.   A suspenseful read.

Murder Underground is part of the British Library Crime Classics Series.  In this case, an unlikable boarding house tenant, Miss Pongleton, is found strangled with a dog leash on the steps to the underground.  This starts an investigation and a young man is arrested rather quickly based on his involvement in a theft.  Light comedy and misdirection abound with several theories of the crime put forth by just about everyone.  Fun mystery read from The Golden Age of Detective Fiction.  I will say that Mavis Doreil Hay wrote three mysteries.  This is the second I read and I much preferred this one to Death on the Cherwell.  

Down the the River and Up to the Trees is a back to nature/folk lore/crafts/ self help book.  I’m not actually sure what genre it would fall into it.  It was charming to read with sections of it definitely reminding me of wisdom of my grandparents and activities from my childhood.  Just an example, something as simple as bark rubbing and making charcoal.    A light read that was in many ways nostalgic for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Stay at Home Reads…

 

Continuing on my theme of self help/lifestyle type books, I read the above three.

Cosy:  The British Art of Comfort by Laura Weir was just a charming read.  It was everything comforting wrapped up in the pages of a book.  I’d highly recommend to anyone who is stressing in their stay at home environment.

The Nordic Guide to Living 10 Years Longer was not particularly Nordic.  It was really just basic health guidelines, eat better, sleep better, brush and floss your teeth, move your body, etc.  It was a fine read but just not anything very new or even very particular to Nordic countries.

Sisu was a really good read.  I read this after reading Katja Pantzer’s book about Sisu, which was a more personal story, almost memoir-ish with some interviews and science.  I really enjoyed that book about finding Sisu and so read this one.  Joanna Nylund’s Sisu is more focused on applications to the reader rather than telling a story and I really found it quite interesting.  There are definitely passages I will go back and read again, especially the ones related to work life and communication.