Baby Daddy Mystery: Shady Hoosier Detective Agency (Book 2) by Daisy Pettles | Review

About The Book

It’s Spring in Pawpaw County, Indiana. Everybody has a bad case of hanky-panky pants. Senior sleuths Ruby Jane Waskom and Veenie Goens are on the run, chasing down cheating heart jezebels and shaking child support out of deadbeat baby daddies.

Everybody in the small town of Knobby Waters, Indiana, knows Avonelle Apple, cantankerous bank president. After Avonelle’s husband, esteemed dentist, William Apple, passes away, she receives a child support letter from his self-proclaimed mistress. Suspicious, she hires Ruby Jane and Veenie, of the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency, to determine if her late husband was a philandering baby daddy.

The case seems simple until one of Avonelle’s sons, Bromley, heir to his father’s dental empire, and well-known king of the Pawpaw County Hanky-Panky Husbands Club, pops up dead in a scarecrow costume.

No sooner do the crime-cracking duo get sucked into solving Bromley’s death than Fussy Jones, Chief Commander of the White River Boat and Gun Club, is found with a gig in his chest, literally dead in the water. Chief suspect: Sassy Smith, husband-hunting cougar who’s back in town searching for husband #4 after her last mate won a lifetime timeshare at the state prison for a real estate con.

When a mysterious new Romeo rolls into town and begins seducing the ladies out at Leisure Hills Retirement Village Veenie’s father, Pappy Sneed, calls for help to retain his reputation as an oldster stud puppy.

Ruby Jane bemoans that no one in Pawpaw County can keep their pants on or their skirts down as her own grown daughter, Joyce, begs for help chasing down her philandering husband.

The mounting romantic mysteries come to a surprise head as the senior sleuths outrun shotgun showers to close in on the answers (and the cheating heart Romeos) at the Moon Glow Motor Lodge, the Original Home of Hillbilly Hanky Panky.

Veenie and Ruby Jane have to buy an extra case of Ben Gay and a butt load of BBs just to keep up with all the romantic excitement.

My Thoughts

Wild & Zany Cozy Mystery

This is the second book in the ‘Shady Hoosier Detective Agency’ series. The first book is the ‘Ghost Busting Mysteries’, although I haven’t yet read it. This second book, named “Baby Daddy Mystery: Shady Hoosier Detective Agency” was such a quirky, mad and crazy read and I did not feel disadvantaged in any way not having read book one first. 

There was so much fun and hilarity packed into this cozy mystery that I was never bored and I wanted to continue reading. The characters’ antics were highly amusing, especially those of Veenie. Apart from the mystery, the book had underlying themes of companionship and love that greatly complemented the story for me.

Although the conclusion of the story was no great surprise, it was still a very fulfilling ending to a wonderful book that regularly had me laughing-out-loud.  

If you like cozy mysteries with a large helping of craziness and humour then you can’t go wrong with “Baby Daddy Mystery: Shady Hoosier Detective Agency”. The third book is due to be released shortly so I will be looking out for that one. 

Thanks to NetGalley, Hot Pants Press, LLC and the author, Daisy Pettles, for my free ARC of Baby Daddy Mystery: Shady Hoosier Detective Agency (book 2) in exchange for an honest review.

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz | Review

About The Book

 
Available in hardback, paperback, e-book and audio worldwide.
 
Ten writers are selected for a summer-long writing retreat with the most celebrated and reclusive author in the world. Their host is the legendary Roderick Wells. Handsome, enigmatic, and fiendishly talented, Wells promises to teach his pupils about writing, about magic, about the untapped potential that each of them possesses. Most of all, he plans to teach them about the darkness in their hearts. The writers think they are signing up for a chance at riches and literary prestige. But they are really entering the twisted imagination of a deranged genius, a lethal contest pitting them against one another in a struggle for their sanity and their lives. They have entered into Roderick Wells’ most brilliant and horrible creation. The Dark Game.
 
FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018, the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
End
 
A Note From the Publisher

Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, which explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows "the best horror novel of 2012." The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, "reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub's Ghost Story

Since then Jonathan's work has been lauded by writers like Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Tim Waggoner, Bryan Smith, and Ronald Kelly. Novels like The Nightmare Girl, Wolf Land, Savage Species, and Dust Devils prompted Thunderstorm Books to sign Jonathan to an eleven-book deal and to give him his own imprint, Jonathan Janz's Shadow Side

His novel Children of the Dark received a starred review in Booklist and was chosen by their board as one of the Top Ten Horror Books of the Year (August 2015-September 2016). Children of the Dark will soon be translated into German and has been championed by the Library Journal, the School Library Journal, and Cemetery Dance. In early 2017, his novel Exorcist Falls was released to critical acclaim. 

Jonathan's primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author's wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true. You can learn more about Janz at www.jonathanjanz.com.
 
Janz' backlist of eight titles is re-published this year by FLAME TREE PRESS.
 

My Thoughts

Twisty & Dark Horror

“The Dark Game” was a departure from my usual genres of choice and I found this offering from the author, Jonathan Janz, a difficult book to put down once I’d started reading it.

The premise of a group of authors unwittingly being entered into a twisted game against each other and simultaneously being confronted by their own past demons held a real appeal for me. Brilliantly drawn by Janz, the reader is given several engaging story-lines, creating ten very unique and winsome characters each with their individual voice and personality. I thought the writing was exceptional and I managed to keep up with all of the different characters.

A creepy mansion in the middle of the woods was a perfect setting for this scary horror, complete with eerie basements and spooky corridors.

Every one of the writers’ histories was nightmares all of their own, centring, as they did, around personal traumas or unpleasant events.

The claustrophobic atmosphere and the wicked horror really complemented this alarming and frightening tale. I admired that Jonathan Janz very cleverly kept a great awareness for continuity in his story. The elements of terror and underlying layers of fear were very well executed, culminating in what I thought was an extremely fulfilling ending.

I would highly recommend “ The Dark Game” to readers of the genre or to anyone who fancies a bit of a change. Jonathan Janz is high on my list of newly discovered authors for this year.

Thank you to NetGalley, Flame Tree Press and Jonathan Janz,  for my ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

Hardcover: 352 Pages

Publisher: Flame Tree Press

ISBN-10: 178758187X

ISBN-13: 9781787581876

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts | Review

About The Book

Join USA TODAY best-selling author Sheila Roberts for a seaside escape to the beaches of Moonlight Harbor.

Celeste Jones has plans for a perfect summer with her boyfriend (and hopefully soon-to-be fiancé)—until he dumps her to be with the woman he’s had on the side for months. Heartbroken and furious, Celeste resolves to move on. When the going gets tough, the tough…okay, the not-so-tough go to the beach.

As soon as school lets out for the summer, she waves goodbye to her first-graders, packs up her bikini and heads for Moonlight Harbor, where she knows her big sister, Jenna, will receive her with open arms. Jenna could probably use some help at the Driftwood Inn, and Celeste is happy to do chores around the place in exchange for a relaxing summer escape. She just needs something—or someone—to distract her from her troubles.

Finding The One can be tricky, and Jenna is determined to make sure Celeste gets it right this time around. Not that Jenna’s an expert. She’s still trying to sort out her own love life. But if both sisters listen to their hearts, eventually they’re bound to discover that life—and love—is good at the beach.

My Thoughts

A Lovely Tale of Romance

Are you looking for a fantastic romance novel to take to the beach this Summer? Well, look no further because this is it! What a lovely and exciting book this was and a perfect and refreshing change from my usual, favourite genre.

“The Summer Retreat” is the third book in the ‘Moonlight Harbor’ series by best-seller author Sheila Roberts, the first book being ‘Welcome to Moonlight Harbor’, followed by ’Winter at the Beach’.

Although I’ve seen many of the author’s books around in my local library, the supermarket, and in bookshops, this is the first one I’ve read (I think) and I was not disappointed.

Celeste Jones is a primary school teacher and as the summer term has just come to an end, so has her relationship with her cheating boyfriend, Emerson. To drown her sorrows and re-evaluate her life, Celeste decides to visit her sister, Jenna who lives in a quaint town on the Washington coast where she runs the ‘Driftwood Inn’.

This was a well paced and very touching romance that had me hooked, even before I had swiped my e-reader to take me to the second page.

Sheila Roberts has drawn a pleasant, easy-going and genial character in Celeste. However, at thirty-six and a half, she thinks it’s about time she finds herself a husband who will not cheat on her and she has plans to settle down, have a family and live happily ever after.

“The Summer Retreat” was such a delightful, though predictable, tale  and once I had started reading, I found I was totally invested in the story. It held my interest right until the fulfilling conclusion.

I will be reading the first two books in the series and I eagerly wait to see what Sheila Roberts is going to be releasing next. This is a must-read for anyone who loves women’s fiction or romance novels, so you need to order your copy!

Thanks to NetGalley, Harlequin – MIRA and the author, Sheila Roberts for the free advanced copy. This is my honest and totally voluntary review.

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang | Review

About The Book

Essie Lang’s series début is perfect for fans of Lorna Barrett, Vicki Delany, and book lovers everywhere.

Rookie book-store owner Shelby Cox must hit the books to learn the ropes before she loses a killer in the stacks.

Shelby Cox never intended to become a bookseller, so when the former editor returns to her home-town of Alexandria Bay, nestled in up-state New York’s breathtaking Thousand Islands region, to take over her aunt’s book-store, she has no idea what to expect. To her amazement, she discovers that she now owns a fifty-percent share in Bayside Books, and will also run the store’s second location in the majestic castle on nearby Blye Island.

But just as Shelby is gearing up for the start of the tourist season, the Castle volunteer coordinator is found murdered in the nearby Grotto. Castle caretaker Matthew Kessler is suspect number one, but Shelby thinks the killing may be connected to an earlier era, when violence among Prohibition-era smugglers was rampant in the region. As Shelby launches her own investigation, handsome and unnerving Special Agent Zack Griffin of the Coast Guard Investigative Services tries to quell her smuggling theory and keep her safe. But Shelby is determined to summon all her savvy as a book editor to plot the murder—and find the killer before he strikes again—in Trouble on the Books, Essie Lang’s clever and captivating series début.

My Thoughts

As a lover of cozy mysteries, I knew I would be onto a winner with this début in a new series! “Trouble on the Books” ticked all the right boxes before I had even started reading. The setting – a cosy book-store in a castle, no less – and an eye-catching, colourful front cover – all the makings of a great read for me. And I was even afforded a rare opportunity to begin a series from the offset as I always seem to pick them up half-way through. Here was my chance to, hopefully, discover another new favourite author to add to my ever-growing list.

There aren’t many settings as perfect as a bookshop located within a castle, and Essie Lang made great use of this. Alexandria Bay is a fine lakeside town, with a real sense of community and a general feeling of nostalgia. This, as well as a town full of secrets, made it a brilliant backdrop for a murder investigation.

Essie Lang has drawn some fascinating and very useful characters in this début. Protagonist Shelby has the necessary attributes of any great sleuth – intelligence, curiosity and attention to detail – but lacks some of those needed to make a success of the book-store, ‘Bayside Books’, as she is not great at dealing with people. I could see avenues for Shelby’s progression as the main character in any future books in the series.

I was especially fond of Essie Lang’s portrayal of Shelby’s endearing Aunt Edie. She was depicted as having great strength-of-character and was someone who always wanted to be on-the-go.

Even though the murder investigation itself took some time to get going, this did not detract from the story in any way as this book had many of the components that make a really good story: from the mood and undercurrents to the very clever writing and the existence of family secrets. There was a true sense of increasing danger as the story progressed, which definitely helped to keep my interest.

Another of my favourite aspects of this novel was the fluidity of the writing. The details of the plot were brilliantly executed and every chapter left me with a compelling need to read on.

I also enjoyed the little sparks of romance in this wonderful cozy mystery.

I very much look forward to returning to ‘Bayside Books’ in  Alexandria Bay with Shelby and Aunt Edie on a future occasion!

[Thanks to NetGalley, Crooked Lane Books and the author, Essie Lang for my free ARC of Trouble on the Books in exchange for an honest review.]

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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Pisces Hooks Taurus by Anyta Sunday | Review

About The Book

It’s a time for searching, and a time for finding, Pisces: keep casting your line and you will hook what you’re looking for.

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.

Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.

It would be perfect.

And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of any more?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Don’t cast your line too wide, Pisces. Your perfect catch may already have bitten.

Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) is an MM opposites-attract romantic comedy featuring an unapologetic romantic and a broken realist.

More wit, banter and bad puns – and even more heart-stopping slow burn!

Can be read as a standalone.

Tropes: friends-to-lovers, slow burn, will-they-or-won’t-they

Genre: New Adult, lighthearted contemporary gay romance

My Thoughts

This is book four in a series named ‘Signs of Love’ and it was such a delightful little love story! The other books are ‘Leo Loves Aries’ and ‘Scorpio Hates Virgo’, followed by ‘Gemini Keeps Capricorn’.  “Pisces Hooks Taurus” is the only book from the series that I’ve read and I was happy to have read it as a stand alone.

Although I would say that this novel is light, funny and uplifting, it also has strong themes centred around recognising vulnerabilities and personal improvement.

Anyta Sunday’s character development was really good. Zane was very offbeat and unique and also pretty likeable. Beckett, so well drawn by the author, was quieter, more down to earth and reliable. Their romantic adventure was wonderfully charming and amusing. Much of banter between them had me laughing-out-loud on many occasions.

There were many things that were fantastic in this book. As well as the beautiful character detail, there was the slow-burn romance, the humour and the innuendo.

For me, Anyta Sunday showed such talent in this inspiring and delightful tale. This is my favourite kind of romance – one written with imagination and with real characters who, though flawed, gradually develop a real connection with each other.

I really loved the story and the journey on which I was taken throughout “Pisces Hooks Taurus” and I was rooting for Zane and Beckett from the offset. Though there was sexual tension and a touch of eroticism, this was nevertheless, a classic romance that was deeply enchanting and so full of truth that I didn’t want it to end.

Thank you, Anyta Sunday. This was a great read and so extremely worthwhile. 

[Thanks to NetGalley and the author, Anyta Sunday, for my free ARC of  Pisces Hooks Taurus in exchange for an honest review.]

#PiscesHooksTaurus #NetGalley

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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Beyond Farwin Wood by Drea Damara | Review

About The Book

For fans of The Princess Bride and Stardust

Anything Can Happen on Blinney Lane.

Agatha Blinney’s curse is unleashed when Franci Doltman dresses up as her favourite movie star. Now the store-owners on Blinney Lane must rally together to save Franci before the possession claims her forever.

Valerie Millville is tired of her controlling mother, disappointing men, and being misunderstood. Determined to escape her life on Blinney Lane, she and troublemaker Ricky Allister volunteer to find a cure by venturing inside one of the cursed weeping books.

From mythical lands to peculiar allies to other worldly creatures, Valerie learns not all stories are written in stone—or even in one dimension. Can she and Ricky save Franci in time or will their friend become another casualty of the curse that binds Blinney Lane? Will Farwin Wood show them secrets undiscovered or are mysteries merely in the eye of the beholder? Get ready for an adventure that will transport you into the pages of a fantasy world beyond reality.

My Thoughts

This book “Beyond Farwin Wood” is the second novel in this series – ‘The Blinney Lane Books.’ I was really impressed with this novel, although I have not read very many books from this genre, nor I have read, the first book, entitled ‘The Weeping Books of Blinney Lane.’

Drea Damara’s creative skill in writing showed as this super, imaginative, tale of fantasy and adventure flowed well from the start, even when the story was moving between the different worlds.

The story mainly concentrated on Valerie, Franci, Ricky and Ranthrop, though their family and friends from Blinney Lane also feature in the tale.

The characters were colourful and so well drawn, building in part, from those in the first book, but also focusing on a number of different ones. I particularly liked Drea Damara’s portrayal of Valerie who was so free-spirited, independent and single-minded.

The plot was very well executed and didn’t feel forced or overdone. I was impressed that the story was good as a stand-alone read. The clever story-telling was so absorbing that I found myself not wanting to reach the end of the book, even though I needed to find out what was going to happen with the characters that I had started to get to know.

I would recommend this captivating and absorbing tale of adventure and I hope that the author, Drea Damara, is writing more in the ‘Blinney Lane’ series.  

*[Thanks to BHC Press and the author, Drea Damara, for my free ARC of Beyond Farwin Wood in exchange for an honest review.]

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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Apple Of My Eye by Claire Allan | Review

About The Book

‘Utterly addictive. Compulsive, twisty, tense.’ CLAIRE DOUGLAS, author of Local Girl Missing

Just how far is a mother willing to go?

When a mysterious note arrives for seven months pregnant nurse Eliana Hughes, she begins to doubt every aspect of her life – from her mixed feelings about motherhood to her marriage to Martin, who has become distant in recent months.

As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to out Eli’s husband as a cheat, she finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts, and as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.

Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother – and stay a mother…

My Thoughts

“Apple Of My Eye” is a compulsive and digressive thriller that has been beautifully put together, with motherhood at its core.

This is my second time of reading a book by this author and I was not disappointed! I have previously read the outstanding ‘Her Name was Rose’ which was a five-star read for me, so there was a lot for Claire Allan to live up to.

“Apple of My Eye” brings to life an incredible family account of mistrust, jealousy and suspicion. It is a book about motherhood and all that it means to all of womankind. In this novel, the reader is categorically and unequivocally made aware of how it affects the lives and relationships of different women. It is also a divulgence of desperation, loneliness and all the different layers of love.

As always, I am having a run of strong, inspiring thrillers and this is on the list, along with my other favourites. The plot for this book is awesome and incredibly thrilling. I’m always looking for something in a book in this genre that makes it more notable than the rest. This could be amazingly drawn characters, a super plot, great originality or something entirely different that I couldn’t even imagine.

This book has many of the components that make a really good story: from the mood and undercurrents to the very clever writing and the experience of family secrets, jealousy and incredibly tense relationships.

For myself, the one thing that made this a memorable read was Claire Allan’s ability to send me off course in nearly every chapter. Narrated from three different perspectives – that of Eli, her mother Angela and the mysterious Louise – I found that it was the chapters told from Louise’s angle that added a real sense of apprehension to the plot. Claire Allan managed to create so much suspicion and mistrust through her story-telling and there was an overpowering sense of menace that emanated from the pages of this addictive read which is chock full of mystery. I found that I had no idea who or what I could trust. The emotional, distressed and pregnant wife or the mother who wanted to protect her daughter from an adulterous husband, or the revealing anonymous notes? 

Another of my favourite aspects of this novel was the fluidity of the writing. The details and twists of the plot were brilliantly executed and every chapter left me with a compelling need to read on.

”Apple Of My Eye” is a supreme accomplishment, mixing women’s fiction with a chilling, sharp slice of thriller, culminating in an emotive and fulfilling ending. I absolutely adored every chapter of this pacey novel and I would certainly recommend it.

Thanks to NetGalley, Avon Books UK and the author, Claire Allan, for my free ARC of Apple of My Eye in exchange for an honest review.

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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