The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green

The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green by Erica Boyce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was such a great, unusual read! I hadn’t known what to expect from this novel but I know that I loved its title and the alluring front cover, both of which caught my attention.

This sweet and engaging story begins with Daniel Green who has a fascination with crop circles. He, along with other members of a secret organization, travels across the country creating strange works of art that leave communities mystified. But when a dying farmer hires him in a last-ditch effort to bring publicity to a small Vermont town, loner Daniel finds himself at odds with his heart. It isn’t long before he gets drawn into a family struggling to stitch itself back together, and the consequences change his life forever.

“The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green” by Erica Boyce explores the unexplainable bonds of family, the everyday wonder of love, and the strange mysteries life provides that help humanity light up the dark.

The story is told through multiple viewpoints and peppered with characters’ back-stories. The characters themselves were richly portrayed and the way that their stories were interwoven was a credit to this début author. There were moments of difficulties in the tale when I felt close to most of them, however, for me, there was no recognisable plot to the story, as such. Even so, I still very much enjoyed the novel and I was interested to see whether the crop circle would be finished.

The ending was both fulfilling and satisfying. Overall, this was a great read for me and one that I would definitely recommend, especially if you are looking for something a little different!

{Thank you to #NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the free copy of #Fifteenwondersofdanielgreen and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.}



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Sweet Tea and Secrets (A Tea and Read Mystery #2)

Sweet Tea and Secrets by Joy Avon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Who wouldn’t be inclined to read “Sweet Tea and Secrets” with its alluring and eye-catching cover and attractive premise of drinking hot, sweet tea and setting about solving a decades-0ld disappearance? This is Joy Avon’s very enjoyable second novel in the ‘A Tea and a Read’ mystery series. The first book was ‘In Peppermint Peril.’

I haven’t read the first book in this series yet, however, I don’t think that this spoilt my enjoyment of this novel. That said, it is so exciting, picking up a book which is the first in a new series!

Callie Aspen has left her tour guide job and she now helps out at ‘Book Tea,’ her great-aunt’s vintage tearoom, where each treat has a bookish clue. Though she’s excited to start her new life, Callie is worried that she may regret having burned her bridges. Wanting to solve a celebrity’s disappearance that happened many years ago, she finds immediate distraction in the preparations for a spectacular Fourth of July tea party, which will recreate key moments from the town’s rich history.

Intrigued to learn that 1980’s TV star Monica Walker was last seen in Heart’s Harbor before she vanished – allegedly to elope – Callie probes the local townsfolk for information. She’s stunned when several of them share contradictory stories about the last day before Monica’s disappearance. Did she intend to leave her hit TV series? Was she being stalked by her ex? And why is the newspaper editor who investigated the story at the time so anxious about the cold case heating up?

When one of the locals turns up dead, Callie aims to apprehend the killer. Deputy Falk doesn’t want her meddling, and the locals suddenly know more about the past than they’d been at liberty to admit. But will Callie be able to crack the case?

Set in Heart’s Harbor, Maine, Callie and Daisy the Boston Terrier are slowly settling into her new life, working with her Great-Aunt Iphy in ‘Book Tea.’ I found that I had a good connection with Callie as she had a tendency towards self-doubt and was a little unsure of herself. As someone who has read several cozies, Callie’s Great -Aunt Iphy has become another on the list of my favourite cozy characters. Joy Avon has really worked her magic in creating a character who is wonderfully astute and wise and I couldn’t help but grow very fond of her as the story progressed.

It was clear that there was some chemistry between Callie and Ace but it was a little frustrating that it lingered under the surface throughout the story and they both seemed to have their problems communicating with one another on a personal level.

I liked that the opening chapters drew me into the story and captured my attention immediately. There was never a dull moment with such a lot going on. The mystery itself was well thought out with plenty of twists and turns as I puzzled over the clues to discover the perpetrator. I thought that Joy Avon’s combination of the cold case threads inter-crossing with those of the present day murder was very well done. The book had a natural, steady pace and I was kept guessing until the surprising reveal.

Delightful and entertaining “Sweet Tea and Secrets” is a highly recommended, delectable read for all cozy mystery fans.

{Thank you to #NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the free copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.}



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Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop

Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop by Rebecca Raisin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


“Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop” by Rebecca Raisin is a lovely, light read. When you have just discovered that you have a husband who is a cheat, what a wonderful way to start life over by going travelling in a camper-van. I thought it was great that Rosie made herself some new friends along the way, as well as earning some money at music and food festivals.

I delighted in this quirky, fun story. There were many laugh-out-loud moments and it was wonderful getting to meet all of the characters, although I did not particularly have a favourite.

I especially loved the idea of owning a pink camper-van like Rosie’s, and a fuchsia pink one at that – so unique and off-the-wall. Also worth a mention are some of the references to delicious culinary delights such as the spotted dick, and the Turkish delight butter-cream cupcakes or some of the more suspect ones like the wheat-grass smoothie or the Dijon tofu.

This fantastic book has left me keen to go touring and travelling and I strongly recommend giving this wonderfully uplifting romantic story a whirl!

{Thank you to #NetGalley and HQ Digital for the free copy of #RosiesTravellingTeaShop and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.}



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Restaurant Weeks Are Murder (A Poppy McAllister Mystery #3)

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby Klein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


“Restaurant Weeks Are Murder” is Libby Klein’s very enjoyable third novel, chock full of madness and mayhem in the ‘Poppy McAllister Mystery’ series. The first book is ‘Class Reunions Are Murder,’ followed by book two which is ‘Midnight Snacks Are Murder.’

I haven’t read these other books in this series yet, however, I don’t think that this spoilt my enjoyment of this novel. That said, there is nothing more exciting than picking up a book which is the first in a new series.

Poppy McAllister is opening a new Bed & Breakfast in Cape May, New Jersey, but working in a professional kitchen has always been her passion. Now she’s realising her dream, at least briefly, as she is teaming up with her former fiancée, Tim and his partner, Gigi, during a high-profile Restaurant Week challenge. Poppy’s speciality is pastries and if anyone can make glorious gluten-free goodies, it’s Poppy.

As it might be expected, things start to go badly wrong very quickly, especially when some ingredients get switched and Tim is accused of sabotage. Relatively harmless pranks soon escalate into real hazards, including an exploding deep fat fryer. Then one of the judges dies after taking a bite of Poppy’s limoncello cannoli, making her one of the prime suspects . . .

Forty-odd-year-old, pastry chef, Poppy, the protagonist, lives with her elderly Aunt Ginny and Figaro, her mischievous cat. I found Poppy and many of the other characters very funny and likeable, so much so that I felt as though I would like to spend some time in their company myself! As someone who has read several cozies, Poppy’s Aunt Ginny has become one of my favourite cozy characters. She provided plenty of humour in this book from her choice of outlandish outfits to her zaniness and zest for life. I couldn’t help but adore her and look forward to her mischievous antics.

I liked that the opening chapters drew me into the story and captured my attention immediately. Although I had to wait a while before an actual murder took place, there was never a dull moment with such a lot going on. The mystery itself was well thought out with plenty of twists and turns as I puzzled over the clues to discover the perpetrator.

The book had a natural, steady pace, and even though the murder occurred towards the end of the first half of the book I was kept guessing until the surprising reveal. Delightful and entertaining “Restaurant Weeks Are Murder” is a highly recommended, quick, light read for all cozy mystery fans.

{Thank you to #NetGalley and Kensington Books for the free copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.}



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The Shadow Between Us

The Shadow Between Us by Carol Mason

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Carol Mason, the best-selling author of ’After You Left’ has written an incredibly moving and poignant novel in this slow-burn, very beautiful work of fiction.

Olivia moves to the pretty coastal town of Port Townsend, with her marriage on-the-rocks, and her life in pieces. She doesn’t know if things with her husband Mark are truly over, or quite why the phone call she longs for on her daughter’s birthday will never come.

After joining a letter-writing club held at her local cafe she meets Ned, an ex-soldier badly wounded in Afghanistan. This chance friendship revives unexpected emotions and memories she’d rather forget.

Can Olivia find the courage to confront what she’s hiding from and finally begin to heal the wounds that have torn her life apart?

Liv, as she is known to her husband, is an extremely intriguing character. Regularly displaying a cocktail of emotions, I could still really empathise with her. She could be caring and thoughtful one minute, but then be frank, blunt and very much to-the-point, the next moment. At times she was positively distant and unkind. She was not alone in her attitude and behaviour as some of the other characters in the story shared similar traits such as cafe owner Beth. For me, this added to and complemented this wonderful character-driven story.

THE SHADOW BETWEEN US was a very insightful and thought-provoking read about reflecting on the mistakes we sometimes make and finding hope in second chances. I very much liked the emphasis on letter-writing, reading and quotes from favourite books, running throughout the story.

The dialogue between Olivia and Ned was lovely and liked how they had an almost immediate connection. I was very keen to see how their relationship might develop. I found THE SHADOW BETWEEN US a very enjoyable read, helped by Carol Mason’s beautiful writing which has depth and substance. The ending was very fulfilling although with an unexpected twist. I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future.

[Thanks to #NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and Carol Mason for my ARC of #TheShadowBetweenUs in exchange for an honest review.]



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Foul Play on Words (Mystery Writer's Mystery, #2)

Foul Play on Words by Becky Clark

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


FOUL PLAY ON WORDS by Becky Clark is the second in her ‘Mystery Writer’s Mystery’ series, the first book being ‘Fiction Can Be Murder.’ Any avid cozy reader would be attracted by the premise of a mystery where the setting is a writer’s conference.

Mystery author Charlee Russo agrees to speak at the Portland writers’ conference that has been organised by her friend, Viv. When Viv picks her up at the airport, she frantically tells Charlee that her daughter, Hanna, has been kidnapped.

Charlee takes over the conference preparation so Viv can search for her daughter, but the situation gets tense when the hotel double-books the event with a dog show. Despite this, Charlee is compelled to investigate after she learns shocking secrets about both Hanna and Viv. Will she find Hanna in time, or will a plot twist lead her to an awful ending?

For me, this exciting and thoroughly entertaining mystery has a solid plot, supported by some charming and engaging characters. There was plenty of humour in FOUL PLAY ON WORDS and the mystery was packed with some fantastic one-liners.

If you are grabbed by a winsome mystery then this may well be a perfect novel to try.

[Thanks to #NetGalley and Midnight Ink Publishing for my ARC of #FoulPlayOnWords in exchange for an honest review]



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Potency

Potency by Aubrey Hadley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The beautiful front cover and compelling premise lured me into choosing to read “Glow : Book I, Potency” by Aubrey Hadley, a book about apocalypse and alienation.

The Maasai Mara Sleeping Syndrome has appeared in New York, and it has wiped out an entire homeless shelter.

The same night of the outbreak, Harper, a seventeen-year-old girl, stumbles across a glowing figure in the desert outskirts of her neighbourhood. As her suburb goes on lock-down, Harper finds herself isolated from her friends and family, and soon begins to suspect that the events – though thousands of miles apart – may have something in common. Harper must find her bravery and embark on a plot-twisting adventure that will have her looking for answers in unexpected places and different worlds.

Although this book is not from one of my normally preferred genres and it is a longer read than I normally choose, it was still a really enjoyable novel. I can’t say that I’ve ever read anything exactly like it, or even similar. If you are into vampires or spectres then this isn’t for you. It’s just something totally innovative and fresh and that is why I liked it.

The main characters, whilst not necessarily particularly likeable, were a good fit for the story. As for the ending, I usually prefer one that is a little more definitive, unless it is meant to be a cliffhanger.

Overall, whilst it wasn’t one of my best-ever reads, I would recommend this book by Aubrey Hadley. I am guessing that there will be a sequel to “Glow : Book I, Potency,” so I will look out for it.

[Thanks to #NetGalley and the publisher, Ruby and Topaz, for a free ARC of #Glow in exchange for an honest review.]



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Chocolate a la Murder

Chocolate a la Murder by Kirsten Weiss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I jumped at the chance to read this delightful little mystery as I have come to adore cozy novels in recent months. This is the fourth book in the ‘A Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum’ series by Kirsten Weiss, the first book being ‘The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum,’ followed by ‘Pressed to Death’ and ‘Deja Moo.’

The setting for the story is a town called San Benedetto in the California wine country. In “Chocolate a la Murder,” owner, Maddie Kosloski, of the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, is preparing for The Wine and Chocolate Days Festival in San Benedetto. Maddie has sweet dreams about her new Magic of Chocolate exhibit. Her latest attraction is a haunted Mexican whisk called a molinillo that rattles if someone lies.

When Maddie visits the town’s new boutique chocolate shop, she finds one of the owners dead and covered in melted cocoa. Maddie’s determined to catch the killer, and she soon uncovers deadly dealings in the world of artisan chocolate. But the deception surrounding those dealings are enough to make the molinillo rattle all night. Will Maddie have to temper her passion for sleuthing before a killer makes her their next target?

Although I haven’t any read of the first three books of the series, Kirsten Weiss, provides plenty of back-stories, so “Chocolate a la Murder” works well as a stand-alone novel. Written in the first person, the characters in this novel were a real laugh and I especially liked Maddie’s feistiness. I even found myself asking the same questions and thinking along the same lines as Maddie when trying to work out the identity of the perpetrator. I really enjoyed the easy-to-read writing style, the plot and the pace of the book. The paranormal element helped to add intrigue to the tale, whilst making it a little different to some of the other books in the genre.

All in all, “Chocolate a la Murder” is a light-hearted, lovely read, that combines mystery, thrills and murder and mayhem and I’m looking forward to reading the first three books of the series.

[Thanks to #NetGalley and Midnight Ink Publishing for the free ARC of #ChocolateAlaMurder in exchange for an honest review]



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Rain Town

Rain Town by Andy Donaldson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This novel is a wonderful and exciting debut from author, Andy Donaldson!

The plot was intriguing and exciting and very well paced with no slow parts and I particularly liked the author’s portrayal of the characters. The interaction between the three school-friends, twelve-year-old Stanley Rain, Chloe Scott and Billy Bathurst was a delight. Also worth a mention was the way in which Sidney Rain, (Stanley’s dad,) Bobby Bathurst (father of Billy) and Terry Funk bonded when they all found themselves in the same situation as one another.

As well as being rich in wit and humour, “Rain Town” highlights some important issues for the reader about communication, morals and friendship in the modern world.

I wholeheartedly recommend this novel to both adults and older children and I hope to read more of Andy Donaldson’s novels in the future.

Thanks to #NetGalley, Troubador Publishing, and Andy Donaldson for my ARC of #RainTown in exchange for an honest review.



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The Rosie Result (Don Tillman, #3)

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is the third in a series of books written by the author, Graeme Simsion. I must confess that I haven’t read either of the previous two novels,‘The Rosie Project’ or ‘The Rosie Effect’, however, this – “The Rosie Result” – proved to be a fantastic read. Whilst I may well have benefited from reading the other two first, for me, it worked fine as a stand-alone story.

Don Tillman is a genetics professor with a scientific approach to everything. However, he’s about to face a set of human dilemmas tougher than the trickiest of equations…

Graeme Simsion’s portrayal of Don was exceptional with regard to his autistic tendencies and higher than average intelligence. There are many wry and witty moments, however, there is very little in this novel about Rosie’s personality.

This humorous tale about living with autism was a great and hilarious read with lots of special moments and touching scenes. It is particularly poignant if you know anyone with autism, as you’ll certainly recognise some of the scenarios!

Having read and enjoyed “The Rosie Result” I will make sure to get to the other books in the series.

{Thank you to #NetGalley and Penguin UK/ Michael Joseph for the free copy of #TheRosieResult and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.}



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