Mini Review: Minus Me by Mameve Medwed

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Annie and her devoted but comically incompetent childhood sweetheart Sam are the owners and operators of Annie’s, a gourmet sandwich shop, home to the legendary Paul Bunyan Special Sandwich–their “nutritionally challenged continual source of income and marital harmony and local fame.”

But into their mostly charmed marriage comes the scary medical diagnosis for Annie–and the overwhelming challenge of finding a way to help Sam go on without her. Annie decides to leave Sam step-by-step instructions for a future without her, and considers her own replacement in his heart and their bed.Her best-laid plans grind to a halt with the unexpected appearance of Ursula, Annie’s Manhattan diva of a mother, who brings her own brand of chaos and disruption into their lives.

Source: NetGalley and Alcove Press Rating: 4½/5 stars

The Bottom Line:  Well, dear reader, once again I find myself on the opposite side of the star review ratings on Goodreads.  I found Minus Me to be a poignant and heartfelt read about two people who have completely devoted their lives to one another through hard work, dedication, and a love that many in this world can only ever imagine.  While I generally get very angry and “not communicating/keeping big secrets” books, I found myself completely accepting of the situation in this particular read.  Annie’s insistence on not telling Sam everything the second she knows comes from a place of love and understanding that only the two of them can truly comprehend.  Annie knows Sam so well that she chooses to spare him the hurt, pain, and worry until the moment when she knows the full scope of her situation.  I don’t necessarily agree with every step of Annie’s master plan, but I have a true understanding and sympathy for her actions.  This is something of a roller coaster of a read, but I navigated every hill and valley willingly and enjoyed the ride.  Quite frankly, I don’t much care that I am in the minority on this one; Minus Me is fine read and though it deals with some very heavy topics, it is well worth the time and effort.

Goodreads | Amazon | Paperback

Mini Review: The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson

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Bree Leake doesn’t want to be tied down. She’s had more jobs than she can count, and she plans to move as soon as the curtains fall on her less-than-minor stage role at The Barter—the oldest live performance theater in the US. But just when it’s time to move on again, Bree’s parents make her an offer: hold steady for a full year, and they will give her the one thing she’s always wanted—her grandmother’s house. Her dreams are coming true . . . until life at the theater throws her some curve balls. 

And then there’s Chip McBride—her handsome and infuriating next-door neighbor. 

Chip just might be the only person whose stubborn streak can match Bree’s. She would move heaven and earth to have him off her cul-de-sac and out of her life, but according to the bargain she’s struck, she can’t move out of her house and away from the man who’s making her life miserable. So begins Bree’s obsessive new mission: to drive Chip out of the neighborhood—and fast. 

Bree isn’t the only one who’s a tad competitive, and Chip is more than willing to fight fire with fire. But as their pranks escalate, the line between love and hate starts to blur—and their heated rivalry threatens to take a hilarious, heartwarming, and romantic new turn.

Source: NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Rating: 3/5 stars

The Bottom Line:  For once, I seem to be in line with the Goodreads star rating for a book.  I have to say, I struggled with this book and it is all because of Bree.  I found Bree to be a thoroughly disagreeable character with little to nothing about her to like or even care about.  In fact, like Bree’s best friend, I found Bree to be childish, petty, and spoiled.  Her actions at nearly every turn are ridiculous and, at times, have serious consequences for her neighbor.  Even in the end, when Bree works out her issues, I found it to be too little too late to be happy for her and satisfied with her ending.  The two redeeming qualities/characters in this read are Chip and Russell.  Chip gets sucked into Bree’s crazy and while he certainly participates in the war, he never crosses a line that will well and truly negatively impact Bree and her future.  In fact, it’s Chip and Russell who bring the sense and the reason to this read and I liked their story immensely, even if it did ultimately include Bree.

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Review: Archangel’s Sun (Book #13: Guild Hunter Series) by Nalini Singh

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The Archangel of Death and the Archangel of Disease may be gone but their legacy of evil lives on—especially in Africa, where the shambling, rotting creatures called the reborn have gained a glimmer of vicious intelligence.

It is up to Titus, archangel of this vast continent, to stop the reborn from spreading across the world. Titus can’t do it alone, but of the surviving powerful angels and archangels, large numbers are wounded, while the rest are fighting a surge of murderous vampires.

There is no one left…but the Hummingbird. Old, powerful, her mind long a broken kaleidoscope. Now, she must stand at Titus’s side against a tide of death upon a discovery more chilling than any other. For the Archangel of Disease has left them one last terrible gift…

Source: Purchase Rating: 5/5 stars

**SERIES SPOILERS**

Every November, I wait quite impatiently for the latest installment of the Guild Hunter series to load to my iPad.  Every November, I also wonder if this is going to be the year that the series finally loses its flair and becomes stale.  So far, every November I have been wonderfully relieved to find yet another stellar read that is fresh, unique, and as engrossing as I have come to expect from Nalini Singh.

Archangel’s Sun opens with the world, literally the whole world, waking up to the devastation that has been left in the wake of the Archangel’s War that saw the death, the true death of two of the Cadre.  The reborn are walking the earth and evolving, cities have been leveled, Ancients who should still be sleeping are awake and aiding the living, and the survivors are beyond exhausted. 

Outside of China, Lijuan’s former territory, there is nowhere more devastated by the war and the reborn than Titus’ African territory.  Titus is an archangel of old, but he is far from being among the oldest currently awake.  Titus is strong and he is surrounded by men and women, vampires, and angels alike who are strong, capable, and loyal to the point of sacrifice to Titus.  Each knows the fight is going to be long and draining, but all are willing to fight by their archangel’s side and do whatever it takes to stop the plague infesting and infecting their land.  While there are no other territories or archangels able (not unwilling!) to send reinforcements, there is one who is an untapped resource.

The Hummingbird has finally, after many centuries, found her way back to reality and has even begun to flourish as the caretaker of Lumia.  Renowned among angel kind, the Hummingbird has no need to prove herself to anyone.  She does, however, have a very real need to prove something to herself.  When Raphael, her beloved “son” sends a call for the Hummingbird’s help in Africa, she sees this as just the opportunity to spread her wings and continue her journey of finding/remembering her true self. 

From the moment she lands at Titus’ citadel, he can’t believe his (mis)fortune.  The Hummingbird is a legend, a precious treasure that is now in his safekeeping.  With little time to pamper the princess, Titus does his best to put his best foot forward in greeting so he can get back to the real work.  What Titus expects versus what he gets are worlds apart.  From the moment she opens her mouth, the Hummingbird makes is clear she isn’t to be pampered, she isn’t to be revered, and she most certainly isn’t there to sit and be pretty.  Oh, and while Titus is as it, he should refer to her by her name, Sharine, and not the Hummingbird. 

In the days and weeks that follow, Titus and his people find themselves blown away by the power, the resilience, and the intelligence, and the cunning of Sharine.  She isn’t shy about sharing her thoughts – to Titus’ great astonishment – nor is she afraid of getting her hands dirty in the defense of the territory.  In fact, as the fight wears on, Sharine discovers powers she has long forgotten about and/or buried.  She in formidable in battle and this, above all else, causes Titus to reassess his perceptions of her.  To make his life and thoughts even more conflicted, every time Titus feels he is beginning to understand Sharine, she surprises him yet again. 

The Bottom Line: This book was one hell of a ride and I am so glad I bought a ticket!  The Hummingbird has been a part of this series from very early on, but she has always been spoken of as a fragile thing not meant for the world at large.  Boy howdy did this book reverse that thinking!  In fact, Archangel’s Sun allowed so many of us to completely reassess our own thinking and the possibilities for the future with a Sharine and not the Hummingbird in the world.  What further entertained me to no end in this book is the family history of Titus.  It is such a rare thing in this series for an archangel to have siblings, and siblings that are awake and functioning in the world.  This history and the entanglements very much improved this story and humanized Titus in a way that isn’t really possible for many of the other archangels.  While I often worry about a long running series going stale or becoming redundant, I don’t see that happening anytime soon with the Guild Hunter series.  In fact, while I hate waiting a year between books, I find that wait it worth it when I get such stellar reads.

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Review: Grounds for Murder (Book #1: A Coffee Lover´s Mystery Series) by Tara Lush

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When Lana Lewis’ best — and most difficult — employee abruptly quits and goes to work for the competition just days before the Sunshine State Barista Championship, her café’s chances of winning the contest are creamed. In front of a gossipy crowd in the small Florida town of Devil’s Beach, Lana’s normally calm demeanor heats to a boil when she runs into the arrogant java slinger. Of course, Fabrizio “Fab” Bellucci has a slick explanation for jumping ship. But when he’s found dead the next morning under a palm tree in the alley behind Lana’s café, she becomes the prime suspect.

Even the island’s handsome police chief isn’t quite certain of her innocence. But Lana isn’t the only one in town who was angry with Fabrizio. Jilted lovers, a shrimp boat captain, and a surfer with ties to the mob are all suspects as trouble brews on the beach.

With her stoned, hippie dad, a Shih Tzu named Stanley, and a new, curious barista sporting a punk rock aesthetic at her side, Lana’s prepared to turn up the heat to catch the real killer. After all, she is a former award-winning reporter. As scandal hangs over her beachside café, can Lana clear her name and win the championship — or will she come to a bitter end?

Source: NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books Rating: 3/5 stars

Lana Lewis never thought she would be returning home with her tail tucked between her legs.  At her age, Lana Lewis saw herself having at least an award or two for her writing skills and reporting savvy and continuing her upward trajectory as a crack reporter.  Unfortunately, the rise of the internet has made her life and career as a newspaper reporter redundant and that’s how she’s found herself behind the counter of her father’s coffee shop.

Lana is trying to settle in as the new manager/co-owner of her family’s Devil’s Beach coffee shop, but the transition has been difficult.  If it weren’t for her Lothario barista, Fabrizio, Lana likely would have already seen the end of the coffee shop.  Though Lana knows good coffee, she’s never been a proper business owner and the learning curve has been steep.  Thanks to Fabrizio, the shop is thriving, and Lana has learned the ropes quickly and even seen a positive shift in shop’s fortunes. 

With things looking to be on the up and up, Lana is finally feeling somewhat optimistic about the future.  The only thing giving her cause for concern is the upcoming Sunshine State Barista Championship.  While Fabrizio is sure to carry the competition, Lana isn’t so confident in her own skills.  The competition will bring the shop some great publicity if Lana can hold her own and back up Fabrizio.

And then, the unthinkable happens . . . . twice!  First, and quite unexpectedly Fabrizio quits the coffee shop and moves over to the competition and then, he has the audacity to die just outside Lana’s shop.  With a double whammy already upon her and not willing to risk a third, Lana activates her reporter instincts and begins digging into the investigation.  In order to make her involvement legitimate, Lana calls on her local newspaper contacts to score a two-story deal related to the murder of her former employee. 

As Lana begins digging around, she uncovers some harsh truths about her former employee that she would have rather not known.  What’s more, with every level of dirt Lana pushes away, an unknown party hellbent on remaining anonymous and out of jail stalks her and tries to shut down her efforts.  Lana isn’t on her own by any means and when she needs local information, she turns to her plugged-in father who is a font of local knowledge/gossip.  When Lana is looking for a partner in crime, she turns to her new barista, a slightly Gothish coffee goddess with a bit of a wild side. 

The Bottom Line:  I can honestly say, I am a total middle of the road reader on this one.  I think my favorite part of the book would have to be the coffee and I’m not even a coffee drinker.  What’s more, I liked Lana when she was in regular person mode, but reporter Lana really pissed me off.  That dog with a bone/anything to get a story mentality is one I have a particular hatred for in characters.  I do like the setting, the coffee shop, and Lana’s father so I don’t think I’m quite done with this series just yet. The Coffee Lover’s Mystery Series is one that deserves a second chance/book and since I am so middle of the road, I am willing to give another book a go.

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The Violinist of Auschwitz by Ellie Midwood

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In Auschwitz, every day is a fight for survival. Alma is inmate 50381, the number tattooed on her skin in pale blue ink. She is cooped up with thousands of others, torn from loved ones, trapped in a maze of barbed wire. Every day people disappear, never to be seen again.

This tragic reality couldn’t be further from Alma’s previous life. An esteemed violinist, her performances left her audiences spellbound. But when the Nazis descend on Europe, none of that can save her…

When the head of the women’s camp appoints Alma as the conductor of the orchestra, performing for prisoners trudging to work as well as the highest-ranking Nazis, Alma refuses: “they can kill me but they won’t make me play”. Yet she soon realizes the power this position offers: she can provide starving girls with extra rations and save many from the clutches of death.

This is how Alma meets Miklos, a talented pianist. Surrounded by despair, they find happiness in joint rehearsals, secret notes, and concerts they give side by side––all the while praying that this will one day end. But in Auschwitz, the very air is tainted with loss, and tragedy is the only certainty… In such a hopeless place, can their love survive?

This devastatingly heartbreaking yet beautifully hopeful tale proves that even in the darkest of days, love can prevail––and give you something to live for. Fans of The Choice, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Orphan Train will lose their hearts to this magnificent tale.

Source: NetGalley and Bookouture Rating: DNF at 51%

The Bottom Line:  As a reader, two things (among many others!) have always held true for me: 1) I am a devoted fan of historical fiction and, 2) I am always drawn to books about the Holocaust and the concentration camps.  I can’t count the number of books I have read on this topic and most have left me a hot mess at the end; the atrocities perpetrated during this time in history are horrendous and should never be forgotten or made light of.  In the case of this particular book, The Violinist of Auschwitz, I actually found myself laughing aloud at how ludicrous some of the scenarios and conversations among the characters were.  In an effort to gain some perspective and determine if I was being overly judgmental, I talked with my husband about the book and the things I had already encountered during my reading.  As we are both fairly well-versed in the time period, it was agreed between us that The Violinist of Auschwitz has some serious issues.  Ultimately, I had to give up on this book because I found it to be far more fiction than historical fiction and that, I simply could not abide. 

Also, of note: In the last year, I read a quite enjoyed The Tattooist of Auschwitz.   If you’re looking for a proper read about this time and place, I can highly recommend this book.  It is absolutely proper historical fiction and there isn’t a moment in this book that I wanted or felt compelled to do anything other than grieve for the people in the story.

Goodreads

Review: Gourd to Death (book #5:Pie Town Mystery series) by Kirsten Weiss

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As the owner of Pie Town, Val’s been tapped to judge the pie making contest at the annual pumpkin festival in the coastal California town of San Nicholas. Things could get sticky though–her boyfriend, cop Gordon Carmichael, is entering the competition with his “special” family pumpkin pie recipe. But Val’s got bigger problems than a conflict of interest when she and her flaky piecrust-maker Charlene discover another contestant crushed under an enormous pumpkin.

When grudge-holding Chief Shaw comes up with a half-baked reason to toss Carmichael off the case and onto the suspect list, it’s up to Val and Charlene to find the tricky killer. But as they dodge lethal pumpkin cannons and follow the clues into a figurative and literal maze, the pie pals are in for the scariest Halloween of their lives–and it may be their last . . .

Source: NetGalley and Kensington Rating: 4/5 stars

Pie Town is a veritable boomtown these days and Val can’t believe her good fortune.  With the annual pumpkin festival just around the corner, Val is hoping for a windfall and a load of great publicity for Pie Town.  Though she’s putting in more hours than ever before, Val is happy with her life and simply can’t imagine it any other way. 

As always, Charlene is up to no good and she simply can’t wait for the crowds to crash the pumpkin festival.  With Val in tow, Charlene trips off into the pre-dawn hours to see the giant pumpkins that will be judged once the festival actually begins.  Val is blown away by the tremendous size of the gourds and thoroughly disappointed by the dead body under one of the entrants.  Yeah, death by giant pumpkin shouldn’t be a thing, but then, Val and Charlene have a habit of finding the weird wherever they go.

Lickety split, Val and Charlene are forbidden by the police chief from “nosing around” the investigation and Gordon – the only actual detective on the force – is removed from the investigation.  Oh, and Val’s stepmother has come to town because things couldn’t possibly get anymore weird.  Val’s stepmother is gung-ho to become a part of Val’s life and that means getting to know her friends and poking around in her business.  In short order, Val is up to her neck in batsh*t crazy old ladies, including a 100-year-old witch who is seemingly out to get Val and curse her life.  Because why not?

Over the course of her investigation, Val gets run off the road, shot at by a pumpkin cannon, and followed relentlessly by an unknown interested party.  Charlene gets a drone, Val’s stepmother evidently travels strapped and ready for action, and Gordon is stress eating.  What’s more, Val is putting in more hours than ever before and showing up at Pie Town even when the shop is closed.  There’s nothing about any of those things that isn’t unnerving, and Val’s got to figure out how to navigate everything and everyone in addition to finding a killer.

The Bottom Line:  Yet again, Val spends a good portion of this book (YAY!) evaluating and reevaluating her life and her life choices.  The hours she works are becoming problematic for her relationship with Gordon and Gordon’s life, even beyond being a detective is becoming more complicated.  To be sure, the presence of Val’s stepmother is a doozy of a plot twist, and Charlene is stellar, as ever.  Of course, I like Val and her antics, but I am finding that the minor characters in this series are far more interesting and entertaining.  There’s such a wonderful vibe among the minor characters that really help bring the whole series to life.  If everything and everyone continues to evolve as I believe they will, this series is only going to get strong the longer is continues.

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Mini Review: Pies before Guys (book #4: Pie Town Mystery series) by Kirsten Weiss

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A poetry slam at a bakery? Why not! Even though Pie Town proprietor Val Harris would rather be spending time with her newfound half-brother, she knows her employee, Abril, is beyond excited to be hosting the event. Especially since it stars the apple pie of Abril’s eye, poet and professor Michael Starke. But the evening ends on a sour note when Professor Starke is found murdered mere moments after being accused of plagiarism.

Just like that, Pie Town is at the center of another criminal inquiry. At Abril’s request—and much to Detective Carmichael’s consternation—Val and Charlene decide to investigate Starke’s death. But the case is as tough as an overworked crust and the Baker Street Bakers are only coming up with scraps. If they don’t pinch the cultured killer soon, Pie Town’s reputation could crumble.

Source: Purchase Rating: 4½/5 stars

The Bottom Line: It took me until about the halfway mark of this book to realize exactly what I had in my hands.  When I realized I had a HUGE book full of personal evolution – yeah, there’s a lot of that this week – I was so dang excited.  I totally enjoyed the actual mystery, but what I liked most about this book was the personal bits that were happening with Val from start to finish.  Val has a new stepbrother to contend with, a growing relationship with Gordon (yummy!), and Charlene is on a tear like never before (UFOs!).  With so much happening simultaneously, Val begins to question everything, doubt all her decisions, and wonder if anything in her life is as it should be.  By story’s end, Val has yet again solved the crime and seemingly come upon on the answers to her life questions.  I truly enjoyed this particular arc and found that it overrode the actual plot for me.  Evolution is a main character is such a must-have for me and is surely came in spades in this read.

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Review: Varnished Without a Trace (book #5: A Tallie Graver Mystery series) by Misty Simon

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This Christmas, Tallie Graver would like to take a break from running her cleaning business to be with her boyfriend, Max, and enjoy their first holiday together–alone. Instead, she’s stuck keeping her mother and grandmother from duking it out during the town’s annual Christmas Eve bingo game. As for festive spirit, she’ll have to settle for her mean-spirited Aunt Ronda, whose mouth could use some soap.

The night only gets worse after Tallie discovers Ronda’s body. It seems someone cleaned her clock with a can of varnish. While all the evidence points to Ronda’s husband, Tallie doesn’t believe her beloved Uncle Hoagie could do such a dirty deed. Of course, his sudden disappearance doesn’t help his case. If Tallie hopes to clear his name, she’ll need to dig up some dirt to locate the real killer. Otherwise, someone else could get rubbed out . . .

Source: NetGalley and Kensington Rating: 4½/5 stars

Tallie Graver spent a lot of years away from her family while she was married to her now ex-husband and until this Christmas, she has regretted that choice greatly.  This Christmas, however, Tallie’s battle axe of a grandmother is visiting and Tallie is meant to be running interference for her mother.  On tonight’s agenda, Bingo at the local civic center and Tallie isn’t at all prepared for the fireworks that event normally brings.

Although, Bingo doesn’t normally bring a dead woman out the back door.  Even for Tallie, a dead woman at Bingo is a first.  As if the situation weren’t bad enough, the dead woman is the meanest old broad in town and there aren’t many mourning her passing.  For Tallie, it isn’t so much the death of the old broad that has her upset, it’s the fact her uncle has been accused of the murder and he seems to have pulled a runner.

Though Tallie has somewhat vowed to keep her nose out of police business and spend as much time as possible with her delightful beau, she simply can’t ignore a couple things 1) the police chief is actually being nice and asking for her help, and 2) there are far too many unanswered questions for Tallie to let go. 

As Tallie begins to dig around into the murder, she discovers one glaring problem, no one seems to know how her “uncle” is actually related to the family.  With all her usual avenues of investigation exhausted, Tallie has no choice but to ask the battle axe herself.  With a bit of bribery and a lot of cheek, Tallie finally gets the old broad to spill the beans and wowsa is it a monster of a tale.  Armed with her new and stunning information, Tallie sets about righting a lifetime worth of wrongs for a load of people.  As always, Tallie gets more than a bit in over her head and by the end of it all, her folks are once again telling her, “I told you so!”

The Bottom Line: I really like this installment of the Tallie Graver Mystery Series.  In fact, I read this one in no time flat and regret nothing.  As you well know, I am a huge fan of backstory and history and this book had quite a bit of each.  As Tallie uncovers clues, she also uncovers more about her family, their history, and how her family is more entrenched in the town she calls home than she could have ever imagined.  Tallie even discovers, that when push comes to shove, her family may actually understand her a bit more than she has previously gave them credit for.  I think this last bit is the bit I liked the best about this book; there is a great deal of personal evolution in Tallie’s story/life and that gives me great hope for the future of this series.

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Review: A Waffle Lot of Murder (book #4: All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery series) by Lena Gregory

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While the first hints of autumn grace Boggy Creek, Florida, Gia misses the colorful harvest traditions she left behind in New York. On a scramble to make new fall memories—and promote her irresistible pumpkin spice waffles—things take a dark turn when she gets roped into the Haunted Town Festival, a spooky celebration held on deserted farmlands. The desolate area conjures plenty of eerie vibes at night, but Gia and her best friend, Savannah, are nearly frightened to death upon the discovery of the event organizer’s body buried in the nearby woods. More alarming, the local rumor mill says the woman’s shady dealings may have egged someone into sending her to an early grave. Now, there’s no shortage of creepy clues to feast on as Gia and her pals try to stop a killer with a very scary appetite . . .

Source: NetGalley and Lyrical Underground Rating: 4/5 stars

Gia Morelli would be perfectly happy if people would stop dropping dead around her.  With Halloween on the horizon and the opportunity to participate in one of Boggy Creek’s most beloved events, the Haunted Town Festival, Gia was looking forward to the totally crime-free mayhem and madness.  Unfortunately, one sinister being in Boggy Creek has it in for another resident and Gia will once again be lucky enough to stumble upon the mess.

As Gia and her best friend are checking out the site of the All-Day Breakfast Café’s haunted house, they have the misfortune of stumbling across the body of one of the town’s most devoted citizens.  The poor woman spent her life devoting her time and energy to the Haunted Town Festival which serves as a fundraiser for the local animal shelter.  While this seems like a completely selfless community service, the old bat wasn’t at all what she seemed and far too many people knew of her viler nature.  While she’s managed to get away with her double life for years, someone finally had enough and put an end to her wicked ways.

For the first time, Gia isn’t at all connected to the crime or the victim and she’s absolutely determined to keep her nose where it belongs, in her own blinkin’ business.  As with so many times in life, that sentiment is easier said than done and before Gia can say “BOO!” she’s up to her pretty little neck in an investigation.  As always, Gia and her bestie begin digging around and what they discover are the secrets that many in Boggy Creek likely would have been happy to see go to their graves.  The “poor” victim seems to have been blackmailing a load of people as well as getting up to her own shenanigans. By the time Gia puts all the pieces of the puzzle together, her life is very much threatened and her boyfriend, the good detective may not be able to get to her in time, this time. 

The Bottom Line:  I always worry about a series going stale after too many books, but so far, the All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery Series is going strong and staying fresh.  I like that not only are the plots staying fresh in interesting, but the personal narratives are also evolving.  Gia has truly settled into Boggy Creek and she is surrounded by good friends and co-workers who truly have her best interests at heart.  I like the spirit of community in Boggy Creek and how the regulars at the café have become trusted companions and great sounding boards when there’s murder and mischief afoot.  I have high hopes for the future of this series.

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mini review: Death on the Green (book #2: The Dublin Driver Mysteries series) by Catie Murphy

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Life has been non-stop excitement for American Army veteran Megan Malone ever since she moved to Ireland and became a driver for Dublin’s Leprechaun Limousine Service. She’s solved a murder and adopted two lovable Jack Russell puppies. Currently, she’s driving world-class champion golfer Martin Walsh, and he’s invited her to join him while he plays in a tournament at a prestigious Irish locale. Unfortunately, there’s a surprise waiting for her on the course–a body floating in a water hazard.

Everyone loved golfer Lou MacDonald, yet he clearly teed off someone enough to be murdered. Martin seems to be the only one with a motive. However, he also has an alibi: Megan and hundreds of his fans were watching him play. Now, with a clubhouse at an ancient castle full of secrets and a dashing Irish detective by her side, Megan must hurry to uncover the links to the truth before the real killer takes a swing at someone else . . .

Source: NetGalley and Kensington Rating: 4/5 stars

The Bottom Line: After book one, I wasn’t expecting a great deal out of this read and I am happy to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  From start to finish, I felt far more invested and interested in this book.  Yet again, Megan finds herself entangled in a messy situation that involves the death of a good and well-liked man, a broken-hearted and very bitter daughter, and strained marriage that is seemingly at its breaking point.  Everything came together in a much better way in this book and I found myself far more engaged with the characters and the plot.  Megan is rather cheekier in this read and liked that aspect of her personality quite a bit.  Her wit, humor, and true compassion for others really shone through in this read and I particularly liked the steel in her spine when she needed to be tough.  In all, a much better showing in this read than in the first and I find I am no longer on the fence, but ready to dive into the next book.

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