BOOK REVIEW: Wine and Punishment by Sarah Fox

This post is going to take a look at Wine and Punishment written by Sarah Fox. I checked this book out from the academic library I work at. It was released November 2019 so those of you looking for a light mystery can enjoy it right now! This is the first book in a new series by Fox called A Literary Pub Mystery.

Sadie Coleman has relocated to Shady Creek, Vermont, after a break up with her long term boyfriend Eric in Boston. Shady Creek is a small town that lives for seasonal festivals–and the Autumn festival is very important to the town. It highlights local businesses to leaf-peeping tourists, pumpkin pie baking contests, and more. Sadie bought a local mill building, and has built her business as a literary themed pub, serving drinks like Huckleberry Gin–and yes the book includes recipes!!

But somebody in town doesn’t like Sadie. Her tires were slashed, her building egged, her shed lit on fire, oh and did I mention her ex was murdered!? Shady Creek isn’t used to so much scandal occurring and the town is a buzz between the Autumn Festival and all of the crimes taking place. Sadie can’t stand aside and let the police investigate on their own, so she takes it into her hands to do her own side investigation to identify Eric’s killer.

Could it be handsome Grayson Blake, the local brewery owner? Everybody in town loves him, but he’s always been hostile toward Sadie. Eric’s body was also found at the edge of his property. As the book goes on the suspect list grows to include other people in town with varying degrees of motive and opportunity to commit the various crimes.

Will Sadie figure out who is committing these crimes before she too ends up dead? Will she come around to liking Grayson Blake like everyone else in town? Will her pub, the Inkwell, survive as a business?

Wine and Punishment was an easy read, and an enjoyable cozy mystery. I enjoyed the different characters that Fox introduced throughout town, and Shady Creek definitely has the feel of a small New England town. I didn’t figure out the killer until very shortly before it was revealed. I am looking forward to picking up the second book in the series: An Ale of Two Cities.

BOOK REVIEW: Perfectly Famous by Emily Liebert.

Today I’m going to look at Perfectly Famous written by Emily Liebert. I received an eARC of the title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Its release date is July 8th 2020, so please enjoy it once it’s out. If you like reading about writers, and big plot twists this one is for you.

Perfectly Famous opens with the reader meeting Ward DeFleur, a famous author who has anxiety about being in front of people, like at a book signing. As she’s about to wrap up the first signing on her most recent book tour, she notices her assistant isn’t around, and then finds out she’s been on the phone because people are trying to reach Ward to notify her that her daughter was abducted and murdered. The tour is over, and Ward will never write again.

One of the fans that attended the book signing, is Bree Bennett. At the time of the book signing she and her then husband had recently decided to divorce, and Ward consoled her. As we move further into the story they have separated, and are beginning to figure out how to co-parent from two households, and Bree is trying to re-enter the workforce as a journalist at a local paper.

Bree pitches the idea that she is going to find Ward and bring her out of hiding as her big break through story. It’s a bit of a hard sell, but her editor goes for it and Bree begins heavily researching Ward’s past. Finding Ward’s brother, and maybe falling for him a bit a long the way. As she goes deeper into the story it becomes apparent that Stevie’s murderer is still out there, and searching for Ward is not the safest idea.

All the while Bree is trying to deal with the life changes her divorce is bringing to her life, including dating, raising her daughter, and psychologically adjusting. While I haven’t experienced these life stages, I thought Liebert handled them well. However, I found Bree a bit too self-centered for my liking, and I often found myself annoyed with her. Ward is a whole other story, but I don’t want to divulge too much leading into one of the many plot twists of the book. It was still an enjoyable read even though I couldn’t relate to the characters.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Swap by Robyn Harding

Today’s post is going to take a look at Robyn Harding’s The Swap. This book was released June 23, 2020 so it’s out there for those of you interested in thrillers to pick up! I received an eARC of The Swap from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Swap takes place on an isolated island in the Pacific Northwest and focuses on a few quite toxic relationships between main character, and sullen teenager, Swallow (Low for short) Morrison, the pottery teacher she idolizes, Freya Light, and her boss, Jamie. The book also follows, to a somewhat lesser extent, Freya and Jamie’s husbands.

Low is the daughter of a polyamorous couple. While this makes her a bit of an outsider, the lifestyle is accepted on the island. As well as regular partner swapping among couples on the island. One day at school, Low sees this beautiful woman pinning an advertisement to the bulletin board–an ad offering pottery classes at Freya’s home.

Freya had been an Instagram influencer, until her professional hockey player husband accidentally paralyzed another player on the ice. They moved to the island for a bit more privacy to get away from the limelight. In her loneliness, Freya becomes quick friends with Low, and shares some of her secrets with her. Low sees herself as the center of Freya’s world–until Jamie enters the picture.

Jamie and her husband desperately want to have a baby, but cannot conceive. They moved to the island in hopes of getting over losing out on an adoption. Being of a similar age, Freya and Jamie become the closest of friends going to lunches, getting drinks, and Low is left out.

After a couples’ night drinking some special mushroom tea, Freya and Jamie swap husbands for the evening, without the other knowing. But what happens when Freya becomes pregnant? She hates children, doesn’t read parenting books, and in general doesn’t prepare for the coming child. Both Freya and Low are concerned, though for their own selfish reasons, for the safety of the baby, and everyone manipulates each other to reach their own desires.

The Swap was an interesting book to pick up. It went places I never thought it would go. I thought I had it figured out several times but I didn’t! I’d recommend this to anyone that likes a story with twists and turns.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Cabin 1 by Amanda McKinney.

This post is going to take a look at Cabin 1 written by Amanda McKinney. It is the first book in a 3 book spin-off series (Steele Shadows Security) to McKinney’s Berry Springs series. It was originally published in September 2019, and the Kindle edition came out December 2019. I received an eARC copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cabin 1 introduces the reader to Niki Avery, a local, young prosecutor who is attacked while driving home from a yoga retreat. Two men run her Jeep off the road and attempt to sexually assault her, but in self-defense Niki is able to fight back, and kills one of her attackers. While the other one runs to his truck to grab a gun to kill Niki, she is able to escape and a chase through the dense woods of Berry Springs.

Niki runs and runs until she can’t anymore, but what she doesn’t realize, is that she’s run onto the Steele family’s property. The family of 4 former marine brothers head out onto the mountain in search of whatever, or whoever set off the security alarm.

Gage Steele finds her. Although at the beginning of the night he had only wanted to drink whiskey all night, and find a woman to take his mind off the fact that it is the one year anniversary of his father’s death, he also wants to treat this woman right. He helps her get cleaned up, and becomes overwhelmingly protective of her.

Niki is assigned to Cabin 1, and Gage is assigned to be her security detail until they can end the threat to her life. Through their time together they become increasingly attracted to each other, and they build an intense relationship with lots of steamy scenes.

I really enjoyed this action packed romance novel and I will definitely be taking up the rest of this spin-off series, as well as keeping an eye out for the Berry Springs series by McKinney. I hope you’ll pick up a copy yourself!

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another by Ainissa Ramirez.

This post is going to take a look at The Alchemy of Us written by Ainissa Ramirez. I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was released in April 2020, and I highly encourage you to get a copy and learn about everyday items we often take for granted in a new way!

It was really nice reading a nonfiction book for a change. I normally like to alternate between reading fiction and nonfiction to keep a decent balance between the two, but a majority of the eARCs I receive are fiction so sometimes I get off balance.

The Alchemy of Us discusses the importance of eight different inventions and how they changed the way humans interact with the world. Ramirez looks at clocks, steel rails, copper communication cables, photographic film, light bulbs, hard disks, scientific labware, and silicon chips. Ramirez’s goal was not only to be informative, but to write in an entertaining way so that the material in the book is accessible to the readers, and doesn’t scare them away like science classes often do.

The author did an excellent job of finding stories behind inventions that many might not have heard before. When I was in school I learned about how clocks helped with the Industrial Revolution, but I had never heard of the woman who sold time, or about how clocks affected our sleep patterns.

Not only does Ramirez do a good job teaching the reader about the invention in question in each chapter, but she also excels at bringing to light the unknown inventors behind these technologies. This includes highlighting the women and people of color that history often doesn’t talk about. To be honest, I found these stories of the little known people behind these inventions even more interesting than the stories of the inventors that everyone knows the names of.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: An Improbable Pairing by Gary Dickson

This post is going to take a look at An Improbably Pairing by Gary Dickson. I received an eARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was released January 8, 2019–so if you’re into stories about improbable romance, galavanting across Europe and the 1960s, I suggest you find yourself a copy and read on!

It’s been quite a while since I have read a book with a male protagonist so this was a nice change. Our main man is Scott Stoddard, a 21-year-old traveling from America to Switzerland, where he will attend graduate school in 1963. While aboard the ship he meets the Countess of Rovere, the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. And not just him–everyone seems to desire her.

They reunite at a social event she is hosting and it becomes quite clear that he is not the only one with a romantic interest. Scott and the Countess soon begin a passionate love affair, going against the advice of all friends and family. He is a student, and she is older, he is an American, she is European, he’s from the upper middle class, while she is aristocratic. The differences between the two are brought up constantly as challenges they likely won’t be able to beat.

Readers will be submerged into a lifestyle most only find in books. I thought it was a decent read, about an era I usually don’t cover. I hope those of you that pick up this book get as sucked into the time period as I did.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Better Liar by Tanen Jones

Today’s post is going to dive into The Better Liar by Tanen Jones. I received an eARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was released on January 14, 2020 and I definitely recommend you go pick this one up. (Even if that means virtually right now!)

This story is told through three points of view, alternating between Robin Voigt, her sister Leslie, and Mary. It starts through Robin’s point of view–and…she’s dead.

After being introduced to the thoughts of a dead character, we turn to Leslie, who becomes the main voice, finding her dead sister and quickly thinking through her options. She had gone looking for her sister who had run away almost a decade earlier now that their father died. In his will he left a stipulation that both sisters must be present for either of them to receive the money left to them in the will. A nice $50,000 each. How can Leslie get that money now, without having to dispute through probate?

Easy. She walks away from the body, which has a fake ID on it. Nobody will know she’s been there. And even more convenient, a stranger named Mary is found near her car. They become acquainted with each other and Leslie asks Mary to pretend to be Robin in order to get the money.

Everybody lies in this book–but who is the better liar? I really enjoyed this book and the twists and turns that Jones wrote make sense and are satisfying to the reader. I hope to read more from this author in the future.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell

This post is going to focus on The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell. I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The book was released on January 14, 2020 so those of you into thrillers can already go find it!

Mitchell has created a story with a very short cast list. The main character is Roz, a poor, pregnant Irish girl. Then we have her best friend, her friend’s boyfriend and parents, and the celebrity couple looking to adopt Roz’s baby once it is born.

Roz flies to New York to meet the hopeful parents to be, Sheridan, and Daniel. She doesn’t know the identity of who she is meeting because of the identity protection behind the elite adoption site she has chosen to work with. Little does Roz know that Sheridan has figured out her password, and made it appear that they are no longer interested.

After spending almost her entire pregnancy locked up in their basement apartment, Roz still has some fight in her. It also turns out that her best friend back home has been working the case on her own as well.

But boy did this book have its twists and turns. Some of them I saw coming miles away and others I didn’t even notice until after the fact. This book was rated fairly well on Goodreads with a 4.17 rating as of this writing, but I gave it only 2 stars. It was too difficult to get through how certain characters were written. I had such a strong dislike for Sheridan, find her pretty unbelievable that I almost DNF’d the book completely. I also wasn’t a fan of finding out who the baby’s father is. I had almost returned to liking the book, and then found out who the father was, and I returned to not caring for it.

Have any of you read this book and thought differently?

Happy Reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan; adapted by Orpheus Collar.

This post will take a look at The Throne of Fire, the second book in the Kane Chronicles series written by Rick Riordan. I am taking a look at the graphic novel adaptation, that was adapted by Orpheus Collar, who adapted the first novel as well. It was published in 2015.

This second installment of the Kane Chronicles starts developing more of the characters and action. There is a lot more fighting in this book and we meet more of the gods. The main quest in this book is for the Kane siblings, and their trainees, to find the three pieces of the Book of Ra. In doing this they are going against the House of Life and the gods. Readers will be in the real world, and the world of the gods as they try to find the pieces and put the puzzle together. They need the Book of Ra to wake Ra from his coma-like-slumber.

I think this installment does a good job of balancing the serious fighting parts with comedic relief, like at the nursing home for the gods. It is a little difficult to slow down, as the entire book takes place at a roaring pace with non-stop action. This is probably my favorite of the three graphic novels in this series, though it is a close call between this and The Serpent’s Shadow.

I encourage you to pick this up for a fun read filled with action and Egyptian mythology.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Red Pyramid (The Graphic Novel) by Rick Riordan; adapted by Orpheus Collar

This book review will focus on the graphic novel adaptation of The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. It was adapted by Orpheus Collar. It was published in 2012, and I borrowed this title from a friend.

In this first installment of the series, readers are introduced to the main characters, Sadie and Carter Kane. They are siblings that were not raised together. Sadie was raised by her grandparents and Carter travelled with their father. The two are tween to teenaged in these books. Carter has learned much about Egypt and the Egyptian gods during his travel with his father, but the two learn that the gods are real and waking in this graphic novel. The Egyptian god Set is the main villain in the book. This book is entirely introduction to the world where the siblings come to terms with their family’s destiny, learning magic, and starting their journey.

I found this graphic novel to be a great read for tweens and teens. It was still enjoyable for me, but I found myself wanting more detail, which I hope to find when I eventually read the novels for this series. The imagery does a really great job of pacing the story along. The colors used change the mood of the story too.

This was a fun read, and I hope you all enjoy it!

Happy reading 🙂