Posted in Book Notes, Reading Life, Reading List, Uncategorized

Book Notes: Review of “The Printed Letter Bookshop” by Katherine Reay

Looking through my past posts, I realized it has been over a year since I’ve published a Book Notes review! Since I just finished reading a heartwarming novel that I really enjoyed, there’s no time like the present to offer up a new one!

 

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The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay is a women’s fiction novel that I was fortunate enough to get from Net Galley last spring… and somehow I hadn’t read it until now! Here’s a description:

Continue reading “Book Notes: Review of “The Printed Letter Bookshop” by Katherine Reay”

Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: “Forever Fudge” by Nancy Coco

Hello, book lovers! Time for another installment of Book Notes from The Biblio Blonde!  We’re kicking off the fall season with a cozy mystery from a list I recently featured.

 

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Forever Fudge

 

Forever Fudge is the latest installment in Nancy Coco’s Candy Coated Mystery series.  This entire series is set on Mackinac Island in Michigan.

 

Before we get to the book, I want to take a quick, scenic detour! A few years ago, my family and I vacationed in the Mackinac area.  Mackinac (actually pronounced Mack-in-aw) is an island located where Michigan’s Upper Peninsula meets the Lower Peninsula, and near where Lake Huron meets Lake Michigan.

You guys, this place is amazing!  Mackinac Island is a throwback in time… did you know no motorized vehicles are allowed on the island??  (I was happy to know an exception is made for emergency vehicles!)  You take a ferry over from the mainland, and explore the island on foot, by bicycle, or by horse drawn carriage.

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A view of the Grand Hotel as we approached Mackinac Island via ferry.  The island is famous for this particular destination, as it was featured in the movie “Somewhere In Time” many years ago.

 

As you arrive on Mackinac, you start off in a charming, old fashioned downtown area.  One thing Mackinac is famously known for: its FUDGE!!  There are fudge shops ALL. OVER. THE PLACE.  Seriously, throw your diet out the window for a few days.  You can watch fudge being made and sample flavors you didn’t even know you wanted to try.  So it’s no surprise that fudge features heavily in our mystery series!

(I’d love to show you pictures of the scrumptious fudge, the quaint shops, and the really cool process of the fudge being made.  But it turns out I didn’t take any.  We’ll say I was living in the moment.  I was probably eating fudge.)

You can explore the downtown (they do have more than fudge), visit Fort Mackinac, and explore the gorgeous natural beauty of the island, approximately 80% of which is a state park.  I’ll leave you with just a few more photos:

 

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Under the bridge between the UP and LP of Michigan; a closer shot of the Grand Hotel; Historic Fort Mackinac; a shot of the marina filled with boats; looking down from the Fort over the rest of the island; and a team of horses preparing to pull a carriage!

 

Definitely a destination that I’d love to visit again in the future!  But for now… back to our Book Notes!!

 

In Forever Fudge, Allie McMurphy is closing out her first summer season on Mackinac, having taken over her family’s historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop a few months earlier.  It’s Labor Day weekend and things on the island are starting to wind down… or are they?

A TV crew has descended on Mackinac Island, shooting a pilot for a new mystery series.  In fact, the series bears more than a little resemblance to what’s been happening over the summer, with a murder mystery to be solved, a plucky amateur sleuth, and a heartthrob local law enforcement officer.

But in the midst of the excitement, Allie’s sweet little fluffy dog Mal (short for Marshmallow) sniffs out a real murder, complete with a dead body, in the alley behind the McMurphy.  The plot thickens when a note with Allie’s name is found at the scene.  It turns out the killer wants to play a clever game with our heroine to see if she lives up to her reputation as the island sleuth… but this time, Allie may have bitten off more than she can chew!

 

First of all, if you haven’t read the rest of the series, I’d highly recommend starting at the beginning!  Forever Fudge references cases and incidents from previous titles, so although you can read it on its own, it’ll be more satisfying if you go back and start with the series’ first title, All Fudged Up!

The theme in this book is wrapping up the summer season… a character is leaving Mackinac, Allie is trying to make some choices about her relationships, and she’s reflecting back on the last few months of a major life transition.  Just to top it off, a killer starts targeting her by setting up references and similarities to previous crimes she’s helped solve on the island.

As Allie, her friend Jen, our local policeman (and Allie’s possible love interest) Rex, and others meet the film crew, get to the bottom of pranks, and uncover more crimes, they have to decipher some confusing clues relating to an old chess match.  Later, when the killer ups the stakes by kidnapping a prominent Mackinac resident, Allie and her friends must race against the clock for answers.

This is a great addition to the Candy Coated Mystery series.  Obviously, I love the setting and that adds so much flavor to these books!  I’ve become fond of Allie, and I’m certain that I know who I’m rooting for between her suitors.  Most of all, the people and the community feel in these books is part of what brings us all back to cozy mystery titles again and again!

Forever Fudge releases on September 25th… make it your last hurrah to the summer season before diving into your fall and Christmas reads!!  Happy reading, everyone!

 

 

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts are my own.

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: “Heart Land” by Kimberly Stuart

Happy Monday, readers! I hope your week is off to a great start.  If you could use a little pick-me-up today, I have just the thing for you… a review for a fantastic, feel-good novel!

Today’s Book Notes is a little different… I have the privilege of guest posting on Brooke Blogs!  Brooke has been blogging for several years and does a lot of book reviews and giveaways.  This summer she’s hosting guest bloggers for reviews and spotlights, and I am thrilled to be her guest today!

I’ll link you over to Brooke Blogs in a moment… first, a little about the book.

 

Heart Land by Kimberly Stuart – Guest Review #BrookeBlogsSummerPromo

 

I recently read Heart Land by Kimberly Stuart.  She is a fellow Iowa girl, so I love watching her success.  Stuart writes women’s fiction with relatable characters and a great deal of both heart and humor.  Heart Land is her latest release, and probably my favorite so far of her work!  In this sweet novel, Grace thought she was on the fast track to a big fashion career in New York…. and then she wasn’t.  We follow her journey back home to Iowa, where she has to make some big decisions about work, life, and love.

 

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As I mention in my review, this story centers on three things:  humor, faith, and love.  I’ll let you read on to find out more.  I give this one five fun, sweet, flirty stars!  Heart Land  is out NOW, so check out the review (link below!), then go out and get the book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  Happy reading!

 

Heart Land by Kimberly Stuart – Guest post on Brooke Blogs

 

(I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts are my own. Post contains affiliate links.)

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: “Girls’ Night Out” by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Hello bookish friends… how’s your summer reading coming along?  Mine is in full swing, and today I have a new Book Notes review for you.

Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke is the duo’s fifth novel together, and their second offering in the suspense genre.  I’d previously read The Year We Turned Forty (a women’s fiction with a magical twist) and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to another good read with this thriller.

Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren have been friends for more than twenty years, but a lot of wounds have been inflicted on their friendship over time.  So they agree to a girls’ trip to Mexico to bond and reconnect.  But as they reunite, everyone is keeping secrets of their own, and nothing about the trip is going as planned.  Their adventure culminates in a disastrous night out where one of the women goes missing, and another can’t remember anything about what happened.  The story alternates among several different time points both before and after that fateful night, as we learn how things went so badly wrong.  It’s truly a tale of trouble in paradise!

Whew!  At its core, this book is about women’s friendships, and it seems to ask how much a friendship can survive before it implodes.  Our author duo, Liz and Lisa, have themselves been best friends for decades, so they know a thing or two about complicated, long term pairings.  In fact, they have described how this novel temporarily put a huge strain on their relationship through the process.  In the acknowledgments of this book, they state,

Girls’ Night Out broke us open, hard and wide, before putting us back together again. Our friendship and our partnership were put to the test in a way we’d never experienced before.”

I think we’ve all been there, right?  Maybe not to the extent of the women in this book, but we all have examples of friendships being tested by life’s stresses and struggles, and by the fact that we’re all human and will inevitably disappoint one another.

The women in this book though, went beyond all that.  They’d said horrible things to one another, carried huge resentments, cast blame for serious events, and kept major secrets about their own lives.  They were deeply flawed.  I have to say, I had a hard time finding any of them to be sympathetic characters.  They all had their moments but none of them were particularly likeable, and they made poor choices again and again.  That’s not to say they weren’t well written or developed… they were.  I just had a hard time imagining wanting to be friends with any of them!

As I mentioned above, the story alternates between different time frames, and it also skips around to different points of view so we get a window into the thoughts of each character.  It begins with one of the women, Natalie, waking up the morning after this fateful night, disoriented and with no idea what had happened the night before.  She and Lauren soon realize that Ashley is missing.

As the story unfolds, we learn of all the different events and conversations that have led to this moment, then follow along as the situation is investigated.  This serves well to build anticipation and make the reader wonder where the clues are leading.  The message I sent a friend when I was mid-book sums it up: “I kind of want to strangle the characters, but I’m dying to find out what happened!”

We eventually do learn what happens, of course, but just as important is why and how it all ended that way.  By the end, each character is second guessing their decisions, wondering “what if” they’d made different choices, and determining how to live with the consequences of this trip.  (I’m purposely being pretty vague here, as it would be easy to give away spoilers.)

I do want to mention one trigger warning… the book deals with spousal/domestic abuse in part of the storyline, so please be aware of that fact.

All in all, this was a good suspense novel.  The authors did a great job of setting up the scenario and balancing timeframes to unfurl the story at a nice pace, with just enough information to keep you guessing.  They also painted the setting well with descriptions of the resort and the surrounding areas.  I’m adding their previous book The Good Widow to my TBR list as well.

Girls’ Night Out is a great, engrossing summer beach read that will keep you turning the pages! Grab a copy here:

Amazon   ~   Barnes & Noble

 

So, Biblio-Babes… what are you reading?  What’s been your can’t-miss book of the summer so far? Leave your suggestions in the comments!  Happy reading!

(I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.  All thoughts are my own.)

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

 

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Posted in Reading List, Reblogs

Summer Book Review Roundup!

Hello, friends! There have been so many great books coming out this summer, and you’ve probably been hearing a *lot* about some titles! I’m scouring book review blogs to round up some reviews of a few buzz-worthy novels that I haven’t had a chance to read and review myself… yet!  But it’s making me want to read faster so I can get to these, and you may find a new summer favorite!

So… what are some hugely popular reads of Summer 2018?

 

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Order The Perfect Couple!

 

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

A beach, a wedding… a murder mystery?  It’s summer on beautiful Nantucket, but when one lavish ceremony is halted by sudden death before it can begin, the entire wedding party comes under scrutiny.

Elin Hilderbrand’s books are perfect beach reads, with juicy storylines, well developed characters, and lots of sand and sea! I’m determined to read this during July!  Here’s a couple of great reviews I’ve seen on this one:

Novelgossip, who reads and reviews more books than anyone I know, is calling this the best book of the summer, saying it’s “Juicy, Secretive, and Fun.”

Jaclyn at Literary Treats provides a great, in depth overview of this title, and says this is a great story to lose yourself in, preferably on a beach!

 

 

Something in the Water: A Novel
Order Something in the Water!

 

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

This title has gotten a lot of press as the June selection for Hello Sunshine, a book club curated by the lovely Reese Witherspoon! Here’s a partial story description from Goodreads:

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Sounds intriguing! So what have our blogger friends had to say about it? Two differing viewpoints:

Abby from Read This, Not That says this book has a strong theme of the characters making bad decisions.  She didn’t give it her highest rating but says, “The writing is good, the pace is rapid, the plot is entertaining, and this is a fast read.”

Berit at Audio Killed the Bookmark (clever title – reviews are on audiobooks and other digital forms!) gave this one five “tension filled” stars and declared it the best listen so far in 2018!

 

Limelight: A Novel
Order Limelight!

 

Limelight by Amy Poeppel

I discovered this one when friends kept mentioning it on Twitter!  After moving her family to Manhattan, Allison finds that New York is not exactly what she’d envisioned and that she may be in over her head. Then she unexpectedly meets Carter, a teen pop star doing a new Broadway Musical, and discovers a unique opportunity.

This sounds like a really fun summer story! On to the reviews:

First we’ll go back to Novelgossip (seriously guys, she reads everything!), who loved the story and calls it “Savvy, Modern, and Sparkling.”

Kait from Kait’s Bookshelf found this book entertaining and really enjoyed “getting lost in the world of Manhattan and Broadway with Allison.”

Whew! Great opinions on a few really popular books, all of which are on my personal reading list!

And just in case that isn’t enough to keep you busy for a while, check out my Book Notes posts for titles that I have reviewed already this summer… more on the way over the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading! Drop a note in the comments and let me know what great titles you’ve been enjoying this summer!

 

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)