Just a book blog

Just a book blog

I'm Jenn.

I like to read then blog about it :-)

Review
5 Stars
Death by Chocolate Lab
Death by Chocolate Lab - Bethany Blake

Daphne Templeton is a pet sitter. She has a soft spot for animals, but she doesn't have a soft spot for arrogant, womanizing Steve Beamus. He's the owner of Blue Ribbon K-9 Academy and Daphne's sister's ex-boyfriend. When she finds him dead on her sister's property while preparing for a dog agility trail, Daphne can think of a long list of people who didn't like Steve. She knows her sister didn't kill him, but the police think otherwise. Daphne, her basset hound sidekick Socrates, and a hyperactive chihuahua named Artie set out to clear her Piper Templeton's name.

I've read books two, three and four before reading this one which is the first in the Lucky Paws Petsitting series. While I did remember who was the murderer I thought that the whole mystery was well done to the point that I thought maybe I hadn't remembered correctly. It didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book, but I do recommend starting book one first. I like the characters, both human and canine, and I like Sylvan Creek. It's always fun spending time inside these pages and I will patiently wait for book number five!

Review
4 Stars
Wreath Between the Lines
Wreath Between The Lines - Daryl Wood Gerber

Jenna Hart loves the holidays. She's decorating the Cookbook Nook for Crystal Cove's festivities when her older sister makes an unexpected visit. But that's not the only thing on Jenna's plate - her father's good friend Jake shows up on her doorstep with news that his friend has been murdered. Jenna believes that Jake was the intended victim, so she makes a list of suspects and gets busy investigating but before she can come to any conclusions Jake is poisoned and nearly dies. Who wants Jake dead and why?

I was a little hesitant to read this since it's the 7th in a series even though it can be read as a standalone. But that cute cat in a Santa hat won me over! And I love the title of the book. Of course I would miss out on the depth of these character's stories and relationships but it didn't really bother me, it just made me want to pick up the others in the Cookbook Nook Mystery series. The writing was good, easy to read, never a dull moment. I liked the characters. The mystery itself was great. Crystal Cove sounds cozy with its charming, quaint decorated shops with their clever names. I'm glad I stumbled across this one and will definitely check out the other six!

Thank you to Netgalley and Beyond the Page for an ARC.

Review
3 Stars
In Peppermint Peril
In Peppermint Peril: A Book Tea Shop Mystery - Joy Avon

It'll soon be Christmas and Callie Aspen has returned to Heart's Harbor, Maine, where her great aunt runs a vintage tearoom aptly named Book Tea where every treat contains a bookish clue. Preparations are under way for a special tea party at Haywood Hall, the huge house of Heart's Harbor's oldest resident. Dorothea Finster is rich but widowed and has invited her estranged family to hear about her will. Callie's old friend Sheila complicates things by using the tea party to announce her daughter's engagement even though her daughter doesn't want to marry the young man her mother thinks is perfect for her. Everyone has their own agenda but Callie didn't think it would lead to murder.

I felt as though I was reading a book. It felt like I was dropped in a few pages after the story began. I didn't get to fully know Callie herself or her story. There wasn't a lot of depth to the characters. I wasn't excited to pick the book back up when I set it aside; in fact I was going to DNF at 39%, why I picked it back up after three months I don't know. There should have been more focus on the book and tea shop and the potential murder suspects in order for this book to be a standout for me. The mystery itself was just okay. Although things got a little better as the story progressed (I did come to like the victim), it's not a memorable book for me.

Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for an ARC.

Review
4 Stars
Claws of Death
Claws of Death - Linda Reilly

Deanna Daltry grew up in Whisker Jog, New Hampshire, before she became a famous actress. Now that she's older she wants to return home and does so by buying the stone mansion off Cemetery Hill. She has also just adopted two kittens from the High Cliff Shelter for Cats. However not everyone is a fan of the fading star. After being the target of some nasty pranks, Deanna finds herself the prime suspect in a murder investigation when a body is found on her property. Lara is on the hunt for another killer, with the help of a certain blue-eyed ragdoll.

I love the cover. I love cats, I love all animals. I love that Lara and aunt Fran run a shelter, along with their new employee Kayla, that provides the care and love the cats deserve until they can find their perfect home. But these people have their quirks and after reading book three then book one these quirks got on my nerves - the crying!! These people, all of them in the book!, are always crying!! And the abbreviated words got on my nerves. And Lara's childishness when it came to her relationship.. "we had a great night last night but when he text me today he didn't put a smiley face, which can only mean he doesn't like me anymore and wants to break up" Ugh. Otherwise it's another good book in the Cat Lady Mysteries. The mystery itself is well done. I look forward to a break from the people, I'll miss the cats, but I'll keep my eyes open for book four.

Review
5 Stars
Escape Claws
Escape Claws - Linda Reilly

Lara Caphart has returned to her hometown of Whisker Jog, New Hampshire, for the first time in sixteen years. Her estranged aunt Fran is having trouble looking after herself with two bad knees. Lara also gets to help out with her aunt's eleven cats. Lara loves her aunt and the cats, but what she doesn't love is someone trying to bully her aunt into selling her land. When Lara spots a ragdoll cat that she believes is the reincarnation of her childhood pet, Blue, she follows her to the edge of Fran's yard only to stumble upon the body of the town bully. Lara is determined to get herself and aunt Fran off the suspect list.. with the help of Blue, of course.

I read book three first and needed more. I inhaled this book. It's easy to get lost in. I love the cover. I have cats and would take in every cat that needed a home, in fact I would love to give every animal in the world a good home but now I'm getting off track.. it's refreshing to have people who want to help and love these little cuties and it just makes me so happy! I do find it annoying that these characters cry all the time and the abbreviated words kind of got on my nerves as well but even so, this book was still great. The mystery was clever and well done. And it was fun to learn how the High Cliff Shelter for Cats came to be. On to book two!

Review
5 Stars
Claws for Celebration
Claws for Celebration - Linda Reilly

In Whisker Jog, New Hampshire, everyone is getting ready for the town's annual holiday cookie competition. Lara Caphart tries to get a pet-friendly cookie category added, but sadly it's not going to happen this year. Lara and her aunt Fran run the High Cliff Shelter for cats. Pet-friendly cookies are the least of their worries, though, when a last-minute judge dies after sampling Santa cookies. The victim, an old home economics teacher named Gladys Plouffe, wasn't very well liked in the town. But the prime suspect happens to be the mother of Lara's best friend. Lara knows she didn't kill anyone, so with the help of a mysterious Ragdoll cat, Lara is going to stop the killer from getting away with the purrfect crime.

Ooh! I'm so happy I found this while browsing Netgalley! I love that cover. Although this is the third in the Cat Lady Mysteries it can be read as a standalone. I found it hard to put the book down. Lara and aunt Fran have lots of cats living in their house and I love it!! But these cuties are up for adoption and when that happened I felt that empty feeling, that sadness, that ache.. even though Lara and aunt Fran wouldn't let their furry friends go unless it was to a very good home. Christmas and cats made this an especially cozy mystery and the mystery itself was very well done. I even liked the human characters. I'll definitely read books one and two, and keep my eyes open for future books in the series.

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington for an ARC.

Review
3 Stars
Murder in Her Stocking
Murder in Her Stocking - G.A. McKevett

It's Christmastime but things aren't as cheery as they could be in sleepy McGill, Georgia. Someone has vandalized the town's celebrated nativity display. And a scandalous resident has been found dead in an alley. The police are puzzled so Stella Reid decides it's time to stir the gossip pot to figure out who could've done such a thing. With her grandchildren in danger, as well as her best friend and neighbour in danger for different reasons, finding the suspect isn't going to be easy especially before Santa Claus comes to town.

I didn't realize this was a prequel series to the Savannah Reid series, which I've never read. It felt as though I should have known these characters right away and I didn't, so I don't know if that's why I never connected or really cared for any of them. It took me about halfway through to enjoy the book. Before that I didn't want to pick it back up when I set it down. It's more focused on Stella Reid and her seven grandkids who are poor Southerners with hearts of gold living in a small town where everyone gossips.. ugh, I have that here, I don't want to read about it too. The mystery itself was good. I guess that's why I enjoyed the last half, we were getting closer to solving the murder. And closer to the book ending. I'm glad it's over. It wasn't for me.

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington for an ARC.

Review
5 Stars
The Summer Wives
The Summer Wives - Beatriz Williams

Miranda Schuyler is eighteen years old when she arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island in Long Island Sound. Her beautiful mother is about to marry Hugh Fisher whose summer house on the Island overlooks the famous lighthouse. Miranda's new stepsister, Isobel, is eager to draw her into the customs of their society. The Fisher's fall into the wealthy summer families while the other clan on the Island are the working class Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and from those who summer on the Island. Fast forward nearly two decades later to the first time Miranda has returned to the Island since a murder caused her to flee. She wants to clear the name of the man she met and fell in love with as a teenager even if it means uncovering all the messy secrets that bind the families of Winthrop Island together.

I feel like my reviews of Beatriz Williams books are all the same. She's my favourite author and can do no wrong. Everything is perfect in this book - the writing, the characters, the setting. This book has lots of secrets, lies and cocktails. It has murder. Families are torn apart but also families do not rat on fellow Islanders. There are three different timelines - 1930 tells the story of Bianca Medeiro, 1951 tells the story of eighteen year old Miranda Schuyler and 1969 brings Miranda back to the Island. Bianca's chapters were short but vital. Nothing that happened was overly shocking but it was a compelling read. I just love Williams writing, it's so dreamy and vivid and magical *sigh*

Review
5 Stars
The Night Before
The Night Before - Wendy   Walker

Laura Heart is back in her home town, staying with her sister and her family while she gets back on her feet. When she disappears after going on a date with a man she met online, her sister Rosie is desperate to find her. But Rosie starts to wonder if Laura is more of a danger than the stranger she went out with.

Ooh, this was good! I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I wanted the book to just end already because I couldn't stand not knowing what happened to Laura. This is told from Laura's point of view and also from Rosie's point of view while she's worrying and looking for her sister. Both sisters' stories are weaved together so well that you don't miss a beat. This book is full of suspense and twists and ugh, did I mention how good it was?! I was pleasantly surprised at a few things.. I thought I had it all figured out but I was wrong. Loved the characters and the depth of this whole book.

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC.

Review
5 Stars
A Thousand Doors: An Anthology of Many Lives
A Thousand Doors: An Anthology of Many Lives  - J.T. Ellison

Mia Jensen has had a horrible day. She's wondering how she got to this point in her life when she hears a noise in the kitchen. She's brutally attacked and left for dead and as she's dying she experiences some of the lives she could have lived if only she made a different choice.

This anthology tells the many lives Mia Jensen could have lived. If only. In my opinion there's not one bad story here. They're all strong, interesting and they all have the same flavour.. they all seemed like Mia. Contributors include Catherine McKenzie, Kaira Rouda, Kimberly Belle and Kate Moretti, but like I said every one of these stories is great. They felt complete. I know I've wondered "what would have happened if I did that?" and "if I hadn't of done that then this never would have happened." A unique and thought-provoking read that brought out a lot of emotions both for me and Mia Jensen.

Thank you to Netgalley and Two Tales Press for an ARC.

Review
4 Stars
A Midwinter's Tail
A Midwinter's Tail - Bethany Blake

Professional pet sitter Daphne Templeton is getting ready to attend Sylvan Creek's annual Bark the Halls Ball. Everyone will be there including special guest CeeCee French, founder of a national chain of pet care franchises. But not everyone is excited to see CeeCee. Daphne’s friend Moxie Bloom is one of those people. When CeeCee is found stabbed to death, Moxie is the prime suspect. But Daphne knows her friend is innocent and she's going to prove it with the help of her basset hound sidekick Socrates.

Another fun installment in the Lucky Paws Petsitting series. I love this series and was so happy to be able to get my hands on A Midwinter's Tail early. I enjoyed catching up with Daphne and the gang and seeing who got into trouble this time around. I wasn't disappointed. Lots of cozy holiday vibes. Lots of love for animals. I have lots of love for that cute little pug on the cover! So cute. I'm looking forward to the next book!

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington for an ARC.

Review
5 Stars
Our Little Lies
Our Little Lies - Sue Watson

Marianne has what others would think of as the perfect life. Beautiful house on the best street in the neighbourhood, three bright children and a handsome and charismatic husband who also happens to be a successful surgeon. Marianne's past has been hard, but Simon makes sure she's looked after with flowers and trips. But he has just said another woman's name in conversation and Marianne knows that something's going on between them. As she starts to learn more about Caroline she doesn't find herself jealous, she finds herself afraid.

I was hooked from page one. The writing was great. The characters were frustrating and drove me up the wall at times but I needed to know what was going on! What are they hiding? What's the truth and what's a lie? I enjoyed this book from cover to cover but it really picks up at the halfway point. The suspense! I couldn't wait to finish it, it was so good. It had me guessing the whole time. I was not disappointed with this one.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for an e-copy.

Review
3 Stars
The Body in the Attic
The Body in the Attic - Judi Lynn

Jazzi Zanders and her cousin, Jerod, are house-flippers. They're now working on a house that was owned by the late Cal Juniper, a man who used to date Jazzi's aunt Lynda. Lynda moved to New York after breaking up with Cal and didn't bother to keep in touch with her family. Now they know why. Lynda's bones have been found in Cal's attic.

Look, there's a pug on the cover :-) This is a book about food with some house-flipping and murder on the side. I love watching shows about flipping and fixing and all that, so this was interesting and refreshing. Family and friends were close and would get together every Sunday to, you guessed it, eat. George, the pug, would drink beer and eat lots of people food which I did not like. The mystery itself was fine. Things happened extremely fast between Jazzi and the contractor. I get that it's just a book and things have to flow for the sake of the story but some of these things just really irritated me and took away from my enjoyment of the book overall.

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for an e-copy.

Review
4 Stars
Mountain of the Dead
Mountain of the Dead - Jeremy Bates

An American true-crime writer has traveled across the world to follow the footsteps of the nine Russian hikers who slashed open their tent in the middle of the night to flee into a blizzard in subpolar temperatures. They all died, some of them violent deaths, but nobody knows exactly what happened.

I found this book to be as strong as the first book, The Suicide Forest, in Bates' World's Scariest Places. The Dyatlov Pass Incident happened in 1959 and of course I had to Google to find out what went on and what's true compared to what Bates has come up with himself. The author has created a great story. What's been covered up? What's really out there? The remote location, the weather, what could go wrong.. it's scary because you just never know. A few parts in this book I found the author went overboard in regards to some situations the American author, Corey, found himself in. It seemed unnecessary and took away from the flow of the story but overall this was really good and definitely interesting.

Review
5 Stars
The Last Time I Lied
The Last Time I Lied - Riley Sager

Fifteen years ago the three girls who were staying with Emma Davis in a tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale vanished into the night never to be seen or heard from again. The camp closed its doors after the tragedy, but Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner, finds Emma and tells her she will be reopening Camp Nightingale and that she would like for her to come back as a painting instructor. Emma sees this as an opportunity to find out what really happened to Vivian, Natalie, and Allison.

I loved The Final Girls, the writing was so good. So I was expecting big things from the author's next book and I was not disappointed! I loved the camp setting, the mystery and suspense.. what happened to these three teenagers? I couldn't wait to find out. I thought the author was going to lose me a few times towards the end but everything came together so well. Definitely an enjoyable page-turner for me. I look forward to reading more from Riley Sager.

Review
2 Stars
An Unwanted Guest
An Unwanted Guest - Shari Lapena

Mitchell's Inn is a secluded mountain lodge. What seemed cozy in the brochure ends up being a nightmare when a storm hits and cuts off the electricity and with it all contact with the outside world leaving the guests and small staff trapped with a killer.

Of course I couldn't wait to get my hands on this. I loved The Couple Next Door and A Stranger in the House. It sounded great - an old mountain lodge nestled in the woods, no wi-fi just enjoying nature and one another's company. But this one was disappointing right from the get-go. I understand there were lots of characters so we could guess who the murderer was and who'd be the next to die but I had a hard time remembering who was who. The writing was juvenile, repetitive and choppy.  The sudden change in character point-of-view was jarring. The story was unbelievable. The reveal was anticlimactic. I can't believe this is written by the same author.