Friday, September 4, 2020

Review: A Spell for Trouble by Esme Addison

Book Summary (from Publisher):

Alexandra Daniels hasn't set foot in the quiet seaside town of Bellamy Bay, North Carolina in over twenty years. Ever since her mother's tragic death, her father has mysteriously forbidden her from visiting her aunt and cousins. But on a whim, Alex accepts an invitation to visit her estranged relatives and to help them in their family business: an herbal apothecary known for its remarkably potent teas, salves, and folk remedies.

Bellamy Bay doesn't look like trouble, but this is a town that harbors dark secrets. Alex discovers that her own family is at the center of salacious town gossip, and that they are rumored to be magical healers descended from mermaids. She brushes this off as nonsense until a local is poisoned and her aunt Lidia is arrested for the crime. Alex is certain Lidia is being framed, and she resolves to find out why.

Alex's investigation unearths stories that some have gone to desperate lengths to conceal: forbidden affairs, family rivalries, and the truth about Alex's own ancestry. And when the case turns deadly, Alex learns that not only are these secrets worth hiding, but they may even be worth killing for.

My Review:

I received A Spell For Trouble by Esme Addison from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I have been reading a lot of paranormal cozy mysteries lately, and jumped at the chance to read the first book in this brand new series.  This cozy takes place in an herbal shop owned by the main character, Alexandra's aunt and cousins.  After her mother's death, her father estranged her from this side of the family.  In the beginning of the story, Alexandra's father has died, and she has quit her job.  Her aunt sent her an invitation to visit, and it seemed like a good idea, and some time away would help her figure out her life.  From there, she starts to work some shifts in the shop and witnesses a confrontation between her aunt and a customer.  The customer later winds up dead, and Alexandra's aunt it the prime suspect.  Alexandra decides to investigate and save her aunt.

As far as cozy mysteries go, Alexandra's character is pretty on par with other cozy amateur detectives.  She sometimes doesn't think things all the way through and makes poor choices from time to time or jumps to wrong conclusions.  This is typical of the genre.  I  think as the serious goes on, she will make less of these errors.  She does have passion and is willing to look at things differently and without the constraints that police officers face.  If you add in the paranormal aspect, the police don't have a chance of solving it without her help.

My favorite character is Alex's cousin Minka.  There is something very spunky and refreshing about her character.  I also enjoyed Pepper, the intrepid reporter.  She is somewhat of a busy-body and like a dog with a bone when it comes to stories.  I hope in the next book we learn more about the Wesley's and the history between them and Alex's family.  I would like more about Dylan as well.

The mystery was well done.  I didn't guess who the killer was until almost the end.  It kept me guessing in several places.  I also enjoyed the fact that Alexandra's family is Polish.  I love all the references to the different polish foods and legends.  This is a take on cozies I haven't seen before.  I do wish that the author had included some recipes for both the herbal concoctions as well as the polish foods Aunt Lidia makes.  A lot of cozies include recipes and I would love to try making some of the things I read about in the book.  I look forward to reading the next in the series when it comes out.

4 Stars

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Read so far 2020

Jenn's read-in-2020 book montage

Gabriel: Meeting Sang #5 - The Academy Ghost Bird Series
Odd Thomas
Dragon Tears
Forever Odd
Life Expectancy
Brother Odd
By the Light of the Moon
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Twelve Sharp
Visions of Sugar Plums
Smokin' Seventeen
Hard Eight
Explosive Eighteen
Ten Big Ones
Eleven on Top
Notorious Nineteen
Takedown Twenty
Top Secret Twenty-One
Tricky Twenty-Two

Jenn's favorite books »

Saturday, March 30, 2019

2019 Vision Board and Goals for the Year

This is a few months late, but above is my vision board for 2019.  It's a lot less cluttered than last year.  I'm really focusing on health and wellness this year - and being all that I can be.

My bucketlist/goals for this year are, in no particular order:

1. Reiki III/Master Teacher Certifications
2. Finish Introductory Herbalism at The Herbal Academy - DONE
3. Trip to Florida to visit my family.
4. Finish Florida Broker's School and pass the exam.
5. Pay off my Visa card.
6. Use my Groupon for the Float tank experience.
7. Save for Yoga 200RYT for this fall or early 2020.
8. Lose 50+ Pounds - 16 pounds down as of 3/30/19
9. Read 150 books - with at least 100 of them I already own. - 67 books read as of 3/30/19
10. Continue to minimalize.
11. Intermediate Herbalism at The Herbal Academy
12. Participate in a 5K fun run
13. Get my NetGalley books and reviews caught up to a reasonable level.

Review: Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

When I saw Little Monsters by Kara Thomas on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it. The book description drew me in and I had to know what happened.  I am glad I was approved - this book took me on a thrilling ride from start to finish.  It was so engaging I finished it in less than two days.  I have this book to so many people, because after finishing it, I couldn't stop thinking about it and wanted to discuss it with someone!

The story is told from the main character, Kacey's point of view and alternates with entries from her friend, Bailey's journal.  She has somewhat of a troubled past and moves to a new town - a small town - with her father, step-mom, and their other children.  We meet Kacey as she is about to reluctantly sneak out with her friends Jade and Bailey.  Her younger half sister, Lauren, follows them, as they sneak to the towns local haunted spot.  While there, something so scary happens that Lauren, is very messed up over it.  I'm not going to tell you what - because that would spoil the surprise.  Then Bailey disappears.  Kacey gets involved in trying to find Bailey and we discover that no one is as they appear.  There are so many twists in this book - and so many of the characters are just awful people.  It reminded me somewhat of Gillian Flynn's books.  It's very sordid and twisted and shocking but it really draws you in.  Reading Bailey's journal entries was chilling.  

I have not read Kara Thomas's first standalone, Darkest Corner's - but I have since read her newest book The Cheerleaders, and it's equally twisted.  She has become one of my favorite authors.  Her writing is very creepy and her characters are very human and very flawed.  

Summary from Goodreads:
Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

***I was offered this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review : Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Little White Lies is the first book in Jennifer Lynn Barnes' new Debutantes series.  The story is told from the main character, Sawyer Taft's, point of view.  It opens with Sawyer and three other Debutantes in a jail cell, seeming to argue and stress out the rookie officer who is trying to figure out why they're in the jail cell and what's going on.  The story flips back and forth between the girls in the jail cell and the moments leading up to it, starting with 10 months prior.  

Sawyer has grown up on the wrong side of town, without a lot of money, and a mom who is all she has, but isn't very good at being a mother.  Sawyer has never known her father, or her mom's family as she is estranged from them.  One day while Sawyer's mother is off on a trip with her newest boyfriend, Sawyer's grandmother shows up, and makes Sawyer an offer she can't refuse.  The next thing you know, Sawyer is thrust in the life of a Southern Debutante, meeting her relatives, and trying to figure out who her father is.  And then there is the issue of the Senator's daughter - she is up to something and Sawyer and her new friends all end up involved in the intrigue.

Little White Lies is a young adult mystery novel, with a lot of humor thrown in.  I really like books about formidable southern women and their strength and manners.  Jennifer Lynn Barnes is the author of one of my other favorite series, The Fixer.  She does an excellent job of character development and building a story line.  There was definitely a twist that I didn't see coming.  I'm really glad that this is going to be a series, because I love these characters.  Boone, the Senator's nephew is one of my favorites.  He makes me laugh, a lot, and I hope to see more of him in the next book.

I liked this book a lot, and I give it 5 Stars for good writing, a great mystery with plot twists I couldn't predict, Southern setting and strong women.  I also love how different and somewhat goofy supporting character, Sadie Grace is.  Jennifer Lynn Barnes does not disappoint with her new series.

Summary of Book from Goodreads:
"I'm not saying this is Sawyer's fault," the prim and proper one said delicately. "But."

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother's "society" might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father's identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn't expect to find is friendship, but as she's drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn't the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother's glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer's search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.

Set in the world of debutante balls, grand estates and rolling green hills, Little White Lies combines a charming setting, a classic fish-out-of-water story, and the sort of layered mystery only author Jennifer Lynn Barnes can pull off.

***I was given a free advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Farewell my loyal friend...Luna you will be missed

Today, I came home from an outing with friends to discover that my cat, Luna, had passed away.  Luna has been in my life since I was 19 years old and she would have turned 19 this August.  She has been there for me for almost half my life. 

Luna and I have been through many things together and I am devastated by the loss of her, though I know she has had a long life.  I love her very much and will miss her everyday. 

In 1999, Luna came into my life when my first love, James, decided he wanted a kitten.  We were smitten with her from the start.  She was a skittish little thing but loved lap time and being near me.  He decided to name her Luna after the cat on Sailor Moon.  James and I didn't last for more than a year, but Luna stayed with me, and is one of the things I am most thankful to this relationship for.

Luna has been with me in 11 different addresses, 10 moves, including one across country from Florida to Arizona.  She spent 3 days in the car and hotels with me and my husband as we made the journey from Florida to Arizona.  She has been with me through four boyfriends, multiple dates and my marriage to my husband.  She seen friends come and go.  She was there during my wild times and my calm times.  She's been with me through college and graduation and five different jobs in 4 different industries.  She's been with me through illness and health.  She has been a sister cat to cats Tate, then Holly and now Fiona and Ringo as well as a slew of zebra and Gouldian finches and two hamsters. 

She has been a good kitty and friend to my step-daughters.  Many things have changed for me over the last almost 19 years, but Luna has always been the one thing that has stayed consistent.

Luna's favorite toy has always been the laser pointer.  She played with it up until almost the end.  She loved cat nip.  She is one of the cats that would eat it and not just roll around in it.  She loved wet food.  Seafood flavors were her favorites.  When we lived back with my parents for a year, my stepdad used to spoil her with tuna fish.  She got the nickname Tuna Tuna.  Some of nicknames I called her include Stellaluna, and Stellie Bellie.  Luna also loved to be held and picked up.  Often times I would be silly and pick her up and dance while she cuddled to my shoulder.  I also made up little songs I would sing to her.

I love taking baths and Luna would always be right there on the edge of the tub with me.  In her younger years she would lick the drops off the side of the tub after a shower.  In the last few years she would drink the water while I was still in it.  At the time this would annoy me but today I took a bath and she wasn't there and it was weird and sad.

Luna loved being cozy.  She loved sitting in the sun or curling up in a blanket.  She has always slept in the bed with me.  In recent years she has taken to sleeping on the pillow next to my face or else sleeping on top of my head and kneading my hair through the night.

She was especially loving and right there for me when I had my hysterectomy in December. 

She loved the clean laundry.  She loved being pet and brushed.  She loved having the spot above her tail scratched.  She loved laying on my books.

And hated the vet.

When I lived with my parents Luna used to love to nap outside on the screened in lanai area and also to sometimes chase lizards.

For a period of time I lived with my parents and also lived there, my mom had a home office with several employees.  Luna was friends with everyone there.  She would often come out and sleep on the desk while I worked or sometimes on the computer.  For all of my other jobs she was waiting for me at the door when I got home.

Luna was a good kitty. She never scratched the furniture.  She never ruined the mini blinds or shoes or anything else some cats can ruin.  Until this last month she never went to the bathroom on the floor.  She didn't bite or scratch people.  I couldn't have asked for a better friend or companion.  I will miss her dearly and I will never forget her.

A Short Prayer to Say Goodbye from ThoughtCo
You have crossed over now,
into the spirit realm.
May you walk with Bast,
and I will see you again some day.
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