Books, Information

#NetGalley #BookReview the Dark Circle by Robert J. Mrazek (Jake Cantrell #2) #Mystery #Suspense #CrookedLaneBooks

The Dark Circle

Jake Cantrell #2

by Robert J. Mrazek

Release date: August 9th, 2022  

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Dark Circle by Robert J. Mrazek (Jake Cantrell #2) from Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

…an extremely fast-paced, well-written and intriguing mystery/thriller, the Dark Circle takes the reader on a nerve-wracking adventure…  

When ex-Army Ranger Jake Cantrell is fired from his security job at a local campus, he wonders how he is going to make ends meet. When Lauren Kennsiton, the editor of the Groton Journal comes to him for help finding missing college student Deborah Chapman, Jake signs up. When Deborah is found in bad shape the investigation leads to a mysterious opioid that is making a deadly appearance and when it appears there are more missing women, it puts them on a path that leads to sex trafficking, drugs, police corruption, conspiracies, and the inner sanctum of a deadly order. The investigation takes them behind the scenes with powerful players who will do anything to silence the truth.   

An extremely fast-paced, well-written and intriguing mystery/thriller, the Dark Circle takes the reader on a nerve-wracking adventure. I did not realize it is the second book in a series but honestly it works incredibly well as a standalone and I will go back and read book one.  

Overall, I enjoyed the book but a warning…it was very violent, for my taste anyway, but reading is subjective, and the mystery and romance plotline were well done, and I could not help but to keep reading. It does have triggers such a sexual assault, sex trafficking, drug use and extreme violence.  

Books, Information

#NetGalley #BookReview of Making It Write by Betty Hechtman #CozyMystery

Making It Write

by Betty Hechtman

 

 

Release date: August 2nd, 2022

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Making It Write by Betty Hechtman from Net Galley and Severn House Publishers in order to read and give an honest review.

…a good cozy mystery with a uniquely intriguing plot and quirky cast of characters which made it a fun fast-paced cozy…

When “writer for hire” Veronica Blackstone discovers the body of Maeve, a woman she was hired by to write a memoir of sorts although it looks like an accident, certain clues make the death look suspicious. Armed with a really rough and incomplete draft from Maeve, Veronica is instructed by the publisher that she is to honor the contract and finish the memoir based on the materials she received from Maeve. Thing is, Maeve wanted to save the ending for last, keeping it a secret until Veronica was ready to write it. The memoir is about life with her husband Michael Angel, a famous artist who has received sudden acclaim and all the trappings that come with it. With an upcoming documentary, celebrity status and an award ceremony around the corner Michael and his daughter are desperate to put a stop to the memoir but to what lengths will they go to make sure it does not see the light of day. The more she delves into finishing the memoir, the more Veronica learns about Maeve’s life and what might have led to her demise.

Having read the previous books in the series, “Making it Write” was a fun, action filled entry although perhaps not my favorite. We see the return of a unique and quirky cast of characters including a crazy client, her writing group, Ben, her best friend, Tizzy and Tizzy’s husband Theo. I was not crazy about the storyline with Ben and their rocky romance, but I really enjoyed reading more about Tizzy and Theo this time around it gave the story a three musketeers’ feel. It also feels that this time there was quite a bit of repetition when describing “cliches” and her tea and crochet ritual, I feel they were brought up too often and really did not add to the story, once, maybe twice would have been suffice.

Overall, it was a good cozy mystery with a uniquely intriguing plot and quirky cast of characters which made it a fun fast-paced cozy that I highly recommend.

Information

#NetGalley #BookReview Death on the Isle (Astrid Swift #2) by M.H. Eccleston #Mystery

Review

Death on the Isle

Astrid Swift #2

by M.H. Eccleston

Release date: July 7th, 2022

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Death on the Isle (Astrid Swift #2) by M.H. Eccleston from Net Galley and Head of Zeus Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

…I enjoyed this entry with its new and quirky cast of characters, including a sociopathic antagonist…

After the events of The Trust, book one of the Astrid Swift series recently separated and, on a mission to find oneself in Death on the Isle, art conservator Astrid Swift decides to leave Dorset to take on a freelance gig on the Isle of Wight. Finally getting used to living on the boat Curlew’s Rest bequeathed to her by her favourite uncle, Astrid is seeking out a change. A far cry from the materialistic and entitled person she was when she arrived. Astrid’s hoping for some time to process what has happened and find what she is seeking in life. When she is given the opportunity to work on an estate’s art collection, Astrid eagerly sets sail to start her new assignment.

When she arrives she lucks out finding a slip in the harbor during Cowes Week, one of the biggest sailing events of the season. As she did in book one, it does not take long for Astrid to connect with the locals, become the focus of a stalker and stumble across a dead body….or two. Add in a missing woman connected to Astrid’s new job and this book keeps one guessing until the end.

Having enjoyed the first book in the series I was concerned that she was leaving Dorset and her new friends behind, but I grew to understand Astrid’s motivation for moving on. Although I enjoyed this entry with its new and quirky cast of characters including a sociopathic antagonist, at times it felt a bit muddled with a feeling of uncertainty as the story ends, which I am guessing could continue and add intrigue to the next book in the series. I really enjoy this well-written and quirky series and look forward to reading more of Astrid’s adventures. I highly recommend!

 

Information

#Netgalley #BookReview The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature (Tips and Techniques for #Drawing and #Painting #Nature on Location) by Virginia Hein & Gail L. Wong #UrbanSketching #NatureSketching

Review

The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature

Tips and Techniques for Drawing and Painting Nature on Location

by Virginia Hein & Gail L. Wong

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature by Virginia Hein & Gail L. Wong from Net Galley and Quarto Publishing Group – Quarry, in order to read and give an honest review.

… If you are interested in learning or brushing up your skills this book is for you…

After taking a hiatus from urban sketching for a long time I recently began delving back into it and was lucky enough to be introduced to the The Urban Sketching Handbook Series a collection of wonderful and comprehensive guides on learning the art of urban sketching. The newest entry into the series The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature, is no exception offering a wonderful way to take your sketches to the next level. The authors perfectly describe the storytelling aspect behind urban sketching and how to incorporate nature into your visual stories in a way that captivates viewers. The book starts by giving readers the basics of composition, proportion, shape and structure then goes on to give detailed instructions on drawing natural elements, color theory, the concept of notan and the tools artists will need to create their masterpieces. The book also offers workshop exercises and challenges to help you put each skill into practice. 

Overall, I love this series for the simple fact they are all no nonsense, well-written and wonderfully illustrated guides that are packed with tools and techniques suitable for both the novice and expert urban sketchers. I read through The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature a few times and played with a few concepts but I look forward to putting some of the tricks I’ve learned into action with some serious sketches on my next trip out. If you are interested in learning or brushing up your skills this book is for you, I highly recommend it!

Information

#NetGalley #BookReview A Murder of Crows (A Nell Ward Mystery #1) by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett #CozyMystery #Crime#Ecology

A Murder of Crows

(A Nell Ward Mystery #1)

by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

Release date: July 1st, 2022  

🌟🌟🌟🌟

(3.5 rounded up)


I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Murder of Crows (A Nell Ward Mystery #1) by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett from Net Galley and Embla Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

Intelligent, authentic, and quirky, A Murder of Crows really had some great moments where the story did shine .

While Dr. Nell Ward is doing an ecological survey of an estate by herself; she stumbles across the body of the estate’s owner bludgeoned in a tunnel. Nell inevitably becomes a prime suspect in the investigation and when her past which she has taken extreme care to keep hidden comes to light, the evidence against her piles up. With her friend and colleague Adam as well as a few connections Nell tries to get to the bottom of the murder herself before she is incarcerated or becomes the real murderer’s next victim.

I really wanted to love this book and it had a lot of things I did enjoy but it did not work for me in a few ways. Very much a write-what-you know type of book this debut from author Sarah Yarwood-Lovett, draws from her personal vocation. Yarwood-Lovett created an intelligent likeable protagonist, Dr. Nell Ward who, like the author, is an ecologist. I love learning about ecology and although I did find some of the information interesting at times it seemed a bit too much to the point where it detracted from the mystery at hand, which often caused me to skim over passages.

Intelligent, authentic, and quirky, A Murder of Crows really had some great moments where the story did shine but unfortunately in my opinion it was dulled a great deal by a rambling prose, the overuse of red herrings and the dreaded, often overdone love triangle. I really enjoyed Nell’s character and the interactions between her and Adam but the last third of the book felt a bit over the top for me. Although I was disappointed in parts I feel this has the potential to be a really fun series and I will give this author another shot.

Information

#NetGalley #BookReview Outside by Ragnar Jonasson #Mystery #CrimeFiction #NordicNoir

Outside

by Ragnar Jonasson

Release date: June 28th, 2022  

🌟🌟🌟🌟

(3.5 rounded up)


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Outside by Ragnar Jonasson from Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press /Minotaur Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

the author takes you on a clever psychological journey.

A reunion of four old friends turns deadly in this entry from one of Nordic Noir’s most popular authors Ragnar Jónasson.  

While on a ptarmigan hunting trip in Iceland’s Eastern Highlands organized by former bad boy turned successful wilderness guide Armann. When Armann, his friends Daniel, Gunnlauger and Helena are caught in a brutal whiteout their lives turn upside down. In order to survive they break into a shelter to ride out the storm but are met with a menacing surprise. Told from four points of view it becomes apparent that there is more to this trip than meets the eye, murder, mayhem, and betrayal keep the reader on the edge of their seat. The cold desolate setting also adds an interesting twist to the emotional state of the characters.  The characters are dynamic, well-written and realistic, however in my opinion not really likeable. Although the author takes you on a clever psychological journey my major disappointment is the build to a very flat, unfinished, unsatisfying ending.  

Although I enjoyed the book for the most part but felt dissatisfied, I probably will read more from Ragnar Jonasson. 

Information

#NetGalley #BookReview A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons (A Saffron Everleigh Mystery) by Kate Khavari #Historical #Mystery #CrookedLaneBooks

A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons

A Saffron Everleigh Mystery#1

Kate Khavari

Release date: June 7th, 2022  

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons (A Saffron Everleigh Mystery #1) by Kate Khavari from Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

… atmospheric and filled with thrills, humor, romance and an intriguing plot A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons is a brilliant historical mystery with a cozy quality to it. …  

Set in 1923, we are introduced to the very spirited Saffron Everleigh, the first female research assistant in the Botany Department of the University College of London. As with most females in a traditionally male field, she endures the usual academic “old boys club” attitude amongst her colleagues. Her late famous botanist father leaves her a huge legacy to live up to. As assistant to her mentor Botanist Dr. Maxwell, Saffron is determined to make her mark and earn the respect of her peers.

While attending a formal dinner to launch an expedition to the Amazon, we are introduced to the quirky cast of characters including the dapper biology researcher Alexander Ashton. Overhearing conversations between various attendees, Saffron learns of scandals that are brewing below the surface of the stodgy academic world. During a toast when Mrs. Henry, the wife of Dr. Henry the expedition leader is poisoned, and Dr. Maxwell is arrested, Saffron and Alexander work together to figure out who was behind the poisoning and why.

Atmospheric and filled with thrills, humor, romance and an intriguing plot, A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons is a brilliant historical mystery with a cozy quality to it. I love Saffron, a brilliant, quirky, and brave woman, she is definitely a character to admire. Although it tends to drag a bit in the middle it more than makes up for it with a chilling climax. I cannot wait to read more about Saffron’s adventures! I highly recommend it.

Information

#NetGalley #BookReview The Woman in the Library A Novel by Sulari Gentill #Mystery

Review

The Woman in the Library

A Novel

by

Sulari Gentill

Release date: June 7th, 2022

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill from Net Galley and Poisoned Pen Press in order to read and give an honest review.

…A cleverly crafted, interesting, unique, and unexpected whodunit that keeps the reader flipping pages to a surprising and satisfying ending…

A story within a story, this cleverly crafted, intelligent, and unconventional novel features two main plotlines. The main plotline is the inside story written by the protagonist, Australian author Hannah Tigone and in the form of draft chapters shared with a beta reader. Hannah’s novel focuses on a murder in the reading room of the Boston Public Library and a friendship that forms after four strangers bond over hearing the dead woman’s screams. Hannah’s story focuses on twenty-seven-year-old aspiring author Winifred Kincaid a native Australian on a scholarship to the states who is inspired by the events that occurred at the library and her three new friends. As she studies her three friends “Freud Girl,” Marigold Anastas, a twenty-three-year-old psychology student with tattoos and a nose ring, “Heroic Chin” aka Whit Metters Harvard law student and son of a famous lawyer and “Handsome Man” Cain McLeod a well-known best-selling author. As Winifred begins drafting her novel and her friendships begin to blossom, the murder investigation begins to focus on one of her new friends. When another murder connects to one of the four the hunt is on to find the culprit before an innocent person is accused.

The second plotline focuses on one-sided correspondence between “Leo” and Hannah. Leo is thrilled when the author uses his name as a character in her novel. At first the correspondence is no more than constructive criticism from a fan and “beta reader” but evolves into something deranged as the outraged, racist fan disagrees with the direction the author has taken. These letters pepper each chapter and end up connecting to Hannah’s story in ways no one could have foreseen.

A cleverly crafted, interesting, unique, and unexpected whodunit that keeps the reader flipping pages to a surprising and satisfying ending. A read that I highly recommend.

Information

#NetGalley #BookReview A Fatal Booking (A Booklover’s B&B Mystery #3) by Victoria Gilbert #Cozy #Mystery

A Fatal Booking

A Booklover’s B&B Mystery #3

Victoria Gilbert 

Release date: June 7th, 2022  

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Fatal Booking (A Booklover’s B&B Mystery #3) by Victoria Gilbert from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

… a fast-paced mystery, replete with an abundance of twists and turns, quirky characters. …  

In this third entry in the Book lover’s B & B mystery series, Charlotte, the owner, and operator of the inherited Chapters B&B in North Carolina is hosting an old friend’s book club retreat featuring fairy tales and classic children’s literature. What should have been a fun time turns tragic when one of the members is murdered. Long held grudges and the questionable business practices of the victim provides an abundance of suspects. True to form Charlotte and her neighbor Ellen, a former spy both decide to offer the police some inside help since the suspects are asked to stay in town, most harboring at Chapters. When Charlotte’s attic is broken into it becomes obvious that there is more to the story, more that connects the history of Chapters throwing Charlotte and her friend into the path of a killer. Gavin makes a reappearance in this entry and the three endure a nail-biting adventure. 

I enjoy the series, each book is better than the previous, however, this entry felt like a finale of sorts which I truly hope is not the case. A Fatal Booking is a fast-paced mystery, replete with an abundance of twists and turns, quirky characters. It is a fantastic and fun cozy mystery read which I definitely recommend.  

Information

#NetGalley #Book #Review Peril at Pennington Manor (Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series #2) by Tracy Gardner #Cozy #Mystery

Review

Peril at Pennington Manor

Peril at Pennington Manor

Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series #2

by Tracy Gardner

Release date: June 7th, 2022

⭐⭐⭐⭐


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Peril at Pennington Manor (Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series #2) by Tracy Gardner from Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.
…Murder, mayhem, antiquities, and quirky characters make up this fast paced and fun cozy…
Author Tracy Gardner does it again with her second entry in Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series. Peril at Pennington Manor was another fast-paced fun cozy mystery filled with family drama, murder, and stolen antiquities. Having read and reviewed the first in the series, Ruby Red Herring, this entry did not disappoint. Protagonist Avery Ayres works at her family’s business, Ayers Antiquities and Artifacts Appraisers. Aunt Midge asked Avery and her father to do an appraisal for her dear friend Duke Nicholas, who is ready to put his estate Pennington Manor up for sale. As he gives Avery and her father, William, a tour of the manor, they discover that some of the artifacts have been replaced by fakes and a rare antique pocket watch has been stolen. When the manor’s housekeeper, Suzanne Vicks, is pushed off the roof and falls to her death. Avery believes the thefts and the murder are connected and former flame and police detective Art Smith joins the appraisal team in an undercover capacity, to keep his eyes open while the team works through the manor room by room. When another murder happens at the manor the hunt is on but not before a blackout makes the situation more perilous, leaving both Avery and Art fighting for their lives. Murder, mayhem, antiquities, and quirky characters make up this fast paced and fun cozy. Tracy Gardener has once again crafted a clever fast-paced mystery that is intriguing, highly entertaining and I can’t wait to read more in this series.