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#NetGalley #BookReview ~ Beautiful Writers: A Journey of Big Dreams and Messy Manuscripts–with Tricks of the Trade from Bestselling Authors by Linda Sivertsen #Writing #Inspiration

Review

Beautiful Writers

A Journey of Big Dreams and Messy Manuscripts–with Tricks of the Trade from Bestselling Authors

by Linda Sivertsen

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Beautiful Writers: A Journey of Big Dreams and Messy Manuscripts–with Tricks of the Trade from Bestselling Authors by Linda Sivertsen from Net Galley and Ben Bella Books in order to read and give an honest review.

… I loved this book, I found it insightful, interesting, and engaging, and would highly recommend it to both novice and experienced writers…

Unique and brilliant, Beautiful Writers is not just any other book on writing. The author intertwines her thoughts into a brilliant and diverse collection of vignettes from authors including Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett, Terry McMillan, Lee Child, and Danielle LaPorte just to name a few. Every author generously shares their lives, and challenges alongside the reader on their journey. This book is such a wonderful blend, part memoir, part guide on the writing life. Each author shares an intimate and often humorous look into the good, the bad and the ugly sides of “the writing life” and offers sound advice and wisdom that is vulnerable, honest, and yet truly inspirational.
This is a wonderful read for anyone looking for inspiration and advice. I loved this book, I found it insightful, interesting, and engaging, and would highly recommend it to both novice and experienced writers alike.

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview Death at the Manor (Lily Adler Mystery #3) by Katharine Schellman #Historical #regency #Mystery 

Review 

Death at the Manor

(Lily Adler Mystery #3) 

by  

Katharine Schellman  

Release date: August 9th, 2022

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

I received a complimentary ARC copy of Death at the Manor (Lily Adler Mystery #3) by Katharine Schellman from Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review. 

… well-written, clever, and classically crafted locked room mystery keeps this book engaging leading to an ending that caught me by surprise (which is hard to do) … 

The third entry into this mystery series begins with widow Lily Adler bidding bon voyage (albeit perhaps temporarily) to her dead husband’s best friend and her mystery solving partner Captain Jack Hartley as he takes leave aboard a ship. In his absence, Lily decides along with her newlywed friends Lord Edward (Ned) and Lady Ofelia Carroway to get away for a nice peaceful visit with her aunt Eliza and her partner Susan in Hampshire.  

While visiting, rumors circulate about a ghost referred to as the Grey Lady who has driven out the staff of Belleford Manor and tormented the Wright family. When a friend of the Wrights widower Matthew Spencer entices them to see the ghost for themselves, they all go for a visit. Upon meeting the quirky Wright family, it is evident that not all is as it seems and they appear to thrive on the reputation of the manor, getting the fame and notoriety that they seem to seek. The group gets more than they bargain for when the matriarch of the family is found dead in her bed behind a locked door. While the family is insisting that Grey Lady is the spectral culprit, Lily and her party know differently. With the bizarre and questionable behavior of both the family and staff Lily has her work cut out for her. Lily and her friends go on a mission to find the true culprit before they strike again.  
 

A well-written, clever, and classically crafted locked room mystery keeps this book engaging leading to an ending that caught me by surprise (which is hard to do). Having read and reviewed the previous two books: The Body in the Garden and Silence in the Library, this felt quite different to me, it lacked the quick-witted banter between Jack and Lily which made the books uniquely fun. Although good as a standalone, as a dedicated reader of the series it was disappointing and felt very removed from the author’s usual style. In my opinion, it feels like this is perhaps a book laying the groundwork for a spin-off series of some sort. I love the series in general and hope the next book gets back its mysterious yet fun feel.  

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#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  

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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.  

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

Making It Write

by Betty Hechtman

 

 

Release date: August 2nd, 2022

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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.

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview of A Poisonous Page (Sweet Fiction Bookshop #2) by Kitt Crowe #CozyMystery #CrookedLaneBooks

A Poisonous Page

Sweet Fiction Bookshop #2

by Kitt Crowe

Release date: July 12th, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Poisonous Page (Sweet Fiction Bookshop # 2) by Kitt Crowe from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

…an intriguing, fun, cozy mystery replete with a cleverly crafted complex plot, an abundance of red herrings…  

In A Poisonous Page, the second entry in the Sweet Fiction Bookshop mystery   we pick up with Lexi after recovering from the events of Book One, Digging Up Trouble.  

Lexi, the manager of the Sweet Fiction Bookshop, gave up a prestigious editing job in Seattle for her hometown of Confection Oregon. Although she had a successful career in the big city, she missed her small hometown, her family and her best friends Teri, Teri’s brother Dash and Cat. Since her return Lexi has managed to reconnect, train her wayward pup Cookie, and has earned quite a bit of fame after her and her book club aka ‘the Macaroons’ solved a murder months earlier. Recovered and a little bored Lexi is craving excitement and when Marilyn Freeman a prominent middle aged real estate agent dies unexpectedly Lexi is curious. When the autopsy rules the victim died of natural causes, Lexi is not convinced but she cannot get anyone to agree with her especially not “Iceberg” or Detective Berg who has become her nemesis. After Marylin’s co-worker Rachel is found murdered in the back yard of Dash’s home, and all evidence points to him, he is arrested, and Lexi realizes it is up to her and the Macaroons to get to the bottom of things.  

 If you are looking for an intriguing, fun, cozy mystery with a cleverly crafted complex plot, an abundance of red herrings, a touch of romance and a quirky cast of fun characters this is for you. Although I felt the first book dragged a bit, the author made up for it in her second outing in the series, I highly recommend.  

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#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

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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!

 

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#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

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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!

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#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  

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(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.

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

Outside

by Ragnar Jonasson

Release date: June 28th, 2022  

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(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. 

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#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  

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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.