Bake, Borrow and Steal by Ellie Alexander

Bake, Borrow, and Steal (A Bakeshop Mystery, #14)

A Bakeshop Mystery #14

It’s November in Ashland, Oregon, and Jules is busy with a huge project for Torte. Creating Chocolate sculptures and a delicious feast for the fancy opening of the newest exhibit, Shakespeare’s Lost Pages at the museum.

Everyone is anxious as well as excited to see Double Falsehood and it is being guarded around the clock. Jules and the team will be making an authentic dinner with all the traditional foods of the period.

Everyone is stressed. The staff at the museum are fighting each other and the benefactor bringing in the piece is a royal pain! With everything finally in place and ready to go, Jules is told the manuscript has been stolen! Replaced by a forgery. But how in the world?

When the police arrest Javier, Rosa begs Jules to help her free her uncle. And of course, she jumps right in.

This was so well written that I suspected everyone except Jules! What a twisty read with some very sketchy characters. Loved it!

NetGalley/December 28,2021 St. Martin’s Press

Did Someone Cancel Winter?

There is some serious sunshine and warm weather here today! As in take the kayak out weather!

I just put the trash out and wore a tank top and shorts. So…what’s up with that? I am not complaining, mind you, I am highly allergic to cold.

Things have sort of piled up here. One Uncle is still in the hospital due to Covid. And Grandpa is home with palliative care. He’s pretty much done with things. But he will leave on the same land he was born on. And that is really wonderful. Christmas Day will be quiet and just close family and finger foods. I am so fine with that. I have cooked enough for work parties. So it’s another year of December losses.

On the bright side, it’s not cold yet. We went to a Christmas party where they played Dirty Santa. I have never in my life played this game. But the invitation said, “Uglier the better. Don’t spend any money.” And we both looked at each other and said, “The Clock”! Last year our 90-year-old neighbor who is a nun, gave us a clock. A very expensive clock with a beach theme even. However, every hour a seagull comes out and makes a noise like a ghost moaning. Seriously was creeping me out so we never put it up. Since there were two of us we needed two gifts. I had purchased several Kate Spade bangles and had one leftover so I went with that. It was the last one opened too and it went to the person I wanted to have it. But the clock? Four people fought over that thing! It got stolen 3 times and that was the limit. I avoided having my picks stolen by immediately putting them in my purse on the floor. It was a lot of fun and the food was so good. Especially the Red Chili Chicken.

Our funniest moment this week came from the hotel. OU Boy went to open a safe in a room where a very elderly woman is staying and in the safe was a cup of coffee. She wanted to know why it wasn’t getting hot. Now I’m wondering what she is putting in the microwave!

I won two Barbara Ross books and that was lovely. Did everyone finish their 2021 books? I had a late entry but it’s a cozy and I’ll gobble it up later. Tonight we are going to go see the Christmas lights and rest up.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas Day and Boxing Day!

Joyeaux Noel!

xx P

A Man of Honor by Barbara Taylor Bradford

A Man of Honor

A prequel to A Woman of Substance

A Man of Honor tells us the story of Balckie O’Neill at 13. His future in Ireland seems bleak. His family is dead except for his two cousins, and he is now sailing to England to see his Uncle Patrick who has a job lined up in his building company for his nephew.

So, off he goes to Leeds. A much different place from where he has come from. Obsessed with building and money, Blackie learns his trade well and is soon very successful at it. Blackie is a smart man who knows what he wants and what he will do to make it happen. He has good friends in this story and it is here that he meets Emma Harte. Like Blackie she has dreams of making it big as well.

Telling Blackie’s story gave us insight into his future character and what has shaped his decisions. He is just a really good man.

I read A Woman of Substance long ago and it stuck with me. There was some confusing language uses in this one. And I failed to see how Robert’s story was pertinent.

No matter what, it is always a good day to read BTB!

NetGalley/ November 28th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

Time For Some Tea!

Here it is December 13 and not a hint of winter. Do I care why? Nope. I wore flip-flops to the nail salon. Happy as can be. I hope your weather is behaving itself and staying in it’s own yard.

I am not exaggerating when I say this has been a rough couple of months. Let’s start with the entire OU nation losing it’s mind over Lincoln Riley hopping a jet to USC. I had told OU Boy this was going to happen weeks ago. Did. Not. Listen. Awe! Shock! And to lose to OSU and not get in any playoffs. Players were jumping through that transfer portal like it was the door to Narnia! We started playing fire the coach. It was amusing until Bama gave us UGA folks our first loss. Oh well. Such is football. But it’s not over yet boys!

Next up was OU boy sneezing and hurting his back. Sciatica. Oh, the moaning and crying and the doctor just told him Welcome to your 40’s! Then Thanksgiving where I was so hoping not to be alone as that is the day one year ago we found my mother on the floor of her apartment. She lived until December 5th. It was a tough time for my sisters and I . But no, one family wasn’t vaccinated so we did not go. I was furious. The man that wasn’t is now in ICU on a ventilator after basically killing his 95-year-old grandmother. She died in the room next to his, while his daughter was in Labor and Delivery giving birth to a cutie little girl. Grandpa got sick and was in hospital as well but his was a heart issue and he is now home and they are ready to draw that line in the dirt. No vax. No come in. Then yesterday another uncle died. So it’s been insane.

So, we’ve been on the road for weeks at hospitals, the farm and back to town. We had our boosters last Wednesday and I ran a fever of 103 for two days and felt like crap. But then I slept 10 hours and felt fine. I also got put in Twitter jail for three days for saying something true to our governor.

If it wasn’t for copious amounts of tea, I would probably be in jail right now. But the end is in sight and I’m keeping my eye on that. I am done with all of my 2021 reading and reviews and most of 2022.

Good Stuff? Well we tried out a cute little cafe’ Saturday in Bethany. The Stray Dog. It had actual metal dog bowl with paws on them full of popcorn. But oh lord, those hotdogs! Deep-fried hotdog wrapped in bacon! Such simple goodness. I will definitely be back. Especially since it’s on the way to the kayak dock. They had a lovely antique mall that smelled like peppermint and a hug.

I hope y’all have had an easier time than we have. And have more responsible relatives. Stay safe and warm, my friends.

xx P

THE MIDNIGHT HOUR by ELLY GRIFFITHS

The Midnight Hour (Brighton Mysteries)

The Brighton Mysteries

Elly Griffiths is also the author of the Dr. Ruth Galloway series,which is one of my favorites.

It’s 1965 in Brighton. Emma and Sam have set up their Detective Agency and have their first big case. Impresario Bert Billington is found dead. When the results return and they learn he was poisoned, his wife, Verity Malone, who was also a theater performer, hires Emma and Sam to find out who did this and keep her name out of it.

Lucky for Emma they have Max Mephisto on the inside to push for information. Interestingly he is in town filming Dracula along with Verity’s son, Seth.

There were so many people who looked guilty! You could tell they were all hiding something, but does that something have anything to do with the case? I am most definitely happy I was not an adult woman in the ’60s. I remember my mother reading The Feminine Mystique and finding it and reading it myself. I didn’t understand most of it,but I knew I did not want to be one of those wives.

I especially enjoyed when Emma would just pop her little boy on her hip and go interview suspects. Although eventually Edgar stepped up and pulled some weight.

I also enjoyed seeing Meg become bolder.

This is Cozy with a Bite! And I loved it!

NetGalley/ November 2nd, 2021 Mariner (formerly HMH)









The CHURCHILL SISTERS by RACHEL TRETHEWEY

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A lot has been written about Winston Churchill. And there are books about the girls and their mother. This book pulls all of them together, using unpublished letters from archives and numerous other sources, the author gives us a complete picture of the private lives of the three girls who lived to adulthood. Diana, serious and fragile, Sarah, a free-spirit, a glamorous, ambitious woman who wanted a career in acting, and Mary, the baby who stayed the course. Their brother, Randolph, did not live up to anyone’s expectations however.

The girls were smart and very different from each other. Their life goals were different as well. With Winston as their father, they also had a tremendous sense of duty to the country. Each found some way to be a part of the war efforts. They adored their father and were a little less enamored of their mother, who was often cold and distant.

They were Churchills and everything they did was news. While Diana and Mary were careful to be seen as proper ladies, Sarah, could have cared less. She lived her life to the fullest.

It was most interesting to see their relationship with their father. Clementine was gone a lot. But to read of the great man himself playing hide and seek in the bushes with his girls was a side I hadn’t seen.

How difficult it must have been to live in a fishbowl and have your every movement scrutinized. To be judged on who your father is rather than who you are.

I thoroughly enjoyed this look at the sisters. And this book was thoroughly researched, listing every source. Beautifully written.

NetGalley/ December 07, 2021 St. Martin’s Press

THE BALLERINAS by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

The Ballerinas

Three friends meet in the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet as teens. Delphine, the narrator of the story, Lindsay and Margaux. The story bounces between then and now.

Fourteen years ago, Delphine gave up her soloist spot at the POB to go to St. Petersburg. She also held a secret that could undo all of their lives. Now, Delphine is back in Paris. 36 years old and now a choreographer, hoping to work at the Palais Garnier Opera House, choreographing a ballet that will not only cement her career but to also make amends to her friends. But Paris has changed. Her friends have changed. And her secret may not be a secret after all.

This was an excellent look at the life of a ballerina. The sacrifices, the injuries, the all-consuming passion for the dance. How much of your life you lose when you wake up one morning too old to be a prima and yet it’s all you know. The complex relationships of the dancers. Are they friends or competitors?

This book lays bare the ugly side of ballet and dance. The fierce drive to be perfect, the loved ones lost along the way, casualties of a single-minded passion.

Really good book with a twist!

NetGalley/December 7th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

 

FROM LADLE TO GRAVE by AMY PATRICIA MEADE

From Ladle to Grave

A Tish Tarragon Mystery #5

Could a body found in a graveyard be linked to a tragic murder twenty-five years ago? Tish Tarragon is plunged into a new case when a fundraising dinner in the local church hall leads to a dark discovery.

Tish is back with another interesting catering event. Heroines of Literature. A fundraiser for St. Jude’s Episcopal Church. Things are humming along well when she notices a woman staring at her. Odd. But soon forgotten in the cleanup.

Walking home through the graveyard to lock up the hall, she literally stumbles over a body. A dead one.

The deceased has a fatal head wound and is lying on top of the Honeycutt plot. Daisy Honeycutt was murdered 25 years ago in a sensational case that shocked everyone.

The hunky Sheriff Reade is back and officially makes Tish a consultant! So off they go to solve a murder and find out why someone now wants this man dead. Could his reopening the case have something to do with it?

With twists and turns galore, I think this is the best one so far in the series. And oh that ending!

Very well done!

NetGalley/December 7th, 2021 by Severn House Publishers

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UNSAFE HAVEN by LUCY BURDETTE

Unsafe Haven

A chance meeting on the New York subway leads to the destinies of two very different women becoming intertwined with terrifying consequences in this nerve-jangling thriller.

Addie is sixteen, pregnant, and trying to escape a situation that unfortunately a lot of runaway girls are tricked into. Trying desperately to get to what she thinks is her savior, Rafe. And as if she didn’t have enough on her plate, she’s about to give birth in the subway toilets.

Terrified and not knowing what to do she stumbles out to the subway platform with baby and placenta wrapped in a coat.

Elizabeth Brown should be getting married but that isn’t happening now. Time to go home to lick her wounds and return wedding gifts. As she walks up from the subway a young girl runs to her and thrusts the baby into Elizabeth’s arms with just a whispered,” I can’t take care of her” and then runs.

Elizabeth is a med student and to say she is shocked is an understatement. She finds a phone number in the pocket of the coat and calls it. Something she will soon come to regret. Addie isn’t running from one person, they all want that baby and murder may be the way to get her.

This was an excellent transition from Burdette’s cozy mysteries! She has amped up the suspense and left us biting our fingernails and reading past our bedtimes! Well worth it!

NetGalley/December 7th, 2021 by Severn House Publishers

Personally, I am a big fan of Lucy’s Key West Food Critic Cozy Mystery Series. Who knew she had a darker side? Very well done and I hope we see more!


WISH YOU WERE HERE by Jodi Picoult

Wish You Were Here

Diana is making a name for herself in the art world. She has her life planned and is on track to be married by thirty, have kids, move to the burbs and she isn’t even engaged! Her boyfriend, Finn, is busy being a surgical resident in New York City.

Days before her birthday they will leave for a vacation to the Galapagos. Everything is moving along fine.

But the night before they leave, Finn tells her he can’t go. There is some type of highly contagious virus sweeping through the country and he can’t leave. He wants her to go. She wants to stay but in the end she goes.

On arrival, the island is shut down. Quarantine. With no internet, phone service or mail service, she is completely alone. Her only link to Finn is an occasional email and she writes on postcards she found in her apartment on the island. 

She makes friends with a local teenage girl and ends up making friends with the entire family and she is awfully attracted to the girls father, Gabriel. Alone, she is looking at every choice she has made and wondering if when she returns she will still be the same.

There isn’t a lot I can say about the rest without spoiling all of your fun. I can say this is a beautiful, timely, and heartbreaking story of love, resilience, and adapting to overcome your circumstances.

I cried throughout the book and I think I needed that.

Well Done!

NetGalley/November 30th, 2021  Ballentine