Scarlet Fever: A Novel (“Sister” Jane) by Rita Mae Brown
I have read and loved all of the author’s Mrs. Murphy series so when I saw Scarlet Fever on NetGalley I snapped it up. Mrs. Murphy books are a more traditional cat cozy mystery though the cats and dog do talk and investigate crimes.
Scarlet Fever is book number twelve in the “Sister” Jane mysteries. This book literally has a hundred characters. There are talking hounds, dogs, and horses—all with intricate family relationships. There are also many human characters with seemingly long-standing issues from previous books in the series. The author does provide a detailed biography of the cast at the beginning. However, it was difficult to get into the mystery while frequently having to turn pages back and forth. Therefore, I would not recommend starting the series with this entry.
However, if you like fox hunting, you will love this series that focuses minutely on the methods used by the hunters, their hounds, and the foxes trying to outwit them both. Long-term fans of the “Sister” Jane mysteries will be sure to enjoy Scarlet Fever. 4 stars!
Thanks to Ballantine Books, Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a print copy of the book below!
About Scarlet Fever
Scarlet Fever: A Novel (“Sister” Jane) Cozy Mystery 12th in Series Ballantine Books (November 26, 2019) Hardcover: 304 pages ISBN-10: 0593130006 ISBN-13: 978-0593130001 Digital ASIN: B07P8J8KVM
Winter blizzards bring a flurry of cases to solve in this riveting new foxhunting mystery featuring “Sister” Jane Arnold and her incorrigible hounds from New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown.
Frigid February air has settled into the bones of the Blue Ridge Mountains, making for a slow foxhunting season, though “Sister” Jane Arnold’s enthusiasm is not so easily deterred. With the winter chill come tweed coats, blazing fireplaces—and perhaps another to share the warmth with, as the bold hunting scarlets worn by the men in Sister Jane’s hunting club make the hearts of women flutter—until someone’s stops entirely.
Harry Dunbar, a member of the Jefferson Hunt club with a penchant for antique furniture, is found with his skull cracked at the bottom of the stairs to a local store. There are no telltale signs of foul play—save for the priceless (and stolen) Erté fox ring in his pocket. Sister and her hounds set out to uncover the truth: was this simply an accident—a case of bad luck—or something much more sinister?
Steeped in the deep traditions of Virginia horse country and featuring a colorful cast of characters both two- and four-legged, Scarlet Fever is another spirited mystery from Rita Mae Brown.
About Rita Mae Brown
Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed;Rubyfruit Jungle; and In Her Day; as well as many other books. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, and is a Master of Foxhounds and the huntsman.
Only ten miles off the coast of Tinker’s Cove Maine lies Fletcher’s Island. But the island, owned by venture capitalist billionaire Scott Newman seems a world apart. It has been refurbished at great expense to its original state including no Wi-Fi, no electricity, and only sailing ships for transport back to the twenty-first century. When Lucy Stone, a part-time investigative reporter is invited to stay on the island and write a puff piece for her newspaper little does she know it will ultimately be to an Invitation Only Murder.
It is hard-to-believe that this is the twenty-sixth entry in the Lucy Stone series. The plot seems as fresh as the first one. I fully enjoyed seeing Lucy away from her usual support team of friends and family. The idea of living life as it was almost two centuries ago was an original hook and drove a lot of the plot twists. I also learned a bit about puffins. Overall, Invitation Only Murder is a nice entry into the series and should be snapped up by Lucy Stone fans. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Turkey Basted to Death (The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series) by Jodi Rath
Small town Leavensport Ohio is having a town Thanksgiving party. At the last minute, chef Jolie is asked by the mayor to add a group of disadvantaged city teens to the party. She complies after meeting the teen’s advocate, Pria, a former homeless teen herself. Even before the food is served, Pria winds up dead, killed by a stainless-steel turkey baster in the ear. Jolie and her restaurant partner Ava, the owners of the baster, decide to find the murderer. After all, no one deserves to be Turkey Basted to Death.
I appreciate the author’s use of modern issues within the book to update the traditional cozy format. Jolie has a therapist and is working on trust issues created by her family life at a young age. Two characters are in various stages of transitioning to females. There is a FF couple and Jolie herself flirts with the idea of becoming bisexual.
However, Turkey Basted to Death also has an intriguing mystery and a more typical cozy romance for Jolie. Jolie is torn between the town’s two detectives—bad boy Meiser and good guy Keith. As thought by Jolie, “my stupid hoo-hah needs to get itself under control—as well as my heart.” It appears she may be going for the bad one.
This book is the third entry in the Cast Iron Skillet Mysteries series. However, it can easily be read as a standalone. Its short length makes it a good choice to read in one sitting. Even though it is a novella, it packs in plenty of plot and fully-realized characters. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaways below for a print copy of the book!
Thanksgiving is here, and Jolie Tucker has had quite the year! She is ready to sit back and relax with family and friends. But this is Leavensport, OH—so get ready for intense therapy sessions, dysfunctional family holiday gatherings, uninvited guests, and an inner-city teen advocate found DEAD—stabbed in the ear with the turkey baster!
Welcome to Leavensport, OH, where DEATH takes a DELICIOUS turn!
About the Author
Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her seven cats.
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If you want to have a more active and pain-free life even though you hate exercise and sit down all day at work (like me so no judging here), you need to read Stretching for Beginners.
The book is filled with sixty-seven easy stretching exercises with easy-to-follow colorful illustrations and instructions targeted at individual areas of the body. Each exercise has sections explaining what the exercise is good for, hints to follow, and how to level up the stretch when you become acclimatized to the basic level. At the back of the book, there are routines of exercises focused on everyday stretches, stretches for aches and pains, and stretches to strengthen the ability to play specific sports. My favorite routine is the 10-15 minute office stretches, which is perfect for a single break time. No laying on the dirty office carpeting. Everything is done standing up. There are only five stretches, which even the couch potato inside of me can commit to. Kudos to the authors for calling “Driving” a sport. I’m an athlete and I didn’t even know it!
Overall, if you aren’t active Stretching for Beginners is a good starting point for a New Year’s Resolution. The speed and simplicity of the stretches will motivate all but the most unmotivated to continue the program. 5 stars!
Thanks to Rockridge Press and Callisto Publishing for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Distant Memory Maureen A. Miller
Publication date: November 25th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
From USA TODAY bestselling author, Maureen A. Miller comes this romantic thriller.
Whose life does Hollie Musgrave recall? Is it even her own?
Dreams of a house Hollie has never been to plague her. They haunted her since childhood when her mother used to joke about reincarnation. Now, as an adult, the dreams have returned. Desperate for relief she seeks out a hypnotist to pry any clues from her latent memories. One notion leads her to a farmhouse hundreds of miles away.
Todd Hewitt bought the farmhouse in Pennsylvania in search of seclusion after the drama of the past three years. When a woman shows up on his doorstep he assumes she is just another reporter looking for an interview, however, her tale is too absurd to be a hoax.
Together they try to piece together her missing past.
The words were husky. Uttered from a woman who was struggling to maintain her composure. Skin that was normally effused with sunshine was pulled taut across high cheekbones making the shadows below her eyes more prevalent.
He considered her warning. Seriously considered it.
“I should,” he hedged. “But I won’t.”
Solemn eyes rose to meet his.
“For God’s sake, why? You don’t need this. It was a big mistake to come down here. I was a fool to encourage you.”
Setting aside any reservations he might have, he couldn’t stand to see her fighting to hold herself together. Someone was tormenting this woman and it ticked him off.
“Look,” he set the note down, watching her eyes follow the motion. “I could point out that it’s not just about you. Whatever is going on, whatever these warnings are–they clearly deal with the house I’m living in. Everything that has happened to you happened directly after visiting my home. That makes it personal for me.” He paused. “Yeah, there’s that–or–” deep breath, “–I could admit that for the first time in three years I’ve met someone I’d like to know more about–that I’d like to spend time with.”
A shrug that didn’t come easily hefted his shoulders. “And you’re right. I have to decide if my desire to spend time with you is strong enough to deal with these threats–this stalking that you’ve been subjected to. Do I really want that sort of conflict in my very quiet, very private life?”
Hollie’s face pinched in pain and she looked away from him. “I guess I know the answer to that.”
USA TODAY bestselling author, Maureen A. Miller worked in the software industry for fifteen years. She crawled around plant floors in a hard hat and safety glasses hooking up computers to behemoth manufacturing machines. The job required extensive travel. The best form of escapism during those lengthy airport layovers became writing.
Maureen’s first novel, WIDOW’S TALE, earned her a Golden Heart nomination in Romantic Suspense. After that she became hooked to the genre. In fact, she was so hooked she is the founder of the JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE website.
Recently, Maureen branched out into the Young Adult Science Fiction market with the popular BEYOND Series. To her it was still Romantic Suspense…just on another planet!
The Essential Air Fryer Cookbook has a massive amount of recipes. Basically, any dish you have ever heard of is included. And don’t assume they are the traditional fried foods either. This cookbook includes cheesecake, roasted fennel salad, French onion soup, chili cheese dogs, corn on the cob, and even ham and eggs. Most countries are also represented by Scotch eggs, curried sweet-and-spicy scallops, coconut jerk chicken, crispy pierogi with kielbasa and onions, fried wontons, chicken gyros, croquet monsieur, easy carnitas, miso-rubbed salmon fillets, pork schnitzel, to Moroccan-spiced carrots. Variety is not an issue here.
This cookbook bends over backward to be usable no matter what size, type, or brand of air fryer you have. It includes tags for fast, easy, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, can be gluten-free (a hint to check the pre-made ingredient labels), and the number of ingredients needed. There are also pairings listed from drinks to sauces to other recipes within the book.
However, before you agree with the book’s cover and decide this is “the only book you need”, there are three negatives to the book. It has no nutritional information, including calories, for the recipes. It only has a few recipe pictures in the back. There is no way to look for just vegan (or any other tag listed above) recipes throughout the book. Hopefully, the index that wasn’t included in my advanced copy will contain a way to do it.
With over 300 extremely varied recipes, the Essential Air Fryer Cookbook makes up for the deficiencies I named earlier. 4 stars and happy air frying!
Thanks to Voracious; Little, Brown & Company; and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Detroit was Broke. Through seven people’s stories, the author attempts to explain what went wrong, what went right, and what was the end result of Detroit’s trip through the Great Depression and bankruptcy.
Detroit was an urban oasis of jobs and industrial might until the 1960s. Then, race riots encouraged white flight to the suburbs reducing tax revenues. Deindustrialization and movement of factory jobs to other lower-wage countries decimated jobs in the city. Lack of jobs led to increased crime and mortgage defaults, which led to abandoned houses and squatters making them unsellable. Lack of jobs also forced subpar credit scores on local residents.
All of these factors led to opportunists buying these houses cheaply in bulk. After repackaging them, the investors used predatory lending practices to sell them to local residents who could not qualify for bank loans. The new homeowners were at an increased risk of default making them defacto renters of properties they were required to bring up to livable condition. And one missed payment and they were out with all their previous payments, improvements, and sweat equity lost with no legal recourse.
In the meantime, city government was forced into bankruptcy by the state. 30% of city jobs were cut. City bonds went into junk status making getting money substantially more expensive just when tax revenues were cratering due to the city resident issues detailed above.
How Detroit turned itself around from this domino effect of disaster after disaster makes an empowering read. The author attempts to not point the finger at race and Republicans for Detroit’s issues with minimal success. However, there were many issues caused by globalization and the economic crash that were clearly out of the city’s control. Overall, Broke is an intriguing story of failure, resilience, and hope—both individually through the seven people’s stories and on a national scale. 4 stars!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
The Last Christmas is the first Repairman Jack novel published in seven years. By all accounts, Jack’s fans are going to eat this book up with a spoon.
Jack is a fixer. He helps people with difficult problems to find a solution. In this case, he is hired to look for a missing person and safeguard an object. Jack uses his wits more than any weapon to solve these cases. There are a lot of paranormal aspects thrown into this novel. There is extensive alternate history type world-building too.
The series, especially if you include the author’s related Adversary Cycle books, is long. This book is book 13.5 in the sixteen books in the Jack series. I have never read any book from either series until now. To be honest, I felt that I didn’t get all the nuances in the plot and between the characters that a long-time reader would have immediately understood. Still, even from a new reader’s perspective, The Last Christmas is a great genre mash-up of a hard-boiled PI within a paranormal fantasy setting. Therefore, 4 stars!
This book was intriguing enough that I’m going to look for the best book to begin the saga. But that question is harder than it sounds. Should I begin with the book published first in the Repairman Jack series, The Tomb? Or Jack’s chronologically first book, Secret Histories? Or perhaps the first book in The Adversary Cycle, The Keep, which is then followed by The Tomb (at least in most lists) because The Tomb intercepts both series? You can see why I’m confused so please let me know what you think in the comments. Thank you.
Thanks also to Gordian Knot, Crossroad Press, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
“Lark was a religious community: participation was expected, baptism a stipulation.” “…but soon the fog would descend, making Lark unreachable. Unleavable. There would be no more ships until April.”—from Impossible Causes.
Atmospheric combination of The Village and Carrie sets the scene in this coming-of-age gothic horror thriller. I expected to love Impossible Causes. But somehow I never fully believed the plot. However, if you like a heavy atmosphere and some of the lesser M. Night Shyamalan movies, you may enjoy it. 3 stars.
Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Filled with beautiful photographs of The World at Night, this book also highlights some of the world’s most beautiful places. From Stonehenge to Red Square to Mount Everest, all the photos highlight the night sky. There are pictures of star trails and eclipse paths captured with camera wizardry. It is surprising how much color a camera lens picks up in an aurora that is not seen by the naked eye.
Whether you want to marvel at the pictures or perhaps take some for yourself, The World at Night has you covered. There is an explanation of how each shot was taken. In addition, there is a chapter explaining what you need to be your own astrophotographer. Plus a compelling section on how light pollution is ruining the feeling of awe and connectedness shared by mankind with our ancestors when gazing at a star-filled sky. 4 stars!
Thanks to White Lion Publishing, Quarto Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
This time it’s personal for female FBI Agent Atlee Pine. She is looking for her sister, Mercy, and/or her abductor. It is an ice-cold case having happened thirty years earlier when the girls were both six. But Atlee is determined even when there is only A Minute to Midnight.
Atlee’s daddy is dead and she has lost touch with her mom. To finally be relieved of her survivor guilt, she decides to investigate the scene of the crime. After reaching her hometown of Andersonville, Georgia, now a civil war tourist attraction, Atlee and her assistant Carol are drawn into another local case. A serial killer is stalking the young woman of the town and posing them after death as World War II-era brides. Did Atlee’s interest in the old case cause the new slate of murders? If so, how are the two cases connected?
I have yet to be disappointed by a book by David Baldacci—and this book is no exception. It is twisty, atmospheric, fast-paced, and surprising. To avoid spoilers, it is hard to say more. But take my word for it, if you enjoy gripping thrillers with great plots and unique characters, please pick up A Minute to Midnight. You won’t be sorry. 4.5 stars!
Thanks to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
The Plant-based Diet Guide for Beginners is a combination of a health guide, diet book, and cookbook. It provides a brief overview of all of the modern diets even the meat-based ones like Atkins and Keto. It also describes what diseases each have been reported to prevent, cure, or maintain (without worsening the condition) along with warnings for potential health issues with some of the diets.
The fifty recipes are the stars here. Many are unusual—in the US at least. Miso and Sweet Potato Soup, Spicy Sweet Potato Enchiladas, Lemongrass Pumpkin Soup, Chickpea-free Falafel with Coriander, and Peanut Coconut Curry with Eggplant and Zucchini all contain new and innovative flavor combinations. However, the raw bread and crackers made from gluten-free ingredients in a slow low oven or dehydrator are what set my taste buds on fire. I have never tried raw bread or crackers before but it sounds delicious. I can’t wait until I can try it.
Each of the recipes includes nutritional information, preparation and cooking time, which diets it works with, what ingredients are necessary, and clear instructions on how to prepare it. The book also offers five different seven-day meal plans following a specific diet goal: paleo/vegan, high-protein, weight loss, anti-inflammatory, and child-friendly. My only complaint is the lack of pictures of most of the completed foods.
Overall, the Plant-based Diet Guide for Beginners is a good entry point for someone who wants to be healthier through the food they eat. It has both book and documentary references in case you want more information about a particular diet. After all, you may not be able to control your genetics but you can control what you put in your mouth. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
In 1929, Mrs. Shackleton is one of only two female private detectives in London when a Body on the Train is found murdered.
Mrs. Shackleton is called in by Scotland Yard to investigate a man found dead in a potato sack on a train. The man was only wearing underpants. He was accompanied in the sack by two potatoes and two English coins. The train was a regularly scheduled nightly rhubarb run from rural England to London. In a parallel case that occurred on the same night, Mrs. Shackleton agrees to help a young man who is accused of brutally murdering his landlady.
The author, Frances Brody, does a great job creating this historic mystery in the mode of Agatha Christie. The addition of a possible Russian spy angle adds authenticity to the 1920s plot. The denouement was unexpected but looking back I clearly see the clues laid out. Overall, the Body on the Train is an enjoyable neo-Golden-age mystery. 4 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Daniel is the owner of a failing bookstore trying to solve all his problems through obsessive list making in Twenty-one Truths about Love.
It’s hard to be Daniel. He loves his pregnant wife but constantly lies to her about the profitability of his business. He is worried about his ability to be a father, and basically all other aspects of his life. He not only sees the glass half-empty, it is broken on the floor and he has just cut his bare foot on it. While he wastes many hours making lists instead of reading marketing books (for his bookstore) or self-help books (for his sanity), the lists are always witty and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.
It is almost impossible for a reviewer to not create his or her own list about their feelings about Twenty-one Truths about Love. Here is mine:
Loved the format using lists exclusively.
Liked the humor.
Disliked the main character, Daniel, increasingly as the story moved forward.
Hated the ending.
Despite my list above, I still recommend the book for readers who like subtle (read as real) romance, are obsessive list makers like me, or just want to read a book in a completely different format. Now, I’m going to be worrying that I should have made the last sentence into a list. Oh no, have I caught Daniel’s obsessive overthinking? Give this quick read a try and you too can become obsessive. 4 stars!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Goodreads for a copy I won in a Goodreads giveaway.
Fate: A Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery (The Witches of Doyle #6)
by Kirsten Weiss
Guest Post by the Author
November Kitchen Witchery
November is a cozy cooking time of year. And even though Jayce Bonheim, the heroine of my cozy witch mystery, Fate, calls herself an earth witch, there’s some definite kitchen witchery in her life as well. She knows that sharing a meal is about more than nutrition – it’s about sharing around a table and all the attendant emotions.
At its most basic, kitchen witchery involves cooking with intention. That could be the intention to heal, the intention to share love and gratitude, or simply the intention to make a delicious meal. It involves slowing down and making cooking a heartfelt meditation rather than a chore.
When Jayce practices kitchen witchery (when she’s not solving crimes and keeping her hometown free from bad mojo), she takes things a step further. She’ll stir clockwise to infuse her intention into whatever she’s cooking (if she lived below the equator, she’d stir counterclockwise).
She’d also choose ingredients which correspond to whatever she was trying to do. For example, chocolate is well known to be associated with love and romance, so cocoa powder in a dinner entrée for a romantic evening would work well. If you’re planning on making candied yams or sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving, those also correspond to love. This would be a good dish for Jayce to infuse with the intention of sharing the love. Pumpkin pie is associated with abundance and healing, and so is that Thanksgiving green bean casserole. When cooking either of those dishes, Jayce might stir in her intention of abundance.
Jayce uses the same basic process when she makes her non-edible coffee hand scrub, that she sells in her coffee shop, Ground.
But in book 6 in the Doyle Witch cozy mysteries, Fate, she’s brewing up more than hand scrub and happiness spells. Jayce is on the trail of a killer. And she must determine how the murderer of a local deputy is connected to a lodge of dark magicians intent on stealing a magical book, in…
Something wicked this way comes…
Witch Jayce Bonheim has spent the last four months waiting for a horde of dark magicians to come to town.
Now, they’ve arrived, embedded in a traveling circus.
And they’re bigger and badder than this ex-party girl could have imagined, wreaking havoc wherever they go.
But when a murder rocks her small town, Jayce must stop the chaos. Walking a tightrope between dark spells and past regrets, can Jayce stop a murderer and stop these magicians from transforming the world forever?
Start reading Fate, book 6 in The Witches of Doyle cozy mystery novels.
This novel is a full-length, witch cozy mystery featuring true-to-life spells in the back of the book, a trio of witchy sisters, and a dash of romance. Though Fate can be read as a standalone, it’s best read in series order. It’s rated PG-13 due to mild language and some romance.
Don’t forget to enter the two giveaways for the book or the entire series below!
Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at kirstenweiss.com
Becoming kinder to animals is much easier with the 30-minute Vegetarian Cookbook. Whether you are a full-time vegetarian or just looking for some innovative ideas for Meatless Mondays, this book will show you how with its impressive collection of both fast and easy recipes.
From breakfast to dessert and every meal in between, the 30-minute Vegetarian Cookbook clearly labels each recipe when they are gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, vegan, dairy-free, and nut-free. There is also nutritional information for each dish. Most recipes come with some substitution ideas adding variety to the recipes. The ingredient lists are simple and don’t include many expensive “vegetarian” products. Most of the items are found in any kitchen pantry.
This is an excellent cookbook. I just wish it had a picture of each of the recipes. But other than that one qualm, the recipes are yummy and budget-friendly. I’ve been gluten-free for years and even the recipes that are not labeled gluten-free can easily be made so by using non-wheat-based flours, breads, and tortillas. The recipes are mostly low-calorie and are perfect for those watching their weight. Many of the ingredients are zero point foods on the MyWW (Weight Watchers) blue plan. Finally, the recipes come from many cuisines like Italian, Indian, Middle-Eastern, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, and American. Overall, it’s a great cookbook to save some money, time, and animals’ lives. 5 stars!
Thanks to Rockridge Press and Callisto Publishing Club for a copy in exchange for my honest review.