Jessie has been reading Art & Soul by Claire Huston
The main character of this book, Becky, is of those people that has their finger on the pulse of the world around them. One that can plan and deftly manipulate situations around them, pick up on subtle nuances that others miss and act before anyone else realizes there may even be a problem. A master mind.
In my past readings I have found master minds to be either criminal in nature or Holmesian. Never have I found a master mind to be a single parent, working as a life coach and when those jobs run dry working in the background at the fanciest weddings to make sure everything runs smoothly. But Becky makes it work. In fact she makes everything work.
But, alas, like all masterminds, sleuth, criminal and otherwise, she has her own blind spot. And, as I’m sure you could guess from the title and cover alone, it’s her personal love life. And that is what makes the book a sweet romance that is just a little different than any other I have I read.
Would I recommend it? Also she eats a lot of cake.
(That means yes!)
There’s no problem Becky Watson can’t fix. Except her own love life…
Struggling single mother Becky Watson longs to revive her career as a life-fixer, working miracles to solve her clients’ problems, no matter how big or small. Since the birth of her two-year-old son she has been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.
So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.
Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after?
A heart-warming, uplifting romance served with a generous slice of cake.
Jessie has been reading In A Pickle by Cindy Dorminy
Every time I tell someone about a romance novel I think of my favorite Janet Evanovich quote.
“Romance novels are birthday cake and life is often peanut butter and jelly. I think everyone should have lots of delicious romance novels lying around for those times when the peanut butter of life gets stuck to the roof of your mouth.”
– Janet Evanovich
I don’t know about you but someone’s been putting the peanut butter on my life sandwich with an awful heavy hand lately. I have been in need of birthday cake.
As it turns out not only am I a decent baker but now I’ve taught the children and nightly dessert is pretty much a thing now. But as wonderful as a steady diet of chocolate chip cookies made with hard boiled eggs (it really is a thing and they are delicious!), molasses cookies, cakes, cobblers and ice cream sundaes is, what me and my nutrition needed was a break from the news and some birthday cake for the soul.
The same small town I fell in love with while reading In A Jam is back. The residents are funny and sassy, the heroine is tiny while her man is huge and muscly. Old love rekindles and things get a bit steamy (but never in a raunchy way). Town gossips and meddlers do their thing and, spoiler alert, it has a happy ending. Which is good because it just wouldn’t be birthday cake without a happy ending, would it?
Would I recommended it?
Who doesn’t need a bit of cake for the soul these days?
After years of crying in her sweet tea, Regina finally has her life in order. She has a great job, wonderful friends, and a successful fiancé. But when the town council decides to do something special for this year’s Pickle Festival, life gets a little briny. As a former Pickle Queen, Regina has a chance to win fifty thousand dollars if she participates in a three-day photo scavenger hunt, but she must compete with her former Pickle King, Clint. He’s the guy who ripped her heart out when he left to play professional baseball and never looked back.
Clint Sorrow is as famous for starting bar fights as he is for stealing bases. Years ago, he vowed to never step foot back in Smithville, but when he finds out there’s a chance his baseball contract may not be renewed, he jumps at the opportunity to show his team he’s not a liability. As a bonus, he’ll get to spend time with Regina, the girl he left… and never stopped loving.
When Clint gets wind of Regina’s engagement, he decides he must stop it before she does something they’ll both regret. But Clint has a secret that will not only destroy her plans but may cause him to be benched for life.
Jessie has been reading Madam Tulip And The Serpent’s Tree by David Ahern
Welp, here we are, all pandemic-y together.
Many of us are practicing some form of isolation/shelter in place/ quarantine and there seem to be a lot of people touting that they are going to write/read/create out of paper mache an epic novel. Meanwhile I’m grateful to have far too much to do as well as three whole acres available when I’m trying to hide from my children but even with those blessings I am not in the mood for epic anything right now. Right now I’m more in the mood for something fun, easy, engaging, humorous and which involves not a single bit of hand washing. If you are feeling the same, I have got you covered – at least in the book department.
Would I recommend it?
Why yes, yes I would, but it is in fact book four of the Madam Tulip series and while it would stand alone just fine, I think it would be much more enjoyable if you started from the beginning.
The good news is that gives you four of just the right kind of books to read mid-pandemic before you think about doing something foolish like ripping the carpet off your stairs (P.S. Please someone stop me if I try to rip my old, dirty, ugly carpet off the stairs no matter what reasons I give you, now is not the time!).I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!
Actress Derry O’Donnell, moonlighting as fortune-teller Madam Tulip, finds herself in a famous pop singer’s entourage. But at the star’s glittering birthday party in the Dublin mountains, Derry finds a band riven by rivalries and feuds. Behind the trouble is a mysterious Russian guru, a shaman hated by everyone but the singer whose life she dominates.
When the shaman mysteriously disappears, suspicion threatens to tear the band apart. Was she victim or poisoner? Guilty or innocent? Dead or alive?
Two brilliant and beautiful musicians; an ambitious band manager with a shady past; a sax player entranced by Vikings–each has a secret to share and a request for Madam Tulip.
Jessie has been reading A Shifting Of Stars by Kathy Kimbray
The words you guys. The words. Yes, I know, you are thinking. “Uh, excuse me Jessie, books are literally made of words.” But these words describe places in such lyrical ways they roll around in my head painting vivid pictures. I was only on page two… “Beside me, buildings cringe with moss. Walkways glisten with dirty puddles. Teetering balconies slouch from walls with garments strung between casements like cobwebs.” …and there I was, in love.
I’d like to think it’s more than personal preference that makes this setting of such a vivid scene so important. Thrown into a whirlwind of a fantasy world where the heroine is being marched away in chains by the end of the first chapter you’ve got to be able to get your bearings quickly. And the beautiful descriptions make sure you do.
I hit the unveiling of the big plot point and found myself in an unexpected conundrum of not knowing whether to complain to the book (sometimes I talk to my books) that “Your characters “big news” is the same thing everyone says and does” or yelling “OH MY… You did what now?!?” which brought me right up to the end where I still was in a conundrum because I couldn’t decide if I was so mad the book ended because I just really wanted to know what happened next or that a reader should seriously and legitimately not be left hanging at such a point.
Would I recommend it? Fellow YA Fantasy readers I suggest you give this one a read and then call me so we can talk about that ending!
A squandering emperor. A handsome stranger. A reluctant heroine. And the ancient magic that will capsize a kingdom.
Seventeen-year-old Meadow Sircha watched her mother die from the wilting sickness. Tormented by the knowledge that the emperor failed to import the medicine that would have saved her, she speaks out at a gathering of villagers, inciting them to boycott his prized gladiator tournament.
But doing so comes at a steep cost.
Arrested as punishment for her impulsive tongue, Meadow finds herself caught up in the kind of danger she’s always tried to avoid. After a chance meeting with an enigmatic boy, she’s propelled on a perilous trek across the outer lands. But she soon unearths a staggering secret: one that will shift her world—and the kingdom—forever.
Filled with longing and heart, surprise and wonder, A SHIFTING OF STARS is perfect for fans of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, RED QUEEN and SHADOW AND BONE.
Jessie has been reading An Empty Vessel by Vaughan Mason, written by J. J. Marsh
Warning: This is not a happy story.
I’m sure you’ll figure that out as quickly as I did when you read the first page and see that Nancy the main character is sentenced to be “hanged by the neck until you are dead.” However as this fairly short novel backtracks into the lives of the condemned woman and those around her, it paints a rich scene with well developed characters making it a worthy read despite its macabre topic.
Would I recommend it? Yes. The book explores topics ranging from war time jobs for women during WWII, abuse, women’s roles in the home afterward, family obligations, innocent until proven guilty, the death sentence and the advantage that being “pretty” gives you in life all without lecturing on any of them. I think it would make an excellent book club choice!
But what’s with that book title Jessie?
So glad you asked! JJ Marsh has taken a fictional character out of her Beatrice Stubbs Series and written his book! How cool is that?
Today’s the day Nancy Maidstone is going to hang.
In her time, she’s been a wartime evacuee, land-girl, slaughterhouse worker, supermarket assistant, Master Butcher and defendant accused of first degree murder. Now she’s a prisoner condemned to death. A first time for everything.
The case has made all the front pages. Speculation dominates every conversation from bar to barbershop to bakery. Why did she do it? How did she do it? Did she actually do it at all? Her physical appearance and demeanour in court has sparked the British public’s imagination, so everyone has an opinion on Nancy Maidstone.
The story of a life and a death, of a post-war world which never had it so good, of a society intent on a bright, shiny future, and of a woman with blood on her hands.
Jessie has been reading Tom Wasp And The Seven Deadly Sins by Amy Myers
A Victorian London murder mystery being solved by a chimney sweep?
You have my attention!
And once my attention was captured, this book kept it!
The characters were rich enough that I thought in the back of my mind that this must not be the first of the Tom Wasp books (Great news, it isn’t!) but wholly contained enough that I didn’t feel I was missing anything. The chimney sweep lifestyle and idioms were so well done I went out and found another book on chimney sweeps just so I could learn more. And the mystery was different enough to keep me flipping pages past bedtime.
Would I recommend it? A page turner that sent me to the library looking for more on the subject? Oh, and did I mention that it made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion? Really, what’s not to love?
Just in case it was unclear the answer to all those questions is, “Yes, get the book!” (Though perhaps you should start with the first one, it wasn’t necessary but it is definitely now on my “to read” list!)
Tom Wasp scrapes a living as a chimney sweep, aided by his young assistant, Ned. While the gap between rich and poor is unmistakable in Victorian London, Tom carves out a happy enough life and has plenty of friends, including Clara, the comely landlady of Dolly’s Chop House.
So when one of Clara’s patrons is found murdered on her premises, Tom is quick to help, calling on his connections in the police force. Soon it becomes clear that Mr Harcourt’s murder is not merely due to his philandering ways, but is part of something much more literary…
Who are the Tarton Ordinaries and how are they linked to the death at Dolly’s? Who really owns the mystery manuscript? And why are Tom’s friend Phineas and Clara’s beautiful daughter Hetty involved?
It is up to Tom to find out what links an obscure Elizabethan actor with a slew of nineteenth century deaths in this absorbing and whimsical whodunit.
Jessie has been reading The Balance Of Heaven And Earth by Laurence Westwood
One might classify this book as an Ancient Chinese murder mystery, complete with a mysterious love interest, and, technically, it is.
Because the story does take place in ancient China (as in the year 1085 ancient) set in a remote border town of China near where the “barbarians” are still causing trouble. And indeed the finding of a murderer is central to the plot line. And there is a handsome female of certain interest. However in reading it I would say it was much more about the new town’s magistrate finding his way through the moral and practical pit falls of guiding a city rather than the solving of a mystery.
“So officials grew to believe clerks were obstructive, and clerks grew to believe that officials were mostly tyrannical and impractical. That anything was ever achieved in China at all was a miracle.”
And while it was not what I would call action packed, the characters (even the minor ones) were excellently portrayed. They always called each other by their full names (a mouthful if your full name is Trainee Legal Secretary Li) but they all exuded their unique personalities with not a bit of wry humor sprinkled throughout so well, I couldn’t fault them a bit for it.
“I have never heard such nonsense! Every man needs a wife. How else is he to make good decisions?”
Would I recommend it? I would say this book is for the deep thinker and the history buff rather than one looking for a murder mystery and a love story but if that sounds like your cup of tea, check it out!
I have been unable to write a judgement that does not seem to offend my conscience, or indeed Heaven, in some manner. Because I do not wish to influence your thinking unduly, I have destroyed all my personal papers and notes in regard to this dispute, preferring you to start afresh. Forgive me for this. All I ask is that you consider and examine Jade Moon most carefully before coming to a decision. I find her fascinating and unsettling in equal measure, and fear the consequences of a wrongful judgement. I will say no more.
My sincerest best wishes to you and your family,
Fifth District, Chengdu Prefecture
1st day of the 2nd Moon, 1085
So ends the letter of welcome (and of warning) to Magistrate Zhu, newly arrived in the remote border town of Tranquil Mountain. He has travelled far from his extensive family estates on the outskirts of Kaifeng – the glorious Song Dynasty capital – hoping to find atonement for past mistakes.
Yet he quickly discovers that Tranquil Mountain is anything but tranquil. The town is beset with simmering tensions since the death of his predecessor. Before Magistrate Zhu even has time to accustom himself to his inexperienced and wayward constabulary and the lowliness of his new surroundings, there is a mysterious murder, rumours of ghosts and blood-thirsty bandits out on the streets, and a disturbing kidnapping to solve – as well as the tragic and tangled legal circumstances of the local heroine Jade Moon to unravel.
For the balance of Heaven and Earth to be maintained, and to prevent catastrophe coming to Tranquil Mountain, Magistrate Zhu is well aware that not a single injustice can be allowed to stand. As he struggles to reach the correct judgements, he realises he has no choice but to offer up his career and perhaps even his own life for the greater good. And, in so doing, he discovers that as Jade Moon’s fate rests in his hands, so his fate ultimately rests in hers.
Jessie has been reading The Rose Thief by Claire Buss
Stealing roses might not seem like such a crime but some foolish person (the Emperor, may he live forever and ever) had the real meaning of love linked to a red rose growing in his garden.
I’m with the main character, Thief-Catcher extraordinaire, (or at least quite good) when he says, “What bloody idiot decides to tie love to a bloody flower.”
Perhaps the Emperor (may he live forever and ever), was an idiot to bind love to a flower but the story that follows makes me glad he did!
Would I recommend it? Is irreverent fantasy humor a genre yet? If it is, file this book with it’s thief catching team of a stinky sprite, luscious tree nymph, spying firefly and a pair of spell casters right in the middle of it along with Terry Pratchett, Piers Anthony and A. Lee Martinez. Likewise if you are a fan of the aforementioned authors you might want to pick this one up!
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!
Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher has a problem. Someone is stealing the Emperor’s roses. But that’s not the worst of it. In his infinite wisdom and grace, the Emperor magically imbued his red rose with love so if it was ever removed from the Imperial Rose Gardens then love will be lost, to everyone, forever. It’s up to Ned and his band of motley catchers to apprehend the thief and save the day. But the thief isn’t exactly who they seem to be, neither is the Emperor. Ned and his team will have to go on a quest defeating vampire mermaids, illusionists, estranged family members and an evil sorcerer in order to win the day. What could possibly go wrong?
Claire Buss is a science fiction, fantasy & contemporary writer and poet based in the UK. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead, Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 setting her writing career in motion.
Some might consider waking up in the drunk tank rock bottom. I call it Thursday,” isn’t your typical start to a lighthearted romance but it did start me out with a smile. Things progressed from there all the way through your typical romantic comedy story line. City girl moves to small southern town (hilarity and smiles ensue), enter brokenhearted man stage left (sweet smiles ensue)… By the time we got to the happily ever after, that small southern town had been fleshed out with so many fantastic characters I was smitten with the whole town.
Happy smiles all around.
Would I recommend it? My favorite kind of romance. Funny, fairly predictable and not too risque, sort of like your family’s favorite jam recipe (actually it’s nothing like my family’s favorite jam… who has funny jam?)… but this book, and the jam in it have a little something extra that makes it just that much better. But, most importantly, it made me smile, a lot, and I can’t think of a better reason to pick up a book like this than that.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!
Andie Carson has to do three things to inherit her grandmother’s lottery winnings—sober up, spend a month running her grandmother’s Georgia coffee shop, and enter homemade jam in the county fair. If she can’t meet those terms, the money goes to the church, and Andie gets nothing. She figures her tasks will be easy enough, and once she completes them, Andie plans to sell the shop, take the money, and run back to Boston.
After a rough breakup from his crazy ex-fiancée, Officer Gunnar Wills decides to take a hiatus from women. All he wants is to help make his small town thrive the way it did when he was a kid. But when wild and beautiful Andie shows up, Gunnar’s hesitant heart begins to flutter.
Gunnar knows that Andie plans to leave, but he’s hoping to change her mind, fearful that if her coffee shop closes, Main Street will fold to the big-box corporations and forever change the landscape of his quaint community. But convincing her to stay means getting close enough to risk his heart in the process. Even though Gunnar makes small-town life seem a little sweeter, Andie has to decide if she’s ready to turn her world upside down and give up big-city life. One thing’s for sure—it’s a very sticky situation.
Jessie has been reading Madam Tulip And The Bones Of Chance by Dave Ahern
I’m the kind of girl who gets totally, embarrassingly, nerdily excited when they see that another book by a favorite author is getting released. When the book is something off the best seller list, I often have another book lover to gush about the up coming book with. When the book is less well known I instead kick into overzealous-crazy-book-lover-who-insists-you-must-read-this-book mode. I’m not interested in asking what my friends and family think about this behavior of mine but I like to imagine they find it useful and charming.
And look everybody, Madam Tulip is back!
Just in case you haven’t yet had time to read the first books (because I know after my recommendations they must be on your “to read” list) Madam Tulip and Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts, I certainly recommend you start there. If, like me and my Granny, you’ve been waiting for the next installment it’s here. You should probably just go ahead and order it now. The same great cast of characters are again unwittingly getting themselves into hot water. And it is again the best kind of page turning mystery with enough laughs to keep it lighthearted and fun.
But instead of waxing on about the third book in a series I’ll trust you’ll start with the first and keep on reading.
In the meantime David Ahern himself agreed to answer a few questions!
1) First things first. Does daily life begin with caffeinated beverage of choice?
Three caffeinated beverages of choice. And nothing fancy, either. Straight from the jar. Milk no sugar. I might, just might, stumble into life midway through #2.
2) In the Madam Tulip books the main character Derry’s dad often seems to be the one who sees “signs” in what his daughter says. How about you? Do you have any sure signs your day is going to be fantastic… or not….
As a writer, never a clue. Sometimes you think a day is going to be like pulling teeth, and then for no discernible reason you find yourself on a roll. Other days you breeze to your desk feeling mighty clever, to find your brain instantly turns to mush and you wouldn’t trust yourself to write a shopping list.
3) They say pictures are worth a thousand words. Could you describe Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance using nothing but emojis? (And no, I don’t think emojis are worth a thousand words but I’m curious anyway. ??)
Haven’t a clue. I’m from the emoticon age :).
4) Having lived in both Scotland and Ireland it’s possible you may be qualified to tell us who has the best whiskey. If that’s too controversial of a question, is there something about Scotland (where much of this book takes place) that you wish you could take with you where ever you live?
Scotch whisky is the hands down winner, and frankly we Irish don’t even put up a fight about that. On the other hand, we invented Scotland, but don’t tell anyone I said it. As for what I wish I could take with me, the hospitality of the people of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is something very, very special.
5) During Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance Derry is acting for a movie that she doesn’t seem to think will be the next blockbuster, or even close. What “awful” movie do you love despite itself.
Zardoz, a wonderful Sean Connery turkey directed by John Boorman. And I’m not saying why.
6) In my own little world I prefer for everything to end with dessert. What’s your favorite treat to end things with?
Thank you David for being willing to do a little Q & A with us!
And as for the book…
Would I recommend it? Without a doubt! These books should be on the best seller lists!
A surprise role in a movie takes actress Derry O’Donnell to a romantic castle in the Scottish Highlands. But romance soon turns to fear and suspicion. Someone means to kill, and Derry, moonlighting as celebrity fortune-teller Madam Tulip, is snared in a net of greed, conspiracy and betrayal.
A millionaire banker, a film producer with a mysterious past, a gun-loving wife, a PA with her eyes on Hollywood, a handsome and charming estate manager—each has a secret to share and a request for Madam Tulip.
As Derry and her friend Bruce race to prevent a murder, she learns to her dismay that the one future Tulip can’t predict is her own.
Madame Tulip is the third in a series of thrilling and hilarious Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant amateur detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.
David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate but soon absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.
Madame Tulip wasn’t David Ahern’s first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’d ever had with a computer. He is now writing the fourth Madam Tulip adventure and enjoys pretending this is actual work.
David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.