The Book of Candlelight (Secret, Book, & Scone Society, #3)

The Book of Candlelight (Secret, Book, & Scone Society, #3)
by Ellery Adams

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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This is a series that continues to grow as it goes on. I don’t mean character or plot development (there’s plenty of that) what I mean is each book is more intricate and surprising than the last. I was just commenting on the r/CozyMystery reddit that I thought cozy mysteries were evolving to focus more on the “feeling” of a cozy and leaving out the “mystery” part of a cozy. That is, it seems like a lot of cozy mysteries are just chick lit with a predictable murder plot thrown in as an afterthought and to me, that’s not a true cozy mystery. While Chick Lit has its place, and I’m not knocking it, I read cozy mysteries for the mystery not so much the cozy

This is probably the only series to blow that assumption out of the water. True, there’s a lot of “chick lit-y” type stuff in these – women’s issues, the tight bond of close girl friends and the power and strength of women. But what this series gets right is the powerful plots that dominate the story, keeping the reader in the dark until the last page. While this doesn’t sound like something extraordinary, let me tell you, as someone who primarily reads cozy mysteries; it is extraordinary.

Take this book; Nora is at the flea market picking up new knickknacks to use in her book shop when she buys a bowl from a local Cherokee artisan potter named Danny. Nora is struck by the obvious love Danny and his wife share, as well as the beautiful work he creates. When Danny is found dead in an overflowing creek, Nora puts the Secret, Book and Scone Society on the case. So while putting her heart and soul into finding out who killed Danny, Nora also puts her energies into helping Danny’s grieving widow, who is pregnant with their child. Along the way, Nora puts her heart to work to help a man suffering from a long-term ailment who has come to Miracle Springs in the hopes of finding healing, plus consoling and empowering her friends who are dealing with their own crises.

While it sounds like there’s a lot going on, this book (and this series for that matter) does a great job of blending the lives and personalities of the women with a taut, intricate mystery and the beautiful pacing slowly winds you into the world of Miracle Springs until you find yourself unable to put it down. The end result is a wickedly complex and tangled web of a story that traps you in its pages.

Spoiler: Highlight the space below

The only knock I have against this book (well, it’s not much of one) is the plot of June’s son was never really resolved as to why exactly he targeted the others. I could understand why he targeted June because he was angry with her, but why target the others? How did he even know about them? Why would he think they needed to be targeted? Didn’t make any sense to me, I’d have appreciated more depth to that. Perhaps it’ll come up in future books, I don’t know. But I thought it was weird

Also, I’m 3 books into this series and it wasn’t until this one that I realized my “mental image” of Nora was wrong. I had her visualized as a small, skinny waif like woman with short dark hair, so I was shook when she “put her blond hair into French braids” like WHOA, seriously? So wrong.

Also, this series is available on Prime Reading so if you have Amazon Prime and a Kindle or a Kindle App, GO GET IT!

Published January 28th 2020 by Kensington Books

Intuitive Fasting

Intuitive Fasting: The Flexible Four-Week Intermittent Fasting Plan to
Recharge You Metabolism and Renew Your Health
by Will Cole,

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I’m no stranger to fasting; I lost 50 lbs with fasting/keto but then 2020 happened and I fell off the wagon. Ugh. When I saw this on Netgalley, I requested it, as my goal for the new year is to get back on the weight loss train and I was interested in seeing if there was anything new I could add to my routine.

I’m not sure where the idea that fasting is bad for you came about, but it’s not true. When I started fasting, I had a lot of people spouting off untruths – everything from how fasting will “slow your metabolism” to “it’s not healthy” to the head scratching “you’ll become malnourished”. Seriously? None of those things are true.
And adding low-carb eating along with fasting cuts down on cravings, which means once you get past the first week or 2, you’ll find it easier and easier to do.

As far as all of the information in the book goes, I did learn a few new things that I intend to incorporate into my new program. Things like staying away from diet sodas (I’m not going to pretend I’ll give up my beloved Pepsi Free entirely, but I will reduce the amount I drink substantially) and also from dairy (As a cheese addict, this one will be tough. Goodbye Pepper Jack, I’ll miss you) so I’ve got some challenges in the weeks ahead as I adjust my eating plan.

If you are new to fasting (or are interested in learning more about it) then this is a great place to learn more. All the information is easy to understand and would be a great resource for people who want to begin fasting but don’t know where to start. Included in the program are recipes and sample plans for what the author calls “Ketotarian” – in other words a high fat/moderate protein/low carb diet that includes lean meats and vegetables, combined with a 4 week get started plan. The program is simple enough to do (although the first week may not be easy) and I recommend it for people to at least try.

Publication date: February 23rd 2021 

Murder at the Mena House (A Jane Wunderly Mystery #1)

Murder at the Mena House (A Jane Wunderly Mystery #1)
by Erica Ruth Neubauer

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Set during the roaring ’20s, Mena House is a posh hotel overlooking the great pyramids in Egypt. Jane Wunderly and her sharp-tongued aunt, Millie, arrive for a vacation with plans to tour the pyramids, see all the tomb artifacts in the Cairo museum and just relax and enjoy the beautiful hotel. But when a young woman is found murdered and Jane finds herself under suspicion, she teams up with another guest, the mysterious (and sexy) Mr. Redvers to clear her name and find a killer.

I got a few chapters into the second book in this series before realizing there was a first book and decided it would be a good idea to start the series at the beginning. I really enjoyed this one, the author did a great job painting a vivid picture of Egypt during the heyday of Egyptology, and with loads of quirky, likeable characters, an intricate plot and even a bit of action, I couldn’t put it down – and all the descriptions of the hot, sunny weather kept my feet warm during this frigid February week! A great start to a series and now I can finally dive into the second book.

Published April 1st 2020 by Kensington Books 

The Night Hawks (Ruth Galloway #13)

The Night Hawks (Ruth Galloway #13) by Elly Griffiths
Rating: 5 Stars

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I was lucky enough to get this on Netgalley (Thank you, Quercus!) and just finished it last night. This was a superbly written, edge of your seat suspenseful thriller, and the one thing I find most difficult about this series is closing the book when it’s done, knowing I’ll have to wait until next year to get the next book!

In The Night Hawks, Ruth and daughter Kate have returned to Norfolk from Cambridge. Now the head of the archaeology program after Phil retired, Ruth is settling in to her new position when Nelson calls her in to help on a new case; metal detectorists, looking for buried treasure, find a man’s body washed up on the beach. Soon after, a scientist and his wife are found dead in their home, a probable murder-suicide. As the case unfolds, secrets, lies and murder are slowly uncovered, throwing everyone involved into danger.

13 books into this series and it shows no sign of slowing down. As with all the other books, I expected sinister folklore, druids, auras, Nelson’s bad temper, a dizzyingly twisty plot and an explosive ending – and that’s exactly what I got! The legend of the Black Shuck (I think a version of it can be found on every continent, if not every country) made for a creepy element to the site of the murder-suicide and upped the eerie factor for sure. I also loved Cathbad and his unwavering dedication to the myths and legends and how he honors them (actually, I’m a huge Cathbad fan, so that probably goes without saying.)

As for the plot, the young man’s body washed up on the beach and the murder-suicide, that’s where the dizzyingly twisty comes in. Thinking back over the book and “watching” the whole story being pieced together scrap by scrap – wow! Lots of surprises, leading to many suspects and in the end, the whole mess wasn’t anything near what I sleuthed out. It all led up to an explosive, exciting ending and if you’ve been reading this series from the start like I have – get ready for a cliffhanger.

UK Publish Date: February 4th 2021 by Quercus
US Publish date: June 29th 2021 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Old Bones (Gideon Oliver #4)

Old Bones (Gideon Oliver #4) by Aaron Elkins

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I picked this book for the Takes place in a non-English speaking country square in r/CozyMystery book bingo on Reddit and it was available at my library. When I read the blurb, it had all the things I like – history, World War II tales, forensic anthropology (I’m a sucker for old bones!) and after reading several good reviews and the “Look Inside” on Amazon (always my first stop when selecting a book) started off the book off with a bang. I was looking forward to diving into this and boy, am I glad I found it! This introduced me to a new series (well, they were written in the 80s, so new to me) to devour.

“Skeleton Doctor of America” Gideon Oliver is in France to teach classes at a law enforcement seminar. After a class, Joly, a French police detective, requests his help on his new case after some bones were discovered buried the cellar of a manoir. Like a dog, Gideon salivates at the mention of old bones and with his friend, FBI Agent John Lau, head off to take a look. At the manoir are assembled the family of the manoir’s owner, Guillaume du Rocher, who called them to a family meeting to discuss something important. Before the meeting could take place, Guillaume drowns, touching off an investigation that spans back to World War II.

This was a real mystery with so many questions: who was buried the basement? Who put it there? Was Guillaume murdered? If so, why? The buried bones touch off a mystery that begs to be solved, and Gideon and John find themselves in the middle of the investigation.

This reminds me of the old mysteries I’ve read – “old” meaning classic mysteries I’ve read that were written in the 20s, 30s, and 40s. In fact, it reminded me of books I’ve read by John Bude and Joann Cannan, always a plus in my book. The author did a great job so bringing the characters to life, fleshing out their personalities without bogging down the story with unnessesary detail, which helped the book maintain its quick pace. Main characters Gideon and John are a charming, likeable team, I liked them from the start. And the plot! So many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, leading up to an explosive ending. I would love to go into detail about the details that fascinated me the most, but I don’t want to spoil anything so let me just say…whooo boy, this was one of the most intricate and unexpected plots I’ve ever read and I’m hooked!