Saturday, August 27, 2016

Book Review: Murder At Morningside

Murder at MorningsideAuthor: Sandra Bretting
Publication Date: May 24, 2016
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Series: Missy DuBois # 1

Hat designer Missy DuBois opened her shop, Crowning Glory, along Louisiana's Great River Road to cater to the sophisticated Southern bride. But bless her heart, who knew creating stylish wedding veils would lead to murder? 

Hired to craft a veil for a socialite getting married at Morningside Plantation means Missy can bask in the height of antebellum atmosphere. But when the bride is found dead in a women's bathroom, Missy the milliner finds herself entangled in one unfashionable murder. With the list of suspects thicker than the sweltering Louisiana heat, including a gaggle of bridesmaids shedding nary a tear and a family with no shortage of enemies, it seems anyone at the mansion may have done away with the bride-to-be. While Missy has Southern charm to spare, she's going to need more than manners and a manicure to put a hat pin on this murderous affair . . .

“I always forget you were Scarlett O’Hara in a past life.”

Never let it be said Southern men didn’t know how to dress.

“The house used to be a plantation with a bunkhouse for slaves. Think about it…there are probably hundreds of restless spirits here.”

What a perfect new mystery series featuring a lovable southern belle! Melissa “Missy” DuBois is a custom hat maker and her best friend, Ambrose “Bo” Jackson, is a prominent clothing designer. The two of them travel to Morningside Plantation for a wedding weekend. The first and biggest problem arises when the bride-to-be, Trinity Solomon is found murdered. Thus, Missy and Bo begin to take matters into their own hands and feel it is necessary to try and solve this murder. Missy is such a personable character. I loved her southern charm and the affect she has on the people around her. She is very relatable simply because she seems so down to earth. It seemed to me that she wants a deeper relationship with Ambrose; I was really able to pick up on this later in the story, and I am looking forward to watching their relationship grow as the series continues.

I love when a mystery author gives readers a plethora of possible murderers to choose from! I loved having to decipher everyone’s alibis and see who I thought in my mind the killer was, and turned out I was wrong! I wish the scene when Missy found the killer would have been a bit more dramatic or described in more detail, but I was still anxious and thrilled to see Missy kick the bad guy or girl’s butt (you have to read the story to find out which). Oh and I forgot to mention, there is supposedly a ghost that is haunting the mansion located on the plantation. This was an interesting twist too and a nice little detail that Bretting added to entice mystery lovers that much more. I am looking forward to the release of her next book in December!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the author in exchange for my honest review***

Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: Curious Minds

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon, #1)Author: Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton
Publication Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: Bantam Dell
Series: Knight and Moon # 1

Janet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, teams up with Emmy-winning writer Phoef Sutton for a brand-new series of thrillers featuring the invincible and incompatible pairing of Knight and Moon.

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.

What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.

“Riley reminded herself that she was a professional, and stabbing Emerson with her nail file wouldn’t be appropriate.” 

“If she had any sense at all, she’d clean out her desk and look for another job. Something safe and sane, like catching alligators or looking for land mines in Afghanistan.” 

“Mystery creates wonder, and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”

“It was one of the biggest mansions in Washington, D.C., and it was appropriately called Mysterioso Manor. Emerson Knight, the resident owner, was appropriately known as a nutcase.”  

“She’d expected Emerson Knight to look like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.”

Janet Evanovich has forever been one of my favorite authors to read. And while I didn’t like this new series as much as the Stephanie Plums, I must say that I am very excited for what this series will hold. Emerson Knight and Riley Moon are such an unlikely pair, but extremely comical. I must say that the way Emerson Knight was depicted reminded me heavily of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Riley is written to be much more grounded and cautious. Emerson makes a plan and he is sticking to it. His character carried the unlikely pair and added so much depth to the story. I was so glad to see that Evanovich has started a new series and I am happy to say that it was modern and I can see the story and characters progressing greatly over time.

The mystery here was incredible! There were so many possible scenarios that I was imagining while reading that could possibly play out. Missing people, murders, and missing gold was enough to keep me interested and on edge. It felt as if around every corner Emerson and Riley were discovering crucial evidence and adding to the already eccentric mystery. One thing that I have always loved about Evanovich was her ability to make readers laugh out loud. The witty banter shared between Emerson and Riley was too much to bare at times. Their personalities are so different and listening to them argue and plan together was what will keep me coming back to this series!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Bantam in exchange for my honest review***

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Review: Swear On This Life

Swear on This LifeAuthor: Renee Carlino
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

"His name is Jase Colbertson. He and I used to finish each other’s sentences.”

I was breathing hard as I lay the book down on my chest, right over my throbbing heart. I remembered that moment when everything started crumbling down around us. There was nothing we could do; we were just a couple of powerless, poor kids, so desperate to find a way to be together…

"We can't always control our circumstances, who our parents are, where we live, or how much money we make, but in those rare moments when we can shape our fate, when we do have the power to make our own happiness, we can't be scared to do it."  

 "There once was a boy and a girl..."

Renee Carlino has done it again! This book managed to pull me in within the first few pages and I had a hard time stopping until I was finished. Her stories and her characters come to life instantly and the time it takes you to finish one of her books is short, but you will be wishing it lasted longer. The premise behind this story is new, original, and enough to make anyone cry their heart out. Basically, our heroine is introduced, by her best friend, to a new book that everyone is talking about. It is on the bestseller list and gaining awards from every direction. As Emiline sits down to read this book, she realizes that this is her story and that J. Colby, the author, is Jase, her first love. WOW! Can you imagine how I felt as the reader when I reached this point in the story? It was invigorating!

What I love best about the book is that we get to see glimpses into the past as Emiline and Jase were younger and things were different for the both of them. I also loved the fact that Emiline was in a present relationship and that complicated things a bit for her. I like to watch characters grow and have to figure things out, even when they are very messy. This was a story within a story and those of some of the best books to read. I feel very comfortable saying that this was the best second chance romance book I have ever read and I wish I could do it all over again. You will feel every single emotion as you read this book and trust me, you won’t want it to end!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Atria Books in exchange for my honest review***