REVIEW: Under a Georgia Moon by Cindy Roland Anderson

Under a Georgia Moon Book Cover Under a Georgia Moon
Cindy Roland Anderson
Chick Lit
266

Addie Heywood thought she was doing okay after her fiancé dumped her just weeks before their wedding, claiming he’d found someone else more compatible with his health food tastes. But when he marries the other woman three months later, Addie needs to get away. Leaving her home in Idaho, she escapes to Mitchel Creek, Georgia to visit her Aunt Janie. She just wants to spend the next two weeks enjoying her aunt’s southern cooking, not dodging the guys her aunt is determined to set her up with.

Chase Nichols isn’t looking for love. His dream is to trade his computer mouse for his guitar and make it big in the country music world. If he can land a job in Nashville, he might have a shot at getting discovered. His plans get derailed when he does his neighbor a favor and picks up her niece, Addie, at the airport. Things get even more complicated when his ex-girlfriend comes back into the picture. That’s when he hatches a new plan. Since Addie wants to avoid her aunt’s matchmaking schemes, and he wants to avoid his ex-girlfriend, they’ll fool the world by pretending to date. What neither of them counts on is actually falling in love.

This book was a charming ‘clean’* Southern romance, and I really enjoyed it. The story was simple, and somewhat predictable, but it was a great afternoon chick lit read! Main character Addie was sweet and spunky – I was rooting for her. It was also interesting to read the story from Chase’s perspective as we went along; I suppose it’s not often that you read about Southern courtship from the perspective of a restrained Christian male.

Although it was fairly obvious that Addie and Chase were going to become an ‘item’, that didn’t bother me at all. Let’s be honest, most Chick Lit has an easy-to-spot romance appear in the first chapter or so! When you pick one up, you’re hardly expecting to be surprised by it. Really, it’s all about how the romance UNRAVELS! And this romance is particularly sweet, which seems to be the Southern way.

I liked all of the characters, particularly Aunt Janie and her baked goodies, although there wasn’t a huge focus on anyone other than Addie and Chase. I also liked how gentlemanly Chase was – he was kind-hearted, thoughtful AND cute! It was a nice change of pace from an arrogant or rude male lead, who needs to be ‘changed’. Chase was great as he was, and the focus stayed on their struggle to fit relationships in with their career dreams.

Both Addie and Chase were reluctant to give up their dreams to pursue a romance, and it was interesting to see how they worked through their priorities. I felt it was a realistic dilemma (even if their solution may have  been an uncommon one!).

Overall, for a quick, feel-good romance, I’d definitely recommend this book. It may not have been ground-breaking, but when I put it down I was more than satisfied, and it stuck in my head for several days. There was even a little mystery and danger thrown in! What more could I ask for?!

Amazon

* Stay tuned for my thoughts on ‘clean’ romances, and why I’m using inverted commas, later this week.

I received a copy of Under a Georgia Moon by Cindy Roland Anderson from Kathy at Book Blasts and Blog Tours in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

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REVIEW: The Swimmer by Joakim Zander

The Swimmer Book Cover The Swimmer
Joakim Zander
Thriller
432

Klara Walldeen, orphaned as a child and brought up by her grandparents on a remote Swedish archipelago, is now a political aide in Brussels. And she has just seen something she shouldn’t: something people will kill to keep hidden.

On the other side of the world, an old spy hides from his past. Once, he was a man of action: so dedicated to the cause that he abandoned his baby daughter to keep his cover. Now the only thing he lives for is swimming in the local pool.

Then, on Christmas eve, Klara is thrown into a terrifying chase through Europe. Only the Swimmer can save her. But time is running out...

If I could sum up The Swimmer by Joakim Zander in a single word, it would be ‘intriguing’. For starters, the book was fast paced and dramatic, with mysterious phone calls and bodies piling up, but it wasn’t until three quarters of the way through the book that the reader really knows what the bad guys so desperately want. Then, there was a protagonist who’s name is never revealed, who is nothing if not mysterious. Plus, with several main characters, the book is written as though one is going to be the central character, only for there to be a sudden about-face midway through the novel.

While such a slow reveal of crucial details can be incredibly frustrating in a book, in this instance it worked. Zander’s narrative was so well written that it didn’t matter. In fact, it added to the story. The characters themselves had no idea what they had stumbled into, and rather than the reader having all of the facts while the characters struggled to catch up, I felt like I was uncovering the information with them, and was very invested in the journey.

I also appreciated the ‘real-life’ aspects of the story, that tied into the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the role of government organisations like the CIA. With a portion of the book written from the perspective of a disillusioned career spy, the insights offered into the ‘grey areas’ of espionage were rather fascinating. The unusual setting, in Sweden and Brussels, was an additional bonus – the Swedish archipelagos were a unique and fascinating backdrop.

This book was an interesting look at how the actions of one person can create ripples that span not only distance, but time. One split second can change everything. Zander did a great job of describing the effects of those ripples and tying together the strands of the characters’ lives. I’d definitely recommend this book to lovers of political thrillers.

I received a copy of The Swimmer by Joakim Zander from the lovely Trish at TLC Tours, in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

AmazonBook Depository

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REVIEW: The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon

The Tea Chest Book Cover The Tea Chest
Josephine Moon
Chick Lit
368

Kate Fullerton, talented tea designer and now co-owner of The Tea Chest, could never have imagined that she'd be flying from Brisbane to London, risking her young family's future, to save the business she loves from the woman who wants to shut it down.

Meanwhile, Leila Morton has just lost her job; and if Elizabeth Clancy had known today was the day she would appear on the nightly news, she might at least have put on some clothes. Both need to start again.

When the three women's paths unexpectedly cross, they throw themselves into realising Kate's magical vision for London's branch of The Tea Chest. But every time success is within their grasp, increasing tensions damage their trust in each other.

With the very real possibility that The Tea Chest will fail, Kate, Leila and Elizabeth must decide what's important to each of them. Are they willing to walk away or can they learn to believe in themselves?

An enchanting, witty novel about the unexpected situations life throws at us, and how love and friendship help us through. Written with heart and infused with the seductive scents of bergamot, Indian spices, lemon, rose and caramel, it's a world you won't want to leave.

I absolutely devoured The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon. Of all the chick lit in the world, I love the stories where people build something out of nothing (think following a cupcake dream, opening a vintage store, creating a dream…). This book was just right!

First, the characters were great. Particularly Kate, completely out of her depth while taking over the business after the death of her partner, was well-written. I really felt her dilemma; she was used to being the artist, not a boss, and everything was a little overwhelming! With Kate as the Leading Lady, I felt like the other ladies were a perfect complement to her personality – Leila was business like and optimistic, while Elizabeth was no-nonsense and ready for a change. Together, they counter-balanced Kate’s dreaminess and her fears of failure.

This book wasn’t about romance (of course, there was a teeny bit included for good measure), instead focusing more on these women’s business journey and their personal development throughout. Kate, Leila and Elizabeth grew in confidence and it was a very uplifting read.

I also loved all of the tea-talk. As a tea lover myself, I loved the descriptions about how Kate created and blended new flavours of tea, and sourced the products for her new store. It was really interesting, and beautifully written.

Plus, the fact that the book was split between Australia (woo for home!) and London (who doesn’t love London!?) was an added bonus. Not only do I love a glimpse of home when I’m reading, but the contrast between laid-back Brisbane and high-street London made for a great story.

I would definitely recommend picking up a copy of The Tea Chest. Perhaps save it for a rainy day, brew a cup of fragrant tea, and put aside an afternoon – I guarantee you won’t want to put this one down!

Book Depository

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Review: The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China Book Cover The Great Zoo of China
Matthew Reilly
Action
515

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years.

They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world.

Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time.

Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t…

GET READY FOR ACTION ON A GIGANTIC SCALE.

As a pretty die-hard Matthew Reilly fan, I was pretty keen to read his latest action novel. I loved his earlier work, like Ice Station and Contest, and have been to see him speak and have him sign my books – I was impressed! However, I’ll admit that his more recent work has leant a little more towards gratuitous action and violence than actual plot or character development. Perhaps due to upheaval in his personal life (which I won’t go into detail about), he seems to have been off form for a few years. So, I was a little apprehensive picking up Great Zoo.

Things got off to a great start; I loved Reilly’s concept. To sum things up, the Chinese have come up with a grand scheme to put them on par with the cultural titan that is America. They’ve invited politicians, environmentalists, and journalists to have a sneak peak of their pride and joy, and are determined that reviews will be positive, no matter what. However, Jurassic Park style, the best laid plans are destined to end in disaster when you put ancient, intelligent creatures in a zoo and expect them to behave. The main character, CJ was a woman (a first for Reilly), which was a nice change of pace, and her partner in crime is her brother, which rules out any lame love-at-first-sight-amongst-carnage rubbish. I thought that the reasoning behind the existence of the animals was plausible (and believable!), and I liked the political spin on the project – though I’m not sure Chinese readers would be so keen to hear about their amazing working capabilities but lack of imagination…

As the story rapidly developed, I was hooked. I raced through the book alongside the characters as they fought to escape the hellhole they’d landed themselves in. The action was intense, the animals interesting, the mythology fascinating – I couldn’t put it down, and am keen for a sequel (here that Matthew? I’ve already figured out how it could work, call me!).

Has Reilly returned to form? Yes and no. This was an epic action book, definitely in the vein of Jurassic Park (which I also love). I was hooked, and I liked the premise a lot. I felt the book had a little more soul than, for example, the last Jack West book, which was more action for the sake of action than anything else. However, there could have been more development as far as characters and creatures go, and there was probably still some gratuitous violence that I could have done without (although I appreciate the imagination behind someone’s lungs being sucked out of their body…).

Let’s be frank. This book was never written to be a literary masterpiece. Reilly also never claims that it was meant to be! He likes to write books that read like action movies, and he achieved exactly that. I struggled to ‘rate’ this book. If you’re looking for a book that immerses you in the action and as you hooked, then this is great. However, if you’re looking for great character development, then this probably isn’t the book for you. It’s fast paced and explosive, with no time for soliloquies to get to know people. Really, if you know Reilly at all, you know the kind of book you’re getting into – and if you’ve loved his early work, then you’ll probably love Great Zoo. Definitely worth a read, as far as I’m concerned! I’ll remain a loyal fan, and keep hoping that his books only get better from here.

Amazon | Book Depository

I received a copy of The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly from Netgalley in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

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That’s Paris: An Anthology of Life, Love and Sarcasm in Paris

That's Paris: An Anthology of Life, Love and Sarcasm in Paris Book Cover That's Paris: An Anthology of Life, Love and Sarcasm in Paris
Vicki Lesage
Travel
218

If you've ever traveled to Paris, lived in the City of Light or dreamed of setting foot on its cobblestoned streets, you'll enjoy escaping into this collection of short stories about France's famed capital.

From culinary treats (and catastrophes) to swoon-worthy romantic encounters (and heartbreaking mishaps), this anthology takes you on a journey through one of the most famous cities in the world.

View this cosmopolitan metropolis through the chic eyes of Parisians, francophiles and travellers who fell in love with the city and haven't quite gotten around to leaving yet...

I received a copy of That’s Paris: An Anthology of Life, Love and Sarcasm from the lovely Vicki Lesage. You might remember her name from a review I wrote last year, of her book Confessions of a Paris Party Girl

That’s Paris is a collection of tales, both fictional and biographical, that beautifully describe the details of a city that everyone thinks they know. Diving deeper than the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa, baguettes and snooty women, each story is very short, a mere soundbite really, and shines a light on a new aspect of the city.

The stories cover all sorts – from the advertising in the metro stations, to the recovery of a widow; from the musings of a mother missing her expat daughter, to the dark side of the love locks adorning Parisian bridges. Some of the authors call the city home, others have never even read a book about the place. But each contributed to painting a detailed picture of a city that holds so many secrets that one could never hope to discover them all. Even the foreword, by notable author Stephen Clarke (himself an expat living in Paris), was a love letter to the city.

I really enjoyed each glimpse into the city, from such varied perspectives. One of my favourite stories was early on in the book, and described the five tests that Parisians like to put foreigners through when it comes to their particular brand of fine dining. I think I’ve personally made it to level 3, but plan on working my way up to the harder ones!

My only qualms with the book were how very short some of the stories were – I wanted more to sink my teeth into! Also, I sometimes felt a tad discombobulated by the switch between fiction and non-fiction – I might have preferred either one or the other. That said, I did love the diversity of the stories. Lesage herself contributed several, and her mother also wrote one (which was oh so sweet).

For anyone who thinks they know Paris well, or wants to know her a little better, I would definitely recommend picking up That’s Paris. It’s a delightful, easy read that transported me back to a place that I love to explore, and I’m certain that it could do the same for any one of you.

Amazon

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Review: The Kill List by Nichole Christoff

The Kill List Book Cover The Kill List
A Jamie Sinclair Novel
Nichole Christoff
Mystery/Thriller
247

As a top private eye turned security specialist, Jamie Sinclair has worked hard to put her broken marriage behind her. But when her lying, cheating ex-husband, army colonel Tim Thorp, calls with the news that his three-year-old daughter has been kidnapped, he begs Jamie to come find her. For the sake of the child, Jamie knows she can’t refuse. Now, despite the past, she’ll do everything in her power to bring little Brooke Thorp home alive.

Soon Jamie is back at Fort Leeds—the army base in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens where she grew up, the only child of a two-star general—chasing down leads and forging an uneasy alliance with the stern military police commander and the exacting FBI agent working Brooke’s case. But because Jamie’s father is now a U.S. senator, her recent run-in with a disturbed stalker is all over the news, and when she starts receiving gruesome threats echoing the stalker’s last words, she can’t shake the feeling that her investigation may be about more than a missing girl—and that someone very powerful is hiding something very significant . . . and very sinister.

I received a copy of The Kill List by Nichole Christoff from the lovely Lisa at TLC Tours, in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

This book wasted no time cutting to the chase. With a crazed stalker setting his sights on security specialist Jamie Sinclair in the first few pages, Christoff quickly added an ex-husband with a missing child, and threw in another few mysteries for good measure. At breakneck speed, the clues unravel and the mysteries cross paths as they slowly unravel themselves.

This was the kind of mystery that was detailed but not dry, leaving me reading until 2am to find out what happened. I found the dynamic between Jamie and her ex-husband an interesting dynamic, which really impacted how the case unravelled. I also liked the military aspect of the story; Jamie had a military background that strongly influenced her character development, and I enjoyed her perspective on how the army base and it’s own investigations proceeded.

I thought Christoff wrote Jamie’s character to be a good balance of tough-woman-in-a-man’s-game, and vulnerable. It can be easy to skew too far in either direction, but I thought Christoff achieved a happy medium. Jamie’s character development also lent itself well to the romantic plot line in the book – instead of being included for the sake of it, the character of Adam Barrett helped develop the plot and the main character herself. I also appreciated the fact that, even though Jamie travelled between the army base, Washington, New Jersey and Philadelphia, the book didn’t make the reader waste time in transit. Nor did it detract from the story at all. Sometimes extensive travel in a book is frustrating, because the characters are stuck in a car or a plane instead of being on the ground furthering the story, but this was definitely not the case here.

With the second book in the series due out in March (The Kill Shot), I don’t have long to wait before I can get my hands on the next instalment in the series. I’m looking forward seeing how the characters introduced in the first book are incorporated into the second! This is definitely a great mystery/thriller for someone looking for something that isn’t too heavy, but is definitely riveting!

Amazon

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Review: The Divorce Diet by Ellen Hawley

The Divorce Diet Book Cover The Divorce Diet
Ellen Hawley
Chick Lit
241

Abigail loves her baby Rosie, her husband Thad, and food. She takes great joy and comfort in concocting culinary delights to show the depth of her love and commitment to her family. Imagine her surprise when Thad announces, this whole marriage thing just doesn't work for me. Abigail can't believe he really means what he's said, but he does. Abigail and Rosie move back in to her parents' house, where she regresses into her adolescent self. She diets, finds work, and begins to discover the life she really wants, and a man who really wants her.

I received a copy of The Divorce Diet by Ellen Hawley from the lovely Lisa at TLC Book Tours, in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

Abigail is on a diet. And then her life falls apart. Coincidence? I think not! Diets never end well…

Ok, perhaps it wasn’t the diet that caused all of her problems… Abigail’s asshole husband, Thad (her words, not mine!), played a large part in the demise of her upper-middle-class dream world, when he decided that marriage wasn’t for him. It would seem that he preferred the carefree flings of a single man, above the responsibilities of a husband and a new father. So, Abigail finds herself living with her parents and lying on job applications to hide her serious lack of any job experience. A lover of food, caught in the struggle between enjoying her passion and living the ‘natural’ diet life that her weight loss book insists will change her life, Abigail fights the good fight – but ends up where most of us do, sneaking chocolate cake out of the laundry hamper.

This book follows Abigail as she tries to rebuild her life, and discover who she really is and wants to be. At the beginning of the book, all she really knows is that her beautiful daughter Rosie is the centre of her universe. Throughout, she talks to the guru from her diet book, who insists that her life will be perfect if only she can follow the books advice.

As someone who has been on a perpetual diet since age seventeen, coupled with appetite suppressants, gym regimens and metabolism boosters (thanks PCOS, you’re not making it easy for me!), I know all too well the voice of the diet guru. It’s the voice in my head that tells me that I shouldn’t be buttering my bread – or eating bread at all. It’s the voice that says I don’t need a sugar in my bitter coffee, and reminds me not to eat grapes, because they used to fatten up my great-grandmother every summer. It’s also a voice that I regularly ignore, against my better judgement, which comes with a sharp reprimand from the guru and a side of guilt. Every time Abigail laments the use of fake butter, questions the validity of refried beans, and scoffs at the notion of a healthy ‘beanadilla’ for lunch, I understood her perfectly.

As well as empathising with her battle with the diet guru (and inevitable realisation that she’s better off loving herself for who she is), I was rooting for Abigail to overcome her lack of confidence and figure out how to turn her talents and passions into a career. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for, really?

It took a little while to get used to the somewhat fragmented style of writing, as Abigail banters with the voice in her head, but it was so relatable that I overcame the initial clunkiness to realise that the writing style closely resembled my own thinking – and that of women all over the world, I’m sure. It was the overall message of the book that really appealed to me. That diets (even when lauded as a ‘lifestyle’, not a diet) aren’t sustainable – or fun, that women need to love themselves as they are, that everyone else should love them as they are too – and that if they don’t, they’re not worth having around. This is the eternal struggle of my life. I liked the kinship I felt for Abigail, and it positively impacted how I saw the book. Perhaps if you’ve never felt the need to diet, or never dated/married a scumbag, you may not enjoy it as much as I did, but I definitely recommend it!

Amazon | Book Depository

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Review: The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman

The Reluctant Elf Book Cover The Reluctant Elf
Michele Gorman
Chick Lit
129

Meet Britain's Worst Innkeeper

Single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie, has five days to become the ultimate B&B hostess to save her beloved Aunt Kate’s livelihood.

When Aunt Kate ends up in the hospital, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter are called to rural Wales to stand in at the B&B. Without the faintest idea how to run a hotel (she can barely run her own life), Lottie must impress the picky hotel reviewer and his dysfunctional family who are coming to stay over Christmas. Without the rating only he can bestow, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.

But will Danny, the local taxi driver who she hires to help her, really be Santa’s little helper, or the Grinch who stole Christmas?

I received a copy of The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

I love a little bit of Christmas reading to imbue me with the holiday spirit! In fact, I think I like the lead up to Christmas day, filled with pretty decorations, good will, and holiday traditions, better than Christmas Day itself! Gorman sent me a copy of her latest short story, and it was super quaint – a great holiday read, and in a perfect, one-sitting size!

When Lottie’s beloved Aunt ends up in a coma just before Christmas, Lottie is left to rescue her dilapidated bed and breakfast from foreclosure. With just a few days, no helpers, and no DIY expertise, Lottie is in a Christmas pickle. Luckily, she and her daughter manage to enlist the help of their taxi driver, and together they plug holes in plaster with toothpaste, improvise a Victorian era Christmas, and manage to please their important guests – thus saving Christmas! There’s an added little sprinkle of romance, for good measure.

This brief story was vert well executed. Sometimes short stories don’t have enough time to satisfy my curiosity. Gorman, however, managed to give the main character enough backstory to make her actions more understandable, and successfully began and wound up the entire story, with no loose ends. There was humour and love, the most important elements in a happy Christmas season. It definitely fulfilled my desire for a little Christmas cheer in word-form!

I’ve still got a few more Christmas reads I’d like to get to; such as It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley, Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson, and The Great Christmas Knit-Off by Alexandra Brown. I’ll let you know if they’re good! Otherwise, if you need a recommendation RIGHT NOW to kick of your Christmas, check out my review of the Merry and Bright Christmas Anthology.

Amazon | Book Depository

Christmas Books 2015

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REVIEW: Discern by Andrea Pearson

Discern Book Cover Discern
Katon University
Andrea Pearson
Young Adult
294

Nicole Williams is an Arete—a fourth child with magical abilities—yet no matter how hard she tries, she can’t Channel her power. In fact, she seems to be the only student at Katon University who fails at magic.

That doesn’t stop magic from finding her. It starts with possessed books and cursed spiders before moving quickly to freaky shadows and magical currents. Nicole turns to her best friend for help, along with fellow student Austin Young, who is considered by all a magical rarity. He also happens to be the hottest guy on campus and just might be interested in her.

Nicole soon finds herself competing to be included on a university-led expedition to Arches National Park. She is determined to show everyone, but mostly herself, that she does belong. Yet, to qualify for the trip, she must produce at least a speck of Wind magic, and that appears to be impossible.

As the competition progresses, Nicole wonders if she’s making the right choice—especially when she learns that the strange fossils they’ll be studying in Arches might not be as dead as everyone thinks.

I received a copy of Discern by Andrea Pearson in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

Discern was set in a universe just like ours, except that the fourth child born to a family is born an Arete – born with magical powers. It was a fascinating concept, and immediately intrigued me. Arete’s begin to show their power at around age sixteen, and can choose to attend magical universities where they can hone their focus. Their hair will change colour, to mark which power they possess.

Nicole is an Arete, and in Discern begins her studies at Katon University. Newly blonde, and with wind power, Nicole struggles to focus her magic at all, but that doesn’t stop her from being drawn into danger as magical objects keep appearing in her bag, and her professor leads an expedition to investigate a series of disappearances at an ancient site. Instead of a study trip, the expedition turns into a fight for survival.

I loved the premise of this book, and the characters. The idea was fascinating, and I was keen to learn more about the history of Aretes, and how they fit into the world. I also wanted to know more about the mythology surrounding the creatures that Nicole and her friends battle on their expedition. However, Pearson stopped short of providing that information. I’m not sure whether more will become clear as the series progresses, but I sure hope so! Without those details, the story felt a little forced – Nicole was thrown headlong into a whirlwind series of events, but as the reader, I didn’t really feel like everything fit together.

This book played on my mind for days after I finished reading it. Despite the holes in the world building, I’m excited to read the next instalment, with the hope that Pearson settles in and the sequel is more meaty.

Amazon

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REVIEW: Meow If It’s Murder by T C LoTempio

Meow If It's Murder Book Cover Meow If It's Murder
A Nick and Nora Mystery
T C LoTempio
Mystery
304

Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them…
 
Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too. 
 
Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives.  

I received a copy of Meow If It’s Murder by T C LoTempio in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

I thought this book was great. Immediately, I was captured by the characters. Nora Charles, an investigative reporter turned sandwich shop owner, can’t quite put a life of snooping behind her. When she hears about the drowning of a woman who is deathly afraid of water, she immediately suspects that there’s more to the story than the initial investigation turned up. Then, she finds a handsome feline on the stoop of her shop – and he leads her to a missing PI, who just happened to be investigating the same drowning.

Naming her new sidekick Nick, Nora starts digging into the mystery with his help – it turns out he’s a bit of an investigative guru! Along with a sarcastic, but very good-looking detective and a taro-reading best friend warning her of danger ahead, Nora refuses to give up on her hunch that something isn’t right.

This mystery was one that I would’ve loved curling up by the fireplace with (unfortunately it’s 38 degrees here in Australia today, so I sprawled out under the air conditioner instead!). I thought LoTempio did a great job of bringing the characters to life, and I felt at home with them from the very beginning. The mystery was also intriguing – what really happened at sea? Where is the missing PI? Is the cat really spelling out clues with Scrabble tiles?

Rather than making Nick the Sleuth cat some kind of magical creature, Nora immediately took to the plump feline and took his help with the investigating in her stride. I liked the mix of fact and frivolity; Nora took her investigation seriously, but the story was made more lighthearted by her themed sandwiches and kooky bestie.

I’ll definitely pick up the next book in this series when it comes out, and would recommend it to anyone who loves a cozy mystery with a powerful female (or feline!) at the helm!

Amazon | Book Depository

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