Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Book Review - The Warsaw Sisters: A Novel of WWII Poland by Amanda Barratt

My Review

The Warsaw Sisters is a historical novel set during World War II.  Twin sisters Antonina and Helena Dąbrowska see their father off to war, and then endure the bombing of their beloved city.  Antonina's love Marek is sent to the Warsaw ghetto because he is Jewish.  Both women get involved in the Resistance movement as a way of fighting back.

I wanted to read The Warsaw Sisters because I love historical fiction, and am especially interested in the World War II time period.  I had never read a book set in Poland during the war, so this was particularly interesting to me.

This is a sprawling novel that spans the time period of 1939 - 1945.  The author delves into historical detail to depict the war in Poland.  This was a time of great brutality and cruelty (especially toward the Jewish people) and some of the descriptions are hard to read.

The author does a great job at delineating the two very different personalities of Antonina and Helena, and we see both their perspectives.  Descriptions of Antonina's work to save Jewish children was especially compelling.

The historical detail and descriptions in the book are vivid and the author's writing style is fluid.

Fans of historical fiction who want to read about the years of World War II in Poland will find The Warsaw Sisters of interest.

Book Synopsis

A richly rendered portrait of courage, sacrifice, and resilience

On a golden August morning in 1939, sisters Antonina and Helena Dąbrowska send their father off to defend Poland against the looming threat of German invasion. The next day, the first bombs fall on Warsaw, decimating their beloved city and shattering the world of their youth.

When Antonina's beloved Marek is forced behind ghetto walls, along with the rest of Warsaw's Jewish population, Antonina knows she cannot stand by and soon becomes a key figure in a daring network of women risking their lives to shelter Jewish children. Meanwhile, Helena finds herself drawn into the ranks of Poland's secret army, joining the fight to free her homeland from occupation.

But the secrets both are forced to keep threaten to tear them apart--and the cost of resistance may prove greater than either ever imagined.

Author Bio

Amanda Barratt is the bestselling author of numerous historical novels and novellas, including The White Rose Resists (a 2021 Christy Award winner) and Within These Walls of Sorrow. She is passionate about illuminating oft-forgotten facets of history through a fictional narrative. Amanda lives in Michigan. Learn more at AmandaBarratt.net.


Friday, December 1, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Grounds for Murder (Coffee & Cream Cafe Mysteries) by Lena Gregory

My Review
Danika Delaney is settling in at the little coffee house on Long Island that was a malt shop in her family years ago. On opening night she has an author reading, and the next day the author turns up dead!  Danika works to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read this mystery because I have enjoyed other cozy mysteries by Lena Gregory.  This is the second book in a new series, but I was able to jump right in and enjoy it as a standalone read.

I enjoyed Grounds for Murder.  Danika is a fun protagonist.  She's smart and has good amateur detective instincts.  The mystery was intriguing with several viable suspects.  I particularly enjoyed the setting of the Coffee and Cream Cafe and the little food descriptions included in the book.  I also liked Danika's friends and family, and her potential romantic interest.

I'm so happy to have discovered this new mystery series. I recommend Grounds for Murder for other fans of cozy mysteries. It was a fun read!

Book Synopsis
From author Lena Gregory comes a tasty new mystery with a killer twist…

Danika Delaney is thrilled to have taken over her uncle Jimmie’s old fashioned malt shop on eastern Long Island and is working hard to make it her own. In an effort to increase business, Danika invites a mystery writer to the Coffee & Cream Café for a discussion and book signing. Things seem to be going well, until a guest shows up and confronts the author, accusing him of plagiarizing his work. Embarrassed by the incident, Danika goes to the inn where the writer is staying the following morning, hoping to apologize and offer him another chance to return. What she finds instead is his dead body—beside a cup of poisoned coffee! Now it’s up to Danika to find out who wanted to silence the author… before the killer decides to write Danika a not-so-happy ending!

Author Bio
Lena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island, but she recently traded in cold, damp, gray winters for the warmth and sunshine of central Florida, where she now lives with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Her hobbies include spending time with family, reading, and walking. Her love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night. She works full time as a writer and a freelance editor and is a member of Sisters in Crime.

Author Links

Purchase Links
Amazon –   B&N  –  Kobo 

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Friday, November 10, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Under the Cocoon Moon: An Olivia Penn Mystery by Kathleen Bailey

My Review

Olivia Penn is enjoying her return to the small town of Apple Station, Virginia.  Olivia is working as a writer, living with her father, and she has a new romantic interest.  When a stranger accuses her new boyfriend's parents of a crime, she becomes involved in solving the mystery. Things escalate when there is a murder as well.

I wanted to read Under the Cocoon Moon because the description sounded appealing.  I love small town mysteries and liked the holiday setting.  I have not read the two earlier books in this series, but found this mystery worked fine as a standalone.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery and want to read the earlier books now as well!  Olivia Penn is a likable protagonist.  Her writing work is interesting and I also liked liked her father and friend Sam, who help her detecting.  There is even a cute beagle named Buddy!  (I am a great fan of mysteries that include pets.)

The mystery aspect of the book was interesting and briskly paced.  There were enough little twists to keep me up late reading!

I recommend Under the Cocoon Moon for other fans of cozy mysteries, and especially for anyone who enjoys small town settings and holiday themes.

Book Synopsis

A dead body in the woods … A rare sapphire is missing … The connection changes her life forever.

Olivia Penn is looking forward to spending time with her friends and family over the holidays in her hometown of Apple Station, Virginia. The Christmas season’s spirit has sparked a new romance, and all is looking merry and bright, until she is mistaken for a dead woman.

When a stranger makes a wild accusation involving the parents of the man she’s falling for, Olivia faces a no-win situation. As evidence mounts supporting the claim, a mysterious murder occurs near his father’s cabin that attracts the attention of the FBI. Wedged between mother and son, Olivia investigates to clear his family’s name while matching wits with a legendary thief.

With the clock ticking, Olivia must set a trap using herself as the bait or the killer may disappear without a trace. Her new love hangs in the balance, and her life is on the line. Justice will hinge on sixty minutes and a phone call.

Will the call be answered? Or will the thief recover the sapphire and silence her forever?

If you like Clue, Nancy Drew, and small town, cozy mysteries with heart and humor, a charming cast of characters, and a twisty plot, you’ll love Under the Cocoon Moon, the third book in The Olivia Penn Mystery Series.

Author Bio

Kathleen Bailey is the award-winning author of The Olivia Penn Mystery Series. She writes mysteries with heart and humor that keep to the traditional and cozy sides of crime. Kathleen has degrees in English, psychology, and physical therapy. She previously worked as a pediatric physical therapist for over twenty years with children who have special needs. She now spends her days plotting and sleuthing in Virginia where she lives with her husband and adorable feline fur baby. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the James River Writers. Visit online at kathleenbaileyauthor.com.

Author Links

Webpage: https://kathleenbaileyauthor.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/kathleenbailey

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kathleen-bailey

Purchase Links – Amazon – All Retailers – 

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Friday, November 3, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Bulletproof Barista (A Coffeehouse Mystery) by Cleo Coyle

My Review
Clare Cosi, who runs the Village Blend coffeehouse in New York City, is excited when Only Murders in Gotham, a popular streaming series, is going to be filming some locations in her coffeehouse.  That is - until there are some scary things that happen on the set, and she decides to investigate.

I wanted to read Bulletproof Barista because I always enjoy Cleo Coyle's mysteries. I have read some, but not all, of the Coffeehouse Mystery series, and had no problem enjoying this book as a standalone read.

I think this is my favorite Cleo Coyle book yet!  I am a big fan of Only Murders in the Building, and enjoyed the similarities between that show and Only Murders in Gotham - and the characters who reminded me a lot of Steve Martin and Selena Gomez too.

I loved the coffee and foodie descriptions and the day-to-day working of the coffeehouse.  I also enjoyed the details of the TV set.

The mystery is fast paced with lots of surprises. Clare is a smart detective, whether working on her own or consulting with her fiancé, who is a detective.

I recommend Bulletproof Barista - and this series - for anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries, NYC settings, foodie books, or fiction about TV production.  It was a really fun read!

Book Synopsis

When a film crew’s location shoot delivers an actual shooting, Clare Cosi finds herself at the scene of a true crime in this showstopping entry in the beloved Coffeehouse Mysteries from New York Times bestselling author Cleo Coyle.

Only Murders in Gotham, the smash-hit streaming program, is famous for filming in authentic New York locations and using real New Yorkers as extras. For its second season, they’ve chosen to spotlight the century-old Village Blend and its quirky crew of baristas. Shop manager and master roaster Clare Cosi is beyond thrilled, especially when her superb bulletproof coffee lands her a craft services contract for the production.

Madame, the eccentric octogenarian owner of the landmark shop, reveals an old kinship with the star of the show, comedian Jerry Sullivan. Now a Hollywood legend, Jerry frequented the Blend during his early years performing in Greenwich Village comedy clubs. But the past may hold more than nostalgia for Jerry. Suspicious accidents begin plaguing his shoot. Then a real bullet is fired from a stage gun, and Clare becomes convinced something sinister is afoot.

While Jerry’s production moves to exciting new locations, Clare keeps the coffee flowing—and her investigation going—even as a murderer lurks in the wings. But can she root out the rotten player in this Big Apple production before the lights go out on her?

Includes a stellar menu of surefire recipes!

Author Bio

CLEO COYLE is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times-bestselling authors of the long-running Coffeehouse Mysteries and Haunted Bookshop Mysteries, both celebrating 20 years in print. With more than one million books sold, their work has been honored with starred reviews and multiple best-of-year list selections by reviewers. Alice and Marc are also bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, Toho, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together. Connect with Cleo at CoffeehouseMystery.com

Friday, October 27, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Holly, Baubles and Murder: A British Cozy Murder Mystery with a Female Amateur Sleuth (A Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery) by Victoria Tait

My Review
Dotty Sayers travels to Yorkshire to arrange a Christmas display in an old estate house there. As she works, she gets to know the family, and enjoys her time ... until one of the tour guides turns up dead.  She works to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read Holly, Baubles, and Murder because I read a short story by the author in an anthology this year and greatly enjoyed it. I have been wanting to read one of her mystery novels since.

I absolutely loved this book and, although it worked fine as a standalone, I really want to read the rest of this series now.  I loved the estate setting, which reminded me of a modern day Downton Abbey.

I also loved the pets in this mystery.  Dotty has a cat named Earl Grey and the Dowager has a dachshund named Reggie (Sir Reginald). There are other cats and dogs in the family as well.

The details in this book were lovely, including the English food and the Christmas decorations, based on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (and featuring a wardrobe door and a forest of trees in the house).

The mystery aspect of the story was interesting and well paced. I liked following along as Dotty worked to find a solution.

I enjoyed this mystery so much, and recommend Holly, Baubles and Murder for other cozy mystery fans as well!

Book Synopsis  

A joyful Christmas festival turns deadly when a corpse ends up as the chilling centerpiece. Can an amateur sleuth unwrap the tinsel-tangled mystery before the merry cheer melts away?

Talented antique enthusiast, Dotty Sayers, is thrilled to be organising a Christmas display at a Yorkshire country house. She enjoys decking the halls, but the season is far from jolly when the chief guide is found dead, her body as cold as ice. 

When cops dismiss the death, Dotty turns to her prickly American colleague, only to learn he has his own secrets to solve. But when he disappears, this amateur detective fears the festive charades have become far deadlier. 

Can Dotty string together the clues and bring to light the killer?

Author Bio

Victoria Tait was born and raised in Yorkshire, England. After following her military husband around the world, she drew on her life’s experiences, and a love of Agatha Christie, Father Brown, and Murder She Wrote, to write British-based cozy mysteries. 

Her determined female sleuths are joined by colourful and quirky teams of helpers, and her settings are vivid and realistic. As you’re compelled to keep turning the pages, you’ll be irresistibly drawn into a world where you’ll experience surprises, humour, and sometimes, a tug on your heartstrings. 

Do you like tea, mysteries, and books? Then why not join Victoria’s TeaCozy Club for regular news and updates, and download the free prequel to the Dotty Sayers Antique Mysteries series as a gift by visiting VictoriaTait.com 

Who doesn’t like tea, cake, and a slice of murder?

Author Links
Website: https://victoriatait.com/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/victoria-tait

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/victoriataitauthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/VictoriaTaitAuthor/_saved/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20373879.Victoria_Tait

Purchase Links  Book2Read  Amazon