Category Archives: Realistic

The Maid by Nita Prose

The MaidThe Maid by Nita Prose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: The Maid
Author: Nita Prose
Series: n/a
Pages: 304
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Date: January 4, 2022

Summary:

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

Review:

I have read a few books in which the main character does not relate well with people to the extent that it makes them seem odd or mentally disabled. The Maid is another of these books.

Molly does an excellent job as a maid in an upscale hotel. Her boss values her, she has friends (and an enemy) that she works with, and she has a friend that turns out to be using her. In other words, she is like a lot of us.

I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it. The plot and writing are excellent. There are things I saw coming and others which were a complete surprise. To me, that’s a mark of a well-written book.

What I didn’t love was how Molly was treated. She was made fun of and looked down on. In other words, the author was realistic. It hurt me to see how lonely she was. She had work friends, but she did not have anyone she could hang out with outside of work. It was just so sad.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely! I think it would be a wonderful book club book.

Will I read it again? I doubt it. Even though things worked out well, it hurt to get there.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan

How to Love Your NeighborHow to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: How to Love Your Neighbor
Author: Sophie Sullivan
Series: n/a
Pages: 352
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date: January 18, 2022

Summary:

Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.

Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is.

Review:

I have read this book twice and it was definitely better the second time. I think that is because Noah is not a likable person at the beginning of the book. Knowing how much he grows emotionally made the second reading more enjoyable.

Both Grace and Noah have relationship issues due to each of them having parental horrors for parents. Grace’s mother lets the men in her life define who she is and never takes responsibility for any of her problems. Now that Grace is an adult, her mother expects her to be the one to bail her out financially whenever the need arises.

Noah’s father is a millionaire who collects trophy wives. He uses his money and influence to control his sons. Noah, finally, has had enough and moves from New York to the west coast. Unfortunately, what he knows about relationships, he learned from his father. He thinks any problem can be solved by throwing money at it.

As I said to start with, Noah is not a likable person. However, the changes he makes are what made me really like the book on the second reading.

Although Grace has issues to work through, she is a strong character from the beginning. She has friends and knows how to be a friend. She knows what she wants and is willing to work as hard as necessary to meet her goals.

I liked Grace a lot, but it is the way that Noah grows that makes this book so good. As a reader, I have a hard time overcoming a negative impression of a character. Noah is an exception.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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The Family You Make (Sunrise Cove, #1) by Jill Shalvis

The Family You Make (Sunrise Cove, #1)The Family You Make by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although I always enjoy books by Jill Shalvis, I have to say this is my favorite so far. The main characters, Jane and Levi, are wonderful, but it is the secondary characters that I adore. Charlotte is my favorite with Levi’s family coming a close second. Cat, aka Alley Cat, is perfect. She (spoiler alert: “he” is really a she) is a typical cat. The expectation is for all those around her to serve her needs.

Everyone in the book has issues with relating with others, but the love comes through no matter what. Even Levi’s dad opens up a little. I like that it’s obvious that blood family is not the only type of family that exists and is not necessarily the most important type.

My only negative response to the book is the section with the gondolas. I’m already scared of the things. I may never ride one again.

As always, I can’t wait for the next book. As I said, I always enjoy them.

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Review: Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir by Brent Spiner

Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True EventsFan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events by Brent Spiner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Fan Fiction: A Mem-noir Inspired by True Events
Author: Brent Spiner, Jeanne Darst
Series: n/a
Pages: 256
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date: October 12, 2021

Summary:

From Brent Spiner, who played the beloved Lieutenant Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, comes an explosive and hilarious autobiographical novel.

Brent Spiner’s explosive and hilarious novel is a personal look at the slightly askew relationship between a celebrity and his fans. If the Coen Brothers were to make a Star Trek movie, involving the complexity of fan obsession and sci-fi, this noir comedy might just be the one.

Set in 1991, just as Star Trek: The Next Generation has rocketed the cast to global fame, the young and impressionable actor Brent Spiner receives a mysterious package and a series of disturbing letters, that take him on a terrifying and bizarre journey that enlists Paramount Security, the LAPD, and even the FBI in putting a stop to the danger that has his life and career hanging in the balance.

Featuring a cast of characters from Patrick Stewart to Levar Burton to Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, to some completely imagined, this is the fictional autobiography that takes readers into the life of Brent Spiner and tells an amazing tale about the trappings of celebrity and the fear he has carried with him his entire life.

Fan Fiction is a zany love letter to a world in which we all participate, the phenomenon of “Fandom.”

Review:

“Fictional autobiography” – That’s how the blurb describes this book and it’s actually the only problem I have with it. I want to know what parts are true!

As a longtime Star Trek fan, I really enjoyed this book. Next Generation was never a favorite of mine, but who could not love Data.

This book is for Star Trek fans. The tidbits about various actors and Gene Roddenberry grabbed me because Star Trek is so much a part of my life. The story itself was engrossing and some of the packages “Data” received were simply gross.

Mostly, this book was fun. Even when bad things happened, I was reminded of a Three Stooges skit, rather than feeling any sense of suspense.

Yes, I enjoyed this book BECAUSE I am a Star Trek fan and that’s my one reservation about recommending it. I can’t imagine anyone who is not a Trekkie caring about it at all.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Title: The Bookshop of Second Chances
Author: Jackie Fraser
Series: n/a
Pages: 448
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Date: May 4, 2021

Summary:

Thea Mottram is having a bad month. Her husband of nearly twenty years has just left her for one of her friends, and she is let go from her office job–on Valentine’s Day, of all days. Bewildered and completely lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But when she learns that a distant great uncle in Scotland has passed away, leaving her his home and a hefty antique book collection, she decides to leave Sussex for a few weeks. Escaping to a small coastal town where no one knows her seems to be exactly what she needs.

Almost instantly, Thea becomes enamored with the quaint cottage, comforted by its cozy rooms and shaggy, tulip-covered lawn. The locals in nearby Baldochrie are just as warm, quirky, and inviting. The only person she can’t seem to win over is bookshop owner Edward Maltravers, to whom she hopes to sell her uncle’s antique novel collection. His gruff attitude–fueled by an infamous, long-standing feud with his brother, a local lord–tests Thea’s patience. But bickering with Edward proves oddly refreshing and exciting, leading Thea to develop feelings she hasn’t felt in a long time. As she follows a thrilling yet terrifying impulse to stay in Scotland indefinitely, Thea realizes that her new life may quickly become just as complicated as the one she was running from.


Review:

I have read this book twice now and I have to say it was even better the second time. I liked it so much that I changed my 4-star to a 5-star review. I rarely give books a 5-star and never to an author I have never read before.

Obviously, I loved this book. It is a romance, but more than that it is a description of a woman’s recovery after having life kick her in the teeth. As the description says, Thea loses her job and her husband (the rat bastard) in a matter of weeks.

What she doesn’t know is that it will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to her.

She inherits a house from a great-uncle that she has only met four times. She can’t understand why it was left to her instead of a closer family member. Her uncle explains why in the will.

And this is why I love this book. It has the best lines in it. I could have done an entire review of just great lines. I won’t, but I will include this one.
Uncle Andrew states he left the house to Thea “whom I have only met on four occasions, but who each time was intent on reading rather than talking, which has always been my own preference.”

Since I feel the same way, this really appealed to me.

Anyway, she meets a man who’s a “right arse.” Everyone says so, even him. Fortunately, she just finds him amusing. Of course, she falls for him. I’m not giving anything away. It’s a romance after all, right?

There is no great mystery or secrets to be discovered. This is a book about relationships and is hysterically funny in places. I did have to Google a few terms because I am from the United States and this book is very British. I didn’t always get the slang.

I just have to say, “brown sauce” does not sound at all appealing.

I’ve already recommended this book to friends and my local librarian. It is truly a fun book to read.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.




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Undercover Kitty (Second Chance Cat Mystery, #8) by Sofie Ryan

Undercover Kitty (Second Chance Cat Mystery; #8)Undercover Kitty by Sofie Ryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Undercover Kitty
Author: Sofie Ryan
Series: Second Chance Cat Mystery, #8
Pages: 352
Publisher: Berkley Books
Date: January 26, 2021

Summary:

Sarah and Elvis can always be found at a charming secondhand shop in the village of North Harbor, Maine. Despite the small-town setting, the daring duo often find themselves wrapped up in murder, but luckily they have help–a quirky group of senior citizens runs an amateur detective agency called Charlotte’s Angels out of the store.

The Angels are hired to look into who is sabotaging cat shows in the state, and they decide the best way to do that is to send Elvis the cat undercover as a contestant. But then one of the cat show volunteers is murdered just before the latest competition, and Sarah and the Angels have to catch a killer in two shakes of a cat’s tail!

Review:

Sarah and Elvis are once again involved in a mystery in their small town. This time someone is sabotaging cat shows in the region. The owners need someone to investigate and Elvis, of course, is the ideal cat to go in undercover.

This is the eighth book in Sofie Ryan’s Second Chance Cat mystery series and they just keep getting better. I always enjoy the descriptions of the items in Sarah’s upcycling store. I am not creative and I wish the store was real. I would love to purchase some of their merchandise. The relationship between Mac and Sarah is growing, but these books are not romances. They are cozy mysteries with a heavy dose of cats.

I would and have recommended these books to readers who love cozies, cats, and small town people. The upcycling component is just a bonus.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Furbidden Fatality (Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery, #1) by Deborah Blake

Furbidden Fatality (A Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery #1)Furbidden Fatality by Deborah Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Furbidden Fatality
Author: Deborah Blake
Series: Catskills Pet Rescue, #1
Pages: 288
Publisher: Berkley Books
Date: February 23, 2021

Summary:

Kari Stuart’s life is going nowhere–until she unexpectedly wins the lottery. The twenty-nine-year-old instant multimillionaire is still mulling plans for her winnings when trying to rescue a bossy black kitten leads her to a semi abandoned animal shelter. They need the cash–Kari needs a purpose.

But the dilapidated rescue is literally going to the dogs with a pending lawsuit, hard to adopt animals, and too much suspicious attention from the town’s dog warden. When the warden turns up dead outside the shelter’s dog kennels, Kari finds herself up a creek without a pooper-scooper.

With the help of some dedicated volunteers, a cute vet, and a kitten who mysteriously shows up just when she needs it, Kari must prove her innocence all while trying to save a dog on death row. Now she just needs to hope that her string of unexpected luck isn’t about to run out.

Review:

Alright. Now I have another reason I NEED to win the lottery. I want to buy an animal shelter for my community. I cannot think of a better use of the money.

Of course, what I don’t want is to find a dead body in the backyard. Unfortunately, that is what happens to Kari.

Furbidden Fatality is the first in a new cozy mystery series and I loved it. I have read several of Deborah Blake’s paranormal titles, but I believe this is her first realistic mystery. There are numerous characters, both good guys and bad, but mostly good. As I said, there is a murder, but not anyone who didn’t need killing. This was just a great book.

Even though it seemed like the main bad guy should be obvious, I did not have it figured out until the end. The clues were all there; I just didn’t put it together and that’s a good thing. I hate figuring out the ending too soon.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes cozies and especially to anyone who loves animals. I can’t wait for you to meet the boss of everyone: Queen Nefertiti, a small, black kitten!

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Truth, Lies, and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson

Truth, Lies, and Second DatesTruth, Lies, and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Truth, Lies, and Second Dates
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Series:
Pages: 320
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date: December 15, 2020

Summary:

Captain Ava Capp has been flying from her past for a decade. She’d much rather leave it, and her home state, behind forever. But when she finds herself back in Minnesota, against her better judgment, everything goes sideways in a way she never expected it to.

M.E. Dr. Tom Baker has never forgotten Ava and the cold case she ran away from. When she shows up unexpectedly in town, in spite of himself, sparks fly. Which is terrible because he can’t stop his growing attraction to her. Can these two Type-A’s let their guards down and work together to put Ava’s tragic past behind her for good? And keep their hands off each other at the same time?

Review:

Unlike the first two books in this loosely connected series (Danger, Sweetheart and The Love Scam), Truth, Lies, and Second Dates stands alone. The only connection is the H in Danger, Sweetheart and the h in TLSD (that is way too long to keep typing out) are former hookups. They were not a couple. They were not even really friends, but simply got together when Ava was in town.

And Ava – Ava is a pilot for a wonderful domestic airline that I would really like to be for real. It sounds like a great place to work and fly with. Anyway, she ends up back in her hometown, which she hates, for a layover. She left ten years earlier when her best friend was murdered AND that is the basis for the plot. The murder was never solved and now it looks like the murderer is after her.

As in the earlier books, I started out not liking this one. I thought it was dumb. Of course, the premise of the series is to address as many romantic tropes as possible, so it kind of meant to be dumb. But like the earlier books, I really enjoyed it. I adore Tom and how literal he can be. At the very end of the book and this is not a spoiler because it is so obvious, it’s stated that he is on the spectrum. As the kids used to say, “Well, duh.”

My favorite character of all is Tom’s niece Hannah. She is only six and her I.Q. is off the charts. I really hope we get her book when she has time to grow up. That’s if she hasn’t destroyed the world by then.

As I said, I ended up liking all three of these books. They’re fun and they don’t take a lot of thought. If you’re looking for escapism, I couldn’t recommend anything better.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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The Devil’s Maverick by Lori Fayre

The Devil's MaverickThe Devil’s Maverick by Lori Fayre
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: The Devil’s Maverick
Author: Lori Fayre
Series: n/a
Pages: 153
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Date: January 28, 2020

Summary:

When Alva Eastman is taken captive by the devilishly handsome pirate Elijah Maverick, she finds that she may be exactly where she wants to be.

Alva Grace Eastman is a young woman desperate to start a new life. But her plans are hindered when her ship is overrun by pirates and she is taken as a prisoner aboard The Diablo. With the notorious Captain Elijah Maverick as her captor, Alva doesn’t have much hope of escape, but that doesn’t stop her from trying. What does change her mind is when the dashing pirate captain saves her life…twice.

Now willing to give him a chance, Alva discovers that there’s more to Elijah Maverick than the reckless, carefree pirate she thinks he is. Not only is he a kind and compassionate person with an extreme distaste for the oppression of innocents, but he is also a man torn. Elijah is plagued with nightmares from his past, consumed with a quest for revenge and desperate for human comfort, which he believes he’s found with Alva. But he’s not the only one keeping secrets.

Alva’s dark past soon catches up with her, exposing her own misdeeds and need to protect the innocent. Together, Alva and Elijah face many forces that seek to tear them apart. From the Royal Navy to an obsessed plantation owner, the pair must fight for their lives, their love and their freedom.

Review:

It’s been awhile since I have read a historical romance based on the pirate trope. And I mean a long while! Probably since the 1970s. Therefore, I was a little concerned I was going to be reading a plot that was outdated with a weak female cowering before the mighty pirate.

Boy, was I wrong.

Both Alva and Elijah were a surprise. Elijah was a lot more caring than I expected and Alva was much stronger than women in pirate novels are normally portrayed. And that aspect of Alva is where I had problems with the book. She was too strong and capable. It was not her personality that bothered me. It was the fact that she was more capable than the men around her. Even though she was inexperienced with most of the weaponry, she was able to successfully defend herself and the men around her. They did not help her so much as she rescued them.

That just did not ring true.

I spent far too much time thinking, “Yeah, right!” when reading this book.

Having said that, I enjoyed the plot line. The writing was solid with a likable heroine. This is a debut novel and I expect the next book will be even better. A sequel has not been mentioned, but one character needs his own book and the author did leave the ending open enough to allow for his story.

I gave this book three stars and I imagine subsequent books will be even better.

Good luck to a new author who has made a solid beginning on their career.

This book was sent to me by the author in return for an honest review.

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A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell, #4) by Deanna Raybourn

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: A Dangerous Collaboration
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell, #4
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Date: March 12, 2019

Summary:

Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker’s brother calls in a favor. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly’s house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancée–much to Stoker’s chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed. Every invited guest has a connection to Romilly’s wife, Rosamund, who disappeared on her wedding day three years ago, and a dramatic dinner proves she is very much on her husband’s mind.

As spectral figures, ghostly music, and mysterious threats begin to plague the partygoers, Veronica enlists Stoker’s help to discover the host’s true motivations. And as they investigate, it becomes clear that there are numerous mysteries surrounding the Romilly estate, and every person present has a motive to kill Rosamund…

Review:

The first time I read this book I didn’t particularly like it. There was too much stress between Veronica and Stoker. It wasn’t the normal disagreements and shouting matches, it was indifference. Even though I thought Stoker’s attitude was false, I wasn’t sure. And Veronica is never comfortable showing her softer feelings.

With the second reading, however, I was better able to see that even though it looked like they were drifting apart, they were really struggling to make a connection. I could breathe a sigh of relief.

Stoker’s eldest brother Tiberius is integral to the plot. Not only does he drag Veronica and Stoker into solving a murder, there are subplots as well. They grew up together as brothers, but Tiberius had always tormented Stoker. And Stoker being Stoker certainly returned the favor. Their relationship was explored and hopefully improved in this book. In addition, Tiberius strikes me as a man-whore and he definitely makes a play for Veronica. I am not sure how much is because he desires her or because he is getting back at Stoker. Either way, he doesn’t come across as very likable.

The murder case itself is three years old. The way they talk about it, it seems more like decades old. Anyway, I can’t really say Stoker and Veronica solve the case. It is more the murderer gives themselves away because they are afraid of being discovered. It all takes place on a island off England which is inhabited by mermaids, piskies, and those with the sight. There is a garden of poisons where even breathing the air is dangerous. All in all, not a comfortable place to live . . . or die.

My immediate reaction after finishing the book the first time was when is the next one due out? After the second reading, my reaction is “I want it now!” It’s definitely worth four stars and if I hadn’t spent most of the book worrying about Stoker’s and Veronica’s relationship, I would probably have given it five stars.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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