The Education of a Coroner

The Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating DeathThe Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating Death by John Bateson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are tired of TV shows getting it all wrong and sugar coating what a real coroner does, read this book and you will come to a new understanding of how it all works. Ken Holmes built his career in Marin County and has been through it all. This collection of his experiences is not only interesting, difficult to read at times, perhaps, but also makes you think about the realities of the world we live in.

From inner office politics to the actual hands on job of dealing with bodies and investigating, the author leaves nothing out of this gritty book. I found that once I began reading this, it was impossible to put down. The pages flew by until I reached the end. In some ways, it’s hard to believe that these cases could be real, but they do say that truth is stranger than fiction. The level of human depravity and violence that Ken encountered day to day would break most people. You have to respect him for what he’s seen during his career.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic book filled with interesting details that will likely make most people stop and think, perhaps even appreciate the lives we lives each day. This is eye opening and terrifying, well-written and thought provoking. Definitely worth the time to read.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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The Big Little Festival

The Big Little Festival (Rabbit's Leap, Book 2)The Big Little Festival by Kellie Hailes

Join the whole village at The Big Little Festival for the perfect summer day out!

With only weeks until the little Devon village of Rabbit’s Leap holds its first ever festival, Jody McArthur is desperate. She – more than anyone – wants to raise the funds to rebuild the local swimming pool and when she fell pregnant with her twin boys, it was the village who was there to support her. So, to stop disaster in its tracks, she brings in bigshot London events manager Christian Middlemore to make The Big Little Festival the huge success everyone deserves.

But Jody is totally unprepared for the impact reserved-but-gorgeous Christian has on Rabbit’s Leap – and her heart! Except Jody has avoided relationships for so long, and anyway, she’s sure romance between a country-born-and-bred single mum and a career-focused city boy would be impossible – wouldn’t it?

As tensions rise along with the home baked scones and miles and miles of bunting, Jody is about to find out!

The second book set in the picture-perfect Rabbit’s Leap, this little village is where love blooms!–from goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was adorable and a fun way to pass a couple of lazy afternoons. I liked Jody and Christian both and they had plenty of chemistry to keep the romance reader in me happy. There are a lot of small, English village romances to choose from these days, but I thought this one was better than most. These characters had real struggles to overcome and mistakes in their past that haunted them. It was nice to see some depth rather than the fluff that a lot of romances are made up of.

The twin boys were fun and I enjoyed their antics, having twin boys of my own, I could relate to the things the main character went through and how she felt about the possibility of a new relationship. The author did a great job with descriptions and I like the way she made the secondary characters feel so real and full of life.

This is a really cute story with a bit of steam and a story line that won’t let you down. Recommended for those who like romance with a cosy feel.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Any Dream Will Do

Any Dream Will DoAny Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber

Shay Benson adored her younger brother, Caden, and that got her into trouble. When he owed money, Shay realized she would do anything to help him avoid the men who were threatening him, and she crossed lines she never should have crossed. Now, determined to start fresh, she finds herself in search of a place to stay and wanders into a church to escape from the cold.

Pastor Drew Douglas adored his wife. But when he lost her, it was all he could do to focus on his two beautiful kids, and his flock came in a distant third. Now, as he too is thinking about a fresh start, he walks through his sanctuary and finds Shay sitting in a pew.

The pair strike up a friendship—Drew helps Shay get back on her feet, and she reignites his sense of purpose—that, over time, turns into something deeper, something soulful, spiritual, and possibly romantic. Even Drew’s two children are taken with this woman who has brought light back into their lives. Perhaps most important, Shay learns to trust again as she, in turn, proves herself trustworthy to her adopted community.

But Caden’s return to town and a disastrous secret threaten to undo the life Shay has tried so hard to rebuild. It will take the utmost courage and faith if she and Drew hope to find healing and open their hearts to a brighter future.–goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book reminded me of all the reasons that I look forward to Debbie Macomber novels. The friendships formed during the course of the book were wonderful and the romance was sweet and charming.

This author has always been good at making unlikely love matches work and this book is no exception. I really liked the characters here, both the main characters and the supporting cast. Shay had quite a history and from the beginning, she touched my heart and I wanted to see here settle down and succeed. Drew was lovable right away and the descriptions of his children made me feel like they were family.

I like books where there is a point to the love story and the characters have to work to overcome obstacles and that’s what happens here. The hurdles they face are things that any one of us could be up against and that makes the book more authentic. Regular people with pasts and current concerns make Debbie’s romances close to the heart. This was a heartstring-tugging book.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

It was Always You

It Was Always YouIt Was Always You by Georgie Capron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book will give you all the feels. I laughed and fell in love and cried and wished I could be seeing the sights that the main characters saw during her time in Italy. You want to eat before you read this because it will also make you hungry if you don’t.

I liked the main character, Libby, from the beginning. She starts out the book mostly carefree as she takes a final trip for herself before embarking on a serious career. I liked the way the author used such beautiful descriptions to enhance the reader’s experience and make it feel like you were right there alongside her characters. I also thought she did a stellar job of showing how we can get our hearts involved in a relationship without letting our brains control us, even when we should know better.

As the book progressed, I felt even closer to the main character as her future goals were basically the same as mine. I loved the emerging relationship that the author describes in the second half of the book and couldn’t wait to see where things led. If you are looking for a novel that you can throw your heart into, this would be a good one to choose.

With many different themes in this novel, including betrayal, forgiveness, family, friendships, new beginnings and more, there is sure to be something in these pages to satisfy anyone. I loved this novel.

I’m looking forward to further books from this talented author.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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the Tannenbaum Tailors and the Brethren of the Saints by JB Michaels

The Tannenbaum Tailors and the Brethren of the SaintsThe Tannenbaum Tailors and the Brethren of the Saints by J.B. Michaels

Thrills and mayhem run rampant in the continuing saga of suspense, sacrifice, and the spirit of Christmas.

The Spiritless are angry with Captain Brendan for making them think they’d stolen the Secret Snowball, and they get their revenge by attacking the Christmas tree of a human boy named Jack with termites. And another very special tree is in danger…

The Spiritless trap Brendan and the other Tailors and entice Jack to tell his parents all about the Tailors. But doing so would ruin the magic of Christmas!

The Tailors swoop in at the last moment, preventing Jack from spilling the beans, and send the Spiritless packing. For over a year, Brendan searches for the Spiritless leader—to no avail. He’s arrested and imprisoned for telling a human about the Tailors, so the Spiritless are able to continue in their diabolical plan.

Can the Tailors save the Home Tree—and Christmas?–Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading the first book in this series, I was excited to see that the author had written another. Whilst the first in the series set the pace for future stories, this one really took off with new characters and an exciting adventure that children and adults alike are sure to love. From the beginning of this story interesting events unfold and continue to keep the characters rushing to solve the mysteries until the very last page.

There are a lot of things about these books that make me happy, but it is always the creativity of the author–the Christmas related gadgets and gizmos that I love the most. Full of fresh and original ideas, these books light up the imagination. I can just see those tiny little elves zipping around the Christmas trees performing their unique tasks to ensure that kids everywhere have the holiday they deserve. The imagery alone is worth the read.

I like it when I can see a series grow from humble beginnings and this one is doing just that. This book is packed with a sense of adventure and exuberance and leaves you wanting more when it is finished. The characters are cute and will definitely keep the attention of a child, but they also have a way of working themselves into your heart. This book is charming, has a good overall message about the spirit of giving and reminds you why Christmas is such a joyous time.

The only thing I can see that might be a small negative, is that there isn’t much of a back story in the beginning, so if you haven’t read the first book, you might find yourself a bit lost when you start this one. Otherwise, I thought this was delightful and am happy to recommend it to others. A perfect read for Christmas Eve, settled beside the fireplace with the stockings hung–or any other time of year that you want to entertain the kids.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Leave the Night on

Leave The Night On (Cottonbloom, #4)Leave The Night On by Laura Trentham

Love, betrayal, and sweet revenge–life in Cottonbloom is about to get a whole lot hotter . . .

Sutton Mize is known for lavishing attention on the customers who flock to her boutique on the wealthy side of her Mississippi town. So when she finds a lace thong in her fiance’s classic cherry-red Camaro, she knows just who she sold it to: her own best friend. In an instant, Sutton’s whole world goes up in flames. . .

Wyatt Abbott has harbored a crush on Sutton since he was a young kid from the other side of the tracks. He witnessed Sutton’s shocking discovery in the Camaro at his family-owned garage–and it made him angry. What kind of man could take lovely, gorgeous Sutton for granted? But then Sutton comes up with an idea: Why not give her betrothed a taste of his own medicine and pretend that she’s got a lover of her own? Wyatt is more than happy to play the hot-and-heavy boyfriend. But what begins as a fictional affair soon develops into something more real, and more passionate, than either Sutton or Wyatt could have imagined. Could it be that true love has been waiting under the hood all along?–Goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a great book! It is no secret that I have issues with a lot of romance novels because I feel like they aren’t really going anywhere or because I feel like they have all been done before, but this one I loved.

The romance between Sutton and Wyatt was electric from the beginning and the other elements of the story that included his family and her relationship with her best friend made this one worth reading. In fact, I read it nearly in one sitting, not wanting to put it down to get back to real life.

I love the kind of romance that starts out as a slow sizzle and builds and builds, taking the reader along for the ride and this novel does that perfectly. I didn’t feel the sex scenes were added as an afterthought, they were perfect for the book and matched the personalities of the characters. I was rooting for their love affair from the very beginning and was satisfied with the way things worked out for everyone involved in the story.

The author is great at dialogue and the characters felt very real. I like the way she expressed their emotions through their actions as well as through their thoughts. Reading this book made me forget about everything else for a while. That’s how I measure a good novel. I was sad when it was finished because I wanted more.

A small town. well–two I guess, actually, and characters that will touch your heart. Definitely recommended for those who love romance.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Cotswolds Cookery Club

The Cotswolds Cookery Club - ItalyThe Cotswolds Cookery Club – Italy by Alice Ross

…where the ingredients to happiness are found.

Connie has had enough. Enough of the city, enough of her job – and most importantly, enough of her cheating husband! So, when her best friend jets off to sunny Australia and calls on Connie to house and dog-sit, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

When Connie arrives at the gorgeous Cotswolds getaway, she can’t resist opening the doors to the town, offering up cooking lessons – and a lot of wine! Cue the three – very different – women who respond to Connie’s cookery club advert. But it’s soon clear they will need more than a glass of wine to overcome their problems…

Can Connie conjure up the right ingredients to help her new friends? And with two gorgeous men thrown in the mix, Connie may have just ended up with a recipe for disaster!-Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. It was cute and charming and made me happy, but it will also make you hungry, so make sure you stock up on snacks before you start reading. You don’t want empty cupboard syndrome when you get into this one.

Whilst I enjoyed the characters in this book and got a big kick out of Connie and her internal thoughts, I did question why the fling she has in the book seemed to take precedence in the story over the potentially longer lasting and more important relationship between her and Max. Liam was more of a side fling and yet, he got more screen time, as it were, than Max did. I wanted to see more than a date between Connie and Max and know what happened with them, but the book had a rather abrupt ending.

Otherwise, I thought this was a lot of fun. It was comical and sweet and spicy enough to satisfy those looking for a steamy scene or two. The descriptions of food in the book were excellent and made me want to move to the Cotswolds and join the cookery club.

This book was light and fun and I recommend it to those looking for a good summer read.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Light in Summer

The Light In SummerThe Light In Summer by Mary McNear

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mary McNear brings you home to Butternut Lake and a novel filled with irresistible characters who you will want to call your friends.

It’s summertime on Butternut Lake, where the heat of noon is soothed by the cool breezes of the evening, where the pace grows slower, and sometimes, just sometimes, the summer light makes everything clearer…

For the lovely Billy Harper, Butternut Lake is the place she feels most at home, even though lately she feels the only one listening to her is Murphy…her faithful Labrador Retriever. Her teenage son, Luke, has gone from precious to precocious practically overnight. Her friends are wrapped up in their own lives, and Luke’s father, Wesley, disappeared before his son was even born. No wonder she prefers to spend time with a good book, especially ones where everything ends in perfection.

But Billy is about to learn that anything is possible during the heady days of summer. Coming to terms with her past—the death of her father, the arrival of Cal Cooper, a complicated man with a definite interest in Billy, even the return of Wesley, will force her to have a little bit of faith in herself and others…and realize that happiness doesn’t always mean perfection.

“Butternut Lake is so beautifully rendered, you’ll wish it was real.”—Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author  

“This triumphant story had me reading until the wee hours of the morning.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber on The Space Between Sisters.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was a good book. I particularly liked the descriptions of the relationship between the main character and her son. The author did an excellent job of representing the awkward relationship between a mother and her teenage son.

As for the romance, I thought it was perfect. It wasn’t so far fetched that it was impossible to believe. The characters not only seemed realistic, but had real word problems to deal with outside of their emerging relationship with one another. This novel has the perfect amount of sensuality without pushing the line into disgusting territory. I loved the way the author handled the attraction between her characters and I found myself rooting for both of them.

I love it when you can read a book and feel good about all of the characters. I liked everyone in this book equally and even now, after it has been a while since I finished it, I still think of them as if they were real people. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys beautiful scenery, family and good friends. I loved it. The Jane Austen references made it even better.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Hum if You don’t Know the Words

Hum If You Don’t Know the WordsHum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

Perfect for readers of The Secret Life of Bees and The Help, a perceptive and searing look at Apartheid-era South Africa, told through one unique family brought together by tragedy.

Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred . . . until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin’s parents are left dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing.

After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection.

Told through Beauty and Robin’s alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum if You Don’t Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.–Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While this book is based on tragic events, the author did a good job of making it beautiful, too. The novel has more than one main story line to follow, although one is focused on more than the other. If you are familiar with any of the events that this book is centered around in South Africa, then you will probably go into this knowing that some parts of it will be difficult to read. That said, this is an engaging, interesting book with a lot to recommend it.

I felt horrible for what the characters had to go through, but the author was also good at helping the reader retain hope that something might change for them in the future. This book prompted me to learn more about the actual events the book mentions and I found there was a lot that I didn’t know. It’s great when a fiction novel can be so realistic that it makes you feel things on the deepest level, and this book certainly did that for me.

Emotionally moving and thought provoking, this is a book that will stay with you once you finish reading it. I believe this is the kind of book that you will want others to read and would be a great choice to share with reading groups and book clubs. You won’t run out of things to discuss once you finish reading this.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Little Cottage in the Country

The Little Cottage in the CountryThe Little Cottage in the Country by Lottie Phillips

Escape to the country!

Anna Compton thought that moving to the countryside, leaving London and her past firmly behind her was the perfect solution. Goodbye life of thirty-something, crazed single mum of two, hello country glamour queen, domestic goddess and yummy-mummy extraordinaire.

But her new life at Primrose Cottage isn’t quite what she expected! Very soon she’s chasing pork pies down hills, disguising her shop-bought cakes at the school bake sale – and trying to resist oh-so-handsome Horatio Spencerville, who just so happens to be the Lord of the Manor…

Could moving to the country be the biggest mistake she’s ever made?

A delightfully uplifting romantic comedy to get you in the mood for summer! Perfect for fans of Christie Barlow, Holly Martin and Tilly Tennant.

-from goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book started out a bit on the slow side in my opinion and I wasn’t sure what to think at first, but soon it picks up and the comedy ensues as the main character, her children and her friend try to adjust to life in the country.

I liked the boisterous characters in this book because you never really knew what to expect with them next. The main character’s internal thoughts are good for a laugh and a head nod of agreement. I think any woman that has children will be able to easily relate to the struggles depicted in this book. The romance is creative and fun and the side characters really bring the story to life.

If you are looking for a book that has a setting you can really get into where you can use your five senses to explore the worldview of the characters, this is a good book to choose.

Recommended for those who like their romances to be fun and lighthearted.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.