Take the Honey and Run by Jennie Marts

Dear Fellow Reader,

I am writing this review after just being on vacation. I have probably said this before but I view vacations as major reading times. Some might think that having read a lot of books in a week’s vacation would mean that it wasn’t a very good vacation. I beg to differ. If I didn’t read much, then I would think that the books weren’t very good or somehow, I was interrupted. In my world, the more books the better. I didn’t expect to get as much reading done this trip because my two grandsons would be with us (along with their parents) and I thought that would cut back on my time. Apparently, I was wrong. I finished 9 books in 8 days. Obviously, some of them were not very long. Some of them were not very good either. I think I walked away not liking more than I liked. We did all get sick by the end of the trip so that feeling may have had something to do with my feelings about the books.

Take the Honey and Run was the one book that I read on the trip that was given to me for my unbiased review. It is a cozy mystery about a fictional town in Colorado. Bailey Biggs is coming home with her young daughter to see her grandmother, Blossom Briggs. Blossom (AKA Granny Bee) is all about honey. She has a ranch, Honeybuzz Mountain Ranch. She raises bees for their honey and sells it in various forms.

Bailey is late getting to Granny Bee’s for tea. This is a cardinal sin in Granny Bee’s eyes, so Baily is trying hard to get there as fast as possible. When she is getting close and gets stuck behind a slow-moving tractor, she tries to pass it and ends up in a ditch. The tractor driver comes to her rescue, and it is none other than her high school love, Sawyer Dunn. She had no idea he was back in town. It seems that they had an adventure near the end of high school that, as far as she knew, ended up with him having to leave town and live with his aunt and uncle. Flash forward to 12 years later and she still finds him very appealing, but she certainly isn’t going to let him know. ANYWAY… he takes her to Granny Bee’s house. As they arrive, Granny is out on her front porch shooing off Werner Humble, the town’s founder. Not only was she yelling at him, but he looked like he had had his face slapped. Then they all heard Granny Bee say “Werner Humble, you need to get the hell off my property! You set foot on my land again and I swear on my bees, I will kill you.”

Of course, Bailey and Sawyer find Werner dead the next day. Werner was highly allergic to honey and he was smeared with Granny Bee’s honey. The second surprise for Bailey is that she then finds out that Sawyer is the sheriff. All signs point to Granny Bee being the killer so Bailey, who writes mysteries for a living feels she needs to investigate and find the killer.

The book is the first in a series. I do not know how many are planned for the series. Would I read the next book? Not sure. The book was okay but even though cozy mysteries are by their nature pretty light reading, this one seemed a bit too light. It just didn’t do that much for me. But, if you are a cozy mystery reader, I think you need to decide for yourself. You might like it more than I did. There was nothing wrong with it but somehow it just didn’t do that much for me on the day I read it.

Thanks for reading!

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We Should not be Friends by Will Schwalbe

Dear Fellow Readers,

Happy March! I have seen signs that Spring is coming. If only it would quit snowing! I am so happy that the days are longer. I am sure I didn’t notice this as much years ago but now, I look for every drop of daylight. Hopefully, soon outdoor time! That is what I am truly looking forward to.

Have you read the author, Will Schwalbe before? I have read his book, The End of Your Life Book Club, which is about the books he read and discussed with his mother while she was dying. It was a very touching book and it talked about books. One of my very favorite things to talk about! He also has a book entitled, Books for Living, which looks very interesting.

He has a brand-new book out! It just came out last Tuesday. The new book is We Should Not Be Friends and it tells the story of his friendship with Chris Maxey. They met at the end of their junior year of college and got to know each other during their senior year. On the face of it, they could not be more different. Will knew that jocks were the opposite of who he wanted to meet. They represented a world very different from his land of theater people, writers, and visual artists. Will would work at the AIDS hotline on the weekend while he assumed that Maxey would drink and hang out with other jocks.

Despite Will’s reluctance, he did end up getting to know and even begrudgingly respect Maxey. The book is about their friendship over the decades (They are both in their 60s now.) Since the story is told from Will’s perspective, we find out a lot more about him and his perceived “friendship fails” 

I like the way that Will Schwalbe writes. It draws you into his world – you feel like you are listening to an old friend. I did wonder why he decided to write about this particular friendship. He refers to other friends in the book that were interesting. Oh well, it must have been important to him.

I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to you along with his other books.

Thanks for reading.

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The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth

Dear Fellow Reader,

Did you set a goal on http://www.goodreads.com for your year? I have been setting a reading goal for the last few years. I read a lot but I like to use Goodreads for two reasons. The first is that it keeps track of what books I have read. I will admit that sometimes I forget what books I have read. I can then look on Goodreads and see if I have read it. Also, I set a reading challenge every year. I have found that if I have slacked off a bit (it happens!) it prods me to read – I don’t want to not meet the challenge I set for myself!  The sidebar along this post gives an update on the books I have recently read. You might notice that I have been on a streak of reading Miss Silver mysteries. I will admit I retreated into them for a week or two. I just needed something not taxing to read. They were written in the years between 1928 – 1961 (!) so the style is different from what we are used to. There are 32 books in the Miss Silver series and each has a little twist from the ones ahead of it. There are some reoccurring characters but you can read them in any order.

I was also given a copy of The Soulmate to read for my unbiased opinion. I enjoyed it very much. While reading the book, I kept wondering if the narrator was unreliable or if it was her husband that was unreliable. It kept me guessing for a long time. And then! 

Gabe and Pippa live in their dream house in a sleepy coastal town. There is one big drawback to the house. It is located on a cliff and often people try and commit suicide by jumping off the cliff. As the book opens, Gabe is going out to try and talk another person out of jumping off the cliff. We learn that Gabe has been incredibly successful in talking to the others who have tried, out of jumping. But on this particular night, the person jumps.

Because the person actually jumped, there is a police investigation. Days later Pippa discovers that the woman who jumped is someone they know. But Gabe didn’t tell her that he knew the woman nor did he tell the police that he knew her.


Not only did they know her but she was the wife of Gabe’s ex-boss.

As the book progresses, we learn more about Gabe’s work and family history. What starts as the perfect marriage shows some cracks.

There were many twists and turns to keep you wondering what could be going on. What is truly going on here? And why are these people doing what they are doing?

I think this book is a good one for you to read. I enjoyed it and I think you will also.

This book will be released on April 4, 2023.

Thanks for reading!

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The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

Dear Fellow Reader,

Wow! It has been hot. And there hasn’t been a drop of rain in a long time. Of course, this is the summer that I finally decided that I should do more in the yard. So, I planted and now I am watering and hoping.

(NOTE: I apparently wrote this and forgot to post it. It is no longer summer or warm or dry.)

This week’s book is historical fiction. It is the book for my library book club for last June. And I missed the meeting. There is something about reading the book and then missing the meeting which is a drag but it can’t be helped.

The Secrets We Kept follows two storylines that intersect. I would view the intersection of the storylines as tenuous at best. One of the storylines is about Boris Pasternak’s mistress, Olga. Boris Pasternak was a poet in Russia. The Russian government supported the arts as long as the artists behaved. It seems that the government had been told that the epic work of Boris Pasternak’s life, Dr. Zhivago, showed the government in a poor light. Olga was brought in for questioning in the middle of the night and kept in jail for several weeks. She had no idea if she would be released. They tried to get her to write a confession that the book was anti-government.

Then the book shifts to the US and office for the CIA. Irina is a Russian immigrant who is recruited to work in the typing pool. But she is actually groomed to become an operative. The story tells us about Irina’s life and that of the other women in the typing pool and the secrets they keep. The women learn not to think about what they are typing and which men to stay away from in the office. One day, the dazzling Sally Forrester arrives in the office and the women are quite sure she is not really a receptionist. Sally is an operative who had been brought in to advance Irina’s training.

While it is interesting, the point of the book does not arrive until about 2/3 of the way though the book. When talking to someone a week or so after reading the book, I didn’t remember how the two sections intersected. I would not say that the book builds up to the intersection. By then, you are much more caught up in the personalities of the characters and not what the US Government is trying to do. That is just part of an assignment that does involve the book Dr. Zhivago, but I thought it fell a bit flat.

This book was a Reese Witherspoon book club choice. That means that people were perhaps more enthralled with it than I was. While I read and finished the book, I wondered why some parts were in the book. There is a relationship between Irina and Sally. They were apparently not real people so how did that help the story? Sally’s work left more questions than it answered, and it had nothing to do with the overall plot. Why was it there? I did learn much more about Dr. Zhivago than I ever knew before and that was interesting.

So, this is a lukewarm recommendation.

Thanks for reading!

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Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle

Dear Fellow Readers,

This image truly relates to the book I am reviewing today. I do, on occasion, read paranormal cozy mysteries. They are light and have some humor and I find they are great when I want something to read that takes very little thought. They are like TV. They entertain without taking up any head space. One such series that I enjoy are the Angie Fox Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries. I have read them all.

Okay, I don’t normally want to admit that I read those books but I shouldn’t feel that way. We all need something light and easy occasionally.

As you may have guessed, today’s book involves a bit of paranormal activity. (Although any paranormal activity means there is a fair amount of it.)

Bettie Hughes comes from money. She made money and lost money. She is currently broke and living in someone else’s house. (She is basically squatting in a house of a dead woman.) She is obsessed with her online image. She posts frequently giving the illusion that she is doing great. But she really isn’t and particularly because Christmas is coming up fast and she will have to go see her family. She absolutely does not what them to see that she had met the expectations that some of them have for her – that she is broke. She made terrible business decisions and lost.

One night during a pity party that she is throwing for herself, she plays a vinyl record of “All I Want for Christmas is You”, backwards and her very own Christmas spirit arrives. Hall is her Christmas spirit and he appears to be just what she needs. Although his ability to use his magic correctly seems a bit off at first.

She decides that the perfect plan is to take Hall home with her for Christmas and pass him off as her fiancé. He can provide her with all she needs to show off to her family. So they arrive home and no one pays any attention to them. So she makes Hall take her back in time and start over with an even bigger splash. And then that still doesn’t do it so back in time the go again and this time their entrance gathers the attention that she wants.

In the meantime, Hall just loves Christmas. He wants to be able to do all the things that humans do to celebrate the holidays. There is suddenly a skating rink so they can all go skating. He bakes with Bettie’s mother. He redecorates the house daily with a different theme. He tries to show Bettie all the wonderful things she has right at her fingertips.

She is resistant. She has grudges that she wants to clear up. She wants to hurt those who hurt her. But he finally gets her to see that she doesn’t really accomplish anything by inflicting damage to others.

This book is about redemption and the power of love although it is easy to lose that in some of the ways that Bettie acts.

I have to admit that I was not wild about this book at first. I kept reading, so it wasn’t horrible, but I didn’t enjoy the first part of the book. But then I did get caught up in the story and it did not end exactly as I would have expected. So, I would recommend this book but I would say that you need to push through to get to where it gets better.

Thanks for reading!

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