The Nantucket Beachfront Inn by Ainsley Keaton

I wish I was on a beach reading!

Dear Fellow Reader,

It is only mid-January, and I am ready for winter to LEAVE. I am just over it. There is something about the cold and the dark days that are bothering me this year. Okay, let’s be honest, it bothers me almost every year. I suppose with Covid, it is just worse. I want to be back in the yard. Back digging up the garden.

But there is something to be said for burrowing under a blanket and reading. The whole world spins without me and I am lost in a book. Which brings me to tell you about the book I read over the weekend. It is a book that was given to me in exchange for an unbiased review.

The Nantucket Beachfront Inn is an easy quick read. The story moves along well and the characters are engaging. Are you waiting for a “BUT”? Yes, there are one or two. Overall, though, it was quick and fine. There were plenty of characters to keep you busy.

The story introduces us to Ava Flynn. As the story opens, Ava has had it with her job. She is a successful attorney with a firm that defends million and billionaire tax cheats. She has been in this position for 23 years and has done well. Unfortunately, her last husband cleaned out their accounts on his way out of town and hasn’t been seen for a while. Her first husband died in a car crash when she was 8 months pregnant with triplets. She works endless hours and has a large mortgage on a condo in New York City. She sleeps in her office most of the time. But on the night the book opens, she has just had it. She tells the demanding billionaire in front of her what she thinks of his efforts to avoid paying taxes. That is the end of her job. While she tries to find a new position, the combination of her age and her high salary are not leading to any offers.

She then receives a call from an attorney asking her to come to his office because she has received an inheritance. The inheritance comes with some strings that she will have to work her way through with her two close girlfriends and her children.

As far as the plot goes, it is good. Here are my problems with this book. First off, the author did a lot of research for things that happen in the book and goes into WAY too much detail. (One of the characters suddenly develops bacterial meningitis and the medical description goes way beyond what the audience needs). Also, there are at least two places where the same explanation is given twice within a few pages. And I think that at one spot one of the characters is referred to by the wrong name.

BUT probably my biggest complaint is the end. It is like she was only allowed so many words and so she must throw three huge curveballs in the last three pages. I was reading an eBook version of the book and I could not believe the story was over. It seems there are more books to come in the series and she had to get you set up to want to read the next books. It was just irritating.

Am I sorry I read it? No. I think if you know going into it that there may be some redundancy and a few little things that should have been cleaned up in editing, that you will be fine. It is a beach read. There is nothing here to change your life. It will give you some enjoyable reading time.

Thanks for reading!

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The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk

Dear Fellow Reader,

Why is it I end up so behind on reviewing books? I have a stockpile of books to tell you about. I will admit that I have read a lot of cozy mysteries lately, but I think that is just to avoid doing other things.

Today’s book will be published on January 25, 2022. I was given an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

In contrast to most of the books that I review in exchange for a review, this book is a mystery. I’m not sure why I don’t generally get mysteries since that I what I read most of the time. But I have a mystery for you today.

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk introduces us to Liesl Weiss, who has just been elevated to acting director of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the university library where she has worked for many years. Her boss has had a stroke and she suddenly has to step in. The first thing that happens is that a book that the library just purchased is missing. This is a problem not only because of the money spent but the money had been raised from donors who are anxious to see the book. Where is it? Liesl was on sabbatical when the book arrived, so she has never seen it. She wants to call in the police, but the University President tells her not to that they will have to have an internal investigation – i.e. Liesl should find the book first. She doesn’t feel that he is right but does try and find the thief herself. While she is looking for the thief, we get to meet the other library staff with all their quirks. In this process, we find that another book is missing AND a library staff member commits suicide.

Will she be able to solve the crime, or will the police be called in to help?

With this book review, we have something that doesn’t happen very often. As you may know, I do not generally review books that I don’t like. I know that the author has worked very hard on their book and I don’t see any reason to say that their hard work wasn’t worth it.

I did NOT like this book. I thought Liesl was a horrible character. I didn’t like anything about her. She was so insecure and selfish. I can’t recommend it. Harsh, huh? I know and I don’t like to say it but there are other books that are more enjoyable. I did finish it, which I guess says something because I have taken to not finishing books if I don’t like them. (too many books, so little time)

So, I will leave it up to you, fellow reader. If you read the book and think that I am completely wrong, please let me know.

Thanks for reading!

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Hidden Treasures by Michelle Adams

Dear Fellow Reader,

The new year is around the corner waiting to bring us surprises. What will you be reading? One of the things that I find very helpful is that I set a reading goal at www.Goodreads.com. Not only do I see how many books I’ve read during the year but also, if I can’t remember if I read a book, I can check there. That happened just last week. I was reading the new book by Anne Patchett (These Precious Days) and I could not remember if I had read The Dutch House. I was sure that I had but I just checked with Goodreads, and I had read it. Goodreads also tells you the longest book you have read for the year (Fresh Water for Flowers) and the shortest (The Beautiful Struggle). I find it interesting to see my stats for the year.

I was given a copy of this week’s book in exchange for my honest review. (Yet another free book in exchange for a review.)

Hidden Treasures is about Francis (although we never meet her in current time), Harry, and Tabitha. Francis is Harry’s mother. She had left him on a park bench when he was 4 years old. This desertion by his mother has affected Harry throughout his life. When he sees her house one day, he knows it is the house he grew up in and goes to the door. And there she is. He moves in with her and walks away from Tabitha, who he loved. He wants his mother to tell him two things. Why did she leave him and who is his father?

As the story opens, ten years have passed since he moved into his mother’s house and she has just died. Harry must clean out the house and move. There is no money for him to be able to stay in the house. He is lost as to how to start to clean out the house. His mother was a hoarder and the house is full to the brim with things. As he is sitting contemplating what to do, there is a knock on the door. When he opens the door, there is Tabitha. She has received a letter from his mother asking her to come and help Harry find an antique jewelry box that is hidden in the house. She is intrigued by finding the lost jewelry box and comes to tell Harry about the letter. After looking around in awe of the job ahead of them, she announces that she will help Harry find the box.

The story moves back and forth between Harry and Tabitha and Francis. How did Francis end up in this house with all this stuff? Why did Francis leave Harry behind and who is his father? Will Harry and Tabitha find the love they had previously? They both have secrets that will be revealed that might break apart any re-kindling of their romance.

And then another knock on the door brings in a surprise character that will lead to most of Harry’s questions being answered.

Communication was apparently not a big deal in these relationships. Does Harry ask Tabitha what she has been doing for the last 10 years? Does Tabitha ask Harry about how he “found” his mother and why he didn’t know about her before? Of course, the lack of communication causes problems between the characters.

I like the premise of the book. I found it to be a little slow from time to time and the characters’ lack of communication was frustrating. How does Harry not ask Tabitha what she has been doing for the last 10 years? How does Tabitha not know anything about Harry’s life – like that he was in foster care? And poor Francis. If only she had known that she was being protected and not hunted, what a difference it would have made in her life.

This is yet another book with chapters that switch back and forth in time. Are there books that don’t do that anymore? It is easy to follow whose story is being told.

So, do they find the box? I’ll let you find out for yourself.

Thanks for reading.

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The Sisters Sweet by Elizabeth Weiss

Dear Fellow Reader,

Happy Holiday season! Time to put together that list of books that you want to read over the holidays. What? You don’t think you have time? Sure, you do. Get those gift bags stuffed and hide out in a corner with a book.

This week, I have a fresh off-the-press book for you. I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. (Are you sick of that disclaimer? I’m sick of giving it.)

The Sisters Sweet is the story of Harriet Szasz. Harriet was born to parents who are in love with the theater. Her mother was a rising star until she had an accident. Her father was full of design ideas for staging. Both came from non-show-business backgrounds but fell in love with the bright lights. Since their prospects were limited, they decided to push their twin daughters into the limelight. But just being twins that could sing wasn’t enough. They hatched a plan to make their daughters (via a harness) conjoined twins. To make this lie work, the girls had to wear the harness most of the time. This became apparently harder and harder for Josie, Harriet’s twin. Harriet’s natural inclination to be the “good girl” takes over as she tries to help her family.

So, here’s the thing about this book. I would have told you that I didn’t care about the characters. I put this book down and read other books. (Remember my mystery book binge a month or two ago?) Usually, that is pretty much the kiss of death for a book. I forget everything about it and never go back. But I did go back to this book and most importantly, I remembered what was going on. I take that as a positive for the book. Did the plot get bogged down’ occasionally? Yes, but not for long. It moved along. Here’s the thing, while I accept the ending, I am not sure I thought it was totally in character for Harriet. It is unexpected but good. You want to cheer for Harriet. For the first time, she decides to do what she needs rather than trying to save her family. Three cheers for her!

So, once again, I would not put this on the top of my TBR pile, but it is worth the read. Oh, and this is another book that goes back and forth in time. (This seems to be quite a trend. At least in the books I have read this year.)  It is not my favorite thing. So often it is not done well. This author did a good job. I was not confused – it was apparent which character was going back in time.

Thanks for reading!

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The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley

Dear Fellow Reader,

I am interrupting myself with this post. In the last post, I told you that I was going to tell you about three new to me mystery writers that I had been binging on. Last week, I talked about the Alan Bradley series featuring Flavia de Luce. I also mentioned that I had not be able to readily download Alan Bradley’s final book in the Flavia de Luce series.

On Friday, I picked up the book at the library. The book, The Golden Tresses of the Dead. The book starts out at Flavia’s sister Ophelia’s wedding. There were a few hiccups during the ceremony but the big problem it comes time for Feely and Dieter go to cut the cake. Feely starts screaming and has to be taken away. Flavia runs up to check to see what bothered her sister so much. It seems there is a severed finger in the cake. Flavia, of course, takes the finger for analysis. She and Dogger feel that the finger was from the famous Spanish guitar impresario, Adriana Castelnuovo, who had died in the month or so preceding the wedding. But they are pulled off the immediate work of trying to find out how and why the finger ended up in Feely’s cake by the appearance the next morning of Mrs. Prill at their door. Mrs. Prill had consulted the local vicar and the local doctor who recommended that she seek the help of Flavia and Dogger. She is seeking their help because some very private letters have disappeared from her house. She needs to have the letters recovered. So, Flavia and Dogger have two investigations although the investigation into the missing letters quickly morphs into the investigation of Mrs. Prill’s murder.

I hate to say it but I had a problem with several parts of this book. First off, the chemical formulas that are discussed seem endless. I am impressed that the author learned so much about chemistry (What do I know? I assume he is correct.) but it seems overdone. Then the premise for the severed finger and the murdered woman is very twisted and they don’t really solve the crimes. They get to a certain point and turn the issues over to the police and that is the end of the book. I was pretty irritated.

So, last week I was telling you to read this series. I would still say that but I would skip the last book. I know it is hard to do but there are better books to read. Even for us who like to finish series, this is the time to let it go.

Thanks for reading!

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