By Sally Cronin
“Flights of Fancy” is a wonderful collection of short stories and a novella. Each tale was heartfelt and layered in settings that drew me into the stories. There was romance, paranormal, revenge, and justice in this mix. I loved all the well-written stories for different reasons, but a few stood out to me. “The Other Side of Heaven,” and “Curtains” were beautifully told tales that included a glimpse into the afterlife and a few well-shed tears on my part. I adored ”Henry’s Story” which was told through a cat’s eyes, but I think my favorite was the novella, “Sewing Circle.” When an older woman is murdered, her close-knit group of senior friends does not allow themselves to play the victim role. I loved their strength and determination to right the wrongs in their unique way. This is a fantastic group of stories that I can easily recommend!
By Linda Broday
“One Shot at Love” is the seventh book in the series, but I had no problem jumping into this without reading the past stories. Mariah is a nineteen-year-old girl who has become the head of her household after losing both parents in the early 1900s. She is responsible for her siblings, works at the local general store, and carries a shotgun because of the absence of law in their small town and a family of criminals out of control. When Dax, the cowboy, arrives in town to search for his sister who was abducted, he and Mariah feel an immediate attraction. However, Mariah has no trust in men. Someone finds a box containing a pink pistol and gives it to Mariah along with an interesting legend. This makes her begin to question who and what to trust. I love not only the attraction between Mariah and Dax but the friendship and kindness that also develop. Mariah is a strong character and willing to sacrifice for her siblings. I couldn’t help but root for her happiness and safety. The setting and era were so richly described that I was drawn even deeper into the story. A quick but satisfying read that I can easily recommend.
“Happiness Is A Warm Cat” is a fun collection that bounces between Zoe, the cat’s point of view, and Emily, the author. Zoe provides a cat’s-eye view of the world. Zoe’s caretaker, Ms. Gmitter, provides short stories, poetry, and interactions with Kris Kristofferson. There is a little something for everyone, especially cat lovers and fans of romance, but many other subjects drew me in. Because it was unique, it is hard to narrow down my favorites. I enjoyed Zoe’s perspective throughout the collection and the short stories and poetry, all for different reasons. There was also Ms. Gmitter’s artwork added to the mix, which captivated me. Although Zoe is the star of this book, it is a fun collection for not only animal lovers but those who enjoy a nice variety.
By Alex Craigie
“The Rat in the Python” is a fun look into the past or the 50s and 60s in the UK. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Craigie’s fictional books and wasn’t disappointed in her dive into nonfiction. It is still well written with a touch of humor weaved into it. “Book 1 The Home” takes us back to times before not only cell phones and computers but a lot of the modern house conveniences we are used to. People in the UK were still recovering from WWll and if they wanted a meal, the women cooked it with what was available. There were no microwaves, freezers full of food, or delivery takeout to depend on. I was born during this time and remember some of it, like the rolling pictures on the small black and white televisions. This issue could usually be resolved by adjusting a knob or moving the rabbit ears, but if none of that worked, there was always the sharp pound on the side of the TV. There was a magazine article that made me cringe. It had a housewife’s itinerary that was not only a twelve-hour day, but every minute filled with cleaning, cooking, laundry, ironing, food prep, child and husband care, and all the other things expected from a 50s woman. I believe I would have been a terrible 50s housewife. This is a fascinating peek into our past that shows not only how times have changed, but how we have changed. I enjoyed this, and look forward to reading more in this series.
Sofia has spent the last year in Venice to finish her education before going back to Boston and the job of her dreams. At the very end of her time in Italy, she comically meets Eduardo and they both end up in the mud. Although she immediately finds him attractive, Sophia is also very put out about their encounter. Later that evening, they find themselves at the same dinner party, and, even with her hesitation, a friendship blooms. I love the banter between Eduardo and Sophia and all the “help” that attempts to bring these two together. The Venice setting was so lush and detailed that it brought me back to when I visited several years ago. Plus, the food and people Ms. Penrose so eloquently describes were just as inviting and tasty as I remember for the characters too. The couple who lives outside of Venice hear the word fate a lot, but one of them always sidetracks that. The infusion of magic through meetings and later plants captured something way beyond just two people meeting. “Venetian Rhapsody” is not only a beautiful love story, but it has a soundtrack that I want to listen to after reading about Sophie and Eduardo. This is a romantic tale I can highly recommend!
By Vera Day
“When Did We Lose Sylvia” is a fun debut by Ms. Day. Betty is a middle-aged poet who volunteers to teach a summer class at the local high school. As she maneuvers teaching the class and gaining the upper hand, she notices a talented young goth girl, Sylvia. When Betty and her best friend, Flora, drop by Sylvia’s house, they find more than they expected. Now they have a dead body and missing people. Betty, who doesn’t drive, is determined to find out what happened. Betty’s relationships were enjoyable, especially with her husband and Flora, her comical chauffeur. A lot of humor is sprinkled into this whodunit with a couple of twists that kept me engaged. The infusion of poetry into the story was one of my favorite parts. If you enjoy small-town Christian cozy mysteries, you won’t want to miss this one.
By Judi Lynn
Hester lives in a hidden supernatural community with her coven of witches. She is a long-lived and powerful witch, who lives alone with her familiar. When a coven of young witches dies suddenly, the town enforcer, a demon named Raven, investigates their deaths. Raven pulls Hester into the probe to help him because it involves magic. They are interesting characters that seem to be drawn to each other even though they are so different. Besides magic and mystery, these two characters focus on the simple things in life, like cooking a meal together. I really liked the ocelot familiar who was always there for Hester. I developed an empathy for whoever the killer ended up being. This is a clean, romantic paranormal mystery that was an enjoyable read.
I only post my 4 & 5-star reviews here! If I don’t like the book, I won’t finish it. It wouldn’t be fair to leave a review for an unfinished story, and life is too short not to enjoy my reading journey!
NOTE: There will be no post next week. I will be off celebrating my birthday. Be back July 24th!
Embrace that inner child this summer by reading a good book by the lake, pool, or under the stars. D. L. Finn