Weekend Reads: “Christmas Trifle”

Christmas Trifle (Snow Lake Romantic Suspense Novels Book 1)Christmas Trifle by Heather Haven
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Charly and Cliff Harding are celebrity chefs from Snow Lake, Nevada. Charly prefers to stay home and run their fine dining restaurant, while Cliff is “The Restaurant Guru,” a Gordon Ramsay-esque TV star. Cliff’s fame takes a toll on their marriage, and they divorce … despite still loving each other. Their cat, Felix, and dog, Oscar, are separate by the process as well … and keep running away to visit one another.

There are a number of accidents and incidents that cause the two to realize that Charly’s life may be in danger, as she receives prank phone calls, threatening text messages and more … and then the murder takes place! Cliff stands accused of killing the victim, and Charly is determined to clear his name.

This book was a fun cozy mystery with a lot of romantic elements. Author Heather Haven has created a town populated with believable citizens, and a plot that, while not quite a fair play puzzle, keeps the reader motivated to read “just one more chapter” before turning out the lights.

A highly recommended holiday read.

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Weekend Reads: “Crimson Summer”

Crimson Summer (Amy Larson & Hunter Forrest FBI #2)Crimson Summer by Heather Graham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amy and Hunter are vacationing together when a tiny red horse is delivered to their hotel with room service,

Meanwhile, a tour boat in the Florida Everglades stumbles upon a number of dead bodies … and it’s apparent that these two events are related, because a tiny red horse is found there, too.

Pretty soon, Amy’s on loan to the FBI as she and Hunter investigate the killings, and how they might be related to their previous case (on that one, a tiny white horse was found at several sites).

There are twists and turns, and a ton of suspects … enough that I genuinely did not see the big reveal coming. This book is equal parts thriller and fair play puzzle, so it’s beautifully constructed.

Hunter and Amy’s deepening relationship is a relatively minor plot point, but I can see how it will complicate things going forward as they work together.

Nicely executed, and highly recommended.

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Weekend Reads: “Cut.Print.Kill.”

Cut.Print.Kill. (Gabe McKenna Mystery #3)Cut.Print.Kill. by Robert D. Kidera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gabe McKenna can hardly believe his luck when he has an opportunity to serve as historical adviser for a film starring his teenage crush, Simone St. Cyr. But pretty soon dead bodies are littering the film set … and he’s a prime suspect.

This thriller is also an interesting look at New Mexico’s very active film industry, where the author once made his living. The book is a splendid example of “write what you know,” combined with many twists, turns, and red herrings to keep the reader interested.

I didn’t see the ultimate “whodunnit” coming at all, which is kind of nice.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy thrillers, mysteries, and books set in the desert Southwest.

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Weekend Reads: “Haunted Destiny”

I went into the Wayback Machine for today’s review, as I wanted to share something fun and spooky during the run-up to Halloween. Enjoy!

Haunted Destiny (Krewe of Hunters, #18)Haunted Destiny by Heather Graham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The latest Krewe of Hunters story brings the unit back to New Orleans, where they began. This time, they’re tracking a serial killer — and agents Jackson Crow and Jude McCoy think they’re following him onto a cruise ship, the Destiny. They’re right — but not in the way they think.

Enter piano bar entertainer Alexi Cromwell, who can see and talk to the Destiny’s many ghosts. Alexi and Jude are immediately attracted to each other, and they both have things to learn that only the other can teach them. However, as the serial killer’s modus operandi is explored, it soon becomes apparent that Alexi is a target.

This book was an entertaining summer read, with the right combination of romance and paranormal to make it fun. I enjoy this series quite a lot and highly recommend the tales. They can stand alone as individual stories, but getting to know the characters over the course of the series is fun, too.

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Weekend Reads: “Mediocre”

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male AmericaMediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a real eye-opener about the ways in which mediocrity is all that is expected of and by white men in our culture, while women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized groups are expected to be both perfect and deferential in order to succeed.

Examining areas as diverse as college admission, professional sports, and politics, Ijeoma Oluo shows us how our culture shores up white male supremacy in ways both large and small. This is far from light-weight material, but Oluo’s authorial voice is both informed and intelligent … and the book moves along as a result.

Highly recommended.

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