REVIEW – Haven Point by Virginia Hume

Haven Point is a (mostly) historical fiction novel that follows three generations of the same family – Maren, Annie and Skye Demarest have a lot in common but are also very unique characters on their own.

While I did go into this thinking we’d get chapters from each woman’s perspective, that’s not quite the case. Annie is a focus of the book but takes somewhat of a backseat to the narratives surrounding Maren and Skye. Given what we know about Annie’s character and what we learn throughout the book, I think this was a good choice. After a family tragedy, Annie really closes herself off and ends up in a dark spiral that culminates in her eventual death a few decades later (“present day” in the book’s timeline).

This book is mostly sad and melancholy – all three women feel like outcasts at some point or another during their time in Haven Point. There’s a lot of heartache and tragedy and dark family secrets, and most of these things are Maren’s burden to carry.

Content warning: alcoholism (a prominent theme in this book), suicide

Thank you Jennifer Musico and St. Martin’s Press for sending me an ARC of Haven Point!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – A Game of Cones by Abby Collette

After A Deadly Inside Scoop was one of my favorite cozy mysteries of 2020 (trust me, I read a lot of cozies!) I was so excited to be back in Chagrin Falls with Win and her family. A Game of Cones did NOT disappoint. When a developer comes to town with news of a potential mall being built, someone in the community takes quick action and the developer ends up dead that night.

One of Win’s friends (visiting from NYC) stumbles across the body and becomes suspect number one. Even though she tries to keep her distance, Win can’t help but get tangled up in the murder investigation and comes face to face with a cold-blooded killer. And we still get the family dynamic and charming ice cream shop setting that we grew to love in book one.

Any cozy mystery set in Ohio is automatically of interest to me, and I can’t wait to see what book three has in store!

Thank you Berkley for the NetGalley ARC!

REVIEW – The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan

Attention true crime fans: you’re going to want to pick this one up. I hadn’t heard of Tony Costa (the Cape Cod Vampire) before, but WOW was he a piece of work.

Costa was active in the mid to late 1960s and, honestly, got away with a lot of his crimes due to the time period but also some really inadequate law enforcement procedures and protocols. There were moments in this book where I wanted to scream about the missed connections and lack of shared information between departments. Lives might have been saved, but isn’t that the case with a lot of serial killers?

The Babysitter is part true crime book and part memoir – Liza Rodman grew up in Provincetown and Tony Costa was her “babysitter” at times (our idea of a babysitter now is not really what Tony was back then. He would take Liza and her sister on errands with him to get them out of their mom’s hair while she worked or went out on the town with her friends). Liza’s sections alone could have been their own book – she was a child who didn’t really stand a chance with her own mother. Liza’s mother was neglectful and mean and hurtful and irresponsible. Definitely proceed with caution if child abuse (mostly neglect and verbal abuse) is a touchy topic for you.

The book moves at a relatively slow pace but it stands up against the heavy hitters in true crime literature like In Cold Blood, Helter Skelter, The Stranger Beside Me, etc. Tony Costa might not be as well known as Ted Bundy, but he was just as horrible (and probably would have been much worse if they hadn’t caught him in time).

Thank you Atria Books for the ARC!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Fatal Fried Rice by Vivien Chien

I recommend the Noodle Shop Mystery series to pretty much anyone looking to start reading cozy mysteries. The funny part? Fatal Fried Rice is only the second book i’ve read in this series (I know, I KNOW! I’m working on it!)

Vivien Chien writes such delightful, fun stories. Her characters feel realistic and Lana is a main character you love to root for (and want to be best friends with!)

The mystery in Fatal Fried Rice kept me guessing and, as always, the cover gave me an intense craving for some good Chinese food. If you’re a cozy mystery fan, or if you want to try the genre, you can’t go wrong with these books.

Thank you St. Martin’s Press for the ARC!

REVIEW – Fatal Intent by Tammy Euliano

I haven’t read a lot of medical thrillers, but when presented with the opportunity to read Fatal Intent, I couldn’t pass it up. This book gave me SO MUCH anxiety! I had a great time reading this and had a lot of “OMG” and “holy shit!” moments. The pace is a bit slower at first, but when this picks up it doesn’t stop until the very end. This book is incredibly sad and tense and unpredictable.

If you’re super squeamish or bothered by medical events, hospitalization, etc., I’d proceed with caution.

Content warnings: miscarriage, infant death, suicide, death of a spouse

Thank you FSB Associates for the ARC!

REVIEW – Last Call: A Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green

Last Call is a great read for fans of true crime – it’s a heartbreaking, gruesome tale of a man who preyed on gay men in the 80s and 90s. Last Call is incredibly well-researched and amazingly written – packing a ton of information into a relatively short book.

Elon Green focuses a lot on the victims of the Last Call Killer and less on the killer himself (this is relatively common among newer true crime books, and for good reason), and does so with great care and compassion.

Last Call might also be a good choice for those new to true crime, since it’s a shorter book and the murders are relatively recent, it’s easy to follow if you’re not familiar with the genre.

Thank you Celadon Books for the ARC!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Murder in an Irish Bookshop by Carlene O’Connor

I can’t get enough of Siobhan and Macdara and the O’Sullivan Six and Kilbane. This series is definitely a favorite and I really want to go back and read the first few books that I haven’t yet picked up.

Murder in an Irish Bookshop has SUCH a fun murder to solve – when a visiting author is found dead in a newly opened bookshop, Siobhan has a long list of suspects to sort through (this author was…prickly. She made a lot of enemies.)

The investigation and reveal is SO clever – O’Connor’s ability to outline an elaborate and interesting murder never fails to amaze me.

Thank you Bibliolifestyle and Kensington Books!

REVIEW – The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

“Atrum post bellum, ex libris lux. – After the darkness of war, the light of books.”

The Paris Library is historical fiction for book lovers. Using dual timelines (WWII-era Paris and 1980s Montana), Janet Skeslien Charles weaves a beautiful, emotional story that focuses on friendship, love, family and forgiveness.

I had no choice but to give this five stars – the writing is absolutely beautiful. The characters! THE LIBRARY. Just stunning – you’ll fall in love with (almost) everyone and find yourself wanting to spend forever amongst the shelves.

Odile and Lily are truly the stars of this book, and their journey is lovely and sad and hopeful. Get ready to feel all of the feelings.

Thank you Atria Books for the ARC!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Murder With a View by Diane Kelly

I have a tendency to jump in to cozy mystery series in the middle, and this is no exception. Murder With a View is the third book in the House-Flipper mysteries, but the first one i’ve read. And it’s ADORABLE.

The most notable thing about this book (and, I assume, the series as a whole) is the characters. The characters are lovely and hilarious and you can’t help but cheer for them every step of the way. Sawdust the cat is a delight. Although I wasn’t ALWAYS on board with the short chapters from his purr-spective, I found myself appreciating them more towards the end of the book.

This mystery had me stumped for the majority of the book, and the inevitable “showdown” between our main character, Whitney, and the murderer was pretty thrilling (and also a little terrifying!)

Thank you St. Martin’s Press for the NetGalley ARC!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – A Page Marked for Murder by Lauren Elliott

A Page Marked for Murder was a great continuation of the Beyond the Page Bookstore mysteries! I loved going back to Greyborne Harbor to spend time with Addie and her friends. The mystery in this was interesting and fun (not too easy!) to solve. I loved the addition of Pippi (an ADORABLE dog that Addie ends up pet-sitting for most of the book) and, as always, Elliott was able to connect Addie’s passion for rare books in with the overall story.

Thank you Kensington Books for the ARC!