COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette

“You saw the dead body, then made the ice cream?”

Bronwyn “Win” Crewse has just reopened her family’s ice cream shop in Ohio. Unfortunately, construction delays made her miss the summer season and she opens in the fall – to an early snowfall. To add to the stress, Win finds a body in the snow near her shop.

What a great start to a new cozy mystery series! This has all of my favorite things – an adorable town, a delightful cast of characters (Win’s family and friends are ALL lovely and funny and wonderful), an intriguing murder mystery AND enough mentions of ice cream to make you wish Crewse Creamery was a real place.

Collette nailed the feeling of fall (winter…?) in Ohio. And I can’t speak for everyone in my home state, but it’s never too cold for some ice cream! The mystery was clever and fun to try and solve, and i’m pretty sure PopPop is one of my new favorite characters. This book had me cracking up on several occasions, and I always appreciate a book that makes me laugh. I can’t wait to see where the rest of the series takes Win!

REVIEW – Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave

{Available July 14, 2020} Well-Behaved Indian Women kicks off with two proposals set approximately 30 years apart. Nandini and Ranjit live in India and are ready to begin their arranged marriage and move to the United States. As we move forward to present-ish day, their daughter Simran becomes engaged to her long-time boyfriend, Kunal.

This is a delightful novel primarily focused on the relationship between mothers and daughters across generations – what’s different and, most importantly, what stays the same. Nandini, Simran and Mimi are complex female characters (yay!) each dealing with their own hopes and dreams (and problems). I found Simran to be incredibly relatable (her inner dialogue had me cracking up and nodding my head more often than not!) and I was in awe of Nandini’s strength and Mimi’s conviction.

Well-Behaved Indian Women provides a glimpse into Indian-American/Hindu culture, customs and family dynamics. The story is endearing and funny, but also touches on topics like racism, sexism and double standards (especially in the context of marriage and the workplace). The complexities of marriage are a central theme here – particularly the sacrifices that many women feel they need to make to contribute to a successful partnership.

Content warning: brief mention of miscarriage and sexual harassment.

Thank you Berkley for providing me with a NetGalley ARC of this title!

REVIEW – The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

“That’s right, she was the bitch who broke the pretty blond boy’s heart, live on the JumboTron.”

The Proposal was a case of right book, right time for me. I was in desperate need of something light and fun and this was the perfect choice! I loved the relationship between Nik and Carlos. Nik’s friends are an absolute delight and Carlos’ family dynamics are perfect. Sure, this gets a little cliche at times, but romcoms are pretty formulaic and reliable.

This was my first book by Jasmine Guillory, but I intend to eventually read the rest of the books in The Wedding Date series.

REVIEW – Always the Last to Know by Kristan Higgins

{Available June 9, 2020} Always the Last to Know is a perfect summer read. We follow the Frost family – parents Barb and John and sisters Sadie and Juliet. When John suffers a stroke, the Frosts come face to face with issues and uncovered secrets that will test their strength as a family.

Told from different perspectives (mostly Sadie and Barb, with some chapters from Juliet and a few chapters from John) Higgins is able to give each character a distinct voice and personality. Always the Last to Know felt very realistic for a family drama – it covers some tough topics but never feels heavy. The characters deal with their issues in very authentic ways, often using humor (and oh boy, did this book make me laugh!)

None of the Frosts are perfect – you’ll be rooting for a character in one chapter, and wanting to yell at them in the next. But that’s what makes this book so good. It’s a lighter family drama without a lot of baggage. There are some sugary sweet moments, but they don’t feel forced.

Thank you Berkley for sending me a NetGalley ARC of this book!

REVIEW – How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann

How Quickly She Disappears is an interesting debut with promise – but ultimately falls a bit flat. The overall plot is interesting and eerie. Elisabeth’s character starts off strong but I found myself growing more and more frustrated with her as the book went on (this may have been intentional!) The villain does have an underlying creepiness but I thought he could have been a bit more fleshed out.

I did find it tough to determine if the flashbacks were memories or dreams at the beginning (again, this may have been intentional, it’s not necessarily a negative). I did think that through the flashbacks, Elisabeth and Jacqueline seemed older than 11 (Jacqueline especially) so sometimes it was hard to buy that it was the dialogue, thoughts and actions of children.

Elisabeth’s daughter was interesting but there’s a shift in her personality that isn’t much accounted for or explained and seems very abrupt.

It doesn’t seem like setting the book in WWII was really necessary to the story. It did provide challenges that wouldn’t exist if set in modern-day, but the background of the war starting wasn’t important enough of a detail to make a difference.

However, there’s a lot of good bits of writing in this book and I think that with more time and experience, Fleischmann could produce a very compelling thriller. (Also, I cannot give half stars but I would put this solidly as a 2.5.)

Thank you Berkley for the NetGalley ARC.