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My Not So Perfect Life by Sophia Kinsella

My Not So Perfect LifeMy Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As soon as I saw Sophia Kinsella’s new book was available for review, I jumped on it. I am a big fan of Kinsella, who is probably most famous for her Shopaholic series, but who also writes some amazing standalones.

While some classify her as “chick lit,” she really is the master of creating hilarious, slapstick-style books which also add in a touch of drama. Just enough, in my opinion.

I’m so happy to say that “My Not So Perfect Life” is yet another winner for Kinsella.

The story centers on Katie Brenner who is trying to make a successful career in London. However her boss is a bit of a nightmare, with her Instagram perfect life, compared to Katies’ efforts to make it look like she has everything together. When Katie gets fired she has to move back home and help her father and stepmother with a new vacation venue on the family farm – “glamping.” When her old boss shows up as a guest, Katie discovers that everything she sees online may not be exactly as it seems.

It’s a fairly simple premise – someone trying to live up to the social-media filtered perfection they think their friends are experiencing- but Kinsella adds in her traditional humor and wacky characters which round out the plot into a great story. I laughed out loud at some points, I cringed at some of Katie’s awkwardness at others – you really feel so engrossed in the book.

I did get frustrated with Katie a little bit when she seems so focused on one thing that she really “couldn’t see the forest for the trees,” but I think that was really part of the overall concept which is that sometimes we get so focused on our online lives that we don’t end up living our actual “real world” lives.

I guessed the major “twist” fairly early on, but I didn’t really hold that against the book – I did, however wonder why it wasn’t revealed sooner, since it was hinted at so strongly. Maybe taking away some of that foreshadowing or somehow revealing things sooner would bump it up to 5 stars.

Overall, I really liked this book. Fans of Kinsella’s other works will love it, as will new fans! Highly recommended.

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Deader Homes and Gardens by Angie Fox

Deader Homes and Gardens (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, #4)Deader Homes and Gardens by Angie Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you’re looking for a cozy mystery to entertain you on a plane ride or during your holiday break with family, this would be a great choice. It’s a light romp through the spirit world, with some spooks, but nothing too scary.

This novel is the fourth in the series and while it can be read as a standalone novel, some storylines do carry over, and it would probably be helpful to read the other novels beforehand. However, you don’t have to. I didn’t, and I certainly enjoyed this novel.

The main character, Verity is trying to make a go of it as a full-time ghost hunter, with help from her resident ghost helper, Frankie. Her first job is to investigate the town’s most cursed mansion, where an entire family was wiped out within days before the mansion was shut up for good. And when Verity gets there, she finds that the ghosts may take drastic measures to keep their secrets secret.

This novel isn’t a mystery in the traditional sense of the word, in that there really aren’t clues that you use to work toward the bad guy – they just kind of reveal themselves and then the other ghosts fill in the rest. That’s really the major difference between this and a cozy mystery. But the tone and light-hearted fun are all the same.

The backstory works pretty well, and it was unique enough. Though there are some holes in the plot and the setup (Verity gets her powers from a unique source) I don’t feel that took away too much from my enjoyment of the book. I mean, it’s not War and Peace, so I’m not going to overthink it, if you know what I mean.

Also, the ending sets up the next book – something I’ll be looking for!

Overall, it’s not going to become a literary classic- but it’s really pretty fun.

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The Art of Murder by Nicola Slade

The Art of Murder (Harriet Quigley Mystery)The Art of Murder by Nicola Slade
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I struggled with what to give this one. I settled on three stars because it’s not bad……it’s just not particularly good.

Based on the cover and description, I was expecting some kind of creepy tale with some great characters, but instead, it is a super cozy mystery akin to “Murder She Wrote.” In fact, one of the main characters refers to the other, his cousin, as Miss Marple. It was a letdown.

The story centers on the cousins, Sam and Harriet, who join an art groups’ weekend retreat to help out Harriet’s friend make up the money for the trip. The group’s leader organized it, but everyone on the weekend getaway pretty much hates her. And the leader, Linzi, thinks she’s being stalked. Which of the cast of characters are responsible?

I’ll start off by saying there are way too many characters to keep track of. I couldn’t, really. That also means I really didn’t care what happened to any of them. Plus, they were all kind of terrible.

It was drawn out and by the end, I didn’t really care “who dunnit,” I just read to finish it out.

I gave 3 stars because while I didn’t love it, if you are a fan of Miss Marilee, you might. If crime-solving retirees don’t excite you, skip this one.

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A Proposal to Die For by Vivian Conroy

A Proposal to Die For (Lady Alkmene Callender Mysteries, #1)A Proposal to Die For by Vivian Conroy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For fans of cozy mysteries and classic who-dunnits, the Lady Alkmene Callendar series offers a nice, quick read. 3.5/5, rounded up.

The debut novel in the series, “A Proposal to Die For,” follows Alkmene as she meets a young woman, recently come to London to meet her rich uncle. When the uncle winds up dead, Alkmene joins forces with journalist Jake Dubois, to figure out whether his death was truly an accident or the work of someone out to get their hands on his vast fortune.

It’s a pretty straightforward mystery, which has the leads following the clues to find the bad guy. For fans of intricate, tightly-wound thrillers, this won’t be complicated enough, but I thought it was a nice breath of fresh air.

The story definitely picks up in the last third of the story, once Alkmene and Jake leave London to track down a backstory that could lead to the killer. I wish some more of the story had concentrated on this part; it was truly the highlight of the novel.

With a series planned, some loose ends are left open, and I’d be interested to see where they go.

Overall, a nice, light beach read or mid-flight escape for fans of light-hearted cozies.

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22818877The Basics:

Title: Death on Daytime
Author: Tash Bell
Genre: Chick Lit/Mystery
Pages: 310

My rating: smooth-star smooth-star smooth-star smooth-starsmooth-star

Publisher’s Description: TV producer Tess Darling is a gorgeous, grubby blonde who skids across bars, and slides under men, to escape the shadow of her famous father, eminent broadcaster Darcus Darling.
When a presenter on her show is murdered, it’s Tess who is thrust into the spotlight however. To save the jobs of her TV crew – including her best friend and worst cameraman Miller – she’s forced to turn investigative reporter.
Probing the dark underbelly of daytime TV, Tess encounters bloated stars, bristling talent agents and vicious competition from her own father. Will Tess prove the failure he’s always held her to be? Or can she stop the killer before they strike again? As the stakes rise, inhibitions drop: Tess may have Miller by her side, but it’s hunky Detective Selleck she’s got her eye on…

My review: Grab a glass of your favorite wine and dust off your English accent, because “Death on Daytime” is one book you don’t want to miss – especially if you like humorous/chick lit mysteries.

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