Sorry Not Sorry by Sophie Ranald

Sorry Not Sorry by Sophie Ranald is a hysterical romp through life while dating and all its hits and misses (or messes) which comes with it. It’s about losing a best friend to marriage and working endless hours at a job that you feel unappreciated. In other words…life!

Charlotte is tired of being alone and single. With her best friend moving out to get married and having to adjust to new housemates, she’s feeling pretty low. Until she comes across a podcast called “Sorry Not Sorry” which challenges single women in each podcast to one exercise in order to improve their love lives. She begins taking the challenges from the mysterious woman who dishes out the advice while telling listeners her own dating mishaps. Charlotte begins to gain a sort of confidence by trying the advice.

During this same time she is faced with losing her best friend due to reasons she does not quite understand and helping her new roommate Tansy navigate a relationship while knowing she is keeping some sort of a secret about her past, all the while desperately trying to keep her job by working long hours and never saying no.

This story is very relatable to anyone who has had to juggle the trials of working, dating and maintaining friendships. It is an uplifting funny story which will make you both cringe yet empathize with Charlotte’s choices.

I cannot wait for the sequel!

Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for the advanced copy. The book will be out on February 13.

Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben

Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben is the first book in the Myron Bolitar, sports agent/lawyer/investigator series. This book was published in 1995 which for those of us old enough to remember is a story within the story in itself.

Anyway, Bolitar is an up and coming sports agent to up and coming athletes. The story shows how cutthroat the business is and how agents will try just about anything to outdo each other in order to get athletes to sign with them.

But the main plot is Bolitar’s ex-girlfriend’s sister, who went missing over a year ago seems to suddenly reappear in a series of seedy pictures and phone calls, which includes to one of Bolitar’s star athletes. What unravels is the mystery of what happened to college student Cathy Culver, who had turned her life around and seemed to be finally happy and in love. Could she really be alive? Her family needs some closure especially since her father has just died of what appears to be a random mugging. Could the two deaths be connected? And how and why?

A definite page turner with an I can’t stop reading until I know who did it and how and why aspect. It reminds me of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series with that same quick wit and sarcasm and easy dialogue. I enjoyed the book as well as the flashback to the 1990’s.

The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King

Chef Bartolomeo Scappi, the head cook for the Popes during the 1500’s in Rome, dies suddenly and leaves most of his estate to his nephew, apprentice Giovanni Scappi who then steps into the head cook role

Giovanni is given Bartolomeo’s cooking knife and a set of keys and is told to destroy what is in the boxes. Giovanni’s curiosity gets the better of him and he opens one of the boxes to find his Uncle’s journals dating back years, Unfortunately much of the journals are unreadable because they are in codes. Instead of burning the journals, he decides to decipher them to find out what Bartolomeo had been hiding all these years.

Within the notebooks Giovanni begins to see a different person than the kind, loving hardworking uncle he had always looked up to. He discovers Bartolomeo’s secrets and even a murder. Bartolomeo, who never married had been carrying on an affair with a woman who was given the pseudonym Stella to hide her true identity. Who could Stella be?

The Chef’s Secret is filled with intrigue, suspense, love, deception, and many feasts. The story reads like a juicy soap opera!. Anyone interested in the history of Renaissance life in Italy will be fascinated with the intricate details of the Vatican, the architecture of the day, artwork of the period as well as the massive amount of foods which were consumed during feasts and some of the delicacies’ origins.

Thank you #NetGalley and #Simon & Schuster for the advanced copy. The Chef’s Secret will be out on February 12.

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Finding Dorothy is the interweaving of L. Frank Baum, writer of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series, his wife Maud who sees the fruition of his work to the screen, and the behind the scenes making of the movie, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the late 1930’s. The story also includes the terrible treatment of Judy Garland during the making of the movie from both the studio heads, director and sadly her own mother Ethel. It delves into how the famous song “Over the Rainbow” was almost cut from the movie. But most important who Dorothy is to the writer, his wife, and to Judy Garland.

This historical novel well researched by author Elizabeth Letts begins with a young Maud running through a neighbor’s yard and being terribly frightened by the scarecrow positioned on a post. This is an example of what I began calling little “Easter eggs” of scenes from the actual movie and how they came to fruition from the Baum’s own lives. The story continues with Maud and Frank meeting and falling in love, Frank an actor with an incredible imagination, and Maud a woman’s rights advocate, realist and the household financier.

During the filming of the movie itself, Maud decides to oversee its making to make sure it stays true to Frank’s book. She soon becomes Judy Garland’s protector and secret keeper. She sees the abuse of Garland from giving her diet pills as to not gain any weight because her costume is too tight as it is, to the mistreatment Garland endured from some of the men and even her mother who either agreed with them, or looked the other way.

This book will be enjoyed by anyone who has read the book series, or ever seen the movie. It gives insight into how the characters were developed and even where some of the infamous lines in the movie came from. Unfortunately it also is perhaps the introduction to a drug addiction which plagued Judy Garland her whole life and was the start of her great sense of insecurity. It delves into the love of Frank and Maud Baum, their family, their losses and their highs, but it is especially about the woman whose strength enabled the story to be told in both book and movie form. I highly recommend Finding Dorothy.
Thank you #NetGalley #Ballantine Books for the advanced copy. Finding Dorothy will be out on February 12.

Christmas Caramel Murder by Joanne Fluke

Having just read Fluke’s most recent book, Christmas Cake Murder, and after having had to review some very intense, sometimes depressing books, I decided to look on my own shelf for something light.

Christmas Caramel Murder did not disappoint. Although it was Fluke’s 2017 Christmas book, it was the quick, cozy mystery a book reviewer sometimes needs.

Hannah Swensen, owner of Lake Eden’s cookie store, The Cookie Jar, must try of clear her partner Lisa of a murder in which Lisa’s husband is a suspect himself.

In the meantime, The Lake Eden players are presenting A Christmas Carol at the community theater while Hannah herself is being visited at night by her own ghost.

With so many suspects, I must say it took me much longer to figure this one out!

My only disappointment was in the recipes at the end of each chapter. Usually I enjoy them and have even tried a few, but these seemed a bit more difficult than her average recipe.

Again, just your sweet, cozy read for a rainy day or when your brain is too filled to delve too deep!
I do enjoy the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke.

Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love and Food by Ann Hood

Author Ann Hood has lived quite a life. And her new book of essays Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love and Food is that proof.

During her life and career she has endured heartache, joy and love. She honestly writes about her sadness and depression, her time as an airline stewardess, her marriages and the deaths of her daughter and her brother. It seems she has had not just one life, but many. But she mostly writes about how those memories intertwine with her memories of food and how food played an integral part in her family, and still does. How it soothed her sadness or made her smile at a remembrance.

Her recipes invoke memories, some happy, such as her son Sam’s first foray into creative cooking by making Sam’s Potatoes at the age of five, to her late mother’s gravy and meatballs which as child Ann would dunk bread in and eat as her after school snack. Others are to entice a memory such as Grace’s Cheesy Potatoes a dish her daughter, who passed away suddenly at the age of five loved. I especially enjoyed the visual of her entire family, and extended family, renting a beach house and the debate over Tomato Pie.

A wonderful heartwarming book of essays which shows how food can invoke joy, sadness or even how just seeing a vegetable can bring you back to your childhood. It also shows Ann’s resilience and strength and her honesty about her life. There are some recipes I will take and place in my own recipe box and will remember Ann with a smile as I make them.

And if Ms. Hood ever reads this review, I for one have written September 24 into my calendar with a note which says Pasta with Butter and Parm.

One Fatal Mistake by Tom Hunt

One Fatal Mistake begins with a murder. But Joshua Mayo who is 18 and heading off to a great college, something he has spent his whole life trying to obtain has made one mistake, a fatal one.

His mother Karen and her ex-husband Teddy, Joshua’s father, will stop at nothing to make sure their son’s dreams come true. But can one fatal mistake lead to another and to another? Is it true what goes around comes around?

As Karen tries to assist Joshua in figuring out how to handle the situation, they come across a couple who themselves have made a fatal mistake in their lives. Is Karma real? And what happens when Karma’s collide?

This fast paced, heart racing story will keep you guessing throughout the book. I give One Fatal Mistake five stars for the anxiety I endured throughout the novel alone.

Thank you Berkley Publishing and Random House for the advanced copy. One Fatal Mistake will be out on February 5.