Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

Class mom is a ridiculously funny look at what it is like to be a class mom and what it is like to have to deal with the many personalities involved.

Jen Dixon is an “olderish” mom who led quite the life in her early 20’s and has two college daughters to prove it. Now married, she has a son going into Kindergarten. Having been a class mom years ago for her daughters, Jen is gently “pushed” into being the class mom for her son Max’s class by her best friend Nina. Jen thinks, been there, done that easy! Um…maybe not!

From the hilarious emails she sends to the parents (at least she thinks they are funny) to dealing with a young sexy kindergarten teacher who does not believe in “Hallmark” holidays or parties, Jen is in constant motion. To add to the chaos, her daughters are having their own crisis and her husband has become not so thrilled with her. Anyone who has ever been a class mom can identify with the different parental “personalities” as well as the land mines one has to avoid in order to keep the peace.

I laughed from beginning to end and I look forward to reviewing the sequel, You’ve Been Volunteered, which is coming out in July. @Goodreads #Class Mom

Chocolate Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Hopefully you are all caught up in the Hannah Swensen series!

In Chocolate Cream Pie Murder we find Hannah in very unstable condition. Her marriage has been discovered to be a farce and she now must explain to the residence of Lake Eden what has happened and she feels the need to apologize and to make amends. Embarrassed and humiliated Hannah tries her best to pick up the pieces of her life and put the past behind her.

Until she receives a threatening visitor who frightens her to the point that the whole town unites in order to protect her. And then there is a dead body found in her bedroom. Hannah is falling to pieces! So many questions…will Hannah be next? And of course, who is the murderer?

I expected this to be another Fluke cozy mystery which I really do enjoy, but she surprised me with a shocking ending, and I mean SHOCKING!

Once again Fluke adds spice to both her story and the recipes which are included at the end of each chapter. I am glad to see she is branching out from just cookie recipes and including many more full dinner meals. And I love the crockpot recipes as well!

The book is a terrific quick read and all I really can say is please hurry and put out the next installment! I can’t wait!

Chocolate Cream Pie Murder will be out February 29. Thank you @NetGalley @Kensington Publishing @Joanne Fluke for the advanced copy!

The Lost Night by Andrea Bartz

The Lost Night begins with Lindsay by chance meeting a former friend from ten years ago. The last time they saw each other was the night of her best friend Edie’s suicide.

In 2009 Lindsay was a blackout very angry drunk who partied and fought with a tight group of friends. One night her best friend Edie kills herself and leaves a suicide note. Devastated she walks away from those friends and gets her life together. She stops drinking and becomes a successful magazine fact checker with great friends…a good life.

Until this chance meeting. When Lindsay discovers her memory (as much as she can remember of it) of the night of Edie’s death differs with what may have actually happened. She begins to have flashbacks of that time when she was friends with Edie. She decides to try and piece together what actually happened that night by using her resources as a fact checker as well as finding those friends from her previous life.

Could it be possible Edie did not kill herself? Slowly Lindsay starts to realize that not only could it be possible, but she could be an actual murderer. How can she be sure? How does she not start to slip into her old habits which got her into this mess. Can you ever forgive your friends for their past mistakes and especially, can you ever forgive yourself.

The Lost Night is a fast paced story which weaves in and out of 2009 and now. The story lines are all incredible and the characters believable. This is Bartz first book and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for her next!

The Lost Night goes on sale February 26. Thank you #NetGalley and #Crown for the advanced copy.

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.