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Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Promise Kitchen: A Novel by Peggy Lampman

Setting: Georgia
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union
Release Date: September 27, 2016



Shelby Preston is a single mom and currently living with her mother. She needs a change from the life she's always led in rural Georgia. This isn't the life she wants, so when she sees an ad looking to send one lucky person to culinary school, she jumps at the opportunity.

Mallory Lakes is still mourning breaking up with her boyfriend. Her job as a food writer seems to be on tentative ground. She comes up with an idea that she hopes will boost her career.

That's the main premise of The Promise Kitchen. Characters come to life on the pages, each having her own quirks, weaknesses, and strengths. The settings of Atlanta and rural Georgia also drew me in.

Despite liking the characters and the setting, there's something about the writing style that just never grabbed me. I think it came down to some of the descriptions becoming too wordy. I wanted to experience the characters' lives, not get bogged down in the writing. As a result, I often found it easier to walk away for a bit than try to keep forcing myself to read. It took me far longer to read this novel than is typical, which I found frustrating.

In the end, I liked The Promise Kitchen, but I never loved the story. I wish there had been more focus on the action than on the descriptions.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Life After Coffee by Virginia Franken

Setting: California
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: September 13, 2016



Amy O'Hara's built a career in find the very best coffee beans. Her latest trip is cut short when her boss calls her into the office. She's going to miss her flight, but she goes there and learns she's being laid off.

Her days of tastings and negotiating deals with farmers are over. Instead, she's now the stay-at-home parent while her husband attempts to revitalize his career as a writer. Her kids are not thrilled with her rules, and area moms certainly don't warm up to her quickly.

When a former ex offers to give her husband a chance writing scripts for a new television series, Amy's appreciative, but it looks like her ex has more in mind than simply hiring her husband. He seems to want Amy back in his life, even if they're both married with kids.

I've loved many of the books coming from Lake Union Publishing. Life After Coffee is another engrossing story, but there were points where the story dragged a bit too much for my taste and I wondered if that scene was truly necessary. I didn't love Amy's character as much as I'd hoped to. She is flawed, especially when she's tossed into being an at-home parent. That said, the reappearance of her ex-boyfriend, especially when his intentions become clear, well I didn't like that aspect.

Life After Coffee has humorous moments and some very realistic ones. It's not a bad read. It's just not one I'd put on the keeper shelf.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Girl Number One by Jane Holland

Setting: Cornwall
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: September 27, 2016



When she was just six years old, Eleanor witnessed her mother's murder. She's all grown up and back teaching in her hometown. On the anniversary of her mother'd murder, she takes a jog through the woods where her mother was killed. Her usual route's been shut, so she takes the path that leads right by the site where her mother died. To her shock, she finds the body of a woman with "3" written on her forehead.

Police reach the scene after interviewing Eleanor. There's no body. They suspect Eleanor is imagining things. When Eleanor does find another body, this one with a number 2, it's clear that Eleanor's past is catching up with her.

Girl Number One is pretty creepy. The pacing keeps you hooked, and the characters are likable. The killer's identity didn't stump me. The ending had a few holes that bugged me. If I could see things, I certainly don't get why police were so blind. I had it pegged early on, but there are a number of characters that do keep you questioning your suspicions.

If you like the recent spate of psychological thrillers, you'll enjoy Girl Number One.