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Monday, March 25, 2019

Murder From Scratch by Leslie Karst

Release Date - April 9, 2019



I'm a sucker for culinary mysteries. I never caught wind of Leslie Karst's first Sally Solari Mystery, but that didn't keep me from indulging in Murder From Scratch. Sally's busy running her newly inherited restaurant. Despite a somewhat moody chef and impending partnership deal, she finds herself taking in her distant cousin.

Evelyn's mom died of a drug overdose. Evelyn is blind and found the body when stumbling over her. She's devastated, but there's no family who can take her in except for Sally's dad and he's allergic to dogs. Sally agrees and quickly learns that her cousin is fun, very independent, and an excellent cook.

Soon, the pair realize that Evelyn's mom did not accidentally overdose or commit suicide. She has to have been poisoned intentionally. Police detectives aren't quite as convinced. Sally and her cousin decide it's worth finding what is needed to get the police to open a murder investigation. Doing so might put them in harm's way.

From the beginning, I was hooked. Evelyn is incredibly likable and her insight as a blind person added to the intrigue. Sally had moments where I couldn't believe she was missing obvious things, but that often happens. The mystery keeps you guessing, but it's not impossible to solve either.

As a bonus, there are several recipes at the end. Including one for Evelyn's hand-rolled pasta. I cannot wait to try it!




Monday, March 18, 2019

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Release Date - March 5, 2019



I'd heard so many people say that the ending to Beautiful Bad was truly shocking. I saw it coming, so that ended up being a bit of a letdown.

The story focuses heavily on three people. Maddie and Jo were best friends, joined into a friendship during their years in the Balkan Peninsula. The dangers they faced there drew them together. It's also there that Maddie was introduced to a British security officer, Ian. Their relationship grew fast but rocky.

In Kansas, Maddie and Ian are happily married with a young son Charlie. There's been a horrific crime and the police need to unravel what happened.

Beautiful Bad takes place in past, recent past, and present. You get to know Maddie's story when she lived in Bosnia and frequently went to Macedonia to see Jo, as well as her life in New York City and Kansas. Ian's story is told as he is in Iraq. There is also the police officer who responds to the 911 call and hears young Charlie's cries asking why someone hurt him.

The real-time account from the officer drew me into the story. As the story started flipping around from past to present, I started finding myself wishing for more of the current investigation. After a few chapters, I felt that the frequent flips back and forth were slowing the part of the plot that intrigued me. I started to grow tired of Jo and Maddie's story. When I started having to force myself to keep reading, I knew I was in trouble.

There is plenty of suspense in Beautiful Bad, and it started off so strong. I'm sad that it reached a point where it became exactly what I was expecting. I had the ending pegged too soon for this to be a keeper.




Friday, March 15, 2019

House on Fire by Bonnie Kistler

Release Date - March 12, 2019



Imagine if Greg Brady from The Brady Bunch had driven Jan Brady and caused a crash that led to Jan's death. That's the premise behind Bonnie Kistler's House on Fire.

Leigh is a divorce lawyer, so she knows the statistics on how many marriages don't last. She's been through it. When she met builder Pete Conely, she was stunned by how well her twin sons and daughter got along with Pete's son and daughter. Their fifth year anniversary has arrived, so they decide to leave 14-year-old Chrissy at home with her 17-year-old step-brother.

Neither expects the call that will change their lives. Kip's been arrested for DUI with Chrissy in the truck when it goes off the road. Within 12 hours, a traumatic brain injury ends Chrissy's life and Kip is now facing manslaughter charges.

Leigh and Pete are now pitted against each other. Kip swears he didn't do it and that Chrissy was driving because he was drunk. Leigh cannot believe her daughter would ever do such a thing and not tell her. Kip swears there is a witness, though no one has been able to find him. One thing is certain, these events threaten to tear two families apart and end their marriage.

Here's a book that had me hooked from the start. Could I see both Pete and Leigh's desperation and points of view? Sure. Could I side with either? I have to say both made errors that annoyed me at times. I certainly had issues with Leigh's twin boys, though I get them too. Despite these niggles, House on Fire is a book I couldn't put down. I was up early to read on and stayed up far later than normal trying to fit both this book and my nightly binge of an Agatha Raisin show.

I'd been in a bit of a rut since last week. House on Fire cured it. I'm so glad I picked it up.