It Happened in Tuscany by Gail Mencini

Book Genre Block - "General Fiction" Person holding book
book cover "It Happened in Tuscany" with foggy rolling hills
Book Genre Block with image of group of children

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was a story of friendship, hardship, family, and love. I was surprised by the deep emotions this book drew out of me! It was a lovely journey.

We follow Will and his neighbor, Sophie, as they travel to Italy. Their friendship seems impossible, but grows into a bond that is absolutely lovely. I love what an absolute grump Will is. His attitude creates the best payoff for the reader as Sophie works to thaw him and their friendship forms.

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A Vineyard Valentine by Nina Bocci

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Book Genre Tag "Romance": A couple kissing
Book Genre Block - "Rom Com" couple on bench

A Vineyard Valentine is a fun, light, quick listen that you’ll enjoy this Valentine’s day! I loved the character banter throughout this story!

Eloisa is a bit of a grump about Valentine’s day, but when she crosses paths with someone who could make her swoon, what will she do? I loved that Eloisa was bouncing between two worlds throughout the story. She’s running a party for Valentine’s enthusiasts as well as a separate one for Anti-Valentine’s people. I liked the rush that running these two events created, and how when she meets someone special, everything seems to slow down for her.

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The Burden of Hate by Helen Starbuck

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Okay, so sometimes the third book in a series starts to become a bit repetitive or boring for me and my excitement wants…THIS BOOK THOUGH, only got better! The third book in the Annie Collins mystery series was just amazing!

The action starts off so fast, we’re immediately thrown into a wedding in upheaval and an escaped convict determined to ruin Annie and Angel. It was an exciting, thrilling story that I couldn’t put down!

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Secrets of the Starcrossed by Clara O’Connor

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I feel like this book was a bit of a mixed bag. I was interested, and I didn’t ever just stop reading this book, but I also kept going back to the synopsis trying to see what it was that I was looking forward to. That Panem callout in the synopsis kept me going. It did feel a little like Panem from the controlling aspect, but I don’t think that’s enough of a connection to use that city.

The world is like ours, but with changes to history. I was really confused in the beginning. They reference historical British royalty family bloodlines, but their histories are changed, so just know going in that any history you know won’t match with this version.

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No Pity In Death by Helen Starbuck

Welcome to the blog tour for Annie Collins Mystery Series hosted by iRead Book Tours!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is the second book in the Annie Collins mysteries, and I really enjoyed the continuation of Annie’s story. Annie had some rough situations in the last book, and she is still dealing with the aftermath as we start book 2.

This story focuses on the mystery of DNR patients being killed off at her hospital. I liked that there was still this medical mystery portion of the story, but we also go to invest in a romance plot for Annie. I liked that something that was a spark of romance from book one was delved into more in this story.

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The Mad Hatter’s Son by Helen Starbuck

Welcome to the blog tour for Annie Collins Mystery Series hosted by iRead Book Tours!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was a really fun mystery! Annie, our main character is one of those people who is a caring, loving person. She’s an operating room nurse, and so I think it’s just in her nature to want to help people. When her friend Libby reaches out to Annie for help about a mystery illness, Annie ends up in a startling mystery!

I really enjoyed the medical side of this story. I get really intrigued about all the details, and in this story, I felt like they were well researched and accurate. I liked the illness as a mystery, but also all the other details within the story that created the twists as the plot progressed!

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I really enjoyed this book! What a dark, spooky premise with a crazy plot! This is a perfect Halloween read, so go grab it this October!!

Noemí Taboada arrives in her high-fashion dress with a cigarette in hand to save her cousin after receiving a desperate letter from her. The secluded mansion in 1950’s Mexico that she comes to is everything you want in a spooky setting. It’s dark and mysterious with creepy household members that hold so many secrets. The first dinner Noemí sits down to, the family explains that they eat in complete silence. It is one of the many odd quirks about this story that had me guessing from start to finish just what was happening!

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The Nutcracker Conspiracy by Lauren Carr

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I Loved:

One of the things I love about Lauren Carr’s books is her animals. She creates these animal characters that have a personality that you connect with! The Nutcracker Conspiracy did not disappoint me one bit with the animals woven into the story!

How I Felt:

The plot was so much fun. It’s a police procedural story, so I got lots of great details from the investigator’s perspective. The conspiracy really went back in time to pull all the details together, which made the fact-finding portion of the book really interesting. It also has that fun, humorous side that makes it feel lighthearted. Lauren Carr finds a great balance between the suspense and humor.

The characters in The Nutcracker Conspiracy were as wonderful as always! I like that Carr incorporates characters that we meet in other stories with the new ones. It just feels like I’m reading about friends. Gnarly, a favorite pup of mine is back again. If you enjoy the four-legged friends in stories, you’ll really get into this book. There’s even a lycanthrope lurking around!

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Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What I Loved:

Mikel Jollett wrote this memoir in a way that made me see how he felt going through these experiences. His narrative changes as he ages, so I really got a sense of the issues that he dealt with during each age range of his life. As a child, his story is written with a child’s narrative, and it was my favorite part. I loved how he chose to spell or write words, making me understand what this word meant or how it sounded to him as a child.

How I Felt:

I listened to the audio version of this book, so my review will discuss both the book itself, and the narration of the book.

Mikel Jollett spent the early years of his life in a cult called Synanon in California. Synanon started as a drug rehabilitation group, drawing Mikel’s parents to the cult, as his father was an addict. Synanon leaders soon forgot their original purpose, transforming into the cult Mikel grew up in. All children were separated from parents and raised in an orphanage-type environment within the Synanon encampment. Many children did not understand who their parents were, and some families rarely saw each other. Mikel writes about his brother in a description of the treatment of the children and it broke my heart.

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