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Game of Cones, by Cynthia Baxter

9 May

Format: e-ARC, 304 pages

Publisher: Kensington Books

Published: 24 November 2020

ISBN: 9781496726827

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Back cover blurb: In Cynthia Baxter’s fourth Lickety Splits Mystery, ice cream shoppe owner and amateur sleuth Kate McKay doesn’t waffle around scooping up new clientele at a historic hotel, but her hopes of becoming the Hudson Valley’s reigning ice cream queen melt fast when murder checks-in!

From the moment Kate arrives at the imposing Mohawk Mountain Resort, not even luggage brimming with hot fudge can sweeten her stay. Instead of savoring alone time with her on-again boyfriend Jake and leading workshops on whipping together delectable frosty treats, she finds herself stranded at the isolated hotel with a small group of nutty characters–and a dead body.

When the corpse of wealthy cosmetics executive Bethany La Montaigne is suddenly found following a blackout, any of the five strangers trapped with Kate and Jake could be the killer. Chilled to the core, Kate vows to discover whether the victim’s mortal enemy was a smooth-talking playboy, bubbly millennial, mousy librarian, charming Englishman, or the Mohawk’s creepy general manager…

Bethany’s life was chock full of scandals and there’s little doubt that someone refused to endure another taste. With just a sprinkling of clues, it’s up to Kate to bring justice to a culprit who believes that revenge is a dish best served cold…

My review: I chose this book from Netgalley because of the punny title and the fact it was about ice cream. I was unaware it was the fourth book in a series, but I don’t think that mattered much. It soon became apparent, though, that this was very poorly written. The title and the ice cream were the best things about it.

The characters were unlikable stereotypes who didn’t seem to care that someone had been murdered in their midst and their body left somewhere in the hotel, never to be mentioned again. One even had a complete change of character, going from creepy to puppy dog in a matter of a few pages. The plot was ridiculously implausible. Police would have been on the spot, no matter what the weather, and it would not have been up to one of the guests to inform the family about the death. Mrs Moody’s backstory was extremely unlikely from a legal perspective. And what kind of ice cream business owner goes to a remote hotel without knowing if there are decent refrigeration facilities?

At once stage, Kate’s niece said Google was her friend, and it’s clearly the author’s friend also because she used it to provide unrelated facts about ice cream at the start of each chapter, even down to including the URL of the website the fact came from. There were pages describing what a cult was, like it was some novel concept, and even an explanation of foosball. One can only assume the author thinks she needs to spoon-feed her readers because they aren’t capable of looking up new words for themselves if they don’t know them. But would they really not have heard of them?

And then there was the actual writing. At one point, the word ‘suddenly’ was used three times in two short sentences. This could have benefited from a good editor, both for writing and content. Kate was written much older than she was meant to be, more Miss Marple than Nancy Drew.

Overall, then, not one I would recommend. Despite the ice cream, I won’t be reading the rest of the series or any other by Baxter.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 1/5



Stuck with You, by Carla Burgess

9 May
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Format: e-ARC, 384 pages

Publisher: HQ Digital

Published: 10 April 2017

ISBN: 9780008221553

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Back cover blurb: One lift. Two strangers. Anything could happen!

Elena thought that today would be just like any other day…until the supermarket lift jams and she realises she’s stuck.

And not just stuck in the lift. Stuck with her childhood crush, Daniel Moore, who unfortunately seems to be just as gorgeous as she remembered…

My review: A sweet wee romance with very little conflict, but when it ended I was bugged there were still some unresolved matters. The sample chapter from the next book didn’t seem to have the same characters, so that didn’t help me. When would they get to meet Patrick? Was he as sketchy as he sounded? I need to know! I liked the second-chance romance trope with Elena and Dan, but introducing Patrick and never resolving his storyline ignores the Chekhov’s gun rule. Can I petition Carla Burgess to consider a sequel?

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3/5



Beneath the Keep (The Queen of the Tearling, #0), by Erika Johansen

13 Feb
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Format: e-ARC, 420 pages

Publisher: Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Published: 11 February 2021

ISBN: 9781787632356

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Sci Fi and Fantasy, Teens and YA

Back cover blurb: In a world far in the future, society in the Tearling has reverted to feudalism.

Evil forces have converged to ensure that the rich and powerful stay in control while the poor are plunged into ever-greater depths of suffering. The only hope is a prophecy, whispered about among the poor, that a True Queen will rise up and save the kingdom from succumbing completely to despotism.

But, none of this affects the Mace. We meet the Mace in the beginning of his life, when he is enslaved as a paid fighter in the Creche, the clandestine and sinister underworld beneath the kingdom. The decrepit Creche is the only home Mace has ever known.

Meanwhile in the Keep and in the countryside, some of the same villains at play in the Mace’s world are inciting ever-escalating class conflict. Princess Elyssa must decide if she should align herself with her mother the Queen, or join the socialist rebellion group Blue Horizon, which has captured her heart. As the people rioting across the countryside decide Elyssa holds the key to the Kingdom’s future, she is running out of time to make her choice–and to outrun those who hope to make it for her.

When the Mace must leave the Creche for the first time in his life, his own fate intertwines with the prophecy of the princess and the battles of country peasants uniting in mutiny, and everything changes. The hope that Elyssa represented may be snuffed out by dark magic, and the Mace finds himself called into the service of something bigger than himself — a fight for a better world.

My review: I’ve always loved the Mace, and this new book from Erika Johansen – a prequel to her Tearling trilogy set in the period just before Queen Kelsea’s birth – gives us his origin story, from a childhood in the Creche to years in the ring as a child fighter and then his introduction to the Queen’s Guard. At the same time, we get to see Kelsea’s mother’s descent into madness, and all the evil machinations of the high-born classes and the desperation of those forced to live below them.

In her author’s note, Johansen makes it clear she is making a political statement about the haves and have-nots, and many times I appreciated when she made a sly dig at the recent US political turmoil.

As with the other books in the series, I must state that, although categorised as YA fiction, the subject matter really isn’t for children or for the fainthearted. Paedophilia and rape are ongoing themes, and there are some very gory, stomach-churning descriptions. Scenes in the Creche just broke my heart and I could picture them clearly because of Johansen’s amazing writing.

Many fans were upset at the ending of the third Tearling book, but with this prequel I see an exciting new beginning and very much hope we will see more from the time of Kelsea’s childhood.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5



Must Try Harder

12 Mar

writer's blockHello? Anyone out there? I am hugely sorry for my prolonged absence. Work has been crazy busy for a while now, but all of a sudden I find myself with time on my hands, so I’m going to make a concerted effort to post on here more often.
For anyone still subscribing – thank you! I’m going to try to keep you up with my book reviews and other interesting tidbits. WordPress has changed a bit since I was last here, so hopefully I’ll be able to work this out. Stay tuned!

Ice Cream Sandwiches

19 Aug

I need to try this recipe! Yum!

kiss my spatula | food + photography

Sometimes….you just feel like being bad.

Really bad.

‘Nuff said.


Ice Cream Sandwiches
Tweaked from Gourmetand The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, yields 10 gigantic ice cream sandwiches

Make sure to use old fashioned oats for the cookies.  Quick, or instant, oats won’t work for this recipe (trust me).  If you want to elevate these babies one notch further, assemble the sandwiches while the cookies are the slightest bit warm.  Not so warm that it instantly melts the ice cream, but just warm enough so you notice.

Music Pairing: I Like to Move It,Move It,Madagascar Music Video(I don’t know what I like better – these ice cream sandwiches or this video).  Turn up the volume, sit back and watch this one!  I dare you not to laugh.

vanilla bean ice cream:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1…

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Chocolate Biscotti

11 Sep

Yum! Must try these.

Mama's Gotta Bake

I love crunch and I love nuts, and come on friends, we’ve been over this again and again…you know how obsessed I am with chocolate. So here we have it, Chocolate Biscotti, it’s a virtual no-brainer!  And, as if this cookie is not already sheer perfection, yes, you guessed it, it’s dipped in a lovely chocolate glaze. Need I say more?

Well…of course I’ll say more, that’s what I do. I love to make biscotti simply because they’re so easy.  You shape the dough into logs, bake ’em, slice them while they’re still warm, and then, bake ’em again. These biscuits are really perfect to accompany a cup of coffee or a hot cup of tea, but seriously I eat six of these before the coffee’s even brewed. I’m so bad.

But I’m still not done touting the virtues of this humble confection. These little gems will store for…

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From the kitchen: Nectarine Skillet Cake

11 Sep

This looks so yummy for the upcoming summer!

{love+cupcakes} Blog




I’ve had this skillet cake on my mind all summer. Every time I’ve been to the farmer’s market in the past two months, I’ve purchased ripe nectarines with the best of skillet cake intentions, but sadly, I just never found the time – until last Saturday, that is. Evan was out of town for the weekend, I didn’t have any leftover work from the week to do and I had zero plans for a full 48 hours. It was the perfect storm for a quiet, in-my-jammies, morning baking session. So I turned up Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, preheated my oven and gathered the ingredients. I don’t know if it was the nectarines that I purchased (they were just about as perfect as I’ve ever tasted) or the fact that I skipped breakfast to eat cake for brunch, but this was one of the best things that has ever come…

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Cover Reveal: Gabriel’s Redemption by Sylvain Reynard

23 Apr

Can’t wait for this!

Bookish Temptations

Of all the cover reveals I’ve participated in? I have to admit this one has very special meaning to me and to Bookish Temptations, so I couldn’t be more pleased or honored than to be able to share it with all of you.

Gabriel’s Redemption by Sylvain Reynard is one of my most anticipated reads this year, and the cover just makes me want to read it even more.

Ready?!? GO! GO! GO!

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27 Feb

I’m SO looking forward to Trey’s book, and this is such a pretty cover. Roll on November 1!

Olivia Cunning's Blog

This isn’t the final version, but since

Double Time is now available for preorder on Amazon


I thought I’d give you a sneak peek of the cover.

Is it hot or what?

Official Release Date: November 1, 2012

View original post

Hello world!

18 Aug

So this is the first post on BBOOB. Yes, I know, that looks a bit like Boob… but maybe that name is appropriate too. Let’s embrace the (o)(o)

Tee hee 😉