Middle of a Jungle: USA style

The Mammoth Murders Book Cover The Mammoth Murders
Minokee Mysteries, Book One and Two
by Iris Chacon
romantic comedy, animals
Delia L. Stewart, Miami
Pub Date: 01 Nov 2019

A blind deejay (Shepard Krausse) and an invisible librarian (Miranda Ogilvy) from a tiny, rural Florida town try to solve a double disappearance connected to a recent canoe trip. It ain't exactly "Deliverance," but there's a heap of trouble brewing fer these folks -- some of it human, some of it animal, and all of it deadly. Shep and Miranda rely on their sense of humor as they face dangerous fossil poachers -- but even that is difficult when their engagement is broken amidst a river of troubles. This is Book 2 in the Minokee Mysteries series.

Shep's Italian friend (Carlo Fratelli - cook, chauffeur, valet, & ladies man) aids the couple in their adventures. Shep's animal friend, Zeus, a huge and independent Maine Coon cat, is so clever, he sometimes seems clairvoyant.

The Coffee Ritual ladies of Minokee add their quirky personalities and folksy wisdom to help Shep & Miranda iron out the bumps in their lives. Martha, Bernice, Wyneen, and Charlotte (average age 74.3) gather every dawn on their front porches to sip their coffee while they wait for the sight of the blond Adonis (Shep) jogging past their Magnolia Street cottages.

Shepard's absurdly wealthy, snobbish, and domineering mother (Hermione Montgomery-Krausse) is always behind the scenes, attempting to direct the course of Shep's career. Hermione wants Shep to become a politician, like several of his ancestors. At the very least, she wants her son to become a television commentator. With his blindness, his noble family connections, and his golden good looks, Shepard would be recognized by future voters - which will not happen if he stays in radio.

The shy Miranda shows a surprising inner strength when confronting Shepard's officious mother, and Hermione has been forced to admire the librarian. Hermione vacillates between trying to separate Shep and Miranda or trying to marry them - on Hermione's terms.

Miranda's difficulties with Hermione are compounded when Miranda's parents arrive unannounced from Miami. Dr. Rosario Ogilvy, Miranda's mother, is a soulmate for Hermione Montgomery-Krausse, while Dr. Ezekiel Ogilvy, Miranda's father, sides with his daughter (and Hermione's son) against the two matriarchs.

The serio-comic family battle continues in the background even while Shep and Miranda risk their future and their very lives attempting to find the killers responsible for The Mammoth Murders.

I fell in love with Miranda. I am reviewing here both books one and two in the series.

 I agree her description of Shepard made him seem hot but a beard – not for me. Apparently a good set of abs though, I can see why the Ladies of Minokee liked to watch him run past.

I read book 1 and couldn’t wait to get my hands on book 2. Unfortunately for me, some of the quaintness and curiosity had gone as we now knew about Minokee and Shepard and Dave and Pietro and Miranda’s parents – although we only met them in the second book.

But the storyline is about how people should not be judged by their external appearances. It is their inner being that is important and it is this inner being of Miranda that Shepard falls in love with and brings out in her, so she stops being the Librarian Mouse and becomes the Librarian Lion instead.

And in book 2 we meet Zeus. He is a wonder. And I look forward to reading about his adventures in future books.

This is a series I shall follow.

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Going Alone?

Plus One Plus None Book Cover Plus One Plus None
by Emica Mao
Women's Fiction, Romance
Pub Date 16 Jul 2019

Plus One Plus None is a candid monologue of a single introvert named Zita who expected to be married someday but instead ended up single in her 40s. Like most girls, when she was in her 20s, she felt like she had all the time in the world and everything would just fall into place within the usual timeline. Except that sometimes, things don't turn out the way you expect them to be which you may only realize after several years have slipped by.

In Plus One Plus None, Zita retells her story as how it unfolded. She shares her unfiltered thoughts, reflections, actions (and inactions), mistakes, imperfections and realizations at every stage in her life. Her musings and anecdotes include various topics from dating, pursuing personal goals, dealing with intrusive questions like "how old are you?" and "when will you get married?", to facing the possibility of not being able to marry and get pregnant within one's prime years, and coming to grips with the possibility of staying unmarried and growing old alone.

Who may learn from Zita's story?

- unattached singles in their mid-30s or 40s who sometimes wonder why they are still single or ended up single because it is when you reach this age when you begin to realize that there's a chance that some of the things you expected to happen in your life may not happen after all (versus when you are in your 20s to early 30s when you're brimming with confidence that everything would happen within your expected timeline);

- the single who complains about her single status and blames it on her busy schedule, lack of dating opportunities and other external factors;

- the shy single or the homebody single who doesn't go out a lot but expects to find a boyfriend;

- the choosy single who starts zoning out on the first date the moment she spots something she doesn't like about her date or who refuses to go out on a second date once the guy isn't her type but claims she's open to "dating";

- the praying single who asks God to send her The One but doesn't do her part to make it happen;

- the single who says she wants to get married and have kids someday but her actions and innermost thoughts say otherwise;

- the single who relies on pure hope and luck in meeting her Plus One someday; and

- the single who claims every new year is going to be "the year" but doesn't do anything new or different each year.

Just remember - each person has different values, fears, challenges, imperfections and reasons for being single and though Zita's fears, challenges, imperfections, circumstances and reasons for being single maybe different from yours, you may use Zita's story as a cautionary tale to reflect where you are right now in your single life and determine what needs to be done to make things happen in your life within your target timeline.

If you are single and you are already doing something about your single situation, or you never run out of dates, or you love to go out to mingle, or you already have a boyfriend, or you are right on track with your relationship goals, there is no need to read Zita's story unless you are naturally curious about other people's life stories or curious to hear one's story of unexpected spinsterhood.

Plus One Plus None is a short and concise read that gives a snapshot of single woman's introspection of 15 years of her single life in 140 pages (for paperback) and 178 pages (on kindle).

Don't let another year quickly slip away only to realize that you are a year older and nothing significant happened in your single life again.

 I rather liked this story and the way the story was told by the narrator - who seemed to be somewhere on the spectrum, but determined to live as normal a life as she could.
However, I do have some criticisms -one of which was on every page and nearly every statement - the use of LOL. Not only is this very outdated in terms of current language use, but it really irritated by the time it was repeated and repeated and repeated. 905 of these should have been cut out.
The bit about prayers was not for me and in my opinion seemed not to fit the the general trajectory of the story. Which led to the final chapter. Oh dear. Where did this come from? It turned into a self-help book. Which was not what it originally appeared to be, but reading the author’s comments it clearly was. This really reduced my admiration for the story as it turned each chapter on its head and even though it was not aimed at me, it felt too prescriptive as a self-help book.
So my star rating zoomed down to a 2.

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A dress that whispers?

The Perfect Dress Book Cover The Perfect Dress
Louisa Leaman
romantic comedy, love, marriage
Transworld Digital - Random House
(17 Oct. 2019)

Fran’s wedding dress shop isn’t like any other. A treasure trove of history, filled with gowns from every decade for every type of bride. But not as you’d expect. Something bold for the shy and retiring. Something simple for the woman who is unafraid to stand out. And something dazzling for the bride who wouldn’t normally dare to be different. No matter your expectations, you’d never guess your own perfect dress. But Fran knows… she feels the wisdom woven into every gown, a gift from the previous owner waiting to be handed down to the next bride. When Fran finds a dress that seems to be perfect for her she can’t wait to know its complex history which starts with her getting to know the son of the previous owner

At first I thought no, not another a wedding dress shop with outsized women in mind, or with some fairy or other magical creature involved. But then it went into another direction. The concept of a vintage dress shop was lovely. And I was almost tempted to find one and give them mine. Yes, I still have it. And no, it hasn’t gone into the dressing up box. But no, it won’t fit me – or my daughter, but who knows, maybe a grand-daughter? It is very much of its era. Victorian themed with sprigs of lilac flowers on cream. Long sleeves and tucked in waist. Full length of course – but then I needed to hide my cast on my leg on the day!

I liked the idea that a dress ‘whispered’. But really felt that a dress can only tell you about the day and not what happens afterwards.

Overall, I liked the story-telling and the romance and the exploration of what happens behind closed doors in a wedding and its reasons.

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#Momspringa: Yes please!

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler Book Cover The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
Kelly Harms
Romantic Comedy, Love, Sex & Marriage Humour, Humorous Fiction
Lake Union Publishing
(1 May 2019)

Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.

Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.

But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.

So after being a frazzled and broke single mum for years Amy Byler is  given the gift of a momspringa – in the way that the US … sect give their children a ..srpinga when they reach adulthood. A year off to discover who they are and what they want to do with their lives.

This year of Amy’s is detailed by the magazine that is sponsoring her – she is photographed and everything she does is told in detail on social media. And it sets a trend amongst tired mums who also want a #momspringa even if only for a few days!

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Eat up!

A Slice of Magic Book Cover A Slice of Magic
The Little Magic Pie Shop #1
A. G. Mayes
Romance , Women's Fiction
Harper Impulse and Killer Reads
Pub Date 25 Jan 2019

A plea she can’t ignore, a town of secrets and a magical recipe for love – or disaster…

Susanna Daniels has spent over twenty years wondering why her beloved Aunt Erma disappeared from her life. When Aunt Erma leaves a voicemail asking for help at her pie shop, Susanna thinks she’s finally going to get the answers she’s been waiting for. But when Susanna arrives in the small town of Hocus Hills, Aunt Erma is gone, leaving only a short note, her mischievous dog, Mitzy, and a pie shop with a mind of its own to run…

The first book in The Little Magic Pie Shop series

Well the name of the small town should have given the game away – Hocus Hills – really?!

How do you keep people happy eating pies everyday and yet not worry about putting on weight? Especially if you have the Gym owner badgering everyone to lose weight and win the challenge cup that year?

And then what happens when your estranged aunt asks you to come and help and then disappears? And you really don’t know how to make pies? But are willing to learn..

A cosy story with a bit of humour and mystery. And some magic.

A sweet, charming and magical small town romance for 2019!

4 stars.

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