Thursday, February 29, 2024

Betrayal in the Bay (Claire O'Keefe Mystery 2), by Cindy Quayle

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Betrayal in the Bay
picks up where the first installment in this series, Death on Cozumel Island left off. Claire is back in the Bay Area waiting to find out where her next overseas teaching assignment will be. It's the perfect opportunity to spend time getting to know her new love interest. When the two of them decide to go on a scuba diving tour, their best laid plans are tainted not only with Claire's frenemy, Annisa, joining them, but also with the discovery of a dead body. Can Claire and her new beau work together to solve this apparent murder or will they drift apart?

This was the first time I've read a cozy where such a small amount of time has passed between the first and second installment and I have to say, I loved it! It was a natural transition into the next phase of Claire's life. I really enjoyed the time Claire and her love interest spent together getting to know each other and figuring out where exactly they stand in their relationship. Their playful banter had me smiling and even laughing at times. I was also glad to see Claire's best friend, Julia, join in the sleuthing. 

This is not really a culinary cozy, but there was plenty of foodie talk that had my mouth watering. I started to crave everything the sleuthers were eating. Their getting together to talk about the investigation while having a delicious meal is reminiscent of similar scenes in the Hannah Swensen mysteries, by Joanne Fluke.

The mystery in Betrayal in the Bay is complex and strong. There are a few suspects with motives and opportunity. I had no idea who the culprit was until the solution was revealed. There were lots of twists and turns along the way and it was fun trying to figure how everything was connected. I also loved the way the scuba diving theme was naturally incorporated into the plot.

If you're looking for a clean cozy mystery with a fun cast of characters, look no further than the Claire O'Keefe mystery series, by Cindy Quayle. While both of these books have self-contained mysteries, they are more enjoyable when read in order. I recommend starting with Death on Cozumel Island so you can get to know the main characters, then move on to the second one, Betrayal in the Bay. The third installment has not yet been published, but when it is, I will be sure to read it. I look forward to following the lives of the main characters and finding out what Claire's next adventure will entail.

Thank you to author Cindy Quayle for providing me with a copy of this e-book. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Top Ten (and More) Tuesday - January Caboodle of Movies and Books

Happy Top Ten (and More) Tuesday! Here, you will find a list of all the movies I watched and books I finished in January.

MOVIES

Letterboxd allows for half star ratings for movies, but I'm sticking to whole instead of sliced mushrooms. The heart indicates when the movie had the "it" factor, that something special that makes it a favorite of mine. It's probably one I would re-watch. It does not have to earn five mushrooms in order to earn a heart. There could be plot holes, etc., but if it was still immensely enjoyable, it earned a heart. 

The number on the left is the date in January when I watched the movie. Most of the time, I watch half a movie in the morning while having breakfast and the second half in the afternoon while having lunch. Hallmark movies, which are mostly what I watch, are all less than 90 minutes long without commercials, so via DVR, I can easily watch one per day most days.

Two of these are linked to my reviews.

1  Checkin' it Twice (2023)🍄🍄🍄🍄

2  My Norwegian Holiday (2023)🍄🍄🍄

3  A Heidleberg Holiday (2023)🍄🍄🍄🍄💖

5  A Merry Scottish Christmas (2023)🍄🍄🍄🍄💖

6  Love on the Right Course (2024) 🍄🍄🍄🍄

8  June in January (2014) 🍄🍄🍄🍄💖

9  Cut, Color, Murder (2022) 🍄🍄🍄🍄🍄💖

10 The Perfect Pairing (2022) 🍄🍄🍄🍄

11 Snowkissed (2021)🍄🍄

12 Snowcoming (2019)🍄🍄🍄🍄💖

15 True Justice: Family Ties (2024)🍄🍄🍄🍄💖
 
16 Crashing Through the Snow (2019) 🍄🍄🍄🍄💖

17 A Scottish Love Scheme (2024) 🍄🍄🍄🍄

18 You're Bacon Me Crazy (2020)🍄🍄🍄🍄

22 Betty's Bad Luck in Love (2024)🍄

23 Ice Dreams (2009)🍄🍄🍄

24 A Winter Princess (2019)🍄🍄🍄

25 The Winter Palace (2022)🍄🍄🍄🍄💖

26 Fall Into Winter (2023) 🍄🍄🍄

29 Romance with a Twist (2024) 🍄🍄🍄

30 Barbie (2023) 🍄🍄🍄🍄💖

31 Swing Into Romance (2023)🍄🍄🍄

As usual, most of these are Hallmark movies. Some premiered this year, while others premiered in previous years. My main theme, if you can't figure it out, was winter movies. I started the year watching a few Christmas movies, but most are just general winter ones. All of the non-Christmas movies premiered in previous years. Not sure why they couldn't do the same this year. It was more like summer with this January's Hallmark premieres.

I don't think I had ever given just one star to a Hallmark movie before, until this January. Betty's Bad Luck in Love was just terrible. It tried to be a comedy, but it crossed a line with mental health. It wasn't funny, in my opinion. They could have taken it in a more serious direction where the main character sought counseling. I would have enjoyed it more that way.

The ones that were not Hallmark movies were Ice Dreams (PixL TV), The Winter Palace (GAF), Fall Into Winter (GAF), Barbie (I borrowed the DVD from the library), and Swing Into Romance (GAF).

The only movie on this list that I had seen before was Cut, Color, Murder, and that was because I needed to review it. I really enjoyed it and certainly didn't mind watching it again.

BOOKS
I don't give hearts for books like I do for movies because I rarely re-read books. When I do, it's usually because I haven't reviewed it yet and I need to refresh my memory before I do or because it's part of a book club and I need to refresh my memory for that reason. Otherwise, there are too many that I want to read and it would take too much time to re-read them. Also, many of them are part of a series, of which I have so much catching up to do.

Here's what I read and listened to in January. Reviews are linked to the titles.

Choosing Love (Mapleton 0.5), by Leah Dobrinska 🍄🍄🍄🍄🍄📱
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen🍄🍄🍄🍄🍄📱
#TagMe for Murder (Trending Topic Mystery 2), by Sarah E. Burr🍄🍄🍄🍄🍄🎧
Pride, Prejudice, and Poison (Jane Austen Society Mystery 1), by Elizabeth Blake🍄🍄🍄🍄📱
Magic, Movies, and Murder (Bewitcher's Beach Mystery 1), by Emily Fluke🍄🍄🍄🍄🍄🎧

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Sunday Post 69

 Happy Weekend, friends!

Through Monday, I am linking with the following: 

On the above blogs you will be able to see links to the posts from others who are participating in these blog hops, and if you're a blogger, you can join too. 

So, I bought a new cell phone last weekend, which was basically like moving into a new house. It was a bit of a fiasco, but I won't go into details. It took three hours to transfer everything from the old phone to the new one. I had the old phone for about five years and it was starting to not keep it's charge for very long. Also, sometimes when it got down to around 30% it would just shutdown. My storage was 99% full (thank you 3000+ pictures of my two cats that I've only had for less than two years...). So I decided to upgrade. The new phone is very similar to the one I had, but it has a better camera and a twice the amount of storage. Still, I'm going to get better at deleting photos after I upload them to Shutterfly. I've been uploading them to Shutterfly all along, but I haven't been deleting them from my phone. I have most of the settings set to my preferences, though occasionally I discover one that needs tweaking. The worst thing that happened was I lost all of my Worldle stats. Not the worst thing in the world to happen, though. Lol. I didn't have a long winning streak anyway. My Kindle's name is Cocoa (it was Cocoa Bean, but I've just been calling it Cocoa) and my phone's name is Bean. So now I have Cocoa and Bean. Cocoa Bean.

IN THE BOOKS
Click on 2024 Bookish Challenges on the right sidebar to see how I'm doing with this year's goals.

RECENTLY FINISHED
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I finished reading Meows and Murder (Chatty Cat Mystery 2), by Elle Wren Burke. I really enjoyed it! If you like talking cats, I highly recommend it. To read some excerpts from this book, click here. To read my full review, click here
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The Cozy Mystery Book Club pick for this month is Death by Bubble Tea (LA Night Market Mystery 1), by Jennifer J. Chow, so that was what I listened to last week. This was a great book and the narration, done by Stephanie Sheh, was one of the best I've heard. If you're looking for a cozy audiobook to listen to, this is a really good one.
IN PROGRESS
I'm about halfway through Betrayal in the Bay (Claire O'Keefe Mystery 2), by Cindy Quayle. I read the first one in the series, Death on Cozumel Island, and really enjoyed it. This second installment is even better. I'm hoping to finish it in a few days, then post my review either this week or next week.
UP NEXT
Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries
(Emily Wilde 1), by Heather Fawcett, became available for me to listen to on Libby, so that's my audiobook pick for this week. I think this one may take me longer to listen to than cozies do. I have to take my time with it and get used to a different genre, so I may be listening to it next week too. I've really been looking forward to this one.
I guess I'm in my "let's be different" era because I went to the library today and, for the first time ever, I borrowed some Manga books. I have never read Manga before and it's completely out of my comfort zone, but I thought it would be fun to give it a try. I went to the library and asked them for guidance. One person in particular was very helpful. I could tell he reads a lot of Manga. I borrowed several because I couldn't decide which one I wanted to read first. So I'll update you on this next week. Have you read Manga? If so, do you have any favorite Manga books?

Also, Monday is National Fairy Tale Day, so I thought it would be fun to check out some Cinderella adaptations and/or retellings. Cinderella is my favorite fairy tale and I love all the different versions there are of it. I used to teach second grade and we always did an entire unit on Cinderella. I checked out a few versions. I'm not sure which one I'll read first, so I'll update you on this next week as well.

ON TELEVISON
  • A Taste of Love - This was a random movie Hallmark tossed our way on President's Day. I wish it premiered in the summer because that's the kind of vibe it had. Overall it was okay. Not great, but not the worst either. The scenery was really nice and so were all the shots of food.
  • An American in Austen - This was part of Hallmark's Loveuary with Jane Austen. It wasn't perfect, but it is definitely my favorite of the year so far. It's a creative twist on Pride and Prejudice, similar to Lost in Austen, but I like Lost in Austen more.
  • Anything for Love - This is an older Hallmark movie. It was okay.
  • Leap Year - This is a 2010 movie that I borrowed from the library. It felt dated, but overall it was pretty good.  
  • The Way Home - After a week off for the Super Bowl, the series came back strong with a good episode last Sunday. It felt more like the season 1 episodes. I hope it continues on this path, though based on the previews, I'm a little worried that it won't. 
  • Friends - I started season 8 when Rachel is pregnant and she's deciding where to live. If I remember correctly, this is a turning point for a storyline I didn't really care for. Do you know what I'm talking about?
WEEKLY BLOG RECAP 
Have a great week!

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Puzzle 72 - Valentine Hearts

I know Valentine's Day has come and gone, but I've been celebrating with movies all month. When I was looking for puzzles, this one really caught my eye. I completed it in 3:02 using 35 non-rotating pieces.

Your turn!

Friday, February 23, 2024

Five for Friday - Bookshelves, Betrayal, and Bell

Happy Friday!

Today I'm participating in five blog hops. You can click on the host links below to read the blogs of others who are participating in each blog hop. If you're a blogger, feel free to join through their links!

Question: How do you organize your bookshelves.

My response: Well, right now they're not exactly organized. The way I want to organize them is by months of the year. Since I like to read books during the time of year when they take place as often as possible, it makes sense for me to organize them this way. If a book takes place over the course of several months or seasons, then I'll just pick the time of year when I would want to read it and shelve it accordingly. I need an entire day to to do this. I have books on the bookcase in no specific order, and I also have a box of books that need to be shelved.

Today's excerpts are from the Kindle format of Betrayal at the Bay (Claire O'Keefe Mystery 2), by Cindy Quayle.

Here is the beginning:
My ears perked up at the laughter floating across the Japanese restaurant. The hairs on my arm tingled as my brain frantically tried to process what I was hearing.

And here is an excerpt from page 56:
In response, Aiden started the engine and pulled the car toward the road. We passed the coffee food truck, and the guy at the window gave us a long look as we drove by. I stared back, wondering why he was giving Aiden and me the stink eye.

Are you intrigued?

Bell is sticking her tongue out and saying you better not make fun of the fact that she loves to snuggle up with paper in a box. (Her sister does too.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Meows and Murder (Chatty Cat Mystery 2), by Elle Wren Burke

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When I saw the cover of the first in the Chatty Cat Mystery series, Purrs and Poison, and read the description of this feline amateur sleuth, I knew I had to give it a try. While reading Purrs and Poison, I fell in love with the snarky, but loyal feline and I was certain I'd be continuing the series. That's why I was so excited to read Meows and Murder, book two in the Chatty Cat series.

In this second installment, Wanda, one of Brighton's closest companions, is a suspect in a murder investigation. All the clues point to her, but Brighton knows this can't be true. He and his humans set out to untangle this mystery, clear Wanda's name, and find the real killer.

Brighton is always a delight. I once again enjoyed his snarky attitude, well-balanced with his loyalty to his favorite humans. He says things that I can sometimes imagine my own cats saying and there were times when I laughed out loud at his comments. He really lightens the mood in a murder investigation, while still taking it seriously. Brighton was previously injured and, as a result, he is disabled. I love how Elle Wren Burke naturally works his disability into the story. He's mindful of when he needs to rest his leg, but he doesn't give up fighting for the good of his human companions. He makes a great amateur sleuth because he can get away with actions that humans cannot. Together, they use a combination of psychic abilities, feline sleuthing, and good old-fashioned human sleuthing to solve the mystery. 

The mystery is strong with lots of twists of turns to keep the reader guessing. The killer was a complete surprise to me. I wished there was a little bit more information throughout the book about the culprit, but it was a clever and satisfying conclusion.

There is a cliffhanger at the end, which makes me excited to read the next one in the series when it's released. This is definitely a series I will continue reading. If you're looking for a paranormal cozy with a very chatty, but loving, cat, I highly recommend The Chatty Cat Mysteries, by Elle Wren Burke. Each one is a standalone mystery, but in order to get to know the main characters, I recommend starting with Meows and Murder, than reading Purrs and Poison. You will be in for quite a treat.

Thank you to Elle Wren Burke for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Sunday Post 68

Happy Weekend, friends!

Through Monday, I am linking with the following: 

On the above blogs you will be able to see links to the posts from others who are participating in these blog hops, and if you're a blogger, you can join too. 

Last week I asked where winter went and today I'm telling you it came back. It snowed overnight Friday night, though not as much as was predicted. We got a couple of inches. It was all done well before sunrise, so unfortunately, I didn't get to see it falling. But it was nice to wake up to a winter wonderland. I'm guessing this will be the last of the snow for the season, but one never knows. I wouldn't mind at least one more snowfall before March.

I was wondering, do any of you have recommendations for movies or books that take place on trains? I don't want anything rated R. G, PG, or PG-13 are fine. Something like Murder On the Orient Express would be great, but it doesn't have to be a mystery. The Christmas Train is another good example of what I'm looking for. Thanks in advance.

IN THE BOOKS
Click on 2024 Bookish Challenges on the right sidebar to see how I'm doing with this year's goals.

RECENTLY FINISHED
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I finished reading DM Me for Murder (Trending Topic 3), by Sarah E. Burr, and I loved it. You can read my review here and you can read some excerpts from it here.
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I listened to Buttercream Bump Off (Cupcake Bakery Mystery 2), written by Jenn McKinlay and narrated by  Susan Boyce. It takes place around Valentine's Day, so the timing was perfect. The narration for this didn't resonate with me, but I liked the story. I think I may have to give this one another try at some point, but next time I'll read it instead of listening to it. I also want to read the next book in the series.
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I listened to Royal Valentine (Museum of Literature Romance 1), also written by Jenn McKinlay. It's narrated by Sara Young. This is a cute romcom novella. The pacing of the story seemed a bit off, but overall I enjoyed it. I didn't expect the references to Jane Austen, so that was a nice surprise. There's been a lot of Jane Austen in my bookish and movie world lately.
IN PROGRESS
I'm almost done reading Meows and Murder (Chatty Cat Mystery 2), by Elle Wren Burke. I am planning to finish it in the next day or two, then post my review on Tuesday. This is another funny installment in the series. Brighton is quite the feline sleuth!
UP NEXT
I'm looking forward to reading Betrayal in the Bay (Claire O'Keefe Mystery 2), by Cindy Quayle. I read the first one in the series, Death on Cozumel Island, and really enjoyed it. I can't wait to see what's next for Claire and her friends.
The Cozy Mystery Book Club pick for this month is Death by Bubble Tea (LA Night Market Mystery 1), by Jennifer J. Chow, so that's what I'll be listening to next. I've been wanting to read her books, so I'm excited to finally dive in.
ON TELEVISON
  • Love and Jane - This was part of Hallmark's Jane Austen month. It had great potential, but fell flat for me. I love the idea of Jane Austen coming back to help someone, but the execution wasn't great. The plot was slow-moving and the lighting was too dark and cloudy. I think that effect was intentional, but it didn't work well.
  • My Secret Valentine - This is an older movie starring Hallmark veterans Lacey Chabert and Andrew Walker. It was cute, but it was clearly filmed in the fall. Valentine's Day in the fall? But I enjoyed it overall.
  • Very, Very Valentine - One of my life goals is to watch every movie that Cameron Mathison stars in and this movie was one step closer towards reaching that goal. His co-star in this one is Danica McKellar. It's also an older Hallmark movie. I really enjoyed it. And this one clearly took place in the winter, you know when Valentine's Day really does happen in the U.S.
  • Playing Cupid - Another older Hallmark movie. It was cute. I liked seeing a teacher as one of the lead's occupations. 
  • Valentine Ever After - I realized after a few minutes I had already seen this movie, but I watched it again anyway because I enjoyed it the first time I saw it. And I liked it again the second time. It's another older Hallmark Valentine-themed movie. Do you see my theme here?
  • Love in Winterland - This was the perfect movie to watch on a snow-filled day. It was nice and cozy, plus it had one of my favorite tropes - a former high school couple getting back together as adults. It had a reality show premise, which was different. Be sure you're drinking hot chocolate on a cold winter's day while watching this movie.
  • Friends - I finished season 7. I felt a little sad watching the wedding, knowing what Matthew Perry was going through at the time. I read that he went back to rehab immediately after the wedding was filmed. On the other hand, I think it's great that they supported his rehab and found a way to keep him on the show. Do you remember the drunk character who Joey was filming with just before the wedding? I saw some parallels there with the way his character was written. On the fictional show he was filming with Joey, they insisted he stayed. I'm not sure if the similarity (though not identical) was intentional or not.
WEEKLY BLOG RECAP 
  • Sunday Post 02/10 - Weekly Recap
  • Book Review 02/13 - DM Me for Murder (Trending Topic Mystery 3), by Sarah E. Burr
  • Book Review 02/14 - My Phony Valentine (Holidays with Hart 1), by Courtney Walsh
  • Book Review 02/15 - The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, by Marie Benedict
  • Five for Friday 02/16 - Milk Money, A Talking Cat, and a Productive Cat
  • Puzzle - 02/17 - A Friendly Visit
Have a great week!