Seven Perfect Things by Catherine Ryan Hyde



source: review copy via Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley
title: Seven Perfect Things
author: Catherine Ryan Hyde / Twitter
genre: fiction
pages: 320
published: May 2021
first line: When Elliot opened the door, the woman on his welcome mat stuck him as bizarrely young.
rated: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Blurb:
A heart-stirring novel about the joy that comes from finding love in unexpected places by the New York Times and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author.

Thirteen-year-old Abby Hubble lives in an unhappy home in the Sierra Nevada foothills where her father makes life miserable for her and her mother, Mary. One day Abby witnesses a man dump a litter of puppies into the nearby river. Diving in to rescue all seven, she knows she won’t be able to bring them home. Afraid for their fate at the pound, she takes them to an abandoned cabin, where all she can offer is a promise that she’ll be back the next day.

To grieving widower Elliot Colvin, life has lost meaning. Looking for solace, he retreats to the hunting cabin he last visited years ago, before his wife’s illness. What he discovers is not at all what he expected: seven puppies and one determined girl with an indomitable heart.

As Abby and Elliot’s friendship deepens, Abby imagines how much better her life—and the puppies’ lives—would be if her mother were married to Elliot instead of her father.

Seven Perfect Things is a story about joy, where to find it, how to know it when you see it, and the courage it takes to hang on to it once you have it.


My thoughts:
I have yet to read a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde that I didn’t enjoy. This author has a way of writing wonderful stories about everyday people who do everyday things to help each other out. She writes about everyday heroes so well.

Seven Perfect Things revolves around 13 year old Abby, her mother Mary, newly widowed Elliot and 7 puppies. Abby finds herself responsible for a litter of 7 puppies and in trying to take care of them she’s also learning life lessons about responsibility and trust. The puppies need her, and she needs them.

Abby’s mother Mary married young and has lived in an unhappy marriage to her verbally abusive and controlling husband since then. Dependent on her husband financially she continues to say with him.

Elliot’s wife recently passed away and he goes to his vacation cabin in the woods for peace and quiet before he returns to work in the city. At the cabin is when he meets Abby and the puppies by a twist of fate. As the story flows, Mary, Abby and Elliot form a bond. The puppies bring theses three together.

Like I said, I really enjoyed Seven Perfect Things. I sped right through it. I found myself invested in these characters and the puppies tugged at my heartstrings of course. Abby was written really well and I rooted for her from the start. She finds these puppies who need help and she does everything she can to care for them. I felt bad for Mary who was always on edge worried about her husband’s moods. She has an awakening and finally realizes how her life revolves around her husband and that staying in an unhappy marriage for the sake of her daughter is doing more harm that good. Elliot is grieving the recent loss of his wife and in meeting Abby and Mary he finds a new purpose in helping them out.

The ending was nice as well and nothing felt rushed. These three seemed like real people with real daily struggles to overcome. I recommend Seven Perfect Things if you’re looking for an engaging read with realistic and relatable characters.

“Though she couldn’t quite put it into words, she resented having been thrust into a world where such perfect little beings could be treated as worthless. She knew she had been living in that world all along, but she resented having been forced awake. Forced to recognize it. But the puppies themselves…they were perfect.”Seven Perfect Things, 21% Kindle



About the Author:
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the New York Times and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author of forty books (and counting). An avid traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she shares her astrophotography with readers on her website.

Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association (ALA) for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than twenty-three languages in over thirty countries. Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow list, and Jumpstart the World was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. Where We Belong won two Rainbow Awards in 2013, and The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award in 2015. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and many other journals; in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts; and in the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Copilot. Her stories have been honored by the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and have been nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in the annual Best American Short Stories anthology.

She is founder and former president (2000–2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

For more information, please visit the author at www.catherineryanhyde.com. – quoted from Amazon



Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. My copy of Seven Perfect Things by Catherine Ryan Hyde came via Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.

Knit of the Living Dead (A Knit & Nibble Mystery Book 6) by Peggy Ehrhart



source: free review copy via NetGalley/ Kensington Books
title: Knit of the Living Dead (A Knit & Nibble Mystery Book 6)
author: Peggy Ehrhart
genre: cozy mystery
published: August 2020
pages: 171
first line: Pamela Paterson was feeling unimaginative.
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars



Blurb:
When a spooky celebration in Arborville, New Jersey conjures real scares, can Pamela and the Knit and Nibble Club sink their teeth into a bone-chilling mystery that just won’t rest in peace?

Among the countless revelers at the town’s much-anticipated Halloween parade, a woman dressed as Little Bo Peep is the only one making people scream bloody murder. In a scene straight out of a horror movie, the Knit and Nibblers find the nursery rhyme character dead with thick strands of yarn looped around her neck. Pamela and her best friend, Bettina, are set on pinning down who wanted the woman gone forever, but it’ll take every trick they can muster to catch the culprit without becoming the next poor souls to join Little Bo Peep’s dark, endless sleep . . .


My thoughts:
Knit of the Living Dead is book 6 in Peggy Ehrhart’s Knit and Nibble mystery series. Okay, first off, how cute is the cover? This one is set in the fictional town of Arborville, New Jersey. Without giving too much away there’s a knitting group, a yarn blogger, a Halloween murder, a set of friends who play mystery sleuths and plenty of mention of cozy comfort foods. What more could you want from a cozy mystery?

As the story begins, friends Pamela, Bettina and Nell and are dressed up on Halloween night attending the town’s parade down Arborville Avenue which ends with a bonfire in the park. During the festivities a body is discovered nearby behind trees. The victim is dressed as Bo-Peep. Not too satisfied with the local police investigation, the ladies decide to do some investigating of their own. As the story flows there’s a few people who seem suspect and I didn’t guess who dunnit it until the author revealed it.

This is book 6 in the series and while this one reads as a stand-alone I would have liked to read the first book to get more of a feel for these characters. I ended up downloading book 1 Murder, She Knit. I haven’t read it yet but I know it will make a fun cozy read one of these evenings. It’s available on Amazon Prime reads if you’re interested.


Knit of the Living Dead was a quick and easy read and I would recommend it to fan of cozy mysteries revolving around knitting. I don’t knit, I crochet but the knitting group in the story Knit and Nibble sounds like fun and I enjoyed the descriptions of the yarns and the stitches etc.

I could also envision the Autumn setting and all the good food mentioned was making me hungry. The book ends with knitting instructions for a Halloween tote as well as a couple of simple recipes for a few of the goodies featured in the story.

“Though fall had been lovely so far, with the afternoon sun still warm despite its autumnal angle, the air had a golden tinge and laves had begun to turn. Halfway up the block, one particular tree glowed luminous scarlet.” -Knit of the Living Dead by Peggy Ehrhart, 11% Kindle



“Before anyone could start eating, butter had to be passed for the mashed potatoes. Once she’d sculpted a little hollow into the peak of her mashed potatoes and slipped in a pat of butter, Pamela picked up her own fork. The cubes of beef, seared to a rich brown, were bathed in a gravy whose russet hue hinted at the red wine and tomato paste that had supplemented pan drippings of beef broth. Here and there among the beef cubes was a chunk of carrot, a mushroom slice, or a glossy little pearl onion.”-Knit of the Living Dead, 55% Kindle


Visit the author’s website and check out her blog where she posts about her love of knitting, crochet, thrifting and estate sales. https://peggyehrhart.com/category/yarn-mania/

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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I received a free review copy of Knit of the Living Dead (A Knit and Nibble Mystery Book 6) via NetGalley/ Kensington Books. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.

Neon Gods: A Scorchingly Hot Modern Retelling of Hades and Persephone (Dark Olympus Book 1) by Katee Robert


source: review copy via NetGalley/ Sourcebooks Casablanca
title: Neon Gods: A Scorchingly Hot Modern Retelling of Hades and Persephone (Dark Olympus Book 1)
author: Katee Robert
genre: erotic romance/fantasy/retelling
published: June 1, 2021
pages: 384
first line: “I really hate these parties.”
rated: 4 out of 5


blurb: He was supposed to be a myth.
But from the moment I crossed the River Styx and fell under his dark spell…he was, quite simply, mine.

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Hades and Persephone that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*

Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses. But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade.

With no options left, Persephone flees to the forbidden undercity and makes a devil’s bargain with a man she once believed a myth…a man who awakens her to a world she never knew existed.

Hades has spent his life in the shadows, and he has no intention of stepping into the light. But when he finds that Persephone can offer a little slice of the revenge he’s spent years craving, it’s all the excuse he needs to help her—for a price. Yet every breathless night spent tangled together has given Hades a taste for Persephone, and he’ll go to war with Olympus itself to keep her close…


My thoughts:
Neon Gods: A Scorchingly Hot Modern Retelling of Hades and Persephone starts off the Dark Olympus book series by Katee Robert.

This book is an erotic fantasy retelling of the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone. In this story, Persephone is 24 and somewhat of a celebrity in Olympus. She is one of the daughters of the goddess Demeter and their family is usually making headlines in the tabloids. Persephone’s goal is to finish getting her Masters degree then leave to California for her PhD when she turns 25 in the Spring and her trust fund becomes available. However her mother has other plans and without consulting Persephone she betrotheds her to Zeus.

Rather than marry a man she doesn’t love who has a reputation of disposing of his wives, Persephone runs away and ends up in the lower city section of Olympus which is run by Hades. She meets Hades who helps her go into hiding for three months until the Spring arrives. By Olympus law Hades and Zeus cannot cross into each other’s territories so Persephone should be safe there. During this time the two will make it public knowledge that they’re intimate so Zeus will no longer want Persephone. Hades can exact revenge on his sworn enemy by sleeping with his betrothed and humiliating him.

Of course the chemistry is fire and these two start to wonder if this can be the real thing and not just sex.


The book is told in alternating chapters by Persephone and Hades you get to see the story from each of their perspectives.

“Hades is not safe. He’s so far from safe, I should be rethinking this bargain before it’s even begun. I can tell myself I have no choice, but it’s not the truth. I want this with every shadowy part of my soul that I work so hard to keep locked down. There’s no room in the public narrative of the sweet, sunny, biddable woman for the things I find myself craving in the dark of night. Things I’m suddenly sure Hades is capable of giving me.”– Neon Gods by Katee Robert, Kindle 22%

I’m not big on Alpha males in romance but I liked that Hades has a dark edge about him. Persephone is sassy and smart. While I didn’t particularly connect with either of these characters I was still interested in where the storyline was going. Much of the interactions between these two are about give and take, about compromise.

“He’s offering a strange sort of partnership, one I didn’t realize I desired. He might dominate. I might submit. But the power balance is startlingly equal. I didn’t know it could be like this.”– Neon Gods, Kindle 33%

Also in the mix are side characters such as Persephone’s sisters and others who live in Olympus and work for Zeus. I would love to read the second installment in this series, Electric Idol which is due out early 2022. Great cover!


Neon Gods was well-written, sexy romance with two sassy main characters. I recommend this if you enjoy steamy erotic fantasy.

“It was never meant to last forever.” -Neon Gods, Kindle 76%



About the author:
Katee Robert is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Entertainment Weekly calls her writing “unspeakably hot.” Her books have sold over a million copies. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, children, a cat who thinks he’s a dog, and two Great Danes who think they’re lap dogs.

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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I received a free review copy of Neon Gods: A Scorchingly Hot Modern Retelling of Hades and Persephone (Dark Olympus Book 1) via Sourcebooks Casablanca. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. The book photo here was provided by Sourcebooks Casablanca.

The Bookshop Murder (Flora Steele Mystery #1) by Merryn Allingham

source: ARC via Bookouture/ https://www.bookouture.com/
/ NetGalley
title: The Bookshop Murder (A Flora Steele Mystery Book 1)
author: Merryn Allingham / Twitter
genre: cozy mystery
published: July 26th 2021 Bookouture
pages: 256
first line: Locking the shop door carefully behind her, Flora heaved the last parcel of books into the basket.
rated: 4 out of 5

blurb:
Bookshop owner Flora Steele escapes the sleepy English village of Abbeymead through the adventures in the stories she sells. Until one morning, everything changes when she discovers a body amongst her own bookshelves…

The young man with the shock of white-blond hair lay spread-eagled on the floor, surrounded by fallen books. His hand reached out to the scattered pages, as though he was trying to tell her something.

But who is he? How did he come to be killed in Flora’s ordinary little bookshop? ….


my thoughts:

The Bookshop Murder (A Flora Steele Mystery Book 1) was a fun cozy mystery that drew me in instantly. It has a nice 1955 English countryside setting and as the story begins, Flora Steele owns a bookshop in the small village of Abbeymead. She inherited the bookshop from her late Aunt. One morning one of her patrons and crime author Jack Carrington discovers a body in the back of the bookstore. Upon investigating the local police write the death off as a heart attack but Flora suspects it was something more. It doesn’t make sense for the victim to have been in her bookshop after hours plus he was young and was visiting from Australia. Flora convinces Jack to help her get to the bottom of things since he’s a crime writer and so the amateur sleuth investigating begins. Pretty soon the plot thickens as a second body turns up. Danger seems to lurk around the corner as Flora and Jack continue their investigating.

As I mentioned, I enjoyed this whodunnit and found that the mystery, the characters and the pace of the storyline made this a quick and easy read. The author includes plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. I had no idea who was to blame for the murders and I liked where the author took the storyline as far as the mystery went. Flora and Jack were likeable characters and as the story flowed I was invested in where their personal relationship if any would go. The small town bookshop setting was also a plus. There’s always something cozy about an independent bookstore.

“Opening the white-painted shop door, she allowed the familiar smell of books to wash over her-the sweet, musky warmth that she loved. Her first chores were always to check the till and dust at least two of the bookshelves. Then she could make a cup of tea.” The Bookshop Murder by Merryn Allingham- Kindle version 3%

I recommend this one to fans of cozy mysteries! I wouldn’t mind picking up book two in the series once it’s out.

“Yet the excitement in edging closer to the truth was undeniable, and for the first time in many years, he had a strong sense of living in the world rather than through the characters he created.”- The Bookshop Murder by Merryn Allingham- Kindle version 56%

about the author:
Bestselling author Merryn Allingham was born into an army family and spent her childhood on the move. Unsurprisingly, it gave her itchy feet and in her twenties she escaped an unloved secretarial career to work as cabin crew and see the world. The arrival of marriage, children and cats meant a more settled life in the south of England, where she’s lived ever since. Having gained a PhD, she taught university literature for many years and loved every minute of it. What could be better than spending one’s life reading and talking about books? Well, writing them perhaps.

Six Regency period romances followed, then those itchy feet kicked in. The Regency was abandoned and Daisy’s War, a wartime trilogy, found its way to the top of the Amazon charts, followed by the Summerhayes books—a saga of romance and intrigue set in the Sussex countryside during the summers of 1914 and 1944.

But itchy feet never rest and in 2020 she finally went over to the dark side! The crime series, the Tremayne Mysteries, is set in locations around the world and features Nancy, a feisty 1950s heroine, turned amateur sleuth.

Keep in touch with Merryn via the web:
Website: https://www.merrynallingham.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MerrynWrites
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/merrynwrites


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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah



source: purchased
title: The Four Winds
author: Kristin Hannah
genre: historical fiction
pages: 464
published: February 2, 2021
first line: Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars

Blurb:
The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it―the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.-quoted from Amazon

My thoughts:
The Four Winds was my first foray into author Kristin Hannah’s work and it won’t be my last. I picked this one up after seeing a few book bloggers rave about it.

This book was my vacation read last week and I was transported as I read. I could not put it down, reading as many as 200 pages in one day which is alot for me since I usually tap out at maybe 100 pages a day.

Without giving too much away, the story takes place during the 1930’s Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The book centers around Elsa Wolcott who by age 25 has been written off by her family as an old maid. She is born in Texas to a well off family since her father owns a tractor business. Elsa loves to read and wants to have fun and be a flapper and become a writer one day. Everything changes for her and she becomes a mom and suffers through the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. With themes of family, motherhood, the bonds women form, poverty and American life during the 1920’s and 30’s this was an epic story that utterly drew me in. I could not turn the pages fast enough.

The author writes about the Dust Bowl and the storms so vividly I could easily imagine it. Of course while reading I had to google the Dust Bowl to familiarize myself with the details and I was shocked at what I learned and what so many people suffered at that time. The images of these dust storms look like something out of a nightmare. The dust from the Plains region even reached up as far as Washington DC and New York City at one point. The author paints such a vivid picture of what people went through at that time and of the poverty people suffered that it both shocks you and pulls at your heartstrings as you read.

Kristin Hannah’s descriptive writing style and the way she shaped these characters had me enthralled. I felt for them and I wanted them to be alright. The relationships within the story are what grab ahold of you as you read. Elsa is a good mother trying to survive it all and take care of her children. The people she meets who are going through similar struggles become like family to her. This is a story about strong women and about surviving against all odds and pushing forward no matter what.

The Four Winds is definitely one of my top reads for 2021 and I highly recommend it if you are looking to get swept away into a well written historical family saga. Have a box of tissues handy.
As per the photo below, my reading view last week was perfect. I’m so glad I chose The Four Winds as my vacation book. Have you read this one?



“Books had always been her solace; novels gave her the space to be bold, brave, beautiful, if only in her own imagination.”– p14, The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

“Heartache had been a part of her life so long it had become as familiar as the color of her hair or the slight curve in her spine. Sometimes it was the lens through which she viewed her world and sometimes it was the blindfold she wore so she didn’t see.”- p.117, The Four Winds

“Love is what remains when everything else is gone.” -p.425, The Four Winds

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About the author:
Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week.-quoted from Amazon


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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of The Four Winds. Some of these links are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. The book photo here is my own.