Saturday, April 24, 2021


Sister wives Rachel, Emily, and Tina don't seem to like their shared husband Blake (or each other) very much, so when Blake is found murdered, it would seem as if more than one wife had a reason to want him dead. The family lives out in the desert in a compound filled with broken-down equipment and not much else.  

First wife Rachel keeps the family together and spends most of her time canning food in preparation for the apocalypse that Blake assures them is coming soon.  Second wife Emily is flighty and immature, and not much help with anything.  Tina, a recovering addict and former sex worker from Las Vegas, provides most of the family's financial support through her job as a real estate agent.

When Blake is discovered murdered, the police are convinced one of the wives is the guilty party.  The problem is figuring out which one.  Although their suspicious fall to Rachel, suspected of being upset that her place as favorite wife has been taken over by the others, Emily soon confesses.  Based on this, the police have to let Rachel go.  She and Tina decide to work together to figure out why Blake was apparently attempting to buy a deserted compound previously occupied by a polygamist cult that Rachel grew up in. They also plan to prove that Emily is innocent and that her confession is just another in a long series of lies she tells.

The story is told in alternating chapters by each wife, so we get to see the events unfold from various perspectives.  We also see how each woman was drawn into the "sister wife" lifestyle.  The author doesn't hold back on her disdain for this type of lifestyle, from repeated pointing out how most of the women and children living in such situations are heavily medicated, to emphasizing how domestic violence is actively encouraged in such households.  The other, traditional Mormons, are also very contemptuous of people who live in such arrangements, calling it illegal, adulterous, and shameful. 

It was interesting to read a book about an alternative lifestyle and to find out what might cause someone to choose that way of life.  In reading the afterward of the book, it seems the author is British and had done a lot of research on this topic, rather than drawing from her own experiences.  

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Black Widows from NetGalley in exchange for this review

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Most siblings have a complicated relationship to some degree.  That potential conflict can be even worse when the siblings are twins.  Which twin is The Good Sister in Sally Hepworth's novel is the central question. Fern and Rose are living in Australia and each facing their own challenges.  Fern has sensory processing disorder and cannot abide loud noises or bright colors or crowds.  She also has problems recognizing social cues and is very blunt in her interactions with others.  Still, she is a very competent employee at her job in the local library and she maintains her own apartment.  Rose is married but unable to conceive a child.  Things aren't helped by the fact that her husband has taken a temporary job on the other side of the world in London.

The chapters alternate between Fern's day-to-day observations and a diary being kept by Rose where she discusses her own problems, her concern about Fern, and her memories of growing up with an unpredictable, vindictive mother.  

Fern decides that she can help Rose out by having a baby for her.  In her usual fashion, she thoroughly researches how she might go about this, and decides that the best way is to have a casual relationship with a stranger and conceive the old-fashioned way.  Luckily, a potential partner soon emerges in a library visitor she dubs "Wally" due to his resemblance to the main character in the "Where's Wally (Waldo to us Americans) books.  Wally has been living in the United States, but thanks to his mother's Australian citizenship, he's decided to relocate.  Since he's unsure of his future plans, for the moment he's living out of his van.  He meets Fern by coming to the library frequently to use their showers (?).  It turns out that Wally is a bit unconventional and has some similarities to Fern in the way he deals with the world.  What starts out as a casual fling soon becomes more serious.  This new relationship alarms Rose, but is she concerned for Fern's welfare, or that she might lose her influence over Fern?

While Fern and Rose are keeping a dark secret from their shared childhood, can they trust that their recollections of what happened are true?  I really enjoyed learning more about Fern and seeing how the other characters reacted to her somewhat unusual precautions to daily life.  It was also interesting to see how two people could have such different memories about the same shared events.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of The Good Sister from NetGalley in exchange for this review 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021


Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are in the business of flipping properties.  They have so far not done any major projects and their budget is somewhat modest.  That doesn't stop them from bidding on the derelict Music City Motor Court motel in Murder with a View. Because the site offers wonderful views of the downtown Nashville skyline, Whitney doesn't think there will be any problems in finding buyers for the planned condos.  After a bit of subterfuge, she manages to outbid her nemesis, Thad Gentry, and she and Buck immediately start the redevelopment of the site.

The first issue is . . . someone is occupying one of the empty rooms.  The non-paying guest turns out to be Jimmy, a vet who travels around the country on his motorcycle as the mood takes him.  At first Whitney wants to order him to leave, but then she decides that a willing, cheap worker might come in handy during the refurb.  The next problem is when another room is found to be occupied, but this guest has "checked out" of life.  Things get even worse when it turns out that the dead body belongs to none other then rising country music star Beckett Morgan, singer of the popular hit Party in the Pasture.

The motel becomes the site of crying fans and candle-carrying vigils as soon as word of the death gets out. Even with the unexpected increase in traffic, Whitney and Buck are able to continue the renovations.  Whitney does take time off now and then to help her boyfriend, homicide investigator Collin Flynn, question witnesses and track down leads.  She is also a cat-mom to Sawdust, who helps out in all sorts of ways, both with her job and in keeping Whitney safe.

Chapters alternate from Whitney and Sawdust's point of view (yes, we get to hear what the cat is thinking!).  The story is somewhat slow-paced, and the suspects and their possible involvements in the crime are repeated quite often so the reader doesn't lose track of anyone.  As a cat lover myself, I appreciated that Sawdust (and his small feline sidekick, Cleo) were such a prominent part of the story.  I can't recommend taking a cat along to a construction site, though . . .  The story was enjoyable and I enjoyed the vivid Nashville settings.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Murder With a View from NetGalley in exchange for this review

Thursday, April 1, 2021


Who doesn't love a candy shop?  Not only can you find your personal favorites, but there's also the tantalizing possibility of discovering something new and delicious.  That is if the shop is open and the stock is fresh.  Unfortunately, Rosie Hopkins didn't find that when she left London for the country town of Lipton to help out in her great aunt Lilian's shop.  

Rosie enjoyed her job as auxiliary nurse, even though she didn't have a permanent position and with her lack of full nursing qualifications, she was frequently given the most unpleasant jobs around the hospital.  Her relationship with her boyfriend of seven years, Gerard was . . . fine, no really!  Even though he showed no inclination toward proposing and lately seemed to have gotten a bit too comfortable.  

When Rosie's mother calls from Australia and guilt-trips her into helping out Lilian, Rosie hopes that a little distance from Gerard might make him realize how much he misses her.  So Rosie hops on a bus and heads north to the countryside to help out.  Lilian, at 87, is experiencing some health issues, but Rosie and there rest of the family had no idea that she had pretty much abandoned running the family candy shop.  When Rosie arrives, it is dusty and most of the remaining wares are well past their sell-by dates.

As Rosie takes charge of Lilian's life and business, she begins to make friends in town and catches the eye of several interesting men.  Interspersed with Rosie's adventures are flashbacks of Lilian's life, explaining why she never married or left the village.  There are also plenty of comments on particular sweets as well as candy in general.  Several recipes are included so that if the lure of the sweet treats gets to be too much, you can whip some up for yourself.

I was enjoying the book and all the talk of sweets until near the end when it suddenly took a turn into teenaged romance territory.  Rosie was having her flirtations and re-examining her relationship with Gerard, but suddenly there was a lot of giggling, "you really like him, don't yous," and stern advice from matronly ladies thrown about.  When pretty much the whole village turns out to help Rosie get ready for "the ball," I realized the book was aiming for a different direction than I had thought.  It was a good enough, if predictable story, but some of the elements were just a bit too cringey for my tastes.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Sweetshop of Dreams from NetGalley in exchange for this review

About Me

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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