The Girl with the Dragonfruit Tattoo by Carrie Doyle, expected publication 31 January 2023.
I admit, I requested the ARC for this book solely because of the cover and title. Going in blind meant I didn't know that this was the third book in a cosy mystery series. Fortunately, it works as a standalone, even though the novice reader might miss out on some references to previous stories. I didn't like the main character Plum, a travel agent with no police training. Why would the police send her onto a yacht where there's a murderer on the lose?
1/5 Harpy Eagles
Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn, expected publication 31 January 2023.
This is a slow building romance that took me a while to get into. At first I thought it was the usual, small town girl returns home with her tail between her legs and then falls for the town baddie, whom she actually can't stand -enemies to lovers- romance. About a third into the story it really picks up. I've read previous books by Clayborn. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise that her MCs could be the people next door. They have to work through the issues in their lives, coming out stronger more stable people and a stronger couple in the end.
3/5 Harpy Eagles
Death and Croissants by Ian Moore, published 01 July 2021.
British ex-pat Richard has a B&B in the Loire Valley in France where there might have been a murder. He, his guests and his cleaning lady set out to unravel the mystery. It's a cosy mystery with quirky characters and a lot of obvious clichés used for comic relief. The story takes some twists and turns that have no more obvious reason as to give the reader more time with the quirky characters. To sum it up, a perfect palate cleanser after a more 'substantial' read, but too cosy and quirky for me to actually enjoy.
2/5 Harpy Eagles
One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig, published 27 September 2022.
I did not finish reading this book. 1) I think it was marketed wrongly. I thought I was going to read an adult Gothic horror fantasy, but it read more like a Young Adult Gothic romance fantasy. 2) The characters are supposed to find twelve specific Providence Cards, which enable the wielder with certain magical abilities. This will then help to overcome a magical plague that leaves children infected with dark magic which causes them to degenerate and die. [That's how I understood it. The premise might be more or less difficult.] 3) The MC, Elspeth, was infected 11 years ago. She's been living with a demon in her head since then. She keeps repeating that using the demon, called the Nightmare, makes it stronger, and she won't let it overpower her mind. But as soon as she gets into a spot of bother she begs the demon to help her. 4) The characters have no urgency to find those magical cards. Instead they have the 'usual' enemies-to-lovers insta-love romance that takes over the plot. That's when I bowed out. I read a few reviews and apparently the last bit of the story gets more action, but ends in a cliffhanger that will hopefully be resolved in the next book.
1/5 Harpy Eagles
The Book of the Most Precious Substance by Sara Gran, expected publication 03 November 2022.
Lily Albrecht is a bookseller of antique and rare books. When one of her colleagues dies she takes over a commission to find an occult tome called "The Book of the Most Precious Substance" and sell it for a six to seven figure price to the anonymous buyer. Lily and another rare books selling colleague set out to find the buyer and find one of the few remaining copies of the 17th century book. A book about sex magic, granting the user a large boon when used correctly - or something like that. So far this sounds good. Bookish people trying to find an occult book. And here's where the book becomes repetitive. The two fly to a city in the US or Europe to meet up with a book collector who might or might not have the book and sell it to them. They stay in a fancy hotel. Go out for an expensive -and described in detail- dinner with the book person. Find out details about the book. Go back to the hotel to have awkward sex. Not one sex scene is as sexy and erotic as the cover blurb makes you think it might be. Nor is the book as thrilling. The story is repetitive with a very predictable outcome that makes up the last 10-12% of the eARC. It all reminded me of that late 1990's film, "The Ninth Gate" with Johnny Depp; though not in a good way.
1/5 Harpy Eagles