The Little Flower Shop by the Sea by Ali McNamara

23652519When I found out about Thrift Books, I immediately ran through my “can’t find at the library” list of books for things to buy. I was able to get 4 books (including this one) for $12.88! They were all like new or better, which was great.

I’ve been hearing about this book for a year from Ali’s Twitter feed, so I was crazy excited to be able to read it without taking a trip to England or expensive transatlantic shipping. However, it took me much longer to finish than her previous books.

A black sheep daughter inherits her grandmother’s flower shop in a seaside English town. Even though she’s not sure she’s going to keep it, she ends up sucked into the town and running the business. She used to visit her grandmother with her brother when she was a kid, but then there was an incident and her life turned upside down. Which is fine, cause every heroine needs a backstory, but ugh, this one is dragged out until almost the very end and the pay off is nothing special. I mean, yeah, it’s sad, but after all that build up, I wasn’t as moved as I knew I should have been.

I enjoyed the romance, but again, it was only so-so. I think I must have built this one up too much in my head.

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

30821598As someone who tries to curate her Instagram feed, I very much related to this story.

Cat, nee Katie, is new at her job at a branding agency, where everyone their overbearing boss. She commutes an hour (on a good day) for the privilege and is still trying to make her mark at the office. She’s a country girl, trying to make it in London, making no money, sharing a flat with terrible people and sneaking photos of other people’s lives for her Instagram. A chance encounter with a cute guy on the roof of her building (after her boss makes her re-do her roots) makes her think her life’s finally turning out the way she always dreamed. But then she gets laid off.

Going back to her dad’s place, she finds him in the middle of another get-rich-quick scheme. Realizing she can actually help him do it right, she tells a white lie about being on sabbatical from her job to make it happen. Then her boss shows up at their glamping grounds and it all goes to hell.

As someone who sacrifices a lot of live in a world-class city AND who has had some not-so-great bosses (though luckily, not at the same time), I really felt Katie’s dilemma. It’s hard to keep going when it feels like everything is telling you “no.” And given our obsession with social media, it’s really easy to project that your life is going however you’d like. Making connections as an adult, out of college, is difficult and her desire to fit in really struck me. Also made me realize that perhaps I shouldn’t have been so hard on some of those not-so-great bosses. Still waiting to meet the cute guy who wants to stay with me though. Guess I need to try a Santa-themed bike ride across London!

Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen

27774658This is the last (for now) book in the Her Royal Spyness series that I’ve been plowing through for the last year or so. I had to take a brief pause while reading this as I ran out of time on my library renewal, so I had to send it back and request it again. It’s a VERY quick read, though!

This time the crime happens before Georgie even gets involved, which is a nice change of pace! Georgie and Darcy are heading to Gretna Green to elope, when they stop for the night and find out that Darcy’s father’s been arrested for murder. Darcy drops everything to go back to Ireland to help out and then breaks it off with Georgie because the scandal will follow her forever. Luckily, Georgie doesn’t give up and heads to Ireland to help out, whether he wants her there or not. Additionally, Darcy’s former paramour-turned-benefactor/friend, Princess Alexandra “Zhou Zhou” Zamanska flies her little plane over to Ireland, not wanting to be left out of the “fun.”

Georgie and Darcy’s investigating feels a lot more realistic in this book. It’s also great to see Darcy’s family and learn a little more about his life before he bumped into Georgie and began his life as an international man of mystery. The murder case gets wrapped up off screen for the most part, so that’s not as satisfying, especially since you know it was never going to be Darcy’s father going to hang. The Queenie situation also wraps up quite nicely, so I’m happy to see how Georgie proceeds from here.

Ten books is a nice round number, but I do hope there’s at least one more for Georgie and Darcy. I’m sure there would be a murder or some crime to investigate as they lead up to their big, white wedding. Fingers crossed!

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Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen

22915531I finished the penultimate book in this series while waiting for jury duty to start and it was the perfect antidote to that experience. Our heroine seems more like the royal descendant she is and there was nary a Fig or Binky to be found. Georgie is tasked with keeping Princess Marina company until her wedding to Prince George. This means living at Kensington Palace, with all its trappings, and any funds need to do what she needs to do. Queenie with her hopeless maid shtick is getting old, but perhaps after the surprise ending/cliffhanger, this will also be changing.

The mystery is resolved rather quickly at the end, almost handwaved away when the perpetrator also dies, but since the victim was peripheral to people in Georgie’s periphery, perhaps that was for the best. There’s really great stuff happening with Georgie and Belinda as well as Georgie and Darcy. There a few odd characters to round things out, but it’s mostly just a page-turning romp, which is exactly what I wanted. Last book (written so far!) starts tomorrow!

Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

18693750A cold and rainy Saturday made for a lovely environment for catching up with Lady Georgiana Ranoch on her latest adventure.

This time, Georgie has been whisked out of England by her mother, who needs to go to America to get a quickie divorce, so she can marry her latest paramour. And since anything is better than going to drafty Castle Rannoch with her horrid sister-in-law, Fig, Georgie is keen on the adventure.

Dear Darcy tags along (without Georgie’s knowledge) as there’s a “gentleman” jewel thief on the loose and he’s rumored to be crossing to America on the same ship. Once on board the ship, Georgie’s mother is re-discovered by a Hollywood producer who simply MUST cast her in his next movie. Eager for a bit of fame and happy to be rid of dull Reno, Georgie and Claire head to Tinsel Town and find that not all is what it seems. And because this is a Royal Spyness mystery, someone has to die and Georgie has to solve it.

On its face, the book was fine and a quick read. It was a bit funny to think of the place I left last weekend as just this side of a Wild West town, with “talkies” still just coming into their own. However, the mystery was rather easy to solve and Georgie and Darcy either need to get married and have sex or just stop talking about it for now. I was happy that he finally stopped dithering her around, but all of this talk of not having money to keep her in the style befitting her station is boring. Just get married, be poor as church mice and be done with it!