Reading in the Time of COVID-19

During this challenging period, I find myself craving a daily escape into another world, one totally removed from the present reality. With the help of three amazing authors, I was able to escape into well-crafted novels that kept me reading well into the night.

Here are my reviews:

I struggled to put down this fascinating tale about two women from two different eras. While I tended to sympathize more with 1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch, I will admit that Alice Hale faces her own demons as she navigates a turbulent contemporary marriage.

Determined to launch a writing career, Alice finds inspiration in the most unlikely of places: Nellie’s cookbook and unsent letters. Intrigued by Nellie—who happens to be the deceased former owner of her new house in the suburbs—Alice cooks her way through the recipes and reflects upon the subtext within the letters. Not all is as it first appears in this character-driven novel filled with suspense and something possibly more sinister.

A thought-provoking book that will linger in consciousness!

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All the elements are there—intrigue, romance, and murder—set against the backdrop of Mystic Keep, a small town on the Pacific coast. Add in a hot human detective, a rogue warlock, an annoying vampire, sarcastic familiars, a mischievous young witch, and an unknown force of darkness…Protagonist Cassie Black (who also happens to be a witch) has more than her hands full in this second installment of the Perfect Brew Trilogy. Ms. Carson has expertly woven all these elements into a delightful tale that borders on fantasy and cozy mystery.

Well done!



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Captivated by the first chapter, I stayed up two nights to finish reading this character-driven novel brimming with suspense. It definitely helps to have an unexpected inheritance, hidden secrets and tunnels, an eclectic cast of characters, and a murder conviction that needs to be overturned. Set against the backdrop of small-town America, the book succeeds in completely transporting me to Sweet Iron. At times, it felt like Ms. Van Kirk had endowed the town with human characteristics.

An excellent start to an intriguing new cozy mystery series!



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Karma Brown Visits Kitchener

Yesterday, I attended “An Evening with Karma Brown” at the central branch of the Kitchener Public Library. A National Magazine Award winning journalist, Karma Brown is the best-selling author of Come Away With Me, The Choices We Make, In This Moment, The Life Lucy Knew, and Recipe for a Perfect Wife.

After reading a short excerpt from her latest release, Recipe for a Perfect Wife, Karma participated in an armchair conversation with Toronto-based novelist (and friend) Samantha Bailey.

L-R: Samantha Bailey, Karma Brown

Karma’s first four books have been described as emotional women’s fiction by her editor. These tearjerkers feature women deep in the throes of life challenges. Eventually, they do survive and thrive.

You won’t need a box of Kleenex to read Recipe for a Perfect Wife.

This dual-narrative novel features two distinct characters: Alice Hale, a modern-day woman who leaves a promising career to follow her husband to the suburbs, and Nellie Murdoch, a quintessential 1950s housewife. As Alice cooks her way through Nellie’s recipe book, she discovers many parallels between Nellie’s life and her own.

This novel has been painstakingly researched: Karma watched many Home Economics videos, read through her stepmother’s stack of magazines from the 1950s, and talked to her parents about the language used during the period.

Released less than three months ago, Recipe for a Perfect Wife has been reviewed by the New York Times and made the list of Best Books for 2020. Definitely a must-read!

Interesting facts about Karma Brown…

• Karma writes each morning from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. This habit started when her daughter was young and couldn’t sleep or nap. Karma would get up with her daughter and bake, do crafts, and other activities. As her daughter became more independent, Karma started spending more time on her writing.

• At age seventeen, Karma created a Bucket List with 140 items. Writing a novel was one of those items.

• She had hoped to become a TV journalist and anchor. When that wasn’t possible, she turned to magazine writing and then decided to try her hand at writing novels.

• Her favorite authors include Margaret Atwood, Meg Wolitzer, Ann Patchett, and Stephen King.

• Karma wanted to be traditionally published. She wrote three books before finding an agent.

• She is a quick “shelfer.” She prefers to move on rather than linger on a book. While her first two books have been shelved, she has used some of the scenes in her published novels.

• Karma is currently working on a non-fiction project that will be released in 2021. Her next novel will be released in 2022.

Find out more about Karma Brown here.