Monday, March 30, 2015

The Dead Play On - Review

The Dead Play On (A Cafferty and Quinn Novel) by Heather Graham

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Musicians are being murdered in New Orleans and only their instruments are missing.  When saxophone player Tyler Anderson gets a flash of his friend Arnie's final moments while playing Arnie's sax he knows that Arnie was one of the murdered and not an overdose like originally suspected. Tyler turns to his friend Danni and so she and Quinn are deep in the music scene of New Orleans and just possibly the next target.

Genre: Mystery
Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed Heather Graham's Krewe series so I thought I'd give this one a try.

My Impression:
Pro:  I expect a fun story with a strong sense of place from Graham's books and I wasn't disappointed.  This very much felt like it was taking place in New Orleans without being too over the top.  The mystery itself is interesting and the story has just the right amount of creep factor. I liked Danni and Quinn really having to learn to work together and that Quinn had to stop just trying to protect Danni and start trusting her instincts.  I also loved Arnie's parents as well as Billie and Bo Ray.  They all came off as really just nice people which helped temper the creepiness.  The pacing was very good and while I guessed the bad guy fairly early on I was never not entertained by the unmasking process.

Con:  There are a lot of characters in this book.  I think since this is a continuing series the cast can be bigger than it is in the Krewe books.  There were a few times I had to remind myself who someone was and there was a character that showed up towards the end that I had no idea who he was. It didn't affect the story so it wasn't a big deal but it was a little jarring.  Also, this took me a little longer to get lost in than her previous books.  The writing seemed a little stiffer and I was more aware of the "He said, she said, etc." than usual.

Overall: Even though this was the 3rd book in the series I had no problem jumping in especially with figuring out the setup between Danni and Quinn.   Because this is a series the romantic relationship is already taken place so this read more like a mystery than a romance to me.  There were some mild scenes but nothing much.  I have a feeling that earlier books would tilt more to the romance side.  There were a few annoyances in the book but they were all minor and this was a book I always looked forward to getting back too.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, definitely.  While I like her Krewe series a bit better I'm looking forward to reading more of the Cafferty and Quinn books.

Would I Recommend this Book?:   I'd definitely recommend this author and while this wasn't my favorite by her it was still a lot of fun.

Challenges Met? Reading Road Trip - Louisiana

Sunday, March 29, 2015

This Week in Reading - March 29

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week

What I Got:

Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison - So there was some happy car dancing about this one.  I was checking my email when I had stopped for gas the other day when I saw the email asking if I wanted to review this one.  Umm yes please!  Murder at Honeychurch Hall was one of my favorite mysteries last year so I'm really excited about this. (Publisher)

Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor - I've read 3 of her books and really enjoyed 2.  Plus the title of this one makes me laugh.  I like her attitude on parenting and life in general and she's generally very funny.  (NetGalley)

When the Balls Drop by Brad Garrett - Garrett was the brother in Everyone Loves Raymond and I've thought he was funny in everything I've seen him in which honestly hasn't been all that much so I'm curious about this. (NetGalley)

A Fright to the Death by Dawn Eastman - This is a cozy mystery series I've been wanting to try so I was really excited to get on the blog tour for this one.  (Blog Tour)


Reading:  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens which is my Reading Assignment Challenge for this month and I need to seriously get reading!  Also, Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner for a blog tour later this week.

Listening: Nothing yet but am planning on starting audio books again this week.

Watching:  All Star Academy on Food Network but not much else since we've been out of town most of this week.

Off the Blog:

We had a great vacation.  One day we went into Hattiesburg and went to the little zoo they have there which was nice and ate a fantastic lunch.  If for whatever reason you're ever in the Hattiesburg, MS area I highly recommend Crescent City Grill.  Other than that lots of playing with the Tornado and even a little bit of reading.

Since we've been home it's mostly been trying to get everything back together what with grocery shopping and laundry.  This week has flown by!  While we had a great spring break I'm looking forward to getting back to routine.

I'm horribly behind on blog visiting and comment replying but I'm trying to catch up!

On the Blog:

What Happened This Week:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: The Dead Play On - Romantic Suspense Review
Tuesday:  Ten Books I Recently Added to My TBR
Wednesday: Scent of Triumph - Blog Tour Review
Thursday: Mademoiselle Chanel - Blog Tour Review
Friday: Friday Linkups featuring my current book
Saturday: Cookbook Challenge Linkup

Have a great weekend and happy reading!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

My Cookbook Wishlist

I was going to talk about my collection of cookbooks today but I just got back into town Thursday night and today (Friday) wasn't a day for digging into my bookcases so instead I'm going to talk about my Cookbook Wishlist.  I love cookbooks and have an easier time buying them than other genres because cookbooks don't apply to my rather massive TBR.  Plus flipping through a cookbook while watching a show off the Tivo is one of my favorite ways to spend an evening. Because that's the kind of party girl I am.  So here's my current wishlist and if you have any opinion on them please tell me so I can hit Order on my Amazon cart or delete them out:

1.  Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert - I've seen several reviews of this one and they've all been glowing.  Plus, roasting is one of those cooking methods I love but so rarely do for reasons I can't explain.

2.  Mary Berry's Baking Bible by Mary Berry - I was addicted to The Great British Bake Off that was on PBS recently and loved Mary Berry.  It doesn't hurt that her scones looked amazing.

3.  Paul Hollywood's British Baking by Paul Hollywood - Basically ditto to the above.

4.  The Pollan Family Table by Corky Pollan, Tracy Pollan and Lori Pollan- I'm cheating a bit on this one because I actually have it from the library right now but it's definitely one I want to own.  Especially if all the recipes are half as good as the Bistro Burgers with Caramelized Onions we had had for dinner tonight!

5.  The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Melissa Elsen - This was featured on one of the food blogs I follow and they had their all butter pie crust which is heaven.  Really I don't need to rest of the pie the crust is so good!

6.  Back in the Day Bakery: Made with Love by Cheryl Day - I have their first book and love it even though really all I make regularly are their chocolate chip cookies which are my favorite of the 2 dozen or so recipes I've tried.  (Have I mentioned my family is a bit boring when it comes to sweets?)

7.  Good Food, Good Life by Curtis Stone - Between his appearances on The Chew and All Star Academy Curtis Stone is starting to replace Bobby Flay as my chef crush.  Plus this book just sounds yummy!

8. Kevin Dundon's Modern Irish Food by Kevin Dundon- My husband and I both have a lot of Irish in us so periodically I try and experiment with Irish recipes.  I like the idea of these being modern as so many that I've found are a bit on the heavy side.

9. The Complete Cook's Country TV Cookbook - This is from the maker's of Cook's Illustrated but tends to be a little less complicated.  I love Cook's Illustrated and my go-to meatloaf recipe is from them but I used to have a subscription to Cook's Country and would love to try out this book.

10. LudoBites by Ludo Lefebvre - My husband and I watch The Taste together and I enjoy Ludo's antics almost as much as I love listening to Nigella Lawson talk.  I'm dying to try out his food!

So what do you think?  See any I must get or any that I should avoid at all costs?

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Linkups - The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Which books have you read in the past month that still have you thinking back to the storyline and characters?

My Answer:
Good question!  My immediate answer is Behind Every Great Man by Marlene Wagman-Geller which I've talked about quite a bit since I read it.  Death and the Redheaded Woman by Loretta Ross and The Unpredictable Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell are 2 where the characters have really stayed with me.  I'm especially looking forward to the next mystery from Loretta Ross.

This week's book is the latest Julia Quinn, The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy.  Julia Quinn is one of my favorite romance authors and Iris is a character I've really enjoyed in previous books.  I'm a little scared because the reviews have been mixed and this series hasn't been quite as fantastic as previous Quinns have been for me but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

The Beginning:
Pleinsworth House
Spring 1825
To quote that book his sister had read two dozen times, it was a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.  
Sir Richard Kenworthy was not in possession of a fortune, but he was single.  As for the wife....
Well, that was complicated.

My thoughts:
Well any book that starts with a book reference is always off to a good start in my opinion.  Given the title I'm very curious about why the wife issue is so complicated for Sir Richard.

The 56:
"Then may I lead you out?"
She glanced over at Sir Richard.  He winked.

My Thoughts:
I read a little bit of this page and they're at a ball where Iris is getting asked to dance quite a bit.  I'm very curious about what's going on.  I suspect Sir Richard is behind something somehow though I don't know how or why!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Do you have a favorite author whose recent books haven't been quite as great as you expect them to be?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Day in the Life - 3/19/15

I'm linking up with Trish over at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity for A Day in the Life Blogger Event.  The linkup is actually tomorrow but I'm posting today.  I recorded March 19 because we've been out of town for most of this week.  This is a fairly typical day for me.  The 9 to 12 changes sometimes but the rest is pretty standard.  Exciting I am not!

2:15 - The Tornado wakes up after upsetting his water glass all over him.  I get him changed into dry pajamas and make sure his bed is dry which thankfully it is.  I get him tucked back in and head back to bed.

2:45 - I look at the clock and realize I've been tossing and turning for 30 minutes.

6:00 - At some point I had thankfully fallen back in sleep.  The Tornado wakes up and climbs in bed with me saying he wants to snuggle.  This morning snuggle is code for asking questions but eventually he quiets down.

7:30 - Paul texts to ask if he can drive to school.  This is his first morning driving but it was supposed to rain so we had told him he had to check with us because if it was pouring and really wet he wasn't going to be driving.  The roads are a little wet but not too bad so he's on his way.

7:35 - J leaves for work.

7:40 - I finally come to the surface to realize that it's now 40 minutes past when I wanted to get up and roll out of bed.  I head down and make coffee and check my email on my phone while the machine is going.  The Tornado is still sound asleep so I decide that instead of using this time to get some blog work done I'm going to appreciate this rare treat of a quiet morning and watch TV while I drink my coffee.  I turn on yesterday's The Chew and curl up on the couch with my coffee.

8:10 - The Tornado comes downstairs and snuggles up next to me.  We sit for a few minutes and then he wants to watch his morning show.  I turn it to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and do some review cross-posting.

8:25 - He's now awake enough to eat breakfast (we're not morning people) so I make him his breakfast (oatmeal), then make his lunch for school.  You know those really fun looking Bento box lunch ideas where the kid eats something new every day?  So not my kid.  He gets his usual lunch of a cheese sandwich, goldfish (but only the ones in the green bag), and 2 Hershey kisses.

8:35 - His lunch box is on the counter.  I go pick out his clothes and lay them out then remind him to do his jobs before I go upstairs to get ready.  I wash my face, brush my hair, put on make up, etc.  I don't have to go anywhere today and it's a cleaning day so clothes are yoga pants and a tshirt.

9:00 - The Tornado has eaten breakfast, gotten dressed, put the dog up and made his bed but didn't put his bowl in the dishwasher.  We're running late so I ignore that and get his shoes and socks on and then out the door to school.

9:25 - The Tornado is now successfully dropped off. I get home to an empty house as Emma had to go into school early to make a test.  I sit down to do a little blog work before I get going.

10:20 - What was supposed to be half an hour of blogwork turned into almost an hour.  I talk myself into a 10 minute barre3 workout before starting the stuff that needs to get done today.

10:30 - Finish workout and get stuff together for cleaning.  Clean upstairs, fold a load of laundry, unload dishwasher, rotate laundry, clean family room and kitchen table.

12:15 - Make and eat lunch.  Input calories into my phone app.  Straighten up kitchen and put cleaning supplies away.

12:45 - Go pick up the Tornado from school.  Realize in carline that I forgot to take my allergy medicine this morning because my eyes are starting to itch like crazy.

1:10 - Get home.  I check the mail and got an ARC that I've been looking forward to (thanks Bea for letting me know about this one!).  Go through the Tornado's backpack and have him put it up.  Get him a snack and let him pick a show (we seem to be in a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse mood lately).

1:20 - Take allergy medicine before the eye itchiness makes me lose my mind.  Go put up laundry and realize I forgot to clean ceiling fan in master bedroom.  Do the Pinterest pillowcase trick.  Rotate laundry.  Move chairs out of dining room.  Vacuum and dust.  Give the Tornado 5 minutes more to play school bus on the lined up chairs and then put them back in the dining room.  Put vacuum cleaner and dusting stuff up.  J calls in the middle of this so I talk to him for a minute.  I resist the urge to go hide with my Kindle for awhile and also add clean dining room carpet to To Do list.

2:30 - Allergy medicine thankfully has kicked in so my eyes have stopped itching.  The Tornado gets out his Legos and I sit down at the computer to get some blog work done.  I go to NetGalley to download an approval that came through earlier today and try to resist checking the new titles.  Start review for Serbian cookbook and for a blog tour that's happening on Monday.  I'm also answering questions.  Lots of questions.  Between me being sick and other general craziness of the last few weeks the Tornado is out of the habit of playing on his own.

3:00 - Print out recipe for dinner and then assemble parts and get them in the crockpot.  We're having Honey Bourbon Crock Pot Chicken and later I'll make the Pioneer Woman's Mashed Potatoes later.

3:30 - Crockpot is going and I take a page out of Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before handbook and straighten up my desk.  I take up the pile of books that's been sitting there and use the moment to read a little on the Kindle.  The Tornado finds me and I end up reading a book to him.

4:00 - Emma comes running in and changes for work than runs out.  I'm very grateful that I don't have to drive her around anymore.

4:15: I wasted a few minutes flipping through my calendar and realized that I don't have a book fora  blog tour that's coming up in a couple of weeks.  Shoot a quick email to another tour participant.  Then the Tornado and I pick up his Legos.  Paul comes in and we talk about how driving to school went than the Tornado and I do a few puzzles.

5:30 - I go peel potatoes and put them onto boil while the Tornado plays some more.  Paul leaves for soccer practice and once again I'm grateful I don't have to drive the older ones anymore.

5:45 - J comes home.  The Tornado picks out a show to watch - once again Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  I finish making the potatoes, heat up the naan and make the sauce for the chicken.

6:15 Dinner - the chicken is pretty good.  I use chicken breasts instead of thighs and leave out the sesame seeds.  I do need 3 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken up the sauce but everyone seems to like it.

7:20 - I finish getting the kitchen cleaned up and do a little blog visiting while the Tornado heats his dessert of Hershey kisses.

7:30 - I read the Tornado a story.  Paul comes in from practice and heats up his plate from dinner.

7:50 - Go take a bath and read a few chapters of my current print book (Hideaway Cove by Anna Sullivan)

8:30 - Come downstairs and talk J into working on a puzzle.  We've been trying to do things other than watch TV at night.  I thought this would be a fun chance to talk and stuff.  It turns out we are serious puzzle solvers.  There was no talking but it was fun.  Emma gets home from work around 9 and we talk to her for a minute.

9:45 - Stop the puzzle for the night and have some cake

10:15 - Head upstairs and get in bed.  Time for Kindle reading.

11:50 - I realize I've read the same paragraph 4 times and have no idea what it says.  It's bedtime!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Two Short Reviews

Every once in awhile I come across a book where there's just not that much to say about it.  Recently I've come across two so instead of doing two separate posts I thought I'd combine them.

First up is Around the World in 50 Years: My Adventure to Every Country on Earth by Albert Podell.
I love travel books and the basic premise of a man visiting every country in the world definitely had my attention.  This books starts off with Podell and 5 other men setting off to set a record for the longest automobile journey and then continues for Podell's travels over the next 47 years.  The stories are crazy and entertaining.  I've learned that smuggling things into Egypt is not a good idea and places that are active war zones should be avoided. While this was an entertaining read it didn't quite click with me.  I think my main problem was lack of context.  This was a string of stories under a chapter heading with whatever country they were in.  I would've liked this book more if there was more of a connecting narrative and listed time periods.  It had a floating disconnected feel to it that kept it from really grabbing me.  All in all it was an entertaining read but just not quite what I wanted it to be.  3 Stars.

Then comes Hideaway Cove, a contemporary romance by Anna Sullivan and the 2nd in the Windfall Island series.  This is another one I expected to love.  There's family secrets and a 70 year old mystery.  Really all I need is an old bed and breakfast and I'd be in heaven.  However, this is another one I just couldn't quite connect with.  While I liked Jessie and admired her determination to protect her son she's not a character that really grabbed me.  She's too defensive and her guard is too high.  Holden "Hold" Abbot is also an interesting character.  He's a nice guy but focused on getting to the bottom of the Stanhope mystery.  However, when he comes to Jessie he's too driven and too focused on getting her to become involved with him.  It crossed the line for me from him being interested in her to him being interested in what he couldn't have.  The final straw for me was when the father of Jessie's son showed up.  The issues with him and his family as well as some of the other townspeople along with not really connecting with the characters or the romance just kind of killed this one for me.  There were too many complications and not enough connection.  I did like the writing and I think this author has a lot of potential.  I'm really curious about the first book in the series and hope to get to it soon as I really liked what I saw of that couple in this book.  2.5 Stars

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books from my Childhood

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Books from my Childhood that I'd Love to Revisit.  I actually did this last year when I reread The Secret Garden.  This was one of my favorite books as a child and I read it countless times.  I was really pleased to find that I enjoyed it just as much as an adult!  Here's 10 other books I'd love to revisit!

1.  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - I think I discovered this book in 4th or 5th grade and I can't even remember how many times I read it.  To make it even better my daughter discovered it when she was much younger and read it dozens of times.  While I remember a lot about this one I'd love to revisit it.  I'm sure there is some great detail that I've forgotten.

2.  Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott - I don't know if I tried Little Women too young or what but I never quite had the same affection for it that so many people seem to have.  Eight Cousins was by far my favorite Alcott.  I read it to absolute pieces and I'd love to revisit it.

3. Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle - unlike the previous two books I remember virtually nothing about this book even though I know I read it multiple times. I know I didn't read any of her other books so I'm hoping to catch up soon.

4.  The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner - The Boxcar Children was the first real series I ever got hooked on and this was before there were so many new ones.  I'd be surprised if this has aged well but I'd love to revisit the first few.

5.  Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott - While Little Women wasn't for me I did enjoy Little Men but my absolute favorite was Jo's Boys which featured only a little bit of Jo and lots of the boys that she and her husband took in for their school.  It was lots of fun!

6.  Are You There God?  It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume - so I read this at the regular age you're supposed to be when you read this book and I remember liking it okay but nearly as much as other people seem too.  My primary memory is being confused about the whole belt concept when they were getting their "woman" supplies.  I feel like I need to reread this to see what all the fuss is about.

7.  Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan - I loved this book when I was a kid.  I remember vividly Sarah using colored pencils with the children and talking about the colors of the sea.  I think it'd be interesting to read this one with adult eyes.  I'm sure there's all kind of things that I missed as a child.

8.  The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare - While I enjoyed this one as a child this is another one that I think would be really great to read with adult eyes. I don't remember much about the actual story so I think this would be great to go back and revisit.

9.  Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson - This was actually a book my dad read to me at bedtime when I was a little girl.  I have a vivid memory of listening to the story and could pick out the exact edition but I remember almost nothing about the story itself.

10. Any of the Hardy Boys books - While I did read a couple of Hardy Boys books I was primarily a Nancy Drew reader.  I've read a few reviews of Hardy Boys lately (Greg over at Greg's Book Haven has had some great ones) and it sounds like the Hardy Boys have way more fun than Nancy Drew!

What childhood favorites would you like to revisit?