Sunday, April 23, 2017

This Week in Reading - April 23

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:

Nothing!  I don't think I even have any requests pending.  It's a strange mix of freedom and emptiness.  I'm hoping this means I"m going to keep working on shrinking that stack of review books.


Reading:  Pay the Piper by Patricia Wentworth, Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick, and Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Listening: I just finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline so I'm listening to podcasts until I pick my next audio.

Watching:  We've been watching movies lately.  This weekend we watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Rogue One.  I really enjoyed both (Monty Python is a multiple repeat) though they are VERY different.

Off the Blog:

It's been a pretty quiet week around here so nothing really to report other than being just flat out exhausted.  I'm not exactly sure what my problem is right now but all I want to do is go to sleep and I feel like I'm never caught up - it's like having an infant again without actually having an infant.
I've started a giant book cataloging process which is taking some time.  After my allergist informed me I was ridiculously allergic to dust mites I packed all the books I had crammed in corners and under my bed into totes and have been storing them in a guest room.  I hate not having them around and being able to look through them (though they were all crammed so tight it wasn't like that was all that possible) so I'm trying to add them all to this library app and label them by box number.  Basically it's letting me play with books while letting me feel like I'm accomplishing something!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Double Whammy - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday: Ten Things that Will Make Me NOT Want to Read a Book
Wednesday:  Any Day Now - Women's Fiction Review
Thursday:  Pay the Piper - Classic Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: 52 Pins in 52 Weeks - April Edition

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Woman in Cabin 10 - Mystery Review

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Rating: Loved it!
Source: Library

Description:  In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…
With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I loved Ware's previous book In a Dark Dark Wood and Imogen Church is one of my absolute favorite narrators so I just couldn't pass this up!

My Impression:  I started holding my breath in the first chapter when Lo opens her bedroom door to find an intruder standing in the hallway and I don't think I let it out until the very last page.  The image Ware paints of Lo opening her bedroom door holding her cat only to find herself confronted with a man in a hoodie and latex gloves was so ridiculously vivid that I won't be opening doors in the night with a pretty good bit of hesitation.  The bulk of the book takes place on a luxury cruise with luxury and beauty flowing out of every corner and in every detail.  Claustrophobia starts as an unsettling feeling but increases until it was almost unbearable as the plot unfolded.  I was completely spellbound.  I figured out a few things but only right before they happened and it was a delight to have my suspicions confirmed.

If you have to like the main character to enjoy a book than this isn't the book for you.  Lo isn't very likable.  She's emotional and at times irrational, always poised on the edge of shattering.  It's easy to see why she isn't taken seriously at times and there were times I wondered why her boyfriend put up with her.  There were times when she came off like a child - acting impulsively than regretting her actions but unaware of how to fix them.  I didn't find her too annoying but she is a difficult protagonist.  As well there is a slight confusion in the time line.  The majority of the book is told from Lo's perspective as events unfold on the ship but sprinkled in are a handful of emails and messages from the outside world that take place later than the actual plot is taken place.  I wasn't completely clear on the dates the main story was taken place so there was a little confusion as to what the concern was about.  Once I realized they were taking place later in the week I had no trouble getting it sorted out. Neither of these were things that detracted from the book for me but they may effect other's enjoyment of the story.

I absolutely loved this book.  I normally have to keep pretty busy to stay focused on an audio books but I can't begin to count the number of times I found myself standing completely still in the middle of a room just listening - waiting to find out what happens next. I found the story fast paced and once again am impressed by Ware's ability to make the atmosphere of the setting seep through pages.  I'll be anxiously awaiting her next book.

Audio Note: Imogen Church is an amazing narrator.  Her voice is compelling and hypnotic and ridiculously versatile as she voices a number of characters giving them distinct voices without sounding forced or overly theatrical.  I would listen to any book that she narrates on the strength of her voice alone.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  Ware really needs to write faster.  I'm anxiously waiting her next book

Would I Recommend this Book?: I would unless you have to like the main character.  For me if the plot is compelling enough it doesn't matter if I like the characters or not and this was definitely the case here but if that doesn't work for you than give this a pass.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Linkups - Double Whammy

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:
Would you stop reading a book if an element of the plot strongly clashed with your personal beliefs or would you continue reading the book?

My Answer:
Oh good question!  I think it depends on the way the author handles the issue.  If the character is doing something or something is happening that I am very much against but I felt like it was handled in a way that wasn't pushing an agenda and perhaps just shedding new light on an issue  I would probably keep reading.  If it came across like the author was telling me how to feel or think about something than I would stop reading.  I'm not a fan of books like that even if I agree with the author's POV!

I'm on a roll with cozies lately and Gretchen Archer's Davis Way series has been on my TBR for quite sometime.  When I was offered the chance to review the first book in the series - Double Whammy - I just couldn't resist.  So far I'm loving it!  Davis Way is a great character - tough and smart though with a tendency to run headlong into disaster.

The Beginning:
A little unemployment goes a long, long way, and after more than a year of it, applying for every available position in L.A. (Lower Alabama), I took a right and tried Mississippi.

My Thoughts:
I like the voice of the beginning.  She sounds like she's going to be an interesting main character (and so far so good!)

The 56:
"I just do.  Because you can't get in those safes with a tool."
My jaw unhinged.  How in the world did George know what I was doing?

My Thoughts:
Things sound a bit like they're unraveling.  There's not many good law abiding reasons for Davis to be trying to open a safe!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Manderley Forever and Never Entice an Earl - Short Reviews

Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay

I really enjoyed the author's forward where she talks about not wanting to simply report Daphne du Maurier's life but to really show who she was. Daphne du Maurier wasn't just the author of Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, My Cousin Rachel, The Birds, and countless other books but she was a fascinating and complex woman in her own right.

However, the writing style of the book just didn't work for me.  I enjoyed the author's commitment to trying to show a more personal view of du Maurier but there was a certain sing songy quality of the prose that I struggled with such as passages like this:
"Why go on vacation when their house is perfect?  Gerald whines, and Muriel smiles at him, indefatigable, just a bit tense, comforting him, trying to keep him entertained."
  I'm not sure if it's an issue with translation but 472 pages of this were a challenge.  While Daphne du Maurier is a woman worth learning more about this biography wasn't the way to do it.  Rating: Not For Me

Never Entice an Earl (One Scandalous Season #2) by Lily Dalton

Lord Cormack Northmore is desperate to avenge his sister which is what brings him to the Blue Swan, a notorious brothel, just in time to save lady's maid "Kate".  When a chance encounter reveals that "Kate" is in fact Lady Daphne Bevington - part of the society he is trying to break into - he decides to blackmail her.  All she has to do is provide him introductions and invitations and in return he will keep her secrets.   Daphne will do anything to protect and help her lady's maid and best friend which is what puts her on the collision path with the very attractive Cormack.  Both on a mission and both trying to save those they love but could those actions be putting them in danger?

I'm typically not a fan of a revenge plot - especially not when it involves one character using the other to further a personal agenda.  Nor am I a fan of fake identities.  However, I was pleased with how Dalton handled both issues.  The fake identity was very short lived and while Cormack did want Daphne to help him become accepted into society he was in no way unclear on his motives and intentions.  The romance itself was heavy on bickering with lots of lust but I did feel like there was a connection between the two.  Their priorities were similar and when they weren't arguing they did really seem to understand each other.  While this wasn't my favorite romance I've read this year I did find it an enjoyable read.  We meet the characters from the next book in this one and I was so intrigued by one I will definitely be reading the third book in the series.  Rating: Good

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Decorator Who Knew Too Much - Cozy Mystery Review

The Decorator Who Knew Too Much (Madison Night Mystery #4) by Diane Vallere

Rating:  Very Good
Source: Publicist

Description: When Interior Decorator Madison Night accepts an assignment in Palm Springs with handyman Hudson James, she expects designing days and romantic nights. But after spotting a body in the river by the job site, she causes a rift in the team. Add in the strain of recurring nightmares and a growing dependency on sleeping pills, and Madison seeks professional help to deal with her demons.
She learns more about the crime than she’d like thanks to girl talk with friends, pillow talk with Hudson, and smack talk with the local bad boys. And after the victim is identified as the very doctor she’s been advised to see, she wonders if what she knows can help catch a killer. An unlikely ally helps navigate the murky waters before her knowledge destroys her, and this time, what she doesn’t know might be the one thing that saves her life.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've read several other books by Diane Vallere and always enjoyed them.  I liked the sound of Madison.

My Impression:  It took me awhile to write this review because I had to take a break to watch a movie marathon of Doris Day movies (Pillow Talk is pretty great and who knew Doris Day was in a Hitchcock film!) and paint my bathroom aqua.  I'm pretty sure that Diane Vallere is incapable of writing a mystery that's not entertaining and this one is no exception!

For starters I really loved Madison.  There were times I wanted to shake her a bit for not relying on Hudson more but it does make sense.  Not only does she have serious baggage that keeps her from feeling comfortable opening up to people but she also is simply used to taking care of herself.  She's intelligent and does purposely put herself in harm's way though she doesn't hesitate to ask some questions that might put her there.  I especially enjoyed that events from previous books have had some psychological ramifications.  So often in mysteries the amateur sleuth will go through a terrifying experience and be perfectly fine which also seems a little off.  Madison's dealing with nightmares and a few other issues that made her even more interesting and sympathetic.  Don't worry though - if you haven't read the previous books Vallere includes just enough about previous events to make everything make sense so it's safe to jump in here.  There is quite a lot of descriptions about Madison's outfits which I really enjoyed.  I especially loved that Vallere included the pattern maker and number.  It was fun to look them up and see what images I could find.

All this character development did not get in the way of a good mystery which I must say had me scratching my head until the reveal.  There are lots of red herrings and perfectly reasonable suspects as well as things being far more complicated than they seemed.  Between the pace of the mystery and my enjoyment of the characters this proved to be a fast and entertaining read.  I'm looking forward to visiting Madison again and seeing what trouble she gets up to in the future.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Absolutely!  Diane Vallere is a mystery author whose books I always enjoy and this is a series I'm excited to continue with.  Actually, I just discovered I have the 3rd book in this series on my Kindle so I'm really looking forward to reading it soon.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Absolutely!  If you enjoy a cozy mystery don't miss this series and don't worry you can jump in on this book with no problem.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want to Read a Book

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is 10 things that will make me instantly want to read a book.  While there are bunches of different things that will make me want to read a book I'm sticking with plot points for this list.  These are the 10 things that if I see mentioned about a book can pretty much guarantee it's going to end up on my TBR.

1.  Setting - This book takes place in Ireland you say?  A town I'm familiar with or want to go to?  A setting that grabs my attention will have me pressing that 1 click button faster than just about anything else.

2.  A catastrophe that pushes the main character into a situation where they have to figure out what they really want to do - Lose your job?  Someone dies and you have to go take care of their house?  Long time boyfriend breaks up with you by text?  I'm so on board with this!  I love when a character has to take a break from their regular life for whatever reason (except for death of a child - not a fan of that one) and it forces them to realize what they really want.

3.  Restoring an old house - Anything involving restoring an old house is basically going to be on my TBR.  Something about all the old house talk makes me giddy and I don't care if the characters are solving a murder, falling in love with their contractor, making peace with their relationship with their mother, or anything else.

4.  Solving an old mystery - While restoring the old house did you find a packet of letters?  A journal?  A matchbook with a phone number?  A photograph?  Anything that makes you want to find the real story or a person involved?  I am along for the ride!

5.  A ghost - I can't resist a ghost story!  Basically if you take a haunted old house in Ireland that the main character has inherited after a losing their job and then they find a packet of old letters it's pretty much going to be my book of the year.

6. A journey style memoir - A trip around the world?  Going to cooking school?  Tackling a project - any project?  I can't resist a memoir with a set start and end goal and they're frequently some of my favorite reads.

7.  An ensemble cast - I love an ensemble cast in any kind of book.  Anytime a group of people band together to accomplish anything I very rarely can resist.  These can be a little hit or miss as often an ensemble cast has different POVs and while those can be amazing in the right hands they can also be pretty awful if done incorrectly.

8.  Books about books or with bookish characters - This includes fiction or nonfiction but if books play an important role I'll be picking that book up.  I love books where the characters are readers.  It adds an extra element of kinship.

9.  A Grandmother/Grandchild relationship - it may be because my own relationship with my grandmother is very special that I'm always drawn to books where that relationship is so important.

10. A Treasure Hunt - I love a good treasure hunt or puzzle type story!  This is something that spans so many genres - mystery, middle grade, science fiction - just about anything you can think of and I love them all!  If the plot sounds like the main characters are going to be spending their time racing around solving riddles for a greater goal you can count me in!.

What makes you instantly want to read a book?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks - When a Book Just Clicks + a Giveaway

I love that feeling when I pick up a book and am instantly swept away and pulled into the story.  It doesn't happen all that often but when it does it's amazing.  These are the books I sneak off to read or pick up to read "just one page" and look up half an hour later.  It's hard to predict what book will do it and it's not always about the quality of the book.  There have been several where I've been completely wrapped up in the story and then half an hour after finishing I'll realize there's a major plot hole or one aspect of the mystery just wasn't wrapped up very well.  So what is it exactly that makes a book just click?  For me it's these things - 

1.    The Author's Voice - There are a few authors who something about the way they write just clicks with me.  Elizabeth Enright, Ruth Ware, Nora Roberts, Julia Quinn, Sabrina Jeffries and Sheila Connolly all qualify for this one.  Even if I don't like the characters there's just something about the book itself that just pulls me in.

2.  The Atmosphere - Atmosphere can really add to my enjoyment of the book and when the feel of the book is permeating every corner of the story I'm in.  Barbara Michaels is amazing at this and Donna Alward's House on Blackberry Hill did this to perfection.

3.  The Book that is Just Exactly What I Need - Sometimes a book comes along at the perfect time.  It can be the book that busts you out of your slump, the book that wakes you up, the book that inspires you, or just the book that entertains you just at the time when you desperately need it.  Some of the books for me have been - Better Ghosts and Gardens by Molly Harper (I needed something funny and light and this was perfect), The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn (I was getting so tired of the daily dinner grind and this was the perfect inspiration), and Recipes for a Beautiful Life by Rebecca Barry (I was in a massive reading slump and this diary style memoir was funny and human and completely what I needed).

4.  The Relationship Between Characters - I love it when a character feels like someone you'd want to be friends with but what really hooks me is when the relationship between characters is a focal point and that relationship is developing as the book goes on.  I love ensemble casts or trilogy type series with a continuing story and each book focuses on a different character.  A recent book that really excelled in that category was Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart (read my thoughts on that book here)


This brings me to the giveaway!  If you want a chance to win a copy of Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart which just happens to be one of my favorite books of the year all you have to do is leave a comment with your email address and your favorite book of the year so far!  A copy is being provided by the amazing people over at Simon & Schuster/ Gallery Books

Can't wait to see everyone's favorite books so far!  What makes a book click with you?