Wednesday, November 14, 2018

City of Secrets - Historical Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Con artist Elizabeth Miles has determined that Society is the biggest con of all. So far, Elizabeth’s only real social success has been with Priscilla Knight. Priscilla is a dedicated suffragist who was recently widowed for the second time in her young life. Her beloved first husband, DeForrest Jenks, died in a tragic accident and left her with two young daughters and a comfortable fortune. Soon after his death, her pastor convinced her she needed a man to look after her. Before she knew it, he had engineered a whirlwind courtship and hasty marriage to fellow parishioner Endicott Knight. Less than nine months later, Endicott is also dead in a somewhat less tragic and even more suspicious accident.

Priscilla confides to Elizabeth that she had understood Endicott was wealthy in his own right, and she had brought a sizeable fortune to the marriage as well. Now her banker is telling her she has hardly any money left and that her house has been mortgaged. The banker has hinted at a scandal that could damage the family’s reputation and her daughters’ future prospects. Fearing destructive gossip, Priscilla doesn’t know whom to trust.

Elizabeth discovers some unsavory evidence that seems to point to the possibility that Endicott’s death may have been connected to blackmail. To save her new friend’s future, Elizabeth must use her special set of skills to find the truth.

Genre: Mystery - Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:
I loved the first book in the series so I was really excited to read the second book.

My Impression:
  I loved the first book in the series but honestly wasn't quite sure how it could become a series.  With Elizabeth now living in society and trying to live an honest life how could she get into the kind of trouble that she did in the first book?  But while Elizabeth is living a (mostly) honest life trouble does seem to find her and I like how she got involved in Priscilla's mess.  I found it completely believable and true to type that Elizabeth jumped in feet first though this time her focus is to help and not just make a score for herself.

While I really enjoyed the setup in the first book I did appreciate how this book got right to the point from the beginning.  It was an intriguing mystery that was a bit different from the usual murder mystery I read.  In fact the bulk of the mystery has nothing to do with murder but is more of a heist/con type mystery.  It was a lot of fun to see how Elizabeth manages to get everything worked out and I appreciated that she wasn't afraid to ask for help.

There is a bit about Elizabeth and  Gideon's relationship.  The two got engaged in the previous book but there are lots of things still to work out.  My only complaint is that I would I have liked to see more of Mrs. Bates and Anna.  I so enjoyed getting to know them and they played relatively small parts here.  This was a very enjoyable historical mystery with interesting characters and a lot of fun!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I'm already looking forward to the next book and in the meantime will catch up on her Gaslight Mystery series.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy historical mysteries and are looking for something a little different than this is a great choice!

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Ten Holdiay Books I Want to Read

There are so many holiday reads that are calling my name this year!  It gets a bit overwhelming and I do want to make sure I read as many as possible.  I thought I'd make a list to help me keep track!

The Christmas Star by Donna VanLiere - I read a Donna VanLiere last year around Christmas time and it was really sweet and perfect for the season.  I couldn't resist trying another one.

The Christmas Revelation by Anne Perry - I have a complicated history with Anne Perry.  I always think I'll like her books and I very rarely do but I thought I'd give this Christmas novella a try.

Santa Puppy by Lynn Cahoon - I love the Tourist Trap series and so I'm excited to read this Christmas novella - especially since it involves puppies!

Bells Spells and Murder by Carol J Perry - This is one of my favorite cozy series and I loved the Halloween book so I thought I'd try Christmas in Salem!

As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles by Leslie Budewitz - I've read a few books by Budewitz before and really enjoyed them so I'm looking forward to trying a Christmas-y read.

Thread the Halls by Lea Wait - This one came out awhile ago and this is one of my favorite series that I've been sadly neglected.  It seems like now is the time to pick up this Christmas themed mystery!

Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan - I love Jenny Colgan and I loved the first book in this series.  I'm really excited to read this one!

Premeditated Peppermint by Amanda Flowers - Somehow I have yet to read Amanda Flowers though I've really been wanting to try her.  This one looks good though it has me already wanting all the Peppermint-y deliciousness.

Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge by Laura Levine - This is a new to me author and series but I like the Christmas Carol tie in and this one caught my eye.

Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber - While I've watched a number of Hallmark movies based on her Christmas books I've yet to actually read one of them!  Trading Christmas was my favorite movie so I thought I'd give the book a try.

What holiday reads are calling your name?

Monday, November 12, 2018

A True Cowboy Christmas - Contemporary Romance Review

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Gray Everett has a heart of gold but that doesn't mean he believes in the magic of Christmas. He's got plenty else to worry about this holiday season, what with keeping his cattle ranch in the family and out of the hands of hungry real-estate investors looking to make a down-and-dirty deal. That, plus being a parent to his young and motherless daughter, equals a man who will not rest until he achieves his mission. Now, all Gray needs is the help of his lifelong neighbor. . .who happens to have grown into a lovely, spirited woman.

For Abby Douglas, the chance to join forces with Gray is nothing less than a Christmas miracle. Much as the down-to-earth farmer's daughter has tried to deny it, Abby's been in love with stern, smoking-hot Gray her whole life. So when Gray proposes a marriage of convenience as a way to combine land--and work together toward a common cause—Abby can't refuse. But how can she convince Gray that sometimes life offers a man a second chance for a reason. . .and that their growing trust and mutual passion may be leading to true and lasting love?

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:
I haven't read a Cowboy romance in awhile so a Christmas one by a new to me author was to much to pass up!

My Impression:
  I love a marriage of convenience plot but it's not a trope that translates well to contemporary romance.  I was surprised with just how well it worked out here.  Gray's reasons for wanting to marry Abby made a lot of sense and as with all the best marriages of convenience watching the friendship blossom into more was lovely.

Grey is very much the gruff cowboy which made him a little hard to warm up to at times.  He's a bit angry and a little loss after the death of his father.  Marrying Abby seems like the most logical decision until it's a lot more complicated than that.  Abby is insecure and her self esteem has taken a lifetime worth of hits from her mother's cruel comments.    Together, once they got through the gruffness and the worrying, they were really cute and brought out the best in each other.  They're both nice people who need someone who understands them and it was nice to see them get it.

This wasn't flawless.  I did feel like the pacing was a bit slow - it could have had a bit of the build up cut out.  As well, while I really liked both Abby and Grey I don't feel like I had the biggest emotional connection with either.   This was a nice romance with likable characters.  Even though this wasn't my favorite read of the year I do feel like the series has lots of potential and I'm curious to see where it goes.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  I would.  I'm curious to see where the series goes next.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy cowboy romances this is a good series to try.

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *

Saturday, November 10, 2018

This Week in Reading - November 11

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:

Eggs on Ice by Laura Childs - I've read a few books from this series and while I've found it somewhat inconsistent I really like Laura Childs.  (Publisher)

I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos - I know nothing about this author but the description of this one really caught my eye.  I love a good finding yourself story - especially if the main character gets left a house that they don't know much about!  (Blog Tour Company)


Reading:  Santa Pup by Lynn Cahoon and A Dangerous Duet by Karen Odden

Listening:  I'm finishing up Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney.  I wasn't sure what I thought for the first part but the last half has really hooked 

Watching:  I've been catching up on Criminal Minds.  I missed the end of last season so it took me some time to figure out what was going on but I'm good now.

Off the Blog:

So I ended up going to the doctor about the chest cold I was complaining about last week as it had been a full week without no improvement.  Turned out it wasn't getting better because it wasn't a chest cold and was in fact pneumonia.  So 1 week of crazy antibiotics and cough medicine that tastes like it can take paint off the walls and I am starting to feel a little bit better which is nice.  I haven't done a huge amount of anything this week and my meds are making me a bit loopy so I haven't really been able to read.  However, I am making some progress on clearing off my DVR so there's that I guess. 

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  A True Cowboy Christmas - Contemporary Romance Review
Tuesday:  My Christmas TBR
Wednesday:  City of Secrets - Historical Mystery Review
Thursday:  A Dangerous Duet - Historical Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: My Fall Favorites

Have a great week and happy reading!

A Wrench in the Works - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher 

Shannon Hammer's younger sister Chloe left Lighthouse Cove after high school to make it big in Hollywood. And she did it! For several years now, Chloe has been the co-host of a popular home repair show on the Do-It-Yourself Network. Now, after ten years, Chloe returns to Lighthouse Cove with her crew and co-host to film several shows featuring her sister Shannon, along with some special mini-segments on Victorian style and design.

But Shannon realizes quickly that things are not exactly blissful in TV land. Her sister's handsome co-host is being stalked by someone who turns out to be his estranged wife, Bree--who also happens to be the executive producer of the show. Bree's got a knack for stirring up sticky situations and when she's found dead, Chloe and the entire crew are under suspicion.

Shannon soon discovers the real reason why Chloe was so eager to move away from Lighthouse Cove all those years ago. Can Shannon figure out if that ten-year-old secret is connected to Erica's death? And can she track down the real killer before her beloved sister becomes the next victim?

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
  I've really enjoyed books in other series by Carlisle and I've really liked the Hallmark movies based on this series.  

My Impression:
  This is a bit different from the Hallmark series which took me a few pages to overcome but once I did I was hooked.  I've been a long time reader of her Bibliophile series but I think I might like this series even more.  Carlisle is great at building a community around her characters and this is no exception however, I felt this one was a little more streamlined and less chaotic than her other series.

The mystery was a lot of fun.  I do love a mystery where the victim had more people who wanted to kill them that didn't and Bree is definitely one of those.  I think it'd be easier to list the people she knew who didn't want to murder her and figuring out just who had finally had enough.

I liked Shannon and Chloe's relationship  a lot.  They get along and have a lot in common but they haven't always been the best of friends and there are things they don't know about each other.  I did like that they shared a career and loved the behind the scenes looks at the home renovation shows.

This mystery was a fun read with characters that I'm excited to revisit!  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I have the first few books in this series to catch up and I'll be looking forward to reading anything else from her.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy cozies with a good community feel this is a fun read.  Don't worry about jumping in here.  I had no problem feeling like the characters were old friends.  

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *

Friday, November 9, 2018

Friday Linkups - City of Secrets

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:
Do you subscribe to any book subscription boxes?

My Answer:  
No but I'd like to try one.  At first most seemed to be YA themed which isn't a genre I usually enjoy but I've seen a few mystery ones lately.  Any recommendations?

This week's book is one I've been looking forward to for months.  I loved Victoria Thompson's City of Lies when it came out last year and have been really anticipating the 2nd book and am so excited to have City of Secrets in my hands!   So far it hasn't let me down!

The Beginning:
Elizabeth had to tell more lies on a Sunday morning at church than she ever had trying to cheat a mark out of fifty thousand dollars.

My Thoughts:
I'm so happy to see Elizabeth again!  I'm so curious to see just how well she fits into society.

The 56:
Unfortunately, he wasn't able to meet his mother's eye which made her suspicious.

My Thoughts:
Never lie to your mother!  She always knows!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Are you subscribed to any bookish subscription books?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Reason to Doubt - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Good
Source: Author

Carol Childs is in the middle of one of the biggest stories of her life. Her daughter Cate has returned from college with a boyfriend in tow. A photographer who police suspect to be The Model Slayer, responsible for the murder of three young women.

Not since the Hillside Strangler has Los Angeles been so on edge.

And when the police arrest Cate’s boyfriend, Carol’s personal life and professional worlds collide. A tattooed cocktail waitress calls the radio station and asks to speak with Carol off the record. She knows the true identity of the real Model Slayer because she says she killed him.

Tensions mount as the clock ticks. The police are convinced they have the right man. Mother and daughter aren’t talking. Carol can’t reveal to investigators all she knows, and unless Carol can find the real killer before the trial begins, an innocent man may spend the rest of his life in prison or be executed for a crime he didn’t commit.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
I've enjoyed the previous books in the series and couldn't pass up a chance to see what Carol is up to now.

My Impression: 
This is one of the most un-cozy cozies that I've read in awhile and I mean that in the best way possible.  Carol is an amateur detective but she's also a very solid journalist with a long career behind her.  I really enjoy that the author pulls real life dilemmas and blends them into the story - in this case it's how far do you go to protect a source and at what point are you too personally involved with a case.  She's ambitious, a hard worker, and doesn't hesitate to do everything she can to sniff out just what is really happening around her.

This mystery flew by.  I really enjoy a serial killer mystery but they can frequently get a little too disturbing for me.  This had everything I like but never got to graphic or disturbing.  It was definitely best of both words - cozy and thriller - for me!  Normally, I spend some time trying to guess the who and the why but here I was just so much enjoying Carol's investigation that I felt like I didn't want to get ahead of her!  I was also happy to see Chase and Misty back as well as more fun with Carol's boss Tyler.  He can be such a weasel but can also come through in a tight spot just when you need him.  My main issue was that Carol's daughter drove me crazy!  I get that she's in an uncomfortable situation and is very angry but the lashing out at Carol seemed almost immature at times.  This is the kind of behavior I would expect from a 14 year old - not a college student.  However, that's just through my own experience and it never impacted my enjoyment of the mystery.

If you enjoy page turning not so cozy cozies this is a series that you must not miss!  This just might be my favorite yet! 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to seeing more about Carol Childs' adventures.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  Definitely!  This is a fun read with a solid mystery.  

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *