Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday Linkups: Finding Fontainebleau

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:
When you comment on a blog post do you ask to be notified when there are replies?

My Answer:
It depends on what kind of comment I left.  Usually when I'm just commenting on the post I don't but if I'm asking any kind of question I do ask to be notified or try and check back to see if there was a response.

This week's book is one for a blog tour that's coming up and it was one I couldn't get my hands of fast enough.  Finding Fontainebleau: An American Boy in France by Thad Carhart has so many aspects I love - coming of age, life in the 50s, post-World War II in Paris and alwas in the background the Chateau of Fontainebleu.  Carhart also wrote The Piano Shop on the Left Bank which is another book that's been on my TBR for far too long and if I continue to enjoy this book as much as I am right now I have a feeling it will be moving up the TBR fast!

The Beginning:
All these years later I can recall with keen precision the moment when the bottom dropped out, because that is exactly what it felt like: one moment we were flying, shaking a bit from turbulence, the next we were falling, in a calm eerie quiet broken only by the sound of the four engines laboring uselessly.

My Thoughts:
Well that sounds really and truly dreadful!  It makes me kind of glad I want be flying anytime soon!

The 56: 
We kindergarten kids were a frequent source of amusement to the "big" girls: not quite real, more like stuffed animals who decorated one part of the grounds.

My Thoughts:
Very very different from the beginning!  This one made me laugh.  I have a 6 year old and college kids and I'm pretty sure the older ones view the 6 year old in a pretty similar light!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fixin to Die - Review

Fixin to Die (A Kenni Lowry Mystery #1) by Tonya Kappes

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Kenni Lowry likes to think the zero crime rate in Cottonwood, Kentucky is due to her being sheriff, but she quickly discovers the ghost of her grandfather, the town's previous sheriff, has been scaring off any would-be criminals since she was elected.  When the town's most beloved doctor is found murdered on the very same day as a jewelry store robbery, and a mysterious symbol ties the crime scenes together, Kenni must satisfy her hankerin' for justice by nabbing the culprits.  With the help of her Poppa, a lone deputy and an annoyingly cute, too-big-for-his-britches State Reserve officer, Kenni must solve both cases and prove to the whole town, and herself, that she's worth her salt before time runs out.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: I've been wanting to try this author for ages so I couldn't resist this first book in a new series.

My Impression:  This was such a fun cozy!  Right from the start I liked Kenni.  She's trying to do her best for the town as sheriff and feels a bit like she had the rug pulled out from under her when the the crime free town has both a jewelry store robbery and a murder back to back.  She's smart enough to realize she needs help but also has good instincts.  I loved how thrown she was by the appearance of a ghost. So often in fiction people are instantly ok with a ghost so I liked how long it Kenni to adjust to the idea even though it was someone she was glad to see.  I also liked that while the ghost did help guide Kenni formed the bulk of the theories on her own.
The town of Cottonwood rang true for a small Southern town.  The gossip spread like wildfire, there are all kinds of petty grievances, and there is definitely a way things should be done.  There are a lot of residents that I'm really looking forward to getting to know and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how Kenni's relationship with her mom continues.
The mystery was entertaining with lots of false starts, dead ends, and red herrings.  Kenni sometimes drove me crazy with how unprofessional at times but the fact that it felt like she was learning her way instead of just being incompetent kept it from decreasing my enjoyment in the read.  Overall, this was a fun cozy with all kinds of quirky characters, Perfect for a beach read or when you need a pick me up!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Absolutely! I have the first book in another series from Kappes and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you enjoy cozy mysteries I think you'd enjoy this.  While there is a ghost it doesn't feel particularly paranormal so don't let scare you off if paranormal isn't for you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Language of Bees - Review

The Language of Bees: A Novel of Suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes by Laurie R. King

Rating: Very Good 
Source: Purchased

Description:  In a case that will push their relationship to the breaking point, Mary Russell must help reverse the greatest failure of her legendary husband's storied past - a painful and personal defeat that still has the power to sting...this time fatally.
For Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, returning to the Sussex coast after seven months abroad was especially sweet.  The was even a mystery to solve - the unexplained disappearance of an entire colony of bees from one of Homes's beloved hives.  But the anticipated sweetness of their homecoming is quickly tempered by a galling memory from her husband's past.  Mary had met Damian Adler only once before, when the promising surrealist painter had been charged with - and exonerated from 0 murder.  Now the talented and troubled young man was enlisting their help again, young man was enlisting their help again, this time in a desperate search for his missing wife and child.  When it comes to communal behavior, Russell has often observed that there are many kinds of madness.  And before this case yields its shattering solution, she'll come into dangerous contact with a fair number of them.  From suicides at Stonehenge to a bizarre religious cult, from the demimonde of the Cafe Royal at the heart of Bohemian London to the dark secrets of a young woman's past on the streets of Shanghai, Russell will find herself on the trail of a killer more dangerous than any she's ever faced - a killer Sherlock Holmes himself may be protecting for reasons near and dear to his heart. (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been reading this series for years and always really enjoy it.

My Impression: This book has been on my shelf for years and is from one of my favorite series but I've been dragging my feet on picking it up for quite some time.  I think the main reason was because I was afraid I wouldn't remember what had happened in the previous books and I felt like I should reread them but there was no way I was going to have time for that as much as I'd like too.  So I decided to bite the bullet and just go for it and I'm so glad I did.  While I don't remember the specifics of their adventures in India and America I found that I didn't really need too.  I remember Mary and Holmes just fine and was glad to jump back into adventures with them and I was very pleased to see more of Mycroft.

After some a few rough adventures Mary and Sherlock are glad to be home in Sussex and not have to worry about anything other than why the bees have abandoned one of the hives.  They're both sore and exhausted and Mary's confidence in herself has been severely shaken.  But as soon as they put down their suitcases adventure finds them with the appearance of Holmes' recently discovered son and the disappearance of the son's wife and child who Holmes and Mary didn't even know existed.

From here on out we spend the most time in Mary's head.  First as she tries to keep herself busy and then becomes involved in the mystery and is still dealing with her crisis of confidence after mistakes that occurred before the book takes place.  To be honest, I didn't remember the details of what had happened but it didn't keep me from understanding what she was feeling and enjoying the story.

The mystery itself was solid, well paced, and interesting which is what I expect from the series.  I enjoyed seeing more of Mycroft but did miss Holmes and Mary together as they spend the bulk of the book apart.  The book does end on a dreaded To Be Continued BUT in this case it didn't bother me.  While I am looking forward to starting the next book and learning what happens next I was satisfied with the resolution of the original mystery.

If you're looking for a smart mystery series with wit and brain this is definitely one to pick up.  I think you could jump in at this book without too much trouble but the earlier books are really fantastic.  It does feature Sherlock Holmes and while I do enjoy both the BBC and American television adaptations and have read an enjoyed several of the stories I am by no means a Holmes expert and cannot vouch for how closely it stays to the original character.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  This is a series I always enjoy and I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes definitely and this series especially.  I think you would enjoy it more if you started closer to the beginning but you could jump in at this book and I think you'd understand what was going on without too much trouble.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Signs You're in an Agatha Christie Novel

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is a freebie.  I've had a lot of fun with Freebies in the past with posts on signs you're in a cozy mystery, a contemporary romance, or a historical romance.  Today I thought I'd go with Top Ten Signs You're in an Agatha Christie Novel.

1.  You're a young woman with no family, no money, an animated face, and a great deal of common sense.  You are a mere moments away from getting swept into an adventure and you'll probably end up in another country.

2.  You're an older woman with a commanding presence, feel you always know what is right for everyone, and have complete control of the family money.  If you're still alive at the beginning you're not going to make it past page 50.

3.  You're at an archaeological dig and the head archaeologist insisted on bringing his wife who no one likes and she's intent on causing trouble.

4.  You're young and wealthy and it's very important to be modern.  You talk a lot about either it be perfectly fine to spend time with your new husband's ex-wife or have a flirtation with another man in front of your husband because you're above all that sticky sentimentality.  It's not going to end well.

5.  You are traveling anywhere on anything and one of your fellow passengers is a short little Belgium man with an egg shaped head and a spectacular mustache.  Expect delays.

6.  You're about to get on a boat to go out to an island with a strange mix of people who seem to have nothing in common and don't fit what you expected your other guests to look like.  Don't get on the boat!  You're not going to like what happens next.

7.  You're staying in a hotel or on a boat and you either get someone else's suitcase or some strange object is dropped down the air vent.  A strange man who may or may not be injured will show up in the middle of night and either be very threatening or need you to hide him.

8.  You are in a foreign country for the first time and go out on the balcony to enjoy the night air.  While outside you overhear a conversation by two unseen people below.  They're planning a murder.  It's always a murder never dinner reservations or anything like that.

9.  You insist on traveling with expensive and attention catching jewels despite being told by everyone remotely close to you that you really really shouldn't.  Double points if you have a soon to be ex-husband and a new boyfriend who is a major gold digger.

10. You are one of 3 or more sisters of whom the majority stayed unmarried.  Your father was either a general or a doctor and had a very commanding presence.  You are all considered an establishment in the village you live in though your sisters are now dying like flies.  Bonus points if you have a servant who commits suicide by drinking hat paint.  Double bonus points if you know what hat paint is.

Are you in an Agatha Christie novel?  The good news is that you're not guaranteed to be murdered just because you match up with one of these signs.  You may end up just being part of the investigation.  If you are a murder victim it's most likely going to be quick and not too gruesome.  Unless you're unlucky enough to be in one her books where she uses poison as the method of murder.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Field of Graves - Review

Field of Graves (A Taylor Jackson Novel) by J.T. Ellison
Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  All of Nashville is on edge with a serial killer on the loose.  A madman is trying to create his own end-of-days apocalypse and the cops trying to catch him are almost as damaged as the killer.  Field of Graves reveals the origins of some of J.T. Ellison's most famous creations: the haunted Lieutenant Taylor Jackson; her blunt, exceptional best friend, medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens; and troubled FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin.  Together, they race the clock and their own demons to find the killer before he claims yet another victim.  This dark, thrilling and utterly compelling novel will have readers on the edge of their seats, and Ellison's fans will be delighted with the revelations about their favorite characters. (From Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been wanting to try this author since I first came across her not too long ago and I thought a prequel would be a good place to start.

My Impression: I feel a bit cheated.  How did it take me so long to read Ellison's books?  I feel like the book fairy should have shown up at my doorstep with one of her books shoved it into my hands and told me to read it years ago.
But now that I've finally found her I definitely plan to keep reading!  The characters in this are wonderfully flawed.  What both Taylor and Baldwin have gone through is horrible and you can easily see why they have the scars that they do have.  However, they're both brilliant at their jobs and while Baldwin may need a bit of a shove to get back to it Taylor is focused to the point of ignoring what's going on in her head without getting too angsty about it.  I really enjoyed seeing the way the unit worked together each person having their own role and their own strengths.  I also really liked that there are times when her coworkers are concerned about Taylor and while they use endearments they don't belittle her or try and push her aside.

The mystery itself had me holding my breath at times.  There is nothing cozy about this book but at the same time I didn't feel like it was overly graphic.  While there is a lot of violence the descriptions are more clinical than gore-y and while we do see through the killer's eyes from time to time I didn't feel like it got to twisted emotionally though the case is seriously twisted on its own.

On a personal level I really enjoyed the local aspect.  I live about 90 miles away from Nashville and have spent quite a bit of time there so I recognized many of the landmarks that were mentioned which always adds an extra amount of enjoyment to a book.  But at the same time this made it a little more personal and a little more unsettling for me.  The victims were the ages of my daughters and I live in the hometown of one of the victims and even know a few kids that went to Vandy.  This was definitely one of those books that I needed to read a chapter of something a bit happier before I closed my eyes for the night!

I had no problem jumping into the series with this book.  I expect that this being a prequel made that a bit easier but I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case with all the books as Ellison's writing was so vivid I instantly connected to the characters.  This book had me staying up too late and double checking the locks and I enjoyed every minute of it!  I can't wait to read more!
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I really just want to buy all her books and go find a corner to sit in with them.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes!  If you like mysteries with a little grit read this book!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

This Week in Reading - June 26

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:

Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne - I actually thought there would be no new additions to the library this week but this approval came through at the last minute.  I'm not sad since RaeAnne Thayne is one of my favorite authors and I'm really excited about the main characters in this book.  I was really intrigued by them when they were side characters in the previous book so I'm looking forward to getting to know them better.  (NetGalley)

Home Cooked by Anya Fernald - Another late arrival and one I'm slightly less confident in.  It looks like an interesting cookbook but potentially to interesting for my somewhat unadventurous family.  (Blogging for Books)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - I finally got this back from the library!  I've got about 90 pages to go and I'm almost scared to keep reading because I think things are going to take a turn for the emotional (library)


Reading: Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander and finishing (finally!) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  I finally got it back from the library!  After that I'm going back to Thornyhold by Mary Stewart

Listening: I'm still enjoying listening to podcasts.  I've really enjoyed listening to Stuff You Should Know and Stuff You Missed in History Class.  I've been trying a few true crime podcasts but so far haven't found a must listen.

Watching:  We've been watching movies lately.  We watched Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks and ended up really enjoying it.  Then the other night we watched Special Correspondents which is a Netflix movie featuring a very frazzled Ricky Gervais and found it very funny.  It can be difficult to find movies that my husband and I both enjoy so getting 2 in a row was really great. Oh and we finally watched The Martian!  My husband is an aerospace engineer and I've worked in the business so it was interesting to watch it from a slightly more insider perspective.  They did a good job of mixing equipment and technology with already have with the fictional.  The one thing that gave us a good chuckle was at the very end when another launch is about to happen to vehicle that they're sending up is a Delta IV Heavy.  J was one of the senior engineers on the program so the Delta IV has been a huge part of our lives so that was kind of cool but the funny thing was it's not for manned flights so they wouldn't be sending a full crew up in it!

Off the Blog:

It decided to become summer here this past week and the heat and humidity have really shown up.  My hair is reaching impressive sizes and is spending most of it's time pulled back!  So we decided that it's time to go even further south where it is hotter and the humidity is even higher!  We are heading to south Mississippi today to stay with family for a few days.  Paul got his ship date so this is kind of a final hurrah before he leaves for boot camp in a few weeks.   Most of this week has been spent preparing for the trip and then his leaving.  It'll definitely be strange.

I won't be around much at the beginning of the week but I'll be catching up on all my visiting as soon as we get back.  I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else is up too!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Field of Graves - Mystery Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Signs You're in an Agatha Christie Novel
Wednesday: Language of Bees - Mystery Review
Thursday: Fixin' to Die - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Linkups featuring Current Book
Saturday: Caught Bread Handed - Cozy Foodie Mystery Review

Wow I didn't realize how mystery heavy this week was going to be!  I'll have to mix it up a little better next week.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

52 Pins in 52 Weeks - June Edition

I love Pinterest.  I love pinning recipes from my favorite food blogs or scrolling down the Everything section to see what everyone else has been pinning.  I love the idea of all the crafts and recipes and everything else right there at my fingertips.

Right now I have around 10,000 pins in 60 boards.  I do use Pinterest a pretty good bit but tend to stick to the boards regarding Dinner and let other delicious looking recipes or fun crafts languish unused and ignored.  This year I'm trying to get more use out of Pinterest so at the beginning of the year I created my 52 Pins in 52 Weeks Board as well as a Results Board to keep track of it.  I'll be posting my results the last Saturday of each month.

Week 23:

Pin: Marinated Celery Salad from Breakfast to Bed

Reason Picked:  It sounded really refreshing

The Basic Idea: Slice up celery and marinate it in a tangy viniagrette

The Results:  The basic flavor was good but the blogger didn't include an actual recipe with amounts listed and I don't handle that very well.

Week 24:

Reason Picked: We're always looking for science experiments to do in the summer and I had everything I needed for this one on hand.

The Basic Idea: Add water, oil, and food coloring into a clear container and then sprinkle salt on top and watch what happens

The Results: This is a really simple experiment and fun.  If you're looking for a real volcano go somewhere else but we had a good time setting it up and then adding different things - more salt, more water, more oil - and seeing what happened.

Week 25:

Reason Picked: Chocolate Chip Muffins are yummy!

The Basic Idea: A big chocolate chip muffin that tastes like something you'd get in a bakery.

The Results: Really freaking good!  They're a good size and just chocolate-y enough and sweet enough without being too messy or too sugary sweet but sweet enough where the Tornado still enjoyed his.  The texture is fantastic which can be a little difficult sometimes in muffin recipes.  Next time I will definitely make sure I have some turbinado or sanding sugar on hand because that added crunch would have been amazing!  Also I want fill up the muffin cups to the very top because some leaked over and the edges got a little burnt.  The ones where they were just a tiny bit under full did better.

Week 26:

Pin: Ooblek recipe from Preschool Powol Packets off a list of 55 Dr. Seuss Activities from No Time for Flashcards

Reason Picked: The Tornado really enjoyed the mixing and adding part of the salt volcano so I thought this might be another fun one.

The Basic Idea: Make slime out of cornstarch and water

The Results: This didn't go quite as expected.  For starters I picked the wrong day to do this.  The Tornado was tired and cranky and I had a headache and was fast running of patience.  The stuff doesn't mix up as fast as I expected.  I was thinking you add the stuff, stir it up and than poof Ooblek but the mixing is actually part of the project as you kind of have to get your hands in to do it.  It's very simple and cheap as the only materials you need to buy is a box of cornstarch which is only a few dollars.  The ooblek itself was really neat and the texture was really fun.  I think if we had been in better moods this would have been a lot of fun.  Plus I love that you can read the story to go along with the experiment.  I'll definitely give this another try when we're feeling more adventurous.

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