Saturday, September 23, 2017

To Be Where You Are - Fiction Review

To Be Where You Are (A Mitford Novel) by Jan Karon (Amazon)

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Description:   After twelve years of wrestling with the conflicts of retirement, Father Tim Kavanagh realizes he doesn't need a steady job to prove himself. Then he's given one--but what, exactly, does it prove? Meanwhile, newly married Dooley and Lace face a crisis that empties their bank account and turns their household upside down. Is the honeymoon over? Is this where real life begins? As the Mitford Muse editor stumbles on a quick fix for marital woes and the town grocer falls in love for the first time, Father Tim and Cynthia receive an invitation to yet another family wedding.
But perhaps the bottom line is this: While a star blinks out in the Mitford firmament, another soon blinks on at Meadowgate, and four-year-old Jack Tyler looks forward to the biggest day of his life--for now and forever.
Jan Karon weaves together the everyday lives of two families, and the cast of characters that readers around the world now love like kin.

Genre:  Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  I've heard of Karon's beloved Mitford series for years so I couldn't pass up the chance to read the newest release.

My Impression: After reading this one I completely understand why this series is so loved.  These characters are REAL.  They're not perfect but they're not over-flawed, they're just your regular everyday people leading their regular everyday lives and trying to do their best and I couldn't helpu but fall a bit in love with them and the town of Mitford as a whole.

I think my favorite story line involved Dooley, Lace, and Jack Tyler.  Jack Tyler is such a sweet heart though he didn't ring quite true as a 4 year old.  Their struggles take the whole "when it rains it pours" expressions to new levels - some in a literal sense - and it felt so authentic.  I enjoyed Father Tim and Cynthia's story line as well though they didn't have very much page time.  Avis, who runs The Local, started out as kind of grumpy but it didn't take me to long to develop a soft spot for him.

This book is just nice.  The characters are nice, the town is nice and it was a thoroughly nice experience reading it!  While it did take me some time to get everyone straight and Karon confused me occasionally by jumping focus without making it clear just who exactly we were focusing on.  This was probably my only issue with coming into the series so late.  However, this in no way affected my enjoyment of the read. I completely understand just why this series is so popular and I"m looking forward to visiting Mitford again soon.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  This is a great hot tea and a warm blanket kind of book when you're wanting something calm and sweet without being sappy and a bit of humor.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would.  This isn't a quick or action paced read but it's calming and nice and like visiting with old friends.  If you're in the mood for that than I think you'd enjoy this book.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Linkups - Splintered

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:
In regards to banned book week, what are your favorite books that have been banned or challenged?

My Answer:
Going off this list of the most commonly challenged books in the U.S. I think 2 of my favorites are The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald and Wrinkle in Time Madeline L'Engle.

This week's book is a little different from my usual reads in that I don't typically read fantasy or YA and Splintered by A.G. Howard is both.  I am, however, really enjoying it and all it's wonderful terrifying weirdness!

The Beginning:
I've been collecting bugs since I was ten; it's the only way I can stop their whispers.

My Thoughts:
This is a pretty good indication that our main character is not your run of the mill average high school student!

The 56:
"She lost it," I blurt. "Attacked me."

My Thoughts:
And another indication that all is not well - especially since the main character is talking about her mother in this one.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  What banned or challenged book is your favorite?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Wicked Deeds - Romantic Suspense Review

Wicked Deeds (Krewe of Hunters) by Heather Graham (Amazon)

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Eager to start their life together, historian Vickie Preston and Special Agent Griffin Pryce take a detour en route to their new home in Virginia and stop for a visit in Baltimore. But their romantic weekend is interrupted when a popular author is found dead in the basement of an Edgar Allan Poe-themed restaurant. Because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the corpse, the FBI's Krewe of Hunters paranormal team is invited to investigate. As more bizarre deaths occur, Vickie and Griffin are drawn into a case that has disturbing echoes of Poe's great works, bringing the horrors of his fiction to life.
The restaurant is headquarters to scholars and fans, and any of them could be a merciless killer. Except there's also something reaching out from beyond the grave. The late, great Edgar Allan Poe himself is appearing to Vickie in dreams and visions with cryptic information about the murders. Unless they can uncover whose twisted mind is orchestrating the dramatic re-creations, Vickie and Griffin's future as a couple might never begin...

Genre: Romantic Suspense - Paranormal

Why I Picked This Book:  I can never resist a Krewe book.  I've also really come to like Vickie and Griffin and how can I resist a book where the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe visits.

My Impression: This checked so many boxes for me!  History, historical mysteries, and ghosts are all things that make me a happy reader and this had all 3 in spades.  I really enjoyed all the Poe mentions and it made me realize just how little Poe I've actually read.  I'm hoping to correct that!

It was fun to see Vickie and Griffin in action again.  They're adjusting to more of a long term relationship and to a change in dynamics as Vickie will be going to the FBI academy and Griffin is trying to treat her more as a partner than someone he needs to protect.

The book is thick with creepy atmosphere between all the Poe related mentions (and Poe himself appearing), creepy wine cellars and evil lurking in the shadows.  It made for a thoroughly enjoyable, completely Halloween-y read.  My only issue was that at times the actual mystery seemed to fall to the background as I got more wrapped up with everything else.  While, like most Krewe books, this can be read as a stand alone I think you'd enjoy it more if you started with the first book Vickie and Griffin are in - Dying Breath.

If you're looking for a book to get in the Halloween mood but are looking for creepy more than horror this is the perfect book!  One of my favorite spooky reads so far this year!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm glad I've got a few of the earlier Krewe books to read while I wait for the next book!

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy romantic suspense this is a great series and this mini-series involving Vickie and Griffin is one of the strongest sets.  If you're a Heather Graham fan already you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Strange Scottish Shore - Historical Fiction Review

A Strange Scottish Shore (Emmeline True Love #2) by Julianna Gray (Amazon)

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Scotland, 1906. A mysterious object discovered inside an ancient castle calls Maximilian Haywood, the new Duke of Olympia, and his fellow researcher Emmeline Truelove, north to the remote Orkney Islands. No stranger to the study of anachronisms in archeological digs, Haywood is nevertheless puzzled by the artifact: a suit of clothing, which, according to family legend, once belonged to a selkie who rose from the sea in ancient times and married the castle’s first laird.
But Haywood and Truelove soon discover they’re not the only ones interested in the selkie’s strange hide, and when their mutual friend Lord Silverton vanishes in the night from an Edinburgh street, the mystery takes a dangerous turn through time, which only Haywood’s skills and Truelove’s bravery can solve…

Genre: Historical Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:   This sounded like a historical mystery with an archaeology element.

My Impression:  Well that was not what I was expecting!  Reading the blurb I was expecting a fairly straight forward historical mystery with maybe a little tough of magic.  Instead, what I got was a time travel fiction.  There's a slight problem here - I'm not a big fan of time travel fiction.  But since I recently discovered that Juliana Gray is also Beatriz Williams whose books I've really been enjoying lately, I kept reading.

I liked the characters.  Emmeline is quick on her feet, logical, but also in a bit of turmoil regarding her feelings for Silverton.  Max is less than enthused about his recent rise to dukedom, he's intensely loyal to Emmeline, as well as completely curious about just what is going on.   Silverton has the air of your typical good natured aristocratic rake but even at the beginning it's clear there is more to him and as the book goes on his character development is fascinating.

Then there's the plot.  This gets a little tricky because my issues with it are mostly personal preference.  The writing and pacing are fantastic and I think the time travel elements are very well done.  I did have some questions about the hows and whys that I don't think were fully explained though a few of the details are cleared up. I think the world building was also well done and the different time periods felt very different.   However, this wasn't the book I wanted it to be.  I loved the 1906 Scottish setting and really wanted to explore the mystery of just what was going on with the Selkie suit and this just really wasn't that.    Had I been better prepared for what it was I probably would have enjoyed it more though I'm not sure I would have requested it in the first place.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would certainly read more of this author under this name or Beatriz Williams but I probably wouldn't read more of this series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like time travel books or more fantasy related stories I think you'd enjoy this.  Just don't go in expecting an Edwardian mystery.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - My Fall TBR

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Fall TBR.  I LOVE this topic because I get to think about the books I want to read in whichever season.  I'm not that great at actually reading them but I do enjoy picking out books for this list!

1.  The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart - I love Agatha Christie and the rest of the classic British mystery authors but I sometimes forget about the classic mystery writers over here and Mary Roberts Rinehart was one of the best.  I read this one years and years ago but remember nothing about it so I'm looking forward to reading it again.

2.  Faithful by Alice Hoffman - Several people have recommended this one to me (LaLa I'm looking at you!) and I've been wanting to try Alice Hoffman for years so I figure this will be the one!

3.  Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas - This is a reread for me and one of my favorite contemporary series by Kleypas.  I don't do much rereading but I love it and always try to schedule one in.  Whether or not it happens has nothing to do with it!

4.  Ghost Night by Heather Graham - This is the 2nd book in a romantic suspense trilogy that's full of ghosts and set in Key West.  I read the first one and loved it and listened to the first 2 chapters of the 3rd book and loved it so I really need to read book #2 so I can go finish up book 3!

5.  The Hollow by Ransom Riggs - I read Miss Peregrine several years ago and really enjoyed it but even though it was a super fast read I haven't gone back and continued the story.  Part of the problem is that I really want to read them in print because of the photographs which means I have to go get a physical copy of the book either from the store or the library and it always slips my mind.

6.  Cold as Ice by Julie Mulhern - This is one of my absolute favorite cozy mystery series and one of the few I'm actually caught up on!

7.  Death Overdue by Allison Brook - I love coming in at the beginning of a series and this cozy mystery series involves a main character who is a librarian and that library just happens to have a ghost!

8.  Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper - I've read one Molly Harper book several years ago and always meant to read more so I jumped at the chance to review this one!

9.  Sleep Like a Baby by Charlaine Harris - The Aurora Teagarden series is a kind of cozy mystery series that Harris has recently restarted and I'm so excited because it was my favorite by her! I'm really excited to see what Aurora is up to now.

10. Dead of Winter by Wendy Corsi Staub - I read this previous book in this series about modern day Lily Dale and really enjoyed it.  I've read a little about the history of Lily Dale and it's a fascinating place so I'm looking forward to revisiting it.

What books do you want to read this fall?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks - Knowledge Gaps

This all started when I was playing a video game version of Jeopardy with J one day.  I was killing it.  I had basically answered all the questions on history and literature and had held my own in topics involving words that start with L and another one that dealt with football.  And then came astronomy.  Now I like to think I know a little bit about quite a lot but it turns out when it comes to astronomy I know less than zero.  Seriously, not only did I not answer any of the questions but I had absolutely no clue about what the answer could be.  My mind was a blank.

It turns out astronomy is one of my knowledge gaps.  Somehow in all the years of school and reading and working in the aerospace industry and being married to someone who works in the aerospace industry I somehow have absolutely no knowledge of stars.  I know some basic facts about planets but on stars - there's nothing.

I have some others - I discovered recently that I know almost nothing about French aristocracy other than Louis XVI and my grip on Asian history is incredibly weak.  How does this happen?  And more importantly how do you fix it?  Or should you fix it? Do I really need to know the political struggles of China and Japan in the 1600s?  Should I make myself research astronomy when it's clearly a subject that doesn't particularly interest me?

What do you think?  What are your knowledge gaps?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

This Week in Reading - September 17

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:

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon -  I'm pretty excited about this one.  I really enjoyed a previous Lawhon book I've read and I'm fascinated by Russian history.  The Anastasia story is one that especially intriguing.  (NetGalley)

Chained by Eileen Brady - I read the first book in this cozy mystery series about a veterinarian but then kind of forgot about it so I'm looking forward to catching up on it.  (NetGalley)

Many a Twist by Sheila Connolly - Connolly is one of my favorite cozy mystery authors and Ireland is one of my favorite settings so I had to request the newest entry into Connolly's cozy mystery series that is set in Ireland!  (NetGalley)


Reading:  To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon and Sleep Like a Baby by Charlaine Harris

Listening:  I just got Faithful by Alice Hoffman and I'm really looking forward to it.  

Watching:  I did a "Best of" rewatch of How I Met Your Mother but J and I haven't really settled on a show to watch together.  I'm thinking we might give River on Netflix a try.  Anyone watched that one?

Off the Blog:

Friday night we took Eleanor and her husband out to the Melting Pot to celebrate their wedding.  It was a lot of fun but so much food!  It doesn't seem like much because everything is just small bites but by the end I was stuffed.

We're still dealing with the whole mailbox catastrophe.  I'm not enjoying having to pick up my mail every few days!  We're also getting quotes which I hate doing because I always feel bad about not hiring someone if I like them and it seems like they really want the job.  And there's always the fear of making the wrong decision.

We are going camping next weekend and then the week after we are heading to Disney World!  I'm so excited but I've got so many chores and errands to get done with both trips that my to do list is getting a little unmanageable!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings From the Stacks - Knowledge Gaps
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Fall TBR
Wednesday:  A Strange Scottish Shore - Mystery Review
Thursday: Wicked Deeds - Romantic Suspense Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: To Be Where You Are - Fiction Reivew

Have a great week and happy reading!