Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Bitter Feast - Mystery Review

Goodreads:  A Bitter Feast (Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James #18) by Deborah Crombie

Rating:  Very Good
Source:  Edelweiss

Description: Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, have been invited for a relaxing weekend in the tranquil Cotswolds, one of Britain’s most beautiful and historic regions, famous for its rolling hills, sheep-strewn green meadows, golden cottages, and timeless villages that retain the spirit of old England.
Duncan, Gemma, and their children are guests at Beck House, the country estate belonging to the family of Melody Talbot, Gemma’s trusted detective sergeant. No ordinary farmers, the Talbots are wealthy and prominent with ties to Britain’s most powerful and influential. A centerpiece of this glorious fall getaway is a posh charity luncheon catered by up-and-coming chef Viv Holland. After more than a decade in London, Viv has returned to her native Glouscestershire, making a name for herself with her innovative, mouthwatering use of the local bounty. Attended by several dozen of the area’s well-to-do, as well as national food bloggers and restaurant critics, the event could make Viv a star.

But a tragic car accident followed by a series of mysterious deaths could ruin her ascent. Each piece of information that surfaces makes it clear that the killer had a connection with Viv’s pub—and perhaps with Beck House itself.

Does the truth lie in the past? Or is it more immediate, woven into the tangled relationships and bitter resentments swirling among the staff at Beck House and at Viv’s pub? Or is it even more personal, entwined with secrets hidden by Viv, her business partner Bea Abbot, and Viv’s eleven-year-old daughter Grace?

Further revelations rock the Talbots’ estate and pull Duncan and Gemma and their colleagues into the investigation. With so much at stake both personally and professionally, especially for Melody Talbot, finding the killer becomes one of the team’s most crucial cases.

Genre: Mystery - Police Procedural

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been reading this series since the beginning and even though I missed a few between the first one and this one it is always a favorite.

My Impression:  Oh I love this series and this may just be my favorite one in awhile.  One thing I've missed in the more recent books is seeing Gemma and Duncan working together and so I was thrilled when this one threw them together in an unofficial investigation.  This one had a little bit of an Agatha Christie vibe with a country house party plot and Gemma and Duncan essentially acting as unofficial detectives. 

The plot pulled me in from the very beginning and I thoroughly enjoyed it from the time I picked it up until the time I put it down.  I was interested in the characters and found the plot compelling right from the start.  As someone who has read the series since the beginning I was delighted to see how grownup Kit has become but I don't think the kids roles were so prominent in the story that it would be annoying if you were new to the series.

Deborah Crombie never disappoints and this one was especially delightful.  If you're looking for a solid British police procedural with a bit of a country house feel this is a great choice!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Yes!  Crombie is a favorite and I'm glad I have a few older books to catch up on while I wait for the next book. 

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy mysteries I highly recommend this book and this series as a whole.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Bodies in the Library - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Bodies in the Library (First Edition Library Mystery #1) by Marty Wingate

Rating:  Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  Hayley Burke has landed a dream job. She is the new curator of Lady Georgiana Fowling's First Edition library. The library is kept at Middlebank House, a lovely Georgian home in Bath, England. Hayley lives on the premises and works with the finicky Glynis Woolgar, Lady Fowling's former secretary.
Mrs. Woolgar does not like Hayley's ideas to modernize The First Edition Society and bring in fresh blood. And she is not even aware of the fact that Hayley does not know the first thing about the Golden Age of Mysteries. Hayley is faking it till she makes it, and one of her plans to breathe new life into the Society is actually taking flight--an Agatha Christie fan fiction writers group is paying dues to meet up at Middlebank House.

But when one of the group is found dead in the venerable stacks of the library, Hayley has to catch the killer to save the Society and her new job.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've enjoyed other series by Marty Wingate and I can never resist a cozy mystery that has a title that's a play on an Agatha Christie title.

My Impression:  I've enjoyed other series by Wingate so I was not surprised at all when this one pulled me in from the beginning.  I adored the setting for this series - a lovely Georgian home in Bath filled with first editions of Golden Age mystery authors.  I would love to sit in the library (pre-dead body) and just stare at all those beautiful Agatha Christies, Patrica Wentworths, and Dorothy L. Sayers. I thought the addition of an Agatha Christie fan fiction added a bit of humor though most (okay all) of their ideas made my eyes wide with horror.  This is especially delightful/horrifying if you're an Agatha Christie fan.  While Hayley is new to crime fiction Wingate is clearly not and I loved all her obscure mentions of some of my favorite detectives.

At first I thought it was a bit odd that Wingate made her MC have very little interest in crime fiction but as the book progressed I thought it added a fun element to see Hayley embrace the genre.  The mystery was entertaining and the pacing kept me reading.  The characters are varied and interesting and definitely people I'm looking forward to getting to know as the series progresses.

The book wasn't flawless.  The plot got a little convoluted at times and I regularly forgot that Hayley is supposed to be a woman in her 40s with a daughter in her 20s.  Most of the time she reads much younger and more immature.  I would have put her in her 20s and not her daughter.  Despite the minor flaws this was an enjoyable read with likable characters and a fantastic setting. 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I've really enjoyed every book I've read from this author and definitely will be continuing her books. 

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy lighter cozies then this is a great book to pick up - especially if you're a fan of classic mysteries.

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Favorite Cozy Mystery Titles

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is about extraordinary titles.  I'm going to be honest no extraordinary titles came to mind BUT lots of over the top cozy mysteries in all of their pun-ish glory did come to mind.  So here are 10 of my favorite pun-ny titles!

1.  Doom with a View by Kate Kingsbury 

2.  No Escape Claws by Sofie Ryan

3.  The Pawful Truth - Miranda James

4.  Yule be Dead - Lorraine Bartlett

5.  A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle

6.  Toucan Keep a Secret by Donna Andrews

7.  Clairvoyant and Present Danger by Lena Gregory

8.  Another One Bites for Crust by Ellie Alexander

9.  Honey-Baked Homicide by Gail Leeson

10. Assault and Buttery by Kristi Abbott

What are some of your favorite titles?

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Widow of Rose House - Historical Fiction Review

Goodreads:  The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  It's 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time. However, fresh starts aren't as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn't believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor, Samuel Moore, appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn't need any more complications in her life―especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam.
Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva's new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva's history―and her heart.

Set during the Gilded Age in New York City, The Widow of Rose House is a gorgeous debut by Diana Biller, with a darkly Victorian Gothic flair and an intrepid and resilient American heroine guaranteed to delight readers.

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I love a good ghost story book and this sounded interesting.

My Impression:  Alva Webster has a past with a capital P.  There's nothing she can do to hide it but she's hoping to capitalize on it to her benefit by restoring a house and writing a book about it.  The only problem is that the house has a past that is just as lurid and scandalous as hers is.  Enter Professor Sam Moore of a rather distinguished family of scientists who is fascinated by ghosts. 

Alva has had a rough time of it and has built more then a few walls and a very stiff upper lip to cope with it.  Sam with his enthusiasm and charm might just be her opposite but right from the start they are attracted to each other and seem to thoroughly enjoy each other's company. 

I was surprised to read this was a debut book for this author.  She has such a clean straightforward style while still managing to give a good dash of humor and atmosphere.  Sam is so incredibly likable that I couldn't help but smile when he showed up on the page and I loved Alva even though at times my heart broke for her.  The pacing of this was nice and solid - never rushed but I never felt like it was dragging.  This was a nice book to sink into and escape from the work for a bit.  I wanted to know what was going to happen with the house, between Alva and Sam and with all the other plot threads that ran through this book.  This was a wonderful spooky (but not scary) historical fiction with great characters and a touch of romance. 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  This is an author I'll be looking out for from now on.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy slightly spooky fiction then this would be a great choice.

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

Sunday, October 13, 2019

This Week in Reading - October 13

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:

Murder and Microphones by Erin Huss - I know nothing about this other then it is a cozy mystery involving podcasts about cold cases so I could absolutely not pass it up.  (Edelweiss)

Sauvigone for Good by J.C. Eaton - I love this author so I couldn't resist this one. (NetGalley)


Reading:  A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie and finishing up The Bodies in the Library by Marty Wingate.

Listening:  Finishing up The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries.  It's taking forever but it's more things have been a bit hectic then any fault of the book.

Watching:  I binged the Taken at Birth mini series on TLC about the Hicks black market baby ring in Georgia.  The story is crazy and heartbreaking and absolutely fascinating.  I would've known absolutely nothing about it except my dad's wife has a very loose family connection (some distant cousin may have been a biological father) and the true story is even crazier then I originally thought.

Off the Blog:

This week was a kind of quiet week which was nice.  We got some schooling done and seem to be finding a bit of a routine which is good.  I'm exhausted but more because insomnia decided to come visit then because my days are particularly crazy.  This happens every once in awhile and drives me crazy.  Of course part of the problem is that I very rarely manage to go to bed at a decent hour.  Despite all that I am starting to get back to reading which is such a relief.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday - The Widow at Rose House - Historical Mystery Review
Tuesday - Top Ten Tuesday - Extraordinary Titles
Wednesday:  The Bodies in the Library - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  A Bitter Feast - Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Fives
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Blackberry Summer - Contemporary Romance Review

Goodreads:  Blackberry Summer (Hope's Crossing #1) by RaeAnne Thayne

Rating: Good
Source: Audible Escape Package

Description:  Claire Bradford needed a wake-up call.

What she didn't need was a tragic car accident. As a single mom and the owner of a successful bead shop, Claire leads a predictable life in Hope's Crossing, Colorado. So what if she has no time for romance? At least, that's what she tells herself, especially when her best friend's sexy younger brother comes back to town as the new chief of police.

But when the accident forces Claire to slow down and lean on others; especially Riley McKnight; she realizes, for the first time, that things need to change. And not just in her own life. The accident; and the string of robberies committed by teenagers that led up to it; is a wake-up call to the people of Hope's Crossing. The sense of community and togetherness had been lost during those tough years. But with a mysterious "Angel of Hope" working to inspire the town, Riley and Claire will find themselves opening up to love and other possibilities by the end of an extraordinary summer.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed Thayne's most recent series so I thought I'd give this earlier series a try.

My Impression:  I had seen this book mentioned a time or two on other blogs with less then glowing reviews which always surprised me a bit.  I absolutely love her Haven's Point series so I figured maybe the book didn't work for those particular readers which happens.  But after listening to this one I completely get it.  Honestly, if I wasn't already a big RaeAnne Thayne I'm not sure I would've gotten through the first half or so of this one without giving up on it.  It wasn't terrible but it's just a bit meh and there seems to be so much angst without much positive in that first half.  When I pick up a Thayne book I expect some tough issues but also a nice helping of warm and fuzzy to make up for it and this didn't quite deliver.

It did pick up in the 2nd half and I did end up enjoying this enough where the 2nd book is on my To Listen list.  I liked the two main characters and some of the townspeople are interesting and I was glad to see my favorites' names on the blurbs for other books in this series.  This was fine - it was entertaining and interesting enough to keep me listening but if it wasn't an author I was already a fan of I'm not sure I would have stuck around through the first half.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely though I will keep my expectations a bit lower for this earlier series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would definitely recommend this author but probably not this book.  It's okay but not a must read/listen.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Friday Fives - Books I'm Rereading This Month

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  Michelle over at Because Reading is Better Than Real Life   used to do a Five on Fridays that I always enjoyed and I've seen a few other variations on the theme.  As well I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd give start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.  September was a rough month in a year that hasn't been the kindest and I'm craving some comfort reading.  I love a good reread and there's nothing more comforting then picking up an old favorite.  Here are 5 I'm thinking of picking up soon.

1.  After Many Days by L.M. Montgomery - This is a collection of short stories that is one of my favorites.  Sometimes they're a bit too sweet but the endings are always happy and it is just the perfect comfort reading.

2.  She Came Back by Patricia Wentworth - I love Patricia Wentworth and this is a favorite that I haven't reread in awhile.  Lady Anne Jocelyn was presumed dead in Occupied France during the war but did she really die?  And if she did just who is this woman claiming to be her?

3.  Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie - Sometimes and Agatha Christie read is just necessary and this seems like one of those times.  This is one I remember nothing about so it'll kind of nice to have a "new" Agatha Christie.

4.  Devil in the Winter by Lisa Kleypas - This is a favorite historical romance and I haven't read a really good historical romance in awhile.

5.  Shattered Silk by Barbara Michaels - There's romantic suspense, designer vintage clothes, a cold case, and lots of secrets.  Oh and the main character is rediscovering what makes her happy which is always a favorite of mine.  I haven't read this one in awhile and I think now would be a perfect time.

What do you read in times of stress?