Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Ten Books I'm Really Looking Forward to in 2018 Pt 2

This is a topic that I did a few times over at The Broke and the Bookish and honestly I always dreaded it a bit because I'm not great at keeping up with new releases.  However, I realized I was kind of missing it so I decided it was time to revisit this topic!

The Witch Elm by Tana French - I finally read a book by Tana French and fell in love with her writing style.  This one involves a crumbling family home and a skull being discovered in a trunk of a tree.  Secrets from the past abound!  (October 9)

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor - I finally read my first Hazel Gaynor earlier this year and absolutely loved it so I'm super excited to read this latest.(October 9)

The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah - I was just wondering when/if a new Poirot book by Hannah would come out when I saw this and I'm really looking forward to it.  I struggled with the first book but really enjoyed the 2nd. (August 28)

The Collector's Apprentice by B.A. Shapiro - I haven't read anything by this author yet but I've been wanting to and this one looks gorgeous. (October 16)

Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis - I've really been loving this Heartbreaker Bay series and am excited for the next one. (September 25)

Season of Wonder by RaeAnne Thayne - I love RaeAnne Thayne and her Christmas books are my favorite so I'm excited for this one!(September 25)

I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel - I'm a big fan of the What Should I Read Next podcast and have had her first book on my TBR for awhile but this one appeals to me even more! (September 4)

The Lacemaker's Secret by Kathleen Ernst - There's family secrets and a body in an old farmhouse so I'm super excited to give this series a try. (October 8)

A Vintage Death by Mary Ellen Hughes - I loved the first book in this series about a woman who has inherited a music box store and am looking forward to seeing where the series goes. (November 8)

Echoes of Evil by Heather Graham - Somehow I haven't read any of the Krewe of Hunters books from this year but they look so good!  I'm hoping to read the first two before I get to this one. (September 18)

What books are you looking forward to reading in the second half of the year?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Scandal Above Stairs - Historical Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher 

Priceless artwork has gone missing from the home of a wealthy baronet, and his wife stands to take the blame. When Kat's employer asks for help in clearing her friend's name, Kat trades her kitchen for the homes of Mayfair's wealthiest families.
Soon antiques are disappearing not only from the extravagant households of connoisseurs and collectors, but from the illustrious British Museum. As the thefts increase in frequency, Kat calls upon her friend Daniel McAdam, who has already set himself up in a pawnshop on the Strand as a seedy receiver of stolen goods. When a man is murdered in the shop, Kat must use all of her wits to see that the thieves are caught and justice is done.

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:
  The first book in this series was one of my top ten favorite reads so far this year.

My Impression:
  This is a bunch of my favorite things wrapped up in one book.  I love historical mysteries, I love likeable characters, I love books where you get a peek behind the scenes, and I love mysteries involving art theft.  Throw in a fast pace and I'm in bookish heaven.

It's always a little scary starting the 2nd book in a series when you loved the first.  What if it doesn't live up to expectations?  This wasn't the case here - if anything I liked this book more!  I was so glad to see more of Lady Cynthia and Mr. Thanos and I thought Tess was an interesting addition to the world of the kitchen.  I found the structure of how a large household fascinating and not something I knew all that much about going in.

The mystery itself captured my interest from the beginning.  While there is a murder about a 1/4 into the book the discussions regarding art theft starts earlier.  There's also the mystery of just what Daniel McAdam is up to and just who is he in the first place which I enjoyed in the first book as well.  The pace is fast without being rushed and the mysteries kept me guessing all through the book.

I love this series.  The characters feel like friends, the setting is fascinating, and the mystery is fast paced and intriguing.   This was just a delight of a book and I'm already excited for the next mystery!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I'm anxiously waiting the next book already!

Would I Recommend this Book?
  Definitely!  Even if you're not a big mystery fan I think you'd enjoy this read.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

This Week in Reading - July 15

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!  It was kind of a weird week but somehow I ended up with no new books.  I did buy a couple of Boxcar Children books on Audible but those are for the Tornado so they don't count.  

It's not that I need any new books but it's been so long since I've gotten nothing new that I feel the need to go on a book buying binge or something though I will try to stay strong and resist!


Reading:  I just started The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl which is kind of dark and creepy and Poisoned Pages by Lorna Barrett.

ListeningBecause of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn which I'm enjoying.  I'd been meaning to read it forever so I finally decided to go the audio route.

Watching:  We've just started watching Longmire on Netflix and are loving it!

Off the Blog:

It's been a fairly quiet week.  The Tornado was at robotics camp at the Space and Rocket Center all week and loved it.  He did it last year but this year he's in a higher age group so they did some slightly more complicated things with programming and designing.  He's pretty much convinced he wants to be software engineer.

This coming week the Tornado has two tennis lessons (one is a makeup).  He's been taking lessons for almost 2 months now and is really enjoying it.  After that he and I are heading down to Mississippi to visit my grandparents.  We haven't managed to make it down this summer and with school starting back at the beginning of next month I really want to make sure we get the trip in.  J isn't able to go with us but I think we'll have a good time.  I'm considering getting the audio book for the 1st Harry Potter for the drive.  I think he's probably old enough to handle the suspense and there's so much humor that I think it'll be a good listen.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Scandal Above Stairs - Historical Mystery Review
Tuesday:  Books I'm Really Looking Forward To in 2018 Pt 2
Wednesday:  Shelved Under Murder - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  Books from the Backlog 
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  Poisoned Pages - Cozy Mystery Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Staged 4 Murder + Till Death Do Us Tart - Cozy Mystery Reviews

Blurb:  Sophie “Phee” Kimball wants to get some work done at her private investigation company in Arizona—and she’s distracted already by her old crush, who’s arriving from Minnesota to join the staff. The last thing she needs is constant updates from her mom on the local production of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap.” Practically everyone from Mom’s book club and retirement community, with the possible exception of her chiweenie, Streetman, wants to join the cast and crew. But someone’s playing the role of the killer for real.

After a much-despised cast member is found dead on a catwalk in the theater, Phee has no choice but to be drawn into all the backstabbing and backstage gossip. Especially if her drama-queen mother is right about the vaguely threatening note left on her windshield, which could mean curtains for another victim . . 

My Thoughts:  This has been one of my favorite series from the very beginning and this one didn't let me down.  There's an Agatha Christie play being put on, a murder with more people with motives than not, and a ghost in the theater - oh and just a smidge of romantic possibility!  I loved seeing Phee again and the Booked 4 Murder book club are up to their usual hijinks and hysteria - this time with a theatrical twist.  I enjoyed having the PI firm that Phee works for being up and running and really liked the addition of Marshall to the cast.  The mystery was well done and really had me guessing.  There were all kinds of red herrings and any mystery that involves a background check is a winner for me.  You can jump into the series here without any trouble though I think it would probably be slightly more enjoyable if you started from the beginning just so you can get to know the book club a bit better.  My Rating:  Very Good

Goodreads:  Till Death Do Us Tart (A Bake Shop Mystery #8) by Ellie Alexander

Blurb:  Jules Capshaw has too much on her plate―and she’s feeling the pinch: the whole town of Ashland, Oregon, is in on the surprise Elizabethan-themed wedding she’s planning for her mom and soon-to-be stepdad. But is her secret scheme half-baked? She’s hiding racks overflowing with sweet treats while Torte is topsy-turvy with a major remodel and the return of Jules’s estranged husband, Carlos. And until now, Jules had no clue about the bitter family feud that has her friend Lance frazzled and suspicious. But when a party crasher takes someone out with a serving of poisoned wine and Jules discovers the deadly cup was intended for her, it’s time to turn the tables on a killer.

My Thoughts:  This is one of those series where you feel like you're visiting old friends.  I loved checking in with Jules, Sterling, Andy, and the rest of the Torte crew and regulars around the town of Ashland.  In the past the mysteries have revolved around the theater scene but this is a little bit different as there's a surprise wedding in the offing and all the town is involved.  That added a bit of fun and hijinks involved as plans are made and secrets are kept.  I enjoyed spending time with Jules and her mother as the addition to Torte is advancing and there all kinds of decisions to be made.  As well, I liked getting a bit more background on Lance.  He's always been a colorful character and a very big presence in the story but I feel like I know him so much better now.  Jules' husband Carlos has never been my favorite character in this series as it feels like there's mostly hand twisting and no progress in that situation but he was a welcome presence and I feel like there's finally some movement there.  The murder doesn't occur for quite some time which honestly I didn't even realize until it happened as I was enjoying my time in Ashland so much.  The mystery was solid and well done and I was really caught up in the whos and whys until the final reveal.  If you're a regular to the series than I think you'll be delighted with the new development.  While I feel like you wouldn't have any trouble jumping in here in terms of following along it is very character heavy and I think you would enjoy it a bit more if you started with an earlier book.  Rating:  Very Good

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Linkups - Scandal Above Stairs

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:
Does a cluttered blog have you not returning?  By cluttered I mean too many columns, small type, too many photos, difficult to follow, etc?

My Answer:
It kind of depends on the blogger.  If it's a regular commenter or someone whose voice I really enjoy I'll put up with some visual annoyances.  However, if it is someone I don't really connect with I'll probably give it a miss.

This week's book is one I've been looking forward to for months.  I adored the Jennifer Ashley's first book in the Kat Holloway series and I've been counting days until the release of the 2nd book - Scandal Above Stairs.  So far it is not disappointing!

The Beginning
The clatter of crockery on the flagstone floor broke my heart.  I knew without turning that it was my platter of whole roast pig, the crowning glory of the vast meal I'd spent days creating for the supper party above stairs in this grand Mayfair house.

My Thoughts:
I think my heart would break if this had happened to me and that's having all the conveniences of a modern kitchen!  I can't imagine the heartache in 1881.

The 56:
No gentleman should have implicated a lady in the disappearance of the paintings, and Sir Evan had done so too readily.

My Thoughts:
I think that Sir Evan is up to no good!  And I do love a mystery that involves stolen paintings.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Somebody's Daughter - Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

When Michael Frazier's ex-wife, Erica, shows up on his doorstep pleading for help, she drops a bombshell that threatens to rip his family apart: Erica's nine-year-old daughter is missing--and Michael is the father. Unable to quickly determine if Erica is telling the truth, and unwilling to leave the little girl's fate to chance, Michael has no choice but to follow the elusive trail of the child he has always wanted and never knew he had.

But finding Felicity comes at a price--the closer Michael gets to the truth, the further into jeopardy his marriage falls and the faster his family begins to unravel. As lies that span a decade bubble to the surface and the window for Felicity's safe return closes, Michael will have just a few short days to decide who can be trusted and who is hiding the truth.

Genre: Mystery - Thriller

Why I Picked This Book:
  I've been wanting to try Bell's mysteries for awhile so I jumped at the chance to review this one.

My Impression:
  To be honest I was a little nervous going into this because it violates one of my major rules for fiction enjoyment - no children in places of danger.  However, while the whole book is about finding Felicity it really isn't ABOUT Felicity.  We don't see her scared or vulnerable or any of the things that make my rule so necessary for my being able to sleep without having to actually visibly see my son.  The focus is more on what is going on with the adults and figuring out just what is a lie and what is the truth and I'm all about that.

With the exception of a tiny epilogue the book itself takes place over the course of one evening through three POVs.  We see what's happening through the perspective of Michael and his ex-wife Erica, Angela, and the police.  Each perspective is different and compelling and I was equally fascinated by all of them and felt that each really fleshed out the investigation.

The pacing is brilliant.  The chapters are fairly short and frequently end on small cliffhangers so I need to keep reading "just a little bit more" to see what happens next.  With each chapter I felt like I learned a little bit more or had the start of new theory and the progress I was making really kept me engaged and reading.  I was surprised to see that the book is listed as having 432 pages because I flew through it in just a couple of days.  Each change of POV is accompanied by a time stamp and I thought it added a bit to the feel of urgency but never got out of control where too much action is crammed in a short space (like in the TV show 24 where the main character has solved an international crisis, rescued a child from a dangerous car jacking, and beat up 4 terrorists all in two hours).

My only issue is that I wanted just a little bit more.  While the ending is resolved satisfactorily I did feel like there are some questions raised that aren't fully answered.  Enough is answered that I wasn't frustrated and I feel like I have enough that I can guess how it all ends but I like it nice and spelled out.

This was a compelling fast paced read that kept me turning pages late into the night. It had that perfect thriller balance where the tension holding my breath but wasn't so disturbing that it had me double checking the locks!  I'm already looking for Bell's previous books and I'll be looking for his next one.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  Definitely!  I think even non-thriller lovers would enjoy this one.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Italian Iced - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

When Laurel Inwood features Italian cuisine on the Terminal at the Tracks menu, she knows she'll need to stock the shelves, the fridge, and the freezer with plenty of wonderful delicacies. She just never expected one of them to be her old boss, Hollywood superstar Meghan Cohan.

But one day when Laurel is at the restaurant early to get ready for the regular rush of customers, that's exactly what she finds--Meghan dead in the Terminal freezer.

What's a Hollywood A-lister doing in Hubbard, Ohio?

For Laurel, that's the real question, because the first question she'd ask in any other murder investigation--who would want the victim dead?--seems pretty much a no-brainer in this case.

Who would want Meghan dead?

Just about anybody who had ever met her.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
  I actually own the first two books in this series but haven't read them so I was excited to get the opportunity to review this one.  Plus, the concept is so fantastic!

My Impression:
  Did I mention I love the concept of this book?  I wish a restaurant that changed the cuisine around once a month actually existed.  Thanks to all the foodie cozies I've read in the last few years my wishlist of restaurants/caf├ęs/coffee shops/bakeries has exploded!

I love mysteries that involve digging into pasts and in this time we're looking into Laurel's past and the victim's past which was an extra bit of fun.  Just who was Meghan before she was famous and what was she looking for in Hubbard, Ohio?  It was quite a ride finding out with a crazy cast of characters some sympathetic and some thoroughly dislikable.  I was kept guessing until the end about just what had happened and who was the killer.

Laurel does have quite the complicated back story but I really had no problem feeling invested in the story and with the characters.  I think part of why it worked is that the roster of recurring characters is kept pretty small so while Laurel and Declan had some issues they were working through there weren't 15 other people with similar levels of dysfunction.  I am looking forward to going back to the beginning and learning more about Laurel but it's more because I liked her character than because I was confused about anything.  My only real issue was that occasionally the time line felt a little jumbled but more in a "wait - how many days has it been since she actually went home" vs a "wait - what's happening now" way so I didn't find this to be an issue.

This was a fun super fast paced cozy with a likable main character and food descriptions that will have you craving pasta.  I can't wait to find out what cuisine Laurel will be cooking next book!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I'm glad I have the first two books and I'll be looking for the 4th in the series.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy cozies this is a fun series and I loved the different cuisines spins!  I had no trouble jumping in right here so I think you could pick up with whichever book appeals to you.