Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fairy Homes and Gardens - Review

Fairy Homes and Gardens by Ashley Rooney and Barbara Purchia

I'm going to do this review more like a cookbook review because it's a book of photos.  There's no real written content, no plot and really you either like the topic or you don't.  If you're not a Fairy Garden person there's nothing I can say that will make you interested in this book (unless maybe how to get a fairy to give you gold or something).

That being said - I loved this book. I love miniatures and have been wanting to make my own fairy garden since seeing some on Pinterest.  So, when I saw this book come up on NetGalley I couldn't hit request fast enough.

One thing I want to be very clear on is that this is not a How-To book.  There are no laid out projects or how to turn something into something else in step by form  There's really not any suggestions for a regular reader in the book itself.

There are, however, pictures.  Tons of pictures.  Glorious pictures.  There are pictures of beautiful detailed fairy gardens in tree stumps, flower pots, bird cages, chairs, and anything else you can think of.  There is a little caption about each paragraph - who made it, where it is, and sometimes details about the materials used. While there is no instructions there is tons of inspiration.  With all the looks and materials used there is going to be something that works for you.

My only complaint is that my eARC was in PDF form.  This is a book that should be read in print form. I'm looking forward to getting a copy and paging through all the wonderful photographs.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Linkups: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

*I want to apologize for not being around much today to visit everyone else's links.  I love seeing everyone's answers and book choices but I'm going to be having very minor surgery today and will most likely be out of it for the rest of the day.  I'm looking forward to visiting everyone hopefully tomorrow but definitely in the next few days

It's Friday!  Time to link up with Coffee Addicted Writer for Book Blogger Hop

You accidentally released ghouls from a novel and they are now running amok.  Which fictional hero (book or film) would you like to help you defeat the ghouls?

My Answer:
I haven't read many ghoul catching books other than Victoria Laurie's Ghost Hunter series and while Heath is not bad I think I'd rather hang out with the ghouls than deal with Gilley.  So, I think I"m going to go a little out of the box and pick Ty Garrison from Jill Shalvis's Lucky Harbor series book Lucky in Love.  He has some crazy military training and I'm thinking he'd be quick on his feet and good in a crisis.  Any ideas for some ghoul hunting books I need to read?

This week's book is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (I know you're shocked).  While until this point Christie had enjoyed moderate success, it was this book that made her famous.  This was the book that got everyone's attention.  Some people accused her of cheating, some people called her brilliant but everyone read it.

The Beginning:
Mrs. Ferrars died on the night of the 16th - 17th September - a Thursday.  I was sent for at eight o'clock on the morning of Friday the 17th.  There was nothing to be done.  She had been dead for some hours.

The 56 (from page 56 of my paperback):
" "No suspicious strangers been hanging about anywhere?"
"Oh!" I said suddenly.
"What is it, doctor?"
"I met a man this evening - just as I was turning out of the gate.  He asked me the way to Fernly Park." "

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Bone Room - Review

The Bone Room (The Nocturnist - Bk 1) by James Vitarius

Rating: 4
Source: Received from the author review

Description:  (from Amazon - if I wrote my own it'd be pages and pages!)
Dr. Zeke Oswald thought he was getting a fresh start with his new job working the night shift in a small city hospital.  Until, that is, he stumbles across a dead body in the middle of the night.  One of the hospital's nurses has been murdered and soon, beautiful, yet inexperienced detective Selinda Bruchart is looking into Zeke's involvement and his past.  Zeke becomes an amateur sleuth and with the help of hospital intern Patience McMorris, sets out to solve the crime and clear his name.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: This summer I had been contacted by the author and had done a feature on this book (feature).  I really enjoyed the excerpt I read and jumped at the chance to read the book for a full review.

My Impression:
Pros: The characters are very well developed.  All 3 of the main characters, Selinda, Zeke and Patience, have flaws but they're also developed in such a way that you still root for them. There is a decent amount of medical related details but it never felt unreadable or was confusing. There were a few things about hospital staffing and budgeting that I had never really know before which I found interesting.  The mystery itself was very well done.  While I had some wild guesses about what was really going on I didn't know for sure until everything unraveled.  This says book 1 and I was a little worried about a cliffhanger ending because as I was reading this I wanted to find out what was going on!  No worries though, the mystery itself is resolved and I was satisfied with the ending though I do want to find out what happens next.  I was expecting a paranormal mystery do to some shelving on GoodReads (which I can't find now.  Did I imagine it?) and while Zeke has a secret that could kind of be considered paranormal there isn't really anything other-worldy.  I don't want to tell you too much because figuring out what is going on is definitely part of the fun but don't go in expecting serious paranormal.

Cons: While I found all the medical details interesting I do think there was were too many explanations.  It slowed the pacing on some parts that would've been really page turning.  As well, since Patience and Zeke are so well developed Selinda's character seems a little extraneous.  While a detective was necessary and having her inexperienced but intelligent helped explain Zeke's involvement knowing so much about her seemed unnecessary and it some cases distracting.  In the scenes about her - especially her dealing with her colleagues - I kept wanting to get back to the hospital.

Overall:  This was a fun medical thriller with an interesting spin. The characters are likable even when you want to shake them (well that mostly applies to Patience) and unusual. While there were a few flaws it definitely didn't effect my enjoyment of the book.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, I'll be curious to see where this series goes.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, especially if you enjoy medical type thrillers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Night Garden - Review

The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: NetGalley

The Pennywort gardens are famous for being wild and lush with rambling mazes a visitor could get lost in.  Olivia Pennywort is the custodian of the garden and has lived her whole life in Green Valley.  As she grew up she became more and more unreachable in every sense of the world.
Sam Van Winkle is as much of a part of Green Valley as Olivia but the Van Winkles are famous for being heroes.  Afraid he was the only Van Winkle who couldn't live up to the name and heart broken over the loss of love he fled Green Valley as a young man only to come back looking to heal.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: I loved the cover at first glance and was intrigued by the magical garden.

My Impression:
Pros: The writing was beautiful.  The descriptions of the garden were lyrical and you could all but smell the flowers and feel the textures of all the plants.  The entire town of Green Valley is well fleshed out and the magical elements really work.  The characters have a lot of back story and a history together which adds a lot of depth to the developing relationship.

Cons; I never really felt like I connected with Olivia.  I understand why she is standoffish to those around her but it felt like she was so detached that I never quite connected with her.  I'm new to the magical realism aspect and I think I expected a warmer and overall happier book while this has a darker tone.

Overall:  This was a well written very descriptive book with fleshed out characters.  I didn't connect to it as well as I would've liked but I think some of the problem was due to my preconceptions going in.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, definitely!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  I hesitate on this a bit.  While I didn't love it I think a lot of my issues were personal and due to expectations going in.  Maybe start with her first book?  I've heard wonderful things about it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dance the Moon Down - Feature

Dance the Moon Down by R.L. Bartram

First off here's the blurb:
In 1910, no one believed there would ever be a war with Germany. Safe in her affluent middle-class life, the rumours held no significance for Victoria either. It was her father’s decision to enrol her at university that began to change all that. There she befriends the rebellious and outspoken Beryl Whittaker, an emergent suffragette, but it is her love for Gerald Avery, a talented young poet from a neighbouring university that sets the seal on her future.
After a clandestine romance, they marry in January 1914, but with the outbreak of the First World War, Gerald volunteers and within months has gone missing in France. Convinced that he is still alive, Victoria’s initial attempts to discover what has become of him, implicate her in a murderous assault on Lord Kitchener resulting in her being interrogated as a spy, and later tempted to adultery.

Now virtually destitute, Victoria is reduced to finding work as a common labourer on a run down farm, where she discovers a world of unimaginable ignorance and poverty. It is only her conviction that Gerald will some day return that sustains her through the dark days of hardship and privation as her life becomes a battle of faith against adversity.

Now it's no secret that I love a good World War 1 setting and when I saw that this book was inspired by journals and letters from the era I was intrigued.  When Robert Bartram contacted me about reading an excerpt I decided to give it a try.  I've found that sometimes historical fiction can read as too heavy and too emotionally wrought.  Given the heaviness of the topic that was definitely concern going into this.

With the first chapter and a teaser excerpt I found that wasn't the case.  While this isn't light and funny Victoria is a survivor and she's a fighter.  Bartram makes her become fully fleshed out within just a few pages.  Her reactions to some questioning felt genuine.  I only have one complaint - I didn't get to find out what happened next!

If you have an interest in historical fiction this is definitely one to look for.  I know I for one will be looking forward to finding out what happens between Victoria, Gerald and Lieutenant Fairchild.

Born in Edmonton, London in 1951, Robert spent several of his formative years living in Cornwall where he began to develop a life long love of nature and the rural way of life. He began writing in his early teens and much of his short romantic fiction was subsequently published in various national periodicals including “Secrets”, “Red Letter” and “The People’s Friend”.
Never one to let the necessity of making a living get in the way of his writing, Robert has continued to write for most of his life whilst holding down a succession of jobs which have included Health Food Shop Manager, Typewriter Mechanic and Taxidermist – Yes, you read that correctly.
His passion for the history of the early twentieth century is second only to his love of writing. It was whilst researching in this period that he came across the letters and diaries of some women who had lived through the trauma of the Great War. What he read in them inspired him to write his debut novel “Dance The Moon Down” and the rest, as they say, is history.

Robert is single and lives and writes in Hertfordshire.

Top Ten Tuesday - New Series I Want to Start

It's time for Top Ten Tuesday!  Today's topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten New Series (from the last year or two) I Want to Start.

Now normally it's hard to come up with ten books or authors to fit whatever topic.  This week, however, it was hard to cut the list down to ten!  Some of these aren't the newest but they're all series that have come to my attention in the last year.

1. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer - I'm not much of a steam punk or YA reader but this series has had me dying to give it a try.  I love the fairy tale retellings mixed in with the steampunk stuff.  I'm hoping I'll love it as much as everyone else has!

2.  The Bess Crawfuord series by Charles Todd - English, 1920s, the first book is Bess trying to solve a mystery that took place in the past.  How can I not be reading this?

3.  The Hat Shop series by Jenn McKinlay - While McKinlay's cupcake series is good I absolutely love her Library series.  I'm looking forward to giving this new series a try.

4.  Consignment Shop series by Duffy Brown - I have a weakness for vintage clothing and really books about clothing in general.

5.  American Heiress in London by Laura Lee Guhrke - While not all of Guhrke's books have been homeruns for me And Then He Kissed Her is one of my favorite historical romances.  I have the first 2 in this series but have yet to start it.

6.  All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness - This is another one that I don't know why I want to read but I really really do!

7.  Charles Lenox mysteries by Charles Finch - I have the first one of this series for years and have yet to read it!  I read an interview by the author over at Bookwyrm's Hoard and really enjoyed what he had to say.

8.   Book Retreat Mysteries by Ellery Adams - It's a book themed inn!  It has books, it has murder, it has an inn.  How could I resit?

9.  Gideon's Cove by Kristin Higgins - I read some of a Kristin Higgins book and while I didn't love the characters I really enjoyed the writing so I'm looking forwarding to trying more from her.

10. Thunder Point by Robyn Carr - Some of my favorite bloggers are basically composing odes to her books and I have yet to read a one.

What series has been on any of your TBR for far too long?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Deadly Tasting - Review + Giveaway

Deadly Tasting by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen

Rating: 3.5
Source: Blog Tour
Description:  When a body of an elderly man is found with 12 neatly arranged wine glasses and only one filled wine expert Benjamin Cooker is called in.  With the help of the local police and his assistant Virgile, Cooker is on the hunt of a killer who has a connection to Bordeaux's complicated past.  As the bodies fall and the wine glasses fill up Cooker is racing against time and a killer.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  The premise appealed to me.  Also, how could I resist a book that mixes murder and wine?

My Impression:

Pro:  I was a little worried going in because this is a translation and my luck with those has been decidedly mixed.  However, I needn't have worried.  The writing style and pacing is smooth and this is a quick entertaining read.  There was a slightly formal feel to the book so that it read like a classic mystery which really appealed to me.  Benjamin Cooker is an interesting character - he's a well recognized expert in his field and has the ego that goes along with it - so I really appreciated the bit of humor dealing with the cabbage soup diet imposed by his wife.  It brought the character down a bit and definitely humanized him.  I did see that this was #4 in a long going series.  I haven't read any of the previous books but I don't feel like that was a problem.  While you do get the sense that this isn't Cooker's first case there isn't any knowledge that you're missing as a reader by starting at this point in the series.

Con:  While the book felt like a classic mystery the end took a darker turn that surprised me a bit and maybe didn't quite fit.  I would've liked to have had a little more setup to what happened.  Everything made sense and was fit the story so this is just a minor quibble.

Overall:  This was an interesting mystery series that I am looking forward to read more of.  If you enjoy wine, France and murder mysteries this is not to be missed!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Definitely to any mystery lover!

For the Giveaway: