Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - 10 Books that Were Hard to Read

Today's Top Ten Tuesday Topic from The Broke and The Bookish is the top ten books that were hard to read for whatever reason.  Here's my 10:

1.  The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom - Let me start off by saying I love this book.  I recommend to just about everyone and make myself reread it periodically to remind myself about what is truly good with humanity and religion.  The hard part was these people are real and they're so good good and kind and you know what's going to happen to them.  There were times I had to stop because I just couldn't take anymore in one sitting.

2.  The Diary of Anne Frank -  I had a similar reaction to this book that I had to The Hiding Place.  You forget sometimes what's going to happen because Anne is such a normal girl and then you remember and it's absolutely heart wrenching.

3.  Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery - I've read this book several times and it's always been one of my favorites partly because the setting - World War 1 Canada - is so unusual.  There have always been parts I've cried during because if you can stay dry-eyed during some of the Dog Monday parts I'm pretty sure you have no heart.  However, this most recent time I sobbed throughout the entire book.  I think age-wise I identified so much with Anne and Gilbert who were sending their children off to war.

4.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - This wasn't hard to read but during the first night in the arena I had to make myself keep reading.  There were characters I really liked and I knew bad things were going to happen and I just didn't want them too.

5.  Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie - This is just hard to read.  There's 9000 characters and the plot is a jumbled mess.

6.  Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth - I actually have read this recent and enjoyed it but the first time I barely made it through.  It's so much dryer than her other books I just had a hard time getting through it.

7.  Come Home to Me by Brenda Novak - This book had pretty much every book pet peeve rolled into 1 book.  There was a secret child, a potential accidental pregnancy, a guy whose a jerk to the female MC and bunches of TSTL (to stupid to live) characters.  The only reason I made it through is because Novak is a great storyteller.

8.  Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers - I wanted to love this one so much.  I wanted to be swept up in Mary Poppins magic.  But I just wasn't.  Mary was kind of mean and the stories seemed a little random.  I think I would've liked it better if I had lower expectations.

9.  My Life in France by Julia Child -  I don't like Julia.  Like really really don't like  her.  The food stuff was interesting and she was a pioneer in legitimizing the home cook but if she said one more thing about how close minded someone was I was going to throw the book at the wall.  It felt like she complained about everyone.  I wanted to tell her that maybe she was the problem.

10. This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips - There was 1 scene towards the beginning that I just couldn't get past.  It ends up getting laughed off but the female lead basically rapes the guy and it's just put down as typical Molly rebellion.  I really liked the rest of the book and the characters together but I had a hard time getting past the beginning.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Life is Sweet - Review

Life is Sweet by Elizabeth Bass

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Source:  NetGalley

Description:  3 years ago Becca Hudson threw a dart on a map and landed in Leesburg, Virginia.  Now 1 ex-husband, a successful cupcake shop and 2 best friends later she's still there.  The last thing she wants is more complications or more reminders of her previous life as a TV child star.  Except suddenly with the introduction of a 10 year old girl, the girl's kind of babysitter and an elderly man with a mysterious past life is definitely long past simple.

Genre: Fiction/Romance

Why I Picked This Book:  The cover just about jumped out and grabbed me and I liked the premise.  The finding your purpose stories tend to grab me.
My Impression:
Pros:  I liked a lot about this book.  Becca, Matthew and Olivia are all nice yet flawed characters.  Olivia comes across as a 10 year old girl.  She's not always logical, she sometimes gets sulky but she's not bratty.  She's an interesting character.  Becca annoyed me at first because she was so annoyed anytime anyone mentioned her TV career but I think you gradually see why that is.  Matthew's a sweet guy who is doing his best and trying to do what he thinks is right.  I thought Walt was an interesting character and while I did guess the twist fairly early it was fun to see it unravel.  The pacing was good and I never felt like the story was dragging even when I didn't like what was going on in the plot.

Cons:  Unfortunately, there was also quite a bit that didn't work for me in this book.  I had a really difficult time being okay that Matthew was in a relationship while he and Becca are realizing their feelings for each other.  There isn't even a real hint of cheating and it's very obvious from the beginning that Matthew's relationship isn't as it should be.  That being said it just didn't sit well with me - a personal pet peeve I guess.  While I liked Pam and Erin at the beginning and end of the book they were pretty awful in the middle of the story.  They definitely fit the saying with friends like these who needs enemies.  At around the 70% mark the story kind of took a left turn and a lot happened.  It fit with the story but it just seemed like a lot crammed into the last 30%.  I wish the book could have been split up a little differently.

Overall:  While there were some aspects of the story that didn't quite sit with me I did really enjoy reading it.  Bass's characters feel very well developed and this was always a book I wanted to pick up and find out what was going to happen next.

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

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes though with a few reservations.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

This Week in Reading - September 28

It's Sunday so time for The Sunday Post hosted by the amazing Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  It's a chance to talk about what's going on in blog world and out as well as what we picked up this week!

What I Got:

Fairy Homes and Gardens by Barbara E. Ashley Rooney
I think most people who know me would be surprised since I'm not particularly whimsical but I love fairy gardens.  I fully intend to make it a hobby when I have more time for hobbies!  This looks like a really fun book to page through.

Forbidden Ground by Karen Harper
As we get closer to Fall I find myself reaching more and more to mysteries and this romantic suspense sounds fun.

Teardrop Lane by Emily March
I really enjoyed the previous book in this serious that I read and really enjoyed the characters that this book will focus on.

At Home with Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott
This sounds like it may be what I wanted How to Be a Parisian Wherever You Are to be.  It's supposed to be full of tips to be stylish and have a happy relaxing home.  We'll see.


Reading: Louise's Blunder by Sarah R. Shaber which I'm really enjoying so far.  It's a mystery set in World War 2 Washington DC with a dash of espionage.  Also, a biography about Coco Chanel called Mademoiselle by Rhonada K. Garelick which I'm not enjoying nearly as much.  It's not bad just not flowing as well as I would like.  And of course, Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie.

Listening:  Finishing up Lisette's List by Susan Vreeland which I have absolutely fallen in love with.  Next up is Sleeping Beauty and Other Classic Stories by Jacob Grimm followed by The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister.

Watching:  Not as much as I wanted to especially of the new releases.  I have NCIS: New Orleans and How to Get Away With Murder on my DVR but haven't had time to watch them yet.  I did watch the new Big Bang Theory which I enjoyed even though I'm not really loving Penny's hair.  We're still watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and I'm still watching CSI: New York which I'm enjoying.  I had forgotten what a good job they had done with Danny and Lindsay's relationship.  It's enough to be interesting but not enough to distract from the show.  I did watch Sleepy Hollow which I loved last season but it's been off air so long I had kind of forgotten about it.  I really enjoyed the premier for that one. Can't wait to see where they go this season!

Off the Blog:

This has been kind of a crap week.  Nothing particularly awful just one little stress after another leaving me frazzled and short tempered. Thinking about digging up a favorite book and trying to do a mood reboot since obviously being frazzled and short tempered doesn't really help any situation.

Paul has been working at McDonald's for almost a year now and seems to have finally burned out on the food.  We decided to try and recreate his old favorites from there in a homemade version.  This week was Big Macs which turned out really amazingly good.  Not sure what we're going to do next.  It's his birthday this week and we're going to do our usual going to dinner at his choice and then cake and presents.  He's always been the worst about getting me a list of actual things he wants for his birthday but this year I threatened to give him an all llama birthday if he didn't.  Years ago he got spit on by a llama at a petting zoo and has never quite forgiven them.  The threat worked though I did find a little llama figurine to give him just for fun.

Other than that not much going on.  Eleanor's still enjoying her classes and working at a bookstore,  She even was here for dinner one night this week since she had to be in town for an appointment before heading back to college.  Emma still shows up at home every once in awhile for about 5 minutes before she breezes out.  We're still waiting for acceptance letters from the colleges she applied too.  Logically I know there won't be any problems but illogically I still worry.  The Tornado is still loving school and being tornado-y.

On the Blog:

This Past Week:

Tuesday:  My Top Ten books on my Fall TBR and what I'm going to do with my print books
Saturday:  Ovenly - Cookbook Review or the reason I'm going to have start buying clothes in a larger side.

Coming Up:

Monday: Life is Sweet - Review (and one of my favorite covers)
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books that were hard to read
Wednesday: Louise's Blunder - a World War 2 era mystery - Review
Thursday:  Mademoiselle - a biography of Coco Chanel - Review
Friday: Linkups with whatever book I'm reading 
Saturday: Link up with Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity for this month's cookbook

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ovenly - Cookbook Review

Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York's Creative Bakery by Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin

I love cookbooks.  One of my favorite ways to relax is to put a TV show on and sit back with a new cookbook and a pack of Post-It tabs tagging the recipes I want to try.  If I had Ovenly in a hard copy it would be bristling with tabs.

Baking books can be kind of repetitive.  Cookies, bar cookies, breakfast muffins, quick breads and maybe yeast breads.  There isn't a huge difference in recipes.  This is not the case with Ovenly.  Flipping through the book the chapter titles are pretty similar to any baking book -  Quick Breads and Coffee Cakes, Muffins, Cookies and Shortbreads, Pies and Tarts, Brownies and Bars and Cakes and Cupcakes.  There's a chapter on scones and bar snacks which are a little different than the norm which is kind of the first hint that this isn't your ordinary baking book.

The flavor combinations throughout the book are tantalizing - Strawberry Basil Loaf Bread, Salted Apple Bread, Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tarragon, Caramel Bacon Hot Tarts, Nectarine, Blueberry and Vanilla Bean Tarts and Black Chocolate Stoutcake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Butter Cream and their famous Bloody Mary Scones.  How can you not want to make these?  I liked that they recipes look unique but not so odd that I couldn't imagine making them.  These are flavor combinations that I never would have thought of but not flavor combinations that I can't imagine.  Once I've imagined them it's hard not to run to the grocery store to pick up any necessary ingredients with my mouth watering.  The majority of the recipes are sweet but there are some savory muffins, scones and breads and a quiche or two.  While the recipes are definitely unique I think for the most part they're not so out there that my non-adventurous family wouldn't be willing to try them.

There are several recipes that are illustrated by step by step picture instructions which is really useful for finicky things like scones and pie crust.  There are also a decent number of finished product pictures. There are so many yummy recipes I had a hard time deciding which one I wanted to test.  I decided to go with the buttery shortbread for 3 reasons - 1. I like shortbread, 2. It calls for 4 ingredients all of which I had, 3. The very simplicity of the recipe is a good test of all the recipes.  You can hide a recipe that isn't amazing when it has 9 different spices but it's a lot more difficult when the main ingredients are butter and flour.

The results: Amazing!  So good I can't believe I made this kind of amazing.  I ended up eating half the pan in one sitting and then immediately taking the rest to my mother's just to get it out of my house.

Conclusion:  I will be buying this book - possibly as soon as it's released.  If you enjoy baking and like experimenting I think you should buy it too.  Now I can't wait to try the scones!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Linkups: Poirot Investigates

It's Friday which means I'm joining up with Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

This Week's Question:
How will reading be in 100 years time?  Will there be printed books?  How about ereaders?  What might they look like?

My Answer:
I have a hard time believing that books will go away completely.  They may become more like artwork versus just a functional item but there are sensory advantages with books that can't be replicated.  As for ereaders I think they'll continue to go the way they're going now - thinner, lighter, better memory, better battery life.  I'm hoping in 100 years they'll have figured out a better way work with illustrated books!

This week's book:
I'd gotten distracted from reading Agatha Christie by a few library books but it feels great to be back to Poirot and Hastings with this 3rd book in the Poirot series - Poirot Investigates.  This is a short story collection that contains 14 of Poirot's most interesting cases.  From what I can tell this was originally published all together instead of short stories published separately in magazines or newspapers and then put together.

The Beginning from "The Adventure of "The Western Star"":
"I was standing at the window of Poirot's rooms looking idly on the street below.
"That's queer," I ejaculated suddenly beneath my breath."

The 56 from page 56 of my paperback from the story "The Adventure of the Cheap Flat":
"To me, the waiting appeared endless.  I was terrified of going to sleep.  Just when it seemed to me that I had been there about eight hours - and had, as I found out afterwards, in reality been exactly one hour and twenty minutes - a faint scratching sound came to my ears."

So would you keep reading?  If you're an Agatha beginner this kind of short story collection is a great way to get to know the characters without getting Poirot-ed out.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Haunting of Hill House - The Project

*Doing an in-depth look at Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House was inspired by Angela's always fascinating Project Disney over at Angela's Anxious Life which in turn was inspired by a similar project at Picture Us Reading

My fascination with Shirley Jackson began 20 years or so ago when my Grandmother bought a biography of the author on a trip we were on.  I had read "The Lottery" in school though I don't think at the time I really got the full impact of the story itself., so the name was familiar to me.  If I remember correctly I had finished all the books I had brought and ended up reading this one and entered into Shirley Jackson's brilliant and tragic life.  In addition to a number of short stories Jackson also has a lighter book about life with her children, Life Among the Savages, that gives you a little peak at Jackson's private life.

But now for The Haunting of Hill House -

It's a short book, less than 200 pages, and really not a lot happens.  The premise is simple.  A professor with an interest in the super-natural decides to do a study to see how a group of people respond to a "genuinely haunted house".  Hill House suits his needs not because of the stories people tell but because no one says anything about it yet for years no one has lived in the house for more than a day or two.  Dr. Montague ends up with 2 subjects.  First there is Eleanor Vance - a woman in her early 30s who has given most of her adult life to caring for her demanding invalid mother and now lives with her demanding sister and sister's husband.  She is desperate for a life, for an adventure, for any taste of happiness.  On the opposite end of the spectrum is Theodora. Theodora of only one name who lives only for happiness, adventure and amusement.   With Dr. Montague and the 2 women is Luke who is a representative of the family who owns Hill House and is basically part gambler, part con-man and all charm.

If you're looking for a true horror book this probably isn't what you're looking for.  There's no overwhelming moments of pure terror.  There's not many scenes that are over the top terror.  What there is is a slow gradual build of fear with a handful of really beautifully make you never ever want to put your hand over the side of the bed creepy scenes thrown in.  This is a book that I always wonder why people say it's so scary and then I realize I'm reading the last 20 pages almost without breathing.  This isn't the book that will have you covering your eyes or trying not to scream.  This is the book that will suddenly jump into your head when you wake up for no reason at 2 in the morning and think that just maybe you heard something in the dark.

If you can get an audio version of this book I highly recommend you do.  While I had read the book before I really didn't get the humor in the book until I listened to the audio version.  I'm not suggesting it suddenly turns into a slapstick but you really get some of Jackson's dry wit coming through in the dialogue when it's read.  I actually giggled a couple of times - especially when Eleanor basically mocks Mrs. Dudley's warnings about no one being able to hear you scream.  The one I listened to was performed by David Warner and while I didn't love how he did the women's voices he did do a beautiful job of balancing sarcasm and fear.

So after the listening and the rereading it was movie time!  There's 2 movie adaptations.  Both called The Haunting.  One is from 1963 and the other from 1999.

The Haunting (1963)
The Good:  Of the two movies this holds truer to the book.  We get a lot of Nell's thoughts in voice overs which is more in character with the book.  The creepiness is done right.  It's more about what you can't see than what you can.  I also thought that Russ Tamblyn was fantastic as Luke and loved his references to the property value of the house.  It brought a little of the sly humor that's in the book into the movie.

The Bad:  There was an element of romance played up between Nell and Dr. Markway (as Dr. Montague is in this movie) that jarred.  I could see why it was does from a plot perspective but it was so out of character for both of them that it annoyed me.  I didn't care for the casting of Mrs. Dudley as Rosalie Crutchley.  While Mrs. Dudley has one of the most well known lines in the book/movie I didn't think Rosalie had the necessary dourness to really do justice to them.

The Haunting (1999)
The Good: The casting is actually remarkably good.  Catherine Zeta-Jones is as lovely and exotic and maddening as Theodora is supposed to be.  Lili Taylor does a fabulous job as the somewhat plain and worn down Eleanor.  The rather striking and elegant Marian Seldes definitely captures the correct foreboding tone of Mrs. Dudley.  The actual setting of Hill House is good to.  The rooms are over the top uncomfortably large with a plethora of carvings.  The atmosphere is definitely done right.

The Bad:  Then the movie starts actually happening and that's where it goes off the rails a bit.  While the first part isn't particularly awful it isn't particularly interesting either.  I was okay that they changed the premise of why the characters were in the house but the whole plot took a left turn into the rather cliche stuff jumping out of you scares.  Then we lost the road all together and the end bore very little resemblance to the actual book.

The Ugly: The special effects are bad.  Very very bad.  I know that computer animation has come along way since 1999 but this was just bad.  I'm pretty sure the special effects in the 1963 version were better.

Overall:  I'm not sure why Dr. Montague's name was changed in both movies (Markway in 63 and Marrow in 99) but that's not really a big deal.  The 1963 movie is a fun spooky movie and I really enjoyed watching that one.  The 1999 version not so much.  In both movies Hill House itself isn't able to be quite the character that it is in the book so I think you lose a little of the impact of the story. While the 63 movie is definitely enjoyable I think to get the really true feel of the book you should definitely try the audio.

And so Hill House has stood for 80 years and will stand for 80 more.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  When the headmistress Mrs. Plackett and her freeloading brother Mr. Godding drop dead after a bit of veal the young ladies of St. Etheldreda's decide that they really don't want to leave their school and each other.  The only way to make that happen is to hide the deaths and keep on as nothing happened.  This of course is easier said than done as there financial issues to solve, doctors, ministers and choir leaders to fool, and 2 rather dead bodies to hide.

Genre: Children's

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been enjoying this genre of books and this story sounded fun.
My Impression:
Pros:  This book reminded me a bit of A Series of Unfortunate Events with exaggerated but almost one note characters, grim and dismal settings and of course a series of rather unfortunate events.  The girls themselves were interesting as they dealt with the situation that had happened to them as well as the one they created.  The difference in their personalities were definitely apparent but entertaining and each girl kind of had her shining moment where you really liked them.  It was nice to see an ensemble cast of girls each be intelligent or gifted their own way. I was interested to see how everything unraveled and how everything resolved. I found the ending satisfying and fitting.

Cons:  This book was too long.  I enjoyed it but it definitely drug a bit in the middle. I think there were just too many obstacles between the surprise party and the strawberry social that were a bit unnecessary.

Overall: I think if you liked The Series of Unfortunate Events you'll like this book.  It was an entertaining read though I think it would be better broken up by reading a chapter at a time versus straight through.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes.  I'll definitely try another by Julie Berry

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes. I think if you enjoy middle grade fiction you would enjoy this one though it's not one I'd say you have to go out and buy immediately!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR Pile

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish
Since I haven't finished my spring TBR list and my summer one is basically untouched I'm going to have to face reality.  It's time to admit that until I get my NetGalley addiction under control I'm not going to be reading anything but review books despite the ever growing stack of actual physical books that are taking over my shelves.

So here's the review books I plan on reading this fall!  Now, if you need me I'll be in my fort built with the piles of physical books I no longer have a place to put and reading review books!

Past Due:  These are books that came out months ago that for some reason I haven't read yet:

1. Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan- it's the 1920s in New York and two young women are trying to solve a family mystery.  I was so excited when I got the approval for this one but somehow never got around to reading it.

2. Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson - It's a chateau in France and a woman is trying to learn the secrets of her grandmother's life.  Not quite sure why I put this one off either.

3.  Always on My Mind by Belle Andre - This author was introduced to me by Kimba over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer who is definitely one of the worst influences on me when it comes to adding to the TBR pile!  I now have 2 and have yet to read 1.

4.  Mission to Murder by Lynn Cahoon - I loved the 1st one in this series and was so excited to see the next one.  That was 2 months ago.

5. The Hexed by Heather Graham - See #4

Coming Up: Books due out October and November
6.  The Question of the Missing Head by E.J. Copperman/Jeff Cohen - I've enjoyed other books by this author so I'm looking forward to what he can do with a less cozy-style mystery

7.  The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen - My bookish kindred spirit - Lark at The Bookwyrm's Hoard - really enjoyed the first book by this author.

8.  Hardcastle's Quartet by Graham Ison - A historical murder mystery sounds like a fun read on a gloomy fall day.

9.  The Bone Room by James Vitarius - I read the first 2 chapters back in July and really liked how developed and unique the main characters were.

10. Deadly Tasting by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen - There's wine and murder in France.  What's not to love?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Queen of Hearts Volume 2 - Review

Queen of Hearts Vol 2: The Wonder by Colleen Oakes
Rating: 4 Stars

Source: NetGalley

This is the 2nd book in the trilogy of the Queen of Hearts.  The story of Dinah before she was queen and before we meet her in Alice in Wonderland.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: I really enjoyed the first in this trilogy (review) and was excited to see the 2nd.  Also the cover and concept are fabulous!

My Impression:
Pros:  In my 2nd visit to Wonderland and Dinah, Princess of Hearts I'm once again about how magical and twisted the world that Oakes created is.  We see more of the dark in this one as Dinah is fleeing for her life in the Dark Woods.  Everything is alive but somehow twisted.  Once again I enjoyed seeing the familiar characters from the original story including the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the caterpillar and of course the Cards.  I really loved that while Oakes made Dinah sympathetic she didn't make her misunderstood.  Dinah really is ruthless with a very strong cruel streak and a pretty good helping of impulsive behavior.  Her reasons for her actions are understandable but she definitely isn't portrayed as secretly warm hearted and kind.
Cons:  There were a few spots throughout the book that felt like the plot was dragging a bit.  It suffered from the same flaw that many 2nd books suffer from since it's in between the big opening and the finale.  This is not a stand alone book.  To really understand what was going on you'd need to have read the 1st book.  The ending is also right before a big event.  It's not a cliffhanger exactly but it's pretty close.
Overall:  Once again I'm struck with how much I just love this concept.  Seeing the Queen of Hearts as a child up to young woman is really interesting and there is a lot of creative room here that Oakes has taken advantage of.  This is definitely a dark tale but interesting and intriguing.  I really enjoyed it despite a few very small slow patches and am looking forward to #3!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, I'm looking forward to reading the 3rd of the series.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Definitely but read the 1st one before this.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

This Week in Reading - September 21

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and is where we get the chance to talk about what's going on off the blog, on the blog and what books I managed to acquire despite vowing I wasn't going to get any new books.

What I Got:

So I was being really good and had only gotten one book and then in a little game of sabotage the NetGalley ratio helped along by Le French and Kensington publishers I went on a bit of a spree:

Louisiana Fever by D.J. Donaldson (provided by publisher) - This was listed as a CSI meets the "Big Easy" and with that tag line I couldn't resist.  I love New Orleans and I love CSI so I'm excite to see where this one goes.

Crossing the Line by Frederique Molay - There's a jewel heist in Paris and a message in a tooth in a severed head.  Oh and it's Christmas.  In Paris.  How could I pass that up?

The Shiro Project by David Khara - This is an international thriller with ties to World War 2.  I'm a little concerned because it's a translation but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

The Ripper's Wife by Brandy Purdy - The Ripper story as seen through his wife's eyes.  She's not quite the heiress her mother said she was.  He has a mistress, an arsenic addiction and a temper.  What starts as a shipboard fairy tale romance is doomed to fail.  Is this the time to admit that I've watched all those History and Discovery Channel documentaries on Jack the Ripper?

Going Home by Stacy Finz - Two people looking to heal from past wounds.  One of them happens to be renovating a Bed and Breakfast.  I can't pass up home renovations.

If the Shoe Kills by Lynn Cahoon - The third mystery in the Tourist trap series.  Now I just need to read the 2nd one!


Reading: Life is Sweet by Elizabeth Bass and a biography on Coco Chanel called Mademoiselle by Rhonda Garelick for reviews next week.  

Listening:  I was planning on listening to Erica Bauermeister's The Lost Art of Mixing but some other books came up first.  Now I'm listening to Lissette's List by Susan Vreeland with Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairytales most likely next.  So far I'm enjoying Lissette's List though I wish the narrator wasn't quite so enthusiastic with her accents! I finished P.D. James' Shroud for a Nightingale and loved it.  I think I like James better in audio form. 

Watching:  Not much because all the summer shows have ended and the fall ones haven't started.  I'm excited about NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans starting next week along with The Big Bang Theory, The Middle, Modern Family and How to Get Away with Murder.  Until then, inspired by Lola at Lola's Reviews J and I have started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I had watched bits and pieces before but watching it in order has been fun. 

Off the Blog:

Emma has started applying for colleges for next year.  Her first choice is 5 hours away and most likely will be where she's going.  Eleanor is only 2 hours away and we barely see her so I'm guessing we'll be seeing Emma on major holidays and that's about it.  Next year Paul will be applying and we'll go from a crazy crowded house to a single child house.  It will definitely be weird.

The Tornado had a stomach bug last weekend which he very kindly shared.  Luckily, he only shared it with me so we didn't have an entire house down.  It has put a hold on testing out some new cookbooks I've been wanting to try out.  Maybe next week!

We put up Halloween decorations this past weekend.  We kind of went for years without decorating for Halloween due to moving and kids ages and various other reasons.  Last year the Tornado was more into the Halloween thing so we did up decorating and he loved it.  As soon as he started seeing hints of Halloween stuff at the stores he was begging to get everything out.  I had kind of forgotten how much fun it was to get all decorated.  We've left the outside alone though - don't want to be the crazy house who decorates for Halloween in summer so we'll be the crazy house in secret!

On the Blog:

What Happened This Week:

Monday: The Blood of an Englishman - Review - the latest Agatha Raisin mystery
Tuesday: The Top Ten Authors I've Only Read 1 Book From but definitely need to read more
Wednesday: 2 Contemporary Romance Reviews - One from Emily March and another from Abby Green
Thursday: Dangerous Denial - A crazy intense thriller
Friday: Linkups featuring excerpts from The Haunting of Hill House
Saturday: Eat by Nigel Slater

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Volume 2 of the Alice in Wonderland prequel - Queen of Hearts
Tuesday: Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR
Wednesday: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
Thursday: The Haunting of Hill House - The Project
Friday: Linkups - not sure what book I'll be reading then.  Probably an Agatha Christie
Saturday: A review for the cookbook Ovenly

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Eat - Cookbook Review

Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food by Nigel Slater

I really wanted to like Eat.  I love cookbooks, I love British stuff.  I generally love most British cookbooks.  Then throw in the fact that this is supposed to be fast food that is tasty and I was sure I would love it.

Except I didn't.  Partly, I think this book is geared more towards the British palate than the American.  There are a number of recipes featuring Kippers, smoked Haddock and Mackerel.  My main problem, however, was the format.  This is a personal issue and something I don't think makes the book "bad" as just not for me.  Instead of a list of ingredients with measurements followed by the instructions we get the title of the recipe followed by a paragraph that combines both the instructions and ingredients.  In many recipes there aren't actual measurements.  My hardwired left brain needs to know that it's a tablespoon of paprika and not just "a good bit".

The variety of dishes is incredible.  Slater isn't kidding when he says 600 ideas.  I like that he includes variations with many of the recipes.  However, if you prefer your recipes in a more standard format you may want to give this one a miss.

Linked up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Linkups: The Haunting of Hill House

It's Friday so it's time to link up with Coffee Addicted Writer for Book Blogger Hop, Book Beginnings on Friday hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

Book Blogger Hop Question:
How important is a book's cover to your overall impression of it?

My Answer:
The cover has a pretty huge impact on me.  If it's a favorite author or a highly recommended book than I barely look at the cover.  However, if I'm browsing a bookstore or NetGalley the cover is what draws me in.  If the cover doesn't grab me I probably won't stop to see what the premise is.  This probably isn't particularly fair to the books but that's what seems to happen!  That being said once I've chosen the book the cover generally doesn't affect my overall impression unless it's misleading.

This week's book is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.  I became a bit obsessed with Shirley Jackson as a teenager and stumbling upon an audio edition of Hill House reawakened that a bit.  I have now listened to the audio book, watched 2 movies and am almost done with a reread of the book!  Look for a review of it all on Thursday.

The Beginning:
"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.  Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more."

From page 56 of my Penguin Classics edition:
""At any rate, the older sister died of pneumonia here in the house, with only the little companion to help her - there were stories later of a doctor called too late, of the old lady lying neglected upstairs while the younger woman dallied in the garden with some village lout, "

So would you keep reading?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dangerous Denial - Review

Dangerous Denial by Amy Ray

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Provided by the author

Description:  To say Trevor Mayhew's childhood was horrible is an understatement.  His father is an abusive psychopath and his grandmother desperately wants to protect him.

BK Hartshaw has been neglected and put down by her mother who she'll never be thin enough or good enough for.

Can these two put their paths behind them?  Will they survive when their presents collide?

Genre: Mystery
Why I Picked This Book:  I was intrigued by the blurb with the author contacted me so I decided to give it a try.
My Impression:
Pros:  This book was a roller coaster. I went from being gripped by fear, to relief, to fear, to dread and then just when I was about to give up there was a glimmer of hope.  This was a hard book for me to read - especially the first 40% or so when Trevor and BK were children.  The characters were so real and Trevor's life especially was so brutal that it was painful to read.  This was one of those books that you stay up a little extra or squeeze in reading time because you just have to find what happens next.  It did become an easier read when BK was an adult though it was no less intense.  I'm kind of glad the next book I plan on reading is a middle grade children's book.  After this one I kind of feel like I need a nap!

Cons: There was a lot going on at the end and it felt a bit disjointed as we jumped from past to present and to different scenes.  I had to go back and reread to clarify a few things.  I also didn't get much personality from BK.  Trevor, Max and Shelby's characters seemed more developed and in comparison she seemed a little flat.

Overall: From the cover and blurb I was expecting a kind of DaVinci Code kind of thriller.  What I got was something deeply personal and intense.  Despite some disjointedness this was an excellent read though I do advise that if you have small children that you have them close by while reading.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, though I think I'll be a little more emotionally prepared for the next one!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  I would though just be aware it's not as light as the cover suggests.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dreamweaver Trail plus Rival's Challenge - Review

Dreamweaver Trail by Emily March

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Gabi Romano takes a temporary job on a tropical island to give herself time to pick up the pieces after a job switch and a terrible break up.  Little does she know that her neighbor, Flynn Brogan is hiding out with a new name and trying very much to forget his past.  As the two who are trying so hard to forget their past get to know each other their present suddenly starts looking a whole lot brighter and maybe just maybe the future as well.  That is until a shocking act of violence ends everything.

Genre: Romance

Why I Picked This Book:  I liked the cover and I'd been having pretty good luck with the women's fiction type romance so I thought I'd try a new author.
My Impression:
Pros:  I really loved the characters in this one.  I was a little afraid when the book opens during the wedding reception of the couple from the previous book that it was going to basically be a continuous march of characters from past books but it really didn't end up that way.  While a lot of characters from previous books were there we see them mostly with how they relate to Gabi.  I also loved Gabi and Flynn together.  They were both truly nice people who had it rough - though Flynn far more than Gabi - and were still trying to find a connection.  Bismark is a fantastic character throughout the book and any fears I had of something happening to him ended up being groundless.  The only problem is I now want a Newfoundland and I don't exactly live in the climate for that.  These are two people you really root for and they really deserve their happily ever after.  I also found Gabi's interest in glass blowing interesting.  It's not a subject I really know anything about and March gave us a little information without overdoing it.

Cons:  While I think this book could have gotten monotonous if there hadn't been some kind of conflict I think I could have lived with less conflict.  Having Flynn's rather awful past along with the new source of violence just seemed too much.  The almost spiritual discussions of the magic of Eternity Springs was also a bit much at times.  While I like the idea of one town having the power to heal Gabi went on some mystical rambles that I didn't love.  They seemed a bit unnecessary.

Overall:  Despite the flaws I really enjoyed my first experience with Emily March.  She created likable characters and 2 interesting and beautiful settings.  I do wish Flynn had to endure a little less as that did get almost painful to read.  I also liked that this is a series that does not need to be read in order.  I picked this up at #8 and immediately connected with Gabi and Flynn.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes though I will make sure to read the blurb before I read as I know at times she tackles some pretty awful topics.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes.  I think if you like the small town contemporary romance genre you'd like this one.

Rival's Challenge (The Chatsfield) by Abby Green

Rating: 3 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Antonio Chatsfield has one job - negotiate the takeover of the Kennedy Group hotels to help show the world and the new CEO that the Chatsfield family is still capable of doing business on their own.  Orla Kennedy has to negotiate the takeover for her father but she knows there are other ways to save her family's hotel brand.  The problem is when Antonio and Orla set down for their meeting they each find themselves face to face with their one night stand from the night before.  What makes things more complicated is that they both want more.

Genre: Romance

Why I Picked This Book: To say that I didn't like the prequel to this series would be an understatement.  However, I was intrigued by the idea of a series set within the walls of a luxury hotel so I decided to give this another try.

My Impression:
Pros: Orla is a great character.  She's nice, she's very intelligent and an incredibly hard worker.  She's also spent her entire life trying to prove to her father that she's capable of running the hotel.  As the relationship develops there are really sweet aspects that begin to develop.  These two really understand each other because they've spent their lives in similar situations.  It was nice to watch them both unwind as they got to know each other.

Cons: As frequently happens with these series books this one really suffered for it's lack of length.  It would have been really lovely to see this relationship unfold a little more naturally instead of the rushed feel this book has.  Also, in their first interaction after their identities are revealed his reaction borders on slut shaming and I was very close to putting the book down.  I'm glad I didn't but it definitely affected my overall opinion.

Overall:  While there were a lot of aspects that I enjoyed there were also a number that I didn't.  I think the biggest problem was the length so I'd definitely be willing to try this author in a full length novel.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, if it was a full length book.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Unless you're absolutely in love with the premise than probably not.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I've Only Read 1 Book From

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and The Bookish is the top ten authors I've only read 1 book from but NEED to read more.  This is a pretty fitting topic for me as I'm always finding authors I love, reading one book from and then never reading more.

1.  Kate Morton - I read The Forgotten Garden a year or two ago and loved it and swore I was going to read more.  My library has copies of all of her books. How many have I read?  0

2.  Kate Ellis - Pre-internet days (or at least pre-everything is available on the internet days) I discovered a Kate Ellis British murder mystery featuring Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson called The Bone Garden.  I loved it and promptly began haunting by used bookstores looking for more only to never find any.  I now own at least 3 but have yet to read them.
3.  P.J. Alderman - I read and really enjoyed the first ghostly mystery in the Port Chatham series entitled Haunting Jordan.  Have yet to start book #2 even though I've owned it for years.

4.  Rachel Bertsche - Ever since I read Jennifer, Gwyneth and Me (review) I've been meaning to read more of her work.  So far it hasn't happened.

5.  Molly Harper - I adored the lovely frothiness that was Better Homes and Hauntings (review) and have been told that it's not even close to her best book.

6.  Catherine Aird - I loved the one book by this classic British author I've read - A Most Contagious Game.  In fact I enjoyed them so much that I picked up 3 last time I was at the used bookstore.  Haven't read a one yet!

7.  Hannah Dennison - Murder at Honeychurch Hall (review) was one of my favorite cozies of the year so far.  I'm dying to read some of her other books.

8.  Liz Trenow - The Forgotten Seamstress (review) was one of my favorite books of the year so far but I still haven't read any of ther others even though I have her newest book waiting for me on my Kindle.

9.  Jo Bannister - I read the first book in the Castlemere series and while I loved the nicely done British Police Procedural I haven't picked up another one even though she's written dozens!

10. Eowyn Ivey - I read The Snow Child last year for book club and fell in love with her rather stark and beautifully descriptive writing style.  I'm not sure she's written any other books but if she has I need to read them.  I can still vividly recall some of the images this book painted.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Blood of an Englishman - Review

The Blood of an Englishman by M.C. Beaton

Rating: 3.5
Source: NetGalley

Description:  When the village baker, Bert Simple, is murdered during an amateur theatrical production Private Detective Agatha Raisin is called in to help solve the mystery.  With plenty of suspects but a general lack of motive could this be the mystery that even Agatha Raisin cannot solve?

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I've read other Agatha Raisin's in the past and enjoyed them.  I also enjoyed the last Hamish MacBeth

My Impression:
Pros:  While I have read other Agatha Raisins I definitely haven't read them in any kind of order.  I really don't feel that that affected my enjoyment of this mystery.  While it's obvious that there were earlier mysteries no part of the plot or real character development hangs on knowing what happened in earlier books.  Agatha is an interesting character.  For the most part she's not terribly likable - she's arrogant, petty and at times close minded.  However, in an odd way I found myself liking her.  I wouldn't want to have coffee with her but I found her funny and entertaining as well as believably intelligent.   The mystery itself was well done and you see how she works out the solutions to the different problems.  Her staff was also interesting without side stories that took over the main plot but allowed for more information than just Agatha herself could have come up with.

Cons:  While I actually kind of like that Agatha isn't the most likable of main characters the "man mad" aspect of her personality does get a little annoying. While at times it does help the plot there are several rants and one particular incident that just seemed to waste time.   I also didn't like that Bert was killed in such a complicated way.  There were 2 paragraphs of explanation and it was still hard to understand.  That definitely could have been simplified but it's a minor point.

Overall: It has been awhile since my last Agatha Raisin but if my memory is correct this was a stronger mystery and more enjoyable which leads me to believe the series is getting stronger.  It's a fun cozy with some darker aspects handled fairly lightly.  Agatha isn't everyone's cup of tea but I did find she grew on me.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, I will definitely be on the lookout for new books in the series and if I have time I may pick up some of the earlier books.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, I think most cozy mystery readers would enjoy this one once they get path Agatha's quirks.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

This Week in Reading - September 14

It's time for the Sunday Post hosted by Kimba at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer where we talk about what we got and what's going on.

What I Got:

This week was even quieter than last week on the book acquiring front.  Only one of these is really a sit down and read kind of book and only one book from NetGalley!

The American Plate: A History of the United States in 100 Bites by Libby H. O'Connell, Ph.D - It's a history book and a cookbook combined!  (NetGalley)

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan (Paperbackswap) - I can't resist anything involving cupcakes and I enjoyed the last Colgan I read.

Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candies, and More from the editors of Food Network Magazine (Blogging for Books) -I've had time to flip through this one and I'm really excited.  Can't wait to try something out of it!


Reading: The Blood of an Englishman by M.C. Beaton, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie which I keep putting down to read other books.  I don't really know why because it's very good.

Listening:  I finished The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister which I loved and plan on reviewing.  Now I'm listening to Shroud for a Nightingale by P.D. James which I'm enjoying though maybe not quite as much.  Next up is the sequel to Essential Ingredients - The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

Watching: Not a huge amount though I am excited about seeing the new shows.  I'm planning on trying Selfie because I love the 2 main characters, Stalker because I love Criminal Minds and this looks similar and How to Get Away with Murder because it looks different.  Of course NCIS: New Orleans is on the top of my list.  Also, my favorite guilty pleasure - Dancing with the Stars is coming back.  

Off the Blog:

I need to find an interesting way to say things are about the same.  Everything's going good, everyone's relatively happy.  This week has been much calmer than the last 2 weeks so I feel much less frazzled and more on top of things.  
In an effort to save money we've cut back on eating out and it turns out we've really been enjoying eating here more.  We always eat at home during the week but during the weekends we'd either pick something up or go out.  Without the hassle of figuring out where and what to eat we've had more time to hang out at home and do fun things.  
It is now after Labor Day and we are officially in the land of pumpkin everything.  Here's a confession - I don't like pumpkin.  I've really tried but about the only pumpkin thing I like are Reese's pumpkins which aren't quite the same.  I'm on board with salted caramel, apple anything and cinnamon whatever but I'm definitely not a pumpkin convert.  I wish I was though.  Some of the stuff out there looks amazing!
I'm torn about seeing the movie for Gone Girl.  I read the book and found it compelling but I'm not sure I want to see those people again.  I do think Ben Affleck makes a good Nick.  He has that kind of frat boy charmed life look.  I like Neil Patrick Harris as well.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Review for M.C. Beaton's latest Agatha Raisin
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Authors I have only read 1 book from but need to read more
Wednesday: Dreamweaver Trail by Emily March - Review
Thursday:  Dangerous Denial by Amy Ray - Review
Friday:  regular Friday Linkups
Saturday: Eat by Nigel Slater - cookbook review

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Reasons My Kid is Crying - Review

Reasons My Kid is Crying by Greg Pembroke

I've seen the blog this book is from a few times and it never fails to make me laugh.  So when the Tornado had his 912th meltdown for the day as I was looking at the books Blogging for Books had for review this one jumped out at me.  It had been one of THOSE days when the meltdowns were frequent and increasingly illogical.  The cover made me laugh and I hit request then and there.

The concept is incredibly simple.  Pictures of a small child in the midst of an epic meltdown with a sentence underneath explaining why the epic meltdown is occurring. The reasons are completely illogical - everything from being told happy birthday to not being allowed to eat rocks - but will ring true to anyone who has ever dealt with the preschool set.

While I'm not sure this would be a book I would buy for myself this would be a fantastic little book to tuck into a baby shower gift or for anytime you need a little something extra for a new parent.  It gives you something to laugh about when your dealing with meltdown 912 for the day!

*Book Received from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review*

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Linkups: Dangerous Denial

It's Friday so time to link up with The Book Blogger Hop hosted by The Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings on Fridays from Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 from Freda's Voice

Book Blogger Question:
What books would you want to read again for the first time?

My Answer:
This is a hard one.  I think right now I wish I could read Great Expectations for the first time now.  It's what I got in my Classics Club spin and I really disliked it when I read it in high school.  I think I can safely say that at 34 I am not the same person I was at 14 but my dislike has me dragging my feet.

This week's book is Dangerous Denial by Amy Ray.  This was a review request from the author and so far it's a fun thriller!

The Beginning:
"BK Hartshaw stared at the face of the man with the gun.  She recognized him."

The 56 from 19% of my Kindle
""Someday I'll be coming here as a member instead of as one of the hired help.  I'll go that way." Jeanne pointed to the road that would take them to the front door of the club where a valet in a navy blue and gold uniform waited to park the members' cars."

So what do you think?  Would you keep reading?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Moment of Everything - Review

The Moment of Everything by Shelly King

Rating:  4 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Maggie is a little restless after becoming "involuntarily separated" from her job at a Silicone Valley start up.  She fills her days by hanging around her neighbor's used bookstore - Dragonfly books - inhaling book after book.  Desperate for a chance to get her job back she agrees to join the book club that is run by a board member at her old company.  The book - Lady Chatterley's Lover - doesn't hold her interest.  Not nearly as much as the margin notes in her beat up copy between 2 people getting to know each other and falling in love.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm not going to lie.  I mainly picked this book because of the cover which I think we can all agree is pretty great.  The used bookstore premise also attracted me but the cover was what had me breaking my "No more NetGalley requests" ban.
My Impression:
Pro:  I loved the bookish feel of this one.  This is really a book about people who love books.  To me the best part of this one is that Maggie, despite having studied English literature, isn't really a literary reader.  When we first meet her she's downing historical romances at the rate of 2 or 3 a day.  There's lots of book talk and casual mentions of lots of different authors.  It also made me want my own bookstore just so I can organize the shelves.  The characters are fantastically real.   You have Jason, the grumpy guardian of the science fiction section who resists any kind of change.  Dizzy is full of boundless enemies and lots of ideas and is really in truly a good friend to Maggie.  Then there's Hugo who is kind of like a vague benevolent fairy godfather with a bit of a womanizing habit.  Also, if you've ever known an engineer the scene where the two Mikes and John fix the bookshelf will crack you up.  Or at least it did for me and I'm the daughter of an engineer, married to one and kind of was one!

Cons:  I didn't love the romance aspect.  I was far more interested in Maggie and the bookstore and felt that the romance aspect took too much time away from that.  The first physical scene especially really left me cold.

Overall:  I thoroughly enjoyed this bookish read.  The setting is wonderful and the characters are so realistic it doesn't feel like fiction.  I would love to revisit Dragonfly Books.

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

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, this is a really fun bookish read.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Of Monsters and Madness - Review

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Rating: 2.5 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Annabel Lee has been summoned from Siam after her mother's death by a father she's never met.  Arriving in Philadelphia, she meets her kind grandfather, her frequently cruel father, and her father's assistant Allan.  Adding to her discomfort is the rash of murders that are occurring in Philadelphia coupled with realizing she lives in a house full of secrets.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been kind of fascinated by Poe since the first season of The Following when I realized that I hadn't read much of his work.  Plus, I know someone who named their daughter Annabel Lee after the poem which always struck me as a little strange.  Not quite as strange as the woman who named her daughter Emily after Faulkner's A Rose for Emily but still a bit odd.

My Impression:
Pros;  Verday did a good job with the atmoshpere.  You definitely get a sense of gothic with this book.  The foreboding is almost a character in it's own right.  I liked Annabel's interest in medicine.  It felt very authentic and natural to her not like a gimmick added to her character to make her unusual.  Maddy was an interesting character and her friendship with Annabel was so obviously the only bright spot in Annabel's life.  I liked that she both helped Annabel figure out the new world she had landed in as well as reminding Annabel that Maddy was the servant.  Though not all of the twists were a surprise I did want to keep reading to see how everything was revealed.

Cons:  While in general I liked Annabel and her naive attitude made sense at the beginning it did get a bit trying.  Her character didn't seem to progress much until the end.  For the first half she's hit by so many waves of shame I was worried she'd drown.  When she wasn't swimming in waves of shame she was feeling lightheaded or flushing,.  This seemed somewhat at odds with her ability for healing.  The pacing seemed a little off as well.  For the bulk of the book nothing happened and then in about the last 20% we're hit with all kinds of developments.  Part of this is because it's part 1 in a series.  I would've liked to have had a little warning about that so I could expect a cliffhanger ending.

Overall:  This book was okay.  It won't make my top ten but it was still readable.  I think the length worked in it's favor.  Having 100 pages of buildup is much more readable than 300 pages of buildup.  I most likely will read the 2nd book in the series because I'm curious but it won't be a pre-order.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:   I might read the next in this series but I doubt I'll go looking for other books by this author.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Maybe. If you're fascinated by Poe you might find this interesting.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Authors

It's Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish!  Today's topic is underrated books or authors in X genre.  I've racked my little brain and couldn't come up with 10 authors in 1 particular genre so I'm going with all the genres!

Patricia Wentworth
Courtesy of Goodreads
1.  Patricia Wentworth - If you like Miss Marple I think you'd love Wentworth's former governess turned private detective Maude Silver.  She was almost as prolific as Christie yet her books are much harder to find.  I'm slowly building my collection but it's definitely difficult.  Books to try: She Came Back (The Traveler Returns) or The Case of William Smith

2.  Elizabeth Enright - As a child one of my very favorite books was The Four Story Mistake but somehow I never seemed to realized that it was actually part of a series.  In pre-internet days this was much harder to discover.  Luckily I discovered the rest of the books about the Melendy family and the 2 Gone Away Lake books and have basically inhaled them.  The only negative is that I can just imagine how much I would've loved them as a child.  Books to try: The Saturdays or Gone Away Lake

3.  Tony Horwitz - His book Baghdad Without A Map is one of my favorite travel books of all time and I'm generally avoid books set in the Middle East.  It was funny and fascinating with bits of poignancy all mixed together.  Probably the book he is most known for is Confederates in the Attic which is by far my least favorite book by him.  His book about Captain Cook had me waking up my husband in the middle of the night to ask him "did you know" questions.  Yet, despite all the information it doesn't feel like an overload. Books to try: Baghdad Without A Map or Blue Latitudes

4.  Laurie R. King - King's take on Sherlock Holmes is wonderfully done and not read nearly enough.  She does a great job of going in a completely different direction than either of the current TV adaptations but still making Holmes distinctly Holmes. Book to try: The Beekeeper's Apprentice

5.  Deborah Crombie - Brilliant British mysteries featuring detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James.  They're smart without being overdone, gritty without being too dark and always a great mystery.  Books to try: A Share in Death is the first and a little lighter, And Justice There is None is further in the series and reflects the darker more serious tone the series took.

Shirley Jackson
Courtesy of Wikipedia
6.  Shirley Jackson - I had to read the short story The Lottery in high school and The Haunting of Hill House is definitely on my short list of creepy books.  However, Jackson's incrediably dry wit about her family in Life Among the Savages is not to be missed. Books to Try: The Haunting of Hill House if you're in the mood for a spooky read. Life Among the Savages or We Have Always Lived in the Castle if you're looking for something lighter.

7.  Daphne du Maurier - For the longest time I kind of assumed Rebecca was the only book du Maurier had ever written until I discovered the wonderful creepiness of The Birds.  It's now my mission to read everything she's ever written.  Book to try: The Birds and Other Stories.

8.  Santa Montefiore - I loved her book Secrets of the Lighthouse when I read it earlier this summer.  The Irish setting was incredible and the characters were unique and very well drawn.  I was stunned when I discovered she has quite the backlist that I'd never come across before.  I'm planning on reading several of hers to my TBR very soon. Book to try: Secrets of the Lighthouse

9.  Beverly Connor - If you like the TV show Bones you will love Connor's forensic thriller series featuring forensic anthropologist Diane Fallon.  The Lindsey Chamberlain books are good too but I like the Fallon books best.  There hasn't been a new one in awhile so I was thrilled when I saw on her site that she's working on a new one.  Books to try: One Grave Too Many

10. Laura Lee Guhrke - as far as historical romance goes Guhrke is one of those authors whose books I always enjoy.  Her female leads are always unique and strong willed without being annoying.  Book to try: And Then He Kissed Her

Monday, September 8, 2014

People I Want to Punch in the Throat - Review

People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Desposts, and Other Suburban Scourges by Jen Mann

Source: NetGalley
Description:  In a collection of essays Jen Man of the popular blog People I Want to Punch in the Throat takes us through how she met her husband, what her wedding day was like and how they'll never be invited to neighborhood parties.  She also manages to teach a life lesson or two like that the one day you wear fuzzy pajamas to pick up your kid will be the one day that something goes wrong.

Genre: Nonfiction
Why I Picked This Book:  I've followed Jen's (I'll be calling her Jen in my review because in my head we're BFFs now) blog for awhile and was curious to see how she did in book form.

My Impression:
Pros:  Before this book I kind of had mixed feelings about Jen.  While her posts are generally funny they frequently seemed really angry.  While that's fine in a 4 paragraph blog post I was concerned that it was going to be a bit much in full book form.  It turns out she's wonderful in book form!  What can read as angry or negative in a short form just comes of as venting in book form.  I think the main reason for this is there's enough space for the reader to see the more emotional side of her.  She genuinely loves her children and she genuinely loves her life. The posts written by her husband always seemed just kind of mean to me but by getting a  more detailed look into their lives I kind of get their relationship more.  I think he's probably still kind of a jerk but that's not all there is to it.  While their relationship might not work for me you can see that it works for them.  This isn't a particularly deep book.  It's essays about regular life and especially parenting but it's a funny book.  There were a few cringes when a topic hit a little too close to home for me.  Mainly there was a lot of head nodding.  The neighborhood battles, the joys of school volunteering, the passive aggressive compliments all rang with a lot of truth.  When she succinctly and purposely told off a complaining mom at a school carnival I kind of wanted to be Jen for a minute.  I'll be keeping the chapter on garage sales bookmarked to remind me why I never EVER want to have another garage sale.

Cons: If you have issues with strong language I'd give this a miss.  She doesn't mince words.  While the book isn't completely about parenting I'm not sure those without children would connect to it quite as much.

Overall: This is a fun read that is easy to pick up and read a little here and there or all in one sitting.  I think parents of elementary school kids in particular would enjoy this.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I've always enjoyed Jen's blog but now I think I've got a better understanding of who she is and it will only get funnier!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  I think so - especially to people of similar humor to mine.  If you're not sure go check out her blog.  If you like what you find I think you'll like this book even more.