Saturday, April 30, 2016

52 Pins in 52 Weeks - April Edition

I love Pinterest.  I love pinning recipes from my favorite food blogs or scrolling down the Everything section to see what everyone else has been pinning.  I love the idea of all the crafts and recipes and everything else right there at my fingertips.
Right now I have around 9,600 pins in 60 boards.  I do use Pinterest a pretty good bit but tend to stick to the boards regarding Dinner and let other delicious looking recipes or fun crafts languish unused and ignored.  This year I'm trying to get more use out of Pinterest so at the beginning of the year I created my 52 Pins in 52 Weeks Board as well as a Results Board to keep track of it.  I'll be posting my results the last Saturday of each month.

This month is low on pictures but it was definitely productive!  I had 2 pins that didn't work out but 3 that really did so I'm considering that a win!  Since I hate to have a picture-free post here's a picture of some of my tulips this year.  They didn't last very long but they were pretty!

Week 14

The PinChocolate Cherry Cookies from Shugary Sweets

Reason Picked:  I love cherries and chocolate together
The Basic Idea: A chocolate chip cookie with dried cherries mixed in
The Results:  These were so good! The texture of the cookie was nice and soft and I loved getting the explosion of cherry flavor when I bit into a dried cherry.  I used milk chocolate chips to follow the recipe but next time I'll use semi-sweet because I like the flavor better.

Week 15:

The PinPork Tenderloin from More Than Easy Mac

Reason Picked: I love pork tenderloin and am always looking for more recipes that use the crock pot
The Basic Idea: Dump a pork tenderloin in the crock pot and cover it with wine, onion soup mix and some other stuff.
The Results: It was okay.  I thought the wine over powered the rest of the ingredients and the flavor just wasn't anything remarkable.  I didn't keep this recipe.

Week 16:

The Pin: Extra Cheesy Tortellini Bake from Averie Cooks

Reason Picked: I love baked pasta dishes
The Basic Idea:  Tortellini tosed with a tomato sauce and covered in cheese
The Results: This was really tasty and quick to throw together.  I did toss the tortellini in marscapone as the recipe calls for next time I probably won't to see if you can taste the difference.  I'll definitely be making this one again.

Week 17:

The PinSpring Onion and Cheddar Scones with Bacon Butter from Sugar Dish Me

Reason Picked:  I love cheese scones and was intrigued by the bacon butter
The Basic Idea: A butter cheese scone with green onions topped with a mix of bacon and butter
The Results; So ridiculously good.  The scones themselves were so good that I'm not sure the bacon butter was necessary.  I used red pepper that she listed as optional and I think next time I won't.  I like spicy food usually but I think these would have been better without the red pepper kick.

Week 18:

The Pin: Cross Bun from a site that no longer exists

Reason Picked:  This looked simple enough and I thought it might dress my usual ponytail up a bit.
The Basic Idea:  Not 100% sure because there were no instructions.
The Results:  Not so much.  For starters I'm terrible at hair stuff so even if there had been detailed instructions making this work was questionable.  Then there's the fact that my hair is very thick and has a lot of layers so that made this a bit trickier.  Having absolutely no instructions was kind of the death blow and I couldn't quite get it to work where it looked like anything.

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Linkups: The Whispering Statue

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:
Do you read and review books mainly for publishers or authors?

My Answer:
Probably more for publishers than authors.  NetGalley and Publicist requests make up the bulk of my ARCs and I've only read a handful of author requests.

This week's book is The Whispering Statue by Carolyn Keene.  Growing up Nancy Drew books were my absolute favorite.  I read every book my library had at least once and most of them twice.  I read the "updated" stories that were written in the 80s and 90s as well but the original yellow bound books were always my favorite.  This is the 2nd or 3rd I've reread as an adult and I will admit that the books definitely have flaws but I guess because I loved them so much as a child that I kind of like the flaws.  For one thing Nancy is basically a human version of Google.  There is nothing that girl doesn't know and can discuss at a moments notice and sound like an expert.  She also has a gift for getting hit over the head and passing out without having a concussion.  I don't remember this book at all though I know I read it as a kid but when I saw one of my favorite podcasts was discussing this book I couldn't resist picking it up when I saw it at the library.

The Beginning:
"Nancy, you're kidding.  No statue can whisper"
My Thoughts:
This is one of Nancy's friends, George - which is short for Georgiana - and right away we have the title of the book brought in.  Nancy Drew books always work the title in somehow.  It's kind of fun to see how they do it.

The 56:
Nancy was fearful that he might ask for s social security number or other type of identification but he said nothing about it and she bubbled eagerly, "How soon may I start?"

My Thoughts:
I love how dated this statement is!  We had to overnight my daughter's Social Security card to her before she could start her new job after she left for college.  She couldn't work without them having a copy on file and they had to see the original.  I can't imagine anyone getting a job and not having to prove who they are now!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Were you a Nancy Drew fan as a kid?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Beyond the Books - Birth Order

This week I'm linking up with KissinBlueKaren for Beyond the Books.  This is a meme where we all answer a non-bookish question.  It's always so fun to see everyone's answers and get a peak at the blogger beyond the books.  This week's topic is - Birth Order
The oldest (Eleanor) and youngest (the Tornado) in Tampa in 2010

Birth order is a strange thing and comes out in odd ways.  My husband is the youngest of 2 and if you met him and his brother you'd think the order was reversed.  J's brother is loud and always the center of attention while J is Mr. Responsible and on the quiet side until you get to know him.

I don't think mine would be too big of a shock - I'm an Only.  I'm not the center of the world kind of only but I'm very much of a "my stuff is my stuff and don't mess with it" kind of only.  They idea of someone going through my stuff and messing with it makes me twitchy even as an adult.  I have a feeling it would've driven me absolutely crazy as a child!

The downside of being an only child is that I had no idea how bickering works.  When J and I got married - me bringing in 1 child and him 2 - we had an instant large family and they spent a lot of time bickering.  It took me awhile to get my head around the fact that that was normal and that it didn't mean they hated each other.

The 2 youngest - 2010
The funny thing is that we're going from having a large family to having an only.  With the age difference between the 3 oldest and the Tornado he will basically be an only child.  It's kind of fun to see the differences each situation definitely has it's own advantages and challenges.
The baby and the middle

So what are you?  Do you think your birth order shows in your personality?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Counterfeit Conspiracies - Review

Counterfeit Conspiracies (A Bodies of Art Mystery Book #1) by Ritter Ames

Rating: It's Okay
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Laurel Beacham may have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she has long since lost it digging herself out of trouble.  Her father gambled and womanized his way through the family fortune before skiing off an Alp,leaving her with more tarnish than trust fun.  Quick wits and connections have gained her a reputation as one of the world's premier art recovery experts.  The police may catch the thief, but she reclaims the missing masterpieces.  The latest assignment, however, may be her undoing.  Using ever ounce of luck and larceny she possesses, Laurel must locate a priceless art icon and rescue a co-worker (and ex-lover) from a master criminal, all the while matching wits with a charming new nemesis.  Unfortunately, he seems to know where all the bodies are buried - and she prefers hers isn't next.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I love books around art theft so how can I resist a book where the main character is a recovery expert?

My Impression:  So I've been watching a show called The Catch on ABC the last few weeks.  It's Shonda Rhimes' newest and is about a con-artist and a super glam private detective.  It's super slick with lots of split screen shots of two POVs and the characters say things like "You want to play? Let's play." quite a bit.  Why am I talking about a TV show in a book review?  Because the who time I was reading this book it reminded me quite a bit of the show.  Like to the point that Laurel and Jack looked like the actors who play the two main characters in my head.
In this book there's a lot of running around to get to people, to lose tails, to misdirect, and too look for clues.  No one is quite what they seem and Laurel finds herself in a bit of a mess.  I loved the slickness of it.  It was kind of like reading a James Bond novel in a cozier format.  It was a fun sprint through London on the search for jewels and treachery.

However, because of all the running I never felt like I was doing more than skimming the surface of the story and the characters.  We start off with Laurel in the middle of an art theft (but stealing back something that was stolen) and we get a bit of an inside look at her motives but then after that it becomes one continuous chase and I felt like I needed more of a connection to really enjoy the book.  As it was it wasn't a bad read but it was a story that hooked me.

It's very clear that this book continues into the 2nd book and nothing is really wrapped up by the end of this story.  However, it does feel like one part of the investigation has finished so it didn't feel too cliff-hangery.  I don't know if I'll be picking up the 2nd book.  I did like the characters and the hunt and am a little curious to find out what happens next but I don't know if I'll even remember in a few days once I get another book between me and this one.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I don't know.  I'm not opposed to reading more from Ames but I won't be pre-ordering the next book.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Probably not.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookish Delights

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Bookworm Delights.  Here are ten bookish things that make me super happy!

1.  My bookmark - When Emma was in kindergarten she gave me this bookmark for Christmas.  Since she's now finishing up her first year of college it's been around awhile and has had to have a repair or two but I still love it!

2.  My ragtag collection of Agatha Christies - I think I was in college when I decided that I simply had to have all of Agatha Christie's mysteries.  All 85 of them.  Back then my budget was very slim but there was a great used bookstore right off campus and I used to take my list and hunt through the stacks for ones I didn't have.  Because of this my collection is all over the place.  I have books from the 60s and 70s all the way up to more recent printings.  I actually preferred the older books because the pricing at the bookstore was 50% off the cover so if they had a newer book for $5.99 or an older copy for $.95 I always went for the cheaper copy.  I had such a good time looking for them and collecting them that I wouldn't trade them for a matching set in perfect condition!

3.  Autographed ARCs - I love getting review copies but I especially the love the handful of autographed review copies I've gotten over the years.  There's something that just thrills me about getting not only a review copy but an autographed one and it brings the fan girl in me out a little.

4.  My book list notebook - This notebook was actually inspired by Top Ten Tuesday topics.  There's always Top Ten Books I Want to Read or Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR or what not and while I love writing lists of books I want to read I'm not so great at actually keeping up with them.  When I saw this notebook on clearance at Target I couldn't resist it and have had such a good time putting all my lists in the book and then crossing out the books when I read them.  It makes my to do list obsessed soul very happy.

5.  A book that pulls me into it's world - I love that feeling of picking up a book and then looking up and it's 2 hours later and I feel like I've been in a completely different world.  It doesn't happen as much as it used too (more because I have more distractions then a fault of the books) but it's just the best feeling!

6. Sharing books with my kids - One of the best things about being a reader has been watching my kids become readers as well.  Right now both the girls are big readers and the Tornado is starting to read on his own and is really enjoying the chapter books we've started reading at bedtime.

7.  Getting the newest book from a favorite author - I love when I see that one of my favorite authors has a new book coming out.  Even though I usually don't get to it right away I love seeing what other people think of it and the anticipation is always so fun!

8.  Reading a book by an unfamiliar author loving it and finding they have s huge backlist - There's so many bookish possibilities!  I just want to hide and read them all!

9.  Bookish podcasts - I'm fairly new to podcasts but I'm loving all the bookish ones I've found!  Some of my favorites are Super Serials which is a bookclub about mostly 90s serials (Babysitter's Club, Animorphs, Sweet Valley) but they tackle a pretty wide range, All the Books from Book Riot, What Should I Read Next?, Overdue, Read it and Weep (which is about movies and TV shows too), and Get Booked.

10. Stacks of books - the bulk of my reading is done on my Kindle these days but I love seeing stacks and stacks of books!  There's something so satisfying about looking through all the books on the bookcases and pulling out ones that interest me or rearranging them.

What are some bookish things you love?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Tumbledown Manor - Review

Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown
Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley
Description:  The windows rattle.  The roof leaks.  Every surface cries out to be stripped, painted, or polished.  But for writer Lisa Trumperton, the dilapidated manor house that once belonged to her great-grandfather is far more than the sum of its battered parts.  It's the chance for a new start on her own terms.  The fact that it's in the Melbourne countryside of her Australian homeland, far from the deceitful ex-husband she just left behind in New York...well, that's a bonus.  Lisa sets to work refurbishing Trumperton Manor, assisted by her son, his friends, and a "Gray Army" of retired handymen.  But it's not just her ancestral home that;s being transformed.  As she trades her chic Manhattan clothes for jeans and work boots, Lisa is changing and fortifying her relationships with family and her sense of self.  There are floods, fires and catastrophes, but there are new allies too, including a one-eyed cat, a stubborn cockatoo, and a rugged landscaper with an irresistible grin.  Piece by piece, the house is pushing Lisa beyond her old limits, daring her to embrace something bigger, braver, and more rewarding than she ever dreamed.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  A falling down old house is my kryptonite.  I cannot resist them!

My Impression:  This book wasn't what I was expecting.  Going in I was expecting a contemporary romance but set in Australia and I got a lot less romance and much more story about Lisa herself.  This isn't a bad thing it was just a little different than I expected.

I like Lisa quite a bit.  Her fun 50th birthday surprise party turned into something rather awful and sent her scrambling to figure out who she was and what she really wanted.  What she wants is to go back to Australia, closer to her son and her sister but where she hasn't lived since her marriage 20+ years ago.  She's intelligent and a bit of a reformed free spirit who is writing a trilogy about the Bronte sisters but in a much more historical romance sense.  She is also a breast cancer survivor and getting used to her life post-mastectomy.  Her life in Australian isn't exactly all unicorns and rainbows as the history around her old family home is obviously not very pleasant but no one will tell her exactly what it is and figuring out all that needs to be down to the old house is an impressive task on it's own.  Her struggles with her writing are very much a part of the book as she tries to figure out Emily's story and not let her concern for her daughter Portia, who halfway around the world is refusing to eat and becoming more and more standoffish, take over.  The side characters are more developed and flawed than I would have expected.  Lisa's relationship with her sister is complicated and it would be so easy to make her a villain but instead there are flashes of kindness and support and I saw her as more protective than bad. This was the same with the majority of the characters and added more depth to the novel.

I didn't understand her reaction to Scott after their first meeting.  She seems oddly hostile to him at times though he's proven time and again that his intentions are good and that he is clearly helpful. She'll be all fine with him helping her or working on a project and then turns around and slaps him down for what seems like no reason.  I also didn't enjoy the Portia subplot.  She's really hard to like for the majority of the book and it seemed to wrap up a bit too quick.  However, I did understand why Lisa was trying so hard to make the relationship work.

I loved the sense of place in this book.  It felt like it was really set in Australia versus Anytown,Anywhere that was just labeled Australia.  Between the fires, floods, and sometimes hostile wildlife there was never a dull moment.  And I loved how blase Brown is about driving past kangaroos.  I also really enjoyed the Afterword where Brown explains her inspiration for the story.  It made it feel much more personal.

I very much enjoyed this book despite periodically wanting to drown a character or two and wanting to sit down and have a good talk about mixed signals with Lisa.  It's an unusual story with a very unusual main character who is unusual because she seems so normal and just someone you'd really know.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I would.  I really enjoyed the author's voice and her ability to really flesh out characters.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes.  If you enjoy books about character growth I think you'd enjoy this one.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

This Week in Reading - April 24

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:

Pancakes in Paris by Craig Carlson - A look at an American diner in the heart of Paris and unlikely restaurant owner.  (NetGalley)

A Most Curious Murder by Elizabeth Kane Buzzeli -  It's a murder around a little library!  And there's a fairy garden. I"m definitely looking forward to this one.  (NetGalley)

Written Off by E.J. Copperman - I love other the other books I've read by Copperman so I'm really excited to try this new one involving a mystery writer and an unusual missing persons case.  (NetGalley)

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean - I've been wanting to read more historical romances lately and Sarah MacLean is an author I really want to read more of.  I love what I've read so far. (paperbackswap)

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver - I'm so excited about this one!  I've been wanting to read this cozy mystery set in 1930s England for ages.  (Paperbackswap)

The Marsh Madness by Victoria Abbott - Just the idea of this series makes me really happy.  I love the books about books and this cozy series that focuses on classic mystery authors (the Marsh in the title is Ngaio Marsh) is definitely my kind of read! (Paperbackswap)

Give up the Ghost by Juliet Blackwell - I love this paranormal series involving general contractor Mel Turner.  Now I just have to catch up on the books I'm behind!

Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks - This historical romance is completely Quinn from Quinn's Book Nook's fault.  She made this one sound so amazing that I couldn't resist even though I've never been a big fan of the kilts.


Reading:  Counterfeit Conspiracies by Ritter Ames and Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie

Listening: Right now I'm alternating The Selection by Kiera Cass and Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

Watching:  We watched the latest James Bond movie - Spectre and I think we're going to give Goosebumps a try.  It's looks a little silly but in a good way and I love Jack Black as kind of a cranky older guy.  I was a little too old to read the Goosebumps books when they came out but I used to love R.L. Stein other books.

Off the Blog:

I have the cold that will not go away and it's starting to drive me crazy.  I went years without getting sick at all and the past 6 months or so I've picked up every bug that came near.  I know on the grand scheme of things it's not a big deal but I'm about done with being sick.  I spent all last Saturday in bed and thought I had kicked it but it decided to show back up Monday and I've spent the rest of the week slogging through.  With the cold killing my ability to get anything done I still haven't gotten anything in the ground.  I'm beginning to think all our produce will be coming from the Farmer's Market this year.

On the positive side J and I took the Tornado to the Marvel Universe Live Friday and he absolutely loved it!  I think he was the right age for it as some of the younger kids near us were getting really upset about all the explosions.  We weren't sure what he'd think as he's more of a Star Wars fan than a super heroes fan but it was such a good time.  They did a really impressive job with the effects and stunts so it made it a really fun experience though you just about had to sell a kidney for the lemonade in the souvenir cup!

I hope all those that participated in Dewey had a good time and aren't too exhausted!  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Tumbledown Manor - Contemporary Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Bookish Delights
Wednesday: TBD
Thursday: Beyond the Books - Birth Order
Friday: Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: 52 Pins in 52 Weeks - April Edition

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

An Appetite for Murder - Cozy Mystery Review + Recipe

An Appetite for Murder (A Key West Food Critic Mystery #1) by Lucy Burdette

Hayley Snow is not having a good time of it.  Having dropped everything to move with her new boyfriend to Key West she suddenly finds herself single, jobless, and living on a friend's houseboat.  Not only that but the boss of her dream job - food critic at a magazine called Key Zest - just happens to be Kristen Faulkner who just happens to be the woman that Hayley caught in bed with her boyfriend not too long ago.
Things only get worse for Hayley when Kristen is found murdered and Hayley is an obvious suspect.  But Hayley's not completely on her own.  She has her friends Connie, Connie's boyfriend Ray, and psychologist and frequent voice of reason Eric.  Not to mention all the amazing sound food in the restaurants or tucked into the corners of Key West.

I haven't been to Key West in years and it's going to be a few more before I'm able to visit again but reading this book was like hopping on a plane and being there myself - well not exactly but pretty close.  Burdette's descriptions of the place and the food really brought it to life.  I liked Hayley a lot.  She's nice, she's funny, and she has a gift for putting her foot in her mouth - especially when she's nervous which is not a good habit in a murder investigation.  There were a few times I cringed for her as she over-explained during an interrogation.

The mystery itself was fast paced and I was pretty clueless about who the killer was until towards the end.  The food descriptions were mouth watering but didn't overwhelm the book with unnecessary detail.  And Hayley's description of her Leaning Tower of Eggplant (recipe in the back of the book) sounded amazing and I don't even like eggplant.  I also really enjoyed the foodie quotes that headed every chapter.  There was from from Calvin Trillin that I especially loved.

Today I thought I'd share one of the recipes in the back of this book.  I love foodie cozies and I always want to try the recipes in the books and I have decided this the year to actually do it!  Today's recipe is for Molasses Sugar Cookies.  Hayley makes them after a particularly awful day for comfort and I can definitely see why.  Not only are these cookies super easy to make but they're warm and spicy tasting.  They'd be perfect with a cup of tea after a long day.

Molasses Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
sugar for rolling

Melt butter over low heat.  Cook, add sugar, molasses, and egg.  Beat well.  Sift together flour, soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and salt, add to first mixture.  Mix well and chill.  Form the dough into 1 inch balls and roll them in sugar.  Place on a greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Not only were these tasty and quick to throw together but they made my house smell absolutely amazing!  If you're having a rough day then these cookies and An Appetite for Murder would definitely turn things around!

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Linkups: Cards on the Table

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:
How many books do you normally read in a month?

My Answer:
Not nearly as many as I like!  I'd say counting audio books I probably average around 12 books a month.  I usually have a print book, an ebook, and an audiobook going all at once and I usually finish about 1 and a half of the books I'm reading a week and 1 audio book every 2 weeks but of course some months are better than others!

This week I'm back to Agatha Christie!  This week's book is Cards on the Table and is such a fun book to read because it's so obvious Christie herself was having fun with it when she wrote it!  It's a Poirot book but one that also features Mrs. Oliver  who I love and well as Colonel Race who we haven't seen in far too long!

The Beginning:
"My dear Monsieur Poirot!"
It was a soft purring voice - a voice used deliberately as an instrument - nothing impulsive or unpremeditated about it.

My Thoughts:
I don't know if it's just because I've read this book so many times but I get a visual of an almost feline character with a touch of oiliness about his personality.

The 56:
"That's clever of you - that's really very clever of you.  Because of course those two are exactly the same plot, but nobody else has seen it."

My Thoughts:
Mrs. Oliver is speaking here and one of the reasons I love a Mrs. Oliver book is because she is a mystery novelist who is obviously based off Agatha herself and I feel like I'm getting an inside look at the kind of person Agatha Christie really was if you knew her as a friend.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  How many books do you read in a month?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Brighton Belle - Review

Brighton Belle (Mirabelle Bevan #1) by Sara Sheridan

Rating: Good 
Source: NetGalley
Description:  In post World War II England, former Secret Service operative Mirabelle Bevan becomes embroiled in a new kind of intrigue...
1951: In the popular seaside town of Brighton, it's time for Mirabelle Bevan to move beyond her tumultuous wartime years and start anew.  Accepting a job at a debt collection agency seems a step toward a more tranquil life.  But as she follows up on a routine loan to Romana Laszlo, a pregnant Hungarian refugee who's recently come off the train from London, Mirabelle's instincts for spotting deception are stirred when the woman is reported dead, along with her unborn child.  After encountering a social climbing doctor with a sudden influx of wealth and Romana's sister, who seems far from bereaved and doesn't sound Hungarian, Mirabelle decides to dig deeper into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.  Aided by her feisty sidekick - a fellow office worker named Vesta Churchill ("no relation to Winston" she explains) - Mirabelle unravels a web of evil that stretches from the Brighton beachfront to the darkest corners of Europe.  Putting her own life at risk, she must navigate a lethal labyrinth of lies and danger to expose the truth.  (From Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  The cover is gorgeous and I love this books set around World War II - especially in England.

My Impression:  What an entertaining start to a series!  This is the first book in the Mirabelle Bevan series and it kept me turning pages.

Mirabelle reminds me a little of John Watson in the BBC Sherlock or the women in The Bletchley Circle.  The wartime service had her seeing things she never would have seen and doing things she never imagined doing and now in peacetime she's bored and restless and craving the excitement and the danger that she used to have.  Not only is she bored but she's also grieving the death of her longtime boyfriend who died in just a few years before.  She's also incredibly capable in her new work at debt collecting and doesn't think twice about taking a fairly simple job when her boss is out sick.  It's also easy to understand why she keeps pulling at the threads that don't quite fit and becomes involved in a full scale investigation.  Vesta is a fun character.  She feels kind of like Mirabelle's little sister who refuses to be left out of the fun.  She's looking for an adventure and is quick witted though not nearly as experienced or jaded as Mirabelle.  The debt collection business also provides a good cover for the two to go around asking questions though Mirabelle is definitely stretching things a bit!

The book moves along at a pretty fast paced.  Not only is the mystery starting to show itself but we're getting to know Mirabelle a bit better and getting hints of her wartime service and who Jack was.  This isn't a simple whodunnit.  It's more of a who is who and why and what were they doing there.  With all the ins and outs sometimes details get a little lost and I found myself having to remind myself who a character was and how they were connected a time or two.  However, I was pleased with the resolution and felt like all the loose ends were tied up nicely.

I love the setup for the series in this book.  Mirabelle is a great character who is serious without being angsty and I though Vesta proved a nice addition as her assistant.  If you like strong female leads and twisty mysteries I think this a book you'll enjoy.  I'm definitely looking forward to the next entry into the Mirabelle Bevan series!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes!  The titles were published in the UK a few years ago so I'm looking forward to getting the next one soon!

Would I Recommend this Book?: I would!  If you like murder mysteries that are a little on the cozy side with a bit of an edge then give this one a try.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

One Night Charmer - Review

One Night Charmer: A Copper Ridge Novel #4 by Maisey Yates

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Copper Ridge, Oregon's favorite bachelor is about to meet his match.  If the devil wore flannel, he'd look like Ace Thompson.  He's gruff.  Opinionated.  Infernally hot.  The last person Sierra West wants to ask for a bartending job - not that she has a choice. Ever since she discovering that her "perfect" family is built on a lie, Sierra has been determined to make it on her own.  Resisting her new boss should be easy when they're always bickering.  Until one night, the squabbling stops... and something far more dangerous takes over.  Ace has a personal policy against messing around with staff - or with spoiled rich girls.  But there's a steel backbone beneath Sierra's silver-spoon upbringing.  She's tougher than he thought, and so much more tempting.  Enough to make him want to break all his rules, even if it means risking his heart... (From NetGalley)

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I read a Christmas novella by her last year and really loved parts of it despite an ick part towards the end.

My Impression:  Once again, I'm so confused!  My streak is not great here at the moment.  This is the 2nd book in 2 weeks that I'm confused about.  Writing my thoughts on the book when I'm so royally confused about how I feel about the book is definitely a challenge so I'm thinking pros and cons list might make this a bit easier.  It will definitely make this make more sense!

Ace is an ass.  Like if you were teaching a class on how to be an ass Ace would be exhibit A.  Right from the start the way he treated Sierra made me cringe.  He starts out calling her little girl and continues to do so even when she is very clear that she doesn't like it.  He also thinks of her as "just a little thing" or "just a bouncy blonde" for far too long into their relationship.  I understand some of it is a defense mechanism but it just came off as so demeaning.

This is just another part of Ace being an ass but his continual belief that Sierra is just like his ex-wife even when she consistently shows she isn't.  I get that he got a raw deal and I get that Sierra does come from money and I can see some of the animosity on the first night (though he's still an ass) but after that when her purpose becomes clear I wanted to smack him.

Also, part of Ace being an ass is that he really sets Sierra up to fail.  She's never done anything to him - they've never really even had a conversation until he basically spends an entire car ride insulting her.  But when she comes to apologize which seems unnecessary because she needs the job he's even more insulting and keeps calling her little girl and kind of makes her put up with it.  He also is absolutely no help in training her for the job and really keeps hoping she'll mess up big time.

I like Sierra quite a bit.  She's in a tough spot and is trying to do her best to stand up for what she believes in even though it means really doing things the hard way.  She wants to show that she's intelligent and that she actually is good at the job she had and can be good at waiting tables too.

The emotions really felt real in the book and I really connected with that.  I really connected with them as a couple and with how Sierra was feeling.  I teared up a few times even.

I loved Ace's dealings with his family and friends and the development that occurs as Ace becomes possibly less of an ass.  That gives me some hope for the HEA.

Despite the fact that Ace needed a good slap in the face and possibly a time out to think about his behavior and the fact that it contained one of my least favorite plot devices I did really enjoy the book.  I read the bulk of it in a day and really didn't want to put it down.  I'm not sure how I feel about the author in general because this is the 2nd book I've read by her where I had some issues with the characters BUT the hints we get about what's going to happen in the next book with Sierra's brother means I'll probably be back for the next one.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes.  I want to read more about the West family and I'd like to go back and read Kate and Jack's story.

Would I Recommend this Book?: I would but cautiously.  There are some issues that clearly irritated me but I was also really absorbed into the book.  While this is the 4th book in the series it reads as standalone without any problem.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books that Made Me Laugh

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books that Made You Laugh.  I tried to go a little outside the normal here - but if you haven't read Bossypants by Tina Fey, Yes Please by Amy Poehler or either of Mindy Kaling's books you really should and listening to them is even better - and tried to pull from books I read years ago but still laugh when I remember them.


Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson - I love Jenny Lawson's blog and I love how she manages to tackle really tough topics and make them easy to relate too and understand.  I also absolutely love her obsession with humanely taxidermied animals and metal chickens and just trying anything that comes into her head.  Plus, she's the only person who has ever written a story involving a cat, a laxative, and fear of an intruder and made me laugh until I cried.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost - I love travel books and I love sarcasm and witty suffering and Troost manages to suffer quite a bit in a very witty manner.  I laughed a lot while reading this one and then passed it onto my husband who laughed a lot while he was reading it.  This was one that we both ended up reading passages to each other even though I knew he was going to read it and he knew I had already read it.  Plus, when someone asks you what you're reading and you reply with this title you sometimes get pretty funny reactions.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris - I don't always love David Sedaris and there were a few chapters in this collection that missed the mark for me but there were so many chapters in this one that had me laughing until I cried.  I listened to the audio for this one and there were a few times I had to turn this off when I was driving because I was laughing so hard I was getting funny looks.  The part where he went to the hospital in France with a very limited understanding of French and answering everything with the French equivalent of "It's okay" was just hilarious.  I didn't enjoy all of this one but the ones I enjoyed I loved!

Baghdad Without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia by Tony Horwitz - This was my very first book by Tony Horwitz and it still may be my favorite.  It was written in 1992 but there is a lot of information that still feels relevant and he's right in the middle of some events as they're beginning.  How he managed to make parts of this funny while still being informative is impressive.  This is one of the few books where we see quite a bit of his wife - the author Geraldine Brooks  - which was also interesting.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Bosh - Like Jenny Lawson, Allie Bosh is able to really explain what it feels like to be depressed or anxious in a way that makes total sense to those that don't suffer from either of these but she does it with more illustrations and less taxidermy.  I thought her goldfish analogy was brilliant, the killer goose story still makes me giggle, and she has confirmed for me that I never want to make a long distance move with dogs.


Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Copperman - On the surface this doesn't sound like a very funny book as murders, ghosts and very extensive home renovations don't usually lend themselves to hilarity.  However, the ghosts in this book are very funny though I've very glad I don't have to share a house with them and the scene where everyone comes clean about their ghost seeing abilities is pretty funny.

It Happened in London by Julia Quinn - When I first saw this topic this was the first book that came to mind.  The scenes where Sebastian is reading from the Miss Butterworth book is perhaps one of my favorites of all time and I just love the reason why Harry is wearing the hat.

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry - I love Dave Barry's nonfiction but was never really drawn to his fiction until I heard him read a chapter of this book and then I knew I simply had to have it.  It's a short little book set right around Christmas in a small town in the 1950s.  It's very clear that Barry is pulling heavily from his own experiences as a child and that he has a son.  It's sweet and very Christmas-y and so very funny.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling - So confession time - I was late to Harry Potter.  Like really late.  Like the 3rd movie had already come out when I finally picked up the very first book in the series.  I was so surprised by how funny parts of this book were.  Fred and George and the boy who narrates the Quiddich match were all just brilliant and I absolutely loved this book and was overjoyed to find the humor in this one.

A Disguise to Die For by Diane Vallere - If I want a zany romp with characters you can never predict and a murder or two Diane Vallere is my go-to and this latest series did not disappoint.  I definitely got a giggle or two out of this one and found myself desperately wanting my own costume shop to play in.

What's your favorite funny book?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ramblings from the Stacks: Spoilers

Rule #1 of reviewing is no spoilers. This should be a pretty simple concept and one that's obvious when you mess it up.  Don't spoil the end of the book - the end, end of discussion.

But is it really that simple? Lately, I've been puzzling over spoilers.  I mean what really constitutes a spoiler?  Obviously if I'm talking about a mystery and I say that the butler did it that's a spoiler.  But what if I talk about twists and red herrings?  Is mentioning that the twists and red herrings exist in the plot a spoiler?  Then there's the expected ending.  I don't feel like saying they caught the killer or figured out who it was in a mystery is a spoiler just like saying that the main characters got their HEA in a romance.

Back a year or two ago We Were Liars by E. Lockhart was making the rounds on blog books and I think most of us can agree that it was a freakishly hard book to review because the less you knew going in the better it was.  Everything about the book was a spoiler and for the full shock value you needed to go in blind.  But was I really more shocked in We Were Liars where I knew nothing about what was going to happen then I was when I read Love Story by Erich Segal which has the twist in the first sentence?  I still remember that shock of realization when I realized what was going to happen even though the very first line of the book is "What do you say about a twenty-five year old girl who died?

Then there's classics and older books.  Does anyone not know the end of Jane Eyre or Great Expectations?  Or on a more modern note Harry Potter?  How careful should we be about not giving away spoilers in those books?

If you write reviews what are your personal rules regarding spoilers?  I think in general my thoughts are that anything that happens in the first third of a book is fair game and stating that I was happy/disappointed with either the killer reveal or the HEA is okay too.  I also have no problem stating that the end is a cliffhanger but that's mostly because I absolutely hate coming to the end of the book and finding a cliffhanger when I'm not expecting it.

This of course leads to thinking about what I'm really looking for when I read reviews.  I think for me I'm looking for comments about pacing - is a page turner?  Is there a slow spot that gets better?  As well as information on just general enjoyment.  Is there a character who I want to drown in the beginning who gets better?  Do I care that this person was killed in the first place?  Am I going to actually root against the HEA for this couple?

What do you look for in reviews?  What do you think of as a spoiler?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

This Week in Reading - April 17

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

So this week wasn't quite as extreme on the book acquiring front but it was completely quiet either.

A Dollhouse to Die For by Cate Price - I know nothing about this author or this series but a series about antiques and miniatures wasn't something I could pass up.  Amazon knew what it was doing when it recommended it!  Plus it's a cozy so I'm doing my part to Save Our Cozies! (Amazon)

The Cookies and Cups Cookbook by Shelly Jaronski - Cookies and Cups is one of my favorite food blogs so I couldn't resist pre-ordering the cookbook.  I can't wait to try some of the yummy recipes! (Amazon)

Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen by Francine Bryson - While the whole redneck kitchen title makes me cringe I really liked Francine Bryson's baking book and am looking forward to seeing what she can do with savory dishes (Blogging for Books)

Deception Island by Brynn Kelly - The temperatures are starting to rise and I'm finding myself in the mood for some romantic suspense!  This one has blackmail, kidnapping and American heiress.  How can I resist? (Publisher)

Deadly Fate by Heather Graham - Another romantic suspense and Heather Graham is such a weakness of mine.  I always enjoy her books! (NetGalley)

Riverbend Road by RaeAnne Thayne - RaeAnne Thayne is one of my favorite contemporary authors and this is Wyn's story and I'm excited to see her as a central character.  (Publisher)

Fixin to Die by Tonya Kappes - I heard an interview with Tonya Kappes a few months ago and have been wanting to read her books ever since.  I have a few of her books in another series but I couldn't resist this first book in a new series.  (NetGalley)


Reading: One Night Charmer by Maisy Yates and An Appetite for Murder by Lucy Burdette

Listening: I'm listening to podcasts right now while I wait for my turn with my next audio book.  I finished Cinder earlier this week and really enjoyed it (review yesterday).  I found a new podcast that I'm loving called Read It and Weep where a group of people discuss movies, TV, or books and I've really been enjoying it.  They also do a Top Chef Recap podcast called Pack Your Mics which is how I found them in the first place.

Watching:  I didn't do much watching of anything this week.  I'm still in season 2 of Supernatural and have watched a few more early Castle episodes but that's about it.  

Off the Blog:

This week was a catch up week and I'm feeling thoroughly unmotivated to do any catching up.  Allergies have been crazy here and the Tornado ended up staying home from school one day this week because he felt so awful and he still has a plague-like cough and is a bit on the cranky side.  I'm hoping that whatever he has - allergies, cold, or whatever - goes away soon.  He hates not feeling well and gets super frustrated when he can't do as much as he wants.

Other than that it's been a slow week.  I haven't gotten much of anything done and I have no explanation for where my time is going.  I'm thinking alien abduction?  Because I've really done nothing but feel all tired and worn out.

Eleanor and her boyfriend came over for dinner one night this week and it was good to see them.  It's really nice when you just like spending time with a child not because you're obligated too but because you realize you just enjoy spending time with them.  We had a scare with Paul with his ship out date for boot camp.  They were talking about moving it to the day before his graduation ceremony (though he would've already been technically graduated from high school) which means not only would he not have been at the ceremony but it'd mean he be leaving in a little less than a month.  We're back to June or early July again but it was a bit startling to realize how close that is!  I think we're settled on the apartment thing with Emma.  The lease and deposit were mailed and turned in and hopefully we're done until it's time for all the fun deposits and move in day in August.

Anna over at Herding Cats and Burning Soup is being her usual terrible influence and has come up with a challenge I just don't think I can resist.  She's dreamed up the Read All the Books challenge where you pick an author that has an enormous back list (45+) and literally read all the books.  My pick is Heather Graham and while I don't have an exact book count (yet) I do know she's over 45 and I've been wanting to do a massive reading spree for awhile.  Now is the time!  I have no idea what kind of structure I'm going to set for myself but I'm working on it.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

Monday: Quiet Neighbors - Review
Tuesday: Ten Books Everyone Who Wants to Read a Cozy Mystery Should Try
Wednesday: Silenced in the Surf - Blog Tour Review and Giveaway
Thursday: How to Marry a Marquis - Historical Romance Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Excerpts from An Appetite for Murder
Saturday: Cinder - Review

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Ramblings from the Stacks: Spoilers
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books that Will Make You Laugh
Wednesday: One Night Charmer - Contemporary Romance Review
Thursday: TBD
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cinder - Review

Cinder (Book One of the Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer
Rating: Great!
Source: Library (Audio)

Description:  Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing.  A deadly plague ravages the population.  From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move.  No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg.  She's a second class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother, and blamed for her stepsister's illness.  But when her life suddenly becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself in the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction.  Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.  (From Goodreads)

Genre: Young Adult

Why I Picked This Book:  Pretty much everyone on Earth told me I needed to read this and the cover is so eye catching!

My Impression:  Why why why did it take me so long to read this book??  I mean I know the whole teenage cyborg in the future thing didn't sound like my cup of tea but still! But I've finally read/listened to it and I have to say that everyone who told me to read this book was so incredibly right.
So what did I like?
The characters.  Cinder herself was smart and tough and vulnerable all at once and really just plain nice.  I loved her relationship with Peony and how she tried to help her.  I loved Kai and Dmitri and their relationships with Cinder.  I even loved that while Audri is obviously quite the evil stepmother she's isn't all evil (except when it comes to Cinder).  Oh and Iko!  I loved Iko.

The World.  I was a little concerned that I would have no idea what the world was like but I could visualize New Beijing and all the characters from the start.  I could picture the castle, the market, Cinder's family apartment - all of it.  But I didn't feel like there was page after page of description explaining it all to me.

The fairy tale retelling part.  This was something I was really concerned about.  How can a teenage cyborg in the future be a Cinderella retelling?  I was worried that it just wasn't going to work or that it was going to feel forced or that there'd be some weird addition that wouldn't make sense to the plot.  But it so worked!

The plot itself.  I was intrigued from the beginning and holding my breath a bit at the end.  I wasn't sure what was going to happen next or if plans were going to work out.  It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger but it does feel like one chapter of the story is finished.

The narrator.  I went the audio route and very much enjoyed Rebecca Soler's performance.  Her pace and inflections are good and she isn't overly dramatic.  She captured Cinder's sarcasm and practical nature perfectly.

What did I not not like?
There wasn't all that much that I didn't like.  My only complaint was that I did feel that there were a few parts that were a little slow in between plans and disasters.  However, I was also listening to it in on audio book and wasn't able to listen for very long stretches during those times so that may have affected my feelings.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes!  I've already put Scarlet on hold at the library.  I can't wait to find out what happens next!

Would I Recommend this Book?:   Absolutely!  I don't read much YA or sci fi but I absolutely loved this one.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Linkups: An Appetite for Murder

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:
Where do you find the motivation and inspiration for your blog?

My Answer:
My primary motivations and inspirations are my love of books and reading and the joy I get from book blogging community.  I've so enjoyed meeting everyone out there.  My type A personality really enjoys the scheduling and the mostly self-imposed deadlines.

This week's book is set in one of my favorite places - Key West, Florida.  I haven't been in years and years so I figure it's time to take a little vacation through the pages of a book.  Not only is the book set in Key West but the main character in An Appetite for Murder by Lucy Burdette is a food critic.  So it's a foodie mystery in a place I love.  So far I'm really enjoying it!

The Beginning:
Lots of people think they'd love to eat for living.  Me?  I'd kill for it.

My Thoughts: 
Well that's intriguing!  I'm wondering just how literal she's being here.

The 56:
My heard sank with a desperate clunk - suddenly the murder felt exquisitely real, and my so-called involvement, very scary.

My Thoughts:
I'm guessing since her involvement is so-called that she isn't the killer but is she the suspect or just involved in the investigation as a witness or something?

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

How to Marry a Marquis - Review

How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Source: Purchased
Description:  She's trying to follow the rules...When Elizabeth Hotchkiss stumbles upon a copy of How to Marry a Marquis in her employer's library, she's convinced someone is playing a cruel joke.  With three younger siblings to support, she knows she has to marry for money, but who might have guessed how desperate she's become?  A guidebook to seduction might be just the thing she needs - and what harm could there be in taking a little peek?...
James Sidwell, the Marquis of Riverdale, has been summoned to rescue his aunt from a blackmailer, a task that requires him to pose as the new estate manager, and his primary suspect is his aunt's companion, Elizabeth, intrigued by the alluring young woman with the curious little rule book, he gallantly offers to help her find a practicing her wiles on him.  But when practice becomes all too perfect, James decides that there is only one rule worth following - that Elizabeth marry her marquis.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance/Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I had read this book about 15 years ago and remember enjoying it but that was about it until Quinn over at Quinn's Book Nook mentioned as being one that she especially enjoyed AND that Lady Danbury was one of the primary characters so I had to get my hands on it again!

My Impression:   Rereading is always tricky.  Sometimes it works and you enjoy the book as much as you did the first time, other times not so much.  While I know Quinn is re-readable sometimes older romances can come across as more than a bit dated.    There was no need to worry!  This one felt just as crisp and witty as it did the first time I read it.  Elizabeth is just so nice and logical.  She's not opposed to marrying in general but their financial situation has gotten to the point where she must do something and marriage is all that really left.  I like that she's realistic, smart, and kind with a good dose of humor.  James is another great character.  He fully expects to be able to intimidate or sweet talk Elizabeth but she's really not buying either.  His loyalty to his aunt is lovely to see and the reasons behind it are heartbreaking and made me love Lady Dabury even more than I already did.
There's a lot of witty banter and a growing friendship which I always enjoy in a romance.  There is a Secret but the reasons for it make sense and it didn't set off the ick alarm.  There are a few scenes that are quite poignant and kept it from being just a fun romp of a book.
My main negative was that Elizabeth overreacted to the reveal of the Secret.  She didn't act childish but it did feel a little out of proportion for her personality.
An added bonus was spending a lot of time with Lady Danbury.  Through the years I've seen a lot of her in Quinn's books but it's mostly in short scenes at balls or other gatherings.  She's always sharp and she always says what's on her mind and under it all is very obviously a soft heart.  It was really nice to spend real time with her after spending just tiny bits of time with her over the years.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, definitely!  I feel a reread of The Viscount Who Loved Me happening in the near future!

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes!  If you've read Quinn's more recent books this is definitely one you need to go back and read and if you've never read her before I think this is a good introduction.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Silenced in the Surf - Blog Tour Review + Giveaway

SilencedInTheSurf_TourBanner (1)
Welcome to my tour stop for Silenced in the Surf by Kate Dyer-Seeley! This is book three in the Pacific Northwest Mystery series and released March 29th, 2016. The tour runs April 4-15 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check out the tour page for the full schedule.

SILENCED coverAbout the Book:
Covering a windsurfing competition should have been a breeze for reporter Meg Reed, but with a killer in the curl, she's headed for rough waters…

Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge is the windsurfing capital of the world, and Meg is stoked to cover the King of the Hook event for Portland's Northwest Extreme magazine. Before the competition gets under way, Meg has a chance to try some windsurfing on her own. But when the current sweeps her downriver, she spots a body snagged on the rocks. The dead man is Justin Cruise, aka Cruise Control, a celebrity windsurfer and not exactly a nice guy. It's soon clear his death was no accident, and Cruise had no shortage of enemies. As Meg dives right in to discover who wiped out the windsurfer, she'll need to keep her balance--or she too may get blown away.

Praise For Scene Of The Climb "A splendid overview of the greater Portland and Columbia River Gorge region, perfect for travel buffs. Her protagonist shows promise with her determined attitude and moxie." --Library Journal "A fun, terrific adventure." --Suspense Magazine
  Includes Adventure Guides!

My Review

This is my third visit with the not so outdoorsy outdoor sports reporter, Meg Reed, and it may just be my favorite one yet.  We go from the snowy ski slopes in Slayed on the Slopes to a seriously hot summer day and windsurfing in the Columbia River Gorge.  Meg's immediate worries are not melting in the heat and then not drowning in the river but that all changes when she spots a dead body during a wind surfing lesson gone wrong.

Meg Reed is a fun character.  She's smart and has good reporter instincts but also has a habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong moment that has you cringing right along with her.  She knows she shouldn't be involved in a murder investigation (and she gets told that a time or three by her friends) but she just can't resist asking questions.  I really like Meg.  She's a hard worker and ambitious and sometimes a little immature but still likable.  I liked her relationship with her grandmother and with her friend Jill as well as with her maybe boyfriend Matt.  I also really enjoy the fact that Meg is not super athletic or naturally gifted at sports.  I can identify way more with her struggles to learn how to ski or windsurf than if she was great at everything she tried.  I also find the extreme sports angle really unique and have enjoyed learning about different activities with her.
The mystery itself was well paced and didn't waste time getting started.  While the sport of windsurfing is talked about a lot in the book it doesn't distract from the mystery and in fact helps flesh it out.  There is also the subplot involving what really happened to Meg's beloved father.  While this subplot has been a thread woven through the previous 2 books of the series, I don't think you'll have any problem catching up if you start with this book. 

Overall, this is a fun entry into a solid mystery series.  We've mostly seen Meg in freezing temperatures so seeing her suffer through an unseasonably warm summer was a change of pace and made me very glad I live in the South.  We may have a super hot summer but air conditioning is the norm!  I'm very much looking forward to seeing what trouble Meg gets into next!  If you're looking for an entertaining cozy mystery that's a little different be sure to pick up a copy of Silenced in the Surf!  
Goodreads |  Amazon | B&N

Don't miss out on the first two books, Scene of the Climb and Slayed on the Slopes!
Scene of the ClimbSlayedontheSlopes-Small

 About the Author:
Kate Dyer-Seeley writes the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series for Kensington Publishing. The first book in the series, Scene of the Climb, features the rugged landscapes of the Columbia River Gorge and a young journalist who bills herself as an intrepid adventurer in order to land a gig writing for Northwest Extreme. Her work has appeared in a variety of regional and international publications including: The Columbian, The Vancouver Voice, Seattle Backpacker, Portland Family Magazine, and Climbing Magazine. Kate lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and son, where you can find her hitting the trail, at an artisan coffee shop, or at her favorite pub. Better yet—at all three.

Signed copies of Scene of the Climb, Slayed on the Slopes and Silenced in the Surf, pink water bottle, Organic Clif bars, Sunscreen, Chapstick, Pink sunglasses & Gourmet lemonade.
Open to US addresses only.
Ends April 20, 2016

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Everyone Who Wants to Read a Cozy Mystery Should Try

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books Every x Should Read.  With all the concern about the future of cozy mysteries (for more info go here or check out the Save Our Cozies Facebook Group) right now they've been on my mind a lot and apparently have started jumping to my Amazon cart of their own free will.  I'm quite convinced that pre-orders don't count.

A cozy mystery is one with very low levels of gore and violence actually taking place on the page.  The main character is usually female and generally an amateur though not always.  Not only is there a murder or three but generally there's also another interest that runs through the whole series.  There's cozy mysteries set in bakeries, libraries, bookstores, quilt shops, hotels, farmer's markets, orchards, museums, and anything else you can think of.  Seriously, if you have an interest in anything there's a cozy mystery series to go with it.  There's also different levels of supernatural - from none to ghosts that follow the main character around and help out - and romantic subplots.  Not to mention that there's almost always a good dash of humor to help the murder stay cozy.  But with all the cozy mysteries out there sometimes it's hard to figure out where to start so hopefully these suggestions will be helpful!

1.  The Family Fortune Mysteries by Dawn Eastman
First Book: Pall in the Family (2013)
Most Recent Book: An Unhappy Medium (2016) - Book #4
The What: Clyde (short for Clytemnestra) is a former police officer who has returned to her hometown of Crystal Haven, Michigan and come back to her unusual and psychic family.  Murder and mayhem ensue as Clyde wrestles with figuring out what she wants to do and how to deal with her rather quirky and opinionated family.  Fun and funny but not over the top into slapstick.

2.  The Potting Shed Mysteries by Marty Wingate
First Book: The Garden Plot (2014)
Most Recent Book: The Skeleton Garden (2016) - Book #4 with Book #5 coming out in August
The What: Pru is living her dream of becoming a gardener in England after spending the first 50 or so years in her home state of Texas.  Along the way she uncovers family secrets, new friends and family, a new love interest and of course lots of dead bodies.  I really like the bits of history that are mixed in with each book and the beautifully described English gardens.  It makes me want to get planting!

3. The Country Club Murders by Julie Mulhern
First Book: The Deep End (2015)
Most Recent Book: Guaranteed to Bleed (2015) - Book #2 with Book 3 coming out in May
The What: This series is set in the 1970s.  Ellison Russell is a strong, relatable, interesting character who does have a gift for stumbling over dead bodies.  I love her voice and her relationships with her friends, her daughter, and everyone else around her.  This is a good "gateway" cozy if you're new to the genre.

4.  Liz Talbot Mystery by Susan M. Boyer
First Book: Lowcountry Boil (2012)
Most Recent Book: Lowcountry  Bordello (2015)
The What: This is quickly becoming one of my go-to mystery series.  The South Carolina setting is fantastic and the mysteries are fast paced page turners.  While these are definitely cozies they feel like they have a little bit more grit in them than a lot of others.  I like Liz a lot and her job as a PI gets her in all kinds of trouble.  There is a ghost but only in small doses.

5. A Bakeshop Mystery by Ellie Alexander
First Book:  Meet Your Baker (2014)
Most Recent Book: On Thin Icing (2015) - Book #3 with #4 out this summer
The What: Do not under any circumstances read this book on an empty stomach.  The food and coffees at Torte will have your mouth watering and your stomach grumbling.  The main character, Jules, is a professionally trained pastry chef and her creations sound amazing.  Adding to the fun is a giant Shakespeare festival which brings lots of tourists and theater people to Ashland, Oregon.

6.   Mainely Needlepointers by Lea Waite
First Book: Twisted Threads (2014)
Most Recent Book: Thread and Gone (2015) - Book #3 with Book #4 due out in October
The What: One of my very favorite things in a mystery is a bit of history mixed in.  If the characters are having to do research for any reason I'm completely on board.  So far all 3 in the Mainely Needlepointers series have done just that.  They also have lots of interesting mysteries that are taking place in the present day too as well as a intelligent and intense main character who used to work as a PI.  There is lots of talk about needlepointing but as someone who can even thread a needle it doesn't get overwhelming or to detailed.

7.  Read 'Em and Eat Mysteries by Terrie Farley Moran 
First Book: Well Read Then Dead (2014)
Most Recent Book: Caught Read Handed (2015) Book #2 with #3 coming out this summer
The What: If I could make one fictional place real it would be the bookstore cafe in this series.  Read 'Em and Eat is a combination cafe and bookstore that hosts all kinds of book clubs and has not only a book themed menu but book and author themed tables.  If this was a real place I'd be heading to the beach and you could find me at the Agatha Christie table ordering Swiss Family Robinson Cheeseburgers.  The detectives themselves are people I'd want to hang out with and the mysteries are fun and well-paced.

8.  Library Lovers Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay
First Book: Books Can Be Deceiving (2011)
Most Recent Book: A Likely Story (2015) - Book #6
The What: Lindsay Norris is the director of the Briar Creek Public Library which comes with a host of teenage volunteers, a fabulous children's librarian, and a cranky assistant.  There's also a whole host of townspeople and lots of talk about what kind of books they read.  If you're feeling hungry you can jump over to her Cupcake Bakery series (complete with cupcake recipes and lots and lots of cupcake descriptions) or you want something a little different you can go make hats in London with the Hat Shop Mysteries.  Whichever way you go McKinlay is always entertaining.

9.  The Orchard Series by Sheila Connolly
First Book: One Bad Apple (2008)
Most Recent Book: A Gala Event (2015) - Book #9
The What:  Meg loses her job in Boston just as she and her mother inherit an old house in a little town in Massachusetts which includes an apple orchard.  From then on there's lots of murders, new friends, new love interest, and lots and lots of apples.  I find myself craving all things apple when reading this and there are usually some delicious recipes at the back of the book.  There's also a bit of home restoration and history related mysteries.  Connolly also writes The Museum and County Cork series.  Both are good but I'm always drawn to an Irish setting so the County Cork series may be my favorite of the 2.

10.  Haunted Home Renovations by Juliet Blackwell 
First Book: If Walls Could Talk (2010)
Most Recent Book: Give Up the Ghost (2015) - Book #6
The What: This series leans way towards the paranormal with main character, Melanie Turner, who is not only running a construction company but also fights ghosts who are interfering with her renovation work.  She's a smart and sarcastic character who is a bit softer than she's like to let on and doesn't let steel toed boots interfere with her love of vintage clothes.  Blackwell also writes the Witchcraft Mystery series that centers around Lily Ivory, a witch who runs a vintage clothing store.

So that's a few of my favorites but it's by no means even close to a complete list.  There's so many wonderful authors whose books I love - Lynn Cahoon, Paige Shelton, Ellery Adams, Diane Vallere, Kate Carlisle, Victoria Abbott, Paige Shelton, Kathy Aarons, Susan Furlong, Elizabeth Lynn Casey, Lorna Barrett, Laura Bradford and so many more.

Are you a cozy mystery reader?  If so who are your favorite authors?