Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Beach Reads

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Beach Reads.  This got me thinking - what do I really look for in a beach or summer read?  For me when the temperature has spiked and the sun is baking my skin I need something that's going to hold my attention and keep me reading without having to do too much thinking.  I want a thriller or romantic supsense or something that's going to keep me laughing.  I tend to say away from anything historical (not sure on the reason but maybe too many clothes?  All the petticoats or stockings and hats sounds hot), anything with a slower pace or anything food related.  It's way too hot to be thinking of food!

1.  The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware - Ware's In a Dark Dark Wood was one of my favorite books so far this year and her newest book involving a small luxury cruise ship and things that go bump in the night sound like perfect beach reading!

2.  First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones - This is a series I've heard nothing but raves about and with a main character who is part time PI nad full time Grim Reaper with lots of laughs sounds like a book that will keep me reading.

3.  Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts - For a long time Roberts has been a go to author when I want entertaining and fast paced but her last trilogy or two has left me disappointed.  I was thrilled when the first 1 in this new one (Stars of Fortune) kept me reading way past my bedtime and I can't wait for the 2nd book!

4.  I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh - I'm seeing Mackintosh's books everywhere these days and they look like perfect summer reading.  This one that's set in a remote cottage on the Welsh coast sounds perfect!

5.  Untraceable by Laura Griffin - I read Deep Dark by Griffin last week and loved it.  I definitely want to start at the beginning of the Tracers series and I already have this one waiting for me on my shelf.

6.  Field of Graves by J.T. Ellison - A serial killer loose in Nashville trying to bring about his own end of days sounds like a page turner!  This is a series I've been wanting to read for awhile and while it's listed as the 8th book it's actually a prequel so I feel pretty good about jumping in here.

7.  Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye - Modern day Jane Eyre turned serial killer sounds like a fun read.  I've seen some mixed reviews on this one but it sounds too fun to pass up.

8.  The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley - Just in case I'm serial killered out by this point this series by Lucinda Riley about sisters whose adopted father has died and has each been given a clue to their original heritage.  There's a secluded castle and a crumbling mansion in Brazil. It sounds like a gorgeous read!

9.  The Game of Sunken Places by M.T. Anderson - And when I'm really feeling burned out I've bot this Middle Grade advenutre.  There's trolls and warring kingdoms and if the blurb is anything to go by lots of snark!

10. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen - I read Peach Keeper last summer and I could just feel summer exuding from the book.  I've really been wanting to read more from Allen and this one sounds like a perfect book to read next.

So what books are on your beach read list?  What genres are you drawn to it when it's hot outside and your toes are in the sand?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Deep Dark - Review

Deep Dark (Tracers #10) by Laura Griffin
Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  The moment detective Reed Novak steps onto the crime scene, he knows the case is going to rock his world.  A beautiful young woman murdered at home.  No sign of forced entry.  No motive.  She's obviously not the killer's first victim, and Reed's instincts tell him she won't be his last.  Reed's first clue comes via a mysterious text that links to a dating profile, but even more intriguing than the clue is the person who sent it.  As a white-hat hacker in the Delphi Center's cyber investigation unit, Laney Knox sneaks into some of the deepest, darkest corners of the Internet looking for predators.  Laney would prefer to stay away from Austin PD's most recent murder case, but she can't ignore the chilling similarities between that crime and her own brutal attack years ago.  Laney offers to help the sexy lead detective but he wants more than just a promising tip - Reed wants her trust.  Laney resists, but as their relationship deepens she's tempted to reveal the closely guarded secrets that could make her a key witness ... or the killer's next victim.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Why I Picked This Book:  Rita from View From My Home has spoken highly of this series and I love a good romantic suspense.

My Impression:  It seems like every year around this time I get really restless when it comes to reading.  It's not really a rut but more of an inability to settle on a book.  I think it's my brain's reaction to all the stuff that seems to crop up at the end of the school year coupled with the fact that now that school is out my days are a lot more chaotic.  But every year I find a book that knocks me right out of that mood and this year Deep Dark by Laura Griffin just might be it.  Right from the start I was yanked into the book as we start out with an attack on an unnamed character and the pacing really doesn't let up.

I really enjoyed getting to know Laney, Reed, Veronica, Jay and Jordan.  I liked that they all come off as real people with regular problem and that the women connected with the police department read so realistically.  Laney is brilliant at coding and very guarded but not overly prickly.  She's hard to get to know and doesn't always know what she wants but has her own code of morals that she lives by.  Reed Novak.is a good detective and does a good job of walking the line between out of the box and by the book.  His feelings about his developing relationship with Laney rang true and I loved how considerate he was even when he came off as a little overbearing.

The mystery itself is a page turner!  I had know idea how it was going to wrap up but I couldn't wait to find out.  Laney does wander over into To Stupid To Live territory a few times but it fits with her reckless and impulsive personality so well that it didn't bother me.  Don't let the fact that this is the tenth book in the series scare you away.  This is the first book in the series that I've read and I had no problem keeping up with what was going on and who everyone is.  From reading the blurbs of the other books it sounds like the main characters change from book to book as well.

This is a perfect read when you're looking for something that pulls you in and keeps you reading late into the night.  You just may want to double check your locks before you start!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I'm really excited to be coming into the series so late because there is a sizable backlist to get caught up on!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Absolutely!  If you're in the mood for a good romantic suspense (or don't mind a dash of romance in your thriller) than don't pass this one up!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

This Week in Reading - May 29

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:

The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala by Laura DiSilverio - I have been wanting to read this series for awhile and actually have one of the books but when this newest one showed up on NetGalley I couldn't resist requesting it even though I really didn't expect to get it.  There may have been a moment of dancing when that approval email showed up!  This entry into the series which follows a book group focuses on Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca which is one of my favorite books.  I'm SO excited!  (NetGalley)

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown - I never got around to reading The Weird Sisters by this author but when the publisher offered me an ARC of her newest book I absolutely could not resist.  This one centers around the discovery of the main character's grandmother's diary which tells of a life in Jazz Age Paris.  This is another one I'm really excited about.  What little I've read looks so interesting and this is one of my favorite settings.  (Publisher)


Reading:  A Golden Cage by Shelly Freydont and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.  I'm also rereading It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas.

Listening: Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming - I'm not like it nearly as much as Casino Royale but it's still entertaining.

Watching:  J and I are still watching The Blacklist.  We're about halfway done unless Netflix gets the 3rd season soon.  I'm taking a break from Supernatural and watching 1800-Missing which was on probably around 2006 and loosely based on the Meg Cabot series by the same name.  I wouldn't say it's quality but it is entertaining.  I'll probably go back to Supernatural soon.

Off the Blog:

We are now officially done with school!  Paul's graduation was Tuesday and it wasn't quite as long as I expected.  The class size was just under 600 but they moved through them pretty fast.  It was a bit more emotional than I expected because it really brought home that my days of running a big family are done and I'm a little sad to see that chapter come to an end.

We had a bunch of appointments Wednesday and then a super lazy Thursday and Friday so I'm no longer feeling like I've been hit by a truck which is nice.  I'm hoping we'll be getting together with friends soon.  There's a walking trail around a playground here so my friends and I can run while the Tornado and his friends are playing.  It would pretty well.  I'm also wanting to get to the Botanical Gardens here.  They have a new exhibit on habitats and he always enjoys a visit.

I've been using the downtime to get somewhat caught up on blog stuff.  I'm not quite where I want to be but I'm definitely making progress.  I'm also aware that we're coming up on the halfway point for the year and I'm trying to reevaluate my reading to decide if I want to change things up or direct my focus somewhere.  My main goal is to get caught up on review books but I'd also like to read more out of my comfort zone.  I've done some this year and enjoyed it but I'd like to keep expanding.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Deep Dark - Romantic Suspense Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Beach Reads
Wednesday: TBD but hopefully a review of A Golden Cage
Thursday: Beyond the Books - Favorite Room or Space 
Friday: Friday Linkups featuring Excerpts of My Current Book
Saturday: America's Best Breakfasts - Cookbook Review

Saturday, May 28, 2016

52 Pins in 52 Weeks - May 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 10,000 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 ended up being all food because it was all I could do to actually feed people this month.  Something about the end of the school year has me crawling across the finish line in total exhaustion.  Anyway, it was a pretty solid month.  No spectacular failures and some pretty fantastic successes.  Next month I'll probably be using some of the kids crafts because I have a little one out of school who might need something to occupy his time!

Week 19:

Pin: Gourment Chicken from Just Get Off Your Butt and Bake

Reason Picked:  I love chicken dishes in cream sauce and this one has bacon!
The Basic Idea: Browned chicken baked in a creamy cheese sauce with bacon added
The Results:  This was good though I'm not sure it's fancy restaurant good as it's claimed in the original recipe.  It took longer than I expected because I had to bake it for so long and the sauce got a little grainy.  I'm not sure this is a recipe I'll be anxious to make again.

Week 20:

Pin: Strawberry Banana Bread from Baking Bites

Reason Picked: I love banana bread and the strawberry/banana combination plus it's strawberry season and I'm always looking for ways to use up strawberries.
The Basic Idea: A yummy banana bread with either freeze dried or finely minced fresh strawberries added.
The Results:  So good!  I actually made this for someone else as I'm the only one in my house who eats banana bread but I kept a few slices.  It's a good banana bread on it's own and the strawberries just add a little punch of freshness.  I used fresh and chopped them up fairly fine but not into a mince.  If you like banana bread this is one not to miss.

Not the prettiest but this was not the month for piping bags and the like!

Week 21: 

Pin: Salted Caramel Cupcakes from My Baking Addiction

Reason Picked: This is one of my favorite blogs and I love all things salted caramel - and cupcakes
The Basic Idea: A chocolate cupcake filled with a salted caramel sauce and topped with vanilla buttercream.
The Results: While this is one of my favorite blogs this is one of her older recipes and is really more of a formula than a recipe.  The caramel sauce from her link was really good but put together with everything else it got kind of lost.  It ended up being too much work for just a decent cupcake.

Week 22:

Pin:  Carmelita Cookies from Cookies and Cups

Reason Picked: I've seen a billion recipes for Carmelita cookies on Pinterest and Cookies and Cups is always reliable.
The Basic Idea: An oatmeal chocolate chip cookie wrapped around a Rolo candy
The Results: Delicious!  If you didn't want to mess with the Rolos than you could just make excellent chocolate chip cookies with the dough.  You do freeze the Rolos but I just tossed the bag in the freezer overnight and had no problem unwrapping them so you don't have to unwrap the candy and figure out where to put them and all that.  You do have to chill the dough as well so do all the prep the day before you need them and then you can just make them the day of so it didn't seem like a lot of work.  Plus, these are just seriously good cookies!

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

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Linkups: Dumb Witness

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:
Have you ever started a meme that became popular and is still in existence?

My Answer:
No, I've never started one.  I do participate in several - the 3 here, Top Ten Tuesday, Sunday Post, and Beyond the Books.

This week I'm going back to Agatha Christie with Dumb Witness (or Poirot Loses a Client).  This isn't one of my favorites but it is one I always enjoy reading.  Plus, because it's not one of her most memorable I never remember the ending so it's always a nice surprise to see how the puzzle works out.

The Beginning:
Miss Arundell died on May 1st.

My Thoughts:
There's a lot of setup in this sentence especially given how short it is!  Just from reading this I'm quite sure that Miss Arundell did not die of natural causes!

The 56:
"Her companions didn't stay as long as her servants," said Poirot, smiling.
The woman flushed.

My Thoughts:
I don't think Agatha Christie was overly fond of companions.  She's rather disparaging towards them in a number of her books.  In this book Miss Arundell's companion is a very important character.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Beyond the Books: Best Part of My Day

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 - Best Part of My Day

This is hard!  There are lots of times that feel like the best part of the day.

I love when the Tornado climbs in bed first thing in the morning to cuddle.  He doesn't do it much anymore I do try to really enjoy it when it happens.

I love when I'm working on a project and have an audio book on and no one is bothering me.

I love when the Tornado is home from school and we play a game or watch something together.

I love dinner time when we're eating together and talking and go off on tangents about obscure topics.

But if I'm being completely honest my favorite time of the day is after bedtime is done and stories are read, dinner has been eaten and cleaned up, and there is nothing else I'm going to do for the day.  J and I will take some time to sit together.  We have all these plans to do a puzzle or play a game or something but most of the time we're tired and end up watching TV or a movie.  Right now we're watching Blacklist and after that maybe Hannibal?  We're still in discussions.  Our TV watching doesn't typically intersect but lately we've been making an effort to find something to watch together and I think we've both been enjoying it.

What is your favorite time of the day?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Review

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Rating: Loved It
Source: Library (Audio)

Description:  "I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers."
January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject.   Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb...
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends - and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - born as a spur of the moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island - boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.  Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives.  Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will changer her forever.  Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written world in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising way.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: I just saw the words literary society in the title and couldn't resist!

My Impression:  I loved this book.  I really didn't expect too.  I expected to like it - it's a Literary Society after World War II which is one of my favorite topics and one of my favorite settings.  But it's also a story told in letters from multiple different characters.  While I do like an epistolary novels I don't always make the biggest emotional connections to the characters and since this had multiple senders there's the worry that it would end up being really confusing.  
That wasn't the case at all with either concerns.  From the beginning I loved Juliet's voice.  Her humor came through clearly and I especially loved her exchanges with the very dry Sidney who is her publisher and longtime friend.  But the book really gets started with the first letter from Dawsey Adams arrives and Juliet first learns about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  From there we meet Isola, Amelia, Ebon, John and a whole cast of other characters all with stories to tell about the occupation and books.  The stories of the occupation where tragic, heartbreaking and fascinating.  I was so interested that I frequently found myself looking up a particular fact or story to see if it had really happened.  I always think it's a good sign if a fiction book makes me want to research a nonfiction subject!
As far as emotional connection it was definitely not a problem.  I really enjoyed getting to know these characters and there were several times I found myself with a tear or two in my eye.  Sometimes they were happy tears and once or twice they were not.  I hated for the book to end because I loved these characters so much and wanted to know even more about them.  My only complaint is that the end was a little overly tied up and happened kind of in a rush.  While I was pleased with how it ended I think I would have liked it if had come together a little slower.

Audio Note: The audio is fantastic for this one!  There several narrators and they all do a wonderful job.  I was a little worried that it would be hard to keep track of who was saying what but the voices were so distinctive that it was no trouble.

Overall, I really enjoyed not only the story itself but the experience of listening to it.  The story is at time funny and at times heartbreakingly poignant and I thoroughly enjoyed ever minute of it.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely!  Especially if you enjoy books about the home front in World War II

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - 10 Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is 10 Books I Feel Differntly About After Time Has Passed.  I think since I'm mostly an escapist reader I rarely think back on what I have read and when I do it's mostly on the experience of reading it and not the book itself.  I did get 7 books (or 6 and an author) and most of those are a change of perspective as I've gotten older and not a change in the book itself.

1.  Peril at End House by Agatha Christie - This is one of Christie's most readable books.  It's glamorous and just full of "bright young things" and all the parties and atmosphere of the late 1920s.  I always thought of it as one of my favorites and was surprised when Agatha Christie said she didn't even remember writing it in her autobiography.  Reading it again not to long ago and paying attention to the mystery more than the atmosphere I can see why she didn't remember.  It's a decent mystery but definitely not her best and relies on some serious coincidences.

2.  Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery - When I first got the whole Anne of Green Gables series I thought Anne of Windy Poplars was just about unreadable.  I wanted so much more Anne and Gilbert and instead all I got were letters and stories.  I was shocked when I finally made myself read it again as an adult and discovered I absolutely loved it.  The stories are delightful and it's just a wonderful read.  I think it might be one of my favorites in the entire Anne series!

3.  The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin - I was a little surprised when I started this one to find that it was way more self-help than I expected.  I think I was expecting more of a memoir type book but while she does talk about her own experiences it definitely leans towards more instructional.  Since I don't read much of that genre it took me awhile to get used to it and it didn't help that I didn't exactly warm to Rubin herself as I was reading it.  However, I feel like I learned so much from that book in terms of how to change my surroundings and my mood that I reference it frequently and recommend it regularly!

4.  Pretty much every book by Heather Graham - Let me start off by saying that I love Heather Graham's books - so much in fact that I chose her as my author in Anna from Herding Cats and Burning Soup's Read All the Books Challenge.  But while I always enjoy reading them after I finish I start realizing that there are a few things (sometimes minor, sometimes major) that just don't make sense.

5.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I read and loved this book in high school.  I loved the whole world Fitzgerald brought to life and ended up reading several other books by him.  It was one of the first audio books I listened too a year or so ago and while I remember that it wasn't happy I was surprised by just how unhappy it was!

6.  The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher - For years this was my absolute favorite book.  I went through the binding on 2 copies and was well into the 3rd copy when I discovered a few authors and got caught up in other books I wanted to read.  When I reread it recently I was surprised with how my attitude had changed.  As a teenager I thought the Richard character was so romantic and wonderful but as an adult it was hard to get past the tragedy for him and for her.

7.  Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens - This was the first romance book I ever read and I loved it.  I'm pretty sure I read it in one sitting and was swept up into the whole genre and for months read nothing else.  A year or two ago I decided to go back and reread my early romances and this of course was on that list.  Wow is it dated.  Instead of loving the characters and the romance I thought Devil needed a stern talking too about taking the whole alpha thing to far and Honoria needed a bit more spine and a bit less prickliness.

So those are my books that I've changed my mind on as time has gone on.  Do you have any that just aren't the same or ended up sticking with you longer than expected?

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Madness of Mercury - Blog Tour Review + Giveaway

The Madness of Mercury (A Zodiac Mystery #1) by Connie di Marco
Rating: Good 
Source: Blog Tour

Description:  San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti's life is turned upside down when she becomes the target of the city's newest cult leader, Reverend Roy of the Prophet's Tabernacle.  Driven out of her apartment in the midst of a disastrous Mercury retrograde period, she takes shelter with a client who's caring for two elderly aunts.  One aunt appears stricken with dementia and the other has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy.  To add to the confusion, a young man claiming to be a long lost nephew arrives.  The longer he stays, the more dangerous things become.  Is the young man truly a member of the family?  Can astrology confirm that?  Julia's not sure, but one thing she does know is that Mercury wasn't merely the messenger of the gods- he was a trickster and a liar as well.  (From Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: The astrology aspects interested me and I love this author's books under the name Connie Archer.

My Impression:  I must say this is the first book I've read about an astrologer.  I'm familiar with horoscopes but never gave much thought to all the retrogrades and what have you.  I found it interesting that while Julia is an astrologer she's very clear about how different that is from psychics or mediums and all the other things that get kind of lumped together.  Julia herself is an interesting character.  She's intelligent and a bit damaged without being angsty about it.  She takes her job seriously and I liked that she was professional in how she dealt with her clients.  It always drives me a little crazy when the main character in a cozy mystery has a job but never actually seems to do it.  With Julia not only do we see her doing her job but we see how the protests from the followers of Reverend Roy impacts her professionally and personally.  I also enjoyed seeing members of the occult community coming together.
I was a little annoyed with Julia's reluctance to report certain events to the police.  As the story progressed it became clear why she didn't trust them but it did bother me that she refused to make a police report and then would immediately encourage a colleague to call the police so that there would be a pattern of harassment.  It didn't make sense.  There's also a little more telling than showing which at times kept me from getting fully into the mystery.  Since I've read and loved other books from di Marco under the name Connie Archer (A Clue in the Stew is fantastic) I think this is because it is the first book in the series and a lot of setup is required.
I really enjoyed the mystery itself.  There's a lot going on but di Marco never let the story get confusing or muddled but kept me guessing throughout the book.  I was never certain how things were going to unravel until they did.  This was a fun read with an entertaining and unique main character.  I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of trouble Julia gets into next and how she and her friends get themselves out of it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'll definitely be picking up the 2nd book in the series and I'm looking forward to catching up on her Soup Lover's series under the name Connie Archer.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely!  There are a few first book in the series flaws but the mystery and the characters are so much fun!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

This Week in Reading - May 22

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:

A Cornish Affair by Liz Fenwick - I was so excited when this book arrived!  There's a crumbling house on the cliffs of Cornwall and a main character who is trying to figure out what really makes her happy.  Oh AND there's a library!  How could I pass this one up! (Paperbackswap)

Death of a Crabby Cook by Penny Pike - This is a cozy mystery that involves a food truck which makes me pretty happy. I love foodie mysteries!  (Paperbackswap)

Only 2 books this week and none from NetGalley!  I've been wanting the Liz Fenwick for ages so I'm super excited to have finally gotten a copy.


Reading: Scarlet by Marissa Meyers, It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas, and Deep Dark by Laura Griffin

Listen: Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming - 2nd James Bond book

Watching: J and I are still watching and enjoying Black List and I'm still getting through Supernatural very slowly (still in season 3).  I've discovered I'm not great at binge watching tv shows.  I don't really sit down and just watch episode after episode (I'm not opposed I just can't seem to make it happen) but I'll have it streaming while I'm cooking dinner or something.  After a week or 2 of watching the same show I end up switching to something else.  Then I watch something else for awhile and then switch back to the original show.

Off the Blog:

This has been a big week for us.  Eleanor turned 21, Paul finished school, and the Tornado had his kindergarten graduation ceremony.  The ceremony was so cute and they did this slide show of all the kids starting with baby pictures and then pictures throughout each kid's time at the school.  I didn't cry but it was super close.  Next year he'll be going to a much bigger school that's K - 5.  It's a great school and I know a number of the teachers but still I"m not sure I'm ready!  Paul's graduation is later this week and while it's not quite as emotional it will still be a little bit of a challenge.  They always have the members of the graduating class who have enlisted in the military stand up during the ceremony.  Last year I got a little teary because I knew several of the kids but this year will be even more emotional.

I think this next week we're going to be taking it easy.  I desperately need to get caught up on blog stuff and sleep!  I'm also hoping to get back in a reading groove.  I'm not exactly in a rut but nothing really feels like it's connecting right now.  This happened last year about this time so I'm thinking it has to do with all the crazy stuff that happens right around the end of the year and just being super busy.  I think I"m going to mood read a little to see if that will get me out of this.  I hate when I just can't get into a story and I know the problem is on my end!  I'm also waiting to get Me Before You back.  I was about half way done with it before I had to take it back to the library because someone else had a hold on it.  I'll get it back in a few days but I can't wait to get my hands on it and finish it!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: The Madness of Mercury - Blog Tour Review
Tuesday: 10 Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed
Wednesday: TBD but maybe a review of Deep Dark depending on how the week goes
Thursday: Beyond the Books: The Best Part of My Day
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Books
Saturday: 52 Pins in 52 Weeks - May Edition

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tribute - Review

Tribute by Nora Roberts
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Library
Description:  Cilla McGowan, a former child star, has found a more satisfying life restoring homes.  So she comes to Virginia's Shenandoah Valley to save the dilapidated farmhouse that once belonged to her grandmother - a legendary actress who died of an overdose more than thirty years ago.  Plunging into the project with gusto, Cilla's almost too busy and exhausted to notice her neighbor, graphic novelist Ford Sawyer.  Determined not to carry on the family tradition of ill-fated romanced, Cilla steels herself against Ford's quirky charm, though she can't help indulging in a little fantasy.  But it's reality that holds its share of dangers for Cilla  A cache of unsigned letters found in the attic points to a mysterious romance in her grandmother's life - and may be the catalyst for a frightening violent assault.  And if Cilla and Ford are unable to sort out who is targeting her and why, she may, like her world-famous grandmother, be cut down in the prime of her life.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Why I Picked This Book: I was browsing the library and realized I didn't remember really anything about this book other than it was one of my favorites.

My Impression: In some ways this is a pretty typical Nora Roberts books.  The MCs are both gorgeous and money is never really a problem.  The dialogue is well done, the characters are incredibly likable and you want them to be together. It was well paced and one I instantly fell into as soon as I picked it up.

I thought this was one of her better suspense books.  The mystery itself is really well done for this genre and really kept me guessing throughout.  Frequently in romantic suspense the mystery is kind of on the edges and incredibly obvious but it really wasn't the case here.  I liked Cilla and Ford's relationship and how it developed.  I liked the flip of the usual dynamics where she was definitely the more handy one and Ford had decided it was best to leave all tools alone.  The house flipping stuff was interesting especially when it expanded to other houses.

I loved how Cilla's grandmother, the incredibly glamorous movie star Janet Hardy, was incorporated into the book.  Not only was she talked about quite a bit but through Cilla's dreams we actually got to meet her and understand her a little better without it getting ghost-y which wouldn't have suited the feel of the book.

Cilla and Ford work so well together and they talk which always makes me happy.  I liked how Cilla's relationship developed with her father, step-mother and half-sister.  While it wasn't quite as much of an over the top happy reunion that I always love it did have a feel good quality to it along with being pretty realistic.  Also, Spock the dog is just awesome.

So if you're looking for a solid mystery, with a good romance, likable characters, a gorgeous house with a touch of old Hollywood then this is a great one to pick up.  Plus, I have a feeling you'll want to take home Spock as well.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  Nora Roberts is pretty much an auto-read for me and I'd like to go back and revisit some of the others I don't remember very well.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, especially if you like Nora Roberts.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Linkup: Scarlet

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 keep a Blog Roll List?

My Answer:
I don't.  I've thought about putting one together but just never have and I'm worried I'd accidentally leave someone off!

This week's book is the 2nd in the Lunar Chronicles - Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.  I listened to Cinder a few weeks ago and was surprised by how much I loved it.  I know the reviews for it were fantastic and all of my favorite bloggers had really enjoyed it but it was so different than what I usually read/listen to that I was a bit worried.  Now I've started on Scarlet and if anything I'm enjoying it more!  I love having a little more of an idea of what's going on and I really like the new characters in this one.

The Beginning:
Scarlet was descending toward the alley behind the Rieux Tavern when her portscreen chimed from the passenger seat, followed by an automated voice: "Comm received for Mademoiselle Benoit from Toulouse Law Enforcement Department of Missing Persons."

My Thoughts:
Right away I'm intrigued!  I love a missing persons case and I can't wait to see what's going on!

The 56:
She called up the blueprint of the jail's interior structure to check the direction while she waited for Thorne to clamber up behind her.

My Thoughts:
Nail biting!  I know what's going to happen and just reading this again has me holding my breath wondering how it's going to work out!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Beyond the Books - Someone I Admire and Why

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 - Someone I Admire and Why

The people I admire most are probably my 2 Grandmothers and my Grandfather.  My Dad's father died shortly before I was born so I never got to know him but I was so lucky to really get to know my Grandmothers and my Granddad.

My Dad's Mother grew up in a cotton mill town in Georgia.  She was quick-witted and sharp tongued and so funny.  But she also had a gift of making everyone feel special.  I was probably in my teens when I realized I wasn't her favorite grandchild - that we all were - and she made each one of her children feel like they were her favorite.  She's probably the relative I look the most like which is slightly disturbing because in her 70s and 80s she had an uncanny resemblance to George Washington and that's not really the way I want to go!  She died several years ago and is so missed but if my children think of me the way hers think of her when I'm gone I would be more than satisfied.

My Mother's Mother is the reader who inspired me the most.  For as long as I can remember we've been friends.  She's this teeny tiny little woman but you forget that pretty quick as she makes up for her lack of height in force of personality.  I think she is the one who taught me the bulldoze method of persuasion!  When she found herself living on base in South Carolina with a husband in Korea, two small children, and hundreds of miles away from everyone she knew she taught herself how to drive and kept everything going.  She always read, she always managed to take time for herself and not forget her interests.  She took to empty nest life with relish and her and my grandfather's marriage is the one I want my own to be the most like.

I really only had one grandfather but he was everything a Grandfather should be.  He's so very nice and always made me feel like I was so special.  He was career army (he was a Colonel when he finally retired), quite an impressive pilot but while I'm sure he was tough to work for he never brought it home.  The man has some seriously crazy stories (there's one about flight training with a broken knee cap and another about smuggling in liquor when he was at Ole Miss and Mississippi was a dry state that would make your hair curl!) but you have to drag them out of him.  He's hardworking and has never met anything he couldn't do.  At 92 he's having to admit that he can't do everything he used too but it doesn't really slow him down all that much.

So those are the people who inspire me, who remind me of what I want to do and who I want to be, and frequently help me get things in perspective.  Who inspires you?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Deception Island - Blog Tour Review

Deception Island by Brynn Kelly (Amazon Link)
Rating: Good
Source: Blog Tour

Description:  A stolen boy.  A haunted soldier.  A cornered con woman... Rafe Angelito thought he was done with the demons from his past - until his son is kidnapped.  Blackmailed into abducting an American heiress, the legionnaire soon finds himself trapped in paradise with a fiery, daring beauty who's nothing he expects ... and everything he desires.   But when he uncovers her own dark secret, Rafe realizes he's made a critical mistake - one that could cost him everything.  Playing body double for a spoiled socialite was supposed to be Holly Ryan's ticket to freedom.  But when she's snatched off her yacht by a tall, dark and dangerous stranger, the not-quite-reformed con artist will make a desperate play to turn her captor from enemy to ally, by any means necessary.  Yet as scorching days melt into sultry nights, Holly is drawn to the mysterious capitaine, with his unexpected sense of honor and his searing touch.  When they're double-crossed, they'll have to risk trusting each other in ways they never imagined... because in this deadly game of deception, it's their lives - and hearts - on the line.  (From Goodreads)

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Why I Picked This Book: I love a good romantic suspense story and the blurb grabbed my attention.

My Impression: I love a good romantic suspense book but sometimes they are a little light on the suspense or the suspense element feels like it's contrived for the sole purpose of getting the two main characters together.  This is not the case with Deception Island!  Right away we're in the middle of the action with a pirate kidnapping at sea and it doesn't let up.

The characters in this book - Rafe and Holly - are fully formed and seriously damaged.  Kelly does a good job of making Rafe a dangerous guy but not a bad one.  He's got a lot of demons and rightfully so and he's pushed into a situation that he doesn't want to be in again.  He's honest about his emotions and his motives and fights hard to maintain his code of honor in a circumstance that he's been forced into.  In her own way Holly is just as damaged as Rafe is.  She trusts no one and her past has made it clear that that's the only way to survive.  Just as she's seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of her bad luck she ends up in worse luck and in more danger than she's ever been in.  I really liked how the attraction was handled between the two of them.  Even when it wasn't the most appropriate it made sense and I loved Holly's inner dialogue.  Their growing friendship and connection also made sense and felt really authentic.

The suspense itself grabbed me and kept me turning pages.  I had no idea how it was going to work out and I couldn't wait to see how Rafe and Holly got themselves out of one disaster after another.  This isn't a suspense where their concern seems a bit over the top and it isn't really that dangerous.  The situation is literary life and death and at times even more is at risk.  The bad guys aren't just cardboard villains.  They're as bad as bad can be and as a reader I had no doubt the risk was very very real.

The pacing was solid.  Sometimes the story was gripping and made you hold your breath and at other times it was a little slower - particularly when Holly and Rafe were getting to know each other.  Overall, it was a fun read without being silly or unrealistic.  I enjoyed getting to know these two characters and watching everything come together.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, I enjoyed this one and would definitely read more by this author.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes if you enjoy romantic suspense with some darker elements I think you would enjoy this one.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Picked Up on a Whim

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books I Picked UP on a Whim.  This was harder than I expected because I don't usually pick up books on a whim.  I normally have a plan that I'm reading by so it's very rare that I'll pick up a book on a whim and just sit down and read it.  But as you will see the library is my greatest downfall when it comes to picking up a book on a whim!

1.  The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen - Sarah Addison Allen had been on my TBR for ages but the book I really intended to read was Garden Spells.  It was last summer and I was obsessed with all things peach and this book just about jumped off the shelf at me!

2.  A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle - This was one of my favorite books as a kid but I remembered virtually nothing about it.  I was between audio books - I had just finished one and was waiting to get the next one and going through my library's digital site trying to find something to listen to and stumbled on this one.  I'm so glad I did!  It was such a great listen and so different from what I expected.

3.  Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts - While I did plan on reading this book I had no intention of picking it up when I did.  For starters Roberts series books ha been very hit or miss for me and then I hate waiting!  With a trilogy or series that only has a certain number of books I like to have them all before I start reading so if I love it or really want to know what happens next I don't have to wait!  This is another that basically vaulted it's way into my bag when I saw it at the library.

4.  Sanctuary Island by Lily Everett - This one is another library book.  I think I had heard of this author before I picked up this book but only in a I recognize the name way.  I was meandering about the shelves and this book was kind of on its own.  I loved the cover and the feel of the book and took it home.  Luckily, I ended up really enjoying it!

5.  The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah - Another library book (seeing a pattern?) and a book I had no intention of reading.  This was Hannah's attempt at a Poirot mystery and while I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan I was a little leery about another author attempting to recreate Christie's most famous detective.

6.  The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs - This was the first book I ever read on a Kindle and I got it simply because I vaguely remembered reading a historical by Wiggs years before and mildly enjoying it.  I LOVED this one!

7.  The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster - Another random library find and one I was less than thrilled with.  I so loved the concept of living a year trying out Martha Stewart's tips and tricks but this one just fell a little flat for me.  I think it was one of those cases where it just wasn't what I wanted and really doesn't have that much to do with the quality of the book itself.

8.  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - This wasn't actually even my library book it was my daughter's! She had left it sitting on the table and I thought it looked interesting and picked it up.  I think I spent the next day or two trying to figure out what was going to happen next!

9.  French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano - This was in the cookbook section and I was curious about it.  Somehow I hadn't heard of it when it came out so I had no idea what it was going to be about (other than the obvious!).

10. Baghdad Without a Map by Tony Horwitz - I actually didn't get this one from the library shelves!  Though I might as well have because I found it in the shelves at my Grandmother's house which might as well be a library.  I really didn't have a huge interest in reading this one but I liked the cover so I picked it up.  I LOVED it and immediately went out and tried to find everything else Horwitz has written - they're all great too though I didn't love Confederates in the Attic.

What books have you picked up on a whim?  Do you pick up books on a whim often or are you more of a planner?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Ramblings from the Stacks - Reviews and Ratings

I don't remember the first review I wrote.  It was probably on Amazon in the early days where you could find a book review by Harriet Klausner on basically every single book that existed (it was always 5 stars).  After that came Paperbackswap and Goodreads and finally here.  Early on all I knew was I wanted a place to say what I thought about a book I had read.

There's something about writing down what I think about a book that helps it stay with me longer.  I remember it a little clearer and begin to realize more what will make a good read for me.  When I don't I forget a lot of books instantly and in fact have read a book then picked it up again a year or two later and read 3/4 of it before I realized I had already read it.  It's one thing to realize 20 or 30 pages in but 300?  Even though I liked the book that did lower my opinion of it a bit!

Which brings me to the next thing - Ratings.  Before I started reviewing here I didn't think much about what ratings mean.  Amazon, Goodreads, and pretty much everywhere else use the star method so when I first started writing reviews in my own space I did too.  But I got to thinking.  What does 3 stars really mean?  What does 4?  If I read a book that I enjoy but doesn't stick with me at all should it really get the same rating that a book that I really hated in parts and really loved in others?  I tried doing half stars for 3 and 4 stars as that's where most of the books I read land but that didn't quite take.  I pondered a few things - letter grades, getting rid of a rating all together, a one sentence review instead of a rating with a longer review at the end.  And then as usual I thought of something simple.  Simple always seems to be better!

I got rid of the official ranking system and any kind of structure and boiled it down to one thing - what do I say when I finish the book?  My new ratings are - Not For Me, It's Okay, It's Good, It's Great, or I Loved It.   I don't have reasons or parameters but when I finish a book the first thing I think is "What did I think of it?"  and my answer is my rating.  What do you think?  What thought process do you use to assign a rating?

And my final subject today is about books with low rankings.  I think we all agree that honesty is the best policy when it comes to what we thought of a book and that means sometimes a book has to get a low rating.  I don't mind posting a negative review here but sometimes I feel a little more uncomfortable posting it on Goodreads or Amazon.  I'm not quite sure what the deal is there but I had a cozy mystery not too long ago that was just all right and I'm still stalling on posting the review to Amazon.  How do you act when you have a negative review in terms of other social media?  Are you the same no matter what or do you have different procedures?

I'm cutting off the ramblings here though I could go on for hours!  It's so easy for me to fall down the rabbit hole on this subject!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Cookies and Cups Cookbook - Cookbook Review + Recipes

The Cookies and Cups Cookbook by Shelly Jaronsky

One of the very first food blogs I stumbled upon was Shelly Jaronsky's Cookies and Cups.  My Pinterest account was sparkling new and I realized that the yummiest looking desserts and the ones that came out the best when I attempted them all came from Cookies and Cups.  When I heard she had a cookbook coming out I absolutely couldn't resist - especially not with that mouth watering cover!

So I ordered it, sight unseen (which I don't do very much anymore) and after one flip through I knew I had made a fantastic purchase.  This book is crammed full of tempting recipes, the bulk of which are sweets.  Sometimes dessert cookbooks have huge sections on decorating or focus more on the looks of the food than the taste but this isn't one of them.  Jaronsky's cookies, cakes and pies are pretty to look at but that's just a byproduct of them being delicious!  I love that most of the recipes have a little twist or something that makes them unique but aren't so off the wall that you'll have any problem finding the ingredients or people to try them.  The dessert section is broken down into basic recipes, Cake, Cookies, Brownies and Bars, Cake, Frosting and Pie.  I'll be trying Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles, Brown Sugar Blondies, OMG Pull-Apart Praline Bread, Glazed Lemmies, Peanut Butter Cup-Filled Brownie Cookie Sandwiches, Gooey Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, Confetti Cake and a whole host of other yummies very soon!

Today I thought I'd share one of my favorite recipes so far.  Key Lime Pie is one of my absolute favorite desserts so when I saw there was Key Lime Pie in cookie form I couldn't resist and I'm so glad I didn't!

Key Lime Pie Cookies

1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Key lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment mix the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.  (I used a hand mixer and it worked fine)
Add the egg, vanilla, key lime juice, and lime zest and continue mixing for 1 more minute, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Mix in the salt and baking soda until incorporated.
Turn the speed to low and add the flour and graham cracker crumbs until the dough comes together.
Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.  Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden.
Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
Place the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl.  Heat on full power for 25 seconds.  Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir the chocolate.  Repeat this process until the white chocolate is melted and smooth.  Transfer the melted chocolate to a small ziptop bag.  Snip one corner of the bag off with scissors and drizzle the white chocolate on top of the cookies.  Allow the white chocolate to set completely.

My Changes: I had run out of the bottled Key Lime juice I usually had on hand and just used the juice from the regular limes that I had zested.  I also left off the white chocolate because nothing good comes from white chocolate.

My Results: So so so good!  If you love Key Lime Pie or know anyone who does make this recipe!

But this cookbook isn't all about the sweet!  The last quarter is dedicated to savory recipes.  They're on the quick and family friendly side but with a twist.  There's a Margarita-Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple-Avocado Salsa, Cashew Chicken, and a French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese that looks AMAZING!  I just had to share this recipe for Garlic Bread Pasta.  I made it as a side for a breaded chicken dish and it is so good!  It also comes togheter super quick and you could use it as a main dish if you wanted.
Key Lime Pie Cookies 

Garlic Bread Pasta

1 lb cavatappi pasta
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons salted butter
3/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 large cloves garlic, minced

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat, continuing to cook the butter until browned and the color of deep amber, constantly swirling the pan so it doesn't burn.  Reduce the heat to low and add the breadcrumbs, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.  Stir the breadcrumbs to coat them in the butter and remove the heat.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt the remaining 1/2 cup butter and garlic together.  This infuses the butter with the garlic.
Add the garlic butter to the bowl of pasta and toss to coat completely.  Then add the buttered breadcrumbs and toss to coat.
Serve hot.

My Changes:  Basically nothing.  I used a different kind of pasta but it was similar in shape so I don't think it made too much of a difference.

My Results: Yum!  This was quick and easy to make and worked great as a side dish but add a salad and it'd be a good main dish!

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

This Week in Reading - May 15

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

What I Got:

The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders - This one was recommend for fans of Agatha Christie so you know I couldn't pass this one up!  There's a widow of an archdeacon who has become a private investigator.  It sounds like so much fun!  (NetGalley)

Address to Die For by Mary Feliz - This cozy mystery stars a professional organizer whose family inherits a 100 year old dilapidated house.  I love organizing and I love dilapidated houses even more so I'm super excited about this one!  (NetGalley)

Other than that it was a fairly quiet week in terms of acquiring books which is good because I definitely need a bit of a slow down!


Reading: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and Deception Island by Brynn Kelly

Listening: Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society by Ann Barrows and Mary Anne Shaffer (SOOO GOOD!)

Watching:  We're still watching and loving Blacklist but other than that there hasn't been much TV time.  I'm hoping to get back to Supernatural this week.

Off the Blog:

This week has been kind of a mess.  The Tornado had 2 school concerts that took some time.  He did great.  Thankfully he has no stage fright and seems to be fine with being on stage.  There's a little girl in his class who stood next to him and cried the entire time and I felt so bad for her and her parents as there wasn't much they could do.  Next week is the last week of school.  Since he's leaving the little school he currently attends they do a full scale graduation and I seriously fear I'm going to cry.  It's hard to believe that not only is he 6 but that he's done with kindergarten.

This weekend will be visiting Emma in her college town and I'm looking forward to it.  We haven't been there since we took her down in August and there was this Italian restaurant that had the BEST ravioli.  We will be going back!  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Ramblings from the Stacks - Reviews and Ratings
Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Picked Up on a Whim
Wednesday:Deception Island - Blog Tour Review
Thursday: Beyond the Books - Someone You Admire and Why
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Linkups: Me Before You

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:
Is there a reason you chose Blogger over WordPress or a different platform?

My Answer:
There wasn't a real reason for choosing Blogger over WordPress.  I have a Gmail account and so all I had to do was press a few buttons to set up a blog.

This week's book was one I've known about for several years but I've avoided because I heard it was an ugly cry read.  I'm not a fan of ugly crying so I really didn't have any interest in reading it UNTIL I saw the movie trailer and became obsessed with it.  So now I'm reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and loving it.  This is the first book I've read by her and unless it goes spectacularly wrong in the last quarter it won't be the last!

When he emerges from the bathroom she is awake, propped up against the pillows and flicking through the travel brochures that were beside his bed.

Chapter 1
There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren't in a hurry, like maybe if you're wearing platform shoes.

My Thoughts:
In the Prologue we get Will before the accident and get to see him in all his arrogant glory.  It doesn't tell us much about who he'll be when we see him again but we definitely get a picture of who he is.  I love the first line in Chapter 1.  It's definitely Lou's voice and I felt like I got to know her pretty quick off that one line.

The 56
"You don't have to behave like an arse."
The words rang out in the still air.

My Thoughts:
I'm past this scene but it was one of my favorites!  Lou's been trying to be nice and pleasant for so long and at this point she's just had it.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Prayers the Devil Answers - Review

Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Sharyn McCrumb, New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Ballad series, examines one of the most famous public executions in US history in her stunning and and powerfully written Depression-era novel.  Years later, after the tragedy, someone remembered the Dumb Supper and what had happened there.  That was the cause of it, they said, because the ritual wasn't a game after all.  It really was magic, but magic has rules, and she broke them.  Suddenly thrust into the role of primary caretaker for her family following the tragic death of her husband, Ellie Robbins is appointed to serve out his term as sheriff of their rural Tennessee mountain town.  The year is 1936, and her role is largely symbolic, excerpt for the one task that only a sheriff can do: execute a convicted prisoner.  Ellie has long proven she can handle herself.  But becoming sheriff is altogether different, and the demands of the role are even more challenging when she is forced to combat society's expectations for a woman.  Soon enough, dark secrets come to light, and Ellie must grapple with small town superstitions and the tenuous ties she shares with a condemned killer as she carves out a place for herself in an uncertain future.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction
Why I Picked This Book:  McCrumb has long been a favorite author but it's been awhile since I've read any of her books.  I was excited to get my hands on this one.

My Impression:  I remember the first Sharyn McCrumb book I ever read.  It was a book called She Walks These Hills and was about a girl named Katie Wyler who had been kidnapped by the Shawnee two hundred years before and now people were seeing her ghost.  In all of her Ballad series novels McCrumb starts with a folk tale - true or not - and weaves all these wonderful stories and characters into it and really makes it come alive.
This book isn't from her Ballad series but it has a similar feel.  McCrumb takes 3 people - Ellendor Robbins trying to get herself back up on her feet after the death of her husband for the sake of her 2 boys, quiet little Celia with her bad luck at the Dumb Supper, and Lonnie Varden a mediocre artist whose job is to paint a mural on the wall of the local post office - and weaves their stories together.  It takes some time to figure out how everything is connected but I wasn't impatient and I enjoyed watching everything unfold.
Of the three characters and stories, Ellendor's was my favorite.  She's a quiet reserved woman who isn't good at small talk and can't take charity.  Without her husband to handle the social aspect she feels adrift.  She's also tough and smart and loves her boys fiercely.    The book does seem to primarily on her for which I was glad as I found her story the most interesting.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy the other 2.  With Celia in particular I wanted to figure out just what a Dumb Supper was.  McCrumb gives a good description so I understood what went on, what it looked like, and what the point was.  I also enjoyed Lonnie's POV because of his honesty about his art abilities.
McCrumb's writing never fails.  There's a musical quality to it and it feels like listening to the best of storytellers weave a complex and beautiful story.  I love seeing the ins and outs of these characters and really getting to know them.  If you haven't read Sharyn McCrumb before than this book is a wonderful place to start.  If you're familiar with her work you'll love this newest tale of life in the Tennessee mountains.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I'd love to reread her books and I'll definitely be looking for the next one.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Absolutely!  If you love a good story I think you'll really enjoy this one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Crossing Places - Review

The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway Mysteries #1) by Elly Griffiths
Rating:Very Good
Source: Library
Description:  When she's not digging up bones or other ancient objects, quirky, tart tongued archaeologist Ruth Galloway lives happily alone in a remote area called Saltmarsh near Norfolk, land that was sacred to its Iron Age inhabitants - not quite earth, not quite sea.
When a child's bones are found on a desolate beach nearby, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson calls Galloway for help.  Nelson thinks he has found the remains of Lucy Downey, a little girl who went missing ten years ago.  Since her disappearance he has been receiving bizarre letters about her, letters with references to ritual and sacrifice.
The bones actually turn out to be two thousand years old but Ruth is soon drawn into the Lucy Downey case and into the mid of the letter writer, who seems to have both archaeological knowledge and eerie psychic powers.  Then another child goes missing and the hunt is on to finder her.
As the letter writer moves closer and the windswept Norfolk landscape exerts its power, Ruth finds herself in completely new territory - and in serious danger.  The Crossing Places marks the beginning of a captivating new crimes series featuring an irresistible heroine.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  This series has been on my TBR for quite some time as I'm fascinated with the archaeology angle and I know several people who love the series.

My Impression:  I've been wanting to read this series for quite sometime.  So much so that I was a little worried when I started because what if my expectations were too high?  What if I didn't like it?  But of course my concerns were needless.  Right away we meet Dr. Ruth Galloway who is waking up in her little house on the edge of the Saltmarsh and not super thrilled about it.  I liked her right away.  She is kind of grumpy and a bit prickly but never so much so that she irritated me.  She's intelligent and knowledgeable and really mostly wants to be left alone but still periodically feels the need for companionship.  She is able to truly analyze a problem and face solutions that she really doesn't want to be true.  We meet the other characters through her eyes so in this first book we don't exactly know how DCI Nelson works or what he thinks and feels.  We just know what he tells Ruth or what Ruth observes which had me wanting to know more but in the best of ways as I'm very much looking forward to getting to know him better in future books.

The mystery was fascinating and I loved how the archaeological information was woven in with the very modern mystery.  While I did figure out what had happened there was a lot I didn't figure out until it was revealed.  The pacing had me wanting to keep going and "one more chapter" usually became more like 5 or 10!  This is definitely not a cozy and the victims in the book are children.  There is also something that happens to an animal about a third of the way into the book.  Both of these events usually upset me but it worked in this book.  There aren't graphic descriptions and there's a detached quality that kept me from getting really caught up in the darkness.

I had two minor issues with the book.  The primary one was that I wanted more archaeology - especially in regards to the Iron Age girl discovered.  I'm hoping that this is something that improves with each book and it's one of the things that interests me most about the series.  I also don't love that the writing is in present tense but I did get used to it after awhile.  Regardless of these 2 minor quibbles I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to seeing where the series goes.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I'm looking forward to the 2nd Ruth Galloway mystery

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes!  I think most mystery readers would really enjoy this.  While some of the topics are darker I think it's written in such a way that almost all readers would have no problems.