Monday, August 21, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks - Pet Peeves

I like to think of myself as an easy going person that doesn't let much bother me - especially not trivial things or things that are you know - technically fiction.  However, when I was making this list I realized I might be just a bit more high strung than I thought!  Turns out lots of things make me kind of rant-y.

In Mysteries

1.  No reason to be investigating - This is mostly for cozies but it drives me crazy if the main character gets involved in the investigation just to be nosy - especially if they're being aggressive about their question asking.

2.  Too many coincidences - Occasional coincidences happen but when huge pivotal parts of the plot turn on a conversation you happened to overhear or a newspaper that happened to be left out than it's hard to keep my eyes from rolling.

3.  No explanation with the reveal - I love a good why mystery and the why usually interests me as much as the who so when the reveal is basically "this guy did it" I'm very unhappy!

4.  The killer was not mentioned in the book - This drives me crazy!  I read a mystery once where the night manager of this hotel was the killer which is all well and good but the night manager was mentioned precisely once and only in his capacity as a night manager.  That's just cheating!

In Romances

1.  Inequality of power - When one character is in a position of power and the other isn't - professor/student, boss/employee, rich person/person desperate for money - there's a serious ick factor for me.  If they're working as a team than I'm good with an age difference or an economic difference but if one person really needs something from the other and that isn't reciprocated or one person has power over the other I'm pretty much out.

2. Cheating - Nope just nope.  Don't care if you're about to break up with your girlfriend or boyfriend or haven't done anything if a romance starts in anyway shape or form when they're in relationships with other people I'm out.

3.  Holding on to romance/grudges from high school - I don't understand it!  Granted I've been out of high school way longer than a lot of the main characters in a romance but still!  No part of me wants to be the person I was in high school and that includes not having a deep longing for past relationships

On Television

A multi-show story arc - I tend to watch crime shows (NCIS, CSI, etc) where the show starts with a dead body and ends with an arrest.  I can handle a plot taking a couple of shows to flesh out the story but if it gets more than that I'm out.  My main issue is that when a plot goes more than a few shows the plot gets really convoluted, the characters go crazy, or you end up with an arch-nemesis and I hate those!

In Real Life

People who leave shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot - This drives me CRAZY!  The only exception to this if a shopping cart is pushed out of the way in the handicapped parking area.

I could go on but I think I should stop now!  I'm going to go drink some calming tea and do some yoga.  Turns out I'm not nearly as relaxed as I thought I was!  What are your pet peeves?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

This Week in Reading - August 20

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:

Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper - I read one Molly Harper book a few years ago and really loved and have been wanting to read more ever since.  I haven't been quite sure where to start so when I saw this new book on NetGalley I figured that was a pretty good place.  I'm really looking forward to this one!  (NetGalley)

And that's it!  Just one book this week and not much pending.  I need to have a some intake slowdown so I can get caught up!


Reading: Murder Go Round by Carol J. Perry and The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller

Listening: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

Watching: Hard Knocks on HBO which is kind of a behind the scenes at spring training for an NFL team.  This year it's about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Off the Blog:

Comet is getting bigger but he is no less a brat.  He gets very annoyed if I'm gone a lot during the day and will follow me around yowling at me until I sit down.  He's pretty impossible to get a decent picture of because as soon as he sees the camera he's trying to figure out what it is.  I have lots of close ups of his nose.  He's definitely way more people oriented than any cat I've ever had which is pretty fun.

This weekend we're out of town.  We headed up to Tennessee to watch the eclipse and are really looking forward to the trip.  We are going with Jason's brother and the brother's wife.  I really like my brother-in-law and sister-in-law but we've never traveled with them so I'm a little curious to see how it goes.  I think the only problem we're facing is wishy washiness about what to do because neither couple wants to offend the other.

I'll be home for 1 day and then I'm hopping in the car and heading down to south Mississippi to visit my grandparents which I'm looking forward too.  We've gotten a little spoiled with the motor home and are doing a lot more traveling.  We've been in town almost 6 weeks and I'm going stir crazy but I have a feeling all the running around next week will fix that!

Speaking of traveling J and I are talking about taking a big trip sometime next year and are trying to figure out where to go.  We've talked about San Diego, Montreal, Boston and surrounding areas, and Iceland but just can't decide.  If you could go anywhere where would you want to go?  Where have you been and loved?  Give me suggestions!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Pet Peeves
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Back to School Freebie
Wednesday:  The Lover's Portrait - Fiction Review
Thursday:  Luster of Lost Things - Fiction Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Books
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

At Wit's End - Cozy Mystery Review

At Wit's End by Kirsten Weiss (Amazon)

Rating: Good
Source: Author

Description: When Susan Witsend inherits her grandmother’s UFO-themed B&B, she’s ready to put her organizational skills to the test. She knows she can make the B&B work, even if there is a faux-UFO in the roof. After all, what’s not to love about a Victorian nestled in the high Sierra foothills? None of her carefully crafted policies and procedures, however, can prepare her for a corpse in room seven – the body of her small-town sheriff’s ex-husband. But Susan has her own plans to solve the crime.
In Susan’s mind, Men in Black, conspiracy-crazed old ladies, and an angry sheriff are just part and parcel of catering to UFO enthusiasts. But is there a government conspiracy afoot? Or is the murder a simple case of small town vengeance?

Susan must keep all her wits about her. Because the killer isn’t finished, and if she isn’t careful, her fate may be written in the stars…

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed Weiss' Paranormal Museum mysteries so this UFO Bed and Breakfast mystery sounded too good to pass up!

My Impression:  UFOs aren't really my thing but a cozy mystery with a good dose of zany is most definitely by thing and this book delivered in spades!

I really liked Susan and her friend Arsen.  They've been friends for a long time and it's pretty clear to everyone but Susan that something is evolving there but that was never really center stage.  I enjoyed how they work together both professionally and for some of the other mayhem and hijinks that show up along the way.

One of my big questions when I read a mystery with an amateur detective is why are the investigating.  Just plain nosiness can get annoying fast but Susan passes the test with 2 reasons to become involved.  The body is found in her hotel and her cousin with a sketchy past is a prime suspect. The mystery is solid.  The reasons made sense and I really had no idea just who the killer was until towards the end of the book.  This is one of those mysteries were suspects abound and it was hard to narrow it down just who was the killer!  My only issue was that the reveal was a bit contrived.  However, this is a shorter mystery and I'd rather know all the details in a slightly contrived fashion than be left hanging.

There are a few background mysteries such as the "Disappeared" and just what is going on with the FBI agent that I hope are explored in later books.  This is a fun, seriously quirky cozy mystery that was a fast and entertaining read.  I'm looking forward to visiting with Susan and Arsen at Wit's End again soon!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to the next Paranormal Museum mystery and the next in this series as well!

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy Weiss' Paranormal Museum mysteries I think you would really enjoy this as well.  If you enjoy a mystery with a lot of quirkiness that doesn't devolve into slapstick this is a good read!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Linkups - The Luster of Lost Things

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:
When you enter an unfamiliar house or apartment for the first time, do you feel disappointed if you don't see any bookshelves or books on the coffee table?

My Answer:
I'm not sure I'd be disappointed though what do you look at when your host steps out of the room for a minute if you don't have a bookcase or stack of books to scan?    I'm always mystified by people who don't read.  I mean I love TV and watch a decent amount (okay more than decent) but sometimes only a book will do!

This week's book is a review book that I'm really excited about!  The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller is about a little boy who is unable to speak, a bakery full of magic and a journey complete with an overweight golden retriever.  So far it's just a gorgeous read.

The Beginning: 
Somewhere in the Fourteenth Street subway station there is a statue of a little bronze man who waits for a train that never comes.

My Thoughts:
I just love that image of the little man waiting for the train that never comes.  It's poignant and patient.

The 56:
They head away from the front window and I let out a trapped breath.  The big man does not have a crowbar tucked into his belt ad there is no sledgehammer crew waiting to barge inside; he did not come here to seive the shop after all, but to consider it, and I think we passed his test because he is at ease, making small talk with Lucy with his elbow propped on the Book's display case.

My Thoughts:
This sounds like the thought process of a twelve year old but not in a bad way.  There's a little bit of ramble and some nervousness but I do feel like I'm getting the boy's inner thoughts.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Tiny House on the Hill - Contemporary Romance Review

Tiny House on the Hill by Celia Bonaduce (Amazon)

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley

Description: Home is where the heart fits . . .

Summer Murray is ready to shake things up. She doesn’t want to work in risk management. She doesn’t want to live in Hartford, Connecticut. So she plans a grand adventure: she’s going to throw out all the stuff she doesn’t want and travel the country in her very own tiny house house shaped like a train caboose. Just Summer, her chihuahua-dachshund Shortie, and 220 square feet of freedom.

Then her take-no-prisoners grandmother calls to demand Summer head home to the Pacific Northwest to save the family bakery. Summer has her reasons for not wanting to return home, but she’ll just park her caboose, fix things, and then be on her way. But when she gets to Cat’s Paw, Washington, she’s shocked by her grandmother’s strange behavior and reunited with a few people she’d hoped to avoid. If Summer is going to make a fresh start, she’ll have to face the past she’s been running from all along . . .

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I've watched more than my share of Tiny House Hunters on HGTV so I thought it'd be fun to read a book set in a tiny house.

My Impression: I'm so torn on this one!  This book reads super fast and is fun but at the same time several elements left me rolling my eyes. So that this doesn't become too convoluted I'm going with a list format for this one!

The Good:
The pacing is super fast and it's a really light read - this would be a good sick in bed read or a stress relief book.

The parts of Summer's journey where she's learning how to travel in her tiny house were pretty fun and I enjoyed seeing her confidence grow as she went along.

Summer's relationship with her grandmother, Queenie was interesting.  We get hints that Queenie is not quite so serious and rigid as she seems and that's really fun.

Summer's dog, Shortie, was really cute and I loved his friendship with the much bigger Andre.  That's a visual image that really gave me a lot of giggles.

The Not As Good:
I had a hard time believing that Summer was really 28.  She seemed so very immature and unsure of herself.  It got better in the middle of the book but towards the end flared up again.  She makes assumptions based on things that happened 10 years ago and it never occurs to her that things could have changed since they were teenagers.  As well I struggled to really get behind her new plan when she had yet to really successfully make a purse.

The romance isn't developed.  For a good 3/4 of the book I would have considered this just really light contemporary fiction.  Nothing is really resolved at all until the last few pages.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Since this book was so readable despite my irriations I'd give this author another try but only if the premise really grabbed me.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you're in the mood for a really light read and the premise appeals to you this is a fun read.  If you're in the mood for a good romance I'd skip this one.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Cottingley Secret - Blog Tour Fiction Review

About The Cottingley Secret

• Hardcover: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (August 1, 2017)
  “The Cottingley Secret tells the tale of two girls who somehow convince the world that magic exists. An artful weaving of old legends with new realities, this tale invites the reader to wonder: could it be true?” — Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker
One of BookBub's Most-Anticipated Books of Summer 2017! 

 The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story. 1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told. One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Thoughts:

I've wanted to read Hazel Gaynor's books for years but somehow the timing was just never right and I never got around to it.  This had a few irresistible topics for me - an old bookshop in Ireland, an old manuscript, and a main character who is trying to learn to believe in herself - and of course the gorgeous cover didn't hurt!  This was one of those special books that was exactly what I wanted when I wanted it.  I loved Olivia and I loved watching her learn to give herself permission to be happy.  I could relate to her struggle with trying to keep things together after two of the most important people in her life are gone in body or in spirit.   I really loved watching her as she learned more and more of Frances' story and I couldn't wait to figure out the connection and how it all works out.  I loved Frances' story when told through her own words as well.  This is one of the few dual timeline books where I enjoy both timelines equally and love both main characters.  This was my first introduction to Gaynor's work but it most definitely won't be my last!  Rating:  Loved it!

About Hazel Gaynor

HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris will be published in 2017. Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland. Find out more about Hazel at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books for New Mystery Readers

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from the Broke and the Bookish is 10 Book Recommendations for --.  Since I'm in a bit of a mystery phase right now I thought I'd do 10 Book Recommendations for New Mystery Readers.

Children's Mysteries

1.  The Boxcar Children Great Adventure: Journey on a Runaway Train by Gertrude Chandler Warren -  The Tornado (now age 7 but probably starting at age 5) is a huge Boxcar Children fan.  In fact the audio books were what really got him reading on his own.  I'm not usually a fan of rebooted series but this one is so much fun!  There's history and a bit of a treasure hunt and all kinds of fun antics.

2.  Summer of the Woods by Steven K. Smith - This is another series with a history element but in the best way possible.  This is the story of 2 brothers and their friend getting into all kinds of hijinks in Virginia and it's a lot of fun.  The mysteries are fun and the history is fascinating.  I've even picked up a few tidbits that I didn't know!

3.  The Mummy with No Name by Geronimo Stilton - Geronimo Stilton mysteries are so much fun and are fun for readers just starting chapter books.  There's lots of gorgeous illustrations, colorful text and hijinks and mayhem galore.

4.  Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison - This is one that I stumbled on almost by accident at the library and it's one I think my girls would have really enjoyed in 4th to 6th grade or so.  Gilda's an interesting character who has a talent for getting into trouble.  This wasn't the best mystery but the characters make up for it.

5.  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - I just reread it and remembered just why I loved it so much as a kid.  It's a great mystery and a fun read as well.  While a murder is discussed the bulk of the mystery is more of a treasure hunt and a wonderfully done one.  It was one of my favorites from about 5th grade and up and one of my daughter's has read it so many times her copy has fallen to pieces!

Mysteries for Adults

1.  A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie - This is a super solid police procedural with really great characters and fascinating mysteries.  They get more serious as the series goes on but if anything this series just keeps getting better!

2.  Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie - Of course I had to have an Agatha Christie book!  This is a great one to start with because it's Poirot at his most likable and it's a great cast of characters.

3.  The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King - If you're looking for a historical setting and love a twist on the Sherlock Holmes story than you can't go wrong with King's Mary Russell series which features an older Holmes and his young wife Mary Russell.

4.  The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala by Laura DiSilverio - I couldn't make this list without including a cozy!  There are so many great cozies to choose from but this very bookish mystery which involved book club chat, a dead body, and a really fun mystery is one of my favorites!

5.  The Hexed by Heather Graham - If you like a little paranormal in your reading the Krewe of Hunters by Graham is one of the best and The Hexed is one of my favorites.  This is a fun series involving ghosts, witches, history and a very modern day murder.  Don't let the size of the Krewe series scare you.  You can jump in where you want and almost all feature different main characters who are connected by paranormal investigations only.

What mysteries would you recommend to new mystery readers of all ages?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Reviews From the Children's Section - The Westing Game

One of my favorite genres and one that is the easiest for me to push aside is middle grade fiction. This year to make sure I get a little more children's and young adult fiction I thought I would designate the first Monday of every month Middle Grade Monday.  While a lot of my picks this year are classics I am trying to branch out a little bit and read new or at least recent releases.  This week's book is an old favorite but one I haven't read in decades.  It was nice to revisit it.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Description:  A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger - and a possible murderer - to inherit his vast fortune, one thing's for sure: Sam Westing may be dead... but that won't stop him from playing one last game!

My Thoughts:  Reading an old favorite is always a little bit of a risk.  Will a book I loved as a child still be a decent read for an adult?  How much will nostalgia affect my reading experience?  Will reading it now ruin it for me?

The Westing Game exceeded my expectations and was really just a joy to read.  There's quite a large cast here and while the book does seem to center around adolescent Turtle Wexler we get a peeks of all the other characters too.  It's fun seeing the different ways each team investigates the clues they are given as well as the development of the different relationships.  The characters while not super developed are surprisingly complex with hidden secrets and weaknesses.  As part of the game each character is partnered with another making some unlikely allies and it was entertaining to watch.  The mystery isn't scary but is definitely puzzling and really a solid mystery.  Raskin isn't dumbing anything down because this is a Middle Grade book!  Even knowing the ending I really enjoyed watching the investigation and seeing the conclusion be revealed.   There are two epilogues which show what has happened to the characters 5 years from the end of the mystery and then again even more into the future which I really enjoyed but might make some readers who don't like super tied up endings a little eye rolly.

While this book was published in 1979 very little feels dated except for the occasional decor description.  There are some mentions of race and gender role issues but Raskins handles it all beautifully and with an unexpected flair.  There was one mention of a character's daughter that was born with some sort of disability (possibly Down Syndrome) that made me cringe a bit but this was literally one mention.

The plot is fairly complex and there are a lot of subtleties that I think might bore younger readers but I think any reader - especially one who loves mysteries - who is 10 or older would love this.  If you're an adult who has never read this or if this was a favorite childhood read it's definitely worth a visit.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  Rating:  Loved it!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

This Week in Reading - August 13

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:

Just one this week!  Though I may have 2 pending requests out there lurking.

Say No Moor by Maddy Hunter - A tour of travel bloggers through Cornwall goes horribly wrong and the tour organizer finds herself running an inn and trying to save the day to keep her travel company going.  This is the beginning of a new series and this is a new to me author but it's a cozy I'm really looking forward to trying!  (NetGalley)


Reading:  I'm finishing up The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor for a blog tour stop later this week and am about to start Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent.  For Kindle reading I'm reading Tiny House on the Hill by Celia Bonaduce.

Listening:  Still waiting for A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas but until that gets here I'm listening to podcasts.

Watching:  We just finished Shetland on Netflix and we really liked it though I didn't love the last season.  I felt like the characters did a few things that they never would have done and few things that happened just din't feel like the rest of the series.  Now we're looking for something else to watch.  Right now it's between River on Netflix or Grantchester

Off the Blog:

Well the big news around here is that Eleanor got married this week!  She and her long time boyfriend had been talking about getting married for awhile and had been working on wedding planning but a few days ago they decided they didn't want to mess with all the wedding stuff and just wanted to be married.  So earlier this week we all met at the courthouse and watched them get married.  They're very excited and we're very happy for them and excited to see them start their life together.

Other than that it's been a busy but ordinary week.  The Tornado is getting back on schedule at school and so far really liking his teacher and the kids in his class.  The kitten is still adapting well though has not liked that I've been away from home quite a bit this past week.  He's made his displeasure clearly known by following me around and yowling at me until I sit down so he can sit on me.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Reviews from the Children's Section - The Westing Game
Tuesday:  10 Book Recommendations for Young Mystery Lovers
Wednesday: The Cottingley Secret - Blog Tour Review
Thursday: TBD 
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  At Wits End - Cozy Mystery Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Bellingham Bloodbath - Historical Mystery Review

The Bellingham Bloodbath (Colin Pendragon #2) by Gregory Harris

Rating: DNF'd 65%
Source: NetGalley

Description:  After a captain in Her Majesty's Guard and his young wife are brutally murdered in their flat, master sleuth Colin Pendragon and his partner Ethan Pruitt are summoned to Buckingham Palace. Major Hampstead demands discretion at all costs to preserve the reputation of the Guard and insists Pendragon participate in the cover-up by misleading the press. In response, Pendragon makes the bold claim that he will solve the case in no more than three days' time or he will oblige the major and compromise himself.
Racing against the clock - and thwarted at every turn by their Scotland Yard nemesis Inspector Emmett Varcoe - Pendragon and Pruitt begin to assemble the clues around the grisly homicide, probing into private lives and uncovering closely guarded secrets. As the minutes tick away, the pressure - and the danger - mounts as Pendragon's integrity is on the line and a cold-blooded killer remains on the streets...

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I love a good historical mystery and this series was new to me.

My Impression:  Historical mysteries are really hit or miss for me.  When I love them they're my absolute favorite but when they don't work I tend to find them dry and tedious.  That unfortunately was the case with this mystery.  This takes place towards the end of Queen Victoria's reign which is a time period I haven't found very often in the mystery genre.  As well I was curious to see how Colin and Ethan's sexuality would affect their day to day life as it wasn't particularly socially acceptable at the time.  And I never can resist a nice bloody murder!

Unfortunately, it all fell about flat for me.  I didn't hate it - I just didn't care, which might be worse.  Ethan and Colin both seemed to speak in almost a presentation style.  I expect there was lots of throat clearing before they would make their paragraph length pronouncements.  I really couldn't tell the difference between the two men which made it hard to keep track of who was who.  Basically Colin seemed a little more arrogant and Ethan spent more time worrying about Colin and occasionally making foreshadowing statements.

For me this was one of those books that was completely out of mind as soon as I put the book down and it always took a minute to remember just what was happening and who everyone was when I picked up again.  So finally at about 65% when I realized I just didn't care who did what and why I called it quits.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Probably not.  While I like the time period the rest of the book just didn't work for me.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Probably not.  I mean it wasn't awful but if you want a historical mystery give Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series a try.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday LInkups - The Westing Game

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 participate in readathons and/or reading challenges?

My Answer:  
I love the idea of readathons and reading challenges but I'm terrible at them.  I pretty much mean to participate in every readathon that I see but it always seems to not happen at the last second.  As for the challenges I signed up for several for the first few years of blogging but I'm awful at remembering to linkup or really track the books so I finally quit doing them.  I do the Goodreads challenge but that's about all I seem to be able to manage.

This week's book is a childhood favorite that I've been really looking forward to reading.  I don't remember the last time I read The Westing Game but it's been at least 20 years and if I'm being completely honest probably more like 25!  No matter how long it's been I can't even begin to count how many times I read The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.  I'm almost done with it now and I've been really impressed with how well it's holding up!  It's just as much now as I remember it being.

The Beginning:
The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset Towers faced east.  Strange!

My Thoughts:
Not the most exciting beginning but it does set the tone for some of the weirder things that happen during the book!

The 56:
No matter how much fear and suspicion he instilled in the players, Sam Westing knew that greed would keep them playing the game.

My Thoughts:  
Greed is a pretty strong motivator so I think Sam Westing knows what he's doing here!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Do you have a childhood favorite you'd love to reread?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

All Signs Point to Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

All Signs Point to Murder (Zodiac Mystery #2) by Connie di Marco

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description: Julia Bonatti is alarmed by the astrological signs looming over Geneva Leary’s wedding day, but nobody asked Julia’s opinion and being a bridesmaid means supporting the bride no matter what. Even with the foreboding Moon-Mars-Pluto lineup in the heavens, no one’s prepared for the catastrophes that strike: a no-show sister, a passed-out wedding planner, and a lethal shooting in the dead of night.
With anger and grief threatening to tear the Leary family part, Julia is determined to understand how such a terrible tragedy could occur. As she digs deeper into the family’s secrets, her astrological insights will lead her to the truth about a criminal enterprise that stretches far beyond the California coast.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book: I enjoyed the first book in this series and I really like the Soup Mystery books she writes under the Connie Archer name.

My Impression: I really enjoyed the first book in this series about astrologer Julia Bonatti but I was not prepared for just how much I was going to enjoy the second book!  di Marco is back strong with this new book about some crazy dysfunctional family dynamics and the astrologer who ends up smack in the middle of the drama.

The mystery was solid and while I had some guesses at how it would end up there were still a few points that were definitely a surprise which is always a lot of fun for this regular mystery reader.  As well I felt like Julia's character was fleshed out a lot more without taking the focus off the mystery.  I really enjoyed getting to know her and spend a few hours in her world.  She has some interesting friends!   Watching her do the astrology readings was really entertaining and made me wish she was real so I could send my birth information to her!  I really enjoy watching an amateur sleuth do a little bit of work in their day job and di Marco did a fantastic job of using Julia's occupation to further the mystery and let the readers get to know the characters a little better.

If you haven't read the first book in this series I don't think you'd have any trouble jumping in right here.  I've been in a little bit of a reading rut this summer and this book was really the bit of fun I needed to get me back on track.  If you're looking for a fast paced cozy mystery with a likable amateur sleuth and a well done mystery don't pass this one up!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm really looking for the next book and this series and reading more from this author in general.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you're a cozy mystery fan you really need to read this!  Connie di Marco/Archer is one of the best!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Dream Keeper's Daughter - Paranormal Romance Review

The Dream Keeper's Daughter by Emily Colin (Amazon link)

Rating: Okay
Source: Publisher

Description:  Eight years after the unsolved disappearance of her boyfriend Max Adair, archaeologist Isabel Griffin has managed to move on and rebuild her life with her young daughter, Finn, her last tie to Max. But after a series of strange incidents, Isabel begins to wonder if Max might still be alive somewhere, trying to communicate with her. She has no idea that the where isn’t the problem—it’s the when. Max has slipped through time and place, landing on his ancestral family plantation in 1816 Barbados, on the eve of a historic slave uprising. As Isabel searches for answers, Max must figure out not only how to survive the violence to come, but how to get back to his own century, the woman he loves, and the daughter he has only ever met in his dreams.

Genre: Romance - Paranormal

Why I Picked This Book:  I love a missing persons case and this sounded really intriguing with the main character being and archaeologist and the history element.

My Impression: This very well may be a case of a book just not being for me.  If you enjoy time travel elements and love a romance don't let the fact that I didn't love this stop you from picking it up!
The Good:
The atmosphere of the book felt seriously spooky and forbidding through most of the book.

I loved Isabel's daughter Finn.  She was really smart and sweet and a little unnerving at times.  She seemed to know things there was no way to know including what people were thinking sometimes.

Isabel and Finn's relationship.  It felt really real and Isabel's frustration with Finn being ostracized by her peers for her strangeness really rang true.  She's a parent who desperately wants to protect her daughter.

Isabel's father.  He suffered a trauma very similar to Isabel when his wife disappeared.  He's determined to learn from his mistakes as a father to Isabel and be the best grandfather he can be.  As well he really tries to give advice to Isabel based on his own mistakes.

The history.  I love history and enjoyed the present day research whether it was looking into genealogy or Isabel's job as an archaeologist.

The Bad:
The book felt a bit overwrought.  Isabel's emotions were on high from beginning to end as were most of the other characters.  It got a bit exhausting.

I never quite bought how Max managed to slip through time in the first place.  I mean I know you have to suspend belief a little bit anyway and I'm fine with that but his motivations for the whole thing - especially at that exact moment just didn't ring true.

The ending.  I actually liked the way it worked out but it didn't fit the book at all.  I just didn't feel that the characters would have done that.  Obviously I can't say too much without giving it away but I just struggled with it.

Overall:  I loved the history elements and the setting but felt like there were some significant plot holes.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Potentially though the blurb would really have to appeal to me.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If the time travel element really appeals to you than you may enjoy this one.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Books I've Meant to Read But Haven't

So often I find myself saying the same thing when it comes to books - "Oh I've been meaning to read that!" or "I really want to read that but just haven't yet."  That list or books that I really mean to read is so ridiculously long that it some times feels more than a little overwhelming.  So of course the answer is to put some of them in a list!  Lists really fix most everything.  I figure I'll focus on these 10 for now so I at least feel like I'm making progress!

1.  I Found You by Lisa Jewell - Really I want to read just about anything by Lisa Jewell but this one sounds especially good!  I love dual time lines and lots of mystery.

2.  Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker - I've been hearing raves about Tucker's books years and somehow still haven't managed to pick one up.

3.  Written in Blood by Anne Bishop - I've heard fantastic reviews on this series since I started blogging and while it's a little outside my reading comfort zone it definitely has caught my attention.

4.  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - This book has been everywhere for ages and it sounds like a book I would love.

5.  Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews - Andrews is one of those can do no wrong authors and while it's another one outside of my usual reading it's definitely one I want to try!

6.  Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott - I haven't really seen anyone mention this one for a bit but for awhile it was everywhere and I really wanted to read it.  Just the other day I saw it at the library and if my bag wasn't already full there was no way I could have resisted!

7.  Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas - Devil in Winter is quite possibly one of my absolute favorite romance novels so why haven't I read this sequel featuring their son that came out months ago??  No idea!

8.  A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin - When I first heard of that one I thought what a great concept!  I should really read it.  And then somehow the third book was just released and I still haven't read it.

9.  Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe - Every summer a new Beach House book comes out with a gorgeous summer-y cover and a plot that sounds wonderful.  Then the glowing reviews start showing up!

10. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater - Another one that it a little outside my comfort zone and another one that I've heard nothing but raves for.  I'm really looking forward to this series!

What books have you been meaning to read but haven't managed to get around to yet?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Shadow Girl - Blog Tour Mystery Review + Giveaway

SHADOW GIRL by Gerry Schmitt

Shadow Girl (An Afton Tangler Thriller)
Suspense/Thriller 2nd in Series Release Date - August 1, 2017
Hardcover: 320 pages ISBN-13: 978-0425281789 Kindle ASIN: B01MXHV6CL

The brutal murder of a business tycoon leaves Afton Tangler and the Twin Cities reeling, but that’s just the beginning of a gruesome crime spree...
Leland Odin made his fortune launching a home shopping network, but his millions can’t save his life. On the list for a transplant, the ailing businessman sees all hope lost when the helicopter carrying his donor heart is shot out of the sky.
Now with two pilots dead and dozens injured, Afton Tangler, family liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, is drawn into the case. As she and her partner investigate family members and business associates, whoever wants Leland dead strikes again—and succeeds—in a brazen hospital room attack.
The supposedly squeaky clean millionaire has crossed the wrong person—and she’s not finished exacting her revenge. The case explodes into an international conspiracy of unbridled greed and violence. And as Afton gets closer to unearthing the mastermind behind it, she gets closer to becoming collateral damage...

My Thoughts:

I've been a longtime fan of Laura Childs' cozy mysteries so when I heard she wrote thrillers under another name how could I resist?   To be honest I was expecting a thriller with some pretty cozy undertones but wow was I ever wrong!  This is a serious thriller with a lot going on.  There's surface to air missiles, conspiracies to kill no matter who gets hurt and what has to be done, and characters with some seriously shady backstories.  

This book flies with super fast pacing between the intense investigation and just the short chapter structure of the book.  While espionage wasn't really involved it had a very spy thriller feel to me with some pretty lethal bad guys.  This is more of a why than a who kind of mystery.  The names of the bad guys (and I mean that in a general sense versus just males) are revealed in the first paragraph but their reasoning takes some time to uncover.  I enjoyed watching the investigation unfurl as the police start with just the bits they know and slowly build a scenario and then a case.

I enjoyed the partner dynamic between Afton and her partner Max.  While Afton's role is a family liaison officer and not an investigator I didn't feel that Max didn't value her contributions to the investigation.  They really worked as a partnership which was nice.  As well the glimpses of Afton's home life added a lot of depth to her character and I felt like I knew her a bit better.  

This was a fast and enjoyable read.  I really enjoyed the Minneapolis setting and Afton's character. It isn't the most intense thriller I've read but it was thoroughly enjoyable and quite the fun puzzle-y read!  Rating: Good

About The Author

Gerry Schmitt is the author of the Afton Tangler Thrillers, and, writing under the pseudonym Laura Childs, the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-five novels, the Tea Shop, Scrapbooking, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. She is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won TV and radio awards, and produced two reality TV shows. She and her professor husband enjoy collecting art, travel, and their two Shar-Pei dogs. Author Links - WebpageFacebook Purchase Links Amazon B&N BAM

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July 31 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
July 31 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
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August 3 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
August 4 – Bookworm Cafe –  REVIEW
August 5 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW
August 5 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
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August 7 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW
August 8 – My Reading Journey – REVIEW
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August 12 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
August 12 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW
August 13 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 13 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

Sunday, August 6, 2017

This Week in Reading - August 6

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 Comfort Food Diaries:  My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart by Emily Nunn - After her life falls apart all at once Emily Nunn turns to cooking for solace which starts a Comfort Food Tour project.  I love food books and I love project books so this one is perfect for me!  (NetGalley)

Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt -  I've been wanting to read the Maiden Lane series for awhile and Elizabeth Hoyt for even longer so I couldn't resist this one when I came across it on NetGalley! (NetGalley)

The Winter Wedding Plan by Olivia Miles - I really enjoyed the first book in this series and was excited to see the little sister who has had a rough couple of years was getting her own book.  I'm excited to see her story!  (NetGalley)


Reading:  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco

Listening:  I should be getting A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas any day now but until then I'm listening to podcasts.  I'm really enjoying What Should I Read Next? right now and getting some good bookish recommendations and I've loved The History Chicks too.

Watching:  J and I are finishing up Shetland on Netflix.  I really loved the episodes that were based of specific books but am less in love with season 3 which is just using the characters.  I'm also watching some I Love Lucy after listening to The History Chicks podcast about Lucille Ball and I've really been enjoying them.  In between all that I'm catching up on the hundreds of Hallmark Mystery Movies I've recorded in the last couple of years.  Pretty sure The Garage Sale Mysteries are my favorite.

Off the Blog:

His preferred sleeping position - under the blankets with his head on my shoulder

Kitten!  After much heated debate we've gone with the name Comet.  We're a bit space obsessed over here so Mars and Mercury were also suggested.  He adjusted really quickly and seems pretty content here   He's got lots of energy at times and it's impossible of him to take a picture when he's awake because he wants to see what is in my hand so usually I get a really close up shot of a cat nose or a paw.  He's super snuggly and wants to sleep under the blankets up against people which is a new one for me.  I've had cats that slept on beds but none that slept under the covers.  He's kind of a brat!  Okay more than kind of!  If he feels like he needs attention he's not quiet about.  He'll get between whatever you're working on and yowl at you until you pick him up.  Most nights he stomps on me and tries to head butt my Kindle out of my hand until I pet him enough for him to settle down.  It's really been so much fun to have a kitten around and he really does have an awesome personality even when he's driving me crazy!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Shadow Girl - Mystery Blog Tour Review
Tuesday:  Books I've Mean to Read But Haven't
Wednesday:  Dream Keeper's Daughter - Review
Thursday: All Signs Point to Murder - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!