Monday, May 22, 2017

Buns - Contemporary Romance Review

Buns (Hudson Valley #3) by Alice Clayton

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Clara Morgan is living the dream, if you can call rebranding hotels that are desperate for a new life and running any kind of marathon a dream. Which she does. But the career she loves and the endurance races that keep her adrenaline pumping have kept her too busy to put down any roots. Growing up in foster care, she’s never been able to establish traditions of her own, which may be why she’s fascinated by the rituals that generations-old family resorts are known for. She’s especially interested in the Bryant Mountain House, and not just for their secret recipe for the yummy, gooey, can’t-get-enough-of Hot Cross Buns….
Archie Bryant, the man with the Buns, is fifth generation and one-day-owner of the charming yet run-down Bryant Mountain House in Bailey Falls, New York. He’s determined to save his family’s legacy from the wrecking ball the old-fashioned way—by gritting his teeth and doing what needs to be done. There’s no way Archie will be influenced by the new hotel branding expert his father brought in to turn one hundred and fifty years of tradition on its head just to attract a faster, younger, slicker crowd. But when some of Clara’s ideas start bringing in new, paying customers, Archie can’t deny that she may have just given him a shot at keeping his resort open.

It’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s sweet, it’s Buns.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book: I've heard raves about Clayton's romances forever and keep meaning to try her books so when I saw this on NetGalley I couldn't resist (even though the title and cover make me cringe a little!)

My Impression:
The Couple - 
Clara - Clara's backstory is heartbreaking and fits how she's chosen to live her life as adult with herself firmly in the drivers seat and refusing to let anyone in.  She struggles with traditions and holidays because she doesn't quite understand how to be a part of either.

Archie - Archie firmly believes in family and tradition first.  He's worked his entire life to keep the family hotel up and running and is not so crazy about having an outsider come in and tell him what to do.  However, he's not so hardheaded that he refuses to listen to reason and is intelligent and motivated to make things work.

What I Liked:
Both characters have baggage from very real circumstances but neither dismisses the other's issues.  I also liked that Clara had some trepidation about spending time with Archie in the home he shared with his late wife.  She's not melodramatic about it but she's uncomfortable and that felt very real.

They're both good at their jobs and it was fun to watch them in action.  Sometimes they even worked well together and that was even more fun.

While this is definitely a spicier romance than I usually read I did feel like there was an emotional connection between Archie and Clara.

The setting is amazing.  I loved the hotel and I loved the town.  The employees and friends really added a lot of joy to the reading.

What I Didn't Like:
Way heavy on the sexual innuendos or just comments without the innuendo - especially from Clara's friend Natalie.  I get that she and Oscar are having a lot of sex but seriously talk about something else occasionally.

I expected a fun and funny read but I was surprised by the amount of heart that ran through the stories.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and getting to know Hudson Falls and am looking forward to going back and reading Roxie and Natalie's stories.  The title and the cover made me cringe a little but that's what Kindles are for!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  This was a fun read.

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you enjoy contemporary romance and don't mind a lot of spice and even more language than this is a must read!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

This Week in Reading - May 21

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 Stardance Summer by Emily March - I absolutely love the Eternity Springs series and I'm super excited to have this next book.  Plus this has a best friend's little sister/brother's best friend plot which I love.  (Publisher)

A Strange Scottish Shore by Juliana Gray - I really don't know all that much about the series but it takes place in 1906 Scotland, there's an old castle and an archealogist.  I'm thinking I'll enjoy it!  (NetGalley)

I've got a couple of request pending - 1 I'm pretty sure I'll get and 1 that I don't think I'll get but it couldn't hurt to request it!  I'm trying to cut down on the number of books I'm getting and I figure 2 isn't too bad a number!


Reading:  Three Fates by Nora Roberts, Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (almost done!), and Love and Death in Burgundy by Susan C. Shea

Listening:  I'm listening to podcasts while I wait for my next audiobook to be available.  Right now I'm going through the backlist of The Babysitter's Club Club where they're talking about Babysitter's Club book #19 Stacey's Mistake.

Watching:  I'm getting caught up on this season of Doctor Who and I'm really enjoying it.  Capaldi seems to be really comfortable in the role and I love the new companion Billie.  She kind of reminds me of Donna.

Off the Blog:

We are in the middle of the end of the school year festivities.  Friday was Field Day which involved a whole day outside doing games and then the fire truck came with the fire hose and sent water high up into the air so that it fell kind of like a waterfall.  The kids loved it and were completely drenched.  I volunteered in the concession stand all day which was fun and crazy.  Thankfully, the weather cooperated and it was clear and sunny though a bit hot at right around 90.  The Tornado and I were both asleep by 9 on Friday night!

I had a DNF this week which was disappointing as it was a book I've been wanting to read for awhile.  I realized that it was time to DNF it when I voluntarily called my cell phone provider to talk about my plan instead of reading!

Eleanor's 22nd birthday is tomorrow.  She's always the easiest one to buy presents for and I've had a good time trying to go with a mix of things that she'll find useful and things that are just fun.  We're also going out to the Melting Pot because who doesn't love to dip stuff in cheese?

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Buns - Contemporary Romance Review
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - 10 Books on my Summer Reading List
Wednesday: Watching the Detective - Cozy Mystery Blog Tour Review + Giveaway
Thursday:  Love and Death in Burgundy - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  52 Pins in 52 Weeks - May Edition

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Hello Fresh - Subscription Review

The box is giant!
I love a subscription box!  Seriously, send me a box of miscellaneous stuff and I'm all in.  I've subscribed to Birchbox, ipsy, MyIreland, Le Tote, Stitch Fix and FabFitFun. Then I started seeing all the ads for the different dinner subscriptions and while I was intrigued I just didn't see it working for me.  For one thing I was cooking for 4 to 5 people and for another most of the people I'm cooking for are ridiculously picky.

But then all of a sudden I was only cooking for 2 actual people and 1 child who mostly exists on air AND I was in the middle of a serious cooking slump.  I mean I did still cook but I definitely wasn't feeling it - especially when you throw in list making and grocery shopping.  So when my sister-in-law mentioned that they'd had a really great experience with Hello Fresh AND Anna at Herding Cats and Burning Soup posted her positive review the next day I figured it was a sign.  So I signed up and I gotta say - I've been loving it!

What It Is:

Essentially a subscription box of 3 meals.  Everything you need for those 3 meals (with the exception of the very basics - salt, pepper, olive oil) is included along with detailed recipe cards.  You can pick what meals are in your box or skip a week all together.  I've found the ingredients of good quality and the meat is labeled as to where it came from and is antibiotic and hormone free.
The Meal Box - Everything but the protein is in here

Why Sign Up:

For me, I've enjoyed having someone else do the shopping and planning for me.  It's nice to have all the ingredients I need for one meal all together.  Plus, choosing from their menus has shaken me out of my slump a bit.  I've also found that I'm willing to try different techniques because I'm following instructions and everything is right in front of me.

After my success, my mother signed up for the service as well.  Her husband is not a very confident cook but his commute is much shorter than hers.  Having everything together and the detailed recipes has made it easier for him to have dinner on the table when she gets home and has kept them from eating out as much.
Inside of the box 

The Good:

Some of my favorite meals so far:
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Lemony Potatoes and Zucchini - Probably not the most unique meal but the flavors were amazing!  
Bacon Apple Breakfast Pizza - This I got just for me and I'm glad because I did not want to share!  Between the apple, the ricotta, the balsamic onions and the bacon I just couldn't get enough.
Chicken Lo Mein with Carrots and Green Beans - The sauce was restaurant quality and the udon noodles were amazing.  
Hunan Cumin Beef Stir Fry - I had never really done anything with cumin seeds before so I thought that was interesting.  The flavor combination was delicious and unusual and made for a yummy bowl of food.

The Bad:

While none of the meals I've gotten have been really bad there were a few that I probably wouldn't get again.
Winning Pork Medallions - This has Brussels Sprouts which we decided we just weren't fans of and I thought the Tarragon Cream Sauce was a little heavy on the Tarragon.
Sesame Beef Tacos - I liked the pickled veggies but not sure I liked the red cabbage mixed with the ground beef on my tacos.
The Recipe Card - Lots of pictures and clear instructions.  Everything you need for the recipe is listed on the left hand side

When Something Goes Wrong:

No company is perfect but for me the main thing is how a mistake is handled.  On my 2nd box the proteins were left out completely.  Luckily, UPS gets to my house pretty late so I wasn't planning on having one of the meals for dinner and I could run by the grocery store the next day so my meals weren't ruined but it's still not okay.  I emailed their customer service that evening and within 30 minutes I had an email from a person with an apology and a credit for a free box which left me a pretty satisfied customer!  

Other Issues:

I've noticed these subscriptions (not just Hello Fresh but all the meal subscriptions) seem to be ridiculously controversial on social media so I thought I'd respond to some of the biggest complaints.
Amount of packaging - There's a decent amount.  There's the big box it comes in, the individual box each meal comes in and the different containers plus the ice packs.  However, most of the packing material is from recycled materials and they have recycling instructions on their website.  Plus if you have kids in sports or do anything that requires a cooler those ice packs are reusable and pretty great.
Cost - This isn't low cost but I don't find it crazy expensive either.  For a 2 person Classic plan box it's $59 (so around $20 per meal - $10/serving).  I can definitely eat cheaper if I really try but it's definitely cheaper than getting a similar quality meal at a restaurant.  Plus I do notice a corresponding decrease in my grocery bill on the weeks when we have a Hello Fresh box.
Processed or Flavorless Food - This seems to come up a LOT and I think most people who complain about this don't understand what the service is.  You're actually cooking so you're in control of salt and pepper or any other seasoning.  As for processed foods I haven't seen much of it.  If a recipe calls for a zucchini I pull an actual whole zucchini out of the box.  


I've really enjoyed my Hello Fresh subscription and get excited anytime the box arrives.  We don't get it every week but only on weeks where the meal selection has 3 we really want to try.  So far that seems to be 2 or 3 times a month.  Something about having everything all together makes cooking seem easier and more fun.  Not to mention it's encouraged my husband and myself to try new things and we've found a few new favorites!  

If you'd like to try a box for $20 you can use my link for the discount.  They have a few different options including a vegetarian box.  There's no contract or anything so no worries if you decide after 1 box that it isn't for you.   If you do try it I'd love to hear what you think and your favorites!

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Linkups: Three Fates

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:
What do you do with books you no longer want?  Do you donate them?  Do you take them to a half-price bookstore?  Does a friend or family member benefit?

My Answer: 
If I have a friend or family member who I think will enjoy the book I'll pass it onto them.  Otherwise, I typically use paperbackswap and exchange the book for credit to get more books!  If I can't trade them I'll donate them.  So a little bit of all!

This week's book is off of my reread shelf and so far I'm really enjoying it!  Three Fates by Nora Roberts is kind of like a trilogy in one book and is lots of fun.  It also has a lot of factors I always enjoy in a book - strangers coming together to work as a team, historical mystery, research, treasure hunts and different personalities bringing out the best in each other!  I'm really glad it's living up to my memories of it.

The Beginning:
May 7, 1915
Happily unaware he'd be dead in twenty-three minutes Henry W. Wyley imagined pinching the nicely rounded rump of the young blonde who was in his direct line of sight.  It was a perfectly harmless fantasy that did nothing to distress the blonde, or Henry's wife, and put Henry himself in the best of moods.

My Thoughts:
I think 'I'd like Henry W. Wyley.  He's got a little bit of mischief in him but enough common sense and respect for those around him that he doesn't act on it.

The 56:
Cleo went straight to her apartment, though calling the single room an apartment was like calling a Twinkie a fine dessert.  You had to be either really your or stupidly optimistic.

My Thoughts:
I had to laugh at this one!  I know the kind of apartment she's talking about and the term is definitely stretching it a bit!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

James Bond Book vs Movie - Diamonds are Forever

Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming
Setting:  Sierra Leone, New York, Las Vegas, Ocean liner on the Atlantic
Characters: James Bond, Tiffany Case, Felix Leiter, Jack Spang, Seraffimo Spang, Wintt, and Kidd

My Thoughts:  Well this was a bunch of craziness!  The book starts out from a scorpion's point of view on a landing pad near a diamond mine and then is off to the races quite literally at times.  The story itself was inspired by an article Fleming read about diamond smuggling and he later went on to write a nonfiction book on the subject (creatively titled The Diamond Smugglers published in 1957 and I'm now on the search for a copy.) as well as a trip to the US aboard RMS Queen Elizabeth which figures into the last part of the book.  There's diamond smuggling, gambling, horse racing, the American mob, a real old West ghost town and car chases.  There's even humor as Bond starts out completely dismissing the American mobsters and realizing later that that was a mistake.  Our old friend Felix Leiter has a role in this book and I think I was just as delighted to see him as Bond.  The now former CIA operative is just as funny as I remembered and is just as quick to tease Bond or just give him a hard time but is there in a tough spot without fail. While I don't think I enjoyed this book quite as much as I did Moonraker it did make for an entertaining read.  Tiffany is an interesting Bond girl.  She's smart and she's tough and she' brings out the sensitive side of Bond a few times which is always fun to see. Rating: Very Good

Diamonds are Forever (DVD)
Setting:  South Africa, Holland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Baha, California
Characters: James Bond (Sean Connery), Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), Ernst Stavro Blofield (Charles Gray), Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith), Plenty O'Toole (Lana Wood), Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean), Professor Metz (Joseph Furst) , Felix Leiter (Norman Burton)

My Thoughts: So if we're still playing the drinking game that was started while watching Moonraker where you take a drink every time something that happened in the book happens in the movie you might be kind of tipsy by the first half but you have the entire last half to sober up.  The movie starts off pretty similar to the book - there's even the scorpion which I thought wa a nice touch.  However, once Bond and Tiffany land in Los Angeles things take a dramatic left turn towards insanity and never looks back.  Suddenly Bond's fleeing from people on a moonbuggy (sure why not), girls are getting thrown out of 5th floor windows and landing in swimming pools completely unhurt, and there seem to be a few clones with voice boxes running around.  Since I'm going in order of the books not the movies this is my first Sean Connery Bond and I must say I found his portrayal much closer to the original Bond than Roger Moore's.  There's much less focus on gadgets and toys and more focus on either sneaking around or a flat out fist fight.  There are times where he's quick with a witticism which I really enjoyed despite book Bond famously lackng in sense of humor. Rating: Just Okay

Other Thoughts: I'm always interested with how Fleming treats the female characters in his books.  The Bond books and the franchise in general are known for their sexism but to me in the books I've read so far it's a little more complicated than that.  Yes, the women are discussed in a dismissive tone but so far they're not women who really let themselves be dismissed.  When we first meet Tiffany Case she is very clearly in charge of the situation and it is she that comes up with the way to smuggle the diamonds.  Later in the book she very much saves the day and Bond with it.  She's a woman who has managed to hold her own against the worst of mobsters over a period of years and her back story is horrific.  She doesn't trust men and makes no apologies for it and really is an interesting character in her own right.  As well while rape is lumped in with "light" crimes it is very clear that Bond is very adamantly against it as well as the ill treatment of women (which while doesn't mean he deserves a medal does put him head and shoulders about Connery's Bond who slaps Tiffany in the face).  The movie franchise is very different.  The movie version of Tiffany Case is decorative but not particularly bright.  She's often nervous and never seems to know what to do in a crisis without guidance.  Without the book Tiffany Case James Bond doesn't make it to the next day while without the movie version Bond sees one less woman in a bikini.

Overall - The movie is fun and silly with super villains and lots of girls in bikinis.  The book has far fewer girls in bikini but lots more danger and a plot that doesn't stray into complete science fiction.  If you want to watch a fun action movie and don't mind stretching believability there are worse ways to spend an evening than watching Diamonds are Forever.  If you want a good mystery about diamond smuggling and the Mafia give the book a try.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Reference to Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

A Reference to Murder by Kym Roberts

Rating: Very Good
Source:  NetGalley

Description:  Charli Rae Warren is back home in Hazel Rock, Texas, spending her time reading, collecting, and selling books—at least, the ones that don’t get eaten first by her father’s pet armadillo. Running the family bookstore is a demanding job, but solving murders on the side can be flat out dangerous…
The Book Barn is more than just a shop, it’s a part of the community—and Charli is keeping busy with a fundraising auction and the big rodeo event that’s come to town. That includes dealing with the Texas-sized egos of some celebrity cowboys, including Dalton Hibbs, a blond, blue-eyed bull rider who gets overly rowdy one night with the local hairdresser . . . and soon afterward, disappears into thin air.

Dalton’s brother also vanished seven years ago—and Charli is thrown about whether Dalton is a villain or a victim. After a close call with an assailant wielding a branding iron (that plays havoc with her hair) and some strange vandalism on her property, she’s going to have to team up with the sheriff to untangle this mystery, before she gets gored . . .

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book: The first book in this series intrigued me because it involves a bookstore so when the second book showed up with a missing persons case in the blurb I couldn't resist it!

My Impression: I am on a roll with good cozies and A Reference to Murder kept the streak going!  Charlie is still trying to adjust to moving back to her hometown and is trying to repair her relationship with her father.  Her days are busy working in the Book Barn, participating in a fundraising auction, and keeping her pet armadillo from eating the stock.  Throw in some tangled feelings for the mayor, Cade, and the sheriff, Mateo, and her plate is more than a little full.

When Dalton Hibbs strides into Hazel Rock, charms Charli's best friend Scarlet, then disappears leaving nothing but questions just like his brother did years before Charli has no choice but to get involved.  I have no interest in bull riding and have never been to a rodeo but I did enjoy the tidbits that were in this book.  It was fun to get a look inside the business.  I doubt I'll ever go to a rodeo but I think I have a new appreciation for bull riders.  I liked the town of Hazel Rock a lot.  There are a few quirky characters and quite a number of likable and interesting people.  I'm curious about the direction Charli's love life will go and how she continues to make her adult home in her hometown.

The mystery was entertaining and there were a lot of different threads.  What happened to Dalton?  Who attacked Charli with a branding iron?  Who broke in to Scarlet's trailer?  What happened to Wyatt all those years ago?  I think I changed my mind about a dozen times while reading!  I was surprised by the reveal but I thought it felt a little rushed.  All the questions were answered but I would have liked a little more time to get everything resolved.

Overall, this was an entertaining mystery with a likable main character.  I'm looking forward to visiting Hazel Rock again in the future!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I really enjoyed this one.

Would I Recommend this Book?: I would!  If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a fun series that I hope will be around for awhile.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Memorable Fictional Mothers

In honor of Mother's Day this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is a Mother's Day freebie.  So I thought I would do a list of memorable mothers - not main characters who are mothers but the mothers of main characters.  Some are good, some not so much but all stick in my mind for some reason or other.

Lillian Gilbreth - The mother in the famous Cheaper by the Dozen and the lesser known Belles on Their Toes.  She's also not so fictional and a fascinating woman in her own right.

Emily Inglethorp - This overbearing mother was Agatha Christie's first victim in The Mysterious Affair at Styles and far from the last mother she killed off but she was one of the most entertaining.

Violet Bridgerton - I adore Violet Bridgerton because how can you not?  She's one of the best side characters in Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series.  She's funny and nice but has her own bit of snark to her.  Plus she can hold her own against her own strong willed children.  Since I know how her own romance ends I don't think I want a book about her but more books with her as a side character please!
Marmee -  The long suffering mother from Little Women at times drove me a bit crazy with all her listen giving but she was also a woman in a seriously tough situation and it was hard not to respect her even though I thought she was WAAY to easy on Amy.

Harriet de Luce - She's not really an active character but her presence is most definitely felt in the Flavia de Luce series.  I love learning about her along with Flavia.

Mrs. Bennett - Well I can't have a list about memorable mothers without including the matchmaking Mrs. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice now can I?

Ma Ingals -She might not have the charisma that Little House on the Prairie's Pa has but Ma keeps the family going with her kindness and good sense.

Marilla Cuthbert - While she's not Anne Shirley's mother in Anne of Green Gables Marilla is definitely the most important maternal figure in Anne's life.  Marilla's change through the course of the Anne books is one of my very favorite things.

Sophie Stern - Sophie's more like a sister to The Shell Seekers Penelope Keeling but with her French accent, gentle manner, and sparkling sense of humor she's a delight any time she's on the page.

Iris Stanford -  She's a little more recent but Iris from The Honeychurch Hall series of cozy mysteries from Hannah Dennison is definitely memorable.  She has more secrets than she knows what to do with and a gift for meddling in her daughter, Kat's, affairs.

What memorable mothers have you come across in your reading?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks - How Do You Rate a Classic?

Lately, I've been making an effort to incorporate more classics into my reading.  There are so many great books that I never read or that I read when I was in high school and really beg to be reread as an adult.  For some books this has been incredibly rewarding.  I've re-fallen in love with old favorites (The Great Gatsby, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) found some newer favorites (The Woman in White) and had a few come up less than enjoyable (Little Women - please don't throw stuff at me).

But when the last page of the great book is read and I go to mark the book as read on Goodreads (because otherwise how do you know you finished a book or read it in the first place) I always hesitate to assign that star rating.  I mean, if I loved the book it's not so hard to give it 5 stars or even 4 stars but what if I didn't love it?  What if it was just okay?  Or it felt like trudging through a swamp?  Who am I to assign 1 star to Little Women?  (Please don't send me angry messages.)  I'm not a student of literature.  To be honest my literature classes were some of my least favorite in college and I'd rather stick a fork in my eye than listen to an hour of in depth literary discussion on symbolism and metaphors and all that.  What right do I have to label an important or classic book 1 star or 5 stars?  

Luckily I had a long drive ahead of me and is there really a better time to mull over issues than a 400 mile drive?  Especially when you're by yourself.  Here's what I came up with:  While I really can't assign literary value or rate lasting power of a particular book, my reading experience is just as valuable as anyone else's.  So when I rate a book (not just a classic) I'm rating my reading experience and I'm talking about my opinion of what I liked and disliked.  

This issue has been weighing on my mind as I just finished listening to an audio book edition The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.  Going in I thought it'd be a reread but as I listened I realized that I had at best read some excerpts and I'm pretty sure I saw a sanitized play version.  So while I was familiar with the very general outline of the story most of it was fresh and new.  I also went in expecting to like it.  I mean it's Mark Twain who is famous for being witty and telling good adventure yarns.  But instead I found it a little more complicated than just a quick adventurous romp through pre-Civil War Missouri.

There was quite a lot about it that I enjoyed.  Some of the adventures Huckleberry and Jim get themselves into are very entertaining and I wanted to know just how they were going to get themselves out of a few scrapes.  But there was a lot I didn't love.  For starters it just felt too long.  I was entertained at first by the King and the Duke but after awhile I just didn't care any more and that seemed to be the way many of the adventures went.  As well the language made me really uncomfortable.  While the racial slurs may have been okay in 1880 they were a bit startling in 2017 and there were a LOT of them.  As well I think with the different strong dialects that the characters speak in an audio book is the way to go.  I'm not sure I'd have been able to wade through Jim and Huck's conversations if I was trying to read it!

Which brings me back to my original question - how do you rate a classic?  While I can definitely understand the literary and culture value of this book I can't say I fully enjoyed this reading experience.  However, parts were entertaining and I found the issues raised about race relations in the pre-Civil War South interesting and thought provoking.  So overall I when it came time to fill in the stars on Goodreads I went with 3.

How do you rate classics?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

This Week in Reading - May 14

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 Dream Keeper's Daughter by Emily Colin - A missing persons case, a pretty cover, and eerie phone calls make for a book I couldn't resist! (NetGalley)

All the Secret Places by Anna Carlisle - This is another mystery from the past rearing it's ugly head in the present.  This author is new to me but it looks like it could be fun and more than a little creepy! (NetGalley)

Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon - This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series so of course I couldn't miss this one (NetGalley)

Dead Storage by Mary Feliz - I really loved the first book in the series and am looking forward to the second so of course I couldn't resist getting third! (NetGalley)

The Innkeeper's Sister by Linda Goodnight - I loved The Rain Sparrow which was the previous book from this series that centers around an Bed and Breakfast in Tennessee.  I'm not exactly sure what this one is about but I love how the author develops characters and emotional connections as well as handling darker issues without dismissing them or making them grim so I'm looking forward to this one (NetGalley).

Dark Rites by Heather Graham - It's the next book in the Krewe of Hunters series so of course I couldn't resist!  (NetGalley)


Reading:  Because You're Mine by Colleen Coble and Buns by Alice Clayton

Listening:  I just finished Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin which I really enjoyed and am starting First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones tomorrow.

Watching:  Not much actually.  I haven't been in a TV watching mood and most of my favorites have gone to season finales and I typically put off watching those until later in the summer.

Off the Blog:

Not a huge amount happened this week.  I have chronic tendonitis in an ankle I broke years ago and have been having a flare up which means lots of rest, ice, and elevating.

This coming week is the last full week of school for the Tornado.  He's signed up for 2 weeks of Space Camp and I've got a few activities in mind.  I think that and a few trips to Mississippi to visit family will make for a fun summer! 

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Rating a Classic
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Memorable Fictional Mothers
Wednesday: A Reference to Murder - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday: James Bond Book vs. Movie Project - Diamonds are Forever
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: Hello Fresh Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tempest in a Teapot - Cozy Mystery Review + Recipe

Tempest in a Teapot (Teapot Collectors Mystery #1) by Amanda Cooper

Description: Tucked away in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York is the charming town of Gracious Grove, where time moves slowly, gossip spreads quickly, and the scones are to die for... When her fashionable Manhattan restaurant goes under, Sophie Taylor retreats to her grandmothers cozy shop, Auntie Roses Victorian Teahouse, where serenity is steeped to perfection in one of her many antique teapots. The last thing Sophie expects is a bustling calendar of teahouse events, like her old friend Cissy Petersons upcoming bridal shower. Not everyone is pleased with the bride-to-bes choice of venue-like Cissys grandmother, who owns a competing establishment, La Belle Epoque, and has held a long-simmering grudge against Rose for stealing her beau sixty years ago. Tensions reach a boiling point when Cissys fiances mother dies while sampling scones at La Belle Epoque. Now, to help her friend, Sophie will have to bag a killer before more of the guest list becomes a hit list...

My Thoughts: This is the first book in the Teapot Collector series from Amanda Cooper.  Now with a cozy mystery series the first book can be a little on the meh side.  There's a lot of setup - who the main character is, who the side characters are, and why on earth an amateur sleuth is getting involved in a murder mystery in the first place.  This sometimes can make for slow or uneven reading.  I was really thrilled to find that this was not the case here.

Right away I was drawn in to this little town in New York.  I loved Sophie.  Her defensiveness when someone brought up her failed restaurant felt realistic and not overdone as did her struggles to figure out what she was going to do next.  The town of Gracious Grove is full of interesting characters who I'm looking forward to seeing more from - especially Dana - Sophie's former nemesis - and Jason - Sophie's former love interest.  While there is some over the top nosiness on Sophie's part it worked well with the story.  I really enjoyed the mystery and was surprised at the reveal which doesn't happen very often.  My only complaint was that Thelma, the owner of the rival tea shop, is hard to take.  She's supposed to be irascible and cranky but she comes off as completely unbalanced.

This was a delightful mystery with characters I'm really looking forward to spending more time with in the future.  But first I think I'll whip up these Cranberry Pecan Yogurt Scones that were in this book! Rating: Very Good

Cranberry Pecan Yogurt Scones

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 tblspns or 1/3 cup cold butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 425
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add in butter, bit by bit mixing as you go.  Rub it in with your fingers, if you like, but leave small pebbles of the cold butter in the mixture.
Stir in the cranberries and the pecans, and then the yogurt.  Mix gently but thoroughly.  It may take a bit to get all the dry ingredients worked into the yogurt.
Form dough into a ball.  Place on a greased or parchment paper covered baking sheet and pat into a circle about 1/2 inch thick.
Sprinkle with suger - you could use turbinado or another decorative sugar for this, if you want, but plain sugar works just fine.
Cut into eight pie shaped segments but don't seperate the wedges.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are slightly crips and the top is lightly browned.  It may needs as little as 18 minutes or as much as 22, don't over or underbake the scones.

My Results:  I cut in the butter with a pastry blender instead of rubbing with my fingers.  The flavor combination is amazing. The pecans add a richness and they're nicely butter-y without being too rich.  However, I'm not sure the yogurt added much and made them a little dry for my liking.  Next time (and there will be a next time because these were so good!) I think I'll just used regular cream.

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Linkups: Because You're Mine

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:
If you read a book you ended up hating, would you stay away from future books by that author, or would you give them a second chance?

My Answer:
It depends on the reason I hated the book.  If it was a character or one plot aspect that really got under my skin but I thought the writing was good and compelling than I'd probably give the author another chance.  However, if I disliked the writing style or found the book boring or confusing, I probably wouldn't be reading anything by that author again.

This week's book jumped into my library bag all on it's own.  I've heard of Colleen Coble and have one or two of her books in my review pile but have never actually read any of them.  When I saw the cover of Because You're Mine I couldn't resist reading the blurb and once I read the blurb I knew I had to give it a try.  There's an Irish band in Charleston, SC, a threatening paternal figure and a crumbling mansion.  I couldn't resist!  I've just barely started so I don't really have an idea what I think of it yet but I have high hopes!

The Beginning:  
She'd never get through this final set.
Flinging her dark red hair away from her fiddle, Alanna Connolly swallowed down the soreness in her throat and danced across the polished wooden floor of the stage.

My Thoughts:
Performing while not feeling well sounds beyond miserable but I suppose if you're a professional musician you don't have much choice.

The 56: 
"I had the flowers and the shamrocks flown in from Ireland so you'd feel at home.  I'm glad you like them." He sounded almost shy.

My Thoughts:
I'm not to this part yet so I'm not sure what to make of this.  He could be really sweet or it could be really ominous!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Hate Everyone Except You - Memoir Review

I Hate Everyone, Except You by Clinton Kelly

Rating: Very Good
Source: Library

Description: Bestselling author and television host Clinton Kelly pens a hilariously candid, deliciously snarky collection of essays about his journey from awkward kid to slightly-less-awkward adult.
Clinton Kelly is probably best known for teaching women how to make their butts look smaller. But in I Hate Everyone, Except You, he reveals some heretofore-unknown secrets about himself, like that he’s a finicky connoisseur of 1980s pornography, a disillusioned critic of New Jersey’s premier water parks, and perhaps the world’s least enthused high-school commencement speaker.

Whether he’s throwing his baby sister in the air to jumpstart her cheerleading career or heroically rescuing his best friend from death by mud bath, Clinton leaps life’s social hurdles with aplomb. With his signature wit, he shares his unique ability to navigate the stickiest of situations, like deciding whether it’s acceptable to eat chicken wings with a fork on live television (spoiler: it’s not). Clinton delves into all these topics—and many more—in this thoroughly unabashedly frank and uproarious collection.

Genre: Nonfiction - Memoir

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been a fan of Clinton Kelly ever since I saw him on What Not to Wear and when I heard he had a book out I knew I had to read it.  When I saw it on an endcap at the library it seemed like a sign!

My Impression:  I feel like I've "known" Clinton Kelly for years from What Not to Wear and The Chew but since he's always part of an ensemble cast I've never really spent much "time" with just him. That alone made this an interesting read.  

It's a collection of essays on no chronological time line though each reveal a little bit more about Kelly.  I did expect more about What Not to Wear or life on The Chew but the snippets I got I fully enjoyed.  I especially appreciated a comment he made regarding the interview process for What Not to Wear which involved watching old episodes and being horrified with how mean they were to the contestants.  One thing I really appreciate is that while Clinton Kelly can be snarky with the best of them he never comes off as mean spirited which is one of the reasons why I've always really enjoyed watching him.  He also confirmed a suspicion I've had about Paula Deen for awhile which was fun.

This was entertaining, hilarious, and incredibly quick read.  I loved how snarky and at times brutally honest he is though that same snarkiness and honesty could make this book feel a bit much if read in one sitting.  If you've enjoyed watching Clinton Kelly over the years this is definitely not a book to miss!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Absolutely!  I love Clinton Kelly even more now!

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you're a fan of Clinton Kelly you must read this book!  If you're unfamiliar with him go watch some episodes of The Chew and What Not to Wear and then go get this book!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Death in the Abstract - Cozy Mystery Review

Death in the Abstract (A Katherine Sullivan Mystery #2) by Emily Barnes

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Retired police chief Katherine Sullivan moved away from Edina, Minnesota to feed her artistic soul in New Mexico. But when she receives an urgent call, her serenity is shattered. Nathan Walker, her best friend and former colleague from her days on the police force, is missing and his crew of security experts hasn’t seen him in days. Now it’s up to Katherine to fly home and track him down.
Meanwhile, Edina is reeling from the murder of a local woman, which looks more and more like it could have a connection to Nathan's disappearance. And as Katherine digs deeper into the investigation, locating Nathan’s abandoned car and compiling a list of potential kidnappers, another body is found--and Katherine fears time is running out for her friend.

Finding herself reluctantly pulled into a new case, Katherine must set aside her artistic pursuits and tear herself away from her darling grandchildren in order to save her best friend in Death in the Abstract, the compelling sequel to Emily Barnes' The Fine Art of Murder.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I loved the premise of police chief turned artist when the first book came out and I couldn't resist this one about a missing person.  I love a missing persons case!

My Impression: Whew!  That was a fun ride I didn't want to end. We meet Katherine Sullivan at her artist community in Taos where she gets a call that a longtime friend and colleague has gone missing.  Now I love a missing persons case and this one had me at the edge of my seat.  Just what could have happened to Nathan?  The clues are scarce and the motives even more so.   And just how is this not so simple missing persons case connected to two local murders?

I really enjoyed the characters in this mystery.  Katherine is an interesting mix of practical and creative.  I enjoyed seeing her interactions with her daughter and her grandchildren and it was especially enjoyable as she tried to find her footing with her daughter's ex-husband.  Her experience in law enforcement makes her an able and intelligent investigator in addition to being very good at reading people.  As well, I enjoyed her work with Nathan's security team and all of their different strengths and skills.  E.T., Brock, Rosie, and Polly all have interesting back stories and are characters I'd really like to know more about.

The mystery is complex and well done.  It focuses more on the whys and hows than the who which is something I always enjoy.  This is the 2nd book in the Katherine Sullivan series and while I definitely plan on reading the 1st book I had no problem jumping in here.  This was an entertaining and interesting read that kept me thinking.  I'm looking forward to more of this series and this author.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to the next book and going back and reading the first in the series.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Definitely!  This is a great cozy mystery for any mystery lover.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Things on My Reading Wish List

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Things On Your Reading Wishlist.  It was fun to think about some of my favorite topics and plots and just what I want to see more of or at all in books!

1.  A Book About My Favorite Characters as Adults - I want to see what happened to Nancy Drew and the girls from The Babysitter's Club and any number of other characters as adults.  And I want it well done and believable too.

2.  A Book About a Woman (maybe a pastry chef or at least someone who likes to cook) who inherits an old house in Ireland, moves there to figure out what she wants to do with her life, discovers the house is haunted and finds a hidden diary and/or a packet of letters that leads her to uncover a mystery about former residents of the house.  Seriously these are pretty much all of my favorite things rolled into one plot.  I would love if this book exists.  If it does and I've just missed it please let me know!

3.  Treasure hunts or quest stories - especially ones that involve a group - Any time a crew is formed to go hunt down some kind of treasure or complete a quest I'm so in.  Nora Roberts is fantastic at this but I would love more!  I can't put these kinds of books down.  One of My Favorites: Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts

4.  Historical + Travel Memoirs - I love books that combine history and travel and there aren't nearly enough.  Tony Horowitz's Blue Latitudes and Sarah Vowel's Assassination Vacation are two my favorites but I'm always looking for more.

5.  Librarians - I love when a main character is a librarian - especially when they talk about books and reading and bookish stuff

6. Old or Abandoned Houses - I can't emphasize just how much I love an old house.  I always want to know the story and love when a book gives me that.

7.  Books About Books - There just aren't enough books about books.  Books themselves, people reading books, the history of books, books with readers as characters - I want them all! One of My Favorites: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett

8. Mysteries that Aren't Murder Mysteries - There was a cozy series years ago about a woman who worked with people to help them find long lost family.  I loved it and was incredibly sad when she stopped writing them.  There was typically a murder or two along the way but the real focus was more on the missing person.  Sheila Connolly has a book in her Apple Orchard series where the main characters solve a mystery about the old home they live in.  It's always such a treat to come across these.  I wouldn't want to give up my murder mysteries completely but I'd like a few more of these!   One of My Favorites: Bitter Harvest by Sheila Connolly

9.  More secret families or estranged families who are forced together for some reason.  Normally this is because of a will and to inherit money.  I love it!  It always brings different characters together - who usually don't like each other- forces them to work together and figure out what they all really want in life.  It's like my catnip.  I can't resist it.  One of My Favorites: The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart

10.   More Time to Read - I think this is probably high on a lot of wish lists.  There are so many great books but I just don't have the time to read the way I used too.  Part of this may be bad time management on my part but there always seems to be something else that has to be done.

What's on your reading wishlist?

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Hidden Thread - Blog Tour Historical Fiction Review + Giveaway

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  When Anna Butterfield's mother dies, she's sent to live with her uncle, a silk merchant in London, to make a good match and provide for her father and sister. There, she meets Henri, a French immigrant and apprentice hoping to become a master weaver. But Henri, born into a lower class, becomes embroiled in the silk riots that break out as weavers protest for a fair wage.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: I really enjoyed an earlier book by Trenow called The Forgotten Seamstress and wanted to read more from her.

My Impression: There is something about Trenow's historical fiction that pulls me in every time and The Hidden Thread is no exception.  Most of my historical ficton reading consists of the wealthy or at least the comfortable and this gave me a peek at the struggles of those in the silk trade - both those that sold the silk and those that wove the silk - which I had never given any thought to before.  It's a fascinating world full of tension, heartache, pride and artistry.

The story is told in third person but from two POVs.  We go back and forth between Henri, a gifted young silk weaver with a tragic past, and Anna, the daughter of a country vicar and neice of a mercer who makes a comfortable living.  After the death of her mother, Anna is sent to London to live with her relatives and hopefully make a good marriage for the survival of her family.  She's completely and totally out of her element and incredibly homesick.  I found the contrast between the life of a social climbing city woman and country woman incredibly interesting as we see Anna deal with the differences - especially the loss of both her freedom and responsibilities.  Henri's responsibilities are also huge.  He wants to earn enough to take care of his mother - a role he had to step into when he was very young.  He wants to be a master weaver and he's concerned about the riots and the violence and what it will do to the people he loves and his craft.

One thing I really appreciated in The Hidden Thread was that I really saw how difficult these life changes were for Anna.  Uprooting from the country to London and having to marry well to secure financial security for the family is not an uncommon plot but I don't think I've ever seen the internal struggle and sacrifice portrayed so well and so deeply.

This is a moving story with likable and sympathetic main characters and a fascinating setting.  If you love historical fiction but haven't read Trenow before than I highly recomend you start here.  I will be eagerly awaiting her next book!

Goodreads Link:

Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble:
Book Depository

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

This Week in Reading - May 7

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:

Another week of no new books!  Part of me is thrilled because that hopefully means I'm getting closer to being able to getting some of my overwhelming backlog cleared up.

The other part of me wants to hit the bookstores and go on a giant book buying binge.

It's really only a matter of time.


Reading:  I Hate Everyone Except You by Clinton Kelly, Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and A Reference to Murder by Kym Roberts

Listening:  I finished up The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and am now listening to podcasts while I wait for my next book.  Right now a podcast I'm really enjoying is called The Vanished which is a true crime podcast about missing persons cases.

Watching:  I watched a lot of movies while visiting my grandparents this past week.  We watched Humoresque with Joan Crawford (really good), Bonnie and Clyde with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatyy (also really good though not quite what I was expecting), Buffalo Bill and the Wild West Show with Paul Newman (weird), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (an old favorite), and Gilda with Rita Hayworth (really good - highly recommend).  Since I've gotten back I haven't watched much. 

Off the Blog:

A few weeks ago I did a review of an audio book I had gotten from eStories which is an audio book service where you can listen on all kinds of devices.  I used the app on my phone and found it really easy to use and was pleased with the quality of the book (Yes, My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar - SOOO good).  Well, the other day I got an email from eStories with a pretty good deal - 3 months (aka 3 books) for $11.99 TOTAL.  I'm definitely signing up and here's the link if you're interested in signing up as well.  I'm super excited because there are a few audio books I've really been wanting that my library just doesn't seem to be getting.

I had such a nice visit with my grandparents.  The Tornado stayed home with J and they had a fantastic time so it was just me.  Mostly I just hung out and watched movies with my grandfather and we had a really nice time.  I also went to lunch and did some cooking with my grandmother which was nice.  We're both normally recipe followers and were kind of winging it when it came to dinner preparations which lead to much hysteria and lots of fun.

Yesterday was my birthday and I have declared this weekend the weekend of me.  Other than going out to dinner and a burst of online shopping I haven't done a huge amount but just relax and read which is pretty much the perfect weekend - especially if it's raining and we had a good bit of that.  I'm now officially 37 and my husband are debating if that's mid-30s or late 30s.  I say late he says mid - not that it really matters one way or the other!  On Friday I had to go to the grocery store and I discovered that you shouldn't go to the grocery store when you're hungry and you REALLY shouldn't go when you're hungry and the next day is your birthday because it's pretty easy to convince yourself you deserve treats.  On a related note that Simply Cookie Dough they sell in the refrigerated which is essentially cookie dough that's meant to be eaten raw is pretty amazing!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  The Hidden Thread - Historical Fiction Review + Giveaway
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Things on My Reading Wishlist
Wednesday:  Death in the Abstract - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  I Hate Everyone Except You - Nonfiction Memoir Review
Friday:  Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Lake House - Fiction Review

The Lake House by Kate Morton

Rating: Very Good
Source: Library

Description:  Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than eve

Genre: Fiction 

Why I Picked This Book: There's an abandoned house left fully furnished and a decades old missing persons case.  How could I resist?

My Impression:  I had read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton years ago and really enjoyed it but had hesitated picking up another book by her because I was afraid it would be a bit same old same old.   The book was so distinctive how could she write another book that was just as good that wasn't just a retelling.  Then I read the blurb on The Lake House and I knew I couldn't resist it.

There are some similarities between the two books.  Both involve secrets on top of secrets and both involve a child.  However, there the similarities end.  Little Theo Edevane's case got a lot of attention early on and the family he left behind dearly loved him.  This is also an incredibly dysfunctional family though some dysfunction is more obvious than others.

I loved going on with Sadie's investigation and watch her thought process evolve as she's faces the actions that have caused her to take some personal time away from the police.  I especially enjoyed watching her mind focus as she becomes more and more involved.  It was really fascinating.  She struggles a lot with her personal life as well and while I didn't always like her I did always sympathize with her.  Her relationship with her grandparents is very special and the scenes with Sadie and Bertie felt very authentic.

The mystery of Theo's disappearance is an intriguing one yet it doesn't read like a straight mystery.  We don't get clues and hints the way you do in a mystery and I didn't really know what had happened until Sadie figured it out.

It took some getting used to the flipping back and forth through time.  The chapters were on the short side and just as I was starting to get comfortable in one time period the chapter ended and I was frequently somewhere else.  However, fairly early on into the book this straightened out and it didn't really impact my enjoyment of the book.

This is a very twisty story with everyone having their own secrets.  The ending is lovely though maybe a little pat but by the time I had gotten there I didn't mind a bit.  It's not a fast read but I never felt like it dragged or like there was too much unnecessary information.  My main problem is that it took me so long to finally dive back into a Kate Morton book.  It won't be as long next time!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes! I'm looking forward to going through her backlog and anxious to see where the next book takes us.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Definitely!  If you enjoy a complex story full of family secrets this is a fantastic read.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday Linkups - I Hate Everyone Except 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:
Do you re-arrange and move books around on the shelves or move books off your bookshelves to another area after a certain amount of time or do you just leave them the way they are?

My Answer:
I'm pretty limited in book storage area right now.  I do have one small bookshelf that's devoted to fiction and one larger bookshelf that has non fiction and middle grade.  I used to have books piled up under my side of the bed but for allergy reasons (a rather vicious dust mite allergy) I had to pack them up in plastic storage boxes and put them in the guest room.  Right now the only time a book gets moved is when I read it.  I don't typically keep a book I've read unless it's a book I want to reread or will reference for something.  I usually use paperbackswap to swap books I've read for new books.  At the end of the year I'll fill in gaps on my fiction shelf with books from my storage boxes but that's about all the moving around.  I have plans of turning one of the guest rooms into a library with lots and lots of shelves and once that happens I doubt I'll move books around all that much.

I've been a Clinton Kelly fan since I found his TLC show What Not to Wear at least a decade ago.  The banter between Kelly and his co-host, Stacy London, was always so funny and their advice was always so fantastic.  I was thrilled when I discovered he was on The Chew, a daytime talk show where they mostly talk about food that features Carla Hall, Daphne Oz, Mario Batali, and Michael Symons. He always comes off as hilarious as smart so when I saw his latest book, I Hate Everyone Except You, at the library I knew it had to come home with me and so far it has lived up to my expectations.  It's hilarious, smart, and with a touch of heart.

The Beginning:
In the spring of 1982, I got it into my head that I needed, more than anything in the whole world, to visit Action Park in New Jersey.  The commercials, which played every seven minutes during reruns of Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch, spoke to the deepest desires of my thirteen-year-old soul.

The 56:
Mark must have put Meredith on tray duty because she began to tidy the empty tables around us.  She wouldn't look in our direction, and I couldn't blame her.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Short Reviews

A Kiss to Build a Dream On (White Pine #1) by Kim Amos
When Willa Masterson left White Pine, Minnesota 12 years ago that included boyfriend, Burke Olmstead.  But now she's back, pride shattered, fortune gone and looking to restore her family home into a B & B.  The very one that now contractor Burke Olmstead hoped to make his own.  Once again the two are working together but can they keep things strictly business?

This was my first book by Amos and there was a lot I liked.  She did a great job with the small town vibe without overdoing it and I really liked the side characters.  I love a good second chance romance and I never can resist any story that involves home renovation.  However, this one had a number of things that just didn't work for me.  The main issue is that both Willa and Burke seemed so stuck on their high school relationship and it very much had a glory days feel to it.  This is high on the personal preference scale but it's something I never particularly enjoy.  As well, Willa took mean girl to whole new levels and while she does spend some time trying to make up for being a really awful person it mostly seemed like she was doing that because of how things had turned against her versus legitimately feeling bad for how she had behaved.  While I liked Burke better I didn't like his plan to essentially to manipulate Willa on home renovations so that it seemed too expensive and too overwhelming and she would sell to him. Overall, I didn't particularly care for the characters in this book which affected my feeling about the book overall.  I did enjoy Amos' writing style and the world she created so I would give this series another try but I'd be sure to carefully read the blurb.  Rating - Just Okay

At Home by Bill Bryson
This is a fascinating look at the history of the home told in kind of a If You Give a Pig a Pancake fashion.  If you're unfamiliar with that series of children's books it essentially involves a child offering an animal a treat and one thing leads to another and after a craft or two, a game, a day trip, some cleaning they're finally ready to sit down to the treat.  That's kind of how this book felt.  One minute we are talking about the cellar and then suddenly we are in New York building a canal and after a lawsuit or two, a change in the US's economy and one man destined to live out his days in poverty we are back to a cellar in a rectory in English countryside.  All of it is fascinating but the sheer volume of information makes it hard to retain as much as I'd like. The book is entertaining reading and I enjoyed the audio, read by Bryson himself, even more which means it won't be a hardship to revisit the book occasionally and I'm sure I'll pick up even more.  Until then I'll happily be sharing knowledge on the invention of forks, why upholstered furniture took so long to become available, and just what a scullery is. This is actually the 2nd time I've read this book though this time I went the audio route.  I think I have enjoyed the audio version more and picked up more interesting bits and pieces.  Rating - Very Good

So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why it Endures by Maureen Corrigan - Like most people I know, I read Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in high school.  I remember enjoying it and finding it surprisingly grim.  I reread it in college and went on to read many of Fitzgerald's other works.  When I first started listening to audiobooks it was one of the first ones I chose and fell in love with the story all over again though was even more surprised by it's grimness than I was when I was 16.  So naturally, a book about the book itself seemed like an immediate must read..  Unfortunately, this wasn't the book for me. While I do enjoy taking a look at the life of an author and how it appeared in their work this felt more like a college lecture on symbolism and deep themes which was never something that hooked me.  Corrigan's attention to detail and throughness in combing through Fitzgerald's life and work is impressive but I don't think I really appreciated it.  I felt a bit like my eyes kept bouncing of the page and the information just never quite made it into my brain.  Basically, I was 19 again sitting in my Freshman Comp classes watching the clock.  I was always conscious of Corrigan giving the lecture and didn't come out feeling like I knew Fitzgerald or Gatsby any better.  If you enjoy looking for symbolism and greater meanings than this will be a book you'd enjoy.  Otherwise, just pick up a biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald and a copy of The Great Gatsby.  Rating: Not for Me