Monday, November 20, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks - Tell Me What to Read

Somehow we are flying towards the end of 2017 which just doesn't quite seem possible.  And somehow it's time to start thinking about what I'm going to reading in 2018.  This part is weird because 2018 still sounds like a fictional year to me.  Something out of a science fiction book or a date when you really just mean impossibly far away.  But regardless of that 2018 is really just a few weeks away and I have to start doing some reading planning!

The past few years I've picked 5 books that are a bit outside of my comfort level - pretty much anything in the fantasy, science fiction or YA genres. Some have been huge hits and others not so much but it's been very much a learning experience and I've really enjoyed broadening my reading just a little.

For 2017 I picked 12 Middle Grade books and 12 books that I'd been wanting to read for ages but just never made the time.  This had me reading books like In the Woods by Tana French, A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchey, and The Lake House by Kate Morton.  I've really enjoyed it and it's been nice to get a few of the "I really want to read that" books off my list.

But now it's time to make my lists for 2018 and I need some help!

For Middle Grade I'm reading some more of the series I've started this year like Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica George and finishing up the Melendy family series by Elizabeth Enright.  But what Middle Grade books do I need to add to my list?  I'm looking for both classic and recent.

For my "Out of the Wheelhouse" books I'm thinking of reading something by Illona Andrews but not sure which one and have had a hard time thinking of other choices.  Maybe The Martian by Andy Weir?  I've seen the movie but that doesn't count.

As for books I've wanted to read for ages I'm thinking a Liane Moriarty book but am not sure what else.

So tell me - what book do I need to read?  I'm open to any genre and any age.  Really any book that just needs to be read in 2018!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

This Week in Reading - November 19

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:

Nothing!  I got nothing!  I'm very proud of myself!

Currently:

Reading: Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper and Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Listening: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Watching:  Not much though I'm hoping to get in some Hallmark Christmas movies soon!

Off the Blog:

A miracle has happened!  I have actually bought a Christmas present before Thanksgiving!  And it's the Tornado's primary gift so that's a huge relief.  I've also got some ideas for some people on my list that are always hard to buy for so I'm feeling pretty good about gift buying this year.

This past week was a bit crazy.  I got back in town on Wednesday and then the Tornado was home sick Thursday.  I'm feeling like I'm going to be scrambling a bit to get ready for Thanksgiving and it doesn't help that the Tornado will be out of school all week.   I'm not too sad that I won't have to get up early though.

We actually celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday so no one has to have 2 dinners in one day.  It makes for a more relaxed time because no one is having to duck out early or arrive late and we always have a lot of fun.  It also gives me an extra day which I'm clearly in need of this year.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Tell Me What to Read
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I'm Thankful For
Wednesday:  Better Late Than Never - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday: Sweet Tea and Sympathy - Review
Friday: Top Ten Christmas Books On My Shopping List
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Treasure on Lilac Lane + Once Upon a Maiden Lane - Romance Reviews

Treasure on Lilac Lane by Donna Alward

This is a bit of a second chance romance.  Years ago there was an "almost" moment between childhood friends Jess and Rick.  Then Rick left for the Marines and Jess went on with her life.  Now they're both back in Jewell Cove with a lot more baggage than the young hopefuls they were before.

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this one.  I mean I was excited to visit Jewell Cove again and I liked seeing the couple from the previous book (The House on Blackberry Hill) and Rick just seemed so sad but such a good guy underneath.  The problem was Jess.  She was SO judgmental.  I mean alcoholism and depression are not things to be treated lightly but she seemed just so angry at Rick that it was hard to like her in the beginning.  That is until I heard her back story and until she let herself get to know Rick just a little bit more and started to relax.  Then I fell in love with the couple and the town all over again.  Rick has had so many hard knocks and yet is still stumbling to his feet and watching Jess be there for him and then he be there for her was just really lovely.  This is a sweet and poignant romance with a couple I really found myself liking and rooting for. Rating: Very Good



Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

Mary Whitsun grew up in an orphanage and knew nothing about her past.  She's a hard worker, full of common sense, and is very happy as a nursemaid for a patron of the orphanage she was raised.  That is until a chance encounter with Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell throws everything she knows about herself and everything she's ever wanted into question.

This is my second book by Elizabeth Hoyt and I am in love!  This was light and sweet with a good dose of heart.  I love a mistaken identity and I love even more a mystery about an identity.  I also loved the characters - especially Mary.  She's so self-aware and so practical but it was sweet how happy she was to have potentially found her family.  Henry is intelligent and a good match for Mary.  I loved watching them banter and get to know each other.

This is a novella so the character development is on the light side and the romance develops very quickly.  This was a thoroughly enjoyable read that I devoured in one sitting.  I'm glad I have so many more Maiden Lane books to read!  Rating: Very Good

If you're looking for a feel good romance that isn't just a fun romp than I think either of these would be great choices!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Linkups - Better Late Than Never















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 had an authors-only Thanksgiving party, who would you invite?

My Answer:
This is a tough one!  Agatha Christie of course.  I'd love to hear all about her life and just about her books in general though I'd have to be very careful not to ask where she got her ideas because she hated that.  Dorothy L. Sayers would be fun as well.  Her style is very different than Christie's but I love her twisty mysteries and I have no doubt that there's a biting sense of humor there.  And speaking of humor I think I'd have to invite Douglas Adams.  I adore his humor and his ability to turn the most mundane scenes into madness.  While not really a party this sounds like it'd make for a highly entertaining evening so I'll just leave it at that.

This week's book is Better Late Than Never by Jenn McKinlay.  It's the seventh book in her Library Lover's series which is probably my favorite.  I'm a little behind on the series but this one involves a 20 year old overdue library book with connections to an unsolved murder so I just couldn't resist!

The Beginning:
"Let the wild rumpus start!" Beth Stanley cried as the cart of books she had stacked to bursting abruptly regurgitated its contents all over the Briar Creek Public Library's main floor with a loud rushing noise followed by slaps and thumps as the books landed on the ground.

My Thoughts:
I'm sure I'd change my mind pretty quickly if I had to do it as part of my job but sorting through all these books sounds really fun!



The 56:
"Ms. Cole, call 9-1-1," Lindsay said.
"No," Ms. Cole said.

My Thoughts:
I've gotten to know Ms. Cole a little as the series has gone but this seems pretty cold even for her!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Who would you invite to dinner?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Missing - Blog Tour Review

About The Missing

• Paperback: 496 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 7, 2017)
  The Missing has a delicious sense of foreboding from the first page, luring us into the heart of a family with terrible secrets and making us wait, with pounding hearts for the final, agonizing twist. Loved it.”—Fiona Barton, author of The Widow
 A harrowing psychological thriller about a missing teenage boy whose mother must expose the secrets within their own family if she wants to find her son—perfect for fans of Reconstructing Amelia. You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…? When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface. Claire is sure of two things—that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance. A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it…? Combining an unreliable narrator and fast-paced storytelling, The Missing is a chilling novel of psychological suspense that will thoroughly captivate and obsess readers.

My Thoughts:  I'm a bit torn on this one.  I didn't dislike it - in fact I found page turning and flew through the almost 500 pages incredibly quickly.    When I picked it up I was pulled into the flow of the story very quickly and was supposed to be one chapter could easily be ten if I wasn't careful.  The atmosphere oozed tension and I found the way the family was disintegrating complelling.

So why was I torn?  While it was a fast read it wasn't one I couldn't wait to pick back up.  It wasn't a book I found myself thinking about when I wasn't reading it.    While I could sympathize with Claire I didn't especially like her and was never really able to connect to any of the other characters.  I didn't find this to be a particularly bad read but I didn't feel that it was a particularly bad one either.  If you enjoy unreliable narrators and dysfunctional families than I think you'd enjoy this but for me I think it's more of a Library read than a run out and buy read.  Rating: 3 good not great stars




Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About C. L. Taylor

C. L. Taylor is a Sunday Times bestselling author. Her books have sold more than a million copies and have been translated into twenty-one languages. She lives in Bristol, England, with her partner and son. Find out more about C. L. at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Death at the Emerald - Historical Mystery Review

Death at the Emerald (Lady Frances Ffolkes Mystery #3) by R.J. Koreto (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description: An elderly family friend commissions Frances to find Helen, a stunningly beautiful actress who vanished 30 years ago. Taking on the role of the Lady Sherlock, with her loyal maid Mallow drafted as her Watson, Frances immerses herself in the glamorous world of Edwardian theater and London's latest craze—motion pictures.
Frances' first stop is the venerable Emerald Theatre, where aging actors are still in love with the memory of the beguiling Helen. It seems like a dead end—but one of Helen's old suitors is suddenly murdered. Frances and Mallow beat both the police and killer to a box of subtle clues. However, a stalker, another old suitor of Helen's long presumed dead, threatens them. Will Frances' latest hobby, a study of Japanese martial arts, be enough to save them?

Undaunted, Frances and Mallow follow their leads, and along the way get some advice from George Bernard Shaw, star in a motion picture, and joke with King Edward VII. Clues eventually lead them to a forgotten grave outside of London, which contains a mysterious biblical inscription--and a shocking secret. Frances finally assembles the pieces, and with Mallow as stage manager, produces her own play to uncover a decades-old conspiracy, reveal a killer—and find the remarkable Helen.

Genre: Mystery Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoy historical mysteries and can never resist a missing persons case - especially not one 30 years old.

My Impression:  I have had quite the winning streak lately with mysteries and I am pleased to report that this latest read kept that streak firmly alive.  While I love a historical mystery they can at times be a little dry and a little slow.  This was neither.  I was immediately pulled into Lady Frances' world and couldn't wait to find out just what had happened to Helen all those years ago.

Lady Frances is an interesting detective.   She is very much of the aristocracy and has no qualms about using her status and connections to help her case.  She is very much aware that her behavior is at best unusual and at worst incredibly scandalous but simply chooses to ignore this.  Her relationship with her maid/assistant Mallow is also on the unusual side.  While Mallow is much more traditional than Lady Frances she is a good investigator in her own right and I enjoyed the brainstorming sessions and other interactions between maid and mistress.

The mystery is highly entertaining and incredibly engaging.  While I had theories on some aspects I was completely in the dark about others.  When it all came out I was just as surprised as any character in the book.

This was my first book in the Lady Frances Ffolkes series but it will not be my last.  I'm glad I have the previous two books to catch up on while I wait for the fourth.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm already looking forward to visiting Lady Frances' world again.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy Victoria Thompson or Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series I think you would enjoy this one.  I had no issue jumping into the series with this book.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Want My Children to Read

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from the Broke and the Bookish is Books I Want My Children to Read.   I've always been a reader and I think that's been a valuable gift because it's something you always have with you.  When the outside world doesn't seem to be very nice, when your life isn't going quite the way you want it or when you just want a little entertainment there's always a book.  The biggest gift I think that I can pass on to my children is a love of reading and these are 10 books that I think can help do just that.

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George - I didn't discover this one until I was adult (and it wasn't published until I was an adult so it would have been hard to find when I was a child) but I absolutely loved it and can't even begin to imagine how much it would have pulled me in as a child.

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery - I discovered this one when I got the box set of Anne books when I was 11 or 12.  I was highly dubious about this one before I started it because who was this Rilla person anyway?  I ended up loving it.  There's not many books that show what life was like on the home front during World War 1 through the eyes of a teenage girl and none with such a realistic feel.  This is my favorite Anne book to reread as an adult as well though I have been known to ugly cry through quite a bit of it.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - This complicated and fun mystery has a little something for everyone.  Besides the mystery there's all kinds of interesting characters and it a book that's easy to become involved in.

Summer of the Woods by Stephen K. Smith - This is for the younger set - think 2nd to 4th grade - but I think they'd really enjoy it.  There is a bit of history involved but it's mostly about a group of kids solving problems and having adventures.

Matilda by Roald Dahl -  I don't think I need to explain this one!  Somehow I didn't read this one until I was an adult and the bookworm child in me is very sad I didn't read it as a child.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I remember being fascinated with Laura's life in this book.  It's so foreign from everything I know that I couldn't help but be captivated.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgens Burnett - The secret garden, the rambling empty house, making new friends and creating a world where you fit in.  What's not to love for a young (or adult) reader?

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming - This is just a straight up adventure story with gangsters and a flying car. 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - While I didn't love all of this series as a child I adored this book and think it's probably the most child friendly. 

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Fowler - There's a rambling museum which the children have complete access too, a mysterious boy who is hiding from danger, and a very very evil woman hiding behind a beautiful mask.  It's a modern day fairy tale with an almost Gothic feel.

What children's books captured your imagination as a young reader?  What books would you want your children to read?



Monday, November 13, 2017

Seeds of Revenge - Cozy Mystery Review

Seeds of Revenge (A Greenhouse Mystery #3) by Wendy Tyson (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publicist

Description: It’s the holiday season, and the mood in Winsome is anything but jolly…
Megan Sawyer is determined to farm year-round. She’s braving a December snowstorm after pitching her greenhouse greens to Philadelphia chefs when she sees a stranger stranded on the side of the road. It’s Merry Chance’s niece Becca, who’s headed to Winsome to sell her “love potions” at holiday events—or so she thinks.

Merry has an ulterior motive in inviting her niece to Winsome, but Merry’s plan to reunite Becca with her estranged father goes awry when Becca’s father turns up dead. Megan soon realizes that Becca was not the only person in Winsome who despised her father. When Megan’s aunt, the famous mystery author, is implicated through her novels, things become personal. Megan must follow the literary clues while sifting through the victim’s sordid past, but can she uncover the truth before someone else in Winsome is murdered?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed previous books from Wendy Tyson and this series really appealed to me.

My Impression:  I had heard rave reviews for this series about lawyer turned organic farmer Megan Shaw and it definitely lived up to the hype.  Megan's a likable amateur detective.  She's not intrusive but is curious and doesn't resist too much when the main suspect's aunt asks for her help in the investigation.  As well, the police chief, Bobby King, uses her frequently as almost a consultant so it felt very natural that she'd get involved.

I was caught up not only in the mystery but in Megan's world right from the start,  This is a town I'd want to visit (minus the surplus of violent crime of course) and I would love to eat at the cafe with Clover and the rest of the residents of Winsome.  The mystery was well paced and very intriguing and I was really clueless about The Who and the Why until the end when it all made sense.  The mystery itself was complex but not convoluted and I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it before.

This is the 3rd book in the Greenhouse Mystery series but I had no problem jumping in here.  I thought the characters were distinct and vivid enough that I had no trouble keeping them straight.  There are a few mentions in passing conversation regarding Megan's relationship with her mother which is probably explained in an earlier book but I didn't feel that that distracted from the plot or the characters in anyway.  This was a fun and unique cozy mystery with a main character I'd love to be friends with.  I can't wait to read more from the series!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to reading more from this author and especially more in this series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy a good cozy that isn't too cutesy this series would be a great choice.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

This Week in Reading - November 12


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:

Last week I had an empty shelf and I had planned to have another one this week but things went terribly wrong but in the most fun of ways!

A Crime of Poison by Nancy Haddock (Publisher)

Comic Sans Murder by Paige Shelton (Publisher)

Honey Baked Homicide by Gayle Leeson (Publisher)

Live and Let Fly by Clover Tate (Publisher)

Egg Drop Dead by Laura Childs (Publisher)

Hark the Herald Angels Slay by Vicki Delany (Publisher)

Gin and Panic by Maia Chance (Publisher)

Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt (NetGalley)

Of Murder and Men by Lynn Cahoon (Blog Tour)

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen (Little Bird Publicity)

Bad Neighbors by Maia Chance (NetGalley)

Garden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie (Blog Tour)

I thought about going on a book buying binge just to see how many books I could get in a week but I restrained myself!

Currently:

Reading: The Missing by C.L. Taylor and Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

Listening:  A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy.  I'm loving this so much!

Watching:  I'm in Mississippi this week so most likely I'm watching some classic movies.  I know Key Largo with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall is on the list but not sure what else.  Next week J and I are planning on starting Stranger Things and I'm super excited.

Off the Blog:


I'm in Mississippi this weekend visiting my grandparents and spending Veteran's Day with my favorite veteran.  This is my Grandfather in 1943 just home from training with bright shiny wings pinned to his uniform.  He said at the time he had absolutely no fear and just wanted to fly.  And that he and the other pilots thought they were pretty great!  He stayed in the Army for the rest of his career with a tour in Korea and some time off to have a very good time at Ole Miss on the GI bill.  He's had a rough year with his fall and all but he's doing so great now and we've had such nice visits.  It's hard to believe he's fast approaching his 94th birthday.

Everything else is much as usual.  Not much going on other than I'm chronically behind but I'm catching up little by little!  I've been LOVING every book I've read in the past week or so which is so much fun.  I love when I get on a good reading streak!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Seeds of Revenge - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday:  Ten Books I Want My Children to Read
Wednesday: Death at the Emerald - Historical Mystery Review
Thursday: The Missing - Blog Tour Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: Treasure on Lilac Lane and Once Upon a Maiden Lane - Romance Reviews

Have a great week and happy reading!

A Late Frost - Cozy Mystery Review

A Late Frost (An Orchard Mystery #11) by Sheila Connolly (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Description:  The usually quiet town of Granford, Massachusetts, is even drowsier during the colder months. But this year it’s in for a jolt when Monica Whitman moves into town.

 She’s a dynamo who wants to make friends fast in her new home, and she throws herself into community activities. Meg Corey, now Chapin after her marriage to Seth Chapin, is intrigued by the new arrival, who has already sold the town board on a new, fun way to bring in visitors during the off-season: WinterFare, which will feature local foods (such as Meg’s apples) and crafts, as well as entertainment.

Tragically, Monica falls ill and dies after the event in what looks like a case of food poisoning. When all the food served at WinterFare has been tested, including Meg’s apples, it becomes clear that there’s a more sinister explanation to the older woman’s sudden demise.

Meg’s investigation uncovers a bushel of potential suspects, one of whom is rotten to the core.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is one of the first cozy mystery series that I discovered and it has been a favorite ever since.

My Impression:  One of the best things about cozy mystery series is the feeling of visiting old friends every time you open the next book.  Meg and Seth are two of my oldest book friends and I was really excited to see them starting this new chapter of her life.  I liked that they were still kind of figuring things out and learning how to work as a team.

This book starts out just as Meg and Seth are returning from their honeymoon and right away regular life manages to pull them back in.  Meg has to deal with the hiring of a new orchard manager, the rather unfriendly Larry and Seth is back in the chaos of town affairs helping to organize the new WinterFare which was suggested by new town resident, Monica.  Right away I knew Monica's days were numbered.  New residents in cozy mystery towns have a life expectancy of about a day and a half.

It takes awhile for the murder investigation to really get going and it was kind of fun watching Meg really try to stay out of it yet manage to fall into the middle of it time and time again.  The official investigation is very much background as it's being handled by the state police and the long suffering Art, the police chief of Granford, is only really in a consulting role.  However, that doesn't keep Meg and Seth and any number of friends and family from discussing what's going on, what could have happened, and everything else about the murder that they can think of.  I really enjoyed this method of investigation.  It was believable that a murder in a small town would be the number one topic on everyone's minds and believable that Meg and Seth would be involved in this way without actively interfering in a  police investigation.

This is a really fun cozy series with characters I really enjoy spending time with and a setting I wish was real so I could visit.  I adore the apple orchard aspect though it does make me want to chase down all kinds of unusual varieties of apples just to try them!  This is perfect cold weather cozy mystery reading with perhaps a cup of hot apple cider and a piece of apple cake nearby.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to the next book and catching up on the books I've missed.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a good series that I've found to be really solid with a great community feel.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Linkups - A Late Frost


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 is your favorite part of blogging?  Is there a least favorite part of blogging?

My Answer:
My absolute favorite thing about blogging is the community.  I love "talking" to other book loving people.  There really isn't a least favorite but if I had to say something I do read more on a schedule than I used too.


This week's book is the newest from a favorite - A Late Frost by Sheila Connolly.  Connolly's Apple Orchard series is one of the first cozy mysteries I discovered and I've been really enjoying it ever since!

The Beginning:
"Did we celebrate Christmas this year?" Meg Corey Chapin asked her still-newish husband, Seth.

My Thoughts:
When you can't remember if you've celebrated Christmas that's probably a sign that things were pretty chaotic.

The 56:
He wasn't a child, and there wasn't anything in progress that he might need help with.  Why was she feeling oddly protective of him?


My Thoughts:
Just from this it's hard to tell what's going on here.  Does the person being spoken of need protection for any reason?

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Fatal Collection - Cozy Mystery Review

A Fatal Collection (A Keepsake Cove Mystery #1) by Mary Ellen Hughes (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Callie Reed makes a long overdue visit to her aunt Melodie, who lives in a fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, home to a bevy of unique collectible shops on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Just as they're beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt's body on the floor of her music box shop. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can't accept Melodie's death being called accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she there in the middle of the night?
As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn't careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie's collection.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been wanting to read this author for ages and this new series sounds like a lot of fun.  Plus, I love music boxes and love the idea of a whole store full of them.

My Impression:  Oh I really enjoyed this one!  The book starts with Callie coming to visit her Aunt Mel though the visit doesn't last very long as Callie finds her aunt's body shortly after her arrival.  I liked that Callie didn't go immediately on a mission from the start.  Something about her aunt's death didn't sit quite right with her but she didn't immediately decide to interrogate everyone her aunt ever knew.  Her reaction felt very natural and was one of the reasons she was so easy to like. 

This is the first book in the series so there's a decent amount of setup but it's such fun setup!  There are a lot of characters in Keepsake Cove.  I love the idea of a little cove of collectible shops and it sounds like it'd be so fun to explore for a few days.  Each shop has an owner and each owner has their own distinct personality.  As well there are Shop Owner's Association politics and the usual rumor mill.  However, while sometimes the setup can overwhelm the book and feel a little tedious this never feels anything but delightful.  I loved getting to know everyone in Keepsake Cove and getting a feel of the community and I'm already really excited to visit again.

The mystery was entertaining and well done.  There are plenty of suspects and so much of what happens could be explained away by less sinister explanations which has Callie wondering if there really is anything to worry about.  There are several suspects and while I had a pretty good idea on the "Who" I had no clue on the "Why".

This is a cozy mystery in the very best sense of the word.  Callie is someone I'd like to be friends with, Keepsake Cove is a place I'd love to visit, and the mystery was well paced and entertaining.  This was a delightful and fast paced read and perfect for a cozy evening.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I already have several other books by Hughes on my shelves and I'll be looking for the next Keepsake Cove mystery.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Yes!  If you enjoy cozy mysteries I think you'll really enjoy this new series.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

City of Lies - Historical Fiction Review

City of Lies (Counterfeit Lady #1) by Victoria Thompson

Rating:  Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  Every woman plays a part—but some are more dangerous than others…
Like most women, Elizabeth Miles assumes many roles; unlike most, hers have made her a woman on the run. Living on the edge of society, Elizabeth uses her guile to relieve so-called respectable men of their ill-gotten gains. But brutal and greedy entrepreneur Oscar Thornton is out for blood. He’s lost a great deal of money and is not going to forgive a woman for outwitting him. With his thugs hot on her trail, Elizabeth seizes the moment to blend in with a group of women who have an agenda of their own.

She never expects to like or understand these privileged women, but she soon comes to respect their intentions, forming an unlikely bond with the wealthy matriarch of the group whose son Gabriel is the rarest of species—an honest man in a dishonest world. She knows she’s playing a risky game, and her deception could be revealed at any moment, possibly even by sharp-eyed Gabriel. Nor has she been forgotten by Thornton, who’s biding his time within this gilded orbit, waiting to strike. Elizabeth must draw on her wits and every last ounce of courage she possesses to keep her new life from being cut short by this vicious shadow from her past.

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been wanting to read Thompson's books forever and when I was offered this first book in a new series I couldn't resist.  Plus, I love the 1920s time period.

My Impression:  If you're in the mood for a straight up historical mystery than put this book down and walk away.  This is most definitely not the book you're looking for.  However, if you're in the mood for a fast paced heist style book with a helping of history and a twist of romance this is the book for you.

I had read a few reviews of this one before I picked it up and knew not to expect a mystery which I think really helped my enjoyment.  And my enjoyment was high.  I really liked Elizabeth.  She's smart, quick on her feet, and good with a con.  However, she can't help but feel affection and loyalty to her new group of friends and struggles with those very new emotions.  I liked that she doesn't immediately go on the straight an narrow and her ways of solving some of her problems (especially where her luggage is) had me laughing. 

As a villain I'm not sure they get more villain-y than Oscar Thornton but it wasn't overdone or comical.  He was a man who always got what he wanted and had never felt the need to check his impulses which made him very dangerous.  I loved Mrs. Bates and Anna though I wanted to know more about Anna.  There were a few hints about her that were never fully explained and I'm hoping that will be explored in a future book.  The male characters - Gideon and David - were somewhat one dimensional (especially David) but I did enjoy the contrast between them.  My absolute favorite part of this book was the history on the suffrage movement.  Like everyone else I've done the basic reading is school and may have read a little bit of Susan B. Anthony but this really made everything come alive.  I could feel the determination of the women and what they were up against as well as the horrific conditions in the work house where they were sentenced.  I enjoyed Thompson's note at the end detailing her inspirations for this part and it has made me want to do more reading on the subject.

My only issue with this novel, and it is very very minor, is that Elizabeth is just a little bit too perfect.  Everyone who meets her either falls in love with her or takes her immediately under her wing.  It didn't affect my enjoyment of the read but there were a few "really?" moments when yet another character is professing their love.

This is a fun, fast paced read with likable characters.  It does an amazing job of bringing an incredibly important moment of history vividly to life.  I'm hoping to see more of these characters.  I have a feeling they have lots of stories to tell.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I will be looking for more books featuring Elizabeth and I already have several books from the authors "Gaslight" series on my shelf.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I absolutely would.  If you enjoy historical fiction - mystery lover or not- I think you'd enjoy this book.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ten Books about Food on My TBR

Halloween has officially passed but it's still a little too early to start decorating the Christmas tree which means it's food season!  Otherwise known as Thanksgiving here in the US.  This is time for turkey, apples, pumpkin, butternut squash, lots and lots of pie and all kinds of other delicious stick to your ribs kind of food.  So in honor of all that foodie-goodness I've searched my TBR to find books full of food to help celebrate the season.

1.  Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris by Lauren Shockey - I love memoirs by professions chefs and this sounds like such a varied experience.

2.  What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food that Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro - I love seeing what people ate over time.  It tells so much of regular people history as well as showing insight into the person.

3.  Eating for Beginners:  An Education in the Pleasures of Food from Chefs, Farmers, and One Picky Kid by Melanie Rehak - This one intrigues me for two reasons.  I love foodie books from all angles and I have a seriously picky kid.

4. Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir by Padma Lakshmi - I really enjoyed getting to know Padma on Top Chef  and I've really enjoyed her cookbook.  I'm looking forward to hearing more of her story through this book.

5.  Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Food by Jane and Michael Stern - This book combines two of my very favorite things - road trips and food!

6.  McCarthy's Bar:  A Journey of Discovery in Ireland by Pete McCarthy - Okay THIS book combines two of my very favorite things - Ireland and food!

7.  Fried Eggs with Chopsticks: One Woman's Hilarious Adventure into a Country and a Culture Not Her Own by Polly Evans - It's always fun to read about people a bit outside their comfort zone and this one has definitely caught my eye.

8.  97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman - This one really intrigues me and is very much a regular people history through food.  I'm really looking forward to this one.

9.  Eating for England: The Delights and Eccentricities of the British at the Table by Nigel Slater - British cuisine doesn't really have the best reputation but I read a lot of books set in the UK and the food always sounds amazing.

10.  52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning and a Perfect Crust by William Alexander - I love a project book and this is a project book about bread!  This is a must read for me!

What foodie books do you have on your TBR?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Reviews from the Children's Section - Gone Away Lake + Return to Gone Away

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.  Elizabeth Enright was a favorite author when I was a child but somehow I didn't discover these until I was an adult. 

Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright -If I was picking by favorite children's book this would probably be it.  I love this book so much!  Portia and her little brother Foster have come to stay with her aunt and uncle and most importantly her cousin Julian.  Portia and Julian are about the same age and the best of friends.  They love to explore and have adventures and this particular summer they have their biggest one yet when they stumble on a community of abandoned houses around a lake long turned into a swamp.  The place isn't a secret but between the mosquitoes and the mud no one goes there or really talks about it much.   However, not all the houses are abandoned and soon Portia and Julian discover Minniehala and her brother Pin, an elderly brother and sister who retired to the place they were happy as children.  They're delightful, incredibly resourceful, and a little lonely.  From the time of the discovery Portia and Julian's days are full with exploring and making Gone Away their own playground.  I love their interactions with Minnehala and Pin and watching the friendship between the two sets of siblings/cousins grow.  Min's joy at hearing children's voices around the old falling down houses is especially poignant.  This book is full of adventures and stories and just wonderful fun.  Rating:  Loved it!

Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright - This is the sequel to Gone-Away and starts just a few months after the first book ends.  Portia's family have purchased Villa Caprice, once owned by the formidable and very wealthy Mrs. Brace-Gideon.  The Blakes have purchased the house fully furnished and the adventures they having exploring the house is such fun.  While the whole cast of characters is back in this book most of the action revolves around exploring and renovating Villa Caprice and learning about the former owner and the book is lacking some of the adventures of the previous book.  While I know this book isn't as good I can't help but loving it because I love the whole premise so much and I loved the idea of exploring this old house bursting with possessions and stories of the previous owner.  Rating: Loved it!

This is a book that I think is just as enjoyable for adults as it is for children.  The children are likable and all the adventures they have are so entertaining.  Plus, who doesn't want to have their very own Victorian mansion for their clubhouse?  If you've ever driven past an abandoned house and wondered at its story these two books are for you. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

This Week in Reading - November 5

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:

An empty shelf this week!  There have been a lot of new books here in the Library the past few weeks so this empty shelf is very much needed.

Currently:

Reading: Seeds of Revenge by Wendy Tyson and Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

Listening:  I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley though I'm almost done with the 4th Flavia de Luce.  It's been awhile since I listened to this series but I forgot how much I enjoyed it.

Watching:  I'm enjoying The Voice still and my usual shows - NCIS, NCIS: New Orleans, Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, and Criminal Minds.  This weekend for movie night was Zootopia.  Any new shows I should be watching?

Off the Blog:

This week was Halloween and the Tornado had such a good time.  He was a Death Trooper (from Star Wars - Rogue One) and we ended up doing 2 days of trick or treating.  One was a trunk or treat at his school and the 2nd was a regular trick or treating in the neighborhood.  We have a ridiculous amount of candy and I've been quietly removing my favorites from the pile!  Luckily my favorites and his favorites aren't the same so he hasn't noticed.

Also, this week was book fair at the Tornado's school.  He got a huge stack of books and I volunteered a few days as well.  It was crazy busy!  I love to see all the books the kids end up buying.  I'm glad it was really busy though because that meant I spent most of my time at the cash register and not very much time wandering the shelves.  That can be dangerous!  

Now that Halloween is over I'm making myself think about Christmas - or specifically Christmas gifts. I'm not very good at pre-planning but I'm hoping to not be quite as much in a panic on December 23 as I usually am.   Are you a pre-planner or a last minuter when it comes to Christmas shopping?

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Reviews from the Children's Section - Gone Away Lake + Return to Gone Away
Tuesday:  Ten Books About Food on my TBR
Wednesday:  City of Lies - Historical Mystery Review
Thursday:  A Fatal Collection - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with current book
Saturday:  A Late Frost - Cozy Mystery Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Assault and Buttery - Cozy Mystery Review

Assault and Buttery (Popcorn Shop #3) by Kristi Abbott

Rating: Loved it!
Source:  Publisher

Description:  Repairs are under way at Rebecca Anderson's gourmet popcorn shop. With production of her tasty treats on hold, Rebecca has plenty of time to read the old diary she discovered hidden in the shop's walls. It's a fun peek into her town's history...until the diary's abrupt ending leaves Rebecca wondering whether she's actually stumbled upon a cold case. Unfortunately for Rebecca, mysteries are popping up right and left. When local busybody Lloyd McLaughlin is found dead, the police suspect he was poisoned by Rebecca's popcorn. But Rebecca has only made one batch of popcorn recently, and it wasn't intended for Lloyd. Nothing about Lloyd's death makes sense--until Rebecca discovers a startling connection between the missing diary-writer and the murdered man.
Now, with her reputation on the line, Rebecca must discover who's been cooking up murder--both in the past and in the present.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This series has been on my TBR for ages and I couldn't resist this one when it was offered - I mean there's a diary found in the wall!

My Impression:  I'm going to try not to gush though it'll be a challenge because I LOVED this mystery!  This is the 3rd in the Popcorn Shop series and while I've had the 1st book on my shelves for quite some time it's never been high up on my list.  Maybe an aversion to popcorn leftover from the braces day?  However, when I saw the blurb on this one I knew I couldn't resist.  An old diary?  An old cold case involving a missing person?  Yes, please!  Add in a modern day mystery involving poisoned popcorn and this made for quite a read - like a hide in corners while I finished just one more page kind of read.

The mystery was really solid.  I read a lot of mysteries and it's not unusual for me to guess the whos and whys long before the main characters get there in the investigation.  However, that was not the case with this one.  I was following right along with Rebecca and every surprise for her was a surprise for me.

One of the most important things in a cozy mystery series is the world the author creates.  It has to be a place you enjoy visiting through the books so much that you can suspend belief when it comes to the Jessica Fletcher style murder rate.  This was definitely the case here.  I liked Rebecca and she's someone I think I'd like to be friends with.  I completely related to her fascination with the diary and the her disbelief that anyone wouldn't have been interested.  I really liked that she's able to admit that she was wrong - though more about underestimating the police chief's investigative abilities and not so much getting involved in the investigation itself.  I even liked Rebecca's temporary cell mate, Cathy.  While at times she could be nice she definitely wasn't misunderstood!  Not everyone here is a ray of sunshine but no one ever enters comical villain levels.  This is definitely a community I'm looking forward to coming back to visit!

I know as soon as a character heads to the library to do research the book is going to be a winner but this one surprised me with just how much I enjoyed it.  This was a great mystery with a fun and smart amateur detective.  One of my favorite cozy series of 2017!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Yes absolutely!  I'm already looking for the first book.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like cozy mysteries don't miss this series!  You can jump in with this book no problem.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Friday Linkups: City of Lies
















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 reading a book do you use a bookmark to mark your place in the book, or do you just fold over the top corner of the page?

My Answer:
I'm a bookmark person.  I have a number of bookmarks and have been known to use index cards when in a pinch.  However, my favorite bookmark is one Emma gave me for Christmas when she was in kindergarten (she's in her 3rd year in college now).  I think I've used it for almost every book I've read in the last 15 years.  The Tornado made me one a few months ago and that's also gone into heavy rotation.  If you're wondering clear packing tape stuck on each side with a steady hand and trimmed up a bit works as a pretty good lamination.

I've been wanting to read Victoria Thompson's books for YEARS. We're not going to even discuss how many of her books are sitting on my shelf unread.  So when I was offered the first book in her new series, City of Lies, I just knew I couldn't resist.  I'm not all that far in but so far I'm really enjoying it.  Now to catch up on her earlier books!

The Beginning:
Jake looked much too smug.
Elizabeth's hand itched to smack the smirk off his face, but well-bred young ladies didn't go around smacking people in hotel dining rooms.

My Thoughts:
I can't help but like Elizabeth in this beginning!  I think we've all lived some version of that struggle!

The 56:
Finally, a young woman in a wrinkled shirtwaist peered at him with some alarm through her spectacles.  "Who are you?"

My Thoughts:
I think I'd be rather alarmed to see a strange man standing in the hall too so I can understand her alarm!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  How do you mark your place in a book?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Silent Fountain - Romantic Suspense Review

The Silent Fountain by Victoria Fox (Amazon Link)

Rating: Just Okay
Source: NetGalley

Description: Something terrible happened here...Hollywood, 1975: Tragedy sends troubled film star Vivien Lockhart into the arms of Giovanni Moretti, and it seems her fortunes have finally changed. Until she meets his sister, and learns that her new husband's past holds dark secrets. Tuscany, Present day: Everyone in London is searching for Lucy Whittaker - so Lucy needs to disappear. But her new home, the crumbling Castillo Barbarossa, is far from the secluded paradise it seemed. Across the decades, Vivien and Lucy find themselves trapped in the idyllic Italian villa. And if they are ever to truly escape its walls, they must first unearth its secrets...

Genre:  Romantic Suspense


Why I Picked This Book:  I love an Italian villa and a dual time line plot.

My Impression:  This was romantic suspense - heavy on suspense with a seriously Gothic feel.  The atmosphere just hummed with ominous secrets and every conversation felt threatening.  And really an almost abandoned Italian villa is plenty creepy all on it's own but throw in some foreboding warnings and a reclusive, rarely seen inhabitant and the creep factor raises to almost oppressive.

The characters were intriguing and Vivien's story especially was brutal and fascinating.  Lucy was a little harder to like.  She's running from something and spends a lot of time worrying about whatever secret she's running for and struggles to follow the incredibly restrictive rules in the villa.

What made this book just okay was the pacing.  It seemed like such a slow read and I got frustrated not knowing ANY of the mounting secrets.  I get that part of the atmosphere is the not knowing but I felt like I didn't know anything that was going on and that got a little tedious after awhile.  I think the writing style was good and the characters and plot were interesting and maybe if I had been in the mood for a slower paced book this would have been a better read.  As it was it wasn't a bad read but it didn't pull me in and keep me reading either.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  If I see a blurb that interests me I'd probably pick it up though only if I was in the mood for a slower read.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you're in the mood for a Gothic-y novel this is a good one though don't be expecting a book you fly through.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Sound of Fear - Romantic Suspense Review

Sound of Fear (Echo Falls #2) by Marta Perry (Amazon Link)

Rating: Good
Source:  NetGalley

Description:  The foundation of Amanda Curtis's very existence cracks the moment she discovers the woman she thought was her mother has never given birth. Where she belongs is a question she can't put to rest. But when the clues lead her to a charming yet chilling small town, the threat against her begins to unfold.

Trey Addison is a fixture in Echo Falls. The town and the people are his to protect. He was born to take his place in the family legal firm, but now that a stranger desperate to unlock her past is depending on him, he's forced to make an impossible choice. If Trey doesn't protect Amanda, she'll walk straight into a deadly trap. If he helps her expose the secrets that haunt her, the truth could shatter them both.

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoyed a previous book by Perry and wanted to read more from her.

My Impression:  
The Good:
The mystery is so compelling.  I can't imagine discovering completely out of the blue that my mother wasn't my mother.  I thought Amanda's reaction was pretty natural.  It'd be impossible to just sit and let lawyers sort everything out.

I liked Amanda.  While taking a more active role in the investigation probably isn't the smartest decision it's completely understandable.  As well I liked that she's a veterinarian with experience with large animals and owns her competence.  She jumps in when needed and while she is respectful to the other older vet she doesn't dismiss her own skills.  She's also aware and respectful of Amish customs but doesn't make a big deal about it.

Echo Falls is an interesting town.  I enjoyed the mix of Amish and English as well as just the regular small town rumor mill.  I'd like to revisit this setting.

This book is fast paced and incredibly readable.  I was caught up in the story pretty quickly and just flew through this read.

I liked how everything wrapped up.  You could probably argue that everything is wrapped up a little too cleanly but it worked for me.

The Not So Good:
While I did enjoy the pacing and the writing style there's an overwroughtness about the book that I didn't love.  It felt like the intensity and emotions of the characters was always on max.

The romance was a bit quick.  I'm all about an instant connection and instant attraction but this bordered a little too much on the devoted insta-love for me.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read for me with an intriguing plot, an unusual setting, and likable characters.  While it didn't blow me away it kept me engaged and turning pages far later than I should have been!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would though she probably isn't an auto buy for me.  However, if I saw one in the library or a new one on NetGalley I doubt I'd be able to resist!

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you're in the mood for something on the lighter side but not necessarily a comedy this would be a pretty good pick.