Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Linkups - Key of Light

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
How do you feel about books with multiple narrators?

My Answer:
It depends on how it's done.  Some of my favorite books have involved multiple narrators but if the different voices aren't clear and easy to keep track of I'll most likely DNF it.

This week's book is a spur of the moment library pickup as I'm trying to keep myself from sliding into a reading slump.  I've been reading a lot of cozy mysteries lately and while they've all been good books there's a certain repetitiveness that happens when I read too many of one genre.  I thought I'd mix it up a little and grab an old favorite from a trilogy I've been thinking about rereading - Key of Light by Nora Roberts.

The Beginning:
The storm ripped over the mountains, gushing torrents of rain that struck the ground with the sharp ring of metal on stone.  Lightning strikes spat down, angry artillery fire that slammed against the cannon roar of thunder.

My Thoughts:
I love a good thunderstorm as long as I don't have to be out in it but this one sounds a little to strong even for me!

The 56:
Moe immediately dropped his heavy head on her knee.  "Could you call off your dog?"
       "Not as long as you've got cookies."

My Thoughts:
I had forgotten about Moe and I just about squealed with delight when he showed up on the page.  He's such a great dog who regularly forgets how big he is.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  What books do you reach for when you feel yourself sliding into a slump?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Facials Can Be Fatal - Cozy Mystery Review

Facials Can Be Fatal (A Bad Hair Day Mystery) by Nancy J. Cohen

Rating: Good
Source: Author

Description: During the frenzy of the December holidays, the last thing salon owner Marla Vail needs is a dead body slathered in a green facial mask at her new day spa. The victim, Valerie Weston, was a major donor for Friends of Old Florida, a historic building preservation society. Marla’s stylists are scheduled to work backstage at their upcoming gala fashion show, but Val’s demise might put a crimp in their plans. Hoping to salvage her reputation, Marla determines to track down the suspects. As she learns more about Val, she realizes the benefactress might have stumbled onto secrets others would kill to keep. She’d better prepare for a body count that has nothing to do with hot stone massages and everything to do with murder.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book: I really enjoyed the previous book in the series and really wanted to see Marla on her home turf.

My Impression:  I read Cohen's previous book in this series (Peril by Ponytail) around hair stylist and salon owner, Marla Vail, last year and while I really enjoyed reading about Marla and her new husband having adventures on their honeymoon I was really looking forward to getting a peek into their daily lives.  I loved seeing Marla at her salon dealing with clients, her stylists and the regular daily emergencies.  As well, I really enjoyed seeing Marla and Dalton settle in together and their interactions with and about Dalton's daughter Brianna were lots of fun.  I thought it was funny how resistant Dalton was to letting her drive with her newly acquired learner's permit.

We don't have to wait long for the first body to fall and the story really got rolling then.  Just who would have disliked Val enough to kill her and was it really murder in the first place?  When a question was answered it seemed to bring up more questions and it was lots of fun navigating the clues and the giant pool of suspects.  I also really enjoyed the look into the political and not always nice world of historical preservation.  This one kept me guessing and my inner history nerd was made even happier with the talks of diaries, shipwrecks and preserving old architecture.  The setting for the final showdown alone is worth giving this book a read!

If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a fun, light series, with a likable main characters and enjoyable side characters.  This is my 2nd book though is I think #13 in the series and while previous mysteries are mentioned not having read them didn't impact my enjoyment or comprehension of the book.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'm really looking forward to going back and reading earlier books in the series!

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a great pick!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Cast of Vultures - Cozy Mystery Review

A Cast of Vultures (Sam Clair #3) by Judith Flanders
Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  Usually sharp-witted editor Sam Clair stumbles through her post-launch-party morning with the hangover to end all hangovers. Before the Nurofen has even kicked in, she finds herself entangled in an elaborate saga of missing neighbours, suspected arson and the odd unidentified body. When the grisly news breaks that the fire has claimed a victim, Sam is already in pursuit. Never has comedy been so deadly as Sam faces down a pair from Thugs ‘R’ Us, aided by nothing more than a CID boyfriend, a stalwart Goth assistant and a seemingly endless supply of purple-sprouting broccoli.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This was described as Bridget Jones meets Agatha Christie.  How could I pass it up?

My Impression:  While I couldn't resist an Agatha Christie/Bridget Jones mashup going in I was a little hesitant.  I mean how would this actually work?  Agatha Christie is known for her clearly plotted precisely done mysteries and Bridget Jones is known for kind of being a mess.  How it worked was delightfully!  Sam's voice is breezy, chatty, and occasionally snarky and lots of fun.  It felt like listening to a conversation with a best friend telling me all about the crazy stuff that had happened to her.  In the middle of it all is a tightly wound complex little mystery with arson and a missing persons case thrown in.

I wasn't surprised to see that the author had spent a number of years working as an editor at publishing houses just like the Sam, the main character in this series.  The scenes at Sam's work just felt so authentic that I could just feel it came from experience.  As a reader I really enjoyed the look into the not so glamorous world of publishing!  Along with the publishing house, there are a number of characters sprinkled through Sam's world from the residents of "the empty house", to her boyfried who just happens to work for CID, to her gardening neighbor who never leaves his apartment, over to Viv another gardening neighbor who plays an important role in getting her mixed up with the mystery.

If you're going for just a straight mystery this may not be the read for as there is quite a lot going on and at times the mystery is in the background.  It never felt forgotten, there were just times it was't the focus.  If you're looking for a book with a fun, intelligent if sometimes frazzled main character, love a bit of publishing house gossip, and don't mind a dead body and an additional felony or two then you can't miss with this one!  I did note that this is actually the 3rd Sam Clair book but I was actually unaware of that until I finished this book.  I don't think you'll have any problem diving right in with this one!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Definitely!  I actually already own several of Flanders' nonfiction books that I'm looking forward to reading and I'd like to go back and start from the beginning with the Sam Clair mysteries.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Absolutely!  Just be prepared that it isn't a straight up mystery.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would.  It's always such an amazing feeling to go into a book expecting to like it okay and end up being blown away and on the opposite end it is such a disappointment to expect to love a book and end up feeling meh at best about it.  Here are five books that blew me away and 5 that were pretty epic disappointments.


1.  Cinder by Marissa Meyer - Everyone I knew had raved about this book - even people who typically didn't read YA or sci-fi type reads.  I absolutely loved the cover so I decided to give it a try and I absolutely loved it!  I read Scarlet right after and then took a break but I'm dying to pick up Cinder.

2.  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - I'm a big Doctor Who fan but I'd been hesitant to read any of Gaiman's books because his episodes of Doctor Who were frequently my least favorite.  I found a gorgeous copy of this at a bookstore and couldn't pass it up and I'm so glad I didn't!  It was so weirdly wonderful!

3. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley - I really had no plans to read this book.  I don't like disaster books, I don't like books where children are in peril, and I don't enjoy books about media frenzy.  BUT when I was offered a copy by someone who had read and really enjoyed it I just couldn't turn it down and I ended up really enjoying it.  It was so cleverly done that I was mad with curiosity to see how everything played out.

4. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan - I expected to like this book - it has the world bookstore in the title so how could I not.  But instead of the book about books that I expected this ended up being a fast paced treasure hunt that was just so fun to read!  The audio is awesome!

5.  The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown - I almost passed on this book when I was offered it for a blog tour.  It seemed high on the angst-y scale but I decided to give it a chance since one of the story lines takes place in 1920s Paris.  I'm so glad I took the risk because I loved this book.  I loved the characters, I loved both story lines, and I just didn't want to put it down.  One of my favorite reads of 2016.


1. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll - I wanted to love this one!  I love middle grade fiction and I really like the Disney movie.  I was prepared for there to be lots of nonsense but it kind of felt like it was ALL nonsense - especially Through the Looking Glass.

2.  Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey - You know when a book sounds so you that you absolutely must have it right that minute?  This was one of those.  Ghosts?  History?  Traveling around and full of random trivia?  Sold, sold and more sold.  I was so sold I bought this new in hardback and bumped it to the top of my TBR.  I just knew I would love it.  Except I didn't.  I really really didn't.  I made it about 100 pages before I DNF'd it.

3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon - This was a really good story with interesting characters and it was totally not for me.  I could see the value in the book itself I'm just not a fan of YA romance.

4.  Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris - I've always been hit and miss with David Sedaris but I had listened to When You Are Engulfed in Flames and laughed until I cried so I figured I couldn't lose with another audio book from him.  The best I can say about this one is that some of it was kind of funny.

5.  Good Mourning by Elizabeth Meyer - I wanted to like this.  I've read several books about the death industry so I was intrigued by this one that focused on a funeral home in New York.  I ended up being mostly irritated.  The author comes from an extremely wealthy family and she never let the reader forget how privileged she was.  She was getting up to go to work at *gasp* 8AM when her friends were just getting home from a night out.  The horror!  The sacrifice!  Who goes to work at 8AM on a Tuesday?  Oh wait - pretty much everyone.  As well she spent a lot of time complaining that people thought about money when planning a funeral.  She was appalled by how cheap they were.  Now I don't know about you but I have participated in planning a couple of funerals and while no one wants to think about money the reality is most of us do not have an unlimited budget.  I read this at least 2 years ago and I'm still getting mad about it!

So what books have you loved more or less than you thought you would?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks - They'll all get read right?

My To-Read list on Goodreads is 1,923 books.  My Wish list on my library's digital site (for ebooks and audio books) is 1,396 books.  My To-Be-Checked-Out list on my library's website is 251 books.  My Wish List on is 345 books.  I don't even know how many books I actually own but it's a lot.  There's some overlap on these lists but not as much as their should be and there are some books that aren't on it at all either because I bought it before it made it on a list or it's an author whose back list I want to read and just haven't added all the books. For measurement;s sake I'm going with just these actual numbers and assuming the overlap balances out the ones that are left out all together.

All together there are 3,915 books that I really want to read at this specific moment in time.  Now on average I read about 130 books a year.  So if I keep my reading speed constant and don't add any books to my TBR and don't do any rereads then it will take me just over 30 years to read them all.

That's totally doable right?  I mean in 30 years I'll only be in my mid-60s and my reading time will probably increase as my dealings with small children decrease.  In fact I have decades worth of wiggle room to add books!

Every once in awhile I'll hear someone say casually that they "know they'll never get all the books to want to read read" and it's just shocking to me.  I mean how can you think that? I can feel my pulse increase when I even think about not getting to all those books I want to read.

Though if I'm being completely honest - I probably won't.

How many books are on your various TBR lists?  Do you expect to read them all?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

This Week in Reading - February 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:

Occult and Battery by Lena Gregory - How can I resist murder at a haunted mansion?  Plus I just love that the main character is a former psychiatrist pretending to be a psychic.  (Blog Tour)

Lost in You by Jules Bennett - Bennett is a new to me author but the story involves a hero who gives the heroine cooking lessons AND a resort.  I'm a sucker for hotel type settings.  (NetGalley)

Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon - A murder, a missing person all at a place called Shamrock Manor.  There's food and lots of talk about the luck of the Irish so I'm pretty excited about this one.  (Publisher)

Tightening the Threads by Lea Waite - This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series and this particular story line dives into the backstory of antique dealer Sarah Byrne who I've been dying to find out more about since the first book! (NetGalley)


Reading:  Facials Can Be Fatal by Nancy J. Cohen and Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Listening:  I'm almost finished with The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.  I've really enjoyed it but it'll be almost a relief when I'm finished with it because I keep catching myself holding my breath while listening!

Watching: We've been watching movies lately.  We went and saw The Lego Batman Movie which we enjoyed though we all probably liked The Lego Movie more.  Later we watched Man of Steel and then Black Mass with Johnny Depp as Jimmy "Whitey" Bulger.  It was good and Depp always amazes me with how he completely changes from role to role.

Off the Blog:

We have survived the Tornado's birthday party!  His birthday is actually at the end of December but with Christmas and school break and all the madness around that there's no way a party is happening.  We didn't have as many guests as I would have liked but all the kids who came were kids he really liked and they had a really good time.  I was pleased with the venue we had picked - one of those places with inflatables.  Basically all we had to do was get a cake, invite kids, and show up at the appointed time.  They did the rest and then when it's over you just leave and they take care of clean up and all that.  If we ever do another birthday party (doubtful) I'd definitely use them again.

The Tornado is going to Space Camp Monday!  It's a trial program for day camps but he's really excited and I'm really excited to hear about it when he gets home!  Living in a town that revolves around the space industry and having a father who is an aerospace engineer he's pretty used to space related things but this is something of his own.

Eleanor and her boyfriend adopted a Husky puppy a few weeks ago and it is the absolute cutest thing.  Right now she's only about 12 weeks old but she's just a giant ball of good natured fluff.  It almost makes me want a puppy - but only almost.  Luckily they don't live too far away so I can just get my puppy fix by visiting them.

I've been on a really great reading streak lately but it seems to be slowing down.  It's not that I'm reading bad books it's just that they're all only good.  All good books isn't much to complain about but there's something repetitive about reading the same quality of book.  I need to have to mix it up a little bit or switch genres because I can feel myself heading towards a slump.

Next Saturday is my 2nd 52 Pins in 52 Weeks linkup.  If you have any posts about Pinterest pins you've tried - wins or fails - I'd love for you to stop by and link up!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from Stacks - They'll All Get Read Right?
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would
Wednesday:  A Cast of Vultures - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  Facials Can Be Fatal - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with current book
Saturday:  52 Pins in 52 Weeks - February Edition and Linkup

Have a great week and happy reading!

Cooking with Mary Berry - Review and a Recipe

From the very first time I watched The Great British Bake Off (or The Great British Baking Show as American PBS seems to call it) I adored Mary Berry.   She seems so nice and she says things like "scrummy" and always seems to be delighted when people do well and so sad and sympathetic when they do poorly.  Her creations always look delicious and gorgeous and I'd been dying to try one of her recipes but hadn't had much luck finding any of her cookbooks over here in the US.  That is until Cooking with Mary Berry popped up on my Amazon feed and I knew I just had to own it.

Published in 2016 for an American audience this cookbook is crammed full of delicious looking recipes ranging from Breakfast to Main Dishes to Sides to Breads to Desserts.  Almost every recipe has a gorgeous photo as well as a calorie count per serving and occasional tips for how to prepare specific ingredients.  Since I only know Mary Berry for baking I was curious to see what a standard cookbook from her would contain and I was pleasantly surprised by the enormous variety.  There are a number of dessert and baked good recipes but there are just as many main dish and savory recipes like French Onion Soup, Coq au Vin, Turkey and Lemon Stir-Fry, Teriyaki Beef, Pork Chops with Mixed Peppercorns, Penne with Spinach and Stilton, and Calzones.  The recipes are clear and easy to follow and the ingredient list contain ingredients that you could find at just about any good grocery store. My primary problem is that why she includes oven temperatures she doesn't list stove top temperatures.  I'm a reasonably experienced cook so I know what heat level to brown beef at but if you don't I imagine it would be frustrating. Since Mary Berry is a well known British cook I figured the obvious choice for a recipe test would be her classic lasagna.  Actually what happened is I hadn't made lasagna in awhile and the picture accompanying this recipe was cheesy and gooey and looked absolutely amazing and I just couldn't resist!

Classic Lasagna

Meat Sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
2lb ground beef
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups beef stock
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes
6 celery stalks, sliced
2 onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
salt and black pepper

For the white sauce
4 tbsp butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp nutmeg

For the lasagna
4oz Cheddar cheese, grated
10 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
6 oz no boil lasagna noodles
chopped parsley to garnish

Preheat the oven to 375.  Make the meat sauce: heat the oil in a saucepan, add the beef, and cook, stirring until browned.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 1 minute, then add the stock, tomatoes, celery, onions, garlic tomato paste, and sugar.  Season with salt and pepper adn bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 1 hour.  (I only used 1lb good quality ground chuck and it was really good.  I also left out the celery)

Meanwhile, make the white sauce; melt the butter in a saucepan, sprinkle in the flour, and cook stirring for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and gradually blend in the milk.  Bring to a boil, stirring until the mixture thicnes.  Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in in the mustard and nutmeg, and season with salt pepper.

Spoon one third of the meat sauce into a large shallow ovenproof dish (I used a basic 9x13 dish) and cover with one third of the white sauce and one third of the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses (I used Mozzarella instead of cheddar because my family is picky but I expect cheddar would be tasty too).  Arange half of the lasagna in a single layer.  Repeat the layers, finishing with the Cheddar and Parmesan (I added some extra mozzarella on top).

Bake in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes until the pasta is tender and the topping is a golden brown color.  Serve at once, sprinkled with parsley.

My Results:  Despite the title this wasn't exactly what I would consider classic lasagna.  Most lasagnas I've made have a heavier ricotta/egg layer and a much saucier meat sauce.  However, I found this absolutely delicious.  The white sauce gave it almost a creamy element and it was hearty and cheesy as well.  I liked that it was super tomato-y but my husband did request more of a tomato flavor next time and I think I will replace the tomato paste with double the amount of tomato sauce.  While it isn't the simplest meal to prepare I found it very logical.  I could make the the meat sauce and while it was simmering make the white sauce and then assemble the whole thing.  While this isn't what I would consider classic I think it will be come a new classic for us!

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Linkups - The Woman in Cabin 10

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:
Can you read and watch TV or listen to the radio at the same time?

My Answer:
Sometimes.  If it's a TV show I have no interest in and that isn't too action packed I can typically block out the noise and focus on my books.  I can also watch baseball or football games if they aren't too exciting because I'll read awhile and then check in on the score and if nothing has really changed I'll go back to my book.  For music I typically can't listen to music with lyrics but there are times when I have to have classical music on if the house is too quiet!

This week's book is one I'm super excited about - The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.  I absolutely loved her last book - In a Dark Dark Wood and have been anxiously awaiting the audio of this one since I first got on the wait list back in October.  I'm about 2/3 through with this one and I must say - it has me hooked!

The Beginning: 
"The first inkling that something was wrong was waking in darkness to find the cat pawing at my face."

My Thoughts:
While a cat pawing at your face in the middle of the night is never a good thing it's only going to get worse for Lo.  This was a scene I was glad I wasn't reading at bedtime!

The 56:
Everything was white.  The pale wood floor.  The white velvet sofas.  The long raw-silk curtains.  The flawless walls.  It was spectacularly impractical for a public vessel - deliberately so, I had to assume.

My Thoughts:
I just love the imagery here.  The all white luxurious room with a somewhat sinister feel lurking around the edges.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Blogging is Murder - Guest Post and Review

Today I'm super excited to welcome Gillian Baker to the Library to talk about her book Blogging is Murder and where she got her inspiration and how she made her character, blogger Jade Blackwell, come alive.  My review is right below it and I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed reading Gillian's post and the book itself!

Gilian Baker on Plot and Characterization Inspiration

Readers are always curious about how their favorite authors come up with their ideas, and though we don’t want to give all our secrets away, most authors are willing to divulge a little about their writing inspiration. Katherine graciously invited me to talk a little about how I came up with the characters and plot for my new book, Blogging is Murder, the first in the Jade Blackwell Mysteries series.

Jade Blackwell, my protagonist, started to develop in my mind about 15 years ago when I got the idea that maybe I could write cozy mysteries like the ones I loved to read. But it took years before I had the nerve to start putting it on paper. Jade never gave up though. She was like a ghost appearing occasionally to remind me that she wanted me to tell her story. She eventually got her way.

The impetus to write Blogging is Murder was NaNoWriMo 2014. I needed a creative outlet for the stress and frustration of life as a blogger. I just started writing. In the original draft, the reader meets former college professor turned blogger Jade in her home office, which was a natural place to start. After that, I let the story flow through me. I’d write for at least an hour early each morning and found myself thinking about plot twists and possible characters while worked my day job.

After NaNoWriMo, the story sat for almost two years. Even though I loved writing it, I had too much “real” work to do. But late in 2016, I decided to throw in the towel as a blogger and try my hand at writing fiction. I’d never forgotten the thrill of it. No other “job” compared. So, I dusted off Jade’s first sleuthing adventure and started where I’d left off.

I tried to outline the rest of the story, but I just sat staring at the page. It’s like I had to wait for the characters to tell me what came next. I now know this is called “pantsing”—where you write by the seat of your pants instead of planning everything out. I’d jot down random ideas that came to me as I prepared dinner or ran errands, never knowing when inspiration would strike. But when it did, I’d stop what I was doing and write, when I could. I continued to pants it, but had to go back to make many changes before it was ready to send to my publicist. I ended up cutting about 40,000 words from the original draft.

When I first started, I only knew the protagonist, the victim, the basic story about a cyber-stalker and the murder method. That was it. I’d had the idea to kill a victim with hemlock for a long time—maybe as far back as when I saw Arsenic and Old Lace on stage when I was in college.

The plot also developed through pantsing. I’d write until I couldn’t think of where to go next. Then I’d journal about it until the next idea came to me. It took me a long while to figure out whodunit. It had me stumped. That may sound funny to readers, but it was like the villain had to reveal themselves to me. And the red herrings were tough too. I used a couple of the characters I’d already written into the story as red herrings, but had to add others. Coming up with their motivation for looking guilty and why they weren’t took me several days of plotting. What fun!

So, I guess I’d have to say that my ideas started to form years ago when some strange thing stuck in my brain and kept nagging me. Then, when I needed a diversion, the Muses smiled on me and gave me the story. It really is magical. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I’m usually meticulously organized and structured, but I can’t write fiction that way. When I try to force it, nothing happens. But when I give over to the creative spirit, that’s when the magic happens. I’ve already started giving over to the creative spirit again and am currently working on the second book in the Jade Blackwell series.

If you’d like to know who gives knocked off with hemlock and whodunit, pick up a copy of Blogging is Murder.

About Gilian Baker

Gilian Baker is a former writing and literature professor who finally threw in the towel and decided to just show ‘em how it’s done. She has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger & ghostwriter to her CV. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain cozy mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggled up with her husband watching British mysteries or discussing literary theory with her daughter.

In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines.

Contact Gilian Baker directly at


My Thoughts:

I love a good murderer mystery especially if it's about something I am personally interested in.  So of course I had to read a book where the main detective is a blogger and the main suspect is another blogger!  When Liz's blog is hacked and the hacker shows up at her home she runs to her friend and fellow blogger, Jade, for support.  Things go down hill fast for Liz when the hacker is found murdered and Liz is the only suspect.  Anxious to prove her friend's innocence Jade gets pulled into the investigation.  
I very much enjoyed this mystery.  Jade's reasons for becoming an active participant in the investigation made sense as did the fact that witness's cooperated with her.  I liked that the police were an ally and not the enemy and especially enjoyed the new deputy, Crystal, not being quite what Jade expected.  The pacing kept it entertaining but not rushed and the investigation was well done with just the right sprinkling of clues.  There are some fun characters (I'm hoping to see more of Phyllis in the next book!) but it never crossed into over the top quirky territory.  The blogging talk was just the cherry on top as I really enjoyed watching Jade run her business and listening into her discussions with Liz.
If you're looking for a quick read with a solid mystery and likable characters this is a great choice!  At a pre-order price of $.99 you can't pass it up (find it here)  I will definitely be looking forward to reading more about Jade and her adventures and I'll be double checking next time I'm chopping up herbs to make sure they're hemlock free!  Rating: Good

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Death and the Gravedigger's Angel - Cozy Mystery Review

Death and the Gravedigger's Angel (An Auction Block Mystery #3) by Loretta Ross
Source: NetGalley

Description:  When former army medic Tony Dozier is accused of killing a member of the hate group that disrupted his wife's funeral, the prosecution charges premeditated murder and the defense claims temporary insanity. Former marine Death Bogart and auctioneer Wren Morgan think there's more to the story.
They're both led to the long-abandoned Hadleigh House, where Wren begins preparing the contents for auction but ends up searching for the story behind an antique sketchbook. As Wren uncovers the century-old tale of a World War I soldier and his angel, Death finds a set of truths that will change...or end...their lives.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed this series so far and I love that there's always a history element involved because Wren's always clearing out an old house.

My Impression:  I love this series!  I almost clapped my hands with glee at the beginning because Wren, Death and Randy were going into a house that no one had lived in in close to 50 years and just the idea of all that stuff makes me giddy with excitement.  I loved the descriptions of the Hadleigh House and the cemetery and the tidbits about the man who had lived there until his death in the mid-60s.  I also thoroughly enjoyed Death's brother, Randy, joining the gang.  His interactions with Wren and with Death were hilarious and brought a lot of entertainment to the group.  It was also fun to see a lot more of the Keystones who own the auction company that Wren works for.  I had really missed them in the second book so it was a treat to see them playing a larger roll in this book - especially the grandmothers.

The mystery got off to a fast paced start with questions about who the last occupant had been, who the dead guy in the Civil War uniform found on the trail was, and how did the son of a funeral protesting minister end up dead in the car of a veteran who had recently lost his wife.  I enjoyed watching Death and Randy work on the upcoming murder trial of the veteran and watch the characters try and figure out just where the Civil War uniform had come from and how the dead man had gotten a hold of it.  I felt both of those mysteries were wrapped up very satisfactory and I really enjoyed the read.  I love Wren's character. While at times she comes off as shy and almost meek there's also a hidden toughness to her and it's nice watching her show she can take care of herself.  

My main complaint was that I wanted more from the mystery involving the angel and the last occupant of Hadleigh house.  There were so many tantalizing pieces that I didn't feel were satisfactorily wrapped up.  I love historical mysteries where the tale is told through dusty letters and found drawing and I just wanted more from this subplot.  As well, this is one of the few mystery series where I feel like it's really important to read the books in order.  A lot happened in the last 2 books that explain Death's backstory and the events that occurred with Randy and I think it could be confusing to a new reader to dive in here.  Plus the other 2 are really great mysteries so you'd be missing out if you didn't read them!

If you enjoy a good cozy mystery read and the idea of exploring old houses makes you giddy this is a series you really must not miss!  This was an incredibly entertaining addition to one of my favorite cozy mystery series!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  There's a hint dropped about the next mystery at the end of this book and I can't wait to see how that plays out.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes!  If you enjoy a cozy mystery then this is a great series though start with the first book.  If you've read the last two books already I think you'll really enjoy this one.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Romance Tropes I Love and Hate

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Romance Tropes I Love and Hate.  This was a fun topic because there are certain things I look for in books and certain topics that set my teeth on edge just reading the blurb.  So here are 5 tropes I love and 5 tropes I hate.

Tropes I Love

The fake engagement/courtship/boyfriend - I love this one!  The best thing about a fake relationship is that it forces a lot of one on one time that the couple wouldn't ordinarily have which means lots of banter, getting to know each other, and developing an emotional connection.  Then there's also the moment when one or both people realize that the fake relationship isn't so fake and they have to deal with it.  Love it!  Example - The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

The marriage of convenience - This pretty much only works in historicals but it's still a favorite.  I think it sort of brings a contemporary element to a historical in that the couple no longer has to deal with social restrictions in their relationship and can do as they wish. Example - The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

The forced team - Road trip?  Snowbound?  Forced to work together for a best friend's wedding or for a super important work project?  I'm completely on board! - Example - All I Want by Jill Shalvis

The best friend's little sister/brother's best friend - I love this kind of old friends meets forbidden love style relationship!  Example -Tears of the Moon by Nora Roberts

The second chance - I love when characters have a history as it makes the quick relationship that's so normal in romances actually feel normal.  They've already done the getting to know each other portion of the relationship.  Plus, I love seeing character growth and 2nd chances are always great about that. Example - Somebody Like You by Donna Alward

Tropes I Hate

The love triangle - I can't stand 99% of love triangles.  They always feel so unfair to one of the characters and I find my sympathy goes to the one not chosen or left at the altar instead of the couple that I'm supposed to be rooting for.

The misunderstanding - Seriously just communicate!  That woman you saw him with at dinner may be a sister or a cousin for all you know.  Just because she's has an inheritance of some known amount doesn't mean she's a mean rich girl like all the others who were mean to you before.  Seriously just talk to each other!

The revenge story - I hate revenge stories or any other type story where one person is misrepresenting themselves and their motives to the other.  It's just icky.

The secret baby/unexpected pregnancy - I hate this one so much and really never seen the romantic aspects of it.  I'd keep going but I've had to delete 3 rants so far so I think I'm just going to leave it at that.

Anything that even vaguely hints at cheating - Nope, nope, nope.  If one of the characters has not clearly ended things with the former significant other I'm just not okay.  Planning on ending it doesn't count.  I also don't like when one character is clearly not over their past significant other.  While that's not actually cheating it isn't a good sign for the relationship!

What romance tropes do you love?  Which ones do you hate?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Reviews from the Children's Section - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 1 and 2

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 (except for February which will be the 2nd Monday).

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car by Ian Fleming (Amazon link)
I downloaded the audiobook Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on a whim.  I hadn't seen the movie but I'd heard about it and the audiobook was short and available which was exactly what I needed in an audio at that moment.  Then I discovered that David Tennant was the narrator so another win.  I typically like middle grade fiction so I was prepared to enjoy the story but I ended up being completely and utterly charmed.  The book is written by Ian Fleming of James Bond fame and isn't someone I think of as warm and fuzzy but there is a very paternal air about the book.  I can easily imagine him telling this one chapter at a time as he's writing it to whatever young children were in his life.  There are some explanations that are done in an offhanded manner that were so fun and frequently funny.  The story itself is pretty simple.   An adventurous family with the last name Potts ends up with a battered motor car that they rescue from the scrap yard.  After they fix it up and shine it up a trip to the beach turns into a trip abroad with a run in with some international gangsters.  There's a car chase and an explosion and lots of fun.  It has the simplicity that I've come to expect from Fleming in the James Bond books but with none of the coldness.  The 160 pages are well used.  There's no downtime but the story doesn't feel rushed at all.  I wanted more but not because the story was left untold but because I was so in love with the family, the car and Fleming's writing style.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Amazon Link)
Wanting more led to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell-Boyce - another library audio book and another one narrated by David Tennant.  This book has a very different style than the first book.  It's still an adventure story but it's way more over the top with a lot more moving parts than was in the original.  Time has passed and the Potts have been replaced by the Tooting family who discover an old engine up in a try that fits into the body of the camper van they're restoring.  They don't know that that engine was once in an unusual car called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  So begins a whole series of adventures that the adventurous family couldn't have expected.  There's a lot more going on here than in the original with multiple villains, several different countries, and a car that may or may not be being helpful.  There's also a period of time when the kids are out on their own which I think most younger readers would enjoy.  This is decidedly more modern with cell phones and computers and other mentions of technology.  The characters of the children are more fleshed out and I absolutely loved Lucy who adores all things black, gloomy, and tragic but is also incredibly funny.  There's a lot more adventure in this book but not quite as much charm as in the original and the writing doesn't include the little asides that Fleming excels at.

I was surprised by how enjoyable both books were and that the original book which was published in 1964 in no way feels dated.  I think children from early elementary school ages up would enjoy this.  While there is a lot of adventure and a few tight spots it isn't scary at all and there's a bit of humor mixed into both.  I'm planning on adding these to the bedtime book stack for the Tornado (just turned 7) and I imagine that soon he'd enjoy reading these himself.  However, I enjoyed both books tremendously and think they'd work well for adults who enjoy middle grade fiction or a reader with a tired brain who just wants a fun story to read!

As for the narrator I think David Tennant should narrate everything from now on.  He's absolutely amazing and both audiobooks featured a short interview at the end where his enthusiasm for the books shone through and made it even more special.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

This Week in Reading - February 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:

Nothing!!  I didn't get any books and don't even have an requests pending!  This is very exciting.  We are going to a movie this afternoon (Saturday) which happens to be right next door to a bookstore which we'll probably go into and there's a distinct chance I might pick something up but that'll go on next week's list so it doesn't count!


Reading: Still reading Still Life by Louise Penny and The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn.  As well I have a fun cozy mystery going called Blogging is Murder by Gillian Baker 

Listening: Yes, My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar (Raj on The Big Bang Theory) and absolutely LOVING it!  I should get my notice that it's my turn for The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware any day so that will be next.

Watching:  I'm finally getting around to watching the latest Sherlock season and not sure what to think of it.  Because of the audio book I'm listening to I've started watching early episodes of The Big Bang Theory and have really been enjoying them.

Off the Blog:

We are officially recovered from whatever bug that hit the house last week.  I don't think I felt quite right until earlier this week.  I don't get sick very often but this definitely knocked me for a loop!  One good thing is I'm really appreciating being healthy again!

I had a follow up appointment with my allergist this week which was interesting.  In my allergy testing back in November I discovered that I was allergic to cats which at the time wasn't a big issue since we had just had to put our older cat to sleep and were currently cat-less.  I have discovered that when I'm staying in the same house as a cat I'll be fine for a day or so but after that my eyes swell up and I'm miserable.  The problem is that we've promised the Tornado a kitten and I don't want to disappoint him but I also don't want to be miserable.  Apparently the solution is allergy shots started off with a "rush" procedure which is basically a whole lot of shots in one day.   Has anyone had allergy shots before?  Any side effects or problems?  I'm not a big fan of shots but it sounds like the best option.

We're not really big Valentine's Day celebrators but I do like to make a special meal for the Tornado.  I found a recipe for heart shaped calzones that look really fun and I thought I'd make a chocolate cream pie with Valentine's Day sprinkles.  This weekend we're decorating a box for school for their Valentine's Day party Tuesday and I have to put together Valentine's for his class.  I remember being a kid and Valentine's were just the cards but when the older kids were little they had to have a treat attached and now it seems like everyone puts together little bags.

I'm trying to get caught up on all the blog stuff I've left unattended for an embarrassingly long time.  This week I'm hoping to get back in the habit of replying to comments and am planning on starting today.  I've thought about using Disquis or something for comments.  Has anyone tried it with Blogger?  Any tips or hints?

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Middle Grade Monday - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 1 and 2
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday  - Romance Tropes I Love or Hate
Wednesday: Death and the Gravediggers' Angel - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday: Death by Blogging - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

My Milk Says I'm 36

Lately I've been thinking about how the time period we grew up in affects our eating preferences.  There are things like availability of ingredients and different methods of cooking but it seems like even more important are the food trends and just random circumstances that influence our preferences years later.

It all started with a gallon of milk.  You see I do about 99% of the grocery buying in the house and even when J picks something up it's usually with a specific list from me.  But I had had to unexpectedly go out of town for a few weeks and J and the Tornado were left to fend for themselves which required food which required a trip to the grocery store and the purchase of a gallon of milk.

Now I'm not much of a milk drinker but I do have a fairly serious Frosted Mini Wheats habit and after I'd been home a few days I made myself a bowl.  As I poured the milk in I knew instantly that something was wrong.  It didn't pour right and I knew as soon as I took a bite that it had ruined my bowl of cereal.  The flavor was weird and the milk coated the inside of my mouth.  I suffered through that bowl and checked the label of the milk as soon as I finished (I'd already checked the expiration date so I knew it wasn't that) and sure enough there it was - 2%.  I was born in 1980 and somewhere in the time I was developing taste buds and milk preferences everyone became afraid of fat and by the time I was 10 all the milk that could be found in my house and my friends' houses was skim.  To me milk is supposed to be colored water that wets the cereal and basically nothing more and for it to have flavor or texture is just plain wrong.  It tastes like drinking straight up cream.

To J a child of the 70s milk is supposed to have flavor and texture - he grew up on whole and only switched to lower percentages in his late teens.  His taste buds were well developed long before everyone became afraid of fat.  That being said he has his own fear - the casserole.  You see while I grew up in the fear of fat he grew up in the dawn of the Cream of Chicken Soup can and the rise of the casserole.  To him and his older brother it was a scary time.  Everything was casseroled and there was one particularly loathed dish that they both swear was made at least once a week called Hamburger Bean Pie.  This featured ground beef, some tomato paste, canned green beans, and little biscuits baked on top.  To this day both he and his brother are deeply suspicious of ground beef if not in hamburger, meatball, or meatloaf shape.  His brother won't eat food that is mixed together and J doesn't eat anything that is called a casserole.

My dad who grew up in an earlier decade will only drink "fresh" milk.  When he was a kid the price of milk was controlled by the state dairy board that kept the prices artificially high.  My Grandmother who had 4 teenage boys would use her Army widow status to go to the commissary on a nearby Army base and stock up on food - but especially milk.  What wasn't drunk in the first few days would go in the freezer to come out at a later time.  Apparently when frozen the milk fats separate and when you pour a glass from a half thawed gallon of milk you only get the skim as the fats are still solid and then because some of the skim is gone when the milk finally does completely thaw the texture is off.

How have eating trends and other circumstances of your childhood affected the way that you eat or think of food now?

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

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Linkups: Still Life

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 Valentine's Day read?

My Answer: 
Oh tough one!  I have two - the first is The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn which is a straight up historical romance and an amazing one and the second is The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie which has a strong romantic element but also a whole lot of adventure and fun hi-jinks!

This week's book is one that I've known since I started blogging that I absolutely needed to read.  I've always been a mystery reader and when I started reading blogs from other mystery readers I was shocked by how many fantastic series that I hadn't even heard of!  The Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny is one of those.  So back in December when I was thinking of books I really wanted to make sure I got to in 2017 Still Life by Louise Penny was high up on the list.  While I'm not as far along in it as I'd like (I had to take a break to read a mystery for review and I don't like reading two of a similar genre at the same time) I'm really enjoying it!

The Beginning: 
Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday.  It was pretty much a surprise all around.

My Thoughts:
I love the matter of factness and the almost humor of the beginning.  It bodes well for the rest of the book.

The 56:
"Oh, Andy died."
Gamache raised an eyebrow.

My Thoughts:
So this really isn't as dramatic as is sounds because they're digging into the victim's back story but I do love how calmly Penny throws around death announcements.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Any books that you want to make sure you read in 2017?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Close to Home - Contemporary Romance Review

Close to Home (A Sanctuary Island Novel) by Lily Everett (Amazon link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  When Tessa Alexander came to Sanctuary Island, she left behind a marriage to a man who didn’t love her the way she loved him. When she finally found the strength to set them both free, she discovered friendship and self-acceptance in her adopted hometown. Now she’s settled into a quiet life on her own—never expecting to see her husband again.
Johnny spent almost two years deep undercover, unable to let his wife into his cold, dangerous world. He’s shaken to the core when he comes home to find her gone. It’s painfully clear that Tessa is no longer the timid young woman he married—she’s become a force of nature, a brave and determined beauty. Johnny can’t let her go without a fight so he sets out to seduce his own wife. But will passion alone be enough to convince Tessa that her new life should include a second chance at happiness with a man who must learn to believe in love?

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book: I enjoyed the first book in the Sanctuary Island series and wanted to read more.

My Impression:  After reading some dark mysteries I found myself craving a romance - preferably something sweet and simple and healing.    Well this one was definitely sweet and it was definitely healing but I'm not so sure how simple it was. These characters have some serious depth and some serious issues that have to be tackled as the story goes along.

The story itself reminded me of a historical romance - one where the husband in a marriage of convenience realizes that he's actually in love with his wife.  This is one that I wouldn't have thought would work in a contemporary but Everett did it brilliantly.  This was made sense and held together and was a completely plausible situation for both of these characters with their particular personalities to end up in.  At the beginning I was very concerned about the balance of power.  Tessa is very young and completely desperate when she and Johnny get married.  Johnny is young (though not as young) and is far more in control of the situation.  It could have very easily slipped into creepy territory and it was a relationship that I really couldn't see how it could get past the beginning.  How could it ever be a relationship not built on gratitude and desperation?

I really loved the way Everett developed their relationship in such a way that the reader got to know the characters as they got to know themselves.  It completely pulled me into the story and I absolutely flew through it.  She was brilliant with the addition of side characters - especially Marcus and Quinn.  They're the main couple in the next book and after meeting them in this book I cannot wait to read their story and read more about them.

This is only the 2nd Sanctuary Island book I've read but I had no problem getting to know the community and I didn't feel like I was missing out by not reading the previous books (though you can bet they'll be on my TBR).  This was a fantastic read with characters I really connected with, a setting I want to see more of, and a lot of heart.  My only complaint is that I seriously want a sticky bun after reading about the treas Miss Patty and Tessa are working on!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes!  I'm really looking forward to starting the next book in the series!

Would I Recommend this Book?: Absolutely!  I think most contemporary romance fans would enjoy this series - particularly fans of Emily March's Eternity Springs series.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Fifth Petal - Blog Tour Mystery Review

The Fifth Petal (Lace Reader #2) by Brunonia Barry

Rating: Very Good
Source: Blog Tour

Description:  Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, investigates a 25-year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed one Halloween night. Aided by Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims who has returned to town, Rafferty begins to uncover a dark chapter in Salem’s past. Callie, who has always been gifted with premonitions, begins to struggle with visions she doesn’t quite understand and an attraction to a man who has unknown connections to her mother’s murder. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian and sometime-aunt to Callie, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: Salem is one of those topics that I can't resist!

My Impression: This is one of those books that I really don't even know where to start with when talking about it.  I think I've started this review about 4 times only to delete paragraphs of discussion that frankly begins to ramble.  In order to get my thoughts about this book across in a way that makes sense to anyone that isn't me I'm going with list form!

1.  This is not a simple mystery.  The characters are fully formed, the history is essentially a character in itself, there are paranormal elements, town politics, and multiple mysteries going back to 1692.  That being said the book doesn't feel disjointed - it just feels fully developed.

2.  I found the characters interesting and complex.  Rafferty is driven to find the truth and he doesn't like feeling pressured because of the victim's social position and his concern for Rose and for Callie feels very real.  I enjoyed meeting Towner and those around her and getting to know her as the book went along though probably to know her best I should go back and read the first book.  Callie was the most compelling for me.  She genuinely cares for Rose and wants to help her, she's learning about her gift and her past but at the same time has a lot of fear.  All the characters including minor ones where people that were interesting and made me want to learn more about them.

3.  The history of Salem itself is fascinating and very dark.  Barry really made it come alive and it became very vivid.

4.  I had no idea how this was going to unwind in any form.  There is a heavy paranormal aspect but to me it didn't read as particularly paranormal it just felt like one more element that made the story richer.

5.  This isn't a fast read as there were times I needed to think about what was going on or even at times take a break when things got a little too overwhelming or too grim.  However, it was an engaging read.  I wasn't completely pulled in until around 35% but even before then I wanted to read it, I wanted to find out what happened next.

Overall, if you're looking for an unusual and thought provoking read with well drawn characters and a crazy intense mystery and aren't bothered by a somewhat slower pace this is a fantastic book to grab.  While it is the 2nd in the Lace Readers series I believe the first book focuses on the back story of one character (Towner) and not knowing the details in no way impacted my enjoyment or comprehension of this book.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I want to get a copy of Barry's first book in this series right now!

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes definitely but this isn't a read for when you're in the mood for something light.

Amazon | Books-A-Million

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Wish Had More/Less X

This Week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Ten Books I Wish Had More/Less X in them.  There aren't ten books that I wish all had more of the same thing in them but there are definitely 10 books I've read that I wish had more or less something in them so I thought I'd break this down book by book!

1.  A Book I Wish Had More Ghosts in Them

The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams - I really enjoyed this dual timeline book but for the timeline set in present day I wanted more ghosts and I wanted them to realize it was ghosts way earlier!

2.  A Book I Wish Had a Little Less Chaos

Teetotaled by Maia Chance - I love Lola, the heroine of Chance's 1920s era cozy mystery series, and enjoy watching her adventures and mishaps but I could have used a mishap or two less in this book.

3.  A Book I Wish Had a LOT Less Pages

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - I know this is probably an unpopular opinion but while I loved Eight Cousins by Alcott Little Women was not a favorite.  I could have used waayy less of it.

4.  A Book I Wish Was a Little Spookier

Thornyhold by Mary Stewart - I really expected this book to be spooky.  There's witches and an old house with unknown nooks and crannies but instead it was kind of sweet.  I mean it was a good read and all but it just was not what I expected!

5.  A Book I Wish Had Way Less Boat

Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis - I love Jill Shalvis really I do.  Her contemporary romance stories are basically guaranteed fun and I always enjoy them but my review for 3/4 of this book could be wrapped up in one sentence - "Just sell the boat Sophie!"

6.  A Book I Wish Had More History

Nine Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub - This may be because I'm a massive history nerd but while I really enjoyed Nine Lives I really wanted more history of the setting - Lily Dale, famous for its' psychics, spiritualists and who knows what else.  I would have loved it if the plot had more about the history of the place.

7.  A Book I Wish Made More Sense

Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll - Maybe it's because I didn't read these books as a child but I was not a fan of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  While I could at least follow along with Alice reading Through the Looking Glass was like reading someone describing their dream for 100+ pages and then just coming to a stop.  I have no idea what was going on.

8.  A Book I Wish Had More Books in the Series

The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs - This has all the indications that there's going to be another book.  It's listed as #2 in a series, there's hints of a mystery that are discovered right at the end of this book and a new character appears who seems to have no other purpose than to be the main character in the third book.  But is there a third book??  No there is not and it's been YEARS.  I'm still hoping though!

9.  A Book I Wish Had More of the Side Characters

Fudge and Jury by Ellie Alexander  - I love this cozy mystery series set around a bakery in a theater town in Oregon and I really love the world Alexander has created but I wanted more of the side characters in this latest book!  We only see them occasionally and I wanted more!

10.  A Book I Wish Had Less Characters and Subplots

Lovers and Newcomers by Rosie Thomas - I loved Iris and Ruby by Thomas and really wanted to love this one as well.  While I liked it it just had so many characters who all had so much history and baggage that it was hard not to get a little lost.

So those are my more or lesses!  Anything you wished some recent books have had more or less of?

Monday, February 6, 2017

On Second Thought - Women's Fiction Review

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins (Amazon link)

Rating:  Very Good
Source: Little Bird Publicity for Blog Tour

Description:  Ainsley O’Leary is so ready to get married—she’s even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn’t anticipate is being blindsided by a breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her older half sister, Kate, who’s struggling with a sudden loss of her own.

Kate’s always been the poised, self-assured sister, but becoming a newlywed—and a widow—in the space of four months overwhelms her. Though the sisters were never close, she starts to confide in Ainsley, especially when she learns her late husband was keeping a secret from her.

Despite the murky blended-family dynamic that’s always separated them, Ainsley's and Kate’s heartaches bind their summer together when they come to terms with the inevitable imperfection of relationships and family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: I enjoyed a previous book by Higgins in one of her contemporary romance series so I was curious to see how she did with a more series book.

My Impression:  Reading this book was just one of those perfect reading experiences.  I was sick in bed and wanted something to distract myself from the fact I felt terrible.  I didn't really expect it to work but before I knew it I was sucked into the world of Ainsley, Kate, Nathan, Eric and the rest of their world.  Sore throat, runny nose, and headache disappeared and I finished this book in a day.  It was exactly what I needed - entertaining without being silly, emotional without being melodramatic and full of characters that felt so real I could picture them.

I found the family dynamics interesting in their super messed up blended family situation.  Being part of a blended family myself I found the confused loyalty issues that Kate suffers from to be very true and the distance between her and Ainsley felt very natural.  As well Ainsley's desire for a closer relationship felt true to form.  This feels like a real family with history, hidden jokes, and the regular irritations that occur in any family.

I loved Ainsley.  I loved how hard she tried just to be happy and to take care of those around her.  She desperately wanted to be close to her sister but had never really been sure how to make that happen.  It's easy to understand that her desire to belong is one of the things that keeps her with Eric despite everyone around her knowing he's not worth her effort.  I loved how her story line progressed and that not only did her relationships with those around her develop but she got a better handle on what she herself wanted.  It was really a joy to watch and I'd really like a few of her outfits!

I didn't connect with Kate's story as much as I did Aisnley's.  I liked Kate and my heart broke for her multiple times as she struggles to figure out just what her life has become and what she's going to do. My main problem was with the way her story developed.    It always felt more like things happened to her versus her taking control of her life and I wanted better for her.

The dual narration really worked and I loved seeing through the eyes of both women. I loved both stories and I loved seeing their thoughts on each other and the people in their lives.  This was a thoroughly enjoyable read with characters I won't forget any time soon.

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

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you like women's fiction this was a really good read.  Perfect for a beach read or a sick day or just a little escapist reading!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

This Week in Reading - February 5th

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.  I'm also linking up with What are You Reading hosted by Kathryn over at Book Date

What I Got:

Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart - I was a huge fan of Mariah Stewart's romantic suspense and while I've found her Chesapeake Diaries series a little inconsistent when they're good I've really loved them.  I'm super excited about this first book in the Hudson Sisters series about 3 sisters forced to work together to restore an old theater in order to claim their inheritance.  (Publisher)

Somebody's Baby by Donna Alward - I'm super excited about this book which is the 3rd in the Darling, VT series.  I really enjoyed the first book in the series and this one involves Rory Gallagher a veterinarian and brother to the heroes in the first two books.  (Publisher)

That's it for this week so far but I'm planning on going to the bookstore later (I'm writing this Saturday morning) so there may be a few more!


Reading: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry and Still Life by Louise Penny.  I've just started both so I don't have any thoughts on them yet but I'm super excited to finally be reading Louise Penny!

Listening:  I finished a radio adaptation on The Hound of the Baskervilles and really enjoyed it.  I don't think I've really read the story since we read it in school 20+ years ago but I do know I liked it way better now than I did at the time.  I'm next in line for The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware which I'm super excited for and until then I'm listening to podcasts.  

Watching: I've been catching up on the 3rd series of The Librarians and really enjoying it.  It's a bit cheesy but still lots of fun.  

Off the Blog:

The plague has hit our house which I suppose is only fair because we've all been really healthy for months.  J came home from work early one day took a nap  and was okay.  Then the Tornado was complaining about a headache when I picked him up from school and it turned out he had a low grade fever.  He missed a day of school but for the most part felt fine.  Then of course I woke up not feeling well and spent 3 days in bed.  I'm not sure if I'm just wimpier or if the bug was getting stronger as it went along.  I'm hoping the latter is the case.  The good thing was that I was actually able to read for some of the time.  Usually when I'm sick reading isn't going to happen but this time I managed to get a good bit read which was nice.

Our anniversary was this week (14 years) and we had talked about going out for a nice dinner this weekend but decided to put it off since I can't taste anything.  Instead we went out Saturday for lunch and some fun shopping. I woke up Saturday feeling like a human but I have a feeling I'll be dragging pretty soon!  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

Monday: The Wicked City - Blog Tour Historical Fiction Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - My Top Ten Favorite Picture books
Wednesday: Somebody Like You - Blog Tour Contemporary Romance Review
Thursday: At Close Range - Romantic Suspense Review

What's Coming Up:

Monday: On Second Thought - Women's Fiction Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Wish Had More/Less __ in Them
Wednesday: Fifth Petal - Blog Tour Mystery Review
Thursday: Close to Home - Contemporary Romance Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with current book
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!