Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Resolutions

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl is Bookish Resolutions.  I have so many vague resolutions that it took awhile to kind of filter them down to 10 actual ones but I think it's so good to have a little bit of focus for just what I want to do in 2018 reading-wise.

1.  Read 200 Books - I've lowered my goal the last 2 years to try to read more classics and not get so caught up in the page count but this year I'm going for quantity!  I haven't had a 200+ book year since the Tornado was born and I'm hoping to fix that.

2. Complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Reading Challenge - I'd really like to complete a reading challenge and the Modern Mrs. Darcy one looks not only fun but doable as well

3.  Create some kind of system for incoming books - Right now incoming books end up in a pile that ends up getting shoved somewhere.  I'd really love to create some kind of filing system

4.  Read more nonfiction - nonfiction is one of my favorite genres but one I've really neglected in the past year or so.  I've gotten a memoir in already this year and am working on another but would like to get more general nonfiction on my reading list.

5.  Focus on getting more of the books I own read - The last few years the books in number has far exceed the books out number and while I doubt that's going to change too much I'd like to make some progress on my shelves.

6.  Keep an eye out for independent bookstores - The town I live in doesn't really have any independent bookstores but I've really enjoyed the visits to really fun shops in other towns when we're traveling.  I'd like to make more of an effort to check into the local bookstores any time we travel.

7.  Make progress on series I've enjoyed but neglected - There are so many series of various genres that I've loved but have neglected in favor of newer shinier books.  I'd love to make an effort to get caught up.

8.  Participate in at least one readathon - Even if it's me just saying I'm going to try and read 24 hours staring Wednesday I want to try it.

9.  Spend some time using one of my coloring books while listening to an audio book - I have bought about a dozen different coloring books and have very rarely used them.  This will help me get my book count in, remind me to use some of the things just sitting around gathering dust, AND help with some de-stressing in.

10. Try out some new cookbooks - So this isn't really all that bookish but it does involve books but I got in the worst cooking rut over 2017 and I think a good cookbook binge my help break me out of it.

What are your bookish resolutions for 2018?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Ramblings from the Stacks - Looking Back at 2017

2017 was a pretty good reading year.  I read 150 books - my best since the Tornado was born - and my unintentional theme was Read the Books I Want to Read.  I didn't focus on going outside my comfort zone or reading books based on buzz but more on the hundreds of books I've thought "I want to read that" over the year. 

So my 12 books for 2017 were:

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean - Loved and really want to read more from her

Still Life by Louise Penny - Really enjoyed and am excited about the series potential.  I listened to the 2nd book and that worked a lot better for me I think.

The Lake House by Kate Morton - Loved and am so glad I took the time to read it.  Despite the intimidating page count it was a really fast read.

Tempest in a Teapot by Amanda Cooper - Such a fun cozy and it made me want to start collecting tea pots.

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare - So much fun and a super fast read.  Another author I want to read more from.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams - Sadly I didn't get to this one.  This was the first month of summer and I was scrambling to get to review books but it's on the list for this year.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen - A perfect summer read and I loved it just as much as I want to love it which doesn't happen very often.

Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent - A quiet book yet one that has really stuck with me.

In the Woods by Tana French - I had mixed feeling about this one.  I love French's writing and the way the mystery was put together but it irritated me so much that the older mystery wasn't solved.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco - I didn't get to this one either.  A big vacation at the beginning of the month through my reading out of balance.  I'm looking forward to getting to it this year.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy - I LOVED this book.  I went the audio route which helped me squeeze this into my schedule and I was so sad when it ended! 

A Christmas Carol - I've seen the play about a hundred times and more versions of the book than I can count but somehow I never read the actual book.  I'm so glad I took the time to actually read it!

What I Learned:  Does reading 10 books out of the 100s I want to read really make a dent?  No probably not BUT these are 10 books that have been on my TBR for awhile that I wouldn't have read if I hadn't made the effort to read them so I feel like a little progress was made.  I have a tendency to do big overblown over complicated projects that end up fading out into nothing pretty quickly.  By keeping it simple and small I managed to get 10 out of 12 so I feel like that's a win and it's one I'm repeating this year.

How was your reading in 2017? 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

This Week in Reading - January 14

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

What I Got:

Nothing!  I mean granted I'm writing this on Tuesday since I'll be out of town this week but I'm still counting this as a win!


Reading:  Many a Twist by Sheila Connolly, Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas, and Dial M For Mousse by Laura Bradford.

Listening:  I'm almost done with The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith.  I'm enjoying it but it does feel a bit too long.

Watching:  Not a huge amount. I need to find another binge worthy Netflix show.  We're kind of loose ends at the moment other than Top Chef.

Off the Blog:

On the Right - 1943 with his brother

I'm in Mississippi this weekend celebrating my Grandfather's 94th birthday.  Last year at this time he was in a bad place health wise which makes this year very special.  His health has tremendously and he's back to his old self.  We'll be spending the week watching movies and relaxing.  Last time I was there was the biggest snowfall in recorded history and I'm hoping there will not be a repeat!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Looking Back at 2017
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Resolutions
Wednesday:  Many a Twist - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  Another One Bites the Crust - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  Dial M for Mousse - Cozy Mystery Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Sisters Like Us - Excerpt

I usually don't share excerpts but I'm so excited about this one that I couldn't help but share.  I've been a fan of Susan Mallery's for years though I haven't read really any of her stand-alones despite the fact that they're all on my TBR.  So when I was offered this one for a review & excerpt I couldn't say yes fast enough.  For starters check out the cover!  Isn't it adorable and so sunny looking.  I don't know about you but I am COLD and reading about anything even remotely set near a beach is the perfect escapist read.  Plus, I love books about sisters as only an only child can!  So here's an excerpt of Susan Mallery's Sisters Like Us (Amazon Link) and check back later in the month for the review!

They got out of the car and started for the front door. Stacey paused to study the bunny footprints on the walkway. Inadequacy gripped her with cold, bony fingers.
She would never be able to do anything like that, she thought, trying not to panic. She wouldn’t even think to do it, let alone be clear on how to execute the plan. Yes, Kit would be the one staying home with their daughter, but still—she was completely and totally clueless.
Harper opened the front door and smiled. “Hey, you two.” She ran down the steps and hugged her sister before embracing Kit. “I hope you’re hungry. I made lasagna.”
Because it was Becca’s favorite, Stacey thought automatically. Harper always did that sort of thing. She took care of the details of life. Details Stacey rarely noticed.
They went into the house. From the foyer Stacey could see the decorated table, the place settings and the crystal glasses. She thought of the plain dishes she and Kit had at home and wanted to whimper.
“Come on,” Harper said, leading them into the kitchen. “I’m trying a new herbal tea I read about online. It’s supposed to be perfect for pregnant women. It supports both the baby and the mother.” She grinned at Kit. “For you, I have a beer.”
“You’re my favorite sister-in-law,” he told her.
Harper laughed. “Of course I am.”
Stacey watched Harper pour hot tea into a mug. “I’m going to tell Mom today.”
Harper rolled her eyes. “Uh-huh. Sure you are. I usually resent you being both the pretty and the smart sister, but right now you do have your issues. I say wait until Joule is born, then hand her over. Mom will get the message.”
Kit got a bottle of beer from the refrigerator. “That’s what I said.”
The back door opened and Bunny walked into the kitchen. “You’re here,” she said, smiling at Stacey and Kit. “Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
She hugged them both, then looked around at the kitchen. “Do you need help with dinner?” she asked Harper.
“Thanks, Mom, I’m good.”
Stacey sipped her tea. Harper always made everything domestic look so easy. Her house was perfectly decorated for whatever season and always tidy and clean.
Bunny took a mug of tea and sat at one of the counter stools. She looked at Stacey. “So what’s new?”
The room went totally silent. Stacey could feel her husband and her sister both watching her, waiting to see what she would do.
She had to come clean—she understood that. If only her mother would understand. But Bunny wouldn’t. She hadn’t approved of Stacey keeping her own last name when she married Kit, that she still worked full-time, that her job had always been the most important part of her life, at least until she’d met Kit.
Stacey sucked in a breath and opened her mouth. “Mom, I—”
“Knock, knock!”
The call came from the front of the house. Harper walked by and murmured, “Saved by the bell, so to speak. I can’t figure out if you have the best or worst luck.”
“Me, either.”
Harper’s client Lucas walked into the kitchen with a tall, thin redhead at his side. The young woman looked to be maybe twenty or twenty-one. She held a large, fabric-covered box, which she handed to Harper.
“Lucas said this is for you.”
“It’s beautiful,” Harper said as she set it on the counter. “Where did you find it?”
“Etsy,” Lucas said, handing Bunny a bouquet of flowers. “Hello, Bunny.”
Her mother batted her lashes and smiled at Lucas. “Hello, Lucas.” She turned to his date. “And you are?”
“Persimmon,” Harper said with a grin.
“Oh, dear.” Bunny’s mouth grew pinched. “That’s an unusual name.”
“I know, right? I have a sister named Kumquat.”
“I can’t imagine what your parents were thinking.” Bunny gave her an insincere smile. “Let me get these in water.”
With Lucas and Persimmon around, Stacey was able to relax. There was no way she could tell her mother the truth now. Maybe after dinner, when Lucas and his date had left.
Stacey settled on one of the bar stools at the kitchen counter and prepared to watch the dynamics of the interactions between Lucas, Harper and Bunny.
Harper got her guests drinks. Lucas took a beer and Persimmon wanted to try the herbal tea. Stacey wondered if she was old enough to legally drink alcohol. Bunny fussed with the flowers, all the while eyeing Lucas’s date.
In a way, Bunny’s dilemma was interesting to observe. She didn’t approve of his young girlfriends, yet he was a man and therefore right by default. Stacey wondered about his preference for dating women so much younger than himself. He was attractive, intelligent and had a very responsible job. By all accounts he should be more comfortable with women closer to his own demographic. Yet he clearly favored young, beautiful but vapid women.
Kit’s theory was that Lucas had had some trauma in his life. Stacey had asked Harper, but she didn’t have any insights.
Lucas settled next to Stacey, then leaned close. “Still not coming clean?” he asked quietly.
“How did you know?”
“There’s no screaming and Bunny isn’t hyperventilating. Want me to tell her? She doesn’t scare me.”
“She doesn’t scare me, either.”
Lucas raised his eyebrows.
“Okay, she doesn’t scare me much.”
He winked at her and she laughed.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Linkups - Dial M for Mousse

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 upcoming titles are you looking forward to reading in 2018?

My Answer:
So many!  I'm excited for Death and the Viking's Daughter by Loretta Ross which is a cozy mystery series about an auctioneer and a former Marine turned PI/bounty hunter.  I'm also looking forward to the newest Nora Roberts. Her stand alone last year didn't really appeal to me but I'm hoping this year's does.

This week's book is another cozy mystery - Dial M for Mousse by Laura Bradford which is the 3rd in the Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery.  I honestly don't know all that much about the series other than it involves a dessert delivery service using a retired hearse but I love the titles and Laura Bradford is a cozy mystery author I've been wanting to read forever!

The Beginning:
Winnie Johnson knew it wasn't polite to stare.

My Thoughts:
This makes me want to know just what she's having to tell herself not to stare at!  It sounds like something interesting!

The 56:
Lovey was following directions - Winnie's directions.

My Thoughts:
It sounds like following Winnie's directions was not such a good idea!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Any books you're looking forward to in 2018?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

In the Shadow of Agatha Christie - Mystery Short Story Review

Rating:  Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Agatha Christie is undoubtedly the world’s best-selling mystery author, hailed as the “Queen of Crime,” with worldwide sales in the billions. Christie burst onto the literary scene in 1920, with The Mysterious Affair at Styles; her last novel was published in 1976, a career longer than even Conan Doyle’s forty-year span.

The truth is that it was due to the success of writers like Anna Katherine Green in America; L. T. Meade, C. L. Pirkis, the Baroness Orczy, and Elizabeth Corbett in England; and Mary Fortune in Australia that the doors were finally opened for women crime-writers. Authors who followed them, such as Patricia Wentworth, Dorothy Sayers, and, of course, Agatha Christie would not have thrived without the bold, fearless work of their predecessors—and the genre would be much poorer for their absence. So while Agatha Christie may still reign supreme, it is important to remember that she did not ascend that throne except on the shoulders of the women who came before her—and inspired her—and who are now removed from her shadow once and for all by this superb new anthology by Leslie S. Klinger.

Featuring: Mary Fortune, Harriet Prescott Spofford, Ellen Wood, Elizabeth Corbett, C. L. Pirkis, Geraldine Bonner, Ellen Glasgow, L. T. Meade, Baroness Orczy, Augusta Gro├čer, M. E. Graddon, Anna Katherine Green, Carolyn Wells, Susan Glashell

Genre: Mystery - Short Stories

Why I Picked This Book:  I’m a big fan of the women authors from The Golden Age of Mysteries so I couldn’t resist some of the stories that came before them which likely influenced some of my favorite mysteries.

My Impression:  I was really surprised to see the 1850 start date.  I kind of had in my head that detective fiction was a 20th century addition yet here are a number of stories all as clean and detail oriented as Christie at her best and all written long before Hercule Poirot started putting his famous little grey cells to work.

The forward by Leslie S. Linger is a fascinating lesson on the origins of the detective story and women authors in general.  He provides context for the more unknown authors both in history and in influence and inspiration to the writers who came after them.

Each of the mysteries is very good full of deception, secrets, and murder.  They are clean and exquisitely plotted even though at times the language can feel a little heavy and dated.  The good thing about these being short stories is the few times I did start to grow restless the mystery came to a conclusion and I was starting a new mystery by a new author.  Proceeding each story is a few short paragraphs regarding the author with a little biographical information as well as mentions of their best know writings.  Each story was a delight and completely unique and I’m so glad I read some of the stories that influenced my favorite authors - Agatha Christie, Patricia Wentworth, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely! I’d love to read more from Klinger and many of the authors I discovered in this book - especially Elizabeth Gaskell.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you’re a fan of the British Mystery collections from The Poison Pen Press you’d really enjoy this book.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Death Below Stairs - Historical Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:
  I love historical mysteries and I loved the Below Stairs aspects of this one.  

My Impression:
  The problem with reading the first book in the series right when it comes out is that now I'll have to wait a minimum of 6 months for the next one!  I want to spend more time with Kat, Daniel, James and Lady Cynthia right now!

The story is told through Kat Holloway's POV.  She's a cook, and a good one, as well as being very intelligent, kind, and a bit adventurous.   I enjoyed all the food preparation talk as well as seeing the daily routine of a big house in the Victorian era.  The stories of her training were fascinated and her struggles with what to do with her daughter are heartbreaking and I imagine not a rare occurrence for women during this time.   I think I would have enjoyed this book just for that if there had not been a mystery, a murder and a bit of adventure.

While Kat's role in the world is very clear and predictable Daniel McAdam's is just as undefined and unpredictable.  Neither she nor the reader are exactly sure just who Daniel is and what his place in society is.  However, his attraction and respect of Kat are not in question and I enjoyed watching them work together.

While I enjoyed the non-mystery part of the book quite a bit the mystery itself was well done and very interesting.  Not only is there the question of who killed the kitchen maid but there's also much discussion of the Fenian Brotherhood and Irish Republican Organization who were responsible for a number of acts of terrorism during this time period.  I enjoyed the history context as well as the more prosaic murder.

This is a page turning read with one an incredibly likeable main character, a fascinating world and delicious food descriptions.  The mystery was well done, well paced, and kept me hooked.  The next book in the Kat Holloway series will definitely be an auto-buy for me!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I'll be looking for the next book and the author mentions a short story or novella prequel to this book so I'm going to go search that out.

Would I Recommend this Book?
Definitely!  I think even non-mystery readers would enjoy this book.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Meant to Read in 2017 But Didn't

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish (and the last one as starting next week it moves over to That Artsy Reader Girl) is Books I Meant to Read in 2017 But Didn't.  This list is always embarrassingly long but I managed to cut it down to 10.

1.  Old Bones by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles - Human remains are found in a garden and a very cold missing persons case starts heating up.  This is my very favorite kind of mystery and I'm looking forward to finally getting around to reading this in 2018!

2.  Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean - I read the first book in this trilogy by MacLean and absolutely loved it.  This is unusual in that the main couple is already married well before the start of the book.  I'm looking forward to seeing them redeemed.

3.  Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas - Devil in Winter is one of my absolute favorite historical romances so I was really excited when I saw that this one was about that couple's son. 

4.  Touch of Red by Laura Griffin - I love romantic suspense - especially when it's heavier on the suspense and Laura Griffin does this perfectly.

5.  Scheduled to Death by Mary Feliz - I absolutely loved the first mystery in this cozy series about professional organizer who has developed a habit of stumbling over corpses.  No idea why I didn't manage to get to this in 2017 but I hope to fix that in 2018.

6.  Tightening the Threads by Lea Waite - This is one of my absolute favorite cozy series.  I read the first four as soon as they came out but for some reason stalled on book #5.  I fully intend to fix that this year!

7.  Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffires - Jeffries is in my top 5 favorite historical romance authors but for some reason I never read this one.  I'm really looking forward to catching up on it.

8.  After Many Years by L.M. Montgomery - Okay the reason that I didn't read this is because the review copy I got was in the pdf format and I had a hard time reading it.  I went on and bought a print copy so this one will be being read very soon!

9.  Trace by Archer Mayor - I read this series featuring a New Hampshire police detective years ago but then kind of forgot about it.  I'm really looking forward to trying it again.

10. Murder in the Manuscript Room by Con Lehane - I just love the title of this one and really wanted to read it when I got it. 

What books did you mean to read in 2017 but didn't?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Promise Not to Tell - Romantic Suspense Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

A painter of fiery, nightmarish visions throws herself into the sea—but she leaves her secrets behind . . .

Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound, killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture: a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide—and her own past.

Like Virginia, private investigator Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire... and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the painting, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories—and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear

Genre:  Romantic Suspense

Why I Picked This Book:
  I really enjoy Krentz's romantic suspense books and I enjoyed the previous book in the series.

My Impression:
  I love romantic suspense and no one writes it better than Jayne Ann Krentz.  She writes fast paced books with likable main characters and the perfect balance of romance and suspense.  This one just might have been my favorite yet.  I had pretty high hopes for this one - especially when I saw it was connected to the previous book - When All the Girls Have Gone - which I read last year and really enjoyed.  I was a little concerned because while Kretnz's books are thoroughly enjoyable they are rarely particularly memorable.  It turned out to not be a problem because while the cult that this book is centered around does come up in the previous book you can just jump in here with no trouble.

I loved Cabot and Virginia and the focus on finding answers to the past.  The fact that they had this shared trauma strengthened their connection and enabled them to understand each other in a way that no one else did.  I really appreciated the fact that Cabot experienced many of the same issues that Virginia did and while he was very much on the strong and silent type he also was honest regarding his struggles and had no problem shedding the occasional tear.  Virginia isn't quite as okay with her feelings as her upbringing post-cult was full of mixed messages and strained loyalties. Watching them help each other on an emotional level was really nice and made it easy to believe that the relationship was fueled by more than just adrenaline.  As well they respected each other academically and professionally.  They both took each other seriously and really listened to the various ideas as the investigation progressed.

This was a thoroughly entertaining read and perfect for a day spent inside under a blanket avoiding the cold.  The suspense kept me turning pages and the characters kept me invested.  I didn't want to put it down!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I'm already looking forward to her next romantic suspense title and am hoping to read more from her backlist.

Would I Recommend this Book?
Absolutely!  If you enjoy romantic suspense this is a must not miss read.  Don't let the fact this is the 2nd in a series scare you.  They're very loosely linked and this is a complete standalone.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

This Week in Reading - January 7

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

What I Got:

This was cozy mystery week for me which I'm sure surprises absolutely no one. 

Lord of the Pies by Nell Hampton - I have to admit that I'm fascinated by the whole royal lifestyle and so a bit of behind the scenes was completely irresistible.  Through in some murder and there was no way I could resist! (NetGalley)

Better Off Read by Nora Page - I love cozies involving librarians so there was no way I could turn this one down - especially when the victim just happens to have spent the weeks before his death checking out books on how to commit murder!  (NetGalley)

The Body in the Ballroom by R.J. Koreto - I really enjoyed the 3rd book in the Lady Frances Ffolkes mystery series I read last year so I was super excited to see that Koreto has a new historical mystery series - and one that involves Alice Roosevelt as an amateur detective!  (NetGalley)


Reading:  The English Wife by Lauren Willig, Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, and Dial M for Mousse by Laura Bradford.

Listening:  The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Gailbraith.  I also finished A Good Marriage by Stephen King which I enjoyed though I'm still giving some boxes in the garage some side eye.

Watching:  J and I are watching Top Chef and enjoying it though I haven't picked any favorites just yet.  We're also getting caught up on the sit-com Life in Pieces which I really like.  

Off the Blog:

It's been a great start to a new year!  I spent New Years inside wrapped in a blanket and avoiding the frozen temperatures which I'm not all that thrilled about.  It's supposed to warm up a little next week and I'm not sad!  The Tornado went back to school on Thursday but due to the temperatures they had a 2 hour delay both days.  I think every first day back to school after a break should have a 2 hour delay.  Normally morning are teetering on the edge of disaster and we're frantically trying to get everything done and out the door on time but with the delay everything was smooth and we were in good moods.  The transition was so much easier than normal.  The trials and tribulations of non-morning people!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Promise Not to Tell - Romantic Suspense Review
Tuesday: Ten Books I Meant to Read in 2017 but Didn't
Wednesday:  Death Below Stairs - Historical Mystery Reivew
Thursday:  The English Wife - Historical Fiction Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  Excerpt from Susan Mallery's Sisters Like Us

Have a great week and happy read!

Every Dog Has His Day - Contemporary Romance Review

Every Dog Has His Day (A Bluff Point Romance) by Jenn McKinlay (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description: Bluff Point brewery owner Zachary Caine wants nothing to do with commitment. His wild bachelor lifestyle suits him perfectly—until a foster kitten named Chaos makes him a reluctant hero. Now he’s BFFs with the kitten’s two little girls and finds himself falling for their gorgeous mother, who couldn’t think less of him.
Divorced mother Jessie Connelly wants nothing to do with men like Zach. He’s sexy and charismatic and bad news, just like her ex. But her girls adore him, and he’s doing a good job filling in for their deadbeat dad. Then a snowstorm brings out the best in both neighbors, who, it turns out, have more in common than their mutual attraction...

So when Jessie’s past threatens her and her girls, Zach is determined to do whatever it takes to protect them—and live happily ever after with this family he has made his own.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book: So many reasons!  I love this author, the romance itself sounds good but mostly kittens.

My Impression:  Oh this was good!  I've read McKinlay's cozy mysteries for years and I was curious about how much I'd enjoy a romance.  I mean would I like her as much if she wasn't killing off visitors to small towns?  Turns out the answer is yes!  I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  Zach may be on my all time favorite heroes list.  He's just such a genuine nice guy.  He loves his friends, he loves his job, and he loves his dog.  He's a give you the shirt off his back without hesitation kind of guy and big brother to all.  That is until he meets Jessie Connelly - well more like Jessie Connelly's two little girls and their kitten who is aptly named Chaos.

Jessie was also an easy character to like.  She loves her girls but is used to being on her own since her ex-husband is more than worthless.  She has some walls and some massive insecurities but isn't' prickly.  I don't think she realized just how lonely she was for friends until Zach landed in a snowbank in front of her clutching a very annoyed kitten.

I loved how their relationship built and I loved how important the girls became to Zach without him really realizing it.  It was lovely to see how much they really needed each other and were just happier together. I was enjoying all that so much that when a bit of external conflict arose I was initially not happy about it but McKinlay used it deftly and it added to my enjoyment without being overwrought.

This was a delightful contemporary romance full of sweet without being sappy and with a nice helping of heat.  This is a friend group I'm really excited about revisiting and am so glad I have 2 previous books to catch up on while I wait for book 4!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I think I'll read anything McKinlay writes!

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy contemporary romance in the Jill Shalvis vein you should not miss this one.  Have no fear about jumping in here.  It works fine as a standalone.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Friday Linkups - Death Below Stairs

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 are your 5 most favorite books in 2017?

My Answer:
Oh this is a good one!  I read a lot of great books in 2017 but I think my favorites were -
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn
The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan

I'm sure I'm forgetting more than a few but these were the first 5 that entered my head.

This week's book is one I've been seeing everywhere - Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley.  I love a good historical mystery and I love the Below Stairs aspect of this one.  I'm really enjoying so far and I've seen some good reviews for it so my expectations are high!

The Beginning:
London, March 1881
I had not been long at my post in Mount Street, Mayfair, when my employer's sister came to some calamity.

My Thoughts:
I love the word calamity!  I really like the beginning of this one.  It instantly makes me wonder just what happened to the employer's sister.

The 56:
The bowl was a mortar, small and deep - a cook or cook's assistant would grind spice or seeds in it with a pestle.  The side of the bowl bore a dried rivulet of blood.

My Thoughts:
I love the image of this.  Such an ordinary item turned forbidding with one little comment.

What do you think?  Keep reading?  What were some of your favorite reads for 2017?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Flat Broke with Two Goats - Nonfiction Review

Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha (Amazon Link)

Rating:Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Just as the Great Recession was easing in some parts of the country, Jennifer McGaha experienced an economic crisis of epic proportions. Her home was in foreclosure; she had $4.57 in the bank; and worst of all, she had recently discovered that she and her accountant husband owed four years of back taxes to the state of North Carolina and the IRS. And then things got really bad…
Flat Broke with Two Goats takes readers on a wild adventure from a Cape Cod-style home in the country to a hundred-year-old, mice-infested, snake-ridden cabin in a North Carolina holler. With self-effacing humor and unflinching honesty, Jennifer chronicles the joys and difficulties of living close to nature, and in the process she comes to discover the true meaning of home.

Genre: Nonfiction - Memoir

Why I Picked This Book:  The title caught my eye and I love "getting it together after it falls apart" style memoirs and this sounded like one of those.

My Impression:  There are more than two goats in this brutally honest yet easy to relate to and incredibly human memoir.  There's also chickens, dogs of various sizes, mice, and even the occasional snake - poisonous or otherwise.  The last two were neither on purpose or particularly welcome but are unavoidable in the country.

But the story doesn't start out with goats.  The story starts out with almost empty-nesters scrambling to keep their suburban private school life going as the Jenga style tower that was their financial health begins to teeter.  And McGaha isn't taking this with a relaxed optimistic attitude.  She's blindsided, thoroughly stunned and seriously and understandably angry.  She doesn't embrace the whole going back to nature journey with joy and optimism convinced that everything will be unicorns and rainbows.  Sometimes when a character is resistant to something that seems so mandatory to the reader I find myself becoming annoyed and impatient with the character but this was never the case here.  Instead I was was right with her the whole way.  The panicked feeling when she finds a very live copperhead in the dining room, the rage when all she wants is a hot shower but can't have one because the fire in the boiler hasn't been lit - I could completely and wholeheartedly understand just why she felt that way and I'm pretty sure I would have had very similar reactions.

The book is told mostly in the present with the occasional flashbacks to the past - sometimes to her own life and sometimes examining what she remembered about her grandparents and great-grandparents who lived a life very similar to the one she suddenly finds herself living.  The addition of the farm animals - first chickens then goats - was fascinating and incredibly informative.  Turns out no part of me wants to own chickens or goats - especially a male goat - but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the ends and outs about how you go about acquiring them and taking care of them.

This is a fascinating, eye opening, and thoroughly entertaining memoir about what happened to a couple when the bottom completely fell out of their lives.  Reading the last page felt like the end of a conversation with a friend and I'll be looking for more from McGaha in the future.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm already curious to know what's happening with Willow, Holly and the rest of the herd!

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  If you enjoy memoirs I think you'd enjoy this one. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Reviews from the Children's Section - How To Train Your Dragon

One of my favorite genres and one that is the easiest for me to push aside is middle grade fiction. This year to make sure I get a little more children's and young adult fiction I thought I would designate the first Monday of every month Middle Grade Monday.  While a lot of my picks this year are classics I am trying to branch out a little bit and read new or at least recent releases.  This is one that was highly recommended to me a couple of months ago when I asked for recommendations.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell I picked this one up on a whim.  I was waiting on 2 audio book holds from the library and wanted something to listen to while I was waiting.  I was looking up all the books available by my favorite narrators and when I searched under "David Tennant" this series came up.  Now the Tornado (age 7 at the time) had been obsessed with the How to Train Your Dragons movies and TV show so I thought I knew what I was getting into so I downloaded this and got to listening.  There was a lot of similarity to the movies.  Hiccup is hardly a typical Viking hero and Toothless is far from the typical fearsome dragon.  And just like in the movie Hiccup believes that there is a better way to interact with the dragons than the methods that have always been used. 
The book starts as the boys are heading into a cave to find their dragons.  It's dangerous and neither Hiccup or his friend Fishlegs really believe they have a chance in succeeding and becoming full fledged members of the tribe.  I really enjoyed this book.  There's so much humor between the over the top conditions on the island to Toothless' total brattiness.  As a parent I really liked the message - while Hiccup isn't the toughest or the biggest or any of that he stays himself and tries to do what he feels is right.  However, it doesn't feel like it's teaching a life lesson and at times Hiccup struggles with not being what everyone expects.  There's a lot of action and by the end I couldn't wait to see how it was going to work out.  I'm looking forward to reading more of Hiccup's adventures!
While there is quite a bit of danger I don't think even early elementary school readers would find it scary.  The Tornado and I have started reading these together and he is really enjoying them.

Audio note- David Tennant does the audio book and if you are able to have David Tennant read you a story you should let him.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten New to Me Authors I Read in 2017

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten New to Me Authors I Read in 2017.  I read and listened to so many new authors this year and so many of them were authors I've been wanting to read for a ridiculously long time.  And even better - they all lived up to my expectations!

1.  Hazel Gaynor - Gaynor has been on my TBR for years and the book I read - The Cottingley Secret - completely lived up to my expectations. 

2.  Elizabeth Hoyt - I love historical romance but find I tend to go to the same few authors.  I enjoyed Duke of Desire and the 2 novellas - Once Upon a Christmas Eve and Once Upon a Maiden Lane and am looking forward to reading more from her.

3.  Louise Penny - I finally read Still Life at the beginning of the year and while I wasn't necessarily blown away by the mystery itself I was blown away by the writing and just the potential of the series.  I listened to A Fatal Grace a few weeks ago and am excited to see what happens next.

4.  Tana French - I love mysteries and I love books set in Ireland so while it took me so long to get to French's books I have no idea.  I enjoyed In the Woods and am really excited to read The Likeness in 2018.

5.  Maeve Binchy - Binchy is another author that I've wanted to read for ages and the stars lined up perfectly back in November and I listened to A Week in Winter and immediately fell in love.

6.  Victoria Thompson - City of Lies is a little different from her usual mysteries and the beginning of a new series but her writing pulls you in immediately and she made her characters and the world they lived in come alive so completely that she's on my must read list from now on.

7.  Jessica Day George - Tuesdays at the Castle was by far my favorite children's book discovery I read this year.  The only negative is that I can't read it when I was 11 because I think I would have loved it!

8.  Shelley Noble - I love a good "finding what makes you happy book" and The Beach at Painter's Cove had that in spades. 

9.  Alice Hoffman - For some reason Hoffman was never high up on my must read list but I got talked into trying Faithful and I'm so glad I did.  It was really quite wonderful and I'm looking forward to reading Practical Magic in 2018.

10. Beatriz Williams - I read A Certain Age at the very beginning of the year and then went on to read several more books from Williams.  I love her historical fiction and the way she weaves her worlds together.

What are some new-to-you authors you read in 2017?

Monday, January 1, 2018

First Book of the Year - 2018

"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?" - L.M. Montgomery

I love a new year.  I feel just like Anne does - like I'm looking at a blank page just waiting to be filled up with ideas and projects.  But before all that I must make the most important decision - What will my first book of the year be?  Will it be a reread?  A book by a guaranteed author?  A risk?  Or a book I've wanted to read for far too long?

This year I'm going with a classic.  One that I've wanted to read for years and by an author I've always enjoyed.

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck.  By all accounts this is a bit different than most of his books.  There's no Great Depression or misery or unfortunate deaths.  It's more him traveling the country with his Standard Poodle, Charley.  I'm looking forward to seeing a lighter side of Steinbeck.

My first review book of the year is another memoir style book - Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha.  I think the title pretty much says everything there is to say about this one.

My first audio book will be a full cast dramatization of Agatha Christie's Appointment with Death.

What is your first book of 2018?

For more first book inspiration check out the amazing Sheila's post over at Book Journey