Monday, October 22, 2018

Glitter Bomb - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

It's Mardi Gras in New Orleans and scrapbook shop owner Carmela Bertrand is excited to be attending the Pluvius Parade along with her best friend Ava. Carmela's ex-husband Shamus rides by the duo on his float at the head of the parade, when suddenly the revelry turns to disaster. Shamus' float crashes and explodes, and although Shamus escapes unhurt, a member of his krewe is killed.

Carmela and Ava plunge into an investigation of the krewe-member's death, but as they dig deeper it starts to look less like an accident and more like a murder....and Shamus seems less like a victim, and more like a suspect.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
This is one of the first cozy series that I discovered and I was such a fan.  I missed a bunch in the middle but I read the previous one and really loved it so I couldn't pass this one set in Mardi Gras up! 

My Impression:
  This was one of the very first cozy mystery series I ever discovered but then I kind of lost track of it. Honestly, when I rediscovered it a year or two ago I was surprised to see it was still going since the popularity of actual physical scrapbooking seems to have decreased.  I was really intrigued to see how Childs has updated Carmela's store and how she fills her time.  It was fun to see all her different projects and it made me feel far craftier than I am!

This was a fun read with a murder occurring smack in the middle of a Mardi Gras parade.  I'm not sure there can be a more New Orleans-y murder than that!  It also adds a bit of challenge as the police have to deal with crowd control, mass quantities of tourists, and all the madness that accompanies Mardi Gras.  I liked seeing a bit more of Carmela's past with Shamus and his sister as well as getting a peek inside the secrets and scandals in the hedge fund world.

My main problem with this series is that Carmela is just a little too perfect and a little too noisy.  Everyone seems to love her except when she's asking questions she really has no business asking - which happens frequently.  This didn't keep me from enjoying the book and looking forward to seeing how the mystery would unravel.

While there is a bit from Carmela's past here I don't think newcomers to the series would have any problem jumping in here and understanding what's going on.  If you're looking for a fun lightweight cozy with a great setting and entertaining characters this is one you really must read! 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I'm really looking forward to going back and reading the series from the beginning as well as keeping an eye out for the newest book.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy lighter cozies and haven't read this series you really need to fix that!  

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *

Sunday, October 21, 2018

This Week in Reading - October 21

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

What I Got:

The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell - I love the sound of this one.  I love the title and I've enjoyed previous books by this author so I'm super excited about this one!  (NetGalley)

Chocolate a la Murder by Kirsten Weiss - I love the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum series so I couldn't help picking up the next in the series!  (NetGalley)

Murder Once Removed by S.C. Perkins - I don't know much about this author but I love genealogy and a mystery regarding genealogy is one I can't pass up!  (NetGalley)

The Cliff House by RaeAnne Thayne - I love RaeAnne Thayne and this appears to either be a new series or a standalone.  Either way I'm super excited and this one is about sisters which is one of my favorite plots.  (NetGalley)

A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle - I haven't read the earlier books in the series but I have been enjoying the Hallmark series and I enjoy other books by Kate Carlisle so my hopes are high.  (Publisher)

City of Secrets by Victoria Thompson - I loved the first book in this series and have enjoyed everything I've read from Victoria Thompson so I'm excited about this one. (Publisher)

Murder, She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder by Jon Land - I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the previous book in this series so I'm excited to spend a little more time with Jessica.  (Publisher)

Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge by Laura Levine - I don't know much about this one but I do love a Christmas-y cozy so I'm looking forward to giving it a try.  (Publisher)


ReadingMardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron and Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Listening Dead Ringer by M.C. Beaton

Watching:  We've been catching up on The Big Bang Theory and are probably going to start watching The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix.

Off the Blog:

We are back from Disney and almost caught up on sleep!  I don't have any photos uploaded so I won't be inundating you with photos until next week but we had the best time!  We had 2 full off days which were such fun.  We even went and played mini golf at one of the Disney courses and it was so cute!  I spent a lot of time planning and reading up on where to eat and what to do and it was nice to see it really pay off.  I already miss it!  I did buy a Mary Poppins and a It's a Small World mug to go with the Chip and Dale mug I bought last year and I really like having my coffee in one of them every morning.

Now I have to start planning next year's vacation!  We're talking Southern California (with a stop at Disneyland of course).  It'll be the Tornado's first flight and a practice run for bigger things year after.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Glitter Bomb - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday:  TBD
Wednesday: Marilla of Green Gables - Historical Fiction Review
Thursday: Mardi Gras Murder - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  Murder on Millionaire's Row - Cozy Mystery Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Donna Hay: Modern Baking - Cookbook Review + Recipe

Modern Baking: Cakes, Cookies, and Everything in Between by Donna Hay

I've tried a number of Donna Hay's savory recipes and have always been pleased with the results.  I was surprised and very excited when I saw that she was coming out with a baking book and this is the baking book to end all baking books!  It's a behemoth at almost 400 beautifully illustrated pages and full of unusual recipes or twists on the basics.

Want a chocolate layer cake?  How about the Salted Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Ganache?  Cinnamon rolls?  Try the Crème Fraiche Glazed Cinnamon Scrolls!  There's a Blueberry Thyme Tart and a Banana Bread that involves yogurt, coconut, and maple syrup.  Every recipe (and there are so many) sounds delicious and isn't something I've come across before which is surprising since I've gone through more than my share of baking books in my day!

There are 5 chapters - Chocolate, Caramel Toffee and Coffee, Sugar and Spice, Fruit and Berries, and Milk and Cream.  Each chapter consists of a mix of cakes, cookies, tarts, panna cottas and anything else you can think of!  While not all of the ingredients can be easily found in my pantry almost all are easy to find at a good grocery store or online.

Today I thought I'd share a recipe for Fudgy Brownie Muffins.  They are as just as rich and gooey as the name suggests!

Fudgy Brownie Muffins:

225g unsalted butter, chopped
200g dark chocolate, chopped
350g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
4 eggs
1 cup (220g) white sugar
1 cup (175g) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (150g) plain (all purpose) flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 180C (350F).  Line 12 x 1/2 cup capacity (125ml) muffin tins with paper cases.  Place the butter, dark chocolate and 200g of the 70% dark chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until melted smooth.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the eggs, both the sugars and the vanilla in a large bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the flour, baking powder and the remaining 150g of the 70% dark chocolate and mix until well combined.

Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until slightly fudgy when tested with a skewer.  Serve warm or allow to cool completely in the tins.

My Thoughts:  Oh these are delicious!  All rich fudgy brownie goodness that is almost too much to eat in one sitting.  I did use all 60% instead of 70% dark chocolate.  The texture was super fudgy though it did tend to come apart a little when removed from the liners.  This could be because the 60% has a little more moisture or it could be that I should have greased the muffin tins.  But since my preferred method for eating these treats is in a bowl topped with a little ice cream or whipped cream the coming apart wasn't an issue.  Using my standard (US at least) muffin tin I ended up with 16 instead of 12 and cooked them for 25 minutes instead of the 30 called for.

Overall Thoughts On This Book:  This is a decadent and unique baking cookbook.  While it isn't one I'd reach for all the time it will be a go to when I'm looking for a dessert or cake for a special dinner.

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

Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday Linkups - Giltter Bomb

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

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
If you were able to dress up as a literary figure for Halloween who would it be?

My Answer:
Nancy Drew!  Especially if I could drive the blue roadster.  Or maybe Ariadne Oliver from Agatha Christie's Poirot books.  

This week's book is the newest in a long time favorite series.  I think I discovered Laura Childs' scrapbooking series back when I originally discovered cozies more than a decade ago.  They're so fun and the addition of Terri Farley Moran a co-writer has only made the series even better.  So when I saw Glitter Bomb was released there was no way I could resist!

The Beginning:
"Lookit!" Ava cried.  "There's your butthead of an ex-husband riding up there on the King Neptune float."

My Thoughts:
I do love that this mystery is taking place over Mardi Gras.

The 56:
"This looks like the beginning of an exciting Hardy Boys adventure," Carmela said.  "But is there a legitimate reason for my being here?"

My Thoughts:
Okay so this was technically page 58 but this line made me laugh so I had to use it.  I love  Carmela's sarcasm here.

What do you think?  Keep reading?  What literary character or author would you dress up like?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Books fro the Backlog - Shanghai Girls

Today I'm linking up with Carole from Carole's Random Life of Books for Books from the Backlog.  I really enjoy the chance to feature a book that's been hiding in the piles of books for far too long!  Today's book is Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.

Blurb:  May and Pearl, two sisters living in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated, but their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. Hoping to improve their social standing, May and Pearl’s parents arrange for their daughters to marry “Gold Mountain men” who have come from Los Angeles to find brides.

But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel’s Island (the Ellis Island of the West)—where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months—they feel the harsh reality of leaving home. And when May discovers she’s pregnant the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know.

A novel about two sisters, two cultures, and the struggle to find a new life in America while bound to the old, Shanghai Girls is a fresh, fascinating adventure from beloved and bestselling author Lisa See.

Why I Need to Get This Book Off the Shelf:  This has been sitting on my shelf for literally years (I think I bought it before the Tornado was born and he's 8!) and it's past time to read this one!

What's hiding on your shelves?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

My Classic Movie Essentials - The Haunting (1963)

Setting: A creepy old house in Massachusetts

Dr. John Markway - Richard Johnson
Eleanor "Nell" Vance - Julie Harris
Theodora "Theo" - Claire Bloom
Luke Sanderson - Russ Tamblyn
Mrs. Dudley - Rosalie Crutchley

Premise:  3 strangers spend several days in a seriously creepy haunted house as part of an experiment led by a doctor who is studying paranormal activity.  

My Thoughts:   This is one of those movies that starts out a bit slow and the creepiness just slowly builds and builds until you realize you're sitting all tensed up clutching your hands.   Then there is the brief scenes with Mrs. Dudley of the "No one can hear you if you scream in the dark" line.  Really she could give Rebecca's Mrs. Danvers a run for her money in terms of ominous behavior.  

While the book really focuses on the psychological terror as the reader for the most part sees things through Nell's thoughts the movie has some extra flash.  I think they did a good job adding in fear without going completely over the top and the additions they made to the movie made sense and didn't change the tone of the story.  This is a great movie for this time of year - especially if you don't love super scary movies.  There's a big helping of creepiness and jump moments but no gore which I really enjoyed.

What Makes This Movie Essential:  I don't really think this is necessarily the most essential scary movie but it's definitely one that has stuck with me the most.  I will never ever be able to sleep with a hand or foot not covered by blankets thinks to this movie!

Read Alike -  Well obviously The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.  While the book and the movie have quite a number of similarities the perspective is so different that I think they'd be interesting read and watched in the same time span.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter - Historical Fiction Review

About The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 9, 2018)

 From The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home comes a historical novel inspired by true events, and the extraordinary female lighthouse keepers of the past two hundred years. They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.”
 1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. But far more precious than her unsought fame is the friendship that develops between Grace and a visiting artist. Just as George Emmerson captures Grace with his brushes, she in turn captures his heart. 
1938: Newport, Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old and pregnant, Matilda Emmerson has been sent away from Ireland in disgrace. She is to stay with Harriet, a reclusive relative and assistant lighthouse keeper, until her baby is born. A discarded, half-finished portrait opens a window into Matilda’s family history. As a deadly hurricane approaches, two women, living a century apart, will be linked forever by their instinctive acts of courage and love.  

My Thoughts:  I have now read 3 Hazel Gaynor books and I think it is safe to say that I'm a fan.  I was shocked to see that this one is over 400 pages because I read it in 2 sittings. Sarah, Grace and Matilda were all characters that I loved and was always so glad to see that I didn't mind the POV switch.  I loved Grace and her desire to have a quiet life and her confusion with all the attention she suddenly gets.  I felt for Matilda and her desire for affection and attention as well her fears for her future.  And then there was Sarah.  Sarah's story broke my heart to ugly cry levels.  There is a lot of loss and grief in this story but at the same time there is courage, determination, and hope which kept this from being melodramatic or too tear soaked.  I was sad to see the end of this book as I miss these characters and want to spend more time with them!  I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by Hazel Gaynor and am looking forward to reading her earlier books that I've missed.  Rating:  Loved it!

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Deasy Photographic 

About Hazel Gaynor

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

Monday, October 15, 2018

Ramblings from the Stacks - Reading and Traveling

Reading and travel are two of my very favorite things.  I love exploring new places and visiting old familiar places about as much as I love exploring new authors and visiting old familiar series.  Years ago I used to bring stacks and stacks of books anytime I went anywhere.  My Kindle made that much easier.   I typically bring one or two paperbacks and a fully stocked Kindle.  That's about 400 books give or take.  But how many do I read?

I'm writing this the day after returning from a week long vacation.  I brought my Kindle and 2 books.  I read maybe 15 pages in that whole week.  Unless I'm really careful reading in the car makes me a bit motion sick so unless I'm really into the book I tend to avoid it.  So that leaves the vacation itself.  Maybe it's because I have an 8 year old but our vacations don't tend to be particularly relaxing.  If we do have down time it's normally spent in the hotel pool or something like that and we tend to go places that involve lots of activity.  I love the idea of sitting on the beach or the balcony reading my book but in actuality it doesn't seem to happen.  I suppose there is the possibility that when the Tornado gets older reading on vacation will be a thing but my track record on this issue isn't great.  

Do you read on vacation?  Where are your favorite spots to read?  

Sunday, October 14, 2018

This Week in Reading - October 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.

This week's Sunday Post will be a little different because we've been out of town this whole past week.  I'm writing this on October 5 right before we left for Disney World!  Disney World is one of my favorite places with or without kids so fingers crossed that the weather cooperated and we had a great time!  I'll update next week or check out my Instagram account in the margin because I'm sure I've been posting lots of Disney pictures!

Here's what happened here this week:

Monday:  The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Ten of the Longest Books I've Read
Wednesday:  The Christmas Sisters - Contemporary Romance Review + Giveaway
Thursday:  Books from the Backlog - Q's Legacy
Friday:  The Secrets We Carried - Contemporary Fiction Review
Saturday:  Scrappy Little Nobody - Nonfiction Review

What's Coming Up: 

Monday: Ramblings from the Stacks - Reading and Traveling
Tuesday:  The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter - Review
Wednesday:  Classic Movie Essential Review
Thursday: TBD
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  Donna Hay's Modern Baking Cookbook Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Scrappy Little Nobody - Nonfiction Review

Rating: Loved It!
Source: Library (Audio)

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

Genre: Memoir

Why I Picked This Book:
I've had good luck with celebrity memoirs in the audio format and I like Anna Kendrick in the movies I've seen her in.

My Impression: 
I liked Anna Kendrick going into this.  I had enjoyed Pitch Perfect, Into the Woods, and Up in the Air.  She seemed funny and down to earth in the maybe two interview clips I've seen of her.  And that pretty much sums up my entire knowledge of her.  A pleasant association but hardly devoted fan.  To be honest when the book came out it wasn't high up on my TBR.  But then my library got it in audio and I enjoy celebrity memoirs when they're read by the author so I got on the waiting list.

It turns out Anna Kendrick strikes this magic balance in Scrappy Little Nobody.  She's weird, funny, self-deprecating, and incredibly honest all without seeming to try to hard to be any of these things.  For the most part the story is told in a linear fashion.  Starting with her childhood in Maine and getting started performing in theater and moving up to almost present day and her life in Los Angeles.  She makes no secret of her insecurity and just the general weirdness of it all and I really enjoyed the behind the scenes about awards shows, press junkets, and red carpets.

This book made me laugh more than a few times and kept me incredibly entertained from start to finish.  I might not have started this book as a devoted Kendrick fan but I think I finished the book as one!

Audio Note: This is a book that if all possible should be listened to versus read.  I'm sure the book is great but Kendrick does a fantastic job reading and I think increased my enjoyment exponentially.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Yes absolutely!  I enjoyed this memoir and would read more by her.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy humorous memoirs I think you'd enjoy this one even if you weren't an Anna Kendrick fan.  

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Secrets We Carried - Contemporary Fiction Review

About The Secrets We Carried

• Paperback: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 25, 2018)
 Readers who love Susan Wiggs and Susan Mallery will adore New York Times bestselling author Mary McNear newest novel. A young woman travels home to Butternut Lake, confronting her past and the tragedy she and her friends have silently carried with them for over a decade while also facing an unknown future. Butternut Lake is an idyllic place—but for one woman, her return to the lake town she once called home is bittersweet… Sometimes life changes in an instant. Quinn LaPointe grew up on beautiful Butternut Lake, safe, secure, sure of her future. But after a high school tragedy, she left for college and never looked back. Becoming a successful writer in Chicago, she worked to keep out the dark memories of an accident that upended her life. But now, after ten years, she’s finally returned home. Butternut is the same, and yet everything is changed. Gabriel Shipp, once her very best friend, doesn’t want anything to do with her. The charming guy she remembers is now brooding and withdrawn. Tanner Lightman, the seductive brother of her late boyfriend, wants her to stick around. Annika Bergstrom, an old classmate who once hated Quinn, is now friendly. Everyone, it seems, has a secret. Determined to come to terms with the tragedy and rebuild old relationships, Quinn settles into Loon Bay Cabins, a rustic but cozy lakeside resort, where she begins writing down her memories of the year before the accident. Her journey though the past leads her to some surprising discoveries about the present. As secrets are revealed and a new love emerges, Quinn finds that understanding the past is the key to the future.

  My Thoughts:  I have seen this series around for quite some time and was so excited to finally give it a try!  I love a small town/coming home kind of story and this was wonderful.  I loved the feel of the community and watching Quinn struggle with all that being home meant for her.  I’m always a little nervous when I see a new-to-me author compared with favorites but McNear lived up to all my expectations.  I’m looking forward to going back and reading the first five books in the series and will be keeping my eye out for the next one.  Don’t worry if you’re new to the series like me!  I had no problem jumping in here.  Rating: Very Good

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Books from the Backlog - Q's Legacy

Today I'm linking up with Carole from Carole's Random Life of Books for Books from the Backlog.  I really enjoy the chance to feature a book that's been hiding in the piles of books for far too long!  Today's book is Q's Legacy: A Delightful Account of a Lifelong Affair with Books by Helene Hanff

Blurb:  This is the remarkable story of how Helene Hanff came to write 84, Charing Cross Road, and of all the things its success has brought her. Hanff recalls her serendipitous discovery of a volume of lectures by a Cambridge don, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. She devoured Q’s book, and, wanting to read all the books he recommended, began to order them from a small store in London, at 84, Charing Cross Road. Thus began a correspondence that became an enormously popular book, play and television production, and that finally led to the trip to England – and a visit to Q’s study – that she recounts here. In this exuberant memoir, Hanff pays her debt to her mentor and shares her joyous adventures with her many fans.

Why I Need to Read This Book Soon:  Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road is one of my absolute favorite books and while I didn't enjoy The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street quite as much it was still very good.  No idea why this book has been sitting on my shelf for YEARS.  It's not even very long.  I really have no excuse.  

Do you have any books by favorite authors collecting dust on your shelves?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Christmas Sisters - Contemporary Romance Review + Giveaway

Rating: Good
Source:  Blog Tour

In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…

Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…

As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas?

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

My Impression:  I love a good Christmas read and when I saw this one was set in Scotland AND focused on a homecoming there was no way I could resist it!  It was a lot of fun and full of cozy moments and heartfelt realizations.  The multiple POV storyline was well done and each character had a very disntinct voice.  I didn’t always like the character I was reading but it was never confusing.  

While each of the characters annoyed me at times they more than redeemed themselves by the end and I enjoyed taking this Christmas journey with them!  As with most multiple POV stories there is a lot going on.  Since the personalities of the characters were so well defined it made the book a quick and enjoyable read though the ending did end up feeling a bit rushed.  This was a lovely Christmas read with family drama and a dose of healing goodness!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 * I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - The Longest Books I've Ever Read

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is The Longest Books I've Ever Read.  Now I'm going to be honest - I'm not a chunkster fan.  If I see a book that has 600+ pages I'm probably going pass on it.  I might consider getting the audio but even then it takes me awhile to work up my courage to get started.  I think a lot of this is due to the sheer volume of books I have lurking in the corners demanding to be read but honestly this was the case even before the stacks got quite so large.  I went back into the archives and here are 10 of the books that are 500+ pages that I've read since 2004 (there are more but not as many as you'd think!)!

1. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (672 pages) - I read this one 2 years ago and it was absolutely gorgeous.  I read it a chapter a night and it was my favorite part of the day for quite some time!

2.  Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1037 pages) - I was really surprised with how different this was from the movie.  It isn't on my all time favorites list but I'm glad I read it.

3.  Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher (977 pages) - I was surprised to see just how many pages this book is.  It certainly didn't feel that long though I wouldn't exactly call it a quick read either.  This is a rather epic saga encompassing boarding school and war and house parties and friendship and betrayal and pretty much everything else you can think of.

4.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (734 pages) - I'm embarrassed to admit this is the last Harry Potter book I've read.  I really enjoyed it but I was so emotionally exhausted after this one (don't really remember why) that I never picked up the next book.

5.  Wedding Ring by Emilie Richards (538 pages) - This was the first book in a series centered around quilts by Emilie Richards and it was lovely.  Sad and tragic and funny and healing all at once.  Just thinking about this one makes me want to reread it.

6.  Agatha Christie: An Autobiography by Agatha Christie (560 pages) - This is probably my favorite autobiography of all time.  I loved getting Christie's story of her life.

7.  Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer (754 pages) - I read this one because my oldest daughter was reading them and I wanted to be able to talk about them with her.  We talked a LOT about healthy relationships while reading this series.

8.  Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (511 pages) - I remember nothing about this book but I do love this author.  She does such a fantastic job of setting the scene!

9.  At Home by Bill Bryson (497 pages) - Okay, so this isn't over 500 pages but it FELT long.  It was fascinating but it was so detailed that I think I'd have to reread it regularly to retain more than just a few pieces of information.

10.  The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (648 pages) - This was the first Kate Morton book I ever read and I absolutely loved it!

What is the longest book you've ever read?  Are you a chunkster lover?

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating:  Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure didn't believe in ghosts, until she was haunted by the hard-boiled spirit of 1940s private investigator Jack Shepard. Now Jack is back on the job, and Pen is eternally grateful...

After an elegant new customer has a breakdown in her shop, Penelope suspects there is something bogus behind the biggest bestseller of the year. This popular potboiler is so hot that folks in her tiny Rhode Island town are dying to read it--literally. First one customer turns up dead, followed by another mysterious fatality connected to the book, which Pen discovers is more than just fiction. Now, with the help of her gumshoe ghost, Pen must solve the real-life cold case behind the bogus bestseller before the killer closes the book on her.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
  How could I pass up that title?  And a haunted bookshop?  

My Impression:
  While I have read several other books by Cleo Coyle I have never read any of the haunted bookshop series (which I believe were published under the Alice Kimberly name) until now.  I watched the movie version of The Maltese Falcon not long ago and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was excited to see that Jack Shepard was the same breed of hard boiled wise cracking PI as Sam Spade.

This was fun!  I loved the bookstore setting and I loved the juxtaposition between the cynical Jack Shepard and the more optimistic Pen Thornton - McClure.  While the victim appears on page 1 it does take awhile for the mystery to really get going.  It wasn't slow but there is a decent amount of setup.  I enjoyed this as it gave me a chance to get to know Pen and understand her and Jack's dynamic.  I really didn't have a clue how it was all going to unravel until the end and it was such a fun ride getting there.  There is a bit of a dual timeline with some page time spent working on Jack's case that takes place in 1946 which I enjoyed though it did take me a few pages to adjust to since I'm new to the series.   

While I love the character of Jack I didn't love how often he interfered with Pen's ability to have conversations with the people around her.  She's frequently accused of zoning out or not paying attention and I didn't love that.  I had no problem starting at book 6 though it did make me want to go back to the beginning to see how Pen and Jack met!  This was a fun cozy with a unique spin that has me wanting to read the rest of the series!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I've really enjoyed her coffee shop series and I'm looking forward to reading the first 5 books.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you like cozy mysteries and are looking for something just a bit different than you need to try this series!

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *