Monday, October 14, 2019

The Widow of Rose House - Historical Fiction Review

Goodreads:  The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  It's 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time. However, fresh starts aren't as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn't believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor, Samuel Moore, appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn't need any more complications in her life―especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam.
Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva's new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva's history―and her heart.

Set during the Gilded Age in New York City, The Widow of Rose House is a gorgeous debut by Diana Biller, with a darkly Victorian Gothic flair and an intrepid and resilient American heroine guaranteed to delight readers.

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I love a good ghost story book and this sounded interesting.

My Impression:  Alva Webster has a past with a capital P.  There's nothing she can do to hide it but she's hoping to capitalize on it to her benefit by restoring a house and writing a book about it.  The only problem is that the house has a past that is just as lurid and scandalous as hers is.  Enter Professor Sam Moore of a rather distinguished family of scientists who is fascinated by ghosts. 

Alva has had a rough time of it and has built more then a few walls and a very stiff upper lip to cope with it.  Sam with his enthusiasm and charm might just be her opposite but right from the start they are attracted to each other and seem to thoroughly enjoy each other's company. 

I was surprised to read this was a debut book for this author.  She has such a clean straightforward style while still managing to give a good dash of humor and atmosphere.  Sam is so incredibly likable that I couldn't help but smile when he showed up on the page and I loved Alva even though at times my heart broke for her.  The pacing of this was nice and solid - never rushed but I never felt like it was dragging.  This was a nice book to sink into and escape from the work for a bit.  I wanted to know what was going to happen with the house, between Alva and Sam and with all the other plot threads that ran through this book.  This was a wonderful spooky (but not scary) historical fiction with great characters and a touch of romance. 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  This is an author I'll be looking out for from now on.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy slightly spooky fiction then this would be a great choice.

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

Sunday, October 13, 2019

This Week in Reading - October 13

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:

Murder and Microphones by Erin Huss - I know nothing about this other then it is a cozy mystery involving podcasts about cold cases so I could absolutely not pass it up.  (Edelweiss)

Sauvigone for Good by J.C. Eaton - I love this author so I couldn't resist this one. (NetGalley)


Reading:  A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie and finishing up The Bodies in the Library by Marty Wingate.

Listening:  Finishing up The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries.  It's taking forever but it's more things have been a bit hectic then any fault of the book.

Watching:  I binged the Taken at Birth mini series on TLC about the Hicks black market baby ring in Georgia.  The story is crazy and heartbreaking and absolutely fascinating.  I would've known absolutely nothing about it except my dad's wife has a very loose family connection (some distant cousin may have been a biological father) and the true story is even crazier then I originally thought.

Off the Blog:

This week was a kind of quiet week which was nice.  We got some schooling done and seem to be finding a bit of a routine which is good.  I'm exhausted but more because insomnia decided to come visit then because my days are particularly crazy.  This happens every once in awhile and drives me crazy.  Of course part of the problem is that I very rarely manage to go to bed at a decent hour.  Despite all that I am starting to get back to reading which is such a relief.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday - The Widow at Rose House - Historical Mystery Review
Tuesday - Top Ten Tuesday - Extraordinary Titles
Wednesday:  The Bodies in the Library - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  A Bitter Feast - Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Fives
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Blackberry Summer - Contemporary Romance Review

Goodreads:  Blackberry Summer (Hope's Crossing #1) by RaeAnne Thayne

Rating: Good
Source: Audible Escape Package

Description:  Claire Bradford needed a wake-up call.

What she didn't need was a tragic car accident. As a single mom and the owner of a successful bead shop, Claire leads a predictable life in Hope's Crossing, Colorado. So what if she has no time for romance? At least, that's what she tells herself, especially when her best friend's sexy younger brother comes back to town as the new chief of police.

But when the accident forces Claire to slow down and lean on others; especially Riley McKnight; she realizes, for the first time, that things need to change. And not just in her own life. The accident; and the string of robberies committed by teenagers that led up to it; is a wake-up call to the people of Hope's Crossing. The sense of community and togetherness had been lost during those tough years. But with a mysterious "Angel of Hope" working to inspire the town, Riley and Claire will find themselves opening up to love and other possibilities by the end of an extraordinary summer.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed Thayne's most recent series so I thought I'd give this earlier series a try.

My Impression:  I had seen this book mentioned a time or two on other blogs with less then glowing reviews which always surprised me a bit.  I absolutely love her Haven's Point series so I figured maybe the book didn't work for those particular readers which happens.  But after listening to this one I completely get it.  Honestly, if I wasn't already a big RaeAnne Thayne I'm not sure I would've gotten through the first half or so of this one without giving up on it.  It wasn't terrible but it's just a bit meh and there seems to be so much angst without much positive in that first half.  When I pick up a Thayne book I expect some tough issues but also a nice helping of warm and fuzzy to make up for it and this didn't quite deliver.

It did pick up in the 2nd half and I did end up enjoying this enough where the 2nd book is on my To Listen list.  I liked the two main characters and some of the townspeople are interesting and I was glad to see my favorites' names on the blurbs for other books in this series.  This was fine - it was entertaining and interesting enough to keep me listening but if it wasn't an author I was already a fan of I'm not sure I would have stuck around through the first half.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely though I will keep my expectations a bit lower for this earlier series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would definitely recommend this author but probably not this book.  It's okay but not a must read/listen.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Friday Fives - Books I'm Rereading This Month

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  Michelle over at Because Reading is Better Than Real Life   used to do a Five on Fridays that I always enjoyed and I've seen a few other variations on the theme.  As well I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd give start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.  September was a rough month in a year that hasn't been the kindest and I'm craving some comfort reading.  I love a good reread and there's nothing more comforting then picking up an old favorite.  Here are 5 I'm thinking of picking up soon.

1.  After Many Days by L.M. Montgomery - This is a collection of short stories that is one of my favorites.  Sometimes they're a bit too sweet but the endings are always happy and it is just the perfect comfort reading.

2.  She Came Back by Patricia Wentworth - I love Patricia Wentworth and this is a favorite that I haven't reread in awhile.  Lady Anne Jocelyn was presumed dead in Occupied France during the war but did she really die?  And if she did just who is this woman claiming to be her?

3.  Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie - Sometimes and Agatha Christie read is just necessary and this seems like one of those times.  This is one I remember nothing about so it'll kind of nice to have a "new" Agatha Christie.

4.  Devil in the Winter by Lisa Kleypas - This is a favorite historical romance and I haven't read a really good historical romance in awhile.

5.  Shattered Silk by Barbara Michaels - There's romantic suspense, designer vintage clothes, a cold case, and lots of secrets.  Oh and the main character is rediscovering what makes her happy which is always a favorite of mine.  I haven't read this one in awhile and I think now would be a perfect time.

What do you read in times of stress?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Books from the Backlog - Murder in the Mystery Suite

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! 

Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams:  Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural western Virginia is the storybook resort of Storyton Hall, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. To increase her number of bookings, resort manager Jane Steward has decided to host a Murder and Mayhem week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather together for some role-playing and fantasy crime solving.

But when the winner of the scavenger hunt, Felix Hampden, is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the valuable book he won as his prize is missing, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer. Amid a resort full of fake detectives, Jane is bound and determined to find a real-life killer. There’s no room for error as Jane tries to unlock this mystery before another vacancy opens up… 

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf - It's a cozy set in a book themed resort.  How have I not read this?

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Mumbo Gumbo Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Mumbo Gumbo Murder (A Scrapbooking Mystery #16) by Laura Childs and Terrie Farley Moran

Rating:  Good
Source:  Publisher

Description:  It's Jazz Fest in New Orleans, and the giant puppets from the Beastmaster Puppet Theatre are parading through the French Quarter. Some are very spooky and veiled, others are tall and gangly, like strange aliens.
As the parade proceeds, Carmela Bertrand and her best friend, Ava, follow behind, down Royal Street and past the food booths. Suddenly, they hear a terrible crash from Devon Dowling's antiques shop. They rush inside to find Devon collapsed with blood streaming down the side of his face. Has he been shot? Stabbed? 911 is hastily called, and the police and EMTs show up. After the police examine Devon's body, they tell Carmela and Ava that their friend was murdered with an icepick. They're shocked beyond belief--and now Mimi, Devon's little pug, is left homeless.

Carmela and Ava are determined to catch the murderer, but the list of suspects is long. How long do they have before they find themselves on the killer's list?

Genre:  Mystery -  Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed the last few books in this series and I love Laura Childs' books.

My Impression:  One of my favorite things about Laura Childs' books is that her books are always set in great places and she uses the settings.  In this book the city of New Orleans isn't just window dressing.  It's basically a character in its own right.  I feel a bit like I've taken a trip to New Orleans after finishing one of the books in this series. 

Carmela suffers a little bit from to perfect syndrome but not to the point where I disliked her.  I did want to shake her a little bit because of her actions regarding her relationship with her fiance but again not so much that it took away from the book.  I love the setting of the craft store!  I'm decidedly not crafty but every time I read one of these books I feel like I could make a beautiful multi layered cards or maybe a artistic picture frame.  I can't but I enjoy feeling like I could.

The mystery is good and gets rolling pretty early in the book.  It's always interesting to watch Carmela navigate the rocky territory between wanting to help and not getting in trouble either from a killer or her fiance who just happens to be a homicide detective.  This was a fun read and a new entry in a long running series that you can jump in with whatever book that interests you.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  I love this series and her Tea Shop series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozies Laura Childs is a must read author.

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

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Character Traits

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is about my favorite character traits.  I couldn't come up with the full 10 but here are a few of my favorite traits.

1.  Honesty - I hate when characters lie because 99.9% of the time it's usually a lie that is just making things 100 times worse then if they just went to whoever they were keeping a secret from or lying to and just old the truth.  It drives me crazy no matter the genre.

2.  A good sense of humor - I love when a character is funny and not in a "look at me aren't I crazy" kind of way.   A bit of snark or sarcasm will usually make me love a book.

3.  Mature - I can't not even count the number of times I've screamed at a character to act like a grownup.  I hate characters that overreact time and time again or hold a grudge over something incredibly minor or having foot stomping temper tantrums.

4.  Relatives that hide old letters/diaries in drawers and walls and are willing to die and leave their mysterious house to their main character - so this isn't actually a personality trait but I think it counts.

5.  A love of reading - I frequently see characters that talk about loving to read but it's extra great when the character talks about books or authors and really feels like a reader.

6.  The ability to ask for help - I love when a character admits they can't do everything or aren't portrayed as absolutely perfect and I love it even more when they bring together a group of people who have their different specialties and then they work together.  I'm a big fan of putting together a team.

What are some of your favorite traits to see in your characters? 

Monday, October 7, 2019

Reviews from the Children's Section - Nightmares!

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 (though sometimes it doesn't end up working quite right) .  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 month I'm talking about Nightmares! by Jason Segal and Kirsten Miller.

Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

Blurb: Sleeping has never been so scary. And now waking up is even worse!
Charlie Laird has several problems:
1. His dad married a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch.
2. He had to move into her purple mansion, which is not a place you want to find yourself after dark.
3. He can’t remember the last time sleeping wasn’t a nightmarish prospect. Like even a nap.

What Charlie doesn’t know is that his problems are about to get a whole lot more real. Nightmares can ruin a good night’s sleep, but when they start slipping out of your dreams and into the waking world—that’s a line that should never be crossed. And when your worst nightmares start to come true . . . well, that’s something only Charlie can face. And he’s going to need all the help he can get, or it might just be lights-out for Charlie Laird. For good.

My Thoughts:  This was NOT what I was expecting at all!  With Jason Segal's name on the cover I was expecting light and quirky and lots of fun.  And it was definitely quirky but not so much on the light and iffy on the fun.  12 year old Charlie has been through a lot.  His mother died, his dad remarried, and they've moved into the creepiest house in town all within a year.  Throw in regular and terrifying nightmares and he isn't having a stellar year.  He's not happy - in fact he's seriously angry.  His three best friends and his little brother try to help him but Charlie is really struggling with even being pleasant much less accepting their help. 

This tackles a lot of really important issues including loss, difficult adjustments, depressions, and anger but without reading like an after school special.  I liked that Charlie read like a real 12 year old - or pretty close.  He's got a bit of an attitude and his feelings are very rarely logical but he isn't vilified or made a hero.  He's just a kid - and a kid who I think a lot of other kids would identify with. 

I think this would be great for children 8 through 12 or so.  The book is a bit dark and there is some scary imagery that might bother younger children but it's not so dark that I think it would bother my sensitive 9 year old.  Most of it has a fairy tale witch feel.  She's definitely a nightmare but I didn't feel like we were up to Gaiman's Coraline level scary.  Jason Segal reads the audio and is beyond fabulous.  This would be a good listen for a road trip. 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

This Week in Reading - October 6

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 - or at least I don't think I got anything.  It's been a crazy week so there's a distinct possibility that I missed a book or two.


Reading:  Mumbo Gumbo Murder by Laura Childs and Terrie Farley Moran  and Widow of Rose House by Diane Biller

Listening:  I'm still listening to A Study in Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries which I'm enjoying but it's not a favorite so far.

Watching:  I've been needing some nice mindless TV so I've been watching The Voice, Dancing with the Stars, and Bar Rescue.  I'm quite the expert at turning a failing bar around these days.

Off the Blog:

Thank you all so much for you kind words regarding the death of my grandfather.  Even though it wasn't unexpected it's been a hard week.  The funeral was Tuesday morning and it was as nice as one can be and wow can a military funeral pack a punch.  It was beautiful but heartbreaking.

Now we are trying to find our new normal.  My grandmother is such a rock and is adjusting well to the assisted living place alone. We are trying to balance visiting her and being involved and letting her establish her own identity and find her own pace.  They were married 69 years.  We were supposed to be at Disney World this week but luckily had rescheduled it when we were talking about moving him to hospice.  I'm glad I didn't have to deal with packing up and going or having to reschedule super last minute.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Middle Grade Review
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Character Traits I Love
Wednesday:  Mumbo Gumbo Murder - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  Books from the Backlog 
Friday:  Friday Fives
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Distant Hours - Fiction Review

Goodreads:  The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Rating: Good
Source:  Purchased

Description:  A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WWII. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941.
Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in ‘the distant hours’ of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

Genre: Fiction 

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed other books by Morton and that blurb really grabbed me.

My Impression:  Kate Morton is the master of unsettling and vividly painted settings and this one was no exceptionI loved Milderhurst Castle though I most definitely wouldn't want to spend the night there!  It's every inch a true Gothic castle with twisty hallways, dusty rooms and lots and lots of secrets.  I really enjoyed Edie's investigation into just what happened at the castle and how was her mother involved.  In some ways Edie was getting to know her mother more then she was getting to know the castle inhabitants which I really liked.  The three Blythe sisters definitely don't live up to their name and I don't think I've come across a more subtly unhappy and dysfunctional trio. 

My main issue with this is that it never felt like it quite gelled.  The author had a fantastic premise but wasn't able to tie in together completely.  I did know what happened by the end but I didn't feel like everything was addressed or actually made sense with the ending.  As well the pacing felt just a bit slow and I wasn't pulled in quite as much as I expect to be by Morton's books.  This isn't a bad read - in fact it's a pretty good read - but it just isn't as good as I expect from this author.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  I always enjoy Morton's books.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Of all the Morton  books I've read this is the last one I'd recommend.  It's not bad but I just didn't enjoy it as much as The Secret Keeper,   The Forgotten Garden, or The Lake House.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Friday Fives - October TBR

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  Michelle over at Because Reading is Better Than Real Life   used to do a Five on Fridays that I always enjoyed and I've seen a few other variations on the theme.  As well I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd give start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.  Since this is the first Friday in October I'm thinking about 5 books to read this month and since it's the month of Halloween I'm wanting just a touch creepy. 

1.  We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson - I'm a fan of Shirley Jackson and have read pretty much everything she's ever written.  Up until about a year ago I was convinced I had read this one but I most definitely haven't.  I'm hoping to fix that now!

2.  Ammie,  Come Home by Barbara Michaels - Michaels is the perfect mix of comfort and creepy and though I've read this book tons of time it's always fun.

3.  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - This has been on my classics list for ages and I've been wanting to watch the classic movie adaptation but I want to read it first. 

4.  The Summoning by Heather Graham - Heather Graham is my perfect level of creepy.  There's a bit of ghost, a bit of action, and a bit of romance but it doesn't slide so far into creepy that I feel like I need to check the locks or can't sleep.

5.  Hunting Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco - I've had this on my TBR for years and I picked up the audio when it was on sale and still haven't managed to listen to it but I think this October will be the time to finally get around to it.

What are you planning on reading this October?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Last Seance - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Last Seance: Tales of the Supernatural by Agatha Christie

Rating:  Good
Source: Edelweiss

Description:  For lovers of the supernatural and the macabre comes this collection of ghostly and chilling stories from legendary mystery writer Agatha Christie. Fantastic psychic visions, specters looming in the shadows, encounters with deities, a man who switches bodies with a cat—be sure to keep the light on whilst reading these tales.
The Last Séance gathers twenty stories, some featuring Christie’s beloved detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, in one haunting compendium that explores all things occult and paranormal, and is an essential omnibus for Christie fans.

Genre: Mystery - Short Story, Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  Christie is my absolute favorite and there was no way I can resist a newly published collection of short stories even though I've read all of them except one.

My Impression:  I knew that Christie dabbled in the supernatural from time to time but I really was surprised to see just how many stories there were!  Some have Miss Marple and some feature Poirot but for the most part these were stand alones.  Agatha Christie is probably my favorite author of all time but this collection was a bit inconsistent.  Some stories were delightfully creepy and others were a bit flat and drawn out.  You can clearly see her experimenting with the supernatural elements and sometimes the experiment succeeded beautifully and other times not so much.  I enjoyed seeing the changes in her writing and just the variety of story she was able to bring to life.  However, if you're not a fan of Christie I suspect you might be underwhelmed by this collection as a whole.  Unfortunately, there's a reason why these aren't her best known stories.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I am always rereading Agatha Christie's books and that isn't going to change anytime soon!

Would I Recommend this Book?  While I always recommend Christie I think this book might be for more diehard fans then readers just discovering her books.

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

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Books with Numbers in the Title

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is all about books with numbers in the titles.  I thought this was a fun topic and enjoyed going through my lists to find books with numbers!  I really thought there would be a lot of searching and books I'd never heard of but it turns out I've read far more books with numbers in the title then I thought!

1.  One Minute Later by Susan Lewis - This wasn't my favorite read and in fact I don't remember much about it but I did enjoy it.

2.  Flat Broke With Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha - This was an interesting memoir that made me quite sure I never ever wanted to own goats.

3.  Three Fates by Nora Roberts - This is a favorite that I've reread probably a dozen times and it never disappoints.

4.  Botched 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton - This is such a fun cozy mystery series and one I always enjoy!

5.  The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry - I loved this intricately plotted mystery with connections deep into the past.

6.  Six Cats a Slayin' by Miranda James - Another fun cozy series and this one had kittens!

7.  The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley - This was quite the saga about 7 sisters of very different origins.  I really need to continue it!

8.  Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott - This was one of my absolute favorite books as a child and I still enjoy it

9.  Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty - This was the latest Moriarty book that I listened to and while it was completely nuts I really enjoyed it.

10. Ten Years a Nomad by Matthew Kepnes - This was probably one of my least favorite books of the year but it does have the number ten in the title.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Silent Night, Deadly Night - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Silent Night, Deadly Night (A Year-Round Christmas #4) by Vicki Delaney

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Description: It's the week before Thanksgiving, and Merry Wilkinson, owner of Mrs. Claus's Treasures, is preparing for a weekend reunion of her mother's college friends. But when the group of women comes into Merry's shop, Merry is met with frosty attitudes and cold hearts.

The women argue amongst themselves constantly, and the bickering only intensifies after one of the friends is poisoned. With her father's role as Santa in danger due to his proximity to the crime, Merry will need to use all of her investigative gifts to wrap this mystery up and save Santa and her favorite holiday.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy 

Why I Picked This Book:  I've enjoyed other books by this author and have been wanting to try this series. 

My Impression:  This was a lot of fun!  I loved that this was a Christmas-y cozy that took place around Thanksgiving so it was a bit like two holidays for the price of one.  And oh what a holiday it is!  There's nothing to be particularly thankful for when this group of college friends gets together.  The level of sniping, underhanded digs, and flat out blatant verbal attacks means the get together is straight impressive and even the host, Merry's mother Aline, is left wondering if they really were friends all those years ago.  Merry is trying to help her mother keep the peace one evening when things go horribly horribly wrong.

I love the year round Christmas thing and I think the St. Bernard is a vastly underappreciated dog breed so I was thrilled to see Merry's sidekick Matty.  I also really loved Merry's relationship with her parents.  It wasn't perfect but it was positive and felt pretty realistic.  The mystery was entertaining with lots of past secrets and long held grudges.  I really enjoyed it all the way to the end and even though I might have had an idea of just who the killer was it was really fun to see it unravel.  This was the first book in the series that I've read and I'm so glad I have the previous three already on my shelf to keep me company while I wait for book #5!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm really looking forward to digging into the first three books in the series. 

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a fun series and you can jump in right here.

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

Sunday, September 29, 2019

This Week in Reading - September 29

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

It's been a rough week.  My grandfather died Thursday night.  It wasn't unexpected and in some ways it's a relief that he is no longer suffering but oh how we all miss him.  His funeral will be Tuesday morning with all the military honors Ft. Rucker can dig out.  Once he retired he rarely dusted off that lofty Colonel rank and I suspect he would hate all the fuss that will be occurring in his honor.  But he deserves it and my Grandmother wants it so the air will ring with the salute that he directed so many times in his 40 years Tuesday morning.  He was the very very best.

January 13, 1924 - September 26, 2019

Friday, September 27, 2019

Friday Fives - Five Bools I Got on Audible Escape

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  Michelle over at Because Reading is Better Than Real Life   used to do a Five on Fridays that I always enjoyed and I've seen a few other variations on the theme.  As well I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd give start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.  Today I'm looking at the Audible Escape Package.  I've been an Audible subscriber for awhile and a few months ago added the Escape Package (it was still called the romance package then) and have enjoyed it.  It's not the easiest to search but I'm regularly surprised at the variety I find.  Here are a few that either have on my wishlist or have really enjoyed.

1.  Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - Not only do most of Austen's books show up on the package but this particular copy was read by Rosamund Pike who did an absolutely wonderful job. 

2.  Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt - I've wanted to read this one for awhile so I was thrilled to see it on the Escape Package list and it did not disappoint.

3.  The Bride Test by Helen Hoag - I saw a fabulous review of this one so I was thrilled when I looked it up and discovered it was part of the package.

4.  Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn - I love Raybourn's books and while I've read some of the later mysteries in this series I've never read the early books so I was thrilled to discover this whole series on the list!

5.  The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert - I wanted to read this one as soon as it came out but never did.  Now I have absolutely no excuse for not picking it up!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Heiress Gone Wild - Historical Romance Review

Goodreads:  Heiress Gone Wild (Lady Truelove #4) by Laura Lee Guhrke

Rating:  Good
Source:  Edelweiss

Description:  When Jonathan Deverill promised a dying friend he'd be guardian to the man's daughter, he envisioned a girl in pigtails and pinafores, a child he could leave behind in some finishing school. Problem is, his ward is actually a fully-grown, defiant beauty whose longing for romance threatens to make his guardianship a living hell.
New York heiress Marjorie McGann wants a London season and a titled husband who can help her spend the Yankee millions she's inherited, and she thinks her new British guardian is the perfect person to help her find him. But Jonathan has no intention of letting his friend's fortune be squandered. Under his watchful, protective eye, Marjorie finds romance hard to come by...until one fateful night when her own guardian's devastating kisses makes her wonder if the greatest romance of all might be right in front of her.

Genre:  Romance - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I haven't read a historical romance in awhile and Laura Lee Guhrke is one of my favorite historical romance authors!

My Impression:  So Guhrke is one of my absolute favorites and several of her books have a permanent place on my reread shelf.  Unfortunately this particular book won't be causing those other books to squeeze over.  Part of the problem is that this isn't one of my favorite tropes.  The protective hero and the adventurous heroine aren't a dynamic that really clicks with me and somehow I just never gained the traction I wanted with book.  That isn't to say it was a bad book.  Anything by Guhrke is incredibly readable and this was no exception.  It just wasn't a standout for me. 

The characters are a bit different.  Jonathan is far from the typical duke's son and Marjorie has not led a life where entering society every really seemed like an option.  I loved that this started out in America and the just how Jonathan and Marjorie's father earned their fortunes.  While there was mutual attraction right from the beginning that definitely seemed genuine I had a hard time buying the jump from attraction to love.  I liked them both but just didn't quite buy the HEA together. 

If this is a trope you enjoy then I think you'll really love this unique take on it.  However, if you're like me and this isn't your favorite I'd try some other books by Guhrke first.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  While this wasn't a favorite Guhrke is still an auto-buy author.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would definitely recommend this author for lovers of historical romance but this might not be the book I'd start with.  Don't let that this is part of series scare you off though.  This series is only tied together very loosely at best and reads as a standalone.

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