Saturday, August 31, 2019

DNF Report - 2019 Part 1



Gilt by Association - I had high hopes for this one as I love books involving decorating and anything vintage.  However, it just didn't quite work out for me.  The first issue was that I didn't really like any of the characters (well Caprice's sister Nikki seemed okay and her mother wasn't too awful).  For the most part they came across as judgmental and prickly almost all the time.  The second issue was there was just so much information.  Now I like getting the backstory in a nutshell even if it's going over things previously covered.  That's one of the wonderful things about cozy mystery series that makes it easy to jump in whenever.  However, not only was there backstory but there was so much detail about the tiniest of things.  When Caprice sat down after something stressful happened she didn't just fall into her chair.  She fell onto a yellow cushion with braided trim that slid out just a little when her weight hit it.  As well there is a lot of page time given to puppy training, her sister and brother-in-law's marriage, and countless other things.  If I had like the characters more this might have worked but as it was it just fell a bit flat.  DNF'd at 30%



Disney After Dark (Kingdom Keepers #1) by Ridley Pearson - I'm so disappointed about this one.  I really wanted to love it and thought it would be perfect bedtime reading to prep for our trip to Disney which is coming up.  We only made it a couple of chapters.  My 9 year old lost interest pretty fast.  He found it confusing and it never hooked him enough to get everything sorted.  I'm an enormous Disney fan and I figured watching the kids run around Disney World at night - complete with characters - would make up for just about anything.  But it didn't.   I never got pulled in to the story and I really didn't like the way the author described the characters.  One was described as "eating a lot and looking like it" and the 2 girls were basically put into the category of "hot" and "not as hot".  It wasn't described exactly like that but that was very clearly the message.  I was kind of glad my 9 year old had lost interest because I wasn't sure I would want him to continue reading.  I adore the premise of this one but the execution just didn't live up to my expectations.  DNF'd at about 15%

What have you DNF'd lately?

Friday, August 30, 2019

Friday Fives - Fives Things in My Amazon Cart

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 taking a look at all the random stuff I've been putting in my Amazon cart in the last week or so.

1.  These Shorts - I ordered them on a w him back earlier in the summer and really liked them.  They're soft and comfy AND they have pockets.  I think I could use a pair in grey.

2.  This Epsom Salt Rub for Achy Legs and Feet - I saw this mentioned as a kind of cure-all on a Disney hints Facebook page.  And since we happen to be heading back to Disney soon I thought it might be worth a try.

3.  This Neck and Shoulders Heating Pad - I have a few different microwaveable heating pads but I really love the look of this one.

4.  This Garment Steamer - Not exactly indulgent but I keep meaning to get a steamer and just haven't yet.  I've heard it can kind of replace ironing?  Or at least the tossing back in the dryer to see if that will kind of get rid of the wrinkles.  I hate ironing.

5.  The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan - Because it can't be an Amazon list without at least one book!

What kinds of things are in your Amazon cart?

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Molded 4 Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Molded 4 Murder (Sophie Kimball Mysteries #5) by J.C. Eaton

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Sophie "Phee" Kimball enjoys working as a bookkeeper for a private investigator. If only her mother Harriet could enjoy her retirement at Sun City West in Arizona--instead of constantly getting involved with retirees being prematurely put out to pasture. This time Quentin Dussler, a prominent member of the clay sculpting club, was found dead, clutching a piece of paper scrawled with Phee's mother's name.
Terrified she's been targeted by assassins, Harriet begs Phee to investigate. What Phee uncovers is a complicated scheme that only the most diabolical of murderers would ever devise. And as she chisels away at confusing clues and potential suspects, Phee unearths something far more precious and valuable than she could imagine. Eager for answers, she takes a bold step--placing herself in the crosshairs of a stonefaced killer ...

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I love this series so when I see a new book I have to grab it.

My Impression:  This is just such a fun series!  As soon as I start a book with Phee and Harriet and all the rest of the characters I know I'm going to have a good time and this one was no different.  Right from the start there is chaos and panic and hijinks with the discovery of Harriet's name on a piece of paper clutched by a dead man.  Phee of course has no choice but to get pulled in and I love how she works with Nate and Marshall.  They're quite the team.  And of course any scene featuring receptionist/office manager Augusta is always a fun one.

There is a lot of chaos and madness in this book but I really never felt like it falls into too silly or too cutesy territory.  The mystery isn't flawless and there are the occasional plot holes but the pacing and the characters more then make up for it.  This is one of those series where each book feels like catching up with friends and a trip to Sun City West is one I'll always enjoy!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  This is one of my favorite cozy mystery authors and this is my favorite series by them.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  Though if you're new to the series you might want to start at the beginning just to get your bearings.  There are a decent amount of characters and while it doesn't get confusing I think it'd be more fun to know there backstory.

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Confessions of a Bookseller - Nonfiction Review

Goodreads:   Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Rating: Just Okay
Source:  NetGalley

Description:  "Do you have a list of your books, or do I just have to stare at them?" Shaun Bythell is the owner of The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland. With more than a mile of shelving, real log fires in the shop and the sea lapping nearby, the shop should be an idyll for bookworms. Unfortunately, Shaun also has to contend with bizarre requests from people who don't understand what a shop is, home invasions during the Wigtown Book Festival and Granny, his neurotic Italian assistant who likes digging for river mud to make poultices. The Diary of a Bookseller (soon to be a major TV series) introduced us to the joys and frustrations of life lived in books. Sardonic and sympathetic in equal measure, Confessions of a Bookseller will reunite readers with the characters they've come to know and love.

Genre: Nonfiction

Why I Picked This Book:  Between the cover and the title I was helpless to resist.

My Impression:  At the beginning I enjoyed this one - especially once I got used to the format.  It's written as a diary which each entry starting with the date and a listing of orders placed and orders found.  I liked the day to day updates with the details of what went on in the shop - at first.  After awhile, however, it started to lose some charm and drifted over to monotonous.  While I did get a picture of what day is like at The Bookshop and think it will most likely make an excellent TV show after about 100 pages I found myself losing interest. 

This is a nice book to have around to read a few pages at a time but this isn't a book that I want to pick up and read from cover to cover.  If you can get a copy from the library great but I wouldn't go out and buy it.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Maybe, if it was a different format.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you're curious about it I'd take a look but I wouldn't recommend you buy it sight unseen.

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Books That Will Always Be in My Personal Library

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 Books I've Read That I'd Like in My Personal Library.  But after doing some thinking and looking over my collection I decided to change it just a little to Books I Will Always Keep in My Personal Library.


1.  Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie - I will always have this one and all the rest of Agatha Christie's mysteries though they do take up considerable shelf space!

2.  The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher - I can't not own this one I've read it so many times.  And I'll always have all the rest of Pilcher's books even though not all of them grab me as much.

3.  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - Pretty much the same as above.  I will have this one but I'll also have all the rest of Montgomery's books.

4.  Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright - And same as above.  Enright's children's books are my ultimate comfort reading.

5.  Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson - I have this in audio and it is one of my favorite audios.  It's funny and real and always a good listen.


6.  Miss Silver Comes to Stay by Patricia Wentworth - I don't have all of Wentworth's books yet but I'm working on it.  And Miss Silver is my absolute favorite.

7.  Vanish with the Rose by Barbara Michaels - I love this one and most of Michaels' other books and I'll always have them in my library!

8.  Three Fates by Nora Roberts - I have a few Roberts books but my mood comes and goes on them.  However, this one is always one I enjoy.

9.  The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom - This is very different from the rest of the books in my list and it's not one I'll reread very often but I do always want to have it on hand.

10. Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas - And one of my very favorite historical romances to round up the list.  Sometimes this is just required reading after a particularly rough day!

What books are musts for your library?

Monday, August 26, 2019

Oysterville Sewing Circle - Fiction Review

About The Oysterville Sewing Circle

• Hardcover: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (August 13, 2019)

  “Stitched together with love, this is a story just waiting for your favorite reading chair. With her signature style and skill, Susan Wiggs delivers an intricate patchwork of old wounds and new beginnings, romance and the healing power of friendship, wrapped in a lovely little community that’s hiding a few secrets of its own.” — Lisa Wingate, New York Times Bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

 The #1 New York Times bestselling author brings us her most ambitious and provocative work yet—a searing and timely novel that explores the most volatile issue of our time—domestic violence. At the break of dawn, Caroline Shelby rolls into Oysterville, Washington, a tiny hamlet at the edge of the raging Pacific. She’s come home. Home to a place she thought she’d left forever, home of her heart and memories, but not her future. Ten years ago, Caroline launched a career in the glamorous fashion world of Manhattan. But her success in New York imploded on a wave of scandal and tragedy, forcing her to flee to the only safe place she knows. And in the backseat of Caroline’s car are two children who were orphaned in a single chilling moment—five-year-old Addie and six-year-old Flick. She’s now their legal guardian—a role she’s not sure she’s ready for. But the Oysterville she left behind has changed. Her siblings have their own complicated lives and her aging parents are hoping to pass on their thriving seafood restaurant to the next generation. And there’s Will Jensen, a decorated Navy SEAL who’s also returned home after being wounded overseas. Will and Caroline were forever friends as children, with the promise of something more . . . until he fell in love with Sierra, Caroline’s best friend and the most beautiful girl in town. With her modeling jobs drying up, Sierra, too, is on the cusp of reinventing herself. Caroline returns to her favorite place: the sewing shop owned by Mrs. Lindy Bloom, the woman who inspired her and taught her to sew. There she discovers that even in an idyllic beach town, there are women living with the deepest of secrets. Thus begins the Oysterville Sewing Circle—where women can join forces to support each other through the troubles they keep hidden. Yet just as Caroline regains her creativity and fighting spirit, and the children begin to heal from their loss, an unexpected challenge tests her courage and her heart. This time, though, Caroline is not going to run away. She’s going to stand and fight for everything—and everyone—she loves.

My Thoughts:  I've really enjoyed Susan Wiggs' book in the past.  Her style is page turning and pulls you in without feeling to rushed or contrived.  On the surface this book falls into one of my favorite tropes - Main Character Whose Life Has Exploded - so I was really looking forward to reading this one.  And I did enjoy it.  I liked Caroline and I loved her family.  I really enjoyed Flick and Addie.  They're good sweet kids but they've suffered a terrible loss and have just had their worlds upended and I really felt like that was portrayed fairly realistically.  I was pulled in and Wiggs' usual magic really made the world in the book come alive for me.  However, in a true case of it's not you it's me, I can't say I loved it.  It was darker than expected and while it wasn't exactly "ripped from the headlines" it definitely dealt with a lot of issues that are front and center.  She handled the portrayal of the issues well and it didn't feel forced but if you're stressed and in the mood for a relaxing escape this may not be the best book for you at the moment.  So even though this read didn't exactly suit my mood it was well done and engaging, dramatic without falling into melodrama and really proves that Wiggs' place on my auto buy is very well deserved.  I'm very much looking forward to reading more from her.  Rating:  Good

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

] Photo by Yvonne Wong[/caption]

About Susan Wiggs

Susan Wiggs's life is all about family, friends…and fiction. She lives at the water's edge on an island in Puget Sound, and in good weather, she commutes to her writers' group in a 21-foot motorboat. She’s been featured in the national media, including NPR, PRI, and USA Today, has given programs for the US Embassies in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, and is a popular speaker locally, nationally, internationally, and on the high seas. From the very start, her writings have illuminated the everyday dramas of ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. Her books celebrate the power of love, the timeless bonds of family and the fascinating nuances of human nature. Today, she is an international best-selling, award-winning author, with millions of copies of her books in print in numerous countries and languages. According to Publishers Weekly, Wiggs writes with "refreshingly honest emotion," and the Salem Statesman Journal adds that she is "one of our best observers of stories of the heart [who] knows how to capture emotion on virtually every page of every book." Booklist characterizes her books as "real and true and unforgettable." Her novels have appeared in the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List, and have captured readers’ hearts around the globe with translations into more than 20 languages and 30 countries. She is a three-time winner of the RITA Award,. Her recent novel, The Apple Orchard, is currently being made into a film, and The Lakeshore Chronicles has been optioned for adaptation into a series. The author is a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. She lives on an island in Puget Sound, where she divides her time between sleeping and waking. Visit her website at www.SusanWiggs.com, and connect with Susan on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

This Week in Reading - August 25

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:

Somehow I don't think I got anything this week!  That doesn't sound right but I don't seem to have anything in my new stack.

Currently:

Reading:  Molded 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton and Funerals are Fatal by Agatha Christie

Listening:  I was listening to Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt which I was loving but then my library hold for Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty showed up so I switched over.

Watching:  Not much - mostly YouTube videos

Off the Blog:

This week was busy though mostly good.  I met with the two homeschool/virtual school options and made some decisions.  We've picked a date for his final day of school and I've got a couple of weeks to get the first round of organizing done.  We're excited though I have moments of complete terror.

Today I should be on my way back from my grandparents with my mother.  There was a lot of stuff that needed doing to get them qualified for assisted living and the move set in motion.  Fingers crossed that the assessment went well.  Also fingers crossed that I've survived the trip.  My mother and I have very different styles of travel so this will be interesting on top of all the stress.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Oysterville Sewing Circle - Fiction Review
Tuesday:  Not sure - some kind of list
Wednesday:  Confessions of a Bookseller - Nonfiction Review
Thursday:  Molded 4 Murder - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Fives
Saturday: TBD

Have a great day and happy reading!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

5 Cookbooks I Want to Try

I'm getting back into cooking and cookbooks again and having such a good time!  While I have my tried and true recipes there are always cookbooks I want to try and here are 5 I'm hoping to get from the library soon.


1.  Art of Pie by Kate McDermott - This cookbook has been on my TBR for awhile and then I saw Deb over at Readerbuzz rave about it.  Plus, pie is always a good thing.

2.  What's for Dinner?: Delicious Recipes for a Busy Life by Curtis Stone - Tina at Novel Meals has mentioned a number of his recipes and they always look delicious and mostly healthy.

3. Casa Marcela: Recipes and Food Stories of My Life in the Californias by Marcella Valladolid - I love Marcella every time I've seen her on Food Network and I'd love to try some of her recipes.  She seems so genuinely enthusiastic and connected to food.

4.  Dinner Illustrated: 175 Meals Ready in an Hour or Less by America's Test Kitchen - It's been awhile since I've used America's Test Kitchen but their recipes are always pretty solid and I could use some new simple-ish dinners.

5.  Fast Cakes: Easy Bakes in Minutes by Mary Berry - While I was surprisingly pleased with the new hosts/judges on The Great British Bake-Off (I'm sure they're relieved) I miss Mary Berry and am feeling the need for some "scrummy" cakes!

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

Friday, August 23, 2019

Friday Fives - Five Pet Peeves

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 lately I've been heavy on the bookish lists I thought I'd do a not so bookish list.  This week I'm thinking about pet peeves - I'm apparently feeling a little cranky!


1.  Carts left out in the parking lot - This drives me CRAZY especially since I do the bulk of my grocery shopping at Publix which always has people there to take your cart out for you.  These are people who tell the bagger to not take the cart out and then leave them in a space instead of walking the 5 feet to put the cart in the space.  One time I saw someone actually push a cart into a handicapped space (the cart pusher was not in a handicapped space) and then drove off.

2.  2 cars going about the same speed in both the left and right lane - I'd go into detail about this but the rant would be far too long and I have a feeling I'm not the only person that this drives crazy.  Your rant is my rant here.


3.  When the WiFi goes out when I'm in a hurry - I typically have either a YouTube video or Netflix or Hulu streaming on my iPad while I'm getting ready and when I lose connection it drives me crazy and this only happens when I'm in a hurry.  I get seriously angry and have to stop myself from rebooting routers and whatnot.  It's not particularly rational.

4.  SpongeBob SquarePants -  I'm not sure if an entire cartoon character can be a pet peeve but everything about this character is nails on a chalkboard.  No idea why but I can't stand anything about him.

5.  When People say "Must be nice" - I discovered this pet peeve after I joined a mom's group when the Tornado was a baby.  Most of the women were great but there were a few who I finally started calling the "Must be nices".  They were they type that if you were complaining about something they'd always kind of smirk and say "Must be nice to only have one toddler pitching a fit on the floor in the grocery store.  I have 17 under the age of 4 and they ALL did that at the same time." or "Must be nice to have your husband away for work for a month.  My husband is gone for 2 months and I have to walk across nails every day to care for my family." Or "Must be nice to just be able to pick up fast food when you've been super sick and are exhausted.  I can only feed my family made from scratch everything and they won't even eat fast food." Obviously, these are exaggerations (except that last one) but you get that drift.  Hard is hard.  It's not a competition.  And if it's something that someone is struggling with or just wants to vent about it it's still hard for them at that moment.

What are your pet peeves?

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Books from the Backlog - Bitter Greens


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! 

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Blurb:  French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens...

After Margherita's father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.

Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Why It Needs to Get This One Off the Shelf: I was so excited when I won this in a giveaway years ago and it's a bit different from anything I've read lately.  Plus, this is a pretty hefty book so it's taking up some serious room!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

And Then They Were Doomed - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  And Then They Were Doomed (A Little Library Mystery #4) by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Little Person author Zoe Zola believes that one of the unluckiest things in life is to receive an invitation—in the form of a letter edged in black—to an Agatha Christie symposium at an old Upper Peninsula hunting lodge. Her reluctance dissipates when she learns that the organizer is named Emily Brent—the name of a character poisoned by cyanide in Christie’s And Then There Were None.
As a dreary rain soaks the U.P., Zoe and nine other Christie scholars—each of whom bears a vague resemblance to one of the classic mystery novel’s characters—arrive at the lodge. At the opening night dinner, arguments flare over the experts’ discordant theories about Christie. Next morning, the guests find one particularly odious man has gone—whereabouts and reasons unknown. Such a coincidental resemblance to a work of fiction is surely impossible; therefore, it appears to be possible.

As the guests disappear, one by one, Zoe resolves to beat a hasty retreat—but her car won't start. She calls her friend, amateur sleuth/little librarian Jenny Weston, but Jenny will have to wait out a storm off Lake Superior before she can come to the rescue. If Zoe’s to stay alive to greet Jenny when she eventually arrives, she’ll have to draw on everything she knows about Agatha Christie’s devilish plots in Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s fourth tantalizing Little Library mystery.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  How could I resist a cozy about an author writing a biography of Agatha Christe AND a retelling of one of my favorite Christie books?

My Impression:  This is the third book I've read in this series and I really think that it's going stronger.  The characters are a bit different from the norm - Zoe is an author that focuses on biographies of different authors.  She loves her fairy gardens and there always seemed something a little dark hiding in her past.  Jenny is a bit of a hand wringer and while she's very smart she tends to make rather terrible personal decisions.  Jenny's mother Dora is frequently the voice of reason though she doesn't feature quite as much in this book as she has in the past. 

This is the first book that has really taken place outside of Bear Falls and between the isolated location and the constant rain there's an oppressing eerie feel that runs through the book.  While this series has never been a lightweight cozy the themes here seem a bit darker.  We do get Zoe's backstory and wow is a backstory!  I loved the Agatha Christie themes but think this would be enjoyable even if you're not a big Christie fan - though it probably is a bit more fun if you're familiar with And Then There Were None.  This was a quick read and a compelling one at that.  I enjoyed that other characters found Jenny's indecisiveness annoying at times and had no problem speaking their mind.  I also really loved seeing Zoe more up front and center.  She's a bit of an odd ball character and isn't always likable but I always find her interesting.

This is a unique series that is a bit quirky and a bit dark and one I always enjoy.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I've missed a book in the series and I'm looking forward to catching up.  I'll also be looking forward to anything new.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozies then I definitely think you should give this series a try.

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Favorite Tropes

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 your favorite tropes.  I had a bit of a hard time separating tropes as many of mine end up connected to the discovering of family secrets through various methods but I tried!


1.  The Life Explosion - I do love a book where for whatever reason the main character's life has exploded and the book is all about recovering and figuring out what they're going to do next.

2.  A Fake Relationship - When I see a romance involving a fake relationship I know I can't resist it!  You know it'll only be fake for so long.

3.  The Inheritance - Be it a trunk or a crumbling old house anytime anyone inherits something I know family secrets are about to become front and center and I can't wait.

4.  A Missing Person - Someone is missing?  Be it a cozy or a thriller that book will be on my TBR.

5.  A Cold Case - I find cold cases almost as fascinating as missing persons cases.  And honestly the cold case can be who stole a jar of jam 25 years ago and I'll still be reading it!


6.  Gruff Person's Life Changed by Optimistic Person - I love this in all of it's forms because each character really brings out the best in the other and it's lovely.

7.  Country House Mystery - I love a good mystery at a country house regardless of genre.  There's something about country houses that just take the fun up a notch.

8.  Dysfunctional Family Relationships - Especially if it's sisters and especially if they're going to come together for whatever reason (See #6, 3, or 1).

9.  Small Towns - I don't know what exactly it is about a small town but I always seem to enjoy stories set in small towns and can never resist them.

10. Project Memoir - Not sure if this really counts since it is nonfiction but I love a memoir type book based around a project - 12 months to be happier, cooking through an entire cookbook (that one was a bit of a disappointment), learning how to bake the perfect loaf of bread, or restoring a house from top to bottom.  If you are tackling a massive project and writing a book about it I'm in.

What are some of your favorite tropes?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Ramblings from the Stacks - Book Buying Habits

Lately I've been thinking about my book buying habits.  Unlike a lot of readers I've never really spent THAT much on books.  I relied heavily on libraries and when I was a bit older used bookstores.  From there I graduated to paperbackswap and then started blogging and got caught up in review books and started visiting my library again.  I've very rarely bought new books though.  For the most part it was necessity.  I just couldn't afford it - especially when I was a bit younger and was reading up to 200 books a year. 

But now I'm not reading quite so fast and my budget has a little more breathing room and I'm reevaluating my book acquiring habits. So I've made the very difficult decision - I'm going to buy more books new and I'm going to pre-order new books from my favorite authors whenever possible.  It was a tough decision but somehow I made my peace with it!  I figure that's the best way to tell my favorite authors (especially when they're writing my favorite series) to keep doing what they're doing. 

I'm still going to do my best to keep my local library and my local used bookstore in business and I'm sure I'll keep ending up with way too many review books but I'm going to add in buying new books as well.

Do you buy books?  Where do most of your books come from? As long as we're reading I don't think there's a wrong answer (unless you're pirating - that's not okay).

Sunday, August 18, 2019

This Week in Reading - August 18

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:


Cookies and Clairvoyance by Bailey Cates - I don't know much about this series though I do think I might have read the first book years ago but I've really enjoyed other books by Bailey Cates and any book with the world Cookies in the title has to be good.  (Publisher)

Silent Night, Deadly Night by Vicki Delany - Another later book in the series but I've heard good things and I'm looking forward to getting a little early Christmas.  (Publisher)

A Night's Tail by Sofie Kelly - I read the last book in the series and enjoyed it so I'm looking forward to this one too.  (Publisher)

Word to the Wise by Jenn McKinlay  - I love this series and I'm so excited about this one!  Any book that takes place in a library is a win.  (Publisher)

Currently:

Reading:  Funerals are Fatal by Agatha Christie and And Then They Were Doomed by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

Listening: Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt

Watching:  Not much but it is time to start watching the season finales of my favorite shows before the series premieres start.  I dislike cliffhangers so much that when I see a season finale story arc start I stop watching until I'm within weeks of the series starting back up.

Off the Blog:

This week was a bit less complicated than last week.  I think we've narrowed down the assisted living places for my grandparents and my mother and I are going done this coming week to go over everything with them and get them medically evaluated.  We've also been moving forward on switching to home schooling for the Tornado.  I still have lots of conflicted feelings about it but the program we've found is a hybrid that I think could work really well.  He'll have a mix of classroom, online and traditional home school type classes.  It's essentially a flexible private school.  A friend has her daughter there and has loved it so I have high hopes though I must admit it's a bit scary.

I went to my first appointment with my spine doctor and got good news and a plan going forward that seems like it'll really help with the pain.  The big relief is that the damage in my neck is minimal which is a huge relief. 

Other than that I'm getting ready for a trip down to my grandparents at the end of the week to start getting going on the move.  I'm not sure how it's going to go but I think the end result will be really positive for everyone.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Rambling from the Stacks - Book Buying
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Tropes
Wednesday:  And Then They Were Doomed - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  Books from the Backlog 
Friday: Friday Fives
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Secret Sister - Mystery/Fiction Review

Goodreads: The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak

Rating:  Good
Source:  NetGalley (and Audible Escape Package)

Description:  Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why?

After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who's asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago.

Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she'd prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He's back on the island, and to her surprise, he's raising a young daughter alone. Maisey's still attracted to him, but her heart's too broken to risk…

Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must've been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister.

Maisey's convinced that child existed. So where is she now?

Genre: Mystery or maybe Fiction?  A bit of both?

Why I Picked This Book:  A forgotten sister?  A box of photographs?  How could I pass that up?

My Impression:    I love a good Gothic-y novel with family secrets and sinister figures and Novak definitely delivered!  Maisey was a sympathetic heroine who has gone through a terrible few years.  Her indecision at times annoyed me but there's so much going on around her and she's still dealing with the aftermath of her entire life falling apart so that's fairly understandable.  Her conflicted feelings regarding her relationships with both her mother and her brother seemed very realistic and I loved her affection for Laney.  Rafe is a little too perfect but with all the dysfunction going on in the rest of the book it worked. 

I was enjoying the book - Maisey getting settled and getting to know Rafe, figuring out what she wants to do with her life and how she wants to deal with her family, as well as struggling to heal from her past takes up a bit of time and is enjoyable. The promised pictures take awhile to show up and when they do things really start moving.  However, it wasn't a slow read before that happened.  I really wanted to find out just what had happened to that little girl and what other secrets are lurking in Maisey's past. 

This was an enjoyable read/listen and makes me want to get my hands of more of Novak's more suspenseful titles.  I've very much interested in the next book in this series which centers around Maisey's brother, Keith. 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  I've enjoyed Novak's more traditional romance but I really enjoyed this one.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy Gothic-y reads this is a good choice.

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

Friday, August 16, 2019

Friday Fives - Five Books I Want My 9 Year Old to Read This Year

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.  This week is a little different.  For various reasons we are kicking around the idea of pulling our 9 year old out of school and switching to a more hybrid program - a mix of classroom time, online classes, and traditional homeschool.  There are some subjects that I don't feel confident teaching but reading is not one of them.  Here are 5 books I would put on his reading list (and might if we switch over at the end of the semester).


1.  The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan - Not only is this an action packed read but it would be perfect to pair with an online mythology course that is offered.


2.  Guts and Glory: The American Revolution by Ben Thompson - Not only would this dovetail with American history but it'd be perfect pre-reading before a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia which I'm in the process of planning.


3.  Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein - I've been wanting to read this for awhile so it seems like it'd be fun to read together.  Plus, anything that makes a library seem magical is always a good thing.


4.  The 39 Clues Series by Rick Riordan and other authors - I've had this series recommended a number of times and it sounds interesting and hopefully would pull him in and keep him reading.


5.  Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet - This book is recommended to those who like puzzles and mysteries which he does.  I also love that this book talks about actual art but in a fun way.  Might be good for an early art history lesson. 

What would you put on your reading list if you were teaching reading?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Books from the Backlog - Dead and Gone

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! 

Goodreads:  Dead and Gone by Dorothy Simpson

Blurb:  During a small and uncomfortable dinner party, Virginia Mintar, wife of a prominent lawyer, disappears, and is found hours later in the garden well of her estate. Inspector Luke Thanet and his partner, Sergeant Mike Lineham, quickly discern that Virginia's scandalous behavior had earned her the rage of family, friends, and lovers. Who had been finally driven to kill her?

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf: I do love a good British mystery and this is an author I remember reading and enjoying years ago.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Singapore Sapphire - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads: Singapore Sapphire (Harriet Gordon #1) by A.M. Stuart

Rating:  Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Description: Singapore 1910--Desperate for a fresh start and to distance herself from her tragic past, Harriet Gordon finds herself in Singapore at the height of colonial rule. Hoping to gain some financial independence, she advertises her services as a personal secretary. It is unfortunate that she should discover her first client, Sir Oswald Newbold--explorer, mine magnate and president of the exclusive Explorers and Geographers' Club--dead with a knife in his throat.
When Inspector Robert Curran is put on the case, he realizes that he has an unusual witness in Harriet. Harriet's keen eye for detail and strong sense of duty interests him, as does her distrust of the police and her traumatic past, which she is at pains to keep secret from the gossips of Singapore society.

When a second body is dragged from the canal, Harriet feels compelled to help with the case. She and Curran are soon drawn into a complex web of stolen gemstones and a mysterious gang of thieves who have no qualms about killing again to protect their secrets.

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been loving historical mysteries lately - especially those with strong female leads - so I couldn't resist this one!

My Impression:  Well that was a good start to a series!  We're thrown into the action right from the beginning when we meet Harriet just as she discovers a body.  And not just any body but a body who has clearly had a violent death.  As the investigation goes on we learn more about Harriet and her rather interesting backstory.  She's not your usual heroine other than she's smart and quick on her feet.  Inspector Curran is an unlikely perfect match.  She's not to keen on him - especially not at first - but he recognizes just how practical and observant she is right from the start and takes her seriously which was nice. 

The mystery was an interesting an usual one.  How many secrets were lurking in the famed explorers past?  And just who would want him dead?  The exploration of early 20th century Singapore was a fascinating one and something I've never come across before.  I love the world Stuart has created here and I'm so excited to see what Harriet Gordon and Inspector Curran get involved in next!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm already anticipating the next book.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  If you enjoy historical mysteries I think you'll really enjoy this one.

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

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Book Characters I'd Like to Best Friends With

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  This week's Top Ten list is about characters I'd like to be best friends with. I"m doing 9 I'd like to be friends with and 1 I really really wouldn't.


1.  The Castle from Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George - So the Castle isn't really a person but I'd definitely like to be best friends with it.  All the new rooms and surprises seem like they'd be lots of fun!

2.  Sully from What We Find by Robyn Carr - Sully is a bit gruff and no nonsense but he's also incredibly kind and good at letting people be themselves with the occasional kick in the butt when needed. 

3.  Diesel from The Pawful Truth by Miranda James - Another non person but Diesel is a cat with more than a small personality.  I'm not really a cat person but Diesel sounds pretty great.

4.  Miss Silver from The Girl in the Cellar by Patricia Wentworth - Miss Silver is the sole of practicality and kindness and I bet the stories she could tell would be amazing.

5.  Kat Holloway from Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley - She's funny and smart and the food would be amazing.  Plus she always seems to stumble into adventures.


6.  Meg Langslow from Toucan Keep a Secret by Donna Andrews - I like Meg and she'd be great to be friends with on her own right but throw in her crazy family and her skills as a blacksmith and I don't think you could ask for a better bestie.  I'm not sure exactly what I'd use a blacksmith for but I'm sure I'd come up with something.

7.  Flora from The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan - Visiting a remote Scottish Isle sounds pretty great and I'd love to try some of Flora's baked goods!

8.  Randy from The Four Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright - I'm not sure there could be a better childhood friend than Randy.  She's smart and adventurous and has a house that has a secret room.  What more could you want?

9.  Miss Marple from The Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie - I want to just sit next Miss Marple and listen to her stories.  She's got some great ones!

And One I Wouldn't:

Nancy Drew from The Secret in the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene - It's not that I don't like Nancy it's more that her friends have a tendency to get kidnapped or knocked on the head or knocked on the head AND kidnapped.  No combination of those sound fun.

Who would you want to be besties with?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Terns of Endearment - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Terns of Endearment (Meg Langslow #25) by Donna Andrews

Rating:  Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description: Meg's grandfather has been booked to give lectures on a cruise as part of the education/entertainment itinerary, and he's arranged for a passel of family members to join him.
The passengers' vacation quickly becomes a nightmare when they wake up to find themselves broken down and in need of repairs. Things get even worse when a crew member announces to all that a woman has jumped overboard, leaving behind her shoes, shawl, and a note. The note reveals she's a disliked member of a writers' group onboard for a retreat, and the group is split on whether this is in-character for her.

The captain decides not to investigate, saying he'll notify American authorities when they reach their destination. But Meg's father decides they need to look into whether there was possible foul play while the prime suspects are all stuck on board. It'll be a race against the clock to solve this mystery before they make the necessary repairs and return to shore.

Donna Andrews' long-running Meg Langslow series continues to be beloved by its fans, who loyally buy every new installment. Terns of Endearment is a perfect new addition, full of laughter, adventure, and Andrews' wonderful cast of wacky characters.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really fallen in love with this series over the last few books so I knew I had to get this one.

My Impression:  This series has really become a must buy for me and this newest mystery did not let me down!  Meg's family has always played a role in the books but given the close quarters of the cruise ship they were very much front and center and lots of fun.  As well we had a group of writers who really had me sold on the book.  I have no interest in writing myself but I love the kind of behind the scenes feel of having a writer in the book.  In this book we have a group of authors who write in varying genres which was really fun. 

The mystery was solid which I've come to expect from Andrews and I wasn't let down.  The mystery does get a bit convoluted now and then with all the characters and their big personalities but while I usually found this frustrating it worked here.  I think it'd be impossible for Meg herself not to get distracted a time or two here having to run herd on her boys and her rather eccentric family.  Frequently when characters are eccentric they're a bit over the top but this wasn't the case here.  I can easily see Cousin Rose or Grandfather fitting into someone's family. 

While this is book #25 in this series I really think you can jump in on this book without any problems.  It's fun, and crazy with big personalities and intriguing mystery. 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  Not only do I love seeing what bird/crime pun she'll come up next but I love the mysteries themselves and Meg feels like a friend at this point.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  If you enjoy cozies this is a great series.

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

Sunday, August 11, 2019

This Week in Reading - August 11

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 Last Seance: Tales of the Supernatural by Agatha Christie - I"m sure I've read all the short stories in this collection but I couldn't NOT request this.  Plus, there's always a chance I'll find one I've never read before. (Edelweiss)

Fatal Roots by Sheila Connolly - Connolly was one of the first cozy mystery authors I ever discovered and I really enjoy this one set in Ireland.  (NetGalley)

The Angel's Share by Ellen Crosby - I don't know much about this series but the blurb sounded interesting and I thought I'd give it a try.  (Publisher)

Owl Be Home for Christmas by Donna Andrews - I really enjoy this series and this may be the best pun-ish title ever.  (Publisher)

A Cup of Holiday Fear by Ellie Alexander - I really enjoy this series about a bakery in a theater town that always makes me want to eat delicious baked goods and try all kinds of different coffees. (Publisher)

Currently:

Reading:  Funerals are Fatal by Agatha Christie and And Then They Were Doomed by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

Listening:  The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak

Watching:  I'm almost embarrassed to admit but I've been binging Catfish on MTV.   All the commercials make it very clear that I'm far too old for MTV but I'm addicted to that show! 

Off the Blog:

It has been a crazy week.  We got back in town last Sunday after a wonderful vacation and I feel like I kind of jumped into the fire.  School started this week and it's going okay.  He's lobbying for home school/online schooling and I'm starting to consider it.  Like any major decision there are some serious pros and cons. 

But before I could really focus on that I hear the news that my grandparents who I visit fairly regularly and who live out in the country have decided that it is no longer for them to live so far out with no family close by.  This started a whole search into options where we finally landed on assisted living as they really wouldn't qualify for independent living based off some health issues.  So I've been learning state laws and researching facilities and scheduling appointments and then my mother and I have been visiting facilities.  We've found a place that is really lovely and I think would work well for them - it has two in house libraries that are maintained by resident volunteers and the local public library, restaurant quality food that is sourced as locally as possible and they can order of a fairly sizable menu, tons of outdoor space, private dining rooms we can reserve for family meals, and all kinds of other perks.   My grandfather is really struggling with this and my mother and I are going down in 2 weeks to go over everything with them.  If you've ever been in my shoes I would appreciate all the advice you have.  I can't imagine how difficult of a transition that this must be for them and I'm hoping to focus on the positives and the advantages of them being just 20 minutes away vs 6 hours.

I'm finished up with physical therapy after 2 months and in someways things are a lot better but now I've been referred to a spine doctor for the pain issues that just aren't getting any better.  I'm a bit nervous.  My appointment is this week and I'm hoping it goes well.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Terns of Endearment - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Book Characters I'd Love to Be Besties With
Wednesday: Singapore Sapphire - Historical Mystery Review
Thursday:  TBD
Friday:  Friday Fives
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Life Among the Savages - Memoir Review

Goodreads:  Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson

Rating: Very Good
Source:  Purchased

Description:  Can this be the author of such chilling tales as The Lottery and The Haunting of Hill House? An ordinary housewife stuck in a big, shabby house with three marvelous, demanding children and a charming husband who takes detached interest in the chaos they generate? Yes, it's Shirley Jackson all right: the precision of her observations and prose is familiar, even if her humor is something of a surprise. Not until Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions in 1993 would another woman write with such honesty about the maddening multitude of trivial, essential chores that constitute a mother's life. But Jackson nailed it first, 40 years earlier, in her hilarious chronicle of life in a small Vermont town, where getting the kids to school on time requires the combined gifts of a drill sergeant and a lady's maid. The saga of her son's bumpy adjustment to kindergarten, frequently anthologized as Charles, is justly famous, but Jackson's account of the Department Store Trip from Hell (two kids, two toy guns, one doll carriage and doll, mayhem in revolving doors and escalators) is even funnier. Although her memoirs are as merciless as her ghost stories, you may not notice because you're laughing so hard. --Wendy Smith

Genre: Nonfiction - Memoir

Why I Picked This Book:  I've read bits and pieces of this one over the year and decided it was time to read it start to finish.

My Impression:  I've read several of Jackson's books over the years and she is truly the master of suffusing just the right mood into her books.  In most of her stories that mood is typically eerie and unsettling but in this one I can almost feel her mostly good natured exhaustion just oozing from the pages.  Between Laurie's stories about his mischievous friend and school and Jannie's herd of imaginary friends that all simply must be carefully escorted off an escalator in a very crowded department store there's plenty to laugh and plenty to identify with.  It's a quick read and one I can almost see Jackson shrugging at the stories as she writes them.  She's frazzled and exhausted but always manages to keep her very dry sense of humor out in front.

There's not much substance to this one and it's a bit dated in some ways but neither of those really bothered me.  This is a nice book to pick up when you need something easy and enjoyable to read - and it's very fun to contrast this with the work Jackson is better known for.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  I've been a fan of Jackson for years and always enjoy her work.  And I just learned that she actually wrote a sequel to this one called Raising Demons and I'll definitely be on the lookout for that one.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy family memoirs and are looking for a light read then this is a perfect choice.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Friday Fives - My Five Favorite Agatha Christie Mysteries

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.


1.  Lord Edgware Dies - This is Poirot story that really should have more attention.  It asks and solves the question - how can 1 person be 2 places at once?


2.  Three Blind Mice and Other Stories - I adore Christie's short stories and this is one of my favorite collections thanks to the primary story.  It's the ultimate house party/locked room mystery and is a short novella that is incredibly intricate but never feels rushed.

3.   Murder in Mesopotamia - This is one of Christie's "exotic location" books and I love seeing life on a dig site in the 30s and 40s.  There's also a practical and down to earth nurse which is one of my favorite Christie character types and the mystery itself is pretty fantastic.

4.  Sleeping Murder - This was the last Marple book published but it was written during the war and set aside to be published after her death.  It's a little bizarre to read the Marple series in order as several characters suddenly come back to life and Miss Marple has made miraculous strides in her health since the previous book.  The plot is one of my absolute favorites with family secrets and a house that may be driving the young wife crazy.


5.  The Secret of Chimneys - This is an early work and a stand alone.  While Inspector Battle is in it neither Poirot or Marple make an appearance.  I love her earlier more espinogage themed books and this one has one of my favorite Christie characters - Virginia who goes along with a blackmailer just to see what it feels like.  It's fun, a bit silly, and a super fast read.