Monday, September 16, 2019

Mrs. Jeffries and the Almes of the Angel - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Mrs. Jeffries and the Almes of the Angel (Mrs. Jeffries #38) by Emily Brightwell

Rating:  Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Description:  Margaret Starling wasn't the sort of woman anyone expected to be murdered. She was on the advisory board of the London Angel Alms Society, an active member of St. Peter's Church and, best of all, she was always willing to lend a hand to a friend or neighbor in need of advice. So when Margaret winds up dead, the town is shocked.As they dig deeper into the crime, Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Witherspoon begin to wonder how well-liked Margaret really was.

Even though it's Christmas, Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Witherspoon know it's their duty to make sure justice is served....

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've read the last few in the series and really enjoyed it.  It's got a nice blend of an old fashioned and modern feel.

My Impression:  This is my 3rd book in the Mrs. Jeffries series and each one has been a delightful and cozy read.  This was no exception.  I love the characters in this series - they're all so different and have their different abilities and way of looking at things.  But they're not just tools to move the investigation along.  Their characters in their own right with their own backstories insecurities, and loves.  It doesn't become overwhelming but just serves to add a little depth to the story.

I really like that we see how the official investigation progresses through the eyes of Inspector Witherspoon and Constable Barnes as well as the unofficial investigation ran by Mrs. Jeffires.  And we see how Mrs. Jeffries manages to get the information to Witherspoon without him suspecting.  I love the characters so much that I hated the addition of Witherspoon's nemesis Nivens but he wasn't an over the top villain.

The mystery was an intriguing one.  I was dying to know just who murdered Mrs. Starling but as well why had her behavior changed so much in the weeks preceding her death.  The pacing was solid - not blisteringly fast but definitely never slow or draggy.  This is the perfect book to curl up with on a rainy day and just read the dreariness away.  I had no problem jumping in this late in the series but I am looking forward to digging into the backlist and meeting Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Witherspoon at the very beginning.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'd really love to go back to the beginning of the series but until then I'll definitely be grabbing the new books as they come out.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you love mysteries - especially ones that have a bit of a classic feel - then this is a must not miss series.

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

Sunday, September 15, 2019

This Week in Reading - September 15

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 Case of the Wandering Scholar by Kate Saunders - I adored the first book in this series and waited anxiously for the next book for literally years.  I just recently gave up and tried to make peace with the fact it would never happen when I saw this on NetGalley and couldn't request fast enough.  (NetGalley)

A Very Mummy Holiday by Lynn Cahoon - I love this series and this author so I always grab the newest one as soon as I see it.  (NetGalley)

Memories and Murder by Lynn Cahoon - Same as above! (NetGalley)

Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey - I don't know very much about this author but the cover and title seemed so wonderfully fallish that I couldn't pass it up!  (NetGalley)

Penny For Your Secrets by Anna Lee Huber - I really love Huber's Lady Darby series so I figured I'd give this one a try.  (NetGalley)


ReadingThe House on Hallowed Ground by Nancy Cole Silverman and Vanish with the Rose by Barbara Michaels

Listening:  How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper

Watching:  Not a huge amount but we just started the newest available season of The Great British Bake-Off on Netflix.

Off the Blog:

This was a pretty hellish week.  Last week we moved my grandparents from their home in south Mississippi to an assisted living facility here in north Alabama.  It didn't exactly go as planned.   My grandfather's health has taken a very dramatic turn in the last few weeks and my grandmother's mental state has done the same.  We were able to get my grandmother settled in assisted living and she's doing okay and seems happy but is so confused and out of it that we don't really know what to do.  Luckily the staff there has been wonderful as have the other residents.  We ended up taking my grandfather straight to the ER when we got in town and he's just recently been discharged to a rehab facility to regain his strength.  He had pneumonia but the main problem is that he's just not eating.  We will reevaulate in 2 weeks but without a miracle we are looking at at best a skilled nursing home for him.

Then Monday my neck problems flared up so bad that I ended up in the ER myself.  The pain was so bad I couldn't even form sentences or coherent thoughts.  Thankfully it's a bit better but I have a whole new series of tests I get to do.  Then the next morning my phone rang at 6AM and it was Emma who had been in a bad wreck (she ended up flipping her car) on the way to work.  Thankfully, other then a few scratches and some muscle soreness, she's not hurt.

I'm still trying to get in a homeschool routine for the Tornado and it's been a bit rough.   I've been told that it's pretty easy to catch up but I still feel guilty that it has slid so far onto the back burner.  But I'm exhausted.  I haven't been able to read or visit much and even missed two posts this week which I haven't done since 2014 but there just hasn't been time for anything but the absolute basics.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Mrs Jeffries and the Alms of the Angel - Historical Mystery Review
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Things to Eat or Drink While Reading
Wednesday:  The House on Hallowed Ground - Mystery Review
Thursday:  The Lies We Tell - Suspense Review
Friday:  Friday Fives
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

A Hodge Podge of Reviews - What I've Been Reading #4

The Long Way Home by Mariah Stewart - I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this author.  Sometimes I really enjoy her books and sometimes I find them horribly dull at best.  This was one I enjoyed.  Ellie's father and fiance got busted in a Bernie Madoff style investment scheme and everything in her life exploded around her.  Suddenly she found herself jobless, homeless, and a social pariah all at the same time.  The only thing she can do is return to a beach house owned by her late mother and left to her.  I do love a good life exploded/time to rebuild type story and this did not disappoint!  Ellie is likable and easy to sympathize with.  Cameron is a touch too perfect but in a nice way.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching them together as they got to know each other, restored the old house, and Ellie discovered a family she didn't even know she had.  Rating: Very Good

Suddenly One Summer by Julie James - I've been hearing raves about this series and finally decided it was time to give it a read.  I was a bit confused by how exactly this one fit into the whole FBI/US Attorney series since the characters are a reporter and a divorce attorney but I still enjoyed the series.  This is a couple who has some serious baggage when it comes to relationships but I liked watching them get to know each other even though the first portion of that included annoying each other.  I liked the characters and enjoyed the book but I don't really feel like anything really stood out about it.  However, I'm definitely looking forward to continuing this series and maybe getting an FBI agent or two in the mix!  Rating:  Good

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan - Colgan's books have proven to be the bookish equivalent of a warm cozy blanket on a dreary day and this one was no different.  At the beginning of the book Issy, while very nice and sweet, is a bit of a stepping stone.  She's not happy with her life but not fully aware of it.  When she's unexpectedly laid off she takes a giant leap of faith and opens the Cupcake Cafe.  Things aren't always smooth in the land of business running but there are a whole host of characters that form unlikely friends and were (almost) all people I loved seeing on the page.   This was an absolute delight and made me remember just why Colgan has become a favorite in the last year or two.  Rating: Very Good

Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday Fives - Books That I've been Meaning to Read but Haven't

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 has been the week from hell so I'm feeling pretty brain dead.  Luckily, I didn't have to look far for inspiration for today's list - the pile of books on my desk that are staring at me rather pointedly and that I've been meaning to read for months!    Do you do this?  Are so sure you're going to read a book that you pull it off the shelf and put it where it's easy to reach?  And then don't read it but keeping adding to that pile?

1.  Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews - I've been meaning to read this every summer for years and somehow just haven't.

2.  Meet Me in Atlantis by Mark Adams - Pretty much ditto above!

3.  A Dollhouse to Die For by Cate Price - This cozy series caught my eye so much that I bought this one new and meant to read it in May! 

4.  Dead in a Flash by Brynn Bonner - Genealogy, family secrets, and cozy mysteries are some of my favorite things!  Another book I meant to read in May.

5.  The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle by Laura DiSilverio - Another book about some of my favorite things - Cozy mysteries ad a book club meeting about an Agatha Christie book!

What are some books you've been meaning to read?

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Word to the Wise - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Word to the Wise (Library Lover's Mystery #10) by Jenn McKinlay

Rating:  Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Description: Lindsey Norris is finally getting married to the man of her dreams--but it's not all roses for Briar Creek's beloved library director, as gardening enthusiast and town newcomer Aaron Grady gives the term "book lover" a whole new meaning. Inappropriate looks and unwelcome late-night visits to Lindsey's house have everyone from the crafternooners to Lindsey's fiancĂ©, Sully, on edge.
When Grady's dead body is found staged outside the library and all the clues point to Sully, Lindsey knows it's up to her to dig through the hidden chapters of Grady's previous life to find the real culprit and clear Sully's name. But becoming a thorn in the killer's side is not without its consequences, and the closer Lindsey gets to the truth, the more determined the murderer is to make her just a footnote.

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I really love this series and can never resist the newest book. 

My Impression:  I can't remember the last cozy mystery I read that featured a stalker.  And not just a "I think you know I'm the murderer so I'm going to follow you around and make sure you don't talk"  kind of stalker but a crazy fixated kind who makes you question your sanity stalker.  I loved how McKinlay handled it with all the different people responding in different ways.  It really hit home just how powerless a stalker can make you feel.

I loved seeing all of my favorite characters (especially Ms. Cole - I'm loving her gradual warming up) again.  Emma is perhaps my favorite Cozy cop.  She's by the book and gets on to Lindsey for butting into crimes.  But at the same time she's logical and kind and does listen to new information even if she fusses at Lindsey for her methods. 

The mystery flew by and I could have easily finished it in one or two sittings if my week had allowed it.  The pace was super fast without feeling rushed or leaving parts out.  The conclusion really had me holding my breath for a few minutes!  There is a reason this series is one of my favorites and this one did not disappoint!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I love all her books!

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  This is a series you can jump right into and would be able to follow along fine with this one but the previous books are great too if you want to start at the beginning of the series.

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

Monday, September 9, 2019

Buried in the Stacks - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Buried in the Stacks (Haunted Library Mysteries #3) by Allison Brook

Rating:  Very Good
Source:  NetGalley

Description: In winter, the Haunted Library is a refuge for homeless townspeople. When a group purchases a vacant house to establish a daytime haven for the homeless, Carrie offers the library as a meeting place for the Haven House committee, but quickly learns that it may be used for illegal activities.
As the new Sunshine Delegate, Carrie heads to the hospital to visit her cantankerous colleague, Dorothy, who had fallen outside the local supermarket. She tells Carrie that her husband tried to kill her—and that he murdered her Aunt Evelyn, the library's resident ghost, six years earlier.

And then Dorothy is murdered—run off the road as soon as she returns to work. Evelyn implores Carrie to find her niece's killer, but that's no easy task: Dorothy had made a hobby of blackmailing her neighbors and colleagues. Carrie, Evelyn, and Smoky Joe the cat are on the case, but are the library cards stacked against them?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  It's a cozy mystery series about a haunted library!  And I've really been enjoying the series in general.

My Impression:  This is the 3rd book in the series that I've read and I think I've liked each one better then the last.  I was really surprised when I read the blurb on this book.   Normally main-ish characters aren't killed off in cozies so I was so curious to see how it was done and I could not be more pleased.  Not only did we learn more about Dorothy's secrets but we got to look into Evelyn's death and get to know her a bit better as well.  I was really engaged with the mystery and enjoyed following along with Carrie's investigation.

As the series has gone on I've liked Carrie more and more.  Her relationship with Dylan and her ability to self-reflect and just think about what was bothering her instead of just reacting was just refreshing.  I think I enjoyed hanging out with Carrie and friends almost as much as the mystery! 

If you enjoy cozies with bookish settings, likable characters, and solid intriguing mysteries then this is a series you shouldn't miss!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  This is such a fun series and I'll be looking for the next one.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy cozy mystery series this is a great one.  You could start here without any issue but it'd probably be better to start the beginning just so you can get to know the characters.

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

Sunday, September 8, 2019

This Week in Reading - September 8

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 Lies We Tell by Debra Webb - I don't know much about this book or this author but the blurb caught my attention and it looks like a fun thriller. (Publisher)

Death on the Page by Essie Lang - I know nothing about this author but it looked like a fun series and after a few weeks of no new books I couldn't resist.  (NetGalley)


Reading:  Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook and Word to the Wise by Jenn McKinlay

Listening:  Finished Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty and really enjoyed it and am now finishing up Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt.

Watching:  Nothing right now but I just discovered that Netflix added a new season of The Great British Bake Off so that's pretty much my plan for the week.

Off the Blog:

This week I withdrew the Tornado from school and officially started the homeschool/online/blended school thing.  I'm nervous but I think it'll be good.  We had one official school day this week but it was still pretty low key and mostly we did reading.  Next week will be a bit more demanding though.

Hopefully, as you're reading this I'm back home after successfully moving my grandparents from their home in another state to the assisted living program here.  And hopefully my grandmother has already discovered the library and they're enjoying the farm to table restaurant quality food and my grandfather has met some of the other WWII vets that are residents and they're settling in beautifully.  That's probably too much to ask but hopefully that's the direction we're moving in.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Buried in the Stacks - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday: The Vanished Bride - Historical Mystery Review
Thursday:  Word to the Wise - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Fives 
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

A Hodge Podge of Reviews - What I've Been Reading #3

The Girl in the Cellar by Patricia Wentworth - Oh I love Patricia Wentworth and Miss Silver so this was just a delight.  There's some amnesia, a bit of intrigue, mistaken identity, and characters with lots of common sense and just enough nerve.  While the Miss Silver series is numbered there's no reason to read them in order and frankly book #1 (The Grey Mask) is my absolute least favorite.  This however was a fun cozy mystery and if you enjoy Agatha Christie's Miss Marple you must try Miss Silver.  Similar feel and method at times though I adore Miss Silver's complete capable-ness and her ability to make senior Scotland Yard officials feel like nursery school children.

Doom with a View by Kate Kingsbury - This is a cutesy cozy with a grandmother and granddaughter running a bed and breakfast that seems to have a mischievous ghost.  This one involved a group of seniors (as in citizens not high school) with all kinds of back stories and twisty connections.   When the most unpleasant of their group ends up murdered there are lots of lies and secrets just begging to be uncovered.  This is a fun cozy with a very nosy amateur detective who sometimes wanders into To Stupid To Live territory.  However, this is a pleasant mystery and an enjoyable series.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty - This book seems to have gotten some mixed reviews and after listening to it I can see why.  The plot is definitely a bit out there and the true confrontation is flat out crazy.  However, I really enjoyed getting to know the characters - especially Frances and Tony - and following their "transformative" journeys.  The audio is fantastic and Caroline Lee is quite possibly one of my favorite narrators.  This has a very different feel from Big Little Lies but it's quite a ride!

What We Find by Robyn Carr - I had enjoyed the later books in this series but realized I hadn't read the very first book in the Sullivan's Crossing series.  When I saw it was available on Audible Escape I knew it was time to give it a try and I'm so glad I did!  I really enjoyed Maggie and Cal's story but even more I really enjoyed getting to know Sully just a little bit more.  It's a nice romance with a bit of heart and characters finding out what they really want to do with their lives both independently and together.

What are you are reading at the moment?

Friday, September 6, 2019

Friday Fives - Five September Reads

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 September I'm looking at my September reads.  My theme for this month is books - be it characters that work in bookstores or books about books in general.

1.  I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel - I love Bogel's podcast and website but while I've been wanting to read her first book but it didn't really grab me.  However, this one is a whole different story and I'm really looking forward to it. 

2.  Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower - I love a mystery in a bookstore and I really love a supernatural bookstore.  I bought this one new right after it came out and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

3.  The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott - It a cozy mystery involving Agatha Christie books.  I've had this one for years.  How have I not read it??

4.  Die for Love by Elizabeth Peters- I think I read this one years ago but remember nothing about it.  I love Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels and it's been far too long since I've read anything by her.

5.  Read to Death by Terrie Farley Moran - I read the 2nd book in the series about a book themed cafe that hosts book clubs and my only complaint is that it isn't a real place! 

What are you hoping to read this month?

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Books from the Backlog - Chasing Fire

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! 

Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts

Blurb:  Little else in life is as dangerous as fire jumping. Flying past towering pillars of smoke, parachuting down to the edge of an all-consuming blaze, shoveling and sawing for hours upon hours, days at a time, all to hold the line and push back against the raw power of Mother Nature.
But there's also little else as thrilling - at least to Rowan Tripp. The Missoula smoke jumpers are one of the most exclusive fire-fighting squads in the nation, and the job is in Rowan's blood: her father is a legend in the field. She's been fighting fires since her eighteenth birthday. At this point, returning to the wilds of Montana for the season feels like coming home - even with reminders of the partner she lost last season still lingering in the air.

Fortunately, this year's rookie crop is among the strongest ever - and Gulliver Curry's one of the best. He's also a walking contradiction, a hotshot firefighter with a big vocabulary and a winter job at a kid's arcade. He came to Missoula to follow in the footsteps of Lucas "Iron Man" Tripp, yet he's instantly more fascinated by his hero's daughter. Rowan, as a rule, doesn't hook up with other smoke jumpers, but Gull is convinced he can change her mind. And damn if he doesn't make a good case to be an exception to the rule.

Everything is thrown off balance, though, when a dark presence lashes out against Rowan, looking to blame someone for last year's tragedy. Rowan knows she can't complicate things with Gull - any distractions in the air or on the ground could be lethal. But if she doesn't find someone she can lean on when the heat gets intense, her life may go down in flames.

Why It Needs to Come Off My Shelf:  Nora Roberts is a favorite author and despite having this on my shelf for years I've never read this one.  Honestly, I've never really anything about this one.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Long Call - Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves

Rating: Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Description:  In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.
Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

The case calls Matthew back into the community he thought he had left behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.

An astonishing new novel told with compassion and searing insight, The Long Call will captivate fans of Vera and Shetland, as well as new readers.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been wanting to read something by Ann Cleeves since we first started watching Shetland ages ago.

My Impression:  This was my first real introduction to Ann Cleeves and I must say it was a very nice one.  I liked Matthew as the main character/investigator.  He's a bit prim and formal and he's got a rather complicated backstory.  He's considerate and not a walking broken ego like so many main characters in procedurals.  He's very much a rule follower which I liked and I found that he really considered recusing himself when he discovered a witness and victim had a connection to the care facility his husband runs.   It was nice to see someone concerned about conflict of interest and something I feel like I don't see very often even when the conflict of interest is incredibly obvious.  I also liked Jen's more brash personality.  She's a touch wild but that doesn't keep her from being a loving mother or a very good detective.  I found both of these characters nicely complex and a bit unique in my reading experience.

The mystery was a good one.  Why would someone who appears to know no one wind up murdered.  What secrets are hiding in his empty present or broken past?  And getting the POV shift between Matthew, Jen, and Maurice kept the pacing fresh without feeling rushed.  That being said this isn't a thriller type mystery that you fly through with and disappear into for chapters at a time.  Things come together and the world of North Devon come together deliberately and thoroughly.  However, I didn't feel like this was a slow read or over detailed.  I really enjoyed Cleeves style of mystery that is gritty without being gruesome and serious without being angsty.  I'm looking forward to diving into the backlist and getting to know her other characters.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  I'm glad that she has other series and am really looking forward to reading those as well.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy mysteries this is a great series AND this is the first in the new series so you can dive in right here!

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Enjoyed That Are Outside of My Comfort Zone

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 Outside of My Comfort Zone That I Really Enjoyed.  I don't read outside of my comfort zone very often but every once in awhile I feel the urge to pick up something a bit different.  Sometimes I quickly reminded why exactly I typically stay in my comfort zone but the very best times are when I find something that I thoroughly enjoy and vow to read outside my comfort zone more often.  Here are a few of these books.

1.  Alice and Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story by Ron Franscell - While I watch a lot of true crime I've never actually read any until I picked this one up and ended up being completely fascinated.

2.  Shadow in the Wood by J.P. Choquette - This was the closest to horror I've ever read and while it was quite some time before I'd willingly go into the woods I did really enjoy this.

3.  Murder She Wrote: A Date with Murder by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain, and Jon Land - So mysteries aren't exactly out of my comfort zone but reading books based on a TV show has never really appealed to me.  I ended up getting this one and decided to give it a try and ended up really enjoying it.  It has all the comfort of an episode of Murder, She Wrote but is also a solid mystery.

4.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - This was outside of my comfort zone because it was written by Dickens.  Dickens and I have a rather contentious relationship and I haven't been in much of a hurry to read anything else by him until I decided to pick this one up and I absolutely loved it.

5.  The Child by Fiona Barton - I have one hard and fast rule when it comes to mysteries and that is that no child be involved.  This violates that rule with the title alone but I ended up really enjoying it and have enjoyed other books by this author as well.

6.  Written in Red by Anne Bishop - Urban Fantasy has never really appealed to me but so many bloggers I follow seem to really like this series so I thought I'd give it a try and thoroughly enjoyed the audio.

7.  Before the Fall by Noah Hawley - I don't read disaster books usually but a friend offered this one to me and I thought I'd try it and I ended up really liking it.  I could definitely tell the author has a TV writing background.

8.  Coraline by Neil Gaiman - Gaiman is a bit bizarre and this one was probably the most bizarre of any of his books that I've read.  I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it as a child though and I'm quite sure it would freak my 9 year old out but as an adult reading this I rather liked it.

9.  Splintered by A.G. Howard - I got drawn in by the gorgeous cover and loved the author's take on Alice in Wonderland.  I haven't continued with this series because I really liked where the world ended at the end of this book but I probably will one of these days.

10.  Cinder by Marissa Meyers - There is very little about this book that really should have appealed to me.  I don't read dystopian, I don't read urban fantasy, I don't read YA but I ended up not only really enjoying it but continuing with the series.

What have you read and enjoyed that was outside of your comfort zone?

Monday, September 2, 2019

Reviews from the Children's Section - Al Capone Does My Shirts

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 the first in a series that I kind of picked up on a whim and knew very little about it going in.

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Blurb:  Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. I'm not the only kid who lives here. There's my sister, Natalie, except she doesn't count. And there are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards or cook's or doctors or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. Plus, there are a ton of murderers, rapists, hit men, con men, stickup men, embezzlers, connivers, burglars, kidnappers and maybe even an innocent man or two, though I doubt it. The convicts we have are the kind other prisons don't want. I never knew prisons could be picky, but I guess they can. You get to Alcatraz by being the worst of the worst. Unless you're me. I came here because my mother said I had to.

My Thoughts:  This wasn't the fastest read but it was enjoyable and I really appreciated how sensitively the author handled both Moose and Natalie.  Moose is a good kid who really does love his sister and really does want to help but sometimes he just wants to stay after school and play baseball like a regular kid.  And he feels guilty about it that sometimes.  His family's whole life is spent trying to understand just what is going on in Natalie's head at a time when the term autism might just as well have been a foreign language.  I felt like Natalie was portrayed authentically though we never get a glimpse into her head.  After reading this I was not surprised to learn that the author had a sibling who was on the spectrum.  As a parent I really felt a lot of sympathy for both the parents.  Moose's mother is so wrapped up in "making Natalie better" that she can't see anything else and is so frustrated because she doesn't understand what's going on and everyone seems to have a different answer.  His father is constantly trying to keep the balance all while working a job he doesn't want to be doing with brutal hours.   Having Alcatraz as the background made for an interesting element and had me curious about just who happened to live on Alcatraz in the beginning.  This was an interesting read with a likable main character.  The only thing that really brought it down for me was the character Piper who is just the absolute worst and I kept waiting for her to fall of a cliff or something.  It would have made the book WAY better.

I think this book is appropriate for most readers though I can see a young reader losing interest as the pacing can be a bit slow. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

This Week in Reading - September 1

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:

Another week with nothing which makes me pretty sad.  I'm expecting a book or two in the mail that should arrive any day and I know I have some review offers in my email that I just haven't accepted or even looked at yet - there just hasn't been time.  Plus, I'm going to a used bookstore today though so I'm betting that will change!


Reading:  Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook and Vanish with the Rose by Barbara Michaels because I needed a reread.

Listening:  I was listening to Nine Perfect Strangers by Lianne Moriarty and while I know it has mixed reviews I was really enjoying it.  However, it had to go back to the library before I finished it so I went back to Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt until I can get it again.

Watching:  Mostly YouTube videos.  

Off the Blog:

This week went seriously haywire and kind of had two worlds colliding.  I've talked a lot about my grandparents.  My grandfather fell two years ago and broke two vertebrae in his neck.  He isn't paralyzed but his mobility has been greatly impaired.  Plus, he's 95 years old so the healing process isn't quite as easy.  They live very much in the country without any real family nearby.  Why they do have people who come in in the morning to help most of the caretaking has fallen onto my grandmother who is 90.  Lately we've been talking about moving them into an assisted living place here and finally got them to agree.  We were expecting to have to wait 3 or 4 weeks before a place was available and were going to use that time to help them get packed and stuff.  Well a place opened earlier then expected and in the last few days it has become very clear that we need to move them immediately.

Another thing we've been talking about is pulling my 9 year old out of school and switching to a hybrid private/online/homeschool situation.  The plan was to withdraw him from school at the end of this week and start our nice and organized plan on the 9th.  Well now we've discovered that we'll be out of town most of this week coordinating the move on the fly so we're going to go out at the beginning of the week and then leave town.  It really isn't that big of a deal I guess but it's really thrown me for a loop.  I like having my ducks in a row and right now I'm not even sure where all the ducks are!  Hopefully once we have them moved and settled in things will calm down a bit and all the school stuff falls into place.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Reviews from the Children's Section - Al Capone Does My Shirts
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Enjoyed That Are Outside of My Comfort Zone
Wednesday:  The Long Call - Mystery Review
Thursday:  Books From the Backlong
Friday: Friday Fives - September Reads
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!