Saturday, December 16, 2017

This Week in Reading - December 17

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 Pajama Frame by Diane Vallere - I've read a few books in this series about an interior decorator obsessed with Mod design.  She makes all her clothes and the author includes the pattern numbers for the vintage pattern which always makes it fun.  Plus, this involves an old murder in a pajama factory which sounds pretty fun!  (NetGalley)

Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James - I'm super excited about this one.  I read the first in the series years ago and enjoyed it and I love the title on this one.  (Publisher)

Dial M for Mousse by Laura Bradford - I haven't read anything in this series yet but I love a good foodie murder and this one looks like a lot of fun.  Plus I love the movie/foodie pun.  (Publisher)


Reading:  Honey Baked Homicide by Gayle Leeson and Now that You Mention It by Kristin Higgins

Listening:  I just finished One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis and am listening to podcasts while I decide what to listen to next.

Watching:  We've been having a good time with Hallmark Christmas movies and I'm looking forward to the end of The Voice.  I'm also excited to see that Top Chef has started back up.

Off the Blog:

This week's been kind of crazy.  J had to have surgery Monday and while it went great and he's fine he's been down all week.  I've finished almost all of the Christmas shopping though not everything has come in yet.  I've got 2 more stores to hit but I know what I want so hopefully I won't have to fight the crowds too much.

We had the Tornado's class party and Cub Scout Christmas party this week and then today we're getting together with my mother and her husband for a Christmas celebration.  Next weekend we're getting together with my dad and his wife and then of course there's Christmas!  It'll be a lot of fun but I have a feeling I'm going to be tired after it's all said and done.  And then of course the Tornado's birthday is right after Christmas so the festivities run a little bit longer.

I bought books for several people on my list and now I want ALL the books!  I may have to do some binge shopping soon though I really need to get a binge read session in first.  One of these days I'm going to build a fort of books and stay in there until I've read everything in the walls!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Looking Forward
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings
Wednesday: A Christmas Carol + Other Christmas Reads
Thursday:  Murder For the Books - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  Honey-Baked Homicide - Cozy Mystery Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Christmas Novellas - Short Reviews

I do love a good Christmas read but I very rarely plan well enough to get a lot books in before Christmas Eve.  That's why novellas are perfect!  Here's 3 I've read lately and my thoughts on them.

The Inn at Blue Hollow Falls by Donna Kauffman - This has a lot of things that I can't resist.  THere's a big greenhouse being restored, an old inn, and a woman a bit out of her comfort zone reconnecting with old friends and herself.  I've read several books by Kauffman in the past and enjoyed them though she's never made my "Must Read" list.  The main characters - Stevie and Noah were both very nice and I loved that they were staying under the same roof in Noah's historic inn.  I loved the descriptions of the greenhouse that Stevie and her friend are working on restoring.  But somehow I could never make myself care.  There was never anything that really made me connect with the story and so on day 3 of reading only a few pages I decided to call it done.  There's nothing bad here but there's nothing that really hooked me either.  Rating: DNF at 44%.

Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt - I love a house party in a historical romance and throw in a hero who loves his grandmother and I was pretty much already smitten.  When Adam, Viscount d'Arque's carriage gets stuck in the snow right before Christmas leaving himself and his elderly grandmother stranded in the snow he has no choice but to head to the nearest house and ask for help which means that he, hater of Christmas, ends up stuck at a very Christmas-y house party along with the host's sister, the very attractive, Sarah St. John.  Sarah had a run in with a rake years ago and has no interest in repeating the experience but she still can't help but be attracted to Adam.  I really loved both characters.  Adam is rather notorious but when it comes down to it is lonely and actually a very good man underneath the cynical charm.  Sarah is smart but very guarded.  I loved these two together and I really loved the St. John family.  However, this was a very very short novella and I came out of it feeling kind of cheated.  These were great characters in a great setting and I would have loved for them to have a book of their own.  Despite this it is still a fun and festive read!  Rating: Good

One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis - This was so fun!  I'm a huge fan of Jill Shalvis but I've sadly neglected the Heartbraker Bay series.  In fact, this novella is only the 2nd book I've read.   And now I'm kicking myself for not reading more!  Shalvis used one of my favorite things in a novella - a couple that already has a history.  Now Max and Rory don't have a romantic history.  It's way more complicated than that but it does mean there is already a connection when the book starts out.  I loved the road trip as a way to get to know the characters and for them to really get to know each other and I adored Max's dog Carl.  He adds a great touch of humor to the story.  The ending was sweet and left me wanting to go binge read the rest of the series so I can spend more time with Max and Rory (and hopefully Carl!)  Rating: Very Good

I listened to the audio and enjoyed Karen White's narration.  I wouldn't say this is a book better listened too than read but it does well as an audio.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Linkups - A Christmas Carol

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

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Which book(s) would you like Santa to bring you this year?

My Answer:
Oh this is a hard one!  Can I answer all of them?  I've been working on my Top Ten Tuesday list on this same topic and it's taken forever to narrow it down to just 10!

This week's book is one I'm only reading for the first time though I've seen it in play and movie forms many many times - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  Dickens and I had a falling out back when Great Expectations was required reading in high school.  I hated the book and Pip and just about everything about it (except Miss Havisham's house) and swore off reading Dickens forever.  Not too long ago I decided that my reading tastes had probably changed in 20 years and it was time to give Dickens another try.  Turns out I still hated Pip but I did like Dickens' writing so I decided it was time to try A Christmas Carol!

The Beginning:
Marley was dead: to begin with.  There is no doubt whatever about that.

My Thoughts:
Well that's rather grim!  I do like that the first page is taken up entirely with explaining that Marley is most certainly dead and that Scrooge is well aware of this fact.

The 56:
For he wished to challenge the Spirit on the moment of its appearance, and did not wish to be taken by surprise and made nervous.

My Thoughts:
Considering he'd just woken up from a sound sleep I think Scrooge is pretty collected!

So what do you think?  Have you read this one?  What would you like Santa to leave under your tree?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Comic Sans Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

Comic Sans Murder (A Dangerous Type Mystery) by Paige Shelton

Rating:  Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Description: The visit of quirky world-famous horror author Nathan Grimes to Star City is especially thrilling for Clare Henry and her grandfather Chester. As the owners of The Rescued Word, a charming boutique shop in town, Clare and Chester specialize in restoring old typewriters and repairing beloved books. They've invited Nathan to their shop to use their equipment for his next book.
But all plans to work on the book take a step in the wrong direction when a tourist discovers an abandoned ski boot on the slopes--and the only sign of the owner is the dismembered foot he left inside! Nathan's writer's curiosity for all things horror is further piqued after the body of Clare's high school friend Lloyd Gavin is discovered sans one foot. When all toes point to a class reunion gone wrong, Nathan can't help but join Clare and her best friend, police officer Jodie Wentworth, as they hurry to track down the killer before more former classmates become Most Likely to Be Killed.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been a fan of Paige Shelton since her Farmer's Market cozy mystery series so I was excited to get a chance to try this one.

My Impression:  My only real dealings with typewriters came from a typing class in high school and I can still remember the resistance of the keys and the fiddling with the eraser tape anytime you made a mistake.  They seemed clunky and harder to use than necessary and really I haven't given much thought to them sense.  I had no idea that they could be so fascinating and so fun!  I found myself looking up every model mentioned! 

This isn't a book with a lot of build up as the lone boot complete with foot is found on page one but it does take a few pages for the who to be identified.  I was really intrigued by all the whys in this mystery and couldn't wait to for the whole story to come to light.  The mystery was well done and kept the pages turning.

I loved the setup of the series.  Not only is the typewriter repair shop unique and entertaining but I loved the family dynamics between Clare, Chester, and Marion.  As well I really enjoyed the friendship between Clare and Jodie.  It gives Clare very loose permission to investigate which really helps the flow. 

When I started this book it had been awhile since I had read a book by Paige Shelton but I won't make the mistake of waiting so long again!  This was a fun, well paced mystery with a detective who is smart with just the right amount of spunk! 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Yes!  I'm looking forward to catching up on this series as well as reading the several books by her I already have on my shelf.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like cozy mysteries Paige Shelton is an author you shouldn't miss!  I've enjoyed every book I've read by her but this one may be my favorite.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Cowboy's Legacy - Romantic Suspense Review

Cowboy's Legacy (The Montana Cahills) by B.J. Daniels (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: Blog Tour

Description:  When Sheriff Flint Cahill's lover, Maggie, disappears, he knows his ex-wife is behind it. But with a winter storm coming, can he find her before it's too late? Find out in the next Cahill Ranch novel from New York Times bestselling author B.J. Daniels!

Genre: Romantic Supsense

Why I Picked This Book:  I haven't read a cowboy romance in awhile and I really enjoyed a previous book

My Impression:  I was really impressed with Daniels' romantic suspense in the last book of hers I read but this took it to a whole new level!  This is some very real suspense with some very real danger and it was quite a gripping read!

The story is mostly told through Flint's eyes though I did feel like I got to know Maggie as well as he knew her.  It was an interesting twist especially because the couple was not together through quite a bit of the book but I still felt like I was invested in their relationship.  It was so clear just how much Flint loved her and how good they were together. 

Flint's ex-wife, Celeste, makes a pretty great villain.  She's so awful and manipulative but while she is a bit extreme I think we all know someone like her in some way or another.  I liked too that she wasn't a paper cut out villain.  There's a touch of depth to her here and there though she's still pretty terrible.  As well I LOVED the Cahill family.  I'm hoping the two bachelor brothers get their own books soon.

I did guess most of what of the whos and whys ahead of time but this isn't completely a mystery so I didn't have a problem with that.  The character development was wonderful and I really loved how Daniels developed the relationship with the couple apart.  This is a series and an author I'm really looking forward to reading more from.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to getting to know more of the Cahill family.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy contemporary romance - especially some with suspense - I think you'll enjoy this one.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Favorites of 2017

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Favorites of 2017.  This is a hard topic!  I've read some great books this year and it's so hard to narrow them all down!  My only rule was no rereads so some of these were published in 2017 and others not so much.  I'm sure there are dozens I've forgotten and I'll be shaking my head when I see them on your lists!

For my favorites from the first half of 2017 you can check out my list here

1.  Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick - I'm don't really consider myself an Anna Kendrick fan though I have enjoyed the movies of hers that I've seen.  However, this book was really fun!  I went with the audio version and absolutely loved it.

2.  Death at the Emerald by R.J. Koreto - I love a historical mystery but sometimes they can be either a little dry or really really historically inaccurate (I can deal with really inaccurate but not really really).  This one however, was a perfect balance and I'm looking forward to continuing the series.

3.  A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy - I have been wanting to try Maeve Binchy's book and when I discovered my library had this one audio I couldn't resist.  I've heard it wasn't her best but I absolutely loved it! 

4.  The Chillbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan - I heard rave reviews of this epistolary novel set in the English countryside during World War II and it completely lived up to the raves.  It was an amazing listen and just a great book.

5.  Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen - This has been on my TBR for ages and jumped even higher up the list when I read The Peach Keeper last year.  I'm really looking forward to reading more from Sarah Addison Allen!

6.  Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George - My only problem with this magical children's book is that it wasn't around when I was a kid. 

7.  Booked 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton - I've read a lot of great cozies this year but this one stands out for most fantastic premise - a cursed book that causes the death of those who read it. 

8.  The Beach at Painter's Cove by Shelley Noble - I was new to this author but I loved her beachy covers and was excited to give her books a try.  I was not disappointed.  I love this story about a seriously dysfunctional family coming together (or not) when they need to most.

9.  The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor - This is another author that was on my TBR forever and I was so excited to finally get a chance to read one of her books.  I loved this dual timeline stories full of fairies and magic.

10. The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan - Colgan's The Bookshop on the Corner was a winner last year for me and while it took me a little longer to warm up to Flora once I was hooked by this book I was fully hooked!  The setting is amazing and it's just such a fun heartwarming read!

What were some of your favorite reads from 2017?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Bel, Book, And Scandal - Cozy Mystery Review

Bel, Book, and Scandal (A Belfast McGrath Mystery) by Maggie McConnon (Amazon Link)

Rating:  Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  Maggie McConnon rings in Christmas in Bel, Boiok, and Scandal,the third adventure for everybody's favorite Irish-American culinary artist turned amateur sleuth.
Bel McGrath tries her best to keep herself on the straight and narrow but she just has a taste for trouble. This time danger arrives in the form of a newspaper left behind by visitors to Shamrock Manor--and a photograph that jolts Bel out of the present and back into a dark chapter from her past. The person in the photo is Bel's best friend Amy Mitchell, long gone from Foster's Landing, at a commune in upstate New York shortly after her disappearance. The picture, and Bel's burning desire to find out what happened to Amy--and whether she may still be alive--is the catalyst for a story in which old secrets are revealed, little by little...and certain characters are shown to not be as genuine as Bel once thought.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I enjoyed the previous book in the series and I love mysteries from the past.

My Impression:  I love a good quirky family in books and the McGrath clan has quirky in spades.  And because they all work together at Shamrock Manor they see a lot of each other which means arguments and hi-jinks abound.  The characters are really fun and I loved their interaction though if I was Bel I think I'd be looking for a job far far away.

In the previous book, the mystery of just what had happened to Bel's childhood friend Amy was an ever present mystery.  When they were both 17 Amy had disappeared without a trace and while a discovery at the end book lent an ominous tone to whatever had happened nothing was ever really known until this book.  I really enjoyed Bel's investigation though she does get a little impulsive at times (okay quite a bit) however, with her emotional involvement in the case it was easy to understand her reasoning.

This was a really fun read with quite a crazy cast of characters and a good mystery.  I enjoyed finding out just what had happened and felt like I got to know Bel a bit better through the investigation. 

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

Would I Recommend This Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a fun one.  If you haven't read the previous books no worries!  You can jump in right here.