Saturday, June 10, 2023

Reading Recap - May 2023

Monthly Total: 

Monthly Breakdown: 22

Print: 5
Ebook: 7
Audio: 10

Mystery:  16 
Fiction:  4
Nonfiction: 1 
Romance: 1

Favorite Book of the Month:

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff - I knew nothing about this book involving the owner of a vintage fashion shop and I absolutely loved this one.

Identity by Nora Roberts - This one creeped me out a bit and also kept me hooked.

Least Favorite Book of the Month:

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi Lynn - This wasn't bad but it also didn't really grab me and there were a few aspects in the story that had me rolling my eyes.

Where My Reading Took Me in May:

U.S. Travel:

I visited Indiana and Connecticut for the first time for the first time this year
I also had some revisits to Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, California, New York, Washington, Maryland, and Vermont

International Travel;

Internationally I visited Scotland, Italy, England (a few times), and took a cruise to Havana, Cuba and back. 

Where did your reading take you in May?

Friday, June 9, 2023

Friday Five - Five Short Reviews for Series I'm Reading

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.  I'm working on catching up on series and decided to put a few reviews of them all together here.

1.  Here Today, Gone Tamale (A Taste of Texas Mystery #1) by Rebecca Adler - The cozy mystery is definitely one of my favorite genres but not all cozies work for me.  Unfortunately, this was one of those cozies.  I'm a big fan of the premise - a woman whose life basically blows up comes home to her family and stumbles into a murder mystery.  Throw in a Mexican restaurant and a doggy sidekick and I was in.   But for me the execution didn't quite live up to the premise.  I didn't really like any of the characters - including the main character - and because I had no connection to any of them I had a hard time keeping the large number of characters straight.  Add in the fact that the story telling seemed to gloss over really important events.  There were several times I completely missed that something important had happened because it was mentioned so casually.  I have the third book in the series and will probably read that but will not go out of my way to pick up the second book.  My Rating: Just Okay (2 Stars)

2.  Without a Brew (Sloan Kraus #4) by Ellie Alexander -
I so enjoy this series and this one did not disappoint!  Garrett and Sloan's plan to ease into innkeeping ends up turning into a full scale plunge when they have a group of guests dumped on them.  Unfortunately, one of the guests is an obnoxious jerk and another is clearly hiding something - before she goes missing that is.  I was instantly caught up in the mystery and loved spending time with Sloan, Garrett, and Kat as well as the rest of the crew in Leavenworth, Washington.  As well as enjoyable and entertaining mystery there is a bit of progress on the mystery of Sloan's past which is a story that has been running through the series since the beginning.  I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and even though I'm not much of a beer drinker I wouldn't mind spending time in Nitro.  I'm already looking forward to my next visit! My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

3.  Crimes and Covers (Magical Bookshop #5) by Amanda Flower -
This is the final book in the Magical Bookshop series and what an entertaining end it was!  Violet Waverly is marrying the Police Chief David Rainwater in a ceremony carefully planned by Grandma Daisy and Violet's friend, Sadie.  But in between the ceremony and the reception a body is found in the river - the body of a woman who was acting very oddly and trying to sell Violet a priceless book by Henry David Thoreau.  This leads Violet and David down a rabbit hole trying to find the book and maybe catch a killer in time to go their honeymoon.  This book focused mostly on Violet and David which I liked but did miss the side characters who usually have more page time.  This is a fun series from start to finish.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

4.  Pall in the Family (Family Fortune Mystery #1) by Dawn Eastman -
This is the first book in a four part cozy mystery series involving a former police officer who lives with her family in a Michigan town known for its psychics. In the first book Clyde is home on leave after a tragic incident occurred while on duty.  To fill time (and avoid her rather quirky mother and aunt) Clyde is dog walking with the help of her nephew, Seth.  When she stumbles onto a murder scene, Clyde is pulled into an investigation and has to come to terms with certain aspects of her past  The investigation is entertaining with a few side trips into comical and while I did guess certain parts of it all I really enjoyed seeing it all unravel.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.  If you enjoy cozies that are bit quirky this is a fun one to try.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

5.  Silent Auction (Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery #5) by Jane K. Cleland -
This is a series that just works for me.  I love history and am fascinated by antiques so I love reading about Josie's day to day life and exploring antiques with her.  This book focused on scrimshaws (art traditionally made my sailors carved onto whale teeth or bone) and I loved the comparing modern examples versus the antiques and the discussions on how to appraise and value a piece.  Rocky Point has a new police chief who I think will be a welcome addition to the series and hopefully a love interest for a side character.  Since the mystery involved the purchase of antiques as well as determining whether something was "real" or a forgery Josie is pulled into the investigation and takes an active and official role.  I really enjoyed the read from start to finish and Cleland's writing style and pacing made this an easy and fun bit of escape.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Meet Me in Monaco

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:  Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Blurb:  Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique, fending off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.
James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  This sounds amazing and I love the cover.  It's been sitting on my shelf for far too long and sounds like a perfect summer read.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Last Drop of Hemlock - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Last Drop of Hemlock by Katharine Schellman

Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)
Source:  Publisher

Description:  New York, 1924. Vivian Kelly has gotten a job at the Nightingale, a speakeasy known to the young and fun as a place where the rules of society can be tossed aside for a dance and a drink, and things are finally looking up for her and her sister Florence. They might not be living like queens—still living in a dingy, two-room tenement, still scrimping and saving—but they're confident in keeping a roof over their heads and, every once in a while, there is fried ham for breakfast.

Of course, things were even better before Bea's Uncle Pearlie, the doorman for the Nightingale, was poisoned. Bea has been Vivian's best friend since before she can remember, and though Pearlie's death is ruled a suicide, Bea's sure her uncle wouldn't have killed himself. After all, he had the family to care for . . . and there have been rumors of a mysterious letter writer, blackmailing Vivian's poorest neighbors for their most valuable possessions, threatening poison if they don't comply.

With the Nightingale's dangerously lovely owner, Honor, worried for her employees' safety and Bea determined to prove her Uncle was murdered, Vivian once again finds herself digging through a dead man's past in hopes of stopping a killer.

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've enjoyed other books by this author and I couldn't resist the setting for this one.

My Impression: I really enjoyed this visit to Prohibition era New York and getting to know Vivian and all the people in her world.  Most of the historical fiction books I've read are either about the very very wealthy or the very very poor and so it was interesting to see this book set a bit more in the middle.  Vivian and her sister and many of their friends are definitely poor and have been desperate but they're getting by.  It made for an interesting perspective and provided different motivations than I've come across in the past.  As well, the difference between how Vivian and Bea have to approach how they investigate based off the difference in their skin color was interesting and frustrating.

There are really two mysteries going on in this book.  Was Pearlie murdered and if he was who did it and then who is the blackmailer stealing from people who have very little left to lose.  The investigation was a group effort through legal and illegal channels.  I really enjoyed seeing the speakeasy and bootlegging world and how tightly things must be controlled.  While the mysteries are both resolved nicely there are some threads involving the characters and their pasts and secrets that definitely have me curious and looking forward to the next book.

This was the second book in the Nightingale series but the first that I have read.  While there are a few things alluded to from the first book several times in this book I had no problem jumping in here and figuring out the whos and the whys.  

If you're looking for a historical mystery with an intriguing setting and relatable characters this is a great choice!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Yes definitely! I've really enjoyed another series by this author and I'm very curious to see how this series develops.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like historical mysteries this is definitely one to try.  

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

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books On My TBR With Covers That Look Like Summer

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 Ten Books With Covers That Look Like Summer so I picked out a few summery covers from my TBR.

1.  The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

2.  The Bookshop at Water's End by Patti Callahan Henry

3.  Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody

4.  Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger

5.  A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery 

6.  The Seafront Tearoom by Vanessa Greene

7.   Tea and Treachery by Vicki Delany

8.  Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax

9.  A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

10. Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon

Do you have any books with beachy covers on your TBR?

Monday, June 5, 2023

TBR Tarot Reads - Hotel of Secrets

At the end of 2022 Wendy over at Literary Feline posted about these fantastic TBR Tarot Cards she had picked up on Etsy and that sounded too good to resist so I immediately ordered my own set.  So when I'm not feeling strongly about what to read next I pull out my cards and pick a book based on the prompt.  Here is a book the fates chose for me recently.

Prompt:  Choose a book which has a person on the cover

Goodreads:  Hotel of Secrets by Diana Biller

Blurb:  It’s ball season in Vienna, and Maria Wallner only wants one thing: to restore her family’s hotel, the Hotel Wallner, to its former glory. She’s not going to let anything get in her way - not her parents’ three-decade-long affair; not seemingly-random attacks by masked assassins; and especially not the broad-shouldered American foreign agent who’s saved her life two times already. No matter how luscious his mouth is.
Eli Whittaker also only wants one thing: to find out who is selling American secret codes across Europe, arrest them, and go home to his sensible life in Washington, DC. He has one lead - a letter the culprit sent from a Viennese hotel. But when he arrives in Vienna, he is immediately swept up into a chaotic whirlwind of balls, spies, waltzes, and beautiful hotelkeepers who seem to constantly find themselves in danger. He disapproves of all of it! But his disapproval is tested as he slowly falls deeper into the chaos - and as his attraction to said hotelkeeper grows.

My Thoughts:  Oh this was such fun!  I don't want to say too much about the story because I knew very little about it going into it and I think that increased my enjoyment.  I loved everything about the characters and the hotel.  The author had a good balance of witty zaniness and intrigue and kept me entertained and caught up in the story. This was a bit spicier than I usually prefer but it worked with the story.  I listened to the audiobook and Carlotta Brentan did a fantastic job.  I loved her Austrian accent and it really enhanced my enjoyment of the book.  Now to read more from this author.   My Rating: Loved It! (5 Stars)

Friday, June 2, 2023

Friday Fives - June TBR

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.  Since this is the first Friday in June I'm picking 5 books I hope to read this month.

1.  The Sweetheart List by Jill Shalvis - I love Jill Shalvis's romances and this looks like the perfect book for some summer reading.

2.  Murder at the Mansion by Janet Finsilver - A mansion, jewel theft, a murder, and a group of brainy retirees - sounds like fun summer reading!

3.  Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert - Another suspense title but this has been on my physical shelf for way too long and I've been looking forward to reading it since I got it.  

4.  Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang - I read the second book in this cozy mystery trilogy and really enjoyed it but never got around to reading the first book.  I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

5. A Beach Wish by Shelley Noble - This looks like a wonderful beachy with family secrets and relationships.  

What are you hoping to read in June?