Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Death Brings a Shadow + Antiques Fire Sale - Mini Reviews

Goodreads:  Death Brings a Shadow by Rosemary Simpson

Blurb:  In spring 1889, Prudence and Geoffrey set sail from New York Harbor on a private yacht bound for Bradford Island, where her friend Eleanor Dickson is to be wed. The Sea Islands along the Georgia coast serve as a winter playground for the likes of the Carnegies, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Dicksons. Despite her Yankee pedigree, Eleanor is marrying a Southern gentleman, Teddy Bennett, and Prudence is thrilled to be the maid of honor.
But days before the wedding, the bride is nowhere to be found. A frantic search of the island turns up her drowned corpse in an alligator-infested swamp. Prudence is devastated, but as they prepare the body for burial, she and Geoffrey discover evidence of bruising that indicates Eleanor was held under--most dishonorably murdered.
Determined to seek justice for her beloved friend, Prudence begins to investigate with Geoffrey's help and is quickly led into a morass of voodoo spells and dark deeds from the days of slavery. As Prudence and Geoffrey pursue a killer, they soon discover that Eleanor will not be the last to die on Bradford Island ...

My Thoughts:  I really wanted to love this one.  I really enjoyed the previous book and had such high hopes for this one but it didn't really come to be.  The mystery was okay though a bit disjointed but my primary problem was with Prudence herself.  She is completely out of her element and refuses to read the room or take advice from Geoffrey who is on her team and far more familiar with the way things work.  After awhile she just comes off as immature and arrogant.  As well she makes a logic jump that made no sense at all given the knowledge that she had while reaching the conclusion.  Unfortunately, the book is told primarily through Prudence's eyes and by the end I was glad to see the last of her.  I did really enjoy the previous book so I might pick up another book in the series but it definitely won't be one that takes place out of New York.  My Rating: Just Okay

Goodreads:  Antiques Fire Sale (A Trash and Treasure Mystery #14) by Barbara Allan

Blurb: That local theater diva of a certain age, Vivian Borne—a.k.a. Brandy’s Mother—is sheriff of Serenity County now, but still hot on the trail of precious antiques. On a tour of the historic Wentworth Mansion, the two dedicated dealers are aglow at the treasure trove of priceless objects . . . never dreaming everything will turn to ashes, hours later.
A charred corpse in the ruins is identified as the mansion’s caretaker, a one-time flame of Vivian’s. But Tony Cassato—Brandy’s beau and Serenity’s Chief of Police—throws cold water on Sheriff Vivian’s suspicions of murder. Then Brandy spots a certain familiar item for sale on the Internet, and Mother suspects the fire is just a smoke screen.
When their doggie detective, Sushi the shih tzu, sniffs out a second body in the woods, Mother and Brandy turn up the heat on a homicidal torcher. Because any killer who takes on the Borne girls is playing with fire.

My Thoughts:  Well this was a zany bit of fun!  I've heard mixed reviews about this series and honestly I can see why.  The writing style is very distinct with fourth wall breaking and a story telling feel that is at times heavily shaded by the speaking character's perspective.  The story feel reminded me a bit of Tonya Kappes' books so if you enjoy her stories I think you'd like this one.  As well for the 14th book in the series I had absolutely no problem jumping in here.  The narrator, Jeanine Bartel, did a fantastic job and enhanced my enjoyment of the story.  The mystery was an entertaining one with some serious hijinks but some solid investigative work.  I'm not sure this is a series I'll seek out to finish or read the backlog of but if I see any books by this author or this narrator on audio I'll definitely give them a try.  My Rating:  Liked It!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Summer TBR

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 


1.  A Place Like Home by Rosamunde Pilcher - Pilcher is a favorite author and I love her short stories so I had to pick up this new collection of short stories.  Pilcher died in 2019 making this extra special.

2.  Murder Most Fowl by Donna Andrews - I love this series so I have to read the newest book!

3.  The Moon Sister by Lucinda Riley - I was so saddened to hear of Riley's death last week after a long battle with cancer.  This was already on my list to read but now there will be an extra bit of poignancy.

4.  The Secret Staircase by Sheila Connolly - I started this series on a whim last year and am looking forward to picking up the last book.

5.  Murder Most Fair by Anna Lee Huber - I am fully caught up on the Verity Kent series and have enjoyed all the books so I can't wait to pick up this newest one.

6.  The Spy Wore Red by Aline, Countess of Romanones - I read this book years and years ago and really enjoyed it but now that I've read Larry Loftis' biography I need to do a reread!

7.  Latter End by Patricia Wentworth - One of my goals this year is to read all the Miss Silver books in chronological order and this is the next book.

8.  The Stalking by Heather Graham - I always like Graham's Krewe of Hunter books during the summer.  They're creepy and suspenseful but still light reading.

9.   Death in Castle Dark by Veronica Bond -Murder in a castle and the first in a new cozy series.  It looks really fun.

10. The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan -This is a series I've recently rolled in to my Year of the Series project.  I've read the later books but somehow never read the first few so I'm going to work to fix that.

What are you hoping to read this summer?

Monday, June 14, 2021

Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond (Murder, She Wrote #53) by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran

Rating:  Liked It!
Source: Publisher

Description:  After traveling to Bethesda for a mystery writers' conference, Jessica Fletcher decides she's earned a vacation and takes a train to Columbia, South Carolina, to visit her old college friend Dolores, who has recently married her third husband, Willis Nickens, a wealthy and cutthroat businessman. They've moved into an opulent historic home with plenty of space for guests, and Jessica is ready for a week of shopping, gossiping, and relaxing at the grand estate.

But the morning after she arrives, Jessica discovers Willis facedown in the koi pond, and despite what the police think, she's sure foul play is involved. She hadn't known Willis long, but it's clear to her that he didn't concern himself with making friends. The question isn't if her friend's husband was murdered but by whom.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been really enjoying this series and was thrilled to see a cozy author taking over.

My Impression:  I was so excited to start this one when I saw a cozy mystery author would be taking over the series.  While I had enjoyed the previous author his work was a little more thriller-y then I expected from Jessica Fletcher.  It was fun but this book mirrored the show more closely in feel.  

In this book Jessica is visiting an old friend who is newly married.  Instead of the charming prince Jessica had heard about the new husband seems to be nothing short of a bully - something everyone but his besotted wife is aware of.  It's not particularly shocking when after a very awkward and unpleasant dinner he is discovered dead in the koi pond.  Suspects are thick on the ground but the local sheriff seems zeroed in on just one - the new bride and Jessica's old friend.  So of course Jessica has to get involved!

This was a fun read with lots of yummy food descriptions and even more interrogations.  I did guess who the killer was and why but I enjoyed the read enough that that didn't bother me.  The secondary characters are a bit flat and I would have enjoyed a bit more of an explanation as to what was going on between the killer and victim.  However, this was such a fun fast paced read that these felt like pretty minor issues.  I'm really hoping that Moran continues with this and I'm especially looking forward to one set in Cabot Cove!

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

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozy mysteries - and especially if you are familiar with the television show - I think you would really enjoy this read.

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

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) June 13

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

This has been a bit of a stressful week.  One of Will's counts came back wonky so he didn't get IV chemo but at this point it's not really anything to worry about.  These kids get so much medicine over so long of a time that sometimes their bodies need a rest and that's what was most likely going on here.  Because he didn't get the IV chemo and just has been doing oral chemo he's actually feeling pretty good and there are no symptoms that anything more serious is going on which is good.  We are on week 35 and the fact that means there are best case scenario 85 weeks to go is wearing on us a little.  They told us when Will was first diagnosed that it's a marathon not a sprint and that's really hitting home right now.  The long term treatment is why the cure rate is so high so I feel guilty feeling worn out by all of it.  We also have gotten bad news about 2 families we've met over all this.  One learned their child has had a relapse at week 114 and the other got unbelievably bad news.  Both had the same diagnosis as Will so it's hit us pretty hard even though his treatment is going great.  It's brought home that anything can change on a dime I think.

I've been trying to keep myself distracted so in between video games with Will I've been playing GeoGuessr and it's been a nice distraction.  Basically it drops you down anywhere in the world using Google Maps and you can kind of move around to figure out where you are.  Then you guess and it tells you how close you were.  I've been weirdly close and crazy off but it's been fun.  I only do 1 game a day which is 5 maps because any more and you have to pay for it but it's been a nice bit of distraction.  I've also been reading and feel like I've managed to avoid the slump I felt was coming on last week.


The Listening House by Mabel Seeley and House of Many Shadows by Barbara Michaels

Listening:  Hitting the Books by Jenn McKinlay - I've read this but don't remember it at all so I thought I'd listen to it before I marked this series done.

I'm still not watching much other then YouTube though really I've mostly been listening to audio books and not watching anything.  I miss getting into a really good show or movie but it hasn't been happening lately.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Murder with Mirrors - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Murder with Mirrors by Agatha Christie

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source: Purchased

Description:  A man is shot at in a juvenile reform home – but someone else dies…

Miss Marple senses danger when she visits a friend living in a Victorian mansion which doubles as a rehabilitation centre for delinquents. Her fears are confirmed when a youth fires a revolver at the administrator, Lewis Serrocold. Neither is injured. But a mysterious visitor, Mr Gulbrandsen, is less fortunate – shot dead simultaneously in another part of the building.

Pure coincidence? Miss Marple thinks not, and vows to discover the real reason for Mr Gulbrandsen’s visit.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm rereading all the Miss Marple books this year and this was the next book in line!

My Impression:  This is one of the Miss Marples I don't really remember much about but I think should be on the under appreciated titles list.  Miss Marple is visiting an old friend, Carrie Louise, at her estate which is also a rehabilitation center for juvenile delinquents.  Carrie Louise thinks she is offering an old friend of limited means a bit of a break from financial worries and plenty of relaxing surroundings and good food.  What Carrie Louise doesn't know is that Miss Marple has been sent by another old friend who feels that something is amiss in Carrie Louise's world but doesn't know precisely what.  And obviously, Miss Marple is the one for figuring out just what is going on!

This is an interesting read and clearly a plot that Christie had a bit of fun with.  There's a lot of family tension and more then a few possible suspects as well as more of a few theories as to just what is going on.  This is the kind of situation where Miss Marple really shines.  She's imbedded in the household and all the possible suspects are available for chatting.  It's really quite fun to watch her in action.  When it all comes out I think most readers will be quite surprised at just how it was all managed.   

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  I've already got the next one ready to go!

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  Miss Marple books can be read in just about any order and since this one takes place away from her home it's especially easy to just jump in here.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Recipes I've Made Recently


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.  This week is one of the not so much!  I've been getting back to experimenting a little with new recipes and I thought I'd share 5 recipes I've made recently and what I thought.

1. Longhorn Garlic Parmesan Crusted Chicken from Plain Chicken - Longhorn is a steak house chain that we do takeout from A LOT as it is in Will's very short list of places that he will eat (picky kid + chemo taste buds do not make for easy eating).  I've had this chicken a few times and thought it might be fun to give this copycat recipe a try and was so glad I did!  I liked it better then the restaurant version as it was less rich and heavy and really had more flavor.  I cooked the chicken at 425 until done and for the 2nd part I just put it back in the oven for a few minutes and it worked great. I'll definitely make this again.

2.  Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies from Picky Palate - Will loves softer chocolate chip cookies and my favorite cookie recipe leans more towards the chewy so I thought I'd give this a try and they were SO good.  I mean granted chocolate chip cookies are pretty safe but these were delicious and the texture was perfection.

3.  Easy Cheesy Baked Tortellini from InstruPix - This was surprisingly good for how simple it was.  I used Rao's Marinara sauce and refrigerated tortellini and probably only about a cup of cheese and it was so good.  It also makes a ton and heats up beautifully AND you could prepare it ahead of time and just pop it in the oven when you were ready.  Another one that will make it onto our regular rotation.  

4.  Lemon Drop Bars by Mom on TimeOut - Oh my these are so good and pretty easy as far as lemon bars go.  My only issue is the candied lemon zest topping.  It tasted good but I didn't love the texture it added.  I think I'd either half it or skip it all together next time I make it (and there will be a next time)!

5.  Chicken Lazone from Plain Chicken - This blog seems to be a reliable one for me when it comes to main dishes as this is the 2nd chicken recipe I've made from them recently that I've really loved.  It's basically a spice encrusted chicken in a cream sauce and it is delicious!  I left out the cayenne pepper but used all of the chili powder and it really wasn't very spicy at all.  I served it with mashed potatoes but it would be great with rice or pasta as well.  

What have you been cooking lately?  

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Death on the Night of Lost Lizards - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Death on the Night of Lost Lizards (A Hungarian Tea Shop Mystery #3) by Julia Buckley

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source:  Publisher

Description:  Hana Keller and her tea-leaf reading grandmother are used to finding the perfect savory treats to pair with a delicious cuppa at her family’s tea house but when a local professor is killed, she uncovers a serving of suspects instead…

Hana Keller is getting ready for a lovely holiday season. She decides to host a tea at her apartment for her closest friends. During the cozy get-together, one of Hana's friends gets a call that a murderer is on the loose and that the women should be careful. Hana soon learns that Sandor Balog, a professor of Hungarian Studies at the local college, has been viciously killed.

Hana gets one of her visions that she is going to be pulled into the professor's death somehow. When Erik, her handsome detective boyfriend, finds several suspects at the Tea House, Hana knows she must now investigate. And when the wrong man is arrested, things come to a boil and Hana finds herself in the path of the real killer.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I read the 2nd book last year and loved it so there was no way I was passing this one up!

My Impression:  This book series is dangerous in multiple ways!  For one thing I find myself absolutely craving Hungarian food - especially desserts and we don't really have a good Hungarian restaurant in town so I'm pretty much days away from going on a baking binge and then eating all the treats on my own!  The food descriptions are that amazing.  As well, I have a huge weakness for antique porcelain and have quite a collection and there are always mentions of Herend porcelain that make me want to go down that particular rabbit hole which would hit my book budget HARD.  

But those problems aside this book (and the previous one) was just a delight from start to finish.  There are some psychic notes but not so much that the book feels paranormal.  It almost has a magical realism feel but without the magic taking over.  If you're not a fan of paranormal or magical realism it's such a side issue I don't think this would bother you.  The characters are people I'd like to be friends with - especially Hana and her family.   

With all my rambling, you'd think the mystery gets pushed to the side but it never does.  From the beginning the mystery is front and center and really kept me reading.  I loved the dive into the Hungarian community and found the investigation fascinating.  This was a fast read that I was sad to see the end of!  I'm glad that I missed the first book so that I can go back and read that while I wait for the next book in the series.  And I'm going to need to seek out some of the amazing treats Hana talks about.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I've enjoyed everything I've read by this author though this series is my favorite.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  This is a fun cozy mystery with a bit of a different feel and makes for a fast light read.

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