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)


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.