Thursday, December 5, 2019

Books from the Backlog - To Scotland with Love

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:  To Scotland with Love by Patience Griffin

Blurb:  Caitriona Macleod gave up her career as an investigative reporter for the role of perfect wife. But after her husband is found dead in his mistress’s bed, a devastated Cait leaves Chicago for the birthplace she hasn’t seen since she was a child. She’s hoping to heal and to reconnect with her gran. The last thing she expects to find in Gandiegow is the Sexiest Man Alive! She just may have stumbled on the ticket to reigniting her career—if her heart doesn’t get in the way.

Graham Buchanan is a movie star with many secrets. A Gandiegow native, he frequently hides out in his hometown between films. He also has a son he’ll do anything to protect. But Cait Macleod is too damn appealing—even if she is a journalist.

Quilting with her gran and the other women of the village brings Cait a peace she hasn’t known in years. But if she turns in the story about Graham, Gandiegow will never forgive her for betraying one of its own. Should she suffer the consequences to resurrect her career? Or listen to her battered and bruised heart and give love another chance?

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I picked this book up thinking it was a mystery and when I realized it wasn't it kind of went to the back of the shelf.  However, right now I'm trying to get more non-mystery books in my reading life and this sounds like the perfect read to add.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Murder, She Wrote: A Time for Murder - Cozy Mystery

Goodreads:  Murder, She Wrote: A Time for Murder (Murder, She Wrote #50) by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land

Rating:  Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Description: Young Jessica Fletcher's life couldn't be more ordinary. She teaches at the local high school while she and her loving husband, Frank, are raising their nephew Grady together. But when the beloved principal dies under mysterious circumstances, Jessica knows something is off and, for the very first time, investigates a death.
Present-day Jessica returns to high school for a colleague's retirement party and has fun seeing familiar faces. That is, until the colleague winds up dead--and his death has mysterious links to Jessica's very first murder case.

With nothing but her own instincts to guide her, Jessica embarks on a quest to find out what really happened all those years ago and who's behind these murders. Because time is running out to catch this killer....

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  Because now that I've discovered how great this series is there was no way I was passing it up!

My Impression:  I'm not sure there is a television show that is more comforting and entertaining all at the same time then Murder, She Wrote and no one that I want to spend time with more then Jessica Fletcher/Angela Lansbury.  And while the books have a slightly sharper edge and a fresher less cozy feel they are no less delightful and this was no exception.  I was excited and a touch nervous to see the never before seen Frank Fletcher make an appearance and curious to see what Jessica was like in the pre-mystery writing days. 

The book is written in flashback form with chapters taking place in modern day with a modern day mystery followed by chapters taking place 25 years in the past as Jessica tells Mort and Seth about her very first murder and they figure out just how the two connect.  And seeing some early series characters again was a special treat. 

The mystery itself was intriguing and I loved the murder with the connections stretching into the past.  The conclusion was a bit contrived but honestly, the read was so delightful I didn't mind at all.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely, I'd really like to read some of the earlier books and I'll be grabbing each new one as it comes out. 

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy cozy mysteries then this series is a must read.  While being familiar with the show is not absolutely mandatory having a basic understanding of the characters and how they connect to each other would increase enjoyment.

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

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Holiday Themed Books on My 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 about Holiday Reads so here are some from my reading list.

1.  Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford - I read the first one last year and enjoyed it and really am looking forward to getting to this one.  I'm curious to see what the sequel is all about as the first seemed very stand alone-ish.

2.  Rest Ye Murdered Gentleman by Vicki Delany - I love this author and I read the most recent book in this series and thoroughly enjoyed it so I'm looking forward to going back to the beginning.

3.  As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles by Leslie Budewitz - I've really enjoyed the books I've read by Budewitz and I love this title.  Who doesn't enjoy a Christmas cookie?

4.  Snowfall at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs - I've really enjoyed some of Wiggs' women's fiction so a Christmas-y book by her sounds fun.

5.  Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher - This is actually a reread but it's been so long since I've read it I don't think it counts as a reread so I'm looking forward to trying it.

6.  Christmas at Seashell Cottage by Donna Alward - I read a few books in this series and really enjoyed them but somehow I never got around to reading this novella.  But I love the cover and I've been wanting to add a little more romance into my reading.

7.  A Holiday Yarn by Sally Goldenbaum - Well the title is adorable and this series is high up on my list to try so why not start with a Christmas-y one.

8.   Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan - I loved the first book and spending time with the characters during Christmas sounds fun.

9.  How the Finch Stole Christmas by Donna Andrews - The titles are just the best and this is one of my favorite cozy mystery series.

10. Thread the Halls by Lea Waite - This was one of my favorite cozy series but I kind of stopped reading it.  However, I'd really like to get back to it and once again - another adorable cozy title!

What holiday reads are on your TBR?

Monday, December 2, 2019

Reviews from the Children's Section - Mystery in the Mansion

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 was kind of a random library pick.  I loved the look of the book but somehow I missed it was a choose your own adventure style book until we actually started reading it.

Mystery in the Mansion (Case Closed #1) by Lauren Magaziner

Blurb: Carlos Serrano has never solved a mystery in his life. And he’s counting on you to solve his first one.
On the morning of a big investigation that would save her failing detective agency, Carlos’s mom gets sick with a nasty flu. But Las Pistas Detective Agency can’t afford to lose this case, or they will close down for sure. That’s where Carlos—and you—come in.

With the help of his best friend Eliza and her wild little brother Frank, Carlos takes over the investigation. The mystery involves an eccentric local millionaire, who starts receiving death threats. It appears someone wants to get their hands on a buried fortune. However, their search for the culprit is complicated by tricky riddles, cagey suspects, hidden secrets, and dozens of impossible choices. They need your help!

In this hilarious, interactive, and puzzle-filled adventure, YOU pick which suspects to interview, which questions to ask, and which clues to follow. Can you help Carlos and his friends figure out who’s sending the death threats, find a lost treasure, and save Las Pistas Detective Agency? Or will it be case closed? You pick the path, you crack the case!

My Thoughts:  This was our November read aloud book for me and my 9 year old.  I loved the title and scooped it up at the library after just barely looking at the blurb.  And then I discovered it was a Pick Your Path book.  I'll be honest - I'm not a fan of the choose your own adventure style book.  When I was a kid I loved the idea of them but I always died pretty quickly, the story wasn't really developed and I tended to get kind of bored with them eventually.  So when I realized that was what this was I was a little nervous but we loved it!  What really helped was that the story was so much more developed.  There was almost a full chapter where we got to know Carlos, Eliza, and Frank and each decision gave you at least a page or so of content.  And the content was fantastic.  There were some laugh out loud funny bits, some suspense (but not to intense) and enough meat of a story to really give you something to debate before you made the decisions.  There were even a few decisions that required some puzzle solving and code breaking which was really fun.  I will admit we cheated a few times to make sure we didn't make the wrong decision but it added to the fun a bit because we were able to discuss just what made that decision the wrong or right one.  The first thing we did when we finished this book (and it took awhile - this is a fairly substantial book!) was check to see if there were any more in the series so I call that a win!

I think this would be great for ages 8 and up and even a little earlier if it's a read aloud.  This was a lot of fun and I'm already looking forward to getting the next book.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

This Week in Reading - December 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:

I have no idea because I had my mail on hold while I was out of town and it was supposed to start back Tuesday and it still hasn't.  This has happened the last couple of times I've held my mail and I'm so irritated.  I think I'm going to go back to just having someone come by and pick it up every few days which is a hassle but is at least reliable.  


Reading:  Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

Listening:  The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines.  To be honest I'm not a huge fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines.  I don't dislike them - I just never really watched their show.  But I've heard good things about this one and it sounds interesting.

Watching:  We've been watching some Disney movies on Disney+ and I've gotten my 9 year old obsessed with Tangled so that's a win.

Off the Blog:

I spent the last 2 weeks in Louisiana  and had a fabulous time.  We spent our weekends in New Orleans - we went to the zoo, wandered around the French Quarter, and spent a day at the World War II museum which was fascinating.  The rest of the time we spent wandering around a small town outside of New Orleans and heading over to the Mississippi Gulf Coast where we spent some time just about every day on the beach.  I've never really thought of myself as a beach person but I would move to Pass Christian, Mississippi in a heart beat.  I've never been so glad we decided to homeschool as I was the past few weeks.  We learned about hurricanes - how they're formed, how they work and how they impact the towns they hit even years later.  I think seeing dozens of driveways going through empty lots fourteen years after Katrina hit had quite an impact.  And we spent hours running on the beach which was just heaven and just about the best stress relief I think I've ever had. 

We'll be going back and forth to Louisiana/Mississippi for the rest of the month so my commenting will be a bit sporadic but I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Reviews from the Children's Section - Mystery in the Mansion
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Holiday Reads
Wednesday:  Murder, She Wrote - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday: Books from the Backlog
Friday: Friday Fives
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Things I Want to Do in December

Friday I'll be taking a look at the books I want to read in December but today I'm thinking about things I want to do during the month of December.

1.  Go to some holiday events in other cities.  We will be traveling a pretty good bit this month and I think it would be fun to visit festivals or other holiday things in other cities.  I know my own town's events forwards and backwards so experiencing some new stuff seems fun.

2.  Watch as many Hallmark Christmas movies as I can.  Are they incredibly predictable?  Yep incredibly so.  Does that effect how much I love them?  Not in the slightest!  Plus, Hallmark has a checklist app so any moment I'm home there will be happy people having slight conflict and lovely reunions in adorable small towns.

3.  Read whatever strikes my fancy.  I've decided this isn't the year to stick to my reading goals.  This year has been a bit crazy and my reading is just barely creeping along.  I think not worrying about publishing dates or what's next on my list and instead just worrying abut what sounds good sounds perfect.

4.  Squeeze in more audio books.  At the beginning of the year I was flying through audio books but along with the rest of my reading my audio book listening has slowed to a crawl.  I've got a few that I'm really looking forward to listening to and I really want to listen to them this month.

What are your goals for December?

Friday, November 29, 2019

Friday Fives - Five Nonfiction November 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.  I had really meant to read more nonfiction this year - especially for nonfiction November.  However, with all the chaos 2019 brought my reading took a significant hit and nonfiction reading dropped to just about nonexistent.  But if I had been reading nonfiction this month here are 5 I would have picked up.

1.  The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove by Cathy Erway- I've kind of lost my love of cooking in the last couple of years and spending the past few weeks in hotel rooms hasn't exactly helped.  I've got a few more weeks in hotel rooms and I think this would be the perfect book to pick up at the beginning of 2020 to get my cooking back on track.

2. Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor by Rosina Harrison - I watched a documentary not long ago that mentioned Lady Astor and she sounded absolutely fascinating so I'd love to learn more about her and this sounds interesting.

3.  Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies by Alastair Bonnett - I know nothing about this book or this author but this sounds fun.

4.  Weird Things Customers Say by Jen Campbell - I really enjoyed another book by her so it just makes sense to pick this one up. 

5.  Thunderstruck by Erik Larson - I loved Dead Wake and have really been wanting to read more by him.  This involves Crippen who I know just a little bit about so a book involving him sounds like a good read!