Saturday, October 1, 2022

Reading Recap - September 2022


Monthly Total: 18 (Not as many as I hoped for but not too bad)

Monthly Breakdown: 

Print: 4
Ebook: 5
Audio: 9

Mystery: 15
Fiction: 1
Nonfiction: 1
Romance: 1

Favorite Book of the Month:

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell - I forgot how much I enjoyed her books and this one kept me absolutely hooked.

A Death in Door County by Annelise Ryan - I was a little nervous about this one because it's a touch outside my comfort zone but it was an absolute delight!

Least Favorite Book:

Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies by Laura Thompson
- I didn't dislike this one but it was a little drier and more about heiresses overall than a more personal look and specific heiresses.

Where My Bookish Travels Have Taken Me This Month:

In the US I visited Wisconsin for the first time this year.

Internationally, I visited England, France and Ireland.  

It was a fairly quiet bookish travel month as almost all the books I read seemed to be set in California and North Carolina for some reason.

How was your reading in September?

Friday, September 30, 2022

Friday Five - Five Short Revews

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 I'm sharing 5 quick reviews for books I've read recently.

1.  The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman - This book did not work for me on audio.  It changes POV and has journal entries.  However, when I switched to the print version those issues disappeared and I was pulled into this quirky mystery.  I love that the main characters are in an assisted living community and are using their different skills.  I also liked that there are a number of serious elements pulled in so while it is a bit quirky it definitely isn't silly or zany in any way.  The mystery wrapped up well and kept me reading.  My Rating:  Really Liked It! (4 Stars)

2.  The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis - This was such a wonderful story.  Typically books with two timelines have one that is my favorite and one that I'm just trying to get through but this book was the exception.  I enjoyed my time with Lillian as much as I did my time with Veronica.  I loved the talk of art and was fascinated by the Frick family and their collection.  Both Lillian and Veronica were likable characters who I rooted for even if they didn't always make the wisest decisions.  This was my first book by Davis but it definitely won't be my last.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)

3.  A Ghostly Undertaking by Tonya Kappes - I've read several books by Kappes but somehow have never picked up this series.  I enjoyed this first book in a ghostly cozy mystery series involving an undertaker who happens to see the dead.  This was fun and I enjoyed both getting to know Emma Lee and the rest of the small town.  Emma having to come to terms with her new power was entertaining even if I regularly squirmed from second hand embarrassment.  I'm looking forward to reading the next one to see what happens next!  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)

4.  The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell - I forgot just how much I enjoy Lisa Jewell's books - especially in audio format.  Right from the beginning this book sucked me in and I couldn't wait to see how it all unraveled.  Because the two timelines are very close in time and involve a number of the same characters it did get a little confusing at the very beginning but as soon as I got invested in the story that went away.  This was one of those listens that had me contemplating dusting baseboards just so I could keep listening and I HATE dusting baseboards.  The audio was fantastic and the story had lots of twists and turns and kept me guessing.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)

5.  Vanishing Edge by Claire Kells -
This is the first book in the National Parks Mystery series.  I accidentally got the 2nd book without realizing it was part of a series so of course I had to pick up book 1.  I'm so glad I did.  Felicity Harland is a new ISB agent after 7 years in the FBI and a tragic loss combined with a life changing accident.  She's a smart and able investigator, incredibly stubborn but also able to listen to theories and opinions and others.  I loved the setting in the Sequoia National Park and the fact that the author showed both the beauty and the danger.  Park Ranger Hux is a fantastic partner to Harland as they work well together and just seem to click from the beginning.  The mystery kept me pulled in and wondering just how on earth it was going to turn out.  My main complaint was the audio - most of the narration by Natalie Naudus is done really well but periodically throughout the book there's a weird voice change that feels like it was dubbed over the original narration and is a bit distracting.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4 Stars)

What books have you read recently?

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Books from the Backlog - Don't Overthink It

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:  Don't Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel

Blurb:  We've all been there: stuck in a cycle of what-ifs, plagued by indecision, paralyzed by the fear of getting it wrong. Nobody wants to live a life of constant overthinking, but it doesn't feel like something we can choose to stop doing. It feels like something we're wired to do, something we just can't escape. But is it?
Anne Bogel's answer is no. Not only can you overcome negative thought patterns that are repetitive, unhealthy, and unhelpful, you can replace them with positive thought patterns that will bring more peace, joy, and love into your life. In Don't Overthink It, you'll find actionable strategies that can make an immediate and lasting difference in how you deal with questions both small--Should I buy these flowers?--and large--What am I doing with my life? More than a book about making good decisions, Don't Overthink It offers you a framework for making choices you'll be comfortable with, using an appropriate amount of energy, freeing you to focus on all the other stuff that matters in life.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I'm definitely an overthinker but this is a fairly short read that's been sitting on my shelf for far too long.  It seems like an easy one to get off the shelf and one where I could pick up some valuable tips.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Year of the Projects - The Pint of No Return + Jell-O Girls

I do love a good list.  It gives a nice sense of order and focus and I love making lists about the books I want to read.  Last year I focused just on series I was behind on.  The project went great and I caught up on a ton of series but I felt like I was neglecting other books on my shelf and books at my library.  This year I have a few lists going - Series, Library, Clear Off My Shelves, and a random TBR Bingo where I pull books off my Goodreads TBR.  Here are a few of my most recent reads.

Goodreads:  The Pint of No Return (A Sloan Krauss Mystery #2) by Ellie Alexander

Project:  Series

Blurb:  No other festival compares to Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Washington. The whole town is buzzing with excitement over this year’s activities and eagerly awaiting Nitro’s latest offering Cherrywizen, made with locally sourced cherries. But local brewmaster Sloan Krause is tapped out. Between trying to manage the pub, her pending divorce with Mac, and her mounting feelings for Garrett, she’s fermenting in internal turmoil.
To complicate matters, dreamy movie star Mitchell Morgan and his production crew have arrived in the village to film during the authentic Bavarian brewfest. Mitchell has his eye on Sloan and a taste for Nitro’s Cherrywizen. Sloan escapes his advances for good when she finds Mitchell slumped over the bar. Is this a case of one pint too many, or has Mitchell been murdered by microbrew?

My Thoughts:  I'm really enjoying this series!  I'm not a beer drinker (or much of a drinker at all) but Sloan's enthusiasm of the brewing process and the descriptions of all the types of beer has me fascinated.  I also love the mystery about Sloan's past that seems to be running through the series.  I can't wait to see how it all plays out.  The mystery in this book was interesting and kept me guessing until the very end.  My Rating:  Really Liked It! (4 Stars) *Received in exchange for my honest review*

Goodreads: Jell-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom

Project: TBR Bingo

In 1899, Allie Rowbottom's great-great-great-uncle bought the patent to Jell-O from its inventor for $450. The sale would turn out to be one of the most profitable business deals in American history, and the generations that followed enjoyed immense privilege - but they were also haunted by suicides, cancer, alcoholism, and mysterious ailments.
More than 100 years after that deal was struck, Allie's mother Mary was diagnosed with the same incurable cancer, a disease that had also claimed her own mother's life. Determined to combat what she had come to consider the "Jell-O curse" and her looming mortality, Mary began obsessively researching her family's past, determined to understand the origins of her illness and the impact on her life of Jell-O and the traditional American values the company championed. Before she died in 2015, Mary began to send Allie boxes of her research and notes, in the hope that her daughter might write what she could not. JELL-O GIRLS is the liberation of that story.

A gripping examination of the dark side of an iconic American product and a moving portrait of the women who lived in the shadow of its fractured fortune, JELL-O GIRLS is a family history, a feminist history, and a story of motherhood, love and loss. In crystalline prose Rowbottom considers the roots of trauma not only in her own family, but in the American psyche as well, ultimately weaving a story that is deeply personal, as well as deeply connected to the collective female experience.

My Thoughts:  I didn't care for this one.  This is a family that is loosely connected to Jell-O (a great-uncle by marriage purchased the patent for cheap, got Jell-O going and starting to become a household name and then sold it all long before the author, her mother or really anyone in the book is born) but the author references it regularly to show how stuck the women in her family were and makes regular comparisons to different kinds of Jell-O salads.  At first it's clever but after happens about a dozen times in 50 pages it gets a bit old.   Jell-O has nothing to do with the family's misfortune -it's more alcoholism and generations of family dysfunction.  Really they just needed lots of therapy and rehab and a bit more therapy.  Looking at the reviews it looks like they were fairly split.  Half the readers loved it and half the readers had similar feelings towards the book that I did.  My Rating: Not For Me (DNF)

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books on My TBR With Typographic Covers

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 books with typographic covers.  This was a hard one!  I am definitely influenced by covers and tend to be drawn to images and very rarely notice the font but after combing through my TBR lists I found ten books with covers that are mostly words.

1.  A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa

2.  The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie

3.  Battle for the Big Top: P.T. Barnum, James Bailey, and John Ringling and the Death Defying Saga of the American Circus by Les Standiford

4.  The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell

5.  A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders

6.  A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic's Wild Ride to the End and Back by Kevin Hazzard

7.  A Stranger on the Beach by Michelle Campbell

8.  The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime by Judith Flanders

9.  All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehforth

10. Dead Girl Running by Christina Dodd

What books with typographic covers are on your TBR?

Monday, September 26, 2022

All is Bright - Contemporary Romance Review

Goodreads: All is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne

Rating: Really Liked It! (4 Stars)
Source:   Publisher

Description:  Sage McKnight is an ambitious young architect working at her father’s firm who takes on her most challenging client in Mason Tucker. The former pro baseball player is still healing from the physical and emotional scars after a plane crash left him a wheelchair-using single dad, and he’s determined not to let anyone breach his emotional defenses. Sage knows her work on Mason’s new home in Hope’s Crossing is her best work yet, and she won’t let her grumpy client prevent her from showcasing her work personally.

With Sage’s gift for taking broken things and making them better, the matchmaking talent of the quirky locals and a generous sprinkling of Christmas cheer, Mason doesn’t stand a chance against the power of this magical holiday season.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:   I love Thayne's Christmas stories but it has been a year or two since I've read one.  

My Impression: I love the cozy feel of Thayne's Christmas books and this was a lovely one.  I love the community of Hope's Crossing and reading this book made me want to go back and reread the earlier books in the series.

I liked Sage a lot.  She's had some very tough times but has made the absolute best of it and has found her passion with creating homes with universal designs.  She's positive and a hard worker but is still struggling a little to find her place and figure out what makes her happy.  Mason is a slightly harder sell.  He's got a lot of anger both from his accident and from things that happened in his childhood.  He has a hard time forgiving and makes a snap judgement about Sage even when there is clear evidence that things might not be fully what he believes them to be.  

As the story went on I grew to understand Mason a bit more and was caught up in the story of Sage and Mason and of the town itself.  I loved being in Hope's Crossing at Christmas time and getting caught up in the magic of the town and the season itself.  I do wish Taryn's relationship had been explored a little more as it did feel like her story was shoved into the corners a bit.  

This was a fantastically cozy Christmas-y read with likeable characters (who aren't so likable they're unrealistically perfect) and a magical setting.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? I would!  It's been awhile since I read any book by Thayne and it was such a joy to rediscover just how much I enjoy her books.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like stories that have a bit of an ensemble cast with a touch of romance and a lot of heart then I think you would love this book - and really most books by Thayne.

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

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Life with Leukemia, A Puppy and Some Reading - September 25

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 Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry

An American in Scotland by Lucy Connelly

Sleep No More by Jayne Ann Krentz


Reading:  The Ghost and the Stolen Tears by Cleo Coyle and Silent Murders by Mary Miley

Listening:  Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies by Laura Thompson

September is Childhood Cancer awareness month and this amazing foundation in our city put on a big event for all the St Jude patients.  They rented out this business that has an arcade and roller skating and laser tag and a whole bunch of other activities for just patients and their families.  As well it was catered and the kids got unlimited coins for the different games.  The mascot for our local baseball team was also wandering round to interact with the kids.  It was such a fun night and Will had a great time.  His numbers are still pretty low and his energy has been down too but other than that he's feeling pretty good.

I'm writing this on Friday because Saturday the dog club I'm a member of is having a big event where we showcase all the different activities we do and have lots of dog related vendors and food trucks (not dog related but most will have some kind of dog treat!) and lots of other stuff.  Normally a few thousand people show up so it's kind of crazy.  I'm volunteering for the bulk of the day in different activities and am expecting to be absolutely wiped out Saturday night and Sunday!  

Have a great week and happy reading!