Sunday, April 21, 2024

This Week in Reading - 4/21

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:

Death Scene by Carol J. Perry - I love this series so of course I had to pick up this latest one!


Reading:  The Summer Swap by Sarah Morgan and A Grave Robbery by Deanna Raybourn

Listening:  Day of Vengeance by Jeanne M. Dams

It's been a quiet week with mostly recovering from the eclipse trip.  Now the laundry is all done and I caught up on everything else so it's almost time to go out of town again!  We are going to Colonial Williamsburg in a few weeks and it has been a long time since I've been.  Has anyone been?  Any recommedations for places to go or places to eat?

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Authors I've Been Meaning to Read - Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

At the beginning of the year I made a list of authors that I've been saying I need to read and commit to reading at least one book by each of the authors in 2024.  Here's my thoughts on one of those books/authors.

Goodreads:  Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

Blurb:  In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return to the family's orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationship with their mother, and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew.

Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents have led before their children were born. Both hopeful and elegiac, it explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart. As in all of her novels, Ann Patchett combines compelling narrative artistry with piercing insights into family dynamics. The result is a rich and luminous story, told with profound intelligence and emotional subtlety, that demonstrates once again why she is one of the most revered and acclaimed literary talents working today.

My Thoughts:  This is a deceptively simple book.  In theory I could summarize it in one sentence - "A mother tells her three adult daughters the story of her young adulthood focusing on one summer she spent doing summer stock with an actor who would go on to be famous".  And that is what happened.  But there is so much more.  It's a coming of age and children realizing that their parents had an existence that didn't involve them.  It's figuring out what it is that's really important to you and what you really want out of life.  It's also appreciating what you have despite the challenges. It's a slow moving book but one I really enjoyed.  My main complaint is an interaction that occured towards the end in an encounter of two characters.  It just felt needlessy crass and out of character for Lara as well as just having a randomness to it.   It hit a sour note for me where I had enjoyed the rest of the book.  That said I did enjoy this book and highly recommend the audio that is read by the wonderful Meryl Streep.  I'm looking forward to trying more from this author.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Friday, April 19, 2024

Friday Fives - Five Reviews for Books in Series I'm Currently 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.  Guilty as Cinnamon by Leslie Budewitz - This is the second book in the Spice Shop series and I think I enjoyed this even more than the first book.  I enjoyed the mystery and the characters as well as getting to know Pepper a bit more.   The environment of Pike Place Market is a fun setting for a cozy series as there are lots of different shops and people coming and going which makes for plenty of room for different suspects and motives.  So far I've really enjoyed the books I've read in this series and am looking forward to reading more.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

2.  Deadly Ever After by Eva Gates - Lucy's past has come back to annoy her when her ex-boyfriend and his determined mother show up for the weekend of her engagement party.   While Ricky is drinking heavily and his mother is pushing the boundaries of subtlety while trying to entice Lucy to marry Ricky instead of husband to be, town mayor and dentist Connor.  Things get a little more tricky when after a rather uncomfortable dinner they stumble over the dead body of Ricky's father who is also Lucy's father's law partner.  I really enjoyed seeing Lucy's parents - especially her dad since he hasn't really made an appearance in the series.  This kept me entertained from beginning to end and I didn't figure out the whodunnit until right before Lucy which made for a fun read.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

3.  Lost Hours by Paige Shelton -
Beth is coming to terms with everyone knowing who she is as well as having her long missing father back in her life.  When a woman covered in blood is found on an unoccupied island with a wild story of having been kidnapped she's pulled into the investigation.  The woman's story raises some eyebrows from the start but things become more serious when it turns out that nothing she says can be taken at face value.  There's a lot going on in this story with lots of moving parts.  I really did enjoy the mystery and it was nice to see Beth really finding her footing and starting to decide what she wants moving forward with her life.  I'm looking forward to the next book in the series as this one ended with a touch of a cliffhanger regarding one of the long running plot points.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

4.  Peril in Paperback by Kate Carlisle -
It's been awhile since I read this series and I forgot how fun it can be.  This was chaos in a murderous house party complete with an ever changing mansion, a full house of guests - some likable, some not - and a blizzard.  And because Brooklyn Wainwright is on the scene there are books scattered about in the most unlikely of places.  After the first murder occurs and the weather leaves them stranded more than a few guests are acting suspiciously and Brooklyn starts investigating.  This was a fun read though a bit disjointed with more than a few coincidences.  I love the book talk and the house seems like a lot of fun with trapdoors and all kinds of tricks.  The ending was a bit jumbled but overall I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next book.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

5.  Golden Malicious by Sheila Connolly -
This series is probably one of the first cozy mystery series I really got into it and while I did enjoy this one I wouldn't say it's withstood the test of time as a favorite.  This was an interesting read and I like Meg and Seth and the rest of the side characters though Bree takes some warming up to.  The mystery here feels secondary to the more slice of life feel of the book.  I learned a lot about how to manage an orchard and how invasive pests are dealt with as well as historic home renovation.  I enjoyed it but if I had come to this book just looking for a murder mystery I'm not sure I would have been all that happy.  Some of the threads running through the story do connect to the dead body but is that body a murder victim and how is connected with an invasive bug threat.  I do like that Meg's life running an orchard isn't portrayed as all sunshine and roses.  Farming is definitely hard work!  I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series and I did like reconnecting with the characters but this is more a book about the life of an apple farmer who happens to stumble on dead bodies vs a mystery focused book.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Books from the Backlog - Brought to Book

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:  Brought to Book by Anthea Fraser

Blurb:  Mystery and intrigue with a decidedly literary bent, from the bestselling crime writer - When successful biographer Rona Parish is asked to write the life-story of a bestselling author, recently deceased, she is intrigued - to say the least. After all, Theo Harvey led a very colourful life, and died in mysterious circumstances. But Rona's husband Max is wary and, it soon becomes apparent, with good reason...As Rona begins to delve into Theo Harvey's life and death, and to interview his friends and family - some more willing than others - she realises that she has taken on a poisoned chalice.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I got this off of NetGalley a year or two ago and it kind of fell through the cracks and I never ended up reading it.  This sounds really interesting and I'm hoping to get to it in the next month or two.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What I'm Reading Wednesday - April 17

 I always have a few books going and this is what I'm reading this week and what I think of my reads.

My Slow Read:
I started doing a slow read after being inspired by Kathryn over at The Book Date and I've been really enjoying it.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biograpy of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukharjee
- This is a chunk of a book but incredibly fascinating.  I'm reading about 20 minutes a day and it is just the right amount.  There's a big focus on childhood cancers - especially leukemia which does hit very close to home for me but it's been so informative.

My Print Book:

Blood Red by Wendy Corsi Staub - I was expecting a fairly fast paced romantic suspense candy bar of a book but while it is definitely suspenseful it's much more of a slow build exploring some more complicated issues.  So far I'm enjoying it and it has proven to be a pleasent surprise.

My Ebook:

Murder in Rose Hill by Victoria Thompson
- I'm almost done with this latest book in the historic mysery series set in early 1900s New York.  I'm really enjoying it and the stuff on patent medicines are both interesting and terrifying.  I don't know who the bad guy is yet but I'm looking forward to finding out.

My Audio Book:

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett - This is my first book by Ann Patchett and so far I'm really enjoying it.  It's a slower story but I've been pulled in from the start and the fact that Meryl Streep narrates the audio does not hurt!

What are you reading right now?

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Characters I'd Like to Go on Vacation With

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 10 characters I'd Like to Go on Vacation With.  This was a bit of a challenge since I read a lot of mysteries which means most of the characters I read about are constantly tripping over dead bodies which doesn't seem like would be much fun in reality!

1.  Mrs. Pollifax - I have very mixed feelings about this!  I'd love to spend time with Mrs. Pollifax but things do tend to go horribly wrong and you frequently end up in a country different from the one you started with.  

2.  Jessica Fletcher - Some glitzy author event.  Jessica is down to earth and doesn't take herself too seriously so she'd be fun to be with but she's well known enough to get us to meet all kinds of people.  My main goal would be avoiding getting suspected of murder.  

3 - 5.  Jane Marple, Hercule Poirot, and Patricia Wentworth's Maud Silver - A cruise.  We'd sit on the deck and people watch.  It'd be so much fun.  We'd probably discover all kinds of secrets and scandals.

6.  Kat Holloway from Speculations in Sin by Jennifer Ashley - Anywhere as long as it has a full kitchen.  Kat seems like a fun person to be around and she's a miracle worker in the kitchen so maybe a mountain cabin?  She'd probably enjoy the peace and quiet and clean air and Grace would have a fun time exploring.

7.  Sonya McTavish from Inheritance by Nora Roberts - A staycation at her house.  Sonya has a massive old house in Maine with antiques and ghosts and other mysteries.  I'd spend a happy week just exploring.

8.  Phileas Fogg from Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne - Pretty much anywhere because we'd always get where we're going with minimal delay.  He's resourceful and not much of a complainer - plus doesn't mind spending money to get what he wants.

9.  Dicken from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - A walking tour through the English countryside.  Dickens knows so much about how things grow, animals and nature that he'd be fascinating to go on a hike with.  

10. Della Hamilton from The Blackbird Trilogy by Heather Graham - Anywhere historic.  Della can see and communicate with ghosts which would add a fun element to touring historic places.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Authors I've Been Meaning to Read - The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

At the beginning of the year I made a list of authors that I've been saying I need to read and commit to reading at least one book by each of the authors in 2024.  Here's my thoughts on one of those books/authors.

Goodreads:  The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Blurb:  Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story nears its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

My Thoughts:  I knew a bit about this book going into it so the love of Evelyn Hugo's life wasn't a surprise.  However, the focus of the book did end up being a surprise.  Yes, this is a story of a glamorous movie star but the real focus is on what happens if you don't let yourself truly be yourself and don't accept who you are.  At times this message felt a bit heavy handed.  I enjoyed the old Hollywood bits and watching Evelyn as she navigates the changing world of fame as times change and she gets older.  I wasn't sure how her life and Monique's life connected until it was revealed and that was quite a surprise.  Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about this book which seems reasonable as Evelyn was a complicated woman and nothing was ever easy.  I will say that the author made her so vivid and made her seem so real that I caught myself almost Googling her to see what she really looked like.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)