Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books on my TBR That Give Off Fall Vibes


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 a freebie so I'm looking at books on my TBR that give off fall vibes.

1.  A Dream of Death by Connie Berry - I really love this series but somehow never read the first book.  This not only takes place in autumn but autumn in Scotland!

2.  A Gala Event by Sheila Connolly - Apple picking just screams fall.

3. Death at Dovecote Hatch by Dorothy Cannell - This is set in November of 1932 so it's a later fall book.  

4.  Fixing to Die by Miranda James - I love the Cat in the Stacks books by this author so I want to read more in this series about a pair of elderly sisters.  This one takes place during the fall in Natchez, Mississippi.  I'm really looking forward to a book about fall set in the climate that I live in - because we don't really have one so I'm curious to see how the author makes it fall-ish.

5.  Jasmine Moon Murder by Laura Childs - A ghost crawl in Charleston is the most fall-y Hallween-y thing ever so I'm very much on board for this book!

6.  In the Company of Witches by Auralee Wallace - I love the cat and the creepy old house in the background with the lightening.  

7.  Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander - This book is all about craft beer and while I can't remember if there is an Oktoberfest in this book it feels like the one is on the verge.

8.  One Foot in the Grape by Carlene O'Neil - A winery during an Autumn Festival - yes please!

9.  Death by Jack O'Lantern by Alexis Morgan - I read the first book in this series a little while ago and keep meaning to get back to it.  It just so happens that the second book is set during Halloween so that seems perfect!

10. Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen Byron - Bayous and boneyards during Halloween!  

What fall-ish books are on your TBR?

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Year of the Series - The Moon Sister + The Pirate King

 After the calamity that was 2020 I didn't want to give myself serious reading goals but I did want to do something to help my book stacks get a little more under control.  I've tried getting rid of the ones I want to read but unfortunately I want to read all the books I own.  So I decided to focus on series.  There are so many I have that I abandoned halfway through or came in halfway and never read the first few.  I made a list of ten series and the next book I had to read in them and will be rolling in new books and series as I go along and catch up.  Here are two reviews from that list that I've read recently.

The Moon Sister (The Seven Sisters #5) by Lucinda Riley
- I wasn't sure what to expect going into this one because of all the sisters Tiggy was the one I had the least sense of identity with.  All the other sisters have their distinct personality and role in the family but Tiggy always seemed a bit shadowy and just hard to pin down.  This wasn't my favorite and for the first half I'm not sure if I was really enjoying it though I was caught up in Riley's story telling.  Because it wasn't just in the other books that Tiggy didn't really seem to have much identity it was in this book at first.  It just felt a little overwrought without a character to really connect with even though the setting was a gorgeous (if impoverished) estate in Scotland.  However, when Tiggy finally takes charge of her own destiny and heads to Spain I was well and completely hooked and the book was completely redeemed.  Even the storyline of the past got better.  In the first dives back into the past Lucia had all the personality that Tiggy lacked and leaned the other way into just flat obnoxiousness.  However, as her story went on - I can't say she was redeemed but I felt like I understood her a bit better.  She was who she was for better or worse.  The ending surprised me and while it isn't all nicely wrapped up there is so much hope and happiness I can't help but feel like the future is bright.  This isn't the book I'd start this series with but while I didn't love the first half the last half made up for it.  These books have rather hefty page counts but the audio books are absolutely wonderful so I highly recommend going that route for the whole series and especially this book.  My Rating: Really Liked It!

Pirate King (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #11) by Laurie R. King -
Mary Russell is the star in this book as she climbs aboard a ship in which a film crew is making a film about a film of the Pirates of Penzance that goes off the rails.  And it doesn't take long before the the film itself goes horribly wrong in a story that tiptoed a bit into the land of farce which is a huge departure from the previous heavily detailed serious books in the series.  While it doesn't have the feel of the previous books it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed seeing Mary in more control of the situation then I feel like I've seen her in previous books.  It's not that she's not been on her own before but in those books her actions were only connected to reconnecting with Holmes whereas here she is definitely in charge.  There are A LOT of characters in this book which got a bit confusing keeping the 13 daughters and 13 pirates and the rest of the cast and crew straight.  Luckily, the majority of them weren't important to the story but it still proved for a few moments that pulled me out of the story as I tried to sort out who was who.  This is an interesting series but not one you could just jump into.  In fact, I feel a bit at a loss with some of the details as it's been close to 20 years since I read the earlier books in the series.  This is a series I'd like to go back and reread from the beginning.  My Rating:  Liked It!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - September 26

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:

Nothing!  I took a break from book shopping for the week!  



:  Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King and Twisted Tea Christmas by Laura Childs

Listening:  Hearse and Gardens by Kathleen Bridge (not sure I'm going to stick with this one - the main character is driving me crazy)

Watching:  Still watching Friends.  I took a little break from it but I'm back to watching it!

This is my Dad's dog who we have started keeping one day a week to get our cat used to dogs (we are talking about getting a puppy)and I thought it'd be fun for Will and me to walk him.  He's such a sweetie and so calm.

Other then that this week was not a good one.  Will's numbers were super low which were unexpected so chemo was held and we've had to really isolate.   His weight has also dropped again so after a few tests he had to have a feeding tube inserted.  It's an NG tube (so through the nose) and he says it isn't too bad and feedings have gone really well.  The placement looked absolutely horrible but he was such a champ through it.  I'm so tired of this for him and I hate it so much.  

I did finally figure something out to help me with the insomnia I've been dealing with for the past year or so.  We started trying weighted blankets with Will to help him sleep when he's on steroids and I gave one of them a try and was out like a light.  I've been using it for the last few days and have been really sleeping well.  

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Three Books by Rosamunde Pilcher - Part 1


Rosamunde Pilcher is probably best know for her enormous family sagas like The Shell Seekers or Winter Solstice.  But before Penelope Keeling and Lawrence Stern walked the streets of Cornwall she published a number of shorter fiction books and I wanted to try and read as many of those as I can this year.

Sleeping Tiger (1967)
- Selina Bruce spent her whole life with a father who was a mystery.  She was told he was dead but didn't even know his name.  When she sees an author's picture who strongly resembles the single picture she had found of her unknown father she leaves her fiancĂ© and hops on a plane to a tiny island off the Spanish coast. Pilcher's early books have some serious father issues with main characters who are incredibly young and inexperienced.   I like Selina.  She's spent her whole life surrounded by very strong personalities who are constantly telling her what to do and not being a confrontational person she tended to do what she was told but she's got a bit of a spine and it was fun seeing her stand up for herself a little.  Pilcher writes incredibly readable books and this was no different.  I was pulled in from the very beginning and probably could have read it in one sitting.  That said there are some serious dated-ness issues with this one.  There's a serious age difference but more importantly (for me, anyway) there is a serious experience difference.  I did enjoy this one but I'm not sure I'd recommend it - especially not for new Pilcher readers.  

Another View (1968)
- Emma Litton has spent most of her life in boarding school or working in Paris while her father, artist Ben Litton travels the world at a whim.  With Ben back in their cottage in Porthkerris Emma decides it's time to be part of her father's life and leaves Paris to come home for once and for all.  Like many of Pilcher's heroine's Emma has some serious daddy issues and for good reason.  While charming and brilliant Ben's ability to be a consistent paternal figure is less then nil.  This is a sweet, uplifting story and while not a 5 star read it does showcase Pilcher's ability to make the worlds she creates leap off the page.  I liked all the characters even when I wanted to shake them and thoroughly enjoyed reading the story even with its predictability.  

The End of Summer (1971) - This is quite the story!  Jane has been away from her family home, Elvie, in Scotland and living with her father in the US.  She yearns to go back to Elvie and to see her cousin Sinclair who she had the world's biggest crush on since childhood.  Jane is the typical Pilcher heroine.  She tends to flush, can't be bothered with fashion and isn't particularly ambitious.  The main difference though is that Jane does stand up for herself when she really needs to (she doesn't want to but she does which is a solid accomplishment).  As well,  she doesn't ignore signs that might shatter her illusions and as time goes on she is able to see people for who they really are no matter how much insincere charm they pump her way.  And like in most Pilcher books there's a pretty solid insta-love situation and things like a pretty solid age difference don't seem to be an issue.  I read this book in a day and while it isn't flawless I love Pilcher's writing style and really feel like this is her best one yet.  

Friday, September 24, 2021

Friday Fives - 5 Hobbies I Really Wish I Did

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 is a not so much.  I don't really have hobbies.  I enjoy reading and do like to bake and am a great stress shopper but there are so many things I'd like to be able to do that I either can't or haven't taken the time to learn.

1.  Quilting - I love the history of quilting and the idea of collecting pretty fabrics and arranging them in different patterns.  I love reading books where they quilt but so far I have neither the patience or the fine motor skills to actually do it.

2.  Knitting - I love sweaters and what not but mostly I can't quite get my head around how knitting work so it kind of seems like a witchcraft way to make sweaters and socks.

3.  Photography - I would love to be able to take really gorgeous photos but have never taken the time to learn how to really use my camera or how to set up lighting and whatnot.

4.  Running - I love the idea of running and I'd love the calorie burn but I've done enough damage to my lower joints that running doesn't seem to work for me.  I've tried a few times and done various different methods but have never been able to maintain it.  I'm relatively in shape but running is not for me.

5.  Painting - I'm not artistic.  I can see something in my head but I can never make my hands come anywhere close to getting it on the page.  My dad's wife has started painting and gets so much joy from it and it really appeals to me but I'm afraid I'd just end up getting really frustrated.  

What hobbies do you have?  Do you have any you wish you had but either don't or can't do them?

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Books from the Backlog - The Scent of Murder

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:  The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan

Blurb:  First in a new series from national bestselling author Kylie Logan, The Scent of Murder is a riveting mystery following Jazz Ramsey as she trains cadaver dogs. The way Jazz Ramsey figures it, life is pretty good. She’s thirty-five years old and owns her own home in one of Cleveland’s most diverse, artsy, and interesting neighborhoods. She has a job she likes as an administrative assistant at an all-girls school, and a volunteer interest she’s passionate about—Jazz is a cadaver dog handler.

Jazz is working with Luther, a cadaver dog in training. Luther is still learning cadaver work, so Jazz is putting him through his paces at an abandoned building that will soon be turned into pricey condos. When Luther signals a find, Jazz is stunned to see the body of a young woman who is dressed in black and wearing the kind of make-up and jewelry that Jazz used to see on the Goth kids back in high school.

She’s even more shocked when she realizes that beneath the tattoos and the piercings and all that pale make up is a familiar face.

The lead detective on the case is an old lover, and the murdered woman is an old student. Jazz finds herself sucked into the case, obsessed with learning the truth.

Why This Book Needs to Come Off The Shelf:  I'm trying to get some of my neglected revive books read and I love the premise of this one.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

From the Back of the Review Shelf - Two Mini Reviews

I'm trying to get caught up on some of my overdue review books that have been lurking in the backs of my shelves for far too long.  Here are two quick reviews for books I have recently caught up on.

Goodreads:  Tagged For Death (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery #1) by Sherry Harris

Premise:  Sarah Winston is getting adjusted to life as a military ex-spouse when she comes across a blood stained shirt while out collecting donations for the base thrift store.  And it's not just any bloodstained shirt but the bloodstained uniform shirt of the woman Sarah's husband cheated on her with.  The woman who just happens to be missing.  

My Thoughts:  There was a lot I liked about this one.  The mystery was interesting and definitely puzzling.  I really liked Sarah and her friends (especially Stella) and her stabs and creating a new life for herself.  Unfortunately, even though I really liked Sarah her focus on investigating and her continued involvement with base-life were kind of cringe-y and a bit odd.  She is having to make major life adjustments so I understand that that would be difficult but I did kind of want to shake her.  There is character progression as the book goes on (and redemption of a few characters) so I think the series will improve but for the first book the cringe factor was a bit too high for full enjoyment.  My Rating:  Liked It

Premise:  Olivia Norley and Thorn aka Marlowe Drake, Duke of Thornstock, have met twice before.  The first was when they were caught in an embrace, the second was when she turned down his proposal of marriage and now he is shocked to discover that his half brother has hired her to help prove his father was poisoned. 

My Thoughts:  Sabrina Jeffries is one of my favorite romance authors and I really liked Olivia and pretty much all of the side characters.  Unfortunately, I really really really disliked Thorn to the point it clouded my enjoyment of the book.  Olivia is intelligent, practical, and comes off as a nice straightforward woman.  Thorn is convinced that the kiss (that he initiated with no encouragement from her) was all part of a blackmail/forced marriage scheme that she and her stepmother cooked up.  Even though Thorn's nearest and dearest point out that since she turned down his marriage proposal that hardly seems very likely he is insistent and becomes dismissive and demeaning of Olivia's accomplishments and intelligence.  I wanted to hit him if you can't tell.  Because Sabrina Jeffries is a fantastic romance writer the book is incredibly readable and I enjoyed any scene that didn't involve Thorn.  While he does redeem himself somewhat by the end I can't help but think that Olivia deserved better.  I will always recommend Sabrina Jeffries if you want to read historical romances but this isn't the book I would recommend.  My Rating:  Just Okay