Sunday, January 17, 2021

Life with Leukemia (and Some Reading) - January 17

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

This week has been okay.  Will was feeling really good for most of the week but unfortunately the chemo/med combo he got Wednesday is one that he struggles with and he's not been feeling so hot the last few days.  Luckily, the main thing he has trouble with is the steroid and that's only a 5 day burst so we will be done with that soon.  I'm not sure who is counting down more - us or him.  He did have a Zoom class with the group of kids he had classes with in the pre-Covid days so that was good.  I got hit with a migraine at the end of the week and have felt really drained since.  We haven't done much this weekend so hopefully we will all recharge a bit.  


Mrs. Jeffries Demands Justice by Emily Brightwell and The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

Listening:  Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J Perry

Watching: I've been binging the Smithsonian channel lately.  There's a show that has an American who has married into the British Aristocracy touring impressive homes and it's very peaceful and pretty.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Body in the Library - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Rating:  Really Liked It!
Source:  Purchased

Description:  It’s seven in the morning. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman in their library. She is wearing evening dress and heavy make-up, which is now smeared across her cheeks.

But who is she? How did she get there? And what is the connection with another dead girl, whose charred remains are later discovered in an abandoned quarry?

The respectable Bantrys invite Miss Marple to solve the mystery… before tongues start to wag.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm reading through the Miss Marple books and this was the next one.

My Impression:  Looking at my Goodreads account apparently I read this last time in 2012 and I gave it an underwhelming 3 stars.  I don't know what I was thinking at the time but I absolutely loved this book when I picked it up this time.  Sometimes I have a vague memory of the premise when I pick up a Christie mystery to reread but the end is just as much a surprise to me as it was the first time.  This is one that really stuck with me as soon as I picked it up I remembered all the whos and whys of the mystery.  That didn't detract from my enjoyment one bit and even knowing just what was going to happen I was still a bit on the edge of my seat as I waited for Miss Marple to reveal all she knew.  

Sir Henry Clithering and Mr. and Mrs. Bantry are back from the previous book and it was a joy to see them working together and with the rather unimaginative Inspector Slack to solve a very puzzling mystery.  I especially loved the scene between Miss Marple and Miss Diana Lee as well as a scene between Miss Marple and Mrs. Bantry that reveals just how well Mrs. Bantry knows her husband and how protective she is of him.  It was really sweet.  

This mystery is a twisty one and with lots of questions and no answers until Miss Marple is able to see through all the deceit for a thoroughly satisfying solution.  I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed Miss Marple stories and the past three books have just been an absolute delight to read.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I can't wait for the next book in the Miss Marple series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  While I love Poirot Miss Marple just might be my favorite Christie detective.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Nonfiction Books I Hope to Read in 2021

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. One of my resolutions for 2021 is to read at least 5 nonfiction books and here are 5 at the top of my list.

1. The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden by William Alexander - This is another used bookstore find that I know nothing about but the title makes me laugh so I'd like to finally give it a try.

2.  The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home by Denise Kiernan - We went to the Biltmore years ago and I found the house absolutely fascinating though it was hard to imagine people actually living there.  I'd love to know more about it.

3.  Missing!: Mysterious Cases of People Gone Missing Through the Century by Brenda Z. Guiberson - I'm fascinated by missing persons cases and this one of sounds fun.  It's a Middle Grade which might make this a good read aloud.

4.  The House at Royal Oak by Carol Eron Rizzoli - This is a used bookstore find that has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now.  I know nothing about it other then it's about fixing up an old house so I think it's time to read it.

5.  The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson - I have read 2 books from Larson and one I absolutely adored and the other I was kind of meh on so this one will be the tie breaker.

Is there any nonfiction books on your TBR for 2021?

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Books from the Backlog - Silent Auction


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:  Silent Auction by Jane K. Cleland

Blurb:  The autumn foliage is in full fiery glory on a beautiful day in the little coastal town of Rocky Point, New Hampshire. Josie Prescott arrives at the town’s renovated lighthouse to conduct an antiques appraisal and is horrified to discover the bludgeoned body of her neighbor Zoë’s beloved nephew, Frankie. The owners of the lighthouse are avid antiques collectors, and Josie soon begins to suspect that a scrimshaw tooth from their collection may be the key to solving the crime that has shaken Rocky Point, and broken her dear friend’s heart.

Why It Needs To Come Off My Shelf:  I love antiques and antique shopping but haven't had much opportunity to go in 2020 but I do enjoy this series so a little virtual shopping and murder solving sounds fun right now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Shadow Sister - Fiction Review

Goodreads:  The Shadow Sister (The Seven Sisters #3) by Lucinda Riley

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source:  Purchased (Audible)

Description:  Star D’Aplièse is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father—the elusive billionaire, affectionately called Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted from across the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to her true heritage, and Star nervously decides to follow hers, which leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a whole new world.

A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in England’s picturesque Lake District—just a stone’s throw away from the residence of her childhood idol, Beatrix Potter—when machinations lead her to London, and the home of one of Edwardian society’s most notorious society hostesses, Alice Keppel. Flora is torn between passionate love and her duty to her family, but finds herself a pawn in a larger game. That is, until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for her whole life...

As Star learns more of Flora’s incredible journey, she too goes on a voyage of discovery, finally stepping out of the shadow of her sister and opening herself up to the possibility of love.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  I have really enjoyed the previous two books in this series and want to continue with them.

My Impression:  I wasn't quite sure what I would think of this one.  I loved Ally's story and out of all of the sisters Star's personality seemed the weakest so I wasn't quite sure if she would be able to hold up her story the way Ally had dealt with hers.  However, there was no need to be disappointed.  I absolutely loved this one.

It's very true that at the beginning and for a lot of the book Star is very unsure of herself.  She's a very quiet person who is used to being overshadowed by her sisters and also tends to be a bit of a pleaser - always following other people's leads.  I think her hesitation and second guessing were very realistic to her story.  Flora is a bit of a stronger character.  For most of her life she knows what she wants but is also driven by love and loyalty to family.  She's tough and resilient without becoming too prickly and I found her story as fascinating and compelling as Star's.

I really enjoyed watching both women's stories develop and come together.  I really liked how much closure there is to Star's which I felt was lacking a little in the first book.  The story discusses an interesting part of history as well as the trouble with figuring out what you really want to do in life. I loved seeing all the side characters in Star's world come to life and enjoyed learning more about the real life historical characters that people Flora's world.  I did have some reservations about the romance element but did feel it was handled well.

This is such an entertaining series and such a wonderful way to have these books connected but explore so many different worlds and cultures.  I do recommend the audio as I have listened to both this book and the previous book and they were wonderfully done.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm a little nervous as Cece isn't the most likable character but I trust Riley to make her sympathetic.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy historical fiction and multiple POVs this is a great series.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - My 2021 Bookish Resolutions

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 My Bookish Resolutions for 2021.  I'm sticking with bookish resolutions because honestly I'm not making any personal resolutions this year.

1.  Read 156 Books - I read 172 in 2020 but it was a pretty good reading year so I'm lowering the bar a bit.

2.  Catch up or finish 10 series - There are so many books I'm only missing one or two books on and I hope to get those finished up this year.

3.  Read 20 books off my shelf - I own so many books and in 2020 books I bought books like it was my full time job so that didn't really help.  I'm hoping to read a ton more then 20 but I'm also trying to keep expectations reasonable.

4.  Read 5 Nonfiction Books - I love nonfiction but it's probably my most neglected genre.  I'm hoping to get at least a little in this year.

5.  Track the location of the fiction books I read - Last year my goal was to read books set in as many states as I could.  It was really fun but it did tend to dictate more what I was reading then I really wanted.  I do really love seeing where I "visit" through books so I do want to track even if I don't have a specific goal.

6.  End the year with less then 5 overdue review books that were published in 2021 - I have a tendency to go crazy on NetGalley and end up with way more books then I could possibly read.  I did better in 2020 but still ended the year with 8 2020 books that I have still not reviewed.  I'd like to get that down to less then 5 2021 review books at the end of the year.  

7.  Finish the Miss Marple books - I finished up the Poirot books in 2020 and read the first 2 Miss Marple books.  I'm planning to finish the Miss Marple books by the end of the year.

8.  Finish the Miss Silver books - The Miss Silver series by Patricia Wentworth has been a favorite series for years and years but somehow I've never read them all in order.  I started this in the last quarter of 2020 and want to finish in 2021.

9.  Read the books on my Classic Mystery list - I was loving classic mysteries in 2020 so I made a list and decided to continue diving into my definition of classic mysteries for 2021.

10.  Read 5 Books from the Backlog Books - Carole over at Carole's Random Life in Books has a fun meme every Thursday where we dust off a book that's been hiding on the back of our shelves and remind ourselves just why we need to read it.  My goal is to actually read some of the books I dust off!

What are your bookish resolutions for 2021?

Monday, January 11, 2021

The Last Garden in England - Historical Fiction Review

Goodreads: The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source: Publisher

Description:  Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden.

1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her ambitious work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever.

1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades.

Genre: Fiction - Historical 

Why I Picked This Book:  So many reasons!  The cover is gorgeous, I love multiple timeline books, but mostly because my friend Tina over at Turn the Page recommended it.

My Impression:  Well this was just lovely.  Very rarely in a multiple POV book do I enjoy all the different POVs and find them all equally compelling but that was definitely the case in this book.  I might have looked forward to Emma's story just a little bit more but that's because she is putting the pieces of the past together and that's one of my very favorite things.  

All of the women featured are sympathetic and easy to connect with even if I didn't always like them or agree with their decisions.  Each woman's perspective was completely different and very well developed.  I especially enjoyed Beth's life as a Land Girl and Diana adjusting to her home being requisitioned and her life completely changing in an instant as well as Stella's below stairs perspective.  

I loved watching how everything unfolded and even though I'm not a gardener I enjoyed all the talk of flowers and garden architecture.  I would love to walk in Venetia's garden and explore all the different room.

This was my first Kindle read of 2021 and I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.  The only thing that kept it from being a 5 star read for me is that I really wanted just a little bit more of Beth and Diana's story (especially Beth) - something just felt a little unfinished there.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely! I have at least one other book by Julia Kelly on my TBR and I think this book just moved it higher up the list.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy historical fiction especially one with a varied cast this is a must read.

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