Monday, October 14, 2019

The Widow of Rose House - Historical Fiction Review

Goodreads:  The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  It's 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time. However, fresh starts aren't as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn't believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor, Samuel Moore, appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn't need any more complications in her life―especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam.
Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva's new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva's history―and her heart.

Set during the Gilded Age in New York City, The Widow of Rose House is a gorgeous debut by Diana Biller, with a darkly Victorian Gothic flair and an intrepid and resilient American heroine guaranteed to delight readers.

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I love a good ghost story book and this sounded interesting.

My Impression:  Alva Webster has a past with a capital P.  There's nothing she can do to hide it but she's hoping to capitalize on it to her benefit by restoring a house and writing a book about it.  The only problem is that the house has a past that is just as lurid and scandalous as hers is.  Enter Professor Sam Moore of a rather distinguished family of scientists who is fascinated by ghosts. 

Alva has had a rough time of it and has built more then a few walls and a very stiff upper lip to cope with it.  Sam with his enthusiasm and charm might just be her opposite but right from the start they are attracted to each other and seem to thoroughly enjoy each other's company. 

I was surprised to read this was a debut book for this author.  She has such a clean straightforward style while still managing to give a good dash of humor and atmosphere.  Sam is so incredibly likable that I couldn't help but smile when he showed up on the page and I loved Alva even though at times my heart broke for her.  The pacing of this was nice and solid - never rushed but I never felt like it was dragging.  This was a nice book to sink into and escape from the work for a bit.  I wanted to know what was going to happen with the house, between Alva and Sam and with all the other plot threads that ran through this book.  This was a wonderful spooky (but not scary) historical fiction with great characters and a touch of romance. 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  This is an author I'll be looking out for from now on.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy slightly spooky fiction then this would be a great choice.

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

Sunday, October 13, 2019

This Week in Reading - October 13

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:

Murder and Microphones by Erin Huss - I know nothing about this other then it is a cozy mystery involving podcasts about cold cases so I could absolutely not pass it up.  (Edelweiss)

Sauvigone for Good by J.C. Eaton - I love this author so I couldn't resist this one. (NetGalley)


Reading:  A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie and finishing up The Bodies in the Library by Marty Wingate.

Listening:  Finishing up The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries.  It's taking forever but it's more things have been a bit hectic then any fault of the book.

Watching:  I binged the Taken at Birth mini series on TLC about the Hicks black market baby ring in Georgia.  The story is crazy and heartbreaking and absolutely fascinating.  I would've known absolutely nothing about it except my dad's wife has a very loose family connection (some distant cousin may have been a biological father) and the true story is even crazier then I originally thought.

Off the Blog:

This week was a kind of quiet week which was nice.  We got some schooling done and seem to be finding a bit of a routine which is good.  I'm exhausted but more because insomnia decided to come visit then because my days are particularly crazy.  This happens every once in awhile and drives me crazy.  Of course part of the problem is that I very rarely manage to go to bed at a decent hour.  Despite all that I am starting to get back to reading which is such a relief.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday - The Widow at Rose House - Historical Mystery Review
Tuesday - Top Ten Tuesday - Extraordinary Titles
Wednesday:  The Bodies in the Library - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  A Bitter Feast - Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Fives
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Blackberry Summer - Contemporary Romance Review

Goodreads:  Blackberry Summer (Hope's Crossing #1) by RaeAnne Thayne

Rating: Good
Source: Audible Escape Package

Description:  Claire Bradford needed a wake-up call.

What she didn't need was a tragic car accident. As a single mom and the owner of a successful bead shop, Claire leads a predictable life in Hope's Crossing, Colorado. So what if she has no time for romance? At least, that's what she tells herself, especially when her best friend's sexy younger brother comes back to town as the new chief of police.

But when the accident forces Claire to slow down and lean on others; especially Riley McKnight; she realizes, for the first time, that things need to change. And not just in her own life. The accident; and the string of robberies committed by teenagers that led up to it; is a wake-up call to the people of Hope's Crossing. The sense of community and togetherness had been lost during those tough years. But with a mysterious "Angel of Hope" working to inspire the town, Riley and Claire will find themselves opening up to love and other possibilities by the end of an extraordinary summer.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed Thayne's most recent series so I thought I'd give this earlier series a try.

My Impression:  I had seen this book mentioned a time or two on other blogs with less then glowing reviews which always surprised me a bit.  I absolutely love her Haven's Point series so I figured maybe the book didn't work for those particular readers which happens.  But after listening to this one I completely get it.  Honestly, if I wasn't already a big RaeAnne Thayne I'm not sure I would've gotten through the first half or so of this one without giving up on it.  It wasn't terrible but it's just a bit meh and there seems to be so much angst without much positive in that first half.  When I pick up a Thayne book I expect some tough issues but also a nice helping of warm and fuzzy to make up for it and this didn't quite deliver.

It did pick up in the 2nd half and I did end up enjoying this enough where the 2nd book is on my To Listen list.  I liked the two main characters and some of the townspeople are interesting and I was glad to see my favorites' names on the blurbs for other books in this series.  This was fine - it was entertaining and interesting enough to keep me listening but if it wasn't an author I was already a fan of I'm not sure I would have stuck around through the first half.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely though I will keep my expectations a bit lower for this earlier series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would definitely recommend this author but probably not this book.  It's okay but not a must read/listen.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Friday Fives - Books I'm Rereading This Month

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.  September was a rough month in a year that hasn't been the kindest and I'm craving some comfort reading.  I love a good reread and there's nothing more comforting then picking up an old favorite.  Here are 5 I'm thinking of picking up soon.

1.  After Many Days by L.M. Montgomery - This is a collection of short stories that is one of my favorites.  Sometimes they're a bit too sweet but the endings are always happy and it is just the perfect comfort reading.

2.  She Came Back by Patricia Wentworth - I love Patricia Wentworth and this is a favorite that I haven't reread in awhile.  Lady Anne Jocelyn was presumed dead in Occupied France during the war but did she really die?  And if she did just who is this woman claiming to be her?

3.  Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie - Sometimes and Agatha Christie read is just necessary and this seems like one of those times.  This is one I remember nothing about so it'll kind of nice to have a "new" Agatha Christie.

4.  Devil in the Winter by Lisa Kleypas - This is a favorite historical romance and I haven't read a really good historical romance in awhile.

5.  Shattered Silk by Barbara Michaels - There's romantic suspense, designer vintage clothes, a cold case, and lots of secrets.  Oh and the main character is rediscovering what makes her happy which is always a favorite of mine.  I haven't read this one in awhile and I think now would be a perfect time.

What do you read in times of stress?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Books from the Backlog - Murder in the Mystery Suite

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! 

Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams:  Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural western Virginia is the storybook resort of Storyton Hall, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. To increase her number of bookings, resort manager Jane Steward has decided to host a Murder and Mayhem week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather together for some role-playing and fantasy crime solving.

But when the winner of the scavenger hunt, Felix Hampden, is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the valuable book he won as his prize is missing, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer. Amid a resort full of fake detectives, Jane is bound and determined to find a real-life killer. There’s no room for error as Jane tries to unlock this mystery before another vacancy opens up… 

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf - It's a cozy set in a book themed resort.  How have I not read this?

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Mumbo Gumbo Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Mumbo Gumbo Murder (A Scrapbooking Mystery #16) by Laura Childs and Terrie Farley Moran

Rating:  Good
Source:  Publisher

Description:  It's Jazz Fest in New Orleans, and the giant puppets from the Beastmaster Puppet Theatre are parading through the French Quarter. Some are very spooky and veiled, others are tall and gangly, like strange aliens.
As the parade proceeds, Carmela Bertrand and her best friend, Ava, follow behind, down Royal Street and past the food booths. Suddenly, they hear a terrible crash from Devon Dowling's antiques shop. They rush inside to find Devon collapsed with blood streaming down the side of his face. Has he been shot? Stabbed? 911 is hastily called, and the police and EMTs show up. After the police examine Devon's body, they tell Carmela and Ava that their friend was murdered with an icepick. They're shocked beyond belief--and now Mimi, Devon's little pug, is left homeless.

Carmela and Ava are determined to catch the murderer, but the list of suspects is long. How long do they have before they find themselves on the killer's list?

Genre:  Mystery -  Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed the last few books in this series and I love Laura Childs' books.

My Impression:  One of my favorite things about Laura Childs' books is that her books are always set in great places and she uses the settings.  In this book the city of New Orleans isn't just window dressing.  It's basically a character in its own right.  I feel a bit like I've taken a trip to New Orleans after finishing one of the books in this series. 

Carmela suffers a little bit from to perfect syndrome but not to the point where I disliked her.  I did want to shake her a little bit because of her actions regarding her relationship with her fiance but again not so much that it took away from the book.  I love the setting of the craft store!  I'm decidedly not crafty but every time I read one of these books I feel like I could make a beautiful multi layered cards or maybe a artistic picture frame.  I can't but I enjoy feeling like I could.

The mystery is good and gets rolling pretty early in the book.  It's always interesting to watch Carmela navigate the rocky territory between wanting to help and not getting in trouble either from a killer or her fiance who just happens to be a homicide detective.  This was a fun read and a new entry in a long running series that you can jump in with whatever book that interests you.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  I love this series and her Tea Shop series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozies Laura Childs is a must read author.

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

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Character Traits

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 favorite character traits.  I couldn't come up with the full 10 but here are a few of my favorite traits.

1.  Honesty - I hate when characters lie because 99.9% of the time it's usually a lie that is just making things 100 times worse then if they just went to whoever they were keeping a secret from or lying to and just old the truth.  It drives me crazy no matter the genre.

2.  A good sense of humor - I love when a character is funny and not in a "look at me aren't I crazy" kind of way.   A bit of snark or sarcasm will usually make me love a book.

3.  Mature - I can't not even count the number of times I've screamed at a character to act like a grownup.  I hate characters that overreact time and time again or hold a grudge over something incredibly minor or having foot stomping temper tantrums.

4.  Relatives that hide old letters/diaries in drawers and walls and are willing to die and leave their mysterious house to their main character - so this isn't actually a personality trait but I think it counts.

5.  A love of reading - I frequently see characters that talk about loving to read but it's extra great when the character talks about books or authors and really feels like a reader.

6.  The ability to ask for help - I love when a character admits they can't do everything or aren't portrayed as absolutely perfect and I love it even more when they bring together a group of people who have their different specialties and then they work together.  I'm a big fan of putting together a team.

What are some of your favorite traits to see in your characters?