Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Bookish Cozy Mystery Series on My TBR


Cozy Mysteries with a bookish theme are some of my favorite mysteries and while I've got several series going here are 10 that I still haven't tried!

1.  Mayhem at the Orient Express by Kylie Logan - I've enjoyed other books by Logan and the League of Literary Ladies about a book club (and with one an Agatha Christie in the title) sounds fun.

2.  Double Booked for Death by Ali Brandon - The Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries take place in New York is set in New York which sounds a bit different from the usual small town cozy.

3.  The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott - The Book Collectors Mystery series has been on my TBR for a seriously long time and I love the sound of this series about collecting classic mystery authors.

4.  Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flowers - The Magical Bookshop series has been calling my name since it first started and I can't wait to try it.

5.  Plaid and Plagiarism by Molly MacRae  - The Highland Bookshop series is set in Scotland so how can I resist that?

6.  Mind Over Murder by Allison Kingsley - The Raven's Nest Bookstore series features a bookstore containing coveted books and some psychic powers!

7.  A Killer Read by Erika Chase - I know very little about the Ashton Corners Book Club mysteries other then it involves murder, a bookstore, and a book club so I figure I can't go wrong!

8.  Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly - I really enjoy Kelly's books under the name of Sofie Ryan and how can I resist this series about a librarian when the title is this one?

9.  Bait and Witch by Angela M. Sanders - The Witch Way Librarian Mysteries sound really fun with some books and some supernatural.

10. Pride, Prejudice, and Poison by Elizabeth Blake - This is a Jane Austen themed book club set in England which sounds fantastic!

Do you enjoy bookish fiction?

Monday, April 12, 2021

Phantoms and Felonies - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Phantoms and Felonies (A Haunted Mansion Mystery #2) by Lucy Ness

Rating:  Really Liked It!
Source: Publisher

Description:  When a local theater troupe puts on a new play at the club, manager Avery Morgan is excited. This is just the sort of event that's destined to bring in potential new members. Okay, millionaire banker Bob Hanover has more bucks than talent and has used his position to grab the lead role, but that seems like a small price to pay...until Bob is found dead backstage.

Bob rubbed many people the wrong way, but would anyone want him dead? The short answer to that is: Who wouldn't want him dead? His long-suffereing wife had to put up with years of womanizing. The show's playwright has been tricked out of his one great idea by Bob, who claimed it as his own work. And Bob bankrupted one of the town's small businessmen. The choices are many and the time to find the killer is running short.

Avery is working overtime to keep the club open and find the killer. Fortunately, she has help with the latter task. Clemmie Bow was once a singer in the speakeasy in the club's basement. Now she's a ghost who's also a top-notch detective. Together Clemmie and Avery will find the killer—even if it kills one of them.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoyed the first book in the series so I couldn't resist spending more time with Avery and Clemmie Bow.

My Impression:  The first book in this series reminded me a bit of a grown up Nancy Drew with ghosts and this one is no different except we are digging a bit more into the characters and the club.  As well this one has Avery's Aunt Rosemary from Lily Dale showing up with quite an entrance.  Avery talked quite a lot about Aunt Rosemary in the first book but seeing her in action was quite the experience.  

On the surface Bob Hanover seems like an okay guy who is excited about being in the dinner theater and not really willing to be pushed around by the playwright with the inflated ego.  It's not shocking that the playwright doesn't like him but after Avery observes several tense conversations or moments between him and a whole host of people she starts to wonder - especially when Bob turns up dead in the middle of the play.  Between pleas from family members, her relationship with the detective in charge, general nosiness, and feeling the responsibility of keeping the club going heavy on her shoulders she can't help but get involved with the investigation.  

I liked seeing a bit more of Clemmie, Avery's relationship with her aunt, and the minutia of club business in this book.  It gave it a sense of place and community feel.  I think this series is a fun one with a lot of potential and I'm really excited to see what happens next with these characters.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  This is a fun series and one I am looking forward to continue reading.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would but I would recommend starting with the first book because there's quite a bit of setup in that one.

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

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - April 11


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

Another good week!  Will was having some pain due to a particular chemo drug that causes muscle tightness but the wonderful physical therapist showed us some stretches he can do that really really help.  Because his immune system is so low he can't take any kind of pain medicine that can reduce a fever because sometimes that fever might be the only sign that something's really wrong.  I really like that the stretches are something that he can do and that he controls.  So much of this is out of our hands that I really want to give him any sense of control that he can have.  His energy level has been a little lower but it's mostly because he was on steroids last week and now that they're getting out of his system he can finally get some sleep so he's trying to catch up.  But when he's awake he's been in a great mood and we've been back into school and video games and other games.  It feels amazing to see him actually have fun again.

My back pain is finally better from last week.  I pretty much discovered that sitting is my worst enemy.  I either needed to be resting or moving and now I'm pretty much back to normal though I'm being careful about lifting anything.  I got my first Covid vaccine last Friday and I was a little worried because my daughter had had a pretty bad reaction to both - it was short lived but I was prepared to be out of commission for a day or two.  Luckily, I just had a bit of a sore arm but was otherwise fine.  I have my next one in a couple of weeks and I've heard that can be tough but I'll just be relieved to have it done with.  


Murder on Wall Street by Victoria Thompson and She Came Back by Patricia Wentworth

Listening: The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley

Watching:  I finished up The Con which is ABC series about scams which I find absolutely fascinating.  I'm not sure if it's still going on but I've been loving it when it shows up on YouTubeTV.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Brat Farrar - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey

Rating: Liked It
Source: Purchased

Description: In this tale of mystery and suspense, a stranger enters the inner sanctum of the Ashby family posing as Patrick Ashby, the heir to the family's sizable fortune. The stranger, Brat Farrar, has been carefully coached on Patrick's mannerism's, appearance, and every significant detail of Patrick's early life, up to his thirteenth year when he disappeared and was thought to have drowned himself. It seems as if Brat is going to pull off this most incredible deception until old secrets emerge that jeopardize the imposter's plan and his life.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I wanted to expand my classic mystery reading and since I love Tey's Daughter of Time I wanted to try this one.

My Impression:  This is a different kind of mystery.  In fact it's not so much a mystery but more the inside view of a crime in progress.  We are in on the con (for lack of a better word) from the very beginning and inside Brat's head for most of the book.  Brat is the most likable conman I've ever come across and I couldn't help but connect with him from the beginning.

But while I connected with Brat and liked most of the characters I had a hard time really feeling pulled into the story.  I found it a bit odd how prosaic the whole family was about Patrick's death and how calm they were to have him back.  There's a distance kept between the characters and the reader that I think kept me from getting pulled in.  I wasn't involved in the story but more of a detached observer.  It is also a slower read without the primary structure of a classic murder mystery.  That isn't to say this is a bad read.  Tey is brilliant at surprising complicated simple plots and this one played out in an intriguing way that is unlike anything I've ever read before.  Despite the distance and slowness this was a book I enjoyed reading and was always one I looked forward to picking up.

I have now read two books by Josephine Tey and each were completely different.  I can't wait to read more from her and see what else she comes up with.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  This is an author that keeps me guessing.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Yes, though be prepared that this is not a classic murder mystery.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Friday Fives - Classic Mystery Authors Whose Books Are On My List to Collect

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 have finally faced facts that I am a collector.  Minimalism seems to be very much in fashion and in theory I'm all for it but when it really comes down to it I like my stuff and I get a lot of joy from collecting and arranging.  One of my favorite things to collect is books by specific authors.  There's something oh so fun about the list making and the hunt for the next book.  Sometimes that can come back to bite me as back in college I decided a particular historical mystery series would be my favorite thing and I made it my mission to buy all the books.  The problem is I hadn't actually read them.  And when I did read a few it turns out I disliked the author's writing style intensely.  So now I try to read a book or two BEFORE I go on a collecting spree.  Here are 5 classic mystery authors whose books are on my list to start collecting.

1.  Patricia Moyes - I read a few Patricia Moyes books when I was a teenager because my Grandmother had a few hiding on her shelves but somehow completely forgot she existed.  I stumbled across her name recently and remembered just how much I enjoyed her books and decided it was collection time!

2.  Catherine Aird - I've read a few Aird books now and desperately want to read more.  I have the book above coming up on my TBR for this month and will be hunting down the rest of her books soon!  

3.  Dorothy L. Sayers - I don't think it's a secret that I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan but somehow I've never read much by Sayers.  I did read the first book several years ago and I'm planning on reading the second soon so I might wait until I get three books by her read but then the collection will be on!

4.  Dorothy Gilman - This is an author I'm already working on and so far every book of hers that I've read has been an absolute delight.  Mrs. Pollifax is working her way into my favorite fictional characters rubbing shoulders with Miss Marple and Miss Silver.  I'm looking forward to trying some of her standalone books as well.

5.  Dorothy Simpson - Apparently I have quite the surplus of Dorothys on this list!  I read a few books from this author as a teenager (raiding my Grandmother's shelves again) and remember enjoying them but nothing else.  I have one book by this author on my shelf so I'm going to give this a try before I go full collection mode.

Are you a collector?  

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Last Bookshop in London - Historical Fiction Review

Goodreads:  The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin

Rating:  Really Liked It!
Source: Publisher

Description:  August 1939: London prepares for war as Hitler’s forces sweep across Europe. Grace Bennett has always dreamed of moving to the city, but the bunkers and blackout curtains that she finds on her arrival were not what she expected. And she certainly never imagined she’d wind up working at Primrose Hill, a dusty old bookshop nestled in the heart of London.

Through blackouts and air raids as the Blitz intensifies, Grace discovers the power of storytelling to unite her community in ways she never dreamed—a force that triumphs over even the darkest nights of the war.

Genre:  Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  A bookshop in World War 2 era London?  How could I resist!

My Impression:  I love homefront books and this might be the most homefront of homefront books I've ever read.  Grace is just an ordinary girl trying to make her way in the world after her mother died and her aunt and uncle made it clear she was no longer welcome.  Grace and her friend Viv go to London to stay with Mrs. Weatherstone, a dear friend of Grace's mother, and her son Colin. They're really two normal nice girls who just want to experience the glamourous life in London.  Grace soon finds herself working in a bookshop run by the curmudgeonly Mr. Evans who makes it clear that Grace's job is only for a short time.

I was quickly pulled into this novel and liked Grace from the first.  She's a truly nice character without being vapid and spineless.  I also adored how she became involved in Primrose Hill Books and then pulled into books in general.    I loved the dynamic between Mrs. Weatherstone  and Grace and Viv.  Mrs. Weatherstone has been through war before and remembers the rationing and the bomb raids while Grace and Viv have only heard occasional stories and have no idea what they could be facing. 

This book is sweet and tragic, absolutely heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.  I loved Grace and all the other characters and the world that Martin created.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to seeing more from this author.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy historical fiction I think you will love this read.

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

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

What the Devil Knows - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads:  What the Devil Knows (Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery #16) by C.S. Harris

Rating: Really Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description:  It's October 1814. The war with France is finally over and Europe's diplomats are convening in Vienna for a conference that will put their world back together. With peace finally at hand, London suddenly finds itself in the grip of a series of heinous murders eerily similar to the Ratcliffe Highway murders of three years before.

In 1811, two entire families were viciously murdered in their homes. A suspect--a young seaman named John Williams--was arrested. But before he could be brought to trial, Williams hanged himself in his cell. The murders ceased, and London slowly began to breathe easier. But when the lead investigator, Sir Edwin Pym, is killed in the same brutal way three years later and others possibly connected to the original case meet violent ends, the city is paralyzed with terror once more.

Was the wrong man arrested for the murders? Bow Street magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy turns to his friend Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, for assistance. Pym's colleagues are convinced his manner of death is a coincidence, but Sebastian has his doubts. The more he looks into the three-year-old murders, the more certain he becomes that the hapless John Williams was not the real killer. Which begs the question--who was and why are they dead set on killing again?

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've enjoyed the previous few books in the series and couldn't pass this one up.

My Impression:  I do love a good historical mystery and this series is proving to be one of the most reliable.  It's a bit darker then my usual reads without all the cozy vibes and quirky characters.  Instead the book is seriously atmospheric and the characters dip in and out of some of the most dangerous areas of London to investigate some pretty grisly crimes.  Both Sebastian and his wife, Hero are likable and sympathetic though both are familiar and deal in some of the darker areas of London.  From government corruption on the highest level to most basic mugging this book has a bit of everything.  Thankfully while the themes are darker then my normal reading and the crimes are more brutal Harris never goes into gory detail just for goriness which I really appreciate.

This is not a fast read.  While the first murder does happen within the first chapter it takes a lot of investigating for things to unravel.  That being said this isn't a slow read either.  A little bit more is revealed on each page.  Sebastian learns a little bit more or a new facet is revealed or a new theory is put out.  Pacing-wise this reminds me a bit of Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series which also does an excellent job of walking the line between detailed and atmospheric without diving into info dump.  

I really enjoyed this book and I love how Harris lets the world and the mystery slowly evolve.  This is one of those series that does get better the more you read it.  The characters are complicated and I feel like I've gotten to understand them a little bit better with each book.  I've only read the most recent few but I am looking forward to going back to the beginning and reading.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm really hoping to going back and reading the earlier books and will definitely grab the next one.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy detailed historical mysteries I think you'll really like this series.

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