Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday Linkups - A Tale of Two Kitties

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Do you follow other book blogs and if so, who are your top 3 bloggers?

My Answer:
Oh this is so hard!!  I follow lots of book bloggers and I love them all but in the spirit of the question here are 3 whose posts I always enjoy:

Carole's Random Life of Books - She reviews a wide variety of books and has the Books from the Backlog linkup every Thursday that I really enjoy

Kay's Reading Life - Kay reads so many mysteries spanning all genres and she's seriously dangerous to my TBR.  She also has a Bookish Nostalgia feature where she talks about books she was reading 20 years ago, 10 years ago and so on.  It's fun to get a look at some not quite as bright and shiny books.

Caffeinated Book Reviewer - Kim is one of the most dangerous book pushers around.  Plus, she runs the Sunday Post linkup which is one of my favorites.

This week's book is A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly.  This is a new series for me but one I've seen around for awhile.  I'm not usually drawn to cat centered cozies but I do love a punny title and this one is a pretty good one.  Plus, this one involves a twenty year old scandal and I always love a secrets of the past plot!

The Beginning:  
You'd think by now that it wouldn't bother me to step on a body in the middle of the kitchen floor, but I was in my sock feet and the body - missing its head, no surprise - was damp.

My Thoughts:
That's a pretty intense beginning for a cozy and the narrator is very nonchalant about finding a body in the kitchen.  Of course, the next sentence is - With cat slobber - so that explains all that.

The 56:
Roma smiled "I think I'm going to be a cat in my next life."

My Thoughts:
Sometimes that seems like a pretty god idea.

So what do you think?  Who are some of your favorite book bloggers?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Books from the Backlog - Cloaked in Malice

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!  Today's book is Cloaked in Malice by Annette Blair

Blurb:  There’s nothing Maddie loves more than fabulous vintage clothes, but the visions she gets while touching them are starting to wear her down. Even so, when a beautifully dressed girl comes to Vintage Magic in search of her past, Maddie isn’t about to turn her away, especially since she bears a striking resemblance to her good friend Dolly Sweet.

When Maddie touches Paisley Skye’s exquisitely crafted child’s cloak, the vision she receives is of the ugliest sort: a decades-old case of kidnapping and murder. To give herself more time to investigate, Maddie enlists the help of her FBI Agent boyfriend Nick and takes Paisley into her own home. But when Dolly suddenly skips town, Maddie realizes that uncovering the folds of Paisley’s past will reveal more than one vintage crime…

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  This is book 5 in a 6 book series.  I've read and enjoyed the other 4 so I'm only 2 books (and of course I own book #6 too) away from finishing this series.  Plus, it has ghosts and vintage clothes and mysteries so that's hard to pass up!

What are you thinking about pulling off the shelf today?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Death in the Stacks - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Lindsey Norris and her staff are gearing up for the Briar Creek Library's annual Dinner in the Stacks fund-raiser. The night of dinner and dancing is not only a booklover's dream--it's the library's biggest moneymaker of the year. But instead of raising funds, the new library board president is busy raising a stink and making the staff miserable.

Although Olive Boyle acts like a storybook villain, Lindsey is determined to work with her and make the event a success. But when Olive publicly threatens the library's newest hire, Paula, Lindsey cracks like an old book spine and throws Olive out of the library.

The night of the fund-raiser, Lindsey dreads another altercation with Olive--but instead finds Paula crouched over Olive's dead body. Paula may have secrets, but Lindsey and the rest of the crafternooners know she's not the one who took Olive out of circulation. As the plot thickens, Lindsey must catch the real killer before the book closes on Paula's future . . .

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
  This is one of my favorite series and I can never resist a book set in a library!

My Impression:
  I love this series and this book is one of those that really makes me remember why.  I brought this book with me when I was stuck in carline to pick up my son from school.  Sometimes I can find it hard to concentrate and half the time end up looking stuff up on my phone.  However, this was not the case with this one.  I was sad when I saw the cars starting to move because I'd have to put the book down!

Olive is such a great villain.  She's so awful but not so awful she's over the topo and unbelievable.  It's even explained how she's managed to succeed.  From the blurb I knew she was going to die and I was actually excited for it to happen.  This isn't one of those cases of "who would want to kill her".  This is a "who has the biggest motive to kill her" because EVERYONE wants to kill her and with pretty good reason.

The pacing was amazing.  I was swept in to this one and really didn't want to put it down but I didn't feel like it was rushed.  I changed my mind about the who just about every page and loved when it all finally came out.  While this is book 8 in the series I think you can jump in here without any problem.  While Lindsay and Sully's relationship has been a bit up and down it's not so complicated with issues that it's hard to follow.  Though if you're a regular reader of this series seeing a bit of a different side of Ms. Cole will be a special treat.  As well, characters from other series make an appearance.  If you don't know them it won't be confusing but if you do it's an extra bit of fun.  This was just a delight - perfect dive in, forget your problems, cuddle up with a blanket kind of reading!  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I want more from this series though in the meantime I need to start her Hat Shop series!

Would I Recommend this Book?
  Absolutely!  This was one of my favorite cozies so far this year.  You can dive in here without any problem but the rest of the series is pretty great.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

My Current Favorite Cozy Mystery Series

I love a good cozy mystery!  This year I've been lucky enough to try a lot of new to me series and have found so many that I really enjoy.  Here are a few I've been loving!

1.  Sophie Kimball Mysteries by J.C. Eaton - This series has a PI firm, crazy relatives, quick pacing, and just super fun mysteries!  The very first mystery involved a cursed book and things have only gotten better from there!

2.  Tourist Trap Mysteries by Lynn Cahoon - This is not a new favorite but it is a consistent favorite.  I like every book more than the last and I love checking up on the characters.

3.  Bakeshop Mysteries by Ellie Alexander - This is similar to the above series.  I've been reading it since the beginning and always enjoy it.  This is a series never ever to be read on an empty stomach.  The food descriptions are killer though they never get in the way of the actual killing.

4.  Cat in the Stacks Mysteries by Miranda James - This series has been around for ages but I'm a recent convert.  It has an almost gentle style to it.  I love having a librarian as the main character and a cat as a side kick.  And this Maine Coon cat is the side kick to end all side kicks.

5.  Auction Block Mysteries by Lorretta Ross - This series is definitely a cozy but it has a somewhat different feel than the rest I've mentioned.  Wren and Death (pronounced Deeth from Dorothy L. Sayers Wimsey mysteries) are such a great team.  I love Death's complicated back story and the mysteries that always have a touch of history.

6.   Kat Holloway Mysteries by Jennifer Ashley - This is historical mystery series all about a cook in a grand house.  There's some upstairs/downstairs back and forth and lots of mystery solving to be had.  I find the cooking in the 19th century talk almost as interesting as catching the killer!

7.  Blue Ridge Library Mysteries by Victoria Gilbert - This series is 2 books in and so far I'm loving it!  It has a librarian main character which I love and a professional ballet dancer/choreographer as a love interest which is fascinating.  This is another one where the mystery seems to have a little history mixed in and there is nothing I love better than a sleuth who is doing research!

8.  The Haunted Library Mysteries by Allison Brook - I mean how can this not be a favorite with the title of the series?  Library Mysteries and Haunted Mysteries are two of my favorite things and this has both!  Plus, a likable main character and a really solid mystery.

9.  The Country Club Murders by Julie Mulhern - This series has been a favorite for awhile and it really doesn't disappoint.  I love Ellison and her ability to tumble into mysteries.  Mulhern's clothing descriptions are glorious and the mystery keeps me guessing till the last page.

10. Liz Talbot Mysteries by Susan M. Boyer - This is another long time favorite and a series that I wish more people read.  I love a cozy that involves a PI and I love when the setting (Charleston in this case) is so vivid it almost becomes a character.  I'm always excited when I see a new book is coming out and I can only wish Boyer would write faster!

Do you read cozy mysteries?  Who are some of your favorites that I should try?

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Dark and Twisting Path - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating:  Good
Source: Publisher

Lena's best friend, Allison, is in a panic. On a walk in the woods by her home, Allison discovers the body of her mail carrier, an argumentative man who recently had a falling out with Allison's husband. Lena quickly realizes that Allison has nothing to worry about as the murder weapon points to a different suspect altogether: Lena's embattled boyfriend, Sam West.

Sam was cleared of his wife's murder when she was found alive, and now someone is trying to make him look guilty again. Surveillance video of a break-in at his house shows a shadowy figure trying to incriminate him by stealing the weapon from his desk. Lena and Camilla work on a suspect list, but a threatening note and a violent intrusion at Graham House prove that the devious killer has decided to write them into the plot.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
  I've been wanting to read this series since the first book came out so I couldn't resist this one.  Plus I love that there are dogs on the cover as well as the cat.

My Impression:
  Usually I find that you can jump in anywhere in a cozy mystery - especially with the early books.  This isn't really the case here.  There are some seriously complicated relationships and drama here that while I wasn't confused I think I would have been more invested in caring about it all if I had started from the beginning.

That said I did enjoy this.  I loved all the bits about writing and the relationship between Camilla and Lena.  The mystery was intriguing and there is a major plot that is continuing from the previous books that was also interesting.  I really was fairly clueless about the whos and whys until the end.  Every time I'd think I'd get it figured out I'd start to question myself or a new detail would be added that would throw me off and keep me wondering.

The pacing was well done though at times the dialogue could feel a bit awkward and stilted.  As well, Lena suffers a bit from being too perfect.  Everyone loves her and admires her and despite being in the most baggage filled relationship I've ever seen everything feels a little easy for her.  This could get a bit eye-rolly at times but not so bad that it took over the book.

I enjoyed this book though I think I would have enjoyed it a bit more if I'd started from the beginning.   Buckley's voice feels very unique and I did love the community she's built in this series.  As well the mystery was solid and not too easy to solve.  If you love a little writer's workshop mixed in with your murder try this series - just start with the beginning.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  I would and I'm looking forward to going back to the beginning.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you're a cozy lover I'd recommend this series though I'd definitely recommend starting at the beginning.  Luckily this is only book 3 so it won't add too many new books to your TBR!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

This Week in Reading - August 12

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:

A Vintage Death by Mary Ellen Hughes - This is the 2nd in the Keepsake Cove series that revolves around a woman who inherited a music box store.  I loved the 1st book and was so excited when I was approved for this one a few months ago BUT when I went to download it the Archive Date was put in wrong and it was already archived.  Luckily it was fixed just a couple days ago and I was able to get my copy.  (NetGalley)

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan - Sarah Morgan can be a bit hit or miss for me but this one involves sisters and spending Christmas in the Scottish Highlands.  Plus, the last book I read by her was a hit so I'm looking forward to this.  (Blog Tour)

Past Due for Murder by Victoria Gilbert - This Blue Ridge Library series is one of my favorites so I couldn't pass on this one - plus it doesn't come out until 2019 so it doesn't count.  (NetGalley)

Mrs. Jeffries and the Three Wise Women by Emily Brightwell - This is an insanely long running series that I've seen around for ages but somehow never read so I couldn't resist this one.  (Publisher)


Reading:  After Many Years by L.M. Montgomery and Lighthouse Beach by Shelley Noble

Listening:  I just finished up Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn and am next up on the hold list for my next one.

WatchingWorld of Dance on NBC.  I like the judges and everyone is really good and they're all just nice to each other.  Not Great British Bake-Off nice but still nice.  

Off the Blog:

This has been a rough week.  Last weekend when we dropped off our 13 year old dog Spots at the vet to be boarded while we were on vacation.  She seemed fine.  We had noticed she seemed a little slower but we kind of chalked it up to age.  She had gone a day or so without eating but that was because J had bought the wrong food and she was always the pickiest of eaters and she was eating treats so we figured everything was okay.  Except it wasn't.  It turned out she was in kidney failure.  She spent a few extra days at the vet getting fluids and everyone thought she was doing better - not healed but maybe at a sustainable level.  Except she wasn't.  And we had to say goodbye to her last weekend.  

We got her from a local shelter when she was a little puppy and no one could ever agree what all breeds she was.  She loved the vet and treats and walks and when the UPS guy dropped off a package she barked like she wasn't the toughest dog on the planet.  And even though she was 13 she always bounced and was always happy to be where we were.   We really thought we had longer so it's been a bit of a shock though I don't know it'd be any easier if we had time.  It's been a sad time around here and it's just strangely quiet - especially when the doorbell rings.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  A Dark and Twisting Path - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday:  My Ten Favorite Cozy Mystery Authors
Wednesday: Death in the Stack - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  Books from the Backlog
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  TBD

Happy reading!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Beautiful Exile - Historical Fiction Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Key West, 1936. Headstrong, accomplished journalist Martha Gellhorn is confident with words but less so with men when she meets disheveled literary titan Ernest Hemingway in a dive bar. Their friendship—forged over writing, talk, and family dinners—flourishes into something undeniable in Madrid while they’re covering the Spanish Civil War.

Martha reveres him. The very married Hemingway is taken with Martha—her beauty, her ambition, and her fearless spirit. And as Hemingway tells her, the most powerful love stories are always set against the fury of war. The risks are so much greater. They’re made for each other.

With their romance unfolding as they travel the globe, Martha establishes herself as one of the world’s foremost war correspondents, and Hemingway begins the novel that will win him the Nobel Prize for Literature. Beautiful Exiles is a stirring story of lovers and rivals, of the breathless attraction to power and fame, and of one woman—ahead of her time—claiming her own identity from the wreckage of love.

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:
  I love the time period and the setting and pretty much just everything about the blurb!

My Impression:
  Oh this book!  This was the first book I'd read by Meg Waite Clayton and it definitely won't be the last.  It was just so good and so readable and so different and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Historical fiction can be a bit tricky.  Sometimes if they stick too closely to the truth it becomes dry and slow paced but on the other had it can go the other way where it feels like the time and place is just window dressing and the story really could take place at anytime.  Clayton walks this line brilliantly.  The book never bogged down or became over detailed but at the same time when the chapter heading says Spain in 1937 it IS Spain in 1937.

Coming into this I knew a decent amount Ernest Hemingway and nothing at all about Martha Gellhorn.  I've always been fascinated by Hemingway.  He's not likable and his demons are so well developed they have their own baggage but he's interesting with blinding moments of brilliance and stunning selfishness.  I don't know that I really learned anything new about him here but it really brought alive what I've always thought about him.  Martha was the character I really enjoyed getting to know.  Prior to this I could only have said that her name was vaguely familiar but what an injustice that is to her!  She's brilliant and ambitious and shockingly daring but with enough insecurities to make her relatable.  Would I want to go to lunch with her?  Not really.  She can be abrasive and single minded and her patience for people who can't further her career or her goal can be minimal.  However, she's so unbelievably brilliant and fearless and the situations she charged into are so groundbreaking that in my mind she surpassed Hemingway on the list of people I find fascinating.

These aren't easy people and the events that are going around them aren't easy either yet it never felt overdone and reading it was never difficult.  It made me want to read more from Meg Waite Clayton as well as more about Martha Gelhorn, the Spanish Civil War and pretty much everything that gets mentioned in the book.    This is both incredibly informative and thoroughly entertaining and I so enjoyed getting to know Ernest and Martha even when I didn't always like them.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I'm already looking forward to reading her next book.  

Would I Recommend this Book?
  Definitely!  Especially if you enjoy historical fiction.