Tuesday, December 31, 2013

American Afterlife: Encounters in the Customs of Mourning - Review

American Afterlife: Encounters in the Customs of Mourning by Kate Sweeney

Rating:  5 Stars

Description:  Sweeney takes the reader through a tour of the history of mourning and funeral practices in the United States.  There are several interesting detours into the increase in cremation, memorial photography, roadside memorials, obituaries, and mourning clothes.  All the information is presented in a fascinating and logical manner.

Genre: Non-Fiction

My Impression:  I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book when I got it from Netgalley to review.  I've read a few books from medical examiners that talks about the body but this books talks specifically about how those remaining deal with death.  I was really surprised with how interesting and unusual the book was.  I kept reading bits of it aloud to those around me and mentioning it in conversation.  When you consider the topic of this book that's pretty impressive.  Sweeney presented a wide variety of information in a way that was both extremely informative and retainable.  I kind of feel like I'm an expert on funerary practices at the moment.  I'm not sure when that will come in handy but if you want to know the differences in handling grief over the last 100 years I'm your girl.  Sweeney is going on my short list of authors to keep an eye on.  If she managed to make the subject of death fascinating, non-morbid and non-judgmental she could probably make just about any subject fascinating.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Looking for Anne of Green Gables - Review

Looking for Anne of Green Gables by Irene Gammel

Rating: 1 Star

Description:  This book is supposed to be an in-depth look at both Montgomery herself and the people and events around her that influenced the writing of her most famous book Anne of Green Gables.

Genre: Non-Fiction

My Impression: I've read books where either the writing style or the subject matter didn't interest me. I've read books where the characters or their decisions irritated me.  Very rarely do I come across a book that I actually dislike intensely.  Unfortunately, Looking for Anne was on of those books but because I had read all of Montgomery's books this year I felt like I should finish it.  There were really 2 primary problems with the book.  The first is that I never warmed to Montgomery.  I've read her books since I was a child but never read much about the author herself other than the basic summary that is included in the back of the books.  I knew she had been raised by and then taken care strict elderly grandparents.  I knew she had married later in life.  However, it seems that Montgomery was stuck in a prolonged adolescent.  Her feelings were regularly gravely injured and she was jealous and clingy in the majority of her relationships.  How books like Rilla of Ingleside came from the person shown in journal entries is a mystery to me.  My second problem with this book is the basic writing style.  Several times throughout the book she halfway introduces someone and then says "We'll get back to them" but when the story comes around to them I only had about a half memory of who they were.  The book followed no logical layout and the overly dramatic style wasn't really held up by her discoveries.  The only good thing that resulted from this book is I now have zero interest in collecting Montgomery's journals.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Absolutely not

Would I Recommend this Book?: Again, absolutely not.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas on 4th Street - Review

Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  After surviving personal tragedy Noelle has come to Fool's Gold to start over.  She's opened her store The Christmas Attic and found friends and a community.  Gabriel has come to Fool's Gold to stay with his brother after an injury left Gabriel unable to work.  He's not looking forward to spending time with his somewhat estranged family so he when he hears Noelle is looking for help at the store he takes the job.  The usual romance story stuff follows

Genre:  Romance

My Impression:  My history with the Fool's Gold series is a little sketchy.  I liked the 1st book, only made it through 20 pages of book #2, liked books #3 and #4 with some pretty heavy reservations.  So when I saw this book on the new release shelf in the library I picked it up not quite knowing what to expect.  The story sounded interesting and Lisa had made it sound pretty good.  Also, I've always liked Mallery's writing style.  To my relief I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The story was sweet and I loved the main characters.  Noelle was tough and strong and very straightforward.  I loved how she dealt with Gabriel's withdrawing.  There were no games she just laid her opinion out on the table and was true to her feelings.  Fiona was a fun side character though I have very little interest in reading her story.  The part where they got snowed in with all the cats was pretty contrived but I did think the cat aspect was pretty funny.  I also enjoyed the side relationship between Gabriel and his parents.  This book provided good characters, a lovely setting and an entertaining plot.  What's not to love?

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes but I'm still going to be cautious about the Fool's Gold series

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Sunday, December 29, 2013

L.M. Montgomery Wrap Up

On December 26th I finished the last of L.M. Montgomery's 32 books.  I started the year of with the Story Girl in January and finished with At the Altar at the end of December.

Favorite Series: The Story Girl and The Golden Road.  This is the story of the King family and what the Disney series Avonlea was very loosely based on.  The characters are wonderful and flawed all at the same time.  The chapters of the first book use the title of the story that The Story Girl (otherwise known as Sara Stanley) tells during the chapter.  This is one of her best books and would be a fabulous read aloud book for a younger child.

Least Favorite Series: Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat.  I disliked both of these books intensely.  The character development was minimal at best.  Nothing actually happened except Pat wandering around complaining about change way past the point of healthy.  I was very very glad this series only took 2 books.

Favorite Stand Alone Book: The Blue Castle.  The main character in this book is an adult which is nice.  I liked Valancy and I loved watching her find her own identity.

Favorite Short Story Collection: Against the Odds. While I loved most of the short story collections the story of people overcoming adversities and ending up with the happiness they needed was very nice to read.

Book I'm Most Likely to Recommend: Rilla of Ingleside.  To me this book provided a look at life on the home front during World War 1 which is very rare.  I sobbed like a baby through most of the book but there is an interesting developed story here that I think even many of the Anne books are missing.

Montgomery is still one of my favorite authors even though that Pat series almost made me through in the towel.  All the dreaminess can get tedious but that makes characters like Jane and Valancy from Jane of Lantern Hill and The Blue Castle respectively all the more refreshing.  For the most part all of her books and short stories are nice old fashioned stories where good hard working people are justly rewarded in the end.  While that might not be the most exciting praise it makes for some nice reading.

Deadly Ambitions - Review

Deadly Ambition by Laura Bradford

Rating: 3 Stars

Description:  After a hurricane devastates reporter Elise Burn's hometown, Ocean Point on the Jersey Shore, she has done her best to encourage small business owners to reopen.  This hits a snag when a string of burglaries hits a number of businesses right before they reopen. When robbery turns to murder and Elise's obnoxious intern Ryan is found at the scene Elise suddenly has her hands full.

Genre: Mystery

My Impression:  This is the first book I've read by Bradford and while it was obvious that there were books before this one they were not necessary to understand the plot of this entry.  I loved Elise.  Her doubts about being up to the task felt realistic but at the same time she was smart and very logical.  I liked that Mitch was willing to listen and didn't treat her like an idiot.  The mystery itself wrapped up nicely and while I had a few guesses about what the ending would be it wasn't extremely obvious.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes definitely

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reunion with Death - Review

Reunion with Death by Sheila Connolly

Rating: 3 Stars

Description:  Laura Shumway was excited to go on a 40th college reunion trip with 40 of her college classmates in Italy.  She was looking forward to doing something for herself,  seeing the sights of Italy that she had studied as an Art History major and reconnecting with old classmates.  A dead former professor really didn't play a role in her vision.  Especially when it turned out that the dead former professor had a very sleazy past and may have been helped to his death.

Genre: Mystery

My Impression:  Connolly is one of my absolute favorite mystery authors.  I love both her orchard and museum series and read them as soon as I get them.  This book didn't really live up to her other books.  The pacing of the book didn't really keep me turning pages.  The ending itself while it explained what happened wasn't particularly satisfying.  Also, with 40+ characters it was hard to keep everyone straight and really understand their motives.  On the plus side, I did like Laura and Cynthia and the way the handled the investigation did make sense.  I always hate when people who have no business asking questions go running around being extremely nosy and nobody really seems to blink.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I might recommend the series but I would definitely recommend the author.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Not at full price but definitely if available on a Daily Deal or through the library.

*I received the book through NetGalley for review purposes.

Friday, December 27, 2013

L.M. Montgomery Short Story Collection Part 4

 With this review I have accomplished one of my 2 challenges for 2013.  I wanted to read all of L.M. Montgomery's books in 1 year and I finished up the last short story collection last night!

Among the Shadows
Rating: 4 Stars
This collection focuses on Montgomery's darker stories.  Many have a supernatural element and several discuss alcoholism and the effects of the addiction.  This was one of my least favorites.  While I liked several of the stories some of the morals seemed very outdated and a few were just way too long.

Christmas with Anne
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a selection of short stories and 2 excerpts (one from Anne of Green Gables and the other from Anne of Windy Poplars) all involving Christmas both in time period and spirit.  This is a delightful Christmas-y book and I'll probably read it every year around this time.

At the Altar
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a fun little book containing stories that all involve a wedding or proposal. The main characters range from children to comfortable middle age.  There is also a mix between new loves and reuniting.  The stories are sweet, many are funny and all are just nice.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ramshackle Glam: The New Mom's Haphazard Guide to (Almost) Having It All - Review

Ramshackle Glam: The New Mom's Haphazard Guide to Almost Having It All by Jordan Reid

Rating:  4 Stars

Description:  The creator of the blog Ramshackle Glam put together this guide after her son was born.  In it are short chapters, many in list form, that detail everything from stuff you must absolutely have with a newborn down to clothing choices for actually leaving the house when the newborn is here.

Genre: Parenting

My Impression:  I've read a ton of the humorous type new parent guides. Some I love, some I didn't but Reid's book is a little different.  This is not really a parenting guide.  There are some parenting tips about things like traveling with a baby, but the focus of the book is about how to be a new mother.  There are sections that talk about how to get dressed quickly and look okay, a realistic makeup routine so you don't look like a zombie, how to readjust your vision of yourself from pre-baby to post-baby, how to hold onto what you enjoy pre-baby and make it work post-baby.  She genuinely loves her son and is genuinely happy in her life but does some pretty honest reflection of how she got there.  I took it as a good sign that 20 pages into the book I looked up her blog and added it to my feedly list!  Jordan comes off as more real than most books of this type do.  This would be a great book for an expecting mother or even one with a newborn.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy - Review

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Rating:  4 Stars

Description:  Ophelia is a small girl with bad asthma who is trying to recover from the death of her beloved mother.  When her father gets a job curating an exhibit on swords in a town faraway where it always snows he takes Ophelia and her sister with him to distract them.  It is at the museum that Ophelia meets the Marvelous Boy and had to save the world.

Genre: Children's Literature

My Impression:  I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure story from Foxlee.  Ophelia is a tough logical little girl who has doubts about the whole magic thing.  She handles her adventures pretty nonchalantly and always uses her brain.  There were a few pretty obvious points that probably would've been figured out quicker in an adult book but I thought the speed was just about right for children.  This would be a wonderful book for anyone who loves the Narnia books.  In my opinion it's geared for a younger crowd than Percy Jackson or Harry Potter.  I would think a 2nd or 3rd grader would enjoy it and it would be a good read aloud book for even younger.  There is some pretty dark imagery but it's not heavily focused on.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes Definitely!

*Received from NetGalley for review purposes

Saturday, December 21, 2013

L.M. Montgomery's Short Story Collection Part 3

The third review of Montgomery's short story collections is about Along the ShoreAkin to Anne and The Road to Yesterday.                                                                                                                                                                                         I rated all 5 stars.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Along the Shore consists of a collection of short stories involving the sea.  This is probably one of Montgomery's darkest collections. There are a few that have tragic endings such as a "The Waking of Helen" and "Mackereling Out in the Gulf".  Some are about people overcoming odds or reuniting with old loves and a two are pretty much copied straight out of the Anne books.                                                                                                                                                                                                 Akin to Anne is her shortest collection and one of my favorites.  Most of are over the top sweet with people being reunited with long lost relatives or family friends.  Most involve a substantial increase in fortune but of course that's not the most important thing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Road to Yesterday  is kind of the last of the Anne books.  All have some mention of the Blythe family and in some Anne has a starring role.  I loved the ones that were set years after the Anne books ended and dealt with Anne's grandchildren.  How perfect that Jem and Faith names a child after Walter and that Rilla and Kenneth had a son named Gilbert.  It was a lovely way to check in on the family and the stories were fun on their own as well.                                                                   

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Mysteries by MacLeod, Sanders, et.al - Review

Christmas Mysteries by Various Authors

Rating: 3 Stars

Description: This is a collection of 13 stories - 10 Christmas and 3 New Year's - from a large selection of authors.  Some are classic mystery writers and some are much newer.  Most are American but a few are British.  All take place around Christmas/New Year's though most have very little to do with the actual holiday.

My Impression: These were excerpts and not short stories so there was no complete plot with the exception of the Charlotte MacLeod story.  It was a nice way to get to know a number of different authors.  I've been a long time fan of Patricia Wentworth and Dorothy Sayers but it's been years since I read Charlotte MacLeod so it was nice to be reminded of her.  I will probably also be searching out other books from Jane Langton and Gillian White.  I did not care for Ellery Queen or Lawrence Sanders though.

*This book was obtained free from Netgalley for review purposes.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

College Cooks by T.C. Stephens - Review

College Cooks by T.C. Stephens

Rating: 3 Stars

Description: This cookbook was written by 4 roommates whose food knowledge, cooking and grocery shopping abilities had evolved during their years at college.  This is a compilation of everything they've learned.  There is a mix of food basics, food safety, how to grocery shop with a good number of basic recipes.

Genre - Cookbook

My Impression: I'm a pretty experienced cook now but at 22 I could just barely boil water.  Even now there are basics I'm completely missing because I'm completely self taught and no one ever told me how to fry an egg.  This cookbook is definitely not designed for me now but the 22 year old me would've benefited from this book immensely.  The recipes are fine - there's a mix of pasta, sandwiches, salad, main dishes, side dishes and desserts.  Some involve more prepared food than others.  Most look pretty good but they're not ground breaking.  The part that I really found interesting were the sections on food safety and things to stock up on.  I also like that before many of the food sections they break down the basics of that item.  Before the salad recipes they talk about the basics of building a salad, before the breakfast recipes they talk about all the different ways to cook an egg and give instructions.  There are also lots of tips sprinkled throughout for things like how to substitutions (for example substituting frozen shrimp for fresh) that would be useful.  This is not a book designed  for the experienced cook but for someone just out on their own this would be great.

Would I Recommend This Book?:  Yes definitely. This may be part of what I give my kids after they graduate from college.

*This book was received from Netgalley for review purposes.

Is a Worry Worrying You? by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz with Illustrations by Marie LeTourneau - Review

Is A Worry Worrying You? By Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz with Illustrations by Marie LeTourneau

Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Is a Worry Worrying You? is a book designed to help children deal with worry.  Most of the book presents outlandish problems ("Suppose a bald eagle makes a nest in your tangled hair", "You find out that your new teacher is a bear") and a few more realistic problems (a friend skins her knees and is afraid she can't go to a party, your uncle who has a scary voice is coming to visit).  After presenting the problem there is an acknowledgement that this is a worry and a solution is presented. The last few pages are different methods you can use to get rid of any worry and ends with an encouragement.

Genre: Children's

My Impressions: This book is geared towards the early elementary crowd.  I'm not sure my 3 year old would get much out of it and the pictures may be a little dark for him.  That being said I think this would be a really great book if you have a 5 to 8 year old who spends too much time getting caught up in worries.  This would've been a great book for my daughter at that age.  I like the mix of silly and solutions and I think it could be something you could reference when talking with a child after you had read the book.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, to anyone with a child who gets overly stressed or upset about little things.  It'd be good perspective.

*This book was received from Netgalley for review purposes.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis - Review

It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  Things are going from bad to much much worse for florist, Ali Winters.  First she discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her, then she finds out via text message that he is dumping her and that he didn't renew the lease on their shared house so she needs to be out yesterday, then the actual owner of said house shows up and catches her in a somewhat embarrassing situation and then now ex-boyfriend shows up with the police and accuses her of stealing $50,000 from a fundraiser.
The owner of the house, Luke Hanover, isn't having a great day either.  He's fled San Francisco to the house his grandmother left him in Lucky Harbor to get away from the guilt and media attention after a high profile homicide case went horribly wrong.  He's really not looking to face his family demons and he's definitely not looking to get involved with cute but chaotic Ali Winters.

Genre: Romance

My Impression:  This series seems to actually be getting better with time.  I loved all the characters.  Ali was cute, friendly and smart.  She had her baggage but she genuinely tries to make the best of things.  Luke feels that he has let everyone in his life down and while it's not true it's reasonable that he would feel this way. The only negative is that I thought Sawyer, who was a main character in book #3, kind of looks like a jerk.  This was disappointing because I had really liked him.  Shalvis does a good job of making this feel like a series without having to have the walk through of every character who ever appeared in past books.  The characters that are mentioned have a logical reason for being in the story and don't just weight it down with an over-large and confusing cast list.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes!  The next one's about a pastry chef and is already on my bookshelf waiting for me.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Coming Home by Mariah Stewart - Review

Coming Home by Mariah Stewart

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  This is the first book in the Chesapeake Diaries series.  Vanessa and Grady both have rocky pasts and prefer to stay unattached. However, when her brother marries his sister in the idyllic little coastal Maryland town of St. Dennis they find themselves spending a lot of time together and actually liking it.  When Vanessa's demons come back for a visit Grady must reevaluate the decisions he's made for is future.

Genre: Romantic Suspense

My Impression:  When I ordered this book from Paperback Swap the sender contacted me to recommend that I order the rest of the series too and I'm glad I did!  I've read quite a bit of Stewart's books in the past ane always enjoyed them. This is a little heavier on the romance with a lighter touch of supense then previous books which I didn't find a bad thing.  I loved the main characters and the side characters and am really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.  The main negative with this book is that Grady is a member of the family that Stewart's Last series focused on.  While I read all of the Last books it's been awhile and I don't remember all of the characters.  I spent more of the book than I wanted to trying to remember how Grady's brother met his wife and so on.  I"m really looking forward to reading the next one in the series and I'm very glad I have the next 4 sitting there waiting for me.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes definitely!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes especially for those who like a small town/community feel

Monday, December 9, 2013

December TBR Pile

So I have 18 books to read this December.  It's not impossible but it definitely could be better.  I will definitely need to manage my time better next year.  So this is what I'll be reading by December 31st to make my goal of 130 books in 2013.

1.  Akin to Anne
2.  Road to Yesterday
3.  Along the Shore
4.  Among the Shadows
5.  At the Altar
6.  Christmas with Anne
7.  Looking for Anne of Green Gables - Irene Gammel
8.  Coming Home - Mariah Stewart
9.  Slices of Life - Leah Eskin
10. Christmas Mysteries: A Sampler - Various
11. It Had to Be You - Jill Shalvis
12.  Reunion with Death - Sheila Connolly
13.  Ramshackle Glam - Jordan Reid
14.  Deadly Ambition - Laura Bradley

So far I've read #1 and #8.  I'm at least 50 pages into #2, #7, #9, and #11.  It's really a good thing that TV is going to mostly reruns and Christmas specials because I can get a little more reading done in the evening.  The last week of December may be a mad dash but I'm quite sure I'll get them all read!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

November TBR Wrap Up

So at the beginning of this month I said that if I didn't get all 15 books read December was going to be crazy.  I got 11 read... That leaves 18 books to read before I can reach my goal of 130 for the year.  6 of those are short story collections but it's still going to be busy.

What I Read in November:
1.  Chronicles of Avonlea
2.  Further Chronicles of Avonlea
3.  Against the Odds
4. After Many Days
5. The Doctor's Sweetheart
6.  Across the Miles
7.  What a Ghoul Wants - Victoria Laurie
8.  Crystal Cove - Lisa Kleypas
9.  A Night to Surrender - Tessa Dara
10.  Fire Engine Dead - Sheila Connolly
11.  Book Line and Sinker - Jenn McKinlay
12.  ?
13.  ?
14.  ?
15.  ?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Book, Line and Sinker by Jenn McKinlay - Review

Book, Line and Sinker by Jenn McKinlay

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  In this 3rd entry in McKinlay's library series treasure hunters have come to Briar Creek, Connecticut.  The town is divided between wanting the jobs and tourists that unearthing pirate treasure could provide and wanting to maintain the pristine environment on the surrounding islands.  When the Tourism Director and driving force in getting the treasure hunters to come to Briar Creek is found dead suspicion is everywhere.  Lindsey Norris, the local librarian, has enough on her hands with all this chaos plus regular library business when her ex-fiance shows up in town to try and get back together.

Genre: Mystery

My Impression:  I love this series and this book was as enjoyable as could be expected.  This is in the cozy mystery genre so there are some plot holes and the ending was a little rushed.  One thing I like is that Lindsey is neither completely perfect or the expert on everything but also isn't so hung up on flaws or issues she can't see anything else which so often happens in this type of book.  I didn't love the ending with Sully but I suspect it will all get worked out in the next book.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes.  I'm on the waiting list for the next book in this series and I have most of her cupcake series waiting for me.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare - Review

A Night To Surrender by Tessa Dare

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  Susanna is none to thrilled when wounded soldier, Victor Bramwell, and several of his men come marching into the sanctuary for ladies known as Spindle Cove.  She is even less thrilled when her father announces that Bramwell is the new Earl of Rycliff and will be staying in town to assemble a militia with all the men in town.  For his part Bramwell just wants to get back to the battlefield and hopes that winning over Susanna's father will be a stepping stone to that.  However, he can't help but be attracted to the smart and spirited Susanna.  Things get interesting when they end up having to work together for the good of the town and possibly themselves.

Genre: Romance

My Impression:  This was a new author for me and I was pretty impressed with Dare's characters.  Susanna is smart and able to speak her mind without being over-prickly or sensitive.  She has her issues but hasn't let them take over her life.  Bramwell impressed me a little less.  He was obsessed with getting back on the battlefield to the point of letting it overtake almost everything else.  It kind of became all there was of his character.  He wanted to get back to active fighting and oh yeah he thought Susanna was attracted.  I loved how the story worked out and really believe these two could get their HEA.  I'm also excited about how Spindle Cove is set up.  I'm looking forward to spending more time in the town and with the interesting characters that Dare has come up with.  Also, I LOVED beyond reason that Bramwell ended up with a lamb called Dinner.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Christmas to Remember by Jill Shalvis et. al. - Review

A Christmas to Remember by Jill Shalvis, Kristen Ashley, Hope Ramsay, Molly Cannon, Marilyn Pappano

Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: Romance

Summary: This is a collection of 5 short stories followed by excerpts from each author's latest book.

Jill Shalvis's story is entitled "Dream a Little Dream" this story is about Ian, a fire fighter, and his long term friend/friend with benefits Melissa.  Ian and Melissa had recently ended whatever relationship they had but that didn't matter when Melissa's apartment building goes up in flames with her inside it.  Can this damaged couple find their way back together and rediscover their joy in the season?

Kristen Ashley's story "Every Year" involves 2 brothers, Shy and Landon, who are spending their first really good Christmas with Shy's girlfriend's family.

Hope Ramsay tell the story of a mother and infant in very desperate circumstances who end up in just the right barn on Christmas Eve in "Silent Night"

Molly Cannon starts off with a professional organizer turning up on the doorstep of a not so organized single guy in "Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas."

The collection wraps up with Marilyn Pappano's "A Family for Christmas" which tells the story of a doctor who has agreed to spend 2 years in a small town and finds himself spending a lot of time with the town's favorite elf Ilena and her little boy.

My Impression:  I probably liked Shalvis's story the best of the 5.  I thought she made a smart decision in writing about a couple that already had history.  I liked that they each had something to give each other and that they had so much of a backstory.  The stories by Cannon, Ramsay and Pappano were all good but involved strangers meeting and falling madly and permanently in love in a very short period of time.  This is something I really dislike in most romance short stories.  Despite that, these were 3 entertaining and Christmas-y stories.  I especially like the story by Pappano which is set in a small town full of likable people.  I can easily see several books coming from the "Margarita girls" that get mentioned in the book.  I'm definitely going to hunt more of her books up.  The main flaw in this series was Ashley's story.  I'm really not sure what it was really about and to be honest nothing about it interested me enough to reread it to figure it out.  It involved a large family that all had an assortment of nicknames and 2 brothers who hadn't come from good situations.  I think this is a continuation of one of her full length books but nothing about the story made me want to read any more of Ashley's work.

*I received this book through Netgalley for review purposes.

Fire Engine Dead by Sheila Connolly - Review

Fire Engine Dead by Sheila Connolly

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  In an ironic twist the storage building containing the Fire Museum's collection burn.  Included in the collection was an antique fire engine donated by the grandfather of one of the biggest donors to the Philadelphia Antiquarian Society.  When the donor demands Nell look into the what happened to the fire engine Nell can't really say no.  It quickly becomes apparent that things aren't quite as they seem.

Genre: Mystery

My Impression:  I always enjoy Connolly's writing and her museum series is no different.  I get a little extra fun out of this series because I worked at a museum for 7 years and the discussions of staffing, funding and collection worries is very familiar.  The mystery is the central issue of the book but there is some space given to Nell's dealing with her staff and new hires and her developing (slowly) relationship with FBI agent James.  The mystery came to a satisfactory conclusion though it did feel a little rushed.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes, the author and series are some of my favorites

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas - Review

Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas

Rating: 2 Stars

Description:  Justine has found happiness running a small inn on Friday Harbor but relationships just don't seem to work out for her.  When she falls back on her hereditary witchcraft to help her find love she learns that she has been cursed.  Jason Black has built an gaming empire while managing to stay almost completely out of the public eye.  He discovered years earlier that he has no soul.  When he and Justine meet while Jason is staying at the inn sparks fly but is it possible for anything else to happen?

Genre:  Romance

My Impression:  This was by far the most disappointing book of November.  I have loved the previous 3 books of this series and while the description didn't really grab me I had no hesitation about reading it.  Justine had been a fairly big character in books #2 and #3 and I had really liked her.  She was smart and a bit cynical while still retaining a sense of humor and was basically a nice person.  I don't know what happened to her because in book 4 she was oversensitive and spineless and spent most of her time blushing hotly.  Jason was extremely reserved and very very controlling.  He pretty much treated Justine like a helpless child from the beginning and she was okay with it.  There was a very strong 50 Shades of Grey feel to this book complete with an odd and out of character bondage scene.  It also contained one of my least favorite plot devices - the hidden agenda.  Kleypas's books are usually my favorites but this one I could hardly finish.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes.  With the exception of this book Kleypas has been one of the most consistent authors I've read and I've loved the series up until now.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  No not at all.

Monday, December 2, 2013

L.M. Montgomery Short Story Collection Part 2

After Many Days - this is one of the first short story collections from Montgomery that I ever read.  All the stories revolve around time passing.  Sometimes they're children adopted or otherwise or siblings coming back after making good.  Sometimes they're couples being reunited after a long period of time.

Across the Miles - these stories all involve letters. There are several involving pen pal type relationships, one or two that involve letters from the past and at least one that has someone switching letters so that people don't necessarily get letters they're supposed to get but do get the one that they need to get.

Both of these collections were sweet and old fashioned.  While they're not necessarily fine literature they are a fun break and I thoroughly enjoyed both books.  I gave each of them 5 star ratings.

The Doctor's Sweetheart is a little different.  There is no theme to the stories and the title comes from one of the longer stories in the collection.  This feels like where the editor decided to put all the stories that didn't fit into the other books.  Unfortunately, many of these were stories written very early in her career and they were a bit slow going.  While I didn't dislike the stories I definitely didn't get the same level of enjoyment out of this one.  I ended up rating it 3 stars.

Monday, November 25, 2013

L.M. Montgomery Short Story Collection Reviews - Part 1

I'm going to review the remaining 12 Montgomery books in sets of 3.  These are all short story books and most were compiled in the late 1980s to mid 1990s.  Many aspects of these stories show up in her full length books and she reusues many names.
I rated all 3 of these books 5 stars.

Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea are the 2 exceptions to that.  They were both compiled by Montgomery and published in the 20s and 30s.  There really isn't a common theme to these two other than that all the stories take place in or around Avonlea.  Anne makes small appearances in all of them.  Sometimes she is just mentioned, other times she is an actual side character and in one she is the narrator.  I enjoyed all the stories in Chronicles and most of the stories in Further Chronicles.  They're nice little old fashioned stories.  Feuds are had and made up, the good and honest are rewarded and the vain or unjust have their eyes opened.  The only dark spot was in Further Chronicles the final story - Tannis of the Flats.  The language and beliefs are so racist and dated it is hard to identify with.

Against the Odds is one of the more recent additions to the Montgomery books.  These stories were originally published separately in different magazines and Rea Wilmshurst compiled them.  The stories in the book are about people overcoming odds either financial, family or environmental.  This collection is probably one of my favorites.  The stories are predictable - good get rewarded - but it's still enjoyable reading.

Monday, November 18, 2013

November TBR List

1.  Chronicles of Avonlea
2.  Further Chronicles of Avonlea
3.  Against the Odds
4. After Many Days
5. The Doctor's Sweetheart
6.  Across the Miles
7.  What a Ghoul Wants - Victoria Laurie
8.  Crystal Cove - Lisa Kleypas
9.  Looking for Anne of Green Gables - Irene Gammel
10.  ?
11.  ?
12.  ?
13.  ?
14.  ?
15.  ?

So 6 Montgomery short story collections, a biography on Montgomery herself, a mediocre ghost mystery and the 4th in a contemporary romance series that I've really enjoyed.  Then 6 more.  If I want to hit both my total book # goal and my Montgomery goal for 2013 I need to stick to this list or December's going to be a very challenging month!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What a Ghoul Wants by Victoria Laurie - Review

What a Ghoul Wants by Victoria Laurie

Rating: 3 Stars

Description:  Medium M.J. Holliday and the rest of the crew of the show Ghoul Getters find themselves at an extremely haunted castle in Wales.  When M.J. and Heath have a near death experience at the hands of the castle's Grim Widow and other castle guest start showing up dead in the moat is it possible to get rid of the nasty spirit, get the footage they need to keep their show going, and leave the castle alive?

Genre: Mystery

My Impression: I've always found Laurie's books to be really fun though not necessarily the best written.  However, in both of her series the slightly annoying side character has become a REALLY annoying side character.  By about halfway through this one I absolutely could not understand why M.J. had not packed Gilley up and sent him back to the U.S. or given him to the widow.  There was absolutely nothing redeemable about him whatsoever.  Laurie also has a tendency to make her lead characters know everything about everything and it definitely got to be a little much in this book.  Find a strange button on the ground?  Don't worry M.J. is a button expert, need advice on running a castle turned hotel in Wales?  Don't worry M.J. knows all about that.  Need to solve a non-ghost related murder?  M.J. once again to the rescue.  It got a little old to say the least.  The second half of the book improved a bit and even though the conclusion was a little hurried I thought it was an interesting way to explain everything both on a ghost and non-ghost level.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I probably shouldn't since the last few have annoyed me so much but I probably will end up at least trying them.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  No, not really unless you really LOVE hauntings.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Magic for Marigold by L.M. Montgomery - Review

Magic for Marigold by L.M. Montgomery

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  Marigold Lesley is born shortly after her the death of her father and spends weeks unnamed as her mother is very ill.  When Marigold falls ill the Lesley clan is in a panic lest the child die unnamed.  They finally decide to name her after the doctor who saves her - a woman named Marigold.  The rest of the book is about the adventures Marigold has throughout her childhood.

Genre: Children/Classic

My Impression: This was a sweet little stand alone but definitely not my favorite.  Marigold is an usual Montgomery child because she is dearly loved and has a pretty charmed life.  Marigold is an imaginative little girl who spends quite a bit of time with imaginary friends in imaginary lands.  It's a fun sweet little book but not much of it really stuck with me.  Marigold is the youngest character and by the end she's only about as old as Anne was at the start of Anne of Green Gables.  This book I think is definitely geared more towards a younger reading audience.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Probably not though it would be a good read aloud book for a little girl.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Most Scandalous Proposal by Ashlyn MacNamara

A Most Scandalous Proposal by Ashlyn MacNamara

Rating: 3 Stars

Description:  When her parents and the Earl of Clivesden plot to marry her off to said Earl Julia is lucky to have her childhood friend Benedict Revelstoke on her side.  Not only is the Earl of Clivesden not someone Julia wants to marry he is also the very man her older sister Sophia has been in love with for the last 5 years.  Then Sophia finds herself in a compromising situation with the Earl of Highgate and has to agree to his proposal.

Genre:  Historical Romance

My Impression:  This book wasn't quite what I expected.  It was definitely more of an ensemble cast than a leading couple than any other romance I've read in the past.  I spent quite awhile wanting to shake both of them.  Benedict is obviously in love with Julia and even though people tell her that it doesn't really seem like it occurs to her to do anything about it until she gets really and truly backed into a corner.  Highgate is obviously the perfect man for Sophia but she's so busy pining for Clivesden who not only has never really acknowledged her but also seems to be a truly awful person.  Her love for Clivesden seemed very adolescent crush and got a bit tiresome.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Probably though the reviews and plot summary of the next one didn't really interest me.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

October Reading Wrap Up

1.  Blue Castle - L.M. Montgomery
2.  A Tangled Web - L.M. Montgomery
3.  Jane of Lantern Hill - L.M. Montgomery
4.   Magic for Marigold - L.M. Montgomery
6. Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin (library loan)
7. The White Cottage Mystery - Margery Allingham - Kindle book loan from the Amazon Kindle Library
8. Rainshadow Road - Lisa Kleypas
9. Dream Lake - Lisa Kleypas
10. Dead and Berried - Karen MacInerney
11. Spit, Scary Ann and Sweat Bees - Kathryn Tucker Windham
12. The Tao of Martha - Jen Lancaster
13. A Most Scandalous Proposal - Ashyln MacNamara

This month wasn't great but was at least better than last month.  I got 12 books read.  2 of them were library books, 1 book read on the Kindle and all of the Montgomery stand alone books read.

Favorite book of the month - Spit, Scary Ann and Sweat Bees by Kathryn Tucker Windham.  This was a lovely little book with photos and stories about superstitions and childhood in a little Alabama town in the 20s and 30s.

Most Disappointing Book:  The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster - I was kind of expecting a mix of Julie and Julia and The Happiness Project and it just wasn't.  It wasn't a bad book but it wasn't what I thought it was going to be.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster - Review

The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster

Rating: 3 Stars

Description:  While frantically looking for something in her home Jen Lancaster realized that her levels of clutter and chaos were detracting from her life.  After talking about resolutions for the new year she decided to spend the year living like Martha.

Genre: Memoir

My Impression:  I was so excited when I stumbled upon this book while browsing what my library had under the subject "Martha Stewart".  I've been obsessed with Martha the last couple of weeks for reasons I can't quite figure out.  The summary of this book read like the books The Happiness Project (which Lancaster actually references) and Julie and Julia had a baby with a sense of humor.  I was somewhat disappointed with what I found.  Unlike The Happiness Project there are no clear goals or set ideas Lancaster's working towards.  She mentions living like Martha but there's not much explanation for how she does it.  The vagueness of the whole thing kind of bugged me.  Also, there's a lot about her dog.  For most of the book I was wondering why she dragged Martha into the book at all because the book seemed to be mostly about her beloved dog Maisy being in the last stages of life.  While those parts were sweetly done it wasn't what I wanted from this book.  The parts where she does talk about copying Martha either for party planning or cooking I found very interesting but unfortunately these parts feel few and far between.  This book wasn't bad and if I had read any of Jen Lancaster's other books and really loved her I probably would've gotten more out of it.  However, I was looking for a book about a normal person trying Martha Stewart's methods and this just wasn't it.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  No

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Only to someone who really loved Lancaster's previous books.  I wouldn't say don't read it but it definitely isn't a "You have to go out and get this book right now!"

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery - Review

Jane of Lantern Hill

Rating: 5 Stars

Description:  Jane has lived in the unhappy house at 60 Gay Street with her adored mother and mean spirited grandmother for as long as she can remember.  She has spent most of her life feeling stupid and clumsy, being compared unfavorably to her cousin and believing her father is dead.  That belief gets a nasty shake when a classmate teases her that Jane's parents don't live together and its all Jane's fault.  Then one day summons come from her father for Jane to spend the summer with him on Prince Edward Island.

Genre: Children's Classic

My Impression:  This is one of Montgomery's classic stories where a girl finds her confidence and comes into her own.  The main difference between this and many of Montgomery's other stories is that Jane not only comes from a family of status and means but is very much loved by both her parents.  Jane is a nice bright girl with a very practical way of thinking.  She isn't given to massive flights of fancy or spending much time living in an imaginary world.  Out of all Montgomery's lead characters Jane is the one I'd most like to have as a friend (though Gilbert runs a very close second).

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Spit, Scarey Ann, and Sweat Bees by Kathryn Tucker Windham - Review

Spit, Scarey Ann, and Sweat Bees by Kathryn Tucker Windham

Rating: 5 Stars

Description:  This is a short, prettily bound book that focuses on the superstitions that surrounded Kathryn Tucker Windham as she was growing up in a small Alabama town in the 1920s and 30s.

Genre: Memoir

My Impression:  I love Windham's books and this is no exception.  Reading this is a bit like sitting with my grandmother as she tells stories about her childhood.  Not sure how this would translate to people who didn't grow up in the south but for those that did there's a magical quality.  I was very excited to find a copy of this in a local bookstore and even more pleased that it contained mostly new to me stories and pictures.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Always

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes

Friday, October 25, 2013

The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham - Review

The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham

Rating: 2 Stars

Description:  When Jerry, the son of Chief Inspector Challenor, gives a pretty girl a ride home he doesn't expect much to come of it.  However, shortly after dropping the girl off he and his father end up back at the girl's home investigating a murder.  It'd be easier to list the people who didn't want to kill the murdered man then those who don't but Chief Inspector Challenor struggles on to find out what happened.

Genre: Mystery

My Impression:  The best I can say about this book was that I didn't dislike it.  It didn't particularly interest me but it wasn't a chore to read.  It helped that it was short.  Unfortunately, I found this book completely forgettable.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  I may try one of her Campion books but I'm not hunting one up anytime soon.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  No

Monday, October 21, 2013

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin - Review

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

Rating: 3 Stars
Description:  A little while after writing The Happiness Project Gretchen Rubin was hit with a wave of homesickness in her own home.  She spent the next 9 months trying to make her home more homey.

Genre:  Self-Help

My Impression:  Ehh.  I got a lot out of The Happiness Project so I was really looking forward to reading about her next project.  I was pretty disappointed by this one though.  I found the first 3 chapters useful but after that it was kind of same old same old.  This book felt like kind of a stretch - like the publisher was pushing for a new book so this was thrown together when there really wasn't enough new information.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes though I'll probably wait until I could get it from the library.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  No.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dead and Berried by Karen MacInerney - Review

Dead and Berried by Karen MacInerney

Rating: 2 Stars

Description:  Natalie has enough on her plate running her inn on Cranberry Island in Maine without an annoying guest, a disappearing housekeeper, a collection of cats, a reappearing ex-fiance, a falling out with her best friend and a murdered minister.  Can she keep her relationship with John afloat, figure out what happened to Polly, keep her annoying guest from running her out of business and keep Charlene from being arrested for murder?

Genre: Mystery

My Impression:  There are aspects of this book I liked.  Natalie is nice and doesn't make to stupid to live choices, the atmosphere of the island and the food seem amazing.  The small subplot involving the history of the inn and a potential ghost were right up my alley but it was a little random and seemed like just extra filler for the book.  Natalie desperately needs to find a new friend.  Charlene is just an awful person and flat out mean to her.  She's definitely not someone to be counted on when things go wrong for Natalie yet expects Natalie to save the day when things go wrong for Charlene.  There was also a lot of clutter in the book.  There was a lot of time taken up with Candy and Benjamin but nothing came of it except for a lot of wasted energy.  As for the ending I was surprised but I wasn't satisfied.  The end seemed kind of hectic and last minute.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Possibly, I have 3 in book form and 4 on the kindle but I probably wouldn't seek them out.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  No  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Explanation of Rating System

As I was finishing a mystery last night I found myself wrestling with how to rate it.  I wasn't really enjoying it but I didn't hate it so 2 stars?  But it was surprisingly readable and there were aspects of the book I did like so 3 stars?  But was it as good as other books I've rated 3 stars in the past?   Should it keep company with books that were flawed but that I ultimately enjoyed?  That's when I realized that I never really spelled out my reasoning for awarding stars.  So to lay the ground rules for the whole star system I decided to really spell it out so there would be no more debating and figuring:

1 Star: There probably won't be very many of these.  Books that I hate won't generally make it past the 50 page mark so they're won't be a review it all.  However, there is the occasional book that I finish that I can't say anything positive about but I keep reading with the hope that they will improve.  This is generally due to an author who is supposed to be very popular or a classic.  Examples of 1 star books are The Rubber Band by Rex Stout and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James

2 Stars: A book where the flaws overwhelm the positive but there are still some positives about it.  It's a book that I didn't hate but spent a lot of time being annoyed with it.  A 2 star rating doesn't mean I won't read another book by that author but the author is probably only getting 1 more chance from me.  Examples of 2 star books are Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers - one of the few books where I felt that the movie was way better than the book but was still somewhat entertaining - and How to Moon a Cat by Rebecca M. Hale - which is a series that intrigues me but ended up being a messy over-complicated overpopulated book.
3 Stars:  This is a book that I enjoyed but didn't really stand out making for a pretty forgettable book.  Or a book that I really enjoyed but had a handful of annoyances or pet peeves that spoiled parts of the book.  An example of the forgettable book would be Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates.  This was a fun book that I enjoyed reading but I only have a vague memory of the plot.  An example of the pet peeve book would be Sacred Sins by Nora Roberts.  There was a lot about the book I really loved but Ben was such a jerk it dropped this down to 3 stars.

4 Stars:  This is a little harder to explain and is another category with 2 reasons for getting there.  The first is a book that I really really enjoyed but just doesn't call out to be reread or is a little light weight or fluffy feeling.  Pretty much any of Jennie Bentley, Sheila Connolly or Nora Roberts books fall into this category.  I always wait anxiously for a new one and thoroughly enjoy them while reading them but am never motivated to keep them.  The second reason is a book I would really consider a perfect book except for 1 aspect that either spoils it a little or doesn't fit.  Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas and When Beauty Tamed the Beast were books I absolutely loved but had endings that ended up letting me go a little cold on them.

5 Stars: This one's pretty easy.  This is a book I absolutely love and could either reread on a regular basis or are books that are deeply moving.  Most of L.M. Montgomery, Kathryn Tucker Windham and Elizabeth Enright books fall into this category for me as does The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.  There are a handful of "Keeper Shelf" romances on this list like Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas, Three Fates by Nora Roberts and The Secret Diary of Miss Miranda Cheever.  There are also a few Agatha Christies and the occasional food based book.  There are also books that I don't necessarily want to reread but could discuss enthusiastically at any given moment like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery - Review

A Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  Over the years 60 Darks have married 60 Penhallows leaving a confusing web of Penhallow and Dark families.  The family matriarch, Aunt Becky calls the mass of Penhallows and Darks together for one last gathering before her death to hand out her worldly possessions including the famous family heirloom the Dark jug.  During the party she announces embarrassing past incidents that most of the family would rather be forgotten and has her usual too truthful sharp observations but the biggest bombshell of all is that ownership of the Dark jug won't be revealed until a year after her death.  This book is the story of that year.  Relationships are altered irrevocably either for better or worse and the whole family waits for the year to be up.

Genre: Children's Classic

My Impression:  This book has a massive character list and it could have easily gotten extremely confusing.  Luckily, Montgomery draws each of the characters strongly enough that they are memorable and also sticks to a main core group.  This is one of the few books that doesn't center around a child.  In fact, with the exception of Brian Dark I can't think of any child that is an actual character.  Some children are mentioned but are never seen.  This is a fun book and a quick read.  The ending was handled very entertainingly.  It is really a collection of woven together short stories but never feels disconnected or disjointed.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Obviously

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes.  This would be a good Montgomery book for those that like children's lit but aren't Montgomery fans.  There aren't the speeches that some people find tedious and there's a lot more doing than talking/thinking.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dream Lake by Lisa Kleyaps - Review

Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  Alex Nolan is the youngest of the four Nolan siblings and also the most messed up.  With a failed marriage, a struggling business and a growing drinking problem the last thing he needs is to start seeing a ghost.  The ghost isn't exactly thrilled to be stuck watching Alex drink himself to death but since Alex is the only one who can see or hear him the ghost has to work with what he's got.
Zoe has lost a lot but still hopes to find that special someone to share her life with.  When she needs help renovating a cottage to move her grandmother into she is sent to Alex.  As the two of them sort through their lives and feelings for each other could they also be the link to helping the ghost figure out his past?

Genre: Romance

My Impression:  Ever since the first book in this series I was looking forward to Alex's story.  I loved Zoe when she showed up in book 2.  Throw in the ghost story and the renovation of old houses (which for some reason is a big thing for me) and I could barely wait to start this one.  This book didn't disappoint.  I loved Alex and the ghost and enjoyed their relationship.  Zoe was so sweet and so nice it's impossible not to root for her.  I liked how Alex's drinking problem was handled and I was glad it wasn't too easy.  I felt that their relationship built realistically and their happily ever after is believable.  Alex was drowning and Zoe was his rock but she needs him as much as he needs her.  The only reason this isn't a 5 star book for me is that the ending got a bit weird and felt to contrived like it was a way to wrap it up quickly.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:   Yes on both though I'm not quite as motivated to read the 4th book of this series.  Witchcraft and curses don't do quite as much for me as ghost stories and renovating old houses.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery - Review

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Rating: 5 Stars

Description:  Valancy has lived her entire 29 years trying to please everyone and succeeding in pleasing no one.  When a doctor gives her maybe a year left to live she decides its time to please the one person she's never thought about - herself.

Genre: Childrens/YA

My Impression:  This is one of my favorite of Montgomery's standalone books but I didn't actually discover this one until I was an adult.  I love how things work out for Valancy and how her personality develops as she does what she wants.  Since her actions consist of moving in to help take care of a school friend who has fallen on hard times she remains likable and easy to cheer for.  Also, watching her extended family try and figure out what to do and how to react is pretty funny.  This is a fun story where the good win and the bad end up looking foolish.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Of course!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas - Review

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  Lucy thinks her life is going pretty well.  She has a successful career that she loves as a glass artist and her relationship with live in boyfriend Kevin seems to be coasting along.  That is until Kevin comes in and announces that their relationship is over.  To make matters worse it's over because he has found someone else and to make things unbearable that someone else is Lucy's sister Alice.  Alice and Lucy's parents are furious at this betrayal and refuse to pay for a wedding until Alice makes peace with Lucy.  Kevin seeks out former highschool classmate Sam Nolan and convinces him to take Lucy out a time or two.

Genre: Romance

My Impression:  I adored the first book in the series but I was a little hesitant about starting this one because on the surface it looks like it uses one of my least favorite plot devices - the secret.  The way the secret usually works is two people are put together for some kind of contrived reason - spying, revenge, etc - then they actually get along and fall in love.  Then person who is having the secret kept from them discovers secret, usually from some kind of enemy.  After that is a big fight, sense of betrayal, tears and the inevitable breakup.  Things usually do work out in the end but I still don't like it.  However, when Sam was upfront with Lucy at the beginning I wanted to reach into the pages and kiss him.  I loved both Sam and Lucy.  They were honest with each other about who they were and what they wanted.  I loved that Lucy decided that she wasn't going to try to change him and stuck to it and even made plans for her future that didn't include him.  I loved the ending.  This is the story of two people with some past scars who love each other for who they truly are and don't want to change the other.  The only thing I didn't like about the book is the magic.  It seemed a bit random and completely unnecessary to the story.  I understand that there is a ghost in book 3 so maybe Kleypas wants to run a supernatural theme through the whole series but this book just didn't need it and to me it ended up being distracting.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Without question.  Kleypas is one of my favorite historical romance authors and I have loved both books in this series.  I can't wait to read the 3rd.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes definitely.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October TBR List

September was not my best reading month and since Netflix decided to add the 8th season of How I Met Your Mother October isn't looking very hopeful.  I love this show and I want to watch all 184 episodes before I start watching the final season that's currently on TV.  Luckily I can watch it on my Kindle while I'm doing just about everything.  I've made it through season 1 in just under 2 days.  I'm torn between pride and embarrassment.  I've started a few books this month and have a few that I really want to read.  So my list for this month is:

1.  Blue Castle - L.M. Montgomery
2. Jane of Lantern Hill - L.M. Montgomery
3.  Magic for Marigold - L.M. Montgomery
4.  A Tangled Web - L.M. Montgomery
5. One of Montgomery's short story collections
6.  Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin (library loan) - I read The Happiness Project last month and while Rubin isn't my favorite person I did get a lot out of the book.
7. The White Cottage Mystery - Margery Allingham - Kindle book loan from the Amazon Kindle Library
8. Rainshadow Road - Lisa Kleypas
9.  ?
10. ?
11. ?
12. ?
13. ?
14. ?
15. ?

I have #s 3 and 4 of the Kleypas series so if I enjoy Rainshadow Road at least one of those may make an appearance.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September Reading Wrap Up

September was not a successful reading month.  I place most of the blame on Netflix.  I've been watching the USA show Monk since August and had gotten through 6 seasons when I saw that Netflix was going to take it off on October 1st!  So all reading time went out the window and I watched a LOT of Monk.  So much Monk in fact that I couldn't really read because when I did all the characters from the book looked like the characters on the show.  Romance novels didn't seem very appealing with the hero looked like Adrian Monk in my head.  October's not looking very good for reading either because Netflix just put up the 8th season of How I Met Your Mother and I want to watch the whole show again before I start the final season.  Also, the book Rilla of Ingleside slowed down my Montgomery reading because I had such an emotinal response to it.  It's very difficult to get through a book when you sob through the entire thing.  So this is what actually got read for the month of September:

1.  Rilla of Ingleside - L.M. Montgomery
2.  Kilmeny of the Orchard - L.M. Montgomery
8.  Brownies and Broomsticks - Bailey Cates
9. House of Many Shadows - Barbara Michaels
10. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman - P.D. James
11. Miss Silver Comes to Stay - Patricia Wentworth
12. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I got 2 out of 5 Montgomery books read, 0 library books and kindle books read and only 5 out of 8 free spaces filled.

Least favorite book for September:
Without question An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James.  I really disliked the characters, the pacing and the actual mystery.

Favorite book: for September:
House of Many Shadows by Barbara Michaels and Miss Silver Comes to Stay by Patricia Wentworth are old favorites and always enjoyable.  However, the book I got the most out of was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  While I don't generally enjoy self-help books and Rubin's personality didn't really make me want to be friends with her I did get a lot out of the book.  J and I have been talking a lot about kind of doing are own happiness project and making fun more of a priority (or at least having it make an appearance on the priority list).  Talking about it and thinking about it has made me happier so far and has made life a bit more fun lately.

Now I have to go watch 8 seasons of How I Met Your Mother so I have some hope of getting some reading down in October.