Thursday, March 31, 2016

Nobody But You - Blog Tour Review + Giveaway

Nobody But You (Cedar Ridge #3) by Jill Shalvis Rating:  Good
Source:  NetGalley

Description:  Sometimes you can go home again...
After an overseas mission goes wrong, Army Special Forces officer Jacob Kincaid knows where he must go to make things right: back home to the tiny town of Cedar Ridge, Colorado.  All he needs to scrub away his painful past is fresh mountain air, a lakeside cabin, and quiet solitude. But what he discovers is a gorgeous woman living on a boat at his dock.  Sophie Marren has nowhere else to go.  She's broke, intermittently seasick, and fighting a serious attraction to the brooding, dishy, I'm too sexy for myself guy who's now claiming her dock.  Something about Jacob's dark intensity makes her want to tease - and tempt - him beyond measure. Neither one wants to give any ground... until they realize the only true home they have is with each other. (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book: It's Jill Shalvis.  That's pretty much all I needed to see.  I love her books.

My Impression: Oh how a I love Jill Shalvis' book!  I've really enjoyed her Animal Magnetism series (even though the last one made me want to adopt 3 kittens and a Bernese Mountain Dog)) and her Lucky Harbor series is one of my all time favorites when it comes to contemporary romance.  But for some reason I haven't read this series until I picked up this book.  I had no problem figuring out what the family dynamics and the situation in general.  Part of this is because Jacob is just returning to Cedar Ridge and part of this is because Shalvis always does a good job with letting you jump in where ever and not be confused.
I loved getting to know the Kincaids and seeing their unusual family dynamic.  Jacob's brother and sister, Hud and Kenna are definitely strong characters but don't take over the book and we get a glimps of two of Jacob's other brothers. Jacob himself is an interesting character in his own right.  He has the weight of the world of his shoulders and his automatic response is to be stoic.  Between his military career and his not so happy break from his family he has a lot of guilt and an overriding need to fix things.  He's calm and collected under pressure but his social graces are a bit on the awkward side.  Other than a strained relationship with her family, Sophie is as opposite as she can be.  She's a bundle of energy going all directions at all times frequently with disastrous results.  She's coming off a brutal divorce and is trying to put her life back together.  Sophie reminds me a little bit of my older son, Paul.  We have a joke around here that there's the right way, the wrong way, and the Paul way.  The way he chooses to do things is not wrong but it's way harder than it needs to be and Sophie has a similar method. But even though I want to yell "Just sell the damn boat, Sophie" for the first half of the book I liked her.  She's genuine and good-hearted and is very self-aware about what traits in herself sent her into the pitfalls that turned her life upside down.
I like Jacob and Sophie together.  They balance each other out in a lot of ways and really encourage each other to face their fears and be better people.  It's fun watching them interact whether it's witty banter or when he's teaching her the finer points of paddle boarding.  Her issues and his issues make sense given their lives so when things do crop up, even though I want to give them both a good talking too, I understood what was happening.  The chemistry between them was seriously flaming and I enjoyed watching their friendship and their relationship develop.
While I did enjoy the ending, it did end up feeling a little disjointed.  There are so many strings to be tied up that it felt a little jumpy and rushed.  There were a couple of subplots that I wanted just a little bit more one and I don't think we're going to get them.  I am excited that I already have the previous 2 books in the series because I cannot wait to go back and get to know the rest of the Kincaid family a little better!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Of course!  I'm looking forward to reading the previous books of this series and anything else she writes.

Would I Recommend this Book?: I'd definitely recommend this author and this book is solid as well.  It probably isn't one of my favorites but it's still a fun read with well fleshed out characters.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Once a Rancher - Review

Once a Rancher (The Carsons of Mustang Creek) by Linda Lael Miller
Rating: Good
Source: Publisher
Description:  The Carsons of Mustang Creek: three men who embody the West and define what it means to be a rancher, a cowboy, and a hero in this brand-new series from the queen of Western romance.  Slater Carson might be a businessman by trade, but he's a cowboy at heart - and he knows the value of a hard day's work under the hot Wyoming sun.  So when he sees troubled teen Ryder heading down a dangerous path, he offers the boy a job on the ranch the shares with his two younger brothers.  And since Ryder's temporary guardian is the gorgeous new resort manager, Grace Emery, Slater figures it can't hurt to keep a closer eye on her as well...
Grace Emery doesn't have time for romance.  Between settling in to her new job and caring for her ex-husband's rebellious son, her attraction to larger than life Slater is a distraction she can't afford.  But when her past catches up to her in Mustang Creek, she'll discover just how far Slater will go to protect what matters most - and that love is always worth fighting for (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance

Why I Picked This Book:

My Impression:   This is the first book by Linda Lael Miller I've read.  I read a novella around Christmas time and enjoyed it but was looking forward to seeing what she could do with a full length novel.
I enjoyed the characters in this one.  I liked that Grace's background was in law enforcement which is unusual and gave her a certain awareness in an ongoing conflict throughout the book.  I also loved her relationship with Ryder.  As a stepmother myself I tend to cringe when a step relationship is portrayed in fiction.  I felt like Miller not only portrayed the stepmother role realistically even though the situation is highly unusual but also pretty accurately portrayed a teenage boy.  I loved the Carson family!  The interaction between Slater and his brothers was so funny and I loved all the betting that went on within the family.
I enjoyed watching the relationship between Grace and Slater develop.  Slater  is definitely Alpha but he is thinking about how she would feel and what she want.  The fact that he is so aware and considerate balances his tendency to take over situations. The timeline seemed very short - especially for a contemporary - and that threw me a little bit.  There was also one incident that happened towards the end that felt a little premature.  I think because of the short line with everything that was happening on the book I never fully connected with Grace or Slater.  I liked them and was rooting for their HEA but they didn't leap off at the page at me.  
This was a really enjoyable read and I liked watching the relationship develop and getting the behind the scenes of their work.  Slater's work with documentaries was especially interesting and I would have liked to see more of it.  I really loved the setup for the rest of the trilogy and can't wait to see more of the Carsons!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes!  I definitely want to see the other Carson brothers' stories.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes if you like love at first sight or Western romances or have enjoyed Linda Lael Miller's books in the past I think you'd really like this one.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: My Latest 5 Star Reads

This Week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is My Latest 5 Star Reads.  I don't give 5 Stars out very often.  The book has to be amazing or really teach me something.  I expanded it a little to be books that were more 4.5 stars which means I really enjoyed them but there was a flaw or 2.  Even with that I ended up going back about a year to get 10.

1.  The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn - I just finished this the other day and I loved it!  The review and a recipe from the book will be up in a couple of weeks so I don't want to say too much but if you love food and have ever even wondered what it would be like to go to culinary school this isn't to be missed.

2.  In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware - I loved this mystery and if you're an audio fan at all this is a must listen.  Imogen Church is one of my new favorite narrators.  This is one I found myself standing completely still in the middle of the room because I just had to find out what happens next.

3.  The Rain Sparrow by Linda Goodnight - This one was more of a 4.5 stars but I really enjoyed it.  It has dual time lines and normally when that happens I'm absolutely in love with one timeline and the other is just filler but with this book I was completely captivated by both.  I loved how it tackled really serious issues without getting overwrought.  This was one I requested on a whim because it involved an Inn and a main character who was a writer and I'm so glad I did!

4.  Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts - This is another 4.5 but I was so excited to be pulled into a Nora Roberts trilogy.  I always enjoy her books but her last few trilogies just haven't quite grabbed me in the way I expect from one of her books.  I was really pleased with how much I enjoyed this one.

5.  The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie - It's no secret that I'm a big Christie fan and I love this one!  The basic murder concept and the twist are pure Christie and I love seeing Poirot and Hastings back together.

6.  The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen - Sarah Addison Allen is an author I'd been wanting to read for ages and last summer I was loving all things peach so when I stumbled on this book that was not only by Sarah Addison Allen AND had peaches in the title I couldn't resist.

7.  Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie - This is probably one of Christie's best known books and for good reason.  It's absolutely brilliant.  Every time I read it I pick up on new details.

8.  The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig - Family secrets and a 1920s setting were more than I could resist and I so enjoyed this book.  The writing drew me in immediately and the wardrobe was just mouthwatering.  I wanted the main character's clothes.

9.  Recipes for a Beautiful Life: A Memoir in Stories by Rebecca Barry - Last summer I was in a bit of a reading slump.  It wasn't that I wasn't reading it was more that nothing was sticking.  I'd read a few pages of a book and then not want to read anymore and that went on and on until I picked up this delightful book from Rebecca Barry and was hooked.  I loved her non-pretentious, relatable stories about

10. The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower - This was one of my favorite books from 2015.  I loved this inside look at the residents of the White House and what it is like to live there.  I read this book a year ago and still talk about it!

So what was your most recent 5 star read?

Monday, March 28, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - An Unhappy Medium

Today I'm participating for the very first time (and a day early) in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea.  I always love reading everyone's first paragraphs so I'm excited to be participating.  The reason it's a day early is because today was supposed to be a review for Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas but there were some hiccups so I moved it to Friday.  Come back for that review as the book is amazing!

For today I'm going in a lighter direction with a paranormal cozy mystery!  After an emotional read I like to bring in a bit lighter and a little sillier (though frequently with a murder or two). An Unhappy Medium is the 4th in Dawn Eastman's Family Fortune Mystery series.  I read the 3rd last year and really enjoyed it so I'm so pleased to be back on the blog tour for book 4!  In An Unhappy Medium we have murder during a zombie fun run, family secrets, stolen diamonds and a newly returned sister unexpectedly disappearing. Oh and the main character, a former police detective named Clyde is also struggling a bit with the fact she seems to have become psychic.  I'm not very far in but so far I'm really enjoying it!

The Intro:

My chest burned, my legs ached, and I felt a cramp in the vicinity of my liver.  The raspy breaths behind me spurred me forward.  My own breathing came in harsh gasps, but I knew I couldn't stop.  I wouldn't let him catch me.
"Clyde, stop."
I continued running, but felt my pace slip.  I couldn't keep this up, but I refused to let him win.  He was right behind me.
"You're going to hurt yourself," he said.

So would you keep reading?  Are you a cozy mystery fan or do you like your murders with a little more grit?  And seriously - why do most cozy mystery sleuths have oddball names like Clyde?  But I do love a cozy cover!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

This Week in Reading - March 27

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:

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan - I've only read one book by Colgan but I really enjoyed it and I'm really looking forward to this one.  (Paperbackswap)

Dark Chocolate Demise by Jenn McKinlay - Because the only thing better than a cozy murder mystery is to have cupcakes along with them (Paperbackswap)

Death Under Glass by Jennifer McAndrews - This is a new to me series but I'm curious about the glass element.  (Paperbackswap)

Death Al Dente by Leslie Ann Budewitz - I love food books and cozy mysteries and I'm really excited about mysteries that combine the two!  (Paperbackswap)

This week I managed to avoid the NetGalley temptation but Paperbackswap made up for that a little with a whole host of cozy mysteries showing up!  


Reading: Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis and An Unhappy Medium by Dawn Eastman

Listening: My Library loan of Cinder expired so I have to wait 2 weeks to get it again.  I had thought about just finishing it in book form but decided to wait and finish it on audio since I"m really enjoying that format.  I'm catching up on Podcasts while I wait.

Watching:  I've been really enjoying Elementary lately and just started watching Supernatural on Netflix.  The older kids have been at me to watch it forever and I must say I'm enjoying it.  The special effects and acting aren't superb at this point but I really like the stories so far.

Off the Blog:

Saturday night J and I went and watched the play version of And Then There Were None and really enjoyed it.  The play ending always drives me a bit nuts but the performances were great.  We went ot the Easter event at the Tornado's school and he stocked up on all kinds of candy.  I figuring which ones I can steal.

No disasters occurred this week so it was mostly trying to catch up on everything from the last few weeks. I wouldn't say I'm fully there but I'm close.  I'm hoping to catch up on blog visiting and blog posts on Monday.

Spring seems to be showing up and my tulips have bloomed.  The daffodils had a sad year but I'm hoping that that's a fluke and not a sign that the bulbs are dying.  It's about time to start getting tomatoes and squash and other fun stuff in the ground.  I'm not prepared at all so I have a feeling I know what I'll be doing next week!  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday - Either Iris and Ruby Blog Tour Review or Teasers from Current book
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Latest 5 Star Reads
Wednesday: Once a Rancher - Contemporary Romance Review
Thursday: Nobody But You - Contemporary Romance Blog Tour Review
Friday: Either Iris and Ruby Blog Tour Review or Teasers from Current book (it's a long story)
Saturday: Cravings - Cookbook Review (this time it's really going to happen!)

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

52 Pins in 52 Weeks - March Edition

I love Pinterest.  I love pinning recipes from my favorite food blogs or scrolling down the Everything section to see what everyone else has been pinning.  I love the idea of all the crafts and recipes and everything else right there at my fingertips.
Right now I have around 9,600 pins in 60 boards.  I do use Pinterest a pretty good bit but tend to stick to the boards regarding Dinner and let other delicious looking recipes or fun crafts languish unused and ignored.  This year I'm trying to get more use out of Pinterest so at the beginning of the year I created my 52 Pins in 52 Weeks Board as well as a Results Board to keep track of it.  I'll be posting my results the last Saturday of each month.

Okay, I'm just going to admit it - this month was just a hot mess.  Between illness, a handful of trivial but time consuming crisis, and picking a pin that I was just not prepared to do I got way behind.  I'm happy to say that I'm all caught up now and we're going to ignore the fact that all of these pins were done this week!

Week 10:

The PinEpsom Salt Bath to Decrease Pain and Stress

Reason Picked: Well who doesn't want to decrease pain and stress?  Plus I love bath salts

The Basic Idea: A mix of Epsom salts, baking soda, and lavender essential oil added to a nice warm bath.

Results: Well first off I discovered that the pin didn't actually go to the bath salts recipe in the picture so I just gave you a link to the pin itself.  I had baking soda and lavender essential oil  and picked up a bag of Epsom salts for just a few dollars.  I combined the salts and the baking soda, dumped them into a warm bordering on hot bath and added the oil afterwards.  It was a nice bath and I didn't feel nearly as achy as I did when I got in.  Whether that's placebo, just connected to the act of taking a bath or because it does help I don't know but I'm going to try it again!

Ready to Roll Up

Week 11:

The PinRainbow Pinwheel Cookies from Mom on Timeout

Reason Picked:  I thought these looked really cute.  I've been wanting to try different pinwheel cookies and thought this would be a good one to start with.

The Basic Idea: Pre-made sugar cookie dough and sprinkles for a quick and easy rainbow cookie.

Finished Product
Results: I'm not a big fan of the pre-made dough so I haven't worked with it all that much.  I was surprised with how crumbly it was.  I think I rolled it out a bit too thin so the ends were just falling apart.  Most of the dough rolled up really well and was easy to cut and smush a little on the cookie sheet.  Next time I'd make the width of each colors of the sprinkles wider.  My stripes were narrower and the sprinkles blended a bit more than I wanted.


Week 12

The PinGetting Stains of Glassware from Tasteful Space

Reason Picked: As you can see in the picture on the left I have some pretty grubby glass pans and nothing I've tried has really seemed to work.

The Basic Idea:  Scrub the stains with a Magic Eraser.

The Results: The picture on the right is after about 40 minutes (or 1 episode of Supernatural on Netflix) of scrubbing.  It definitely is much much better but it did take an awful lot of work.  I think I'm just not going to worry about the stains and if I have to take something in one somewhere I spend the $12 to just buy a new one instead of taking the time and the wear and tear on my hand with all the scrubbing!

Week 13

The Pin: Greek Easter Bread from Brown Eyed Baker

Reason Picked: I loved the idea of having a traditional type of Easter bread for Easter plus I wanted to make bread.

The Basic Idea: A rich orange flavored braided sweet bread

The Results: I don't have a stand mixer so I had to add in some kneading and stirring instead of just letting the mixer take care of it all.  I also didn't include the eggs because did I mention this month has been a hot mess?  I'm sure they would be gorgeous on the bread though.  The bread smells delicously of orange and has just a very light sweetness.  More of a breakfast bread than dessert.  I didn't get as much rise as I expected but I am suspicious that  the yeast I used was a bit on it's last leg.  Regardless of that it was a pleasantly dense bread and something I plan on making again!

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday Linkups: Iris and Ruby

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:
How much of your day is devoted to your blog and how much is devoted to reading?

My Answer:
I probably total up a couple of hours of reading a day - most of the reading at night after everyone has gone to bed.  This of course drops considerably if I'm really tired or if it's been a crazy day.  I try to spend about 2 hours blogging part of which is writing reviews and the other part is visiting other blogs. I may spend another hour or so replying to comments but that's generally at night if we're watching TV.

This week's book is a little different from my usual reading.  Normally I avoid books that deal with memory loss like the plague but I just couldn't resist the dual timeline and the Egyptian setting.  I'm about halfway done with Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas and I'm not regretting my decision to step  a little bit outside of my comfort zone.  The characters are complex and interesting and Thomas is so wonderfully descriptive without getting lost in it all.  My review is scheduled for Monday and I'm planning on burrowing down tonight and tomorrow and finishing it though I have a feeling I'll be very sad to see the last of these characters.

The Beginning:
I remember.
And even as I say the words aloud in the silent room and hear the whisper dying away in the shadows of the house, I realise that it's not true.

My Thoughts:
I love this beginning!  It's so poignant and gives you such an understanding of the main character.

The 56:
The kitchen was a warm, ordered space which she had planned and laid out in every detail.
Yet she felt superfluous in it.

My Thoughts:
I'm past this point so I know what's going on in this passage.  This very much explains the mindset of the character that it's talking about.  Seriously, I'm in love with Thomas's writing right now!

What do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Beyond the Books: What I Miss About Being a Kid

This week I'm linking up with KissinBlueKaren for Beyond the Books.  This is a meme where we all answer a non-bookish question.  It's always so fun to see everyone's answers and get a peak at the blogger beyond the books.  This week's topic is - What I Miss About Being a Kid.

My Grandfather and his older brother Jake around 1925
Really this topic couldn't have come at a better time.  I just found a ton of old family photos from my mother's side of the family so I'm up to my ears in old pictures and am feeling a touch nostalgic.

I am the short clown - 2nd from the left - around 1984
My Mother and me - I'll let her hair date the photo

I really don't miss being a kid.  I didn't have an unhappy childhood or anything but I like being an adult WAY better than being a child.  I like being in charge of my own time and my own decisions.  Yes, sometimes that responsibility is stressful but I'd much rather have it than not be in charge of anything like I was when I was a kid.

My Aunt and me - 1981ish
I do miss being able to spend a whole day reading but I plan on doing that again at some point when I have less small children.
Same Aunt as a little girl with her brother.  I love the old school zoo with the chain length fence!

I think the main thing I miss from being a kid is that sense of timelessness.  The feeling that my world and the people in it are going to just stay the same forever.  As time has gone on my family has shrunk and become less connected as people have passed away, moved away, or become unable to visit as often for whatever reason.

My Aunt Mary and Aunt Clara with a couple of cousins.  Aunt Mary was the most proper Southern woman you could ever meet but with a hidden rather wicked sense of humor and Aunt Clara was glamorous and mischievous and always up for an adventure.
My Grandmother with one of my uncles - early 1950s
My Grandfather with my uncle 1951

Really this post is just an excuse to show some old photos that I found.  I hope I haven't bored you too much!  What do you miss about being kid?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Blogger Event - A Day in the Life

I'm so excited to be participating in A Day in the Life again!  Trish over at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity did this last year and it was so much fun to get a look into what a day is like for so many people.  When she announced she was doing it again I couldn't sign up fast enough!

I decided to record Saturday, Marcy 19, 2016.  This past weekend was our first of many (we hope) camping weekends.  Since I'm a complete and total novice I thought it'd be fun to share our experience.  This weekend it was J, the Tornado (6), Paul (18) myself, and J's brother (Matt) and wife (Julie), and a 4 month old Miniature Pinscher puppy.

6:38 - First morning waking up in a tent.  I'm actually pretty comfortable.  We had decided kind of at the last minute to get a camping air mattress and it was definitely the right decision.  J gets up and leaves the tent and I pull the Tornado into the sleeping bag with me.  He is absolutely sound asleep.

7:16 - I manage to get up and get dressed

7:21 - I leave the tent and the temperature isn't too bad.  J and Matt got the fire going and J got the coffee going.  Drink some coffee and head to the bath house.

8:04 - I have drunk my coffee and I'm as clean as I'm going to get.  I check on the Tornado and he is still sound asleep.

9:07 - We've been collecting and cutting up firewood because it's cold (low 50s) and the 2 bags we bought are completely gone.  We've started working on breakfast which is going to be biscuits in a cast iron skillet and bacon.  The biscuits get burnt a bit on the bottom but everything works out pretty tasty.

 9:30 - The Tornado decides to get up and we eat breakfast.

10:00 - We have to take Paul back down to his car off the mountain.  We all load up in one of the cars and they drop the Tornado, Julie, me, and the puppy off at the playground.   The Tornado plays on the playground with some other kids and Julie and I play with the puppy.  After awhile we go walk around the playground and picnic area and look around

12:00 - Matt and J are back and we head back to the campsite.  We clean up from breakfast and make sandwiches and stuff for lunch.  We sit and talk about the evening.  The low for tonight has fallen for 39 and we're starting to get concerned that might be just too cold.  Especially considering we aren't that far away from home.  We decide to play it by ear.

1:00 - We make S'mores!  How did I forget how amazing smore's were?

2:06 - J, Julie, the Tornado, the puppy and I go hiking and up to the overlook.

3:24 - We go back to the campsite for caffeine and sugar and then back to the playground.  This time it's just J, the Tornado and me and we have a nice time.  The playground here is huge and in a gorgeous area.  I'm not sure all state parks will have something like this but it'd be great if they did!

4:30 - We head back to the campsite to start dinner.  Tonight is steak, grilled potatoes and onions in this little foil packet topped with cheese, and grilled tomatoes.  The Tornado plays with the puppy

7:00 - We sit down to eat.  We're all starting to look a little haggard and I start shivering uncontrollably.  It's 48 and the wind is constant which ends up feeling way colder than it sounds.  We decide to call it a night after we finish eating.

7:30 - Start loading up the car with stuff we don't want to lose, put up all the loose items, and make sure all the food is packed away.  We say goodbye and leave.  They head off to their house and the 3 of us head to ours though we do stop for McDonald's on the way home.  The Tornado is starving and J and I agree that a McFlurry doesn't sound to bad.

8:30 - We are home.  J unloads the car, I get the Tornado situated with his hashbrowns and then I head up to hopefully wash away some of the campfire smell!

9:45 - We are all clean and warm and headed to bed.  I'm flat out exhausted.

What I learned:
I actually really enjoy camping - especially when we mixed in some hiking
S'mores are amazing and I should have them more often
Wear sunscreen and put some on the Tornado.  We both got a little scorched
The air mattress may be wimpy but it's completely worth it.  I was so comfortable and slept really well Friday night.  It was worth every penny - and it wasn't that expensive.

We're actually planning our next trip though we're going to wait until it gets a little warmer.  We've discovered that low 50s is really the lowest we want to go.

So that's my day!  Any campers out there?  If so how do you get the campfire smell out of clothes?  I'm beginning to despair on a few items.  Should I just Febreze the crap out of them and call it a day or is there a better method?

Be sure to stop by Trish's and check out everyone else's day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Love But Haven't Talked About Much

This week's Top Ten Tuesday Topic from The Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten Books I Love But Haven't Talked About Much.  I love this topic!  There are so many books I've read and loved before blogging or read and loved but don't fit into many categories except for the review.

1.  One Grave Less by Beverly Connor - Oh I love this series!  Well I guess I should say loved since the series seems to have come to an end.    The books themselves weren't flawless.  Dianne Fallon, the main character, was an expert in just about everything (though she was supposed to be) and there were a few mysteries that were solved because of something happening at just the right moment.  I loved that the lab was part of a museum and I loved the anthropologist angle.  This is basically like the show Bones in book form.  I actually find it more similar than the series that Bones is actually based on!

2.  Goodnight June by Sarah Jio - This book is like the best cup of hot chocolate, the warmest coziest blanket, the most crackling fire, and the snowiest snow day all rolled into one.  There's a bookstore, a famous author, a bookish scavenger hunt, the main character figuring out what she really wants to do with her life, and even a little romance!  The end is a touch contrived but I didn't care!

3.  The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett - I love books, I love books about books, and I love books involving art theft and this one had all three.  I've never been really drawn to first editions but after reading reading this book I completely understand the appeal of book collecting.

4.  The Four Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright - This was one of my favorite books as a child.  I have no idea how many times I read it but it was quite a bit.  When my mother was moving a few years ago I found my copy in one of the many boxes and snatched it up.  I was thrilled when I found it just as enjoyable as an adult than I did as a child and even more thrilled when I discovered it was actually part of the series.  I've tracked the other books in the series down and have enjoyed them just as much if not more!

5.  The Crying Child by Barbara Michaels - I adore the fun Gothic creepiness that is a Barbara Michaels (and her more straightforward mysteries under Elizabeth Peters aren't so bad either!) and this is one of my favorites.  The setting is this old house full of secrets on an island off the coast of Maine and ghosts abound.

6.  Belles on their Toes by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr, and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey - Cheaper by the Dozen was one of my favorite childhood books and I was so excited to find there was a sequel.  This one has a few serious moments as it takes place almost immediately after the first book ends and the family is struggling to deal with the events of the last book.  I loved seeing the kids more grown up.  There are quite a number of points that are very dated (especially the discussion on smoking) but it's still a lot of fun.

7.  In the Midnight Rain by Ruth Wind - This was the first contemporary romance I ever read and I loved it.  The music discussions are amazing and the characters are wonderful.  I loved the mystery and the conclusion.  I reread this back a few years ago and was so worried it was going to be dated but it absolutely wasn't.  I fell right into the story and could hear the Blues playing in my head.

8.  The Case of William Smith by Patricia Wentworth - While I've talked a lot about my love for Agatha Christie I haven't talked much about Patricia Wentworth.  I love Miss Silver.  She's a sharper version of Miss Marple who likes things just so and can get people to tell her anything and everything.  Miss Silver doesn't really have a big part in this book but I love this story.  While it is a mystery the focus really is on just who William Smith really is.

9.  All of the short story collections by L.M. Montgomery - I was very lucky to be at just the right age and to have discovered L.M. Montgomery just as collections of short stories edited by Rhea Wilmshurst were being published.  Each collection has a single underlying theme - Akin to Anne involves books about orphans, all the stories in Along the Shore have the sea somehow involved.  My absolute favorite is Among the Shadows which involves darker topics than most of Montgomery's stories which is really interesting.

10. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin - This book I'm torn about because Rubin herself drove me crazy.  It doesn't help that she really reminds me of someone I know IRL who I don't care for so that kind of influences my opinions.  But the book itself was really full of good information.  I'm really task oriented and this book really helped me see that I get so focused on completing tasks or getting things done that I'm letting things that make me happy get pushed to the side for absolutely no reason.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Clue in the Stew - Blog Tour Review + Giveaway

A Clue in the Stew (A Soup Lover's Mystery) by Connie Archer Rating:Very Good
Source: Blog Tour

Description:  When Lucky Jamieson opens up By the Spoonful to host an event with a famous author, she's not expecting a bunch of nuts to descend on her small town soup shop.  But the author's exasperating entourage - from a prickly publicist to a snippy son and a tipsy wife - give fresh meaning to the phrase, too many cooks spoil the broth.
The evening is more than spoiled, however, when it ends with a homicide.  When the manner of the murder - as well as another unsolved crime - echos the author's fiction, Police Chief Nate Edgerton realizes he has a copycat killer on his hands.  And Lucky hopes that one of her regular customers whose mysteriously gone missing isn't involved.  Once again, the soup shop owner will need to stir up some clues to find her friend and catch a cunning killer - before things take a tureen for the worse... (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I enjoyed the last book in the series and I liked that this one involved an author and book event.

My Impression:  I expected to enjoy this latest Soup Lover's Mystery because I had enjoyed the previous book but I didn't really expect to become so immediately hooked on the story.  I loved the character but even more I wanted to know what happened next!  Cozy mysteries are definitely one of my preferred genres and add food to the murder and I'm even more interested.  That being said I'm pretty picky with them - particularly if the main character is an amateur detective which is the case here.  There has to be a reason that the character is investigating and she has to behave like a mostly rational adult.  In this case I didn't really hold Lucky to the same standard because I couldn't wait to solve the mystery.  She could've gone on a crime spree to find the answers and I would have been perfectly okay with it (she didn't though - she did follow the rules for the most part though she is a bit in the nosy territory).

I loved seeing more of Lucky and the rest of the residents of Snowflake, Vermont.  I really liked Sophie and Sage in the previous book so I enjoyed catching up with them as well as Lucky's grandfather, Jack, and her boyfriend, Elias.  Nate is back as the Police Chief and once again is a capable and intelligent investigator who periodically resists the urge to strangle Lucky without being more than exasperated about it.  While Lucky's restaurant, By The Spoonful, is a big part of the story it isn't unnecessary.  It provides a background for collecting information regarding the murders and a setting for the conflict with the new waitress Nannette.
The mystery itself is really interesting.  There's all kinds of secrets and jealousies.  There's plenty of motives and any number of subjects.  I absolutely loved the forming of the Murder Investigation Club and that all the people involved were really willing to share information and actually listen to each other. It made it feel like Lucky wasn't just investigating out on her own. I usually figure out the mystery ahead of time but I really didn't in this one.  Until the reveal there were multiple theories that would fit the crime and I wasn't sure which one it would be.
I thoroughly enjoyed this latest mystery from Connie Archer.  I didn't read it in one sitting but I would have if I could have gotten away with it!  I'm glad I've got the first couple of books in this series to read so I won't have to wait until the next release to visit Snowflake and spend time with Lucky, Sage, Jack, Sophie and everyone else.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I've already got the first book in the series sitting on my shelf so I can read that while I'm waiting for the next one!

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes!  This was a really fun cozy mystery and more calorie friendly as it will make you want to eat a big steaming bowl of soup which is better for you than the usual cake or chocolate!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

This Week in Reading - March 20

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:

Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb - I've really enjoyed McCrumb's Ballad series in the past and always love her mix of lyrical writing, old stories, interesting characters, and bits of history.  I'm really excited to read this newest one in the series! (NetGalley)

Reunion Pass by Emily March - This is another series I've really enjoyed in the past and there's definitely been hints about Lori's story in past books so I'm excited to watch it play out.

An Unhappy Medium by Dawn Eastman - I read the previous book in the series last year and really enjoyed it.  This involves murder at a Zombie Fun Run so I'm excited to see what happens. (Blog Tour)

A Clue in the Stew by Connie Archer - This is for a blog tour as well.  I've actually already finished it and the review will be up on Monday.  (Blog Tour)

I've got another request pending on NetGalley and a batch of Cozy mysteries coming my way through Paperbackwap but that's it for this week!


Reading: Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas and Once a Rancher by Linda Lael Miller.  I'm enjoying the Miller but had to take a break to get A Clue in the Stew read.

Listening:  I'm still listening (and loving) Cinder but my library loan expires very soon and I'm not sure what I'm going to do.  My options are to way up to 4 weeks until I can get it again or just finish the last 8 or so chapters in book form.  I'm leaning towards book form because I"m not sure I can wait that long to find out what happens next!

Watching:  I watched the new Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders and enjoyed it.  I love Gary Sineie so I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy it but I think as a series it's got potential for some really interesting stories.  We also watched the first part of the BBC production of And Then There Were None (it's being shown in 2 parts here) and I really enjoyed it.  They have made some changes but all the changes make sense given the time constraints and it being a different form of media.

Off the Blog:

I'm actually writing this on Friday morning because as of Friday night we'll be roughing it in a tent for the weekend!  This is the first time I've really done anything like this and definitely the first time the Tornado has so it should be interesting.  The weather looks like it should be good though I'm a little concerned it will get a bit chilly at night.  The sleeping bags are rated for lower temperatures and I plan to do some serious layering so hopefully we'll be fine.  I'm excited about getting out and hiking and figuring the whole camping thing out!

The series of minor catastrophes from the week before have settled down.  My back is so much better, the Tornado is healthy again, and the new dishwasher is installed and working wonderfully.  This week has been spring break and while we haven't done anything big we've had a good time.  We've slept a bit late, had a couple of play dates, made a library run, and then got ready to spend the weekend in a tent.

I'm looking forward to next week to get back on track.  The Tornado will start school which means hopefully that I can get caught up on blog stuff and tackle a few massive projects that have been looming.  And really just get caught up in general.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  A Clue in the Stew - Blog Tour Cozy Mystery Review + Giveaway
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I Love But Haven't Talked About Much
Wednesday:  A Day in the Life - Or what Camping is Like for a Total Novice
Thursday: Beyond the Books - The Things I Miss About Being a Kid
Friday: Friday Linkups with Excerpts from Current Book
Saturday: 52 Pins in 52 Weeks - March Edition

So that's what happened and what's coming up.  I hope you have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Blue Dahlia, Black Rose, and Red Lily -Series Review

Back in May I was feeling a little stressed and so I decided to just cruise the library shelves and pick up a selection of books that appealed to me.  It was a fantastic stress relief and free too which is always a plus!  One of the books I picked up was the first in the In the Garden series - Blue Dahlia.  I read this series when it first came out.  I remember enjoying it and anxiously awaiting the final book in the series but other than that there's a nursery and a ghost that was about all I remember.

Blue Dahlia:  This one surprised me by how quickly I was hooked me once I started reading it.  Like most of Nora Roberts' trilogies there's a lot of setup in Blue Dahlia.  We see how Stella and Roz meet and how Hayley is added to the mix.  What was a bit unusual in this one was the varied ages and responsibilities of the characters.  Roz is in her mid-40s and owns In the Garden Nursery and the house and grounds it sits on, Stella is a widow in her 30s who takes on the management aspect of the nursery, and Hayley is in her mid-20s and looking for a fresh start.  The characters aren't perfect and don't always get along in perfect harmony which was nice.  This book focused on Stella and I absolutely loved her.  She's organized, tough, and very human.  Her worries were easy to relate too and I loved how straight forward she was.  Logan is a great character as well and I loved their interaction.  The ghost story aspect of the trilogy starts slow and begins building up in intensity.  I suspect it will seriously ramp up in the 2nd book though I don't quite remember. Basically, I loved the characters, loved the setting and loved the subplots.  Next time I'm at the library I'll definitely be picking up Black Rose.  If you haven't read much Nora Roberts and like a little ghost story with your romance this would be a great series to start with.

Black Rose:  Sometimes the 2nd book in a series can suffer from all kinds of growing pains and if it's the middle book in the trilogy it can feel like filler between the beginning and the end.  That's not the case with Black Rose.  While at least one subplot has not been completed there's enough progress on it that it works.  It helps that both Roz and Mitch are strong and interesting characters.  They're both in their late 40s and have both been married before and have self-sufficient children.  I love Mitch.  He owns up to his mistakes but he's fought his demons and made peace with the baggage.  He has nothing to prove and is pretty comfortable in his own skill.  As for Roz - I mostly just want to be her when I grow up.  She's tough but loving and for the most part doesn't care what people think but does understand the importance of maintaining a certain image.  Roberts does a good job of portraying Southern society though I cannot imagine any kind of fist fight happening at a gala no matter what the circumstances are (though that scene was pretty satisfying!).  We get a little more knowledge on the ghost both from flashbacks and from discoveries made through supernatural happenings or through Mitch's research.  We see more of Stella and Logan and get some fun hints of what's coming up.  I'm just glad I've already got my copy of Red Lily ready to go!  I can't wait to read Hayley's story and find out what happens with Amelia!

Red Lily: I found Red Lily to be a little darker and in some ways more subtle than the other two paranormal-wise.  Amelia's story is coming to an end and she knows it.  In a panic she's trying to hold on to Hayley which gets more than a little creepy.    The connection between Hayley and Harper has been growing throughout the previous 2 books and has actually been commented on a number of times by different characters.  In Red Lily they are brought front and center and we see there thoughts and worries and they navigate the start of a relationship.  With so many other people involved, including and especially Hayley's daughter Lily, the navigation is very tricky and their concerns are realistic. This was the first time I've read a trilogy that had the mother's (Roz) story in one book and the son's (Harper) in another.  I liked that this was addressed and while Roz was willing to hear more information than I would have wanted to hear it wasn't a full disclosure.  This was a great conclusion to a solid series.  Hayley and Harper are likable, smart, and interesting with real worries and realistic reactions.  It was lots of fun seeing Roz, Mitch, Stella, and Logan as established couples.  The mystery wrapped up satisfyingly with just the right amount of creep.

Overall I really enjoyed this series both the first time and for a reread.  It's got great characters, an interesting setting, and a great ghostly mystery.  I liked that characters had such a range in ages - from mid-20s, to 30s, to late 40s - as it really provided different perspectives and different issues.  It was a little disconcerting that while I remember identifying with Hayley the first time I read it and I now felt most connected to Stella!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Linkups: A Clue in the Stew

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:
Has your contact with authors usually been in person, via email, social media, or something else?

My Answer:
My contact is primarily email though really I haven't had that much communication with authors.  I've mostly dealt with publicists.  I have gotten a few requests for reviews via Twitter but they tend to be so far outside my regular genres that they don't work for me.

This week's book is actually for a blog tour review scheduled for Monday.  I got the book just a few days ago so it's going to be a scramble but this series is so much fun and I'm really enjoying it so far so I'm hopeful.  This is the latest in Connie Archer's Soup Lover's Mysteries - A Clue in the Stew and it always has drool-worthy recipes in the back.  I'm planning on trying out a recipe for Tomato Pepper Soup and another for Corn and Cheese Cakes.  Actually I think those 2 might work well together!

The Beginning:
"What?" Marjorie shrieked, "You haven't heard of her?"

My Thoughts:
I like the beginning.  I've felt like this a few times when I'm sure everyone simply must have heard of a particular author and all I get are blank looks!  I do like that Marjorie is actually talking about an author here and that the whole mystery revolves around a book related event.

The 56:
"I won't be a bother, I swear.  I'll stay out of the way."

My Thoughts:
These sound like famous last words to me!  I think whatever the character is swearing to not be a bother during is going to go horrible wrong.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Beyond the Books: Why I Started Blogging

This week I'm linking up with KissinBlueKaren for Beyond the Books.  This is a meme where we all answer a non-bookish question.  It's always so fun to see everyone's answers and get a peak at the blogger beyond the books.  This week's topic is - Why I Started Blogging

This one isn't as easy as it should be.  I'm not sure I had a specific light bulb moment where I thought "I'm going to start a blog" nor is there really a reason that made me thought I should.

I think the first step was reconnecting with an old IRL friend who just happens to be Lisa from Books Lists Life.  I hadn't really seen a book blog before hers and I was intrigued.  I was also pregnant with the Tornado and in the process of moving and had 3 other kids so there just wasn't time to explore it further.

Fast forward a few years and I've started following a bunch of food blogs and am becoming a bit more aware of the blogging community - at least on the food side.  I expanded out into book blogs and crafts and stuff and really just enjoyed reading blogs.  But I still didn't feel like it was something that I was going to do.  At this point I was reviewing books on Paperbackswap and Goodreads and found that it was really helpful in helping me keep track of which book was which.  Plus I felt like the read was more meaningful if I thought about what I liked and what I didn't and it was more helpful in steering me towards other books that I'd enjoy.

I was a big Pinterest user and loved all the cupcake recipes and decided to start a project where I tried a different cupcake recipe every week.  As the project progressed I decided I needed a place to keep track of my results so I started a blog centered around cupcakes and other food.  As an afterthought I started one to review books as well.  My first post was August 1, 2013 though to be honest I wasn't great about keeping up with it and posted really sporadically.  My real focus was still on the food related blog.

But as time went on I found that I was enjoying the book blog more.  I've always been a big reader and finding there was a whole community out there of people who felt the same way about books that I did was really exciting.  After a few months of doing both blogs I decided to let the food blog go and focus on I Wish I Lived in a Library and I have been so glad I did!

So what about you?  If you're a blogger what's your blogging story?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Skeleton Garden - Review

The Skeleton Garden: A Potting Shed Mystery by Marty Wingate
Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley
Description:  USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate's Potting Shed series continues as expert gardener Pru Parke digs up a Nazi warplane - and a fresh murder.  Texas transplant Pru Parke has put down roots in England, but she never dreamed she'd live in a grand place such as Greenoak.  When her former employers offer Pru and her new husband, former Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse, the use of their nineteenth-century estate while they're away for a year, she jumps at the chance.  Sweetening the deal is the prospect of further bonding with her long-lost brother, Simon, who happens to be Greenoak's head gardener.  But the majestic manor has at least one skeleton in its closet - or, rather, its garden.  Working on renovations to the extensive grounds, siblings Pru and Simon squabble about everything from boxwood to bay hedges.  But when the removal of a half dead tree turns up the wreckage of a World War II era German fighter plane and a pile of bones, the arguments stop.  That is, until a rival from Simon's past pays a surprise visit and creates even more upheaval.  It's suddenly clear someone is unhappy their secrets have been unearthed.  Still, Pru's not about to sit back and let Simon take the fall for the dirty deed without a fight.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: I had really enjoyed the previous book in the series that I read and I couldn't resist the buried World War II era plane buried in the garden!

My Impression:  I read the first book in this series, The Garden Plot soon after it came out and really enjoyed it.  For some reason I missed the next two books even though I had copies but couldn't resist jumping in with book 4.  Thankfully, Stormi, a blogger friend, gave me a quick update on what I had missed so I was ready to go.
I really enjoyed spending time with Pru.  I liked the gardening discussions and getting a look into what it takes to keep up a garden on a big estate in the English countryside.  I also really liked how Pru developed her relationships with Simon, Evelyn, and especially her nephew Orlando.  Her marriage to Christopher, a policeman made her involvement in the investigation make sense.  I really enjoyed Christopher's character as well.  I liked that even though he had more experience with more serious investigations he worked really hard to work with the younger detective, Martin, and not step on his toes. 
I loved the connections to World War 2 in the mystery.  Between the buried plane , the investigation, and the Wartime themed fundraiser it was really interesting.  For me the mystery got off to a bit of a choppy start though this may be because I'm jumping into book 4 after only reading book 1. Once the story got going I was sucked in and really enjoyed the book.  I did guess the who and the why fairly early on but I really wanted to see how it all worked out, find out how certain characters reacted to information, and just spend more time with Pru, Christopher, Simon and everyone else.  
I'm looking forward to going back and seeing what I missed as well as reading what adventures has in store for her next

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I'm really looking forward to the next book and catching up on the books I missed.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely!  Especially if you enjoy cozy mysteries and gardening.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - My Spring TBR

This week's topic for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR.  I love these TBR lists!  It's always such fun to go through the stacks and figure out what I really want to read.  I don't do a particularly great job of actually getting them read but it's fun to pretend.

1.  Me Before You by Jojo Moyes -  I've been kind of avoiding this one because I've heard it's an ugly cry kind of read and I'm not a fan of crying but I've gotten obsessed with the movie preview and really want to watch the movie but I need to read the book first.

2.  Thornyhold by Mary Stewart - I went through a big Mary Stewart phase in college but somehow I missed this one.  I'm trying to tackle a few "I've been meaning to read that" reads this year and this looks like a good place to start.

3.  It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas - This is my reread for spring.  I love the Wallflowers series by Kleypas but while I've reread the next book in the series - The Devil in Winter - I haven't reread this one and I'm looking forward to it.

4.  The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King - I'm so far behind on this series that I'm not sure I want to talk about it but I love King's interpretation of Sherlock Holmes and I really want to get caught up.

5.  Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown - It's an old falling down house in Australia!  I couldn't resist it and I can't wait till it comes out in April.

6.  A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison - This has been one of my favorite cozy mystery series the last couple of years and this one involves a hidden room!  I love a hidden room and really feel there should be more of them.  If you build a house and don't put some kind of hidden compartment in there it should be illegal.

7.  Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson - This spooky looking book from Catriona McPherson involves an old bookstore, a cemetery and a gravedigger's cottage!

8.  The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak - I was really excited when I get this book back last July.  Guess who still hasn't read it?  Hopefully this spring will be the season!

9.  So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures by Maureen Corrigan - I thought I'd mix a little nonfiction in and this study of The Great Gatsby sounds interesting.  I recently listened to The Great Gatsby and was surprised both by how grim it was and by how much I enjoyed it.

10. Treasure on Lilac Lane by Donna Alward - I love the Jewell Cove series by Alward but for some reason I never got around to reading the 2nd book.  I'm really excited about revisiting Jewell Cove while I wait for the next book.

So that's what I'm hoping to read this spring.  What are you looking forward too?