Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fixin to Die - Review

Fixin to Die (A Kenni Lowry Mystery #1) by Tonya Kappes

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Kenni Lowry likes to think the zero crime rate in Cottonwood, Kentucky is due to her being sheriff, but she quickly discovers the ghost of her grandfather, the town's previous sheriff, has been scaring off any would-be criminals since she was elected.  When the town's most beloved doctor is found murdered on the very same day as a jewelry store robbery, and a mysterious symbol ties the crime scenes together, Kenni must satisfy her hankerin' for justice by nabbing the culprits.  With the help of her Poppa, a lone deputy and an annoyingly cute, too-big-for-his-britches State Reserve officer, Kenni must solve both cases and prove to the whole town, and herself, that she's worth her salt before time runs out.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: I've been wanting to try this author for ages so I couldn't resist this first book in a new series.

My Impression:  This was such a fun cozy!  Right from the start I liked Kenni.  She's trying to do her best for the town as sheriff and feels a bit like she had the rug pulled out from under her when the the crime free town has both a jewelry store robbery and a murder back to back.  She's smart enough to realize she needs help but also has good instincts.  I loved how thrown she was by the appearance of a ghost. So often in fiction people are instantly ok with a ghost so I liked how long it Kenni to adjust to the idea even though it was someone she was glad to see.  I also liked that while the ghost did help guide Kenni formed the bulk of the theories on her own.
The town of Cottonwood rang true for a small Southern town.  The gossip spread like wildfire, there are all kinds of petty grievances, and there is definitely a way things should be done.  There are a lot of residents that I'm really looking forward to getting to know and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how Kenni's relationship with her mom continues.
The mystery was entertaining with lots of false starts, dead ends, and red herrings.  Kenni sometimes drove me crazy with how unprofessional at times but the fact that it felt like she was learning her way instead of just being incompetent kept it from decreasing my enjoyment in the read.  Overall, this was a fun cozy with all kinds of quirky characters, Perfect for a beach read or when you need a pick me up!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Absolutely! I have the first book in another series from Kappes and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you enjoy cozy mysteries I think you'd enjoy this.  While there is a ghost it doesn't feel particularly paranormal so don't let scare you off if paranormal isn't for you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Language of Bees - Review

The Language of Bees: A Novel of Suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes by Laurie R. King

Rating: Very Good 
Source: Purchased

Description:  In a case that will push their relationship to the breaking point, Mary Russell must help reverse the greatest failure of her legendary husband's storied past - a painful and personal defeat that still has the power to sting...this time fatally.
For Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, returning to the Sussex coast after seven months abroad was especially sweet.  The was even a mystery to solve - the unexplained disappearance of an entire colony of bees from one of Homes's beloved hives.  But the anticipated sweetness of their homecoming is quickly tempered by a galling memory from her husband's past.  Mary had met Damian Adler only once before, when the promising surrealist painter had been charged with - and exonerated from 0 murder.  Now the talented and troubled young man was enlisting their help again, young man was enlisting their help again, this time in a desperate search for his missing wife and child.  When it comes to communal behavior, Russell has often observed that there are many kinds of madness.  And before this case yields its shattering solution, she'll come into dangerous contact with a fair number of them.  From suicides at Stonehenge to a bizarre religious cult, from the demimonde of the Cafe Royal at the heart of Bohemian London to the dark secrets of a young woman's past on the streets of Shanghai, Russell will find herself on the trail of a killer more dangerous than any she's ever faced - a killer Sherlock Holmes himself may be protecting for reasons near and dear to his heart. (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been reading this series for years and always really enjoy it.

My Impression: This book has been on my shelf for years and is from one of my favorite series but I've been dragging my feet on picking it up for quite some time.  I think the main reason was because I was afraid I wouldn't remember what had happened in the previous books and I felt like I should reread them but there was no way I was going to have time for that as much as I'd like too.  So I decided to bite the bullet and just go for it and I'm so glad I did.  While I don't remember the specifics of their adventures in India and America I found that I didn't really need too.  I remember Mary and Holmes just fine and was glad to jump back into adventures with them and I was very pleased to see more of Mycroft.

After some a few rough adventures Mary and Sherlock are glad to be home in Sussex and not have to worry about anything other than why the bees have abandoned one of the hives.  They're both sore and exhausted and Mary's confidence in herself has been severely shaken.  But as soon as they put down their suitcases adventure finds them with the appearance of Holmes' recently discovered son and the disappearance of the son's wife and child who Holmes and Mary didn't even know existed.

From here on out we spend the most time in Mary's head.  First as she tries to keep herself busy and then becomes involved in the mystery and is still dealing with her crisis of confidence after mistakes that occurred before the book takes place.  To be honest, I didn't remember the details of what had happened but it didn't keep me from understanding what she was feeling and enjoying the story.

The mystery itself was solid, well paced, and interesting which is what I expect from the series.  I enjoyed seeing more of Mycroft but did miss Holmes and Mary together as they spend the bulk of the book apart.  The book does end on a dreaded To Be Continued BUT in this case it didn't bother me.  While I am looking forward to starting the next book and learning what happens next I was satisfied with the resolution of the original mystery.

If you're looking for a smart mystery series with wit and brain this is definitely one to pick up.  I think you could jump in at this book without too much trouble but the earlier books are really fantastic.  It does feature Sherlock Holmes and while I do enjoy both the BBC and American television adaptations and have read an enjoyed several of the stories I am by no means a Holmes expert and cannot vouch for how closely it stays to the original character.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  This is a series I always enjoy and I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes definitely and this series especially.  I think you would enjoy it more if you started closer to the beginning but you could jump in at this book and I think you'd understand what was going on without too much trouble.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Signs You're in an Agatha Christie Novel

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is a freebie.  I've had a lot of fun with Freebies in the past with posts on signs you're in a cozy mystery, a contemporary romance, or a historical romance.  Today I thought I'd go with Top Ten Signs You're in an Agatha Christie Novel.

1.  You're a young woman with no family, no money, an animated face, and a great deal of common sense.  You are a mere moments away from getting swept into an adventure and you'll probably end up in another country.

2.  You're an older woman with a commanding presence, feel you always know what is right for everyone, and have complete control of the family money.  If you're still alive at the beginning you're not going to make it past page 50.

3.  You're at an archaeological dig and the head archaeologist insisted on bringing his wife who no one likes and she's intent on causing trouble.

4.  You're young and wealthy and it's very important to be modern.  You talk a lot about either it be perfectly fine to spend time with your new husband's ex-wife or have a flirtation with another man in front of your husband because you're above all that sticky sentimentality.  It's not going to end well.

5.  You are traveling anywhere on anything and one of your fellow passengers is a short little Belgium man with an egg shaped head and a spectacular mustache.  Expect delays.

6.  You're about to get on a boat to go out to an island with a strange mix of people who seem to have nothing in common and don't fit what you expected your other guests to look like.  Don't get on the boat!  You're not going to like what happens next.

7.  You're staying in a hotel or on a boat and you either get someone else's suitcase or some strange object is dropped down the air vent.  A strange man who may or may not be injured will show up in the middle of night and either be very threatening or need you to hide him.

8.  You are in a foreign country for the first time and go out on the balcony to enjoy the night air.  While outside you overhear a conversation by two unseen people below.  They're planning a murder.  It's always a murder never dinner reservations or anything like that.

9.  You insist on traveling with expensive and attention catching jewels despite being told by everyone remotely close to you that you really really shouldn't.  Double points if you have a soon to be ex-husband and a new boyfriend who is a major gold digger.

10. You are one of 3 or more sisters of whom the majority stayed unmarried.  Your father was either a general or a doctor and had a very commanding presence.  You are all considered an establishment in the village you live in though your sisters are now dying like flies.  Bonus points if you have a servant who commits suicide by drinking hat paint.  Double bonus points if you know what hat paint is.

Are you in an Agatha Christie novel?  The good news is that you're not guaranteed to be murdered just because you match up with one of these signs.  You may end up just being part of the investigation.  If you are a murder victim it's most likely going to be quick and not too gruesome.  Unless you're unlucky enough to be in one her books where she uses poison as the method of murder.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Field of Graves - Review

Field of Graves (A Taylor Jackson Novel) by J.T. Ellison
Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  All of Nashville is on edge with a serial killer on the loose.  A madman is trying to create his own end-of-days apocalypse and the cops trying to catch him are almost as damaged as the killer.  Field of Graves reveals the origins of some of J.T. Ellison's most famous creations: the haunted Lieutenant Taylor Jackson; her blunt, exceptional best friend, medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens; and troubled FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin.  Together, they race the clock and their own demons to find the killer before he claims yet another victim.  This dark, thrilling and utterly compelling novel will have readers on the edge of their seats, and Ellison's fans will be delighted with the revelations about their favorite characters. (From Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been wanting to try this author since I first came across her not too long ago and I thought a prequel would be a good place to start.

My Impression: I feel a bit cheated.  How did it take me so long to read Ellison's books?  I feel like the book fairy should have shown up at my doorstep with one of her books shoved it into my hands and told me to read it years ago.
But now that I've finally found her I definitely plan to keep reading!  The characters in this are wonderfully flawed.  What both Taylor and Baldwin have gone through is horrible and you can easily see why they have the scars that they do have.  However, they're both brilliant at their jobs and while Baldwin may need a bit of a shove to get back to it Taylor is focused to the point of ignoring what's going on in her head without getting too angsty about it.  I really enjoyed seeing the way the unit worked together each person having their own role and their own strengths.  I also really liked that there are times when her coworkers are concerned about Taylor and while they use endearments they don't belittle her or try and push her aside.

The mystery itself had me holding my breath at times.  There is nothing cozy about this book but at the same time I didn't feel like it was overly graphic.  While there is a lot of violence the descriptions are more clinical than gore-y and while we do see through the killer's eyes from time to time I didn't feel like it got to twisted emotionally though the case is seriously twisted on its own.

On a personal level I really enjoyed the local aspect.  I live about 90 miles away from Nashville and have spent quite a bit of time there so I recognized many of the landmarks that were mentioned which always adds an extra amount of enjoyment to a book.  But at the same time this made it a little more personal and a little more unsettling for me.  The victims were the ages of my daughters and I live in the hometown of one of the victims and even know a few kids that went to Vandy.  This was definitely one of those books that I needed to read a chapter of something a bit happier before I closed my eyes for the night!

I had no problem jumping into the series with this book.  I expect that this being a prequel made that a bit easier but I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case with all the books as Ellison's writing was so vivid I instantly connected to the characters.  This book had me staying up too late and double checking the locks and I enjoyed every minute of it!  I can't wait to read more!
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I really just want to buy all her books and go find a corner to sit in with them.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes!  If you like mysteries with a little grit read this book!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

This Week in Reading - June 26

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:

Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne - I actually thought there would be no new additions to the library this week but this approval came through at the last minute.  I'm not sad since RaeAnne Thayne is one of my favorite authors and I'm really excited about the main characters in this book.  I was really intrigued by them when they were side characters in the previous book so I'm looking forward to getting to know them better.  (NetGalley)

Home Cooked by Anya Fernald - Another late arrival and one I'm slightly less confident in.  It looks like an interesting cookbook but potentially to interesting for my somewhat unadventurous family.  (Blogging for Books)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - I finally got this back from the library!  I've got about 90 pages to go and I'm almost scared to keep reading because I think things are going to take a turn for the emotional (library)


Reading: Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander and finishing (finally!) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  I finally got it back from the library!  After that I'm going back to Thornyhold by Mary Stewart

Listening: I'm still enjoying listening to podcasts.  I've really enjoyed listening to Stuff You Should Know and Stuff You Missed in History Class.  I've been trying a few true crime podcasts but so far haven't found a must listen.

Watching:  We've been watching movies lately.  We watched Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks and ended up really enjoying it.  Then the other night we watched Special Correspondents which is a Netflix movie featuring a very frazzled Ricky Gervais and found it very funny.  It can be difficult to find movies that my husband and I both enjoy so getting 2 in a row was really great. Oh and we finally watched The Martian!  My husband is an aerospace engineer and I've worked in the business so it was interesting to watch it from a slightly more insider perspective.  They did a good job of mixing equipment and technology with already have with the fictional.  The one thing that gave us a good chuckle was at the very end when another launch is about to happen to vehicle that they're sending up is a Delta IV Heavy.  J was one of the senior engineers on the program so the Delta IV has been a huge part of our lives so that was kind of cool but the funny thing was it's not for manned flights so they wouldn't be sending a full crew up in it!

Off the Blog:

It decided to become summer here this past week and the heat and humidity have really shown up.  My hair is reaching impressive sizes and is spending most of it's time pulled back!  So we decided that it's time to go even further south where it is hotter and the humidity is even higher!  We are heading to south Mississippi today to stay with family for a few days.  Paul got his ship date so this is kind of a final hurrah before he leaves for boot camp in a few weeks.   Most of this week has been spent preparing for the trip and then his leaving.  It'll definitely be strange.

I won't be around much at the beginning of the week but I'll be catching up on all my visiting as soon as we get back.  I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else is up too!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Field of Graves - Mystery Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Signs You're in an Agatha Christie Novel
Wednesday: Language of Bees - Mystery Review
Thursday: Fixin' to Die - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Linkups featuring Current Book
Saturday: Caught Bread Handed - Cozy Foodie Mystery Review

Wow I didn't realize how mystery heavy this week was going to be!  I'll have to mix it up a little better next week.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

52 Pins in 52 Weeks - June 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 10,000 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.

Week 23:

Pin: Marinated Celery Salad from Breakfast to Bed

Reason Picked:  It sounded really refreshing

The Basic Idea: Slice up celery and marinate it in a tangy viniagrette

The Results:  The basic flavor was good but the blogger didn't include an actual recipe with amounts listed and I don't handle that very well.

Week 24:

Reason Picked: We're always looking for science experiments to do in the summer and I had everything I needed for this one on hand.

The Basic Idea: Add water, oil, and food coloring into a clear container and then sprinkle salt on top and watch what happens

The Results: This is a really simple experiment and fun.  If you're looking for a real volcano go somewhere else but we had a good time setting it up and then adding different things - more salt, more water, more oil - and seeing what happened.

Week 25:

Reason Picked: Chocolate Chip Muffins are yummy!

The Basic Idea: A big chocolate chip muffin that tastes like something you'd get in a bakery.

The Results: Really freaking good!  They're a good size and just chocolate-y enough and sweet enough without being too messy or too sugary sweet but sweet enough where the Tornado still enjoyed his.  The texture is fantastic which can be a little difficult sometimes in muffin recipes.  Next time I will definitely make sure I have some turbinado or sanding sugar on hand because that added crunch would have been amazing!  Also I want fill up the muffin cups to the very top because some leaked over and the edges got a little burnt.  The ones where they were just a tiny bit under full did better.

Week 26:

Pin: Ooblek recipe from Preschool Powol Packets off a list of 55 Dr. Seuss Activities from No Time for Flashcards

Reason Picked: The Tornado really enjoyed the mixing and adding part of the salt volcano so I thought this might be another fun one.

The Basic Idea: Make slime out of cornstarch and water

The Results: This didn't go quite as expected.  For starters I picked the wrong day to do this.  The Tornado was tired and cranky and I had a headache and was fast running of patience.  The stuff doesn't mix up as fast as I expected.  I was thinking you add the stuff, stir it up and than poof Ooblek but the mixing is actually part of the project as you kind of have to get your hands in to do it.  It's very simple and cheap as the only materials you need to buy is a box of cornstarch which is only a few dollars.  The ooblek itself was really neat and the texture was really fun.  I think if we had been in better moods this would have been a lot of fun.  Plus I love that you can read the story to go along with the experiment.  I'll definitely give this another try when we're feeling more adventurous.

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Linkups - Death on the Nile

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:
What is your preferred method of following blogs?

My Answer:
I follow a lot of blogs and they tend to run to two types - food and books.  Since there's a lot of both and it's important to me that I comment on book blogs while I'm mostly just pinning recipes that look good on food blogs I use two different things to keep them separated.  I use feedly for food and bloglovin for books and it seems to work pretty well.

This week's book is one of my favorite Agatha Christie's - Death on the Nile.  I love the characters and while it's not the most clever of plots I love all the intricacies.  This is also a good intro book for readers just meeting Poirot.  The little Belgium can be a bit on the insufferable times at time and there's so much going on here there isn't time to get too wrapped up in his speeches and little grey cells but he's still enough of himself that you do get a sense of his methods and personality.

The Beginning:
"Linnet Ridgeway!"
"That's her!" said Mr. Burnaby, the landlord of the Three Crowns

My Thoughts:
Not the most captivating of beginnings but it does instantly bestow celebrity status on Linnet without knowing anything about her.

The 56:
"No, to you this persecution is intolerable - and why? It can be for one reason only - that you feel a sense of guilt."

My Thoughts:
This is a little misleading because Poirot isn't talking about the murder but rather something more personal but I love how he calls people on their nonsense!  I think he'd be a bit unnerving to have around at times.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Beyond the Books - Funny Family Traditions

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 - Funny Family Traditions

We have lots of family traditions.  The kids get new pajamas every Christmas Eve (which I kind of thought I could let go for the older kids since they're all over 18 now but Eleanor let me know that was not an option.), We do the Elf on the Shelf with the Tornado (though our elf is really lazy and just hides at night.  I have no interest in creating and than cleaning up pranks.  The Tornado does really love finding him every morning though).  We celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday because it just ends up being so much easier to coordinate.  But none that are all that odd.  Except for one...

We go to Chuck E. Cheese every New Year's Eve.  Now I'm sure you thinking we're a bit nuts but it's awesome.  For starters it's doesn't require a babysitter which are always hard to find on New Year's Eve.  There's lots of different games that are fun for everyone and we're a competitive lot so we enjoy seeing who gets the most tickets.  Also it's practically empty so you're not having to fight a mob of kids to get to every game.  And some years the pizza is even pretty decent which is extra exciting.

We did take a few years off when the Tornado was a baby and the older kids and grown out of it but we've gone the last few years and it's still so much fun.  I'm sure we only have a few more years of it with the Tornado before he decides he's to old but for right now it's a tradition we all look forward too.

I was going to post more photos but most of the ones I have everyone is looking very serious because they're concentrating.  We take games very seriously around here!

So do you have any funny traditions?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Riverbend Road - Review

Riverbend Road (Haven Point #4) by RaeAnne Thayne

Rating:  Very Good
Source: Publisher
Description:  Protecting the streets of Haven Point isn't just a job for police officer Wyn Bailey, it's a family tradition.  But lately she's found herself wanting more, especially from her boss- and overprotective brother's best friend - sexy chief of police, Cade Emmett.The only problem is getting Cade to view her as more than just a little sister.  Cade's hands-off approach with Wyn isn't from lack of attraction.  But his complicated past has forced him to conceal his desire.  When Wyn is harmed in the line of duty, Cade realizes the depth of his feelings, but can he let his guard down long enough to embrace the love he secretly craves? (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I love RaeAnne Thayne's books and I've been wanting to get to know Wyn better as she's been a side character in the earlier books in this series.

My Impression:  RaeAnne Thayne's novels are essentially the book equivalent of a perfectly cold fruity drink on a hot day while sitting by the pool.  They're sweet and refreshing with enough of a tang to keep it from being sappy.  This is one of my favorite romance tropes - Cade is Wyn's brother's best friend and they've known each other forever.  In fact Cade spent so much time at the Bailey house he might as well have been one of the family except that Wyn definitely never sees him as a brother and Cade just doesn't think of Wyn as a little sister.  They both want so much more from their relationship.  However, the reasons for not becoming involved are pretty solid.  Cade can't become involved with one of his employees.  He's well aware of the consequences both on an ethical level and on a practical level and neither of them are the type to get involved and hide it.  Plus, there's something shadowy reaching into the present from the night that Wyn's father, Chief of Police John Bailey, was injured on the job.
While all this is going on a new resident moves to Haven Point and Wyn's sure there's something not quite right with the very guarded Andi Montgomery and her two children.  When Wyn gets a 7 day suspension for disobeying a direct order she uses the time to get to know Andi as well as figuring out what she wants to do for the rest of her life.
This isn't the most unique story.  I've read the good man who was a bad boy from a rough family plot before and I've read the bad boy turned law enforcement who still feels like he has a lot to prove plot before.  However, while it didn't feel unique it didn't feel like "this again".  Thayne infuses her characters and her stories with so much heart that they really come alive and I connected with Wyn right away.  It was also really fun to check in with the characters from previous books.  I loved checking in with Devin, Eliza, and MacKenzie but I didn't feel like I had to remember their stories to enjoy them.  If you haven't read the previous books you could jump right in here and be fine though I have a feeling you'd be rushing to pick up the previous books when you finished this one!
If you enjoy women's fiction with lots of heart, likable characters, and an entertaining plot RaeAnne Thayne is an author you should not miss!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I've loved every book I've read by her and I'm looking forward to catching up on the books I haven't read yet.  Plus, I saw who the next book was going to be about and I'm so excited!

Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely!  These are total comfort reads without being to much fluff.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - My Favorite 2016 Releases So Far

This week's topic from The Broke and The Bookish is my Favorite 2016 Releases So Far.  This has been a good reading year so far with lots of great books and only a few low points.  When I was looking over what I read this year so far I think my favorite books were all older books but there are 8 books that I really enjoyed reading that are sparkling new!  I'm including 2 of my favorite older books as well.

1.  A Disguise to Die For by Diane Vallere - When it comes to a fun and quirky cozy mystery Vallere is quickly becoming my go-to author.  I've read at least one book out of 3 of her series and they're all so much fun.  I loved that this one took place in a costume shop.  It sounded like such fun to rummage around in!

2.  Death and the Brewmaster's Widow by Loretta Ross - This 2nd book in the Auction House series was one I was really looking forward too for 2016.  I had loved the first book and the second did not disappoint though there were a coincidence or two too many.  I can't wait to see what happens next!

3.  A Reckless Desire by Isabella Bradford - I'd taken a break from historicals for the last year or two and had a hard time getting into any of the ones I tried to read but I loved this one from Isabella Bradford.  It's the 3rd in the series about 3 brothers and I absolutely loved it.  The characters were so intersting and likable and I liked that there worries were real worries that would have to be discussed instead of feeling like a plot device.

4.  The Rain Sparrow by Linda Goodnight - This ended up being much darker than I expected but without getting too grim.  It's one of the few books I've read that had dual timelines that I was equally invested in both narratives.

5.  Reunion Pass by Emily March - Emily March is one of those authors that I don't think about all that much but when I read her books I wonder why I haven't read more of them.  I always enjoy them and they allways pull me in right away.

6.  Clouds in My Coffee by Julie Mulhern - I love this series and this was my favorite book yet!  I love the 70s setting and Ellison is one of my favorite detectives.  This is a great starter cozy if you don't read much of the genre but want to give a try.

7.  Deep Dark by Laura Griffin - When it starts getting hotter I love a good romantic suspense and this new one from Laura Griffin did not disappoint!  I've seen Griffin around for ages but have never tried her books and I'm so glad I finally did.  I can't wait to go back and catch up on her earlier books.

8.  How Secrets Die by Marta Perry - This is another author I've seen around for awhile but never read.  I loved it and can't wait to go back for more.  I always love it when an author takes a character that I don't really like at the beginning and makes it where I really understand and sympathize with her.

Pre-2016 Favorites

I didn't realize it when I picked these 2 but I got both of these in audio book form and they were ridiculously good.  The narrators on both did a fantastic job.

9.  In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware - I tend to roll my eyes when a book is labeled "the next Gone Girl" or "for fans of The Girl on the Train".  And I think both of those do this book a disservice.  This is a mystery plain and simple.  It's a twisty fascinating one but when it comes down to it it's a murder mystery.  Imogen Church is the narrator on the audio and she is amazing!  I would listen to any book she narrates simply on the strength of her name alone.

10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - I love stories about books and stories about life on the home front during the war and this had a bit of both.  I absolutely loved it.  It was also my first audio that had multiple narrators and I was a little worried about how that would go but they were all absolutely amazing.

So what are your favorite reads so far this year?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ramblings From the Stacks: Life as a Reader

I don't remember learning to read.  I know I wasn't one of the prodigy children who is reading at 2 but I have a feeling I knew how to read much earlier than I "officially" learned but just didn't know I could.  I have always been entranced with books.  Even as a baby when I was cranky and not wanting to sit still if someone sat me down with a book I was instantly quiet, instantly mesmerized.  I have photos of pretty much everyone in my life reading to me at one time or another and I am always still staring at the page in front of me.

But my relationship with books isn't flawless.  When I was in middle school and high school I resented how much I liked to read because it wasn't cool and if anyone found it I'd look like a nerd.  So I hid it.  I didn't talk about books and I tried to pretend I didn't love it.  One of the best things about getting older is that you stop caring about stupid things and I happily re-embraced my love of reading at the end of high school and through college.  Thankfully that phase of really intensely worrying about what people thought came to an end and never reappeared.  But all this musing led me to think about what books I really loved at different stages.  I was also inspired by this post from Deb Nance at Readerbuzz.

Age 0 - 5:

Baby's Birthday by Patricia Mowers, Illustrated by Eloise Wilkin -  I am 36 years old but if I mention this book to either of my parents (who are divorced and haven't spoken in 10 years at least) they both will instantly respond in a sing song voice "Wake up Baby!  It's your special day".  Apparently this was my favorite book and one I insisted on reading on a very regular basis.  I think it was really the illustrator who I really loved because almost all of my favorite books at this point were illustrated by Eloise Wilkin.

Age 6 - 10

Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keen - A year or so after The Boxcar Children I moved on to Nancy Drew.  I loved her even though even then I noticed she did have a tendency to get hit on the head and/or kidnapped.  My Nancy Drew fascination has followed me into adulthood and I still love anything connected to Nancy Drew.  When my older kids were younger we used to play the Nancy Drew PC games and had such a good time with them.

The Babysitter's Club by Anne M. Martin - I read The Babysitter's Club right from the beginning and anxiously waited for new ones to come out.  About the time I was reading these my mother was in graduate school and she would meet up with her study group at this bookstore where one of the members worked.  I would sit on the floor and read at least one of these from cover to cover!

Ages 11 - 15

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - For as much as I love these books I was kind of late picking them up.  My mother had bought me the first one a few years before but I completely refused to read it until I saw the Disney movie at a friend's house.  Then I gobbled it up in one sitting and quickly ended up with the whole set!  I spent a solid week in my room reading all of them.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - I don't quite know what prompted me to pick up this chunkster of a book.  It could have been seeing the movie at someone's house or it could have been that I wanted to see if I could read a book this long.  Whatever the reason I end up really enjoying it and being surprised with how different it was from the book.

Ages 16 - 20

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher - I don't know why I picked this book up the first time but I do know I fell in love with it almost immediately.  This was probably the first book I read that was multi-POV and while that took some getting used too I did love Penelope Keeling.

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie - This is the first of Agatha's books that I remember really enjoying.  Poirot can be a little tricky to connect with but I LOVED this one and love it as much now as I did when I was a teenager.

Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell - This book pulled me in and kept me jumping at noises for quite some time!  The smell of maple syrup made me nervous for awhile.  Her next few were really good too but then I kind of lost interest in the series.

Ages 21 - 25

This was a busy time for me.  I ended a relationship and completely redirected my life, graduated from college, got a "grown up job", and met and married my husband.  I also started reading romance after a push from an IRL blogger friend (though she wasn't a blogger at the time) Lisa.

Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens - This was the first romance I ever read and I adored it.  Not only that but I read it basically in one sitting.  I reread it a few years ago and definitely didn't feel the same about it but I'll always have a soft spot for it!

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn - This was the first book by an author that quickly became an auto-read.  This is one that still holds up pretty well after a number of years.  While this isn't my favorite Bridgerton I still love Daphne and this story as a whole.

Tears of the Moon by Nora Roberts - Pretty much ditto to the Julia Quinn book.  This was the first book I read by a now favorite author.  This is still on of my favorite of Roberts' trilogies.

Ages 26 - 36 

Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright - This is a children's book but I didn't discover it until I was in my late 20s.  I loved Enright's Four Story Mistake and read it countless times but I'm almost mad I didn't discover this book as a child because I would have loved it!  I did enjoy it plenty as an adult so all is not lost.

One Bad Apple by Sheila Connolly - This was one of the first cozies I read and really got me obsessed with the genre.  This series and author are still one of my favorites

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis - Up until this book I had primarily read historicals when it came to romance.  With the exception of Nora Roberts and the occasional other author I never really seemed to find a contemporary that really stuck and seldom reached for this sub-genre.  

Looking Forward:

I think my main thing going forward is that I'd like to take more reading risks - more books outside of my usual genres, more books that I think might make me cry or make me think or question or learn.  But I don't want to expand so much I'm no longer reading books by favorite authors or books that make me happy.

If you're thinking back what books stand out to you in different phases of your life?  Anything you want to change about the way you read?

Comment Challenge Signup Post- July

I've been seeing the banner for the Comment Challenge for a little while and after seeing both Kathryn from Book Date and Rita from View From My Books talk about it I couldn't resist signing up!

This is hosted by Lonna at FLYLef and Alicia at A Kernel of Nonsense and looks like so much fun!  I've chosen to comment 5 to 10 times  (though I expect to do more but I'm being safe because things always go off the rails in summer a bit).  I'm really looking forward to getting to know some new-to-me blogs and bloggers.  Sign ups for July close the 21st but you can still sign up for August.

Happy commenting!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

This Week in Reading - June 19

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:

The Queen's Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal - This is a series that I've really been wanting to read.  I got the last one but didn't end up getting to it and since the reviews were on the mixed side I didn't try very hard.  However, this has a Jack the Ripper copycat and I couldn't resist!  (Publisher)

Always a Cowboy by Linda Lael Miller - I read the first one in this new series back at the beginning of the year and was really fascinated by the main character's brothers - one of which happens to be the hero in this book!  I always enjoy a Linda Lael Miller book so I'm looking forward to this one. (Publisher)

Lowcountry Book Club by Susan M. Boyer - This is one of my very favorite cozy series and this newest one has a book club in it!  I can't wait to read it!  (NetGalley)


Reading:  Field of Graves by J.T. Ellison and The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King (Still - it has not been a good print reading month)

Listening: I'm still catching up on podcasts.  I've really been enjoying Stuff You Missed in History Class and I've got a few crime ones I'm trying out.

Watching: With summer I haven't been watching that much TV.  J and I need to find a new series to watch together now that we've finished The Blacklist.  I've heard recommendations for Hannibal and Bloodline but haven't made any decisions yet.  I'm finishing up 1-800-Missing on Hulu that came out in 2006ish and was loosely based on a Meg Cabot series.  Then I'm switching back to Supernatural.

Off the Blog:

It's been a fairly quiet week here.  The Tornado had his second week of summer camp and I crossed a few things off my to do list but nothing really earth shattering.  We finished the redo on the master bathroom and it looks fantastic!  I'm so excited.  Of course now the bedroom looks kind of sad so we're going to start on that soon.  Nothing too massive - mainly a fresh coat of paint and some new curtains.  Oh and new lamps because I really dislike 2 of them.

J and I were standing in the bedroom discussing what we needed to do in there and talking about cleaning out stuff.  While we were talking he glances over at my bedside table which is actually just a half bookcase.  It's gotten super crammed and the books have spread between the bed and the bookcase, into under the bed boxes, around the under the bed boxes, under the bookcase, etc.  Now J is a serious minimalist and clutter hater and has done really well about not complaining too much about the book creep.  Though he has switched from calling the bookcase a bookcase to "that thing you call a bookcase".  So he says very causally "Maybe you can get rid of a few books that you didn't love." And I reply with "I haven't read any of these."  I'm sure this shocks none of you but his eyes went about as big as dinner plates and his jaw dropped.  He was literally stunned that books kept coming in when there were so many left to read.  I spent 2 days giggling about this and would randomly say "You thought I had read all of those!"

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Ramblings from the Stacks - My Life as a Reader
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases So Far
Wednesday: Riverbend Road by RaeAnne Thayne - Contemporary Romance Review
Thursday: TBD but maybe Field of Graves Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: 52 Pins in 52 Weeks - June Edition

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Ten Things I'm Loving Right Now

I started to title this post Ten of My Favorite Things but then the song came bursting into my head so we are going with Ten Things I'm Loving Right Now.  This post came from my thinking about bullet journaling partly inspired by this post from Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity.  I started thinking about what I would want to make lists of that might entertain me years from now looking at back and this is one of the subjects I came up with.
1.  Out of Print shirts - I've been looking at these bookish tshirts for ages but finally gave in a couple of months ago and bought myself a few and I love them.  They're super soft and hold up really well.  I've worn mine countless times and there's no fading or pilling.  I have The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Secret of the Old Clock, A Choose Your Own Adventure (that has choices on the back!!), A Wrinkle in Time, The Great Gatsby, and Curious George (picked by the Tornado).  I did make a rule that I had to have read the book and liked it before I can buy the shirt which is pushing up a few books on my TBR.  I do recommend going up a size when buying.  I normally where a small in tshirts but I got a medium in all of these and they fit really well.

2.  Filled Twizzlers - Twizzlers are one of my favorite snacks for road trips and the last trip I accidentally bought the Filled Twizzlers and became obsessed.  Like trying to come up with excuses to go to the grocery store so I could buy more kind of obsessed.  They're the perfect combination of sweet and tangy and I could eat them by the packful.  I'm trying to work on restraint but it's so hard!

3.  Raw Whole Almonds - Deep in the throes of my Filled Twizzlers addiction I read an article about someone trying all the Victoria Secret Angel tips and tricks.  One of them was snacking on raw almonds and the author was pretty complimentary of them so I thought I'd give them a try to see if that helped me manage my sweet tooth cravings and so far I've been really surprised.  When I'm feeling the need to eat 3 cupcakes for a snack I'll go and grab a couple of almonds and the craving will become manageable.  I'm not sure if it's placebo or not but whatever it is it's working!

4.  The Farmer's Market - One of my favorite things this time of year is the Farmer's Market.  We have several in the area but my favorite one is downtown on Thursday afternoons.  They always have a bunch of vendors and the selection is always great.  Plus there are several bakeries that have booths that are absolutely amazing.  If I'm being fully honest that's probably why I like it!

5.  Wingers Sticky Chicken Fingers Recipe from Creme de la Crumb- This chicken is so good and so easy!  It was one of those recipes that the first time I looked at it I wasn't sure it was going to work.  Baking breaded chicken and then rolling it in the glaze just seemed like asking for trouble and I just didn't see how the ingredients of the sauce would actually end up working.  I was so so so wrong!  It really reminded me of chicken wings but easier to eat and better for you.  Dip it in ranch or blue cheese and you've got a tasty dinner.

6.  Dr. Teal's Bath Salts - I'm definitely a bath girl.  It's my favorite way to unwind in the evening and  relaxes me like nothing else.  My very favorite thing to put in the bath is the Dr. Teal's salts.  I buy the big bags from the grocery store and will dump in a cup or two.  You get the benefits of epsom salts, it smells amazing (my favorite currently is the ginger and clay) and doesn't leave a mess in the tub or make it all oily like so many products do.  Plus they're pretty cheap and easy to find.

7.  Tocca Hand Creams - I love these hand creams and have tubes hidden everywhere.  I have super dry hands and not great nails and these really help.  I love that they do really seem to moisturize but the don't leave my hands greasy.  Plus they smell amazing!  I have Giulietta in my desk drawer which smells like Pink Tulips and Green Apple and Cleopatra next to my bed which Grapefruit and Cucumber.

8.  Romantic Suspense Books - When the temperatures start to rise and the humidity is so high that I just feel like the air is sitting on my there is nothing I want to read more than romantic suspense.  Something about the danger and the banter and all that keeps me turning pages when I can't seem to focus on other genres.  Some of my favorites are anything by Heather Graham, Nora Roberts suspense titles, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Lauren Griffin.

9.  Tomato Sandwiches - My absolute food in the summer is a tomato sandwich - toasted bread, a dash of mayonnaise, some bacon if I'm feel decadent, a drizzle of balsamic if I'm feeling fancy and most importantly lots of fresh sliced tomatoes.  I absolutely love getting them out of my own garden and going right in and making a sandwich while they're still warm but tomatoes from other peoples' gardens are okay too.  Just as long as they're not the forced ripe things they sell at the grocery store that pretend to be tomatoes.

10.  Mario Kart 8 - It's summer and school is out which means later nights and lazy mornings but also there's a lot of free time and time to fill.  Lately the Tornado and I have been playing some serious Mario Kart tournaments and we're having such a good time.  I like that it's something we can play together and we don't really get stuck at levels like we have with some of the other games.

While there isn't much cooking in this list there is a lot of food so I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Linkups: Thornyhold

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

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Do you have a photo in my profile?

My Answer: 
Yes!  I've had the same picture for awhile and I've thought about changing it but there really aren't that many pictures of me so I haven't.

This week's book is Thornyhold by Mary Stewart.  I read some Mary Stewart in college and enjoyed her books and always meant to read more.  However, this was before Amazon was really a thing and I was very broke and relying on my used bookstore for books.  Their Mary Stewart selection wasn't large.  So when I was making up my Classic Club List and was thinking of authors and books I really wanted to read Mary Stewart came to mind.  Now I know that some people would argue that she doesn't qualify as a classic and her books really haven't been around that long BUT she's an author I've been wanting to read and Thornyhold sounded interesting so that's all that really matters right?

The Beginning:
I suppose my mother could have been a witch if she had chosen to.  But she met my father, who was a rather saintly clergyman and he cancelled her out.

My Thoughts: 
I really like the nonchalant tone of the narrator discussing her mother witch possibilities.  Right away I feel like the narrator is someone I will enjoy getting to know.

The 56:
I lay quite still, listening.  Bats? I knew nothing about them, but imagined them as silent creatures, hanging in their shelter.  In any case, surely they would be out in the night, and flying.

My Thoughts:
This is so me.  If I wake up in the middle of the night I always end up lying there listening for noises that shouldn't be there.  I could definitely see myself trying to decide if there was a non-scary reason for a noise I was hearing.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  What do you consider a classic?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Vacations Can Be Murder - Review

Vacations Can Be Murder (Diega DelValle #3) by Jane DiLucchio

Rating:  Good
Source: Author
Description:  When Diega DelValle and three of her friends go on an impromptu vacation in Talkeetna, Alaska, Diega envisions an enjoyable summer break from teaching along with time to heal from a break up.  However, even before the friends arrive, this small town on the edge of Denali National Park becomes a less than idyllic vacation spot.  Gail, a Talkeetna native, dies on the mountain.  Melissa, Gail's cousin and a former student of Diega's, arrives in Talkeetna and raises doubts about the death being accidental.  Due to Melissa's pleas for help, Diega and her friends are thrust into an investigation of a small town and its inhabitants - an unsavory pastime that turns deadly (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  The blurb caught my attention and I haven't vicariously visited Alaska in awhile.

My Impression:  
What I Loved:
The setting - DiLucchio really uses the setting to full advantage.  The wilds of Alaska aren't merely window dressing for a mystery that takes place inside.  Denali is constantly lurking overhead as shrouded in clouds as it is in mysteries.  There are discussions on gardens and the advantages of both the soil and the long days.  Diega and her friends spend quite a lot of time in the small town dealing with both the disadvantages and advantages of being in a small isolated town.

The mystery itself - I really had no idea how this was all going to work out.  Even when I had an idea of the who I was still missing lots of details and definitely wanted to get everything all figured out.  I definitely enjoyed seeing how all those details wrapped up

The balance - With such a fascinating setting it would be really easy to get wrapped up in the details of living in Talkeetna, Alaska but while I was really able to visualize what it was like I never felt like the mystery ever got lost.  I also really liked how balanced Di Lucchio was in what could easily have been hot button issues.  While there are several mentions of Diega's social activism but I never felt like she was lecturing me which I really appreciated.

The characters - I loved Diega and Tully and Kate especially but the book had a whole cast of quirky characters.  There's a grumpy mountain man,  a sketchy bush pilot, and a photographer who seems to have more than his share of secrets, just to name a few.

What I Didn't Love:
A few too many characters - While I did really enjoy getting to know all the people in Talkeetna as well as Diega and Tully I had a hard time keeping track of the rest of Diega's friend group.  Part of this may have been because this is book 3 and if I had read the first 2 I would have known them all a little better.  There were a few times where I had to remind myself of who Felicia or Jenny was.  But really this is a very minor complaint.

This was a solid mystery with interesting characters in an amazing setting.  It wasn't a pull you in and  all of a sudden it's 3AM kind of mystery but it was thoroughly enjoyable and sometimes it's nice not to have to double check the locks!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I would.  I liked getting to know Diega and reading a book set in Alaska made the high temperatures and even higher humidity (okay probably not higher but it feels like it!) not seem so bad.

Would I Recommend this Book?:   Yes, I think most mystery readers would enjoy this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Only You - Contemporary Romance Review

Only You (Bachelor Brotherhood) by Denise Grover Swank

Rating:  Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Description:  Never say never... Romance isn't an option for Holly Greenwood.  With her wedding planner career on the line she needs to stay focused, and that means pleasing her demanding boss, not getting distracted by her mind-slteringly hot neighbor...
Ex-Marine Kevin Vandermeer craves normalcy.  Instead, he has a broken-down old house in need of a match and some gasoline, a meddling family, and the uncanny ability to attract the world's craziest women.  At least that last one he can fix: he and his buddies have made a pact to swear off women, and this includes his sweetly sexy new neighbor.  After one hot night that looks a whole lot like a disaster in the light of day, Kevin and Holly are about to learn that true love doesn't play by the rules... (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been looking for some new romantic contemporary authors and this one sounded really fun!

My Impression:  It's hard to write a review when my brain is full of jazz hands and happy dances but I enjoyed this book so much I'm going to try and settle all that down so I can write down my thoughts.
For the last few years my gold standard for contemporary romance has been Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor series.  She has just the perfect balance of quirky but realistic characters, snarky humor, a good dash of heart, and a community so well drawn and welcoming that you just want to visit.  I haven't really found a book that measured up until now.

I loved Holly.  She's funny and smart and doesn't take herself to seriously.  She loves her job and is realistic about her boss.  Her bond with both her cousin and her grandmother is very strong and very sweet.  She doesn't always act the smoothest and occasionally comments come out of her mouth before she can stop them but she always means well and is really trying.  Kevin is a little more generic.  He's gorgeous, a former Marine, and trying to forge a better relationship with his sister and soon to be niece or nephew.  He has two friends that he's been close to since childhood and their banter provided quite a bit of humor.  Those ex-girlfriend stories!  Each one is equally crazy.  I'm guessing that these friends - Matt and Tyler  - will be the subject of the next two books and I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens.  Kevin's sister Megan is amazing. She's hilarious and basically bulldozes her brother into doing what she wants because she knows it's what is best for him.  Plus she uses the world "asshattery" which is pretty fantastic.  Even the villain, Nicole, Holly's boss, isn't all bad.  While I wouldn't want to work for her or be related to her you do see what is driving her and some of the motivations behind her actions even if she isn't acting like she should.

The romance itself is really sweet.  I absolutely loved how their relationship developed and I really liked that Kevin understood and took Holly's concerns seriously.  The end was a little contrived and wrapped up a little fast but this is an HEA I can believe in.

In conclusion I want to be BFFs with Holly and Megan, hang out with Kevin, Matt, and Tyler and get a kitten (did I mention Kevin adopts a little grey kitten?) and if Mel can have her own book that'd make me even happier.  I'm so excited to find a new to me contemporary romance author that blends snark and sweet, fun and heart, AND manages to throw in a big Marine holding a kitten.

Follow the Author

Follow Forever

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to Matt and Tyler's books and am keeping my fingers crossed about Mel's story

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Definitely!  If you enjoy Jill Shalvis' books I think you'd love this one.