Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Last Chance Rebel - Blog Tour Review + Giveaway

Last Chance Rebel (Copper Ridge #6) by Maisey Yates

Rating: Good
Source: Blog Tour
Description:  The prodigal son of Copper Ridge, Oregon has finally come home.  The man who ruined Rebecca Bear's life just strolled bac into it with one heck of an offer.  Years ago, Gage West's recklessness left Rebecca scarred inside and out.  Now he wants to make amends by gifting her the building that houses her souvenir store.  Rebecca won't take Gage's charity but she's willing to make a deal with the sexy, reclusive cowboy.  Yet keeping her enemy close is growing dangerously appealing...
He's the wild West brother, the bad seed of Copper Ridge.  That's why Gage needs the absolution Rebecca offers.  He just didn't expect to need her.  After years of regretting his past, he knows where his future lies- with this strong, irresistible woman who could make a black sheep come home to stay...  (from Goodreads)

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books a Million | Barnes & Noble

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I've read 2 Maisey Yates books before this one (okay 1 novella and 1 book) and enjoyed them both. There were mentions of Gage West in the previous book and I was curious about his story.

My Impression:  This is the 3rd Maisey Yates book and I'm starting to know what to expect when I open the book.  There will be compelling stories with a little bit of grit to them, relatable yet complicated characters, and writing that will hook me from the beginning.  Last Chance Rebel is definitely not an exception in this!

At the beginning we meet Rebecca Bear.  Rebecca is running a successful souvenir store on Main Street in Copper Ridge.  Her life has settled into a pattern that she's happy with.  She has her store, her home, 2 days off from the store to enjoy her home, and a small group of friends.  But when it comes down to it she's still angry about the accident that happened years ago and left her with scars and changed her life forever.  Gage West has his own issues.  His entitled reckless behavior had devastating consequences and he had the rug pulled out from under him when he found his father wasn't who he thought he was.  Gage fled Copper Ridge years ago to make his way in the world and now he's come back to deal with fall out he didn't even realize he created.

I found Rebecca's anger easy to believe.  She has a chip on her shoulder a mile high but it's hard to think of a way that she wouldn't given everything that's happened to her.  She's angry at Gage, she's angry that Gage feels remorse, she's angry that Gage is inserting himself into her life and she can't stop it and she's just angry about things that are out of her control.  Gage has carried around guilt for years and wants to help and to make it better but this isn't a situation that you just slap a band aid on and it's all better.  Gage also has to deal with the anger of his siblings for his walking away so many years before.  This really blindsided him and he has to come to terms with the fact that when he walked away lost in his own confusion and anger they see it as an abandonment and he finds himself having to make amends he didn't expect to have to make.

I was worried at the beginning that their attraction would not work for me but I ended up being on board.  With Gage Rebecca can be herself and isn't afraid to let him see her scars like she is with other men so that kind of removes the awkwardness she typically has with men.  There is an anger element on her side and a guilt element on his side that wouldn't generally work for me but Yates makes it work and it never strays over to ick territory.  I think it helps that they both have their share of damage and together they can make each other stronger.

If you like contemporary romance with some heat and complicated characters this is a series you really shouldn't miss!

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Connect with Maisey

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Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  The next book is about Gage's sister Madison and I can't wait!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you like a contemporary romance series with some heat and a little bit of grit this would be a good fit!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Loved and Hated Required Reading

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is a Back to School Freebie.  I've been thinking about required reading lately and am even planning on doing my own back to school required list here.  This got me thinking about the required reading that I did have to do in high school and which books I really enjoyed and which ones were just misery to get through. This is in no way a complete list but these were the first that came to mind and the ones that stick out the most.  I'm also sticking with books I had to read in high school.  I majored in Computer Science in college which required only the basic English comp classes so I didn't really have any required reading then.  If you did I'd love to hear what you read!


1.  Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - This was required reading before 9th grade and even though it was years and years (and years) ago it's one of those books that really still has stuck with me.  It's such a powerful story for it's simplicity.  It inspired me to read more Steinbeck.

2.  Macbeth by William Shakespeare - Macbeth was 11th grade and I was enthralled.  My 11th grade English teacher was one of my favorite teachers and the way she taught this play is why.  I had read a number of Shakespeare's plays before this point in other classes but for Macbeth we listened to a radio adaptation and every once in awhile she would pause it and we'd discuss meanings and what what was going on.  This is by far my favorite of Shakespeare's work.

3.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I read this in 9th grade and loved it.  I did seek out more about Fitzgerald and read several books on him and on Zelda as well as more of his work.  I did discover that he seems to use the same theme repeatedly but it's still one of my favorite time periods.  I listened to the book not to long ago and was surprised by just how dark it was.  I remembered that it wasn't an upper but I hadn't realized just how grim it was.

4.  The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole - In my AP English class my senior year of high school we each had to write a major paper at the end of the year from a given topic.  Mine ended up being The Introduction of Gothic-ism into English Literature with Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto.  I didn't end up doing all that well on the paper (her grading seemed to be based on how well she liked the student - I wasn't a favorite.  I never made anything less than an A on any paper I wrote in college but in that class I couldn't make higher than an 80) but I did love the book.

5.  Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert - This was another book I read in 12th grade.  In my high school 12th grade was International Literature and Madame Bovary was a welcome relief in between all the Russian authors we were reading.  I don't remember all that much about the book itself other than that it was incredibly readable and I felt sorry for the main character as she didn't seem like a person who could actually ever be happy.


1.  Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce - This was another book we had to read in 12th grade and I think I would've preferred another Russian.  For starters my teacher was terrible.  I ranted about her grading system earlier (that was a condensed rant - almost 20 years later I have a full length one I can go off on on a moment's notice).  The way she taught was we read in class for a set number of days and then we took an essay style test with questions like "What was the last thing character A said to character B and what did it mean".  This book was just hard.  For starters stream of consciousness is not my go-to style and I remember a lot of study groups where we would debate just who was "she" and what exactly was the narrator talking about in chapter 6 and did anyone understand just what was going on?  The answer was usually no.

2.  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - This was 9th grade and I hated this book.  My summary was "Pip is poor and he complains and then he's rich and he complains and then he's poor again and still complaining".  I actually attempted to reread it earlier this year and my summary wasn't all that different.  The main difference between 14 year old me and 36 year old me is that this version can appreciate Dickens' writing whereas 14 year old me just hated it all.

3.  The Pearl by John Steinbeck - In general I really enjoy Steinbeck's works but I don't know what this mess was. It's so different from his usual matter of fact everyman kind of story.  I don't know anyone who has enjoyed this one.

4.  Absalom Absalom by William Faulkner - This may make me lose my Southern card but I'm not a fan of Faulkner.  No sentence should take up 3 pages.  It just shouldn't!  In general I'm not a huge fan of any of his work but Absalom, Absalom especially brings back bad memories.  He does this delightful little thing where he changes narrators without letting you know so it just ends up seriously confusing.  I have no idea what this book was about and if I recall even the Cliff Notes (do people still use those?) stated that the book was confusing.

5.  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne - I actually find the basic story interesting and like all that it shows about religion and class and social stigma.  It would've been a fantastic short story but slogging through all the pages of wandering made me develop a rather strong dislike for Hawthorne!

So what about you?  Did you have any required reading that you loved?  Or any that still give you nightmares?  Any books on my list that you felt the opposite about?  

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Story to Kill - Cozy Mystery Review

A Story to Kill (Cat Latimer #1) by Lynn Cahoon
Rating: Good 
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Former English professor Cat Latimer is back in Colorado, hosting writers' retreats in the big blue Victorian she's inherited, much to her surprise from none other than her carousing ex-husband!  Now it's an authors' getaway - but Cat won't let anyone get away with murder...
The bead and breakfast is open for business and bestselling author Tom Cook is among the first guests.  Cat doesn't know why he came all the way from New York, but she's glad to have him among the quirkier - and far less famous - attendees.  Cat's high school sweetheart Seth, who's fixing up the weathered home, brings on mixed emotions for Cat... some of them a little overpowering.  But it's her uncle, the local police chief, who she'll call for help when there's a surprise ending for Tom Cook in his cozy guest room.  Will a killer have the last word on the new life Cat has barely begun?  (from Goodreads)
Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been reading Cahoon's Tourist Trap series since the beginning and always enjoy it.  I was excited to see what she did with a mystery set around a writing retreat.

My Impression:  We briefly met Cat Latimer in the last Tourist Trap mystery but I didn't really remember much about her so I was excited to get to know her better in this first book in the new series.  As I have come to expect from a mystery from Cahoon A Story to Kill provided a fascinating mystery, likable characters, and a setting I instantly feel at home in.

While I have no interest in actually writing a book myself I'm fascinated by the behind the scenes of the writing process.  With all that was going on in this mystery - Cat and her right hand woman, Shauna, getting their writing retreat business off the ground, home renovations featuring Cat's "the one who got away", making peace with her ex-husband's rather nefarious past, murder, and the usual mayhem that accompanies an investigation - I was worried that the writing retreat aspect would end up being talked about but rarely shown.  Thankfully we get just the perfect amount to really see them writing but not so much that it feels like a how to book on how to write a book!  I also really enjoyed Cat and Shauna's interactions as they're figuring their way through the first week of business.   I also really enjoyed seeing how Cat and Seth interacted as they became reacquainted after years apart.

The mystery itself kept me reading.  While I did guess the bad guy pretty early there were a few misdirections along the way that had me guessing and I didn't know the whys and hows of the situation until the end. Plus there's the a few hints throughout the book and a tease at the end about the next mystery and I can't wait!  Is it 2017 yet?

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I can't wait for the next one in this series and the next Tourist Trap book.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely!  If you enjoy cozy mysteries Lynn Cahoon is an author you shouldn't miss.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

This Week in Reading - August 28

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:

Egg Drop Dead by Laura Childs - This is the 2nd Laura Childs book I've gotten in as many weeks and I'm looking forward to reading this one as well!  I read the first in the series years ago so I can't wait to catch up!  (NetGalley)

Masking for Trouble by Dianne Vallere - Her 2nd book in the costume shop mystery and I can't wait!  I loved the first book in the series and always enjoy her mysteries.  (Blog Tour)

Honor Bound by B.J. Daniels - So this is apparently the year of cowboy romances for me.  I've always said they weren't for me but if I'm counting right this is my 5th this year so I might have to rethink that!  This is a new author for me though I know she's been around for quite some time.  I'm looking forward to reading this one!  (Blog Tour)


Reading:  Beauty at the End by Debbie Howells and Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

Listening:  I just finished My Name is Lucy Barton and am about to download the 3rd book from the Flavia de Luce series.   I can't wait!

Watching:  I've started watching Blindspot on Hulu.  I really liked the first few episodes but it's getting a little conspiracy-esque and I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I'm definitely going to keep watching though.  J and I are watching season 3 of Northern Exposure and still enjoying the series.  Quirky doesn't even begin to describe it!

Off the Blog:

I have been a terrible blogger this week.  Mostly because I have joined a gym and me being an all or nothing person have been obsessed with it!  Plus, classes are hard and I haven't been able to move my arms!  I really had no plans on joining a gym but a friend of mine spent basically all summer trying out different gyms and had found one she really liked.  I've been wanting to exercise more but other than some videos at home hadn't really done much with it.  So I've been loving my membership so far.  I had forgotten how much I really loved gyms!  This one has a lot of classes that I really like and tons of equipment.  I'm looking forward to some time on the elliptical machine with my earbuds and an audio book!

Getting used to the gym has been most of my week.  We are having a busy weekend.  We had dinner at Eleanor's apartment Friday night and it was really nice.  She's always had a good eye when it comes to decorating and clothes but she's done a fantastic job with decorating her apartment on a budget.  Then Saturday was dinner with J's brother and his wife and was also a lot of fun.  However, that's about enough social activity for this family of introverts!  I expect today will be spent at home not talking to anyone who doesn't live here.  Or at least that's the goal!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  A Story to Kill - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Good and Bad Required Reading
Wednesday: Last Chance Rebel - Blog Tour Contemporary Romance Review
Thursday: TBD
Friday: Friday Linkup with current book
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

52 Pins in 52 Weeks - August 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.

August was a really successful month which was lots of fun.  For September I'm hoping to get some more craft type pins done since I have a little more time now that school has started and we're getting into the flow.  And in October come a few Halloween treats!  I'm really looking forward to those!

Week 31:

Reason Picked:  I like cucumbers and am always looking for different things to do with them.

Basic Idea: A sweet tangy fresh relish made from cucumbers, red onion, and apple in a apple cider vinegar honey dressing with a touch of dill.

The Results:  This was so good!  I didn't have any fresh dill so I used dried and halved the amount as it seemed a little dill heavy to me.  It was really tasty.  I ate it as almost a side (like you would with coleslaw) and topped some grilled chicken with it on a tortilla and both ways were tasty.  

Week 32:

Reason Picked:  I love a good peanut butter frosting and You Cup of Cake is one of my go to blogs when it comes to cupcake recipes.

Basic Idea: A rich doctored cake mix chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter frosting with actual Nutter Butters in the frosting.

The Results:  This was another winner though really it's hard to fail on a cupcake.  The cake was good and the additional ingredients kept it from tasting like a mix.  The frosting was peanut butter-y but a little lighter with the Nutter Butter addition.  

Week 33:

Reason Picked: I love brownies and I love pie so 2 great things go great together.  Plus, Cooking Classy is one of my favorite food blogs.

Basic Idea:  A buttery pie crust with a rich brownie filling.  The original recipe includes a bottom layer of pecans but my family is very strange and doesn't like pecans so I left them out.

The Results:  I'm not entirely confident in the pie crust because they're not really in my skill set.  This one came together pretty easily but it definitely isn't pretty and there aren't going to be any fluted edges anytime soon!  The filling is rich and chocolately though a little on the messy side.  I think it would've been better with pecans like the recipe calls for.  Otherwise, it's fantastic warm with vanilla ice cream!

Week 34:

Reason Picked:  I always feel like I'm wasting basil as I don't end up using all my plants before it freezes and I regularly forget about drying them!

Basic Idea:  Pack basil in olive oil in a mason jar and keep in the refrigerator for up to a year.

The Results:  Well I can't exactly say how successful it was because it's only been about a week and a half but the leaves till look pretty good and it was super easy to do.  Plus I love the idea of not only having fresh basil year round but having basil infused olive oil.  Basil is about the only thing my garden has produced this year and I have a few different types of basil so I'm hoping to have a few different jars.  

Week 35:

Reason Picked: Because date night was a rare thing and we wanted to fix that

Basic Idea:  A list of ideas for things that you can do at home that are fun and inexpensive and a little different.

The Results:  Okay I'm going to be honest here and we haven't actually had a stay at home date night BUT this did realize what we were doing wrong and that was the planning and scheduling.  While a lot of these aren't for J and me (we are not karaoke people) there were a ton of good ideas that will be a lot of fun and links to even more lists of ideas.  So next Saturday we have scheduled a Video Game Date.  I'll be working on our menu and figuring out what games we're going to play this week.  I'm really excited!  Next I'm thinking board games or quizzes or a game of Would You Rather.  They all sound really fun.

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

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Linkups: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

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:
Can I say the sentence "Reading is my passion" describes me?

My Answer:
I'm not sure that I'd say reading is my passion but it's definitely been my constant.  It's something I've loved all my life and books are something I reach for to feel better or forget when times are tough and are part of my happy days as well.

This week's book is pretty much Lark from The Bookwyrm's Hoard's fault.  I was familiar with Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams because it's one of my husband's favorite but I had for whatever reason never thought about actually reading it.  But then Lark posted this post which included the sneak preview of the BBC America show and that brought the book front and center in my mind.  Adams' sense of humor really appeals to me but but I've mostly stuck with Hitchhiker's Guide so I'm especially looking forward to this one! 

The Beginning: 
This time there would be no witnesses.
This time there was just the dead earth, a rumble of thunder, and the onset of that interminable light drizzle from the northeast by which so many of the world's most momentous events seem to be accompanied.

My Thoughts:
This sounds surprisingly serious for Adams.  Something about that first sentence sounds especially ominous.

The 56:
This was the evening of the last day of Gordon Way's life, and he was wondering if the rain would hold off for the weekend.

My Thoughts:
I think if you looked at the thoughts of most people on their last day their thoughts would be similarly mundane.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Whiskey Sea - Blog Tour Review

The Whiskey Sea by Ann Howard Creel (Amazon)

Rating: Very Good
Source: Blog Tour

Description:  Motherless and destitute, Frieda Hope grows up during Prohibition determined to make a better life for herself and her sister, Bea.  The girls are taken in by a kindly fisherman named Silver, and Frieda begins to feel at home whenever she is on the water.  When Silver sells his fishing boat to WW1 veteran Sam Hicks, thinking Sam would be a fine husband for Frieda she's outraged.  But Frieda manages to talk Sam into teaching her to repair boat engines instead, so she has a trade of her own and won't have to marry.  Frieda quickly discovers that a mechanic's wages won't support Bea and Silver, so she joins a team of rumrunners, speeding into dangerous waters to transport illegal liquor.  Frieda becomes swept up in the lucrative, risky work - and swept off her feet by a handsome Ivy Leaguer who's in it just for fun.  As danger mounts and her own feelings threaten to drown her, can Frieda find her way back to solid ground - and to a love that will sustain her?  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book: I love this time period and seeing a woman take on not only the unusual role of boat mechanic but then rumrunner intrigued me!

My Impression:While the 1920s has always been one of my favorite time periods to fictionally visit I've normally stayed more on the high society end of it with the pretty clothes and the wild parties where the inside just maybe a bit rotten.  Bootlegging is always mentioned and alcohol is always there but I've never really given much thought to the people behind the scenes who are making sure that Jay Gatsby can continue to provide enough gin for his guests.
But now that I've met Frieda Hope that will change a bit.  From the moment we meet her as a serious little girl trying to be strong I immediately liked her.  Throughout the book there were times that I wanted to reach out and shake her but I always felt like I understood her.  Frieda has a lot of baggage and an enormous chip on her shoulder and all for pretty good reason.  However, to the people she loves like her sister Bea and their adopted father Silver she is fiercely loyal.  She's also incredibly determined to help her sister get a better education and through that a better life and provide security for herself.  Compared to her the side characters are a little flat but not because they have no personality but more because Frieda has such a demanding one.

The actual business of rum running was absolutely fascinating and definitely kept me involved in the story.  I ended up doing some outside reading to see how much of the events in this book were true (pretty much all of it) which is always a good sign!  I really enjoyed this look behind the scenes of something that is frequently brushed over.  This really had me seeing the reasons why usually law abiding people got involved in an illegal business and why some didn't and it really had me thinking about what I would have done in a similar situation.

I enjoyed getting to know Frieda and watching her grow up as well as seeing the world around her change.  This was at times heartbreaking and at times action packed but consistently a good read!  I'm looking forward to reading more from Ann Howard Creel

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely! I'm looking forward to finding more books from her.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes!  If you like historical fiction this is a great read.

This book was provided by TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Always a Cowboy - Review

Always a Cowboy (A Carsons of Mustang Creek) by Linda Lael Miller

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  He's the middle of the three Carson brothers and is as stubborn as they come - and he won't thank a beautiful stranger for getting in his way!  Drake Carson is the quintessential cowboy.  In charge of the family ranch, he knows the realities of life, its pleasures and heartbreaks.  Lately, managing the wild stallions on his property is wearing him down.  When an interfering so-called expert arrives and starts offering her opinion, Drake is wary, but he can't deny the longing - and the challenge - she stirs in him.  Luce Hale is researching how wild horses interact with ranch animals - and with ranchers.  The Carson matriarch invites her to stay with the family, which guarantees frequent encounters with Drake, her ruggedly handsome and decidedly unwelcoming son.  Luce and Drake are at odds from the very beginning, especially when it comes to the rogue stallion who's stealing ranch mares.  But when Drake believes Luce is in danger, that changes everything - for both of them.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoyed the first in the series and I liked Drake's character so was thrilled to see him get his own book.

My Impression: Linda Lael Miller is an author that I've seen around for ages but I'm relatively new to her books.  Counting a holiday novella, this was my third by her and definitely my favorite. I loved Drake and Luce.  They're both intelligent and hard working people who have very similar views on environmental aspects as well as a deep love of animals especially horses though Luce's love is more on the academic side than Drake's.   As usual we get the whole Carson clan with Drake's mother Blythe taking a very front and center role.  I loved getting to see more of the family and how they interacted - especially the brothers.  I also found the occasional mentions of their father who is deceased really touching especially from Drake who is very similar to his dad.  Luce's family is only peripheral but her conversations with her sister were entertaining and felt very real.  As well as the Carson clan we have a number of residents of Mustang Creek - many of whom have featured in other books.  I haven't read any of their stories but after meeting them I'd really like too.

The romance was on the quick side which seems to be a common occurrence in Miller's books but it wasn't insta-love.  Drake and Luce spend a lot of time together before anything develops which made it easier to root for them.  Drake's very alpha-male but a quiet one.  His protectiveness mostly made sense as Luce really hadn't had much hands on experience with wild animals though I did think with Drake admitting that she was a very experienced hiker that he could also admit that she understands the basics (aka don't approach a wild animal).  However, I did have to support his "with a mountain lion on the prowl who is drawn to livestock perhaps a lone unarmed woman shouldn't be out wandering around".

I really enjoyed the inside look at the ranching world.  Animals are a very large part of it - between livestock, pets, and wildlife - and while Drake's attitude is realistic it was also very compassionate with a focus on being responsible and humane which really worked for me.  I don't know if I would classify this series as a favorite but it is one I consistently enjoy and Miller has created an interesting community with characters I do want to see more often.  I was really excited to see that the Hallmark movie channel is working on a series based on another of Miller's series - Big Sky Country.  I'll definitely be looking out for that premiere and for the next book in the series!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I will!  I'm looking forward to Mace's book.  It'll be fun to see him fall hard for someone!

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you enjoy a good cowboy romance I think you'd enjoy this one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books that Have Been on My TBR Since Pre-Blogging Days

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten Books that Have Been on My TBR since Pre-Blogging Days.  That list is embarrassing long and I really only have a record from 2011 when I started Goodreads.  Before that it was random scraps of paper and notebooks full of lists.

1.  Agatha Christie by Laura Thompson - So I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan I've heard really good things about this biography.  Not to mention the fact I literally have it sitting on my shelf and it's been there for years!

2.  The Maltese Manuscript by Joanne Dobson - This is the 5th book in the Karen Pelletier series about an English professor who regularly gets caught up in mysteries involving rare book related things.  It's been so long since I've read any from this series that I don't remember all that much about the books other than that I enjoyed them.

3.  All Facts Considered: The Essential Library of Inessential Knowledge by Kee Malesky - I heard an interview with Malesky on a podcast years and years ago and just had to have the book.  She's the librarian for All Things Considered on NPR and she talks about all the weird and random facts she's researched through the years.

4.  The Family That Couldn't Sleep: A Medical Mystery by D.T. Max - This is a nonfiction book about a family who suffered from a sleeping order that presented them from sleeping and different sleep related conditions as well as something called prions which I know virutally nothing about but hopefully this book will fix that!

5.  False Mermaid by Erin Hart - The main character in this book is an American pathologist living in Ireland.  This is the 3rd in the book and a subplot through the first 2 was the murder of her sister.  This is the book where that murder finally gets investigated and hopefully we (and the main character) get answers about what happened.

6.  A Killing in Antiques by Mary Moody - This is the first in a cozy mystery series focused around an antique shop owner.  I love cozy mysteries and I love antiques and when the two are combined there's frequently a chance for an antique to have some kind of secret history or even better - a secret compartment!

7.  A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch - I own a copy of this book, I've heard great buzz about this series AND it's a historical mystery which are my favorite things.  Have I read it yet?   Nope!

8.  Queen of the Road: The True Tales of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of it's Own by Doreen Orion - I think the title says it all!

9.  Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran - Curran was given access to Agatha's notebooks by her grandson and this book is all about all the notations and story ideas and fascinating stuff he found.  I have a copy of this book on my shelf which I bought new in hardback YEARS ago.  I have no idea why I haven't read it!

10.  Talking with My Mouth Full: Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes, and Other Kitchen Stories by Bonny Wolf - I love foodie memoirs and I just the subtitle for this one!

What books have been sitting on your TBR since pre-blogging days or just far too long?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Agatha Christie - Poirot Part 4

With these 4 books Agatha Christie has really hit her stride when it comes to Poirot's books.  She's been writing to good reviews and success and her name has grown in prestige.  She's also remarried to Max Mallowan who is a renowned archealogist and as different from Archie Christie, her flashy fighter pilot first husband as possible.    In these 4 books we have some of her more clever plots and it feels like she's really enjoying writing out these puzzles which makes them a pleasure to read.

Murder in Mesopotamia (1936) - Reading this book reminds me that Agatha Christie had real personal experience in the field of archaeology.  I love seeing how the dig sites are set up, how the work is distributed, and how the members of the dig live because I know she experienced much of this herself.  In this book we have Mrs. Leidner - Lovely Louise - who is feeling threatened and nervous to the point that her husband hires the very practical Nurse Leathern to look after her.  Louise's fear is dismissed as just nerves until one afternoon she is discovered dead in her room.  Poirot steps in to help with a murder investigation and he and Nurse Leathern proceed to work as a team.  The investigation is very straight forward.  They interview, they check alibis, Poirot sends telegrams but Agatha does a fantastic job of making the mystery itself having some interesting twists - not everything is what it seems.  I very much enjoyed this one.  It's probably one of my favorites to read though I always seem to forget just how much I enjoy it until I pick it up for a reread.  4 Stars

Cards on the Table (1937)- Mr. Shaitana likes to collect things - unusual art and priceless artifacts but his favorite is unusual people.  His greatest piece of performance art is a dinner party with 8 guests followed by games of Bridge and ending with a murder.  Because 4 of Mr. Shaitana's guests were murders and 4 were detectives.  And so the game begins.  Was Mr. Shaitana right about his 4 murderers?  Were they really murderers?  And which one had felt driven to protect themselves?  The chase is fun to watch as Poirot, Mrs. Oliver, and Superintendent Battle are really on their game.  I do feel like Agatha Christie is having a good time writing this.  You can almost feel her thinking up the next twist behind the words.  Is a challenging and carefully constructed book all without feeling too forced and definitely keeps you guessing.  My primary problem is that the murder takes place around a game of bridge and so there are little mentions and discussions throughout the book.  I don't know the faintest thing about the game other than it takes 4 people and uses cards so I think I missed a few clues.  Even with that minus it's a fun read and it's always fun to watch it all play out.  4.5 Stars

Dumb Witness or Poirot Loses a Client (1937)- It's not uncommon for Hercule Poirot to receive pleas for help through the mail but when there's a month between the writing of such a plea and the actual mailing it catches his attention.  Doubly so when the writer of the letter, an elderly woman who suspects her family of trying to kill her, turns out to have died in the weeks that followed her writing Poirot.  Determined to help Emily Arundell, even if his help is too late to save her, Poirot examines her last few weeks hoping to find out who she was scared of and why.  Captain Hastings indulges Poirot in what he considers an academic exercise until suddenly it isn't.  This is a solid mystery and Christie does a good job of leaving us clues as the book goes along.  However, there isn't all that much that makes this stand out from her other books.  I also could have done without Bob the dog's conversation.  It didn't quite work with her matter of fact, practical writing style.  4 Stars

Death on the Nile (1937)- This is one of Christie's better known books and for good reason.  It's one of her many locked room type books except in this case the locked room is a boat cruising down the Nile.  The cast of characters is jammed full of memorable personalities.  We have the romance author who has cast herself as the expert on sex, her long suffering and sullen daughter, a nice British woman and her devoted son, an Italian archaeologist, an outspoken Communist, a strict wealthy American woman, her nurse and impoverished cousin, and a brilliant but quiet doctor.  However, all eyes are on a trio of characters - Linnet - incredibly wealthy, incredibly sure of herself and recently married to Simon who is none of these things and trailing behind is Jacqueline of the fiery temper who was Linnet's dear friend and previously engaged to Simon.  For the most part the story progresses strictly through Poirot's eyes.  We don't see an event if he doesn't see it and we don't know anything he doesn't know.  It adds an interesting element to how the mystery unravels.  I love that Colonel Race fills the role usually filled by Hastings because he's one of my favorite reoccurring characters and I love seeing how Poirot and Race interact. I can't even begin to count how many times I've read this book and each time I get the same amount of delight watching the story unfold and the end is just as shocking.  If you have read some Christie but not read this one you need to pick this one up right away and if you've never read Christie this is a great one to start with.  5 Stars

Sunday, August 21, 2016

This Week in Reading - August 21

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:

Crepe Factor by Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran - I read the first few books in this series years ago and loved them but didn't continue with the series (mostly because at the time I was a used bookstore only reader and the next books just weren't there) so I'm really excited to see what is going on now!  (Blog Tour)

Christmas Comes to Main Street by Olivia Miles - How is it time for Christmas books already?  I'm really looking forward to this one as I've enjoyed the previous books in the series and Kara who has been an interesting side character is finally getting her own book! (Publisher)

Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron - I'm so excited about this book which is the 2nd in a cozy mystery series that takes place in Louisiana.  I absolutely loved the first one and can't wait to see where Byron takes the series next!  (NetGalley)


Reading: A Story to Kill by Lynn Cahoon and Closed Casket (the new Poirot) by Sophie Hannah

Listening:  My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout.  I just finished Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore and I loved it but don't go in expecting a bookish book.  It's more of a quest book and so much fun!

Watching:  We've watched some of the Olympics and have also been watching Major Crimes on TNT.  I've been watching a series called The Vanishing Women on Investigation Discovery about 6 women who disappeared in this little Ohio town over the course of a year.  It's such a sad story and so eye opening about the heroine epidemic.

Off the Blog:

Well we have checked the final get ready for the school year task off the list with getting Emma moved in to her apartment this past weekend.  It is tiny but had been renovated between the last tenant and Emma picking up the keys so everything was shiny new and clean (well except for the cement block walls and the window that might be older than me).  We enjoyed spending time with her and we ate really well.  For a college town they have some seriously impressive restaurants!  However, it did make me very glad I don't live in a college town as there is only so much frat party and just basic young adults I can take.  But it is the PLACE to play Pokemon Go which kept the Tornado pretty happy for quite some time. It feels great to be done and really able to settle into our new routine.

Eleanor and Paul start school this next week and I think are both really forward to getting started.  This is Paul's first year but Eleanor is getting within sight of the end which is exciting. The Tornado is still doing well though he's occasionally getting in trouble for talking which isn't a surprise.  Academically he's doing great which is a relief.  I figured he would as he always adapts very quickly but it's nice to know for sure.

I'm enjoying being back in a routine.  I'm getting a little more reading time thanks to a half hour in car line every afternoon and I have time to tackle a few big projects that I've been wanting to do for years.  Of course I just have to make myself do them!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Agatha Christie - The Next 4 Poirot Reviews
Tuesday: Top Ten Books that Have Been on my TBR since Pre-Blogging Days
Wednesday: Always a Cowboy - Contemporary Romance Review
Thursday: Whiskey Sea - Fiction Review
Friday: Linkups with Teasers from my current book
Saturday: Pinterest - August Edition

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Dinner for Two - Cookbook Review + Recipe

Table for Two is one of the first food blogs I followed.  I love her mix of fresh but easy to find ingredients and family friendly recipes with a twist to keep things interesting.  So when I saw that Julie Wampler had a cookbook coming out called Dinner For Two: Easy and Innovative Recipes for One, Two, or a Few I just knew I had to try it out.  The title pretty much sums up what's in the book - it's basically all dinner recipes.  Since this is usually what I'm looking for I was not sad to discover this! She does have a chapter that focuses on Breakfast for Dinner but the bulk of the recipes are for main courses.  There is such a variety that I think I could just cook my way through the book and never get bored.

They're lighter quick food like Shredded Chicken Caprese Couscous Bowls, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, and Slow Cooker Curry Quinoa Turkey Bowl.  Then there's pizza and burgers but with a twist with a Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich, Buffalo Chicken Pizza, and Ranch Chicken Burgers.  If you want something a little bigger there's Rustic Pot Pie with Biscuits, Slow Cooker White Bean and Kielbasa Soup, and Beer Braised Roast with Polenta.  If you're feeling more in the mood for breakfast you can whip up Banana Pecan Bourbon Flapjacks, Ham and Gruyere Stuffed French Toast, or Chorizo, Kale and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata.  There really is something for everyone here - except vegetarians as most of the dishes do have a meat element.

As I would expect from the blogger behind Table for Two the recipes are clearly laid out and don't have any over-complicated steps.  The ingredients are all easy to find and most are actually already in my pantry.  This week for dinner we had her Holy Yum Chicken Kebobs which is a take on her hugely popular Holy Yum Chicken.  

Holy Yum Chicken Kebobs

2/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon plain white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, diced into 2 inch cubes
Rosemary sprigs for topping

Soak five wooden skewers on a baking sheet filled with water just enough to cover the skewers.  Set aside.  (I skipped this part because I had metal skewers)

Preheat oven to 425 and line a 9 x 13 inch oven safe casserole dish with two layers of foil.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, maple syrup, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Spear 5 or 6 chicken cubes on each wooden skewer

Place the skewers into the casserole dish.  If the skewers are too long, cut or break them to fit the casserole dish. (Since mine were metal this obviously wasn't an option.  I balanced mine on the top of the casserole dish and it worked fine.  I also probably had more like 10 chicken pieces on one skewer)

Pour half the sauce on top of the chicken skewers and, using a pastry brush, brush the sauce to coat the chicken.  Set leftover sauce aside.

Place in the oven on the top rack and bake for a total of 45 minutes, uncovered.  Flip the chicken skewers every 15 minutes and brush the chicken with a liberal amount of the leftover sauce until the chicken is cooked fully through - internal temperature of 160 F.  (I only needed 30 minutes)

Set oven to broil, and broil chicken for 5 minutes, watching carefully as not to burn it.

Remove and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: If you have leftover sauce use it as a dipping sauce!

My Results:  I really liked the cooking method for this and will definitely be trying kebobs this way again.  If I make this again I'll cut the salt by half.  While normally I like a good bit of salt I thought it conflicted with the mustard and brought a bitter note.  

This is definitely a cookbook I could see getting a lot of use out of and one that I think most people would as well.  The recipes are for about 2 to 4 servings but could easily be halved or doubled.

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Linkups: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

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 read via ebook and if so which one/ones and why?

My Answer:
I use a Kindle Paperwhite and I love it. I went with a Kindle for a few reasons.  The first one is that I'm a big fan of Amazon in general and when I finally decided to join the world of ebooks it looked like the Nook wouldn't be around that much longer.  Also, when I was looking at how you got ebooks from my library's digital site the Kindle instructions were basically click 2 buttons whereas the Nook instructions involved connecting the device and a few other things.  I have a big Kindle Fire (9" I think) which I got first but found it was a little to heavy to read on for long periods of time and I found the glare a little tougher on my eyes.  Now I use my Fire as a tablet and do a lot of streaming Netflix or Hulu on it and my Paperwhite for reading.

This week's book is one that's been on my TBR for ages and ages basically because the title features the word "bookstore".  I'm a sucker for any book about bookish related stuff so just the title of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan called my name and when I saw my library had it on audio I couldn't resist it!  So far it hasn't been exactly what I expected but not in a bad way.  It's weirder and quirkier and not as bookish and lots of fun.
The Beginning:
Lost in the shadows of the shelves, I almost fall off the ladder.

My Thoughts:
While I wouldn't want to fall off a ladder I love the idea of being lost in all those shelves!

The 56:
They're all playing the same song, or dancing the same dance, or - yes- solving the same puzzle.

My Thoughts:
The main character is starting to figure a few things out and it's so fun to watch it all untangle!  I haven't figured out what the puzzle is exactly but I'm looking forward to finding out!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Are you an ebook fan or a paper only reader?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Le Tote, Stitch Fix, and Rent the Runway - Review and Comparison

One of my very favorite non-bookish things is subscription boxes.  I love them!  It's like Christmas in my mailbox every time a new box arrives.  At first I mostly just stuck with makeup (Birchbox and ipsy) because they were relatively inexpensive but then I discovered that I could get clothes this same way!  I love clothes but struggle with finding pieces that I really love.  Plus, sometimes, shopping is just hard.  Anytime I go into a store (or multiple stores) with a specific need I end up empty handed so I just knew I had to try out some of the subscription type options.  If you're interested in trying any of these you can use these referral links and save a bit with any of them: Le ToteStitch Fix, and Rent the Runway.

Le Tote:

For other reviews check out Beth Fish Reads here and or visit Trish over at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity.  Le Tote is actually a clothes RENTAL site.  It took me a little while to wrap my mind around how to use it but essentially for each tote I pick out clothes I want to wear that next week or if I know I need something specific I schedule that in.  So if I have something dressier I'll try to make sure I pick a dressier dress for that tote. 

What I Like:
It's easy to use.  It's delivered to my door, I wear the clothes until I'm done with them, then pack them up in the included postage paid envelope and drop in the mailbox. 

I can customize what I get.  Whenever they're notified that I've sent my Tote back I get a customize your Tote message.  They have some clothes and jewelry already picked out but it's easy to change up.  I use the app or sometimes customize it on my desktop.  Each tote includes 3 clothing items and 2 accessories.

They have a ton of options and they're always getting new stuff.  Really it seems like there are a few new options every week or two and they have tons of everything - from sweaters and jackets, to skirts and sundresses, purses, scarves, necklaces - pretty much everything you can think of except shoes. I talked my mother into signing up and she's loving it too.  We are very different ages, body times and life styles and both are happy with our options.

It's an inexpensive way to try new looks.  I wasn't quite sure if the tunic/legging look was for me so I got an outfit from Let Tote and LOVED it.  The same with a pair of joggers but with the opposite results.  

If you love something you can keep it and their prices are pretty decent.  They'll just bill you when they get the tote that's missing item back and you'll get an extra item in your next tote as a thank you.

Their customer service is really good.  I've had 2 incidents in the year I've had this service.  Once I was billed for an item I had returned and in another a Tote I had sent back had gotten lost.  Both times I heard back from customer service within 24 hours and both times the problem was quickly corrected.  

What I Don't Like:
You're limited by what's available.  When you go in to customize your Tote you can only pick items that are currently available which means that some of the items you love most might not be an option.

There's a delay of a few days.  Normally it's at least 3 days, sometimes 4 in between Totes which means it doesn't quite work completely as my replacement closet. 

For me their summer options are really limited.  I think if I worked in an office I'd have more options but for casual clothes in a super hot environment I'm struggling to find things.  Luckily I can just put my account on hold for a month or two.

Referral Link: Le Tote

Stitch Fix:

As much as I want it to be this isn't going to be an unboxing post but I'm seriously tempted because I LOVE some of these pieces.  I had wanted to try Stitch Fix for awhile but had kept putting it off until this summer when I realized I HATED everything I owned.  I was doing that thing where you try on like 15 different things and hate them all pretty much every morning.  So I decided now was the time.

Here are some of my favorite items out of my 2 fixes and the one item that I really didn't like (the shorts - all kind of wrong on me)

What I Like:
I really like how personal the service feels.  After my first fix I asked for breathable and light weight fabrics because I live in Alabama and it's seriously hot and I really feel like that was listened too and my 2nd stylist actually commented about how she thought the dress would work well for hot days.  There's also a questionaire to fill out, multiple places to leave notes, and they encourage you to start a Pinterst board and pin outfits and items you like.  I left tons of specific notes and had a grand time pinning outfits on Pinterest (apparently I wand to dress like a combination of Reese Witherspoon and Kate Middleton with a dash of Mila Kunis) and I've had great luck.  Out of the 2 fixes I've only received 1 item that I really didn't like and I loved my 2nd fix so much I kept it all.  And seriously those shoes in the upper left of the picture just make me happy.

I had set my limits pretty high ($150 - 200 per item of clothing) because I'm looking for pieces I will really love and get lots of wear out and I don't mind paying for those.  The most expensive item in my first box was $74 and $90 in my second which makes me feel like they're picking the best pieces for me instead of just looking for the most expensive.

It's a flexible schedule.  Right now I have my fixes scheduled to arrive every 2 to 3 weeks but in the fall I'll probably push it back to once a month.  On the other hand if I decide I'm bored and want something new I can go on and schedule the fix now and have it in a few days.

It's easy to use.  The website is pretty simple and also has tons of reviews you can look through for clothes to Pin for your Pinterest board to help out your stylist.  The box arrives on my doorstep.  I go through it, try everything on and make my decision.  You have about 4 or 5 days to do that.  After I make my decisions I log in to my account, answer some questions about what I liked and what I didn't, and pay.  Then I pack everything I'm sending back up into the included pre-addressed envelope with postage paid and pop it into the mailbox and I'm done.

What I Don't Like:
It can get expensive with buying all those new clothes

Referral Link: Stitch Fix

Rent the Runway

This is another rental service but instead of casual or work appropriate clothes it caters more towards formal wear.  They do have accessories, jackets, skirts and tops but they mostly have dresses from sundresses to as formal as you can get.
My 2 dress options
What I ended up wearing

What I Like:
I don't live the dressiest life but every once in awhile I need something a little more formal than a sundress and heels.  Since I definitely don't have the need to dedicate the money and closet space to a new dress for every event but I don't want to wear the same dress every time so this service is perfect.

These are actually designers that I've actually heard of like Erin Fetherston (okay it is her line designed for the regular people but still!), Diane Von Furstenberg, Moschino, Halston Heritage and just so many others.  I have no desire to buy a $1200 (or more) dress but it's kind of fun to wear one for a night.

Your order comes in it's very own garment bag and when it's time to send it back you zip it all up in the bag, put on the little zip -tie type lock and drop it off at a UPS store or drop box.

The customer service is really good.  When my first shipment didn't work at all for me I got a complete refund and was give an 50% off code for my next order.  They respond within a few hours and really try to make everything right.  I do recommend having your dress delivered on Thursday (or at least a day where the next day is a business day) because if the dress doesn't fit or isn't what you expected they'll overnight you another.

These may be Pro benefits (a $30/yr fee) but you can get a 2nd size if available free or another dress entirely for $32 as a backup.

The reviews are really great.  They're detailed, lots of pictures and seem to be very honest on fit and size (like if you need to go up or down a size)

What I Didn't Like:
It's expensive.  While I know the cost of the actual item is more expensive than the other services there are more fees than just the rental fee like shipping and insurance.  I got a Pro account ($30/yr) which dramatically dropped the fees but there are still some.  If you have to dress up a lot they do have a monthly service where you can get as many rentals as you'd like for unlimited days and free shipping but it's a little pricey and not something for me.

I've placed 2 orders with them and both times a dress I had requested was unavailable at the last minute.  I understand that their business model involves a quick turn so basically the clothes are coming in just as they're supposed to go out again and I'm glad that they do quality check their clothing so I'm not getting a stained dress.  They also send replacements either by you selecting 5 choices or by looking at what's available and at the dresses you've "liked" but it can still be frustrating.

The rental periods are short - 4 days or you can pay extra for 8 - so you have to be careful about scheduling.  You can drop the dress off in it's packaging at ANY UPS store or drop box so if you're renting a dress for an out of town wedding or trip you can return it from there and if your rental ends on a Sunday or holiday you have until the next day. 

Referral Link: Rent the Runway


All 3 of these are really different and I wouldn't say 1 is really a replacement for the others.  For the most part I'm going to stick to mixing Stitch Fix in with Le Tote but I'll keep Rent the Runway in mind for a fun treat!  If I was going to recommend only one I would say Le Tote if you're trying to keep from being bored with what you have and like getting lots of new stuff and Stitch Fix if you're more interested in finding a few pieces you can get a lot of wear out of that you'll really love.  As for me I'll probably keep both! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Child's Garden of Death - Review

A Child's Garden of Death (A Lyon and Bea Wentworth Mystery #1) by Richard Forrest

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Lyon Wentworth's heart pounded as he looked in the shallow grave.  Before his horrified eyes lay the moldering remains of a man, woman, and child - all brutally murdered.  Who were they? Why had they been killed?  And, after thirty long years, who cared?  Lyon cared very much.  The sight of the little girl still clutching her doll made him swear to find the truth if it was the last thing he ever did.  And a corrupt powerful killer intended to make sure that it was.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I love books were people are trying to solve crimes that happened in the past and I've never read Forrest's books and since he is kind of classified as a "classic" mystery author I feel like I should.

My Impression:  Going in I knew really nothing about this book or author.  I knew the book was published in 1982 which is really too recent to qualify for "classic mystery" status but the premise looked good and the cover had that classic look.

Forrest dumps us into the story without much buildup.  We start with Lyon, children's book author and long time good friend of the police chief looking into a grave containing the skeletal remains of 2 adults and a child - what's left of a family.  The police chief, Rocco, doesn't quite know where to start with the investigation but knows Lyon was an intelligence officer in the Korean War and is good with details.  Lyon is intelligent but not always flawless in his thinking.  His primary hobby is hot air ballooning which is definitely a first for me!  We do go up with Lyon a few times which I very much enjoyed.  He and his wife are still dealing with the death of their young daughter but while that is used to explain Lyon's obsession with the case it never really takes over the book.  Lyon's wife, Bea, is also a primary character.  She is a state senator and definitely the grounded one in the marriage to balance out Lyon's at times impulsive dreamer status.  I very much liked them both and liked how they worked together.  At times they're a team and at times they're at odds but it felt very much like a real marriage.

The mystery is fascinating.  Who are these people and how did they end up in this grave in an isolated area?  The mystery unwinds little by little as more and more is discovered.  There are a few missteps and a few times it feels like we're back to square one.  Through Lyon's imaginings I really felt like I got to know this family and parts of it were just heartbreaking.  It felt like the book was divided into 2 mysteries.  The first being who are these people which takes up the bulk of the first part of the book and the 2nd part centers around the who put them there and why.

There were a few elements that I did find jarring.  There's kind of an old fashioned air to the book with the writing style and characters.  It's kind of got the feel of Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh in the detachment of the narrating and just basic setting.  However, every once in awhile there is strong language and there is one character whose dark secret is on the very sexually risque side.  There aren't tons of details and the language isn't constant but against the backdrop it did pull me out of the story a little bit.

Overall, I enjoyed this mystery very much. I thought the mystery itself was well done and I really enjoyed getting to know the characters.  Since this is a series I knew nothing about until this book I'm really looking forward to exploring it more with the next book!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to spending more time with Lyon and Bea.

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you like classic style mysteries I think you'd enjoy this one.  Just be prepared for a few unclassic style elements.