Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday Linkups - Key of Knowledge

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 visit ever listed blog in the linky list when you are participating in a meme?

My Answer:
I would really like to and my goal is always to try but some days there just isn't time.  I do always try to visit as many possible and try to return visit for the bloggers who have taken the time to visit me.

I've got a pretty crazy review schedule going this year and to prevent burn out I'm trying to slip a few of my favorite rereads into the mix.  One of the series I really wanted to revisit was the Key trilogy by Nora Roberts.  It came out in the early 2000s and was a series that really got me back into reading after I had really slowed down after my last semester of college, getting a job, and then getting married.  I remember coming across a display of the last book in the grocery store of all places and being shocked that I had missed an entire trilogy but being thrilled that I could read all 3 right then!  I think I finished the whole series within a week.  The second book, Key of Knowledge, featuring librarian/book obsessed Dana and thriller writer/devoted reader Jordan was probably my favorite of the 3.  It's so much fun to read a book about characters who really seem to love to read as much as I do and I'm really enjoying revisiting them.

The Beginning:
Dana Steele considered herself a flexible, open-minded woman, with no less than her fair share of her patience, tolerance, and humor.
A number of people might have disagreed with this self-portrait.
But what did they know?

My Thoughts:
This opening made me laugh.  It's hard not to like Dana.

The 56: 
The Peak was untenanted then, a big, fanciful, spooky place.  The perfect place to fascinate a trio of boys with a couple of beers in them.

My Thoughts:
The speaker (well thinking since this is all going on inside his head) is one of the trio of boys mentioned.  He's talking about where the inspiration for his first book which I really enjoyed.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Any books you like to reread?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Dying on the Vine - Cozy Mystery Review

Dying on the Vine (A Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mystery #2) by Marla Cooper

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  Spirited wedding planner Kelsey McKenna juggles a sabotaged wedding and a cold-blooded killer in beautiful California wine country in this hilarious follow-up to Terror in Taffeta.
Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna just signed on to a dream gig. She’s going to be the “day-of” coordinator at the beautiful Higgens Estate in California wine country. There’s only one problem: the wedding was originally planned by Babs Norton, the self-proclaimed Queen of Wine Country Weddings, who the father of the bride has fired.

Kelsey decides to clear the air with Babs and make sure there are no hard feelings, but before she can throw herself into executing the perfect wedding, she discovers Babs dead on the floor of his office. David, Babs’ assistant is quick to point the finger very publicly at Kelsey. Even worse, Kelsey learns that with the big day only weeks away, the bitter little man has sabotaged her new clients’ wedding by canceling all the vendor contracts.

With the help of her friend Brody and assistant Laurel, Kelsey must scramble to salvage the wedding while dodging gossipy wedding planners, grumpy winemakers, and a cold-blooded killer in this smart, funny cozy perfect for fans of Carolyn Haines.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  Books about wedding planners or people involved in the planning part of a wedding have been appealing to me lately and this sounded really fun.

My Impression:  I love a good cozy and this mystery was everything a cozy should be - light, entertaining and with a solid mystery.  For starters I absolutely loved Kelsey.  She's smart and good at her job but isn't an expert on everything or completely perfect.  I felt like she was someone I'd really like to hang out iwth.  I have a feeling her stories about her events would be hilarious!   I also enjoyed her interactions with her friends, Laurel and Brody.  All three have very different personalities but they interacted like actual friends not just like characters the author stuck together to have people with different personalities.  There was a little bit of humor but nothing in the goofy or slapstick range.

I really liked how the author developed the mystery.  Kelsey really doesn't want to get involved in the investigation but once it's clear that it might be the only way to keep her reputation from being destroyed she's all in with office supplies and a murder board.  I liked watching Kelsey, Laurel, and Brody come up with a suspect and then follow up on clues.  I was very satisfied with how the mystery itself wrapped up and the reveal was even a little bit of a surprise.  While Kelsey does stray into busybody territory and occasionally withholds information from the police (usually something that incriminates her) she never strays into TSTL (to stupid to live) territory.

This is the second book in the Destination Wedding series but if I hadn't seen that listed in the title I wouldn't have known.  You can jump in right here with absolutely no problem.  This is a fun cozy mystery with a likable detective and a quick pace.  It did make me glad that I'd chosen the courthouse wedding route over the wedding planner version though!  That seems exhausting and somewhat fatal.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to the next book in the series and want to go back and read the first book.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Definitely!  If you enjoy mysteries this is a really fun read.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Perfect Obsession - Romantic Suspense Review

A Perfect Obsession (New York Confidential #2) by Heather Graham

Rating:  Good
Source:  NetGalley

Description: Someone is murdering beautiful young women in the New York area and displaying them in mausoleums and underground tombs. The FBI is handling the case, with Special Agent Craig Frasier as lead.
Kieran Finnegan, forensic psychologist and part owner of Finnegan's, her family's pub, is consulting on the case. Craig and Kieran are a couple who've worked together on more than one occasion. On this occasion, though, Craig fears for the safety of the woman he loves. Because the killer is too close. The body of a young model is found in a catacomb under a two-hundred-year-old church, now deconsecrated and turned into a nightclub. A church directly behind Finnegan's in lower Manhattan.

As more women are murdered, their bodies discovered in underground locations in New York, it's clear that the police and the FBI are dealing with a serial killer. Craig and Kieran are desperate to track down the murderer, a man obsessed with female perfection. Obsessed enough to want to "preserve" that beauty by destroying the women who embody it

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Why I Picked This Book:  Heather Graham is my kryptonite and this looked interesting.  I love a spooky serial killer!

My Impression:  I don't think I realized exactly what this one was when I requested it.  Instead of a stand alone type series like her Krewe of Hunters books this is more of a continuing series featuring an Irish pub owner/psychologist and her family and an FBI agent. However while Kieran and Craig as well as the rest of the Finnegan family are actually introduced in the first book - Flawless - I didn't feel like I had come in mid-story.  It read very well as a stand alone.

I liked the mystery quite a bit.  It's got a bit of a Criminal Minds feel with a seriously twisted killer scattering super staged corpses around and a mix of the FBI and the psychology of it all.  I had a few suspicions on the killer but was surprised by how the reveal came about.  I really love seeing the investigation from inside the FBI with the discussion of suspects and compiling the information gathered from interviews.  I feel like I'm right there with them standing around the board debating theories.  The setting is fantastic as well.  While a New York setting is always great I especially enjoyed the below ground historical look.  It's interesting to think just how old New York is and what could be buried below all the newer buildings.  I also enjoyed the relationship between Kieran and her brothers as well as the atmosphere in Finnegan's itself.

I did have some issues with this book however.  I felt like Kieran's role was a bit ambiguous with the group she works with.  She's a psychologist not a psychiatrist like the rest of the doctors yet she's still educated and highly qualified.  However, at times they treat her very much as a lackey using her to drop off files at the FBI or to take notes for them.  As well, while the characters were all interesting, they all felt a little flat at times and I never felt like I was fully pulled into the book.

While this book isn't perfect it is a lot of fun.  When you're in the mood for a light read that's spooky with a twist of romance there's really no one better than Graham and this kept me entertained!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I can never resist a Heather Graham book though I do think I prefer the Krewe books.

Would I Recommend this Book?: I would but with reservations.  It's a fun read but probably not one I'd recommend if you'd never read anything by Graham before.  Start with The Hexed from the Krewe series.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Authors I'd Like to Meet

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Ten Authors I'd Like to Meet or Have Met.  Now meeting authors has never been high up on my list.  I'm not sure how much I want to see behind the curtain.  I mean what do you do if you meet your favorite author and they're really mean?  Will they still be your favorite author?   As well a number of my picks would involve a time machine!

1.  Agatha Christie - Besides being my favorite author Christie had a fascinating life as a world traveler and spent lots of time on archaeological digs with her husband renowned archaeologist Max Mallowan.  Since she hated being asked about her books I'd stick with discussing archaeology!

2.  Barbara Michaels/Barbara Mertz/Elizabeth Peters - Under the name Barbara Michaels she has written some of my favorite guaranteed slump-buster romantic suspense books.  Under the name Elizabeth Peters she's written tons of mysteries.  Under her actual name of Barbara Mertz she had a PhD in Egyptology and has two books on Ancient Egypt that have been in continuous print since publication in the 1960s.  I think she'd be a fascinating person to get to know.

3.  Elizabeth Enright - I know almost nothing about her as a person but her children's books in the Melendy series and in the Gone Away Lake series are so delightful that she just has to be a lovely person.

4.  Sarah MacLean - I heard a number of interviews with MacLean on the podcast Avon on the Air which hasn't had a recent podcast in months which makes me sad.  However, MacLean is hilarious and I really enjoyed her take on some of the more classic romances.  I love that not only is she a romance writer but she is clearly an enthusiastic romance reader.

5.  Kathleen Flinn - I've really enjoyed all 3 books I've read by Kathleen Flinn and I'd really love to take a cooking class taught by her.  She comes as so nice and down to earth in all her books and Kitchen Counter Cooking School changed the way I think about ingredients.

6.  Sophie Hannah - I haven't actually read any of her books with her own characters but I have read both of her Poirot books and I know she was sanctioned by the grandson of Agatha Christie.  I would love to talk over her research and just Poirot in general.

7.  Jill Shalvis - I love Jill Shalvis' books and I love her Instagram feed and I love every interview I've ever heard from her.  She seems like she's just fun to hang out with plus she has lots of dogs which would make it even better.

8.  Douglas Adams - I love Adams' sense of humor and the fact that he can take the most ordinary situation and make it laugh till you cry funny without even seeming to try.  I'm curious on how that would translate to his speaking.

9.  Susan Wiggs - I really love Susan Wiggs' books but I really want to meet her to beg for the 3rd book in the Bella Vista Chronicles.  I adored The Apple Orchard and The Beekeeper's Ball and there were hints that a 3rd book was in the works and an open ended discovery at the end of the 2nd book and then NOTHING.  It's been years.  She's had other books that were wonderful but I want another Bella Vista Chronicles!

10. Tony Horwitz - Basically I just want to have Tony Horwitz's job.  He does these fascinating and funny travel/history books and I'd really just like to follow him around on one of his trips.  If you haven't read Blue Latitudes about Captain Cook or A Voyage Long and Strange about North American between Columbus and the Pilgrims I highly recommend them both.

Who would you like to meet?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Agatha Christie Project - Poirot Part 5

Murder in the Mews (or Dead Man's Mirror and Other Stories) (1937) - This is actually a collection of 4 short stories ranging from almost 90 pages to around 30 pages.  These consist of Dead Man's Mirror, The Incredible Theft, Murder in the Mews and A Triangle at Rhodes.  While the mysteries are satisfying and expertly done this isn't one of my favorite books.  All but the title story feel like tweaks on other books or are more of an analytical exercise.  Without Hastings or really any kind of partner (with the exception of Murder in the Mews which has Chief Inspector Japp) we kind of lose Poirot and he doesn't seem to have as much presence in these stories as he normally does.  The title story is really my favorite and has an interesting perspective.  Poirot definitely makes his presence known here and I think the reveal would surprise most readers. This story raises the whole collection a star for me.  Overall, it's an entertaining and quick read.  Rating 4 Stars

Appointment with Death (1938)- I know I've said it before but I LOVE Christie's exotic location mysteries.  This book takes place in Jerusalem and centers around an American family called Boynton.  Poirot doesn't actually make an appearance in this book until the second half so the Boyntons were front and center with all their issues and they have some serious ones!  There is a wealth of suspects and motives floating around with none being less likely than the others and while Christie does play by the rules by giving the reader all the information I was still surprised when the killer was revealed.  While Poirot isn't the focus of the book I did enjoy his arrival into the story and the interplay between him and the law enforcement who bring him into the mystery.  This is probably one of my favorite books and one that I don't think gets nearly enough attention.  Rating 4.5 Stars

Sad Cypress (1940) - Elinor Carlisle thinks her whole life is planned out.  She and her cousin by marriage Roddy Welman are to be married and they will inherit Aunt Laura's fortune and live happily every after.  Except Roddy falls in love with pretty Mary Gerrard and Aunt Laura dies without a will - leaving all her money to Elinor alone.  Elinor is still reeling from her aunt's death and the engagement being called off when Mary dies and Elinor is arrested.  The case looks like an easy one and Elinor is sure to be found guilty when Aunt Laura's doctor calls in Hercule Poirot to save the day.  I feel like Christie was a little distracted when she wrote the ending of this book.  The plot itself is going nicely along and some holes are poked in the case against Elinor and then wham the reveal and the story is ended.  I was satisfied with the ending but it felt a bit like she had a 400 page novel and was told she had to cut it down to 350 pages but needed to keep the ending the same.  Rating: 3.5 Stars

One Two Buckle My Shoe (or The Patriotic Murders or An Oerdose of Death) (1941) - This is basically a mystery wrapped in a puzzle seasoned with conspiracy and served with a side of red herring.  With a mysterious Greek with ties to espionage and blackmail, the backbone of the British financial structurek, a renowned private detective, and an American anarchist all lurking around the last person anyone expects to be dead is the ordinary dentist..  Yet it is regular ordinary conservative Mr. Morley who lays dead with a bullet to the skull.  Luckily for justice one of his last patients was Hercule Poirot and he is not satisfied with the verdict of suicide.  There's a lot to unwind here and it's an interesting flip on a typical victim.  No one would want to kill Mr. Morley but everyone else around him has more than enough people who would want them dead.  The reader and Poirot come continually back to the one point - why is Mr. Morley dead?  The ending was satisfying and it was fun to see a case that made no sense be suddenly explained.  Rating: 4 Stars

Sunday, March 26, 2017

This Week in Reading - March 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:

Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison - I've really enjoyed the first two books of this series so when I was offered book #3 I jumped at the chance.  This one focuses on Iris's writing a little bit more and I can't wait to see what happens.  (Publisher)

A Reference to Murder by Kym Roberts - I've been wanting to try this series for awhile because it involves a bookstore but I couldn't resist this one which features a missing persons case that's connected to a much older missing persons case (NetGalley)

The Antique House Murders by Leslie Nagel - There's an abandoned old house and I can never resist abandoned old houses - especially if they're full of stuff! (NetGalley)

Buns by Alice Clayton - I've been wanting to try Clayton for ages and I took a chance and requested this one.  I'm super exited to start reading!  (NetGalley)

Miraculous Mysteries: Locked Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes edited by Martin Edwards - I love these short story collections from Poison Pen Press and I've always been a fan of locked room mysteries.  I'm looking forward to finding some new authors.  (NetGalley)


Reading: The Lake House by Kate Morton and Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.  I think I made a mistake reading both of these at the same time because they're both on the long side and it just feels like I'm making NO progress.  I think mixing one in with a shorter faster paced book would have been a better idea.  As well I'm reading Dying on the Vine by Marla Cooper on my Kindle.

Listening:  I just finished Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming and am waiting for At Home by Bill Bryson to come available.  I read it a few years ago but don't remember much about it except I kept dropping the hardback on my face.  I thought it might be a fun listen.

Watching: I gathered my courage and have been watching the 4th season of Sherlock.  I've watched the first 2 and hope to watch the last one tomorrow. It's super weird and I'm enjoying it though the 1st part of the 2nd episode was just too bizarre.  I'm about to start Victoria with Jenna Coleman which I'm looking forward to watching.  Movie-wise we've got Diamonds are Forever coming up since I just finished the book.

Off the Blog:

I think I've almost recovered from being out of town for 8 days.  I always feel like it takes just as long to recover as the time I've been away.  Thankfully I'm somewhat caught up on laundry and the Tornado is getting his sleep schedule kind of under control.  Vacation hours and daylight savings time combined has us staying up super late and sleeping late and we're all naturally night owls as it is.  That first morning the alarm went off I thought I was going to cry.
Emma and the ridiculously large dog who is quite convinced he's a lap dog

Emma and her boyfriend were able to come join us for part of the vacation which added to the fun.  My grandfather is doing really well and is back to feeling like his old self.  He isn't as mobile as he'd like but he's getting there.   We also came home with a motor home which we're figuring out how to use and looking forward to future adventures.  If anyone has any tips or resources please share!

This week is book fair week at the Tornado's school which is always lots of fun.  I'm volunteering some and J is going to come eat lunch with him and then go visit the bookfair with him.  I'm sure he'll end up with stacks and stacks of books! 

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Agatha Christie Project - Poirot Part 5
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Authors I'd Like to Meet
Wednesday: A Perfect Obsession - Romantic Suspense Review
Thursday:  Dying on the Vine - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups
Saturday:  Food Resolutions Check In

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

52 Pins in 52 Weeks - March Edition

I absolutely love Pinterest! My current pin count is just under 10,500 and I have dozens of boards. I alternate between pinning from the tons of food and craft blogs (I have a different system for book blogs!) and pinning after mindlessly scrolling through the "Everything" option where I can see all the pins that have been pinned and repinned recently.
 In 2015 I realized that while I relied on Pinterest for all kinds of things a lot of my boards were being seriously neglected and even in the boards I did use regularly there were still plenty of pins collecting dust. And that's where 52 Pins in 52 Weeks came from. At the first of the year I make a board called 52 Pins in 52 Weeks and fill it with 52 pins that I want to do over the course of the year. I've tried to include a good mix of food, holiday, and craft pins and push myself to step a little out of my comfort zone. I pin my results on my 52 Pins in 52 Weeks Results board. Some pins are wins and some are most definitely fails but it's always interesting to attempt them! 
 This year I hope you'll share your Pin Wins and Fails with me and link up below! The format is totally up to you. Just post about the pins you've tried over the month (it can be multiple posts) and link up here! The link up will the the last Saturday of every month and I can't wait to see what everyone is doing!

This was a fairly quiet month and I didn't get as many pins as I expect to complete finished.  The primary hold up is that we were out of town for 8 days which when I scheduled it didn't seem like that big of a deal but it turns out it is a schedule killer!  Especially since it seems to take me a solid week to prep and another week to recover!  April will be a super sized edition!

Week 10:

The Pin:  Lucky Rice Krispie Treats from Mandy's Recipe Box

The Basic Idea: A basic homemade Rice Krispie treat with the addition of a little bit of Lucky Charms including the marshmallows.

My Results:  Well first off homemade Rice Krispie treats are just ridiculously good and these were no exception.  I was surprised to find that the Lucky Charms did change the texture a little.  There are 4 cups Rice Krispies to 1 cup Lucky Charms so for the most part it takes like a standard treat but then I'd come up on an extra little crunchy bit or a marshmallow and it was a tasty addition.  The Lucky Charms marshmallows weren't as visible as I wanted them to be so I did take a few extra and press them into the top.  Next time I'd pull out about 1/4 cup or just a little less to have ready to do that.  I'll definitely make these again around St. Patrick's Day next year though they won't replace the standard Rice Krispie treat recipe.

Week 11:

The Pin:  Copy Cat Shamrock Shake from Number 2 Pencil

The Basic Idea:  A minty creamy milkshake similar to McDonald's Shamrock Shake.

My Results:  I'm going to be honest and admit that I have never actually had a Shamrock Shake so I can't be sure how close of a copy cat this recipe is.  However, I do like a good milkshake and this sounded fun for St. Patrick's Day.  We were split on this one.  The Tornado and I liked it but J (who isn't super fond of mint) said it was annoyingly minty - Just enough to be there but not enough to be refreshing.  I thought the mint was subtle and went well with the creamy vanilla flavor.   I did leave out the 3 tablespoons of sugar because I figured it would be sweet enough.  I'll definitely make this again next year though the recipe makes enough for 4 good sized milkshakes so I'll probably half it.

Week 12:

The Pin: off my To Buy board - Sonia Kashuk Sheer Berry - (original source has been deleted)

The Basic Idea:  Buying a sheer berry colored lipstick

My Results: So this is a little different since I didn't actually do anything than pick this up on my last Target run so I'll just give you my opinion!  I have kind of a love/hate relationship with lipstick.  My lips are on the pale side so lipstick is a must but I hate sticky gloss and super matte lipsticks really dry my lips out.  On the other had most of the sheers I've tried have so little staying power they're pointless. I was really pleased with this one.  It's definitely got a little punch of color without being dramatic and while it won't last through a meal it lasts several hours.  The texture is similar to Chapstick.  Actually I found the Sheer Berry color to be very similar to Cherry Chapstick just on steroids color wise.  For less than $10 I can see this ending up on my Must Buy list.

Next month I'll be doing lots of Easter baking and learning to fall asleep in less than a minute.  Come join me for the April linkup on April 29th!

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Linkups - Scandal in Skibbereen

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

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
How do you handle negative comments left on your blog?

My Answer:
I've been lucky and never had a really negative comment.  There were 2 that came off as super critical.  One was on a post that was at least 6 months old when the person commented very harshly disagreeing with me about my thoughts on who the audience for the book was and I was able to pretty easily ignore that.  The other was an author who had an objection to something I didn't like about their book.  I didn't understand it really because while there had been a point that had annoyed me the review itself was very positive.  I made a non-committal answer to their comment and then have just avoided reviewing their books on the blog ever since.  I don't mind people disagreeing with me - a book worked for me that didn't work for them or vice versa - there are ways to discuss it nicely and that's what almost everyone does.

Sheila Connolly has been one of my favorite cozy mystery authors since I started ready cozy mysteries!  Her Apple Orchard series is fantastic and I was really excited when I discovered that she was starting a series set in Ireland.  I read the first book shortly after it came out and really enjoyed it but the 2nd book just never made it to the top of the pile until now.  I'm super excited to be starting Scandal in Skibbereen and reading about recently relocated Maura's 2nd adventure in Ireland.

The Beginning:
Now that high season had arrived, Sullivan's Pub was busier than Maura Donovan had ever seen it.

My Thoughts:
I can just see the pub crowded with people laughing and talking.  I'm not sure what weather high season actually is in but in my head it's cold and there's a fire roaring!

The 56:
Mick noticed.  "No, but it falls to you to keep him in line.  You're the owner here now."
"I've never managed anyone in my life.  You think he'd be better off somewhere else?"

My Thoughts:
I feel for Maura here (she's the 2nd speaker).  Having to manage someone who really doesn't want to be managed is definitely a challenge - especially when you have no desire to do any managing!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Last Chance Matinee - Women's Fiction Review

The Last Chance Matinee (Hudson Sisters #1) by Mariah Stewart

Rating: Loved it!
Source: Publisher

Description:  From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes the first novel in her all-new series, The Hudson Sisters, following a trio of reluctant sisters as they set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish. In the process, they find not only themselves, but the father they only thought they knew.
When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended in a tragic overdose. Meanwhile, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—they had a daughter together, Cara, and while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had, he never quite managed to tell her or Cara about his West Coast family.

Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce, allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals, and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old, decrepit theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Guided by Fritz’s closest friend and longtime attorney, Pete Wheeler, the sisters come together—whether they like it or not—to turn their father’s dream into a reality, and might just come away with far more than they bargained for.

Genre: Fiction - Women's

Why I Picked This Book:  I really love Stewart's romantic suspense and have enjoyed her more recent Chesapeake Diaries series.  Also, the premise just really grabbed me.

My Impression:  This is going to be a hard review to write because I'm really trying hard not to gush. You know those books that are just easy to read?  The kind where you're immediately pulled into the world and can just visualize the characters?  The kind where you want to know what happens next and want to sneak off to read just a few pages more?  This was one of those books for me. Right from the start I was completely pulled into the story.  I loved seeing the sisters' relationship with each other and themselves grow.  Des and Cara are easy to like but Allie is super prickly and not so easy.  However, my heart broke for her because she's trying so hard at things she can't win and holding grudges that just make her miserable.  At the beginning of the book she's so incredibly unhappy and doesn't even fully realize it.

With the sisters building new relationships and trying to figure out how to get started with the renovation of the old theater the romance between Joe and Cara is kind of just a side plot but it is fully developed. We get to meet Joe and understand some of his motivations and see his relationship with his family and particularly his sister.  He's a good guy who is straight forward about his interest in Cara and it was funny to see Cara, who is typically open and relaxed suddenly go prickly.

While this first book is about all the sisters there is a slight focus on Cara who I really enjoyed getting to know.  She's a smidge on the granola-y side but very much a live and let live person.  Watching her relationship with Des grow was really wonderful as was the development of her relationship with Joe.  

I really loved this book.  It has heart and warmth and humor and was just a delight to read.  My only complaint is that I have to wait a year for the next book!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'll be counting days until the next book is published and I'm looking forward to going back and reading the rest of the Chesapeake Diaries series.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Absolutely!  If you enjoy books about relationships with wonderful characters then this is a great read and a fantastic start to the series.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pressed to Death - Cozy Mystery Review

Pressed to Death (A Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum Mystery #2) by Kirsten Weiss

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley

Description: Paranormal museum owner Maddie Kosloski has the perfect exhibit for the harvest festival—a haunted grape press. But when she’s accused of stealing the press, and her accuser is murdered, all eyes turn to Maddie. Knowing the perils of amateur sleuthing as she does, Maddie is reluctant to get involved . . . until her mother insists she investigate.

Does her mom have a secret agenda? Or is she somehow connected to the murder? Facing down danger and her own overactive imagination, Maddie must unearth the killer before she becomes the next ghost to haunt her museum.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book: I loved the first book in the series and couldn't wait to find out what mess Maddie got herself into next and what artifact she solved the mystery for.

My Impression:  This may be the absolute best concept for a cozy mystery series!  Maddie Kosloski owns a Paranormal Museum which is crammed full of haunted (maybe) and mysterious (definitely) items all which have their very own history and a mystery to solve.  On top of that people have an unfortunate habit of dropping dead around her which leads to a very present day mystery to solve.

In this book the mysterious object is a cursed grape press and the former owner who is now claiming that Maddie stole the object happens to wind up dead.  Everyone seems to have a different perspective on the murder victim which makes Maddie's job of unraveling who really did him in all the more difficult.  I absolutely loved the mystery around the grape press.  There's something so intriguing about solving an old cold case and that was probably my favorite part of the book.

I loved catching up with Maddie's friends, Harper and Adele, and really enjoyed Dieter's larger part as well as the addition of Leo, Maddie's new employee.  The antics of the Ladies' Aid and the the rival group had me laughing.  I've worked in enough volunteer organizations to know that while slightly exaggerated some of it wasn't that far outside reality.

The only thing that I didn't enjoy about this mystery was the detective and Maddie's nemesis, Laurel Hammer.  I get that Laurel hates Maddie but her behavior drifted over to down right unprofessional and unethical. and there were a few things she did that I don't think were legal (especially taking "evidence" without a warrant).  She had a larger part in the first part of the book but thankfully she faded more into the background for the majority.  Maybe she can take a vacation in book #3?

Despite my one issue this is a really fun addition to a great cozy mystery series.  I'm excited to see what trouble Maddie gets into next and what artifact in the museum gets investigated.  Plus, what other mystery series has a rather surly ghost detecting (GD for short) cat?  While reading the first book in the series isn't necessary I do think it would help the enjoyment of this book as it explains a lot about the museum and how Maddie got mixed up in it.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  Do I really have to wait a year for book #3?

Would I Recommend this Book?: I would!  If you like cozy mysteries (or just quirky books with a history element) than you really must not miss this series!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - One Sitting Reads

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is One Sitting Reads.   I divided up the topic into books I actually read in one sitting and books I really wish I could have read in one sitting because I didn't want to put them down!

Books I Actually Read in One Sitting

1.  84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff - This little book of letters between American writer and a British bookstore employee shortly after World War II is an absolute delight and a super quick read. If you haven't read it you absolutely should.

2.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin - I didn't love this story about a crabby bookstore owner as much as I expected but it was one of those books where the problem was my expectations not the book itself.  It was a really lovely story and made for a wonderful rainy evening tucked under a blanket.

3.  The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde - I adore this quick little story about a British ghost dealing with a very unimpressed American family.  It definitely turns the typical ghost story on its head.

4.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming - I didn't realize that this children's book is written by the same author who gave us James Bond but after reading a few Bond novels and reading this one you can definitely see a similar writing style.  This is tons of fun and one I was glad was fairly short because I didn't want to end.  If you can get the audio read by David Tennant I highly recommend it.

5.  Carry on, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse - I had heard of Jeeves and Wodehouse but never read any of the books.  This little collection of short stories about poor hapless Bertie and the perfectly resourceful butler Jeeves was an absolute delight and a quick listen!

Books I Wish Were 1 Sitting Reads Because I Didn't Want to Put Them Down

1.  The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware - If I could have listened to this one in one day I would have.  Imogen Church is an amazing narrator and this story had me holding my breath wanting to find out what was going to happen next.

2.  Moonraker by Ian Fleming - While I had enjoyed the first two Bond novels this third book really hooked me.  I really enjoyed getting to know Bond better and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next.  If you've seen the movie don't worry about it spoiling the book - there is absolutely no connection between the two.

3.  The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan - This book was comfort reading at it's absolute best.  There's a little bit of romance, a whole lot of books and a woman who is trying to figure out what really makes her happy.  I absolutely loved it!

4.  The Obsession by Nora Roberts - This romantic suspense book was like an episode of Criminal Minds but with a romance and I loved it!  It was one I kept sneaking off to read just a little bit more!

5.  The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown - I didn't expect to really be hooked by this book about a woman trying to figure out what she's going to do with herself finding a diary written by her grandmother in Paris decades earlier.  I expected to like it but it was one of those surprise books that absolutely hooked me.  I loved the characters and wanted to know what happened.  It took me a little longer than one sitting but not much longer and was one of those books I finished up at 3AM when I should have gone to bed hours before.

What books have you read in one sitting?  What books did you want to read in one sitting?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks - Series Reading and Genre Fatigue

Back long long ago in the pre-blogging days the books I read weren't picked by date published or blog tour commitments.  I actually didn't even have a Kindle so all of my reading was done in paperback.  I was a big user of and frequently didn't even discover a series until they were way underway which meant I could have 4 or 5 of one series at a time.  Now since I enjoy the series it'd make sense that I'd want to read all 4 or 5 in a row right?  Well that's what I thought at first and I'd stack all the books up and get reading.  Except pretty soon I started noticing something - I loved the first book and usually the second.  But by the third book I was much less interested and by the fourth the primary characters could have all been hit by a bus and I'd have been okay.  This was before the word "slump" became a concept I was familiar with but even then I did notice my reading was sliding and I was wanting to read less and less.

After some experimentation I discovered that I needed at least 4 or 5 books in between each book in a series to keep me reading and keep me enjoying the series.  Now that blogging has changed the way I read and the way I pick current read it's a little harder to read a whole series close together.  And because I'm discovering new series at the beginning I'm not going to have the first four books ready to dive into so I don't have the series reading problem anymore or at least not as frequently.

But now I have a different problem - genre fatigue.  Lately. I've been noticing that if I have a lot of the same genre in a row then I start getting that feeling you get when you're 2/3 in to a ridiculously large dessert.  It's not that it's bad it's just that there's so much left and I've already eaten so much.  I need to mix it up with something - anything of a different feel or tone.

Can you read a series all in a row?  Do you suffer from genre fatigue?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

This Week in Reading - March 19

It's Sunday Post day!  This is hosted by the awesome Kimberly over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and it's always such fun to check up on what everyone has going on!

I just got back into town after a long trip visiting my grandparents.  We were super busy but had a good time and I'll definitely be updating later.  I'm not even sure if I even got any books this week!  Until I get settled in here's what happened last week and here's what's coming up:

What Happened:

Monday:In Farleigh Field - Historical Fiction Review
Tuesday:  Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR
Wednesday: Someone to Love - Contemporary Romance Review
Thursday:  Yes My Accent is Real - Memoir Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with The Grapes of Wrath
Saturday: Forever a Cowboy - Contemporary Romance Review

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Binge Reading
Tuesday:  Top Ten One Sitting Reads
Wednesday:  TBD
Thursday:  Last Chance Matinee - Women's Ficton Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  52 Pins in 52 Weeks - March Edition

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Forever a Hero - Contemporary Romance Review

Forever a Hero (Carsons of Mustang Creek #3) by Linda Lael Miller

Rating: Good
Source:  Publicist

Description: Mace Carson is no hero. Back in college, he came upon a woman in trouble and intervened—but he was just one irate Wyoming cowboy with his boots planted firmly on the side of right. Now a successful vintner, Mace is shocked to be reunited with the woman he saved. But it turns out she's in Wyoming on business…a corporate executive representing the company that wants to buy his winery. Only, he's not selling.

Kelly Wright has never forgotten that horrible night ten years ago when Mace came to her rescue, has never forgotten him. The surprising success of a winery in the middle of ranch country has brought her to Mustang Creek, and she's secretly thrilled to discover Mace at the helm. Reluctant to mix business with pleasure, Kelly vows to keep things professional, until her attacker is released from prison and comes for vengeance…against both of them.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book: I've read the other two books in this series about Mace's two brothers so of course I had to read Mace's story!

My Impression:  I really enjoyed the 2 previous books about the Carson brothers and was really looking forward to seeing Mace's story.  The blurb had me a little worried though.  While I'm all for a good knight in shining armor story I'm very picky when it comes to balance of power and if there's a sense of obligation or heavy gratitude between Mace and Kelly I knew I was going to struggle with it.    Luckily this isn't an issue as Mace takes care of that pretty early on and makes it clear that he is not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship where gratitude is a key part.  I liked Mace.  He's intelligent and a hard worker.  He knows what he wants and has very little self-doubt.
While I liked Mace I connected with Kelly more.  She's also intelligent and a hard worker but is having some doubt about what she wants to do and whether her original plan is really what she still wants.
The Carson family is a strong presence in the story and I especially enjoyed catching up with the 2 couples from the previous books.  All of the characters have some leanings towards perfection and as I've found in other LLM books there is a bit of a race to commitment that seems a little quick.  However, that doesn't stop this from being a fun read that pulled me in almost immediately.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I've really enjoyed this series and would like to read more from LLM.

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you enjoy Western contemporary romance this is a really great series!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Linkups - The Grapes of Wrath

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 a lot of diverse or own voices books?  Why or why not?

My Answer:
Not really.  I'm not purposely choosing to not read them it's just I typically read genre fiction like mysteries and romance which I'm not sure really have options that fall under the diverse or own voice tag.

This week's book is a classic I've been wanting to read for awhile.  I've really enjoyed everything I've read by Steinbeck (except The Pearl but I refuse to speak of that one) but somehow never managed to read The Grapes of Wrath which feels like the book he's best known for.  So far I'm really enjoying it.  There's something about Steinbeck's writing style that I always enjoy and I'm reading a chapter or two of this a night.  It's like a little treat at the end of the day just with lots of dust and sorrow.

The Beginning:
To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.

My Thoughts:
I love how visual this is.  I normally don't think of Steinbeck being particularly descriptive but I can just see the rain and the earth.

The 56:
Muley observed, "Judge says he give you a light sentence 'cause it wasn't all your fault"

My Thoughts:
I love how matter of fact Steinbeck's dialogue is and this scene is a really perfect example of that.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Are there any classics that you've been meaning to read but just somehow haven't picked up yet?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Yes My Accent is Real - Nonfiction Memoir Review

Yes, My Accent is Real and Some Other Thins I Haven't Told You by Kunal Nayyar
Rating: Very Good

Description: Of all the charming misfits on television, there’s no doubt Raj from The Big Bang Theory — the sincere yet incurably geeky Indian-American astrophysicist — ranks among the misfittingest. Now, we meet the actor who is every bit as loveable as the character he plays on TV. In this revealing collection of essays written in his irreverent, hilarious, and self-deprecating voice, Kunal Nayyar traces his journey from a little boy in New Delhi who mistakes an awkward first kiss for a sacred commitment, gets nosebleeds chugging Coca-Cola to impress other students, and excels in the sport of badminton, to the confident, successful actor on the set of TV’s most-watched sitcom since Friends.
Going behind the scenes of The Big Bang Theory and into his personal experiences, Kunal introduces readers to the people who helped him grow, such as his James Bond-loving, mustachioed father who taught him the most important lessons in life: Treat a beggar as you would a king. There are two sides to every story. A smile goes a long way. And, when in doubt, use a spreadsheet. Kunal also walks us through his college years in Portland, where he takes his first sips of alcohol and learns to let loose with his French, 6’8” gentle-giant roommate, works his first-ever job for the university’s housekeeping department cleaning toilets for minimum wage, and begins a series of romantic exploits that go just about as well as they would for Raj. (That is, until he meets and marries a former Miss India in an elaborate seven-day event that we get to experience in a chapter titled “My Big Fat Indian Wedding.”)

Full of heart, but never taking itself too seriously, this witty and often inspiring collection of underdog tales follows a young man as he traverses two continents in search of a dream, along the way transcending culture and language (and many, many embarrassing incidents) to somehow miraculously land the role of a lifetime.

Genre: Nonfiction - Memoir

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm a huge Big Bang Theory Fan and I really wanted to learn more about the actor who plays Raj.

My Impression:  I have wanted to read this book since it came out but I really wanted to listen to the audio when I found out Kunal himself was reading it.  When I was offered a chance to try out an audio book for eStories this was the one I knew I wanted to listen to and I was not disappointed!  It was an absolute delight.

Kunal starts out the book by stating that this really isn't a memoir because he's only 34 but more a collection of stories that explain how he got to where he is now.  Some were silly, some thought provoking, some touching, but all were funny.  I enjoyed listening to stories about his childhood growing up in New Delhi and I adored getting to know his family.  His bond with his family really shines through and his dad sounds absolutely amazing.  Normally when an entire chapter is dedicated to things a family member says I tend to skim through it because frankly their mother/grandmother/father/grandfather/aunt isn't nearly as interesting as the writer thinks they are but in this case it was one of my favorite chapters.  For starters Kunal's father is just awesome.  He sounds intelligent and funny but also soft spoken and caring but with a tough edge.  I also really enjoyed that for each piece of advice Kunal gave an example as to how his father applied the advice to real life.

I really enjoyed his stories about how important his culture is to him as well as learning to fit in at a US university and his first entries into the acting world.  The book itself was highly entertaining and I felt like I knew Kunal a lot better after reading/listening to it.  My only complaints are that the beginning he jumps around several times timeline-wise and it could feel a little disjointed though I enjoyed the stories themselves and as a huge Big Bang Theory fan I wanted more behind the scenes stories!

If you enjoy memoirs about growing up in countries that aren't the US and about someone trying to make their dreams a reality I think you'd enjoy this one - even if you're not a Big Bang Theory fan.

Note about the audio - Kunal himself did the reading of this book and unsurprisingly did a fantastic job.  While I think this would be good in print form the audio was an extra bit of delight.

I used the eStories app to listen to this book and found it super user friendly and was able to immediately listen without having to go through a lot of steps or figure anything out.  I really liked that it showed the % complete and how much time was remaining in the book. It works on all devices and has unlimited cloud storage which makes it super flexible.  80%+ of the audiobooks are DRM free so you are free to do as you like with them once they're downloaded. At $11.95 a month it's definitely worth checking out.  You can start a free 30 day trial here.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'll be reading anything else he writes and in the meantime I've been doing some Big Bang Theory re-watching!

Would I Recommend this Book?: I would!  Even if you're not a fan of The Big Bang Theory I think it's an enjoyable read.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Someone to Love - Contemporary Romance Review

Someone to Love (Darling, VT #2) by Donna Alward

Rating: Good
Source:  Publisher


Ethan Gallagher is a firefighter in Darling, Vermont, who followed tradition and pledged his love on the Kissing Bridge to ensure lifelong happiness. A few years later, he s a widower with two rambunctious boys who no longer believes in magic. But even he has to admit that free-spirited Willow Dunaway fills him with wonder and an attraction he cannot deny.

Willow s come back to Darling a different girl than the one who left after high school. Overcoming her past and owning her own business has made her into a strong, independent woman. Single dad Ethan appeals to her in a way she didn t expect, even though settling down is the last thing on her mind. But after fire destroys the local food bank, the town rallies, and a fling between Ethan and Willow leads to unintended consequences. Can they find a way out of their heartbreak to make a home in each other s hearts?

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book: I've been a fan of Alward's for awhile and I loved the first book in this series.

My Impression:   I have slightly mixed feelings about this one.   I absolutely loved Willow and Ethan and their interactions were a lot of fun to read.  They have very different outlooks on life and -especially at the beginning- misinterpret what they see of each other but they're both honest and direct with each other which kept it from being frustrating.  I really appreciated that Ethan's marriage had been a happy one and that he isn't afraid of love but of loss and having his children hurt.  I loved checking in with the Gallagher family and with Darling, Vermont.  In the previous book it was clear that Willow had quite a back story.  It was nice to get to know her better and to learn her story.

My mixed feelings come from the last third of the book or so.  While I understand Willow's reaction to the conflict given her history I struggled with the fact that she avoided Ethan for several weeks given the fact that she had formed an attachment with his children and them with her.  I understood his anger as his fear of letting someone in to their lives and then them disappearing had been realized.  As well I wasn't entirely comfortable with her deceptive phrasing to Ethan regarding the conflict.  I understood her motivation but the lack of honesty seemed out of character.  Willow's back story could be considered controversial but it was handled so sensitively and honestly that I don't think anyone would have a problem with it.

Despite my minor hesitation with this book I really did enjoy the read.  I found the characters unique and interesting and just plain likable.  I loved seeing more of the town and I absolutely can't wait for the next book!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I have the next book in the series and I'm super excited to start it!

Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely!  If you enjoy contemporary romance like Jill Shalvis, Susan Mallory, or Sarah Morgan you will really enjoy this series!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - 10 Books On My Spring TBR

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR.  I love this topic because it gives me time to think about what I want to read in the next little while.  This is what I want to read this spring!

1.  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - I've seen several modern interpretations of this story but have never read the actual book.  I've seen several Oscar Wilde plays and there's a certain wit to them while this story sounds much darker.  I'm curious to see how it all comes together.

2.  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - I had zero interest in reading this one when it first came out.  The whole gamer science fiction thing just didn't catch my attention.  But then I started seeing the reviews and they were beyond glowing.  And THEN I discovered that Wil Wheaton reads the audio and that my library has a copy on audio on their digital site.  How can I pass that up?

3.  Three Fates by Nora Roberts - I love new and shiny books but lately I've been realizing that I miss my old favorites so I'm trying to throw in a reread every so often.  This book involving 2 countries, 2 time periods, 3 couples and a whole host of villains is the one I'm hoping to reread this spring.

4.  Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost - I've really enjoyed Troost's previous two books that chronicle his time spent on an atoll in the Pacific and then Tahiti so I'm super excited to read about his adventures in China.

5.  Tightening the Threads by Lea Waite - I've really been enjoying this cozy mystery series featuring a group of needlepointers and a former PI granddaughter.  They all have a historical element that always makes me happy and this newest one is supposed to solve the mystery of one of my favorite side characters who I'm really looking forward to getting to know better!

6.  Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen - Because what TBR would be complete without a thriller with an unreliable narrator?  I'm super excited about this one about a woman whose boyfriend has quite literally disappeared without a trace.

7.  Any Day Now by Robyn Carr - Robyn Carr is one of those authors that I'm always meaning to read more of but never quite manage to read as much as I'd like.  I'm really looking forward to this 2nd book in the Sullivan's Crossing series.

8.  Until You by Denise Grover Swank - I loved the first book in this contemporary romance series and am super excited about this second book!

9.  Death in the Abstract by Emily Barnes - This cozy series about a former police chief turned artist  has been on my radar for awhile and this one features a missing person mystery which is one of my favorite kinds of mysteries.

10. The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King - I'm woefully behind in this Sherlock Holmes?Mary Russell series.  I read the one right before this last year and there were a lot of things left unresolved.  I'm really looking forward to finding just how everything works out!

What are you looking forward to reading this spring?

Monday, March 13, 2017

In Farleigh Field - Historical Fiction Review

In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II by Rhys Bowen

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publicist

Description:  World War II comes to Farleigh Place, the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate. After his uniform and possessions raise suspicions, MI5 operative and family friend Ben Cresswell is covertly tasked with determining if the man is a German spy. The assignment also offers Ben the chance to be near Lord Westerham’s middle daughter, Pamela, whom he furtively loves. But Pamela has her own secret: she has taken a job at Bletchley Park, the British code-breaking facility.
As Ben follows a trail of spies and traitors, which may include another member of Pamela’s family, he discovers that some within the realm have an appalling, history-altering agenda. Can he, with Pamela’s help, stop them before England falls?

Inspired by the events and people of World War II, writer Rhys Bowen crafts a sweeping and riveting saga of class, family, love, and betrayal.

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I can't resist the Bletchley Park connection and I've really enjoyed other books from Rhys Bowen in the past.

My Impression:  I've been a long time fan of Bowen's Royal Spyness series - a cozy mystery series set in the 1930s around Lady Georgiana, 34th in line from the throne.  While this series is always entertaining and always a good read it has a tendency to go a little silly at times.  While this works for Georgie and her hijinks I wasn't sure how it would translate to WWII era Bletchley Park. Really though I should have trusted Bowen because while there was an occasional humorous interaction this book never once strayed to hijinks or silliness but instead was a solid, ridiculously readable, and compelling mystery.

The mystery itself is intriguing - who was the man who fell to his death in the middle of the night?  Who was he trying to meet up with?  What is going to happen next?  I loved the different elements of how the mystery unraveled between Ben work at MI5, Pamela's work at Bletchley Park, and the very curious and intelligent Phoebe, 12 year old sister of Pamela, and her new found friend the out of place Cockeny Alfie.

But my favorite part of this read were the characters themselves and the different challenges they faced.  There is the intelligent and observant Pamela who struggles to be taken seriously as an interpreter at Bletchley, the injured and friend-zoned Ben, unable to serve because of a careless accident shortly before the war but devoted to his country, the resentful Dido who is stuck and Farleigh and angry that she neither gets her debut nor is able to go to London to take part in the war work.  They all add to the wartime feel of the mystery easy to identify and connect with.  I adored the relationship between Phoebe and Alfie - her young lady of the manor mixed with his Cockney bravado is frequently funny and I found it sweet to watch their friendship develop though they both would be horrified by the use of the world sweet.

While this isn't silly it also isn't a particularly dark or angsty read.  I really enjoyed the look at Bletchley and the countryside of England during wartime.  It definitely made me want to read more about both.  If you're looking for a light but not fluffy historical fiction and can't resist a World War II setting this is one you must not miss!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I really enjoy her Royal Spyness series and and I was really impressed with this book.

Would I Recommend this Book?: 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

This Week in Reading - March 12

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco - I enjoyed the first in this series last summer and am looking forward to this one!  This involves a wedding day and I'm guessing many hijinks will ensue.  (NetGalley)

Until You by Denise Grover Swank - I really loved the first book in this series and I love when a series is about 2 groups of friends who all end up together.  That way you can check in with earlier couples and it works with the book.  (NetGalley)

Hospitality and Homicide by Lynn Cahoon - I've really been enjoying this series by Cahoon and I'm super excited about this newest book.  She's started another cozy series recently which I also like but I'm constantly worried she's going to abandon this one.  (NetGalley)

Dying on the Vine by Marla Cooper - Apparently murders around weddings is my kryponite these days because I just couldn't resist this one!


Reading: Forever a Hero by Linda Lael Miller, The Lake House by Kate Morton and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Listening: Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming

Watching:  Actually not a huge amount.  Major Crimes is back on TNT so J and I have been watching that.  I've been catching up on NCIS and all it's franchises.

Off the Blog:

Apparently this is spring forward weekend.  I'm not ready!  Sure daylight and all that is good but I need that extra hour of sleep!  Luckily it's occuring on what is Spring Break for us so I at least won't have to get up an hour early.

Speaking of spring break the Tornado and I are heading south to visit my grandparents.  My grandfather had a fall back in November and is still not feeling quite himself.  We're going to go and hopefully distract him and help my grandmother with a few things that need to doing.  This is the first time in his life he hasn't been able to be super active (he's 93) and all the sitting has him bored and stir crazy.  His eyes get tired if he reads a lot but he's just discovered audio books.  Any recommendations?  He was career Army and was a pilot in World War II and really enjoys books set around those.  He also listened to The Boys in the Boat and Seabiscuit and enjoyed those.  He also really enjoyed a book he read about Apollo 13 but I can't remember what it was.  Any suggestions - especially for really great audio books will be much appreciated!

Since I'll be out of town I won't be around too much this week but I hope everyone has a fantastic week and I'll be back to visit you soon!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

Tuesday:  The Fives

What's Coming Up:

Monday: In Farleigh Field - Historical Fiction Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books on My Spring TBR
Wednesday: Someone to Love - Contemporary Romance Review
Thursday: Yes, My Accent is Real - Memoir Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: Forever a Hero - Contemporary Romance Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Sally's Baking Addiction - Cookbook Review + Recipe

Sally's Baking Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes and Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix by Sally McKenney
It's no secret that I've got a sweet tooth of pretty massive proportions nor is it a secret that I've got a teensy bit of a cookbook addiction.  I've been a long time fan of the blog Sally's Baking Addiction so one day when I was in a cookbook buying mood and I saw this was on sale at Amazon I just knew I had to have it!  Now, I know there are people who don't like buying blog related cookbooks because of the availability of the recipes on line.  I'm not one of those people.  While I get a lot of the recipes I use off the internet I find a cookbook so much more pleasing and more useful that this doesn't worry me.  I will say that the majority of these recipes felt unfamiliar to me which leads me to believe that this book isn't just recipes pulled from the blog.

The book itself contains a ton of recipes - all with beautiful photographs.  While the book does contain the cookies, cupcakes and desserts the title promises there are also several chapters on breads and muffins and other breakfast treats as well as a chapter on lighter fare such as granola bars and energy bites.  As well you can find a large selection of cookies (from the gorgeous Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies on the cover to Mom's Gingersnaps and Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies), cakes and pies (the Sweet Peach Pie is calling my name) and a variety of sweet snacks and tasty treats.  I've made several recipes in this book and all have turned out beyond delicious.  However, the one I thought I'd share today went beyond my expectations and I could have happily eaten the entire pan on my own!

Cinnamon Roll Blondies

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
5 tbsp salted butter, melted (I used unsalted because that's what I had)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup, plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla Glaze
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 tsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 in pan with aluminum foil. leaving an overhang on all sides.

Make the Blondies:  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the nutmeg together.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar.  Add the egg and vanilla extract, whisking vigorously until combined.  Slowly add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, stirring with a large spoon or rubber spatula until combined.  Do not overmix.  The batter will be thick.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.  In a small dish, mix the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar together.  Sprinkle over batter.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until light golden brown on top.  Allow the blondies to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Make the Glaze:  While the blondies are cooling, mix all of hte glaze ingredients together in a small bowl, making sure there are no lumps of confectioners' sugar.  Drizzle the glaze over the cooled blondies.

Lift the foil out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into squares.  The blondies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.

My Results:  These were just ridiculous.  They were so soft and gooey and buttery that I was afraid they were underbaked.  But not only were they not underbaked they held together and packed wonderfully.  But seriously the texture and the flavor were perfection.  I'm glad I was taking most of the pan somewhere or I would have eaten them all myself!  They also came together super quick.  I had the idea of making them about an hour before I was supposed to leave and they were put together, baked, and cooled (with a short stay in the fridge) enough and ready to go within that time.  The only thing that didn't come out exactly as pictured was my glaze.  As you can see in the picture - while tasty it isn't winning any beauty prizes.  Both of these are user error.  For starters I was lower on confectioners' sugar than I thought and only had just over 1/2 a cup.  As well the blondies were still warm when I added the glaze causing it to melt.  I'm sure if I had taken my time and had the proper quantities it would have been photo-worthy.

Will I make this again?  Absolutely!  In fact I'm thinking I need to go make another batch right now!  You should too!  You won't be sorry!

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