Sunday, April 30, 2017

This Week in Reading - April 30

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:

Love and Death in Burgundy by Susan C. Shea - This new cozy series centers an ex-pat couple living in the Burgundy region of France.  There's a dead villager and lots and lots of secrets.  It looks like a great mystery and I love the setting.  (Publisher)

Something Like Happy by Eve Woods - Anna Hebden is stuck.  She's unhappy with her life, unhappy with where she's landed and is just trying to keep her head down and exist.  Until she meets Polly Leonard who is determined to bring Anna into the land of the living.  This starts a 100 day journey around 100 ways to be happy.  I love books about happiness and friendship and this sounds really fun but with a lot of heart too.  (Publicist)


Reading:  Hidden Threads by Liz Trenow, Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (it's slow going but so good) and I Hate Everyone Except You by Clinton Kelly

Listening:  I'm finishing up The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.  I thought that I had read it earlier but as I've listened I'm pretty sure I haven't.  I may have seen a sanitized version in play form but I'm pretty sure I've never read the book.  

Watching:  I've been watching Disappeared on Investigation Discovery which is about missing people but after a series of rather unpleasant dreams I've decided to give that a break.  Now I'm catching up on Elementary which is a show I forget how much I like until I'm actually watching it.  Also, I'm thrilled Doctor Who is back.  I think this new companion has a lot of potential and I feel like the Doctor seems more relaxed in the role this season.

Off the Blog:

I'm out of town this weekend visiting my grandparents so I won't be around too much for the next few days.  I'm not sure how relaxing it will be but I am hoping to get some reading done since I won't have the Tornado with me.

School is rapidly coming to a close here (less than a month to go) and I'm desperately trying to figure out something to do with the Tornado.  I do want some days where we really aren't doing anything but too much of that isn't good for either of us.  I know I need to start figuring out a routine ahead of time or we'll go crazy.  If you have school age children how do you stay sane during summer break?

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Reviews from the Children's Section - Virginia Mysteries 1 and 2
Tuesday: 10 Covers That Will Make Me Read or Not Read a Book
Wednesday:  Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday: TBD
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

52 Pins in 52 Weeks - April 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!

Week 13

The Pin:  Chocolate Chip Cupcakes from My Baking Addiction

The Basic Idea:  Chocolate Chip Cupcakes topped with a silky Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

My Results:  These are everything chocolate cupcakes should be.  They're rich and chocolate-y but not too sweet and the frosting is just a dream.  I stuck with butter and didn't add the 4 T of Crisco she called for.  I could really just sit down with a bowl of the frosting and be perfectly happy.  These are definitely on my repeat list.

Week 14

The Pin:  Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies by Brown Eyed Baker

The Basic Idea: Chocolate-y Oatmeal-y deliciousness

My Results:  There's no picture of these cookies because they disappeared to fast.  They were soooo good.  Just the right amount of chocolate to oatmeal.

Week 15

The Pin: Under Eye Concealing Tips from The Small Things Blog

The Basic Idea:  Use 3 dots of concealer - one on each corner and one in the middle, blend with 1 finger and continue your make up routine.

My Results:  The pin itself was basically an ad for a Dior BB Cream concealer but I did find the 3 dot thing effective.  I don't get dark circles but I do have issues with puffiness and this crease that runs under my eye that reminds me my skin is no longer 25.  While the concealer does work what produced the biggest change was finding an eye cream I like (I'm using one from Juice Beauty and loving it).

Week 16

The Pin:  Spring Celebration Brownies from Betty Crocker

The Basic Idea:  A brownie topped with a marshmallow crust,  pastel colored candies, and a chocolate drizzle.

My Results: Meh.  Luckily these weren't much work but it seemed like the marshmallow crust drew the moisture from the brownies so I ended up with sticky marshmallows and dry brownies. I tried them and then ended up tossing them.

Week 17:

The Pin: World's Best Mac and Cheese from Martha Stewart

The Basic Idea:  A baked macaroni and cheese

My Results:  It was good.  Not sure if it was the best but it was good.  It seemed a little extra complicated having the sauce and the macaroni and cheese recipes in 2 separate posts.  The sauce used an aged cheddar which for eating was amazing but I think in macaroni and cheese form I would have preferred a gooier cheesier flavor.  We all enjoyed it but I have a few other macaroni and cheese recipes I like more so I'll probably stick to them.

Week 18: 

The Pin:  How I Learned to Fall Asleep in Under a Minute from Byrdie

The Basic Idea:  A breathing exercise that is supposed to calm the mind and the body and relax you into sleep.

My Result:  Mixed. I really struggled with the short breath in long breath out combo.  I'm not sure if it's because I have asthma or it's just hard but whatever the reason it wasn't relaxing.  When I lengthened the breathing in slightly I found it worked much better for me.  I wouldn't say it made me fall asleep in less than a minute but I did find it relaxing and the focusing on breathing helped quiet my tumbling thoughts.

These are the pins I tried this month with some good and some not so good results.  How did you do?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Linkups - Til Death Do Us Part

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 many books have you re-read?  If you have re-read a book please tell us the book's title and why you re-read it.

My Answer:
I do reread books though not as often as I once did.  Typically I reread to kind of revisit characters that I really enjoyed meeting the first time around or because I'm kind of in a slump and need a guaranteed good read.  I've reread all of the Agatha Christie mysteries multiple times as well as books by Barbara Michaels, Nora Roberts, Julia Quinn and several others.

This week's book is a random library grab.  I've been wanting to read 'Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick since it came out and it just happened to jump into my bag while I was wandering the shelves.  I've enjoyed her contemporary romantic suspense books under her Jayne Ann Kretnz name and really wanted to see how she added suspense to a historical romance.

The Beginning:
"I've got to get rid of her, Birch." Nestor Kettering reached for the brandy bottle and refilled his glass.

My Thoughts:
This doesn't bode well for "her" and really if it follows along the lines of most suspense novels it doesn't bode to well for Nestor either.

The 56:
She looked at him with a mix of wariness and thinly veiled anxiety.  It was, he thought, the expression of a woman who has just received some bad news and is anticipating more of the same.

My Thoughts:
While I'm enjoying this so far I'm finding the language a little stilted.  I will say that she has some very real reasons for that expression!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Any books from your TBR that have unexpectedly jumped to the top of the pile?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Who Pays the Piper? - Classic Mystery Review

Who Pays the Piper? (an Ernest Lamb Mystery) by Patricia Wentworth

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Lucas Dale always gets what he wants. And this time he wants another man’s fiancĂ©e: Susan Lenox. Never mind that she’s engaged to Bill Carrick, an up-and-coming architect without a farthing to his name. Cathleen O’Hara, Dale’s mousy social secretary, serves as the unwitting instrument of his plan, and a nasty blackmail scheme is set in motion. Soon, Susan has no choice but to break off her engagement and agree to marry Dale—until he’s found in his study with a bullet in his head.
Scotland Yard is called in, and before long, Inspector Ernest Lamb and Detective Frank Abbott have a suspect: Carrick. But as Lamb and Abbott dig deeper, they discover others with means, motive, and opportunity, including the victim’s penniless former wife who was handy with a gun, and his American business partner who wanted the money Dale owed him. No one has an alibi for the time of Dale’s demise. And someone else will die before the price of murder is paid.

Who Pays the Piper? is the 2nd book in the Ernest Lamb Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.

Genre:  Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book: I'm a long time fan of Patricia Wentworth and was trilled to see that Open Road Media was republishing a number of her books in ebook form and even more thrilled when I realized it was a few I haven't read yet!

My Impression:  This book made me want to take a cup of tea, a scone, and my Kindle and lock myself in a room for a few hours and just read.  I discovered Patricia Wentworth about the same time I discovered Agatha Christie and they're both two of my favorite authors.  It was a special treat to discover a new-to-me mystery by a favorite author.

The evil rich guy who finally gets murdered is a plot that Wentworth used a pretty good bit but somehow she always makes it feel fresh and different.   This one is no exception.  Lucas Dale is the worst kind of evil - a wolf in sheep's clothing who stops at nothing to get what he wants.  After he manipulates the beautiful and beloved Susan Lenox into an engagement he's found shot to death with Susan's former fiance, Bill Carrick, at the scene.  He's the obvious suspect but in the land of Patricia Wentworth nothing is as it seems.  The mystery twists and turns with lots of leads and suspects and more than a few motives.  I adore Lamb and Abbot's relationship.  Frank Abbot is kind of the new generation of Scotland Yard - from a fine family with an aristocratic education - and is a good detective but can be quick to judgement and frequently has a pithy remark and the older, higher ranking, and more solid Lamb has to slap him down which is a joy to watch.  Lamb reminds me a little bit of Agatha Christie's Superintendent Battle.  He's easy to underestimate which is an incredibly dangerous to do.  He's an amazing detective but at the same time can be very sympathetic and kind.

However, I'm used to seeing both Lamb and Abbot with Miss Maude Silver (Wentworth's version of Miss Marple) and she brings out a little more personality from both men.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Lamb and Abbot on their own but I'm not sure I would have enjoyed this one quite as much if it wasn't for meeting them Miss Silver first.

This is a very well done entertaining mystery with likable characters and a solution I bet most readers won't figure out until the final reveal.  If you're a fan of Agatha Christie or other classic mystery writers you must give Patricia Wentworth a try!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes!  I hadn't realized how much I missed Wentworth and her characters until I started reading this one.  If I could have reached into the book and given Lamb a hug of delight the second he appeared on the page I would have.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Absolutely though you may want to start with one of the Miss Silver books first (except Gray Mask.  I didn't care for that one.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Any Day Now - Contemporary Romance Review

Any Day Now (Sullivan's Crossing #2) by Robyn Carr

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publicist

Description:  For Sierra Jones, Sullivan's Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She's put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn't yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet.
Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she's always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it's a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan's Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  Robyn Carr is an author I really need to read more from and I loved the sound of this one.

My Impression:  I enjoyed my first visit to Sullivan's Crossing so much and loved Sierra right away.  She's fought some of her demons but there is still more fighting to be done and she's still running from her past.  She's reluctant to get to attached to those around her but at the same time desperately wants to belong.  I loved watching her start to relax and start to enjoy being part of a community.  Her relationship with Sully was so special and funny.  They weren't related but they may as well have been.  I liked her relationship with Moody as well as their discussions on sobriety.  But honestly, my favorite was the relationship between Molly and Sierra.  It was just pure joy.

The romance between Connie and Sierra was slow building and sweet.  I loved how honest Connie was about his past and his feelings.  He didn't press Sierra for more and he didn't get mad even though he knew she wasn't telling him everything.  But somehow at the same time he didn't fall into Too Good to Be True territory.  He just came off as a good guy who respected and cared for those around him.  He does have some issues but he's upfront about them and there was one scene with his mother which was just a treat.

Carr does a fantastic job of creating the feel of a community around the story of the main couple.  We see quite a lot of Sully and his friends and hear their stories as well as getting to see more of Cal (Sierra's brother) and his new wife and Sully's daughter, Maggie.  There is also a lovely subplot around Tom, Cal's carpenter, and his long time friend Lola that was so sweet.  This is the second book in the the Sullivan's Crossing series but I had no problem starting here though now I really want to read the first book.   I thoroughly enjoyed this read and can't wait for my next visit to Sullivan's Crossing!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'm hoping to get to the first book in the series soon and am looking forward to book #3.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Definitely!  This is a great read for fans of contemporary romance and women's fiction.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Things that Will Instantly Make Me NOT Want to Read a Book

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is 10 Things that Will Instantly Make Me NOT Want to Read a Book.  This was a little harder than last week's list of things that will make me WANT to read a book.  I think I could have come up with a top 20 without trouble for that one!  I will say that for almost all of these there is an exception - a book I read usually because a blogger friend made it sound to good to pass up and more often than not I end up loving it.  But without that these are some things that will make me put the book back on the shelf without putting it on my TBR.

1.  Death of a Child - Especially if the story is told from the parents' or child's POV.  I just can't handle it.  I can deal with a death way in the past but if it's present day I'm out.

2.  Controversial topics - There are 2 reasons I avoid this.  The first is that I tend to be an escapist reader and we're bombarded with current events and issues enough in the real world that I don't enjoy that in my fiction.  The second reason is that so often with an author is writing about a controversial topic they are frequently pushing their take on the issue.  Even when I agree with the author's POV I dislike that feeling of a pushed agenda.

3.  Cheating - I can handle a cheating spouse or significant other in a thriller but if I'm supposed to like or root for a character in a fiction, romance, or lighter mystery I just can't.

4.  Angst -  I'm not a huge fan of unnecessary drama so when there's 3 misunderstandings and tremendous amounts of sobbing in the blurb I tend to think the book isn't for me.

5.  Multi-book love triangles - I'm not a big fan of love triangles at the best of times - I typically end up feeling bad for the one not chosen unless the one not chosen is awful and then I have to wonder what the person was thinking in the first place. I can tolerate it in one book but when a major love triangle has drug on and on with no signs of ending that can be enough to make me stop reading the series.

6.  Books with animals if the animals are at risk in any way - If there's a dog in a romance I'm pretty good but the second the main character gets a pet in a thriller I'm on edge.  I've had to flip to the end of more than a few books to make sure that the dog or cat was still there before I could relax enough to read the actual story.

7.  Dystopian - This is probably the one where there have been the most exceptions.  I've read a number of Dystopian type books that I ended up really enjoying but unless it's heavily recommended I tend to steer clear.

8.  The characters are in high school - I didn't particularly enjoy high school or being that age and I'm not really drawn to most YA novels quite possibly for that reason.  I can handle some quests or teenagers saving the world but other than that I haven't had much luck.

9.  It's by an author who has burned me a few too many times in the past - There are a few popular authors who I've read a few books from and have finally decided their books just don't work for me.  Either the end feels emotionally manipulative, the characters don't click with me, or something about their writing style just is hard to get into but I've finally decided it's time to avoid them.

10. Catastrophe Fiction - Earthquakes,tornadoes, hurricanes, or other disasters natural or otherwise aren't my favorite things. I've read a few I've really really enjoyed but for the most part I avoid them

What things make you want to avoid a book?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Double Whammy - Cozy Mystery Review

Double Whammy (A Davis Way Mystery #1) by Gretchen Archer

Rating: Good
Source: Publicist

Description:  Davis Way thinks she’s hit the jackpot when she lands a job as the fifth wheel on an elite security team at the fabulous Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. But once there, she runs straight into her ex-ex husband, a rigged slot machine, her evil twin, and a trail of dead bodies. Davis learns the truth and it does not set her free—in fact, it lands her in the pokey.
Buried under a mistaken identity, unable to seek help from her family, her hot streak runs cold until her landlord Bradley Cole steps in. Make that her landlord, lawyer, and love interest. With his help, Davis must win this high stakes game before her luck runs out.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book: This series has been on my TBR for ages and when I got the chance to review it I was less than an hour away from Biloxi so it kind of seemed like a sign.

My Impression:  This book was so much fun!  Think early Stephanie Plum but smarter, tougher, and less likely to have a car explode.  I loved Davis right away.  She's smart and really funny in a self deprecating way and is aware of the rather tremendous mistakes she's made in her past.

There's some setup here as Davis lands in Biloxi desperately trying to get a job in casino security and lands in something she wasn't expecting.  For awhile I wasn't quite sure just what the mystery was going to be.  Davis has a number of small undercover missions at the beginning giving the readers and Davis herself a peak at different areas of the casino and introducing her to a number of quirky, intriguing, and occasionally creepy characters.  I really enjoyed this part and learned that I never ever want to work in hotel housekeeping.  When the dead bodies start showing up the mystery really gets going and I flew through it wondering just what exactly was going on and how was Davis going to get her way out of the mess she had landed in.  An extra treat for me was that many of the areas Davis visits are familiar too me.  I've spent quite a lot of time in South Mississippi and the mention of Davis attending the University of Alabama in Birmingham made me smile.

This was a super fun mystery and a great start to a series.  I really like Davis, Bradley, and the host of side characters at the casino and in Biloxi itself and am really looking forward to seeing what trouble Davis lands in next!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'm already looking forward to the 2nd book!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Absolutely!  If you love cozy mysteries this is a fantastic read!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

This Week in Reading - April 23

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:

Nothing!  I don't think I even have any requests pending.  It's a strange mix of freedom and emptiness.  I'm hoping this means I"m going to keep working on shrinking that stack of review books.


Reading:  Pay the Piper by Patricia Wentworth, Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick, and Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Listening: I just finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline so I'm listening to podcasts until I pick my next audio.

Watching:  We've been watching movies lately.  This weekend we watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Rogue One.  I really enjoyed both (Monty Python is a multiple repeat) though they are VERY different.

Off the Blog:

It's been a pretty quiet week around here so nothing really to report other than being just flat out exhausted.  I'm not exactly sure what my problem is right now but all I want to do is go to sleep and I feel like I'm never caught up - it's like having an infant again without actually having an infant.
I've started a giant book cataloging process which is taking some time.  After my allergist informed me I was ridiculously allergic to dust mites I packed all the books I had crammed in corners and under my bed into totes and have been storing them in a guest room.  I hate not having them around and being able to look through them (though they were all crammed so tight it wasn't like that was all that possible) so I'm trying to add them all to this library app and label them by box number.  Basically it's letting me play with books while letting me feel like I'm accomplishing something!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Double Whammy - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday: Ten Things that Will Make Me NOT Want to Read a Book
Wednesday:  Any Day Now - Women's Fiction Review
Thursday:  Pay the Piper - Classic Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: 52 Pins in 52 Weeks - April Edition

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Woman in Cabin 10 - Mystery Review

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Rating: Loved it!
Source: Library

Description:  In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…
With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I loved Ware's previous book In a Dark Dark Wood and Imogen Church is one of my absolute favorite narrators so I just couldn't pass this up!

My Impression:  I started holding my breath in the first chapter when Lo opens her bedroom door to find an intruder standing in the hallway and I don't think I let it out until the very last page.  The image Ware paints of Lo opening her bedroom door holding her cat only to find herself confronted with a man in a hoodie and latex gloves was so ridiculously vivid that I won't be opening doors in the night with a pretty good bit of hesitation.  The bulk of the book takes place on a luxury cruise with luxury and beauty flowing out of every corner and in every detail.  Claustrophobia starts as an unsettling feeling but increases until it was almost unbearable as the plot unfolded.  I was completely spellbound.  I figured out a few things but only right before they happened and it was a delight to have my suspicions confirmed.

If you have to like the main character to enjoy a book than this isn't the book for you.  Lo isn't very likable.  She's emotional and at times irrational, always poised on the edge of shattering.  It's easy to see why she isn't taken seriously at times and there were times I wondered why her boyfriend put up with her.  There were times when she came off like a child - acting impulsively than regretting her actions but unaware of how to fix them.  I didn't find her too annoying but she is a difficult protagonist.  As well there is a slight confusion in the time line.  The majority of the book is told from Lo's perspective as events unfold on the ship but sprinkled in are a handful of emails and messages from the outside world that take place later than the actual plot is taken place.  I wasn't completely clear on the dates the main story was taken place so there was a little confusion as to what the concern was about.  Once I realized they were taking place later in the week I had no trouble getting it sorted out. Neither of these were things that detracted from the book for me but they may effect other's enjoyment of the story.

I absolutely loved this book.  I normally have to keep pretty busy to stay focused on an audio books but I can't begin to count the number of times I found myself standing completely still in the middle of a room just listening - waiting to find out what happens next. I found the story fast paced and once again am impressed by Ware's ability to make the atmosphere of the setting seep through pages.  I'll be anxiously awaiting her next book.

Audio Note: Imogen Church is an amazing narrator.  Her voice is compelling and hypnotic and ridiculously versatile as she voices a number of characters giving them distinct voices without sounding forced or overly theatrical.  I would listen to any book that she narrates on the strength of her voice alone.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  Ware really needs to write faster.  I'm anxiously waiting her next book

Would I Recommend this Book?: I would unless you have to like the main character.  For me if the plot is compelling enough it doesn't matter if I like the characters or not and this was definitely the case here but if that doesn't work for you than give this a pass.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Linkups - Double Whammy

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:
Would you stop reading a book if an element of the plot strongly clashed with your personal beliefs or would you continue reading the book?

My Answer:
Oh good question!  I think it depends on the way the author handles the issue.  If the character is doing something or something is happening that I am very much against but I felt like it was handled in a way that wasn't pushing an agenda and perhaps just shedding new light on an issue  I would probably keep reading.  If it came across like the author was telling me how to feel or think about something than I would stop reading.  I'm not a fan of books like that even if I agree with the author's POV!

I'm on a roll with cozies lately and Gretchen Archer's Davis Way series has been on my TBR for quite sometime.  When I was offered the chance to review the first book in the series - Double Whammy - I just couldn't resist.  So far I'm loving it!  Davis Way is a great character - tough and smart though with a tendency to run headlong into disaster.

The Beginning:
A little unemployment goes a long, long way, and after more than a year of it, applying for every available position in L.A. (Lower Alabama), I took a right and tried Mississippi.

My Thoughts:
I like the voice of the beginning.  She sounds like she's going to be an interesting main character (and so far so good!)

The 56:
"I just do.  Because you can't get in those safes with a tool."
My jaw unhinged.  How in the world did George know what I was doing?

My Thoughts:
Things sound a bit like they're unraveling.  There's not many good law abiding reasons for Davis to be trying to open a safe!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Manderley Forever and Never Entice an Earl - Short Reviews

Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay

I really enjoyed the author's forward where she talks about not wanting to simply report Daphne du Maurier's life but to really show who she was. Daphne du Maurier wasn't just the author of Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, My Cousin Rachel, The Birds, and countless other books but she was a fascinating and complex woman in her own right.

However, the writing style of the book just didn't work for me.  I enjoyed the author's commitment to trying to show a more personal view of du Maurier but there was a certain sing songy quality of the prose that I struggled with such as passages like this:
"Why go on vacation when their house is perfect?  Gerald whines, and Muriel smiles at him, indefatigable, just a bit tense, comforting him, trying to keep him entertained."
  I'm not sure if it's an issue with translation but 472 pages of this were a challenge.  While Daphne du Maurier is a woman worth learning more about this biography wasn't the way to do it.  Rating: Not For Me

Never Entice an Earl (One Scandalous Season #2) by Lily Dalton

Lord Cormack Northmore is desperate to avenge his sister which is what brings him to the Blue Swan, a notorious brothel, just in time to save lady's maid "Kate".  When a chance encounter reveals that "Kate" is in fact Lady Daphne Bevington - part of the society he is trying to break into - he decides to blackmail her.  All she has to do is provide him introductions and invitations and in return he will keep her secrets.   Daphne will do anything to protect and help her lady's maid and best friend which is what puts her on the collision path with the very attractive Cormack.  Both on a mission and both trying to save those they love but could those actions be putting them in danger?

I'm typically not a fan of a revenge plot - especially not when it involves one character using the other to further a personal agenda.  Nor am I a fan of fake identities.  However, I was pleased with how Dalton handled both issues.  The fake identity was very short lived and while Cormack did want Daphne to help him become accepted into society he was in no way unclear on his motives and intentions.  The romance itself was heavy on bickering with lots of lust but I did feel like there was a connection between the two.  Their priorities were similar and when they weren't arguing they did really seem to understand each other.  While this wasn't my favorite romance I've read this year I did find it an enjoyable read.  We meet the characters from the next book in this one and I was so intrigued by one I will definitely be reading the third book in the series.  Rating: Good

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Decorator Who Knew Too Much - Cozy Mystery Review

The Decorator Who Knew Too Much (Madison Night Mystery #4) by Diane Vallere

Rating:  Very Good
Source: Publicist

Description: When Interior Decorator Madison Night accepts an assignment in Palm Springs with handyman Hudson James, she expects designing days and romantic nights. But after spotting a body in the river by the job site, she causes a rift in the team. Add in the strain of recurring nightmares and a growing dependency on sleeping pills, and Madison seeks professional help to deal with her demons.
She learns more about the crime than she’d like thanks to girl talk with friends, pillow talk with Hudson, and smack talk with the local bad boys. And after the victim is identified as the very doctor she’s been advised to see, she wonders if what she knows can help catch a killer. An unlikely ally helps navigate the murky waters before her knowledge destroys her, and this time, what she doesn’t know might be the one thing that saves her life.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've read several other books by Diane Vallere and always enjoyed them.  I liked the sound of Madison.

My Impression:  It took me awhile to write this review because I had to take a break to watch a movie marathon of Doris Day movies (Pillow Talk is pretty great and who knew Doris Day was in a Hitchcock film!) and paint my bathroom aqua.  I'm pretty sure that Diane Vallere is incapable of writing a mystery that's not entertaining and this one is no exception!

For starters I really loved Madison.  There were times I wanted to shake her a bit for not relying on Hudson more but it does make sense.  Not only does she have serious baggage that keeps her from feeling comfortable opening up to people but she also is simply used to taking care of herself.  She's intelligent and does purposely put herself in harm's way though she doesn't hesitate to ask some questions that might put her there.  I especially enjoyed that events from previous books have had some psychological ramifications.  So often in mysteries the amateur sleuth will go through a terrifying experience and be perfectly fine which also seems a little off.  Madison's dealing with nightmares and a few other issues that made her even more interesting and sympathetic.  Don't worry though - if you haven't read the previous books Vallere includes just enough about previous events to make everything make sense so it's safe to jump in here.  There is quite a lot of descriptions about Madison's outfits which I really enjoyed.  I especially loved that Vallere included the pattern maker and number.  It was fun to look them up and see what images I could find.

All this character development did not get in the way of a good mystery which I must say had me scratching my head until the reveal.  There are lots of red herrings and perfectly reasonable suspects as well as things being far more complicated than they seemed.  Between the pace of the mystery and my enjoyment of the characters this proved to be a fast and entertaining read.  I'm looking forward to visiting Madison again and seeing what trouble she gets up to in the future.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Absolutely!  Diane Vallere is a mystery author whose books I always enjoy and this is a series I'm excited to continue with.  Actually, I just discovered I have the 3rd book in this series on my Kindle so I'm really looking forward to reading it soon.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Absolutely!  If you enjoy a cozy mystery don't miss this series and don't worry you can jump in on this book with no problem.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want to Read a Book

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is 10 things that will make me instantly want to read a book.  While there are bunches of different things that will make me want to read a book I'm sticking with plot points for this list.  These are the 10 things that if I see mentioned about a book can pretty much guarantee it's going to end up on my TBR.

1.  Setting - This book takes place in Ireland you say?  A town I'm familiar with or want to go to?  A setting that grabs my attention will have me pressing that 1 click button faster than just about anything else.

2.  A catastrophe that pushes the main character into a situation where they have to figure out what they really want to do - Lose your job?  Someone dies and you have to go take care of their house?  Long time boyfriend breaks up with you by text?  I'm so on board with this!  I love when a character has to take a break from their regular life for whatever reason (except for death of a child - not a fan of that one) and it forces them to realize what they really want.

3.  Restoring an old house - Anything involving restoring an old house is basically going to be on my TBR.  Something about all the old house talk makes me giddy and I don't care if the characters are solving a murder, falling in love with their contractor, making peace with their relationship with their mother, or anything else.

4.  Solving an old mystery - While restoring the old house did you find a packet of letters?  A journal?  A matchbook with a phone number?  A photograph?  Anything that makes you want to find the real story or a person involved?  I am along for the ride!

5.  A ghost - I can't resist a ghost story!  Basically if you take a haunted old house in Ireland that the main character has inherited after a losing their job and then they find a packet of old letters it's pretty much going to be my book of the year.

6. A journey style memoir - A trip around the world?  Going to cooking school?  Tackling a project - any project?  I can't resist a memoir with a set start and end goal and they're frequently some of my favorite reads.

7.  An ensemble cast - I love an ensemble cast in any kind of book.  Anytime a group of people band together to accomplish anything I very rarely can resist.  These can be a little hit or miss as often an ensemble cast has different POVs and while those can be amazing in the right hands they can also be pretty awful if done incorrectly.

8.  Books about books or with bookish characters - This includes fiction or nonfiction but if books play an important role I'll be picking that book up.  I love books where the characters are readers.  It adds an extra element of kinship.

9.  A Grandmother/Grandchild relationship - it may be because my own relationship with my grandmother is very special that I'm always drawn to books where that relationship is so important.

10. A Treasure Hunt - I love a good treasure hunt or puzzle type story!  This is something that spans so many genres - mystery, middle grade, science fiction - just about anything you can think of and I love them all!  If the plot sounds like the main characters are going to be spending their time racing around solving riddles for a greater goal you can count me in!.

What makes you instantly want to read a book?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks - When a Book Just Clicks + a Giveaway

I love that feeling when I pick up a book and am instantly swept away and pulled into the story.  It doesn't happen all that often but when it does it's amazing.  These are the books I sneak off to read or pick up to read "just one page" and look up half an hour later.  It's hard to predict what book will do it and it's not always about the quality of the book.  There have been several where I've been completely wrapped up in the story and then half an hour after finishing I'll realize there's a major plot hole or one aspect of the mystery just wasn't wrapped up very well.  So what is it exactly that makes a book just click?  For me it's these things - 

1.    The Author's Voice - There are a few authors who something about the way they write just clicks with me.  Elizabeth Enright, Ruth Ware, Nora Roberts, Julia Quinn, Sabrina Jeffries and Sheila Connolly all qualify for this one.  Even if I don't like the characters there's just something about the book itself that just pulls me in.

2.  The Atmosphere - Atmosphere can really add to my enjoyment of the book and when the feel of the book is permeating every corner of the story I'm in.  Barbara Michaels is amazing at this and Donna Alward's House on Blackberry Hill did this to perfection.

3.  The Book that is Just Exactly What I Need - Sometimes a book comes along at the perfect time.  It can be the book that busts you out of your slump, the book that wakes you up, the book that inspires you, or just the book that entertains you just at the time when you desperately need it.  Some of the books for me have been - Better Ghosts and Gardens by Molly Harper (I needed something funny and light and this was perfect), The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn (I was getting so tired of the daily dinner grind and this was the perfect inspiration), and Recipes for a Beautiful Life by Rebecca Barry (I was in a massive reading slump and this diary style memoir was funny and human and completely what I needed).

4.  The Relationship Between Characters - I love it when a character feels like someone you'd want to be friends with but what really hooks me is when the relationship between characters is a focal point and that relationship is developing as the book goes on.  I love ensemble casts or trilogy type series with a continuing story and each book focuses on a different character.  A recent book that really excelled in that category was Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart (read my thoughts on that book here)


This brings me to the giveaway!  If you want a chance to win a copy of Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart which just happens to be one of my favorite books of the year all you have to do is leave a comment with your email address and your favorite book of the year so far!  A copy is being provided by the amazing people over at Simon & Schuster/ Gallery Books

Can't wait to see everyone's favorite books so far!  What makes a book click with you?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

This Week in Reading - April 16

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:

Quakery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang, MD and Nate Pedersen - I'm fascinated by medical history and how quickly it progressed in the 20th century.  As well all the patent medicines and theories are fascinating and more than a little scary.  (NetGalley)

The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries - Sabrina Jeffries is one of my absolute favorite historical romance authors and really the one who got me back to reading historicals after a long break.  I always enjoy her books!  (NetGalley)

At the library I picked up a few books -
Because You're Mine by Colleen Coble
I Hate Everything About You by Clinton Kelly
Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick

I'm not sure I'll read these but they looked good and I'm hoping to get to them!


Reading:  How to Entice an Earl by Lily Dalton, Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Tempest in a Teapot by Amanda Cooper

Listening: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Watching:  We watched the season finale for Major Crimes which I enjoyed.  I was very glad they didn't leave it on a cliffhanger like they frequently do.  I'm struggling with Criminal Minds right now.  I like the murder stuff but I'm pretty done with the Reid in prison storyline.  It doesn't seem like it's ever going to end and I'm quickly not caring.  I'm enjoying Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders and now that I have the Investigation Discovery app I've been watching a lot of Disappeared.

Off the Blog:

The Tornado watching the game
Emma and her boyfriend 

We had such a good time at the football game!  The weather was perfect, the game was fun and we had stadium hot dogs.  It's a fun stadium and it was really fun to see the band and mascot as well as everything else.  We also went to the vet school open house in the morning and saw all kinds of animals.  The Tornado was fascinated and loved seeing the snakes, dogs, and horses especially.

Taking back roads on our way home we came across this sign which we just had to take a picture of.  I really love the use of the words "Sudden" and "Catastrophic".  For the record not only were we not the victims of any sudden catastrophic sinkholes but we didn't see any sink holes at all.

Other than that not a particularly eventful week.  We did get the Tornado's spring pictures back and they were so beyond terrible I can't even describe them.  The photographers were great and I know they were calling kids back when their eyes were closed and stuff which leads me to believe that that was the best shot they could get.  He's a reasonably photogenic child but something about posed pictures do not bring out the best in him.  I think we're going to have posed photo drills for awhile.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Books That Click + a Giveaway
Tuesday:  Ten Things that Will Make Me Want to Read a Book
Wednesday:  The Decorator Who Knew to Much - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  Manderley Forever - Nonfiction Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Road Food - Foodie Nonfiction Review

I love food and I love travel and when I came across Road Food: An Eater's Guide to More Than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America by Jane and Michael Stern I just couldn't resist.  This fairly hefty guide book that focuses on restaurants is divided by region and then by state.  Each state includes about a dozen or so restaurant recommendations from all over the state.

I love road trips and heading off the beaten path and I was super excited to page through this book looking for culinary ideas across the country.  This edition was published in 2017 so the information is as up to date as it can be.

Now while I love the idea of long road trips with kids in college my travel budget has taken a bit of a hit so for now most of my travel is vicarious so I can't really put this to use right this moment.  I can, however, check it out from the prospective of a local for the places that I'm familiar with.

First up is my home state - Alabama.  There are 11 restaurants listed and 4 of those are in Mobile but only 2 are in Birmingham which is quickly earning it's place on foodie lists as a place to go.  Neither of the 2 listed from Birmingham are familiar to me though I have heard of the barbecue place that's mentioned in nearby Bessemer.  A little farther north in Madison Greenbrier Restaurant is mentioned.  Now I've eaten at Greenbrier several times and while I agree that the hush puppies are amazing I question why Greenbrier is listed and not the far more highly regarded Big Bob Gibson's which created the white barbecue sauce that North Alabama is so famous for.  In both cities I felt like there were several omissions that I questioned especially Post Office Pies in Birmingham (a really fun place with wood fire grilled pizza in a restored old post office) and Cyn Shea's, Blue Plate Cafe, and Pane E Vino (which also happens to be under the art museum) in Huntsville.  As well it left out Auburn and Opelika which both have some amazing and unique restaurants.

So then I hopped the state line into Mississippi.  Once again I found some odd omissions.  In McComb (a tiny railroad town in the southwest part of the state) The Dinner Bell is the only restaurant listed.  The Dinner Bell is an okay meat and three which does have a fun lazy Susan style setup to pass dishes in a family style table but is hardly a memorable meal.  However, it ignores the amazing sandwich place down the street called Topisaw General Store which has fresh offerings every day - everything delicious and made from scratch with just a touch of something to make the offerings unique.  I have dreams of their corn salad and carrot cake and their pizzas are beyond delicious.  And we're not even going to talk about their quiche because I will want one and there's no where else I can get a Ham and Pimento Cheese quiche that tastes like theirs and there aren't many problems their sweet tea slushie can't fix. A little farther east in Hattiesburg Leatha's Bar-B-Que Inn which is a bit of a dive but has good barbecue is listed but there's no mention of Crescent City Grill.  It's a little more upscale but still family friendly with a draft list as long as my arm, amazing burgers topped with crab cakes and a bread pudding that haunts my dreams.

I had similar experiences in the chapters about Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina.  Everything mentioned was good but there were a number of omissions that I thought were better.  I don't think this book would lead you astray but at the same time I don't think it's all that more useful than Yelp.  Since I received a copy of this book through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review I'll keep it on hand and do some reading when I have my next actual trip to a place I'm unfamiliar with but I don't think I'll be recommending that anyone go rush out and buy this one.

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday Linkups: Tempest in a Teapot

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:
When you feature a book in your posts, do you include a book cover?

My Answer:
Yes, always.  I know covers draw me in and make me give a book a second look so I figured that can't just be me!  The only exception will be in a list and then I typically only feature 2 or 3 covers of a list of 10 or so.

This week's book is one I've been wanting to read since it came out in 2014 but for whatever reason never got around to it.  It's no secret that I love a good cozy mystery and I love the idea of one taking place in a tea house that collects tea pots.  Tempest in a Teapot by Amanda Cooper looks really fun and a good break from all the heavier thrillers I've been reading lately.  So far I've been enjoying the lighter pace though I'm suddenly having lots of cravings for scones!

The Beginning:
Thelma Mae Earnshaw peeped through the lacy curtains that adorned the side window of La Belle Epoque, her quaint(ish) inn and tearoom.  She was trying to figure out what had her archenemy and business competitor, Rose Freemont, in such a fuss.

My Thoughts:
Well I'm curious too!  I also want to know why Rose is her archenemy.

The 56:
"You finally did it," Francis said lifting his face and glaring at the senior owner of Belle Epoque.  "You finally killed someone with your awful food!"

My Thoughts:
 Well this makes me want scones a little less but I do want to know what's going on.  I have a feeling that it's not just a simple case of food poisoning.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Do you like seeing covers in book related posts?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

To the Stars Through Difficulties - Fiction Review

To the Stars Through Difficulties by Romalyn Tilghman

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publicist

Description: Andrew Carnegie funded fifty-nine public libraries in Kansas in the early 20th century but it was frontier women who organized waffle suppers, minstrel shows, and women's baseball games to buy books to fill them.
Now, a century later, Angelina returns to her father's hometown of New Hope to complete her dissertation on the Carnegie libraries, just as Traci and Gayle arrive in town - Traci as an artist-in-residence at the renovated Carnegie Arts Center and Gayle as a refugee whose neighboring town, Prairie Hill, has just been destroyed by a tornado.

The discovery of an old journal inspires the women to create a library and arts center as the first act of rebuilding Prairie Hill after the tornado. As they work together to raise money for the center, Traci reveals her enormous heart, Angelina discovers that problem-solving is more valuable than her PhD, and Gayle demonstrates that courage is not about waiting out a storm but building a future.

Full of Kansas history from pioneer homesteaders to Carrie Nation to orphan trains To the Stars through Difficulties is a contemporary story of women changing their world and finding their own voices, powers, and self-esteem in the process."

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  I couldn't resist that it's about libraries!  Especially not on National Library week.

My Impression:  I'm almost embarrassed with how little I knew about Carnegie's library program.  I know who Andrew Carnegie is and I did know he was a philanthropist but I wasn't aware about his library program and how he went about it.  That alone is a fascinating story and I'm hoping to read more about it.

The story itself focuses on three women - Angelina, Traci, and Gayle.  They're all from different backgrounds and are of different ages but they have one very real thing in common.  They're all lost.  They've all had some moment that knocked them off their center and are struggling to figure out just how they're going to survive and the answer takes them both to a little town in Kansas (though to be fair - Gayle is already pretty much there).  For Angelina, New Hope and the library are her past.  A connection to a grandmother that she knew and didn't really know and a place that she felt special.  A place that really made her decide what she wanted to do with her life.  She's hoping that place can get her back on track.  Traci is just looking for a place to land and a place to stay for a little while.  She doesn't care where as long as it's safe.  Gayle has everything taken away by something she can't control and is now just lost - desperately trying to figure out what to do next.  I didn't always like these women but they always interested me.

While the focus is on the three women and the story is told in alternating chapters from their POVs the town of New Hope and neighboring Prairie Hill loom large.  The townspeople are realistic without being unrealistic and always added a little more humanity to the story.  I especially enjoyed the story line around Traci's "Troublemakers".  The history of the state, the area and the women who proceeded the main characters is just as interesting and just as important to the story.  I always adore a history element in the books I read and this one did not disappoint.  The story of the Carnegie libraries and the people who made it all happen is one I think hasn't gotten nearly enough attention and I'm so glad I was able to learn a little bit through this book.

Overall, this was an interesting read with history and heart.  I enjoyed getting to know New Hope and its residents - especially Angelina, Traci and Gayle.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I would.  I found this an interesting read and enjoyed how it taught me a little about library history that I didn't know.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Definitely!  If you enjoy fiction, history and character development I think you'll enjoy this one.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Gone Without a Trace - Mystery Review

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  GONE WITHOUT A TRACE by Mary Torjussen is a chilling, twisty, compulsive thriller about a woman whose boyfriend has vanished. Fans of I LET YOU GO and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN will be gripped.
No one ever disappears completely...

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn't been at work for weeks.
It's as if he never existed.

But that's not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.

Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  The premise sounded so creepy I just couldn't resist!  Plus I wanted to know what happened to him.

My Impression: This book throws you into the action in chapter one when Hannah comes home to find her boyfriend not just gone but like he'd never been there.  Everything in her house has been replaced - just like it was before he was even there.  Every picture, every glass, everything of his is completely gone and Hannah begins to unravel.

At the beginning I was holding my breath a bit.  Just where had Matt gone?  Why had he left in such a fashion?  And then when the creep factor ramps up and Hannah starts getting phone calls and messages I couldn't wait to find out just what was going on.  For probably the first third I was intrigued and at times holding my breath as the tension mounted.  And then it kind of plateaued.  I mean creepy stuff was still happening and Hannah was basically falling completely but nothing changed.  It didn't feel like anything new came to light or any progress was made in figuring out what was going on.  Despite the continually ramped up tension the story itself dragged until the last quarter of the book.  As well I got frustrated with Hannah as it seemed like she was essentially just chasing her tail and wringing her hands for quite some time.  I wanted her to do something ANYTHING other than self sabotage which seemed to be mostly what she was doing.

Despite my issues with the book I did enjoy the read.  The last twists and turns were definitely not something I saw coming and it's fun to be surprised.  I thought Torjussen did a good job with pulling me into the story quickly even though she did lose me in the middle.  She's definitely an author I'll keep a look out for in the future.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I would if the blurb caught my interest.

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you like unreliable narrators than this is one you might want to add to your list.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Unique Books

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Unique Books.  Now I can drive myself crazy thinking about what exactly is a unique book and all that so I've decided to concentrate on just a personal level and talk about the books that were unique reading experiences for me.

1.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - I read this for a book club several years ago.  It had come out long enough ago that there was a lot of buzz but they weren't quite talking about turning it into a movie. I didn't know how I felt about this one until the very end and it was the twistiest turniest book I think I'd ever read up until that point!

2.  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie - Well I can't have a list without an Agatha Christie book and when it comes to unique reads this one is pretty high up the list.  This was the book that made her famous and there was a lot of controversy surrounding it.  Lots of critics claimed she "cheated" which she rather forcefully denied and made a pretty good defense argument.  Regardless it's a fun read.

3.  The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins- This was a fascinating read and I was surprised with how clearly it discussed domestic violence which wasn't something really talked about when this was published in 1859.

4. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - Can any book by Neil Gaiman not be considered unique?  This was the first book I'd read by him and I really enjoyed it which kind of surprised me.  I had watched several of his episodes of Doctor Who and those always ended up being my least favorite but this book hooked me with all its wonderful weirdness and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

5.  Moonraker by Ian Fleming - This is the 3rd James Bond bood and while the mystery itself isn't all that unique (though it is very good) the part where James Bond is sitting in his office thinking about his budget and vacation days is pretty amazing.

6. Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell - I think I was in late high school maybe early college when I discovered the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell and I feel instantly in love with them.  Kay is so human and tough and the mysteries were amazing and so dark.  I couldn't get enough of them - that is until Kay went completely off the rails and it became a giant trainwreck with occasional murders but I do remember just how much I loved Postmortem.  I can remember just about everything about that book and it's probably been almost 20 years since I read it.  It's not one to think about too close to bedtime though.

7.  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - I was in elementary school when I read this and then reread it and reread it again until the book basically fell apart.  I was a serious mystery reader but this book was different than anything I had read before.  It was almost a treasure hunt with all kinds of clues and puzzles.  I'm hoping to reread it this year and am really excited about it.

8.  Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud - I don't remember where I came across the series though I'm thinking it was a random library grab based off the really awesome cover.  The premise is so amazing and I love the change in child/adult dynamics.  One thing I really loved about this book was that the main characters are a boy and a girl and that they're so equal.  They both have their weaknesses and strengths and they both make mistakes.  So often one gender is portrayed as weaker or just a side character and it was fun to see a book that really embraced the characters for who they were.

9.  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - I think this was the first book I read that could qualify as science fiction and I loved it.  Adams' sense of humor and how he writes his dialogue never fails to absolutely crack me up and I loved the levels of bureaucracy in this book.

10. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson - I see this book listed in horror lists from time to time and I really wish it wasn't because I think if you're looking for horror this is going to disappoint you.  However, if you're looking for incredibly eerie and seriously creepy this is the book for you.  Jackson is a master of atmosphere and this creepy twisted tale is one of her best. And it has a line that jumps into my head at times that I really don't want to think about it - "No one can hear you if you scream in the dark."

What books were unique reads for you?